Career Break Comparison

November 15 2017  By: Nikki Vivian

Let’s talk about career breaks. Generally these are seen as a positive thing. Students that take time out after studying to travel and work or volunteer abroad. Other’s take time to pursue a passion and become more expert at it.

A huge proportion of the population take a career break to become a parent by taking extended time off to raise a family, this is also a career break. So why is this version of a career break viewed so negatively?

I’ve put together a little comparison list of things you learn on a career break working abroad compared to things you learn on maternity leave/extended leave to raise a family. It might surprise you.

Travelling abroad to work                 Stay at home parent


Communicating with people in different cultures, often who speak a different language means that you have learnt to adapt your communication style by perfecting other means of communication.

Communicating with a small child means that you not only have to adapt your style of communication, but you become so in tuned with this little person that you are able to identify what they want through a sound or gestures alone.

Working to budgets

With no income for a set period, you have learnt to budget effectively. You have had to make adjustments at short notice due to unforeseen costs and made sure all essentials are covered for the entire trip.

Maternity pay and then surviving solely on a partner’s income means you have made cut backs and adjustments to spending. This has given you experience in working to budgets and making necessary changes to make sure the essential things are still accessible.


Planning a trip abroad requires a great deal of organisation. You have put together itineraries, organised transport and accommodation and done all of this within a set time frame.

As a parent, you organise your time and schedule as before, but also those of the rest of the family. Coordinating things so that everyone is happy and commitments don’t impact on each other is a skill you have developed.


Working abroad in certain countries requires you to negotiate or barter for services including transportation, food and accommodation.

Getting children to get dressed, eat a decent meal, go to bed, all requires negotiation techniques.


Travelling to different countries requires you to adapt to new cultures quickly. You have learnt to accustom yourself to other cultures.

Going from working full time and being responsible for only yourself to being at home all the time and responsible for another person, means you have learnt to be incredibly adaptable in terms of lifestyle and mindset.

So, there you have it. If you’re thinking your time as a stay at home parent doesn’t account for much, I hope this goes someway to helping you see things differently. The skills you learn from being a parent should never be glossed over and should be used to boost your confidence when you return to a career, not be detrimental.