How to Shake Yourself Out of a Career Rut As a Parent

Do you ever just get the feeling that although you’ve done all the things you’re meant to do, there’s an inherent disconnect between your work life and the satisfaction that you’re supposed to feel as a result?

Maybe there was something you always wanted to do, but you dismissed it in favor of something more “practical.” Maybe you wanted to be a nurse but ended up doing something completely different. While it can feel miserable doing something you’re not passionate about, the good news is that it’s never too late. To use the given example, it’s possible to pick up a fast-track nursing program online, and still realize your passion. The online mode of education delivery is incredibly efficient and has been instrumental in the un-rutting of many people’s lives.

Having kids can make dealing with a career rut difficult. However, with the professional sphere becoming increasingly aware of the demands of home life, times have never been better for shaking yourself out of a career rut.

Career Rut and Responsibility

A career rut is the feeling that your career doesn’t align with you anymore. For whatever reason the initial enthusiasm you felt for the job is just gone. Now, every day is a slog whether it’s good or bad. Your most basic duties feel like you’re dragging your feet through the mud, and you get no satisfaction out of your work anymore. Where once your job might have felt like a fantastic opportunity you were grasping with both hands, now it just seems like everything has come to a standstill.

Being stuck in a career rut isn’t easy, but for parents, it can be intensely difficult. For those who don’t have the financial responsibility of a child to care for, income can be handled a little more easily. Although these days inflation rates are crippling working families as it is, the temptation to leave one’s job to find more satisfying means of income can be quickly stamped out with school fees, lunches, excursions, sports events, parties, family outings, medical expenses, rent, food, and utilities.

It quickly becomes easy to see how overwhelming a career rut can be if you’re a parent. To take care of your mind, you have to find new work, but to take care of your family, you can’t. So what do we do?

Getting Out

Just because you can’t leave your job right now doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be stuck there forever. It won’t be easy, but with some patience and dedication, you can make it through this. 


Goal setting is important in any endeavor because it provides a measurable yardstick for success. It can help to get your family involved in this, as they may provide other perspectives that you haven’t considered, and their support will be critical to you attaining your goal.

2-Self Care

When stuck in this draining and dark situation, we need to accommodate our rut by taking care of ourselves more in other areas. This is a time to work on some real stress relief and lifestyle changes. Get comfortable with setting boundaries, prioritize your sleep, eat better and exercise, find new hobbies, and reward yourself. Make sure you’re getting that little bit of brightness every day, whatever that means for you.

3-Off Time is Off Time

If your co-workers frequently infringe on your out-of-work hours, shut it down. Home should be your sanctuary, your safe haven from these stresses. Tell your co-workers not to contact you in any way outside of work hours. You need your decompression time now more than ever. If they continue to cross this boundary, firmly establish your right to disconnect and threaten to get HR or a superior involved. 

4-Examine Reduced Hours

This can be tricky, but looking at taking on less while you engage in more fulfilling work or focus on starting a business or other endeavor can be really helpful in breaking out of a career rut. The fewer hours will mean less pay, but you’ll still have some income and the additional time out of work will be great to help you focus on yourself and figure out what exactly you need from a job to be happy.

The Happy Worker

Although as a society we often glorify “the grind,” it’s never acknowledged that grinding is inherently harmful. Grinding chips away at something until it’s reduced to a fine powder with no substance that can be disturbed at the slightest breeze. It’s not fair to you to put your mind in that state, and the toll of the grind can lead to massive health problems and troubled family dynamics.

Learn to prioritize yourself again. Learn what you actually want, and take some time for yourself. Not just so you can find a job that won’t slowly kill you, but so that you can be happy and you can give your family all the love you want to give them.

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