Even in a healthy economy, returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent can feel like signing up for a marathon when you haven't so much as stretched a hamstring in years.
Yet a spouse's layoff and mounting bills have prompted many at-home parents -- the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 5.5 million of them, predominantly women -- to do exactly that.
Ideally, "You need to start building your skills well before you start looking for a job," says Christine Durst, co-founder and CEO of Staffcentrix, a training firm that helps at-home parents return to the workforce.
Many at-home parents rely on volunteer or temp jobs to revive a dusty resume before they begin pounding the pavement in earnest, Durst says. Same goes for taking a quick adult education class to freshen up those computer skills.