Starting over in middle age is a hot topic.  Huffington Post has a lot of space dedicated to the subject.  And some bloggers are doing great work delving into the “trend.”  Except this isn’t a trend, this is my life.

I chose to give up my career and stay home with my kids.  It was a mutually-agreed upon choice made with my ES (estranged spouse).  In the back of my mind, I had a

train station

train station (Photo credit: nolifebeforecoffee☆)

vague idea that I could go back to work at some point in the future.  I don’t regret staying home, but I sure do wish I’d kept my hand in, or worked part-time (for actual pay).  Then I’d have a network and recent job experience.

As it is, I’m competing with my 19 year old kid for unskilled minimum wage jobs.

My therapist  (might as well go while I still have health insurance) advised me, very authoritatively, “You need to take some classes and get retrained.”  Great, yeah, I thought of that.  Can you recommend specifics?  No, she had nothing beyond the generic get re-trained advice.

All the things a person used to be able to get trained for quickly seem to have become four year degree programs.  For those keeping score at home, if I can get into a program for Spring 2013 (deadline’s passed for Fall 2012), I’ll complete my re-training in Spring 2017, at age 55 (also known as “eligible for early retirement”).  So, yeah, that’s discouraging.  Plus, I have one kid in college (my 19 year old job competition) and another who’s a senior in high school.  Paying for all three of us to get trained/re-trained is laughably out of reach.

My first job out of college was as a proofreader for a local defense contractor, which led to a proofreading job at a local bank, and ultimately, to working in the Marketing department as a copy editor and copy writer.  There was more to it, but the print advertising industry has evolved so dramatically that my skills there no longer translate.  I’m pursuing online freelance work, and that’s a long slog.

So, if your next chapter involved being laid off and re-training, how did you decide what training program was worth the time and resource commitment?  What worked and what didn’t?