Alexia Rowley on why parenthood improves your performance at work.
What does motherhood really do for your career? Could you be more skilled, post children, than you were before?
Or are we just full of ‘baby brain’? Preoccupied, thinking about collecting the children on time, etc?
When you take time out of work to have children, or change career post children, the workplace can seem a little daunting. I have heard many mums say they have lost confidence, or somehow feel deskilled.
They worry about applying for jobs, interviews or promotions as they doubt themselves. I have heard of colleagues complaining that mothers won’t do any overtime as they must rush off to collect children in time, or they are off more due to children’s sickness, which they say impacts on their work.
Comments like this can make us mums worry that we would not be viewed favourably in the workplace.
Arguably for many this is true; our priorities have changed and perhaps we can invest less time in work outside of hours. However, I believe that having children can make us better in the workplace. When looking at what parenting involves, I would say we all have a very rich and diverse set of skills which are certainly compatible with any job.
So here is my mother’s CV; I am tempted to use this should I apply for a new role.
Excellent at managing difficult situations: any mother of a toddler who wants something they can’t have, will tell you that it takes the skill of a hostage negotiator to talk them down and manage the situation. If you can deal with a screaming, tantruming child, in the middle of a public place, with the odd judgemental look thrown in for good measure; you can manage any difficult situations or people you may meet at work.
Calm in a crisis: Dealt with a sick child, or an unexpected accident and managed to keep your cool to resolve or help as quickly as possible? Then you can cope with pressures of a demanding role.
Time management specialist: Using 10 minutes as if it were an hour. I am sure any parent can relate to this. When your baby finally naps and you have 10 minutes to yourself, it’s amazing how much you can achieve.
I never knew I could vacuum prepare dinner and send emails all within such a short time slot. As a result, I am much better with time management than I was before, when 10 minutes didn’t seem long enough to make a cup of tea.
Able to multi task: Juggling the school run, with a toddler, with extra activities, playdates, sorting bills, running a house and preparing meals. Throw in the odd unexpected lost school bag, or falling over in a puddle just before the doctor’s appointment, means you can reprioritise and juggle at an Olympic level.
Can manage high level conflict situations: Refereeing between siblings will give you conflict resolution skills for life and help manage any conflict that may arise between colleagues. Although, “good girl for sharing” may be a little patronising in an office setting.
Can do in-depth research: what’s that you say, rice cakes cause cancer? Rear facing car seats are safer for under 4s? School choice affects life choices? The in-depth research I, and many of others have done on this, and similar topics, would rival that of investigative journalists.
Not to mention our ability to teach, cook, read, role play, make jokes, plan, pack for any eventuality, show care, compassion and empathy even when exhausted or pushed to your limits.
All in all, the skills you acquire through parenting are undoubtedly transferable and even invaluable in the workplace, it’s just about believing in ourselves and our abilities to do any role we put our minds to. After all, if we can grow and raise children, then surely there is no harder job in the world?