During a nice chat with a friend of mine (and fellow mom), she mentioned how after being home for a couple of year with her young children, she feels like she needs some course to get her back into “business mode”. She felt that gave her better chances when going out there to interview for jobs.
That really got me thinking…mfirst of all, do you really ever forget being a working mom? And are there things from your child-raising experience that actually make you better prepared for the workplace? I thought about my own case, although I did go back to work quite soon after having my son, and though about how I really don’t sweat the small stuff anymore or how much more empathy I’ve developed for my fellow colleagues.
If I got those things (and more) after being a mom of one, I figured my friend, who stayed home with her 2 kids for years, must have developed even more skills. So here you go, my anonymous friend….. This is for you!
You are making dinner while on the phone with your internet provider to try to get your internet to work again, both activities taking place while you child is screaming that she can’t find her Dora the Explorer book.
Why this is important in the workplace: we live in an age when more responsibilities fall under less employees and organizations are always finding ways to “streamline their workforce” (that’s code for layoffs, usually). Being able to handle multiple tasks / projects is hence a great skill to possess!
2. Timely delivery of results under pressure
In the scenario above, dinner is served, internet works again, and the book is found. Enough said.
Why this is important in the workplace: Businesses today move at an incredibly fast pace, responding to what the market demands. If you have any corporate experience you are well aware of what this feels like, right? Like that time you needed to deliver that very important new action and when you asked “by when do you need this?” your boss said “yesterday”.
3. Build rapport
If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think your child at the very least has bipolar disorder (in the worst case scenario, you’d think they are psychopathic). They can go through a whole range of emotions: happy, annoyed, moody, esctatic, sad within 2 minutes. And in every single situation, you have the appropriate response that either enforces or diffuses the emotion.
Why this is important in the workplace: no matter what industry you work in and what its core business is, people are still a very big component of what makes (or breaks) a company. Being able to make connections at work creates a pleasant working environment where all parties can get benefits. Like that saying goes, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.
In the end, however; mom’s the boss and she will make sure the kids are well aware of that. Most of the times, you don’t even have to yell. One look, one statement, both are enough to eloquently let your feelings know that if your little bundle of joy keeps up that behavior, there’ll be a whole world of trouble descending upon him!
Why this is important in the workplace: Assertiveness is the classy way you can express displeasement in the workplace and have the situation (in most cases) resolved. Assertive people can get their point across in an appropriate manner without creating tension with colleagues. So it’s a good skill to have for you and for the company!
5. Hierarchichal and non-hierarchichal leadership
As soon as your kids start growing up they become more social and next thing you know you don’t just have your own kids running around the house, but also all the friends they invited over. Your children may know you are the boss here, but the other kids have another boss back at their homes, so you have to have strategies to enforce your authority, without taking away from the role of your little guests’ parents.
Why this is important in the workplace: you already know this the era of more responsibility in the hands of less people. Sometimes that means managing projects that require the help of people who do not report directly to you and companies want to know you’d do this well. Same goes for managers. People management is a complex and tricky business and your experience at home can certainly add value to this!
6. Strong communication and interpersonal skills
Have you noticed how you now interact with a whole new group of people since you had kids? And it’s just not other parents… It’s relatives, healthcare practitioners, teachers, even random strangers amused by your child’s shenanigans at the supermarket. If you did not consider yourself “communicative” or “social” before, you have probably mastered the craft by now. And if you were already good at it, they should probably already give you a PhD.!
Why this is important in the workplace: decision making in business takes place when people articulate a specific point of view (which can be based on a wide variety of sources). The better someone articulates this point, the more a decision will be made in their favor. Plus, isn’t it much better to work with genuingly nice people?
You have an important appointment and just before you are about to go out the door, your kid spills chocolate milk on your crisp, clean white shirt. Oh joy! Not only do you have to brave every day situations like a champ, but you are well aware of how fast kids grow up and with that their tastes and needs! Like they love Mickey Mouse one month and the next all the want to do is play with the characters from Cars and Mickey makes them cringe….
Why this is important in the workplace: Everything changes. Nothing stays the same for long and when it comes to the corporate world, the speed of change is supersonic. Businesses today get restructured constantly and with that come new management priorities. And like when dealing with chocolate milk all over your shirt, you put on a brave face and deal with the changes as quickly as they came in! Like a boss!
Have you ever tried dressing a toddler? Then you know the experience is very similar to that of putting pants on a baby octopus. Or a fully-grown one, depending on how feisty your little devil is. Whether it’s putting clothes on, or brushing hair / teeth, you know you need a massive dose of perseverance and patience to get the job done!
Why this is important in the workplace: unfortunately the workplace is not one with only “shiny happy people”. You will always find that insufferable a-hole who will test the limits of your tolerance. It’s like trying to reason with a baby octopus. So indeed, a healthy level of patience will come in very handy!
9. Creative thinking
Raising small children is one of the most interesting times for creative thinking. You may not be creating masterpiece painting or sculptures, but those bedtime stories you make up before bed or the games you invent when your kid is bored (even though she has enough toys to share with the neighborhood) are a true testament of the power of imagination that’s in your head!
Why this is important in the workplace: innovation, a huge growth driver for businesses comes from creative thinking. Think about brands that are currently at the top of their game and you’ll see how innovation is at their core. You think creating silly games for your kid are no big feat, but you never know, you may be sitting on the next highest grossing app in the world!
10. Analytical and Problem solving skills
Every parent carries a lot of baggage. Literally! Gone were the days when you could just travel light. Nowadays your bag carries a wide variety of objects to averts pesky situations your child gets into: falls and scratches, dirt, boredom, hunger…. And when you are ill-equipped? You turn into the best version of MacGyver you can be and construct a temporary diaper entirely of toilet paper (was I the only one who ever did that?)
Why this is important in the workplace: Sometimes it’s not about creating something from scratch, but working with what you have and making it better. Research and development can be expensive, so looking at existing products and processes and identifying ways to maximize efficiencies by increasing sales or reducing costs are skills companies welcome with open arms!
There you have it! Do you have more skills you feel you’ve acquired as you raise your children? Post your thoights in the comments section below!