If you are hoping to start a family soon, have recently had a baby or are about to go on maternity leave, you may be a little apprehensive about how this will affect you at work. Perhaps you’re concerned that taking maternity leave will prevent you from taking your career to the next level. Or maybe you’re worried your boss or colleagues will think you’re taking too much time off as you look after your kids, but wonder how well you’ll juggle motherhood with the demands of the workplace. Any lifestyle change comes with a degree of uncertainty so it’s understandable if you feel some concern, especially if you’re a first-time mum or mum-to-be. In particular if you consider that there can still be a certain amount of stigma associated with being a mother in the workplace, it’s not unnatural to wonder how you will manage to juggle both roles.
Yet, there are plenty of positives about being a working mum that in our opinion don’t get the recognition they deserve. Far from the traditional negative stereotypes of mums not being as committed or productive at work, there are lots of reasons why the skills you learn as a parent can help you become better at your job.
In fact, there’s a growing school of thought that supports including maternity leave on your resume because the parenting skills you’ve acquired make you a greater asset at work. While at home with your baby, you’re negotiating a whole new set of challenges, which enhance the very same qualities that are highly valued in the corporate world.
This starts even before the baby is born, with research and informed decision-making. In the age of information overload, sifting through reams of content to find the best advice on everything baby-related from feeding to buggies, slings and childcare, is a skill in itself.
Looking after a baby is a 24/7 job so accommodating everyday tasks such as shopping, preparing food and managing household chores means you have to prioritize tasks, sharpening your organization and time management skills. Then there’s problem-solving: addressing sleep issues and feeding or weaning difficulties are no mean feats.
The good news is, these skills just keep evolving as your little one develops. This is acknowledged in the results of a poll of over 2,000 employers, which found that more than two-thirds believe raising kids can make people better employees. Among the top attributes listed were patience, ability to multi-task, manage time and conflict, problem-solve, mentor, negotiate, budget and manage projects.
Take some time to consider how your parenting skills could be adapted to enhance your current role at work or even to help you get that promotion you’ve had your eye on for a while. If you’ve been involved in running a parenting group or arranging social or fundraising events for mums and babies, could this help you organize conferences or set up a new project at work? Did it involve leadership, clever budgeting or good communication and coordination skills? Or perhaps you’ve discovered you’re a fabulous party planner and would like a more people-oriented role?
Look at the different ways in which you could make this valuable experience relevant to a career and start promoting them in the workplace. Don’t be afraid to share with your colleagues how you think being a mum has brought them valuable skills, or mention it in conversations. Why not encourage your colleagues and boss to see the positive skills being a mother can bring to the workplace, you could even think about proudly displaying it on your resume.
Watch our video to see the rollercoaster new mums go through with their bosses.