Life is ticking along quite nicely, you have a good job and a good relationship and then you decide to throw children into the mix and them Boom! Life changes track. Career standings start to become analysed, do the hours fit around childcare arrangements? Does it pay enough taking into account additional expenses? and quite frankly.....is it worth it? I'm sure most new parents have had these thoughts about returning to work, and so big decisions (and often sacrifices) are made.
Following the arrival of our bundles of joy we may seek to get a better work life balance, and this shouldn't be viewed negatively by employers. The time with our babes is precious and we won't get it back so wanting this balance is not to say we lack ambition. Indeed after having kids the sense of responsibility and wanting to provide good opportunities for your kids can help you develop laser like focus and dust off that treasure box called ambition that you put on the shelf just for a little while.
After popping out (I wish) two children I struggled to go one way or the other, toying with climbing the career ladder or focussing primarily on my family and settling for anything that would work around this. At one point, opting for a more convenient lifestyle (albeit with less pay, and less stress then I was used to) I applied to a well known supermarket chain, confident that I could pack 10 items into a carrier bag, imagine my dismay to receive an email stating they would not be taking my application forward. Clearly spending tens of thousands of pounds on a University Education was well worth it! I then started to encounter similar issues when I applied for other jobs, I just didn't hear back. Perhaps I was overqualified (what is that about!), perhaps I was under qualified.
After having my kids, despite in my heart knowing I was undertaking something of massive value I found myself feeling a redundant part of society, irritated that the work force does not value the skill set of parents or the decisions we make, in the eyes of society had I become 'Just A Mum'. I am NOT 'Just A Mum' I am a Master of many things and being a Mum has helped me realise this.
As a parent I should ace any job interview with these demonstrable skills......
Tick. Anyone with kids knows that going anywhere entails a packing operation of military precision, and if you only forget one or two items then you have done an awesome job, given that you feel like you've packed up half your house. On one occasion en route to a campsite in Cornwall we realised that we had left our three year olds 'Dolly' at home, envisioning the reaction of our daughter (to be avoided at all costs) we found ourselves in a late night Asda at midnight buying a duplicate 'Dolly'. There we go, daughter none the wiser and epic tantrum avoided. Also evidencing sterling Problem Solving and Crisis Prevention Skills.
Time Management Skills
Tick. The ability to manage tea time, bath time, and bed time aiming for a completion time of 7.30pm, all whilst having one small child clinging to your leg and the other regaling you with tales about their transformation into a Vampire and their late night adventures. And of course you nod and smile and ask questions in all the right places whilst you can feel your stress levels rising as you move through each task because time is ticking on, there is food all over the floor, the bathroom is a tip and you will have to employ Expert Negotiation Skills to make sure bedtime runs smoothly.
Tick. We have our tiny love monsters to thank for our increased stamina and improved ability to get through the day (to get through life!) by their use of 'high intensity sleep deprivation' methods.
Commitment to the role
Tick. Heck, I've committed myself to this parenting gig for at least the next 18 years. I'd say that makes me a pretty committed person.
Tick. Having found that I'm capable of making a castle fit for Ben and Holly out of a toilet roll and egg box. Skills! Perhaps more importantly I should mention decreasing the costs of the NHS by preventing 100 trips, falls,cuts and bumps- daily! Which sufficiently covers First Aid, Health and Safety and Risk Assessments.
Tick. During maternity leave it may have felt that I lost the art of making adult conversation, but thanks to my kids I can communicate in Makaton and overcome communication barriers of such a level, my kids could have come from Mars (sometimes I think they do) but I still know when they want a drink or what toy they are pointing to in amongst a sea of plastic. On a daily basis having to reason, explain and justify matters to a tiny person with little concept equips parents to deal with the biggest boob in the workplace.
Leadership and Managerial Skills
Tick. Regularly diffusing situations that could lead to the next World War, which is likely to be started because one sibling is playing with a toy and the other has just that minute decided that is the toy they need and can't live without. And last but not least, it's a testament to my leadership qualities that I can get my kids to do at least one thing I ask of them!
So if you are just about to return to work after having a baby, or embarking on an ambitious career move, just remember you have THE HARDEST JOB ON EARTH. You are tasked with nurturing, caring and guiding a tiny person to become a well balanced, happy, confident, contributing member of society and if you can do that you can do anything!
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