Originally posted April 19, 2010 – updated July 6, 2015
I’m sure by now you have seen one of those articles listing all the responsibilities a mother has and what her pay would look like. They usually make the rounds around Mother’s Day. For all that work we are rewarded with much appreciated hugs, kisses, and I love yous. But who would have thought that the skills we have garnered with all those responsibilities would mean that mothers make better employees? Those are “mom skills,” not work skills, right?
I’m sure you have heard the tried and true wisdom about mothers’ ability to multi-task and how that is an advantage. Or maybe how moms are very efficient, or great time managers and moms have good people skills. Those are all fine and good, but could apply to a lot of different people, moms and childless alike. There are some skills that are slightly more relevant to mothers but just as applicable to working.
As I was chasing after my kid the other day to retrieve some item that was pulled out of my purse I thought about all the skills I have acquired since I became a mother. I firmly believe that with pregnancy and birth come certain skills needed to handle the job. Near lightning quick reflexes are needed in order to stop potential disasters. Super human speed to keep up with physics defying 2 year olds who can run faster than you despite having legs a quarter of the length. Near bionic sense of hearing to hear crying, whimpering, or worse the lack of sound that inevitably means trouble from several rooms away. The list goes on…
Then I began thinking about a conversation I had earlier that day with my boss. She and I had agreed that we liked to jump in and tackle an assignment and get it done sooner rather than later and just get it out of the way. I realized that I had not always been like that. I used to thrive under the pressure of a deadline (still do), but now I prefer to just get the work done and cross it off my list. What changed?
The additional skills I acquired when I became a mother (which were intensified when I had my second child) are definitely essential when it comes to parenting. Upon further reflection I have realized that these same skills can be applied to other areas of my life too. Woo-hoo! I love a two for one! I have been using these skills (without knowing it) at my job. Mothers make better employees because as a mom you can bring a whole set of skills that others just don’t have.
After becoming a mom, I realize the power of NOW. I must jump at opportunities when they present themselves. If my child wants to get dressed I had better go do it right that second because she may not want to in 5 or even 2 minutes and then I’d have a fight on my hands. And don’t even get me started on potty training and jumping up at a moment’s notice. There is also the near instant movement when you see a cup full of juice tipping out of your child’s hand toward the floor (“If only I can stop it, then I won’t have to clean it.”)
I also no longer complain about tasks that are unappealing, but instead I realize they must be done and just do them, again, right away so as to get them out of the way. No one wants to change a poopy diaper, but as we all know, poop is just a part of life. Instead of complaining, just quickly get it done so you can go back to enjoying watching Curious George for the 27th time. (I don’t really let my kids watch that much TV, it just feels like it when you have seen the same episode four or five times in the course of two weeks.) This mind set has seriously reduced the amount of stress in my life. Dealing with icky stuff quickly means less time fretting about it.
I have developed a much greater sense of patience too. Putting my daughter to bed used to take a very long time some nights. Along the same lines, my will power and self-restraint has improved greatly too. Watching my daughter learn to feed herself and not take the spoon away because I could do it better and much faster took Titan like will power and self-control. Allowing your child to make mistakes, get a couple small bumps and bruises is a never ending inner battle. One, I must admit, I don’t always win. Maybe this is where those “people” skills come into play that are attributed to mothers. It takes patience and self-control to deal with petty co-workers and annoying customers.
And without even knowing it, because these skills have become second nature. I am using them in all aspects of my life. Am I a better employee now than I was 3 or 4 years ago?
Is it due to additional years of experience or because I am a mother now? I’m not completely sure to be honest. But I do know that even if it is due to work experience, motherhood has sped the learning curve.
What has your experience been? If you are a working mom, do you feel more confident now at work? Do you see yourself using new skills you may not have noticed before?