How being a parent makes you better at your job

I took 8 years out of my career.

It started as a one year career break, as I moved out of London to live with my boyfriend.

But then we got engaged.

And then married.

And then had a beautiful baby girl.

So my career break continued…

Until when she was about to go to school - and I knew I wanted to return to work.

But after all this time out of the workplace, hadn’t my employable skills withered and died…?

Not at all!

Parenting demands key skills that are immensely valued in the workplace - it’s just not always obvious that that’s the case.

So here are 7 Super Skills that you will have (maybe unwittingly) been honing all the time…

1. Organisation

Children often need to get to a certain place at a certain time with certain stuff.

Whether that’s particular doctor’s appointments, the exact sports kit on a specific day, or even just school, every day, the requirements are detailed - and sometimes mandatory.

Achieving this so your child is not the one doing ballet in their school clothes is (for me at least) a daily challenge.

I was never that organised at work - I relied on my wonderful secretaries to keep me on track.

But at home, it’s pretty much down to me.

I have had to learn detailed organisation skills, including implementing a huge colour-coded family calendar.

Now running my own business alongside this has stretched my organisation skills - but the foundation created by needing to be organised for my child was already there.

2. Patience

I never considered myself a patient person, but having my daughter has revealed deep reserves of patience I never knew existed.

On the rare occasions when I’m woken at 3am because she’s had a nightmare, a small part of me wants to swear at her, and put the pillow over my head.

But she’s only little, she’s imaginative, and she’s scared.

So I get out of bed, take her back to her room, give her a kiss and a cuddle - and that’s all she needs.

I know I am more patient and understanding throughout my life because I am now more able to see things from others’ points of view - inspired by this deep well of understanding of my daughter.

3. Communication

Children are amazing negotiators.

“If I go to bed quickly please can I have ten more minutes of TV?”

You have to up your communication game if you want to get them to do stuff.

(I tend to steer clear of out-and-out bribery, eg sweet-based, but I’m not ruling it out…)

I find it works best if I explain WHY something needs to happen.

If she understands, she is more likely to do it.

And I also find offering choice really effective: do you want to brush your teeth before you put on pyjamas, or after?

I’m not suggesting work colleagues or clients are small children, but these principles do work whatever age you are communicating with.

And above all, it is necessary to fit your communication to your audience.

One of my greatest communication achievements is explaining Brexit to a 6 year old in a way she could grasp.

And this is a golden rule for all forms of communication: the meaning of any communication is what is UNDERSTOOD - not what you intend.

So fitting your communication to your audience is crucial - and is something you learn as a parent.

4. Problem-solving

“Mummy, can you help me make a space ship out of tissue paper?”

“Mummy, argh, I’ve broken it!”

"Mummy, I need to look like a rainbow for school tomorrow, what can I wear?"