If you are a parent and have asked yourself “how did I think I was busy before kids?”, you wouldn’t be alone. I ask myself this all the time. The hours I squandered being ‘busy’ before kids is now laughable. You soon realise that parenting is a second full time job in and of itself. It also becomes quickly apparent that it’s one of the most powerful motivators for being organised and getting things done – simply because you have no choice.
Parenting also teaches you that there is no perfect time for anything. Kids are impulsive and primal beings; looking for satisfaction, food, water and assistance at the very moment they decide it is required. You learn to be flexible and to plan ahead.
Life is busy, but I genuinely believe parenting and the craziness of it all has made me better at my job. Here are 3 reasons why:
- Effective decision-making: as a parent, there’s just not the time to deliberate over small decisions. Family life is fast moving and that means extensive experience making quick, executive decisions and following them through. This is an essential skill when managing projects and adapting to new situations in the workplace.
- Keeping calm in times of crisis: the ability to focus through the mayhem of tantrums and the constant craziness (read stress) of parenting often means you can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff and aren’t as easily flustered in the face of a crisis. This cool attitude is a huge asset in a busy work environment and makes parents stand out from the crowd.
- Top notch negotiation skills: who would have thought that negotiating bedtimes with your toddler could benefit your career? Not me, but the ultimate manipulator that lives in my house has given me a whole new perspective. It’s safe to say, strong negotiation skills filter into every part of business and a tenacious, committed approach to negotiating goes a long way.
I have conversations all the time with parents who have been off work for a year or longer and they are convinced they have lost their professional value. There’s so many reasons, including the three above, that I would argue this is completely untrue. The skills you learn as a parent are often a compliment to those you have already built in the workplace. Make them work for you.