There’s nothing worse than wondering whether the chapters inside a book will actually be for you. I get it. I, of course, hope my book won’t be one of those “I wish I had never spent my money on this” moments, but to be sure it’s for you check out the chapter snapshots below to get an idea of what you can expect to find within.
Every chapter follows a pretty simple format (listed below), with the goal being to give you a handbook for success that doesn’t take long to read, makes you laugh along the way and is easy to refer back to when you need it.
- An entertaining (and often embarrassing) story of how I built the skill
- An outline of the skill itself
- An explanation as to why it is an effective skill to use at work
- Answers to 3 frequently asked questions
Chapter 1: Focus Through Mayhem
There was a time when being interrupted by a crying baby or a demanding toddler could totally throw you off your game. And then, you learn to focus through the chaos so that you can finish a conversation with another adult or complete a task regardless of the ‘Muppet Meltdowns’ unfolding around you.
Chapter 2: Teachable Moments
If you had very little idea of how to be a teacher (of any kind) before children, you won’t be lacking the skill afterwards. Your little human sponge requires you to be on the ball and in the ‘classroom’ 24/7. You will never work as hard to get things right as you do when you are gifted with the role of developing another person’s life.
Chapter 3: Building Resilience
There are times during every parent’s life when it seems like the task at hand will be your undoing. Sometimes it all just gets too much. But the stakes are too high to just turn the other way. Like nothing else, parenting teaches you the art (and benefits) of persisting in some of the bleakest situations.
Chapter 4: Accounting for Life
If it wasn’t your thing before, there’s every chance some form of basic accounting will be now. Depending on how long you were/are on maternity leave and the health of your total family income during this time, making every dollar stretch, balancing budgets and financial planning quickly becomes a priority and a skill.
Chapter 5: Project Management on Steroids
Your capacity to prioritise a list of needs and demands explodes exponentially after becoming a parent. If it didn’t, you would never get anywhere. Ever. And nothing would get done. Ever. Parenting is, at its core, project management on steroids: leading and monitoring a series of small to large campaigns on any given day with the desired outcome being to feed, clothe, entertain, discipline, chauffeur and of course love the children.
Chapter 6: Please. Oh, and Thank You!
Have people completely lost their manners or are there just more dictators entering the workforce? Maybe I’m just getting old and cynical. In any case, I’ve asked myself this a few times in recent years because it seems like the basics of social etiquette have disappeared. And respect. Goodness me, where has that gone as well?
Chapter 7: Fake It Till You Make It
In the first hours, days, weeks, months, years of parenting there are times when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. None! Thinking on your feet and adapting to increasingly demanding (and sometimes alarming) situations becomes an imperative skill.
Chapter 8: Forgive and Truly Forget
Having children really tests your patience. From the time they get up until the time they go to bed there is a need that must be filled. It’s enlightening, exhilarating and also exhausting. Amongst it all, kids know exactly what to say to remind you they are a little person who just wants to be loved and forgiven, for their hideous sins.
Chapter 9: The Power of the Star Chart
Kids can be ruthless mind fuckers who act like they would prefer to be parentless and run riot, but deep down really need a set of strict rules and benchmarks, by which they can strive towards success. I introduce to you the magic of the star chart: a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by which they will be rewarded for good performances and fired from the family if they underperform (well not really, but sometimes that would be a nice reprieve).
Chapter 10: Leading from the Front
As a leader you have to have strength of character, be able to inspire those around you and above all else you need to have a commitment to doing the right thing, for the right reasons. This means building trust by doing what you ask of others before you expect them to reciprocate. Kids teach you this time and time again, as they will be the very first ones to shamelessly call your bluff if you don’t.
Chapter 11: The Day Negotiator Became My Middle Name
Having kids is hectic. From the moment they can string a sentence together your sanity will be pushed to its absolute limit as they attempt to negotiate their way to childhood nirvana, and challenge you on every damn thing. If you can master the art of negotiation and beat them at their own game, then surely world domination isn’t out of reach.
Chapter 12: Standing Your Ground
I have waged a mental war with myself a few times over the years, navigating my way through the trauma of not being certain if I should be more flexible or stand my ground, both as a parent and in life. It seems to come and then pass and then come again. A cycle of growth, if you will.
Chapter 13: Self Evaluation and Diplomacy
Kids change you. Life is not the same. The way you view the world is not the same. Thinking about work, and when to work is not the same. As a parent your life is no longer just your own, you are the living force behind the growth of someone else’s. This is a hugely powerful force, and a daunting one. In the face of such a harsh reality you have to polish the necessary life skill of evaluating both yourself and your actions on a regular basis, because soon enough the kids will want to be just like you.
Chapter 14: The Drive for Self Education
As soon you get the ridiculously happy news you are pregnant you want to know everything there is about having a baby. Your appetite for knowledge can be insatiable. You might not realise it at the time but you have just developed a skill for research and self-education, something that is always highly coveted in the workplace.
Chapter 15: The Power of a Group Hug
Joining the ranks of motherhood can (and usually does) immediately open the gates to a very powerful and previously inaccessible fraternity of women, from varying backgrounds and professional experiences that are bound together by one common and unifying challenge – parenting.
Chapter 16: Communication: child do you read me?
Having children teaches you to go back to basics when it comes to communicating. Suddenly your whole life becomes a farcical game of charades which makes you look like a giant moron 24/7. But it’s necessary in order to keep the game of learning alive.
Chapter 17: Identifying Behaviours
Honestly, sometimes having kids is really like having wild animals. For seemingly no good reason they become enraged and act like complete maniacs. In the end there is so much crying and screaming and kicking and hellish, revolting things happening that I don’t think they even remember why it all began in the first place. But there is usually a rational reason, if you search deep enough to find it.
Chapter 18: Creatively Solving Problems (big and small)
Finding missing clothing, coordinating multiple schedules, keeping the kids entertained on long car rides, getting them to sit at a table in a restaurant without destroying everything in sight, finding a bathroom when there are none — parents are always solving problems. And you have to get creative to do it.
At the end of my book there’s a list of podcasts and books that I highly recommend, as well as my afterword that explains in more detail why this journey has been so important for me, and many other mothers who have struggled to find their feet back in the workforce after being on leave.