Spring is slowly (painfully slow this year) turning to summer in my corner of the world.
I really should be excited – after a very gloomy, rainy spring, I’m ready for sunshine! But, I’m also the mama to Elia. See, our feisty, strong-willed and exceptionally opinionated little girl doesn’t like change. In truth, she can’t cope with change and it’s especially difficult for her if she has to physically feel the change.
Here’s a case in point: For the last 8 months my girl has worn full-leg leggings or jeans. She’s now accustomed to feel her pants at her ankles. Shorts don’t reach ankles, they reach knees and thighs. And, well, that doesn’t feel right to Miss E. So, we have had to deal with a lot of frustrated grunts and screams, a lot of clothes pulling and a lot of blaming (yep, it’s my fault she’s too hot in school to wear long pants any more).
Since she’s now five and we’ve been going through this very scenario with each season change since she was a toddler, I’ve learned what to say and what to do. I only got to this place by being really creative and using skills I didn’t even know I had.
When you’re in the thick of it all, you don’t think what you’re doing is extraordinary by any means. You’re just thankful, at least in my case, she left the house with clothes on. And, by no means, would you think that such an accomplishment is worthy to mention on a resume or in a job interview.
But why not? Negotiating, crisis management, project management are all skills you use as a mama and they are definitely the same ones that will help you succeed at work.
So, if you’re at all in doubt that your maternity leave or your time as a stay at home mom has diminished your professional skills or that you don’t have time to stretch your skills at work, take a look at this list.
You manage time like a pro
To keep pace, companies need employees who can get a lot done in a little bit of time. And, you mama, are a time manager like no other. With only short windows of time to do all that you need to do, you know how to prioritize and focus on getting the things that matter most. Plus, you’re a wizard at reconfiguring your schedule to fit in a last-minute doctor’s appointment.
You can negotiate with powerful people
Even within companies, there are competing priorities that require two different parties to come to some sort of agreement. You know how to negotiate. Just think of the last time you very much wanted your kid to do something – perhaps eat the dinner you’ve made. I know your empty threat didn’t get them eat, but perhaps you made a trade that if they ate everything up they could get a cup of ice cream (no, just me?).
Your influencing skills are bar none
As any parent knows, you can’t force a child to do anything they don’t want to do. So, when negotiating isn’t an option, you’ll have to depend on your natural talents of persuasion. No matter the scenario, you can creatively reframe it so it appeals to your child and changes their way of thinking. Those are just the skills you need to win sale or convince a manager to try out your idea.
You can simply explain the most complex things
If there’s one quality every employer looks for and every job needs is someone with the ability to communicate clearly, simply. Although they seem intimidating at first flush, people who use fancy words don’t always get their messages across. You, on the other hand, have developed quite the knack to explain the most complex of things in the most simplest of ways. When speaking with children, we have to consider our audience. We use words they understand and examples they can relate to. We also speak empathetically and take the time to patiently listen for any questions.
Yes, you are a seasoned project manager
If you’ve ever planned to do anything with a child – a craft project, taking a vacation, planning a birthday party, scheduling doctor appointments or very much anything else – it’s likely you’ve developed some sweet project management skills. No matter the scenario, you’ve considered all the ways things can go right and wrong, you’ve developed contingency plans and you’ve made sure you have the equipment and supplies you’ll most likely need.
You can deal with difficult people
After almost a decade working in New York, I have dealt with my fair share of difficult people. Let me tell you none have been as difficult or frustrating than my girls during their toddler years. If you and your little one can come out of the terrible twos or the wicked threenager years unscathed, you can work with any type of person.
There’s no problem you can’t solve
Here’s a truth: when you’re dealing with babies, toddlers and kids of all ages, things go wrong. Accidents are frequent as are otherwise well-intentioned surprises and unfortunate mishaps. Planes don’t take off when they’re supposed to, traffic delays us and so much more. No matter what goes wrong, you quickly think up a way to fix the problem or de-escalate the situation.
You’re cool as a cucumber in times of crisis
There always seems to be a crisis at work – real or imagine – which is why companies are looking for people who are good under fire. That is you. Sure, you can solve just about any problem, but in times of real trouble you stay calm, collected and have a way to zero in on the very things that need to happen. What’s more you get to work without waiting for permission and you don’t let your emotions stand in your way.
You are innovative and creative
The “it” quality many employers are looking for today is your ability to think outside the box. Good thing because that’s exactly what you need to do as a mama. Your little people are constantly testing you with new problems and you have to respond with new solutions. Many times you have to come up with solutions to things that aren’t really problems at all they just appear to be to your kid. For all of it, you have to push your thinking beyond its usual limits and try new things – sometimes, many all at the same time.
You’ve got strong leadership and management skills
Mamas are born leaders. We take charge and figure out what needs to be done. We also roll up our sleeves and get it done or we recruit others to help out. And, like some of the best leaders, we mentor those under our charge when they’ve made a mistake, we guide them through to their next milestone, we cheer them when they’ve accomplished feats big and small, and we model qualities like honesty, integrity and loyalty. And, we do most things – even those we dislike – with a positive attitude.
So, there you have them. The 10 employable skills you’re developing and perfecting as a mama. Once you can identify these in your very own life, you’ll want to consider how they relate to your work or to the job you’re looking to apply to next so you can weave them into your conversations with your boss or a potential employer.
Are there any other skills that can be added to this list? Let me know in the comments below.