At one time, the role of motherhood and raising children was held in high regard. It was a valiant and valuable offering to the community. That started to change as the idea of work evolved – now that we could contribute to our families by earning an income parenting diminished in value.
It didn’t earn a paycheck, so how could it possibly contribute to a family?
This idea has been reinforced over time in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Here’s just one example: most governments in western nations classify stay-at-home parents as “dependents” just as they do children. They aren’t partners who, together, are contributing to society.
As a result, society overall has come to view the work of caring for children as worthless. The effort doesn’t equate to dollars, and so, it is worthless. With this instilled belief, the skills required to parent are diminished and considered inconsequential to the “real world” of work.
Maybe that was true at one time. It’s just not today.
Hard skills – those specific or technical skills you can learn in school – can only take you so far in today’s world of work. The soft skills are the very ones that will set you apart. These skills can be learned, but they can only be mastered through continuous effort and ongoing practice.
They are also the very ones that are essential in parenting.
So, if you’re undermining the value you bring to the job
Negotiating, crisis management, project management – these are the skills parents use day-in and day-out. They are also the skills employers need now more than ever.
So, if you’re ever doubting the value you bring to the job, or worried your time at home caring for your child has diminished your professional skills, think again.
You manage time like a pro
To keep pace, companies need employees who can get a lot done in a little bit of time. Parents are forced to work in short windows of time. It demands you prioritize activities and find the most efficient way to complete tasks. Plus, as much of your day is at the whim of a child, you’ve become a wizard at reconfiguring schedules to fit in last-minute doctor’s appointments.
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 (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 a 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 and 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
We all have worked with difficult people. Yet, at least in my experience, none have been as difficult, uncompromising or frustrating than my own daughters during their toddler years. If you and your little one can come out of the terrible twos or the wicked threenager years relatively unscathed, you can work make it work with even the toughest adults.
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 imagined – which is why companies are looking for people who are good under fire. That’s you. Sure, you can solve just about any problem, but you bring the perspective needed to keep things in check. Plus, with a clear head you can zero in on the very things that need to get done.
You’re 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 do as a parent. 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
Parents 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 it. Ten employable skills you’re developing and perfecting in your role as a parent. 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.