Louise Deverell-Smith is the founder of The Daisy Chain, a flexible jobs matchmaker that puts talented parents in touch with family-friendly employers keen to find highly skilled individuals.
She talks to PressMum about the transferable skills you develop being a mum.
As a mother of three working in recruitment, I talk to a lot of mums. When discussing their problems and concerns about parenthood, an issue that I’ve noticed continually cropping up is their lack of confidence in returning to work. They’re a mum now – how will they even fit into a workplace again?
If you, too, are struggling with this, know that you’re not alone; in fact, I’d say you’re actually in the majority. But I think we mums give ourselves less credit than we really deserve. I mean, we’re raising a whole new human and that’s no easy feat!
This is why I wanted to take the time to remind you of all the new skills you’ve picked up since becoming a mum – skills you may not have even realised you now have. These traits can be exceptional in terms of employability and should definitely boost your confidence in your workplace skills.
From the moment you give birth, you start to learn how to be patient in a way you’ve never even had to before. From feeding through to weaning, potty training to nappy changing, your patience is constantly being tested. But isn’t that a great skill for the workplace? You can deal with situations in a calm manner (well, most of the time anyway) and not let stress become a hindrance.
Structure and routine is the saviour of all mums. Where would we be without our schedules? I know I need it just to get my children through a day of eating, having fun (in a structured way, of course!) and sleeping.
Being able to stick to a tight schedule day in, day out is a great skill to have in the business world and, as a business owner myself, I can’t tell you enough what a great attribute to have this is (although, probably leave out the 6.45pm bedtime story).
Mums are great at prioritising. We have to be – we’re far too busy to go around saying “yes” to everything! I’ve also learnt not to feel guilty about saying no, which you definitely need to be able to do in the business world.
If I’m requested for a meeting at 6.45 on a Wednesday night (which is the scheduled story time!) then I don’t hesitate in saying no because I have my children to consider and they come first. Being a mum also teaches you to get the important stuff done first and to not leave anything to the last minute because you never know what could come up.
Love, Love, Love…
When you become a mum, you experience an unconditional love that – most probably – you’ve never felt before. Now, it may be odd to consider love as a skill, but it certainly is!
This strength of love has made me see everything completely differently and I behave towards people in a whole new manner. I’m always being told ‘oh, that’s the mother in you’, and it’s this motherly instinct and behaviour that can translate really well into the workplace and when interacting with colleagues.
When your child loses in the sack race or doesn’t get picked for the football team or doesn’t get asked to his classmate’s birthday party, it’s us mums who have to stay positive. Even on our worst days, we need to see the bright side of everything for the sake of our children. In business, being able to stay positive through stressful situations is going to put you miles ahead of your colleagues!
Power of the School Gate
Making friends with other mums at the school gate is surprisingly similar to networking. Once you’ve had to small talk your way from strangers to close friends with a group of other mums, you’ll find that the skills you used are just the same as when mingling with businessmen and women! Well, minus the talk of tantrums and teething, of course.
As a parent, we become conscious of our role model position as soon as we bring our babies home. This self-awareness of our behaviour and being able to control ourselves for the sake of others is a skill that translates very well into the workplace, where image is often very important.
Before having children, most of us won’t ever really have had to stress or worry about anyone other than ourselves. Even if you think you do, it’s nothing compared to when you have a baby!
As soon as you become a mum, you’re not your top priority anymore and you’re constantly sacrificing your wants for that of another – albeit tiny – human. Isn’t that going to make you a great team player at work?
As a mum, you’ll be well versed in the art of negotiation. “Eat your broccoli and you can stay up an extra five minutes.” “Pick up your clothes and then you can play with that toy.” We know it well.
Being able to look at a situation and derive a compromise that leaves both sides happy is a skill that employers will absolutely love. It’s how business gets done, really!
So, you see, being a mum hasn’t lessened your competence in the workplace, it’s actually strengthened it! I mean, you’re raising a small human and you’re doing just fine – does it get any tougher than that? Dealing with a tricky colleague or a tight schedule will be a breeze now.