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Motherhood: It Can Help Your Career

Mother on laptop with daughter hugging her from behind

In 2010, when I first learned I was pregnant, I had strong concerns that parenthood would affect my job security and prospects for a successful career. Would I be considered as capable as I was before? Would I continue to grow in leadership? Now, as a mom of two (10 & 13, whew!) I can tell you that motherhood brings a set of skills and experiences that translate into any role. Motherhood can actually help your career.


Today, the workplace is designed with a focus on productivity, adaptability, and continuous improvement. Fortunately, many of the soft skills required to excel in that environment are the same skills that successful mothers exercise regularly.


Making Things Happen


Mothers are great multi-taskers and develop better time management skills over time. Not only are we taking care of our own needs (groceries, bills, hygiene) but we must ensure that our children are taken care of. That added responsibility forces mothers to compartmentalize the work that needs to get done in comparison to the energy we have available. We keep checklists, make schedules, block our time, and, most importantly, communicate. If there is a task with a dependency, (packing a lunch or a backpack before leaving for school), we track it and provide reminders. Sometimes hundreds of times a day. The list of things we can check off in a day is astounding. And the more we do it, the more it becomes a routine and the better we get at it.


 “Motherhood is wonderful, but it’s also hard work. It’s the logistics more than anything. You discover you have reserves of energy you didn’t know you had.” —Deborah Mailman

This translates well in the workplace because we can compartmentalize the work that needs to get done, create a plan and execute it. Interruptions and changing priorities are easier to manage because we have become accustomed to the organized chaos that comes with raising children. Adding skills like “organization”, “time-management” and “communication” to our resumes is a no-brainer because it’s what get’s us through every single day.


Adapting To Every Situation


Working can be stressful. Long hours, a heavy workload, and changing situations can all impact our emotions and how we deal with challenges. The ability to deal with frustration, engage in patience and interact with others respectfully is incredibly important. This is a learned skill and parenthood brings with it a limitless supply of frustrating situations to help you practice. Sometimes it’s a temper tantrum that makes us want to lose our minds or a tough math question we don’t even remember learning or a call from the school that our kid is being bullied. When these situations happen regularly (and they certainly do!), it forces us to learn to keep our emotions in check so that we can respond appropriately and effectively. We learn to take a breath, be intentional and interact with our kids with patience. We consider their age, the circumstance, and what they’re feeling at that moment when we’re choosing how to respond.


That’s the wonderful thing about mothers: you can because you must, and you just do.” — Kate Winslet

These skills of patience, empathy, and self-control are game-changers in the workforce. The concept of situational responses is the core of many jobs interview questions. This is because the ability to manage our emotions and approach situations with a learning mindset enables safe, inclusive, and engaged working teams. It also ensures that as situations change, we can apply different techniques for a successful outcome.


Learning New Things


The things I knew as a mom of a newborn are drastically different than what I now know as a mom of a teenager. To think, only 13 years ago I was learning how to change a diaper and reading books on potty training. Now I do google searches for how to put parental controls on a phone. Not to mention revisiting my high school history books to help my daughter with her Egyptian history paper or my son with his shoebox model of a rainforest.  There is no “it’s not my job” mentality because, honestly, it is. It’s my responsibility to put in the effort to learn and support my children in an ever-changing environment. Their needs change and I must keep up.


This is no different from keeping pace in our optical work environments. Every day there are new regulations, new technologies, and new industry leaders that may impact how we conduct business. We ask ourselves; Is there another way this can be done? Am I meeting my customer’s needs? What is happening in the future that might impact me and my business? As mothers, we are already in a continuous learning mindset so translating that mindset into our work environment enables us to cultivate our curiosity and be change

ready.


“[As a mother] you go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible—oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.” —Tina Fey

What This Means For You


Motherhood does not take away from your potential in the workplace, it makes you a better employee and leader. So proudly proclaim the skills you have gained when updating your resume or sitting through an interview. While you’re at it, be sure to build up your fellow mothers; we all need a reminder of our value occasionally.

Looking to make a change? Visit the OWA Job Board for opportunities in our network.


“For me, being a mother made me a better professional, because coming home every night to my girls reminded me what I was working for. And being a professional made me a better mother, because by pursuing my dreams, I was modeling for my girls how to pursue their dreams.” – Michelle Obama

Soft Skills to add to your resume

  1. Time Management

  2. Organization

  3. Communication

  4. Adaptability

  5. Situational Leadership

  6. Ensuring Accountability

  7. Perseverance

  8. Courage

  9. Curiosity

  10. Nimble Learner

  11. Coaching & Feedback


Written by: Holly Gough

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