How Being a Mom (or Dad) Prepares You for Business
Whether you take these and apply them to your career outside of the home or you decide to bring the office to you and work from home, you might be surprised at how many of your well-earned parenting skills actually translate perfectly into your work life.
Time Management – The Skill Everyone is Talking About
Kids have schedules, sometimes very demanding ones. Even an infant will need to be fed, changed, snuggled, talked to, and put back down for a nap on a regular schedule – or an irregular one depending on the day they’re having. As a parent you know approximately how much time falls between those cycles, exactly how much time you’ll have to get some sleep, take a shower, eat something yourself, answer your email, or load the dishwasher. If you’re lucky enough to get into a rhythm you can get an amazing number of things done in between nap time and feeding time.
Multitask Management and Getting Things Done
The truth of the matter is no one can multitask efficiently, our brains just are not wired for it. If you try to do too many things at once you end up doing them all at a percentage of good. However, parents seem to have an uncanny ability to do multiple things at once, especially when their children are younger. Stacking blocks and skimming the newspaper, feeding the baby and getting dressed at the same time, stirring whatever’s on the stove for dinner and paying attention to the lengthy story your child is telling you – these things all take skills that other people don’t have.
Leadership Skills and Giving Clear Instructions
Ever walked to the park in the middle of the day with your kids? Or maybe you’ve seen your local daycare on their afternoon walk. Or maybe the family vacation where you were able to walk around the lake and go fishing. Going anywhere and doing anything with toddlers on foot requires leadership, constant vigilance on your part, and a lot of repeating yourself and giving very clear instructions to people who may or may not be listening to you. That sounds a lot like upper management to me.
Impressive Negotiation Skills and the Ability to Convince People
I’ll be honest, for a few years when my boys were small there was always a toddler on my hip or very close behind me, I forced myself to be able to entertain them and fold the laundry at the same time. If you can make laundry entertaining to a five-year-old and convince them that folding is fun, I’m pretty sure you can do anything.
The only thing more difficult than convincing a toddler to do something is convincing a teenager to do something they don’t want to do. Parents and high school teachers of the world will tell you that motivating a teenager can be more difficult than it appears on the surface. They can be emotional and stubborn, but once you talk to them and get to know them better you’ll find their motivational triggers.
Convincing that on-the-fence client to come over to your side of the line is not going to be a problem. Making a pitch to some venture capitalists would be a walk in the park for you.
Crisis Management and Situation Control
When you have kids in the house, everything is a crisis. Everything. From infant to teenager, every moment seems like an emergency. Calming their fears and talking them down from the over-reaction is a skill you’ll master early on in your parenting career.
In addition to that, you realize that if you panic, they panic – if you get upset, they get upset – if you’re afraid, they’re afraid – if you laugh, they laugh. Kids get their cues from their parents at every stage of growing up. You can combine your leadership role and your crisis management role here and prevent the crisis reaction just by the way you react to something.
If a toddler falls down and you don’t react in any obvious way, they might not react either, they’ll get right back up and keep on going. If they fall and you gasp and they see that you’re afraid, they might start to cry in reflection to your fear that they got hurt. Unless of course the fall actually hurt, then they’re just going to cry no matter what reaction you have.
The point is there are varying stages of crisis, from teeny-tiny to huge and out of control. How you react can make a difference in how your team reacts and in how smoothly things will go after the crisis. Keep your cool and keep moving forward toward the solution and the next steps.
Today I want you to know that you are more than just a parent, no matter what. You have amazing skills and you’re an amazing person. Whatever it is that you want for your career, go out there and get it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you don’t have the skills or you’re lacking in a degree. Show them you can and get it done.