How becoming a Mum made me a Better Employee
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
I have always been ambitious, driven and focussed on my career. I used to think I was pretty organised, and had a good grasp on working quickly and efficiently. Having a baby changed how and why I work in so many ways.
I am more decisive I used to be very indecisive. I have a lot of opinions but in terms of committing to a choice, I used to spend a lot of time and energy weighing up pros and cons. Part of this was due to my fear of making the wrong choice. I no longer have time to dwell on decisions for too long, and am much better at trusting my gut, or asking for advice right away. I am no longer frozen by indecisiveness and that helps me work quicker. I have more confidence to trust my intuition and be happy that if it's the wrong choice, I can fix it.
I don't have time for office politics As a highly sensitive person, I know that I am partial to office gossip, politics and the great nuances of the office. I know it's easier now that we all WFH but I don't have time to engage with anything that isn't important or pivotal to my job. I still love a catch up but I don't spend as much time wondering or thinking about what my colleagues are thinking. Ultimately this means I've got more time during working hours to actually do my work.
I have more confidence Returning to work after a year of maternity leave was difficult. Knowing that we were in a pandemic, and half of my team had been let go a couple months before.. I was apprehensive to return to a role where the company had undergone a big transformation to address online learning (I work for a cyber security training company) and the product we were selling had completely changed. Once I adjusted to the new product and dynamics (it took me 6 weeks or so), I have much more confidence in my own abilities and my place within the team.
I am super efficient I do not have time to mess about. I work 8am-4pm, pick up Jacob from nursery, entertain him through the witching hour, put him to bed at 6:30 and jump back online to see if there was anything urgent that jumped up at the end of the working day that I missed. Because I finish everyday 'early', I constantly feel like I haven't got as much time as everyone else (even though I know I have). Once we pick Jacob up he is our top priority and I hardly look at my phone between 4 and 6. And that's it, the day is gone! I have learnt to compartmentalise, and be present for whatever activity I am doing in the moment, rather than stressing about the rest of my day. Jacob has taught me how to be truly present. And I think it's a great skill to have.
I work every working day as if your baby is going to be home sick tomorrow This might be a side effect of the pandemic but when Jacob first started nursery he got a few colds. Since Calpol is not allowed to be given in nursery due to masking covid 19 symptoms, and colds were treated as a potential covid symptoms, babies are hauled off for a test and cannot return to nursery until they have received a negative result (3 working days on average in Cardiff). Every time I wanted to take it easy in work or I felt unproductive and thought 'it's okay, Ill catch up tomorrow' is when Jacob would be ill, be off nursery and turn our working weeks upside down. I am now forever grateful for Jacob being in nursery and I never leave big projects to the next day as I know that's when something will happen to shake up our world!
I work in the evenings This is a controversial point. I don't think this is a good thing for my work/life balance but for the company, I am a better employee because I do often jump online in the evenings to respond to requests from the US team. I also am flexible with my schedule, I work in the evenings if I know I have something on the next day like a doctors appointment or something like that. I also do my freelance in the evenings so I am already in the habit of logging on, I might as well address any urgent matters in my day job while I'm there.
I am more driven I now have even more of a unit at home to work hard for, to earn good money for and provide for my family. I took a full year of maternity leave for Jacob, as it made sense for us as a family but now that my position within my company has greater impact, I am hoping if we ever have a second baby my husband and I will share the paternity leave. I want to earn as much money as I can so that we can give Jacob the fullest life possible. I want Jacob to be proud of my career when he grows up. I also saw how much stress it added to my husband to be the sole earner while I was on Maternity leave.
I can multitask Being a parent means consistently operating at full capacity; so I have no problem juggling multiple requests, niggles and to-do lists for days. I have a thicker skin, and I have a much higher threshold for stress. To be honest I don't know what to do with myself when I only have one thing to do. Maybe that's the nature of Graphic Design too but I need a long list, otherwise I'm forgetting something!
I always thought I was pretty efficient in the workplace but I think the most important change in working post children is my change in mindset towards confidence and my assertiveness. I used to hate confrontation but I'm learning to lean into it, to not take anything personally and speak my mind when I feel it's right.
What was your return to work experience like? I'd love to know!
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