Updated: Aug 22
Taking time away from work to become a parent can feel daunting. There is the sense of dread…“ What if I am left behind as I’m not developing my professional skills whilst I am focusing on raising my children?”.
I believed this would be my reality. But it couldn’t be MORE WRONG.
When navigating my first months with my newborn I noticed I was consistently leveraging a PLETHORA of skills I had developed in a professional setting.
What was more, I became a MASTER of these skills in order to survive on a daily basis! The rate of development and honing of these skills was x100s quicker than in any previous job.
The skills were ones I had seen as “must haves” on job specifications many times over.
Here are just a few…
Prioritisation & time management skills
Every time baby goes down for a nap (for who on earth knows how long) you become extremely adept at evaluating the criticality of myriad of tasks that “need” doing, executing them in order of priority as efficiently as possible to maximise what you get done in the time available, before your priority once again changes as baby awakens from their slumber.
Another side skill (which was harder for me to develop as a perfectionist) was treating yourself with kindness when inevitably only 20% of tasks were completed. This is a critical skill for avoiding parental, and workplace, burnout.
Flexibility & Adaptability in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment
Our children’s needs change CON.STANT.LY. You become adept at jumping at the drop of a hat from playtime to naptime, with a poonami thrown in somewhere in the middle, based on an analysis of the signs and cues you are presented with.
And routine? What on earth is that? Nope, you learn to operate, and indeed thrive in the ever changeable whirlwind, where the only constant is the unknown.
Ability to stay calm and operate effectively in high pressure environments
Anyone who has managed to change a nappy successfully, and at the speed of light, whilst you can see an imminent tantrum / high throttled scream brewing, or kept their cool to soothe a baby who is crying for no rhyme or reason at 3am, knows how to operate under a different kind of intense pressure!
Ingenuity, creativity & resourcefulness
These were not what I would call my strong suits prior to the arrival of my little boy. But parenthood develops the skills to engage a tough audience at the drop of a hat, with no preparation what.so.ever., and create excitement and buzz with no fancy presentation or videography.
Perspective of the things around you change, as you learn to see mundane objects as a source of entertainment, and use different, creative parts of your brain to bring about joy.
You may not be in a corporate space whilst on parental leave, but this absolutely does not mean that you aren’t developing and growing as an individual.
Parenthood causes us to leverage our strengths and teaches us a whole new set of skills, that are an asset to any organisation.
So, if find yourself worrying about the skills “gap” you might have to bridge upon returning to work, or your confidence in your professional skills starts to waiver during your time on parental leave, try asking yourself the following, on a semi-regular basis (whenever you can find that elusive 5 minutes to yourself!):
· What skills have I leveraged over the past [week/fortnight/month]?
· What attributes make me a great parent?
· What new skills have I learnt or developed? How can these help me in the future?