How Motherhood has Highlighted my Skill Set
Motherhood- It’s far more than I thought it would be (and trust me, I Googled and researched enough to fill a library so you’d think I’d know at least a bit of what I was getting myself in to) but it’s equally more rewarding and more exhausting than I ever could have imagined.
But from it, it’s highlighted so many skills I already have and how they overlap into my motherhood and working life
I’ve taken the last year off for Maternity Leave and gave birth to a happy little boy called Benji. He’s currently a 10x month old delight and I wouldn’t change him for the World, but as I was ‘trapped’ under him as he drifted off to sleep on me earlier, I found myself contemplating work and what skills Motherhood has highlighted I have.
Now, this is the first one that springs to mind- wow do you need to have patience with kids, be it (for the 16th time) picking off the floor the dinner that you lovingly prepared them, through to the patience you need getting them to drift off to sleep for the umpteenth time; but it goes both ways and I understand that he equally needs to have the patience for me as I fill up his water cup after he’s knocked it over again or try to understand what that moment’s cry or emotional outburst is about.
When a client is changing their mind on a feature for the third time, I have the patience to sit with them and understand why they want it changed and then we can work out what the end goal should be and how we get there, and more often than not, they meant something completely different.
Faith in Myself
I’ve learned to trust my gut quicker and have less doubt in my decision making and if something doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t. Benji can’t yet talk and if something’s wrong, he can’t stop and go ‘Mother, I seemed to have pooped in my pants, please can you clean it up, it’s rather uncomfortable’ but I have had enough experience to read the ‘grunting’ signs and know it’s coming up to his usual nappy change time, so that’s what could be causing the change in behaviour. Having faith in myself and my knowledge means I can react quickly and get it right the first time rather than doubting my response. By forging close relationships with my clients and trusting my abilities, I’m able to preempt what they might want and have the answers to their questions ready in my possession.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I’m a worrier, I worry if X, Y or Z might happen, if A happens then are we prepped enough for B or if something I’ve done has upset or caused issues for someone else (something as simple as saying thank-you only three times, was a fourth needed?) Having Benji has meant I don’t have as much time anymore to worry, I’ve got a child’s life depending on me that needs that attention now. I’ve learnt to roll more with things and that worrying isn’t causing anyone issues or stress, except myself. Benji doesn’t care about the ‘could-haves’ or ‘should-haves’ he cares about what’s in front of him here and now and getting that right is where my attention should be. The same goes for my clients, they don’t care about how we get to C or D, their end goal is Z and it’s my job to make that happen (with my amazing team) within their budget
I love getting feedback, I can learn from it, improve and make things better, and with Motherhood, the feedback is slightly different to what I’d get from my clients. I’m happy to say, that Benji’s main feedback is smiles or laughs of joy, but it’s allowed to me see the type of feedback that I can also provide and how it affects things. Benji’s latest skill is giving people ‘high fives’. He loves it when someone holds out their hand to high five him, and he holds his out in return and we all get excited and smile and encourage him. This shows him he’s doing the right thing, and he’s more likely to do it again and again. At work, I try to do this positive reinforcement with my team, encouraging them in the work they create and helping them understand what my clients require in a language they can understand and work with.
Yes, this is your most typically expected skill a mum might say, and I’ve always been proud of my time and project managing skills, but motherhood has shown me just how useful they are. Be it from preparing the next day’s activities once he’s gone to bed for the night, through to anticipating and expecting sudden changes of toy preference and the meal prep… oh so much snack and meal prep (tip- the freezer and snack bags of pre-made portions are your friend).
When I’m working on a website launch deadline, my time management skills allow a team to work efficiently and effectively and for me to organise anything needed so the team can focus and do what they do best- the code work.
Now this one may come as a surprise to some people but beneath my facade, I didn’t feel like I had a lot of confidence, however, I’ve learnt that I’m stronger than I initially believed. There’s nothing quite like a small child trusting you completely to build up your confidence. Benji knows I’ll be there for him and knowing that, allows him to test his boundaries and take his first steps as he knows I’m there to catch him when he falls. Knowing he has the confidence in me, as my team and clients do, has allowed me to see what I am capable of and have more confidence in me.
I’ve always been an organised person, heck you have to be in Client Services, but as a mum, these skills have translated easily into everyday life. In my mummy group, I’m happy to be the one to organise the meetups or Zoom calls, and I’ve often fallen all-to-easily into my usual ‘conference call Account Manager‘ role on videos calls- asking how everyone’s doing, how the schedule (of sleep) is, does everyone have what they need for the day (nappies, toys or snacks) and what the daily objection is (tummy time or food prep).
Having Benji, I now understand the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’- yes you can try and do it alone (and I have respect to anyone that does) but I’ve found I’ve needed the help, be it from my husband, midwives, friends, family, baby groups, random people I’ve ranted to on the street, etc. Everyone brings a different perspective and everyone’s advice is useful (either to rule out or build on) but I couldn’t have done it alone, and I wouldn’t have wanted to for Benji- he’s a sociable being and he likes interacting with others.
Having a team I could trust alongside me proved invaluable when it came to giving birth and post-birth (I needed to stay in longer for unexpected complications) and again a few short months later when I need an operation to remove my gallbladder. There was no way I could do it alone, but having a team meant we all worked together to make sure Benji was OK.
The same goes when building a website, everyone on my team plays a valuable part, sure I can run a few lines of code and a developer can answer the phone to the client, but it’s not where our expertise is and when we each focus on our talents, together we create kick-ass websites.
As a Mother, you sure do have to persevere a lot as in the start, you don’t exactly get a lot of positive reward from doing the same activity time and time again to teach your little one new skills, but when it does come, it can be so rewarding. I’ve been doing something called ‘Sing and Sign‘ with Benji which teaches him sign language to nursery rhymes. We were doing it for months with no feedback from Benji, when suddenly he started signing ‘milk’ and then ‘stars’ and then more and more and it meant that he could finally communicate with me what he wanted or was thinking. It reminded me that the skills might not be instant, but he is paying attention to what I’m doing and my perseverance does pay off.
Perseverance goes hand in hand when launching a marketing campaign, you need to figure out who your target market is, and test and tweak it until you get the right reach, then you can deliver your message.
When you have a small child constantly throwing up on you, not sleeping and cluster feeding off you, you have no choice but to forget any negativities when you look down at their little face and realise how helpless and defenseless they are. But in turn, I now have empathy myself for every parent out there as I know how tough it is (from my perspective as I know there are others out there in situations far worse than mine) and from all the older ladies who like to tell me what it was like in their time, and how things were done their way (seriously, there is a lot of judging and unsolicited advice from the older generation).
When a client or team member needs to be off and out the door by a certain time (e.g for a child pick-up), it’s my job to make their life easier and I’ll work with them to get our meeting finished on time. If we need anything else, I know they’ll get back to me when they can.
Having Benji has opened my eyes to a new world and has certainly made me a better person, but he’s equally allowed me to look, see and utilise what my skills are in a way I’ve never evaluated them before. I’ve only mentioned a few of my thoughts here (I’m on a time limit and having to write before he wakes up) but there are more.
For anyone else about to embrace becoming a parent, I doth my cap to you. Have faith in yourself, it’s a truly wonderful experience but nothing like you’ve ever encountered!