I don’t think any parent has ever said that taking care of an infant is easy. I joined the “parents club” in January of this year as a mom of twins, and over the past few months, my response to family and friends’ inquiries about motherhood has typically included a (lovingly) long, breathy exhale.
Mmm hmm, taking care of two infants day-after-day and night-after-night has been nothing less than grueling—particularly during weeks of limited access to help, as a result of the vital COVID Stay at Home order. Recently, I almost handed my driver’s license to the barista to pay for my coffee, so to all you other new mommas (and daddies) out there, I feel ya, I feel ya, I feel ya!
As the State plans to allow more and more businesses to re-open through the Phases, I’ve been thinking about new moms returning to work after a (perhaps elongated) leave and how all the hard work at home may pay off in more ways than one.
Here are six competencies honed from successfully surviving the trials and tribulations of early motherhood that may also contribute to mom’s success at work (especially as her number of REMful nights increases):
Will to Learn
I haven’t met a mom who didn’t feel compelled to retrieve information from baby books, medical websites, mom blogs, YouTube, or all of the above. As long as we don’t fall into the trap of believing there’s only a single right way of doing everything, searching for and processing new information helps us figure out what a stork bite looks like, what “tummy time” is, how long breastmilk or formula stays good in the fridge—answers to questions that equip us to be better moms.
Opportunities in professional development may arise for moms who take this competency to work, as managers see them motivated to expand their expertise.
Sometimes the baby suddenly erupts into hysterics, wailing sharp cries for seemingly no rhyme or reason. Occasionally new moms must cry a little too, but dealing with an upset baby is not an “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” situation. Even when running on empty, being a mom in instances like these calls for patience—trying to maintain our cool, in order to stay focused and provide the best support.
Patience is also an asset to mom’s work involving interpersonal communication. Patience facilitates listening and asking questions with a professional demeanor and thereby helps mom make cautious decisions and build trust amongst coworkers.
One would hope the behaviors of babies and working adults are different, but these two groups may advance their knowledge and skills through comparable mechanisms of learning. We motivate our babies to succeed in their baby lives by providing them with regular, interactive feedback that helps them determine what they ought to be doing and encourages them to demonstrate what they have learned.
Likewise, mom leaders in the workplace can shape others’ behaviors through regular interactions involving valuable feedback that reinforces desirable work outcomes.
Entry into motherhood (aka “matrescence”) is wearisome. There’s a next day, and a next day, and a next day, and each day brings consecutive demands and setbacks that shake our physical and mental endurance. Moms will take their showers at 2 am and purchase multiple bottle brands to find the one the baby takes smoothly. We find ways to overcome hurdles and keep going.
Resilience is a highly desired competency in the workforce because the resilient worker stays on top of responsibilities and doesn’t give up. The resilient worker tackles daily pressures by addressing problems, implementing solutions, and making as-needed corrections in a timely manner.
Diapers. Wipes. Outfits. Trash bags. Bottles. Blankets. Pacifiers. Babies require effective management of many material resources, a responsibility involving regular checks of your stocks and planning, not only for dips in resources but for changes in the resources themselves, as in diaper and clothing sizes.
Resource management is essential to the work of Event Planners, Building Contractors, and Logistics Managers but may also come in handy any time mom’s work involves planning for a special project, meeting, or event requiring setup or use of multiple materials and equipment.
When we get that time away from baby, we use it to stop, think, plan, and execute. We make that to-do list and cross off the items one-by-one because the time available to complete such tasks is limited.
At work, time-management helps moms prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and achieve goals.
Although the context of mom-life may be quite different from that of mom’s work-life, the two can overlap in skills and traits of value, and employers that convey a supportive attitude towards their first-time-pregnant workers stand to reap the benefits.
New moms don’t pick up as they left off; they return stronger than they were before—my two cents.
As a new mom, I plan to be patting myself on the back as I watch my babies grow from teenies to toddlers to Pre-K aged and so on because I am betting this list of competencies grows with them!
About Suzette Tassin Jung
Suzette Tassin Jung is the Freelance Writer behind Cayenne Copy, LLC and has worked in the public sector for nearly a decade as a practitioner of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. She enjoys writing about topics that intersect HR, tech, business, and analytics. Suzette is a native New Orleanian, who loves music, architecture, and picnicking in the park with her family.