I’ve been out of the workforce for nearly five years, is how I begin my thinking about going back to work. Admittedly, not the most confident thought to have when networking with old colleagues, bosses and updating my resume.
So, I’ve been trying to come up with the optimistic “but…” line. And the more I think about how motherhood will have an impact on my management skills, the more I’m able to shift my thinking to, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and this is how it’s made me a better manager than ever!
I stopped working in 2007. While I was managing a housing reconstruction program for victims of the 2005 Tsunami in Indonesia, I had my third miscarriage in as many years, and it broke me. It ended my nascent career in international humanitarian aid and development. My husband and I returned home to the US feeling like dejected wanderers with no foundation to uplift us from our failure to create a family.
I was lost and could not regain my usual drive to work, and so my husband pursued his dream of joining the US Foreign Service. We bought a home to anchor us physically and psychologically knowing that we would need that anchor when we set sail abroad again. Then miraculously, just as my husband started his job as a diplomat, I started my job as a mother of our blessed twins.
Boy, was I in for the toughest job of my life! Not only was I working irregular hours, including night shifts and overtime, I was on-call 24/7 answering to TWO bosses who had no management or communication skills to speak of and who wanted immediate gratification setting unrealistic deadlines nearly by the hour.
My job required constant vigilance on our budget, adjusting priorities according to the mercurial needs of our venture, reducing costs where possible while maintaining quality in order to service two very finicky clients. The constant demands from my clients required planning with a triple-layered Gantt chart committed to memory (since I rarely had time to check my computer). Staying ahead of their needs was one key to my success.
I also managed to reach unsurpassed heights in multi-tasking while sleep deprived, hungry, and unkempt. I had to learn a whole new language never before spoken by anyone, and there was a lot of heavy lifting involved. I have frequently dealt with the unexpected and am able to come up with effective solutions in a flash. Finally, even though I had part-time assistants, we were still painfully short-staffed. However, I was able achieve my goals and fulfill all of my responsibilities beyond expectations.
So I didn’t really stop working after all. My managements skills aren’t so rusty after all. In fact, they’ve probably been honed sharper than I realize. More importantly, I think I’ve also gained some “soft” skills that can’t be taught outside of my current job. My emotional intelligence IQ has probably sky rocketed. I am now more empathetic, more patient, more understanding, more flexible, more self-less, more fair. I am a better listener, better negotiator, better compromiser, better communicator and even a better hugger.
All these things I’ve gained from being a full-time mom and I would be a great asset to any organization that hires me. Now that’s more like it. I have a resume to update…
How has being a mom impacted your professional capabilities?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our mother of twins writer, Dee Harlow in Virginia, USA.
Photo credit attributed to mirimcfly. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
Love the way you “re-framed” your re-entry into the (paid) workforce. I think being a parent makes us–or has the potential to make us–more empathetic, more patient, and WAY better at multi-tasking. When I became a mom my professorial style changed–I no longer needed students to “like” me in the same way that I did before having kids. Not sure why that was–perhaps it was because I was getting all my “need to be needed” yayas fulfilled by the small blob of squalling humanity I’d birthed!
Thanks Deborah! I think letting go of the need to be liked by everyone at work will give me a different perspective to work with.
Great post!!!!! Good luck in this new phase of your career!
I think being a mother has helped me learned to prioritize and also do tasks faster 🙂 Time is truly gold now!!!!
Time IS gold making the decision to go back to work even harder. I really enjoy being a mom but I’m not sure where the line is between enjoying it so much and losing a piece of myself while the years rush by…
LOL-love your updated resume.
Thank you Susie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
So true. Motherhood teaches us things that we would never think it’d teach us. I’d like to add the following skills to add to the resume- effective stress and time management, negotiation and resourcefulness!
Yes, it’s like, I never knew what I didn’t know until I became a mom!
I think you should make up a resume highlighting all your great mom skills, and we should post it!
Good luck with your job search, Dee!
Thanks for your encouragement Jen! Now let’s hope there are no restrictions on my working in Laos while holding a diplomatic visa. In some countries, like in Thailand, it conflicts with trying to get a work visa, sigh.
Brilliant! I feel like I am so much more efficient when I am at work than I was before kids. Thanks for writing this, Dee!
You are very welcome! I enjoyed writing it and it really helped me to process positive thoughts.
Great post! I have’t worked for eight years now yet feel like being a Mom and getting involved in my own stuff over the years has kept me in touch with reality. If I do go back to work, it would be something totally different than what I did before, that’s for sure!
I just spoke to another mom friend who feels the exact same way about the likelihood of changing careers or shifting into something else after realizing that she would not be able to return to the same kind of work prior to motherhood.
Your updated resume shows some tremendous growth in skills and ability to face high paced situations 😀 Thanks for helping out my country after the tsunami.
Thank you! I really enjoyed working in Aceh Province. It is such a beautiful place.
If anyone came to me with this as a resume I would hire her in a minute! These are all excellent skills for a mom, and in any job!
Thank you for your encouraging words!