Forget the guilt, especially when it comes to work – giving birth has given you skills that will trump those of your colleagues.
You might worry you’ve lost touch, or feel insecure or nervous about going back to work. (Yes, we’ve been there, too.) But motherhood brings hidden advantages on all levels, practically and emotionally. Giving birth and looking after a newborn requires an inner strength only mums develop – not least patience and an ability to negotiate out of dead-ends (lost toys and tantrumming spring to mind).
And these brilliant by-products of having a baby give you the edge at work, too. In a recent survey, 61% of working mums believed they did a better job after having a child. Still not convinced? Let our Working Mums Club panel mentors remind you why you’re the best you’ve ever been.
You’ve developed patience
If you’ve ever tried to do anything in a hurry – er, get your baby to sleep or work out how to use your sling while your baby bawls – you’ll know that you can no longer proceed in life without drawing on deep reserves of patience.
‘Most parents learn to take a deep breath and give people around them more understanding,’ says Jessica Chivers, founder of The Talent Keeper Specialists and author of Mothers Work! How To Get A Grip On Guilt And Make A Smooth Return To Work. ‘In the workplace, this means a greater acceptance of other people’s approaches.’ So, you’re not just a team player, but you’re empathetic, too.
'Motherhood focuses the mind'
You zone out non-essentials
It’s amazing how you can blank out office gossip when you’re up against a deadline and have to get to nursery by a certain time. According to research, two in five managers believe mums work faster, while a third said they’re more motivated than non-mothers.
Nicola de Burlet, a senior beauty PR, and mum to Robbie, five, says if you need something done, ask a working mum. ‘We can cut out the background noise and get results,’ she says. ‘Who else could change a nappy in the back of a car when your child’s screaming? Motherhood focuses the mind.’
You’ve got management skills
You may not notice this skill until your baby is reaching his toddler years, but you’ll gradually be honing your ability to praise him in a way that motivates. Research has shown that describing what a child does (for example, ‘I see you’ve drawn a red square with a yellow circle’) will help him become more self-sufficient, whereas empty praise – telling him he’s ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ – is likely to have the opposite effect, as he’ll believe he doesn’t have to put in effort to become these things.
These techniques don’t just apply to children – the same people skills make you a better manager, teaching you how to make an employee learn without giving them the answer.
You’ve found perspective
So what if your rug is now off-white thanks to spilt milk stains? As a new parent, you’re often forced to surrender to the unpredictable messiness of life and adopt a ‘whatever will be, will be’ approach that works wonders when faced with a job interview or scary presentation.
'You'll believe you're capable of anything'
‘Once you’ve given birth, dealt with a newborn and mastered being a mum, you believe you’re capable of anything,’ says Jessica. A recent study showed that working mums were less stressed than those who stayed at home, and singer Lily Allen agrees that motherhood has mellowed her. ‘Having kids, you think about the future in a very different way,’ she says. ‘It becomes less about you and more about someone else.’
Your inner control freak has left the building
Once you’re a mum, you need people – whether it’s your own mother to babysit, a childminder to enable you to work or a neighbour to sign for your bulk delivery of nappies. So, if you haven’t already got used to getting people to do things for you – even if they don’t do them exactly as you would – it’s time to.
But this doesn’t just mean being bossy. ‘The art of delegating is in giving enough responsibility for someone to take ownership of a task,’ says Tamara Heber-Percy, mum of two and co-founder of travel company Mr & Mrs Smith. ‘And it’s the same with toddlers, as they learn through doing, you have to let them get on with it,’ she says.
You’ve got business sense
Apprentice winner Yasmina Siadatan, creative director at the government-funded Start Up Loans, has two children under three and believes the flexibility of running your own business lends itself to being a mother.
‘There is nothing more rewarding than being your own boss,’ says Yasmina. ‘Mothers make great entrepreneurs because of their focus and work ethic. Plus, part-time jobs are hard to come by and childcare costs often mitigate the financial incentive of working full time, so being your own boss can be a better choice.’
You’re great at time management
With meals, snacks, naps and bedtime to worry about, you’ll find time as a mum is in short supply. ‘Parenting is a balancing act and you have to get organised,’ says entrepreneur and former commercial director of Urban Retreat, Tracey Woodward, who’s on the board for the Prince’s Trust and a mum of two.
Plus, you’re less likely to freak out when you’re overburdened because it happens constantly as a mum. ‘When you have a baby, certain things have to be done at certain times,’ she adds. ‘This is a handy skill to have at work when you’re juggling projects and need to prioritise.’
How do you think being a mum has helped you in the workplace? Let us know in the comments box below.