Now, I’m not talking about the huge changes like returning part-time or taking on the new career of SAHM, I’m talking about the more subtle differences between pre and post baby when you return to work.
Here are 5 ways working life changes after children.
From a life where the only things you needed to worry about were your job and your social life, suddenly your brain is thrown into disarray. Your brain has to continue to work on these things, however, it now has to process every worry, chore and happy memory from parenthood that enters it as well and there is no control. It just happens – they pop into your head on the journey to work, in meetings, at lunch or just sat at your desk. Your brain capacity is stretched beyond your wildest dreams – and you manage.
Tea room chats
I remember that I used to talk to colleagues about city breaks, sports matches and office gossip. Nowadays it is 90% about children – theirs, mine, our mutual friend who has just given birth. It becomes all encompassing and even if the conversation starts with ‘how was your weekend?’, you can’t help but turn it into child-related.
There are many working women who somehow manage to retain their immaculate appearance after maternity leave. I’m not one of them (and I probably never was immaculate). However, the hairdresser visits have plummeted, the personal grooming a distant memory, new clothes rare and my make-up is way past its best before date. The priority is getting the child out the door on time and not looking like an urchin – even if you do look like a female Fagin in ill-fitting suit. Note to self – book hair appointment.
Patience and Tolerance
For me, this has been by far the most surprising consequence of having a child. In my previous life I used to be calm, optimistic and could take most things in my stride. These days, by having military-style routines for most family activities, time is of the essence in everything. Unfortunately, this means that I expect the same at work as I do at home and not everyone thinks the same way. Needless to say, I can be abrupt to the point of rude these days because I know how precious my time is. In order to manage, most parents I know run a tight ship. We cram as much as we can into our working day so that we can sign-off and change into our superhero costume for nursery pick-up. When colleagues don’t have the same challenges it tests both patience and tolerance levels to the max.
Ability to think outside the box
This final point essentially pulls together points 1 and 4 and is a fantastic benefit for employers hiring us working Mums. As parents, you find ways to do things that are smarter and easier – because if you don’t, you’ll implode. Multi-tasking like a ninja was one phrase picked up from a LinkedIn post the other day and it is absolutely right. After children, you think differently and you reduce slack in your day by working smarter and not necessarily harder. Prioritisation is paramount along with stronger decision-making with less pondering. There is no time to sit and deliberate over whether the decision was the right one – you make it and you stick by it. Agile is a term I use regularly in my job and it resonates perfectly with working Mums. We are agile, we can move between tasks seamlessly and do things differently in order to increase our productivity.
Our daily grind changes after children, but it isn’t all bad!