Last week I attended a non-profit evening event with my husband. It had been a long day with my kids at home, and I was flustered at being late and really hungry. On my rush to grab some food to shove into my mouth, I ran into a sweet old lady (SOL) who wanted to chat.
Me: Hello! Sorry I’m shoving food into my mouth… I’m a bit hungry and wasn’t thinking straight.
SOL: No problem. How are you doing with those little babies of yours? How do you like being a mother?
Me: (Still shoving food in my mouth…) The kids are adorable and crazy all in one. As for being a mom… I’m doing my best.
SOL: It’s so special, isn’t it?
Me: Yes, that is true. But it’s also hard. REALLY hard sometimes. I was in the Peace Corps and their tag line was “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I think motherhood has one up on Peace Corps. I think motherhood deserves that slogan even more.
SOL: (Pause) Thank you. (Another pause) Thank you so much for saying that. (And then she smiled and walked away.)
And that got me thinking. Well, of course it’s hard, and rewarding… and so are many of the jobs we have over the course of our lifetime. Some of those jobs are so easy they are boring, and some are so hard we end up in a corner crying each week. Similar to being a parent.
In honor of this HARD job we are all doing as parents, I would like to remind you of the “Leadership skills” you are developing while being with your kids. Being that they are transferrable, they should also be able to serve you in another job or professional position. You have developed job-specific skills in past roles, and you are doing it as parents, too. Remember that you are developing the following leadership skills on a daily basis:
Dealing with Terrible Managers
We’ve all had a supervisor that was less than ideal, but we were able to quit our job or figure a “work around” in the situation. Not as parents. You have a screaming 2 year old as your manager today? Too bad. Get over it, start learning how to breathe, and push through as best you can.
Receiving Negative Feedback
I’m not sure if there is a single day that goes by that one of the my little managers provides me with ‘constructive’ feedback about the food I’ve cooked, the way I’ve arranged something, what I’ve forgotten this time, or how I’m not quick enough to respond to their constant demands. And there is no sugar coating on this feedback- it’s just straight and painful at times.
I used to think I was patient. Then I got married and thought I was really patient. Then I had kids and realized that I’d actually never been patient at all… and I’m still having a hard time trying to keep it calm when it counts. Anyone that has gone through potty training or helped their children tie their shoes for the first time understands the pain that patience can bear.
I am a very scheduled person, so I plan days and blocks of time in advance. It drives my hubby batty, but days alone with my kids can often run like little military operations. But I’ve had to become more flexible and adaptable than I’m comfortable due to how things with kids can change on a dime. Planning on going swimming, but someone has a 30 minute meltdown and the other is being an A-hole? Change plans. Immediately.
Creative Problem Solving
I can’t even being to count how many snacks, lunches or dinners I’ve created out of a house with “no food”, or how I’ve been able to quickly create some random game while we are waiting in a painfully long line. More than I knew possible, and I can now do that more often in work situations.
Working on a Tough Team
We’ve all worked on teams or projects with a few whack-a-do’s and learned something. Now I have one very long project with a group of irrational personalities to add to my resume.
Holding Others Accountable
Holding people to their end of the bargain is really tough at work, and I would argue that it’s equally as tough at home. It’s much easier to avoid that tough conversation at work with the pushy bully. It would also be easier to pick up all of my kids’ crap every day without making them do some of the work… but we both know what the right thing to do is. Expectations and Accountability – they exist and are challenging no matter where you are working.
So if you are having one of those parenting days that makes you wonder what in the world this is all for… just remember: You are just training yourself for your next leadership position in a very functional work place.
And you’ll nail it.