A friend of ours who was a young mom came over and was holding a six-month old girl and chasing a two-year old active boy when she voiced her concern on her ability in re-entering the workforce at some point. She had worked as a legal professional and she and her husband made the decision that she would quit her full-time position to care for their children and she wasn’t dissatisfied at all with the decision, just musing her concern. A purposeful decision like this is usually taken seriously and whether completely leaving a position or continuing to work part-time while caring for children, raising a family is a time of adjustment and change for many.
A lack of confidence started to rear its head as we continued to speak, which is always a bit surprising to me as our “outer shell of confidence” doesn’t always reveal the inner thoughts of inadequacy that most of us possess. I appreciated her honesty.
Whether a stay-at home parent or one that balances a home and a side job, it is important to realize and affirm that there are many skills that are not only developed during this time of life but that are magnified while raising a family and handling life. Here, we cover five of those skills that are valuable when re-entering the workforce.
One: Time Management, Prioritization and Organization
I remember reading in an yoga exercise book penned by the glamourous Raquel Welch, who was an American actress and model, that one of the busiest times of life is when one becomes a new parent. That statement has proven to be very true in my life. For many, a baby brings the shock of sleepless nights and exhaustion, the overwhelming care for a small life you’ve brought into the world, and the realization that there’s a long road ahead in raising that child. Managing bedtimes, baths and shopping soon is multiplied with the balancing act of dance programs, music and sports. Sometimes a new parent feels like their brain is as mushy as the oatmeal their infant is slinging across the room.We had 3 sons 4 years apart I accepted a couple private music students in our home when our third was born and then started working part-time as a music and arts director for a new church. I quickly decided that I needed to focus on what was most important with the prioritization of my time. During this period, our house never felt completely clean and I also never felt totally organized. But in hindsight, I apparently had put enough systems in place to not only get everything done, but complete my work successfully. Even though feeling many details were out of my control, the ability to coordinate obtained and magnified during those years of raising a family proved invaluable when I took on additional work and is a skill that is crucial in the workplace.
Two: Communication, Conflict Resolution and Negotiation
At the age of 2, our middle son was already demonstrating attributes of a future attorney. Everything became an argument about fairness with the word, “No!.” Greg said I should have been a judge after resolving many of our episodes. With young children, there is the constant dance of negotiation and setting boundaries. There was also the need to referee the wrestling matches between three very active sons that looked a lot like fights to me.
Another area of coordination and negotiation occurs when coordinating events with extended family. Communication and conflict resolution is crucial in managing personalities that may not always be agreeable. This is especially true when gathering multiple generations with in-laws, outlaws and everyone in-between. This skill of negotiation is vital for effective teamwork, client interactions and conflict resolution within the workplace.
Three: Problem-Solving, Decision Making and Persuasion
Problem-solving and persuasion are an extension of communication skills and conflict resolution. This can directly apply to the area of sales in a variety of situations in the workplace. Think of the experience gained from selling a family on a particular vacation, a savings plan or even purchasing a home. Part of this skill includes listening and part of it is obtaining the emotional stamina to make a decision that may not be popular with all parties involved.
I didn’t even realize the skills I had obtained in this area until I was producing my musicals and also leading a non-profit organization. When making decisions that weren’t a standard head-bob of agreement, I had to emotionally be ready for an onslaught of questions and even negativity from those who didn’t agree with my decisions. Raising kids prepared me for that emotional roller coaster! (Download: FREE Musical sampler)
Four: Teamwork, Collaboration, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
It takes family members pulling together to run a household, manage chores and provide all the daily tasks necessary to balance work, life and health. Raising a family entails consistent training and follow through with chores, homework and activities. Growing up, my sisters and I played the “Cleanup game” where we’d draw a different room or task out of a hat and set a timer to try to beat the clock to complete our cleaning. I don’t remember how clean everything got, but I do remember that it helped to divide up chores in a fair manner and our mother seemed happy with the outcome.
I have no idea where we discovered the cleanup game, but I’m sure the end goal had been clearly communicated by our mom and we had to figure out a way to achieve that goal. These experiences translate well into team-based work environments where cooperation and collective achievement are essential. Also, caring for family members, especially if there are any with special needs, cultivates empathy and emotional intelligence which are essential for building strong relationships, effective teamwork and understanding customer or client needs in various professional settings.
Five: Creativity, Resourcefulness, Financial Management and Intuitiveness
In today’s inflationary times, it has become more and more important to apply creativity to many areas of life, especially relating to fiscal areas and cost of living. When we had young kids, money was especially tight but shopping sales and using various coupons helped to stretch the dollars. Managing household finances involves budgeting, tracking expenses and making informed financial decisions and this applies for both large and small purchases.
As a parent, we tend to develop a sixth sense, knowing what to do in an emergency and sensing when our kids are hiding something or facing some unstated challenge. This translates well to relationships in the workplace. Creative and resourceful problem-solving skills are highly valuable in innovative roles within organizations.
It is important to understand how important it Is to recognize and highlight the skills that are created with a choice in raising a family that is not always understood by others and takes sacrifices in some areas but pays off in so many ways. By recognizing and highlighting the skills that are developed with confidence on a resume and during job interviews, individuals re-entering the workforce from a stay-at-home role can effectively showcase abilities and demonstrate how they are assets to potential employers. And if one chooses to pursue the entrepreneurial role, the discipline and tenacity developed are priceless and will pay off in droves!
Many skills are not only developed but are magnified during the years while raising a family and handling life.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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