Does becoming a mother really make you a better employee?
They say parenthood makes you a better employee, but is that even remotely true? Might I be a better employee simply because I've been practicing for over decade?
Let's examine. We'll look closely at my life because, well, Mama Kate Knows Best.
When I first became an employee, I felt overworked and underappreciated - but my dreams were oh-so-big. I knew I'd go far in my career.
And when I first became a mom, I felt overworked, underappreciated, and... my dreams got even bigger. And though I've gone far in my career, I now care more about making sure my kids go far in life.
Post-kids me is indeed the same person, just enhanced. I've strengthened my patience muscles (a biological phenomenon that keeps parents from killing people) and my ability to do more things in less time. So no doubt that translates to being a better employee, right?
Let me count the ways momhood has changed me:
I have less me-time. Pre-kids me spent a lot of time putting on makeup. And making breakfast. And eating breakfast. Post-kids me is a little more rushed. Before I go to work, I have to help the kids get dressed, make sure they eat, brush their hair, and rush Alexa out the door for school. I get to drink coffee because I can do that one-handed.
Although pre-kids me loved a good long Target run after work, this post-kids mom rushes straight home (via an hour+ commute) just so I can see the kids. We talk and play for a few minutes, then I ask them fourteen times to brush their teeth, fifty times to put on their pajamas, and a million times to get into bed. I say goodnight, and on my way out they ask for another hug or a cup of water or whatever. Next, a brief reprieve as my husband and I enjoy dinner together. Then off to bed we go.
Let's back up a little to that commute. Notice how I snuck that in there? Yeah, that's my me time. I commute to Buckhead every. single. workday. It takes an hour and a half, on average to get there. Those three hours of confinement and a podcast of my choice is my me time.
I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not. It's my balance.
This crazy checklist of to-dos at home makes me feel too guilty to waste time at work. Sure, I check Instagram a couple times a day, grab an overpriced latte every morning, and take a leisurely afternoon stroll here and there - but overall I am so much more efficient than I was in my 20s. Every moment I waste at work is a moment I should be with my family, so I simply don't waste the time. I get right to work and produce some bomb marketing, pull some killer reports, and balance a million dollar budget TO THE PENNY. Like a boss.
I got rid of the superfluous. It's not that I don't enjoy reading four kids' books at bedtime, it's just that one will do just fine. And while I can kill a PowerPoint presentation with perfect alignment, pictures worth thousands of words, and a font that makes you want to read the material, I could also use that hour to network around the office and build relationships. Corporate template, it is.
Sure, one could argue this savvy comes with experience in the workplace and has nothing to do with kids, but I beg to differ. One cannot streamline their life at home without realizing some efficiencies at work, too. No way.
I am more forgiving. Surprise! There is humanity in work, after all. I used to hold onto my grudges at work. If someone treated me unfairly in a meeting - how dare they do that to me?
I realize now nobody does anything to other people, at least not as often as we think they do. People's outward actions are a reflection of what is happening or has happened in their own lives. But that's neither here nor there... the point here is forgiveness.
Every meeting assailant or snide email-writer is someone's kid. They have deep-seeded issues that probably started years ago, coupled with an undercurrent of insecurities. They think you have something to hold against them.
As a mom, I've deepened my understanding of basic human behavior so intensely, I can feel other people's energies and emotions as if they're happening to my own family. And yes, I very much want to give them a big hug and let them know I'm here for them. I do the next best thing: talk and develop a relationship. Then the FUNNIEST thing happens... good work gets done.
At the end of the day, we're not robots, though our workplace dynamic demands we act as such. We're only humans. At the core of our existence, we need to feel secure and loved. And when we get that security, that love, we operate on a whole new level. It's amazing what you can produce when you focus on the work, and not on the grudges.
Happy work-life-balance, people. Go hire some parents.