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Some people think that when parents choose to stay at home with their kids, they automatically sacrifice their careers and their marketable job skills. However, since becoming a mother and deciding to stay at home with my twin toddler boys, I’ve seen myself grow and develop skills I wasn’t expecting. What’s more, these are skills that definitely apply in the workplace.
1 | Having reasonable expectations
As much as I’d love to have three-year-old twins who could fix their own breakfast and get themselves ready for preschool, I can’t expect that of them. In fact, I’ve learned to set my expectations of them and myself very, very low, at least at this young stage in their lives.
My motto is “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” For example, when I go to the zoo I dress in workout clothes because I expect to get sweaty and stressed. I anticipate that my twins will either run in different directions or whine to see the lions even though they just told me they wanted to see the elephants.
In the workplace, workers and management need to realize that adults too have limits and set expectations accordingly. My motto works here too. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
2 | Using every minute
I’ve learned how to use little tidbits of time to get personal, non-kid stuff done. Most of the time, I can’t devote several hours at once to a project, but I’ve learned to use even those tiny stretches between breakdowns and play sessions to get tasks done. Corporate America loves meetings that suck up all the time in the day.
Also, my time is more precious to me. Since I share my time with two little beings who still need me so much, I have to be choosy with what I use my “free time” doing. I can’t be a master crafter, pianist, clean freak, pastry chef, marathoner, speed reader, and a writer. I have to choose my personal development priorities.
I’ve learned I can’t do it all, and I’m okay with that. I choose the most important things and budget my time to accomplish the goals I have in those areas.
3 | Spelling really fast
Since my kids can’t spell yet, my husband and I spell words we don’t want them to hear. We’ve gotten really fast! I almost feel like I could enter a school spelling bee. (Almost – those kids are smart!)
When my kids get older, my husband and I plan on using other languages to speak in code. If nothing else, I’ll gain the ability to speak more languages.
Multilingualism is always a boon in a workplace.
4 | Thriving on little sleep
As a mother of twins, I live on little sleep almost every day. It’s almost second nature to me. I now sleep more than I did when they were babies, but still less than I did before having kids. It’s amazing what you can grow accustomed to, and it’s amazing what more you can get done with that extra time.
5 | Coping techniques
I’ll admit that my version of coping sometimes involves crying while eating a half-gallon of cookie dough ice cream. Does that still count as coping? I’ve also learned to cope using healthier options like creative outlets, girls’ nights out, and more frequent date nights.
I’m not perfect by any means, but I’m getting better at controlling my own emotions when I get frustrated, which obviously helps just as much outside the home as in.
6 | Catching poop
Unfortunately, I’ve literally had to catch my babies’ poop many times with my bare hands to save my carpets, their bath water, and my clothes. I’m not proud of it, but that’s motherhood for you. Figuratively, I can take crap from my kids and from others and not let it bother me. (Well, most of the time. I’m still human after all!)
On the bright side, if all other career options fail, I can be a master dog walker. I can handle touching poop, and I’m also used to being pulled in different directions.
At the end of the day, I know I’ve grown as a person since becoming a parent – in some more preferable ways than others. Raising kids is the hardest job. Because of that there are many opportunities for personal growth and learning, and the lessons we experience from parenting can help us in our other aspirations too.