24 July 2018, by Flora Isabelle
When I first got pregnant, I was determined not to let motherhood define me.
Sure, I would be first and foremost a mother to my mini human (and a pretty darn good one I hope) but everything else I have in life – my career, my friends and most importantly, myself – I made a mental note that I wouldn’t lose them once Nate arrives and I start caring for him.
I personally believe that it is important for him to grow up seeing his Mom manage both the family and career, and I hope that he will grow up with such focus, drive and passion in life to strive and to excel too.
Of course it is not easy and as much as I put in my 200% at work, there are times that being a Mom has affected the way I work – both negatively and positively.
I’m not going to talk about the negative aspects because we all already know that trying to juggle both hats is tough so here are some surprising (positive) ways motherhood has helped me to be a better boss and colleague at work.
Productivity and efficiency are the buzz words we often throw around these days and if you ask me, working mothers have got this. Especially those who have to place their kids in infant care and don’t have the luxury of time to work late, they usually end up making sure they get their tasks done during work hours.
This translates to no idle chitchat in the pantry, no luxurious 2-hour lunches and no 4pm tea breaks which happens to include a 30-minute stroll to the nearest Ya Kun and back. This basically means that once you want something done, it gets done – fast and accurately too, I must add.
For me, I am very fortunate that I get to enjoy a somewhat flexi-work schedule. I can choose to work from home on some days but in between managing his nap times, his erratic eating patterns, playgroup timings, work deadlines and client or staff meetings, I am forced to plan way ahead of schedule, have 1234567 backup plans ready and to handle the unexpected.
Because of the way my mind has been conditioned to think ahead of time all the time and to always be prepared for contingencies, I can now safely say that I have never been a better project manager.
Patience, patience and more patience
My capacity for patience has reached a whole new high.
I admit, I used to be a really demanding colleague and boss. Sorry guys… But after countless episodes of dealing with a 9-month-old who simply refuses to be fed and insists on eating by himself, and watching your 9th spoon in 30 minutes being pushed away angrily with his tiny hands, you learn how to breathe (I thank all that yoga I used to do pre-pregnancy haha) and attain a whole new level of calmness even though every artery in you is about to burst.
Similarly, when my young, fresh-out-of-school staff make mistakes or simply cannot seem to understand what I’m saying for the umpteenth time, I have since learned how to deal with the situation thoughtfully and patiently and less in an angry manner. Trying new ways to communicate, repeating it againnnn and in different ways and constantly following up to make sure everyone understands – these are a few of the new lessons I’ve learnt so far.
Kindness and empathy
I hate to sound all altruistic, but these are some inevitable similarities in the skillset and learning needed to be both a new parent and colleague.
Every day as I find new ways to find my child who rejects purees and porridge with a vengeance (did you know that avocado pieces baked in egg and panko is like one of the best delicious things ever?!), I am continuously telling myself that I can’t make anyone do things they don’t want to do, but I can find creative ways to get things done.
It doesn’t matter how shitty (quite literally if you get what I mean) things can get, you learn how to roll with things and move on.
This has indirectly taught me grit and resilience… and to never underestimate the strength of a good pint of dark chocolate ice cream!