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Working mums: Maternity leave makes me more ‘hireable’ than ever

Working mums are not only amazing – we are also very hireable, especially after maternity leave, transferable skills and all!

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A ‘child’ of consulting firms, I worked my way up the ladder for 16 years across 4 firms. I was on my way up and very happy about it.

And then the maternal bug bit me out of the blue when the world moved into COVID lockdown. The COVID era and its impact on my mental health, pregnancy and maternity leave were substantial. And then suddenly, one day I find I have a 1-year-old going to day care and I am ready to go back to work. I find that instead of constantly worrying about what he was up to rather than focusing on work, I suddenly had a very compelling reason to give 100% at work. My clock-out time was non-negotiable, I had a second job of putting a toddler through the evening routine about to start. The same things that made me a good mother, made me a good worker.

Time-management

Before becoming a mother, I would often stay back late and/or log on in the evenings to work at my own pace. As a mother, I am more acutely aware of the importance of my being able to give other people (my children, my team) quality time in a timely manner. Being able to plan who needed me, for how long, and for what, meant that I could also plan what time I had left over for myself – something I didn’t do, or realise the value of before.

(Source: Canva)

People management

Before becoming a mother, my people skills was based on theories of empathy and reading people. As a mother dealing with the needs of an energetic toddler, a needy newborn and a tired husband, I am acutely aware that people management is more than boxes of whether people are introverted or extroverted. I now constantly evaluate people around me, their feelings, and their needs and how they will respond to what I need them to do. Convincing a toddler to eat their dinner is way harder than convincing a client or colleague to sign onto an agreement or project. The adult can be swayed by reason (one would hope).

Self-management and improvement

With my first child, I neglected myself and as a result, my mental and physical health took a battering that I am still recovering from. As a second-time mum, I can see the benefits of taking care of myself to become more resilient and able to take care of others. Maternity leave also taught me the importance of team building and surrounding myself with people invested in my success. It takes a village to raise a child and a team to succeed at work. Both of which require enough self-awareness to ask for help.

Management, planning and execution

Without kids there are little repercussions to having no food in the fridge, no plans for the day. And while winging it at work is sometimes innovation, most times, it leads to a waste of time, effort, resources and morale. With one child it might still possible to ‘wing it’ but with two kids? Forget it. Two sets of nappies, clothes, food, toys… a trip to the shops looks like you are moving house. Taking that same level of planning into work means less room for error and more prepared for whatever may happen. Let’s face it, a colleague’s mistake is a lot easier to take care of than a blowout leaking through the nappy, several layers and a swaddle in a park with no back up outfit.

(Source: Canva)

Conflict resolution

Communication sets up a solid foundation for our marriage. With one child the foundation is tested and reinforcements are built. With two (or more) it’s anyone’s guess how many eruptions will take place on any given day. But these have taught me how to regulate my emotions and manage my triggers. Which means when I deal with demanding, stubborn, emotional, tired stakeholders (toddlers or bosses), who don’t give me any time, money or space but want instant results, I know how to work through conflict.

Strategic influence

A mum’s brain is never ever empty. Not even when we hide in the bathroom. There are always multiple open tabs – one for the husband, kids, grandparents, the shopping list, the bills, the reasonable fears, the unreasonable fears, the mum guilt, the ‘I’ll get to it one day’ list… it goes on. And yet the mother is also the CEO of the household. We set plans, boundaries, values (no matter if they are potty trained or not) and make sure others follow.

So here I am, transferable skills and all, realising that working mums are not only amazing – we are also very hireable, especially after maternity leave.

Read More: What India-trained women could do to succeed in Australia’s tech sector

Shafeen Mustaq
Shafeen Mustaq
Shafeen is a Sydney based writer

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