So often the conversations around pursuing a career and having children focus on the negative or the downfalls – the guilt from being away from the office or child; the burden it puts on your co-workers, and many more. But after a few years of managing a career and motherhood, I’ve discovered some surprising benefits.
No, I am not talking about taking your toddler to the typical cocktail hour networking event. I am talking about the new network that forms when your child is in daycare or school. In my daughter’s last daycare class alone, there were at least four other parents who I had work connections with who I now saw in social settings – school events, birthday parties, dance classes, etc. I now have these connections that I wouldn’t have had before.
Yes, having a child and a career and managing childcare and work obligations can be tough. But here’s the thing, because I have to pick my daughter up by 5:45, I have to leave work at a reasonable time. Yes, sometimes we go back to the office after I pick her up. But, I still can’t stay too long (bedtime routine calls pretty early). And, it’s also pretty cool for my daughter to see what I do!
Additionally, knowing that I can’t stay at work as long as I want, forces me to be intentional with my time. Especially for those times that I need to go back to the office at night or on the weekend, I have to set my priorities and recognize that I can only get so much done during that time. Let’s just say having a child makes it harder to procrastinate because there isn’t always later or tomorrow at work.
3. Small talk.
I tend to be more introverted by nature, so making small talk really wasn’t my thing. If I didn’t have something to say on a topic, I would struggle to join the conversation. But kids provide a never-ending supply of things to discuss, even co-workers who don’t have kids are willing to hear a funny story. (***based on my experience pre-children, I do try to limit how much I ramble on about baby’s newest trick…). Even more so, I’ve found that just a simple conversation about my child gives me the confidence to stay in the conversation and discuss other things more relevant to everyone.
My daughter makes me a better employee.
Most importantly, having a child has made me more grateful for my job. Not just to have a job, but grateful that my job is a way for me to be a role model for my daughter. I want to exemplify good work habits for her, whatever her future goals are. I make sure she knows it’s important for me to be on time to work, to complete my work on time, and to give it my best effort. And the best way to do this is to practice what I preach.
So, yes, balancing a career and parenthood is hard. But, I’ve definitely found some perks to doing both.