Four ways you can use motherhood to advance your career

Think motherhood is the kiss of death for your career? Find out why you’re wrong, and discover four ways it can actually advance your professional life.

There’s a common idea – and not entirely an unfounded one – that motherhood sounds the death knell for a woman’s career.

And it’s easy to see why this idea is so popular – from the lack of flexibility with working hours and high cost of childcare, to the difficulty of getting back into work after maternity leave or being a stay-at-home mum, it can feel like everything is stacked against you at times.

Motherhood can also change your priorities, and the long hours needed to advance in many careers often become impossible when you’ve got a kid to care for.

Four ways motherhood can advance your career

However, new motherhood can also defy expectations and even a beneficial effect on your career, whether it’s through the new skills you acquire or the way you use your time off.

Here are four ways that motherhood can actually advance your career.

1) You’ll develop the patience of a saint

Your baby didn’t come with an instruction manual. And nor do they abide by the general rules of decorum.

In fact, it’s almost a given that at some point you’ll get pooped on. Or covered in vomit the minute you even think of leaving the house looking presentable.

They’ll get tired and grouchy (i.e. scream at the top of their lungs) at the worst possible moment, and have no respect for your favourite TV programme or the fact you’ve just sat down with a cup of tea (or glass of wine) that you really need right now.

And here’s the thing. You have no choice but get used to it. Even if you used to be a Type-A overachiever with rubber gloves in one hand and a stopwatch in the other, you’re going to have to chill. Your baby will make you. They don’t know the meaning of schedule, deadline, or physical cleanliness, and they don’t care.

So like it or not, you’re going to have to adjust. And when you do it’ll make you a calmer, more patient person in the workplace. (At least no one’s going to pee on you there.)

2) You can further your education

The rapid growth of online learning courses has made it easier than ever before to get a new qualification, whether you’re working or not.

Many courses allow you to work from home in your own time, so you can fit them into a lunch break or study in the evenings.

However, after the mental strain of a long working day, it can be hard to imagine hitting the books when you’d rather be unwinding at the gym or in front of the TV. If your hours are long, you might not even have time to devote to learning.

That’s where motherhood comes in. Going from being a full-time professional to being a full-time mum during maternity leave can be a massive leap, and it can be easy to feel a little bored at the lack of intellectual stimulation.

Taking a course that’s going to further your career kills two birds with one stone: keep on top of your professional development, and keep the mental cogs turning without resorting to crosswords, Sudoku, and shouting answers at the TV when Pointless comes on.

3) You’ll become an efficiency machine

With so many new constraints on your time, you’ll become a pro at Getting. Things. Done. Your new challenges – fitting as much as you can into the precious babysitting or naptime window, and getting out the door on time with three bags, a buggy, and a screaming baby – translate directly into superhero-level organisation and time management skills.

Whatever your job, this can only be a good thing. (Read 17 new skills, including time management, that you can put on your CV after becoming a mum.)

4) You can re-evaluate your career

Having children makes you acutely aware of your position as a role model. If your professional life is lacking something, becoming a mother can be the catalyst for change – you’ll be motivated to make positive changes to set a good example for your kids, and you’ll have time away from work to analyse your position objectively.

  • Maybe you love your job, but it’s not flexible enough to accommodate your new parental responsibilities.
  • Maybe you hate your job, and now that you’ve escaped it for a few months you’re terrified of going back.
  • Maybe you enjoyed your job, but time off has made you realise how stressed, irritable and tired it could make you.

Whatever you feel, be brave. Make the most of your moment of clarity, and use your time to start planning a change. Your children will thank you for the incredible example you’re setting by stepping out of your comfort zone and going for your goals with everything you’ve got…

…well, everything you’ve got that isn’t covered in baby puke. Definitely don’t take that to the interview if you can help it.

Worried you’re suffering from career burnout? Find out what you can do about it

Lauren Jack is a writer and content editor working in digital marketing.