Parenting can often feel, in its early days at least, like a full-time job – or even like several full-time jobs at once. While parenting differs from paid work in many ways, there is no doubt that there are similarities, and one of these similarities is the fact that the longer you do something, the more you will learn about it. And, we all know how those early days of parenting can sometimes feel like a steep learning curve.
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What might not occur to you quite so automatically is that being a parent can offer some invaluable experience that can be put to use when working outside the home. There are parenting lessons that you can use in your work life.
You might not feel it’s appropriate to include your parenting role on your resume, but if you think about it, parenting delivers lessons every day, and some of these are perfect preparation for a role elsewhere. That’s ideal for parents whose kids have grown up enough to allow a return to full-time employment.
Problem-solving is an Essential Part of Parenthood
Even the strongest and most independent children are going to need constant supervision and assistance in their early years, and as they learn about their place in the world they will turn to you to help them through. Most days will bring with them a situation you’ve never faced before, and you need to learn quickly to deal with these challenges. In the world of full-time work a printer with a paper jam, or an order that is running late, can feel like a serious challenge. However, parenting will have taught you how to stay calm in the heart of a crisis, break the problem down and deal with it step-by-step.
Parenting Gives You an Instinct for When People are Struggling
Every parent has experienced at least a few moments in which their children are having a difficulty that they struggle to communicate. Those are hard times to live through, but they give you the skills to identify a problem non-verbally and to offer comfort and support. In the corporate world, it may be a colleague who doesn’t want to worry you, while if you’re working for Teach for America it may be a child who doesn’t have the communication skills to tell you. But that ability to spot the signs and intervene in a timely way can be invaluable. And it’s one lesson that you can only learn from experience.
Any Parent Recognizes the Value of Teamwork and Togetherness
Office politics are one of the most tiresome aspects of working in the outside world and something that those of us who take a break to bring up kids are unlikely to miss. Office politics have, nonetheless, always been around, and that’s something that can take years of experience to counteract. When you’re a parent, you quickly learn that reaching an objective – from potty-training to college funding – is what matters, and that distractions have to be dealt with to get there. Being a parent will teach you to rise above petty discord in a team and focus on what matters – a lesson that can take a lifetime to learn otherwise.
From the outside, parenting can look like a collection of soft skills that bear little relation to the business world. However, when you’ve been through the process of raising kids, you’ll quickly see just how transferable those skills are.
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