9 Things Having a Baby Taught Me About Doing a Good Job At Work
by Anna Parker
I have a challenging and rewarding job that I will go back to very soon.
I also have an even more challenging and rewarding job… Being Mummy.
Doing it all is going to be tough, and I am almost ready for it… But first I plan to savour spring and early summer with my little boy first! I know what my back to work plans are and I am happy with them. And the nursery is highly regarded and I can’t wait for my day off each week!
The big thing for me though is how to do my office job again with the same pizzazz and impact. But with less sleep and a baby to prioritise too… Being a working mum is going to have its moments and I am sure tears, but I’m almost ready for it. I was pondering what I have learnt during maternity leave that will apply in an office environment…
Work the room find your tribe
I have met so many lovely mummies and babies in the past nine months but of course I didn’t click with everyone. But I found my local tribe of Mama’s doing this stuff by my side who I share the rough and the smooth with.
It’s the same at work, we aren’t clones because we do similar jobs in one firm. At work it’s about surrounding yourself with the people and the team that will make going to work fun and rewarding.
To everyone. You never know how much sleep they got last night or what trauma the baby is or has been causing.
It’s the same at work, who knows what kind of time someone is having or if they have a different stress threshold. It would be easy to assume I’m having the toughest time, rather than ask how others are and support them too.
Be engaged and interested
You can see so easily if a baby is excited or if they have bored of the toy or activity and need to move onto something else. It amazes me just how much the innocent eyes and face can show.
In a meeting or doing a less than fun task the same will apply. Respect people and what they need you to do and if it’t not engaging then take a break and come back to it refreshed.
Trust people to do a good job
Daddy, grandparents and very soon nursery will all be looking after the baby as well as me. With a little coaching and detailed notes about key things they will of course be excellent at it.
At work it is not different – give someone a briefing and ensure they have the skills for the job. Then give them the autonomy and trust them to do a good job.
Be on time and stick to that routine
Babies love routine and if we get a little lax with the routine the day spirals out of control. We stick to our timings for milk, food and sleep and everyone has an enjoyable day.
Don’t turn up late to meetings or double book. Diaries, forward planning and smart phone reminders are there to help us stay on time all day. Work hard in the day and leave the office on time at the end of the day too.
But be flexible
We travel with the baby and are often out and about for classes, shopping or coffee and a cake… It might flex the routine a little but with planning we find a way to make it work.
At work things will go wrong, deadlines will change and goalposts will undoubtedly shift. A bit of preparation for the worst whilst hoping for better is wise. And flexibility is rewarded which is invaluable in itself.
The little things and the detail matters
Looking after a baby is all about getting the little things right for them. The hundreds of things each day that are needed to keep baby happy and healthy.
At work it’s too easy to focus on the end game and get stressed by it. Breaking it down and getting the little things right keeps things under control and moving in the right direction.
Sleep is for champions
I look at how happy my baby is after a good nap or a good nights sleep and see how important it is.
It’s no different for his parents. Sleep is just as relevant at work. It’s all too easy to bring work home of an evening or tap away replying to emails on a smart phone right up to bedtime because of a deadline. It won’t help sleep and burning the midnight oil isn’t going to result in quality work.
You can always learn
Always, be it parenting or something at work or in your career. Things are constantly changing and to learn is to progress. Baby will learn and will look to you for support. To progress at work one needs to be out of their comfort zone too.
I am pretty sure I was doing a fair amount of this before I went on maternity leave, but heading back to work and for baby and family needing to keep my time away from the office sacrosanct… These are skills and habits I am going to focus on. Getting all this right from day one means doing a good job and building trust with a team that haven’t seen me ‘in action’ for 12 months. Building trust means when things do go wrong, which they will, the support and flexibility is there.