Saturday, 27 February 2016

5 reasons why mums know best and why every office needs them

After over a decade of motherhood I felt as if my workplace skills had atrophied to the point that I was entirely unemployable. Despite having held senior positions before popping a sprog and having worked in a couple more during brief hiatuses from my full time role as mum, I was sure that I was incapable of offering anything useful in the world of commerce.

I know that I am not alone in this feeling that giving birth and spending far too many hours in front of CBeebies has some kind of physical effect on your brain. Stripping you of your powers of bullshit and bravado that are crucial to survival at work. But I am here to tell all the mums who think they couldn't ever make it behind a desk again how wrong they are.

Mums really do know best for the following five reasons:

Mums are digitally savvy

You think fiddling with your phone, sharing pictures of your kids on Facebook, instagramming the birthday cake you just made, sharing a video of your baby's first steps on YouTube and tweeting a countdown to wine-o-clock are just distraction techniques to get you out of sorting the washing.

WRONG - these make you a digital whiz. You know all about the latest social media platforms, what makes for viral content, what posts have reach and how to communicate in different mediums online. These are skills that employers are crying out for. They are desperate to find that Holy Grail of content that real women are actually interested in and mums can easily locate it for them.

Mums are arch negotiators

Anyone who has ever worked anywhere will know that office politics reign supreme. Getting what you want out of a job is all about scratching the right backs and not treading on the wrong toes. It is a harsh world out there and only the best negotiators will rise to the top.

Luckily all mothers have been trained to haggle with people who drive the hardest bargains on the planet - toddlers. We have all had the fights over nap time, getting into and out of the buggy, over whether or not broccoli should be considered a great source of vitamins or a deadly poison that should not be ingested at any price.

We are used to wheedling, cajoling and occasionally using brute force to get our own way, no matter how unreasonable our opponent. I cannot think of better preparation to navigate the tricky power struggles of office politics.

Mums can multitask

Give a 20-year-old sixteen tasks to do at the same time and it is a recipe to find junior members of staff in tears in the toilets. This generation has just left home, where mum did everything for them (silly mum) and the idea that they should do more than one thing at a time is ludicrous.

Mums on the other hand are more than used to booking a plumber, while stirring the dinner and pacifying a screaming toddler with a biscuit. Or reading a story, while standing in as a makeshift climbing frame to her child. Or leaving the house equipped for any eventuality from snowstorms to sunburn.

Merely having to put together a report, make a phone call, book a taxi and chair a meeting, blissfully free from the usual soundtrack of wailing children, is a walk in a park for a mum.

Mums are nobody's bitch

When I was 25 my job was everything to me. If it went well I was a success, if things went tits up I was a failure. My whole psyche was tied up in the ups and downs of my career. That meant that I was terrified of losing my job and as such prepared to put up with any amount of shit, just so long as I was able to cling on to my rung on the career ladder.

Not any more. I like my job. It is fun, stimulating, gets me out of the house and pays me well. But it is not my life. My life is my family, my job is what I do during the day. This is not to say I don't want to do it well, but I am not going to play the game of who can stay longest or curry the most favour with the boss. If my employers can't see the value in me, I am confident someone else will, and even if they don't I still have my boys and really that is all that matters.

All mums are in the same boat. Not matter what happens at work, as long as your kids are happy and healthy life is good. This makes mums perfect employees. They will work bloody hard, give of their best, but they won't be afraid to stand up and be counted if something needs to be said - and every employer should welcome that, as otherwise how can they improve and do the best job for their clients?

Mums know best

I often sit in meetings where lots of young people try to guess what will motivate a proper grown up to make a purchasing decision. They come up with lots of fatuous ideas based on what we all thought grown ups were like when we were that young. A classic example was when someone said that 40-year-olds were past it and no longer cared what they looked like.

Ahem says I, a 44-year-old decked out in make up, hair dyed to hide the dreaded grey, clothes bought to make the most of a body ravaged by childbirth and my devotion to cake, yes we do.

I think my little colleague, who was young enough to be my child, saw anyone over the age of 30 as ready for a blue rinse and a zimmer frame. The problem is that when you are trying to appeal to people who have cash to spend, even 40 is a spring chicken.

While young people are amazing at knowing what the latest way 'millennials' communicate is, or what platform is hot or not, or whether you still meet dates on Tinder, or is that almost as uncool as saying uncool, they know bugger all about life. That said the combination of sparky, bright youth and genuine life experience is and something every office needs. So step up mums as your contributions are golden.

Mums are the CEOs in any family with the skills to reflect that. So if you are thinking of hopping off the school run and onto the career ladder, don't be afraid and make sure to haggle over your salary as hard as your kids bargain for that extra five minutes in front of the telly before bedtime.

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