Motherhood CV: Transferable skills for your next job
No one said it would be easy, but everyone said it would be worth it. The toughest job you ever loved. Motherhood. No application or interview necessary, just land that job after 9 months of preparation and voila! You got the job, motherhood. No guidebook. No tutorial. No pre-reading material. No turning back.
Although it’s a bit outdated, I recently stumbled upon a Forbes article, Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn A $115,000 Salary (May 2011). It got me thinking of our job at home. The skills and the little cherubs we are nurturing.
Recently, women movements have begun to take center-stage once again, evidenced by recent headliners, popular hashtags and Oprah’s wise words at the Golden Globes. There are numerous campaigns that are front and center advocating for women’s rights, equal pay, chance at opportunities, flexible work and the like.
The struggle is real. Women have a bit of a battle in the workplace and securing opportunities. We are working harder than ever before, educating ourselves, perfecting our skills and capitalizing in the job market. It is no wonder that staying at home, whether it is for a few months or years, makes us feel reluctant to press the pause button and be home with the kids.
Well, as I “take a break” for a few months, I’ve been deeply reflecting my gap in my resume. You know, preparing for the dreadful question during the next screening or interview, “So, I see there is a lag of time between your last role and now…”. YIKES! Let’s be real. There are a lot more flexible, family friendly workplaces, which understand the demands of motherhood and simply accept the “maternity leave” or taking time out to be with family, answer. For those who are less “friendly” I’ve prepared the following for you to whip out and present. It rightfully documents your multiple roles while you took a ‘break’ from the traditional workforce.
Peace Negotiator: Negotiation skills are always key in many roles today. As a mother, you are likely making regular deals with irrational beings. It’s ok, we hope to mold them into rational adults one day. Being able to strike a deal with irrational folks can help in the real world when we, unfortunately, must deal with not only complex situations and people, but ones that are also impractical and irrational. This is a great skill to have and present to your next employer. Some examples to highlight, as negotiator teeters on the verge of tantrum and peace agreement: Convincing negotiator to wash hands with soap instead of their hair to wipe dirty hands after eating spaghetti or explaining the importance of sleep and turning off lights as negotiator runs wild in the bedroom and has multiple failed attempts at escaping.
Diplomat: This role goes together with the above. We live in a global world and must constantly understand diverse cultures, religions and ways of thinking. Part of that also requires thorough review and redirection of challenging (or dangerous situations). In the workplace, we must bring two conflicting ideas (or people) together by redirecting away from the negative and focusing on the positive. This is a key skill, that is only improved during motherhood. Some examples include: Making an agreement with older sibling to not poke out baby sibling’s eye or redirect the urge of older sib wanting to feed newborn sibling a cracker, even though they were taught sharing is caring.
CEHO: This is Chief Executive Household Officer. It’s not a title to just toss around. It is many in one. It’s all encompassing. It’s a multifaceted management feat that involves the running of a healthy and smooth household. It includes, but is not limited to, bath time (pre-setup and post-cleaning), diaper duty (this can be intensified if you have more than one child in diapers), laundry process, which includes sorting, washing, drying, folding and getting clothes back into drawers and closets. Although the role is internal, it must dually manage external-facing engagements, doctor’s appointments, play dates and errand-runs. The key here is flex. Flex schedules, flex commitments, flex agenda. Flexibility is vital to your success as CEHO. Your natural leadership skills will flourish as you grow into this role.
CHFO: Most companies have two separate roles for this one and the above. Not you. You do it all. The Chief Household Finance Officer role works in tandem with the CEHO role and tasks. This is another role that doesn’t require prior accounting or finance knowledge (although, I assume it would greatly help).
Chef du jour and hospitality coordinator: With TripAdvisor reviews, food bloggers and the like, imagine you run a Michelin star restaurant. You thrive on repeat customers and a good review. You need customers to rave about the food and experience and keep them coming back. However, one day they like the œuf frit sur du pain (fried egg on bread - it just sounds classier in French, no?). And the next day they throw it on the floor. It takes patience to whip up something different to keep the customers happy, and coming back for more. You need to think quick on your feet, turn that frown upside down, boil some eggs and slice some toast into strips. Change it up, fast, and efficiently and always with a smile. It’s a creative cook with customer service abilities all wrapped up in one.
Curator of activities: We all know that technology and portable devices are the devil. So, what to do all day? Coming up with 101 activities is not only necessary for a toddler with an attention span of a gnat, but near impossible. But don’t give up. The takeaway here is think outside the box. You could do the traditional coloring and stickers for a bit (and monitor carefully they don’t eat them in the process, or be very vigilant on the next diaper duty) (5 minutes), then you can move onto the Montessori activities you proudly took off a Pinterest board like painting pasta (5 more minutes), then you can throw on some Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and bust a move (5 more minutes) then just jump up and down letting your hair wildly fling around (5 minutes). It’s non-stop really, and requires a lot of creative skills, something big employers are big on these days. (Side note: The activities listed above have all been tried and tested by me. They work, I use them often, and yes, it’s only 20 minutes of the day, but creativity is about quality not quantity, right?)
Chauffeur: Given we live in a town where I’m unfamiliar with the roads, there is a lot going on behind the driver’s seat. Managing GPS between an outdated dashboard built into the vehicle (why don’t they just put Google maps in there?) and Google maps on my phone, determining if the street is one way or not, looking out for bold bikers, pedASStrians, kids on scooters, egotistical motorcyclists (sorry, but they are just whizzing in and out of traffic and I can’t see them zipping in my blind spot!) Add in a yelling or crying baby (or two), or maybe rain or wind and you are talking high skills driving. Not to mention round-a-bouts. I grew up driving in Detroit and the surrounding area. It’s full on straight roads, conveniently numbered and named by the mile road (8 mile, yes, like the movie, we lived between 18 and 19 mile). There were big highways to get you everywhere in a jiffy. No round-a-bouts, just mile roads and highways.
Stylist: During the early years you are stylin and defining the “it” look for your child. What goes with the blue and orange stripped shirt? Well, what’s clean and placed in the drawer? (see CEHO above regarding laundry process. It could be clean but not dry or didn’t make it back to the drawer yet). Maybe a bowtie and suspenders? A classic man look. Maybe blue sweatpants, because that’s all that is available. The sky is the limit. Today’s world we are all aiming to be unique and become the next fashionista. Two different colored socks? YES! Fashion is a statement. Be bold. The second part to this is momma’s style. It’s a mix of make it look effortless, something to that will hide the milk stains on the shirt, easy to run in when chasing a toddler, side bobbling mom bun and sexy. Ok, maybe not the last one, but that’s what red lipstick is for.
Building management: This goes under the direct supervision of the CEHO. It involves: Clean. Floors. Sweep nonstop. Mop ‘til you drop. Finger print removal on windows and mirrors. Plates washed. (My dilemma here: Is a dishwasher better since you still have to rinse off chunks of food and then load and unload the machine? Or am I better off just manually clean them?)
One of the biggest challenges under this role is crumb control. Crumbs on the floor. In the bed. In the bathroom. Down my shirt. In their ears, under the bed. On the couch. Not on the plate. No matter how many times you try to reinforce the ‘eating in your high chair’ rule, it’s impossible. The solution may require a few focus groups and SWAT analysis. The truth is, although this is last on the list, without the essentials like re-filled toilet paper and a clean plate, we wouldn’t survive.
Voila! A complete list of your roles and skills to insert in your next job application or to present during your next job interview. Best of luck and please share how you get on!