Before children, I lived in a corporate communications bubble. I readily confess that I had no idea what life as a mum would be like, and honestly, I thought it seemed like a pretty laid back kind of a gig. Easy, even.
Never have I been more wrong.
Bombing out on the final question of Who wants to be a Millionaire and not winning the million dollars scale of totally, epically, supremely wrong. Ba bow.
I’d never even changed a nappy when my twins were born, so I wasn’t just thrown in the deep end, I was thrown in with a giant Storksak nappy bag tethered to my ankle, weighted down with four bottles, multiple gender specific nappies, two changes of clothes per baby, a whole packet of wipes, six face washers and a 2L water bottle. Look who’s struggling to stay afloat now!
So, needless to say, changing gears from a corporate communications professional, to a stay at home mum of, now, three children under three and a half years old, my life has become very different. At work no one would come and watch me while I did a wee. Events were catered (and not by me and my vegemite coated butter knife). Sick days were for lounging. No one felt it necessary to stand three centimetres from my face while I was on the telephone saying “who is it, who is it, who are you talking to” fourteen thousand times at escalating volume. I never once had to smell someone’s butt to see if they’d done a poo. I wore actual clean, (mostly) ironed clothes, sometimes even stylish ones, and I didn’t even own a plushy blue dressing gown that may or may not have baby vomit patches on the shoulder.
It occurred to me recently though, that whilst there are admittedly endless ways mum life and corporate life are poles apart, there are actually some similarities too. Not just that, but also that some of my current mum skills can be pretty accurately related back to my pre-pareting role in a corporate office.
1. Competing priorities
Trying to feed a six month old, whilst simultaneously attempting to draw a colour accurate rainbow for one of your three year olds with a set of broken crayons, negotiating with the other who is precariously dangling the TV remote from a wooden crane over the dogs water bowl, while the microwave is beeping and there’s someone ringing the doorbell. And then your phone rings. Sound familiar? Mum life is awash with opportunities to showcase your ability to multi task. Often in my corporate role I would be writing copy for the national company magazine, whilst updating intranet content, at the same time as event planning an upscale executive showcase and fielding multiple random requests from the management team of varying degrees of “wtf does that even mean”-ness. Little did I know at the time, this ability to juggle multiple balls was going to hold me in good stead for motherhood. And let’s be honest, a mum that can juggle is also pretty cool. You can wheel her out at parties. But more on that later.
2. Managing expectations
There’s nothing quite like dealing with the angst and despair of toddler who has decided that the surprise adventure you told them you were going on that morning isn’t ‘surprisey’ enough. Just like in corporate life, there’s a fine art to ensuring you deliver on what your (tiny) bosses are expecting.
3. Stationery cupboard
In my corporate life, oh was it ever a happy moment in my day to skip merrily down the hallway to the office supplies cupboard. Multi coloured neon post it notes, retractable pens, pens with lids, felt tipped pens, pens that look like pencils but were indeed pens. Multiple boxes of bulldog clips in varying sizes. Pencils unmarked by human teeth. Lined NOTEPADS. Oh, happy day. Well, I have discovered, somewhat thrillingly, that kids craft time is just a whole new level of stationery heaven. And it’s SPARKLEY.
4. Dealing with sh*t
Figuratively and literally. You catch my drift.
Planning and management of a two year olds birthday party. Venue. Invitations. RSVP management. Catering. Appropriate entertainment for screaming masses. I rest my case.
6. Being an influencer / networking
Breaking into a pre existing social set of playground mums can be daunting. Creating a network of likeminded mum friends to have your back when times get tough, to give you advice and share ideas with? Necessary. When you’re a mum, you network like a BOSS. You’re working with limited time between naps so no one falls asleep in the car on the way home, thus creating the impossible mission of “car to cot transition”, so you kind of have to!
7. Creative problem solving
Solving problems in my corporate life required creative solutions and innovative ideas, and as a stay that home mum, the ability to think outside the square is right up there in your key performance indicators and necessary skills list. In my mum life I find myself saying things like “I think if the dinosaur offered to help, then you should take him up it.” Much like corporate execs, kids have big ideas and they want you to make them a reality. Even if they involve extinct species or fictional characters. Especially so!
So if you’re currently working in a corporate bubble like I was, and are expecting a baby (or babies!) and feel worried about how you’ll cope with the transition, then take heart… You probably have some of the skills you need to nail motherhood already up your (nicely ironed) sleeve.