Every single time I teach the Mindful Return course (and it’s been 16 times now!), at least one new working mom says: “I don’t feel as valuable as an employee, now that I’m also a mom.”
No matter how talented, skilled, and committed a new mama is, she still fears that her value at work is declining. Never mind that she’s just as brilliant as she was before her baby. And her skills most certainly haven’t gone out the window.
Why? In her own mind, perhaps it’s because of sick days. Exhaustion. End-of-day hard stops for childcare and bedtime routines. And new priorities. I have to believe there’s a good dose of cultural stigma weighing her down, too.
One of my biggest pet peeves about the average workplace mindset is a perception that women somehow automatically “give up” focus, skills, dedication, and the ability to succeed, simply by having children. All the attention seems to be on what is lost instead of on what is gained by becoming a mother. And we talk ourselves into thinking we’ve somehow become “less” of an employee because we took leave, take time out of our day to pump, or commit to going home for our kids’ bedtimes.
How to combat these stigmas? One way is to shout from the rooftops our working mama skills. We can write about them on our annual reviews. Talk about them with our colleagues.
And now, we can post a beautiful reminder of them in our offices.
In the Mindful Return course, we spend time brainstorming exactly what working mom ninja skills we are gaining that are – yes, indeed – useful in our workplaces. Writing these lists – and putting them somewhere we can see them! – reminds us what we have gained, not lost, through working parenthood.
I’m on a mission to help us keep top of mind those ninja skills we gain as working mamas. To do this, I recently teamed up with Mindful Return alum and watercolor artist, Victoria Ukaoma Rose.
Our intent was to create a print you could put on your desk, or hang in your office or at home, as a visual reminder that you are more skilled, valuable, and committed as a working mom than you ever were before. Check out Victoria’s gorgeous watercolor on Etsy.
She’s an awesome artist, no? Victoria is also a wife, mama, and full-time elementary Special Education teacher. Her daughters, Zion and Okalani, will turn four and two next month. And aside from creating pieces for her Etsy shop, Victoria enjoys audiobooks, podcasts, cooking, and watching an assortment of TV shows.
In other words, she’s a working mama ninja.
Here’s the List of Working Mom Ninja Skills That Made Our List on the Watercolor
- Prioritizing like nobody’s business.
- Meeting the needs of demanding and emotional clients.
- Problem solving with utmost creativity.
- Delegating and asking for help.
- Adapting to constant change.
- Connecting with anyone who’s had a kid…or been a kid.
- Being more patient than I thought humanly possible.
Sounds like the skill set you’d find in a pretty amazing employee, no? Dare I say, the skill set you’d find in a…leader?!
What are some of the skills YOU have gained as a working mama? Please share them in comments below.
Here’s hoping that posting this gorgeous list in your workspace will spark two things. One: a reminder for yourself of how awesome a working mom you are. And two: some new and inspiring conversations with your colleagues.
If you need more help navigating the transition back to work after maternity leave, join us for the next session of Mindful Return.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave.