My Family Care asks Matilda: Employers sometimes talk about 'supporting' women through maternity leave, yet we know that it's also a time in which great personal development takes place. Are there things you think you do better since becoming a parent?
Sleep? In a few years... maybe
Becoming a mother has made me more capable in everything I do. Since having my son 7 years ago, I've become more focused and much more directed in my professional life. And ah, oh yes, it taught me how to live without sleeping for about three years. Having kids changes the game in untold ways but my most marked transformation has been my new ability to multi task.
I went back to work six months after having my son. Looking back 7 years later, I still don't know how I got through those first three years. My son didn't start sleeping through the night until he was three, he had bad eczema due to food allergies and all the while I was working full time. What's more, I had recently been promoted - so during all this I was also supposed to be proving myself at work. But get through it I did, I think, pretty successfully.
The reason is that I perfected the art of multi tasking.
The value of a few minutes
Becoming a mother meant that time took on a whole new meaning. I learned to get done what I had to do in the time allotted for it.
Having perpetual deadlines at work was nothing new, but now I had them at home - the endless cycle of feeding, bathing and putting to bed, not to mention the unaccounted for hours of goo-goo, gaa-gaa smiling and chatting to my new wonder. I had no more free time. Which meant I set a high priority on the time I had when I wasn't at the office. I learned to be disciplined and more focused.
Being able to better manage my time through multi-tasking gave me a new perspective on life.
Let's put it this way - even the worst day at work didn't seem as bad when I realised there was someone at home who was always happy to see me. I simply couldn't spend countless hours thinking about work when I wasn't at work - and that's a good thing.
Having a baby was such a big accomplishment that any minor setbacks or obstacles that occurred at work seemed like mere trifles. I think the new perspective I gained ultimately helped me get through tough situations with more ease.
Worth the struggle
Now both of my children are at school and snugly sleep through the night. Would I want to turn back the clock to those first few years as a new mother? Not a chance. But I have a profound respect for working mothers and all our hard fought wins for equality in the workplace.
Matilda Lee, Journalist, Mother of Two