Parenting is considered one of the most challenging jobs you could ever have, which makes it an excellent opportunity to learn valuable skills that can also be useful in the workplace and help employees improve their work performance. From time management to creativity, parenting can teach us a lot and help us become better leaders, managers and team players.
Returners can often lose confidence after taking a career break due to family reasons, and may worry about having a lack of skills when it comes to applying for jobs again. However, this couldn’t be more wrong. Parenting skills can be highly valuable to employers, and can actually support Returners on their journey back to work, or help anyone excel in their current jobs. Let’s take a look at the top parenting skills that can be useful in your professional life.
8 Parenting skills you can bring to work
There are countless skills you gain as a parent that can be easily translated into practical skills for the workplace. Such skills include:
Multitasking involves performing more than one task at the same time and parents are known to be masters of multitasking for a number of reasons. Whether that’s dealing with multiple children at once, preparing meals, juggling housework, leading a successful career and managing personal relationships (all at once!), multitasking is no easy feat.
This constant practice of handling multiple tasks simultaneously helps to improve your ability to stay organised and keep multiple tabs open in your life. As such, multitasking is a skill that translates well into the workplace and can be used to improve productivity and efficiency. These are both desirable traits to have when applying for jobs and prove particularly useful for demanding roles that require you to wear many hats, or even in leadership positions that give you responsibility over multiple people or projects.
The term multitasking was actually coined in the computer industry, deriving from the ability of a computer to perform multiple tasks or processes at the same time. This is highly fitting since multitasking is a fantastic skill to have when entering a career in technology, as it is a fast-paced environment that may require you to work on multiple projects with many different priorities, deadlines, and stakeholders at once.
Parenting is a challenging and often demanding role that requires a lot of emotional involvement and will test your patience to the maximum. Patience is a key skill that many parents develop as they navigate the ups and downs of raising children, especially as children can be unpredictable and emotional. They have temper tantrums, refuse to cooperate, and require constant care and attention, which can all be extremely frustrating to deal with.
While children have the freedom to act irrationally, parents must learn to remain calm and collected when dealing with all these challenges, which requires a great deal of patience, compassion, and self-control. Yet, this is critical as maintaining a positive and supportive relationship with your child is essential to their wellbeing and development.
The patience practised in parenthood is transferable to the workplace and can help you improve relationships with colleagues with more understanding and empathy. It can also help you manage difficult situations and deal with workplace conflicts - an essential quality for leadership positions.
Similar to patience, communication is key to a healthy relationship between a child and their parents. Building a healthy relationship with your child can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood and requires you to learn how to respond to their behaviour. This could mean setting boundaries, negotiating with a rebellious teenager, or dealing with a difficult family situation.
Parents need to be able to express themselves clearly, listen actively, and provide guidance and support in a way that their children can understand and relate to. This means providing praise, encouragement, discipline, advice and more - all at the appropriate time!
Communication is also an essential skill to have in the workplace and is a soft skill that almost all employers look for in a candidate. It gives you the ability to interact effectively in meetings, deliver engaging presentations, improve teamwork, and establish trust and relationships with colleagues. The ability to communicate is important in virtually all industries, but particularly those that rely heavily on collaboration, such as healthcare, education, and technology.
4. Time management
As discussed, parenting requires lots of multitasking, which means time management is also a must-have skill. Time management skills help parents to make the most of their available time, prioritise tasks and avoid feelings of overwhelm. As a parent, you may struggle to make time for your child’s extracurricular activities, work commitments and your own self-care, for example. Yet, this is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Without proper organisation and task prioritisation, parents risk falling subject to burnout, which is not helpful for your career performance, your family life or your mental health.
However, this also applies to the workplace. Time management skills are important at work as they help you keep on top of tasks, prioritise work, reduce stress and be as efficient as possible. This is highly valued by employers since they help professionals to meet deadlines, manage their workload, and make the most of their time. By practising effective time management skills in their role as parents, individuals can develop valuable skills that can help them succeed in their careers and personal lives.
Parenting requires flexibility and adaptability, as each day will bring new challenges and over time your child’s needs will change. Children go through different stages of development, each with its own unique challenges, and parents need to adapt to these changes to provide the best possible care. You go from changing nappies and night-time feeds to helping your kids with their homework, teaching your teens to drive and sending young adults to university.
Unexpected circumstances require you to learn from your mistakes in many cases and deal with problems you’ve never encountered before. But by being adaptable, parents can respond effectively and adjust their approach to suit their child’s personality and developmental needs.
Similarly, when at work, you’ll experience new challenges and tasks you’ve never completed before. So, your adaptability skills will come in handy. Being flexible and responding well to change could help you with anything from navigating changing market conditions or dealing with new management teams to managing workplace crises!
Becoming a parent allows you to be more creative in multiple ways. Firstly, as a parent, you hold the responsibility of being your child’s educator, teaching them new life and practical skills through play and life. This could see you getting involved in activities, such as music, reading, arts and crafts. You are also tasked with thinking of ways to keep your kids entertained and take part in imaginative play, creating new games to play together and approaching life with an open mind and playful attitude.
Yet, this also works the other way around. Spending time with children can expose parents to new ideas, interests, and ways of looking at the world, which can stimulate their imagination and inspire new creative ideas. This creativity can translate into the workplace, making you more open-minded and helping you formulate new ideas and improve innovation, which makes you particularly suited to creative fields, such as marketing, writing and design.
Parents often make good leaders since they possess many of the same qualities and skills that are necessary for effective leadership. Taking on the role of a parent is similar to taking on the role of a leader, as you take charge to guide your family through the various stages of their life and provide support. You are likely to take on the role of a provider, helping them make good choices and leading by example. With this, you are also able to develop your problem-solving and communication skills, which are great for people, project and business management.
On the other hand, parenting also equips you with the soft skills required for leadership roles, such as emotional intelligence, resilience, patience and empathy. These are useful qualities for people management and team building in particular.
8. Crisis management
Due to the unpredictable nature of parenting, parents often have experience in crisis management, which can be useful for the workplace too.
Parents often develop their crisis management skills when dealing with unexpected and challenging situations, such as a child’s illness or injury, or a change in family circumstances. Parents will have to be adaptable to these new situations and find creative solutions. In doing so, they learn to remain calm under pressure and in stressful situations, and be resourceful when required.
In the workplace, crisis management may translate to operational delays, cybersecurity breaches, workplace accidents, financial issues or global events. Effective crisis management involves identifying issues as soon as they arise, developing solutions and mitigating future risks. As such, parents are well-suited to dealing with crisis situations.
Getting back to work after parenting duties
Leveraging the invaluable skills you learn throughout parenthood can help you excel in your career. So, whether you’re a parent looking to return to the workforce after taking some time off for childcare duties, or simply looking to improve your work performance, your parenting skills are certainly more useful than you may think. You can include these skills within your CV, and provide examples of how you can use these in a professional setting. Likewise, you can discuss these skills with employers during job interviews, but be sure to prepare for any questions you may get asked and always relate your answers back to work. Just make sure to read the room and try to avoid talking too much about your personal life, and keep the parenting anecdotes to a minimum.
If you’re looking to get back to work after a career break, a Returners programme could be the perfect opportunity for you. At FDM, we offer Returners with a career break of over a year the opportunity to get back into the workforce, with expert training programmes and work placements with our industry-leading clients.
Are you ready to rebuild your career? Check out the FDM Returners Programme or get in touch for more information.