My son is not yet 3 years old, and he’s already dropped an exponential amount of knowledge on me (despite his limited vocabulary). His mere existence is constantly teaching me about love, sacrifice, discovery, and more specifically, how to power through a day when I’m totally exhausted. I can think of a few key areas where these lessons are especially applicable, including but not limited to, my roles as a mom, friend, and a colleague. In fact, there are a number of ways that your kid will teach you to be a better coworker, I’ve found. The lessons we learn from parenting are endless and humbling and essential, aren’t they?
To be totally transparent, I don’t have traditional coworkers the same way that I used to. After my son was born, I did return to my office job in student affairs and outreach at a nearby university, but ultimately decided to only stay for a few months, opting to transition to a blend of life as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. Now that a couple of years have gone by, I identify mostly as a work-at-home mom which, in my case, means that work is on my mind pretty much every hour of every day since the door to the office is always a few mere steps away.
So, while I don’t share a workspace with my colleagues, I’m interacting with them frequently via chat, over text, over email, video calls, and social media. I’d wager that my experience as both a mom working (temporarily) outside of the home, and as a mom working from home, has provided me with some clear(ish) insight on how becoming a parent makes you a better colleague.
You’ll Have More Patience Than You’ll Know What To Do With
Did a colleague forget to do something you needed them to do? Is someone you depend on running late? Is technology conspiring against you to subsequently wreck your day? Meh.
All of these issues feel downright luxurious compared to a crying infant pooping on you at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night.
You’ll React Less Strongly To Outbursts Or Tantrums From Colleagues
I mean, I hope your colleagues aren’t in the habit of throwing tantrums at work, because that sounds like it’d be miserable for everyone involved. Still, when someone’s anger or frustration gets the best of them, you’re a great person to have around because you will know exactly what to do: get on their level, let them feel heard, validate their feelings, and then redirect.
Plus, you’re likely to have crackers in your purse, and those always seem to help, too.
The Gross Shared Fridge Will No Longer Phase You
Thank goodness for the aforementioned crackers, right?
Seriously though, you’ve been in the trenches of diapers and spit-up and mashed bananas. Someone’s old leftovers are hardly worth batting an eye over.
You’ll Have More Cuteness Displayed On Your Desk
Who doesn’t appreciate adorable photos and colorful art smears on display? Voldemort, that’s who. Everyone else will probably love it.
I mean, not that they’ll love it as quite as much as you (if they can’t see that your child is next-level cute and an artistic genius, it’s totally their loss), but they’ll probably enjoy it to some extent so it totally still counts.
You’ll Be More Understanding Of Others’ Family Needs
It’s not that I wasn’t understanding before, because I totally tried to be. I just didn’t really know what it was like to stay home with a sick kid, or leave work in the middle of a shift to catch a Halloween parade. Now, when a co-worker has to do the same, I know what it’s like to be in their shoes and I respond accordingly.
You’ll Have Funny Anecdotes To Share
Nothing breaks the ice like a cute story about a small child, right? Gone are the days when you have to dig super-deep for small talk topics. Now, you’re fully armed with a wide range of amusing tales about the trials and tribulations of potty training. What more could your colleagues want, right?
Just kidding. Sort of.
You’ll Be Happier To Have Adult Conversations
Even if those conversations involve lamenting over how obnoxious certain cartoon characters are, or how terrifying those cases of measles are at the local elementary school, they’re still held with someone who can form complete sentences and who has comprehension skills beyond those of a toddler. I’ll take it.
You’ll Have Great Practice In Saying Things In Multiple Different Ways And Until You’re Heard
“Can you please hand me that file?”
“Do you see that file? Could you hand it to me please?”
“I need your help. Could you please bring me that file?”
“Mama needs those papers. Can you be a helper and bring them to me?”
“No, I don’t have any cookies. However after you give me those papers, I can give you a sticky pad with meeting notes on it, and we can both pretend it's stickers. How does that sound?”
You’ll Be Clearer About Your Schedule
Yeah, no. Unfortunately, I can’t just re-work the plans I have for a certain night. The parent meeting at my kid’s daycare isn’t going to magically get rescheduled just for me. However, I can offer you, like, 80 other options since I know exactly when my kid's school opens and closes each day, and we can work around that.
Work Start Time Will Feel Downright Luxurious Compared To The Early Morning Kid Wake-Up Calls
I mean, this doesn’t mean you’ll consistently be on time to work. I struggled with this everyday even before I had an infant. What it does mean, however, is that you’ll have a different perspective on what’s being asked of you, and you’ll be able to offer more genuine apologies when you run significantly late.
You’ll Adapt More Of A “You Do You” Attitude Toward Your Colleagues
Is your colleague going about a project the opposite way from how you would? No biggie. Your toddler went to bed last night in a tutu, cowboy boots, and with a different color of nail polish on every finger. Who are you to judge?