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Returning to work is still, 4 months on, a regular feature in many conversations I have on a daily basis.  Lots of questions get fired at me about how I manage, and who looks after Lylah, with a lot of back and forth about how it’s great that I’m back and “talking to adults” and using “that part of my brain”.

I absolutely feel challenged at work; I love getting my teeth stuck into new and exciting projects, dealing with lovely clients and working alongside talented co-workers.  But, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m a MAW (Mother at Work) and I have been working since the day my daughter was born.  In that blog, I talked of the hard work involved in labour, and the ongoing challenges that arise daily with having a baby.  However, I’m pretty sure that in my role as a mummy, there are lots of skills I have learned in my career so far that geared me up for the biggest job role of my life!

I have had a variety of jobs, and without this turning into my CV, they have mainly in been in the areas of broadcast media and marketing.  My most recent position is in advertising sales, a role which requires a tough skin and a good work ethic.  Thinking back to my interview for this job, a lot of the words used in the spec describe the skills that are absolutely vital in bringing up a child.

So I thought, just for fun, I would think back upon the past 13 months, and look at how I’ve put my working skills and expertise into good practice!

Job requirement: Listening to customer requirements and presenting appropriately to make a sale…

Well, this one is a no brainer.  With a baby who can’t yet speak, ‘listening to customer requirements’ (the customer being Lylah) becomes somewhat challenging!  Grunts, pointing, babbling and crying/screaming tend to be the extent of our communication thus far!  Body language is key here, so I must listen to her tone (screechy or calm?), watch her actions (relaxed or hyper?) and come to some kind of conclusion about what this child wants!  Once I have deciphered the code, I move onto presentation.  I make my next move in a professional manner, calmly presenting my solution (hopeful that I’ve got it right), and wait for her response.  Have I got the sale?  Does she like the teddy I’ve chosen?  Is she happy with a Dairylea sandwich?  Is it the blue ball she wanted over the red triangle?  Or shall I just give her my iPhone…

Job requirement: Maintaining and developing relationships with existing customers in person and via telephone calls and emails…

This one is a bit trickier…

Having a baby means your life becomes led by them.  Your priorities change, and as a result so does your social status.  The ‘existing’ customers referred to here are your old friends from your pre-baby life.  The ones you got drunk with, the ones you would text just because you had the time.  My friends are lucky now if they get a reply to a text message from me within the week!  That aside, to be successful in this role, it is a must that you maintain these relationships.  Just add Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Whats App to the comms list and we’re onto a winner!

Job requirement: negotiating the terms of an agreement and closing sales…

There is only one word we need worry about here.  Negotiation.  Never in my life did I think that as a mother I would have to negotiate with my child so much.  And she’s only 13 months old!  Negotiation tactics normally take place at the highchair.  She begins negotiations by insisting (by pointing, grunting and snarling) that she does not want to eat the fish risotto.  I say that if you eat the fish risotto, you can have a yoghurt afterwards.  So what? says she.  Why would I want a yoghurt when I know full well you have Goodies snacks in the cupboard that taste much nicer than this?  Okay, I say (ahem, negotiate).  If you have one crispie, you will eat the rest yes?

Half a pack of snacks, a cube of cheese, a slice of bread and a choccie biscuit later, and I feel like I’ve negotiated well through this scenario.  Never mind that the fish risotto has been thrown to the ground, I won because she ate.

Job requirement: gathering market and customer information…

This one starts long before you give birth.  This starts when you begin even thinking about having children.  You buy the books, you read Babycentre, and you talk to other mummies.  Because you want to be prepared.  But in this job, no amount of research can prepare you, it’s much more try it and see!

Job description: reviewing your own performance, aiming to meet or exceed targets…

Every mum does this, especially the new mummies.  Have I done a good job, should I have dropped that feed, what weight is she now, did I breastfeed long enough, should I have given her 3 biscuits today…?!?  We are constantly reviewing ourselves, putting ourselves under pressure to be the best mums we can be, setting ourselves goals and trying to smash them so we can say “yes, I’m a good mum”.   Do you know what?  Don’t do this one, it’s too much hard work.  Being a mummy is hard enough without constantly asking yourself are you good enough.  And by the way, you are a good mum.

Job description:  Attending team meetings and sharing best practice with colleagues…

This one is my favourite!  Our weekly team meetings started out taking place at the children’s centre, post-natal group and playgroups.  They moved onto toddler groups, swimming pools and each other’s houses.  They now take place in soft play centres and, when we have a night off from the babies, the pub!  This is where you can see the results of all of your hard work.  The children play with each other and the mummies take 5 over cake and coffee.  We learn from each other, we help each other and we are there for each other.  And just for the record, I have the best colleagues you could ever find in this field…you know who you are.

So there you have it.  I’m a sales person, and I’m a mummy.  My skills have crossed over into Jugglehood, making my transition that bit easier having been armed with the expertise that I would use everyday in my role as a mother.  Thanks career, you have helped a lot!  Now, where’s that customer of mine…

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