4 Ways Having A Kid Changed My Career

I’ll never forget my first day back to work after maternity leave. It was a hot July afternoon and I was sitting in my sleep-deprived state, at my desk, office door closed and afternoon iced coffee in hand. I had make-up on, a dress; I’d actually take a shower that day.

I began to remember who I’d been before – a professional woman valued for her brain! I lazily scrolled through my email in the silent cocoon of my air conditioned office and thought, “I’m back.”

Then something really strange happened at 3:30 that day. My whole body broke out in a desperate need, a physical craving, to hold my daughter. I couldn’t concentrate and nothing at work felt anywhere near as critical, at that moment, then cradling my daughter in my arms. Fortunately my job came with extreme flexibility, so I shut down my computer and rushed home.

Having a kid changes you. Cliché, I know, but there’s really no other way to say it. It’s hard to wrap your head around what that change will feel like until you have one yourself. Reflecting back, now 6 years into this motherhood thing, here’s what I can honestly share.

The perks change

Spending evenings at Happy Hour with co-workers and frequent business trips are less alluring when it means even more time away from your kids. Most parents dream of a short commute, a flexible work schedule and the ability to be nearly 100% “present” with their kids (dread 8:00pm conference calls with China). Of course, moms do need a night off, don’t get me wrong, we like our wine and whine time, but when it turns into two or more nights in a row, we’re finding ways to bail.

Your values realign

Back in my pre-kid days, I attended a leadership retreat where we did a values exercise. Perhaps you’ve done one yourself. If not, you should – they’re super fantastic at getting at the root of what drives you. So I’m doing this values exercise, and in a breakdown moment I had to choose my very top value having pared the list down to creativity (insert my fiction-writing) and love (insert husband’s name). I couldn’t choose one over the other – I needed them both. I literally broke down sobbing.

Today, I wouldn’t even have to think twice. There’s nothing that would rank higher than my immediate family unit (insert hubby and daughter). I’ve actually put my fiction writing on hold for 6 years -something I still can’t wrap my head around. Values will realign – Bigtime.

Career planning may take a 180, and that’s totally okay

There’s a lot of talk about what really matters in life and what will make you feel that you’ve led a life worth living. For most of us who have a “job” and not a “passion” we work for, having been an awesome Supply Chain Manager or Market Segment Manager won’t be the top thing we’ll list. Raising healthy children, redeeming a social condition, leaving a legacy – the stuff that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about in my favorite poem, that’s the stuff that matters.

I chose to back out of the corporate world and redirect my career down the entrepreneurial path. I crafted my dream job – Job Search and Women’s Empowerment Coach, to fit the 9-3 school schedule. I’ve built a rewarding career so that I can have it all. I can’t tell you how many women have said they’re jealous. This is what every working Mom I know craves. You’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to getting something similar yourself.

You’ll allocate money differently

Kids are expensive and they want to do cool things like go to Walt Disney World (and you might be excited to have a legit excuse to get back there yourself), and they may want to take acting lessons or Taekwondo. You’ll want to/and be pressured into getting them on airplanes to show them off to distant relatives/friends. You’ll want to show them our amazing world – let them swim in oceans, hike mountains, run down sand dunes. Save some money now, make as much as you can and sock some of it away. We’ve opted for a less fancy house, less frequent house cleaning and not replacing older cars so that we can have wild adventures, like taking our daughter to Europe for 3 weeks. Yes, you can take kids to Europe – money helps.

Should your or shouldn’t you have kids? Only you can answer that. They will change you, that’s for damn sure. They will demand so, so much of you yet they’ll also take you on a love ride you never knew existed, and in the end, the ride isn’t just about what you did to make money and build a professional reputation, it’s about who you did it with along the way.

Written by Tamara Palmer

Tamara Palmer is the Founder of greyzone Job Search Coaching and Career Mentoring and the program, Be Bold, Not Bossy, Leading with Humility, Tact and Assertiveness to Rock Your Career.  You can read her musings on careers and the job search process on the greyzone blog.

  • Dr.Sheftall

    I might think women must have children. They are what God creates women for. Women are adorable. No worry about having kids, they are gift from God who can cheer your life. No worry about your body shape after u have several birth. You still can have your sexy body back. Be a sexy and perfect mummy, you will be loved forever by your husband

  • Jessica

    Beautiful. I love my corporate job, but I definitely worry about what is going to change when my husband and I have kids. I love the career 180 piece.

    Thank you for sharing!

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