Travel coffee cup? Check. New business attire wardrobe? Check. Commuter entertainment? Check. Baby? Um, er, check.
When I got pregnant at the age of 21 during my senior year of college, you could say that I didn’t consider having a baby as a part of my grand plan to career success. In fact, I would even wager that most people don’t count popping out a few kids as a prerequisite to landing the career of their dreams. Diaper blowouts, sleepless nights, and unpredictable stomach bugs (shudder) aren’t exactly conducive to climbing the corporate ladder.
But surprisingly, having a baby doesn’t always have to be a career setback. I mean, obviously, some things get trickier and there is the very real world of maternity leave and daycare and work-life balance to navigate, but it is also a very real possibility that a baby might actually help your career in a lot of ways, such as …
1. It can push you to follow your passions.
“When you have less time, that’s when you can finally ask yourself questions like ‘Is this really the career I want?’ and ‘Do I even like my friends?'” wrote one hapless employee turned efficient mother for The Cut. “Which means you might actually shift your priorities in ways that improve your life for once.”
And she’s absolutely right, trite as it may sound. After having my own children, I realized that more than anything, my children deserved to see a real-life example of their mother not only believing that I had a right to be happy, but also working to pursue a passion.
2. Your baby will make you naturally more efficient.
Sometimes, productivity isn’t a skill that some people are born with, but a skill that is born out of necessity. Namely, the necessity of literally having zero free time means that you might just become a naturally more productive worker at home and in the workplace. The things I can accomplish in an hour now as a parent vs. what I could accomplish in an hour pre-parenting don’t even compare.
3. Your baby might get you out of projects you hate.
Obviously, I mean that in jest, but also kind of not really. What I mean is this: when you have a baby or more offspring, your time is precious and your co-workers may not bat an eye if you have to bow out of happy hour, or whatever it is that employed people do after-hours, to go home to be with your kid. I’m sure you’re devastated.
“My time is taken more seriously,” said one 29-year-old father of four whom I may or may not be married to and who therefore was forced to give me a quote for this article. “If I say I can’t do something, people know that I mean it.” (Side note: please be aware that saying you don’t have “time” to do the laundry does not fly.)
4. It might make you be perfectly content with having “just” a job.
I feel like there’s a lot of talk in the career-minded circles about not just having a job that pays the bills, but work that fulfills the very crevices of your soul. You don’t just bring home the bacon, you pursue your passions. You don’t just punch the clock, you create a life of beauty. You don’t just do your job, you cultivate art, and so on and so forth. But you guys, let’s be real. Sometimes, being a parent makes you realize that there really is more to life than work, and if you’re 100 percent OK with having a job that “just” pays for diapers and dinner, then that’s perfectly fine. Work doesn’t always have to define us.
5. It can make you seem more competent in the workplace.
Well, unfortunately, this seems to be statistically true if you happen to be a man. But no matter! I am convinced that the more #parentpower we can cultivate as women who happen to work and mother, sometimes even (gasp!) at the same time, the more we can chance how mothers are perceived in the workplace. If men get a 6 percent “daddy bonus” simply by being promoted to father status as employees, surely mothers will eventually get the same recognition, right? Right?
6. It can give you more confidence.
In a book called The Mom Shift, author Reva Seth detailed the stories of moms who experienced more success in their careers after having children, instead of the other way around. For example, one mother opened up a store that she had always dreamed about after her 2-year-old was diagnosed with cancer. Owning her own business to give her more time with her child suddenly didn’t seem so crazy in the face of fighting cancer.
“Having a kid really focused me,” Seth said in an interview. “I was really ambitious, but I was completely ‘Oh yeah, let’s go for drinks.’ I felt like I had unlimited time. And then suddenly having a child made me feel ‘Oh my god, I’m getting old! Pull it together, do something with myself.’ You need to take yourself more seriously, and I think that makes other people take you more seriously. So there were a lot of good things that came from it.”
I will say that I fully agree with the idea that becoming a mother has given me a whole lot more confidence. And honestly, on any given day when I’m feeling less than confident, all I have to do is remember that I freaking gave birth four times —
And I remember if I can do that, then really, I can do anything.