It’s three o’clock on a Wednesday, and if you’re a working mom, your mind might wander to a list of competing priorities. Likely, your children will shortly be dismissed from school, dinner plans are up in the air, and you’ve got a list of tasks to complete before you shut down your computer for the day. Leaving work could better be described as changing work as your day evolves from serving your team to serving your family.
For any working mom, there are days when guilt erodes at your productivity as you reflect on the need to put your kids in afterschool care or miss a performance due to business travel. You might regularly compare your organization’s work from home policy to leading companies that help mothers or ones that offer onsite childcare services to employees at their corporate headquarters.
Yet despite an overflowing schedule, working moms teach their children important attributes. Psychology suggests that children learn and imitate behaviors by watching and listening to others, which means children learn character traits such as resilience, determination and perseverance by observing any working parent. Beyond these common values, here are three attributes kids learn by having a working mother, which will ultimately help them as professionals.
Whether you work from home or commute to an office, your kids likely spend more time entertaining and caring for themselves than if you were a stay-at-home parent. Kids with working parents have more real-world opportunities for independent thinking and problem-solving.
For example, if you work from home, there will be times where you are on a conference call while your kids bicker in the background about who’s turn it is to play with a particular toy or use a certain device. Ultimately, they are left to arrive at a solution together without your input. At the same time, if you work from an office and your kids are older, they’ll creatively learn how to overcome afterschool challenges. Perhaps they forgot their homework in their locker and have the opportunity to problem-solve in your absence by reaching out to friends or teachers for the information to complete their assignments.
In a world where standardized tests are errantly used to evaluate intelligence, working parents indirectly inspire independent thinking through real-world experiences, which is a skill any future leader needs.
Success in all professions requires the ability to work with a team. No matter how prolific your child’s education, he or she will need to incorporate expertise and feedback from others for long-term success.
Helping kids understand the value of teamwork and collaboration begins at a young age by requiring kids to do something simple like chores. As a working mom, you logistically have fewer hours in the day to take care of the home and therefore need your children to contribute.
But there are benefits beyond teaching your kids that they are part of a team by making them a chore chart. A Harvard Grant study confirms that kids who have chores and pitch in to keep a household running smoothly are more successful in the real world because they recognize needs beyond their own.
Don’t hesitate to delegate a list of simple household tasks to your kids, knowing you’re building confidence in their abilities. Developing these skills will boost both their collaboration and awareness in a future professional environment.
While there are countless benefits to living in the digital age, there are equally as many challenges, including living in an environment of constant distraction. Ongoing exposure to social media, texting and more makes it harder for children to learn to pay attention, which is necessary for learning, thinking, creativity and reasoning.
As a working mother, you have numerous priorities, and focus is required for success. When you are at work, giving your undivided attention to that role is necessary for achievement. Similarly, when you transition to family time, focusing fully on your role as a mother will help ensure your children feel connected, despite having less time to spend with your family than stay-at-home moms.
That means family time in the evening isn’t time to catch up on work emails, and it’s not time to rehash the challenges of your workday. The ability for working moms to channel their attention fully into their present role is the superpower of successful working moms. No matter which hat a working mom is wearing, she is fully committed to that role and her responsibilities in it until she changes gears. Teaching kids to manage their attention and focus on what matters in key moments by demonstrating this as a working mother will amplify their future successes.
Do you have to be a working mom to teach your kids these attributes? Absolutely not. However, these attributes are ancillary benefits of being a working parent. So if you are having a moment of mom guilt over not chaperoning your child’s field trip, remember that by being at work, you are also teaching your kids life skills that will contribute to their long-term success.