How An Unexpected Baby Affects Your Career, For Better And Worse
Ideally, the whole career/family thing goes according to plan. We’d all like to be killing it in our careers, with a lot of money in the bank and plenty of clout in our industry before throwing the giant wrench into our lives that is a baby. The more secure our lives feel, perhaps the less of a commotion that wrench will cause (though any mom will tell you there’s no such thing as minimizing the havoc that comes with motherhood). But, things don’t always go according to plan. You can forget to take your pill right on time for a couple of days or fail to realize that spermicide was expired and, whoops, you and your partner are pregnant ahead of schedule. Interestingly enough, I’ve known a few moms to whom this happened and they actually found there were some benefits to their career of having a child earlier than planned. And, of course, it posed some challenges, too.
You’ll advocate for yourself more
When you start thinking about not only being a role model for your child but also providing for your family, you begin to advocate for yourself, more. You feel that, in every part of your life, including your career, you represent your family, so you want to be fierce. You start advocating for yourself more. You starting nominating yourself for those promotions and putting yourself out there for more opportunities.
Employers may question your dedication
The truth is that some employers worry when their employees become moms. They fear their attention will be elsewhere. They may keep a closer eye on you, trying to make sure that motherhood isn’t affecting your work ethic. But, that’s okay because, you’re standing up for yourself more than ever.
You’ll ask for more money
Naturally, now that you have a little one to support, you’re more fearless about asking for more money. When it comes to salary negotiations, you’re thinking about adding a bedroom to your house and paying college tuition. You’re no longer just thinking of funding your designer shoe habit or twice-yearly vacation. This is serious. And you ask for serious money.
You’ll be more conservative with investments
While you’re asking for more money, you’re investing more conservatively. Messing up an investment could mean blowing your child’s college tuition and struggling to pay for things like piano lessons and summer camp. You’re looking at long-term, conservative investments now.
You’ll become a time-management pro
Because motherhood will create such chaos in your schedule, you actually become even better at time management. They say, “Give jobs to busy people” and nobody’s busier than a mother. You get up early. You have every 20-minute increment of the day mapped out.
But some surprises can’t be managed
Naturally, as much as you try to schedule your day and micro-manage every hour, some surprises cannot be controlled. Sometimes, you will have to walk out of a very important meeting because your child’s school calls—your kid has a high fever and your partner isn’t answering his phone.
You’ll have more drive
Overall, you may feel you have more drive. Something about seeing the way the workplace can expect less from a working mother makes you want to prove them wrong.
Sometimes, your drive will break your heart
Of course, sometimes, having more drive will break your heart. You stay late for that project and take that out-of-town meeting to prove that motherhood isn’t making you any less of a professional, but that also means feeling very guilty about not seeing your kids.
You’ll be more relatable
Here’s a nice surprise you may find: some clients and potential partners find you more relatable. You may be asked specifically to sit in on a meeting with a client because you’re a mother, and so too is the client—or they hold strong family values.
Well, perhaps not to friends
There is one group of people to whom you may seem less relatable, and that’s your non-parent friends. If the rest of your friends are still on the waiting a while to have kids plan, they can make you feel judged sometimes. They’re just looking at you thinking, “Your life seems crazy. What happened to waiting?”
You’ll join the WM club
The crew you lose in your non-parent friends you remake in the working moms club. And they’re amazing. They have each other’s backs like no other. They are the silent force that makes you all look on top of your game, secretly helping each other pick up kids from school and man one’s desk while she takes a call with the pediatrician.
You’ll become more ethical
You’ll start to feel more bothered by working with unethical individuals and companies. Would you want your child to grow up and work with someone like that? Do you want to send the message to your kid that it’s okay to work with people like this? No. You don’t.
Those ethics can be a handicap
Of course, anybody who knows anything about having a career knows that having ethics make things a bit more complicated. It doesn’t make things impossible—just a bit more complicated.
You’ll become a bad*ss in meetings
You don’t let people talk over you in meetings or let men mansplain things to you. You’re used to yelling over screaming kids at home. You will command a room.
You’ll learn to work with others
You have to learn to work with others in order to create that village it takes to raise a kid. So, overall, you become more collaborative, willing to accept help and make compromises.