Being on parental leave: a time of self-discovery or just pure baby brain….?

Alice Pilbeam-Brown, a qualified coach and new parent, shares her thoughts this week around what she has learnt about herself as a new parent:

When I was expecting my baby, I was told that being a new parent would change me and I became fully prepared for that. What I didn’t realise, was that it would sharpen and test skills that I used regularly at work. I’ve listed the top 10 that have been tested to their fullest over the last 6 months; they’re in no particular order.

Skills Learnt Whilst Being on Maternity Leave

  1. Prioritisation; Now that I have limited time for myself, the time I do have is so precious that I do what really matters. Procrastination has become a long lost bad habit.
  2. Efficiency; Again, with limited time for getting things done, I’m forever trying to find the most efficient way of completing a task…and usually one handed!
  3. Patience; With a tiny human only able to communicate through crying (with little variation at this stage!) I have to try everything to solve his problems…sometimes thrice over!
  4. Trusting my instincts; I can read all the baby books in the world, but in a moment of his distress, it’s my instincts, supported with my knowledge, that has really led to successful and quick decision making. Trusting myself has never been so vital.
  5. Learning quickly from mistakes; Once I’ve made a mistake, such as traveling on the train with a pram in rush hour, I do everything in my power to avoid making it again…the consequences are just not worth it!
  6. Resilience; From judgemental looks to unhelpful comments and tough sleep deprived days, resilience really has become a very good friend of mine.
  7. Expecting the unexpected; Even with a loose routine to our day that’s regularly adjusted to his age, my baby can change in an instant. And, just like any other human, he has days where he’s more tired than usual, more hungry or just in a really bad mood.
  8. Consistent learning; Every day I learn something new; whether about my baby, my family, myself or the world around me. And when it comes to my baby, just when I think I’ve nailed it, he throws in another dimension!
  9. Trusting my support network; Especially my second in command! I know that all actions, advice and words from my loved ones come with love and the desire to support me, and are usually always right!
  10. Trial & error; When I design training programmes for professionals, I regularly ensure space for “piloting” to see how it lands. A lot of what I’ve learnt since my baby arrived is that most things are a “pilot” that provides extremely useful information!

Having sharpened these skills…and many more, it has made me feel more ready-than-ever to get back into the working world. It’s also helped me discover how many transferable skills there are between parenthood and corporate life as I knew it. Realising this has helped build my confidence as a parent and a professional.

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