What I like about the event industry I work in is that it’s constantly changing and you never get bored of it. The flipside of that means unless you keep up with the changes, continuously studying, following the trends, you might fall behind.
My little boy Max came to us in January and I recently returned to work after taking six months maternity leave. One of the biggest reasons I chose not to take a long time off is that I felt comfortable filling the six months gap fairly easily. How much can change in six months, right?
And… Guess what. Is there anything that hasn’t changed during the past six months? The COVID -19 pandemic brought our industry to a halt. Most face to face events were cancelled or on hold and organisations including our company Nectar have switched to virtual events. Going back to work was as if I am starting a new job! Adding to feeling guilty that I left my little one behind at home, I was scared and worried. How am I going to keep up with these changes? Should I just take more time off?
I had to do something to regain my confidence so I looked back on the six months and started to write down a list of what I have learned since my little one came along. When I thought I spent all six months just changing nappies, I realised that this time actually taught me important skills in my life which will be a great help for my career.
Here’s the five things that I’ve realised I am better at now after looking after my newborn baby for the past six months:
Patience and being accommodating – I am and always have been outcome driven and often thought it is important to get everything done as quickly as possible. However, since I have seen my little tiny baby Max growing up to be a little man, exploring the world every day bit by bit, I learned how to fully enjoy the journey. Because now I know that even though it may take some time or be a longer way, you can still reach a great result. I am better at accommodating different ways of doing things and I am more patient and relaxed.
What does your baby (client) want? – To me, the first six months of raising Max was pretty much a guessing game. He can’t talk, can’t move much (now we have a playpen installed to keep him in the room though) and cries without reason so I tried to read his signs, observe him carefully, put myself into his shoes to see what he is trying to tell us, what would be best for him and how I can help him. As a result, now I am back at work I am more empathetic and ready to put on our client’s hat to make sure their event is successful.
If you have five minutes? – I have a friend whose son is eight years old now and I met her when he was about two years old. I remember she often told me that she has no time to take a shower. I thought that she was exaggerating. How could she not even have five spare minutes for a shower? Now I can clean up the toys, fold laundry, post Max’s photo on instagram (of course) and maybe give a quick kiss to my darling husband, all in five minutes because I want to add that five minutes to my sleep. I didn’t train myself to be like this. Now I understand more how important it is to make the most of my time and be conscious of how I am spending every minute of my life.
What needs to be done first? – Following on the previous point, after taking care of my bub for six months, I have become an expert at prioritizing my time. What’s more important, having a shower or baking a weeks worth of baby purees which will ultimately give you 20 minutes free time at the end of the week? You have to prioritize your endless to do list constantly and choose carefully. I truly believe this will be very helpful for me moving forward as I often manage multiple projects at one time.
Better at dealing with tantrums – Max is a lovely baby (not because he is mine) but as all other bubs, he is not always a happy baby. He cries, gets clingy and fussy with no reason. When he does that, I would get frustrated, emotional, and this would make him even more upset because he can detect my stress. Now I know the best way of dealing with it is to stay calm and give myself a tiny bit of space to regroup with my thoughts.
My experience of raising a newborn baby wasn’t somewhat special or different than any other mum. It’s just I hadn’t recognised these transferable skills until I actually thought about it. Don’t think that six months maternity leave will leave you behind in career development. Actually you will come back stronger and better (I call it Sukhee Version 3.5)
So if you are out there, soon returning to work or just back at work but doubting yourself, asking whether you will be able to get yourself back in the game or not, don’t worry. If you survived (with the help of two cups of latte a day of course) raising a newborn baby, you can do anything. You’ve got this. We’ve got this!