By Khara Williams, director of relationships, businesswoman and mama
We’ve come so far in the workplace gender-equality debate, but there’s still a long way to go. One of my pet peeves is the prevailing sentiment that having kids automatically means you’ll work less, and have less efficacy, than your non-parent or male counterparts.
Why is it that we still feel these two parts of our identities can’t coexist and actually strengthen each other?
For me, having kids doesn’t mean I work less than I did in my pre-mama life, it means I work with more passion, more purpose and more drive than ever before.
My children inspire me to make the world a better place. And that takes hard work
I’m a proud mum to two beautiful boys, Jed and Tom. And since having them, I’ve realised something pretty important. My career drive and my mama drive are both underpinned by the same burning desire to have a positive impact. One doesn’t exist without the other.
This isn’t to say I haven’t had my share of sleepless nights, brain fog and walking in to meetings with milk vomit on my blazer. Sleep deprivation is a recognised form of torture! Throw in a tiny human that won’t stop crying, or whose gorgeous little hugs I miss incredibly when I’m not home for story time, and it’s impossible not to feel that it’s all way too much.
But the truth is, I love to work. I love having a purpose, and rather than children detracting from that, or changing it, they’ve only strengthened and enhanced that side of me—they make me want to work my butt off to create good in the world, to help people and to leave the world a better place than the one my boys have been born into.
My children help me understand my priorities, which makes me work harder
Having kids has helped me realise that while the perks of a corporate career are essential and fulfilling, those are just the basics.
I’ve been working in the corporate sector for more than 10 years, which I absolutely love – I’m in a challenging, rewarding leadership role that has so much scope to impact my team and other professionals in a positive way.
But since having the boys, I’ve realised that it’s not enough. What I’m doing is valuable, but I want to have a different impact on the world. This realisation has been an incredible motivator for me.
Now, when I’m not at the office and when my little ones are asleep or out in the world, I’m also busy building a community of like-minded, hard-working mamas who have had a similar realisation.
We’re all fuelled by a search for purpose and a deep sense of energy to create change for our kids, and their kids too. The community is helping us all to see the bigger picture.
My children make me better at my job
Becoming a mother made me more assertive, decisive and more thoughtful in my work, because it helped me deeply understand the value of time management and problem solving.
The funny thing is, they’ve done studies that measured the neurological differences between rodent mums and rodent non-mums that give some weight to this feeling of mine.
These studies have shown that before having offspring, the non-mama rat’s hunting method can be haphazard and is more likely to attract predators. But as a lactating mum with pups to feed, her method is more direct and lethal. The mum rat captures a cricket in 70 seconds – four times faster than non-mum rats – and does not let it go. She’s got no time to waste. Sound familiar? Even more interesting, as a result of motherhood, our mama rat will experience less memory decline in old age, and have quicker navigation skills than non-mothers, outsmarting them in mazes. She makes fewer errors, is more efficient and finds new and unusual ways to get tasks done – approaches she had not considered before giving birth. Keep this one in your back pocket to whip out next time you hear someone disparaging the contribution a mother can make to the workplace!
In the end, we’re all unique and valuable individuals; for me, motherhood has not only added fuel to the fire of my sense of passion and drive, it’s made me a more purposeful worker. And I’ve got my beautiful kids to thank for that.