Recently, I read a businessman’s update on critical skills that employers are searching for. The skills that may not be listed on your resume. These “soft skills” – he called them – that are currently desirable in business include:
- Time management
- Customer service
- Ability to work independently
- Project management
- Analytical thinking
I maintain that all effective mothers are proficient in most, if not all, of these “soft skills.”
Mothers are the queens of scheduling, and we tend to use this “soft skill” daily. Schedule the doctors’ appointments – both well child and sick visits as needed. We arrange the current teacher’s review of our student’s school progress, the orthodontist visits, the speech therapist’s evaluation for possible speech delay. Furthermore, we schedule the child psychologist consultation for our goofy child’s persistent social ineptness, the play date with our daughter’s new best friend in first grade at a new school. Then we schedule the overnight slumber party for our ten-year-old son’s birthday, and the pool party for our eight-year-old daughter’s June birthday, etc.
Efficient moms are champions of time management, and this “soft skill” is important to each of us. We ask ourselves: Can I make it to the drugstore, and to Target, and still have time to pick up the kids after school?. Am I able to rearrange my work schedule this Thursday so that I will be able to personally take my daughter to her swimming lesson? Is it possible to squeeze in a thirty-minute-workout on the Peloton while the baby is asleep, and his older sibling is happily playing next door?
Good moms excel at communication. At home, it is a crucial “soft skill.” If my husband is going to help me with this upcoming birthday party, I must tell him exactly what I need him to do and write in down as a detailed list. When the teacher needs to know about a problem with my child, or vice versa, we routinely takes care of this with a quick email or phone call. Whenever another mother needs to be alerted about questionable behavior observed among a group of pre-teen girls who gathered for some mall shopping, it is mom who makes the call to another mom to talk through what happened.
Every mother’s secret talent is customer service – keeping everyone in the family happy. I believe that this “soft skill” is what we do best, day in and day out. We learn to keep everyone else happy, sometimes forgetting to take care of ourselves. The household (or customer) attitude is set, in general, by us – the mother. If mom has a good attitude, it generally trickles down to her children. A good mother’s outlook on life is clearly communicated with her presence and her grace. A good mother also pays a modicum of attention to her husband (another customer), too.
Busy mothers are all about flexibility. This particular “soft skill” allows us to try something new when one thing flops. When someone becomes ill, we adjust. Flexibility is one of our strong suits, in that we know how to call in our helpers, change to plan B, or get someone else to fill in at the last minute. It requires finding a substitute, trading your PTO or committing to work an extra shift to cover for a friend who is sick. Moreover, flexibility is about buying the cupcakes at a bakery rather than making them from scratch.
A mother’s ability to work independently is exemplified by every single working mother that I know. Single moms have to be very good at this “soft skill.” How she gets it all done – most often by herself – with only occasionally calling in the help she needs, sometimes seems superhuman. Single working mothers are saints.
Many moms are effective at project management, best exemplified by any mother who has moved her household of five – her project: a husband, three kids, and two pets – to another city and state. She must check out the neighborhoods, secure the new home, find the new schools, and meet the new teachers. Then she unpacks all the boxes and sets up the entire house, while also managing to schedule a meeting with her supervisor about her new job. There are few projects more complex than a family of five with two working parents and three children, each attending a different school.
Analytic thinking is a “soft skill” that comes naturally to many mothers. A great example is when we research a school district’s faculty and several of their key dyslexia programs, visit both public and several private schools in the area, and talk with the principals of said schools. Then we visit with orchestra teachers and swimming coaches before we decide which school is best for each child next year. We use this “soft skill” when we consider which boy scout troop will best serve our immature, but eager, twelve-year-old son. Analytical thinking comes second nature to most of us.
“Soft skills,” indeed. Mothers use these crucial skills every day!