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Does Motherhood Make You Stupid?

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Does Motherhood Make You Stupid?

“I feel my brain cells slowly dying every day.”

The mom who recently made that statement is clearly drowning in the frenzied white water of parenting. Although swimming in a sea of diapers, laundry, scattered toys and sibling squabbles may not feel very mentally stimulating to most of us, don’t despair. By being purposeful and mindful, you can learn significant ways to thrive in the midst of the chaos and hone important skills that make you more effective, more successful—and more joyful—both at home and at work.

Let me tell you how.

Motherhood is a powerful training ground for leadership skills. The good news is that every day at home with your kids you are given multiple opportunities to practice being a better leader—IF you notice these opportunities and train yourself to take advantage of them. At home you’re in an environment where you won’t get fired if you screw up. And you get instant results because you can immediately see how well your strategies work with your kids by how they respond to you. Parenting is, arguably, like getting an alternate MBA. So instead of merely slogging through each day putting out fires, squashing conflicts and completing menial jobs until exhaustion overtakes you, open your mind to a higher goal. At home you are the CEO of a small business, and the lessons you learn there not only make you smarter, but they also transfer to your office, making you a more valuable manager at work.

Let’s take just three of the important leadership skills you can strengthen with your kids that will make you a better mom at home and a better manager in your workplace.

1. Building trust

A work environment where people trust each other is essential for people to do their best and most creative work. Otherwise employees are reluctant to offer their greatest ideas or to do more than they’re asked, for fear of making a mistake and being judged. Mindful moms can strengthen their skill of trust building at home.

Create a safe haven for your kids to share their problems and their fears, and then treat their feelings with sensitivity, compassion and respect. Make it easy for your kids to tell you the truth, knowing that it takes great courage to fess up. These are basic guidelines for developing a positive relationship with people in any environment.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your six-year-old sneaks a forbidden cookie from the jar. Rather than accusing him of a misbehavior or theft, let him know up front that you saw him take it, but that you understand how tempting it must have been. You can teach him to tell the truth by taking away his chance to lie about it. It’s okay to impose a consequence, but focus on how much you value and appreciate his honesty. Everyone benefits because you develop a fair, genuine, honest environment at home, and you feel more confident to apply the same principles at work.

Next: Two more ways to build leadership at home

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Joanne Stern

Joanne Stern, PhD, is a psychotherapist with a private practice emphasizing counseling with families, parents, couples and teens. She’s a teacher, consultant, speaker, and expert guest on parenting and family topics, including communication, discipline, self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders, grief, and loss. Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life is her first book. A mother and grandmother, she and her husband, Terry Hale, live in Aspen, Colorado.

73 comments

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7:47PM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

I think these suggestions are valuable, but not appropriate for every age. A 2 year old will trust their parent, usually and it's not like you can have an open conversation with them when their vocabulary consists of the word "no." These were fine for teens, but when you have infants and toddlers at home, while this is the most important job you will ever have, you will have to find some way to stay mentally sharp and interesting, at least until you children are older.

7:19AM PDT on Sep 14, 2010

THE Most Important Job In The World .

5:27PM PDT on Sep 10, 2010

I definitely think my brains gone to pot since having my boy!! Haha!

7:44AM PDT on Sep 10, 2010

Great point,thank you for the information.

10:59PM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

and don't forget the best satisfaction and the most important job. training the next generation.

11:28AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

I would love to be a mom under the condition that I get to stay home with the kids. There is nothing stupid about a job well done....motherhood. My mom stayed home until I was 9.

3:17AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

good

2:51AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

very nice

9:58PM PDT on Sep 6, 2010

excellent article!

3:54PM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

I got a part time job when all the kids were of school age. Worked while they were in school. I could feel my brain going back into high gear. What a difference it made for me!

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