The oldest volunteer in the world

A satirical take on corporate skills one masters during childcare break.

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I was on a childcare break and now with the little one off his diapers and eating his spaghetti without spilling on his shirt, it struck me that I need to go back to dressing up and sitting in a fancy office and not dirty my dress for the whole day (YAY!) . Back to eating lunches with someone who is not obsessing over My Little Pony and their dresses (but someone who is obsessing over the the manager’s last word.)

So started my journey of looking for work post a career break of 2 years. Sprucing up my LinkedIn profile and my wardrobe all started in parallel. Old managers suddenly became my favorite 4 am callers. New google searches on how to romanticize my break become more prominent.

The moment a recruiter sees the word break in my resume, the first question is ” Ok, so what did you do during this break? Did you study , did you volunteer anywhere?”. My mind goes into a whirlwind drive – I volunteered to be a stay at home mom and manage my two kids..Is that not the most tough volunteer job ever! I cooked, cleaned, chauffered (mine and the other neighbors kid..because I am the stay at home mom who is very nice since she has a car and she doesn’t flinch when she gets a call to pick up someone else’s kid), attended PTM, planned parties and sleepovers and yes its not a paid job, because duh..I volunteered! So no pay, no annual promotions, only the smiles and hugs and the statement that lurches on the border of likely and unlikely on the probability chart – “My mum is the best cook !”

I can rattle off a list of real life scenarios where I used my project management, stakeholder management, risk management, my mental state management and all other skills on a daily basis – and with the toughest and unreasonable client! What I learnt during these to years can make me the best in the card game of patience! No one’s tapping into that potential, into the skills which makes a stay at home mom. I can find gossip that will shame the office politicos, I can observe and label people better than any HR. I can multi task and manage conflicts between two children in a park. With one child demanding Netflix and the other YouTube, I can seamlessly solve the conflict by using multiple devices. I am a network engineer , a customer service representative and a travel agent all rolled in one. I learnt the art of budgeting which can execute a party within financial limits and yet please the employees( read family). I finally learnt the art of loving myself and following my interests and pursuits while ” Keeping the Lights On” at home operations front.

So yes,  while I did save some time to do some courses and volunteer at different organizations, don’t underestimate the power of that childcare break and what one learns from it. Ask the spouse who is dreading the partner’s return from break and has to handle 50% of the work now. Appreciate the unpaid and unrecognized volunteer.

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