Lessons from my 4-year-old

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Work is tough. Being a mom is tough. Being a working mom is tough. We wear a lot of hats, we do a lot of juggling, and we all want to finish the day feeling like we crushed both the mom and the work roles. Until I had children of my own, I didn’t quite understand just how much they would teach me about being a good mom and about being better in my work life. Better than any corporate training, here are a few nuggets that my mini-me has taught me in the past few years.

Lesson #1: Tenacity

If we approached every single sales call with the same relentlessness that my 4-year-old does when she really wants something, we would never lose. My daughter refuses to take no for an answer. She asks questions, challenges every single one of my objections and even negotiates with me until she gets an answer she is satisfied with. Can you imagine if we did that with every prospect or client?

Lesson #2: Be prepared

Being a working mom of two little girls is no easy task. Before actually stepping foot in the office or hopping on my first conference call, I’ve already had a full day. Getting everyone dressed, fed and out the door on time with a few minutes to spare in case the baby happens to spit up on your work outfit requires incredible time management and preparation the night before.

Being a parent has absolutely made me more time conscious and organized at both home and work. I never close my day without reviewing the day’s action items, creating a to-do list for the next day, and reviewing the remainder of the week to make any adjustments or changes. The work day throws a lot of curve balls – having regular routines in place to adjust your priorities are key to not losing traction when you have to juggle the craziness that life throws at you.

Lesson #3: Start your day off right – and I’m not talking about having breakfast.

While it might sound crazy, my favorite part of the day is when I send my daughter off for the day. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to do the drop-off in person. Other times, it’s a morning Facetime call. But no matter the medium, those few minutes are so crucial in setting the tone for the whole day – if you’re rushed and stressed, you leave your child rushed and stressed. And guess what? That stress usually carries over to work and creates an anxiety that you and your team feel, too.

I didn’t realize just how much my morning rush was affecting my daughter until my last maternity leave, when I had a chance to slow down. The first day I took her to school, she kept telling me to hurry so that we weren’t late and told me I couldn’t turn on the radio because we had to make work calls. Ouch. Talk about not being present. I asked her what she wanted to do on the car ride and her answer was so simple – “I want to have fun mommy.” So instead of making phone calls we turned up the Trolls soundtrack and sang loud and proud each morning. Who doesn’t have a good day when you start it with “Can’t Stop the Feelin’” on repeat? And the best part about it, she now asks me every morning if I have “sunshine in my pocket.” Wouldn’t we all be a better person at work and in life if we started our day with a little sunshine in our pockets?

Children are such an incredible mirror into our behaviors. They are honest, upfront and truly call it like they see it. The best lesson my 4-year-old has taught me is to pay attention, especially to the unfiltered feedback she is giving me. There is no candy-coating, no regard for how I’ll react, just pure, unfiltered facts on life as she sees it. It may not always be what I want to hear, but I’ve become a better mom and a better leader by embracing and owning it. Who knew a 4-year-old could do all that?


Janelle is the Vice President of Sales at Adecco USA.

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