If you’re thinking about starting a family and you worry about the effect it could have on your career, you’re certainly not alone.
People tend to believe having a baby will negatively impact your work.
But what if having kids could actually make you better at your job?
The difficulties of balancing work with family and other obligations are undeniable. Adding a child to the equation of your life will definitely force changes.
But if you keep a positive attitude about it, the changes children bring to your professional life could be more helpful than you expect.
1. Kids Make You Work Harder
One of the greatest fears for new parents — and their employers — is that raising kids will take them away from their work.
Kids require time, energy and creativity that you could otherwise put toward professional growth.
That’s true. But kids are also a killer motivator for doing your job well. Being responsible for a family can encourage you to make bolder choices.
“I value my time a lot more than I used to in the pre-kid days,” medical writer Natalia Zhukovskaya told Fast Company.
Because of this, “I started to push for a higher salary and flexibility — without feeling guilty for daring to ask for more.”
2. Kids Will Help You Focus
Yes, kids are a major responsibility to add to your life. Yes, that is likely to redirect some of your focus from other areas.
If you, your co-workers or your boss are concerned that becoming a parent will mean fewer hours at work and less availability, assure them this won’t be a problem.
You might be less available. And you probably won’t put in so much overtime. But that may actually be a good thing.
Having a little one at home can force you to put clear limits on your work day.
Knowing you have a hard stop at 5 o’clock is a serious motivator to focus and make good use of the time you have in the office. As long as you respect boundaries — work at work, family at home — you could actually find your productivity increases after having kids.
3. Kids Give You a New Perspective
Do you sense people at work are worried that becoming a parent will change you?
Are you worried having kids will distract you from your long-term career goals?
These may be true. Having kids will almost certainly change the way you look at the world — but isn’t that usually a good thing?
Having a child made Sheela Sinharoy aware of the needs of families around the world, she told Fast Company. She studied maternal and child health and moved her family to Bangladesh to work on maternal and child nutrition programs.
“I would not be doing any of this it if weren’t for my son,” she said. “… He pushed me to do something meaningful to help others like him.”
Many entrepreneurs have turned the needs they experienced as parents into products and services that launched companies.
Raising kids might distract you from your career goals, yes. But maybe it’ll open your eyes to new, better opportunities!
4. Kids Can Expand Your Network
You know people who guilt their friends with that line, We never see you anymore since you had the baby!
You don’t want to be the one who disappears from the world after a kid comes along. You don’t want to miss out on cocktails with co-workers and rubbing elbows with the boss.
But think about the networking opportunities your child will add to your life!
Of course, we don’t mean you should use your child to grow your network. Instead, be open to networking opportunities that naturally arise.
You might miss happy hour for Math Night at the elementary school. But so will many of the parents there, and they’ll be happy for your company, if you’re willing to be friendly.
Your new connections may just prove valuable to your career — or to moving into a new one, if that’s a goal! Scheduling a play date is an easy way to follow up and stay in touch.
Your Turn: Has becoming a parent helped boost your career?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.