Motherhood. A very complex, multidimensional experience. Keeping things simple is every Mom’s uncovered superpower, and the only truly viable strategy!
Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.
…says French writer, poet and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in his 1939 memoir titled “Terre des Hommes“, which literally translates as “Land of People” but for some weird reason it got published in the States under “Wind, Sand and Stars”. What publishers Reynal & Hitchcock were thinking with that title, I will never know. What I do know is that, had he lived enough to attend my son’s birthday party last week, my friend Antoine would have attested that, by his standards, our Living Room is extremely close to perfection.
Home life with an explorative toddler apt for cruising, touching and tasting practically anything in his path, does benefit from some redecorating. Whether you like it or not, if you want to make sure they survive toddlerhood intact, those Ming porcelains have to go. Your beloved Swarovski miniatures as well. And don’t forget to put away the Bohemia Crystal champagne glasses! Vases? Check! Cables? Aye. The custom-made coffee table made of glass? You bet! The Iron Throne? Too many edges! So grab some tape, and start putting them away…
The need to seriously remodel the house after having kids is one of those topics that never seems to come up in casual chats among Parents. Just like the hardships of that dreaded Fourth Trimester, or whether you sleep trained your kid or not, the actual necessity to let go of your magazine-perfect house is a bold (and crucial) step towards embracing your new reality as a Parent. It’s not only you who is evolving. It’s your space as well! It gets to be a bit less personal, and a lot more shared. A lot less photogenic, a lot more functional!
And I’m not talking about allowing “signs” that children live here to show here and there (like a “giant” play car roaming the main floor I saw in a recent blog post from The Mom At Law about embracing a less-than-perfect home deco). I mean actually reshaping the entire house to best accommodate your family’s growing needs. I see it with my own eyes every time I attend a children’s party. The disappearing coffee table. The covered power plugs. The missing decorations. The plastic ornaments.
I don’t know (and will never understand) why Parents (and mostly Moms) don’t openly discuss such stuff, along with sharing practical tips to even the path for others, but I’m definitely not bound to any oath of omertà, so I’m hereby presenting what I came to find out about Moms and their innate ability to Simplify.
Moms have a tendency for nesting even before their child is born. You know: anything potentially harmful to future baby is removed, without second thought. And it’s this same aptitude that evolves into a core competence as you grow through Motherhood: the ability to address complexity, by introducing Simplicity in its purest of forms. And not just for home deco purposes.
A Mother’s tacit ability to Simplify extends to numerous daily life practices like dressing up your baby, leaning the processes supporting your household chores, or using simpler words and phrases when trying to communicate with your toddler. Practices quite analogous to Simplification as practiced in a computer science subfield called Natural Language Processing (known as NLP, but should not be confused with Neuro-Linguistic Programming which also goes by the same acronym).
Computer Scientists’ NLP is concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) language, and in particular with how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data. And if all that sounds too distant to you, let’s just say that’s where all your smart pals like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant use to serve you!
Simplification is a core operation in NLP, aiming at modifying, enhancing, classifying or otherwise processing an existing corpus of human-readable text, in such a way that the grammar and structure is concise, while the underlying meaning and information remain the same. Or as Jonnalagadda et.al put it in their 2006 paper:
“[it’s about] Eliminating the unnecessary stuff, so that the necessary may speak”.
Sounds like a lot to process? The next figure shows an example of how it’s done.
Now think of your life with a kid (or kids). You’d be surprised with how many times you get to practice Simplification on a daily basis. You just didn’t know it’s a thing. Very geeky, but still super valid. It comes to you naturally, and does not limit to merely redecorating the living-room!
- What matters most when surviving the Fourth Trimester is “taking care of Mom’s own wellness and emotional stability, so that she can focus on her sweet little baby while developing bonds that will last a lifetime” as this article puts it. This is achieved mainly by simplifying all household chores. Showering over those (much needed) long baths. Ordering-in over cooking. Outsourcing cleaning and dodging as much house visits as possible.
- When you are in the process of facilitating your toddler’s speech development, you take out the complex words, and use the ones that are pivotal to conveying meaning. It’s one of the most common advice children’s speech therapists give you is to simplify your speech. To use short sentences, and to emphasize key words when you are talking to your toddler, to help her focus on the important information.
- When you embark in sleep training, you learn that one of the key factors affecting your kid’s shut-eye are sleep associations. It’s the things that your baby expects to be present continuously during sleep, like a pacifier, a dummy, or Mom’s hug rocking them. Or all of them together! It is by gradually removing all sleep associations and by simplifying their sleep routine that babies learn how to self-soothe.
There you go, Momma. Cheers to you, and your innate gift of making life simpler (and therefore better) for everybody. A talent many corporations out there are constantly in the lookout for, since it fits multiple professional setups and industries. Careers in various fields, from Tech to Operations, rely on people whose brains are tweaked towards the simpler side of doing business. A trait Moms poses in larger degrees than we credit them for.
As for you, my dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, if that opening at hand relies on leaning processes or dumbing down semantics, check-out that Mom’s application. Ask her how she chose to Simplify her everyday life to fuse her multiple family and work commitments. What processes did she tackle with? What life elements needed remodeling? Oh, and please ask her where she places her mug now that the coffee table is gone. They never tell me!
Simplifying a Mom’s life? You got this!