Resilient Parents

Sitting at my quiet place, seventy-six days into remote work, one family relocation and one COVID19 crisis afterwards, I come to realize I am so much tougher than I thought!

The only constant is Change. One day you are cocooning in the comfort of what you thought to be your forever home, the next day you are all packed and ready to hit the road. As I am finally able to sit back and reflect on the past three months, I now see how experiences I dreaded are now no more than rich stories to be shared over coffee. We have survived. I have survived.

Relocating the entire household when there’s a toddler around is no joke. Little J is still quite reliant to his midday nap, and he follows his rich 4-course (plus 2 snacks!) meal plan to the dot. The need to relocate came at a timing where our family needed routine more than ever. And, then, there was of course the lockdown extravaganza.

I read somewhere about a celebrity divorce case where the spouse was asked to vacate the ex-family apartment amidst the lockdown, and she sought some sort of legal protection. I hear you, Sister: we were forced to carry around a notable amount of paperwork proving how our lease had expired, and we had no other option but to move out. This lockdown tested everyone’s nerves in so many ways! And, yet, somehow, we got going.

The Greek administration has lifted the lockdown and most of the protective measures, schools will open their doors once again next week, my Team will be maintaining the teleworking status for the coming weeks given how it seems to work better for all of us, and life goes on. We are recovering. Slowly yet surely. And it’s this exact realization, during this pause taken for introspection and reflection, which made me realize that me (and so many others out there like me) have been sharpening one of the most important competences out there: the business world’s newest buzzword, Resilience.

Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity. When dealing with a crisis, resilient organizations ride out uncertainty instead of becoming overpowered by it. When dealing with a crisis, resilient parents ride out uncertainty instead of becoming overpowered by it. See the creative analogy here?

Photo: Casey Allen (Pexels)

The same way resilient Businesses are able to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous operations and safeguarding people, assets and overall brand equity, resilient Families are able to swiftly bounce back after a setback having safeguarded the most previous assets: their innate connection, their valuable resources and their support network.

Did you know that the biggest drain on employee resilience is having to manage difficult people or office politics at work, followed closely by stress brought on by overwork? I doubt that this Harvard Business Review study on resilience had Parents in mind, but whoever had to play household politics to get their toddler to nap knows exactly how draining that feeling is. The setup may appear quite different, but the emotional response is exactly the same, therefore the situation is completely analogous.

Meanwhile, in the same HBR study, when the respondents where asked “where their reserves of resilience came from”, a shocking 90% said “from myself”. In other words, we are the makers (or breakers) of our fortitude, and it’s more of an ongoing process than a static inner trait. Resilience is something you learn to build up, and to sustain. Alas, you have been sustaining for so long in your quest as a parent, that you can hardly remember how things looked like when you began. Still, you need to keep this up to survive, and you need all the help you can get. So why not steal like an artist and transfer how resilient enterprises cope to up your parenting game?

  • In resilient businesses, both setbacks and successes are treated as positive learning experiences: opportunities for growth. So next time you are faced with (say) a new relocation opportunity, instead of fretting over those 150 boxes that need to be filled, think of it as an opportunity to secure better arrangements for your family (and learn to negotiate lease plans in a better way!) Avoiding giving out either praise or blame, and instead taking a nonjudgmental, analytical posture when you interact with your employee, is also the best possible way to address your kid.
  • According to Diane Coutu, resilient leaders possess three notable traits: a staunch acceptance of reality, a deep belief supported by a solid value system, and an unmatched ability to improvise. Resilient parents are no different: being realistic about the current state, being mindful of the family ecosystem, of the lessons learned, of the growth potential, and making do with that’s at hand was the only sustainable way to parent amidst the COVID -or any other- crisis! Make that lemonade, dude!
  • Drawing on insights from the U.S. Army program that helps soldiers and athletes bounce back after trauma, Penn’s Resiliency Program teaches students to think positively about setbacks so that they don’t learn helplessness. You heard me: helplessness can enter your brain (and stay) only if you allow it. In all other options, it’s you who are in command!

Us, Parents, find out the hard way that we possess more Resilience than we think. The disorganized way in which life throws those lemons at us serves to toughen up faster and more efficiently than any corporate seminar or coaching experience ever will. Parents realize swiftly that, as time goes by, they are becoming more and more capable to handle complexity. Ready for life to bring you even bigger lemons, fearless in the face of adversity, and super creative in innovative solution-making. So, there you have it Momma, you now know for a fact that you naturally possess the most esteemed (and buzzword) ability in the history of breakthrough corporate competences! Now go put it in your CV!

As for you, my dear Recruiter or Hiring Manager, when the going gets tough, only the tough get going. So save that leadership or business development opening for that applying Mom. Trust me when I say, she’s seen so much adversity and has had to bounce back so many times in her experience as a Parent, that there’s practically nothing the Business (or the Market) can throw to her that she won’t be able to manage.

Featured Photo: Tatiana Syrikova (Pexels)

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