March 08, 2022
Lessons in Leadership & Motherhood

Originally posted on Elpha, where women succeed at work together. 

- Written by Tara Elwell Henning & Miriam Wiliams, Co-Founders of Superkin 

Like so many of you, we built our identities around more than a decade of success in the workforce. Then we started our families. Pregnant together in our mid-30s, we used to roll our eyes and groan when we saw maternity tees printed with phrases like “Oops! I swallowed a watermelon seed.” All the expecting moms we knew were juggling board meetings and networking events and wouldn’t be caught dead in that t-shirt. There was a disconnect between the reality of modern motherhood and the way it was portrayed. As new moms we saw parents in the workplace keeping their family life under wraps, piecing together childcare and adjusting to the often crushing demands of their jobs. And this was all before we even KNEW the word coronavirus.

Four years later, after building a community of working parents and speaking with experts in psychology and human resources, we’ve learned something powerful about parenthood: it builds leadership skills, and it belongs on your resume. Some food for thought:

It’s no surprise that 67% of employees list “caregiver responsibilities” as the number one driver of stress.  Instead of suffering in silence, it’s time to Parent Out Loud. Here are five quick tips we’ve learned along the way of growing our careers and growing our families: 

  1. In parenting, everything is a phase. Kids do eventually eat real food, ditch the diapers and dress themselves. The demands of toddler life will vastly differ from those in middle school. Adjusting to these challenges builds patience and resilience (hello, leadership!).
  2. Throw out the idea that you can do it all on your own. Trust us, while it may look like so-and-so is doing it all, she’s not. Ask for help. Outsource tasks where you can. Find a parent mentor in your company, perhaps someone with older children who has a unique perspective on the journey. 
  3. During the depths of the pandemic, women were doing 2x the household activities that men do. Consider running your home like you’d run an organization. Every task has an owner, and it shouldn’t all fall on you. We highly recommend reading (or let’s be real, listening to) the NYT Bestselling book, “Fair Play” by Eve Rodsky, about the gender division of labor in the home. It’s an essential book for anyone in a relationship (kids or not). Through Fair Play, Rodsky created a method for partners to manage how domestic tasks and childcare are divided. Rodsky also gives it to us straight:  You don’t make a better PB&J than your partner, so learn to let go a little.
  4. Add to resume: raising humans. Caregiving doesn’t make you less of an employee; in fact, it makes you a better one. Multiple studies reveal the transferable skills acquired in caregiving can be attributed to success in the workplace: delegation, empathy, time management, resilience, communication. 
  5. It’s been said before, but cannot be more relevant to both your career and parenting: Comparison is the thief of joy. There is no one way to do anything and everyone’s family situation is completely different. So drop the comparison game and focus on doing what’s right for you. 

 

Growing a career while caring for your family is a marathon, not a sprint. The demands both ebb and flow so it’s important to take it one step at a time. Think about your career goals in terms of long-term growth, not just a singular performance for one quarter.  Whether you’re thinking of starting a family or already put parenthood on your resume, come hang with us on Instagram @we.are.superkin and check out our biweekly newsletter with a sophisticated take on work, parenthood and culture.

 

Tara Henning and Miriam Williams are the co-founders of Superkin, a solution that helps companies analyze, plan and execute policy & programming for their parent and caregiving employees.