Lessons in Leadership from Growing our Careers while Growing our FamiliesFeatured

Co-written by Tara Henning and Miriam Williams

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:

  • There are more women having babies in their 30s than in their 20s and 40% of households have a breadwinning mom.
  • 90% of new parents are millennials, and that generation is the largest cohort in the workforce (35%)
  • HBS reports that 3 in 4 employees have caregiving responsibilities, including caring for aging parents, sick or disabled loved ones. As 10k Baby Boomers turn 65 every day and according to AARP, “family” is the single largest source of support, including financial, emotional or domestic.

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.

We're so excited to be part of the Elpha community and share part of our journey and the lessons we've learned along the way!
As a mom to my pandemic-baby 15 month old while baking a business idea and working FT, these words are super meaningful. Thank you for sharing! I lead my company’s women’s organization and am ideating on a community built for women’s thriving - would love the chance to connect and learn more about Superkin and explore whether there might be pathways for partnership!