Working Parents: Lessons Learned from Megawatt

How & why companies can better support working parents — and some “real-talk” advice

Working parents are actively dealing with the lingering global pandemic, constant family illnesses (especially this time of year), and trying to somehow balance caregiving with work. To say it’s a challenge is an understatement.

In fact, according to this article, 72% of working parents are stressed out currently by disruptions and uncertainty around childcare and school schedules. Another 39% of working parents say locating high-quality childcare is a big challenge when it comes to balancing parenting with work. 

And parents are worried about what’s going on in the world economically, too, with 80% reporting they are concerned about money (compared to 58% for non-parents) and 77% stressed about the economy (vs. 59% of non-parents).

Why working parents are struggling

Even beyond the stats mentioned above, working parents struggle on many fronts including work-life conflict, stereotyping, exhaustion, changing work schedules, and impacted career growth opportunities. 

Many working parents also do not feel supported by their employers. And it’s no wonder: Many companies do not focus on supporting and retaining working parents.

In this post, I’ll cover how parenthood changes people and their careers. I’ll emphasize how parenthood often actually makes you a stronger employee. Finally, I’ll provide some tips and tricks for struggling working parents from our own team.

You’ll hear not just from me but from several folks on the Megawatt team, which is comprised of many working parents. We’ll talk about what employers need to do to better support working parents and make the workforce work for all of us.

Working parents (especially moms) are exiting the workforce

Becoming a parent changes you forever. It’s cliché, but it’s also true. Having a little one depending on you (for literally everything) is life-altering. Moreover, the mental load of raising a child and managing a household on top of work can feel overwhelming.

Couple that with the day-to-day stresses of work, and working parents have their hands full (as strangers love to say!) 

Many working parents try their best to make it all work but leave the workforce after a few months or years of struggling to juggle it. In fact, as mentioned earlier, one-third of working mothers have left their jobs since the pandemic’s start. Yikes.

But what if they didn’t feel they had to leave? 

What if they could achieve the flexibility you need to succeed as a working parent? Don’t underestimate flexibility and the power it offers: One study found that 69% of working parents say they have been able to get more involved with their children’s lives due to flexible work schedules.

The truth is that balancing work and parenting isn’t something you can do through sheer grit. It takes a company that truly values the unique skillsets and characteristics that parents have to offer and actively works to find benefits that help working parents thrive. 

It also takes some plain old humanity to recognize that we’ve all been children at some point in our lives, and many of us will be parents someday even if we are not now. Supporting parents is just the humane thing to do at work, as leaders and beyond. 

Yet working parents bring so much to the table at work.

Parents wear 1,000 hats. From caregivers and nurses to chefs, maids, negotiators, counselors, party planners, and Halloween costume-makers — the list goes on. (And it’s totally okay if you aren’t all of those things all of the time or any of the time!) 

Regardless, parenthood teaches invaluable skills, many of which apply at work. Parents often report positive impacts at work from what they learn at home: In fact, 75% of moms believe that motherhood has made them better leaders. 

For this reason and many others, this Forbes article claims that “The modern workplace needs leaders with qualities traditionally associated with caregiving—such as empathy, flexibility, and staying calm under pressure.” (Frankly, we couldn’t agree more.)

Hear from the Megawatt team on what they learned in parenthood that has made them stronger in the workplace.

  • Andrea Schiavone, Megawatt’s VP of Finance and Operations and mother to Gwen and Luca, says, “Becoming a working parent has made me much more efficient with my time.” Calendar blocking and planning ahead of time are her go to strategies to help her balance work and parenthood. Now that she is a parent, she gets more done in less time because life and work demand it.
  • Meg Scarborough, CEO and founder of Megawatt and mother to Oscar and Callum, says motherhood has taught her the importance of catching people doing the right thing. As a mom, this means less of the “no, don’t do that!” and more praise when you witness your child playing quietly or playing respectfully with a sibling. “At work, it’s catching people doing awesome work and calling it out in the moment. Great job on that client call. Nice work on this blog post. You nailed that report. Catch them doing “the right thing,” and you’ll get way more of it.”
  • Trisha Cornwell, VP of Marketing and Strategy at Megawatt and mother to Noa, says her journey through motherhood has taught her about conflict management. She says, “99% of conflicts are just about being heard and feeling validated.” Trisha emphasized the importance of listening and responding instead of reacting, which is an important skill for all employees, particularly managers.
  • Kevin McClendon, Executive Assistant to CEO and father to Oshea says, “Becoming a father made me more intentional and driven. I choose the projects I want to be associated with having my son in mind. Will he be proud to know I did this? Does it inch the world forward to be a better place for him? Setting a great example is critical to me. I’ve also gained outstanding time management, focus, and discipline all just to be a person worthy of him looking up to.”
  • Stephanie Yoder, Content Team Lead and mother to Marcela, said, “Being a working mom has really helped me learn the value of focused, intentional time. I bring my full self to work and try to work as efficiently and effectively as possible because I know that once 4 o’clock hits, my focus has to shift to spending time with my six-year-old. This has made me somewhat ruthless: I need to make the most of every moment I spend at work, so I try to focus on the most impactful tasks first, and weed out anything repetitive, unnecessarily time-consuming, or unhelpful.”
  • Lucia Giles, Content Team Lead and mother to Izzy, says, “Becoming a parent has helped me build better relationships with my clients and coworkers. I used to default to ‘strictly business’ on calls or Slack chats. But that’s so old-school…and almost impossible when you need to build your schedule around daycare pickups / invite your tiny coworker to calls when they are at home sick sometimes. I’ve become much better at connecting with people on a personal level. I’ve learned that people love to talk about their families, personal passions, etc. and they truly want to hear about yours too — even if it’s during a ‘work call.’ Turns out we’re all just a bunch of human beings who also happen to have jobs that need to get done.”
  • Sima Maryles, Content Writer and mother to Itiyah, Keren, and Shaya says, “Along with time management skills and copious amounts of patience, being a working mother has enriched my life and has taught me so much. One of the greatest lessons that working motherhood has gifted me and that I can impart to my children is to make all the mistakes they’re inevitably going to make — and then own them. That’s the only way to grow and learn. And it’s the best way to inspire the people around you, whether they’re your family or your colleagues.”
  • Maria Nunez, Project Management Lead and mother to Tiago (with another on the way) says motherhood pushed her into finding an employer that provided the flexibility she sought as a new mom (thankfully, this is when Megawatt came into the picture). This is exactly how she found herself making a drastic career transition with a nine-month-old baby. Motherhood (and this career shift) have also taught her the importance of not waiting until you’re 100% prepared (and 0% scared) to do things. If you wait until this nonexistent moment, you will spend your life waiting. 

Bottom line – working parents make excellent employees. They are often empathetic, manage their time well, have strong interpersonal skills, and are motivated (in part, often, by supporting their families and children) to excel at work. 

Find a company that supports working parents

If you’re a working parent and don’t feel like you’re at a workplace that offers the flexibility you need to be able to balance your career and your family, advocate! Before you quit and try to find a new place, it’s worth trying to make your workplace better for you and everyone around you.

Says CEO and founder at Megawatt Meg Scarborough, “When we had our first child, my husband’s workplace didn’t offer much in the way of parental leave. I think it was a week at most. So he spoke up and asked for them to increase their leave policy. While it took some time, they eventually made changes, and he can feel good about being at least one of the voices that drove that.”

If your needs are not being met as a working parent, consider looking for a people-first, family-first company like Megawatt

Founded in 2015, Megawatt has intentionally built a remote-first work culture that focuses on humble leadership, curiosity, personal growth, and flexibility without sacrificing the quality of work we deliver to our clients.

In fact, Megawatt wouldn’t exist if Meg had not become a mom in the first place. Becoming a mother lit a fire in Meg to turn Megawatt from a small consultancy to a full-fledged B2B tech content marketing agency

“Having kids was part of the impetus to turn Megawatt into a proper agency,” says Meg. “I wanted to build a place where working parents would be supported while still feeling fulfilled creatively. And I wanted to create a legacy my kids could be proud of.” 

A few short years later, Megawatt has turned into exactly that and so much more. Megawatt now has over 20 employees, 16 clients, and counting.

Plus, Megawatt offers a wide range of benefits that support all Megawatt employees, including working parents:

  • 100% remote work, allowing employees to work from anywhere (like the pediatrician’s office) as long as they can meet deadlines and expectations.
  • Flexible scheduling so you can log off early to attend that Halloween parade. 
  • Unlimited PTO and generous sick time because we know life happens. 
  • Half-day Fridays — year-round! We log off around noon on Fridays to get a head start on family time — or simply get in some much-needed alone time before wrangling toddlers all weekend. (Hey, no judgment.) Non-parents can do yoga, take the dog for a walk, or whatever fills their cups.
  • Arguably the best benefit of all – the Megawatt team is stacked with kind, understanding individuals who support and extend grace to team members when life gets in the way of work, whether we are parents or not.

To brag just a little more, we also offer a 401k with match, health insurance, and paid time off for all parents (adoptive and birth; male, female, or nonbinary) to bond and care for new additions to their families. 

Okay, enough about us. To cap off this blog, I wanted to share some final advice I have learned as a mother of a young child (soon to be two kiddos!)

Working parents: Give yourself grace & don’t settle

It is common for working parents to feel overwhelmed, lost, unsupported, and misunderstood, especially at the beginning — and even if you have a great employer. Here’s what I’ve learned. 

  • Meet your own needs: Figure out which of your needs are being neglected and make a plan to meet them better. 
  • Go easy on yourself: order dinner in; let the kids watch too much tv; skip the bath every once in a while. Perfection isn’t what they will remember.
  • Commit to what you can do now: The career version of you before kids can’t exist the same way today. Be honest with yourself about what you can confidently commit to and show up 100% to that version of yourself in the moment. 
  • Get super clear: Talk with your manager about what’s expected of you, your priorities, and where you will sacrifice. 

Companies that support families — like Megawatt — do exist. You can work and raise a family at the same time and find the time you need to be present while your children grow. It’s simply a matter of making choices that allow this to become your reality. 

Interested in learning more about Megawatt, why employees choose Megawatt, and the positions we have open? Visit our careers page to learn more. 

We want the most talented individuals in B2B tech marketing to find a home where they can do great work, feel valued and supported, and design the career they’ve dreamed of. We’re always looking to talk to great people, even when we don’t have a specific job opening that perfectly fits your background. So, if that sounds like you, please drop us a note. 

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