Yes, Becoming A Mom Can Make You Better At Your Job — And These 3 Women Are Proof
For ambitious working women, the "Should I have kids?" question is a difficult one. Conventional wisdom says you can have either a career or a family, but you cannot have both. According to the stereotype, motherhood is bad for business. Becoming a parent, so they say, "emotionally distracts you," holds you back, and weighs you down. Though motherhood may fill you with joy, it definitely does not help you start, run, and grow a business.
That may be what the prevailing narrative around motherhood has told us, but I'm here to tell you that it's simply not the case. Today, a new legion of female founders is rising up to rewrite that narrative. And the result is reshaping how we perceive motherhood and business.
As it turns out, motherhood is an asset for business, not a liability—especially if you run your own company. This wisdom from three ambitious women proves that sometimes having kids is exactly the career boost you need.
Motherhood makes you more productive.
Sarah Lacy is the CEO and editor-in-chief of PandoMedia and founder of the soon-to-be-launched Chairman Mom. In her book, A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug, she argues that "the strongest, most lucrative, and most ambitious time of a woman’s career may easily be after she sees a plus sign on a pregnancy test.”
Lacy warns that the myth of the "biological imperative" is part of what’s maintaining these outdated notions of motherhood. She notes that when well-meaning friends say things like, "Oh man, everything’s about to change. Once that kid is born, you won’t want to do anything else," it’s extremely damaging to an ambitious woman's sense of self.
Lacy explains that this myth is not only destructive; it’s also demonstrably false—she equates the experience of having kids to diffusing a bomb where there’s all this buildup and tension and then...nothing happens. After she had kids, she says, was exactly the same but better.
In an interview with Peter Kafka at ReCode, Lacy said, "After I had kids, I was better at everything. I was more confident. My voice as a writer was better. I could write quicker. I was more productive. I became more successful. The exact opposite of what I was told would happen happened."
You don't have to slow down—you just have to adjust.
When you browse Renée DiResta’s website, you have to search hard for anything that screams "mom." Part of the power in DiResta’s message is that children aren’t the focal point of everything—she proves that you can be a female founder without defining yourself as a mom, but you certainly don't have to hide it.
Renee is the policy lead at Data for Democracy, but when she got pregnant, she was a principal at VC fund O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and then went on to co-found Haven, a tech platform that’s transforming logistics. For DiResta, becoming a mom came with a lot of physical limitations, specifically the ones that come with pregnancy. The experience taught her that although accepting physical limitations is important, you don't have to regard your pregnancy as a handicap, and you certainly shouldn't view motherhood as the end of your career.
"It’s important for my kids to see my work and to integrate them into that aspect of my life," she said in an interview. "When I was on maternity leave, my baby daughter came to breakfast meetings with me pretty regularly—she slept on my chest in the baby carrier. There would have been no way for me to go without her. I was pleasantly surprised that no one was bothered by a baby—the opposite, actually."
You'll learn how to say no well.
For Sarah K. Peck, founder and executive director behind Startup Pregnant, a platform, community, and podcast that showcases stories of creative leaders in entrepreneurship and parenting, pregnancy was a demystifier for what mattered and what didn’t. "It was like I suddenly had a huge bullshit detector, and I was able to say no quickly and easily...saying no well became a strength," she told me via email.
For those of us who have grappled with how to respond to a well-meaning, "Wanna grab drinks?" email, the art of saying no is a tough one to master, but Peck assures us that having kids makes it a no-brainer. Time management was also no longer an "issue" after kids. It was simply a fact of life.
"I couldn't promise my evening hours or weekends—I didn't have them anymore," she explains. "Being fiercely protective of my time and knowing that every minute had to count made me a stronger decision-maker."
Better at saying no, better at managing your time, and better at making decisions. This is the new motherhood narrative. And only some of the many reasons having kids is good for business.
Want more great career advice? Here's what Ella Woodward has to say about the best career advice she ever received.