More women than ever are balancing motherhood with their careers, and it’s a feat that often goes unnoticed. That is unless you think about their daughters who are watching how they seemingly do it all. Research indicates that children raised in working-mom households grow up to be happier adults, and if you ask female executives, that’s their desire for their kids.
In honor of Take Your Kid to Work Day, these female leaders share their aspirations for their children—and what they hope their hard-working example is teaching them:
“I hope she sees that female executives are the norm, not the exception.”
Who: Joann Chuang Anderson, the vice president of engineering at Scoop.
Mom to: 5-year-old Elise and 2-year-old Lucas
Anderson describes her work-life balance as fluctuating daily like the stock market. Because both her work and home life are important to her, she takes every day as it comes. This includes setting aside time on her calendar for each part of her life, ensuring she doesn’t miss an important meeting—or a school event. She hopes her dedication, delegation skills, and her passion all help drive her children forward. And she aspires to illustrate to her daughter that women should be expected to be seen in leadership positions.
“I didn’t realize women in tech weren’t that common until a few years into my management career. I was in a management meeting and I looked around the room and noticed there were only three female managers in a room of twenty-plus managers,” she explains. “That experience made me ponder why there weren’t more women in management. Since then, I’ve tried to devote time to speaking on panels, mentoring women in tech, and helping women transition into management roles. I hope my career plays a small role in helping her see that female executives are the norm, not the exception.”
“I want to teach my kids to trust their instincts.”
Who: Nicole Witt, the executive director of The Adoption Consultancy
Mom to: A 15-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son.
Witt recognizes there will be some days where you feel like you’re giving it all to your kids, and others where your career comes first. Her desire is to make a difference and blaze her own trail, and that’s exactly what she wants for her daughter. Like many forward thinkers, Witt started pursuing a career that was expected for her: Go to school, graduate, attend graduate school, and rise up the ranks. Though she was successful in brand management, she was miserable.
After a long infertility struggle, she knew she couldn’t go back. “That’s when I realized that none of those expectations mattered and I had to do what was right for me. I would love for my daughter to learn to trust her instincts and to always pursue what her inner voice tells her is the right path despite what others—intentionally or otherwise—may be pushing her toward,” she shares.
“Work is your own thing.”
Who: Catherine Balsam-Schwaber, general manager of Bluprint, an NBCUniversal Company
Mom to: Twin 8-year-olds.
Balsam-Schwaber arrived at motherhood a little later in life—but it gave her time to really accept who she is, what she loves, and how to make it all work. Even if sometimes that means not delivering in every area. When she feels her balance is leaning too heavily in one direction one month, she’ll try to switch gears the next. As her children grow and explore their own aspirations, she hopes they take the opportunity to find something that fulfills, empowers, and challenges them. “Yes, my career pays the mortgage, but it’s also something I do for me,” she continues. “Work is your own thing. No matter what happens in your life, your career is something you can be proud of, drive forward, and hold onto. When her children grow up, they’ll get to find something that calls to them too and feel proud and validated.”
“I want am teaching my kids to do good—but not always expect good.”
Who: Melissa Hobley, the chief marketing officer of OkCupid
Mom to: 2-year-old,Madeline—and another due in August.
As a parent and a professional, Hobley has what she calls guardrails. These are clear-cut rules for when she’s online for work and when she’s not. She unplugs between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to do bedtime with her daughter, and she won’t commit to more than one work-related evening per week. As much as she can, she avoids traveling two weeks in a row, too. This allows her time to focus on her gig—and her growing toddler.
She hopes her daughter takes a page out of her playbook when she thinks about her career and realizes that serving the underserved feels good, is good for business and good for the world. But, that doesn’t mean everything will be rosy 100% of the time. “Not everyone you work with is gonna be a great fit. Some people just won’t like you. You will get fired. You will face big setbacks and f***ups,” she says. “And that’s when you really learn the most.”
“I tell them it’s okay to not know.”
Who: Amy Zakarin, president of Z|COMM
Mom to: Twin 24-year-old stepdaughters
When describing a work and life balance, Zakarin says her approach is still a work in progress. As a professional (and friend) who was—and is—available from sunrise to sunset, life changed dramatically when she met her now-husband and inherited twin daughters, who were 16 at the time. This dynamic duo took note of her commitment and passion and Zakarin realized how much she could influence them positively. In addition to working hard, she hopes Hannah and Leah accept that sometimes, it’s okay to not know where you’re heading—but going anyway.
“Honesty and vulnerability are my greatest sources of strength in business and life. It has cleared the path for authentic experiences—good and bad,” she shares. “Sometimes that means getting a little beat up emotionally, but it brings out the best versions of ourselves.”
“I want them to be brave.”
Who: Kate Torgersen, the founder and CEO of Milk Stork
Mom to: Three children: two sons and one daughter
Torgersen’s life as a working parent is best characterized as fast-paced, unpredictable, joyful, and messy. She admits she’s not great a multitasking, since when she attempts to juggle 10 things at once, her work and home become chaotic. Instead, she maps out her time and gives her focus to whatever is happening in the moment—whether it’s work or child-related.
Her 5-year-old daughter Zoë has watched—consciously or not—her mom build her company from the ground up, and she hopes it has taught her to be brave with her ideas. “Zoë is the most imaginative, strong, and adventurous girl that I have ever known, and I am so excited to see what she will accomplish in her life,” she says. “I hope my life has shown her that a career is not about finding comfort through a progression of jobs and titles, it’s about seeking out opportunities that will stretch her mind, fill her soul, and fuel her sparkle. I hope that she feels empowered in the fact that her life and career choices are hers and hers alone: It’s her adventure and her life to live.”
“I want to teach them to fulfill their highest happiness potential.”
Who: Kathryn Boyd Brolin, founder and designer of Midheaven Denim
Mom to: A 5-month-old daughter, Weslinn, and two stepchildren, Eden and Trevor
Brolin built her business long before she decided to have a baby with her partner, which made the transition to being a working parent a little more seamless. Because she has a solid team in place, she feels empowered to spend time with her daughter, without worrying about what’s happening in the office. This has directly tied to her level of content, professionally and personally, and it’s the goal she wants to set for her child as she grows.
“What I wish for my daughter in life is to fulfill her highest happiness potential. Not the potential that others or society as a whole expect from her but for what her own interior calls for,” she continues. “I think ‘success’ is an elusive term so I don’t think the measured success of my career will teach her much. What I think will resonate is how happy I am in building it. I want her to see that time spent is worth spending on something that makes you happy.”
“I want them to know that perfection is boring.”
Who: Katie Rosen Kitchens, cofounder and editor-in-chief of FabFitFun
Mom to: Two girls, Summer and Sienna
While Kitchens does believe women can “have it all,” it’s hard for her to believe they can have everything at the same time. So in an effort to give what she can, she exercises a “do the best I can” mentality and tries to spend as much quality time as she can with her girls, who she calls cute—but sassy. Through her own diligence building a successful business, she hopes these two have learned how to chase after what they want.
And more importantly, that perfection isn’t as cracked up as it’s often touted. It’s something she’s experienced raising daughters and seeing how different the experience for females is, compared to males. “Boys are taught to jump off the jungle gym. Run hard. Do what it takes to win the game. Girls are still taught to be careful. To be beautiful. And to be perfect,” she explains. “But when you are launching a company that does something new—it’s impossible to avoid risks. And yes, when you take risks there will be failure. But it’s the failure that allows you to grow. I want them to be okay with failure. To relish in it. To know that rising up after failing is what builds tenacity and grit. I hope they see that hard work pays off.”
“I want them to know that you can’t plan for the magic that unfolds.”
Who: Stephanie Pyatt, cofounder and president of TRUWOMEN
Mom to: 9-year-old Tatum and 10-year-old Jaxon
In her decade of being a boss and a mom, Pyatt has learned how to find a cadence and rhythm that fits her lifestyle and more importantly, can be sustained. Every day looks different as she juggles marriage, motherhood, and entrepreneurship, but she’s taught herself to roll with the ebbs and flows as they come. After all, that’s often where the true beauty is found.
“I hope that my career teaches my daughter that in life you can’t plan for the magic that unfolds. There is so much pressure for young adults to determine their career goals and set forth upon that straight and narrow trajectory,” she explains. “Had you asked me when I was growing up what I wanted to achieve as an adult, I would not imagine I would get to be living out the life that I am. I truly believe that following what and who I love and saying yes to things that I did not feel qualified for but wanted to chase after, was what has allowed me to step into my true potential.”