By Marjorie Adams, president/CEO of Fourlane, the top financial technology consulting firm in the United States.
Working parents are a special breed when it comes to technology usage and adoption. We’re evaluating and navigating technology for ourselves and our households while also on the lookout for the latest tech to keep our kids occupied, and in some cases, off their devices. Of course, once the kids get past a certain age, you can add “trying to keep up” to the list of technology tasks that we, as parents, have to tackle.
Far beyond supporting me as a CEO and an entrepreneur in business, technology has also enabled me to come to terms with some of the truths that are rarely discussed at work. If you’re a working parent—mom or dad—you know what I mean. We aspire to be high-performers in every area of life, especially in our careers and in our roles as parents.
Perhaps if we talked more openly about these truths and how technology can solve some of the “tough stuff” related to being a working parent, we could avoid some of the negative consequences of the Great Resignation that’s happening all around us.
As a working mom, I know far too many women who put their careers on the back burner and eventually stopped working because the stress of trying to do it all was too great. How can we use technology to address some common pain points related to being a working parent?
In my own experience as a mother of three small children, I offer these tech truths.
Tech really can teach my toddler new tricks. Sure, sometimes I feel guilty about giving in to screen time for the sake of my own sanity or a work deadline. However, I have found that iPad games such as Kiddopia or BYJU on the Osmo make me feel less guilty about screen time. However, I believe that what really matters is moderation in the amount of screen time my kids have over a period of time, and what teachable moments they can engage in when consuming tech-driven content. For example, thanks to the type of content I am exposing my kids to, my two-year-old knows the ingredients and process to make cupcakes.
Technology makes keeping in touch during the work and school days easier. The school technology for our boys’ school is amazing. As a mom, half my brain during the day wonders about what they are doing or learning or if they are just sitting there aimlessly at daycare or school. Thanks to technology and a collaborative effort between our family and my caregivers, I can, instead, use the collective brainpower to focus on my work.
For example, my kids’ current school sends an email daily about potty and eating activities and food updates. I receive a weekly email from each lead teacher in my kids’ classrooms about what they worked on that week and what is coming up next week. In addition, I get a school email weekly with updates and parenting information. The best thing I get are daily pictures of not just what they are working on, but also which milestone their activities correlate with and how I can help foster this activity at home. The school also has a milestone tracking system to let us know what they worked on in the classroom.
Remote work apps have helped me reclaim my time. As any working mom will tell you, there are never enough hours during the day. Now, thanks to my remote work technology, I can leave my kids’ breakfast table at 7:50 a.m. and walk into a virtual meeting in the next room by 8 a.m. Every employee in our company is remote. The tech that has taken me off the road from commuting has truly allowed me to create a better work-life balance. Plus, seeing my kids during a break between meetings is awesome. Those small moments add up over the long run.
Technology has made my time more fluid. It sounds great in theory, but without the proper tech infrastructure in place, more work-life balance is just a parental pipedream. If you are looking to create a better working environment for your team or yourself, get real about what that looks like. I know for me, a flex-time policy fits better with my company’s working moms, for whom no two days are alike.
Taboo talks are no longer off the table. It’s not something I have shared too often in a professional forum, but since I am opening up about the melding together of tech, home, kids and work, I want to talk about the role of scientific technology our family had to use for me to get pregnant. While it may not be for everyone, I am so thankful for it because it gave me the gigantic gift of my babies.
In addition, the online technology I have access to via Facebook groups helped me get through the isolation that can often be felt with infertility issues. I wish people would talk about these types of issues more. The ability to connect and offer courage and comfort that can deepen our relationships is invaluable.
Tap more than an app. As a working mom, technology has allowed me, my husband and our kids to tap more than an app. It’s allowed me to tap into some important truths like the ones I shared above.
The tech I use is deeply intertwined in my day-to-day routines as a tool for facilitating the tactical parts of keeping my kids engaged in healthy ways when I need some time to focus, and also as a way to touch base with their caregivers and teachers. Beyond functional technology, certain apps have also provided a personal pathway to honest connections with other moms and women who are facing some common challenges. Having a network is something we all need, whether we are parents or simply navigating our busy lives.