As a working mom of three, the past year has put me through the wringer. Here's why I think it's valuable work experience hiring managers should know about.

By Megan Harper
April 16, 2021
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Megan Harper and family
Credit: Nadia Leon Photography

As a working mom of three, I recently updated my resume to include my parenting achievements in the last year, posted about it on social media—and it went viral. While I'm humbled it hit a chord with so many moms, I can't help but think I just said what we're all thinking.

"I achieved all of this while homeschooling a kindergartner, keeping a 3-year-old entertained, and nursing a baby in between Zoom calls in my NYC apartment," I wrote on the new version of my resume and posted on Facebook in a mom group I follow. "Now, as we head back into a normal existence with childcare, imagine what I can do for your company."

That little snippet, a little throwaway line from the end of my resume, garnered such an amazing response in the group that I took a screenshot to put it up on Instagram and Linkedin, where it took off. I'm now finding myself at once surprised, delighted, and a bit embarrassed that it's been so widely shared with thousands of other moms, many responding with solidarity and others posting similar updates to their resumes. It's incredible to know my words resonated with so many moms feeling the same way I do after the past year living through the pandemic.

Back in January, things at work were evolving in a way that seemed less and less congruent with my skill set and future goals. Realizing that this place might not be the best vessel to continue my career and personal growth aspirations in the coming years, it was time to dust off the old resume. After all, what better way to remind myself of my most fantastic asset: me. How ironic that editing a document strictly devoted to self-promotion could fill one with so much anxiety and self-doubt.

I recently came across a post from a young mom in one of the 'mom groups' I follow on Facebook that struck me like a toddler's half-chewed banana to the head. She was looking for advice on mentioning to prospective employers that she had young kids. The answer may seem obvious to some but I think we can all relate to the pressure she feels to put forth an image of professionalism unencumbered by familial obligations. Do men feel the need to list offspring and their ages as part of the interview process? Rarely, if ever.

This past year has blown working moms' already unrealistic ideas of work/life balance so far through the looking glass that were just eating all the cute little cakes trying to get back to a stasis we can maintain. What many of us now have is one that is so meshed together it doesn't exist.

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I strangely miss my morning commute when I could have 25 minutes to just stand in silence and listen to podcasts—and for that short amount of time a day nobody needed anything from me.

Much of my pandemic year took place inside a 1000-square-foot apartment with two working parents, a kindergartener-turned-first-grader, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old. Most days started at 5 a.m. with my husband trying to bust out work before the kids woke up at 7 a.m. My husband played chef while I got the kids ready for the day, even though we rarely ever left the house. I took most of my meetings in our make-shift bedroom off the living room. I still can't listen to Bubble Guppies without having flashbacks. Why, you ask? Because that happened to be the TV show I could put on for hours and the baby wouldn't bother me. (Yes, my child was raised by Mr. Grouper this past year.) We'd bust out Kindergarten classes as best as we could, argue about homework, and my son would often mumble "mean mom" under his breath. My coworkers would often see a little leg pop into a Zoom meeting because I was nursing a baby and hiding it from the camera the best I could. "Either I put a boob in her mouth or you listen to her scream" I'd joke. But, it wasn't a joke. It was my own personal version of hell.

I felt beyond vulnerable sitting in my pajamas in my crazy messy house with three kids who never left with my boob out for all the office to see. Even worse, I rarely got any actual work done until after the kids went to bed. If it was a good day, I'd take the middle child to the grocery store for our big walk outside. This was my very real pandemic life as a working mom of three. It took so much passion, drive, and perseverance.

And that's why I added those lines to my resume because, as I wrote on Instagram, being a mom is a strength in the workplace—not a weakness. I am a good employee because I am a mom.

When people talk about parents in the workplace, I really think it comes back to having a purpose for doing what we do. I do a good job so I stay employed and my kids can have health insurance.  I also want my kids to be proud of my work and my ability to do very hard things.

Since posting the new update to my resume, I've heard from 21 recruiters and it gave me leverage to negotiate a higher salary. Companies are finally realizing parents are an asset—and it's about time. So I'd recommend other mothers (and fathers)  who have spent the last year playing chef, teachers, and caregivers add all their parenting accomplishments to their resume too.