I am not a morning person. I never have been. Most days, though, I drag myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to get a jump-start on my to-do list before my 7-year-old wakes up. After I let the dog out and start the coffee, I sit down and answer e-mail, write out my daily task list and scroll through Facebook as I wake up.\nBy the time my husband and son get up, I\u2019m ready to roll. Then it\u2019s time to get \u00a0everyone ready to leave, take a quick shower, do school drop-off, walk the dog and, finally, by 9:30 a.m., I\u2019m ready to get to work in earnest. Staff meetings, training, source interviews, writing, revising and more e-mail takes up the precious few hours I have to myself before it\u2019s time to do everything in reverse: school pickup, homework, dinner, etc. By 8:30 p.m., I\u2019m exhausted, but it\u2019s time to log in for my \u2018second shift\u2019 answering yet more e-mail and planning for the next day. Then I collapse into bed and try to sleep.\n[ Don't get caught in a dead end. Read The working dead: IT jobs bound for extinction. | Keep ahead of the hot trends in IT careers (and those going cold), and check out the hottest jobs in IT and the most valuable IT certs today. | Get the latest IT careers insights by signing up for our newsletter. ]\nIt\u2019s easily a 14-hour day, at least five days a week, and that\u2019s on a day when everything goes as planned. This winter, it seems I\u2019m destined to be behind: colds, the flu, ear infections, snowstorms, school closings and power outages \u2026 yeah. That requires a lot of flexibility, improvisation and a whole lot of late nights that bleed into the wee hours, but I make it work.\nAnd I\u2019m lucky. I work from home and I can arrange my schedule to accommodate my home and family life. I also know I\u2019m not alone. BLS data from 2016 shows that\u00a064.7 percent\u00a0of moms with children under six years old participated in the labor force.\u00a0My workload isn\u2019t uncommon, either; according to a recently released study by Welch\u2019s that surveyed 2,000 American moms of kids between five and twelve years old,\u00a0moms work, on average, 98 hours per week.\u00a0As in, the equivalent of two-and-a-half full-time jobs.\nLike I said, I\u2019m lucky. Elizabeth Friedland is, too. One day, Elizabeth\u2019s childcare fell through at the last minute. Unable to find a substitute babysitter in time, Elizabeth, senior director of corporate communications at Appirio, brought her then 4 month-old foster son to the office. At first, she was nervous about how her colleagues would react, but she was pleasantly surprised. Her coworkers not only lined up to help feed and watch the baby while Elizabeth led meetings, but her boss even praised her bring-the-baby-to-work move as one that showed dedication to both parenthood and her career.\n\u201cWe look at this under the umbrella of \u2018employee experience,\u2019 and we measure that,\u201d Friedland tells me. \u201cIt\u2019s one of those fluffy, happy metrics, sure, but it really makes a difference! If our people are happy and they feel valued and supported, they\u2019re going to stay with us. They stay with us, and we grow with them to accommodate all aspects of their lives, not just parenthood \u2014 it\u2019s taking an hour for a doctor\u2019s appointment, or to take care of whatever you need to take care of without worrying that you\u2019re going to jeopardize your career,\u201d she says.\nElizabeth and I both work in parent-friendly cultures. Our bosses get it. They understand that work-life balance isn\u2019t just possible, it\u2019s preferable; valuing workers and offering flexibility means loyal, harder-working, more engaged employees overall. They leverage technology to make working remotely not just possible, but effective, efficient and productive.\nAnd if companies really want to maintain a competitive edge and further stimulate the economy, they need to get more women in the workforce by offering flexible policies that help working women, as this Fast Company article explains. A recent study by Citi outlines the differences between approaches in Canada and the U.S. to encouraging women's participation in the workplace and the effects of those policies on the economy.\n\u201cAmerican women, especially those tasked with caring for children or elderly relatives, confront sizable barriers to full participation in the workforce. Beyond the tax penalties second earners often face (also known as the \u201cmarriage penalty\u201d), the high cost of childcare and unstable working conditions keep many women sidelined,\u201d the article says.\n\u201cEspecially among the low-wage sectors, a lot of the work is part-time and uncertain,\u201d [Dana] Peterson [Citi North America economist and co-author of the report] says. \u201cYou don\u2019t know what your hours might be from week to week. For many women, facing a choice between having very erratic working hours and income, and caring for a child or a dependent adult, they make the choice to not work.\u201d\nOvercoming these problems isn\u2019t simply a \u201cwomen\u2019s issue,\u201d says [Tina] Fordham, [Citi\u2019s policital analyst and co-author of the report] \u201cbut a challenge for the workforce as a whole. \u201cThe key is to frame this issue as gender neutral. Things like flexible work schedules, parental leave, the ability to get back into the workforce after taking some time off, these are all things men want as well, especially younger men,\u201d she says. \u201cIt\u2019s an argument for making it easier for people of childbearing age to be successful in the workforce,\u201d the article says.\nThat means not just flexibility and remote work, family leave and re-entry programs but policies that address sexual harassment, discrimination and oppression. This is especially in technology, which is already notable for the lack of women and minorities and the sometimes hostile culture that exists in STEM fields.\nIt comes down to understanding that your employees are human beings with lives outside of the office and making space and time for them to attend to that as well as performing well at work, says Friedland. It\u2019s about what you value as a company, and recognizing that without your employees, you wouldn\u2019t be successful at all.\n\u201cIt\u2019s not about who\u2019s the last one to leave, anymore, it\u2019s about what you value,\u201d Friedland says. \u201cWe always say our focus is on \u2018outcomes, not hours,\u2019 because at the end of the day, if you\u2019re getting your work done and it\u2019s done well, it doesn\u2019t matter where you do it from,\u201d she says.