I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.
First, I humbly admit there are many challenges to working full time while raising a family. It is a harried, hectic life full of tough decisions and constant roadblocks. It takes much more than a village to successfully navigate these rough waters. It takes a supportive family, a helpful community, an understanding workplace, a non-judgemental society and pocket full of pixie dust at least once a week. People frequently ask me how I do it, and my answer is always the same, “one day at a time.”
I decided to start my own company after my first two children were born because I found that I needed the professional challenge of a full time career, but I also wanted the flexibility in my schedule to spend time with my family. And I wanted to build a company that would allow the same flexibility for all of my employees. So I wrote a business plan, raised some money and hired my first 3 employees.
My son, the third of my 3 children, was born 9 months later (one month after this picture was taken). I remember being in the delivery room waiting for my son to be born while talking on my cell phone with my team about an amazing resume they had received for a position we were having a tough time filling. The Red Sox were playing in the background.
My children are now ages 11, 8 and 5. They are all in school full time and we have a sitter who picks them up from school 4 days a week and helps with carpooling to choir practice, piano lessons, guitar lessons, field hockey, gymnastics and soccer practice. She can sometimes help out with sick days, but my husband and I usually juggle coverage and get what work we can get done from home.
My husband works full time, and also has a flexible schedule. He travels at least one night a week and during parts of the year up to 3 nights a week. I travel much less and we work hard to alternate our travel schedules. When there is a conflict, my mother stays with the kids. She lives nearby and is also our go-to babysitter, special event planner and all around morale booster.
Because of severe allergies and health issues we were limited in childcare choices, and so employed a nanny for our youngest. We were able to afford a nanny by sharing her with a co-worker whose child was 6 weeks older than mine. We still make frequent visits to the doctor and occasionally to the hospital. I have spent a few afternoons doing work calls from the hospital bathroom, and also skipped out on a few meetings to do doctors visits with my kids. It always comes back to priorities, and those are determined moment to moment.
My husband and I have chosen our own extra-curricular activities based on those organizations most relevant to how we are raising our family. He is a deacon at our church and on the board at our children’s school. I am a Sunday school teacher and have been parent representative at the school. We’ve both been asked, but have chosen not to get involved with other organizations at this point in our careers so that we do not spread ourselves too thin.
We lean on our community of neighbors and other parents to help us stay on top of the social activities. Everything from the dad who has e-mail coordinated the summer camp plans to the mom who makes sure we know when soccer sign-ups start, we are lucky to be surrounded by a community of involved parents. Parents working outside the home and parents dedicated full time to raising the kids, there is no eye-raising or questioning of each other’s family choices. We respect each other’s individual challenges and do what we can to support each other and our families.
My husband and I often discuss and continually prioritize for all of our children the day to day “being there”. This includes little things like scheduling play dates, attending the classroom performances, reading bedtime stories, hitting all the birthday parties, coaching the sports teams, helping with homework, riding bikes, taking walks and sharing the ups and downs of our day. We often must divide and conquer on the weekends to cover the many different directions our kids are going, but also make sure to schedule all-family activities, as well.
An important part of my parenting job is just listening. Not when it is convenient for me to listen, but in those moments when one of my children needs to talk. I’m able to be in those moments because I can make my own schedule. And the rare times that I do need to take a work call, or need to be monitoring the laptop, I explain to my kids what is happening at work that requires me to take attention away from them. They don’t always like it, but I want them to understand that I do respect my time with them and do not take lightly when it must be interrupted.
I know there are professional opportunities I am missing, just as there are some childhood memories I didn’t witness. I’m not the perfect CEO, nor the perfect mom. But I am very proud of the work that I am doing, the business that I am building and the example that I am setting for my children. And I am proud of my husband’s work and example, and of the wonderful people we are raising. We are making it work for our family by sharing the work equally, leaning on amazing people and figuring it out one day at a time.