I was introduced to Suzannah in 2010 when she interviewed me for her blog. Since then she has become my trusted business coach and dear friend. She is one of those women who seems to keep a million balls in the air with humor and grace and it was an honor to be able to interview her for the Tool Kit Series!
Q. Tell us a little about your family.
We have two children: Logan, 6 years old, and Serena, 3 years old. We also have a Bernese mountain dog named Saidy, who is 95lbs.
Q. How do you find work/life balance?
I think I find work / life balance by making it a priority in my life. I do that by trying to commit to very little outside of work, family and my health. I find that when I feel out of balance in my life or overcommitted, it is a signal to me that I am acting out of fear and insecurity. I am saying yes to people and activities that I am afraid to say no to because I fear I will hurt their feelings or fear that I will miss out – or fear that my business will suffer if I don’t prioritize it over everything. Every time I get out of that balance, I go back to what I know nourishes me – nature, quiet, movement, reading, energizing friends. Being a working woman, wife mom of two little kids and a very large dog, makes me realize how little “extra space” I have in my life. So I have to protect that space as absolutely sacred for me. Otherwise, I am useless to anyone.
I also hired a virtual assistant, which has been a tremendous help in my life. She helps with professional and personal scheduling (when is the school BBQ? what date does ballet class end and when does soccer start?!), she drafts emails for me, she does research for me and generally takes all of the administrative tasks off of my plate so that I can focus on what I’m good at and enjoy.
I remember when I was pregnant with my second and we were selling our house, our real estate agent came in to our house and she looked impeccable. She had three children and I asked her, “How do you look so put together??” She replied, “I have a lot of help.” At the time, I felt strong judgment of her for that answer. But the older I get, the more I think that having help in every area of my life is the secret to a happy motherhood experience. And not just for mothers, for everyone. I believe in leveraging other’s strengths where I have weaknesses. When my house is clean, groceries are in the kitchen, bills are paid and generally things feel “taken care of”, I am at my best as a mother. When all of those things are out of sorts, I can be incredibly distracted and that never feels good.
Q. How do you carve out time for yourself? What do you do when you find it?
If there is one thing that I have learned through this journey of motherhood, it is that no one is going to carve out your alone time for you. No one is going to say, “You know what, you should just take the day to yourself.” It has to come from ourselves. And with that, you must overcome the guilt felt inside for “indulging yourself” instead of taking care of others. But I have seen that taking care of myself directly impacts how well I take care of others.
I love this Michelle Obama quote about how she makes herself highest on her priority list: “And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.” The way I do it is to build it into my schedule. I try to keep every morning from 9-10am open after I drop off the kids and before I see clients to exercise. I don’t have appointments on Mondays because I keep that day my “sacred day” – what Sundays used to be to me before I had kids. This day I go for a hike, run errands, catch up with a friend, go to the library, whatever I feel inspired to do.
Q. How/when do you make space for you and your husband?
I remember always hearing the advice to invest to date nights when we were getting married. I absolutely agree with that advice. It’s amazing how crucial it is to our marriage to have that alone time to reconnect with each other. We do a blend of things, we try to do casual date nights on weekly basis (sushi, a movie, etc) but we also try to do one night getaways as well. We usually try to do that once a quarter (our favorite spot is Vegas!). And then we try to plan one big week long trip once a year.
Q. What do you like do as a family?
Our weekends usually include some sort of physical activity like riding bikes and scooters or going for a hike. Serena still naps so we are usually home in the middle of the day which is a nice break for all of us to chill at home anyhow. The boys usually watch some sports while I tidy the house (not my favorite but makes me feel better). In the afternoon, we are usually back outdoors and grabbing an early dinner.
Q. Please share any tips or ideas that might make life easier for other moms.
Blue Apron has been a lifesaver for me because I absolutely cannot stand to meal plan. I am not a planner in general so I love that 3x/week, I know exactly what we are going to eat and the ingredients are delivered to our door. All that I have to do is chop and cook and we get to eat interesting, local and yummy meals. We use Urban Sitter to find new babysitters. I use Asana as my to do list. You’ll catch me listening to podcasts at all times when commuting – favorites are The Lewis Howes School of Greatness and NPR’s Invisibilia. Amazon Mobile app is a life saver, I scan items and order them right when we run out of something. Love Spotify – each of my kids have their own playlists that we listen to at home.
Suzannah, thank you so much for sharing. I especially loved your reminder to make sure to carve out time for ourselves. Have any great work/life tips to share? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be a featured mom on the site.