TIPS FROM TOP WOMEN CEOs ON TRYING TO BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY
Balance is something that we, as women, are constantly struggling to achieve, and the truth is that few of us ever do. Personally, I don’t even use the word ‘balance’ anymore, because it is just too time-consuming a struggle, and I seek ‘harmony’ instead.
In today’s world, where the majority of women are now working outside of the home, and climbing higher in the corporate world than ever before, it is important for women to share how they manage to strive for it all, to reveal what works and what doesn’t so that we can all benefit and learn from each other’s struggles and triumphs
Here are some tips from some top women execs in North America (1):
- Don’t give up that precious time you have with your young child(ren). Go to the swimming lessons and music groups because you will never get that time back. Focusing on your business or career will be easier once your children are slightly older.
- Accept that there will be days when you will not be a great mom – and other days when you will not be a great boss.
- Keep life simple: shorten your commute, live close to work, schools, and daycare.
- Don’t say ‘no’ to help – ever! Hire a nanny, recruit grandparents, and accept carpool offers for your kids. Outsource household jobs that do not have an impact on your kids, like laundry and housecleaning.
- Put away your phone, turn off your computer, and refuse emails when you are home with your family. If you must, there will always be time to sneak a peek after they have gone to bed or gone to their rooms.
- Be clear at work that you need to leave at a reasonable time but while you are at work, stay focused on the task at hand.
- Make sure your children know what you do for a living and that you love your job. They are less likely to see your work as a threat to their time with you.
- Never be afraid to let your employers or clients see that you are a real person with a life outside of work. They will be more understanding of the times you need flexibility in your schedule.
I left this one for last:
- Ideally, be present with your family for the important stuff, like homework time, or school drop-off or sporting events. Try not to miss recitals or other school and recreational events that help to define your children and their relationship with you. My vote though – just do your best! Guilt is a wasted emotion – let it go as quickly as possible. Society doesn’t owe you anything and you make your own rules. My own personal rule: I am constantly striving for harmony as balance is too tippy for me.
“On The Women to Watch List”:
Jessica Herrin: CEO and Founder – Stella & Dot
- had two kids while founding the company
- still took time to do swim lesson and infant classes with her kids
- didn’t focus on how quickly the company was growing, focused on her kids
- has no regrets
Padmasree Warrior: Chief Technology and Strategy Officer – Cisco
- was running a factory when her child was a newborn
- felt constant guilt about not being with clients enough and then guilt about taking work home
- felt guilt over not working out and looking like a supermodel
- “There are days when I’m an awesome CTO but perhaps I’m not the best mom that day and other days I would leave work early to be at my sons graduation or recital… because that’s important.”
Theresia Gouw Ranzetta: Managing Partner – Accel Partners
- planned her life so there is an 8 block radius between her daughter’s school, her home, and her work
- achieves balance by having great nanny and grandparents nearby
Selina Tobaccowala: Senior Vice President Product & Engineering – SurveyMonkey
- puts her phone and computer away when she gets home except in case of emergencies
- when she is at work, her focus is on work
- enjoys every minute with her daughter
Susan Wojcicki: Senior Vice President of Product – Google
- tells her team there are no emails between 6 and 9pm
- leaves work at a reasonable time
- outsources what your kids won’t notice, like laundry.
- is there to walk them to school and help with homework
Carolyn Everson: Vice President Global Marketing Solutions -Facebook
- rolls the kids into work and work into the kids
- makes sure her kids understood what she did from an early age
- takes kids on work trips and lets them meet clients and see the world with her
- her kids see her work as an amazing opportunity and benefit and not as something that pulls their mom away
- lets her clients know she is a real person who has a life and family outside work so that they will understand that sometimes she has to leave
(1) Source: Bloomberg TV
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