At the age of 31, the thought that I'd like to have my own family someday occasionally crosses my mind. The thing I get hung up on is how I would manage everything I love to do—my career, writing this blog, traveling the world, working out on a regular basis, spending time with my relatives...things that all take commitment, time, and a certain amount of resources to do successfully. How could I possibly add children to everything else? Like anything in life, priorities will shift and certain sacrifices will be made in order to do the thing that will inevitably become more important over time. With that thought, I wanted to talk to Guest Blogger Julie Smolyansky about how she balanced becoming the youngest female CEO of a publicly traded company (Lifeway) when her father past away and she continued running marathons, growing her family, and traveling the world doing charity work.
One of the most common questions I get asked is, “how do you balance life with Lifeway?” More specifically, how do I manage a career and all the things I do, with beig a mother to two young girls, (Leah 3 and Misha 1)? Like all things in life, if something is worth doing, you figure it out and along the way I had some great role models, including my own working mother, Ludmila Smolyansky.
In 1976, at the age of 26 my mother and father came to the United States with me, then just a one-year-old infant. She had no friends or other family, and no knowledge of the English language, but she took destiny into her own hands by opening the first Russian Delicatessen in Chicago. She dominated the Russian food market in the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s, opening five delicatessens and an import and distribution business. My mother handled the finances and unloaded truckload containers by herself all while managing to be a terrific loving mom. As much time as we spent in her warehouse, I still have vivid memories of summer picnics at the park, I never felt like I was missing my mom. She laid the foundation for me to know that any life I imagined for myself was possible—including having a career I loved and a beautiful family to go with it.
Here are my tips for maintaining a healthy balance:
Life moves fast for the working mother—our attention is demanded in hundreds places each day. Facebook updates, text messages, emails, Skype meetings, tweets, conference calls, lunches, dinners, fundraisers, play dates, after school classes…what’s a working mom to do? Use technology to your advantage. With a smart phone at my disposal, I can easily e-mail, order groceries, or send a tweet about a new kefir recipe I tried all from the park with my kids.
Stay healthy. Like most working parents, I don’t have time to get sick. My calendar is a delicately structured Jenga puzzle; one wrong move and the whole thing comes tumbling down! My family and I drink tons of kefir, which is known to help boost the immune system and keep colds at bay. We also eat tons of whole grains, fish, fruits and veggies from the local farmers market and are generally are an organic household.
A notorious insomniac, I’ve been known to send out most e-mails between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. By no means am I endorsing cutting sleep out, but if you can’t fall asleep anyway, might as well be productive. I’m certain many working parents can relate…sleep goes by the way side when one seemingly has two careers to manage.
Get help when you need it. I find absolute pleasure in tinkering in my small city garden. This year, however, I found myself over committed with speaking engagements, networking events, travel, and training for the New York Marathon. It killed me to let someone else do it, but with so many commitments, finding a landscaper was the smartest option. You can’t always do it all.
Schedule time for yourself, your partner, and your family. 2012 is already so booked, some days I only have 10 minutes in the shower…it’s those days I savor my Sabon Vanilla Coconut body scrub the most. Other days I sandwich a full hour of running between conference calls and school pick-up. Every Saturday is date night and Sunday is family day. I even schedule tea parties with my girls on particularly full days for guaranteed mommy daughter time. More importantly, turn the TV off! I’d much rather spend time catching up with my daughters and baking muffins then discovering which Kardashian is having a baby.
The single most important element to being a working mom today is that I demanded a partner who is truly a partner. My lifemate, Jason Burdeen, is a successful and talented jewelry designer. When we decided we wanted to have kids, he left his family business and worked from home so he could be with them. I still find myself micro-managing the kids’ day but more or less, he takes the lead on the house and kids.
Julie Smolyansky is the CEO of Lifeway Foods, the largest manufacture of the probiotic dairy beverage, kefir. Julie is the youngest female CEO of a publicly traded company and is the mother of two girls. She is an avid marathoner completing six, most recently the New York Marathon in 2011 while raising money for Every Mother Counts, a global maternal health advocacy group started by Christy Turlington Burns. She tweets about leadership, women’s issues, health issues, and anything else that interests her at @juliesmolyansky. She can be found sipping kefir by day or a glass of wine by night, and has seen over 20 Pearl Jam concerts.