Striking the right work-life balance can be challenging, especially as a working parent. I have written before that the correct balance is not based on any magic formula or a 50-50 ratio. What matters is finding a balance that is right for you and your family. There is a lot of expert advice available from books and articles, but what I appreciate more is learning from people that I trust and respect. So, I asked a few leaders how they handle work-life balance. Here’s what they had to say:
- Beth Azor, founder and owner of Azor Advisory Services, shared her leadership journey during our company’s recent Leadership Series. She is a dynamo business woman who currently owns and manages five shopping centers in Florida. She travels the country consulting, brokering deals and training associates in the commercial real estate industry. Beth balances her life by making a full breakfast for her two sons every day. She said that with their busy schedules, you never know what dinner will bring, so breakfast is family time.
- Joe Schlosser, our SVP of Portfolio Management, has learned to say no. He is often invited to things that will distract him from his top priorities of family and career. He said that his family is priority 1A and his job is 1B, so he’s learned to be very selective when deciding how to spend time beyond those top priorities.
- Ryan Moore, our SVP of Investment Management, recommends reading The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform your Life (Before 8AM). This book explains six steps to go through each morning to make a more purposeful and productive day. The tips in the book help him to get on track each morning so he has the evening to spend with his children.
- “Shut down technology at night,” advises Eric Richter, our SVP of Property Management. We all know that we can be connected 24-7, but when you’re home with your family, be present and not always checking your e-mails. After all, most of us are not saving lives, and usually that e-mail response can wait until tomorrow or at least, until the kids go to bed.
- John Crossman, CEO of Crossman, is incredibly busy with work and community involvement, but I love seeing all the fun he has with his darling daughters on his Instagram posts. In life, if something big comes in, he recommends taking something big out. He loves college football and could spend every Saturday at games or watching them on TV. Since his oldest daughter was born, he has only been to one full game in 14 years. He said when they graduate, he will go back to enjoying football. But, for this “season of life”, football is on hold. According to John, this can apply to golf, hunting, or any number of hobbies. “It doesn’t mean it is gone forever, just on hold until I have more time,” he added.
Other leaders that I admire have successfully achieved this balance. Sheryl Sandberg
told a reporter she leaves her office every day at 5:30 pm to get home for dinner with her family. President Obama had a commitment for dinner five nights a week with his family. If they can do it, you can too. Whether saying no, putting a hobby on hold, or having your ‘own’ work-life balance rules, there is no “right” way- just a way that is right for you and your family.
Just like Beth Azor, I chose to make a full breakfast for my daughter each day, and never considered it part of my work-life balance strategy. But looking back, it was always our time to catch up. She is now 19 and breakfast remains one of our most favorite meals- maybe because it conjures up the memories of our many morning talks. And like John Crossman, I also gave up one “big” for another. People laugh when I tell them that I haven’t golfed for 18 years, but now that my daughter is in college, I will finally take the plastic off the clubs that I received a few years ago.
When my daughter was growing up, I also tried to include her in my work whenever possible. When I was an on-site marketing director, she loved being at events as a participant or as she got older, as a helper. A few times, when schedules permitted, my husband and daughter would join me on business trips. They were enjoying Disney World or lounging at the pool while I was at meetings, but it made being away from home easier. Now my daughter is thinking she may go into marketing, so perhaps some of those early days at shopping centers and being involved in my professional life paid off.
As I look back over the advice others gave and the years I spent as a working mom, it truly boils down to two things: priorities and doing what works for you. When you decide that family time is happening, turn off the phone or make the meal and have the breakfast talk. And then, when you’re at work, you’ll know that you made the most of that family time and will be able to focus on work. Choose your priority for each part of the day and season of life, then commit to it. Be there in the moment, wherever and whenever that may be.