- Gina Michnowicz
The Modern Mother: 8 Tactics for Finding Balance
I have always wanted both a family and career. Since early on, my goal was to be a CEO, and that goal didn’t change after the birth of my daughter.
Motherhood actually made me want more from my work. I wanted to do something big. To create something even better, in a culture that was supportive and fun. After all, if you’re going to be away from your child, it matters how you spend your day. Or at least it does for me. So when my daughter was eight months old, I set out on a journey that led me to where I am today: the executive creative director and servant leader CEO of a thriving creative shop. Basically, I have what I always wanted.
Of course, it’s a balancing act. While I carry a lot of responsibility at work, I have a daughter who goes to dance, swimming, carpentry, and golf lessons as well as a husband who I also want to spend time with.
Finding the balance hasn’t always been easy. It took me over six years of trial and error, and I couldn’t do it without my husband, my true partner in both life management and parenthood.
Here are the ways I keep myself balanced and effective:
I block off working time. In my role, my calendar can get booked solid. Each day, I strive to block off at least a two-hour slot of time to get work done. I find a half-hour slot is only good for answering email and other small tasks, so I minimize those breaks and instead aim to schedule meetings back to back. This is critical for optimal productivity.
I prioritize self-care. Mothers often try to take care of everyone else first, but it’s crucial to take care of yourself in order to stay on top of your game. I schedule time for workouts as well as other self-care activities like pedicures. (I often work during those pedicures, but I ensure that I’m giving myself what I need.)
I make sure that if I’m there, I’m truly present. This applies to both personal and work time. It doesn’t benefit anyone to show up but not pay attention or participate. If I’m in a meeting, you have my undivided attention. If I know I’ll be distracted, then I don’t go. It is more respectful, and I (and others!) definitely get more out of what I choose to do.
When it makes sense, I multitask. My morning walk-and-talks are a great example of appropriate multitasking. Our beloved dog Lager and I both get some exercise while I talk through strategy with Kim, my right-hand person in our company. Nirvana! And as I mentioned earlier, I also work during my pedicures. They have Wi-Fi, so why not? This type of multitasking doesn’t affect my core focus.
When possible, I prepare. Preparation is key in our household. You can’t prepare for everything, but you can prepare for a lot. On Sundays, we draft the menu for the week and shop for groceries as a family. About a month ago, I started prepping vegetables and fruit for our dinners and snacks too. These are huge timesavers. We also prepare what our daughter needs the night before she needs it: her breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack as well any activity bag. It makes for a lot less stress—especially when I have other deadlines to meet—and we don’t forget anything that needs to go with her to school.
I practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, and at the beginning of last year, my stress was at an all-time high. I’m not one of those people who works better under stress, and it certainly does not make me a better mother or wife. Based on a recommendation, I started meditating with the Calm app. It makes such a difference. It got me through a tough time and continues to help me be more productive.
I give myself a break. I’m a big fan of Rachel Hollis, founder of The Hollis Company and best-selling author. Her books Girl, Stop Apologizing and Girl, Wash Your Face helped me release a lot of guilt about pushing for all my dreams and also stop tearing myself down for not getting everything done. In a nutshell, she advocates for giving yourself grace without giving up. We are all doing the best we can.
My husband and I make time for loved ones. Nurturing relationships is so important. We regularly make time for the three of us to connect by ourselves, and I also prioritize time with close friends and family.
These approaches help me show up in the right frame of mind for all aspects of my life. I am also lucky to have a strong support system, which includes my friends, family, and each and every member of The Craftsman. Having such an amazing team makes all the difference in the world.
While the balancing act is not always easy, it is most definitely worth it.