How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents: “I try to live the “life-work”…

How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents: “I try to live the “life-work” balance instead, meaning I put my life before my work” with Michelle Holliman and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

It’s imperative to make time for your kids. Creating and maintaining a work-life balance is tough for any working parent. I try to live the “life-work” balance instead, meaning I put my life before my work. Being involved and knowing what’s going on with my kid’s lives is important to me. I want to know if a friend was being mean to my 9 year old so I can help her find a way to handle the situation. Similarly, I want to be there for my 4 year old telling me that she drew a picture of a monster because the letter of the week is “M.” Regardless of how big or small a situation is, it is important to me to be present with my kids. I want them to know that their Mom and Dad are there for them. We are their foundation and we want them to be able to share things with us. My husband and I also talk to them about our jobs. They love hearing stories of our day at work and like when they get to visit my office a few times a year.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Michelle Holliman, Vice President of Franchise Development at Pigtails & Crewcuts. Michelle Holliman’s work within the franchising industry dates back to 1997. Throughout that time, she built experience by working for the parent companies of well-known brands such as Heavenly Ham, HoneyBaked Ham, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Planet Smoothie, and P.J.’s Coffee. In her current role, Michelle and her team evaluate prospective franchisees to help them determine if owning a Pigtails & Crewcuts salon is the right investment choice. She lives in Cumming, Georgia with her husband and two girls.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I was born in the Philippines and adopted in 1977. My father was in the Air Force for 22 years and was stationed in Manila when my mom wanted to adopt another baby. They already had five kids of their own so it seems crazy to me that she wanted another one. My mom volunteered at an orphanage, and that’s when we met and the decision was made to finalize their adoption. After my father was stationed in the Philippines, we moved all over the U.S. until he finally retired in South Carolina. I grew up in a small town and went to college in South Carolina. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. We decided to move out of our small town to the big city of Atlanta. We have two daughters — ages 9 and 4.5.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

After college, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do or which career path I should take. I studied finance, but one of my first real jobs was being the receptionist for a franchise company called Heavenly Ham located in Roswell, Georgia. I enjoyed learning about franchising and talking to the franchisees. During my time at Heavenly Ham, I had the opportunity to decide which area of franchising I wanted to be involved in. I chose the franchise development side. I loved talking to prospective franchise owners and educating them on the brand. It was fulfilling to help them build their dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Over the last 22 years, I’ve worked for several franchise companies and have settled with Pigtails & Crewcuts. Wade Brannon, our CEO / President, was one of the original principles for Heavenly Ham and he called me to help him grow Pigtails & Crewcuts. It was a perfect concept for me because I enjoy working with children and I see the need for this type of business.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

As a mother of two young children, my day starts early and it never seems like there are enough hours in the day. I wake up at 5am every morning and get ready. I get to enjoy thirty minutes of quiet and alone time before full chaos begins. After that, it’s getting my daughters up and ready for school. My husband cooks them breakfast while I’m brushing hair, making sure they brush their teeth, and have their shoes on the right foot. We pack lunches and head out the door by 7am. I take them to school and then I drive to work. I usually make calls during my morning commute. When I get to the office, the normal day-to-day calls, meetings, emails, and tasks take up my day. When I leave the office, I’m usually on the phone with either prospects or franchisees during my commute home. My husband and I flip a coin on who’s going to be the taxi driver for the kid’s extra-curricular activities and who is going to cook dinner. He’s a better cook, so I’m usually the driver. After homework, we get ready for the next day and try and settle down. We enjoy playing games and/or watching TV together as a family. Finally, it is bed time and we prepare to do it all over again.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

I believe that full-time involvement with your children creates a happy and healthy childhood. If a child is ignored, there are a lot of things you can miss within their milestones. Children need their parents for love and guidance. However, time apart is imperative to their development as well. It is all about creating a balance and encouraging your kids to be individuals.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

It’s imperative to make time for your kids. Creating and maintaining a work-life balance is tough for any working parent. I try to live the “life-work” balance instead, meaning I put my life before my work. Being involved and knowing what’s going on with my kid’s lives is important to me. I want to know if a friend was being mean to my 9 year old so I can help her find a way to handle the situation. Similarly, I want to be there for my 4 year old telling me that she drew a picture of a monster because the letter of the week is “M.” Regardless of how big or small a situation is, it is important to me to be present with my kids. I want them to know that their Mom and Dad are there for them. We are their foundation and we want them to be able to share things with us. My husband and I also talk to them about our jobs. They love hearing stories of our day at work and like when they get to visit my office a few times a year.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

Quality time can be reading a book with them at night, playing a game of basketball in the driveway after dinner, teaching them how to ride their bike, or taking a family vacation. Growing up, family vacations were important to my family. It was a time when my dad would unplug from work and give his children his undivided attention. I remember our family trip to the Grand Canyon. We traveled from South Carolina. That was a long drive for a family of 8. I’m sure all we did was bicker about everything and mom and dad wanted to pull their hair out, but looking back now as adults, that’s the one trip that we will forever cherish. We remember stopping at each state sign and taking a picture, our nights in the hotel rooms, or stopping to visit family along the way. It was an amazing family trip and although it was our only vacation that year, the memories of it have lasted a lifetime.

That’s what my husband and I try to do with our kids. It’s hard to not get caught up with work but we do our best to unplug. So, we try to not check emails, take phone calls, or schedule meetings during vacations. This is our time to unwind from our work life and focus on the fun we’re having as a family. We love going to the beach to relax but it also could be a weekend getaway to the lake. Whatever it is, big or small, it’s about spending time with our kids and being together.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

#1 — Be organized. Staying organized with school schedules, kid’s activities, and work will make life easier. I have an electronic calendar, a shared calendar with my husband, and paper calendar at home so everyone is on the same page.

#2 — Delegate. Allow your spouse, grandparents, or any family member to take them to practice or be there for dinner. You don’t have to be super mom (or dad). I find that my kids enjoy spending time with those family members so it’s a win-win.

#3 — Stop having mommy guilt! Let’s face it; I’m doing the best I can. My kids know that I love them, and I would love to spend every minute with them but there are times when I just can’t and that’s okay. Therefore, the time that I do spend with them is quality time.

#4 and #5 — Prioritize life and schedule less. I try to keep my family and our lives my top priority versus having a work-life mentality.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

A good parent is one who gives their children love, understanding, and structure. You can love them but discipline them. You can teach them but also give them independence. One thing my parents did with me and what I’m passing onto my children is emphasizing the importance of hard work. I had to work and save for the things that I wanted. It’s easy to get caught up in the mommy-guilt of working full-time and giving your kids material things without asking, but you can’t. I want them to develop qualities of appreciation as well as honesty, empathy, and kindness.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I tell my kids that they can do anything they want in life if they work hard and treat people kindly. They know my story of being adopted and how if it wasn’t for their grandparents, my childhood story would be much different. I come from a middle income family made up of hard-working people. We were taught that if you work hard you can accomplish anything.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

The definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Unfortunately, some people perceive success as how much money they make, what kind of car they drive, or what private school their children may attend. I believe success is what you put out into the world. I believe success is my 4th grader getting an A on her math test, or my 4 year old learning how to spell her first and last name. It could be closing a multiple unit deal for my company or witnessing my mother recover from her stroke a year ago. I encourage people to not be simple minded. There are several ways to measure success.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I enjoy reading all types of books that inspire me to be a better parent, person, and employee.

The Moms on Call Parenting Books by Jennifer Walker and Laura Hunger helped me when I was a first time mother. It was a scary time for me. Scarier than any business meeting or presentation. I also like reading Parent Magazine. Both give great advice and made me realize that all moms are going through this, in one way or another.

As an executive for my company, reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Phillips helped me be a better leader and employee. Both books are amazing!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This is a quote from Chuck Swindoll and I believe it’s says everything about how one should look at life:

Attitude

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. . .we are in charge of our Attitudes.” by Charles Swindoll

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In our community, there’s an 18 year girl named Jordyn. She has autism and her parents started worrying about what she will do once she ages out of school. They realized there weren’t a lot of opportunities available for adults with special needs so they created one. They asked their family and friends to purchase a ‘Be Kind to Everyone’ shirt so she could learn how to roll each shirt, add a wristband, and sign a “thank you” card to include in the package. The project quickly took off!

The community rallied around this amazing young lady and recognized the message is something that we should all live by. Check out her Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/summershirtproject/?ref=br_rs

This is a movement that I could get behind and support!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

Thank you!

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About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, Clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey .

Dr. Ely is available for speaking engagements, and can best be reached via drelyweinschneider.com.


How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents: “I try to live the “life-work”… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.