“Take the time each morning and night to hold your children” with Elizabeth Malson

“Take the time each morning and night to hold your children” with Elizabeth Malson and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Take the time each morning and night to hold your children, listen to at least one specific thing they did that day, and let them see your love for them. Your days will be hectic and overbooked. Make time for one-on-one moments and stay focused on the most important aspect of your life — raising your son or daughter.

I had the pleasure to interview Elizabeth Malson, founder of AmsleeInstitute. For over 15, years, Elizabeth Malson has led global business and marketing teams in healthcare with Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Responsible for sales, marketing, and strategic partnerships, Elizabeth is most proud of launching the artificial pancreas technology in the US to help those with diabetes. Elizabeth recently leveraged her personal and professional experience to create an online technical school that offers nannies and childcare providers affordable, college level training and diploma programs. Elizabeth earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, a Master of Science from The University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina State University.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?

As a single mom who has held demanding, executive level positions, I’ve been blessed with wonderful nannies who went above and beyond in caring for my son and enhancing our lives. That said, I also had an experience with a nanny that changed the course of my life. On a business trip, I checked in with my son’s daycare to see how he was doing and discovered he wasn’t there. After repeated attempts to get in touch with my live-in nanny by phone, I panicked. I called my neighbors, then called the police. Officers quickly found my son safe and sound at home. The nanny had decided to keep my son home that day but hadn’t inform me or the day care. After hearing my son’s voice and knowing he was safe, my initial sense of relief quickly passed. I felt angry, frustrated, uncertain, and couldn’t let go of the fear.

Talking with other moms, I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t alone. While many parents have amazing experiences with nannies and au pairs who’ve helped them function better as a family, these same parents also struggled to find reliable, high quality in-home child care. Although some nannies have formal, college-level training, most nannies rely on skills learned from their parents and babysitting experience.

It was hard leaving a company with steady pay and benefits to start a technical school for nannies who aren’t required to have any training. With a goal to help other working parents, I left business meetings and leading global teams to work in a small office. With 30 college faculty from all over the US, I created a custom curriculum and specialized career programs for nannies., All five Childcare Diploma and Certification programs are licensed by the Department of Education, Florida Commission of Independent Education, 5951.

Can you share with us how many children you have?

I have an amazing son who enjoys soccer and swimming. If he isn’t outside playing with his friends, then he’s building a plane out of Lego’s or eating spaghetti.

Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?

Shortly after my son was born, I worked at Medtronic in Northridge, California leading the US launch of the first artificial pancreas technology system for patients managing diabetes. This was a demanding but rewarding position as I was able to lead a team that helped so many people take better care of themselves. Although living in Los Angeles on a single income was a challenge, I was fortunate that Medtronic had subsidized daycare and I found a skilled and loving live-in nanny to help care for my son.

Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?

I’ve always wanted to be a mom but like many women, I also want a career. I spent my 20s’s investing in graduate school, working for global 100 companies and gaining strategic, technical, and practical leadership skills. In my thirties, I began to think about my legacy. I had established myself in healthcare and knew my fertility years were limited. I was bolstered by articles about women who managed it all on their own. I knew I’d find a way. From the moment he was conceived, my son has been the most important person in my life.

Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?

I care deeply about helping people, and never thought I’d work in any industry but healthcare. After accepting a new position that required relocating to Florida, I struggled to find an overnight nanny. It was difficult to travel for business as I constantly worried about my son. Now, instead of helping people with medical challenges, I help working parents hire trained nannies. By teaching nannies’ practical ways to better care for children, I help working parents thrive in their careers.

What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?

Childcare (and the cost of childcare) is the hardest part of being a single mom. With traditional work hours and business travel, I had both daycare and nanny expenses. Now that my son is older and in school, I thought it would get easier, but it is equally challenging to find reliable part time and occasional overnight help as it was to find a great live-in nanny. Currently, when I have a business trip that requires me to be away more than a few days, I often fly my mother into town to care for my son.

Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or example?

Pictures are important to me. As long as my days may seem, the years are going by too fast. Every year around his birthday, I schedule time for us at an inexpensive photo studio. The goal is to have fun and get pictures of my son and me having fun together. We take props, toys, and Halloween costumes. The photographer snaps away as we do piggy back rides, practice karate moves, and play tickle monster.

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 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

With so many responsibilities and obligations, I focus on quality time with my son, which for me, is about sharing and connecting with each other every day. Vacations and time together at the movies are great but the time spent together every day, talking and listening creates meaningful moments. With so much going on, I dedicate time every day to be present with my son. Here are the times every day that I commit to my son:

· I drive my son to school every morning and with 20 minutes in the car, we have plenty of time to chat. Honestly, my son gets bored talking with me after a while, which I take as a good thing, So, I ask him to read to me. I can quote every Dog Man book by Dav Pilkey), but this is time together that I’ll always remember.

· My son and I always have a technology free dinner together each night. On hectic days, it may be take-out but we’re together without any distractions. It’s easy for my son but I often struggle to put my phone down and stay seated when I really want to put away the dishes or take out the trash. I have to tell myself to sit down and not get distracted with my endless ‘to do’ list. Spending this time focusing on my son and hearing about his day is far more important to me than any phone message or chore.

· When my son was an infant, I sang him a song at bedtime, and it’s become an important part of his night time routine. “Hush Little Baby” with lyrics by Sylvia Long changes the song’s focus from buying items to celebrating nature. It’s a great way for my son and I to slow down and just be together. As my son is getting older, he’s starting to sing along

My son knows I will listen and chat about topics important to him. We may spend 10 minutes talking about the Lego 2 movie or how Owen made a great kick at recess. I don’t know Owen but if it’s important to my son, I’ll listen. By encouraging him to share every day, the important stuff flows as easily as his random commentaries.

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

Currently, my son’s big dream is to build a zoo. He is adamant that he doesn’t want to work at a zoo, he wants to build one! I don’t try to dissuade him or point out the difficulties. We talk about caring for the animals and building shops for souvenirs. I ask him what types of animals will be at his zoo and which animals can live together. When, I asked him about the different foods he would need to buy and how would he get supplies to each exhibit, he said he’d buy a rocket from NASA to move supplies around the zoo. Later he decided that buying a tractor and a few golf carts would be better. By taking his ‘big idea’ and talking through different scenarios, my son gets a stronger understanding of what his dream is and how to achieve it. I’m not sure if he will ever work at or build a zoo but we love talking about it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?

I love reading, “Oh, The Places You Will Go” to my son even though he’s not a Dr. Seuss fan. I read it anyway and hope Dr. Seuss’s message about taking chances and pushing beyond your comfort zone will one day resonate with him. Although we have differing interests in literature, I am proud that my son loves to read.

If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?

Take the time each morning and night to hold your children, listen to at least one specific thing they did that day, and let them see your love for them. Your days will be hectic and overbooked. Make time for one-on-one moments and stay focused on the most important aspect of your life — raising your son or daughter.

Thank you for all of these great insights!


“Take the time each morning and night to hold your children” with Elizabeth Malson was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.