“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”, With Emily LaRusch of Back Office…

“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”, With Emily LaRusch of Back Office Betties and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Success means that my business is thriving whether I’m there or not and my family is thriving whether I’m there or not. This means that I put in the quality time needed with both. Personally, success is having financial freedom to make choices plus connection and laughter with others.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Emily LaRusch. Emily is Founder and CEO of Back Office Betties, a boutique virtual receptionist company serving law firms across North America.

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

I could have easily been voted Most Unlikely to Suceed. I struggled through school with undiagnosed ADHD and failed several grades which left me feeling like I was simply incapable of learning and destined to be a loser. I always had a huge variety of interests and studied things on my own but grew bored easily. As an adult it was hard to hold down a job long term. I would come in master the job, create process manuals for it and then if not given a new challenge I’d leave. Even my parents called me flakey and not worth sending to college. My Dad once said it’s time to get an MRS. degree as in get married so someone else would be responsible for me. He was joking, but their lack of faith definitely put a chip on my shoulder. In my late 20’s, I worked for a lawyer who saw my ability to take a disorganized job, create my manual and systematize my role. She continued to move me into new roles and challenges and it was the first time I realized I had a super power. I am a problem solver and can take something complex and explain and train it to others. This super power is what makes me a great CEO.

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

I was a top Underwriter and was selected to work on an IT project as a subject matter expert for a top 5 bank. The project was such a mess and the work wasn’t challenging and I was becoming bored. I am a get it done person and we were going nowhere fast. During a brief break between project meetings, I made some personal calls to line up home services. No one was answering their phones and those who did had zero customer service skills. I felt like these folks truly didn’t want my business and I was irritating them! At first, I was annoyed, but then a lightbulb went off! How hard can it be to answer the phones and actually delight people on the other line? A business was born!

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

I spend my time on strategy, marketing and management coaching. Every day looks different. On a Monday, I’m up at 6:45 to meditate, stretch, read and then working out with my trainer by 8:00 am. At 9:00, I’m getting my kids ready for school and dropping them off by 10:00. I will work until the kids get home and we have dinner and together and I will go back to work if there is anything pressing. Often times, I work 4–5 hours over a weekend to catch up.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now 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?

Like many moms, I like to feather my children’s nest. If I see a social interaction going wrong, I’ll intervene and steer them into a happier outcome. They need autonomy to explore their environment and make mistakes and discover their passions.

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?

My boys also need connection and trust. They need to know that when they have discovered something exciting that I’m here to help facilitate further exploration. They need connection to feel safe enough to discuss their feelings about friends, hurts, dreams. I find that my boys really open up to me when we’re doing really mundane things like making dinner or lying in bed chatting before bedtime. These are our most sacred moments when their gadgets are put away, their walls come down and they are pouring their hearts out.

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?

This past Mother’s Day, my eldest son bought me a charm shaped like Georgia and it says Atlanta on it. Nearly a year prior, when I was in the thick of launching a second business and having little time for family, I had taken him on a quick weekend trip to Atlanta. We talked for hours in the car and when we arrived we did a Walking Dead Tour. For him, this charm symbolizes the love and appreciation he has for that quality time.

I can’t recall my parents ever really spending time trying to get to know me. I was raised in a family where their responsibility was to provide a roof over our head and kids were to go outside and play until dark and then eat and sleep. My parents were divorced and my Dad traveled a lot for work so there were times growing up I’d see him a handful of times in a year. When I was 15, my Dad took me to Salem, MA. We went to the Salem Witch Museum and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house. He shared his love of history with me and for the first time, I felt a shared and special connection with him. I seek to create these moments with my children as much as possible.

Our boys have a Judicial Committee at their school made up of students and staff. This committee will try and judge all issues that arise within the school community. Anyone can write up a Judicial Report at any time they feel a rule has been violated. We implemented this process at home. It’s a great tool for us to use to get the whole family to stop and sit down and really hear each other. A recent example is Mason, my 9 year old comes to me and says “Mom, I have a grievance against Lucas. He kicked me.” I’ll then gather the family together and Mason will tell his tale of woe. Lucas must be silent and listen and then it’s his turn to offer a defense. “The reason I kicked Mason is because he was biting me and I wanted him to stop.” Lucas can now file a counter grievance if he wishes. All parties will discuss possible punishments and then we vote and settle on something. Often times the boys decide they were both at fault and decide to settle between themselves with apologies. This process is serious in our house. No matter how busy we get, parents and children can call a meeting to discuss a grievance and everyone is there for each other.

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

Someone once told me that I should be punishing my children into submission and rolled her eyes after I’d asked my son if he wanted to talk about his feelings. For me, a good parent teaches their children emotional intelligence and instills in them the ability survive in the wilds of adulthood. People judge me because I don’t care about grades or extra curriculars. My primary focus is on raising stable, curious and capable people.

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

Mason has wanted to become a flying car designer and engineer since he could talk. When he say a prototype of a model on YouTube he came to me sobbing that someone already did it. We talked about Elon Musk and how he found a way to build a better car. If he’d have just threw his hands up and said, “Well, we’ve already got cars on the road, why bother?” we wouldn’t have Tesla. I want him to develop a growth mindset when he faces obstacles instead of shutting down. He is back on track and ever the little business man promised me I could have the first one…. at cost and not a penny less!!

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

Success means that my business is thriving whether I’m there or not and my family is thriving whether I’m there or not. This means that I put in the quality time needed with both. Personally, success is having financial freedom to make choices plus connection and laughter with others.

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

I read a lot of Peter Gray’s work and love Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting. Their materials have made a huge impact on how I parent and given me a sort of permission to give my boys a lot of autonomy to make good and bad decisions and learn through the consequences. I also love Ask and It Is Given by Esther Hicks.

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

It’s well used but the phrase “Whether you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” resonates with me. I believe mindset is life changing. I went through half my life depressed, feeling like a dumb loser and I lived accordingly. I changed my mindset and things incrementally improved until I became a pretty darn happy gal!

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. 🙂

I started a small private school based on the Sudbury model of education. My greatest dream would be to see the Sudbury model take off. My children’s personalities changed overnight when I took them out of public school. They are now thriving at Sudbury Schoolhouse. True 100% child directed learning gives children complete autonomy of their lives. This makes them feel strong, powerful and capable. The school is very community focused and children have an equal vote on all decisions from hiring to firing to new student admittance. My greatest dream is to see one of these schools in every major city in the US.

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

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.

“How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents”, With Emily LaRusch of Back Office… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.