“How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents”, with Kathryn Palmer and Dr Ely…

“How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents”, with Kathryn Palmer and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Like a lot of executive parents, we live in a highly competitive area with overscheduled kids and nice lawns. That type of thing can skew your perspective. To me, if your kids are happy, eating some vegetables, and kind — you’re doing fine.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Kathryn Palmer, Principal and Co-Founder of Authentic Public Relations. A notorious food lover and enthusiastic supporter of the Las Vegas culinary scene, Palmer has spent her career supporting some of the biggest names in hospitality and gaming. After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Palmer joined the marketing team at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the renowned Las Vegas Strip where she supported restaurants by Alain Ducasse, Hubert Keller, and Michael Mina. At Mandalay Bay, Palmer learned the ins and outs of marketing and advertising at an exciting time of explosive growth for the destination’s hospitality industry. A call from New Jersey brought Palmer to Atlantic City to join Caesars Entertainment. As part of the marketing and regional public relations group, she worked on high-profile events such as the Out in AC and Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, supporting personalities like Tyler Florence, Guy Fieri, and Andrew Zimmern through advertising, event, and media relations support. After earning a master’s degree in business from Penn State and eating her way through the East Coast, Palmer returned to Las Vegas. Following stints as a senior account executive and account director for two of Las Vegas’ top public relations firms, Palmer launched Authentic Public Relations & Marketing in 2017.

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

I grew up in the great state of Wisconsin, with two very career focused parents. Both my mother and father were trained as chemical engineers and did amazing work with glass and medical devices. My mother ultimately became the CIO of multiple gaming companies, while my father lent his skills as a very successful procurement consultant.

Like many kids that grew up in a two-parent household with plenty of support, I had no idea that I was incredibly lucky with such intelligent and high-powered parents and three great siblings — I hope I give my kids even half of that.

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

I knew from very early on I wanted to be in marketing — I never understood the other college students that hesitated about their degrees. Following graduation, an MBA, marriage, and a daughter, I had the opportunity to start my own public relations firm with a former co-worker and LEPT at the chance. The idea of truly controlling my schedule was almost overwhelming (in a good way), and it came at a great time as we were right in the middle of a complicated international adoption.

Starting and managing your own business is not for the faint of heart, and you have to be disciplined. Not everyone is self-directed.

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

I try and start the day with running, followed by plenty of coffee and prelim email checking. After getting lunches made and everyone dressed, we head out as a family. I have an outstanding husband who shares kid transport with me, so after dropping off my daughter at school, I take a few minutes to plan my day, answer emails, and check in with my business partner. The rest of the day is a little of everything — lots of emails, checking in with local and national media, connecting with clients via both email and text, a good lunch, and as many meetings as I can fit in. I’m very committed to picking my daughter up from school myself every day — it’s part of what made my own firm appealing. We head to pick up my son from preschool, run errands, and then head home to cook dinner and check in on emails 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?

Spending time with your children gives you the opportunity to connect and get to know your children — and makes it much easier to spot when something is wrong. I think a lot about how even little changes in a child’s behavior can signal something wrong at school or at home, the thought of missing those signs is scary.

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?

Regardless of how your children come into your family — they tend to be mini versions of you — how could you not want to hang out with a smaller, cuter version of yourself?

Your kids model their behavior on you and making the time to set good examples and show them how to be good little citizens makes the whole world a better place.

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?

I have two very different children, so spending time with each of them separately is how we bond.

My daughter and I are very alike — she’s always up for an adventure so we’ve been able to take amazing trips together, learn how to ski together, and even start horseback riding. We took a trip to Finland this spring and spent a week meeting reindeer, taking overnight train trips, and playing in four feet of snow — I highly recommend it. She loves active, slightly off-beat adventures, I couldn’t ask for a better sidekick.

My son is still new to our family, and we’ve had to work hard to bond well following his adoption last year. I’ve found that being active with him has brought us much closer together, as much as I truly hate mommy and me swimming lessons (no one should sing wheels on the bus that much) — his enthusiasm is worth it. He and I both love to eat — perfect kid for a food publicist — so we’ve started baking 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?

That Phone — I’m sure we’ve all heard this before — but putting down your phone is crucial. I’m a work in progress, but I don’t want my kids to start drawing pictures of me with a phone in my hand — or in front of my face.

Activities — As I learned with my son, you have to find activities that bring your kids joy and help you engage with them on that level. I can’t stress how much I dislike mommy and me swimming — but I love my son so you’ll find me in the pool (singing wheels on the bus).

Boundaries — This past year I learned the importance of boundaries more than ever. I had a massive wake up call following a crummy text message from a client on my daughter’s birthday — I’ll never forget it. It’s so important to not let that kind of situation affect your kids, and I’ve been very conscious of weekend text messages ever since!

Routine — We’ve found a lot of joy in certain routines that help us connect. Pickup and dropoff car rides with my daughter are sacred and give us plenty of time to talk about her day and debate about unicorns. My husband puts the kids to bed every night — that’s his dedicated dad time to spend with them and read Dragons Love Tacos for the 400th time. It’s so nice to be able to give our kids that attention every day.

Choose Your Career Wisely — Any working parent knows that your work affects your family life, and regardless of the choices you make pre-kids, you’ll have to adjust. Being a working parent means you’ll always be a work in progress, and it’s up to you to find a way to find a balance between a fulfilling career and parenting the way you want to.

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

Like a lot of executive parents, we live in a highly competitive area with overscheduled kids and nice lawns. That type of thing can skew your perspective. To me, if your kids are happy, eating some vegetables, and kind — you’re doing fine.

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

My son is three, so really his big dreams revolve around his next meal. For my daughter, we encourage all of the dreams and plans her little six-year-old brain can handle, even if they involve harp lessons or a taco party in Nepal.

Our daughter has taught us a strong lesson about her dreams versus our dreams for her. My husband wanted her to try coding — but that’s not for her. I wanted her to be a champion swimmer — no dice either. She’s got her own plans, it’s my job as a parent to encourage her and give her the tools to be awesome.

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

Success to me is happy kids, a great partner, and a job I love that allows me to be present with my family while still adding to our family’s retirement goals. Everyone has their own definition, but after seeing a lot of co-workers set aside personal goals for professional ones I’ve decided what my success will look like.

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

At the moment, I’m really into the podcast “Yes I’m Adopted, Don’t Make It Weird”. I come from a family with amazing siblings gained through adoption, and the podcast has opened my eyes to a whole host of perspectives I would have never thought of as we brought our son home.

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

My mom used to say “Other people’s bad behavior doesn’t justify your own” — and she was right. People can let you down and behave badly, but you still have a responsibility to be a good person and stand up for what’s right — even when it’s unpopular.

She was the kind of woman who always put her shopping cart back where it belonged, that’s the mark of a good citizen.

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 have a lot of issues that I care about — but none more important than creating opportunities for individuals with autism. We’ve moved far past autism awareness; we all know it exists. It’s time for autism acceptance, and companies to embrace the idea that workers with autism are a huge asset in so many situations. A little accommodation can change the world.

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

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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”, with Kathryn Palmer and Dr Ely… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.