Gin & Zin

Interview with Cari on Work/Life Balance

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Meet Cari~

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Describe yourself~ I’m an older momma who has always been told she has to live her life one way – the happiest day of my life was when I decided I was going to live my life the way that intrinsically felt right to me. 

I love to travel with and without my kids, I love to read, shop, and kick ass at work and accomplish what they say I can’t. Anytime I can be the young blonde, and break the young blonde stereotype is a win for me.

What is your biggest strength as a mom?

I love fiercely. I’m 100% present for what is a priority to me. I’m tenacious about achieving the goals that my family has set.

How do you spend your time away from your children?  

Carmel. 100% Carmel-by-the-sea with a run and some Chardonnay.

Describe your work and home schedule~

I live and die by my schedule. That being said – I have died a thousand deaths. There are a few things I meticulously keep up on to keep my sanity:

 I say “no” a ton – I minimalize my obligations and activities purposely. I do everything that is a priority to me, or I feel will edify my kids. I don’t do anything else.

 Load of laundry at least 4 nights a week. I get one in the washer before bed, in the dryer in the AM, and folded the next night while watching downton abbey (not sure what I’ll do now that downton abbey is over)

 Hello Amazon!! 80% of my life is from Amazon (usually purchased while I’m on a dull conference call). Everything else is Costco and Target. Makes returns easier, and my kids or I tend to match someone most places that we go.

 Run the dishwasher every night – and put away while the kids eat breakfast. Enables me to keepthe dishes out of the sink and in the washer during the day.

 Work time is work time. I hire a nanny and go to my room for dedicated business time. Kid time is kid time, and I try to only check my work email 1-2 times an hour while its kid time, in case of urgent issues only. My biggest kid and momma melt downs are when I try to do both work and kids at once. By dividing and conquering, I do both much better and in less time.

 I joined a gym that has great child care, and a great couch area that I can work from when needed.

 Randi Zuckerberg said it best: “Pick 3: Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, Friends” – It’s unrealistic to think you can work from the kitchen table while being a full-time momma. No other generation of momma’s has done that successfully. It’s a crazy expectation, and you and your kids don’t deserve that stress. I am shorter with my kids, and our days are 100% worse if I try to do that. If you’re going to make time for work, you have to move something else. Maybe that’s some kid time, maybe that’s some personal evening time, but don’t think you can do it without moving something. Decide what you can realistically move. For me – it was consolidating their Grammy time and making that my work time.

o See Randi Zuckerberg’s tweet: Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends.

What is one thing you have mastered for meal planning?

 Answer: Costco Rotisserie Chicken. I can make 800 different meals from a rotisserie chicken over several days. Additionally, I have mastered a dozen or so recipes that I can make from the same stock pile of staples and veggies. I always keep these staples on hand. My traditional “meal planning” has always failed because my life tends to not be planned well enough in general, and food was then always going bad.

What is one thing you have mastered for fitting in personal time?

 Personal time with wine. I have at least 1 girlfriend outing a week – and my hub has to deal with it. Sometimes it’s after the kids are asleep and I sneak off. Sometimes I leave work a little early and come home a little late. Sometimes a gf and I both drop our kids off at the gym daycare, and we have a wine in the gym café. I make sure to take time for myself too, and I don’t feel guilty about it.

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What have you mastered as far as time management?

 Finding areas I can easily “double up”. Planning out loads of laundry, errands, and such that overlap. Thinking about any way I can consolidate any task to kill multiple birds with my momma stones.

What do you enjoy about your work?

 I enjoy that my work is a more controlled environment, and the people who are yelling at me aren’t ones I’ve given birth to and wipe their butts. I don’t take work too seriously, but when I’m doing it, I give it 100%. Then I step away for the day and give it 10% until the next time I’m “on”. Work gives me the ability to stay engaged and relevant with today’s ever-changing environment – and that’s a priority to me. So for me, work kills several birds with one stone, that also provides some $.

What would you do more of if you weren’t a working mama?

 Probably go out of my mind. I need the mental time away from my kids so that I can come back and be a good momma. Not everyone is like that, though. Fortunately with my work I’ve been able to find a good balance for me, my kids with their Grammy time, and my work for the output they get from me with that limited time. I want to be an example to my kids of someone who balances multiples facets of their life, not just them, and could be self-sufficient if needed.

How do you carve time with your spouse? What helps this process?

 We’ve talked about what is important to him – and I focus on just the important things. For us it’s quality over quantity – so it ends up being a very focused effort on a few key things (duh – sex). He appreciates the fact that I work as well, while balancing the house and kids – and if I have a big project due for work, he pitches in extra with the kids that day so I have more time for us in the evening (for duh – sex).

What advice would you give a new mother going back to work?

 It sucks – and it’s great. But nothing is easy – not working isn’t easy, and working isn’t easy. There’s a new balance to adding another human to your circle, and you’ll feel pressures and obligations from all angles. Don’t give them any heed – find your priorities and goals personally, and be true to those. And if something isn’t fitting or working, drop it out of your routine. I’ve had to drop friends, classes, promotions, religious responsibilities. My #1 priority is my family – and if after multiple efforts, I can’t make something work with my family – then it’s gone.

 But try to find ways to double up on tasks as much as possible. Do freezer meals during nap time, and have the crockpot going all day so dinner is done. Get groceries on your lunch break, make doctor appointments on your work days so you don’t have to find additional childcare other days. Always be looking for ways to be more efficient.

 Keep 1 task list and 1 calendar for everything – you’re less likely to miss a meeting or an appointment if it’s all in 1 place. You most likely don’t need to keep your work agenda separate.

 Don’t expect that you can do the job of a full time employee and a full time stay-at-homemomma. Set clear expectations and priorities with your spouse – he for you and you for him.

 Repetition is key for me – weekly and daily. Keeping basics in stock at the house, and once it is used, replenishing the backup supplies. Replenish your backups, not your primary stock of anything.

 Build a “lean-in” network – other moms, that you can rely and support with, admire and complain to – virtual and physical, like leanin.

 Save the fancy-dancy new recipe for the weekends – stick to the basics on weeknights.

 Eat more veggies!

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 Buy less and consume less. Don’t buy something unless you already know where it goes in your house. And have everything have a home in your home.

 Spend less time on Facebook. #1 – waste of time you could be doing other things. #2 –phone before bed = no Bueno. #3 – don’t compare your worst to someone else’s FB “reality” – stupid waste of time. Go read some Malcolm Gladwell or Tolstoy or Oscar Wilde or Nicholas Sparks. You’re not going to be any better off after burning an hour on FB.

Just love yourself already. You’ve done an amazing job to get to where you are and do what you’ve done. You’ve grown a freaking person in your body and you’ve both come out the other side. You’re awesome, and work to keep awesome women close to you. Put time into your friendships, and then revel in your shared awesomeness –and wine – maybe some zin?

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Oh, Cari! So many great tips and words of wisdom. Can we job shadow you for the day at work and at home?! Thank you!

(Wine and avocado photos courtesy of barnimages.com. Thank you.)

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