Working parents almost always do battle with guilt over how to integrate family and career in their busy lives. Balancing time between work and home isn’t easy for anyone! Molly Fletcher, CEO, keynote speaker, and author, shares how she and her husband put family first, even in the midst of their highly successful (and highly busy!) careers.
4word: How have you and your husband "made it work," balancing your careers and time at home?
Molly: To me, “balance” is about clarity. Together, my husband and I clarify our priorities and commit to say no to things that don’t sit inside of those priorities. I recognize that when I say “no” to something, I am saying “yes” to being with my family. Balance is a byproduct of clarity, and it’s about having the discipline to make decisions based on that clarity.
Tactically, that means fluid communication with my wonderful husband Fred and staying aligned on our priorities—faith and family. It’s about anticipating and communicating consistently. If I can do that, I can navigate all the normal daily challenges that arise.
4word: When your children came into the picture, how did that new dynamic affect you, both professionally and personally?
Molly: We had our oldest daughter when I was in the midst of my career as a sports agent and then surprise! . . . twelve and a half months later we had twins. Once I got past that initial “How are we going to do this?” shock, I realized that it changed the dynamic in a way I didn’t expect. Having three children actually made me better at my career in many ways. I was more focused, more intentional, and more efficient than I’d ever been. I managed my time and, more importantly, my energy in an entirely different way. And it gave me an additional lane to connect with our clients. I would have athletes’ wives call me about their kids’ fevers, car seats, childcare … you name it!
Having my daughters also gave me a different perspective. It’s easy to get tunnel vision as a sports agent. I could easily get consumed by the day-to-day, the stress of recruiting clients and the pressure of negotiating deals, not to mention all the moving parts in my clients’ worlds. Going home every day to three little girls instantly put those things in perspective and reminded me what mattered most!
4word: Did you ever feel as though you'd made the wrong decision to be a working mother?
Molly: Moments of guilt – yes. But not enough of those moments to make me question my decision. There are moments as a working mom when I feel pulled, for sure. But I realized early on that I was a better mom when I work. I’m happier, more fulfilled, and more energized, all of which translates to my family. Once I got clear on that, I had to set boundaries—travel, time, and commitment boundaries. I had to get good at saying “no.” There’s definitely a difference between just being there, and truly being present.
4word: What signs surfaced to let you know that you were on the right life path?
Molly: I was ready to go back to work after maternity leave—just keeping it real! My girls met all the great athletes and coaches I had the opportunity to work with and learned from them through my experiences. Now that they are older and watch my career now, my oldest daughter (13) says, “Mom, I am going to do what you do… but so much better.” I absolutely love it!
4word: How do you balance your demanding work schedule with now parenting teenagers? What boundaries have you set up regarding work/life balance?
Molly: Our daughters are at the age where I’m really seeing them become more independent and pursue their own unique passions. That also means I’m “Mommy Uber.” I always have a car full of girls, and they’re calling me for pickups and drop-offs! Sometimes I have to take a conference call while we are on the go, so I tell them, “Ask me anything now, because in five minutes I’ll be on a call. It will take about fifteen minutes and then I’m all yours.” I try to teach them through these moments about respecting each other’s time. Is it always perfect? No, but we are working on it.
In my career as a speaker, I travel a lot but I am intentional about creating boundaries. That means only being gone a certain number of nights during the week. It means sometimes hopping on an earlier flight just so I can see my kids. And then I get really clear on blocking off and protecting my time, and more importantly, being present during that time! It’s so easy to block off time but if we aren’t truly present, then what did we really accomplish?
My kids have seen me work to integrate my career and home life. They’ve seen that it isn’t an either-or for me, and as they get older that’s important, because I want them to have those choices too.
Have you been diligent about setting up boundaries around your family and the time you need to spend with them? Or is this an area you need to start working on? Molly offered some excellent advice and tips on making family a priority, so see what works for you and start making time for family!
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Molly Fletcher is a CEO, popular motivational speaker and author. Hailed as the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN, she built a successful career as one of the only female sports agents in the industry. To read more about Molly, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.