Maxine Grossman is the full-energy force behind Maxine Grossman Personal Training here in Montreal. She’s positive, hilarious and made her business work for her on her own terms even when she was told it couldn’t be done.
Her responses made me laugh (yes, I have wondered the EXACT same thing at 2pm too), totally resonated with me (yes, I need to prioritize myself sometimes) and made me re-think my own setup.
Read on to see how she finds her balance…
Please tell me a bit about your background and your current family setup.
Two years ago I left a full-time position as Account Director with an ad agency to pursue my passion: a career in personal training and fitness. My husband works full time downtown, and we have two young boys, ages 4 and 2.
We’re committed to being a one-car family, and have recently bought a house near a metro station. A significant portion of our current family setup involves questions like, “Who’s picking up the kids? Did you leave me the car? Do you have your metro pass? Do you have your car keys on you?”
What’s your work schedule?
To avoid cutting into family time, as much as possible I try to keep a standard 9-to-5, Monday to Friday schedule.
I was told it couldn’t be done! That personal trainers have to work evenings and weekends to accommodate everyone else who works 9-5. But haven’t you ever walked down a crowded Ste. Catherine Street at 2pm on a workday and wondered WHO ARE all these people? That’s right. There’s a whole world of people who are available and want to train mid-day. And you can tell them to text me at 514-781-7899.
So yeah. I try to take clients between 9am and 5pm. Except when I work evenings and my husband picks up the kids and takes care of their dinner, bath, and tuck-ins. Around 9pm most evenings I get back on the computer to plan programs for the next day’s clients. From 11:30pm through 6:45am I alternate between sleeping and fretting about how I might help an injured client recover from knee pain, fit in my own workouts, redo my accounting spreadsheets, and meal prep for the week ahead.
How do you handle childcare?
Mostly forehand. Backhand on special occasions.
My kids are in a terrific daycare from 8:30am until my husband or I can pick them up… anywhere between 4:30pm and 6:00pm. We’ll have to figure things out all over again next year when my older boy goes to kindergarten. This will mean two drop-offs and pick-ups along with shorter hours… so ironic that he will need more care as he gets older! But of course by then my practice will be booming so I will have my pick of clients. If George St. Pierre wants to book me, he’ll just have to see me before 3pm.
When do you typically hang out with your children?
Good question! We sit down together as a family for breakfast every day and supper most evenings, but this time is primarily spent hustling the kids along to eat, wash up, pee, brush teeth, shoes on, shoes off, pyjamas on, pyjamas off, etc.
The weekends are our opportunity to just relax and hang out. I usually spend these hustling the kids along to eat, wash hands, pee, brush teeth, shoes on, pyjamas off, so we can go to swimming or to the park for 20 minutes before I hustle them back in time for lunch and a nap they won’t take.
What do you like best about your current setup?
Making homemade meals for the family is really important to me. My current schedule usually allows me to get home for an hour or two during the day when I can prepare dinner with one hand while checking emails (read: Facebook) with the other.
The best system is to get a stew or some slow-cooking roast in the oven, turn the timer on, go pick up the kids, and come home to a hot dinner. This has only resulted in charred chicken flakes for supper a little over twice.
What do you find tricky or difficult about your current setup?
When you work for a company with a boss, it’s easy to fall into a reactive mode: reply to emails, crunch for deadlines, show up to meeting invites, etc.
As a business owner you really need to be proactive and disciplined about identifying what activities will best move your business forward. Then diligently ignore these (read: Facebook) while making charred chicken flakes. How else could you go to bed at night and fret about what didn’t get done that day?
How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
Our marriage survives thanks to the guest bedroom. No not like THAT… My mother-in-law stays in our guest bedroom every week or so. This spares us the babysitting costs and means we can go catch up with friends (or occasionally, each other) without keeping one eye on the clock for the baby-sitter’s curfew.
Do you have any time for yourself?
My friend says she has a hard time “carving out me time”. The operative word is “carving”.
I have the time, I have the “me”. The challenge lies in occasionally allowing yourself to be at the top of the priority list… to be literally the top of the laundry pile.
How do you handle household chores?
We’ve hired a cleaning lady to come once a week for 5 hours. The rest of the time I find ignoring chores works spectacularly well… with the exception of cooking! I always have time for food. 🙂
What role does your partner play in helping you achieve balance?
I’m blessed with a husband who is involved at home and with the children and who has encouraged me through the journey of changing professions. He is also less adept at ignoring the mess than I am, which has its advantages.
Is work-life balance possible?
Of course it is!!! Unless you think balance is measured 50%-50%. I prefer to think balance is 100%-100%. I’m a mom & wife 100% of the time. And if my kids or husband need me, I’ll have to be there or find someone who can. And I’m an entrepreneur 100% of the time. If this means a client calls with a problem, or I have to study nights or take classes on weekends, then that’s part of what balances out the family duties. I find both roles extremely rewarding and I wouldn’t trade a minute of either.
Thank you so much Maxine!
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