I truly admire women who understand what they need to do to make sure they are happy, sane and at their best. This could be anything. Some people meditate, some people play the piano and some people bake. Whatever it is, I think half the battle is just finding what works for you. The other half of the battle is actually doing it and sticking with it. Often, even though this activity may take up some of our free time, it makes us even MORE productive, happier and efficient for all the rest of the tasks we need to do.
Jennifer Florence has found her key to happiness and that’s distance running. Despite two kids, all those activities and running two businesses, she fits it into her day and has even launched a health & fitness coaching business to help others. She was so inspiring. Read on for how she does it all.
Oh yeah, did I mention she blogs too?
My name is Jennifer Florence and I am a very typical Montreal mom. I live in the suburbs, work two different businesses like crazy and shuffle my kids back and forth between school, play dates and activities. My kids are now 8 and 4 yrs old and between my husband and me we try to get it all done. We certainly don’t always succeed but at least we work well as a team!
I do have an outlet that helps me to manage it all, and that’s distance running. I train regularly and usually race in half and full marathons multiple times a year.
I recently started a health & fitness coaching business as a way to help other busy, working moms find time for themselves and their health. As moms we often put ourselves last when what really we need to do is make ourselves a priority so that we don’t get burnt out and we can give our best to our families. A few years ago I realized that I was going down the wrong path. I was overly stressed, had no time for myself and was not able to be the best mom that I knew I could be. That’s when I knew things had to change. I started scheduling time alone to work out and by doing so everything changed for me. This was also what propelled me into distance running and ultimately health & fitness coaching.
What’s your work schedule?
Right now it’s 24/7! I’m currently balancing my health & fitness coaching with running a long time family business so things are pretty busy. However, I mostly work from home, which gives me great flexibility. I work when the kids are at school and in the evenings as well as weekends.
How do you handle childcare?
My husband also works at our family business so most of the time we alternate taking care of the kids. That business is open evenings and weekends, so if I go in to the office then he will stay home with kids and vice versa. We also have two wonderful grandmas and a fabulous babysitter to help out when we need to be in the same place at the same time.
When do you typically hang out with your children?
Right now my daughter is still in daycare and we only send her 4 times a week. Monday is her day off. We go to the park or the library and really have quality time together on Mondays. I did the same with my son when he was little too and it was a great bonding experience. Now that he is in school it is harder. I find that we must make the most of every little minute. This even means time in the car as we run between school, work and activities! We talk about our day, stop for a snack and make it a moment to remember.
What do you like best about your current setup?
Work flexibility. If I want to go for a long midday run, go on a school field trip, have lunch with a friend or book a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the week I can do so without any difficulty.
What do you find tricky or difficult about your current setup?
Definitely our schedule from September to May is hard on family life. Our business is open evenings and weekends so it’s difficult to schedule any family time on a weekly basis. This is why I started my health & fitness coaching; it’s an online business that doesn’t require any specific work hours. I’m aiming to transition into working that business full time so that I will have more time with my kids during the school year.
Do you have any family rituals?
I definitely make a point of cooking with my kids. As a health and fitness coach, clean eating is very important to me and I want to teach them good healthy habits.
We also try to incorporate each other into the things we do. So for example, my husband coaches both kids’ soccer teams. My daughter often goes for a run with me. This helps to create quality time when you are short on time! Do the things you would be doing anyway, but do them together.
How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
Luckily my husband and I are very similar in that we always have a lot on the go. We do try to schedule quality time together though. We book our babysitter or send the kids to grandmas every now and then so that we can go out on our own or with friends.
Do you have any time for yourself?
Running is the best way to have time to myself! A long 2-hour run is the perfect way to de-stress, get away and just think.
How do you handle household chores?
My husband and I are pretty good at splitting up the chores. He does groceries and I clean the house. We tend to split up the cooking too. It works for us and we’re a great team!
Do you ever wonder how other women manage and do you ever talk about it with your friends?
The funny thing is that no matter what people’s schedules are like, we all seem to feel that we don’t have enough time.
What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
There’s no perfect way to do it. Just find a way that works for you. I have also found that different methods work better at different times of life. What worked for me 5 years ago no longer works today. Next year I will have both kids in elementary school and I already know that a transition will need to be made. Definitely revaluate your situation every few years and make the changes necessary.
What role does your partner play in helping you achieve balance?
My husband is great at taking the kids out so that I can get work done or have time to myself if I need it.
Are you good or bad at asking for help and do you think that is a help or hindrance?
I definitely like to do my own thing and rarely ask for help. This is sometimes a problem for sure because too much piles up.
Are there any tools that you feel could help mothers achieving balance?
Find ways to work from home! At least when you are working from home, you can get your laundry done and cook dinner in between business calls. Also create a routine that includes time for you. Make yourself a priority. I have found that I’m a better mother and wife when I have time to work out and spend an hour a day doing the things that make me happy.
Do you find it irritating that balance seems to be a women issue? No one seems to ask men how they manage work-life balance.
I think that’s because women take on too much and we feel like we need to be perfect mothers. Men don’t seem concerned about being perfect dads! They’re not on Pinterest creating the most unique hand-made teacher gifts, cupcakes and birthday parties. There’s just too much societal pressure for women to do it all.
Are there any areas of your life that you feel suffer and that you would like to work on more?
Definitely I need more time on weekends with my kids during the school year. I often feel like I don’t see them enough during those months. This is why I’m making the changes necessary to work my online business more.
Is work-life balance possible?
It is possible because we have the power to change our lives if we choose to. If you think you don’t have any options, then I believe you haven’t looked hard enough. There’s always a way to make things better. It often means sacrificing something else but that’s how you evaluate what’s really important to you.
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