When it comes to being a mom and a businesswoman, things can get kind of crazy. Some days it feels nonstop as you move from changing diapers and cleaning up messes to taking conference calls and looking over balance sheets.
Plenty of moms have felt the angst of believing they don’t measure up as a mom or businesswoman. Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway and current CEO and co-founder of Code 8, is no exception, and she definitely has some thoughts about it.
“I think we all have to cut ourselves a little slack and realize that we probably aren’t going to have a perfect balance,” says Fleiss. “No one is perfect. We all have to figure out what works in our particular circumstance, which might mean shaving off a little bit on each end.”
Fleiss confesses that she is her own toughest critic.
“As a mom, I definitely feel the tug of guilt when I miss drop-offs, reading class books, cooking for bake sales, planning birthday parties and making lunches,” Fleiss says. “However, I think my husband and I have been able to work out a system that works well for our family.”
When it came down to figuring out what worked, Fleiss understood the importance of having home, work and school nearby in order to save commute time. Additionally, both she and her husband intentionally try to only travel once a month, and syncing schedules helps them avoid being out of town at the same time.
“I think one of the most powerful things that has come out of this is empowering my husband,” Fleiss asserts. “He bears a huge amount of the responsibilities in our home, which is what keeps me sane - and he is awesome at it. Our children (6, 3 and 1) have strong relationships with both of us, which I believe is a very good thing. And, I have learned not to go behind him and rearrange the dishwasher, or get bent out of shape when something is missing from the diaper bag. In the scheme of things those aren’t worth the time and energy.”
Fleiss contends that in some strange way, being a businesswoman has made her a better mom.
“In the midst of the craziness, you learn not to sweat the small stuff,” Fleiss shares. “I don’t get as flustered as I used to, and I am more thoughtful when I respond to my family and others. I think I have learned to decipher between vitally important things that are a really big deal and those that are smaller deals which fall in the tyranny of the urgent category.”
When it comes to her best mom hacks, Fleiss offers the following:
Wear ear plugs at night (so your husband hears the kids wake up first).
Dance parties count as workouts.
Going for a run with your husband equals date/catch-up time as a couple.
Getting things organized the night before makes mornings less chaotic.
Have hard-boiled eggs and bananas always at the ready.
Choose your battles.
Push-ups with kids on your back is a great workout, and it’s fun for the kids.
“What I have learned about myself is that success isn’t just about business for me, it is about being able to enjoy and appreciate every aspect of my life,” Fleiss says.
Fleiss learned from her own mother that balance is the key to enjoying both worlds.
“‘Why not do both?’ was something my mother often said to me, encouraging me to go after every opportunity and find a way to fit everything into my life to create fullness and composite happiness. She also constantly reminded me to slow down, smile and enjoy life.”
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