WHO SHE IS: Danielle Smith, Digital Correspondent, Speaker, Author & Founder, ExtraordinaryMommy.com
SUCCESS STORY: Finishing my last book: Social Media Engagement for Dummies. It was a hard one. There were times I wasn’t sure I could, but my husband would encourage me, ‘if you can do this, you can do ANYTHING’. There were nights we slept on the floor of my office simply to keep me from succumbing to a dreadful case of writer’s block and crying myself to sleep.
WORK SCHEDULE: I’m up between 5:30 and 6 a.m. to squeeze in a little work before my small people are awake, get everyone ready to head out the door to school and then I work steadily until 3:30 when they get home. I stop through the evening homework/dinner/after school sports hours and then if necessary, I will finish up after everyone goes to bed. But I learned the hard way, I need a bedtime too.
KIDS: Delaney – 9 and Cooper 7
SANITY VICE: A glass of wine with girlfriends – in person or over the phone. Relaxing with a good book and a hot bath.
BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Turn ALL DISTRACTIONS OFF — no email, no Facebook, no phone. And set a timer to stay on task.
GO-TO TECH: Evernote. I keep EVERYTHING in Evernote, from travel plans to articles I want to read to scanned pictures of my rewards cards so I don’t have to keep them in my wallet. Since it can search text even in a picture, it is priceless.
WORK-LIFE BALANCE? I’m a perfect 5. I’m never ‘balanced’ and that is perfectly ok. For me it is a beautiful juggle — I’m never a stellar mom at the same time that I’m a stellar business owner. It is one or the other. So, I stand perfectly in the middle.
5 Questions for Danielle
I started ExtraordinaryMommy because I wanted EVERY mom to remember that the job they were doing with their children was Extraordinary. In 2006 and 2007, when my small people were very small, I was spending a lot of time with many other new mothers and so much of the conversation focused on the difficulties of parenthood — when was the last time we slept through the night? Why can’t our children get along? When was the last time we showered? Why won’t our children eat vegetables? It seemed that we were focusing only on the HARD, and forgetting all of the GOOD we were doing. Even without the sleep, the showers and the vegetables, we are doing something extraordinary.
2. Last year you had a very personal, work-related, public burnout, including a fractured cheek bone and broken rib, which you wrote about in this post, “I Got the Memo.” Have you truly been able to slow down?
You know what? I HAVE. I had to do it. My body and soul required that I stop and listen to what was happening to me. For years, I had been operating on too little sleep and I was paying the price. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was reminded that I had refused to listen to the warnings. But I also knew I couldn’t make a dozen changes at once. It started with setting a bedtime: 10:30 p.m.
3. I’m asking everyone how they “work smart” as a means to foster their own work & family flexibility. Are you doing anything new or interesting along these lines?
Yes, I’m starting to define “work smart” in terms of how I model my behavior for my kids. I know they don’t do as I say, they do as I do…. Over the past year, I have learned to eliminate many of the behaviors that kept me from working smart because I don’t want my children to imitate me — procrastination and disorganization being at the top of the list. I do the ‘most important’ work first thing in the morning AND I have learned to include myself in those priorities.
I’m tired of the idea that we are supposed to be balanced. I’m tired of the word on the cover of every magazine and asked of every celebrity mother. Working mothers aren’t ‘balanced’ – we juggle (as I mentioned above). When I’m on the sidelines at my son’s soccer game or my daughter’s softball l game, cheering my heart out — I’m not taking client calls. And when I’m on the phone with a client or doing an interview, I’m not helping with homework or answering the question, “what’s for dinner?”. I may accomplish both in one day — but not at the same time. When I embrace the notion that I’m juggling, I forgive myself for dropping balls — because it IS going to happen.
5. What advice do you live by as a working mom?
I was asked a few years ago (in an interview) what I wanted my children to say about me ‘at the end of the day’…. my answer to that question is what drives me and it is the advice I offer to other moms — I want my kids to say, ‘she did both….she was a present mother who loved us, who was there to watch us play AND she showed us what it means to NOT give up going after your own dreams’. I want my kids to know I never stopped wanting ‘to be someone when I grew up’. Be present as present as you can be for your kids, but don’t stop being who you were meant to be….you are an example for THEM.
Anything else you would like to answer? I love the notion that there is no ONE right way to do things. As a mother, as a working mother, as a mother who adores her small people, I love to be surrounded by a community of women who are open to learning from each other.
Follow Danielle: @DanielleSmithTV.