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Care.com Interview with CJ Kettler: My Work-Life Balance

Josey Miller
March 8, 2012

We asked the founder of GeniusCrowds.com for tips for fellow working moms.

What is your childcare situation-and how is your spouse involved?
Our children are a little older now (two are in college and one is in middle school), so we don't have a need for full-time childcare like we did when our kids were younger. Until our youngest daughter was 12 years old, we were fortunate enough to have a full-time Nanny named Annie, who is still very much a part of our family. Without Annie, my husband, and my mother, I could never have accomplished as much in my career as I did as a corporate media executive and entrepreneur. Every family needs an extended support system and ours extends to neighbors and even our doorman who often walks the dogs!

While I had to travel quite often, my husband's work did not require as much business travel. There is a golf term that we abide by in our house, called "ham and egging" when players on a team compliment each other during a match-usually thought of in terms of counting the "best ball" in a game. This means when one team member plays poorly on a given hole the other plays well, taking up the slack. That is essentially how we've always managed our time and marriage, ranging from business trips to periods of unemployment for either of us!

In what ways do you allow your work life and home life to overlap? Has that ever had adverse affects on your career?
Given everyone's 24/7 access, thanks to mobile phones and e-mail, it is impossible for work and home life to not overlap. That said, I'm a real believer in trying to compartmentalize your work and home life so kids get attention when they need it. Even if you work from home, it's good to separate your work time from your family time. Flexibility is key, and even kids can be taught to understand that a business call may take temporary precedence.

Do you think of your caregiver as a partner in care, or as an employee?
Our caregiver, Annie, was not only a "partner in care," but a family member in the long run. She was in charge while we were at work, managing our daughters' afterschool activities and insuring that homework was a priority. She also imbued a strong sense of integrity and honor in our children. In the best of all scenarios, your caregiver reflects your family's priorities and shares the same values.

Can women have it all?
While it's hard to raise a family and work full-time, you can do both. (I'm not sure if that means having it all, though.) I do believe we make concessions every single day, almost from hour to hour to get through the day. From one minute to the next, we juggle whether to take our kids to the doctor or cancel a meeting; continue on a conference call or excuse ourselves early to make it to a sports or a school performance on time; work late to finish up a project or get home to help with homework; network with colleagues for cocktails or make family dinner. Everyday, the choices change based on the context of what gets priority under the immediate circumstances.

What else would you like to say to fellow working moms?
Stay at it. It's not easy, but in the long run, it's fulfilling for you and the family. Work provides a sense of independence and a creative outlet (not to mention salary!) that is important to many women. Role modeling for the next generation is also key-not just for daughters, but for sons, as well; they will appreciate the multiple roles a working parent plays in a family. And, when your kids leave for college, believe me, it is valuable to have a career from a financial perspective, as well as for your psyche!

Read how other working moms make it work! »

Read our interview with The Knot's Carley Roney »

Read our interview with Stella & Dot's Jessica Herrin »

Read our interview with Vistaprint's Wendy Cebula »

Read our interview with Joyus.com's Sukhinder Singh Cassidy »

Read our interview with Sonesta Collection's Stephanie Sonnabend »

CJ Kettler launched GeniusCrowds.com, after serving as president North America at Travelzoo and founding LIME, where she was also CEO. She lives with her family in New York City.

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