We asked the founder of lifestyle shopping website Joyus.com for tips for fellow working moms.
Q&A: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder & Chairman, Joyus.com
What is your childcare situation-and how is your spouse involved?
My village consists of my family, my closest friends from college and from the Bay Area, my nanny, Serena, and my assistant at work, Jessica. These are the people who are my support network and help me feel like it's possible to have multiple facets to my life.
We have a full-time, live-in nanny named Serena who works with us Monday to Friday and baby-sits when needed. My husband Simon also works full-time, but he works for himself running a money management firm, which allows us more flexibility and makes it possible for him to be involved with our children's lives more deeply.
Do you think of your caregiver as a partner in care, or as an employee?
I think of Serena as a member of our family. She is a partner for sure-in making me feel that there is someone I trust deeply and who also makes great suggestions on how to improve our children's lives and takes initiative with them. But she is also someone who loves and is loved by our family, which makes her more than an employee or a partner.
Can women have it all?
I think that women can have both great careers and great families, but I'm the first to say that I'm not sure I believe in "balance" in the traditional sense. First, I think in order to do justice to both your career ambitions, as well as your family and home, you need a big support system. At both work and home, I have people I trust deeply partnered with me: my assistant and nanny. At home I also have a spouse whose career requires less travel and has more flexibility, and that helps tremendously with his ability to be involved.
Secondly, I think having it all is about expectation management at both work and home and managing "cyclically". By this I mean there are times that work requires every ounce of my energy, including travel, and I need to manage expectations at home. There have been weeks and months where the priority has shifted to family, and I've curtailed travel explicitly or needed to manage my schedule at work. I don't lead a life that is balanced each and every day; it's always skewing one way or another over longer cycles because of where my focus is needed most in any given period. Ultimately, I hope for balance measured over a lifetime where I look back and can feel as if I had impact in both my career and at home.
What else would you like to say to fellow working moms?
I think the only other key piece of advice is to do what works for you and what you love and try and manage the guilt as best you can. I always see women who are guilty about what they're missing at home while they're at work, and guilty about what they can't contribute to at work while they're home, myself included. But I try to cut myself some slack, and I'm getting good at living with the guilt, or better yet, what I strive for: being able to let it go.
I don't think there is any set answer on the right thing to do for your career or home; every set of choices has a sacrifice because your time is so limited. Career-wise it's so important to love what you do because the opportunity cost of being away from your children is high.
But most of all I think if women can feel comfortable and satisfied with making these choices, and then let go of the things that matter less and, most importantly, their guilt. Then there is a better chance to truly enjoy and maximize your time on either end of the equation.
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Sukhinder Singh Cassidy is founder and chairman of JOYUS, Prior to founding JOYUS in January 2011, she spent 18 years as a leading consumer internet and media executive at global and early stage companies including Google, Amazon, Polyvore, Yodlee, and News Corporation. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and three children.