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Care.com Interview with Jessica Herrin: My Work-Life Balance

Josey Miller
March 8, 2012

We asked the CEO of boutique jewelry company Stella & Dot for tips for fellow working moms

Who is in your parenting "village"? What is your childcare situation-and how is your spouse involved?
First and most importantly, my husband is a super dad. He's hands on and an amazing father. There is no way I could travel if I was just going to leave the kids with a nanny, no matter how fabulous ours is!

Next, my nanny has lived with us for years and is really a part of our family. She's incredibly helpful, and we really love her. She's a big sister to the girls and is unbelievably loving and responsible. She's just a joy, and we are so lucky.

I also feel very lucky that I have some amazing friends that are like family to me. I live in the same area I went to college in, and my girlfriends and I have known each other for 20 years. We all had kids about the same time, and our children have been raised side by side. That means that I can always call up an "auntie" if we ever in a pinch. And it's mutual. I love having a gaggle of kids running around the house-and it's just more fun, not more work, when my friends go out of town for the weekend and their kids stay with us. Slumber party! We also have great neighbors. We've live on a street with lots of kids, and our kids were born and raised there. So the kids on the block roam houses and play. It's great! I have several amazing neighbor moms that love my kids, too.

My dad and mother-in-law are super grandparents and are always willing to come in and stay the weekend or during the week. So, if my husband and I ever travel together somewhere, the kids are home with a grandparent and so happy being spoiled having ice cream for breakfast and watching too much TV.

Is "mommy guilt" inevitable as a working mom CEO and, if so, how do you handle it?
I always feel guilty when I miss a single thing at their school, or they miss me. I handle it by setting very clear boundaries around family and work and how much I can travel. I know there is always more I can get done at work, but my daughter is only in kindergarten once! So I try to never miss the important things, but I also try to never sweat the small stuff. Your kids will be fine. They don't need you to do everything for them at all times.

I really value giving my kids a strong female role model passionately pursuing outside interests. When you go to work, don't suffer and share the guilt so much. Share the joy in work and the gratitude you have for being employed! Tell them: "Mommy is going to do something that really matters. I'm earning money to pay for our house and food, and I'm doing something that makes other people happy. We all have the privilege in life to make an impact on the world, and I'm going to go try my best, work hard, and do something great! One day you'll do that, too! Tomorrow let's have breakfast together and talk all about it!"

Can women have it all?
Yes, just not all at the same time. Life is about choices. Your time should be spent in accordance with your life priorities with the goal of happiness for yourself and those you love. I have never been afraid of hard work and a full plate. I don't want it all to be calm and easy, I want life to be grand and the effort to be worth it

What else would you like to say to fellow working moms?
Relax your standards on the things that don't really add up to quality time for your family. An immaculate house is not more important than a good game of UNO. A fresh meal does not need to be prepared by you to be delicious and healthy, and laundry is just as clean when someone else does it. Buy back your time and spend it all doing something connected with your kids.

I stay the course by keeping perspective. I have a wonderful, well loved, happy and health family, and I truly love my job. It's never easy, but it's a privilege to have both, and it is worth it!

Get more advice from CEO Moms »

Read our interview with The Knot's Carley Roney »

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 »

Read our interview with GeniusCrowds.com's CJ Kettler »

Jessica Herrin is mother of two and the founder and CEO of jewelry company Stella & Dot. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family. She started Stella & Dot in her living room in 2004 after co-founding WeddingChannel.com.

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