Most working parents are familiar with the tension of the late nights at the office that take you away from your kids, the unexpected days when a sick child keeps you home from work, and the guilt that results in each case.
Bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch recalls her experience as a working mom who put in 50 hours a week as an editor while raising four kids under the age of six. "Chaos is your constant companion," she tells CNBC Make It. "But worse than that is the guilt. My kids are adults now, but I remember the feeling all too well."
She recalls a time when her boss, also a working mom, pulled her into her office and delivered what she says was "the best work-life advice I've ever heard."
"Be where you are," she says her boss told her. Immediately, Welch says, she knew what her boss was talking about.
"When I was at the office, my mind was moving the kids from school to play dates," she says. "I was texting the babysitter. I was sneaking in a call to the math tutor. When I was home, let's just say bedtime was an exercise in reading Dr. Seuss out loud while editing stories in my head."
Welch says her boss's advice changed all of that. "Suddenly, I had a radical new discipline — and it is a discipline — of being present in the moment, of living one life at a time, each one fully."
Almost instantly, Welch says, the "be where you are" approach changed her life and made her a better editor at work and a better parent at home. "Everyone around me exhaled, because I could exhale," she says. "Bit by bit, the guilt began to ebb."
Still, Welch emphasizes that "being a working parent is never entirely guilt-free."
"There are constant trade-offs, and few are easy," she says. "But this simple technique is the single best way I know to get through the period in your life when your kids and your work seem to need you in equal measure. And you know what? Even when that period ends — and thank God, it does — 'be where you are' is advice that never gets old, even if your kids do."
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video by Claire Nolan
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