A couple of weeks ago we opened our series on Work + Life. This week our very own Valerie Cansler shares her insights on how she gets through the week. Val is a market researcher and mom of 2 kids – one boy and one girl. She is one of the most genuine people I know and she can rally a group of total strangers into a productive ideation session by using some of the best ice-breakers known to the corporate world. How does she do it?!
What’s your work schedule?
On a ‘regular’ week I work in a corporate office, Monday through Friday.
How do you handle child care?
Our kids go to the same daycare. My hubby, bless him, drops the kids off nearly every day and I pick them up. I prefer pick up because then I can ask lots of probing questions about the kids’ activities and their behavior. I also still have a moment, every now and then when I actually do morning drop off, when I really want to cry. The staff at our school is lovely, and I trust them. But sometimes I am overcome with jealousy that I’m giving a full day in the life of my precious little nuggets to another person. A person that I don’t know on a personal level, don’t spend time with outside the walls of the school. You see, our family all lives out of town and we don’t feel we can afford a nanny. On the flip side, I love to see my kids interacting and playing with others their ages. It’s so cool to see them growing in that way and developing friendships!
Where do you work during the day?
The majority of the time I work in a corporate office. I also work offsite (and evening hours) at other places around the city when I’m doing research studies.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
I love the variety in my work! I’m always trying to get answers to a new question, feedback on a new product. It keeps my work fresh and interesting.
What do you like best about your current set-up?
Our office allows for flextime, which I REALLY appreciate. In fact, I can’t imagine a world where you have to arrive at 8AM on the dot day after day after day. Flexing my hours, even by just 30 minutes a day, gives me a little breathing room in my chaotic life. I can come in to the office early and beat rush hour, or I can stay at home a few minutes longer to have a surprise breakfast of waffles (instead of our regularly scheduled cereal & fruit) with the kids. It lets me take a moment and appreciate that the kids are actually fun and cute when they are goofing off and running around in circles, instead of putting on their jackets like I asked them to.
What do you find difficult/tricky/comical about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
We are blessed that we don’t have any major medical issues to contend with, only run of the mill colds and whatnot. BUT, if I could wave a magic wand I would do away with any of us getting sick again. It really throws a wrench into our lives when any of us are sick. And then I’d eliminate traffic. I wish the nice man from Star Trek could just beam me into the office each day so that it would always take the same amount of time, aka none.
I think it’s comical that sometimes I forget there is more than one way to get things done. Forgot to defrost the chicken for dinner? It’s ok – through the miracle of the supermarket rotisserie chicken, it doesn’t matter! I wish I would remember it’s ok to improvise!
I can tell you my favorite time of day – the kids’ bath time. Ever since our first child, bath time has become our little family ritual. We all squeeze into the smallest bathroom in the whole house, together. Even our dog comes joins us. No matter what kind of day it’s been, they turn into smiley little sea monkeys the second they sit down in the water. Our 1-year old starts laughing and trying to take his clothes off the second he hears water running (hopefully not a practice that follows him into adulthood, but for now it’s the cutest thing EVER) Splash all you want, it’s tile floor, it’s just water. For a little while clock time doesn’t matter. Daddy & Mommy sit on the floor and the kids do their thing in the tub. We all just play.
How does your partner contribute to managing the house/childcare?
My hubby is an amazing partner. As I mentioned, he is master of the morning routine. He is so patient and calm with the kids. I’m trying to learn to be more like him.
Do you have time to yourself? What do you do with that time?
Um, not really. One of my hobbies is cooking, so when I get to cook what I consider a “real meal” it doubles as me time and mom duty. I try to go for a long run by myself on the weekends. To be honest, I don’t always want that much time completely by myself. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I really want a break, and there are plenty of things that are easier to do without the kids in tow, but just a few moments of peace here and there sustains me these days. A quick trip to Starbucks, a little while to read is all I want. It’s just the phase I’m in right now and I’m happy with it.
What advice would you give to other moms or first-time expectants about how to balance work and life?
Be kind and patient with yourself. Sometimes you’ll have things under control and sometimes you won’t. And get a crock pot, it’s a life saver!!
Val, Thank you so much for your honest answers. It’s not easy to tell the world how you make it through the day! Thank you!!