Jennifer Chidester and family

A 15-year career, two degrees and a world of experience could never prepare me for the lessons my kids have taught me about business — from the true value of my time to the importance of patience, perspective and perseverance.

Valuable Lessons in
work/life balance

Somewhere in my 30s I found myself comfortably settled into my career, feeling like I had finally got it all together. Then, I had children. Having kids not only taught me that I still had so much to learn about life, love, relationships and motherhood — my kids had a lesson or two to teach me about business too!

The true value of my time

Lesson learned: Not on their time. Since I work in public relations, where time is billed by the hour, I’ve always been mindful of what an hour of my time is perceived to be worth on paper. Now, as a parent, I value my time differently. I've learned that every hour is precious and that no amount of money in the world can replace an uninterrupted hour with them. I’ve learned to choose my projects more wisely and be more mindful of the workload I take on. I’ve discovered that while an extra hour or two of overtime might make a dent in a project, it’s rarely worth taking away the few hours I have with my kids at night before bedtime. While it takes some routine-shifting and a lot more coffee, instead of working on their time, I get up early and knock out work while they’re still sleeping.

Patience and perspective

Lesson learned: Not their problem. When you add the pressures of work and deadlines to the already-stressful job of parenting, patience can run incredibly thin. I’ll admit that I’ve lost it when I've had kids tugging on each leg, toys flying in every direction and clients calling for deliverables on deadlines. Sometimes it feels like a super-human balancing act, but what I’ve learned is that what I choose to take on is not my kids’ fault… nor should it be their problem. The first time I heard myself actually say, ”Mommy's on a deadline!,” I realized the weight of my stressful world should never be on their little shoulders, even when our two worlds often collide since I have a home office. I’ve also learned the value of deep breaths, stepping away and putting problems into perspective. If no one will spontaneously combust if I wait five minutes to return a work call, stopping to give one of my kids a minute of my uninterrupted attention not only validates for them how important they are to me, it allows me some time to gather myself and get perspective on whatever work issue I’m tackling.

Perseverance and the value of hard work

Lesson learned: My hard work pays off for their future later. Before I was married and had kids, salary was a number. Now that my career supports my family, that salary has become our lifeline. As a parent, I’m more determined than ever to be successful — not just for the sake of chalking up career wins, but to build a better life for my kids and give them opportunities I watched my mom have to work two and three jobs for. While it may mean starting my day at 6 a.m. or sacrificing some me time, if I can be half the example of hard work and perseverance for my kids that my mom was to me when I was growing up, it will all have been worth it!

More on work and life balance

Work-life balance trumps money
Working Mom 3.0: Co-parent for work-life balance
Working moms guide to busy mornings


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Comments on "What my kids taught me about business"

Renee December 10, 2012 | 1:40 PM

Thanks for sharing Jennifer! It's good to know we're all in this together :) I struggle so much with putting it all into perspective sometimes. I'm a single mom with two pre-teen girls and they need my time and attention now more than ever. I too have a 'home-office' and sometimes let my work spill over into our family time. This was a good, positive reminder that I need to keep my eye on the big picture. My girls will be off enjoying their own life before I know it!

Kate December 06, 2012 | 12:34 PM

I can definitely relate with this article! Having kids has taught me about WHY I work. Before I worked for myself, but now I do it for them. This has caused me to realize that my children are more important than my job. Therefore, I make sure never to put work before my kids and I cherish every waking hour I have with them.

Amy November 29, 2012 | 8:51 AM

I really like the part about patience. I work from home too, and I get myself so stressed out if I try to work on deadlines. Kids do not follow deadlines, and working from home forces you to be patient and go with the flow. I can always work in the evening's once my husband is home if need be.

Anne Younger November 26, 2012 | 7:27 PM

I find it amazing the amount of stuff we learn from our children. My children taught me to be a better person and to enjoy every moment of every day!

Cristine November 26, 2012 | 1:53 PM

I gave up a significant career to stay home with my kids and I don't regret the decision for a moment. If I wasn't home, someone else would get to see all those good and bad moments everyday. I am very appreciative that I was able to make that choice.

Headant November 26, 2012 | 12:46 PM

I agree that every moment is precious; but I have to take a few minutes everyday to decompress from the chaos.

Kelsey Apley November 26, 2012 | 12:14 PM

Very great post. I don't have kiddo's but I know they are pretty smart little cookies and spending as much time with them as you can.. is a great way to never miss out on any fun things with them!

Ericka @NibblesNFeasts November 26, 2012 | 10:29 AM

Having kids has changed my life so much. I never thought I had the patience I have now. It's so rewarding and everything is put into perspective once you welcome a child into your life.

Hannah November 24, 2012 | 9:59 AM

Totally agree - now that I have kids I value my time SO much more. I like playing with them, and just laughing and having fun...something I rarely used to do. I'm still very work-oriented, but the kids come first, and I cherish every moment with them.

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