Thursday, January 13, 2011

See: How to Balance Life and Work if you Must Work

One of our readers emailed me about how I am able to so perfectly balance life, to manage the tension between working, having kids and a husband, keeping my skin luminous and making sure that my legs stay insurable.  I know that this is something that every woman thinks about.  I thought it would be helpful if the busiest moms I know shared what a typical day looks like in their lives.  So, Miranda Sage Pulling, a successful high-yield bond trader and mother of six (wait til you see her breakfast lottery system! ) and Plush de Vignette Saucey, architect and designer of Soho Inn’s rooftop facial bar and mother of three year old triplets share their secrets.  I was amazed by some of their ideas and learned more about how I, too, could manage, even add to my already out of control life.

Miranda Sage Pulling
on January 6, 20112

Out of control, tired, bossy and always in charge!
As a manic mother of six (ages 1-8), lusciously hot wife to my husband and full time bond trader I can tell you that life can be dicey even on the best of days.   I am a partner at Schmidt, Plotnick, Farmer, Dixson and Bates, a trading firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut.  I balance my job there with my volunteer chairing of the United Stitchers Union, a non-profit dedicated helping the less fortunate knitters of the world. I also head up my childrens’ school’s Capital Campaign and run a shelter for road kill victims that don’t quite die.  Clearly I have to manage my time and the time of the people around me carefully. For the greater good. Here are some tops:

1.     Start early: if you spend a third of your 24 hour day sleeping you will sleep away a third of your life.  I wake up at 4:47 every morning and meet my Tai Kwon Do instructor.  This way, I can learn an ancient martial art while learning to protect myself from random violence.   Because I’ve set up the monitor in our home gym to display my email, I am able to read as I kick or swipe at things.  It’s really fun because I got the great idea that if I set up a touch screen “delete” button that I can kick as part of my routine that I can shave at least 17 minutes off of my dedicated mail reading time later. If I can get a few good chops and kicks in before 6 am I am a much better mother and wife for breakfast.

2.     Breakfast: set up a lottery system. With six kids I realized early that I couldn’t please everyone or even try to meet their individual needs and food preferences. So, taking into account our second and third children’s wheat and dairy allergies, I set up a food lottery system. My housekeeper fills seven cupboards with easily prepared breakfast foods (whole grain cereal, soy milk, gluten free pastries, peelable fruit) that the whole family can make and eat (even a two year old can pour milk if you teach them early and don’t mind a bit of the mess for the housekeeper to clean up later).  We filled a jar with all of our names and each day one person’s name is picked out of the jar. That person gets to pick the cupboard and get the food.  Being able to outsource the thought process and actual preparation of breakfast is key to starting the day.

3.     Appearance: the best time saver ever is an airbrush for makeup, which ensures that my make up application is impeccable.  Although it takes 45 minutes to an hour to apply my make up, it's worth the fact that I end up not having to reapply all day and look photofinished.  Because we all know that the smarter you are or the more successful, the better you have to look so that when you are dealing with men (and I am in an industry heavily dominated by men) that they aren’t threatened.  I’m all for equality and strive to live my life as a good example for my sons and daughters, but it’s just not nice to unsettle men for no good reason.

4.     Get yourself an assistant: even if you don’t have as much as I do to do you really should consider a good assistant. I could not manage without one. She prepares my calendar (including kids stuff! THANK YOU, BARB), syncs my electronics, handles my dry cleaning, brings in the manicurist when I forget.  This could also be called delegating. 

5.     Schedule everything: if you don’t schedule it chances are it won’t happen.  Barb makes sure that special mommy time is always on the agenda.  Once in a while one of my kids will ask if I can read a book or bake something with them and I always say yes, just put it on mommy’s schedule honey. You just can’t let those moments slip by in the rush of the day.

6.     Be firm: sometimes, when things get really out of control, the kids can get a little stressed and cranky. Just know that it will all work out.  Kids don’t always know what’s good for them.

7.     Family dinner: keep some perspective.  I know what studies say about families that eat together and I say “Baloney” that’s just a reflection of some other dimension of a families values. It has nothing to do with actually sitting together and sharing a meal for some part of the day. So, every day, I prepare a series of pithy messages and lessons that get typed up on the most beautiful hand-printed paper. These precious slips of knowledge get packed into bio degradable snack bags that my children take to soccer, lacrosse, hockey, piano, violin, guitar, football, ballet, photography, oil painting, robotics and Chinese  between school and bedtime.

Things That Make My Life Truly Superior

  • 1.     A house in the south of France.
  • 2.     Staff
  • 3.     Getting a Thai massage while I watch my favorite movie, Eat, Pray, Love.
  • 4.     Regular sessions with the children’s therapist.

Plush de Vignette Saucey 
on December 12, 2010

God! Was so hung over this morning when my kids came in to snuggle! “Mommy!” screamed Bella, “I just vomited into Liam’s crib.”  So much for easing into the day. “Bettina! “ I yelled to the nanny, who showed up and dragged the kids off to school where, poor dears, they have to go. I realized though that she had no idea that my new building had gone up right next to the children’s school and so I leapt out of bed. Ow. My head just killed me.  I had to make sure though that the models I had made for the kids out of lego would get to the school. Brand building never sleeps you know.  I rushed down into the kitchen in a frightful mess, carrying an overly large bag of models for them to distribute at school. I realized immediately that their breakfast was remarkable ecru-looking and nutritious, thanks to the efforts of Cook. Thanks, Cook! Get the kids out of the door with nanster and head back up to find my husband
Macilthwaite.  But, alas, he was already downstairs on the elliptical, heavenly hunk that he is, so I was going to have to wait til lunch to say good morning.  No interrupting.  My days become so busy that this time with the family in the morning is the best and most important.  It’s especially important on weekends when the children ad Macilthawaite have outings. I would love to be able to go with them. But I can’t. For example, on Saturday, when they are going to Regent’s Park for a picnic, I have a meeting with Dior,  It’s a hard-core appearance design session were we’re going to discuss incorporating  aspects of their fall fashion line into the external lines of their new flagship store.  Opps! Clearly am saying too much. Poog readers hold your tongues!  Oh! The car is here. Damian Hirst is going with me for the session. He is such a sport.  We haven’t worked together before, but I used his formaldehyde formula when I preserved the first organic brick from the construction site for Elle MacPherson’s Harbour Island retreat. Opps. Said to much again. My bad. We are planning (Elle and I, NOT Damian and I) to create a replica of the house and install it in the Tate’s Turbine room as an exploration of consumerism and fashion in high heat contexts that defy traditional concepts of performance art. A sort of ephemeral modernist take. The drinks will be yummy.  I hate it when cocktails are bland. Don’t you. I mean, just last week, when I presented my ideas for the royal wedding barge party to Kate and William we gagged on the awful drinks they were serving. I mean, really, how hard is it to hire a good bartender.  Sir Elton, really he is like my uncle, knows this wonderful tranny, Lea, who makes a whiskey sour that would set you on fire.  I hate fires. So damaging.  Back home now, just in time to drain the little piglets’ tub and tuck them in.  We jump on the bed together and then it’s tuck time. I insist on bedtime being non-negotiable because I firmly believe that all children want their parents to be firm and not their friends. Kind of sad, really.  Quick pecks and then of to a quick dinner with Poog.  Can’t wait!

POOGs day on October 2, 2010

When I got up this morning at 10 it was clearly a snow day. No school for the young’uns (have retained some of my film’s accent, so fun).  They were already up and blissfully ensconced in the home gym. Pear can now do the entire routine to my Fit in Five cd from memory! She is such a precocious 4 year old and I am a proud, but busy mommy. So busy that when my egg poacher failed I almost had a nervous breakdown. This is the sort of truth that people rarely talk about when discussing work life balance: how close to the edge of madness we all are. It’s true. I’ve said it. I know that I realized this before I even had the children.  Just the thought of having them took me to a precipice and this is how I came to find Oolong Chang.  So, here is my secret: No matter how horribly busy my day gets with workouts, line readings, hair dying, workouts, food reviewing, dressing the kids properly, I make time for Oolong Chang – my personal grounder.  Three times a day I seek him out, he stares me in the eyes (we bought him a great pumice stone to stand on, and it’s so light) and he says to me “You are fine. You are fine. You are fine.”  After repeating this mantra back to him three times, I take a deep breath and am on my way. Now I know that not everyone can have their own personal grounder with pumice stone dias, but I highly recommend getting one if at all possible. 

A GOOP Spoof/A GOOP Parody

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