SVP Mom's Trick for Appeasing Chatty Colleagues and Getting Home on Time is So Clever

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As the Senior Vice President, International Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s and a mother of three who is writing a book, friends often tell me that I seem to have a good work-life balance. In truth, most of the time I would agree. There are certainly days when I feel like I am burning the candle at both ends juggling it all, but truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Below, five tips that have helped me on my elusive quest for a work-life balance.

1. Stop micromanaging your spouse.

If you give them the chance and let go of the notion they have to do it exactly like you, you might just be happily surprised, and your relationship will thrive because of it. When my daughter Beatrice was a-year-and-a-half, I was packing for a three-day business trip to London, and just after midnight, realized I hadn’t even started the minute-by-minute schedule I usually left for my husband whenever I traveled for work—filled with mealtimes, playdates, nap schedule, phone numbers and pediatrician info. Then, I had a moment of clarity: He didn’t want my minute-by-minute schedule any more than I felt like writing it out. So I didn’t give him one. Did I worry? Yes. Was Beatrice dressed in the outfit I would have chosen for her playdate? Probably not. But was she alive, happy and totally fine when I returned home after my trip? Yes.

2. Practice self-care.

As the mom, working or not, you are command central in your house. Make sure to dedicate as much time to keeping your batteries charged and your health intact as you do for anyone else. When I was recently diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and a nasty virus, my doctor told me I should be in bed for at least three days. I laughed out loud, telling her, “I can give you one—max.” Then, she looked at me with a very serious expression, saying, “And who do you think is going to take care of your kids when you are down for two weeks because you won’t take care of yourself first?” And guess what? She was right. I gave myself an extra day, and it paid off in dividends when my 9-month-old came down with a horrible cough and fever four days later.

3. Exercise with your kids.

I have been a runner as long as I remember. Even in the middle of the concrete jungle that is New York City, I have always made running near my home along Hudson River Park a priority. But as we have added two children to our family, the days of heading out with one child in a jogging stroller are long gone. Now, it is all about incorporating exercise into time I spend with my kids. For example, when I play with my baby in the mornings, I put her on the floor underneath me and do push-ups while kissing the top of her nose. As she crawls around me, on top of me and even flips on her back to be next to me, I do push-ups, sit-ups, planks and leg lifts.

4. Keep your office interactions short yet meaningful.

I truly believe that work relationships are some of the most important relationships in your life. In many ways, you will spend more time with your work family than many of the people who are most special to you. But there are also colleagues who can be a complete time suck when you are racing to get home to your kids. After 19 years at the same company, I am very aware of my colleagues who can easily take away an hour of my day when they “drop by” to tell me something. I learned years ago that in order to maintain good relationships with chatty people, a five-minute visit once a week to their cubicle or office is all it takes to show interest without giving up control of your day clock. Rather than feeling like you are constantly at the mercy of someone else who is pushing your end time later and later in the day, you can wrap the conversation up or leave whenever you feel you need to, without having to ask the person to leave (or making up an excuse for him or her to go).

5. Opt out of the “Mommy Wars.”

It is the biggest waste of your time and energy. Women are amazing and we need all the help we can get in life. Instead of comparing yourself to other moms, realize and take advantage of the invaluable network and support system they can provide—this is part of the reason I joined Hudson River Park Friends Playground Committee. We all bring different strengths and experiences to the table in order to work together and give back to our community. It is also great for our kids because they can play with each other when we get together, and events are family-focused so you can spend your weekend supporting a great cause while simultaneously enjoying time with your family. Look out for similar opportunities in your community!


Lydia Wickliffe Fenet is the Senior Vice President, International Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s, where she leads a global team forging significant collaborations with other luxury brands. She lives in New York City with her husband Chris and three children—Beatrice, Henry and Eloise—and is currently writing her first book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in April 2019. She was recently honored with the Hudson River Park Friends Playground Committee Champion award for her work supporting the park. Follow her on Instagram @LydiaFenet.

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