A good parent is a parent who takes the time to listen to their children. I think so many times we talk to our children, but don’t truly listen to them and ask them questions. They need to know that we can hear them and that their opinion matters. When they know that they have a voice and we truly care about what they feel and believe, they will open up to us more.
How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Alison Maloni. Alison is an expert storyteller, writer and President of Alison May Public Relations. As a former journalist, Alison told stories for years to thousands of viewers. Alison now applies effective storytelling into getting her clients national and international media attention. She has garnered press for clients in media outlets such as Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, Fox News, NBC News, Bloomberg Business and the Megyn Kelly Show.
Alison teaches companies how to tell their story through marketing, sales, advertising and public relations. Alison gives the audience the tools on how to set themselves apart from the competition. Audiences take away valuable information on how to tell their story in all facets of their business. Alison gets very real and personal with her own story and encourages the audience to do the same. The audience leaves feeling motivated, inspired and ready to take their company to the next level.
Alison has been featured in Time Magazine, Buzz Feed and Daily Worth. She is a contributing writer for Thrive Global and hosts an online show called The Hustle.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
My mother died when I was four years old of Lymphoma. My father, a Vietnam Veteran had PTSD, but at the time was not diagnosed. After a struggle of trying to raise a daughter on his own, he allowed my grandparents to raise me. Shortly after, my grandmother passed away. My aunt and uncle then took me in and adopted me. By then at the age of 9, I experienced a lot of loss and was dealing with an eating disorder. After a lot of therapy and much love from my aunt and uncle, I turned a corer and began to flourish. At the age of 9, I knew that I wanted to be a news reporter. I began watching the local news every night. I would read the newspaper and create my own scripts and practice delivering the news as if I news a news anchor. I met a local news anchor who took me under her wing and until this day has been my mentor. I did amazing in school and went on to college to major in Journalism. Considering I had a difficult childhood, I somehow turned out pretty good.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I was doing some public relations consulting part time after having my third child and I was feeling a bit lost. I wanted more. I didn’t know exactly what that was, but I new that I was missing something in my life. As much as I LOVED being a mom, I new that I wanted a bit more. I literally woke up one day and decided I was going to start my own public relations firm. I had never dreamed of owning a business, but in my gut I new that it was what I was supposed to do. I also knew in my heart that I needed to be back in front of the camera and on stage. As scared as I was, I knew that I needed to go for it.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
It is different everyday. And that’s what I love about it. I will never be bored…that’s for sure. My day starts by meditating and I say to myself what I am thankful for. I learned all of that thanks to the Magic Book. I religiously read HARO (Help a Reporter Out) which is where we get tips from the media. I then scroll through the news to see if there is anything relevant to my clients. My day can be filled with media pitches, interview prepping or lots of research. You never know what you are going to get and it can change in an instant.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
Our children need our love and affection. Research suggests that when parents are absent, children suffer from anxiety and struggle in school. That is a very scary to think about. If children don’t spend time with their parents, they can feel neglected and turn to get attention in other ways.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is important to make time to spend with your children?
I believe that it is quality is more important that quantity. As an executive and a divorced mom, the time that I have with my girls is limited and I work to soak up every second. Time goes by way too fast. Believe me, I do feel guilty because I can’t be like many of the other moms and be there all of the time. But, when I am there I am strictly focused on them. Phones are away and emails can wait while I’m with them. I can tell that when I spend quality time with my girls that they are happier, more confident and even sleep better.
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
Yes, it is about quality time spent.
- When we are eating dinner, phones are away and we discussed how our day was. It is the one quiet time of the day to have a great conversation with my children. Now, this does not happen every night. We have activities that pull us from dinner. So when we do have this time, it is extremely important to be present. Being present is the key. When I am with my girls I am fully present. Everything else can wait. When I am working and with my clients, I am fully present with them.
- Bedtime is the most important time of the day in my house. I lay with each of my daughters to give them one-on-one time. That is our dedicated, uninterrupted time to spend with each other. No interruptions. It’s during those times that my oldest told me about her boyfriend. My middle daughter will share her dreams or concerns. And my youngest will tell me stories about her animals and I tell her stories about her favorite horses. I may not make every soccer game or practice, but it’s these moments before bedtime that my children have with me. It’s these moments that they will cherish forever and it’s these moments that matter the most.
- When I am traveling, Facetime is our friend. I may not be able to be there physically, but I can tell them a story, watch them jump rope or perform a dance routine. The other day I was in an airport and I had the chance to see my youngest break her personal record in jump-roping. Without Facetime I wouldn’t have been able to see that. My children can see and hear me and know that I am there for them.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?
- When you are at work, focus on work. When you are with your children, you must dedicate the time to be present and focused on them. Let your staff know that you will be with your kids for a dedicated amount of time and that you will return emails once you are finished spending time with your family. You must draw a hard line in the sand to make this work.
- Put the phones away. We can live without checking our email or going on social media for a short time. By doing this, we will also be an example to our children.
- Put the oxygen mask on you first. You must take care of yourself if you want to be fully present for your children. Take at least 30 minutes to do something for your mind and/or body.
- Figure out what schedule works best for you and your family. Maybe you wake up 2 hours earlier in the morning to get your work day started so you can be fully present during breakfast. Or you plug back in when they go to bed so you can prep for the next day. See what works best for you.
- Stop beating yourself up if you are not there for everything. And stop comparing yourself to other parents. You have a high powered job and you will not be there every night to tuck them in. But if you make it a priority to be there during your dedicated time, that is what matters.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent is a parent who doesn’t compare themselves to everyone else. After 12 years of doing this, I finally stopped. I stopped worrying about what everyone else thought. I wasted energy comparing and feeling like I was not as good as everyone else because I worked long hours, traveled and had a high pressure job.
A good parent is a parent who takes the time to listen to their children. I think so many times we talk to our children, but don’t truly listen to them and ask them questions. They need to know that we can hear them and that their opinion matters. When they know that they have a voice and we truly care about what they feel and believe, they will open up to us more. As parents we need to establish a mutual trust with our children. They need to be able to trust us and know that they can tell us anything. While you may not be able to be there all of the time or bake homemade cookies from a Pintrest post, you can still be a good parent.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I share my story with them about how I built my business and the where I have gotten to go. I told them that one of my goals was to be on the national news. I may have been out of the television business for a while, but I was determined to get there. And I did. They saw my hard work and excitement when my “dream” came true. They also saw how hard you have to work to achieve your dream, but anything is possible. We often talk about what they want to do when they grow up and I encourage it all. We plan out how they are going to get there and talk about their concerns about getting there. I remind them everyday that they can be anything they want to be as long as they put the work into it. They know from watching me that nothing comes easy.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Success means something different to everyone. For some, it’s money and power. For me, success is doing what you love and being happy. Success means that you are making a difference and helping people. You are helping those in the workplace and at home. My oldest daughter has started her own babysitting business with her friend. My middle child has been writing blogs and learning to edit videos. And my youngest packs her Barbie laptop in her bag and pretends that she is going to a meeting. In my eyes, that is success. I am somehow raising three daughters to be independent and young ladies who are starting little businesses. I hope and pray that in their eyes, I am a successful as a mother. That to me, is the most important goal.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I love the Scary Mommy Blog. It’s a blog about what motherhood is really like. We are so tainted by social media that we feel we need to be perfect parents and should be loving everything about parenthood. The Scary Mommy is spot on with a lot of scenarios and I always feel better when I read it.
The book Confidence Creator by Heather Monahan has taught me how to gain confidence. Confidence in life, work and parenting. When you are truly authentic, you can finally be confident. I have learned not to care what other’s think of me or worry about being judged. I know that I am doing a really good job with my daughters and my business. And to be able to honestly say and think that- it’s huge for me. If you can be a better person and believe in yourself, then you are a better boss, parent and friend.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorte quote is from Henry David Thoreau. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” This quote is relevant to my life because I had always lacked confidence and put my dreams and career aside. Probably because I was scared. I was scared of failing and of not being the perfect mother. But one day I decided to just go for it. To stop letting fear dictate every decision I made. I was not put on this earth to be like everyone else. I was put on this earth to make a difference, to share my story and to raise three confident and beuatiful girls.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Wow, I’m not sure that I am a person of great influence, but thank you! I feel as if was as a society have lost our way. We have lost manners and respect. We to not treat others how we wish to be treated. If I could inspire a movement that brought back manners, respect and self love than I think that there would be a lot less bullying and comparing in this world.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!