Children do not have the maturity or capacity to understand why a parent would be ‘ignoring’ them to work with Dr. Ely Weinschneider and Molly O’Bryant

To me, having my parents not spending time with me would be the ultimate rejection. Children do not have the maturity or capacity to understand why a parent would be ‘ignoring’ them to work. What they internalize is that they’re not important enough to have their parent’s attention when they’re seeking it. Based on my […]

To me, having my parents not spending time with me would be the ultimate rejection. Children do not have the maturity or capacity to understand why a parent would be ‘ignoring’ them to work. What they internalize is that they’re not important enough to have their parent’s attention when they’re seeking it. Based on my experience, when I am very busy my children tend to act out so that they’re able to get in front of my eyes. It’s obvious what they’re asking for and it’s the quickest way to snap me out of my work bubble. I think that not spending time with your children directly correlates to poor behavior, acting out, and can in some cases lead to a lack of self-confidence.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Molly O’Bryant. Molly is the owner of A Touch of Lash and A Touch Of Lash Eyelash Academy. She is a wife, mother of 2, and was one of the first to open a lash company in Las Vegas nearly 10 years ago.

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Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I was so very fortunate as a child. I grew up next door to my maternal grandparents, a mile and a half away from my paternal grandparents, and I had several aunts and uncles within 10 minutes of my home. Sunday mass and dinner at the Grandparent’s house was totally a part of my upbringing and I loved every opportunity to be with the people who I was closest to. Spoiled with attention and love is what I remember most when I think about my childhood. My momma always made sure that we had what we needed to feel good about ourselves — clothes, hair done, nails painted, confidence. My dad made sure that he did whatever he had to do to provide for our family. He did this through hard work, dedication, perseverance, and keeping our family first. I have two younger sisters who I adore and we were always blessed to have pets of some sort throughout our childhood.

I grew up in the ‘country’ and we were about 15 miles from where my school friends were. Due to this distance, it was always much easier to hang out with my family and sisters rather than try to find a ride into school. As I got older, I became a very competitive softball player and my sisters and I spent as much free time as we could on the field. We stayed out until the street lights came on trying to perfect our skills and mostly trying to outdo one another. If we weren’t playing softball, we were swimming, playing basketball or volleyball, or playing flashlight tag and chasing lightning bugs. My parents were super supportive of my dream to be a collegiate softball player and they gave up so much of their free time so that my sisters and I could get in front of as many coaches as possible. Every weekend was spent on the road with my family.

By the time I was in high school, I was starting to really believe that I could be the recipient of an athletic scholarship. My freshman year, however, my dreams were crushed and almost destroyed. I injured my pitching arm playing basketball and needed surgery. I was scared, but it was not an option to quit. My family made huge sacrifices for me to get back to playing competitively. My dad took me to therapy before school every day and while I was rehabbing my shoulder, I learned to write, throw, pitch, and bat with my opposite hand. I wasn’t going to let this injury hold me back and I was determined to get back on the field. My shoulder healed and my physical strength improved, but my mental strength came from my family. I was never given the option to give up or stop playing or ‘retire’. My parents stayed positive, kept reminding me to have faith that I will recover, and adjusted their lives once again to help my recovery go smoothly so that I could get back on track with my athletic career.

Junior year the scholarship offers started coming in. Not just for athletics but for academics as well. My dream had come to a reality when I signed my letter of intent to attend Bradley University as a student athlete. To this day, I can remember how proud my parents were of me. I can hear their words and see their smiles. I remember how that made me feel, knowing that they were proud of me. Growing up I was never afraid of discipline. It didn’t scare me to have a time out or be grounded. I was however, driven to behave for fear of disappointing my family. I was told daily that I was loved, valued, and had a role in this world. I fully believe this helped me to always try to be the best version of myself and was one of the reasons that I was able to positively stay focused on my goals of being a successful D-1 college athlete.

In addition to our family’s softball obsession, or passion — whichever way you look at it, my parents demanded that we have a strong bond with our cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. From a young age, my parents instilled in my sisters and I how important it was to have a strong support system and that family was always to be our first priority. This was very easy to accomplish as my childhood home was so close to everyone in my family. I didn’t realize it at the time, but most of my childhood was spent either playing sports or hanging out with my family. My whole life, my family members have always been the ones who have cheered for me the loudest and who are always there to help me back on my feet when I fail. Having the confidence to fail is one of the most important things to being successful. I know that I have people in my corner who love and support me unconditionally and they have since I was little. I’m so grateful for that now.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

My husband has a lot to do with how I ended up where I am today. I met my husband during our freshman year of college at Bradley University. At the end of our sophomore year, our lives changed and we moved from Illinois to California. I finished both my athletic and academic responsibilities and graduated from Saint Mary’s in California with a degree in Kinesiology in 2008. After graduation, we then moved to Boston, MA where I landed my dream job. I was hired on to coach collegiate softball at Brandeis University. It was exactly what I wanted to do and I was so blessed to have held the position. Unfortunately, it was not for very long. Less than one year later, we had to move, again, and this time it was Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Sensing a pattern here? Every 1–2 years we had to uproot our lives and move across the country. Once we settled in Toronto, I transferred my coaching position to the University of Toronto as their softball coach, but because my husband and I were not married at that point, I wasn’t issued a work permit as he was, so I was only allowed to volunteer. The softball season for the University of Toronto was very short, only 2 months, so I was determined to find something else to occupy my time. I enrolled in a class to learn how to apply lash extensions and I found it so interesting. I was actually pretty good at it and I loved being able to help women feel more beautiful. My favorite part of this new skill, however, was that I was able to do it wherever we ended up moving to. I practiced for the rest of the year that we lived in Toronto and at the end of the season, we moved to Las Vegas, NV.

During our move to Nevada, I set up my business and got things ready for opening up a new business when we arrived. That was in 2010. I had zero clue what I was doing. I was taking a leap of faith, but all I knew was that by being a lash artist I had control over my finances and profession, finally. My company, A Touch of Lash (ATOL), was built on mistakes, trials, and experiments. It was really scary opening a business in an unfamiliar city and not knowing anyone. On top of this, no one was familiar with lash extensions as a service as it was a brand-new technique to the United States. I was one of three people in the entire state that were offering this brand-new service. Not only did I have to find clients for my new business and educate them on what lash extensions were and why they should be wearing them, but I also found out that I had to go to aesthetic school to even be able to perform this service on the public! In 2011, I enrolled in the program and began to work towards my aesthetic license. During this time, my husband started working overseas and was gone 6–7 months a year. Because I had my business and was in school, I wasn’t able to join him full time overseas. Being in school 6 days a week meant that I needed to hire an employee. I found that I thoroughly enjoyed training and teaching my employee and wanted to train and hire others. I finished school, expanded my business, and started creating a lash course curriculum and a lash manual for my future lash courses. My love of the educational side of the industry eventually lead me to expand ATOL and our ATOL Lash Academy opened in 2013. As the number of students grew, I knew that I needed to be able to supply them with better lash product options. In 2014, I created our ATOL lash product line which offers safe, quality, luxury eyelash extension products to both our clients and also to other lash artists in both the US and across the world. In 2015, we expanded our services and started offering permanent makeup services. During this year, my husband and I had welcomed our first child, a beautiful baby girl, Layla. I immediately opened an ATOL Lash salon location in the area that I grew up in, Moline, Illinois so that we had a location there. I wanted an excuse to take my baby home as often as I wanted so that she could see her family but I could still feel productive and work. It was extremely important to me that she be surrounded by her aunts, uncles, and cousins growing up just like I was as a child. Layla and I traveled back to Illinois from Las Vegas every month for 10 days to check on the business from the time that she was 8 weeks old. While my daughter was being loved on by family members, I would go out and market and spread the word about ATOL so as to build up my Illinois location. In 2017, my husband and I welcomed our second baby girl, Tessa, to our world and once she was with us, I knew our family was complete and it was time to expand again. I was most recently nominated as one of the recipients of the MyVegas Top 100 Women of Influence.

Today, ATOL Lash Academy has seen students from all over the US and as far as Japan and Taiwan. It continues to grow each year as brand and student reach expands. Our curriculum is also listed on multiple state board websites as a valid Continued Education Course. Our lash salon just expanded and opened the newest Las Vegas location that includes an onsite training facility. We now offer lash services as well as spray tan, waxing, and permanent makeup. The ATOL lash product line is doing well and is available both in our store and online. We are about to launch a brand-new item that our lash industry has desperately needed for a long time. 2019 just started and we are not slowing down in the slightest. It’s predicted to be our busiest and most hectic year to date, which I couldn’t be more excited for.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

Crazy. That’s what it is. As the owner of my company, my work days never end. I just try to figure out to fit life in between the never-ending hours of running my business. During the week, it’s important to me that my girls are awake before I leave for work so that I can have some face time with them in them. After breakfast, it’s brushing teeth, fixing hair, choosing clothes, and breakfast cleaned up. Once the girls are settled and the babysitter arrives, I head to work. Sometimes I can get out of the house without any tears and sometimes I can’t. My youngest is only 1 and she doesn’t quite understand that mommy will be back after work and gets emotional when she can sense that I’m about to be leaving for the day. Once I get to work, around 9:30 am, I check in with my staff, begin checking emails, responding to clients, and tend to daily salon tasks. From there, it’s common for me to take some time to create. It can be anything from social media posts, ads, events, or flyers for our clients. After that I may take a few clients depending on the day and then it’s usually time to research future ideas for the salon and Lash Academy. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I have to take about two hours out of my work day and take my oldest daughter to physical, speech, or occupational therapy. Then, it’s back to work to finish up the work day. Once I have finished with work around 6:00 pm and arrive back home, it’s dinner, clean up, play time with my babies, and then bedtime routines. Once the girls are in bed at 9 pm, I usually end up working for another 3–4 hours before going to bed as well. On the weekends, I try to focus as much attention on the girls as possible and I log into work during nap time or after they’re in bed for the evening.

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?

To me, having my parents not spending time with me would be the ultimate rejection. Children do not have the maturity or capacity to understand why a parent would be ‘ignoring’ them to work. What they internalize is that they’re not important enough to have their parent’s attention when they’re seeking it. Based on my experience, when I am very busy my children tend to act out so that they’re able to get in front of my eyes. It’s obvious what they’re asking for and it’s the quickest way to snap me out of my work bubble. I think that not spending time with your children directly correlates to poor behavior, acting out, and can in some cases lead to a lack of self-confidence.

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?

We are the most important people in our children’s lives and they should be our biggest priority. They look up to us, worship us, love us, and need us. We are responsible for molding our children into their best selves. To do that, we must make time for them so that they know how important they are. The whole point of being successful in my profession is so that I am able to provide a better life for my family. It’s very important to me that my work success doesn’t come at the price of my daughter’s time. I think about this every day. How can I make my daughters know how important they are to me, to our family, to society, to the world? By giving them my time and attention when I have it and making the time that we spend together memorable and meaningful. I have to tell them, repeatedly, what they mean to me and that they have a place in this world. I have to help them learn what is right and what is wrong and why society isn’t always black and white. I have to help them navigate this world in a positive direction and I cannot do it if I am not present and paying attention to them. I have to know who they are as a person at that moment in their life so as to give them the best advice at that time. They are always evolving while they’re young and I need to know which direction to help them grow in. It is constantly on my mind. It would be impossible to show my girls that they’re important and matter to the world if I’m not present in their lives or showing them how much they mean to me first. Otherwise, why would they ever believe that?

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?

My family and I are still quite young and because of this, we are still able to have the opportunity to eat dinner together every night. Now that the girls can hold conversation with us, we typically make sure to leave the phones off the table and focus on one another. Once dinner has finished, we hang out. We play dress up, games, watch movies, play tag, swim, or whatever the girls want to do. This is their time with us and we try to make it as special as possible. I literally feel guilty if we have to miss this part of the day and I look forward to this time together with them every day. This 2–3 hour period of time is where we get to slow down and shut the world off. I get to listen, play, and learn about my girls. This part of my day is definitely quality time. The time that we have with them, where we can really build our relationship, goes by so quickly.

Bedtime is one of my favorite times with my girls. The one on one time at bedtime is our time to focus on them individually and check in on how they’re doing. For our family, we operate best on a routine. Bathroom routine, getting a snack, having one last drink, reading a story, cuddles, and talking about our ‘favorite part of that day’ are some of the things on our bedtime agenda. As they have grown up, the routines have changed, but my most important goal for bedtime is that they go to bed feeling special and happy and with either me or their dad reminding them that they are loved.

Work. I know that sounds funny, but ever since my eldest daughter was born, I have incorporated her into my work day. I try to let her ‘help’ mommy as much as she can whether it’s throwing something away, helping me create swag bags for events, or restocking the lash artist’s rooms. Her face is as known as mine is around the salon and our client’s constantly ask about her. I also try to use this time together as teaching moments for her like how to follow directions when I tell her where to put things, how to behave and talk softly in a place of business, and of course how to build a successful lash empire. My biggest hope by incorporating my girls into my business is that they feel like they are a part of mommy’s work world so that there is never a reason for them to be jealous of it or unsure of where they fit into it.

Weekends are special to my family and I. Even if my week was insane and I didn’t get to be as present as I may have wanted to be, I get to make it up on the weekend. We typically spend the whole weekend together playing soccer, going to the park, lounging in our backyard or playroom, or taking the girls on an adventure. The girls are always so excited for mommy to get to stay at home. My eldest daughter literally grabs my neck and holds me tight to her as if that was the best news she’s ever heard.

Car rides are a huge part of our daily lives so I try to utilize them in the best ways possible. We do a lot of talking, teaching, and learning in the car. I try to show interest in what they are interested in and engage with them as much as I can so that we can keep the conversation flowing. During this time, I know that I am with them with no distractions so I try to make the most of our ride. When my husband is driving, I often sit in the backseat with the girls instead of riding up in the passenger seat. We color, play games, read books, or play an activity on the Ipad, but most often I hand out snacks while we chat about our day.

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?

I can literally feel myself getting overwhelmed and tense when I am stressed at home from work deadlines. I have actively been working on my own strategies to help calm me down and bring me back to sanity. I have been utilizing these for the past few years and most of the time they help!

Prioritize your responsibilities — Before I walk into my home, I take a moment and make a mental list of what I need to accomplish for work the next day. I then put a start time on it and prioritize what is most important that needs to get done first. That way I know exactly when my deadlines will be getting worked on that evening and I don’t have to choose between helping my baby girl master putting noodles on their spoon and work. Figure out what the order of your life is in that moment and stick to it.

Scheduling — I know that we already have so many schedules, but to me it just makes sense to also have quality attention time for the children blocked off on your agenda as well. If it’s not on my list, it doesn’t get done. I operate on lists and agendas so this totally works for me!

Clear out the clutter — I am constantly evaluating what is most important to me and evaluating what betters me as a person. Then, I start to cut out the rest. If it’s not bringing me happiness, insight, or opportunities, I consider how much of my attention it requires and at what cost. This helps me to keep my time spent where it is most needed. This works for me both at home and at work.

Chill out on social media — How often do you check your social media account details or emails throughout the day and at night. I do this way too often. As soon as I feel that tension, I know I need to take a social media break and utilize it only for what the business needs. Start tracking how often you’re on social media. It may creep you out! Limit this category and it will allow you more time to be productive at work and thus should allow you to be more present at home as well.

Delegate — Try to figure out what jobs or tasks you can hand off without repercussions to your job or your future. If you’re spending time out of your day doing tasks that are not the best use of your time, then essentially, you’re wasting it. Allocate those jobs to someone else, when possible, and build yourself a strong team so that you’re able to better focus on more important parts of your work day and life.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I believe that a good parent is a parent that is actively thinking how to mold, support, and help their child so that they grow into the best version of themselves and then doing everything in their power to make that happen. It is someone who is supportive and caring and capitalizes on both teachable moments and fun moments in life. A good parent is someone who shows affection and love towards their child and builds their confidence up daily while at the same time teaching them discipline and boundaries. It is someone who shows their child how to work hard in life and how to put into motion a game plan for success. It sounds like a lot, but honestly a few of these things we do without even thinking about it!

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

Dreaming big to me is like setting goals. It’s not just picturing the life you want to have or something you want to achieve, but also figuring out what you need to do to get there. I hope that by taking my girls to work with me often that they are able to see that really cool things happen when you dream big, work hard, and think outside the box. I also try to celebrate my big moments with them and explain to them why I am so excited about what just happened. I encourage the girls to think about what they want to be when they grow up. I also understand that they’re young and that becoming a princess or a unicorn is most likely unrealistic for a career, but to them that is their goal in that moment and we roll with it. I think that just knowing that they have our complete support no matter what they dream about will help them to continue to dream big and find their place in this world.

Another way that I try to inspire them to dream big is by making a huge deal when they crush one of their goals. For example, my eldest daughter, Layla, has Cerebellar Ataxia. She was diagnosed with it when she was 2. With her condition it is very frustrating for her because not only is she unable to control her body, but due to her age she’s unable to fully understand what is happening to her. For us, we dream big in our house every day because we have to. Not having answers or a cure for her is too hard to focus on so instead we focus on both big dreams and little dreams and a game plan for obtaining them. Every goal and ‘dream’ that she reaches makes her so proud of herself. We celebrate the ‘win’ and then get right back to thinking of her next goal to start working towards. Her most recent big dream is to play soccer with her friends and to become a doctor. I can’t wait to see all of her dreams come true.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success to me is having both work life and personal life balanced and operating smoothly.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I really like the social media pages and groups for parents. I don’t have a lot of free time to read or research which podcasts to listen to, but I do find when catching up with my family on social media, I tend to get the most out of a few parenting groups. Right now, Babies and Basketball, Feeding the Littles, and Rebel Moms are a few of my favorites. I find that I get the most out of these pages because they’re so realistic and helpful in their topics and suggestions. It’s raw moments and issues that we as mommas are all dealing with in some capacity so it’s all relatable. Sometimes it’s just nice to go on there and see that you’re not the only one that has a screaming toddler at a restaurant because you didn’t spoon feed them the rice fast enough.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Integrity is how you behave when no one is watching”. My Meemaw always said this when I was growing up. She would write it in cards, books, and little notes for me. I have always applied it to my adult life and how I carry myself. It’s a message that I want my girls to think about as well when they’re trying to figure out who they are as they get older. It’s easy to be a good person and do the right thing when everyone’s eyes are on you, but how you behave when no one is watching is what truly defines your character.

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. 🙂

Kindness, acceptance, and empathy towards our neighbors. We do not know what is going on in our neighbors’ home. We do not know the struggles they face daily emotionally, physically, or mentally. To be more empathic and kinder towards one another and to accept everyone as they are would literally put an end to the hatred that we see all too often. The end of hatred is the birth of peace. Could you imagine a world where we help support our neighbors regardless of color, ability, and religion? It would be transformational to our society.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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