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“Here Is How Extremely Busy Executives Make Time To Be Great Parents” with Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Jamie Brown Hantman

One of the most critical elements of helping a child to thrive and develop into a successful, happy adult is for them to feel a sense of security, and the foundation of that security is parental support. For someone at a young age, physical presence equals support. A young brain can’t usually process the abstract […]

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One of the most critical elements of helping a child to thrive and develop into a successful, happy adult is for them to feel a sense of security, and the foundation of that security is parental support. For someone at a young age, physical presence equals support. A young brain can’t usually process the abstract idea of a parent supporting them when the parent is not physically there. They need the physical presence of a parent to feel that security.


Jamie Brown Hantman has worked at the highest levels of government, including service at the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice. She spearheaded legislative strategy for the confirmations of two U.S. Supreme Court Justices and ran Legislative Affairs for the Department of Justice shortly after 9/11, working with a dream team of legal superstars, including Robert Mueller and Ted Olson. She spent time on Capitol Hill and K Street, including as an early DC hire for Google. In 2008, Politico named her one of “50 Politicos to Watch.” Jamie lives in the DMV with her husband, daughter, and disobedient beagle.


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

Iwas fortunate to grow up in a loving family in Central Connecticut. We weren’t politically connected in any way, but my parents cared about politics and that clearly rubbed off on me. I worked hard in school so that I’d be prepared when the right opportunities came my way. That happened during college, when I secured an internship with my home state Senator. I hustled and kept a good attitude while doing the menial tasks that are a part of every internship, and that opened the door to go work for the Senator once I finished law school. My Senate job led to later opportunities at the U.S. Department of Justice and the White House.

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

I consider myself fortunate that my major career moments working at the DOJ and the White House came when I was young, before I was married and had a child. Those jobs are 24–7, nose to the grindstone responsibilities. If I’d been a Mom then, I know I would have felt conflicted and wondering if I was giving anyone my best self.

Since I had my daughter later in life when I already had some great accomplishments under my belt, I had more security and confidence to create a career that melded pretty well with Mom Life. I was working at a lobbying shop when I had my daughter. Shortly after I returned from maternity leave, I hung out my own shingle so that I could do the work in a way that allowed me to be a more present mother.

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

One of the hallmarks of a self-employed lifestyle is that there tends to be more variety day-to-day — particularly if you’ve chosen to be self-employed in order to maintain your chosen work-life balance. I like the variety. Some days are more work heavy and will find me on Capitol Hill bringing a client around to meet with various Members of Congress on an important topic. Other days are lighter on the formal work obligations, and I’ll do my conference calls and emails at home wearing workout clothes while our dog is nestled beside me. The through lines for me though are that I’m the one who gets our daughter ready for school and drops her off each morning (I cherish that time together in the car) and then I focus on doing my most important creative work and thought work in the morning when I’m at my personal best physically and mentally. (I wrote my new book, Heels in the Arena, by carving out a little time every morning.) As the day goes on, I pivot to interactions with others and taking care of less challenging tasks. Finally, most evenings are spent together at home as a family with either a home-cooked meal (my husband and I share chef duties) or something from Door Dash. (The goal is always to do more cooking than Door Dash but sometimes life doesn’t allow for that!)

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now 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?

One of the most critical elements of helping a child to thrive and develop into a successful, happy adult is for them to feel a sense of security, and the foundation of that security is parental support. For someone at a young age, physical presence equals support. A young brain can’t usually process the abstract idea of a parent supporting them when the parent is not physically there. They need the physical presence of a parent to feel that security.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

I’m a big believer in the idea that behavior is more impactful than words — children are more likely to model what they see than the words they’re told. For example, you can talk all you want about the importance of eating healthy food, but that habit is only likely to stick if they see you eating lots of vegetables and other whole foods. And to model your good habits for your child, you need to be together enough that they can see you acting out the behaviors you hope to impart to them — whether that be healthy eating, kindness, honesty, or whatever character traits are a priority for you.

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?

One of my goals this year was to be more present when I’m with my daughter. As I talked about earlier, I’ve created a work life that enables me to spend a larger quantity of time with her, but I was falling into the bad habit of reading and responding to my emails and following the news on Twitter a lot while we were together. One of the best moves I’ve made to nip that in the bud was to buy an Apple Watch. (Yes, a piece of technology helped me cut back on my tech use, counterintuitive as it sounds!) Now I put my phone away because I know if a client is trying to reach me I can still see the call or text on my watch, but I’m no longer tempted by all the “fun” bells and whistles that are on my phone.

We’ve also taken to playing board games and card games and doing puzzles together. When you hit young adulthood and are hustling with your career you tend to forget about some of these more old-fashioned activities — but they’re FUN! We also cook and bake together. Food has always played a big role in my family, and it makes me happy to see her learn some self-sufficiency as we make good food together.

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? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

  1. This one in particular is important for parents who work from home — do your best to keep “office hours” and respect your family time when those office hours are done for the day. Obviously we all end up with time sensitive matters that need to be addressed outside of work hours, but do your best to respect family time and put away your work when it’s time for dinner and catching up with your kids. It helps to have a dedicated space in your home where you do your work, and then leave that space in the evenings to be with you family. Not only will this help with your parenting style, it keeps the office stress in a single location and allows you to view the rest of your home as a place of calm and restoration.
  2. When a member of your family arrives home, make a point of stopping what you’re doing — even if only for a few minutes — and give them a warm, loving welcome greeting. It takes no time at all, but makes your family member feel loved and acknowledged. I do this when my daughter arrives home from school. Sometimes I’ll be on a phone call, but will still mute the call and give her a wordless squeeze and smile.
  3. When your kids are young, you need to listen enthusiastically to the topics they want to talk to you about — even if it’s Dora the Explorer — so that when they’re older they will still want to talk to you about the things you’re desperate to help them with — like peer pressure and drinking. You put in the time when they’re little so that it’s the nature of your relationship.
  4. Give your kids time to be bored. I’ve rebelled a bit from the current trend to schedule kids to the hilt with after school activities. This year we pared back to one activity which she loves — basketball — and the other three weekday afternoons are unstructured. That time of “boredom” when she has to entertain herself is one of the best opportunities for creativity and deeper thinking.
  5. Eat dinner together. It can be hard to find the time to do this when everyone has different schedules and different food needs. But even if you’re all eating different things and can only spare ten minutes, do your best to sit down together at the same time as a family to break bread and converse.

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

I would define a good parent as someone who leads with unconditional love, lives as an example of how they want their child to be, does the hard work required of parenting — even when they’re tired, and is willing to fess up and ask their child for forgiveness when they fall short.

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

Lately I’ve decided to stop pointing out to my daughter how she is “just like me” or “just like your father” when she exhibits certain character traits because I don’t want her to feel defined by those things. If I tell her she follows in my footsteps in certain ways, she may feel an unspoken pressure to follow me in her career path or other life choices. I don’t want her to feel pre-defined. She’s her own person and she should believe that anything is possible if she’s willing to put in the hard work.

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

I do my best to take the very long view. Our time here on this earth should be spent loving others and making the world a better place. Money, possessions, status and power will come and go. The positive impact we have on other people has the potential to pay forward and last well beyond our time here on earth.

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

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown — Brown takes on the issue of foreboding joy and provides life-changing advice to live a life of gratitude as an antidote to the worry that comes with parenting.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth — getting our daughter on a consistent sleep schedule was one of the best things we’ve ever done for her. She’s a champion sleeper, and that sets her up for success in every area of her life.

Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink — I respond well to tough love and Jocko dishes it out by the shovel-full. This book is filled with great inspiration to become the best version of yourself.

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

The answer to this question changes all the time for me based upon what I’m reading! I just finished Atomic Habits by James Clear and love this excerpt: “Your outcomes are a lagging measure of your habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.” I’ve got some big goals right now — like taking my fitness to the next level — and this is a great reminder that the results will show up if I put in the work consistently over time.

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. 🙂

The older I get the more I realize that the solution to what’s ailing this world is so simple — love others. There are obviously still problems that require policy solutions and hard choices — but when the process of making those hard choices is based upon a foundation of love for your fellow man and not a selfish zero-sum motivation, the outcomes will be exponentially better. Plus, the process of getting there would be stripped of the toxic political rhetoric that has us so divided at the moment.

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