My biggest and best strategy is definitely, schedule your time, all of it! I have something called a Freedom Calendar that I share with all my clients when we start working together and from day one, we focus on scheduling and I don’t let up until this becomes a habit! You must schedule your work hours and your play hours. This is so important because you need to be able to FOCUS during both of these scheduled times… work and play. You shouldn’t be goofing off during your work hours and you shouldn’t be worrying about work while you’re relaxing, having fun, hanging with your family or playing with your kids!
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Danielle Iarussi, a life-design strategist. She’s CEO and founder of Your Best Gal Pal, a global community brought together where the community’s goal is to support, train and empower female entrepreneurs to develop the clarity they need to bring their vision to life. We teach members how to optimize their business, helping them achieve freedom while authentically guiding them on how to reclaim the confidence they need to create the successful & fulfilling life they’ve always dreamed of.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I was born in Tucson, Arizona to my parents John and Dinah Kline and was very lucky to be raised in a loving home where my brother and I were exposed to a wide world of travel, education, culture, fun, and unique experiences that truly shaped who I am today. I was a very independent child from the get-go and felt the pull to succeed from a very young age. I had an incredible amount of support and also felt the freedom to explore who I was and what I wanted out of life without the fear of judgement or over-bearing parental influence. For many years I spent my summers at the lake in Indiana and winters at school in Arizona. I travelled to California for college and ultimately ended up back in the midwest after college graduation.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
Absolutely, it’s quite a story. At the age of 29, while owning and operating my thriving jewelry company, I was diagnosed with cancer. It turned my life upside down and it made me realize that life is too short not to be living it on my own terms. So I decided to ditch the stressful 80-hour work weeks and put my health and wellness first. I went back to school to become a certified coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN).
A few years later, after fighting off cancer and building a successful career as a wellbeing empowerment coach, I still felt like something was missing. I believed very strongly in the power of mentorship and surrounding myself with like-minded female entrepreneurs. Every time I talked to fellow businesswomen, I always found myself striking up conversations about our challenges, business strategies, marketing techniques and tech support. And that’s when I realized I needed to step back into my power and share my knowledge and expertise to help other female entrepreneurs find true balance, empowerment, and business success.
Having experienced the overwhelming pressure of launching two successful businesses myself, plus getting lost and overwhelmed with the infinite amount of information, coaches and courses out there, I decided to simplify the process. I built an easier business, marketing, and life design framework that would take out the confusing and time-consuming “tech” needs, countless marketing strategies, and confusing business plans. It permits my clients to focus on being their most amazing and authentic selves.
I soon founded Your Best Gal Pal, a global community brought together to support, train and empower female entrepreneurs to develop the clarity they need to bring their vision to life. We teach women how to optimize their business, helping them achieve freedom, and authentically guiding them on how to reclaim the confidence to create the successful & fulfilling life they’ve always dreamed of.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Sure! I’m big on scheduling and pre-planning, so every week I have my schedule planned out ahead of time. I have specific business tasks blocked off at specific times of the day Monday-Thursday, with scheduled breaks throughout to connect with my kids and give myself an outlet for creativity. I also schedule all my family responsibilities and personal activities into my calendar as well. I create the schedule for my nanny so I can be sure the time I spend working is focused and productive. Friday is MY fun day and sometimes that means I work on creative business ideas and sometimes that means I schedule a massage or take my kids to the park. It’s about allowing myself the freedom to do what I desire that will bring me the greatest joy and replenish me after a productive, focused week. I very rarely work on weekends as this is my family time and allows me to disconnect from technology and spend quality time with those I love.
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?
Children are sponges from a very young age and absorb the majority of what they learn from those they spend the most time with. Not spending time with your child removes their ability to learn from you. Plus, I believe that it alters their development in a number of critical areas from speech, to behavior and coping, emotional expression, the time you spend with your child intimately influences a large majority of who they become later in life.
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?
First, I believe that making time to spend with your children is just as important for you and your growth and wellbeing as it is for your child’s. First and foremost, children need to feel loved and cared for. Plus, they need to see that they’re a priority in your life, and that they’re significant. The need for love and significance are two of the most fundamental human needs and spending time with your child gives them both. It also allows them to bond with you, to learn from you and to feel connected to you in a way that encourages them to ask questions, explore, create and grow in an environment that feels safe and inviting. It’s equally as important for we parents… spending time with your child allows you to open up to the creativity within you, it allows you to let down your guard, be playful and enjoy life from a different perspective.
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?
This subject is so important to me not only because I’m a mom myself, it’s because I deal with this very subject on a daily basis with my clients, many of whom are mothers themselves. I feel it’s very important to put the tech away when you’re with your children. We’ve all experienced what it feels like to sit with a friend or a spouse who’s on their phone when we’re trying to talk to them; it’s frustrating and makes us feel unimportant and unheard. Kids feel the same way when parents are on their phones and distracted when the kids want our undivided attention.
I want to emphasize… don’t just put your phone down, put it away, as in out of sight and sound. Notifications popping up and chimes going off not only distract you, but they also distract the child and the time spent together will feel less authentic and significant to both of you. In my 90 Days to Clarity, Profit & Freedom program, I give busy mompreneurs several suggestions for building this quality, tech-free time into their day so both they and their child can feel fulfilled! For example, set the timer on your phone for 2–3 hr blocks of time, when the timer goes off, stop what you’re working on, close the computer, put away your phone and go spend 15 mins of quality time with your child. Read them a story, take a walk, play in the backyard, make a snack together, find something fun you can do together that allows you both to enjoy the moment, have a conversation and get some movement or exercise in. It’s not the concept of time that’s important, it’s about being present, being a good listener, and actively engaging with your child.
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?
Yes absolutely! My biggest and best strategy is definitely, schedule your time, all of it! I have something called a Freedom Calendar that I share with all my clients when we start working together and from day one, we focus on scheduling and I don’t let up until this becomes a habit! You must schedule your work hours and your play hours. This is so important because you need to be able to FOCUS during both of these scheduled times… work and play. You shouldn’t be goofing off during your work hours and you shouldn’t be worrying about work while you’re relaxing, having fun, hanging with your family or playing with your kids!
My second strategy is to be very strategic about scheduling your work hours. What hours (specifically) will you commit to work each week? Who will watch your children during those hours? Will you work while they’re at school, hire a nanny or babysitter to watch them during your work hours, or do you have a friend, family member or significant other who can watch them? Either way you MUST schedule your work hours into your calendar in advance and make the necessary arrangements to give you an optimal working environment with laser focus and no distractions. You’ll be 10 times more productive in a fraction of the time, which ultimately leads to more work-free hours that can be spent with your kids.
I’m really drilling down on this strategy of scheduling because when done right, this is a game-changer. You must schedule exactly what you’ll be working on (specifically) during your scheduled work hours as well. Again, this creates focus, eliminates decision fatigue, and allows you to accomplish more in less time, and I promise, the work you do will be better as well. It’s a win, win.
It’s critical to give ourselves permission to turn-off, put the work away and allow ourselves permission to have fun! I see so many of my clients deal with the guilt around having fun and stepping back from the authoritative, responsible position of CEO and parent and this has to stop. One of the many benefits of having children is the reminder of what it’s like to be a kid, to have fun, not take life too seriously and allow ourselves the experience the joy of life. As women, it’s critical that we tap into our feminine flow, into our creativity and one of the best ways to experience this shift is to allow yourself permission to be present with your child, to look at life through their eyes, and open yourself to the wonder and awe. Not only will you bond deeply with your child during this time, you’ll allow yourself the freedom to be open to the creative, intuitive voices that make us the incredible business women and parents that we are.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
I believe a “good parent” is simply someone that does the best that they can and loves their child unconditionally. I also believe being a good parent means your open to doing things differently, you’re willing to learn, and acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers. It’s also about not taking life too seriously.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I’m so passionate about this subject because as a child I was always told by my parents that I could do or be anything that I set my mind to doing. That really stuck with me throughout my life. I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t had this lesson instilled in me from an early age. And I can honestly say, even to this day, I truly believe I can accomplish anything I put my mind to!
I have fraternal twins, so one boy and one girl, and they’re both so different, but one of the things I love best about both of them is their confidence in themselves. Their genuine heart for complimenting and encouraging others comes from my husband and me inspiring them to “dream big.”
Something we do on a regular basis is travel with our kids. My grandmother was a teacher, and she always told my parents that the best education was travel, whether it was climbing Ayers Rock in Australia, or going to a local Amish farm not far from my parent’s house in rural Indiana, it was the experience of something new and different, something beyond our day to day life that educated me and inspired me to keep dreaming, keep learning, and never settle. My husband and I have made that same commitment to our children and we’ve seen it help shape them into the strong, confident and eager children they are today.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I define success as the ability to create the freedom you desire. I don’t mean freedom in the sense of ‘no responsibility’ or ‘not having to work.’ I mean the ability to define what freedom looks like to you. That may be the freedom to work in a job you love or not work at all. It might be the freedom to work part-time, or be a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom or dad. It may be the freedom to be a thriving CEO or excel at your favorite hobby or volunteer position. The important part is, it’s your choice and you’ve put yourself in a position, essentially giving yourself the freedom to make that choice.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
For the Love! with Jen Hatmaker Podcast! — If you want some real talk and serious laughs about life, career and parenting, this one’s a go-to!
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish — so many great, actionable tips you can implement right away and filled with humor for both you and your child.
The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being — great tips for those with toddlers, from cultivating curiosity and setting boundaries to establishing daily routines, it’s chalked full of amazing goodness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Achieving a goal requires planning, execution, discipline and impulse control and people who do what they want, when they want, do this at the cost of their goals!”
I love this because it relates to every aspect of our lives. I’m a big believer in planning and scheduling and being intentional about what you do and when you do it and this is why. It doesn’t matter if your goal is a business goal like achieving 30K months in your business, or if it’s a personal goal like spending more quality time with your child, the same philosophy still applies. You need a plan, you need to focus, you need to take action and you need accountability and without it, you’re not likely to follow through. So find someone or something that can help you do this and you’ll be infinitely closer to achieving all the goals you set for yourself.
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. 🙂
For sure it would be my Your Best Gal Pal community. Here, I support, train and empower female entrepreneurs to develop the clarity they need to bring their vision to life. By teaching them how to optimize their business, helping them achieve freedom, and authentically guiding them, they learn how to reclaim the confidence to create the successful & fulfilling life they’ve always dreamed of. I believe as women we need to keep dreaming, keep learning and keep challenging ourselves to create the freedom we truly desire.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!