“Put your phone in the other room or turn it off” with Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Sarah Creighton

As parents, we must model the way for our children. The only way to model behaviors that we want them to replicate is to be near them and let them watch how we behave. When we show our kids we don’t have time for them, by spending time on our phones or with work stuff, […]

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As parents, we must model the way for our children. The only way to model behaviors that we want them to replicate is to be near them and let them watch how we behave. When we show our kids we don’t have time for them, by spending time on our phones or with work stuff, they will believe that either they don’t matter enough, or that this is how it’s supposed to be.

Kids can hold onto the resentment well into adulthood if it’s not dealt with. As a life coach, I’ve learned all about this. As adults, we have something called an inner child. It’s that childlike version of ourselves that craves love, attention, and connection. When we don’t get this as children, we seek it out in unhealthy ways as adults. Let’s not set our kids up for needing this work by giving them the quality time they deserve.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Sarah Creighton. Sarah is a busy mom of three beautiful boys living in Silicon Valley with her husband. She is an author, teacher and life and mindset coach. Sarah is on a mission to help women become unstuck and unstoppable by living their best lives.

You can find out more about Sarah at her website, or follow her on social media at

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

I was raised by artist parents in a very creative environment in the heartland of America (Iowa). Without a lot of resources, my older brother and I would spend time playing outdoors with neighborhood kids, or playing imaginatively with what we had. I actually remember getting our first color TV when I was around 6 or 7 years old (and I’m only 41)! Because I was raised in such an artistic home, my creative endeavors were always supported. I recall selling drawings door-to-door, starting a jewelry company and selling it to my extended family and spending a lot of time just making things. I also started babysitting for the neighborhood kids when I was quite young, maybe around 11 years old, for a next-door neighbor. This is because I not only had that entrepreneurial spirit, but I loved being around younger children.

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

My career has taken many twists and turns. When I graduated from college, I became a fashion designer in San Francisco. I loved the creative outlet it brought me, the fast-paced environment and the travel and shopping. It felt very glamorous at times. Then I had my first son. Becoming a mother for the first time put a whole new perspective on what was truly important for me. I tried going back to work but realized my heart wasn’t in fashion anymore. After being a stay-at-home mom and having my second son less than two years later, I started a vegan food blog called Veggie-Kids. This was an outlet for me while I was at home raising my boys. It started because I wanted to keep track of the healthy foods I was making for my kids. It began to pick up rather quickly. I loved the creative aspect of food blogging, which lead to me writing children’s books and getting seen on bigger platforms such as Today for Moms, VegNews MagazineRaw Food Magazine, and Martha’s Circle, to name a few. My site also won many awards and helped endless families eat more veggies.

Not long after, however, I experienced pain in my abdomen. The doctor said it was an ovarian cyst and needed to be removed. Since I had already had two c-sections, I thought ‘there’s no way I’m having another surgery in that part of my body’! So, I dove headfirst into learning about plants that heal and using food as a way to nurture ourselves. What I learned was life-changing. Through tinctures and eating a 100% plant-based diet, I had healed myself within just two weeks!. After I insisted on another ultrasound instead of surgery, the doctors and staff were amazed because there was no trace of the cyst!

Soon after that, I became pregnant with my third son. I was still writing books, including a vegan cookbook called Weeknight Vegan. But my online site and books weren’t enough to sustain our family of five living in Silicon Valley, where the cost of living continued to rise. My teacher-husband convinced me to go into teaching. So when my youngest son was going into preschool, I put myself back in school to obtain a teaching credential. I’ve been teaching elementary students for nearly seven years now. I love the fact that my family is on the same schedule and although I work full-time, I still have time to dedicate myself to being a mom and supporting my children in their lives. Having summers off as a family is fabulous too! During the time I was studying plant-based living and healing foods, I also studied spiritual practices, such as The Law of Attraction. This was around the time when that famous book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne came out. I was obsessed! I began to integrate what I was learning into my daily life and sharing my knowledge with my family and friends. This planted a seed that has now grown into me obtaining a life-coaching certification in April of 2020. While still teaching full time, I’ve been enrolled in an intensive program that utilizes spiritual and practical tools to help people live better lives and get back in touch with their bodies.

Within the last few years I have also developed two online courses with the same purpose of helping people live the life they’ve always dreamed of (Eat Clean and Unstuck and Unstoppable) I’m a huge believer that we hold so much power and just need a little nudge and some guidance to get us closer to our desires.

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

Power Hour is a practice I put into place a few years ago and it’s the best thing I’ve done (you can get the FREE guide for Power Hour here). It means I wake up a little earlier to set aside intentional time to create my day and my life. As a busy mom, this time is critical. For the first sixty minutes of my day, in 6 ten minute increments I do the following: read (you’ll be amazed at how much of a book you can get through in just ten minutes a day), gratitude journal (reflect on big and small things you are grateful for in your life), meditate (I love using guided meditations), vision board/book (this means flipping through my vision book, which is like a vision board, feeling the things I want to bring into existence, visualizing them as if they’re already here-it’s amazing how much I’ve brought into my life from this practice), movement (stretching, strength, getting the blood flowing), planning (this is all about setting intentions for your day so as to be proactive versus reactive).

I find that if I do nothing else in my day, I feel like I’ve accomplished something from the Power Hour time.

The next hour of my morning is spent making lunches and breakfasts for my three boys, ages 10, 14, and 15. I used to have them make their own lunches but realized I’m too much of a control-freak with what they put in their bodies. One of my love languages with my kids is providing them with healthy and delicious food. I’ve always enjoyed making well-balanced, nutrient-dense, plant-based meals for them. This is definitely one way I feel that I show them I care, and I hope that I’m also teaching them how to treat their bodies in order to stay healthy. I notice an immediate difference in their overall spirit when we eat healthier and it’s something I rarely budge on.

Once meals are complete, and my boys and husband are getting ready for their day, I get myself ready for my teaching day. We are blessed to live centrally to our schools and jobs, so my boys are able to bike themselves to school and our commute is minimal. Once at school, it’s go-time. With a room full of fourth-graders, I don’t have much time for anything else. I often feel like a mom to my fourth graders, nurturing and guiding them as they learn. I also love to sneak in my positive mindset practices with them throughout the school day!

At lunchtime, I usually stop back home to let our one-eyed rescue puppy, Popeye, out. A few hours later, once school gets out, and my boys are home or at their after-school activities, you’ll find me in the kitchen again preparing more food. With two teenagers, the meals never end! I’ve learned to also set aside intentional time after school. I find that if I take the first 20 minutes or so right when I get home to take a quiet moment for myself to meditate or sit in quiet, I’m a much happier and more patient mom.

Next, it’s helping with homework, distributing chores, listening to my kids’ day and then working on my coaching and online course business. I love sharing inspirational tidbits with my social media audience. If I have time before dinner-making begins, I’ll walk our dog and listen to inspiring podcasts or use it as a meditation-style walk where I usually get downloaded with amazing content-ideas. The best is when one of my boys joins me on the walk!

Once dinner rolls around, I’m whirling around our kitchen preparing more vegan meals for my three boys. My husband is an omnivore, so he usually cooks his portion of dinner, but eats the side dishes I created. This is typically a chaotic time as laundry needs to get in, chores are still being distributed and tummies are rumbling. I love hearing my kids on the piano or being silly in the other room while I’m cooking! One trick I’ve used since my kids were small is to leave a tray of beautiful looking snacks out, such as olives, bell peppers or raw broccoli bites. Because they’re so hungry, they nibble away and it never seems to ruin their appetite for the main meal. (And if it did, at least they ate their veggies!)

After dinner ends, it’s either whisking kids off to the next sport-related activities, helping my middle son with his YouTube channel where he teaches about all things nature, or it’s time to tidy up for the following day. I find that by organizing the evening before, the start of the next day feels more manageable. When the weather is nice, one of my sons and I will walk the dog again and get some fresh air. Otherwise, it’s a time for reading, doing homework or watching a quick show together before ending our day. Typically, my high-schooler stays up way too late for my liking doing homework, so I usually pop into his room and lounge on his bed hearing about his school day, his social life and what’s on his mind.

Even though my boys are getting older, I still love to either tuck them in or say a prayer with them each night as a way to connect before the day is done. It’s been a routine of ours since they were babies. I find it’s a beautiful way to be grateful for the day and send peace and love to them as they sleep. I believe it teaches them to believe in a power greater than themselves, to think of others and to be thankful for all that we have.

I love to end my day with a clean kitchen and semi-organized home (as much as that’s possible with our family of five). I always take out my planner (right now I’m loving the Passion Planner) where I can reflect on the good parts of my day and any lessons learned. Then, I plan my top three things to get accomplished the following day, along with anything else that’s in my head that I want to get down on paper. I like to light a yummy-smelling candle, get cozy under the covers and work in my planner, listen to a meditation or podcast and end my day peacefully.

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?

As parents, we must model the way for our children. The only way to model behaviors that we want them to replicate is to be near them and let them watch how we behave. When we show our kids we don’t have time for them, by spending time on our phones or with work stuff, they will believe that either they don’t matter enough, or that this is how it’s supposed to be.

Kids can hold onto the resentment well into adulthood if it’s not dealt with. As a life coach, I’ve learned all about this. As adults, we have something called an inner child. It’s that childlike version of ourselves that craves love, attention, and connection. When we don’t get this as children, we seek it out in unhealthy ways as adults. Let’s not set our kids up for needing this work by giving them the quality time they deserve.

As a teacher, I’ve seen it all. There are those parents who are career-driven and think they are doing right by their kids by buying them expensive trips and material items but lack the time to teach them how to get along in life because they just aren’t present. Then, there are those parents who are the exact opposite. One parent may have temporarily sacrificed their career in order to pick their kids up after school, help with homework and teach them how to navigate the world. I believe there are multiple ways to parent and don’t think any of it is necessarily easy. But my modeling the way, we can teach our kids to be respectful, contributing members of society.

There are countless studies that have proven that kids who don’t spend quality time with a parent end up being involved in risky behaviors. This could mean substance abuse, involvement in gangs or other unwanted behaviors, as a way to get a connection or feel love in other, unhealthy ways. And as a fourth-grade teacher, I’ve seen such behaviors begin.

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?

You’ve probably heard the Benjamin Franklin quote “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This is so true! Children model our behavior. It’s one thing to tell our kids our insights about life, but it’s a whole other ballgame when we show them, involve them and let them learn from their own failures. And in order to do this, we must spend time with our kids.

It’s also been proven that kids who spend quality time with their parent(s) end up being better parents themselves, and have more positive social interactions, becoming capable of healthy relationships. We all want to improve the next generation. I tell parents to think about how their parent was raised, and how their grandparent was raised. We often pass things down through the generations, so why not begin to focus on passing along being a present parent? Imagine the good it will do when your child is a parent!

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 is so true! Even spending just ten-quality minutes with your child, giving them your devoted, undivided attention will make a world of difference. Compare that to thirty minutes of time where you are distracted by your phone or other tasks. Your child can see right through that!

Here are a few examples of how I love to spend quality time with my kids:

1) Cooking! My boys have learned lots of useful skills in the kitchen over the years. This is the perfect time to turn on some music, give each kid a task and chat while preparing a meal together that we can all enjoy. I love getting their input on meal plans and let them help with the grocery shopping so they feel they have a part in it all and their opinions matter.

2) Walking the dog. Our rescue puppy has really added so much love to our family! By using the excuse of the dog needing to be walked, it almost forces us to get out and walk and talk together. I find that great conversations come from these times as we casually stroll through our neighborhood.

3) Family games. We are a competitive bunch, so getting out a classic family game on a Friday night is so much fun! It can be tricky to get all five of us locked in for a game, but we take what we can get in terms of who’s available. Monopoly seems to be the most popular and lasts way too long, in my opinion!

4) Bedtime routine. I said earlier that I’ve done a bedtime routine with my boys since they were babies, though it’s changed quite a bit as they’ve grown older. There’s something about ending the day with reflection and gratitude, making sure we’ve shared what’s on our minds from the day, that is truly priceless.

5) Road trips! Since our family lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have endless road trips we could go on-either towards the snow in the mountains or towards the sunny beaches. Whether it’s an 8-hour car ride or a 50-minute jaunt, there’s something exciting and special about us all being on the adventure 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.

It is like the wild, wild west nowadays with the number of distractions that are available at any given moment. Creating space to become fully present and give our children more quality attention can certainly be challenging.

Here are 5 strategies to try:

Put your phone in the other room or turn it off. Yes, I said turn it completely off. Oh, and if you have an Apple watch, put that away too. By intentionally ridding ourselves of distractions, we are showing up for our kids and creating the space they deserve. Plus, it teaches them to do the same!

Be intentional with your time. I mentioned the Power Hour earlier. This is a great example of a way to plan out time in your day and create space to enjoy your kids. You could use a time-blocking strategy where you dedicate a certain block of time each day, or maybe every other day, to spending quality time with your child. In my house, typically the time after dinner is a great block of time to relax, play or be silly with my kids.

Take an interest in their interests! Step out of your comfort zone a little and get to know something that your child is into. My youngest son is into collecting a certain type of action figure. When I engage him in conversations about it, I see him light up! And when I ask him questions, I not only learn and get a little taste of his world, but I show him that I care about him and his interests.

Simplify. This means ridding your space of the clutter. It could be physical clutter, like too much “stuff” in your home, or mental clutter, like taking on too much and not having systems in place, or perhaps not divvying up your workload. When we declutter and simplify our lives, we can easily see the bigger picture of what truly matters. If you haven’t read The Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, it’s a must!

Involve them in your life. One way to do this is to take them grocery shopping with you and let them be proactive in planning meals and picking out grocery items. Or show them the work that you’re doing and ask them their opinions about it. Involving kids with family finances is another great way to not only create space for them but teach them critical tools for their own lives. I think too often we keep things from our kids, thinking it’s doing them good. But I think it can be a disservice. Children are capable of much more than we often think!

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

Two things come to mind when I think about what it means to be a good parent. One is those moments when I’m completely present in the moment with my children. I’ve caught myself just being so present, thinking about how this is the only moment we really ever have…now. It fills my heart with so much gratitude. I recall a time playing UNO with my youngest son. We were so enthralled in the game, laughing and getting competitive. It was so much fun!

The other thing is the fact that our kids can be mirrors for us. When I see my boys be kind to others, or respectful to adults, I can’t help but think I was a part of that because those are things I believe in. I remember a time when I ran into a staff member from my oldest son’s school when he was in middle school. She said she was coming through a doorway with her arms completely full. She was passed by so many students, but when my son walked by, he stopped, offered to take some things off her hands and held the door open for her. She went on and on about how no one else did that. It made me feel so good to hear that!

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

Since I’m obsessed with personal development myself, I love sharing my knowledge with my kids. They listen to the podcasts and meditations I listen to. They see the books I read. They ask questions that spark amazing conversations. With three kids, I’ve learned early on that none of them are alike. Each is their own individual with specific interests, likes, and dislikes. I hope to never put my kids into a box but instead nurture their interests.

For example, my oldest son loves art. Last year, I remember noticing that he wasn’t doing as much art as he used to and I realized that he simply didn’t have adequate space for it. I ended up buying him an art table and helped him get his space set up so that he can do his art whenever he has the time or feels called. I’m often talking to him about the possibilities that come with a creative career field. Sometimes I find he needs permission to take a little time for himself to do art, instead of study so much.

My middle son has a love of biology. I’ve taken him countless times to nature preserves, on hikes, and to the garden store. I remember when he was only about 5 years old and he wanted to start a snail habitat. Of course, I encouraged him! He was so in awe of his snails and loved watching and learning from them. He felt the same way about all living creatures, including spiders. Being an anachrophobic mom, I remember telling myself I better get over that quickly because my son loved them just as much as any other animal. I used to have him help me catch any spiders or other insects that got into our house to release them unharmed. We have had many conversations about how his love of creatures, and of our Earth, can be translated into a career path. He knows that he can continue to be lead by his own curiosities well into adulthood! We often talk about how he can do anything he puts his mind to, even if it’s something he hasn’t seen done before.

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

I’m not at all a believer in balance in terms of giving equal time to career and family. Instead, I think about success between career and family as a balance scale that’s never actually balanced. For example, one day I may have to spend more time on work projects, which means I won’t have equal time with family. The next day I may have much more time devoted to family activities. When I look back on a week, I can see that my priority is always family, and as long as I’m feeling good about the quality of time I’ve spent with my kids, it feels successful.

I also believe in being intentional about my time. I use my Power Hour time in the mornings to be proactive about my day, instead of reactive. I find that this really helps with feeling successful as a busy mom and driven career woman.

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

There are so many wonderful resources for families out there, especially since podcasting has really taken off! Love and Logic has been around since the 1970s and is a parenting practice my husband and I put into place when our boys were younger. We always loved their method of using the term “I’m having an energy drain!” when the kids misbehaved. It turns it around onto them and stops them in their tracks. Our kids eventually got so used to this that they’d beg us not to say it!

I also love The Wellness Mama podcasts. As a vegan foodie and former food blogger, and as a parent obsessed with health, I love the variety of resources and tips for treating health-related issues and for living a healthy lifestyle it provides.

Another book I’ve resourced as a parent is The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D. I heard her speak in an interview with Oprah and was impressed by the tools she gave empowering our children. It’s all about being open to our own downfalls and learning opportunities as we navigate parenthood while healing our own issues because children can act as our mirrors.

Finally, the book The Power Of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian has done wonders for my peace of mind. There is a prayer for almost any situation that may arise in parenthood.

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

One of my favorite “Life Lesson Quotes” is “thoughts are things”, which is based on Napoleon Hill’s teachings from Think and Grow Rich. I live by and teach my kids about, this motto. Our thoughts are incredibly powerful. When we are aware of the power we hold on the inside, we can change our world on the outside. My kids, and my students, know that it’s a constant practice-to be aware of what you’re thinking, and switch up your thoughts if need be.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to teach people that they hold all the power within themselves. As I said earlier, our thoughts create our reality. When we are complaining and grumpy, we attract more of that into our day. But when we expect great things to happen and try our best to think of the good in others, and believe that everything is here for us, we get to watch our lives truly unfold and it’s a beautiful thing!

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

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