Get rid of all excess materialistic stuff! Keep things as clutter-free and as simple as possible. One of the best things we did for our family was to downsize our home. Life became so much more simple and we honestly spend more time together in our smaller, cozier home.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Josephine Geraci. Josephine Geraci is the CEO and Founder of My Mom Knows Best, Inc., a certified Women-Owned Business. She caught the entrepreneur bug at the mere age of ten taking over her big brother’s paper route. Josephine lives and breathes entrepreneurship. She not only created a product called gLovies but she was the first to market multipurpose disposable gloves for kids. Josephine has a passion to help children with sensory issues be included and not excluded from school activities through her gLovies product. Art teachers rave that they actually get to teach longer and clean up less because of gLovies. Through many years of working on Wall Street and her degrees from St. John’s University, BS in Finance and an MBA in Marketing, Josephine has robust experience from which to draw on. Josephine has conquered every aspect of running a product based business from Marketing, Sales, Finance, Accounting and everything else in-between. Josephine is dedicated to supporting fellow entrepreneurs by helping them get word out about their companies through her successful podcast, Paying It Forward with Josephine Geraci — Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs. She is currently on the board of SCWBEC (Suffolk County Women’s Business Economic Coalition) where she helps inspire the members by sharing her business lessons learned. Josephine is an alumni of the Tory Burch & Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program as well as the NYC Goods and Services Mentorship Program. Josephine learned a lot about teamwork growing up in a household with ten siblings. She is married with three children and lives in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
For most people asking about their childhood would be a normal question, but for me, well, I have seven brothers and three sisters! Yep, that’s right, including me, my wonderful parents had ELEVEN children. Growing up in an active and loud household helped me in so many aspects of my life. My parents taught us to be kind and truly care for others. With 13 people under one roof, there were a lot of personalities. We had to learn to compromise at a very young age. My parents created a very stable foundation for my adult life. I had a very modest upbringing that was filled with a lot of love.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I was not brought up in an environment with excessive amounts of material things. So lots of times I had to find a way to improvise with what we had. With that in mind, I’d like to think I’m always looking for the solution to problems. When I realized many years ago that disposable gloves existed for adults but not for children, I decided to solve that problem. gLovies was born out of necessity. It warms my heart today to know that so many special needs children with sensory tactile dysfunction are able to use my product and be included not excluded in school programs.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Wow, I do have a busy day handling a household of five and a dog, a business and I also sit on the board of a community program. While I’m always juggling tasks, I must make it clear that my family comes first before anything.
My day starts with a quick workout — even when I only have ten minutes. I have three teenagers who can mostly take care of themselves in the morning, but just like in any family, there’s the morning rush to get the kids to school and/or on the bus. Once the kids are off, I spend the next hour straightening out the house, doing laundry and I try to at least have an idea of what I will be cooking for dinner. (My morning routine helps my house run smoothly.) I take care of the dog and then I’m off to the office. I try to get into the office by 8:30 every morning and I work until around 4:00 ish. That’s when the afternoon rush(when the kids were younger, it was called “the witching hour”) begins. With three children actively involved in sports, I’m either sitting at a game, driving the kids to the gym or going to the supermarket to pick up dinner. I make it a point to really, really try to sit down and have dinner with my children every night. Even if my husband works late, the kids know that sitting down to dinner is super important to me. Dinner time-to me- is considered fifteen minutes of peace. It’s the only time of the day we can all let our hair down and catch up on what happened during the day for each of us. Dinner time is truly my favorite time of the day. After dinner we all cleanup and then disburse into our own hideaways. Kids do homework and I catch up on emails and plan for the next day. If my husband is working late, we might gather around the dinner table and have some dessert while he eats his dinner.
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?
Not spending time with children diminishes the potential relationship between parent and child. If time is not invested in getting to know your children when they are young, you can’t just expect to turn the light switch on when they are teenagers and think they will open up to you then. Kids need a sounding board. Kids need to be validated. Kids need to know, no matter what, somebody has their back. Spending time with kids is actively showing them you love them, it’s not just words.
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?
With any relationship, the more time that is invested, the deeper the relationship becomes. I’m so grateful that I have such an open relationship with my children. Of course each child is different meaning one might be more vocal than another, but I make it my job to check in with my kids on a regular basis to make sure they are OK emotionally. Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a kid these days. They have worries and concerns and I try my very best as a mom to help them think things out clearly so they can lead a more peaceful, happy life.
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 children and I spend quality time together at dinner time. Sitting around the dinner table is sacred to us because that’s our time to bond as a family on a daily basis. I know it might sound crazy, but even just 15 minutes in the car driving to a sports practice can be an incredible time of connecting on a deeper level. Managing three kids, while it might be easier than my parents having 11 kids, can be challenging when trying to squeeze in one-on-one time with each child. That’s when the quiet time in the car is important. As a family we try to take a family vacation together. It’s amazing the bonding that goes on among all of us when the day to day distractions don’t exist. Finally, depending on my kids’ school schedules, if I’m taking a business trip, especially to a trade show, I try to take one of them with me. It’s a wonderful experience for them to witness exactly what mom does at work and I’m always amazed with how my kids step out of their comfort zone to help make my trip as successful as possible. I would like to think I taught my children the importance of making memories compared to just acquiring materialistic things.
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.
Five strategies on how to create more space in our lives to give our children more quality attention:
1. Get rid of all excess materialistic stuff! Keep things as clutter-free and as simple as possible. One of the best things we did for our family was to downsize our home. Life became so much more simple and we honestly spend more time together in our smaller, cozier home.
2. Disengage from all electronics. Oh boy, I remember going for pizza with my 2-year-old at the time and he said, “Mommy, can you leave your phone in the car?” Yikes, that stung like a bee.
3. Turn off mentally from everything else and be laser focused on your conversation with your children. It’s hard running a business wearing so many hats, but it’s crucial to “just be” when you are with your children. You connect on a much deeper level when the kids see that you are really engaged when they are speaking.
4. Set a date and stick to it. Whether taking my daughter shopping or going out to dinner or to the movies — these are the quality times that our children will look back on and remember with a smile.
5. Keep Things Simple. We try to have family movie night at least twice a month. We all snuggle on the couch and laugh/cry together — definitely bonding experience.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent in my mind is someone who truly tries to get down on a child’s level to see through their eyes the world around them. As a parent, I’d like to think we have a strong sense of intuition telling us if our child is happy or in need of something. A good parent tries to instill a sense of security for their child. Open communication is key. Sometimes it hurts being a parent because sometimes we have to say no to our children, but that’s what teaching our children life lessons is all about. No means no in my house and my kids know that. I might be repeating myself, but I try really hard to teach my children that relationships are more important than things in life.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
Well, running my own business and creating a product from a concept to a real company that sells a product that is changing lives of children with sensory tactile dysfunction — I think I managed to show my kids that dreams do come true when you work hard. My mom taught me this one phrase that I’ve handed down to each of my three children: “You can do whatever you put your mind to.”
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
It’s so funny, before having a family and children, I always thought success was tied to a dollar amount. But no, now that I’m older and more wise, I realize success is defined in other ways. Success for most mompreneurs, I would guess, would be defined as balancing the home and work life as much as possible. As long as my family’s needs are met and work is moving in the right direction, then that is success to me. (Although, I must say, when ABC Nightline News left my home after interviewing me about my gLovies product, I turned to my husband and it was like a revelation, I said, “now, that’s success!”
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
One of my favorite books for parenting was a book written by the school psychologist in my kids’ middle school. The name of the book is School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools by Wendy L. Moss. The strategies in this book helped me teach my kids the importance of being organized in order to be a great student.
Podcast: Baby and Toddler Instructions hosted by Blythe Lipman This is a great podcast where Blythe Lipman gives helpful tips on how to take care of children as a baby and toddler to keep them happy. Blythe always talked about the importance of establishing a routine when the kids are young. For example, a good sleep routine as a baby will set them up for good sleeping habits as adults — -hopefully!
Podcast: My own! I often talked about the work/life balance
Paying It Forward with Josephine Geraci Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Well, I must say the biggest life lesson I learned in life was when I called my mom from the hospital to tell her my first husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor…it was ten days after my wedding. My mom said to me…”you know, nobody said life was going to be easy.” Yikes…that’s when I learned that life can be really, really hard.
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, I would love to get children from local schools matched up with elderly people in nursing homes or assisted living homes where the younger generation can interview the older generation in an effort to pay knowledge forward.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!