Eliminate distractions. The biggest culprit here are cell phones. Busy parents cannot afford to waste 2–3 hours per day mindlessly looking at their phones. Keep your phone away while at work. And especially keep it turned off when you are 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 Kate Raidt. Kate Raidt, author of “The Million-Dollar Parent: How To Have a Successful Career While Keeping Your Family a Top Priority”, has been a sales trainer for over 25 years. She was the Director of Marketing for a large corporate company for the past 8 years before recently launching her own coaching business KateRaidt.com. Kate has two terrific children along with her husband Daniel.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
My father was in real estate and my mother was a school teacher. We lived in Highland Park, an affluent area of Dallas. I am grateful I was raised in this area, however my parents lived far beyond their means. They were constantly working to “keep up with the Joneses”. I always felt as a child that my parents made their careers a bigger priority than me. This definitely has had a tremendous impact on how I have raised my children and consciously keeping my kids a priority while juggling a successful career.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
Not only was I raised feeling like I was less important than my father’s job, many of my friends had children before I did, and I saw how many of them were gone 10–14 hours per day chasing their careers after their children were born. A combination of both of these made me say to myself “I will never do that. There has got to be a way to have a successful career without being gone 50 hours per week.” Before having children, I worked really hard. But I didn’t work very smart. I was that person who made good money, but I worked 50–80 hours per week in order to do it. When my daughter was born, I was a Sales Director for an insurance organization. I had to completely change the way I did business. I was astonished to discover that I was able to earn more money working two days per week working 100% referrals than I never did working five days per week doing mostly cold calls. I never would have learned this if my daughter wasn’t born.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
I wake up at 6am and get an hour of work in before I wake up my children at 7am.
From 7am-8am I get my kids ready for school.
8am-1pm is ‘go time’ because that is the window my children are at school every day and I can get the most work done with the least amount of distractions.
1pm-4pm my kids are home doing homework. I work while they are working — but there are quite a few distractions. 🙂
Both of my children play sports in the evening. Thankfully both of their sports facilities have good Wifi, so I am able to get another 1–2 hours of work in during their practices if needed.
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?
I actually did a lot of research on this topic before my children were born. The most critical time of a child’s life is birth to age 3. During this time they need a lot of affection and love. When a child is having a meltdown, oftentimes it is because their emotional tank is empty. But they don’t have the ability to say “Mom, I’m a mess because you haven’t hugged me today.” The challenge in the American culture is that it’s customary to send infants and toddlers to daycare 10 hours per day while mom and dad work. This is detrimental to their health — especially emotionally. Because of the research I did, I was sold on never sending my kids to daycare all day and negotiating with my employers to always work from home.
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?
Children need to be developed, nurtured and raised. And it takes quality time to do this successfully. The most successful and impactful teachers and coaches spend quality time with their students and athletes. They don’t leave their job up to someone else to do for them. Same applies to parenting. Even just 10 minutes throwing a ball, asking questions about their interests, watching a movie together, or playing a board game can fill their emotional tank. Parents don’t need to take an expensive trip to Disney to have “quality time”. It’s the little moments, day in and day out, that matter the most.
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 daughter is 14 and my son is 11. To this day, we “tuck them in” every night before they go to bed. One might say they are too old to have bedtime rituals, but this has always been one of our favorite ways to get quality time, tell stories, laugh and connect without any distractions.
* When my husband takes my daughter to a tennis tournament, I take full advantage of that time to have a “date night” with my son. We go to dinner and I love this one-on-one time with him.
* I also love throwing a football with my son. It’s not common to see a mom throwing a football, but I love it. It has been a wonderful way for us to bond.
* My daughter is very entrepreneurial. She is very savvy with social media. I love teaching her marketing tricks, and she has taught me plenty as well. We have fun creating Canva graphics together. One of her businesses is a baking business. So we also spend a lot of time in the kitchen together working on recipes.
* My husband is from Germany. Every summer we spend 4–6 weeks visiting his family in Germany. Our rule when we visit is “no TV, tablets or devices”. My children not only get quality time with me during this time, but also much needed quality time with grandma, grandpa and other family members.
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.
* I have found that the one hour in the morning before the kids wake up and 2–3 hours at night after they go to bed are critical hours to get a lot of work done. During this time, I don’t feel the tug-of-war of dividing my time between kids and work.
* Eliminate distractions. The biggest culprit here are cell phones. Busy parents cannot afford to waste 2–3 hours per day mindlessly looking at their phones. Keep your phone away while at work. And especially keep it turned off when you are with your kids.
* Put important “kid things” on your calendar FIRST and then schedule work meetings, calls and appointments around your family time. This will always allow you to have lunch in the school cafeteria once a month, attend ball games, volunteer at their school, etc…without any conflicts. If a colleagues proposes a meeting during your family time, you simply, say “I’m sorry, I’m not available at that time. Can we shoot for 9am instead?”
* I am adamant about not having devices at the dinner table. That also includes when we eat out at a restaurant. Meals are meant to be conversation time. It breaks my heart how many families I see at restaurants and both the parents and kids are on their phone the entire time and nobody is talking to each other.
* Bring your kids with you. When my daughter was about 3 years old, I was very involved in volunteer work. One evening I was taking a meal to a needy family and my husband was running late to watch her. I ended up taking her with me. It was the best thing that ever happened because she learned so much about the needs of this family. I ended up taking my kids to every service project going forward. I have taken my children on sales calls, business meetings, keynote speeches, etc…Not only does this give them a chance to learn from me, but is also gives us more time to spend together rather than getting a babysitter.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
Great question! A good parent is one who is positive, present and coachable. The hospital doesn’t give us a manual how to effectively raise terrific kids. It’s up to us to educate ourselves. It’s astonishing how many parents never read parenting books or seek professional parenting advice. They just “wing it”. Imagine if our surgeons, teachers, financial planners and pastors refused to go to school and are just “winging it”. We would be appalled. Millions of parents truly believe that they have to beat goodness into their child and punish them when they misbehave. These parents are horribly uneducated and misinformed. When children feel loved, nurtured, have a healthy diet and adequate sleep, they rarely misbehave. Good parents understand this and they prevent tantrums by ensuring their children have adequate sleep, nurturing, etc…The common denominator with happy children is that they have positive parents who are well-educated on healthy parenting techniques.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
Both of my children play sports at the highest level for their age. My 14 year old daughter is ranked top 20 in the country in junior tennis. My son was selected for one of the MLS (Major League Soccer) youth soccer academies. Just last week I was talking to my son about the heartbreak of potentially getting cut from a team someday. There are many stories of players who quit after getting cut. Most importantly, there are stories of players who found a new team after getting cut, and they used that negative situation as motivation to play better on the new team. And that’s when their careers started taking off. I not only tell my kids “you can do anything in life you want to”, but more importantly how to handle obstacles along the way.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
“Success” to me is when a person obtains achievement ethically, honestly and with character. There are too many people who appear to be successful, but got there by stepping over people, conducting unethical business or made money their #1 priority. If I had cheated people in business deals and/or left my children at daycare, I would have earned a lot more money than I have. But I cannot look myself in the mirror if I am not doing business ethically and always keeping my family my top priority.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
Katie Malinski LCSW — I learned from her “preventative parenting”, “The Arc of the Tantrum” and also a lot about brain development in children
The 5 Love Languages of Children — simple advice that applies to all relationships
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson — talks about the importance of sleep
Positive Parenting — How to parent without corporal punishment
Jill Castle “Eat Like a Champion” — registered dietician who talks about healthy eating for young athletes
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You get nothing you hope for, but everything you work for”. Everyone HOPES to have a terrific marriage, kids, career, life, etc…but only the ones who WORK for it actually reach their goals.
I have reached all of my life goals. I ran a marathon, had the lead role in a movie, published a book, learned a second language, sang in a band, backpacked the world, etc…None of these things was handed to me. I WORKED for every single one of them.
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. 🙂
We live in a REACTIVE world. We wait until young adults misbehave and them put them in prison. If you look at all inmates in prison, and look at their childhood, 99% of them were neglected or abused as children. If I could start a cause, it would be to invest billions into parenting programs and resources. It would be mandatory for all parents to attend monthly parenting workshops, courses and coaching. I truly believe if we invested in families, we would have a fraction of the dropouts, inmates, obesity, depression, suicide, bullying, etc…We make such a fuss about all of these issues on the back end, but we have done absolutely nothing to truly prevent these issues on the front end. I want to focus on the PREVENTION. And the only way to do this is to give much needed coaching to parents from the day their child is born.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!