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Jillian Coburn of MOMMY GO-BAG: “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents”

Invest in a magnet calendar and a planner. Write your schedule three months out so you are aware what you have each month. Being the manager of the house, I must make sure everyone is where they need to be and it’s vital to be available for the boys for important dates such as flag […]

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Invest in a magnet calendar and a planner. Write your schedule three months out so you are aware what you have each month. Being the manager of the house, I must make sure everyone is where they need to be and it’s vital to be available for the boys for important dates such as flag football or football games.

Asa part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Jillian Coburn.

Coburn is an entrepreneur, inventor, writer, outdoorswoman, and mother of three who is passionately committed to supporting and elevating women who have nowhere to turn and living under the shadows of domestic violence. As a survivor, she assists women living with abuse by empowering and teaching them how to get out, heal and build a life they’ve always imagined.

She is also the co-owner of NOLA Prestige Electric, a women/minority based contracting company. She founded the apparel line, Reel Housewives of the Deep South, in 2014, producing one-of-a-kind American-made designs for Southern women who love the outdoors and choose “catfishing over catfighting!”

Jillian lives and works in Lago Vista, Texas with her and her husbands three children.

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

Iwas born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, the youngest in a family of three girls. Growing up, I was always on the family farm or playing a sport. You would never catch me inside and I could always be found in the fields until the streetlights came on to cue me to get home. I was a very bright student and may be described as a daddy’s girl. My father became disabled at a young age and he took on the role of “mom” as my mother worked diligently to become highly educated in order to support the family. My upbringing included a Catholic school education, and I received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and become a schoolteacher.

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

My husband, who recently retired after 30 years in the U.S. Army, felt it was best that I stay at home with our last child, Lonnie Coburn IV. While serving in the military, my husband was constantly working with both the Army and our company, NOLA Prestige Electric, LLC. The idea of me returning to the workforce as an executive concerned him and he felt that I needed to be available for the three kids, including our new baby, a fourth grader, and an eighth grader. For my part, I knew I had to create things of my own while staying at home to be the house manager, counselor, and chauffeur for the family. Playing tennis and being classroom mom was not enough for the entrepreneur at heart that I was. I began writing my first book after the birth of our last child and created an apparel line for women who fished and hunted. I created my newest invention as a mom on the go and wanted to produce a solution for moms like me.

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

I wake up at 6:00 am every morning to check emails and get my two boys ready for school, including cooking breakfast and prepping lunches for the day. After dropping off the youngest, which is a 64-minute roundtrip commute, I start diligently returning calls and scheduling guys in the field for our company. Once home, I begin the house manager job, taking out food to prepare for dinner, washing clothes, putting away dishes, and cleaning house. Afterward, I blog and work on my current company, Mommy Go Bag. At 2:00 pm, I race to retrieve the youngest from school and then back again to our town to drop off my elder son at football. I arrive home to assist my youngest with schoolwork and playing one-on-one with him. At 5:45, I’m back in the car to pick up my son from football before getting back home to begin dinner. After dinner, you will find our family bike riding, swimming, or playing board games together.

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 remember as a kid my mother not being able to be the room mom or being available to see me play tennis or basketball. That relationship was not like my friends, whose moms were always available. I made a conscious effort to make myself available for my children so that I didn’t repeat the same mistake my mom did with me. With my eldest, who is a girl, I made every effort to be there for quality time and those important memories you cherish as a child, from making myself available for plays, manicures, and sleepovers to just showing up when I knew she needed me. This helped her become a successful young lady and she is currently in her junior year at Tulane University. Throughout middle and high school, she was a cheerleader and was nominated first maid at her high school. Gabby and I talk every day and she plans to travel to Texas to get her doctrine in law.

Those moments when Gabby needed me, whether it was for petty girl stuff or just being that ear that all children need to rely on, modeled the remarkable young woman she is now. I am the same way with my two sons. Boys are so different than girls, but boys need their mommas as much as they need their dads. Showing up and being available for those small moments steers your children in the right direction. I like to say that as a mom, showing that love and being supportive creates a successful and confident child.

I raised my oldest and middle children as a single mom for five years. Juggling an executive job and extracurricular activities for the kids was a main priority. You cannot forget that from the ages of 1 to 7, your child will develop what they see in their environment. The two eldest tell me that I am way more lax with their little brother than I was with them. I can say this: being a young mom and not knowing the best practices as a parent was so stressful. I can remember thinking, “Am I doing this right and I am doing that right?” but keeping in mind that these small, impressionable human beings need a cheerleader to be on their team. I was that star cheerleader. As an older mom with the baby, I realized how important it was to keep the same philosophy in mind. Loving and showing up for your child is so important for their developmental process. You don’t wake up one day and realize you need to learn how to love; it is shown by your parents. The kids may think I am too much at times but, in my eyes, I think they are perfect even if they make a mistake. I will show them the teachable moment and the consequences associated with any mistake, but still love them. I guess my upbringing with a father and mother who would love me no matter what and showed up when I needed them the most molded me into the person I am now.

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?

If you are not spending time with your child, you will never understand what is going on in their world. It is so important to make the time and check in with each one of your kids. Social media has flooded our youth and they are constantly on their phones. They are influenced on what their lives should look like and for a young child, that can be challenging. Giving them space and doing check-ins, or just planning one-on-one time if you have multiple kids, shows your children that they can reach out if they are struggling. I firmly believe some kids need that extra nudge to ask what is going on in their world.

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?

As a parent, I make an effort to check phones and social media outlets to see what is going on. Best practices will show you that something may be happening that you are not even aware of. At one time, my daughter was being stalked by a young coach who wanted her Snapchat. Since I did the check-ins, I asked her about it and stopped something from happening before it was too late. Same thing with the boys. If I see something that I may not believe is fitting for them by being aware and making that one-on-one time, I can fix something that I notice is becoming broken. Because of the environment of the internet and social media, our kids need us more than they ever have. I can’t stress this enough! Educate your children! Make them aware or they will steer in the wrong direction!

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.

Gabby is my only daughter and although she is the eldest and many miles away, I still make time to fly in and spend a weekend with her. For instance, last year I flew there for a moms’ weekend for her sorority. I took the time to square away a weekend with just the two of us so she could feel special and appreciated. I can’t imagine my parents being miles away and not seeing them on a daily basis. In the summer, she works in Houston, which is two hours away from us. I always surprise her by just showing up unannounced and crashing at her flat. It’s funny because she has to wake up at 8:00 am and I am in her bed while she works! Yes, we FaceTime once a day and talk multiple times. But showing up for important moments or unexpected drop-ins means so much to her because I made the time to spend with her. Same thing when a boy broke up with her and she was devasted. I had to fly down and be there for her so she wouldn’t go into a downward spiral. Quality time is so important. Even as a young adult, she still needs to feel her momma is making time for her.

Matthew is my middle one and every Thursday in the fall is football night. I make sure I square away plans for the youngest so Matt has my undivided attention. By showing up and having those twenty minutes in the car to talk about girls or the team shows that I value him and that he is important to me. I also make time once a week for us to head to Dick’s or grab sushi with his pals to let him know I am always available and will stop whatever I am doing just to be with him. I want him to remember when he is in his thirties that his momma always showed up for his games, our drives home, and the excitement and smiles I gave him because of how proud I was to be cheering him on as my son! We may not like the same music but jamming out to his rap and laughing at silly YouTube videos is quality time we spend together. We enjoy hikes on the trails and boat rides on the lake, too. He knows I am always within arm’s reach and the security of knowing momma is there is valued so much. During COVID, we were all isolated and Matt shared with me that he was depressed. Do you know any child that would share their feelings if they didn’t feel safe or valued? I spent a lot of time speaking to him about changes, how hard it is for everyone, and that it was okay to feel the way he was feeling.

Lonnie is the baby, and I must admit that I spend a lot of quality time with this little guy. He is a ham, to say the least, and is so funny! We have a lot of time to spend together, especially in the mornings on our commute to school. He talks to me about the most interesting things and this quality time in the mornings and afternoon is vital to him. Recently, I have been making time in the afternoon to teach him to ride a bike. His dad is very tough, and Lonnie needed the confidence I provided him on the bike rides. Yes, we may be going super slow, but me cheering him on has built the confidence he needed to make sure he can do anything he puts his mind to. I make every effort to volunteer for lunch duty at his school and this means so much to him. He doesn’t want me to leave when I show up and I know he loves me just being on campus and that I value him.

Small things like I described above is only a small slice of the quality time I create as a busy mom and these would be the strategies I suggest:

#1 Invest in a magnet calendar and a planner. Write your schedule three months out so you are aware what you have each month. Being the manager of the house, I must make sure everyone is where they need to be and it’s vital to be available for the boys for important dates such as flag football or football games.

#2 Have your child pick a day out of the week when they can choose what the two of you can do together so you can plan the time they need for you to be engaged with them.

#3 Red, Green, Yellow. I have a magnet board and every day, everyone in the house picks a color. I found that sometimes I was having a crappy day and wasn’t showing up the way I needed to for the family. If I pick red, it means I’m having a horrible day and that I might lash out at them if they risk overstepping things with me. Yellow means I am on edge, but just tread lightly. Green means everything is great. Same thing goes for them. By cueing and viewing this board, we all know where we are emotionally. This is super important when we are running a mile a second. As a parent, this also creates the awareness needed if our kids do not want to share their true thoughts and feelings and alerts you to actively found out what is going on.

#4 Try to sit together at the dinner table 1–3 times a week. This quality time in our world today is not utilized enough. The time we spend eating and talking around the table about our days could be a make-or-break difference and, as a family, you are uniting as one.

#5 Sundays have always been a family day for us, so we are usually on the boat or going on an adventure. Again, uniting is a great strategy to use as a large family or even as a single parent family. Creating time and recognizing when your child needs you is critical.

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

Is there even a definition of a good parent? At the age of 18, I had my first child. When I was 19, she began day care at the neighborhood Catholic church. I thought I was a bad mom for going to college, being so young as a parent, and not being like the other older moms. I laugh at myself now because I was a good parent. I could have chosen not to raise Gabby and give her to my parents, but I stepped up and showed up as a mom. Now that I am almost 40, I giggle because my perception of a good mother was so skewed! The reality is, we must work for our children to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. I don’t think it really matters what your job is. If your moral compass is off, maybe that is what makes you a bad parent. But if your heart and value system are set correctly, I think parents are doing the best they can and often the best they can is what they have been taught by their own parents. If they choose to do things differently, then maybe that is their choice. But I think that as parents, we are so hard on ourselves and we need to stop that stinking thinking because all negative talk and energy is invited into our world. If we are positive and are conscious of what we are doing, then I think that is what makes a successful and amazing parent. Showing love and being human is a good parent in my eyes. If I were the best parent in the world, life would be perfect, but that isn’t reality. Life is challenging and it’s how we deal with it and show up as human beings. Showing kindness and self-worth for ourselves and others models a good parent, in my opinion.

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

All my kids have infinite dreams! At the age of 30, I began a journey of exploring the Law of Attraction and learning what other successful people were taught. At the ages of 12, 7, and 1, all three of my kids began to manifest their lives. I constantly tell them that if you write it, speak it, and read it daily, you will become whatever you desire. As an infinite being, you are time and space! Gabby was super shy, and I had to tell her to dream big and she did! By showing her the positive and the possibilities, she created her own space at an amazing college and will leave the ground fertile to create whatever large dream she has. The middle child is the same. At a young age, I taught him the same language of the Law of Attraction and his dream is to be a successful attorney and have a mansion. I know if I continue to provide the space for him to dream big, he will be sitting in the same spot as his sister, ready to make his dreams come true. Last but not least is Baby Lonnie. He has some very large dreams, too, and I align with those dreams so he can believe anything and everything is possible. His aspiration as a seven-year-old is to be the next pope, drive a Lamborghini, and donate all his father’s money to the poor. He plans on me moving in with him in Rome and taking care of me. These are all realistic dreams and our lives are only energy! I feel the energy of each one of my kids and it’s my job as a parent to keep this positive and infinite energy on track. Being is having the infinite choice and possibility of everything you desire.

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

Growing up, I was taught success was in the eye of the person who believed and was happy with themselves and their life. Success, to me, is being happy and my children being the joyful beings they choose to be. Success is knowing that all my children are safe and are creating the life they desire. My legacy of success will ask the question, “If there were no force against me, who would I be?” Truly receiving opportunities for success means being able to accept all the information that there is. It doesn’t have to do with money. It has to do with everything. It has to do with the awareness of everything that is possible. When you are truly successful, you are able to receive and be in the realm of anything. This is what creates the possibilities the universe can give to you. If you choose to have a business or a life or a relationship, you need have generative energy (the start), creative energy (the change), and institutive energy (the maintain). If you don’t keep maintaining those things, what you seek will fall apart and you must lose. Every choice gives me an awareness, which gives me multiple other choices.

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

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money The Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Conscious Parents, Conscious Kids: Inspiration for joyful parenting and happy kids by Steven Bowman

All of these books provided insight on the law of attraction and that we are all just energy. It helped me become a better parent and to show my kids to think big and act upon what they desire in life, even if it seems a little weird. There are so many great speakers and writers who show us the key elements to become successful and to never give up on life. Life and breathing are a privilege and every day we should thank our higher power to be alive.

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

“You get what you pay for!”

As an inventor, writer, and entrepreneur, paying for services and having assistance is key when running your business. The saying, “you get what you pay for!’, is so true! If you are not putting money where you think it should appear you may find yourself in a downward spiral of missing details or important parts that are important when running a successful business. For instance, I may be on a budget but, I will make sure the person I am hiring is worth what I am paying for. There have been many life lessons for cutting a corner and using a cheaper person who does not do the job right!

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. 🙂

Not judging or expecting anything from our kids. Kids should be kids. It’s a choice to just be a kid. My husband comes from a poor family and his entire life he has worked and never really was a kid. I see how challenging and what was expected by him as a young boy. I think as parents if we model for our kids to just be kids and enjoy riding bikes, reading a book and exploring, that we would have so many more amazing cool inventions and happy kids.

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

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