“Parents are just a guide for their children”, with Jennifer Hovey and Dr. Ely Weinschneider

Time goes by so fast and you only get one shot at your children being kids to build that foundation for the rest of their lives. I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. Research shows children that have a strong family support system are less likely to get into harmful situations. Parents […]

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Time goes by so fast and you only get one shot at your children being kids to build that foundation for the rest of their lives. I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. Research shows children that have a strong family support system are less likely to get into harmful situations. Parents are just a guide for their children, and I am trying to guide them onto a path where they can find success and happiness.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Hovey. Hovey has owned and operated Huntington Learning Center in East Boise for six years and is a dedicated franchisee, overseeing 100 students and 27 teachers. Aside from working full-time, Hovey also has a successful business of flipping houses with her fiancé. Hovey is a devoted mother of three wonderful kids and a very energetic dog named Oakley.

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

I was born and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho as the youngest of four brothers and sisters. I attended Boise State University and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and currently live in Boise, Idaho.

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

I was going through the process of applying for colleges with my oldest daughter, Callie. We felt certain that Callie would be going to Emory University on a track scholarship. We had underestimated the importance of a standardized test score and she ended up getting waitlisted at Emory. I felt that I had made a huge mistake of not understanding the importance of an ACT/SAT score and I didn’t want other Idaho parents to make the same mistake. I bought a Huntington Learning Center with the intention to educate other Idaho families on the importance of an ACT/SAT score for college entrance. I essentially dove in without really knowing what I was getting myself into, but it has turned out to be the best thing I’ve done in my career. I get so much fulfillment when I get to help a struggling student succeed and be confident enough to compete on the world stage.

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

When I first took ownership of Huntington Learning Center, I felt like I was not getting enough time with my family, so I hired other staff to be at my center in the mornings. This allowed me more time with my family. During the week, I wake up before my family and check my email to put out any fires from work. When my youngest daughter gets up, I spend the morning focused on her. We get her ready for school, review her homework from the night before, and make breakfast. After I drop her off at school, I come back home and get myself ready for the day. When I get to work, I switch hats from mom to business owner and put in a full day’s work until 6pm. Then I come home, make dinner, and help with homework.

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?

My philosophy of parenting is to just be around in case they want to talk. I believe in being the stable person for my children so they know they can come to me with any problem. I might not be able to solve it for them, but at least I can just be with them. I try to be open and nonjudgmental when they confide in me, so they understand I am in their corner. I believe it makes it easier for them to come to me for advice on tough issues. Another important aspect of spending time with my children is having fun with them. You can frequently find us having impromptu dance parties or watching Netflix marathons and making brownies. I think that by engaging in this way with my children, they are happier overall, and they know they have a solid support system.

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?

Time goes by so fast and you only get one shot at your children being kids to build that foundation for the rest of their lives. I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. Research shows children that have a strong family support system are less likely to get into harmful situations. Parents are just a guide for their children, and I am trying to guide them onto a path where they can find success and happiness.

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?

About three years ago I went on an extended trip to Europe with my family. It had been the first time that I had been away from my business for that long. I came back and had a meeting with my staff and told them we needed to hire more employees, so that I can have enough bandwidth to focus on my family as well. I also wanted to take that as an opportunity to focus “on the business and not in the business”. It really has made a difference in my day to day routine. I am now able to take time off during the weekends and be heavily involved in my youngest daughter’s extracurricular activities. My business really hasn’t suffered from it. It might have even helped, since I can fully focus when I am at work and not feel like I am missing out on my daughter’s childhood.

I also flip houses on the side, and my fiancé and I always invite our daughter to participate in our decisions. We ask her opinion on different aspects of the real estate market and even have her pick out the fixtures and decorations! I want her to know that her opinion is valuable, and I want to build her up to be independent and know that her decisions and opinions have an impact.

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?

It is hard to put a boundary around downtime from work. As I mentioned earlier, getting up early to check my email and put out any fires helps me stay focused in mornings when the rest of my family is getting ready for the day. I am also of the opinion that “if you can afford it and can outboard out, then do it!” I have someone come once a week to deep clean my house while I am at work, so I can spend that extra time with my family. I also hired on extra help at work, so I don’t feel pressured to spend more time at the office. As a business owner, I do have the perks of being able to make my own schedule, so I can schedule around important activities, such as school plays, games or dances. I try to stay out of my email during these events, so I can keep my attention on my family.

It is difficult being pulled in many different directions, but I try to remember my youngest daughter is 11 years old and I only get her for 7 more years. I can be selfish then, but right now, this is her time and I owe it to her to give her the most I can out of these years. That helps me stay in the moment with her.

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

A happy, well-adjusted child who knows the world doesn’t revolve around them is the sign of a good parent. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules of being a good parent; I know that I have been different at different stages with my three kids as well. My one over-riding value is that I want them to know that I am here for them whenever they need me.

I believe that supporting your child and exploring their interests with them is important, but it also is the fun part of parenting. Then you, as a person, get to grow and change too. My youngest daughter and l love the same songs. I try to stay up to date on the latest and greatest hits, so we can share those experiences together. That’s important to me; even if my daughter isn’t that impressed that I can belt out Ariana Grande!

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

My family and I have frequent discussions regarding overcoming fear. When my child comes to me with an idea for a project or new activity, I always tell them to go for it and that the worst thing that could happen is that they fail. And so what if they do? It’s not a big deal! It has been my experience that the biggest failure is not having tried at all. I always remind my children that it’s natural to be fearful of the unknown when trying something new, but it is the only way to grow as a person.

My daughter has her championship basketball game tonight and she is worried that she will miss a shot and lose the game for her team, so I referred to the iconic Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I have found that in my own life to be true. It is scary to take on big risks. Recently, my oldest daughter was worried about her application to medical school and was extremely intimidated about the whole process. I just had to remind her that everyone has their own fears to conquer, and at least she is trying because that is the only way she can accomplish her goals.

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

I guess I can break the week apart and look at Monday through Thursday as a work-heavy portion of the week, but then I see Thursday until Sunday as my family time. That’s really a pretty good balance. It has been vital in my life to plan something fun on the weekends, or else the weekend will just fly by and it will be Monday again. We schedule fun events with friends and family at least a couple of weekends a month, so we can make our memories while we can. It makes us all happy, so I would define that as a success.

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

I listen to motivational YouTube videos every morning while getting ready. I love listening to Impact Theory by Tom Bilyeu. Bilyeu interviews people from all walks of life and I always come away with new inspiration. My Instagram feed is full of Jay Shetty, Mel Robbins, and Tom Bilyeu. If I get the chance to get on social media, I wanted to spend that time following people who will psych me up instead of bringing me down. I always strive to be a better person and I believe being a happy person is being a good parent.

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

It honestly changes. For a long time, it was Maryanne Wilson’s quote: “Don’t play small. You owe it to the world to be all you can be”.

Lately, my favorite quote is T-Pain: “All I do is win, win, win no matter what!” It isn’t philosophical, but it’s real.

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. 🙂

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, recently spoke of her dad asking her at dinner what she failed at each night and encouraging her to take risks and fail. It took the stigma out of failing because it put the emphasis on how she was evolving to be better. That’s important and I think people would put themselves in places to succeed more often if they didn’t worry about the stigma of failure.

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

About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy,businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.

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