It’s so obvious our kids just want to spend time with us. They want our attention; they want to know that we’re interested in what they are doing. It’s one thing to spend time with them but it’s another to really focus your time on them. When I’m focused entirely on them, I am able to give them quality time as opposed to just being in the same room with them.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Taryn Sher. Taryn, also known as “The Sparkle Boss”, started TK PR in 2008. The award winning PR firm represents clients in the travel & hospitality industry who are seeking National earned media coverage.
Taryn has orchestrated appearances for her clients on Fox and Friends, The Today Show, and Good Morning America, as well as features in Travel + Leisure, O the Oprah Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and thousands more.
Taryn was named the Small Business Administration’s South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year and one of Greenville Business Magazine’s Best and Brightest under 35. Taryn was selected as one of PR News’ People to Watch in PR and GSA Business’ 13 Visionaries.
Taryn has been a featured speaker, sharing inside secrets from the world of PR, at dozens of conferences across North America ranging from the Global Food Tourism Conference and the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show to the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Conference and Professional Association of Innkeepers International Annual Conference.
Taryn is former Chairman of the Board of the acclaimed food, wine and music festival Euphoria and the Clemson Small Business Development Center. She has also served as Gala Chair for the JDRF Greater Western Carolinas. Taryn currently serves as a Mentor for the Greenville Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator program and on the board of the Greenville Feed & Seed.
Taryn is mom to Avery Rose, 3, and Charleston York, 2 and spends her spare time dressing up as a princess or talking about the latest episode of Paw Patrol.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up an only child in a very small town south of Boston. I’m still extremely close with my parents who have always been my biggest cheerleaders. I graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in broadcast journalism and promptly moved to New York with barely 2 months’ worth of rent in the bank. My parents offered to support me for that first summer and told me to get a job by the fall. So I took a job in the fashion industry as an executive assistant, and ultimately persuaded that boss to let me take over the PR for the company.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
My husband was in medical school when we met in New York and when he decided to do his residency in Greenville, South Carolina I approached the company I was working for and asked to work remotely. They agreed with the condition that I start my own business. TK PR was born out of necessity.
Today, TK PR is an award winning boutique lifestyle PR firm that represents clients in the travel, hospitality, and consumer industries. TK PR clients have been seen on The Today Show, Fox and Friends, NBC Nightly News and in O, the Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, Town and Country and thousands more. Based in South Carolina, TK PR strives to bring “New York Results” to its clients, with a touch of Southern charm.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
It’s non-stop from the moment I get up, which currently means my 3 year old is waking me sometime between 6 and 6:30 am.
We all make breakfast together, my husband heads out first and the kids are out the door at 8 am. I immediately start my day- which usually consists of a few hundred emails, a couple of client meetings, calls with journalists, a conference call with my employee who is based in Cincinnati, and tracking down news stories for our clients. I have a home office and an office in town- so depending on the day/how many meetings I have on the schedule I’ll be at either one.
Lately I’ve been trying to squeeze in a Pure Barre class during lunch two days a week since exercising after work or on the weekends isn’t really an option with the little ones. Some weeks I have to travel for work- so there are extra pre-planning obstacles there to make sure the kids have everything they need. We don’t have any family nearby so our nanny has become a member of the family.
The girls get home at 5 pm and then I make dinner (thank goodness for Hello Fresh), we watch Sesame Street and Paw Patrol and start bedtime. At 7:30 pm my husband and I collapse on the couch for the next 2 hours catching up on work before one of us starts to fall asleep and we call it a night.
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?
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is important to make time to spend with your children?
It’s so obvious our kids just want to spend time with us. They want our attention; they want to know that we’re interested in what they are doing. I first realized this when gave the girls toy laptops. Avery started punching away at the keys, looked up and told me she “just had to send a few emails for work.” At that moment I realized how much they are listening and observing every single thing we do.
It’s one thing to spend time with them but it’s another to really focus your time on them. When I’m focused entirely on them, I am able to give them quality time as opposed to just being in the same room with them.
When Avery was born, I decided I wasn’t going to work on Fridays until both girls are in school full time. We currently have an incredible nanny who takes the girls 4 days a week but Fridays are my days with them. They’re young for such a short time, it’s really nice to get that extra day every week with them.
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?
Every Friday we usually make a special art project in the morning themed around the time of year or holiday. This year each of the girls wanted to make Valentine’s for their friends so they Friday before we sat down and made a list of everyone they wanted to give them to- ranging from our neighbors to their music teacher. Then each of them did what they could- Avery is learning to write her name so she wrote her name on every one, and Charleston decorated hers with stickers and colored them with crayons.
My kids love to help out in the kitchen so on the weekends they get up early with their dad and head downstairs to make breakfast. They both love to help make the coffee and then make M & M pancakes. They know every ingredient they need and the order in which to make them. They have gotten so comfortable in the kitchen that one weekend morning they surprised us by getting their step stool out, taking their waffles from the freezer, and cooking them in the microwave. It just proves they’re paying attention to more than we realize. And that they grow up fast.
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?
The biggest thing -somewhat obviously- is putting down the phone. Even kids as young as 3 realize when you aren’t truly paying attention to them. My employees know that unless it’s urgent I won’t be responding to emails on Fridays until 1:30pm when my girls take a nap. I don’t schedule meetings or conference calls for Fridays either unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Setting parameters- and sticking to them- is important. The work will still be there when the kids fall asleep.
Weekends are important times for us as a family as well. Most weekends we have something pre-planned- whether it’s a visit to the museum, the zoo, the park- we try and have something specific to do rather than just hanging around the house. That way, we are all focused on the activity. At home, it’s too easy to find yourself checking work emails.
But my husband and I always find 1 night a weekend to get a sitter and go out just the two of us. We have done it every weekend since our oldest was 6 weeks old and probably haven’t missed more than 10 weekends in almost 4 years. It’s important for us to have adult conversation too.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
Our children are very blessed. We travel a lot and go on vacations with them often. They get to experience & do things that many other children don’t get to do so teaching them to be thankful for what they have and give back to others is important.
Even before the girls were born my husband and I had an annual tradition of going shopping and loading up an entire shopping cart full of Toys for Tots. We started bringing the girls as infants and teaching them about picking out toys for other boys and girls who might not get as many presents during the holidays.
This year the girls- ages 2 & 3- wandered up and down the aisles looking for toys that the “other kids” would like and loaded up the shopping cart. Not once did they ask for something for themselves. They understood that we weren’t shopping for them. After, we drove straight to the local police station to drop them off- the girls carried the bags in themselves.
Just 2 weeks ago- 3 months since we did that- I took Charleston (2 ½) back to the same store to pick up a birthday present for another child. When we pulled into the parking lot she asked if we were “going to buy toys for the other kids”.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
The ultimate sign of success to me is having the ability to set your own terms- having the flexibility to take vacations whenever we want, to not work on Fridays to spend time with my kids. I feel so lucky that if my girls have a dance performance in the middle of the day or a doctor’s appointment- that I can be there for them, no questions asked. But the reality is I worked hard — years of 60+ hour work weeks- to get to this point.
We waited a while to have kids- we wanted to be stable both financially and professionally so that we could focus our energy on our children when we had them. We spent the first 10 years of our relationship building our individual careers so that we could invest the time as a family when the time came.
To be honest, not working Fridays and the added workload of parenting & running the household has simply forced me to work smarter. I’m accomplishing more now work-wise than ever- and that’s simply because I work more strategically Monday through Thursday.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I wish I had more time to read books or listen to podcasts. My job is to keep up with the media and news constantly so in my “free time” I usually am not plugged in. I do love Parents magazine and actually get excited when it shows up in my mailbox each month. I read a lot of online articles- mostly ones that friends have posted on Facebook from Today Parent, Scary Mommy- and sites like that. Reading articles from other moms who are in a similar situation helps you feel like you’re not doing this alone.
No two kids are the same- so while advice is great- sometimes you just have to figure out what works for you own.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The days are long but the years are short.” I try and remind myself of this every time I get frustrated with my kids. Some days with them are great days and other days are trying. But in hindsight it goes by pretty quickly so I try to keep perspective and especially enjoy those Fridays while I can. Avery will enter kindergarten in 18 months- which means I’ve got less than 75 Fridays left with her.
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. 🙂
There was a moment during Thanksgiving 2016- right after I had Charleston- that I felt so lucky. I had everything I’d ever hoped for- 2 beautiful girls & a wonderful husband. But back in 2014- before having Avery, I had 2 miscarriages and had been completely blindsided by the experience (it’s really only been the last couple of years that people seem to be opening up more about them). It was then in 2016, that I had this idea for an anonymous non-profit “Hearts of Hope” where we could team up with local OB physicians and send these beautiful ceramic hearts to women after they suffered a miscarriage with an anonymous message that said “You are not alone, I know what you are going through & know that I am here secretly rooting for you and sending love and light your way.” The packages would be pre-made/distributed to physicians offices to avoid any HIPAA violations and a designated “Guardian Angel” in each office would be responsible for mailing them out to women. I hope someday I can revisit this idea.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!