Posted on Tue, Sep. 20, 2011
C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff
Youri Mevs is a Hatian American businesswoman balancing four kids and a high-profile job. She is preparing for her meeting with a banker to ask for a loan for a new free-trade zone in Haiti.
I’ll never forget when a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at my newspaper told me she had rushed to pick her kid up early from after-school care for an appointment and demanded her child — fast. The administrator looked at her puzzled. My friend had forgotten that she had moved her child to a different after-care program.
As a working mother, I understood. Balancing a high-stress job and family is a juggling act in which the balls can drop at any time, invariably on our own heads. I say this as America is abuzz over Sara Jessica Parker’s newest role as Kate Reddy in the movie debut of I Don’t Know How She Does It. The movie, based on a fictional novel, is the story of a fund manager struggling to balance marriage, two small children and her high-powered career. It’s a role Parker knows well as a mother of three. She, like many other women, are finding ways to shine in their professions and run households in their spare time — even if they have to stretch themselves like elastic bands to pull it off.
I spoke with a few supermoms in the age of increased technology and greater workloads to find out how they juggle responsibilities:
Youri Mevs is managing shareholder of a 60-year-old private family conglomerate called WIN Group. She’s also CEO of a household that includes four daughters, ages 20 to 11. Earlier this week, Mevs, a Haitian American, found herself reviewing for a test with her youngest daughter in Miami in the morning, pitching one of her company’s projects to a loan officer in Haiti in the afternoon and talking over a new development with her business partners in the evening.
For Mevs, the key to balance is knowing how and when to ask for help. She does this from her assistant, her sibling/business partners, her ex-husband and her children. She’s specific when she asks for help and has taught her kids to help her by deciding what’s important for her to attend.
“They have been the greatest source of support in helping me manage my time,” she says.
Technology allows Jennifer Westerlund to pull off her balancing act. Westerlund, an equity partner at Greenberg Traurig in Fort Lauderdale, says she calendars everything, regardless of how trivial. With four children ages 8, 7, 5 and 3 and a corporate law practice, a calendar item might be sending an apple to school for a special project. Westerlund programs the electronic calendar to send her reminders.
Of course, technology also brings work into the home. That’s where closets come in handy. You’ll occasionally find Westerlund retreating to her master closet, where she’ll plunk herself down on the floor to discuss client business.
“When an unexpected client call comes up, I can’t keep four kids quiet no matter how much I bribe them,” she explains.
She’s also been known to pace outside in a suit, phone to ear. “My neighbors can’t fathom why I’m doing this.”