Friday, May 3, 2013

The Having It All Project: Nanette Fridman

Nanette and her family moved to our area a couple of years ago, and I cannot begin to tell you what a gain it has been for Newton. Fundamentally, Nanette is a connector. She wants to know your entire life story within minutes of meeting you, and she just might know how to improve your life going forward. Here's how Nanette is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
I have two amazing kids, a 6 year old daughter and a 10 year old son, and a wonderful husband. I started my own business six years ago providing strategic planning, training and coaching to nonprofit organizations (and the blog). Because my clients range in size, location and mission and each has various needs and projects, every single day is different which I absolutely love.

My path to getting to this point is interesting. After college, I worked as a grass-roots organizer in Washington, DC while getting my Master's in Public Policy at Georgetown and then continued on for a law degree. After graduation, I took a job at a large Boston law firm to be closer to my family. My son was born prematurely so I abruptly left my job at as corporate lawyer in 2003 and never returned.

After three years as a stay at home mom and full time unpaid volunteer, I was ready to go back to work. After much contemplation, interviewing many women about their work-life balance, and a lot of encouragement from my husband, I decided to switch gears and open my own consulting practice.
My schedule is somewhat unique. Basically, I work around my kids schedule except when I am traveling. On a typical day, I work from 6:00 am to 7:00 am, 8:30 am to 3 pm and then from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. From 3:00 -8:00 pm, I am with my kids (unless I am on deadline to finish something or am squeezing in a conference call)! 
What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
Tip number one, be organized. Lists and folders are my friends.My lists are by time and date and by subject (and sometimes cross-referenced). I schedule and plan ahead everything that I possibly can. My friends joke that I am booking Saturday night dinners into 2014. My husband and I hold regular calendar meetings and invite each other to our evening and weekend meetings that impact our shared time via our electronic calendars. 
Tip number two, adopt rituals and routines as a family.We wake up basically at the same time every day. Clothes are laid out the night before. When my kids get home from school, backpacks go in the same place, homework folders come out and the kids unpack their lunch boxes and put them on the kitchen counter.  We have separate bags for karate, religious school, baseball etc. Each child is responsible (with help) for the checklist of items that they need in their activity bags. Bedtime rituals are very important both for the kids and us.  We aim for the same bedtime window of time every night. This allows me to time to respond to emails that come in during the late afternoon and early evening and time to work before I watch my escape tv or spend time with my husband.

There are three things that really help me cope with the chaos. The first is a great family and friends. Everything is better when you can talk about it, complain about it and most importantly, laugh about it with someone who loves you. The second is Shabbat. Every Friday night, we have a special dinner, usually with family or friends, marking the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. This really a chance for us to catch up with each other, enjoy a slower pace and relax. We all look forward to Friday night and sharing our "WOW of the Week". The third strategy is one that I just started this year and that is my Pilates practice. Deep breathing is fundamental to Pilates and remembering to breath deeply is helpful to handling the inevitable stress and chaos that comes from having two working parents with outside interests and hobbies, two active kids, community involvement and lots of friends and family around.

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
A couple weeks ago we were going on vacation and our flight was very early. The car service was picking us up at 5 am. To save time in the morning, I decided to shower the kids the night before and to put them to sleep early and in their clothes for the next day. After a few hours of sleep, my daughter woke me up and she had gotten sick all over her bed and proceeded to vomit the rest of the night and morning (including in line to check in our luggage at the airport). Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all and instead did laundry and checked on my daughter the entire night. All my best efforts to plan didn't mean much. I actually took it in stride and did a lot of deep breathing. I was very grateful that it wasn't a serious illness (she was really a trooper and happy despite being sick) and as a reminder to myself that I can't control life! Things happen! Luckily it was a 12 hour bug and by the time we landed, my daughter was ready for lunch.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
I have a lot of friends whom I really admire for their work-life balance. Recently inspired by the high-profile dialogue on work-life balance by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, we have formed a group that is meeting regularly to talk about these issues. Our primary goals are to support, encourage and learn from each other. Most of the women in the group are much better at delegating than I am in the personal sphere.
I have avoided several professional and personal opportunities because they would have required my delegating more childcare than I was comfortable with at the time. I am grateful to have had the choice and am trying to get more comfortable with delegating.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
Since I was a teenager, I was always drawn internationally. I expected to be a lawyer and involved in politics. My first email account was because I thought that I better reserve that email address for my anticipated campaign. 2012 has come and gone, and I am currently a non-practicing lawyer. However, I haven't run for office - yet. My husband is originally from Mexico so I guess I fulfilled the international piece!  
When I was younger, I wanted a full life which to me meant exciting work, a loving husband and kids and a buzzing house! Be careful what you wish for! All joking aside, I feel that I have crafted a very full life that is busy by design, just the way I like it.

Relate to what Nanete is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at!

1 comment:

  1. Nanette thanks for sharing your story! Cheryl, thank you for having Nanette on your blog!