I always include that I’m a mother in my bio. It’s not only my most fulfilling contribution to the world, but it also shapes everything I do. I also have a career as a film director that I have worked hard for and that I love and appreciate every minute. Actually every other minute. Just like parenting. My favorite quote about motherhood is by Andrea J. Buchanan, who wrote, “loving every other minute of it.”
Because the things we love most both sustain us and challenge us, I try to constantly ask myself how I can make this ride—the one I’m always trying to slow down—as good as it can be. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some of my favorite lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Turn off screens one day a week.
Turning all screens in the house off for one day a week with my husband and two daughters for the past four years is the best thing I have done as a mother. We call them our “technology shabbats,” and these are the days that balance out the other six crazy, swinging-from-the-branches kinds of days.
It speaks to what is so important and what we are often forgetting in today’s world, which feels like it’s Saran-wrapped in an LCD screen: eye contact is extremely important. It is what makes the neurons in a child’s growing brain make connections. These “technology shabbats” are our weekly reminder to: be present, make eye contact, and enjoy each other, not just our screens.
2. 5-year, 1-year, 6-months, 1-month list
Just because you are a mom doesn’t mean you can’t also have a career that you love. If you aren’t doing that now, make a plan that includes five-year goals to get to your dream, then break it down by year. Then map out the steps—big and small—you need to take by the next six months, one month, and one week to make your dream come true. I had two parents that absolutely loved what they did, so there was no question that such a goal was not possible. They were and are my role models. You can do it, too!
Get over that as a goal. I remember a wise woman approached me when I was pregnant with my first child. I asked for advice and she smiled and said, “If you are a working mother, get used to never achieving balance. It’s an illusion.” I am so grateful that she encouraged me to cross that goal off my list early on. I just want to savor all of those minutes that make up our lives…the minutes you love and the “other minutes.”
Tiffany Shlain is an award-winning filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards and creator of the AOL series The Future Starts Here. She has served as the on-air Internet expert on ABC’s Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, and was invited to advise then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Internet and technology. Find her online at www.tiffanyshlain.com.