Balance Poses Challenges Regardless of Wealth
a typical day, Brady Stewart, vice president of global e-commerce operations
for Levi Strauss & Company, faces the type of competing demands for her
time familiar to many high-achieving, high-income families.
husband, she said, “has a breakfast meeting, I have a call with Europe, my
daughter wants to play baby mermaids, my son is starving, our dogs are barking,
I need to get out the door for a work meeting and there’s a dinner at night.”
the time squeeze to be a great partner, professional, be in shape and have a
great marriage,” she said. “You have to be a pretty ruthless prioritizer.”
is. But that is no guarantee of success. “On the days when it all works out,
you’ve been a baby mermaid, read four books, crushed it at work and had a nice
dinner with your husband,” she said. “It’s so rewarding. On other days, it’s
there is a riddle that affluent, working parents can’t seem to solve, it is how
to balance the many interests competing for their time: work, children,
spouses, their own needs and wants. Yes, they have more money than most people
struggling to get by in similar situations, but any help or financial freedom
they have is dependent on them continuing to work and set priorities.
group’s struggles are back in the cultural conversation. Anne-Marie Slaughter,
the former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a
senior State Department official during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure,
touched a nerve three years ago when she wrote about the continued difficulty
of women balancing office and home life. Now she has written a book,
“Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family,” that calls for changes in the
workplace to accommodate careers and child care.
a bit of calendar syncing, Ms. Slaughter’s husband, Andrew Moravcsik, a
professor at Princeton, has added his side, with an essay in the current issue
of The Atlantic magazine about his role as the “lead parent” to their two
children while his wife was in Washington and then on the speaking circuit
after her essay made her even busier. He put his wife’s career before his and
has no regrets.
the message is clear: Being high achievers isn’t easy.
writings, along with that of Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of
Facebook and the author of “Lean In,” serve as the Let’s Go travel guides to
the high-octane life. But those travel guides offer clear tips on what to see
and skip. There is no simple guide for couples making decisions on the fly.
Money and relationships are at stake.
are the tricks affluent couples have learned to make it all work?
pause here: Parents with inflexible jobs or who are paid by the hour with no
sick time would surely relish the challenge of choosing among high-quality day
care, a nanny or one parent working from home to meet child care needs. They
have it tougher than people I’m writing about here.)
Stewart sounded resigned when she spoke of her prioritizing. It wasn’t a badge
of honor so much as a necessity to keep everything going. “We have shared
priorities,” she said. “No. 1, the kids. No. 2, our relationship. No. 3,
careers. No. 4 staying in shape. Social life takes a back seat.”
husband, Brad, a private equity investor and the chief executive of a
private-jet company, attributes their dedication to career-family juggling to
their similar backgrounds. They are both oldest children from working-class
families where the parents divorced, and they both went on to earn Ivy League
degrees. While they have no family near their home in San Francisco, they have
a long-term nanny who comes every day.
she’s sick, one of us doesn’t make it to work that day,” Mr. Stewart said.
“Those are really stressful moments.”
Florke, founder of the Rural Connection, an interior design and construction
firm in New York, said he long ago adopted a policy of adhering to a strict
delegation of duties to avoid confusion.
week if you’re trying to figure out, ‘Is it your turn or my turn?’ that’s
hard,” he said.
and his husband, Sean P. Maloney, a United States congressman who spends most
of the week in Washington, have three children, ages 12, 14 and 25, living at
learned long ago that control is an illusion,” said Representative Maloney, who
previously worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, in state government and for
private equity and law firms. “If parenting doesn’t teach you that lesson,
dismisses colleagues who say they don’t have enough time for their families and
their careers. “We all complain about not having enough time, but very often we
don’t have enough focus,” he said. “Even when I worked at the White House and
our son Jesus was playing little league soccer and little league baseball at
the time, I just decided I was going to make all his games. You just organize
your time accordingly.”
Maloney added that rituals were what kept them focused. “We always walk the
kids to the school bus in the morning,” he said. “That creates islands of
stability in this stormy world.”
theme common among these multicareer families is maniacal efficiency, though it
is applied differently. The Fromm family, for instance, has worked in various
aspects of New York real estate, including owning a firm until three years ago.
They now have two children, ages 10 and 8, and said they had learned to leave
work at the office.
the beginning, it was talking about the business all the time,” said Claudia
Saez-Fromm, who like her husband, Mark David Fromm, is a broker at Town
Residential. “It hurts the marriage. It’s just the business, the business, the
say, ‘Let’s finish the conversation now so we don’t have to take it home,’” she
added. “With children, they don’t want to see you on the phone or texting all
were also able to be objective enough to decide that working for someone else
made more financial and family sense than owning a business. “At one point, it
was $150,000 a month to just run our three offices,” Mr. Fromm said. “When it
was good, it was really good. When it was bad, it was disastrous.”
he said, they make more money working as brokers focused just on properties
above $5 million and they also have more control over their schedules.
the Butlers, it is exactly the opposite. Stephan’s venture — developing the
Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx — is at the center of their life,
even though it is Margaret’s career as a partner at the law firm Greenberg
Traurig that supports the family.
said she was beholden to clients so her family accepts her inflexible schedule.
With clients and partners ranging from the City of New York to Mark Messier,
the hockey great and former New York Rangers star, Mr. Butler has his own set
of obligations, but he is able to work them around dropping their 6-year-old
son off at school and picking him up.
move work until very late at night so I can do things for him,” Mr. Butler
said. “It comes with a level of sacrifice. It’s not simple. You have to be
agile and flexible to get things done.”
days a week, his mother comes from New Jersey to help with the logistics of
after-school activities. But until their son was in school, the boy often
tagged along with his father to meetings. (One upside of this: Mr. Messier
taught their son how to stick check and celebrate as he did after scoring a
Stewarts in San Francisco are aware of their financial and professional good
fortune. Still, asked if she would change anything, Ms. Stewart said the only
thing she wanted was something money couldn’t buy.
probably wish to somehow get ahead of the tiredness,” she said, and joked that
a pharmaceutical company should create “the rested drug.”