How A Non-Profit CEO Juggles Work & Family

Being a working mom is hard, and it can often feel like "a day late and a dollar short" is the best case scenario: missed deadlines, forgotten dry cleaning, and never, ever seeing friends. But we don't have to reinvent the wheel to figure out a better way through. Just look around at all the super successful moms kicking ass on a daily basis.
This Is How I Do It is a new day-in-the-life series featuring some of these impressive women, who juggle big careers and families with grace and humor. Their stories won't literally do your laundry and pack your kids' lunches while you answer email, but they offer an honest peek at how someone else gets her life together every day.
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Photo: Adrian Kinloch.
Reshma Saujani, 41, is the CEO and founder of Girls Who Code. She and her husband, Nihal, have a 2-year-old son, Shaan, and a bulldog named Stanley.
My day-to-day:
6:00 a.m. I wake up and walk my dog, Stanley.
7:30 a.m. I usually go to the gym — either Orangetheory or Rumble — for a class. Both gyms are under 10 minutes from my house, so there’s no good excuse for not going. With such a busy work and travel schedule, exercise is the time I give to myself.
8:30 a.m. Back home. I grab my son and bring him upstairs. We’ll sing and have dance parties while I shower and get ready for my day.
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9:00 a.m. These days I’m eating gluten-free, so a typical breakfast for me is eggs with spinach and onions, along with gluten-free toast and an almond milk chai. While I’m eating, I always scan the news.
9:30 a.m. Every workday is different as I spend a lot of time on the road visiting one of our 1,000+ Girls Who Code programs or speaking about closing the gender gap in technology to potential partners. When I’m not on the road, I head into the office The first thing I do is check my calendar to figure out what my day looks like. I have to confess that I’m obsessed with logistics and making sure that I’m utilizing every minute. And then, I’m off and running!
I think people overuse email when sometimes a quick phone call could solve a 30-response chain. My team will tell you that I call them frequently throughout the day.
I’ve been trying to meditate every day and often start my executive meetings with a meditation. I try to use my breath throughout the day to keep calm and grounded.
6:00 p.m. I usually leave the office by 6. If I don’t have an event, I head straight home to spend time with Shaan before bed. Sometimes Nihal does the cooking (and the clean up after), and sometimes we order takeout. We usually try to eat dinner as a family — Nihal, Shaan, Audrey (Shaan's nanny), and me.
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7:30 p.m. Nihal and I split Shaan's bedtime duties, depending on who's home. And sometimes Audrey does it.
8:00 p.m. After Shaan goes to sleep, I usually check a couple of emails, meditate, and spend some time reading. My current book is The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
9:30 p.m. I like to always get a good night’s sleep. I’m way more of a morning person than a night person.

Nothing gets me through a long day like thinking about Shaan and Stanley.

A post shared by Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) on

My current passion project:
For the past two years I’ve been working with my team at Girls Who Code and Penguin to get our book series about girls and coding off the ground, and they finally launched on August 22! These books include explanations of computer science concepts using real life examples along with relatable characters and profiles of women in tech. It’s one of the first times the story of computer science has been told through so many girls’ voices.
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We’re doing this because literary representation matters. We are all very familiar with the image of a male programmer in a hoodie. We want to spark girls' imagination by showing images of people who look like them, such as Lucy, who likes science and video games, or Sophia who likes sports and selfies. I hope these characters will inspire a new generation of girls to learn to code.
The best part of my day:
Waking up in the morning with Shaan.
The one thing I wish I didn't have to do:
Say no! I wish I had an endless amount of time in the day, but having a son has made me reprioritize the things I’m saying yes to.
The one thing I always worry about:
My dog Stanley dying… she’s my first baby!
The secret to being a successful working mother is:
Letting it be messy.
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The one thing I would tell other working moms:
Find time for yourself! Lately I’ve been trying to meditate every day.
Becoming a mother changed this thing about me:
I’ve stopped caring about the little things that I used to obsess over because, frankly, I don’t just have the time. I say this a lot, but I’ve become less obsessed with being perfect and more concerned with whether I’m making brave choices that will drive growth.
Tell us about your village: Who helps raise your kids?
My village is huge! We have Audrey, who is Shaan’s caretaker, but I consider her part of the family, a friend, and the person I want to have dinner with more than anyone else! She and Shaan go almost everywhere with me — you’ll often see him on my lap at meetings or even on panels. I do this because I want him to see me living an integrated life and grow up with an appreciation for working hard while keeping a focus on family. We also have a lot of friends who come in and watch our dog or watch Shaan when we need it. And then there's our family: Both our sisters are very loving and supportive of Shaan; and my father is Shaan’s moral compass; he always teaches him good things.
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking kids or not, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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