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.
Rachel Holt, 34, is the vice president and regional general manager for the U.S. and Canada at Uber. She and her husband, Mike, have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Leah, and another due in January.
6:55 a.m. I open my eyes and mentally prepare myself to get up at 7 a.m.
7:00 a.m. Leah’s stoplight alarm turns green in her room, and invariably she’s excited for the day. Every morning I hear, “Mommy, Daddy, green light! Green light!” My husband or I get up and go get her from her room and bring her into our room.
7-8 a.m. Leah and I help each other get dressed. She’s recently started picking out her own clothes, so she helps me more than I help her these days. We head downstairs, and my husband or I make her breakfast. At 8 a.m., our nanny comes, and I grab an Uber to work.
8:30 a.m. If we’ve just launched something, or there’s been some other news, I spend the ride chatting with my driver trying to get some feedback and insights. If the ride is quiet, I sort my email. I star things that need ASAP attention, and fire off under-30-second responses to things that just need a quick answer.
8:30 a.m. I grab breakfast at the office and start going through and responding to important emails in more detail. I also go through my calendar for that day and the next and make sure that the right people are on all the meetings I have scheduled, I remove meetings that I don’t need to attend, and if there’s a meeting I don’t have enough context on, I ask my incredible assistant, Ali, to get some more information.
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. My mornings tend to be slightly lighter, largely due to the timezone challenges of being a global company. I usually spend my morning meetings in 1:1 or smaller team meetings with my directs on the East Coast talking through the projects they’re working on.
12:00-6:00 p.m. With the West Coast folks now at work, my day kicks into high gear. Here’s an example of a series of meetings I’ve been having of late:
Getting together with the Steering Committee of our 180 Days of Change campaign, which is all about transforming our relationship with drivers. Prep for that campaign began in March, and it kicked off in earnest in June. It has been a huge area of focus for me.
Sitting down with our Global Customer Support team, which I also oversee. We talk through new types of customer support offerings we could introduce. We recently launched 24/7 phone support for drivers, and we are working on improving the quality of our support for riders.
Meeting with our product teams to understand the latest features and products they have in development or are close to launching. I’ll then make sure we’re bringing the full strength of our marketing and operations teams to get those products out to our customers.
Somewhere in there, I’ll try and make sure there’s a 30 minute hold for a quick email session or to use in case some other meetings run over and grab a quick bite to eat at my desk.
6:15 p.m. Hop in an Uber home, and sometimes make a quick call or two, or just relax and chat with one of our drivers. On the ride home I usually just listen, and I’ve heard more incredible stories than I can count in the last six years.
6:45-7:45 p.m. Family time. I try to keep my phone away as much as possible during this time, and we usually play with puzzles or Legos, read a book, or FaceTime with the grandparents.
7:45-8:15 p.m. Leah’s bedtime! I make a point of always leaving my phone downstairs during this time so that I can make sure I’m fully present. Leah just got her big girl bed, so now we read together in bed before I tuck her in (and set her stop light alarm!)
8:15-8:30p.m. Sneak in a few more emails while my husband finishes making (usually a pretty gourmet) dinner. Cooking is how he de-stresses, which might be the single greatest character trait you could find in a spouse.
8:30-9:30 p.m. Eat dinner, clean up, relax on the couch for a bit. We’ll generally talk about our days, tell stories about funny things that happened, or talk about boring life admin things like negotiating our travel schedules.
10:00 p.m. In bed watching a TV show to decompress. I’m usually asleep 10 minutes in. I’ve learned (even before getting to know Arianna Huffington!) that a good night of sleep is the one thing I can’t function without.
My current passion project:
It’s hard to pick one thing, and it changes all the time. I’ve been intensely focused on improving our relationship with drivers, and while we still have a ways to go, it’s been encouraging to see the progress we’ve made in just a few months. I’m also spending a lot of time looking inward and reflecting on how we can strengthen our culture and improve our employees’ experience at Uber. They’re an incredibly passionate and engaged group of people, and making sure they’re as inspired by their work as I am by them is a priority of mine.
The best part of my day:
When I get a photo of Leah with a huge smile on her face during the middle of a tense meeting.
The one thing I wish I didn't have to do:
So many meetings by videoconference. There’s no getting around it at our size and global scope, but there’s no substitute for being in-person working through a hard problem. There’s more spontaneous and creative energy when people are together in a room.
The one thing I always worry about:
How I’m spending my time and making sure I’m optimizing it. I don’t let my day run over, so making sure I’m using my time in the office as effectively as possible is critical.
The secret to being a successful working mother is:
Accepting that you’re not going to do everything (or anything!) perfectly — and that’s okay!
The one thing I would tell other working moms:
You can’t let yourself go through work and go through parenting always feeling like you should be in the other place. You have to be fully present in what you’re doing in that moment. Being a great role model for your kid isn’t just about being physically present, it’s about setting a great example. My goal is to be an example to Leah of how a woman can have a successful career and be fully committed to family, and not spend my whole day stressing about the tradeoffs.
Becoming a mother changed this thing about me:
It’s forced me to delegate and trust people more. I spend my time where it’s highest leverage and accept that I can’t be involved in everything either at work or in my personal life.
Who helps raise your kids? Tell us about your village:
My husband Mike, our nanny, Odette, four loving grandparents in NYC who are always happy to make a trip to DC to see us (read: Leah), and a lot of very supportive friends.
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 bigif — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.