How This CEO Balances Work & Motherhood

This Is How I Do It is Refinery29's day-in-the-life series featuring some of these impressive women, who juggle big careers and families with grace and humour. 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.
Photo: Courtesy of Miko Branch.
Miko Branch, 47, is the CEO of Miss Jessie's and a single mum to a 17-year-old son.
My day-to-day:
5 a.m. — I have a pretty rigid daily routine. Due to motherhood, I’ve always been an early riser, so I typically wake up around 5 or 6 a.m. When I rise, I pay close attention to my first thoughts in the morning because I think they are clearest at that early hour. I try to be very honest with myself about the thoughts that come to my mind — it’s my way of morning meditation. I use my morning thoughts to plan my day. Sometimes my thoughts are so clear that they help me to understand challenges I may not have been able to solve prior. With my new clarity, I am able to move confidently through my day.
5:30 a.m. — After I am fully awake, I get out of bed, brush my teeth, and splash water on my face to get they day started. My son is 17 and doesn't require my constant attention, so I finally have time for a serious relationship. I start my morning off with a nice conversation with my boyfriend. We discuss our dreams from the night before and try to figure out if there is any meaning to apply to our lives.
6 a.m. — I recently started taking tennis lessons from my boyfriend. We pack up and drive to a local tennis court. Morning workouts are a great way to get my blood circulating. If I start off the day with some form of exercise, I'm able to stay motivated all day long.
7 a.m. — After tennis, we drive home, shower, and get ready for the day. I recently discovered that I enjoy home-cooked food more than grabbing something on the go, so we usually cook up a quick breakfast.
7:30 a.m. — I eat breakfast while I go over emails and prepare myself for my day at the office. Owning my own business requires a lot of traveling so whenever I’m home I try my best to spend a lot of time in the office talking with my staff and getting updates on everything that’s happening.
8 a.m. — Before heading to the office, I create a handwritten to-do list. The pen and paper makes my list really real to me.
8:30 a.m. — Answer all texts and check and post on social media.
9 a.m. — Emails.
9:30 a.m. — I arrive at the office, settle in, and get updates from team members. This helps me plan out my day and get my priorities straight in order to maximize efficiency.
10 a.m. — Meet with individual staff to zero in on that part of the business.
10:30 a.m. — Create or check in on marketing message and strategies.
11:00 a.m. — Look over my to-do list from the prior day to make sure I did not forget anything. I add on to today's list now that I have a better understanding of the needs of the day.
11:30 a.m. — Check in with my controller to see what's owed, what's paid, and what's coming in.
12 p.m. — I eat a packed lunch from home. I love getting out of the office at a normal hour so I usually work through lunch.
1 p.m. — More emails.
2 p.m. — Phone calls or conference call. By this time of the day, I am ready to talk with external partners because I am fully engaged in business mode.
2:30 p.m. — Follow up with marketing and development.
3 p.m. — I meet back with my team members to understand their specific needs as they've moved through their day.
4 p.m. — More emails.
5 p.m. — If I have no outside meetings or travel plans, I try my best to leave the office. I might take a nice bike ride or sit by the pool and talk about my day with my boyfriend to decompress.
6:30 p.m. — Once the evening starts to set in we cook dinner, Facetime with my son (wherever he is) and find out what he wants to eat.
7 p.m. — Before eating dinner, I check my emails to see if there’s any residual follow-ups from the day. I typically like to keep my inbox at zero.
8 p.m. — After dinner, I may listen to music or watch a movie at home but my favorite thing to do is to enjoy conversations and quality time with my son especially because he does not give me much of his time these days. I love hearing about the adventures and experiences he'd like to share since he recently revealed that he is more willing to chat with me since he is coming out of the teenage phase of not wanting to share his business with his mom.
My current passion project: Me! I spent mostly all of the last 18 years dedicated to raising and providing for my son. His existence is actually the reason why I created my business with my sister. Now that my son is 17, and my business is more mature, I am actively taking the time to focus on me. I am less apologetic and am finding ways to maximize my happiness while running a business and being a mom. My son will be off to college soon, so I am really focused on what I will be doing in his absence. I made time to be in a relationship, take tennis lessons, go on vacations, ride my bike, and I reset my mind to be focused on Miko. It's been an interesting and fun experience getting to know myself again.
The best part of my day: The best part of my day is knowing that my son is developing into a lovely human being. Hearing from him via text or FaceTime truly makes my day. I also love 5 p.m., because it means I can go home and focus on Miko time!
The one thing I wish I didn't have to do: Raise my son without his dad. I do believe boys need their father, but luckily God has given me the necessary tools to be able to cope and manage life in his dad‘s absence. My son and I have created a wonderful existence that works for us, and I am so proud of the man that he is and forming to be.
The one thing I always worry about: My son's happiness and well-being. I always want him to be surrounded by people who love and care about him. I also want him to make the best decisions for himself. He's showing good signs so far.
The secret to being a successful working mother is: Set yourself up to win. Make an equal amount of time to be in your business and children’s lives. Initially, I set up my business and my living situation in the same building so I was able to multitask and effectively take care of my two babies, my son and my business.
The one thing I would tell other working moms: Try to do all that you can when your kids are sleeping or at school. I know it's tough because we need our rest, too, but the years go by so quickly and we don’t get that time back. Kids develop and grow really fast, and if you’re not present you will miss the infant and toddler stages. Cherish the time that you have and please forgive yourself if you are imperfect or make a mistake. Motherhood isn’t easy. Learn from your mistakes instead of harping on them.
Becoming a mother changed this thing about me: I believe the responsibility of being accountable for another human being has had a wonderful affect on my personal growth and development as a woman. The single thing that I thought about when I became a mother is the importance of standing up for myself. That became very important to me as I knew my young son was watching me be his example. I became much more fearless as I moved through motherhood. I wanted my son to have the confidence to stand up for himself in any situation and therefore I knew I had to do it myself to be the best example for him.
Tell us about your village: Who helps raise your kids: I certainly had a small village that helped me raise my son. My sister Titi Branch, my rock, helped me co-parent and was always extremely supportive in raising my son while we built our business together. My mom played a huge role in the village that nurtured my son and myself. When I became a new mom, she dedicated one whole year to his life while I worked on building the beauty haircare empire that we own today.
My father, who also came to spend time with my son on the weekends, was a wonderful example and an amazing male role model, particularly in the absence of my son's father.
We also have friends who play a huge role in the village that supports my son and me. Fifteen years into motherhood, I also reunited with my first kiss and first boyfriend that I met in the seventh grade, and he has become a wonderful addition to our family. My son truly adores and has a special bond with him, he loves his jokes and great cooking and of course he loves spending quality time with him.