The Juggle: Lisa Gersh




HER JOB: Member of the Board Hasbro, Establishment Labs, Popsugar and The Second Shift


NUMBER OF KIDS: Two daughters age 22 and 28.  


ON LIFE STAGES: So much depends on your stage of life. Right? There’s one stage where your kids are little, and they’re in school, and you’re working, and going back-and-forth, and trying to figure it all out. That stage is pretty defined. I think it’s more defined than other stages where, you are really busy and you don’t have kids in your life and you’re trying to figure out how to organize with your spouse, and your job, and his job. Maybe it’s just the grass is greener on the other side. But when you look back and say, How did I get through that period of time when I had little kids and a job? I think you get through it by going to work, and coming home, and being with your kids. And that’s pretty much what I always did.


ON PUSHBACK: I got the most pushback from my oldest daughter. I wasn’t necessarily committed to going back to work right away. After I had her, I really wanted to be home. I think I made that clear to her, and I ended up getting more pushback. But, when my second child was born, work was not a question, it was just something that was part of her life. She was born in February, and I went back quickly, and then took time over the summer to be with her.


But I did get pushback from her about why. So I think it’s important to talk to your children about what you do. You want them to know that you love what you do, because if you don’t love what you do, why are you leaving them every day? 


ON THE DAYS BEFORE SMART PHONES AND AMAZON: I remember with Maddie, I got asked to be the first grade mom; this was a real challenge because there was no internet, no email. I’m the first grade mom; how am I communicating with all these mothers with no email? I would literally write a memo, have it printed, and send it to school for them to give them out. It’s crazy to think about it, but there was no easy way to communicate with the group. So, obviously, that part was a lot harder.


I also think about the fact that, when I was a lawyer in the beginning, you couldn’t go home and work on a document because that’s not how it worked. There was a word processing center at the law firm and you stayed until the document was done. That said, today it’s really hard for working moms to disconnect; they think they’re disconnected and they think their kids don’t know, but their kids know.


One time, I was at one of Samantha’s soccer games—I drove all the way to Staten Island from New York City to go watch her play—and I said, Oh wow, Sammy, that was a great game. And she said, How would you know? You were on your phone the whole time. You don’t even think they’re watching you, but they’re watching you every minute. She’s in the middle of a soccer game and she knows I’m not watching.


ON SUPPORT SYSTEMS: My mother was quite available when my children were younger. She lives in New York City and would come over a lot and put the kids to bed if I was stuck in the word processing center. I had a babysitter, too, who, if I was stuck, would stay late. My children’s dad was more traditional and thought it was my job and that he didn’t really have to make any commitments. On the other hand, when he was around, he was fantastic. So there was a healthy balance of parents. But I think you have to rely on your family a lot. When people who have kids tell me they are moving away from their parents, I’m like, don’t do it. You’re going to want them.


ON THE SANCTITY OF TIME: You really have to prioritize because things just get away from you otherwise. So, I always hate doing anything on Sunday nights; I like to take Sunday nights and make sure my week is completely organized, and that everything I’m spending time on is something that’s important to me and that’s going to make a difference.


The biggest luxury today is time. And I hate wasting it. I’m trying really hard to not be a slave to email. And what I mean by that is not letting someone else control your life by shooting you email. Because if you’re a compulsive-type, like I am, and feel the need to empty your email box all the time, then you can spend your life doing that, and not doing the things that are really going to make a difference.


The other thing that’s important to me at the beginning of the week is to make sure my workouts are organized so I know which days I’m doing what. That’s on the top of my list because I need to work out in the morning and if I don’t organize that like a week in advance then that doesn’t happen. 


ON BEING SUPERMOM: It took me a while to figure out that there were going to be situations where I wasn’t going to be supermom, and I had to try to give myself a break about it. It’s just a moment in time, and then it’s the next moment. If you prioritize and you enjoy being with your children, you’re going to find that time again. It’s not about, did I do it every single day; it’s cumulative: Was I able to be there for my children? It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s a life. 


Read about how Lisa combats the “Sunday scaries” as part of our Juggle partnership with PureWow!