Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire do “it all” (or at least try to). So I asked them. And as I suspected, no one really does. Or even really wants to. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Lauren Slayton had to say…
No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
I opened Foodtrainers in 2001 when I was pregnant with my older son (what was I thinking?). Fortunately, it worked out. As the boys got older, I started the blog. And the book sort of fell into place.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I believe in juggling. Having it all sounds off-putting. I want to throw darts at having it all. At the same time I’m grateful for my family, for my business, and now for my book.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I think part of having your own business sort of means you’re always at work. I envy those people who don’t email on the weekend or who can put their phones away when they get home to their children. I have a hard time turning that mental to-do list off. I also wish I read more, other than the newspaper or Facebook links.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I am getting better at enjoying things. I am getting better at patience. Let’s be real though, I am basically an impatient perfectionist. My mother once said the second you feel you have a good marriage or sing your husband’s praises you will go home and get in a fight, so I’m hesitant to remark on what’s better because all of a sudden it’s not.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? I worked with another nutritionist when I was just out of grad school. I was ready to show the world how much I knew, and she pointed out how much people want to be listened to and supported. Despite all the money paid for nutritional biochemistry, you can’t replace support.
From your mother? From my mother and my grandmother I learned what it feels like to be fiercely loved. My mom and I are very different. I love lists and plans but my mom has taught me to “just go.” When I was younger she’d rent out our apartment and rent a house in Spain. When I was contemplating having kids she said “don’t wait until you’re ready or you’ll be waiting a long time.”
From your kids? My kids have shown me what it’s like to love someone so much it hurts and how valuable it is to spend real time. Being at their piano lesson, helping with the homework, those snowy days when we freeze on the way to school—I am cherishing them all.
I should add I cannot stand “it goes by so fast” because that seems so hopeless to me. One client said “every stage is great” and that’s how I approach parenting. Sure, my kids are less adorable at 9 and 11 than they were at 4 and 6 but we can go places and eat anywhere, and I refuse to mourn for the time when they were little—the truth is that was exhausting and horrible at times.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
An hour? I’d take 15 minutes. I love a bath, I love a book, but I want an afternoon with a book. I also love the time to be able to leisurely get somewhere; it feels luxurious.
What would you have told yourself…
20 years ago? To appreciate and protect my skin.
20 years from now? I can’t say but I do hope I don’t let aging and the fear of aging take up too much mind time.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
I outsource it all, ha. Really though, I can cook and all of that, I am just not a good cleaner, I swear I’m not.
Whose job do you wish you had?
Travel writing seems sexy.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I almost went to med school, and I’m glad I did not.
I have so much trouble answering this question; I can never recall my favorites. My favorite writing is usually a little snarky. I love Nora Ephron everything.
What are you reading right now?
Just finished Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, and I adored it.
Activity? Are we talking reality TV? Taxi taking? Yelling?
Food? I am pretty much a nutrition nerd but also love great food. If life had no rules, there would be more cheese, more cocktails, and chocolate that wasn’t always 70% dark.
Website? Oh god, I can get sucked in. I am reformed, but I have spent hours on Reality Steve, there I said it.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I get up at 5-something but I’m usually asleep by 11 if not before. So that’s 6-7, 7 being what I suggest others shoot for.
What do you read every morning?
Instagram. I read the New York Times and The Post daily, but not necessarily in the morning.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: make myself crazy.
I wish I: could feel proud more often.
My kids: are amazing and I’m not just saying that because they’re mine (or maybe I am).
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
My friend Jen Linn’s passion was fearlessness. I am not there but in moments where anxiety is taking over I try to remove it. I try to enjoy. I try, and I’m not there yet.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Very random anecdote but let me say this… In our 20s we lived across the hall from this couple. She was gorgeous and had a great job and he was gorgeous, had the job, etc. The “perfect” couple, right? My husband and I are both feisty, and astrologers say we’re a nightmare combo, but we’ve been together since ‘93. So we go to dinner with the “perfect” couple and minutes in, she looks at us and says, “Okay guys, admit it, do you hear us fight all the time?” She wasn’t saying they were miserable, but they thought we heard their “imperfection” and we, of course, were convinced they heard ours. Couples fight, kids have issues. I have arrived at the office with one of my puppies’ poop bags in my purse (yup). Someone I met said “I have life envy after looking at your Instagram.” Maybe I should post poop pics.
Please share your own tips on balance below and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur