Amanda Hesser co-founded the addictive website Food52 all about home cooking. A former New York Times food reporter, she has written cookbooks and memoirs, including Cooking for Mr. Latte about her adorable courtship with her husband. (Have you read it? I’d highly recommend it if you want a great, fun read this summer). They live in Brooklyn with their twins, Walker and Addie. Here’s how she attempts to balance it all…
1. What’s your work schedule?
My days usually begin around 7:30am, when my husband wakes me up to do yoga. I am not a morning person, so I try not to be fully awake for yoga or it would be too painful. We do Rodney Yee DVDs on my laptop in our bedroom. Just 20 to 30 minutes. If our kids wake up, they join us and crawl between our legs. Our babysitter arrives at 7:30 during the school year and gives them breakfast while we shower and dress. I’m out the door usually by 9:00.
I’m a big fan of breakfast meetings. Two birds, one stone. Eat and meet. There’s a great café, Taralucci e Vino, near our office. I usually have their delicious cinnamon bun, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a latte.
At the office, our days are packed with meetings–fun ones! Meetings with investors, designers, potential hires, and other companies. Our office has a bunch of sofa “pods” and we have lots of meetings, calls, naps in the pods. It’s the office equivalent of a womb. (Two of these facing each other.)
In between, I email and email and email. Sometimes I think that all I do is email. We have a small team–just 8 of us–and we all sit at one long desk, so there are lots of spontaneous discussions, as well. Micro-meetings! Did I just coin that? The micro-meeting might be about functionality on our site, what our next recipe theme should be, or how to structure a partnership.
I usually eat lunch at my desk. Snooze! I know. But I like to catch up on the news–and the lunch is most often from ‘wichcraft. Today I had an asparagus frittata on ciabatta bread. ‘wichcraft has a half-price coffee happy hour in the afternoon, and we never, ever, ever miss it because we’re hard-core addicts. It’s also located right down the street from Burdick Chocolate, and that keeps us well fed and plump.
I work until 6:30, and a couple nights a week I go out to events in the evening. If I can, I’ll zip home to see the kids to bed between work and events. Then I usually get back home around 9:30, eat leftovers, drink a bourbon, and then work until 1am. On the nights I’m home early, I get in at 7 and hang out with our kids until they go to bed at 8pm. Then we eat a quick dinner and work until 1 am. Summary: we kind of work all the time.
2. How do you handle childcare?
Our kids are our babysitter’s fifth set of twins. She’s both unflappable and indefatigable. She works long days, like we do.
3. Where do you work during the day?
One day a week, we cook and do a photo shoot in my apartment. The rest of the week we work at our office near Union Square. It’s a place called General Assembly. The guys who founded it wanted to create a campus for start-ups, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. It’s an inspiring place because everyone there is working hard to create something new. It’s also well-designed and stylish. Maybe it’s shallow, but I like a nice office.
4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love that I get to see my kids on Tuesdays when we’re doing a photo shoot. They zip in and out over the course of the day, tasting the recipes, playing with toys, tapping on our laptops.
5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
We do a lot of our food photos in my bedroom on my bedside table–it has the best light. It’s more than a little strange to have a photographer and other co-workers romping around your bedroom when you’re not in the porn business.
6. What’s your favorite part of your work?
Problem solving–starting a company demands every ounce of creativity and resourcefulness you have and I love that.
7. What’s your favorite part of your home life?
Sitting on the sofa with my husband and our two kids, reading together.
8. How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
My husband Tad doesn’t just contribute. We’re partners. If anything, I’d say he’s even more on top of it all than I am. And I should work on making it more even.
9. How do you and your husband fit your marriage to the balance, in terms of hanging out together?
We try to go out once a week together for dinner or a movie. The other nights of the week, one of us is often out, and, if not, we hang out and work after the kids go to bed.
10. Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?
I have a family I love, and a job I truly enjoy, and I know that this is a particularly busy time in my life, so I’m not looking for or expecting much time for myself.
11. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
My advice would be to stop thinking about it as a gender issue. Think of it as a parent issue. And demand as much from your partner as you demand from yourself.
12. Do you wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?
What I wonder is why no one asks my husband how he juggles? It’s not fair to him–because he juggles just as much as I do. And why there is not a blog like this for men?
(Second photo by Sarah Shatz)