Family Matters: Recipe for Balance

July 1, 2005

Life sometimes takes an unexpected turn. When Ann Marie McManus, CRS®, GRI, vice president and broker-associate at Meybohm Realty Inc. in Augusta, Ga., married her husband, Gene, almost 18 years ago, she assumed they were on the same page when it came to family life. Both had grown up with fathers whose careers often required them to work extended hours—Gene’s dad was a pediatrician, and hers was a real estate practitioner—so she figured they’d both accept a life together that included a similar spontaneity.

She was surprised when Gene, a CPA, told her after they had married that he wanted more of a routine, including dinners together every night. “I thought, ‘I can’t do that. I’m in real estate,’” McManus says. Eventually, though, she decided she wanted to strike more of a balance between career and family.

“When I stopped saying, ‘I can’t do this,’ and started asking, ‘How can I do this?’ it changed everything,” says McManus.

One of the first things she did was develop a schedule for the family. Now the entire family, including five children, share responsibilities around the house. The new structure at home “helped me with real estate, too, because I realized I wasn’t very systematic there either,” says McManus. She depends on her licensed assistant not only to keep her on schedule but also to handle things when she isn’t available. “I can honestly tell people that she can handle some things better than I,” she says.

The third member of her team is a younger practitioner who “can meet with people when I can’t,” says McManus. “Plus, I thought it would be nice to mentor somebody, because that’s what my dad did for me.” To share her work-life experiences, McManus started Mom’s Mastermind, a group of mothers who are also practitioners, which meets every other week by conference call to discuss ways to maintain a healthy balance. The group is now organized by another practitioner.

McManus says the shift in mind-set has been a blessing: Her real estate career is going strong—she handled about 50 transactions last year, is on track for 80 this year, and is able to spend quality time with her family. Having this balance was particularly important last year when her mother became ill. McManus was able to spend time with her before she passed away. “That was such a gift,” she says. “Without systems, that time together wouldn’t have been possible.

“Some people think their families are obstacles to their careers or their careers are obstacles to their families,” says McManus. “It’s beautiful when you get the combination right.”

NAR is promoting work-life balance through a new “FamilyTime ” program it produced with Million Dollar Round Table, an insurance industry group. Pricing for the DVD begins at $5.

For more information, call 800/874-6500.

Chuck Paustian is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.

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