Potomac Local Parent of the Month: ‘Work when you’re at work’

Editors note: Potomac Local Parents is a monthly column that looks at life through the eyes of real parents. Do you know of a parent we should feature? Send us their contact information and we’ll contact them.

This month, we interview Reyner.

How many children do you have and what are their ages?

We have five wonderful daughters: Sarah Elizabeth (8), Laura Ann (6), Emily Jane (5), Hannah Grace (2), and Abigail Joy (8 mo). We also have two precious boys who could not be carried to term: Jonathan Reyner and Nathan Daniel. The boys are buried in my plot at Quantico National Cemetery (Gina and I are both veterans of the United States Marine Corps).

Describe your career in a nutshell.

I am a CPA, licensed in Virginia and working for a “Big Four” public accounting firm. I specialize in managing large program transformation projects. As they say, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – Mom and Dad are both Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in Missouri. Dad is a university professor, and mom is an accountant for a midwestern telecommunications company.

What are your top 3 tips for balancing a career and parenthood?

Work when you’re at work; don’t work when you’re at home. In an increasingly interconnected world, many people are distracted at work and unproductive, finishing the day accomplishing little and then being forced to take work home.

On a related note, telework and mobile devices have done much to provide flexible options to working moms and dads, but have also done much to allow parents to work “24/7,” if things are allowed to get out of balance. Of course, finding your rhythm is the key.

The point is, focus on work at the office, and focus on family at home.

Choose when your family gets to spend time with you each day, and keep to the schedule. I try to give my kids an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening at roughly the same times each day.

Schedule family events on your calendar like you would schedule anything else that is important. Don’t let anything hinder you from keeping those appointments.

How do you tackle any important project at work?

You carefully budget the most valuable, unrecoverable asset, time. Every good business person knows there are 1,440 minutes in a day, and one who recognizes that minutes wasted are never recovered will carefully plan how they are spent.

If an important project requires time invested to be successful, why do we believe our families are different? Successful marriages and the turning out of well-adjusted children both require time, and you must make the investment.

What do you like to do for family fun time?

The kids are at an age where simple things are fun. That means playing hide-and-go-seek, tag, the kiddie pool in the yard, sprinklers, catching bugs, board games, etc. We also love riding bikes and camping.

What’s your best piece of advice for new parents?

Love your children. Love compensates for many mistakes, and no parent is perfect. I have Psalm 127 written in the front of my family journal, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it…” Read the Bible every morning and evening, and pray for your spouse and children often. Wisdom comes from above, and parenting requires all the wisdom you can get.

What’s your favorite book?

The Bible, as a guide and compass for life.

Beyond that, we love Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan) and have lately been working our way through the Laura Ingalls Wilder series with much excitement in the evenings before bedtime.

With our second daughter already being named Laura, we simply substitute the names of Laura’s Ingalls’ sisters with the names of our other daughters, and the girls seem to get a thrill from imagining themselves in an early-American setting.

What do you like to do in your free time for fun?

When I was seven years old, Dad bought 80 acres for us to enjoy, and I couldn’t stay inside; this meant I read very little. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time – I love to read. Beyond that, anything outdoors – with fishing at the top of the list.

How do you handle things at work when unexpected things pop up with children, like multiple rounds of illness or snow days?

Probably like anyone, you make it work. The key is to communicate and set expectations with colleagues in a timely manner. If I need to make a last-minute adjustment to my work schedule, I try to plan how objectives will still be achieved on time, but by alternative means.

With the kids being young and us deciding to homeschool, my wife cares for the children full-time, which provides coverage for almost anything. When necessary, my job has been flexible, and I have been careful to honor that flexibility by only requesting it when absolutely necessary.

As a manager of large projects, I have made it a point to be especially understanding of single-parents. When snow days or sick days come, I make the accommodation without question, and employees usually honor that by ensuring nothing gets dropped.

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