What’s the hardest part about juggling parenthood and your career?
Being the chief operating officer for Baltimore City Schools (City Schools) is a 24/7 job. I oversee everything from facility design, construction and maintenance to transportation of students. With a portfolio that includes many old, aging infrastructure and new buildings, I get a lot of very late calls and morning emergencies. Also, new work challenges and events, such as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on educational facilities in Baltimore, means a lot of late nights with my team preparing and strategizing for students (and my children) to reoccupy City Schools’ buildings. The heavy lift means I am sometimes on a phone call while pushing a child on a swing or accompanying someone on a bike ride. I spend my day thinking about other families’ children and their experiences as it relates to the district’s facilities and bus transportation, while balancing the needs of my children (homework, class projects and appointments).
What makes trying to balance both easier?
My amazing husband and partner, Michael Washington, works with me on the family front to balance raising children and his own busy career as a general contractor. As we weathered the challenges of the pandemic and balanced not having consistent child care and in-person schooling for our children, Michael decided to branch out from his company and start his own general
contracting business to provide more flexibility to manage our family and help with morning and afternoon dropoffs and pickups. In addition, I have amazing leadership and colleagues at City Schools and a great team whose dedication to the work and problem solving makes my work-home balance easier. The work, though stressful at times, becomes more feasible to balance.
What do you love about being a parent?
I love seeing my children grow and develop. Each of our children has unique personalities and interests. I enjoy watching my children engage with each other, explore new spaces or ideas and learn new things.
What do you think is your biggest parenting fail?
My biggest fail is sticking to schedules. As my husband and I manage a big family and intense jobs, the family schedule is important. Everything must be put on a calendar. Late phone calls or last-minute grocery runs can throw my husband and me off schedule. In an attempt to balance work with family, my husband and I identify times we cannot take calls or have meetings to focus on our children.
How has your family been handling the pandemic?
My family has been doing relatively well during the pandemic. We’ve been spending more family time together with family walks. We do lunch together when our children are virtual, and playtime begins right after a meeting instead of after the mad rush for pickups at the end of a work day. We have a lot more flexibility with our time and more of virtual face time with family members.
What’s the one thing you hope your children will learn from you and your career?
I would hope my children will learn to be assertive and confident individuals but still have empathy and see others’ humanity. I hope my children will be problem solvers and never walk away from challenges but also truly value people and their efforts to support the work.
Title: Chief Operating Officer, Baltimore City Schools
Family: Dr. Lynette Washingon with her husband Michael and children Leilah (7), Ethan (6), Seth (3) and Nathan (19 months)
Family Meal: Pizza and assorted fruits
Dessert: My daughter Leilah makes amazing cupcakes. Any sweet pastries with vanilla ice cream and caramel topping make us happy.
Book To Read Together: Classics like “Tikki Tikki Tembo” and stories they make up during bedtime reading.
Vacation Spot: Costa Rica. It’s been a while since our last visit, but we are hoping a “new” normal might allow for us to travel again by year’s end. If not, we will head to San Diego, California, our second favorite place.