7 AM to 7 PM: How CEO Debi Yadegari Balances Business & Raising 5 Kids

Debi Yadegari and her family

Debi Yadegari

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a day in the life of Villyge Founder & CEO Debi Yadegari.

In 2006, Debi Yadegari gave birth to her first child. As a new mother to a six-month-old daughter, she decided to walk away from her six-figure salary as a lawyer in New York City.

One year earlier, she was told by a female superior within her legal department that she would "ruin" her career if she was to ever have a baby. At the time, she was secretly pregnant. When she went back to work after her maternity leave, she felt a lack of support as a breastfeeding mom, and there seemed to be absolutely no flexibility within her schedule.

Back then, working from home was not permitted. Yadegari decided that mom life, with her baby awake from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., didn't jive with investment banking life (she typically left home at 7:15 a.m. and worked at the office until 9 p.m.).

"When I looked around, I learned that a whopping 41% of working parents walk away post-baby because of a lack of support," she shares. "I knew I had to do something.” After having four kids in five years, Yadegari started brainstorming ways to help other working mothers.

When her fourth child entered preschool, she officially launched Villyge, a B2B company that provides businesses with resources for working parents and families who are trying to conceive. Villyge helps parents by connecting them with experts, including fertility specialists, sleep coaches, lactation consultants, and more.

Debi Yadegari

Working parents should not have to choose between achieving their families' personal goals and professional success.

— Debi Yadegari

"Our experts connect virtually with employees and provide them with the support and resources they need to keep their career on an upward trajectory while achieving their personal family goals," Yadegari explains.

Villyge also helps employers create a "parent-friendly workplace." Since Yadegari is also a certified lactation consultant with the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice, there is an emphasis on helping nursing mothers. The company works with its clients to build lactation rooms, offer its employees the use of in-office hospital-grade breast pumps, and aids with the shipping of breast milk.

The hope is that with these implementations, employers can increase productivity and reduce turnover rates, because employees feel seen and supported. “Working parents should not have to choose between achieving their families' personal goals and professional success," Yadegari says. "But that’s only possible with the proper support system, which includes the employer playing a very large role, along with the partner at home."

Villyge's policies and services have been used by brands like Evercore, MLB, Delta Airlines, and Forbes.

Yadegari’s company doesn't just talk the talk, it walks the walk—allowing its own employees to work remotely and following a "family first" philosophy. "We have a 100% asynchronous work policy, unlimited PTO, and an understanding that family comes first," Yadegari shares. "There is an emphasis on work product not time in the seat."

Debi Yadegari

I am lucky in that I can control my schedule and blow off an afternoon to drive the kids around, but so can my staff.

— Debi Yadegari

This type of flexibility may sound like the ultimate freedom for working parents, especially those balancing it all with limited childcare. "I am lucky in that I can control my schedule and blow off an afternoon to drive the kids around, but so can my staff," Yadegari says. "It’s about drawing boundaries when necessary and making up for lost time whenever you can—10 minutes here, 40 minutes there. In the end, I truly do feel that I am giving my all at home and work.”

Yadegari is now 45 and living her "best decade yet!" She resides in Roslyn, New York, with husband Steven and their five children: Samara, 15; Zachary, 14; Daniella, 12; Evan, 10; and Kyle, 4.

Follow along as the Founder & CEO of Villyge juggles middle-of-the-night toddler meltdowns, reveals her favorite beauty hack, and prepares dinner in less than 20 minutes.

Debi Yadegari five kids and husband

Debi Yadegari

Tuesday

7 a.m. I’ve been awake since 5:45 a.m. It took me a few snoozes to get out of bed because there were three wakeups by my 4-year-old last night:

  • I needed water at 12 a.m.
  • I needed a blanket readjustment at 2 a.m. Note to self: make time today to buy the 4-year-old a bigger bed so his blankets stop falling off and I can get more sleep (little dude still sports a toddler bed).
  • I needed to use the bathroom at 4 a.m. (damn that sip of water at midnight!).

For the last 30 minutes, I’ve been in the kitchen packing five lunches and half-prepping some breakfasts. The older kids help themselves to grab-and-go breakfast options (thank you, frozen waffles!).

I blend a smoothie for the daughter who doesn't like anything else, frantically warm four thermoses with boiling water, and microwave the mac and cheese that was purchased the day before from the overpriced local deli to go into those thermoses. Tick, tock—the middle school bus is almost here, and I still need to pull “smoothie girl” from her bedroom. 

By 7 a.m., two kids have already been pushed out the door. I breathe, and pack three more lunches. The next wave of “morning chaos” is waiting on deck.

7:05 a.m. I wake the 10-year-old, make sure the 15-year-old did not oversleep her alarm, and scream-whisper “shh!” to everyone. [I am trying] to not be so loud because the 4-year-old is still sleeping after a rough night. A cranky toddler would ruin my morning mojo and slow my exit out the door.

7:15 a.m. I run out the door and tag hubby in to take over breakfast duty for two kids, supervise the toothbrushing for the one kid that still dons braces, and dress the 4-year-old in (please, please, please) something other than the superhero shirt he insists on wearing every day.  

7:30 a.m. I am at the gym. Hallelujah! A little “me time!” I squat, lunge, curl, and crunch until I can do no more. I hit Dunkin' Donuts on the way home (momma needs coffee!) and arrive just in time to see the last kid waiting to leave for school. 

My little 4-year-old dumpling points out that I didn’t bring him anything from Dunkin'. I acknowledge that he’s right. My coffee run was my time. Occasionally, I bring egg and cheese “wakeup wraps,” but not today. This morning, it was about me.  

8:30 a.m. I go to shower and silently bless my babysitter who arrived shortly after my departure to relieve hubby and take over morning duty. She is my lifesaver! A short time later, I emerge from my room, dressed and dry-shampooed.

Mom hack #412: if you have a blowout, rock it for as long as dry shampoo allows. It’s all about time management, and primping the hair takes away from valuable “morning think time.”

9 a.m. I am in my home office, at my laptop, and settling down for the day. Meetings, projects, and interviews fill the day. Today was a productive day.

No phone calls from school and only three workday texts from the kids. No, you cannot use my credit card to open a crypto account. Yes, you can have a sleepover this weekend. And no, I cannot reschedule my meeting with investors to drive you and your friends to the mall. 

Debi Yadegari Villyge CEO

Debi Yadegari 

2:30 p.m. My 15-year-old group texts me and my husband that she needs to be picked up from school in five minutes because golf was canceled. I text back “in zoom.” Hubby grabs her today and I wish “WFH” would live on forever. I am most certainly the “default parent,” but COVID-19 has certainly helped even the playing field.  

3:30 p.m. My turn. I grab my son from preschool, and we dash over to the middle school to pick up two more kids: my 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. A plea for ice cream has me making a detour to Carvel on the way home and I arrive back home by 4:15 p.m.—just in time to prep for my 4:30 p.m. meeting and resume playing a professional. The afternoon sitter takes over.

6:18 p.m. I lost track of time and hubby comes to retrieve me for evening duties and family time. I beg him for five more minutes because I need to finish something, but my 4-year-old storms my office, and the effort is lost. Uh oh! I forgot to plan dinner.

With no time to spare, I repurpose last night’s barbeque remains into tonight’s dinner. Sliced meat over salad and grilled chicken over rice disguise the leftovers. Voila! Family dinner is served.  

7 p.m. After dinner, we clean up and I take the little guy to get ready for bed. By 9:30 p.m., there are three kids in bed, and I retreat to my office for more work. The older two kids do their thing and I squirrel away, making up for lost time from afternoon pickups. 

Two hours later, around 11:30 p.m., I pull the plug. Early this night. The house is quiet. I clean up a few lingering dishes and head to bed, thankful for a relatively non-eventful day.

 

 

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