Rebecca Bender, Elevate Academy and “Freedom of Responsibility”

Rebecca Bender is a human trafficking survivor and the CEO and Founder of Elevate Academy, the largest online school for human trafficking survivors. She is also a mom to four children — ages 22, 12, 10 and 8.

Let’s get down to it — who cares for your kids so that you can work?

Every season of life feels like we’ve had to put the puzzle together each time. We’ve used after school clubs, grandmas, baby sitters; we’ve taken part time work in seasons or worked our schedules around kid’s events.

What keeps your plate full these days? What’s your job?

I have a lot going on right now. I am the CEO & Founder of an anti-trafficking organization that equips law enforcement to identify and respond — and we run Elevate Academy: the largest online school for survivors to get job ready in the world. I also am an author, motivational speaker and TV producer – using the content I see working cases daily to help change culture through entertainment.

Do you work because you want to, need to, or some combination of both?

Both for sure. I love what I do, but more than anything I love monetizing my passion to build for my family’s legacy.

What does day to day look like and how do you juggle it all with kids? Walk us through your typical day.  

Every season is so different. I am recently divorced, so juggling visitation weekends, travel, and sports is a lot. When I am traveling and, on the road, which is a few times a month, that is different than when I am home. At home, I typically work from my home office and am able to see the kids after school and then I stop to make dinner. What I love about our company is we have a core value of Freedom with Responsibility. We encourage our team to build their days and schedules so that they allow for the freedom of parenting, of personal needs, of self-care, etc. And that comes with a level of responsibility to get your projects done and communicate with your team. Everyone wants the freedom part, but forget the responsibility. My oldest is an NCAA D1 Track & Field athlete — so track season gets busier as we also work our schedules around being able to support her – you only get that a few years so trying to cherish every moment.

How does being a working mom impact your kids – either positively or negatively?  

I believe all our kids will be both negatively and positively impacted by many of our choices. The key is communication though. Communicating your why, admitting when you messed up, apologizing and working at self-awareness. Whether that is through therapy, a life coach or a mentor… put an emphasis on your own emotional intelligence and healing and THAT will impact your kids for the good. I know as a busy career mom that good and bad can come out of it for the kids, but when we can validate, communicate, acknowledge and change, we are leaving our kids with so much more!

What holds the biggest tension for you in trying to manage everything?

I loved a speech that I watched Shonda Rhimes give recently. She said that people often ask how she does it all and that the reality is, she doesn’t. Something will always suffer for something else. I loved that truth because she is spot on. If I am working on a book deadline, I may not be able to make dinner each night. If I am doing hair for prom, I will miss that staff get together. If I am working an undercover operation with Homeland, I may miss the first soccer game. Something will always give for the other. What we DO get to guarantee, is that kids see their moms building something great, they see a role model that is making a difference, who is happy and full and learning hopefully, the work ethic of juggling and prioritizing and I believe this will impact them in great ways that they’re proud of.

What’s one thing or resource that, if you had, would make your working mom life easier?  

A full-time nanny for sure. Or private jet – or at least flying cars – come on Back to the Future. LOL. A full-time nanny would decrease the stress of figuring out how to put the puzzle together each season and create consistency. Flying private would allow our schedules to prioritize one another more than having to build around the commercial airline’s itinerary. But I mean, what working families wouldn’t want easier schedules?

How would you encourage other working moms who are overwhelmed? What would you say to someone who’s in your shoes?   

Just take one day at a time. There have been many times in my life where I am overwhelmed and burnt out. In those seasons, yes look at the schedule for the week on a Sunday so you know what is coming but if you can just look at one day at a time. Today is XYZ and the three things I must get done today are: ABC. Just put on blinders and only look at your scheduled today. This too shall pass, you won’t be in this same place next year and you have already overcome worse so keep going. You got this, mama!

Find Rebecca online here:

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