Mother of seven children aged 10 months to 9 years // Author of The Possibility Mom
Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal
Having a child is hard. Having more than one? Difficult. But having SEVEN? That’s like next, NEXT level. Not only is Lisa Canning parenting seven children, she’s also been a successful entrepreneur for the last few years. We’ve been following Lisa since her days at HGTV and knew we had to chat with her for XO Project to share all the deets on how she manages everything. Lisa welcomed us into her gorgeous space (#views) and we immediately felt at home – this girl personifies warmth! Three of her seven kids were with us during the interview and she calmly navigated through it all like the bad ass that she is.
What did you do before you had your business?
For the last ten years I have run an interior design business (I got my start on an HGTV show if you can believe it), and more recently I’ve pivoted my business to helping moms design their lives through online coaching programs and online courses. When I was an interior designer, I had no degree or background when I started and a big chip on my shoulder feeling like I really had to prove myself. I was struggling with life—taking anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months of maternity leave with each child and feeling the constant pressure to work as much as I could to maintain what I thought was success at the time. But with each goal I reached, I felt like the happiness was fleeting. So I knew that I had to move on from this period and rediscover what my true purpose was.
That brings us to what you’re doing now. How did it come to life?
My new business in mom-coaching came out of a period of time where I was epically failing at work-life balance. I was working around the clock and I was so time strapped. I never saw my children and was just falling apart trying to juggle it all. It all came to a crushing implosion when I had, just seven days out of hospital with my fourth baby in five years, convinced myself that I needed to go into work at a messy construction site. That was the day I realized my priorities were so messy, and something had to change! From that point on I become obsessed with the pursuit of work-life balance and finding a new way to measure success in my life. The common thread that I found with everything I was passionate about led to motherhood and a desire to help other moms.
Let’s talk about work-life balance for a bit. Clearly you have a lot on your plate, and yet you’ve found a way to ‘balance’ it all.
I think the concept of balance is very misleading, because it’s assuming that there is equality across all areas of life. It’s never going to be a 50/50 split of energy and effort. Moms put a lot of pressure on ourselves about this and it’s something that means a lot to me. I’ve found a way and a process to work through all of this that’s led me to living my ideal life.
Your book has just launched and we are super excited about digging deep into it. Can you tell us about the book writing process?
I was seven month pregnant with one of my kids and was invited to a dinner with a book publisher. I had no desire at that time to write a book— but a colleague of mine really felt there was a story to be told. I signed the contract November 9th, 2016 and then had 2 babies while writing it! I was really stuck in a rut at one point, and then I attended a talk called Mind Your Business. When the speaker said “perfection is a shield from criticism“— wow that just really hit home. I knew that was what was holding me back from finishing the book. I literally sat there in the conference centre and finished the book that day! It resonated with me so much that I was never going to be satisfied and that I could literally spend forever refining the book, but to just move forward with it.
That is a great quote. What other advice have you received that really resonated with you?
To “fail faster.” I absolutely love this quote. The faster you fail, the faster you grow. It is a huge paradigm shift for a recovering perfectionist like me.
Do you have a mentor?
I have several! I am currently in a high level coaching program with a marketing expert named Ryan Levesque. I have a few moms ahead of me by a few years on the journey who are a source of support as well.
What is your favourite part of your business and why?
I love to speak hope into moms. It is such a challenging time today where so many messages are being thrown at us as moms—be hot, and be fit, and crush it at work, and have perfect kids, and go on a regular date night, and take a great instagram photo. This pursuit of “all the things” can be exhausting. I am all for moms designing success for themselves and not for anyone else.
With all the different content you’re putting out – what is resonating the most with your audience?
The content that’s the most engaging is anything I share around depression and marriage. If I can do my part in helping couples realize that mental illness doesn’t define a marriage and that you can have a successful partnership that includes mental health challenges, then I’m happy to share this intimate content in an authentic way.
Having said that, what do you think about the pressure social media can put on parents/entrepreneurs?
Naturally we put pressure on ourselves and Instagram and social media takes that up a few notches. What people have to understand is there are a myriad of things happening behind the scenes and in the background that bring that ‘perfect’ image to life. It’s a false reality and while it can be great for building community, we each have to be aware of the information we’re taking in and to take it with a grain of salt.
Do you think the benefits of digital media outweigh the potential downfalls?
Having been involved in traditional media, both in front of and behind the camera, I can say that there is nothing like the speed of information being passed and the connection you can get with your audience through digital media.
What’s your typical day like?
Typical morning routine is waking up before my kids to pray and exercise, and then begins the regular routine of breakfast, packing lunches, last minute homework help etc. After school is precious time to me. We eat dinner early as a family (as soon as they come home from school – because I found if I served a snack when they all came home, no one is eating the beautiful meal I made!), we have a nightly ritual of saying some prayers as a family after we eat, and then we break either for play time, TV, or for kids in activities we divide and kids go and do their independent activities. Between the hours of 4 and 5:30pm, my phone is away and I am spending aimless time with my children.
Let’s talk self care. How do you carve out time for yourself?
I schedule it. I fight for it. I set recurring appointments in my calendar and I show up for them like I would anything else I make a priority.
How do you stay organized?
Intention behind everything. I prioritize the important things in my life, and those things get captured in my calendar. I find that if they are not scheduled, things can really easily get missed.
Describe your childcare situation.
We have had childcare in all shapes and forms, from very full time, to very part time, to my husband being home primarily, to me being home primarily. Currently, we have a wonderful live in full-time nanny who assists us in running our home successfully.
What are the challenges you face as a parent and entrepreneur?
Being afraid but doing it anyways. I am in a season of my business where we are taking a lot of risk—there are new things I am doing that I have never felt success in doing before. But what I have learned from my mentors is to move forward even though you might be afraid, and always keep this in mind: “You either get the result that you wanted, or the lesson that you needed.” – James Wedmore.
Has parenting changed the way you run your business, or vice versa?
I would say parenting has changed the way I run my business, for the better. I now do more in less time and I value REST and aimless time with my family in a huge way. A part of the reason why I wrote The Possibility Mom is to share the processes I use that help me maximize my time. Success looks different for everyone and that’s a big part of the message I’m trying to share.
Let’s leave off on the one message you want to share with other parents who are entrepreneurs.
You need to fuel you passions and your dreams – but not at the expense of your family. One of my goals is to provide a framework for how to chase your dreams but to keep your family priorities in mind.
Lisa is as close to superwoman as we’ll probably get in real life. Not only has she cracked the code for how to live her ideal life, but she’s happy to share that information with the rest of us. One of her goals is to help 100,000 women in 5 years – be it through her book, online program or workshops. What works for one may not work for all, but it’s absolutely definitely inspiring to learn about this process and hear Lisa’s story. To buy The Possibility Mom, click here. To visit her website and learn more about her work, click here.