Work, Life & Balance: Elisa Mintz Delia

Seeing special needs children triumph over their disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute is not only professionally rewarding, but has influenced how Elisa Delia approaches motherhood. When the work-life balance becomes more a freefall, Elisa reminds herself to live in the moment, cherish her blessings and remember that “being upset is optional.”

1. What do you love about being a mom?

I love looking at life through my sons’ eyes. I get so excited watching how they navigate the world. I appreciate experiencing simple, wonderful pleasures with them that I took for granted before having children – the fact that clouds look like animals, that it is truly exciting to push the elevator button, and it is really amazing that a door can open by just stepping in front of it.


2. What do you enjoy most about working?

I have the world’s best job because I work at a healthcare organization that helps children with developmental and physical disabilities. To witness a child walk, eat, or communicate for the very first time, or recover the ability to do so after a devastating injury, is a gift.

3. What’s your biggest challenge in juggling both?

My biggest challenge is remembering to live in the moment. But after 15 years at Kennedy Krieger Institute surrounded by children with special needs, I have a deep appreciation for cherishing my blessings. I try not to beat myself up for what I can’t achieve and instead focus on what I can. When I am with my kids, I make every effort to be fully with them, and when I’m at work, I commit myself to the projects at hand.


4. How do you deal with it?

What helps is being at a workplace that is supportive of family. Both my husband and I work at Kennedy Krieger Institute. I have a traditional work schedule while my husband works from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. So, I take the morning shift with the kids and he’s available for afternoons. Working at a place where children and families are the primary focus also fosters understanding from co-workers when the unexpected occurs.

Also, I’m an individual who is most at peace when things are planned and organized so I have created an extensive emergency list with three tiers of people who can pick up my sons from school or daycare at a moment’s notice. That alleviates a lot of stress.


5. How do you re-charge?

I take a minimum of two hours, one night each week, to do something for myself. I try to make this time responsibility free. I spend these precious hours reading, taking a walk or enjoying dinner or a cup of coffee with friends.

Also, at least once a month, I get a babysitter and go out with my husband. From the day I met him I could not wait to raise a family with him, but having time to laugh and have an uninterrupted conversation with him allows me to be a better mother and wife.


6. What advice would you give other women considering being a working mom?

I like to think about life in terms of choices. You have the right to choose the type of work, place of work, and your reaction to the responsibilities and challenges that will come with being a working mother. We have choices in how we react to the balance of work and home responsibilities. I always try to remember that “being upset is optional.” I could choose to get stressed, overwhelmed, or disappointed, but what’s the point if it only makes me feel worse? I would rather view every situation as a new learning experience and every challenge as something that can be overcome. It’s not always easy to stay in this mindset and I certainly have my moments, but it’s something that I strive for and it works for me.


7. Who inspires you?

My children and the children of Kennedy Krieger inspire me. While both of my children have severe asthma and my youngest has some developmental delays, each is learning to live their life without limits. They have taught me to change my language and thinking from “my children suffer from asthma” to “my children live with asthma.” Shifting my language lets me face challenging situations with their health from a more positive perspective.

Many of the children of Kennedy Krieger face a myriad of disabilities and rare neurological disorders, yet they fill our buildings with joy and laughter every day. It is deeply moving to see their triumphs.


8. What one thing can you not live without?

My daily “to do” list. But, I give myself the freedom to carry things over to the next day. No guilt – just organization.

9. If you had an hour of time to yourself, how would you spend it?

Even with so much on my plate, if I had an hour of time to myself I would use it to support one of the causes that I feel passionate about like the Ability Index – a national resource for testing, labeling and certification of toys to help parents and educators figure out the best toys suited for a child’s special needs – that I’m helping to develop.

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