Work, Life & Balance-Deborah Norville

Ever wonder how you can balance it all as a mum? This is one interview in a series talking to mums who have found a way to make it work. Meet Deborah Norville, actress, author and mother of Nick (20), Kyle (16) and Mikaela (13).

With 16 years as anchor of television show “Inside Edition” and two Emmy Awards under her belt, Deborah Norville is no stranger to career success. In addition to establishing herself through broadcast journalism, she’s also authored two books and in recent years turned her hobby of knitting and crocheting into a line of signature wools. When she’s not preoccupied with business ventures and breaking news, she spends too much time worrying about her children’s academic success, teenage temptations and job interviews. 


1. What do you love about being a mom?

A lot of motherhood is mechanics – diapering and feeding, instructing and correcting, and the seemingly endless march of doctor appointments, dance lessons and school forms – and worrying. How can I help him do well in school? How can I foster her sense and right and wrong? I feel like I gave birth to not only a child but to a lifetime of keeping my fingers crossed.

But in the end, I love seeing this wonderful little unit my husband and I have created. I love seeing how our children are developing confidence and courage. I am thrilled when I hear them discuss complicated intellectual ideas, knowing that their world view is broadening, or I see them take the right path rather than the easy one. It brings me to tears when they hug me as they have since they were munchkins and say, “You’re the best mummy in the world.”

2. What do you enjoy most about working?

Work actually feeds me in similar way. I enjoy mentoring members of our staff and seeing them grow in their careers. I also love to learn every day. My job means I have to know a good deal about a lot of subjects. Every day we start with a completely blank slate and have to create an original television show. I thrive on the intense deadline pressure.

As a mum, I love that I am a positive role model for my children. I have a demanding career yet I’m a very hands-on mum, likely more so than some of kids’ peers whose mother do not work. It’s not easy, and I’ve made career changes to accommodate my family like leaving the network news division for a syndicated show. My sons and daughter have grown up their entire lives with a mum that works and they are turning out fine.

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

I can’t be in two places at the same time. If the Emmy Awards are being handed out in Los Angeles and my daughter is having a birthday in New York, my daughter will have to understand. In fact, when my daughter was born, nine hours later I did “Inside Edition” from my hospital bed – the producer could literally find no one else to do the show. That’s taking the juggling act to an absurd and comical level.

4. How do you deal with it?

I often say, “They call it work. It’s not ‘play’ that we go to everyday.” Sometimes you just have to deal with it. Also, the trade-offs go the other way too like when I had a speech in Orlando and the kids went with me and enjoyed the theme parks. It all balances out.

5. How do you recharge?

I organize. I workout. Those two activities help me get back that sense of balance I need to keep going. If I open a drawer or closet and see things tidy, I feel a sense of control. When I get an hour all to myself to do a great, sweaty workout I feel good all day.

But sometimes, the best recharge is to sit on the back porch with my husband and watch the kids horse around with the dogs in the backyard. Sitting there, seeing them together, fills me with gratitude.

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

It’s not a consideration as though you are considering becoming a brunette. Most of us don’t choose to become parents, we are called to it. Most of us don’t say, “oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to go work?” We work because we have to. The majority of women work outside the home because their income is critical for their families. In fact, women have become the primary breadwinner in half of all American families.

7. Who inspires you?

My mum was my role model. She did the same things I do with working and having a family but with one great challenge added on – she had rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA impacted every aspect of her and our family’s life. As the disease progressed and her abilities diminished, Mum found herself having to delegate more and more of the physical parts of running the household to us, her four daughters. But there was a never a sense of woe is me. It was just the way it was. Mum continued to be active running the financial end of the family business. She continued to handle all the logistics of our schedules, the games, the appointments, getting us set up for camp, etc. She called the shots, we carried out the orders. She would call us “her hands and feet.”

Beyond that, she was an anomaly for her time. In the fifties, before she married, my mother was a career woman. She was the head of merchandising for a national clothing manufacturer. Women typically didn’t have such positions and growing up I was fascinated by her stories of business life. Those stories helped me dream that I could have a career in a business as competitive as broadcasting.

More recently, my mother’s life and challenges inspired me to get involved with “New Way RA” which is the first online talk show covering lifestyle issues for those living with rheumatoid arthritis.

8. What one thing can you not live without?

Internet connection. If I’m wired I can download books, read the papers, and catch up on the news. As long as I feel “plugged in,” I’m happy.

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

I’d do a 45-minute workout with 15 minutes of meditation to refocus afterward.