The non-maternity leave

It’s been 12 weeks since Audrey was born.

This is the same week five years ago when I kissed my oldest daughter Daphne goodbye before my husband loaded her up in her carseat to take her to daycare for the first time. The days leading up to the end of my maternity leave were flooded with tears.

With Henry I only took 11 weeks.

Neither were paid.

But the last 3 months have been an entirely different experience.

For starters, I have two other kiddos to keep up with. The seemingly long days of watching daytime television while cluster feeding a newborn in my pajamas are behind me.

It’s also because I didn’t take any time off from work. Yup, this solorpreneur was shooting off emails from the recovery room.

And yet, if you’ve asked me how things were going since Audrey was born, I’ve likely told you it’s been the easiest transition of the three.

My neighbor said it best: You’re nervous with your first child, because everything is new and you have no idea what to expect. You’re overwhelmed with your second child, because you do know what to expect. By the time number three comes, there are much fewer surprises and it’s relatively smooth sailing.

I can’t guarantee it will happen this way for everyone, but it’s definitely been the case for our family.

Daphne is a tremendous help with Audrey, and does a great job of playing with Henry – who isn’t taking to sharing his mama with the baby quite as well.

Plus, this last pregnancy was so rough, including 8 weeks on bedrest, that I actually have substantially more energy now than I did before the baby was born. I’m even sleeping better now, too!

But it hasn’t all been easy. There have definitely been days where I yearned for nursing on the couch in my pajamas. And some of the time, that’s just what I did.

Other days I just wasn’t able to because of the client projects I was working on.

I also took my first ever work trip when Audrey was just 7 weeks old. I was a little bit hesitant about whether or not to go, but I learned a lot and it was totally worth it in the long run.

Now, it’s not really my personality to slow down too much for too long, but the truth is that I needed to keep working. I needed the income. I didn’t want to risk losing my clients. And it turns out the bills only get bigger once you have a baby, so that unpaid maternity leave thing just wasn’t going to fly again – and this time I was able to do something about it.

I knew this was going to be my reality before we had the baby, so I was able to prepare myself for what I wanted my non-maternity leave to look like. Fortunately, this time around I feel wiser as a mother, more focused as a business owner, and I’m finally doing something I’m passionate about.

Whether you’re approaching your maternity leave, or find yourself running a small business while growing your family, here’s what you need to know:

Have a plan

This seems obvious enough, but you need to have a plan with your spouse and your work. Be transparent about what help you’ll need from your partner and if you’ll need to increase childcare for other kiddos to allow more time for you and baby. Ask your company about their leave policy in advance and make sure you understand your benefits or lack thereof. If your leave will not be paid, are you prepared for that financially? Will you possibly need to return sooner? Are these policies negotiable?

I was definitely moving a bit slower for the first two weeks after I gave birth, so I was sure to set boundaries with my clients about when I would be working and when it’s family time. Luckily, because of the nature of my work, there were many things that I was able to schedule out before the baby came. The key with any plan is to be flexible, realistic and communicative. Do not over promise if you won’t be able to perform.

Outsource

Don’t try to be a hero – you just birthed a baby! I’m not sure when moms first started feeling the need to do everything all by themselves. I assure you it’s not possible. Maybe you need to hire a cleaning company for a few months. Maybe your spouse can start doing morning carpool. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and perhaps more importantly, when people offer, accept it. If someone offers to bring your family a meal, graciously thank them and check dinner off of your to do list for that night. Voila! You’ll definitely be able to – and should – return the favor someday.

If you’re a business owner, you may even be able to outsource some of your work tasks without losing revenue. Maybe you have an employee who can step in, or maybe you know about freelancer who can trade projects with you. While that didn’t necessarily work for me, I became much more strategic with how my time was being used on things other than work. I realized free shipping services {hello Amazon Prime} and even grocery shopping services with small fees were totally worth the hour I would have spent doing it myself. This gave me some time back to focus on my clients.

Schedule bonding time

Speaking of time, this one is super important for any new mom. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with things like laundry {which has suddenly doubled in volume with the addition of one tiny human} and on-demand feeding and diaper changes. Add in a job? Mind overload. Whatever you’re doing, don’t let the days slip by without scheduling a special time to just stare at your baby. Take a mental picture. Heck, take a real picture. Or a hundred! Audrey reminds me just how much a newborn changes each and everyday. I’m thrilled to continue working with clients I enjoy while profiting. I’m even happier to do it knowing I’m mindful not to sacrifice these precious moments.

If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, check out or review your company’s maternity leave policy at listyourleave.com. Be sure to read my interview with the founders.

How to pump when traveling for work

If you read my last post, you know that I just took a work trip to Florida.

It was fabulous!

But having never traveled for work before, this veteran working mom of 3 sure felt like a rookie when it came to pumping on the go.

I remember when I went back to work after my first was born. I was fortunate enough to have little trouble breastfeeding and wanted to keep it up. While it took a few weeks to adjust to a pumping schedule at work, my Medela bag carried everything I needed to get from 9am-5pm each day.

But from Tuesday to Sunday?

Without nursing in the mornings and evenings?

That was something entirely different.

I learned a thing or two about the best ways to pump when traveling. Hopefully they help you out in the event you find yourself living the jet setting life soon after baby arrives.

Do your research

I’m a planner, so this was a no brainer for me. Find out where you’re staying and what amenities will be available to you. I knew I’d have access to a full kitchen, which meant I would have a freezer to keep my ice packs and breast milk frozen. Also, understanding your rights traveling with breastmilk will give you confidence when you travel. You can brush up on those here.

Pro mom tip #1: if you haven’t started pumping yet, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to store up breast milk bags prior to your trip. Don’t have a breast pump yet? No worries. This site helps match your insurance with a manufacturer that will get you one for free!

Practice makes perfect

Getting myself prepared was one thing {think a lot of extra pumping to store up for my time away}. Preparing your little one is quite another. And if you’re a nursing mom, especially one who works from home like I do, your baby is going to be less than thrilled when your breast is replaced with a bottle. Make the transition on her easier by letting her practice with dad, a responsible sibling {Daphne loves to feed Audrey!} or another care taker.

Pro mom tip #2: leave the room! That baby can hear and smell you and thinks it’s pretty unfair that she has to have a fountain drink when the tap is parading around the place.

Pro mom tip #3: stay calm. If at first you don’t succeed, try another bottle/nipple. The truth is, when she’s hungry enough, she will eat. Change is hard for us adults, too.

Pack early and accordingly

The week before I left, one of our cats CHEW THROUGH THE CORD TO MY PUMP. Yup. I totally panicked. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime’s two day shipping and replacement parts. The moral of the story, make sure you have everything you need and tuck it away safely days before you leave. Triple check you have everything you need to make your breast pump function properly. And, depending on how long you’ll be away, you may need to invest in some additional storage supplies. I was fortunate to have a mom friend who let me borrow her ice packs and cooler.

While you’re packing, consider throwing in tops that are easy to nurse/pump in.I didn’t pack to pump, and since I wore a lot of dresses and ended up having to strip down completely. Luckily, my event was held close to where we were staying, so I could return to my room to pump.  If you’re going to be on the go, definitely put some thought into what you’ll wear.

Pro mom tip #4: invest in a car charger converter. There are products that turn the cigarette lighters into outlets or converters for the breast pump to plug in itself. I own the former and it’s been a lifesaver on several occasions, including the two times I had to pump in a car this trip.

Relieve yourself

Literally. When you’re on the go and childless, it’s super tempting to run around like a normal person. I would frequently wait until I was fully engorged to go pump, because I didn’t want to miss a thing!

The bad news? I ended up getting Mastitis the last night we were there. If you’ve never had it before, consider yourself lucky! I never got so much as a clogged milk duct with my first two children, and have had two since my third was born. You’re more likely to get this infection while pumping, especially if you do not fully drain the breast. So go on ladies, relieve yourself.

Pro mom tip #5: don’t stop pumping or nursing when you have a clogged duct. It’s painful, but it’s also the best way to get rid of it. Hot showers, heating pads and ibuprofen don’t hurt either.

Be upfront

As soon as I got to the airport security line, I let them know I was traveling with breastmilk. They were very helpful in walking me through the process:

  1. Run the cooler through the X-Ray conveyer belt with my other carryon items.
  2. Escort me to the back to inspect cooler further.
  3. Only the liquid bags greater than 3.4 ozs had to be examined. Luckily, all of my bags were frozen solid except the two I had made that morning. These liquid bags were run those through a special screening machine {no bags were opened}. Had all of the bags been frozen or under the ounce requirement, I would’t have been inspected at all!
  4. I got bonus points for having everything in clear bags. There was no award for this, but it’s highly recommended.

I’ve heard horror stories from other mothers who had less than positive experiences, but this was mine. Again, be prepared and know your rights as a nursing mom. Knowledge is power!

I hope this helps you the next time you’re leaving your baby, whether for work or for pleasure. Being a working mom is hard enough, but committing to nursing and pumping is no easy fete!

Tell me, have you ever traveled while pumping? How did it go?

“I still wanted to do challenging, high level work”

Q&A with Charissa Fitch

I was recently introduced to a working mom rocking the start-up scene by our mutual friends at Werk.

Charissa is an attorney turned inventor and entrepreneur. Like many of today’s working moms, she left a job that no longer worked for her in pursuit of building a company that would provide the solutions to her own career concerns: her desire to give her kids the time they deserved with their mom, while also putting her smarts and skills to good use in a professional setting.

And she’s on her way to doing just that! Charissa envisions a company where highly ambitious women {and men} can experience flexible schedules and benefits, while working for a dynamic, fulfilling business. She’s on a mission to support parents with great experience that may have “stepped back” from work for various reasons and are now hoping to re-enter the workforce on their own terms.

Now that’s a company I can get behind!

Self-promo time. Tell me about your business.

WileyRoo is a parent products company. Our mission is to create innovative products that make parenting and caregiving easier. Our first product offering, bababutler, is a solution to the hassle and chaos created by pumping and breast milk storage. bababutler is a flexible band that fits on most bottles, bags, and containers. It has a timer and thermometer that track the usable time and temperature of breast milk {or the content of the container}. bababutler is smart enabled and communicates with your smart phone or device via an application.

For example, once you put a bababutler band on a collection bottle you can set the time for 8 hours {for room temperature breast milk} and the alarm will sound once that time has expired. At the end of 8 hours if you haven’t used the milk you can leave the band in place and reset it to 120hrs {5 days} and put it in the refrigerator. bababutler is also great for anything you need to remember: medication, supplements, birth control, time sensitive food. Because the alarm is on the item it’s a terrific way to ensure that you, your nanny, daycare, or school remembers to administer medication or supplements to children. bababutler remembers for you!

And you’ve got big plans for growth, too.

My goal for 2017 is to continue to build a dynamic team and to surpass our first-year sales goals.

The idea for bababutler came from necessity. Any tips for pumping/nursing moms?

I had a hard time nursing my daughter. Not only did we have problems latching, but I also struggled with my milk supply. I found fenugreek and oatmeal to be very helpful with supply. Also, as much as I loved the handsfree nursing bra, I found that messaging my breasts while pumping increased my production. The most frustrating part for me was milk storage, which is why I invented the bababutler. My hope is that bababutler eliminates the chaos that surrounds breast milk storage and helps moms to pump and breastfeed as long as they want. New moms could use one less thing to stress about!

Before WileyRoo, you were an attorney. Why’d you step back out of the corporate scene?

Practicing law wasn’t working for me anymore. My husband’s company relocated us three times in six years and during that time we had two babies 17 months apart. I wanted to be home with my kids as much as possible, but “reduced hours” attorney positions can be difficult to find. So, I decided not to practice after our last move 18 months ago. I still wanted to do challenging, high level work, but I didn’t want to put in the {inflexible} hours that litigation can require.

What has been the best part about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur has been amazing! I work when I want to and that allows me to spend more time with my family. Running a start-up is crazy, hard work, but it feels awesome to create something and see where it goes. I think my favorite part is learning so many new things. Running a company is very different than practicing law, so it has required me to learn many, many new skills. For example, I’ve learned how to use Adobe Illustrator. I’m definitely not an expert, but after fumbling around over and over I can use it if necessary; that is much more than I could have said a year ago.

Have there been any surprises along the way?

There are constant surprises! I’m surprised at how long everything takes. I’m surprised at the wonderful response we’ve received so far. I am surprised when our nanny quits, out of the blue, a couple of weeks before I leave for a 5-day work trip. The surprises keep rolling in.

wileyroo

What do you hope your children take away from all of your hard work?

If nothing else, I hope my kids learn that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. I wasn’t happy with a traditional career path, so I’m trying my best to create a company that will give people {myself included} the flexibility they need. I think many women {and men} probably feel this way once they have a family. Also I hope my daughter sees that you can be a mommy and a supportive wife and still be a badass boss lady, because they are not mutually exclusive. It just takes creativity.

What’s your best piece of advice for working moms?

My advice is… you’re doing fine. We are all too hard on ourselves. If you’re worried about how you are doing as a mom, then you’re probably doing a great job. Useful advice: hire help. If you can afford to pay someone to do something you hate {ie: laundry, cooking, etc.}, then do it!

What keeps you sane?

My faith and my family. I’m very “high strung” so I tend to stress easily. Fortunately, I have always had a close relationship with Jesus that helps me through many hard times. Prayer keeps me at peace with what is going on around me. My husband is also a big help; he can talk me down most of the time.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

I struggle with trying to have it all. For me it means being happy with my marriage, being happy with how I’m mothering, and being happy with where I am in my career and personal ambitions. Those things never happen at the same time for more than 10 minutes! If I’m snuggling with my two-year-old on a rainy afternoon, then I’m neglecting something that needs to be done for WileyRoo. If I’m going on a date with my husband on Saturday night, my kids are sad that I’m not saying their “night nights.” You can’t have “it all” because you can’t “do it all”- not at the same time. I think I have more than I deserve and more than I ever imagined!


Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Bouncing back: 5 tips for climbing out of a rut

climbing out of a rut

Y’all. I’ve been in Texas almost a month and I’ve realized two things. The first, I say y’all now. The second is that I am in a big time rut.

For starters, I’m coming off of one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Buying and selling a home doesn’t always bring out the best in a person. Moving cross country is a total mental, physical and emotional drain. Uprooting toddlers and finding new friends, new things to do and a new school isn’t my idea of a walk in the park. Plus, I’ve had to pull all this off before climbing into bed at 9 p.m. each day because baby Golden is zapping all of my energy for him {or her!} self.

So it’s no secret why I’m in a rut. The boxes are unpacked, the kids are settling into their new school and yet finding a way to climb out of this uninspired, unproductive hole still seems impossible.

If you’re normally quite constructive like me but have found yourself in a rut from time to time, read on!

Cut yourself some slack

As women we tend to be so hard on ourselves. Yet when I give myself a hard time about something, it tends to make me feel way worse. But who hasn’t been in a career or life rut? It happens to the best of us! Over the last few months I’ve chosen to be generous with myself when it comes to how much television I’ve let my kids watch or how little I’ve contributed to this blog. I was doing my best given my situation, all of which was temporary after all.

Start small

You’ll never get out of your rut if you acknowledge you’re in one and decide to to try to climb out. I recommend starting with something small. A big, overwhelming undertaking could send you right back into rut-mode, but taking on a manageable task and finishing it with ease may give you the encouraging boost to move on to the next to-do. Momentum gained!

Find inspiration

If you’re having trouble even getting started, you need to find a bit of inspiration. Maybe it’s going for a walk outside {I always bring my phone on walks because A. music and B. note taking for when those big ideas pop into my head}. Or listening to music. Or visiting an art exhibit. Whatever activity clears your head will help you forget your rut and fill your mind with motivation.  If that nature hike doesn’t shake your rut strut, spend some time with your children, husband or best friend. These people we love {who don’t judge us!} tend to remind us of what we’re capable of.

Do your best

If you’re like me, you are used to giving everything 110%. But vying for perfection could leave you drained or disappointed. For climbing out of a rut you need to abandon your usually high standards and find satisfaction in getting the job done. There’s plenty of time to improve when you’re rut-less.

Keep climbing

You did it! You’ve done something. It may not be your best work. It may not even contribute to your goals at all. But it was something. Anything. And now you can – and will – move forward, gradually introducing a renewed focus and quality. You’ve got this, mama!

“It is the best job in the world”

go back to work

Q&A with Amy Conway

There are two traits that I really admire in a business woman: passion and ambition. Amy Conway is a woman who is lucky enough to possess both. It’s a good thing, too, because after years at home raising her four children Amy is back in the workforce and is a force to be reckoned with herself!

I have known Amy as a stay at home mom, and while there’s no doubt that her family comes first, I’ve enjoyed cheering her on as she’s grown her business over the last year. Which is why I couldn’t wait to collaborate with her on today’s Working Mom Wednesday and Mother’s Day Giveaway!


Self-promo time. Tell me what you do.

I am a mom to four awesome kids: Molly, Kate, Nora and Liam, and lucky wife to Billy for 17 years. It is the best job in the world. My paying gig is with Visage – a promotional marketing solutions company. We get to work with clients to customize their branded apparel and promotional items. It is the second best job in the world.

What’s the coolest order you’ve placed?

A branded putting green for one of my clients to give to their top executive clients. Very fun!

{Want to see the second coolest order? Check out the cozy tee we’re giving away to one lucky mama just in time for Mother’s Day!}

If you weren’t selling swag, what do you think you’d be doing?

My passion is running, so I would love to train for a destination marathon. I am also known as the “baby whisperer” in the family, so I would volunteer at a children’s hospital and just hold babies all day.

You took a hiatus from the workforce to raise your children. Why did you decide to go back to work?

Honestly? It was time to go back to work.  My kids were in school all day and, let’s face it, they become more expensive the older they get.  I loved my time as a stay at home mom and going back to work is just the next step in taking care of their needs and growing list of wants. This opportunity found me and it has been a perfect fit for me and for my family. I have the flexibility I need to keep this family running along smoothly and I get to experience the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of closing a sale!

What has been the biggest challenge in growing your business?

I love the prospecting piece of finding new clients and developing creative ideas for their marketing plans. However, balancing that with the time spent taking care of my existing clients can be challenging. It works best when I am deliberate about carving out time for each piece.

What is a typical day like for you?

I start with a run-without fail! It’s really the only part of the day I can be sure to get it in! After a quick shower it’s time to herd the cats through breakfast and out the door to school. I’m a lucky gal that my kids are early risers so our mornings are usually fairly peaceful. I am then “all in” for work while the kids are at school, meeting with clients and cranking through the sales process. Then, depending on the season, we hit it hard after school with soccer, baseball, basketball, or track practices along with homework and dinner for the crew.

You have 4 kids. Surely that comes with a bit of chaos?

In order to minimize the inevitable chaos I plan our weeks with the precision of a military attack. I think it is my responsibility to the family to remain calm in the face of crazy. One recent weekday was triple-booked with activities so {after losing sleep over the prospect of a stranded child} I worked out the master plan and engaged all necessary parties. It was completely exhausting, yet successfully executed. At the end of the day, my daughter Kate said, “see mom, it wasn’t so crazy after all!” {If only she knew!}

What’s the best part about being a mom?

Looking at my kids’ happiness and knowing I play a large part of that. To see Molly beam with happiness in high school, to know that Kate “comes to play” at every soccer game. That Nora would spend every waking moment doing art projects, and Liam would never miss a soccer or baseball practice. Each of our children is such a unique blessing from God. Taking a brief moment of each day to pay attention to that is simply a privilege. It makes all the mean girl drama, endless rides to practice, calming of nerves, art project messes, quickly eaten meals and late night worries all worth it. Knowing they look to me to gauge their response to each new day is a huge responsibility and I do not take it lightly. Anne Lamott says it best: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

I have a fabulous support network of friends and family. We are blessed to live close to my husband’s family who eagerly helps out and never says “no.” I have learned over the years that it is NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help and that carpooling makes all kinds of sense, even if it is a pain to organize! Although my family lives in other cities, they are great with offering virtual support!

What is one product you love so much that you could be an ambassador for it?

I love our embossed leather journal. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved a fresh journal or notebook!

What’s your best piece of advice for other working moms?

Be organized. It drives my husband absolutely crazy at times, but being organized helps calm the chaos in our lives. I find it the best go to survival skill in my working mom tool belt.

I’m on a quest to having it all. Do you think you have it all?

This question reminds me of something I read recently.  It puts “having it all” in perspective:

Early wake ups = Children to love
House to clean = Safe place to live
Laundry = Clothes to wear
Dishes to wash = Food to eat
Crumbs under table = Family meals
Grocery shopping = $$ to provide for us
Toilets to clean = Indoor plumbing
Lots of noise = People in my life
Endless questions about homework = Children’s brains growing
Sore and tired at the end of the day= I am still alive!


Amy is my partner in crime for our first giveaway here at The Free Mama! Check out the details and you could win some mom swag just in time for Mother’s Day. Looking for some custom goodies of your own? Contact Amy at Visage to get hooked up.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Our BIG news

Moving to houston big news

Are you ready? Do you think you can handle it? If your guess was that I’m pregnant with triplets, please lower your expectations.

Nope, our family isn’t expanding right now; we’re relocating!

The Goldens are moving to Houston, Texas. This unexpected news follows a great job offer to my husband, and my ability to do what I do from anywhere.

The truth is, this wasn’t a decision either of us took lightly. Not only did we have our two children to consider, but also my parents, the best neighbors in the world and a city we know and love {with a world series champion baseball team, might I add.}

This decision weighed heavily on our hearts, but it also brought up some great conversations and made us ask one another {and ourselves} some extremely thoughtful questions about what we wanted out of life. Ultimately, we decided as a family that the benefits of the move outweighed the familiarity of staying put.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas. We decided we wanted to find out for ourselves.

When opportunity knocks

My husband was initially approached by a recruiter who found him on LinkedIn through a professional automotive association to which he belongs. The phone call came completely out of the blue, followed by a trip to Houston two days later and an offer the following day.

This wasn’t a matter of being in the right place at the right time, this was opportunity knocking. We needed to decide, and quickly, whether or not we were going to answer.

I had to ask my entrepreneurial husband in every way imaginable if he was confident that he could go back to working for someone else after running the show at Pit Stop Auto Detailing the last two and a half years. The truth is, owning your own business is hard work! There are days he is more like a guidance counselor than a business owner. I would have understood if he said he wanted to take the back seat and let someone else sweat the small stuff day to day for a while.

But that wasn’t the appeal of the position. He didn’t accept the job because he was running away from the pressure of owning your own business. He took the opportunity being offered to him in a newly created roll at a remarkable company and saw the potential to build it into something even better. Just like he has done as a business owner. I know this because Justin has decided to keep Pit Stop and is implementing management strategies and outsourcing things like accounting to keep the company moving forward in his absence. Plus, it gives us a reason to come back to Kansas City often. And business expense it.

Money doesn’t buy happiness

A few years ago I went to a Mary Kay meeting with my neighbor. One thing was said that evening that has resonated with me ever since, so much so that it was part of the reason I decided to trade in my 9-5 to do the freelance hustle. Someone said, “We all know money doesn’t buy happiness. But it sure does buy us opportunities.” I suspect that it’s statements like this that drive so many women into direct marketing in the first place.

Think about it. It’s totally true. Remember when the lottery was in the billions not too long ago? {I know you do, because everyone bought a ticket.} It’s funny, but when my husband and I fantasized about what we’d do with our winnings, I told him I would want to go to a friend’s wedding across the country we otherwise couldn’t afford to attend. No private jets {although that would have gotten us to the wedding, too}. Just the ability to say yes to more experiences without consulting our bank account first.

The job offer was flattering, no doubt. In less than a week my husband had been flown out of town to meet with the CEO and was offered a well-paying position at a successful company in an industry he loves. I felt like it was my job as his wife to make sure his ego wasn’t getting in the way of his rational thinking. Did he like the idea of getting back on someone else’s payroll? There isn’t anything wrong with that, as long as he was truly going to find enjoy the work he was doing and the people he was doing it with

You can always change your mind

People are so afraid of change. I get it, change can be really hard. Especially when you haven’t had any input in the new and different. I think one of the reasons my husband and I are so willing to change {and change often} is because neither of us have any problems turning back and saying, “well, that didn’t work.”

When we were discussing whether or not to move to Houston, we imagined what it would be like not living close to my family and our friends. When it came time to actually tell those closest to us and the reality of disappointment set in, the conversations became more emotional for us both. While making our neighbors and family upset with our news didn’t convince us to stay, it did remind us how cared about we are here. We know that if the job or the city isn’t a good fit for our family, we will be welcomed back with open arms if it came down to it {plus, we’ll still have Pit Stop to fall back on}. Accept and embrace change, because you can always change your mind.

So I guess it’s time to dig out the bug spray and sunscreen and start teasing my hair {what do they say? The bigger the hair, the closer to God?}, because the Goldens are moving to Houston! Have you been? I’d love to hear any tips or recommendations in the comments, ya’ll!

Working Mom Wednesday: do what is right for you

Today is my mom’s birthday, so I could think of no better woman to feature in this week’s interview than Pam Gyllenborg!

Like many women, my mom’s career path hasn’t always been straight and easy. She’s been a Spanish teacher, a travel agent, a stay at home mom.

She’s dedicated her life to philanthropy regardless of whether or not she was working outside of the home. From the Kansas City Symphony to the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired and a hundred organizations in between, my mom has always worked hard to improve our local community through service.

But with her children out of the house {and now married with babies of our own}, my mom dusted off her briefcase and headed back to work as a real estate agent. She’s grown an impressive business through her philanthropic and social networks and her outstanding reputation.

While building her career, my mom’s also managed to set aside time to care for her grandchildren {my children} one day a week. This has been an incredible blessing in my life to allow me to work while keeping childcare costs in check.

She is truly an outstanding wife, mother, grandmother, friend and businesswoman!


TFM: Hi, mom! Happy Birthday! You don’t look a day over 40 😉 Why don’t we start with you telling everyone what you do.

Mom: I am a Realtor, a Senior Sales Executive for 12 years with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.

TFM: What do you enjoy about working in real estate?

Mom: The favorite part of my job is the many friendships that I have built with my clients. These relationships are multi generational now. Nothing pleases me more than to have helped a parent and now their children in their real estate needs.

TFM: You’ve always been a people-person. I don’t think we’ve ever left the house without you bumping into someone you know! But no job is perfect, so what has been the hardest part?

Mom: Thanks to technology, I can be reached 24/7. I’m constantly at the “beck and call” of my clients no matter what day or time it is, which can make it difficult to make plans.

TFM: That makes sense and I think a lot of working moms face the same challenge of never being able to turn off work. So give me an example of a Realtor’s work day?

Mom: Each day is different except for Thursday which is my grandson, Henry’s babysitting day. The entire day is about him!

TFM: Henry sure does love his Gigi 🙂

Mom: However, most mornings I start by addressing my emails and texts. It is important to keep on top of the market so I check MLS for new listings, changes in price and status. Then I take time to communicate by updating current clients and touching base with past clients. I do that by phone, email, newsletters, snail mail, and in person lunches and coffee dates. I spend afternoons working on marketing, listing presentations, staging homes for showings, previewing homes or attending price opinions for agents. I end the day by going to an exercise class.

TFM: Now, you reentered the workforce after two decades of raising children. Why?

Mom: My nest was empty, and I was tired of being a professional volunteer. I wanted to enter the work force one more time. I wanted a job with time flexibility and not to be chained to a desk all day. Real Estate seemed like a good fit and a way that I could join forces with my husband who has been in the construction business for 30 years {Gyllenborg Construction}.

TFM: Were there any struggles when you first went back to work?

Mom: When I first got into real estate, I joined a top KC team in order to learn the business from the best. Technology was and continues to be my biggest challenge. Now my husband and I have partnered together in the business. He builds the homes and I sell them, or I sell the homes and he remodels them. I think that we are the only ones in KC that offer the services of a licensed contractor and Realtor together. And so far, we have not had one fight or disagreement!!

TFM: High school sweethearts to business partners. You two love birds! If you hadn’t chosen real estate, what do you think you would be?

Mom: Well, I love clothes and fashion. My closets are stuffed full! I worked in a very trendy clothing store in high school and college selling, modeling and doing window and store displays. I also enjoy interior design which I utilize when staging my clients’ homes. As you know when I babysit, I am always rearranging your furniture. You are never sure what your house is going to look like when you come home!

TFM: This is a true statement. While we’re usually not pleased when we get home, we also never move it back. You must know a thing or two! You also held a few jobs before staying home with kids…do any of them stand out to you?

Mom: I was a travel agent and a Spanish teacher at Barstow School. I loved to travel so the travel business caught my interest out of college. I started at a time with no computers. We hand wrote the tickets in first class and coach fares only established by a book that came out once a month. The industry would give us free “Fam” or familiarization trips to fly to and review their resorts. It was a fun career until the airlines became deregulated. Discount fares and computers changed the game.

TFM: A lot of working moms decide to stay home for the early years. What’s your best piece of advice for those deciding to go back to work?

Mom: Do what is right for you!

TFM: That’s right. Parenting {and working} is not one size fits all. One thing we do all have in common? We’re not perfect. Tell me about a time you messed up.

Mom: I still have nightmares about this one! When I was doing event planning for not-for-profits, I hired a friend to do the catering for a large car show and auction for 300 people. She failed to provide enough food or staff for the evening and half the guests did not get any dinner! Very embarrassing!

TFM: How did you overcome it?

Mom: I try to follow the Frozen philosophy of “Let it Go!” I learned here that you must check and double check references and past performances, even if they are your friend.

TFM: You’ve been watching too many Disney movies, mom. Be honest: parenting vs. grandparenting?

Mom: Grandparenting is the best…just unconditional love and spoiling! You do not have the worries and the day to day grind of parents.

TFM: Yeah, yeah. Well, what would you say is the best part of being a mom?

Mom: Giving life, nurturing that life with your heart and soul, and then watching that life grow and succeed in the world is the most beautiful thing. I could not be prouder of my daughters and the wonderful women and mothers they are today.

TFM: {Blushing} Thanks, mom! But I’m sure I still drive you a little nuts after all of these years. What keeps you sane? Besides QVC….

Mom: Of course, my family and friends are my greatest blessing. I also enjoy exercise like Zumba, Tai Chi or Curves. I do think it is important to be good to yourself in this busy, hectic life. I recommend everyone treat themselves to a massage or mani/pedi once a month!

TFM: You’re buying, right? Just teasing…this month is on me. Happy Birthday, mom!


If you’re looking to buy, sell, build or remodel a home in Kansas City, I highly suggest you get in touch with my mom {and dad, John}. I may be bias, but they are total real estate rock stars.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.