Quit trying to do it all

They say “quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Well…

Today I’ve decided that I quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I mean, it stinks. I’ve been doing it for 5 years! But enough is enough. And I’m happier for it.

I’m talking about cloth diapering.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great while it lasted. Many of the cloth diapers were gifted to me at my first baby shower before Daphne was born. The adjustable buttons allowed these green alternatives to grow with each of my first two children. These puppies saved me a fortune on disposables over the years. As long as you don’t hate poop or laundry, cloth diapers are an amazing alternative.

Until you have three children.

I literally cannot wrap my head around something that cannot be thrown in the garbage in the middle of the Houston Rodeo or at the neighborhood playground.

Our busy family is on the go. All. The. Time.

And so after only one week of cloth diapers, I’m calling it quits.

I could look at this as a failure in my efforts to be green and, more importantly for my family, save money. Plus, I did it with my first two children, how could I not just keep it together for my third? Yet…

I see it as a total win.

I’ve won back more time with my family or to work on my business, even if it is just minutes each day – it all adds up! I also ditched one thing from my daily to-do list and freed up our washer/dryer for the mountains of clothes my family of five creates.

Quit trying to do it all.

Seriously. Why are you doing it to yourself?

While I’m a huge advocate of having it all, doing it all is just crazy talk. In fact, even trying to do it all will probably prevent you from feeling fulfilled because you’ll be so dang tired all the time.

The biggest thing moms forget is that in order to truly feel happy – and feel like we have it all – we have to let go sometimes.

Maybe it’s not taking on that volunteer gig. Perhaps it’s knowing when to hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn. Other times it means knowing when to straight up quit, like I did.

Are you doing something that doesn’t bring you happiness or taking on way too much right now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I encourage you to find something to cut out.

You’ll be the winner in the long run.

Do you want to try cloth diapers? Target now carries my favorite brand, bumGenius. Comment below if you’re a first time user…I’ve got tons of tips to get you started like a pro!

 

Podcast Prep – Can moms really have it all?

I’m super excited to share with you some exciting – and slightly terrifying – news.

I’ve been invited to speak on not just one, but two podcasts in the next month!

First up, the Extraordinary Moms Podcast.

I was invited to share my pursuit of a work life balance after being introduced to SoCal mom Jessica by a mutual friend. Not unlike my Working Mom Wednesday blog posts, Jessica celebrates motherhood by inviting moms onto her show to tell their stories.

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing my spin on the whole “mommy blog” thing on The Blog Chronicles with Matthew Loomis. Fun fact: I set up this blog using Matthew’s easy to follow steps!

moms have it all

Once I got past the initial “what the heck am I going to talk about” nerves, I realized how pumped I was about sharing my mompreneur journey.

After all, I shouldn’t run out of topics about my life, right? We are all experts in our own experiences!

What makes me a tiny bit terrified; however, is finally sharing my beliefs on the controversial “having it all” debate.

Can moms have it all? Or can’t we?

After a year of pursuing it, I’ve come to my own conclusion and I’ll be diving into what I think on these podcasts!

Have you done anything recently that terrifies you? Let me know how it turned out!

P.S. I’ll be sure to share the links on my Facebook page when each interview is published!

How becoming a mom has made me better at business

As moms, there is no doubt that we wear many hats throughout the day. Mom, wife, employee, boss, chauffeur, maid, chef, referee.

Anyone who has been a working mom for more than a day knows that each of these hats is not mutually exclusive either. I don’t stop being a mom just because I step into my office {hello, work from home because my kiddo is sick days}. Also, I can’t completely turn off work when I’m spending time with my family, even though I do try!

I’ve talked to so many women who decided to continue their careers after becoming a mom, but are worried that somehow they’ll now fail at both. They won’t be able to give their employer their all now that they really have to leave at 5 to get to daycare on time. Or they’re going to miss out on important milestones with their child while they are at work, somehow making them less of a mom.

Sound familiar?

While these feelings are totally normal, I want to let you know that I truly believe they are all in your head.

Are moms better at business?

I’d argue that being a working mom actually makes you better at the office and at home.

Not only are all of our hats not mutually exclusive, I believe they actually strengthen each other.

I was always a strong worker. Reliable. Innovative. Efficient. But one of the unexpected benefits of becoming a mom has been that it’s made me more business savvy. And frankly, working while raising kids has helped me as a parent, as well.

Here are the ways becoming a mom has made me better at business, and vice versa.

Negotiating

Before I had my daughter, I never asked for a raise. Not once. I just accepted whatever was offered at my annual review. I also didn’t negotiate my salary when accepting a new job. After I became a parent, I started valuing my time away from my family in a whole new way. If I was going to give a company my all from 9-5 each day, I was going to be compensated appropriately.

These negotiating skills come in handy with my tiny tots. My husband isn’t a fan of the television, but my kids love it. Negotiating is about coming up with a solution that everyone can be on board with, so we agreed that the kids are allowed 15 minutes in the morning before school. But there’s a catch: get dressed, brush teeth, shoes on. If they aren’t completely ready to leave the house, no show.

Delegating

I used to be the kind of worker who thought it was easier just to do things myself rather than teach someone else to do it. Not anymore! There are no end of the year bonuses for martyrs. Turning over a task to someone else isn’t just an investment in their professional growth, it’s just smart time management on your part.

At home, I delegate simple chores to my 3 and 5 year old. Parents totally underestimate what their children are capable of! My oldest can help sweep the floors and my toddler can wipe down counters {after I spray them} after meals. Is it perfect? No. I could totally do it better and faster. Are they learning to contribute to the household? You bet ya. Plus, it’s one less thing for me to worry about.

Multitasking

As women, most of us naturally have this in the bag compared to our male counterparts. But let me tell you, nobody multitasks like a working mom. I resist multitasking when working on a project {I’m big into time blocking} – I know it will actually slow me down and diminish the quality of my work. However, I listen to podcasts to help my professional development if I’m doing mindless activities or while exercising. I also use commute time to cross things off my mommy list like making doctor appointments.

I make an effort to spend quality time with each of my children every single day, not just be in the same room as them. Story time is one time when multitasking is a big no-no. At the same time, I want to teach my children to be independent and comfortable with entertaining themselves. I set up stations on the counter for them to color while I make dinner and check emails, or they will help me sort the laundry while I fold and catch the news.

Prioritizing

As a working mom, my work day – at least while I’m physically in my office – has to come to an end. This means that in order to get stuff done within a clearly defined time frame, I have to be really good at focusing on what really matters. By prioritizing the most important tasks, I’m also extremely valuable to my clients because I’m not going to procrastinate on projects or waste billable hours.

At home, prioritizing looks a little more like picking your battles. Once my oldest hit toddler years, I learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want to take on every single fight with her. Hitting is a non-negotiable. On the verge of a meltdown at the park over another fruit snack? Not worth the tears.

Committing

Becoming a mom is undoubtedly my single greatest accomplishment. My kiddos gave me my “why” to start my own business in order to spend more time with them while pursuing my career aspirations. When we moved, when I had morning sickness, or just whenever it seems like too much, my family reminds me why I’ve committed to building a business for myself to have the work/life balance that I want. I want my children to see that I never gave up and take that with them when life gets hard – and it will.

Being a working mom has its challenges – no doubt! But I also believe it’s sharpened my skills as a parent and career woman.

Do any of these resonate with you? What do you think – are moms better at business? I’d love to hear in the comments how being a working mom has helped you kick butt at home and in the office!

Get the pedicure

Last weekend was nuts.

I was pumping multiple times a day, working ahead on some projects for the following week, and trying to find clothes that fit my postpartum body to pack for an out of town event.

This work event just happened to be in Destin, Florida, and I desperately needed to get a pedicure for my soon to be exposed toes.

But I had a million other things to do and the thought of leaving my kids alone with my husband for even one extra hour before heading to the beach days later seemed so unreasonable.

This is a situation I’ve found myself in many times before.

I need to do the laundry, take the kids to get a haircut, go to the grocery store, finish client projects, sweep the floors, strategize some upcoming business initiatives, and clean the toilets…

Seriously, who has time to get a pedicure?

That really got me thinking.

I need to do so many things. {At least I think I do.}

But what about what I need?

In this case, a pedicure to bring my feet out of hibernation. But sometimes it’s lunch with a friend, time to exercise or just a quiet moment alone.

Why do we, as mothers, hesitate to do things for ourselves?

Mom guilt.

Surely it would look bad if I went a did something for myself before every tiny thing at home is wrapped up, right? I mean, I’m leaving town for crying out loud.

Except here’s the thing – the long list of to-dos is never really done. And by not taking care of numero uno, we just ware ourselves down with all of the other stuff. Even the flight attendants remind us before take off that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this post from a 3 bedroom penthouse suite at a resort in Destin, Florida.

And I absolutely refuse to feel guilty about it.

Why?

Because it’s great for my personal and professional development.

I have a husband whom I trust completely with our three children.

Everyone will be alive and well when I return home. After a week, they won’t even remember I left in the first place.

And I would have a lot more regrets if I’d chosen not to attend.

So while I acknowledge that mom guilt is definitely a real thing, I’m also declaring it only as powerful as we allow it to be.

So before my trip, I decided to kick mom guilt to the curb in four easy steps.

  1. It’s easier said than done, but stating that you refuse to let guilt take over is the first step. Like most things in life, it’s a choice.
  2. Address why you felt it in the first place. For me, it was the idea of asking my husband to step up one more time right before leaving town.
  3. Find a way around it and make your own reality. I could have filled my day with housework and packing, and then been upset about my ugly feet later. I could have resented my husband for “not letting me go” even though I’d never asked. Instead, I ditched the housework, waited until the older kiddos were napping {aka pretending to sleep while quietly destroying their bedrooms} and took the baby with me to the nail salon.
  4. Give yourself grace. Did I get to every single thing on my list before heading out of town? No. But it’s been a week and I still haven’t. But I did give myself a pat on the back for doing something I normally wouldn’t have done for myself and for feeling really good about it. For the record, my toes look fabulous, the baby slept the entire time we were at the salon, and my husband barely noticed I’d left the house, let alone the remaining chores.

Mom guilt, be gone!

Who’s with me?

Go out and be an awesome mother, wife, colleague and friend. Just please remember to fasten your own oxygen mask first.

12 mompreneur tips for thriving {not just surviving} during the holidays

Holidays are such a special time to spend with family and friends. I love the lights, the traditions, the food, and the extra time at home with my loved ones. Yet, just because my kids get off from school, doesn’t mean my business stops – or even slows down.

So I took to the experts…fellow business owners and mamas who juggle their careers and their kiddos….to ask what tips they suggest for not just surviving, but thriving while working from home during the holidays. Keep reading to find out what I learned!
mompreneur tips

Plan ahead & stay organized.

 

Schedule out your days! While the holidays can often throw routine into chaos, take the time NOW to actually schedule out what needs to be done and by when; don’t just make a “to do” list and expect it’ll get done. Just because there’s only a few days left in the year doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off; get ready to rock 2017!

-Amber,  Thrifty Guardian and Embracing Temerity

 

 

Plan ahead! Make a schedule of play and working blocks, and have a few activities in your back pocket to keep the kids busy while you stay on your grind. Don’t forget to give your clients the heads up, too – send out an email outlining your holiday availability, noting any alterations to your office hours and reminding them of your preferred contact method.

-Resa, Eye Heart Creative

 

I use Trello during the holidays (especially my holiday gift and card planning board which helps me to brainstorm gifts and makes sure I’m mailing presents out on time.) I also use Trello to keep track of what is happening with my business and household, including recipes and meal plans, which takes a lot of stress off of me. Trello gives me confidence and allows the holidays to be more fun this year, since I’m in it all the time for my business anyway. It’s easy and fun.

-Dana Malstaff, Boss Mom

 

Find the time{r} to work with your kids.

 

Working with kids in the home is challenging. The one tip that keeps me focused and productive – and this has worked from 3 years old to the teen years – has been a timer and working in time blocks. My young children were able to watch a timer and keep themselves busy for 20 minutes in the other room while I did a deep focus block. I worked the way up to 45 minute blocks as they got older. I have found that with 2-4 focus blocks a day, I can conquer most of the heavy lifting.

– Cecily, Cecily: Nutrition, Love and Transformation

 

I use a pomodoro timer. I set it for 20 minute increments and I can only work during that time. No checking email, no social media, no attending to house work. You would be amazed how much you get done when the time is ticking…literally!

-Kristin, Pond Photography

 

 

During school vacations, I move my work from the home office to the kitchen. This way, I am literally running a command center within reach of everyone and everything we need. If there is a stretch of time coming up when I know that I need to be engaged with work, I try to have a ‘favorite’ on hand for the girls. Homemade play-doh is a double whammy, because we make it together which takes about 10 minutes, but then they have an open ended activity that – after a good raid of the junk drawer – can literally last hours!

-Jenna, Rodan + Fields Independent Consultant

Set boundaries for yourself

The holidays are my busiest season and I have to be very intentional about setting boundaries. When it’s Family Cookie-Baking Night, I don’t worry about Christmas shopping or work. When I’m working, I’m don’t feel guilt over the millions of Pinterest holiday crafts I could be doing with my kids. Peace is attainable if we fully engage in the task at hand and look for joy in the process.

– Jillian, Jillian Jones Music

 

Without a clearly defined schedule, it’s easy to lose yourself in work and totally miss out on family time. After all, isn’t the ability to be more present with our loved ones a big reason many of us work from home? Mark your off times in a calendaring system (I use Acuity Scheduling’s free plan) for your clients, put your hours on your website and in your email signature, and send your clients a note letting them know your hours. Block off personal time and guard it with your life. I promise, this Spring you won’t look back and regret having spent a little less time on your business and a little more with your kids during the holiday season

-Becky, Becky Mollenkamp, LLC

 

Take some time out for you. It sounds like a near impossible task with everything going on during the holidays, with work, the kids, and holiday commitments. Find some time to allow yourself to check out from your business, even if for a night after the kiddos are in bed, to Netflix binge, take a relaxing bubble bath, or enjoy a glass of wine to let your mind take a holiday, too!

-Britt, Home Sweet Hyatt

 

And finally, don’t forget what the season is really about….

 

The key to thriving in the holiday season is maintaining a place of rest and refreshment in your home for you and your family. Simply put, it’s about less stuff. In our culture we live and breathe a constant flash of discounts, sales, and good deals. And because of that, our homes can easily be filled with all of those things. Keep the season focused on enjoying your loved ones and experiencing life with them, let the new year ring in with memories, not overload of things that were accumulated through the month of December.

-Amy, Simplified Home

 

I think the holiday season is all about giving grace and savoring the moments.  As working moms we need to really allow ourselves the opportunity to fully enjoy those memories we’re creating with loved ones, but it’s also a lucrative time for many of us professionally.  Doing our best with what is truly important and forgetting the rest {for me it’s Christmas cards this year} is what makes thriving this season possible.

-Gwen, The Makerista

 

The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones and making good memories. My tip for working mamas is to plan what you can & let go of the rest. Plan/schedule out your work times and your fun times – be realistic knowing that you will want to let your hair down a bit in this season. Also, know that not everything will go according to plan, and that’s okay too.

-Veronica, Radiant Life Consulting

 

 


What tips would you add to the list to up your efficiency while working from home during the holidays? Share them in the comments!

“None of us are expected to be Super Mom”

Q&A with Crystal Sullivan

If you don’t start every morning by reading theSkimm to face the day armed with the world’s top news stories, you’re missing out big time.

Earlier this summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to New York City and meet the team behind the popular e-mail newsletter. Not only was I encouraged to ask questions while at SkimmHQ, but my own opinions and interests were equally solicited.

When I shared my passion for working moms with the founders, I was introduced to Crystal Sullivan. She’s a savvy go-getter with seemingly endless energy and good ideas. Moreover, as the first working mom to join the team, she’s laying the groundwork for a healthy work/life balance at HQ.


Self-promo time. What do you do?

I am the HBIC-Revenue at theSkimm…no seriously, I am Head of Media Revenue which means that I lead our Sponsor & Partnership sales team and identify new forms of revenue. I get to work with some of the smartest and most creative people and wake up every day excited to do it.

What’s something about theSkimm HQ that most people don’t know?

Most are surprised to find that we have a mix of both men and women working at the company.  We also have 3 people at HQ that are color blind and one is a running historian {it’s real, I promise}.

Tell me about a challenge at work. What did you do to overcome it?

I have pretty strict hours with my kids’ schedules that doesn’t always allow me to stay and finish things at HQ late into the evening. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. That led to me having a never-ending workday and we all know that can lead to burnout. I decided that when I came home, my phone would go into a place that wasn’t easily accessible for 2 hours. I announced it to my family to hold me accountable and my team so they weren’t hunting me down. That allowed me to mentally download, cook dinner, spend time with my family and once that was done, I would jump back online and “finish” my day.

That takes some serious self-discipline! What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up at 5:00am and head to SoulCycle for the 5:45am rooster ride. My closest girlfriends {also working moms} and I all meet there-usually still yawning and wiping our eyes. We emerge happy and inspired and ready to face the day. I go home, shower and make lunches for school or camp, pack bags and pick out clothes before getting the kiddos up and ready to face their day. After drop-off at 8:30am, I head to NYC from NJ. My commute door to door is about 1 hour and 20 mins. I arrive at Skimm HQ, where I am literally greeted with the biggest smiles {this is no joke—everyone is SO happy}.

After a full day of leading, mentoring, learning, sharing & skimming I start my commute back home at 5pm. I arrive home around 6:30pm and am greeted at the door with hugs and 101 questions, as well as all of the saved up little facts about what they did all day that they have been dying to tell me. We cook dinner, shower and relax as a family before I tuck them in around 9. I’m then back on my laptop responding to emails, and finishing out my day before I finally hit the pillow at 11 telling my husband I love him and counting down the days until the weekend where I can “sort of” sleep in.

I’m exhausted for you. What keeps you sane?

SoulCycle and therapy {seriously!}. There is nothing I feel I can’t tackle after walking out of either.

super mom2

You previously worked in the world of sports. What did you learn about yourself being in a male dominated industry?

Most people automatically assumed that I was just a “sales” woman and didn’t know much about the sport itself. Totally untrue and it helped me build unbelievable relationships that led to long-term partnerships. Women are extremely successful in the sports world, because there aren’t many of us and the ones that are there are incredibly passionate.

Have your professional goals changed since becoming a mom?

Honestly, my professional goals haven’t changed, which is something I love to share with anyone that will listen. I have never felt like I sacrificed a position or desired career path as a result of becoming a mom. Additionally, I don’t let myself feel like I am letting my children down by not being with them all day, every day. I admire and respect any woman who chooses the career path of being a stay at home mom. It’s a hard job that I’m fairly certain I would not be able to handle, for so many reasons. I’ve been clear with all of my employers that while I am fully dedicated to my role, my children are my priority and I have been supported 100%. I want to pave the way for all future moms behind me…we can do both.

Finish this sentence. Before I had kids, I wish someone had told me…

…to enjoy every second of not “worrying.” It doesn’t matter where my kids are, who they are with or what they are doing, I think of them and their happiness and safety all day. I mean that in a healthy way, not a helicopter mom way. There is no carefree,”I have no other little humans to think of.” But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also think about myself very differently. Being my healthiest physically and emotionally is important to me in general, but knowing I want to be around to see my great-great-great grandkids motivates me even more!

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

My husband is my number one supporter and a very involved dad. However, because we both have demanding careers we have a live-out nanny. She has been part of our family for 6 years and our kids adore her. She literally runs our house every hour that we are not there during the week. I also have my parents who drop everything to be with their grandchildren {huge plus}. We live in a very socially active community with amazing moms and dads so everyone helps everyone with carpools and sports, etc. It’s awesome!

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

PLAN AHEAD. I’m terrible at this, especially with meal prep and grocery shopping. But when I actually do it, it makes a world of a difference. Also, having a network of people around you and your kids that you all feel comfortable with is so important. None of us are expected to be Super Mom…it’s ok to ask for help. Also, create a ritual for yourself either when you first get home or after the kids go to bed that you look forward to. I LOVE to shower and use fancy products. It’s a great way to treat myself after a long day.

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

I do. And it’s not perfect for everyone…but to me, it’s all I could ask for. I’m married to my best friend {we fight and annoy each other like every couple}, my kids are healthy and I really love my job and the career path I’ve chosen. I have a home, not just a house, and my family and girlfriends are a part of my foundation. I’m fortunate. And I know it and appreciate it every day.


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

“We’re on a mission to redefine what success, career and achievement mean for women”

A few months ago I was casually perusing Facebook and came across a link to a new startup company for women called Werk. The first thing I read on their website nearly knocked my socks off:

Work is not working for women. Exhaustion is not a status symbol. We can’t do it all or have it all in an environment that isn’t designed for our success. We founded this company because women want ambitious careers without compromising their outside obligations. We founded this company because businesses want access to the best, most motivated talent without spending a fortune. We can turn work into Werk. Join the movement.

I immediate hopped over to gmail and emailed the co-founders, Anna Auerbach and Annie Dean. I was their new No. 1 fan and I wanted them to know it. I’ve felt passionate about being a working mom ever since my daughter was born, but have always known something about the daily hustle we endure just isn’t right. It isn’t working.

Today’s Working Mom Wednesday is possibly my favorite to date, because I so admire Anna and Annie for recognizing the need for change in the workplace and doing something about it to empower working women. I am thrilled our paths crossed and encourage you to learn more about what these amazing working moms are doing!


Self-promo time. What is Werk?

Anna: We believe there’s more to work than the number of hours you spend hunched over a computer at the office, and we’re on a mission to redefine what success, career and achievement mean for women. Werk is a marketplace of flexible job opportunities. We feature flexible, senior level positions created in partnership with the best companies in the country and offer them exclusively to our community of 2000+ exceptionally talented women. We help companies better engage and retain a massively underutilized talent sector, and ultimately, we help more women rise to leadership.

You both had careers that ultimately led you to creating this business. What’s your background?

Annie: I spent six years in big law where I did billions of dollars in deal volume representing institutional lenders in transactions secured by real estate. Law was never the perfect fit for me because I wasn’t able to be creative or imaginative or solve big-picture problems that inspire me. But my legal background gave me the skill set to dive deeply into a problem. I find it so satisfying to understand all the sides of an argument and piece it together into the best possible solution.

Anna: My career has been driven by solving problems and making a difference. I worked at McKinsey & Co after undergrad – I loved the problem solving, but wanted a greater focus on social impact. After attending Harvard Business School, I solidified my love of business thinking in the context of social impact. I worked at The Bridgespan Group leading projects for major nonprofits and philanthropists, and then was the COO of a boutique philanthropy firm before launching this company with Annie.

What’s the biggest challenge working moms face?

Annie: Mindset. We need companies to rethink value, and how to create value. The workplace we know today was designed in the 1950’s when one parent was at home with the children. That isn’t the case any more. Not only do many women want full-time careers, but the economy necessitates dual-income households. There are so many other ways to create and demonstrate value than the number of hours that we sit at a desk. As working moms, we know that. But we need our companies and our leaders to learn that.

Tell me about an obstacle you had to overcome to launch Werk?

Annie: Founding and launching a startup is a huge leap of faith. We both left big jobs to start Werk, in favor of an uncertain future. That’s unsettling at any stage, but particularly when you’re mothering small children. It’s scary sometimes, but I think about advice from my husband who’s a competitive long-distance runner. He taught me to keep my eyes on the road. “Don’t look up, because the distance to the finish line is discouraging. Just look a few feet in front of you and keep moving forward.” You have to believe you’re on the right road, in the right race, and you have to have the discipline and the drive to keep running.

What is a typical day like for you?

Anna: There is no typical day! The only thing we can be sure of is that it will be messy, and involve coffee, diapers, and e-mail.

Annie: You know, we started this company 100% virtually. Anna was out West and I was in New York. We believe so deeply in the concept of redefining the rules work, we used it to build the foundation of our company. In fact, this summer is the first time we’re in the same place together. Six months ago, we barely knew each other and rarely connected in person. Today, we’re living with all our kids under one roof in a rented beach house that’s one part bad-ass business accelerator, one part insane summer daycare. Nothing is typical. No day is without a surprise or sidetrack, but we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Werk empower working women

How have your professional goals changed since starting families of your own?

Anna: We have always been ambitious and driven. Having families didn’t change the size of our goals, but becoming mothers taught us how to be our most mature, most effective selves. Motherhood puts your professional goals in closer reach and will inspire you like nothing else, if you let it.

What’s your best advice for working moms?

Annie: Be gentle on yourself. Be ruthless about what matters. And have faith. This generation of women has so much to give. It is brimming with energy and talent. We will leave this world better than we started.

Finish this sentence. We definitely couldn’t survive each day without…

Each other.

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

Annie: Loving nannies, babysitters, grandmothers, godparents, teachers and friends. It’s a lot to be thankful for…and to coordinate!

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

Annie: For us, having it all means possessing the freedom to follow our dreams without abandoning our deep desire to be core members of our communities. We won’t have it all until we can live our lives as our whole selves, with enough space to work hard and love with commitment. We’re not there yet, but Werk gets us closer.


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

Turning Thirty

turning 30

I spent the first summer after my freshman year at the University of San Diego in my college town instead of heading home for the break. My best friend from high school was supposed to come too, but got mono and had to head home earlier than expected. I spent several weeks alone before my college friends came back for the fall semester.

Most of the time I was fine. I hit my apartment’s gym and pool up whenever I wasn’t working. But one day I decided I needed to live off of more than cereal and mac & cheese, so I headed to a restaurant inside a big outdoor mall nearby.

“Just you?” the hostess asked.

I was mortified.

Everyone in the restaurant was surely staring as she walked me to a table on the patio where I would pathetically sit by myself. I lasted about 45 seconds before I got out my cell phone and called my mom and begged her to talk to me while waited for my food.

After I ate and paid, I rushed out without making eye contact with anyone and vowed that I was never going to eat at a restaurant by myself again.

Flash forward a decade.

Last week a photographer came over to shoot pictures of our house for its listing. She prefers that the client not be home so that she can do her thing, so I gathered my work and scooted out the door. I really only had one errand to run and it was after 11 a.m. so I decided to head to a nearby sushi restaurant.

When I got there the place was pretty empty, so the hostess offered me a table near the window in the front. Pretty soon a couple came in, followed by a father and son, and what appeared to be several business meetings.

I kept to myself while I ate. {Confession: I did have my laptop with me since it was one of my no-kids work days.}

Do you know what I was thinking about in between bites of my Philly roll? Wow, it feels amazing to be eating out by myself!

Was it the fact that I eat most of my meals either standing up or with our 2 year old trying to crawl into my lap from across the table that had changed my outlook on dining solo?

It’s possible, but I think it has more to do with the way the experiences I’ve had in my twenties have helped me grow into the person I am today.

I traveled. In my early twenties, I spent a semester in Europe. I went out weeks before my study abroad program began to travel around with a friend and even by myself for a week. I experienced unforgettable places and was pushed outside of my comfort zone countless times, yet the thing I remember most from the trip is the lesson that came from the airline loosing all of my belongings on the way overseas: things are just that – things. Stuff is replaceable.

I graduated. I also got my first “adult” job with Teach for America. After moving across the country, I entered their training program where I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be a good fit. I quit my first job before it had even started. I felt like a complete failure and incredibly selfish for putting my own needs over those of my potential students. It took several months {okay, years} for me to really get over it, but now I look back without any regret and am proud of myself for following my instincts.

I partied. I drank for fun {sometimes to the point of it not being fun anymore} and stayed up late with friends. I attended social events in Las Vegas, went to costume parties on the beach, and sipped cocktails on Manhattan rooftops. Most impressively, I would even wake up the next morning and function like a fairly normal human being.

I moved. San Diego, New York {where I met my husband}, Phoenix and Kansas City {where we got married}. We tested the strength of our relationship with each move {something I highly recommend doing with a loved one before you put a ring on it}. It was stressful, but so is real life. Once landing in KC we bought our first house. I learned that owning a home is demanding and expensive, but all of that maintenance and afternoons mowing the lawn sure make you take pride in the place.

I became a mom. In my mid-twenties, my husband and I had our first child. Two years later we welcomed one more and then lost another. Morning sickness isn’t something I would wish upon my worst enemy, but it’s amazing to see what a body can go through in order to create another life. Fortunately, after many months of vomiting, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to lose weight fairly easily and nurse without any many complications {we all have our tradeoffs, right?}. I remember being moved to tears when I would look down at each of my babies because I was so full of love and gratitude…and hormones. Motherhood is a journey that every mom will experience in her own way, and our decisions are personal and guided by love.

I met new people. A handful have become dear friends. Some of them moved away and now I will be moving away from many myself. I attended countless weddings and was honored to be in a few {I give one heck of a toast}. I walked away from friendships that weren’t good for me. I’ve lost friends who were taken way too soon, and realized that while funerals certainly aren’t something I look forward to they can bring people together in strange, incredible ways.

I became an adult. I dropped many of the Mr. and Mrs.’s from my childhood {with permission, of course}. I began seeing former teachers as peers and even friends. I decided that I really like my parents as more than just my mom and dad, but as people. I stopped being intimidated in the workplace by those who were older and seemingly more experienced and realized my own potential and worth.

I adjusted my priorities. By my late twenties, I realized that my new version of “going out” was walking over to my neighbors house with a glass of wine while our kids played in the driveway. I still go to parties {at my daughter’s school}, but I’m always in bed by nine. I can no longer wake up the next morning and function if I consume alcohol, which is a bummer since our two children won’t sleep past 7 a.m.

I became older than all of the contestants on The Bachelor {not sure when that happened}.

I got involved. I networked more often, launched a women’s organization and joined various boards. I voted in elections and gave back to my community. I learned that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too.

I worked hard. I changed jobs, got a promotion and a few raises. I watched my husband leave his comfy 9-5 to work for himself, and eventually took the risk to leave the workplace to start my own business, too. I also got up the courage to write about it all here.

And somewhere between twenty and thirty, without me even realizing it, I grew comfortable in my own skin. So much so that I am able to eat by myself in a restaurant.

8 tips for working from home with kids

Working from home with kids

Today is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. For one very special day, professional men and women are encouraged to parade their sweet darlings around the work place to expose them to interesting experiences, help them discover new careers and provide them an opportunity to share how they envision their futures.

While far from a traditional office environment, I quickly started to think about how cute it would be to see my kiddos running around my husband’s detail shop with shammies {Henry} or bossing around “the guys” {Daphne}. Justin, too, would be smiling proudly as he shares his passion for cars {something which already seems pretty inherent in both of my children}.

Then my mind shifts to my own at-home office and how uninterested they’d be in what I do all day at my desk.

One of the reasons I founded my own business and began working from home in the first place was to spend more time with my kids while they’re young. Yet, once I got started I realized that navigating my life as part stay-at-home mom and part career woman was going to be trickier than I thought.

Working from home with kids can be stressful at times.

Some days you feel as though your attention is divided, the interruptions are frequent, the productivity is lacking, and the guilt is on overdrive.

Whether you work from home regularly or you’re home with a sick kid for a few days while virtually checking in at the office, these strategies will help you get your job done when your kids come to work with you every day.

1. Create a work space

When my daughter was young, I read that you shouldn’t send your child to time out in her room, because that’s supposed to be a safe place. Ever since, we’ve used a bench in the front entry for mild to moderate infractions. I’m not a parenting expert, but I do think that there’s truth to the idea that people need safe places to decompress without being bothered. Your work also needs a safe place. Set up one spot in the house that can be designated as your work space. Maybe it’s an actual home office, a guest bedroom or a desk in the kitchen. Keep all of your work-related items nearby, just as you’d be set up if you were in an actual office. Then let your family know that they shouldn’t be meddling in your work space.

2. Set realistic expectations for yourself

If you don’t learn to keep your roles as mom and career woman separate, you’ll never feel like you’re doing either well. Don’t overestimate what you’ll be able to accomplish in a day while your kids are around, or you’ll likely feel stressed or disappointed when your work isn’t complete. Likewise, don’t over promise attention to your children if you won’t be able to follow through. You won’t quickly forget those puppy dog eyes when you let them know you won’t be able to take them to the park anymore because you haven’t finished your work yet.

3. Set realistic expectations for your children

My daughter, who just turned four, does really well when I tell her that I have work to do. If I give her an approximate time frame {and a snack} she is pretty independent and will play by herself quietly until that time is up. I explain to her what I’m working on and that mommy needs some quiet time in order to concentrate. Letting her know up front what I’m going to be doing prevents her from snooping around my work space.

4. Plan for interruptions

My son on the other hand just turned two and can barely make it through the opening song on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before needing attention from me. If I have him home and am unable to put off a task until nap time, I won’t take on anything that requires a higher level of concentration. Typically I use short bursts of time to respond to emails, work on my calendar for the week, or check in on social media.

5. Work around their schedule

If you’re a mom of babies or toddlers, you’ve likely already learned to capitalize on nap time. Do not spend this time doing household chores! If you’ve got a good sleeper, that’s a solid 2-3 hours of productivity right there. If your kids don’t nap, pay attention to when they need and want you throughout the day. Maybe your kids don’t wake up until 9 a.m. If you can avoid the snooze button, you could hit the computer at 6 a.m. for three full hours of work before anyone asks you to make breakfast. If your kids are early risers, that may mean opening the laptop after bedtime for an hour or so to get the most out of your workday.

6. Make time for them

One thing I learned quickly when I began working from home was that ignoring my kids {or trying to} certainly wasn’t going to help my business. Quite the opposite actually. We began planning weekly excursions to the zoo, children’s museum and library that bought me leverage in the morning {“give mommy 15 minutes at her computers and we’ll go to story time!”} and a significantly longer nap time, because they were worn out from our adventure. This also helped me feel less guilty about the time I did spend working, because I knew they had spent quite a bit of quality time together with mommy unplugged and undistracted.

7. Send them outside

There’s no shame in using technology to entertain your kids for a period of time so you can jump on a conference call. But you also don’t want them to be television zombies by the end of the day either. One of the things I’m going to miss the most about our house is the backyard. I frequently kick my kids out of the house and bring my laptop to the window-covered breakfast nook. Our backyard has a swing set and a sandbox and my kids will play back there for an hour or more before starting to bicker. Maybe your backyard isn’t suitable, but you have a big driveway for riding bikes or an enviable playroom. Find a place where you can encourage your kids to imagine and play and entertain themselves while you watchfully work. If all else fails, turn Disney Junior back on.

8. Ask for help

There will inevitably come a time when you have an important project or deadline and you just can’t afford the distraction of having your kids at home. Drop them off with a neighbor or call a babysitter and head to a local coffee shop. You’ll know when you need to make work a priority and ask someone else to keep your kids safe and happy for a bit.

Hopefully these tips show you that you can spend time together and still stay on track at work. Who knows? Maybe your kids will even ask to come to work with you one day.

“It’s okay to do things for yourself”

Working mom Wednesday

Q&A with Michelle Henderson

I’ve only met Michelle Henderson in person once. She came to the February Femfessionals event after learning about our community from another member’s post on Instagram.

Besides being gorgeous {jealous} and fit {double jealous}, she’s clearly a go-getter. One of the first things I learned about Michelle is that she simultaneously began a new career and welcomed her first baby in the last few months.

I was both awe-struck at her ambition and curious about how she was doing three months in to her new endeavors. Meet new mom turned Realtor in this Week’s Working Mom Wednesday.


Welcome to The Free Mama’s Working Mom Wednesday, Michelle! Tell everyone what you do.

I am a real estate agent with Keyzio – a local startup brokerage. It is such a cool company and they are doing really exciting things in real estate from new technology to challenging the conventional pricing structure {cheaper!} all while offering premium service.

You mentioned this gig was new. What else is on your resume?

I worked at an event planning company buying gifts for incentive trips for the past couple of years. I have also done pharmaceutical sales, interior design and marketing.

What prompted the job change this time?

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew immediately that an 8-5 wasn’t going to make sense for me. My husband travels a ton and I needed way more flexibility and to be able to set my own hours.

If real estate hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing?

A friend, Ashley Kappelman, and I started Damage Control and it is all about the pursuit of wellness with a glass of wine in hand. We post recipes, workouts and, of course, wine on our Instagram account (@damagecontrolblog). We have big dreams to create a wellness experience in Kansas City in the future so stay tuned!

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day is definitely different but generally it involves cooking and eating breakfast with my husband {I love that we both work from home!} and then squeezing in work during nap times on the days that I don’t have childcare. On the days that I do have childcare, I generally will have a client appointment and get a workout in. Oh, and a lot of pumping.

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

My husband and I are both from Oklahoma and almost all of our family is back home. I would give anything to have my mom or his mom here. Thankfully we have some cousins in town who are willing to help out and our friends are like family – we would be lost without them!

What has been the best part of motherhood so far?

The gummy smiles! I was just telling my husband that I don’t want him to get teeth because I will miss those smiles!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how sleep deprived are you these days?

Let’s call it a 5. Though I will say it isn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I think I slept more after he was born than at the end of pregnancy. That was a rough few weeks!

What did you not know about parenting that you wish someone had told you?

How hard it would be. People kind of tell you but they talk more about the exhaustion or the fussiness. No one really mentions that you won’t feel like yourself {still waiting!}, the sheer fear you feel when your husband goes out of town for the first time, or that you will question every decision you make, always wondering if it’s the “right” one.

What is your favorite part about being a working mom?

It helps me feel more like my old self, which makes me a better mom.

What’s the hardest part?

The scheduling. It’s a nightmare. Last minute appointments come up all the time and figuring out the logistics can be hard.

What do you hope your child gains from you working?

I hope he learns to go after what he wants out of life, whatever that may be and that it is ok to do things for yourself.

What keeps you sane?

Working out, wine and my husband – he is pretty good at talking me off the ledge.

What one product or service do you love so much you could be a brand ambassador?

Class Pass – genius idea. It allows you to visit most boutique fitness studios in the KC area four times a month for $79. Now if they could just figure out the childcare situation…

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

Hire out what you can so you aren’t spending the limited time with your kids cleaning or doing yard work. And HyVee grocery delivery…game changer!

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

Having it all to me is working part time – it is definitely the best of both worlds. I am still working on the right balance, but I am headed in the right direction!


 

Whether you’re looking for help with your next home purchase or sitting back and perusing Instagram, be sure to hook up with Michelle at @keyzioinc and @damagecontrolblog.

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