Welcome back to My Full Life!
If you’re a new reader, My Full Life is a new series featuring working moms such as myself. My goal for this series is to ultimately pool together a tribe of women that my readers can go to for advice and feel they are not alone. I have an amazing group of women lined up to share their story over the next several weeks to attempt to do just that.
Today’s Mom is an incredible! Carissa is my coworker, family photographer and friend. Yes- that means she works full-time, runs a successful side hustle and is also a mom of three! The phrase “I don’t know how she does it come to mind,” but I think that’s a common theme so far in this series. Also, it’s definitely worth mentioning these beautiful photos are from Carissa’s photographer friend Kristin Nicole. (there’s nothing like women supporting women!) Without further adieu, I’m ready for Carissa to share her secrets.
Tell me a little about yourself- what you do and what your family looks like.
I wear many hats. Full time, I work at CDW and I am a Senior Program Manager in Marketing. I also run my own business, Ashlyn Adele Photography. My husband Ben and I have three great kiddos. Ashlyn-7, Camryn-5 and Declan-almost 2. We have two cats also, Fat Tony and Zoey.
How did you get in your current role?
I have been at CDW for 13 years. When Camryn was a baby I moved from working part-time back into the full-time working world. I am going on 4.5 years in this position.
What accomplishment are you most proud of professionally? What about as a parent?
I am the first person in my family (for as far as I can remember) to graduate college and start a career. I owe this to my mom for always instilling it in my brain to work hard and get a good education and be able to care for myself at all times.
Most recently, I am proud of the confidence I have found in myself lately. You often try to sabotage your growth by saying, “I am not good enough for that role or they wont listen to me” Learning to change my mentality has started me on a path of opening up opportunities for myself.
As a parent, I am most proud of juggling it all. I really enjoy working and parenting, and being able to be fully engaged in both all of the time is hard. I hope that this lifestyle I have made influences my children to follow their dreams whatever they are.
Tell me a bit about what your work days look like. What do your routines look like?
I wake up around 6:00am when one of the three kids gets up. The morning consists of snuggle time until I have to start getting ready for work. I am usually out the door by 7:45 and arrive at work around 8:15. I use my car ride to follow up on any phone conversations I need to have, make doctors appointments and listen to music, audio books and podcasts.
My workday is pretty standard. I am at my desk and in meetings throughout the day. When I was still pumping at work, I would add that into my routine. CDW is very supportive of working mothers (and parents), so I always know I can go to school events and doctors appointments if needed.
I leave work around 4:30 if I have babysitter duty or 5:00 or so if I do not. I head home (do the same thing as on the way to work) and start the evening. Dinner, baths, snuggles and bedtime for all kids by 8:30pm. Then I either go into the office to work on my business or watch TV with Ben… or sleep.
What do your weekends look like?
Weekends are often filled with one photo shoot (I limit my weekends to one shoot max… some are free of photo shoots.) Otherwise we do family stuff. The girls play soccer, birthday parties, hanging out at home. Going out to dinner. We try to do date night from time to time, but a lot of the weekend is just decompressing from the week.. Then Sunday is getting ready for the week.
What has been your biggest struggle as a working mom? How have you overcome it?
I have two major struggles. One is the mom guilt of being a working mother and the added layer of LIKING being a working mother. Somewhere along the way I convinced myself that I should want to stay home with my kids full. And since I do not have that desire, sometimes I feel like a lesser of a mother or that something in me is broken, because I like to go to work.
The second struggle is more common time management. Being a full time worker doesn’t mean you get to be a part time parent. Kids still need to be cared for, clothes washed, food made. And of course the fun stuff, spending time together. I often feel spread thin, but being able to find a groove with Ben and my work helps.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work?
I would tell myself it will all be okay. Maternity leave in the US is awful. My company is really great and provides much better leave than most, but overall we are not cared for as working parents. Leaving your 3 month old to go back to work is unnatural and the most heart-wrenching experience I had to go through.
If given the choice , the night before returning to work I would bet 99% of women would NOT GO. But I always tell others, and myself. To give it a try for a month. If after a month you still feel you want to stay home, see what you can do to make that happen.
Tell me your thoughts on balance. Do you think it truly exists? How do you make time for your family, career, relationships and yourself?
Balance is not 50/50. So if that is the definition of balance, then no it does not exist. I view balance of a more eb and flow. Sometimes your family may be 70% of the focus and work/friends etc take a 30% backseat. But then you are working on a project at work and you have to give up some snuggle time, so work is more 60% and family is 40%. So balance does exist, its just not so clear cut. The key is accepting that and being at peace with the inconsistency.