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 gather together a tribe of women that my readers can go to for advice and feel they are not alone.
Today’s interview is with my co-worker and friend Kimberly. She came into my life at the perfect time as she started on my team a week before I returned from maternity leave. Since then, she’s been a great friend and sounding board for both career and motherhood. She’s a mom of two, currently navigating the teenage years and is one of the most supportive women I know! I’m so grateful she allowed me to pick her brain and share her years of lessons with us.
Tell me a little about yourself- what you do and what your family looks like.
I work for CDW as a Senior Partner Development Specialist. I have been married for eighteen years to my college sweetheart Josh who practices law in Chicago. We are parents to Zachary (fourteen) and Alexa (eleven).
How did you get in your current role?
I have twenty years of experience in advertising sales and marketing. It was a good match of skill sets. I am a local to Lincolnshire and went to college with another member on our team. She referred me. I did the rest!
What accomplishment are you most proud of professionally? What about as a parent?
Professionally, I feel that I have finally come to a company and a job where my talent is utilized on a daily basis. I am challenged. I am not bored. And, I learn something new every day.
As a parent, I have spent fourteen years juggling the life/work balance. It hasn’t always been pretty. But, I feel that I have done an outstanding job raising my two children while maintaining a career. I have volunteered in the classroom and for field trips. I always want to do the best I can do to be present. I am always available to them. I have not missed anything big or important because I have a career.
Lastly, I think I have set a good example for my children. Especially my daughter who is sometimes living in a world where a lot of her friends’ moms do not work. Or, they do not work full time. My children are amazing people. I love who they are and who they are growing into. I would like to think that my husband and I had something to do with that.
Tell me a bit about what your work days look like. What do your routines look like?
The work days have gotten much easier as my kids have gotten older. Also, starting last year, my kids were on the same start time and end time. For all the years prior, my son always did everything an hour before my daughter. It felt like Groundhog day for many, many years!
These days, I get up to see the kids off to school and then I get ready for work. I aim to ride my Peloton bike a few times per week. My kids both wake up to alarm clocks and they are fully capable of getting their own breakfast ready. I meet the kids in the kitchen when they are having breakfast. Then I send them to the bus and finish getting myself ready. I am fortunate because I work 4 minutes door to door from work.
Ideally, I try to leave work between 4:00 and 4:30 but that is not always an option. During the school year it’s a lot more firm because I drive carpools between 4:30 and 8:00 almost every day. Workdays in the summer are different depending on where my kids are and what they are doing. And, the activities slow down. My actual work day at work feels the same, but not the before and after.
What do your weekends look like?
Weekends vary. I do a lot of errands as it always seems like someone always needs something. This year, my daughter will has dance company Friday nights, and my son usually goes to football games or other activities.
Saturdays are more of the “lazy day”, filled in with the kids respective sports activities. As much as they love seeing friends, many are tied up with travel sports and family obligations. I try to integrate sleepovers (mostly for my daughter) and encourage my son to make plans with his friends.
Ultimately, it really is a time for our family to regroup after hectic weeks. Often we will get dinner the four of us on Saturday night. Sometimes my husband and I have plans not with the kids. We mix it up. We really like being home all together with nothing to do, because life is so busy. Unfortunately, we sometimes all end up doing different things in different rooms-which is why dinner is a good way to all be together.
Sundays my kids go to Sunday school. My son will not be going this year. My daughter will complain. We do a lot of divide and conquer with them as well. We like to be home Sunday nights. I like to start the week with most house chores completed.
What has been your biggest struggle as a working mom? How have you overcome it?
Where do I begin? I think that in the first seven years I had so much guilt about working. I actually had a physical heartache. Even though I had Fridays off at my job from 2005-2010 I just never felt like it was enough. Especially, when I had two children starting in 2006.
I always wanted the balance. I wanted it all. Career and to be with the kids all the time. From 2011-2015, I worked from a home office. This was really great! They were old enough to know when to not come in my office, but I was available to them physically when they needed me. I was able to drive carpools earlier in the day than ever before. And, it worked out very well for a while.
As they have gotten older and are in school all day, that has really helped me overcome the guilt factor. And, the ability to work outside of the home. I am here for them when they need me-which is emotional and logistical. I work right by their schools and close to home (as mentioned above). And, I am finally at peace with being a working mom.
I realize that I do better with more on my plate. And, right now in this moment, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I carry our insurance and continue to tell myself that we would not be able to give our kids some of the things that we do if we were on one income.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work?
Leaving babies with a nanny or a sitter is harder on the mom than the baby. It is good for kids to be with other people besides their mom because it makes them more resilient and more flexible. Kids need you more when they have social and emotional needs when they are older. I didn’t know this when I had babies. But, now looking back with a 14 year old and an 11 1/2 year old I realize that now is when it matters. This is when they will remember.
Tell me your thoughts on balance. Do you think it truly exists? How do you make time for your family, career, relationships and yourself?
This is a really interesting question. I think that if you can work 3 days a week and be off 4 days a week that would be the ultimate balance. Then, you are working less than you aren’t. I do think a compressed work week also gives a person more balance. When my kids were little, I didn’t work on Fridays. This gave me the chance to do mommy and me classes and drive my son home from preschool when he was a little older. I was able to have a piece of their weekday vs. just weekends.
Working from home is a good option when your kids are not infants and are school aged. I am much, much less social that I was when they were little. I am at work all day and in the car driving someone somewhere most evenings. So, it’s hard to meet friends during the week. And, on the weekends everyone is doing their family thing. That has been hard for me. And, my family is my focus. I love my friends, but I see them more when it’s summer and we can just meet up at the pool and hang out. I also can see friends more when my kids are away at camp over the summer. This gives me a chance to pause.
As far as myself, I have a hard time making time for myself. Now, I get my nails done every week. And, I bought a spin bike so that I can exercise regularly at home. I also listen to books on Audible and try to pick up a show that I like to indulge in on my own. It’s not much, but it’s enough during the time of raising a teen and tween. My career is hugely important. I have always worked at 110%, but I feel like I am giving it even more at my current employer. So I have been learning to take care of myself since I’ve realized how important it is!