Welcome back to My Full Life!
If you’re a new reader, My Full Life is my 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 blogging turned real life friend Valerie. She’s just ahead of me on her motherhood journey and I’ve admired her ability to navigate career change as she found balance for her family. I was so thrilled she agreed to open up on this journey for me!
Tell me a little about yourself- what you do and what your family looks like.
I am a full-time Mother and Wife and a part-time corporate gal. I’ve been married to my husband Tyler for 8 years. Our son Bryce is 2 years old, and we have an Irish Troodle named Izzy. I am a Program Specialist for a corporate foundation and work in the office two days a week, with some occasional travel here and there.
How did you get in your current role?
After becoming a mother, I really reconsidered (and prayed about) what my professional life looked like in terms of what we value as a family, what I felt my true calling is, what our financial situation looked like, etc. Once I had Bryce, I left a fast-paced corporate communications role at a pharmaceutical company and opted to stay at home with him.
After six months, I decided to re-enter the workforce, but in a full-time remote position in a communications role for a small nonprofit consulting firm where I could work from home. About a year later, I discovered my current part-time role and have been there ever since and am SO happy to have a nice balance of career and motherhood. (I feel like corporate, part-time jobs are so incredibly rare, which is so unfortunate because I think it’s a huge opportunity for companies who might otherwise be missing out on some great talent.) It was certainly a journey along the way, and I knew I had to try various situations out in order to see what was best for me and my family.
What accomplishment are you most proud of professionally? What about as a parent?
I’ve received some great accolades throughout my professional work life that I proudly share on resume, but honestly on the career front, I am most proud of taking the journey to figure out how to balance my professional life with motherhood. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have found a role that challenges me and helps me grow in my career while also giving me the time to be with my son during these precious years.
Tell me a bit about what your work days look like. What do your routines look like?
I work in the office back to back days and it’s become a great routine for our family. I take my son to daycare those two days then head into work for the day and pick him back up. We are out the door around 6:30, I get to work by 8:00 and leave at 4:00 so I can pick him up by around 5:00.
I typically make a double batch of dinner the night before so we can do leftovers one night, then choose a simple meal with quick prep on the other night since we are getting home during dinner hour. We play and read books after dinner, do bath time and my husband and I take turns reading and putting Bryce to bed.
On the work front, my days can vary. I work for the foundation (or philanthropic arm) of large home improvement company that is headquartered in Chicago, and I manage the foundation’s programming. On a given day, I can be elbow deep in spreadsheets, drafting social media posts or spotlights for our corporate communications team, on the phone with retailers or our nonprofit partners or even presenting to our Board of Directors (which includes the CEO of the company!)
My days are jam packed, and I have laser focus on those two days I’m in the office and get a LOT done. I also have a few hours of work that I spread throughout the week where I am answering emails, on conference calls, etc.
What do your weekends look like?
Weekends are family time when the three of us can be together. We typically spend them doing fun activities together- like family walks or trips to the farmer’s market or playground, or simply blowing bubbles in the backyard.
We always try to make sure we are together for quality family time for some part of the weekend, and love meeting up with our friends and their kids for fun adventures, or on the road to visit our families.
In terms of other routines: we make it a priority to be at church on Sunday mornings, and use nap times to tackle our to-do lists, then reserve evenings after Bryce’s bedtime to spend quality time with my husband.
What has been your biggest struggle as a working mom? How have you overcome it?
My biggest struggle was finding time to balance it all while still feeling like I was “doing a good job” at everything: professionally, on the parenting front, as a wife, for myself, as a friend, daughter, homeowner, volunteer, etc. Learning to maintain boundaries at work, not say yes to every commitment or activity and jam pack my calendar and just live simply in the moment really helps me remember what is important in life.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work?
No one can define for you what work and motherhood or success in either arena should look like. Pave your own path and do what is right for you and your family!
Tell me your thoughts on balance. Do you think it truly exists? How do you make time for your family, career, relationships and yourself?
I think it does exist, and it looks different for everyone. Although I haven’t figured it out yet (have any of us really?!), I’ve really learned how to prioritize, handle stress, find systems and routines that work for me, and practice minimalism in many areas of my life– which has freed up time and has provided to many benefits so I can life a simple, intentional life.
Can you tell me more about your journey to become a minimalist? What inspired it? What process did you follow? Any resources, articles or books to share for others looking to do the same?
Sure thing! So I think I was first exposed to it after reading Joshua Becker’s book “The More of Less” and listening to the “Simple Families” podcast. What I really learned is that minimalism is just the pursuit of less for a more full life.
The benefits are far reaching in literally every aspect of life. In particular, we’ve found it allows for more simple & intentional parenting, less obsession with “stuff” so we can spend our time (and money) on what matters most, and stopping the glorification of that “busyness” that our culture seems to promote.
Minimalism looks incredibly different for everyone. (and as some initially think, it doesn’t mean owning just 10 articles of clothing or limiting your kids to a ‘magic number’ of toys, etc.) Becker’s book does a good job of explaining it. And I love the Simple Families podcast for what it means for simple living with kids. I also did a blog post with some of my favorite resources here.