Welcome back to My Full Life!
I’m excited to kick off the series again for 2018! 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. I’ve got enough women to continue this series through the end of the year and I can’t wait!
Today’s Mama makes motherhood look like so much fun! She’s a Digital Marketing Manager at McDonald’s Corporation by day and a side husslin’ blogger by night. I was thrilled to pick her brain and delighted to share her story with you all today.
Tell me a little about yourself- what you do and what your family looks like.
I live in Chicago with my husband Doug and our two daughters, Grace (2.5) and Josephine (8 months). Doug and I have been married for 3 years, but have been together since we were 19 years old. (Crazy!) We are originally from Michigan, just outside of Detroit, but have lived in Chicago for 8 years.
I work full time as a Digital Marketing Manager at McDonald’s Corporation. In a nutshell, my role involves heading up the creative content and strategy for the brand’s social media accounts and influencer marketing. As a side hustle, I blog over at Isn’t That Charming.
How did you get in your current role?
After I got my master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising from DePaul University, I started to work for DDB, the creative advertising agency that did all of the brand’s creative work. I was there for 4 years as their Social Media Marketing Manager. In that role, I did everything from copywriting, photography, pitching creative work, account management, and strategy. When McDonald’s started to prioritize digital as a marketing function, they hired a digital team, and I was one of those hires!
What accomplishment are you most proud of professionally? What about as a parent?
Professionally, I’m most proud of some of the creative campaigns I’ve been on. Many have won awards within the industry, which is so exciting. (There was one where we “won the Super Bowl,” all through Twitter that was so much fun!)
I’m also very proud that I took the time to get my master’s degree. I did it while working full time, so it was challenging, but finishing it was something that had been on my “bucket list” and I’m so happy that I completed it.
As a parent, I’m most proud of the people my girls are shaping into. Though they’re still so young, they are sweet, compassionate, funny, intelligent and curious girls. One day, I hope they will know that whatever dreams they may have, they can do. ”
Your approach to motherhood seems so relaxed and I admire it so much. What advice do you have for others to keep their stress levels down?
First of all, thank you! Hearing that from you means a lot, as I admire your motherhood approach, too. We’re all in this tribe together, right?!
I do try to keep a relaxed mindset, not just with parenting, but with life itself. Life is short, sweet, and meant to be enjoyed. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the every day hustle and bustle, especially with kids. There’s a saying that “The days are long but the years are short”, and I find that so true. Overall, I try to keep in mind that my kids are only little once, so I need to try and soak it in as much as possible. It’s has helped me to really enjoy being in the moment with them.
I think inherently that’s my advice. Recognize how amazing and beautiful the motherhood experience is, and how blessed you are to have children. Take that recognition, keep it top of mind, and do it justice. Be in the moment. Try not to stress about things that ultimately don’t matter. The dishes can wait until later, but you’ve only read two books with your kids tonight, and they deserve a 3rd. 😉
For anyone looking for a more tangible answer, I will say that having a partner who approaches parenting through a 50/50 lens helps us both to remain more relaxed.
It drives me a nuts when people imply that women can’t have careers or go after goals the way men can. Likewise, it drives me nuts when people are shocked by how much Doug (my husband) helps out. He’s a GREAT father and husband, and deserves so much credit. But, you know what? I think it’s sad that a guy being an active participant in his children’s lives is a shocking thing to some people. (editor’s note- thanks for addressing this!!!)
So, honestly, If I seem relaxed, it’s because I have a lot of help at home. My husband and I approach parenting 50/50, which I feel very grateful for. (On that note, you should see me floundering on the days Doug is gone or traveling. I definitely need an extra cup of coffee on those ones. Ha!)
Tell me a bit about what your work days look like. What do your routines look like?
My work days in one word: Crazy!
In more words, here’s how they typically play out and some of the routines that are incorporated:
- Wake up around 6:30, when my youngest daughter Jo wakes up. Spend the first half hour breastfeeding her.
- Wake up Grace around 7. Feed her breakfast.
- The madness of the mornings ensues! My husband and I will get ourselves, and our girls, ready for the day. Usually Moana is playing in the background.
- We are typically out the door by 7:30-8:00
- Sometimes I work out of Oakbrook (a suburb outside of the city), and in that case I drive. Other days, I work downtown at our creative agency, and will ride with my husband and girls as they’re on their way to day care. On days where I’m with my family for that ride, we will try to find a great spot to shoot photos for my blog, and knock those out on the way into work.
- One routine I love is having a cup of coffee on my way into work. I’ll nurse it for a long time, while listening to music and preparing for the day.
- Work! Usually I’m in by 8:30 am, and will leave around 5. My days are never the same — sometimes I’m in back to back meetings all day, others I’m on video shoots with the creative/production teams, and there are some where I’m actually on site at events working with influencers or celebrities while helping to bring our social assets to life. It’s a fun job because no two days are the same, but I’m always immersed in the creation of campaign work for the brand, which I love!
- Once we’re all home, madness ensues again. We try to eat dinner together around 6:00, then starts the bedtime routine for both girls. Bedtime routine for them includes: bath time, brushing teeth, reading books, singing songs and finally bed.
- After the girls are both asleep, my husband and I will try to spend a little quality time together. We’ll have a glass of wine while talking about our day, watch our favorite tv shows, or often will do work to try and get ahead of our side hustles.
- Often, before bed, I’ll try and put together a post for the next day or catch up on personal emails. Blogging is definitely the hardest thing to try and find time for, but I’m able to keep up via late nights or early mornings!”
What do your weekends look like?
Lots of family time! Weekends are our time together to have fun and relax. We try to do varied things with the girls — getting out of the house, especially in the summer, is essential. We love going to the lakefront (when it’s nice out), museums, seeing new places, or even just going to the park. No matter where we end up going, the most important thing is that we’re all together! Often, our parents will come in town to hang out, too. It’s nice that the girls can see and spend time with their grandparents on a regular basis.
Doug and I are lucky to have a close friend group, so we also try to see them as much as possible. They’re all close to our kids, and some have kids of our own, so it’s great to get together! ”
I also really admire your commitment to travel with the girls! Do you have any tips, tricks or must have products to share with us?
Traveling with them is the best! (Really!) I grew up in a family that traveled quite a bit, and love the sense of adventure and cultural exposure that those experiences instilled.
I’m still very much learning in this department, but my biggest piece of advice is to try and roll with the punches. Things may not always go according to plan, and that’s okay! It’s all a part of the experience. (Exhibit A: On Josephine’s first flight, she had a massive diaper blow out on me, then threw up on Doug an hour later, and we didn’t have enough extra onesies OR extra clothing for ourselves. What are you going to do? We all smelled, and she hung out as “Diaper baby” for the rest of the flight, but we made it. So it goes!)
For those interested in reading more, this post may be helpful! I laid out key learnings for traveling with kids on everything from planes to automobiles.
What has been your biggest struggle as a working mom? How have you overcome it?
Definitely time management.
Time with my family is what’s most important, but that said, I do have to ensure that I’m engaged with and performing well at work also.
I manage it all by working hard and going all-in while at work, however when I leave, I try and turn off as much as possible, to make sure I’m giving my family the time and attention they need (and deserve!)
There are certainly days I fail at one or the other. I try to keep in mind that it’s all about balance, and I am forgiving of myself on days when I fail. I’m only human, and particularly while juggling lots of things, there’s always tomorrow to be better. Which I’m certainly always striving to be.”
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work?
I’d tell myself not to feel so guilty about sending my kids to daycare. I remember feeling torn up about the fact that someone else was caring for my kids during the day, but I think that daycare has really been beneficial for our family.
It’s allowed for great socialization for my girls, and has allowed for both Doug and I to pursue our careers. It’s a total double-edge sword, and I don’t think I’ll ever NOT feel a little twinge of guilt when my girls go to daycare during the day, but I’m learning that motherhood is far more than what happens during 9-5.
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 do think it exists, but I don’t think that it’s simple, and I definitely don’t think it’s able to be had 100% of the time. Life just isn’t as clear-cut as that. (Though, wouldn’t it be nice if it were?!)
On the days where I’m an exemplary employee, I may not be an exemplary mother, and vice versa. Balance, for me, is a work in progress. It’s a state of mind and level of mental contentment that I always strive for, and am able to sometimes attain.
To me, at the end of the day if my family is happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. For us, that includes having incomes to help support our lives, so that’s where work comes in. The fact that I enjoy what I do is icing on the cake.
As a working mother, I do think that my relationships, personal and family time need to be cared for with heightened thought because it’s easy to let time slip by while juggling so many things. But I think as long as I have my prioritizes straight, things tend to work out just as they should.
When you said “relationships, personal and family time need to be cared for with heightened thought” I nodded along. Do you have any tactical advice on this? How do you make sure you get it all done!?
In terms of relationships, I’ve needed to prioritize well and make the most of the time I do have. For example, I can no longer go to every blogging event, or meet up for drinks with friends a few nights a week, because I have a family to rush home to take care of. However, when I AM able to get together, I’m all in. Doug and I work together to make sure that we both are able to see our friends on a regular basis — he’ll watch the girls when I have plans and vice versa.
Of course, we prioritize one another too. We make it a point to have date nights a few times a month. Every day, we try to spend time chatting and just being together, whether it’s over a cup of coffee in the morning or cuddling on the couch at night.
Personal time is a bit more of a luxury at this point that doesn’t happen often. Honestly, little moments like a bath at night, or trip to the nail salon after work, are when I grab some time for myself. This is definitely an area I’d like to have more of, however it’s the first thing that is de-prioritized when something else pops up! (if you’re struggling in this area- this post may help!)
Lastly, I would love to hear how returning the second time to work was! Was it different? Did you change your attitude at all this time around?
I have to say, the second time around was much, much easier. I think it was because I was so comfortable with the girl’s daycare; I knew I could trust them and we had nearly 2 years under our belt with them. I do think I had a better attitude the second time around also — Though I knew it would take adjusting, I also know that it would all work out and be okay. And it absolutely has turned out to be that way!