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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

My Balance: Janet Ozzard from Babycenter

Years ago, Janet Ozzard was my editor at New York Magazine. She is one of the most brilliant, funny and incisive people I've ever met: She taught me to write about what actually matters to people, instead of what just sounds magazine-y. Her New York magazine work won like 8 billion awards (my favorite story I've ever written was her idea), and she then worked at DailyCandy and Lucky, and now she's the executive editor of the parenting website Babycenter. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Kermit and toddler Ella. Here, Janet talks about how she tries to find balance (including moving her family cross-country!)...


1. What's your work schedule?
Our house wakes up around 7am most days. (Emphasis on most; Ella is 18 months old and teething, so we have the occasional bad night where she's fussy and upset, and we're all awake to 5am or up and down for a couple hours and zombies in the morning. But that’s mostly past.)

Ella plays in her crib with books and stuffed animals (and makes the Most Adorable Noises as she "reads" to herself), while I become human (meaning, I make coffee) and listen to the weather and news on the radio. I get her dressed and give her breakfast, then hand her off to my husband so I can shower, dress and leave for work around 8:15am.

I get in by 9am (or aim to, anyway). Days at Babycenter are like most places—a combination of meetings and deadlines and content creation and administration. I've only been at this job since April, but I like it a lot; people are serious about their work, but not neurotic. Coming from 20 years in fashion and lifestyle magazines in New York, it feels very calm.

I try to bust out of the office right at 5pm, though it's more like 5:30pm some days. I'm home by 6pm. This is very new for me. Every job I've had since my Women's Wear Daily days has required late nights, and I used to love it; I’d get a second adrenaline rush around 5pm. When I was at New York Magazine, if I got home by 8pm I felt like it was an early night. Having a child has definitely changed that.

2. Your family recently moved from NYC to San Francisco. Why?
Basically I've been trying to move to northern California since I was a child, since the first time we came out here on a family trip and I was like, "Wait, why doesn't everyone live here? The air smells good and it's beautiful all the time and it doesn't snow and have you been to Carmel?" I mean, I wasn't pining for it, because I lived in the center of the universe and had an awesome career and wonderful friends, but whenever I'd meet someone from California I'd get all moony and say, "Someday I'm going to live in San Francisco." I interviewed for a job at the L.A. Times once because I was like, well, it's not San Francisco but it's California.

In late 2011 I heard about an executive editor opening at Babycenter, which is a huge (like, 10 million unique visitors a month) parenting website based in San Francisco. I was looking for a full-time job; I'd left NYMag in 2010 to go to DailyCandy, but that didn't work out and I left after 8 months. Then we adopted Ella (which is a whole nother story, but basically it was a miraculously fast adoption—seven weeks). I freelanced pretty steadily for almost a year, but I'm not a happy freelancer; I like the structure and group dynamics of an office.

I was interviewing all over the place, but none of the jobs were that compelling. I felt like I'd had the best job in magazines at New York; plus honestly, I knew what kind of hours are expected at New York media jobs. You go in at 10 but you're there til 8 or 9. I didn't want that; I wanted to be home at 6 giving Ella dinner. I wanted a job and I wanted to make money but not at the expense of my personal life. The Babycenter job appealed to me for so many reasons—it's a great, powerful, trustworthy website that really helps moms with good information, but it also seemed like a humane place to work.

My first interview for the Babycenter job took place at the Newark Airport Marriott restaurant last November. Linda, who is now my boss, was on her way back to California. We hit it off, and I did more interviews, then came out to San Francisco in January with my husband Kermit and Ella, and they liked it (I think In-n-Out burger, and the perpetual sunshine, helped a lot). I asked Linda point-blank about family life and work, and how late people stayed in the office, and she said, "Are you kidding? It's a ghost town after 5." That clinched it. Of course, we all check our email all the time, and get back online after our kids are asleep, but there's none of that New York "your office is your real home" mentality.


3. How do you handle childcare?
We have a nanny from 8am to 3pm. My husband is self-employed—he has a small specialty baking company called Kermit's Brownies; they are truly the greatest brownies you will ever eat in your entire life—so he takes care of Ella in the afternoons. We supplement with babysitters occasionally, but we definitely could use some more time together.

4. What is your relationship with your nanny like?
I like Andrea a lot, and she takes good care of Ella and is smart and affectionate with her, but there's no question that I am the mom center of Ella's world—when she sees me, she gets that "Yay! It's Mom!" look of sheer delight.

Our New York nanny, Agnes St. John Castro, was another story. She is just incredible—warm and loving and sincerely attached to our little girl, super-responsible and caring, and a fun, interesting person to hang out with. When Agnes would go into Ella’s room in the morning, Ella would bounce up and down with delight, and the two of them had such great times together. I used to daydream about leaving my job and going to hang out with them at the Children’s Museum on the Upper West Side. Honestly, telling Agnes that we were moving to San Francisco was harder than telling my mom. As a going-away present, Agnes made a calendar with all the pictures she’d taken of Ella, and gave copies to my mother, my mother-in-law and me (and kept one for herself). It hangs on the fridge, and I will keep it forever.

5. When do you typically hang with your daughter?
In the morning, when she gets up, we read books together and play with her toys. When I get home at night, we have an hour or so of playing, though often I'm tired, so she's not getting my best self. Often I'll take her out for a walk so my husband can have a quiet half hour to himself.

I like the weekends, when I can be with her all day—but at the same time, I'm glad when Monday morning comes around and I go back to work in the world of adults.

6. Do you have any rituals that you like to do together?
Oh yes. I am the bath giver, and don't try to get between me and bath time with my little girl. I love the ritual of running the warm water, adding bubbly soap (Burt's Bees is our preferred brand), then playing with all the different bath toys. I'm showing Ella how to fill her squirt toys with water and squirt me, which I will doubtlessly come to regret soon. She particularly loves a squirty carp (or maybe it's a koi) we got last weekend; it’s about as big as her arm. She also has become fond of a recently acquired yellow rubber duck.

After the bath, she changes into her footie pajamas (fleece, because it's chilly here at night), then she gets a bottle and some cuddling, and then bed. The lamp in her room is an heirloom; it belonged to each of my five older siblings, then to me, now to her. It's a cheerful yellow chicken with a nightlight inside the egg.

7. What do you find tricky/so-so/hilariously bad about your current set-up?
Well, first let me say that this is not a complaint. I am incredibly lucky and blessed to have this wonderful husband and beautiful little girl, and I am aware of that everyday. I got married late (in my mid-forties) and had kind of given up on these things happening for me, so even the bad days (and nights) are just gifts in my life.

But: when I get home from work, I'm tired, and in an ideal world I'd have half an hour to sit and decompress with my husband. Instead, I roll into a situation where he's had our daughter for several hours and needs a break. Plus, he's getting dinner ready (he's the main cook, always has been), so I have to get her out from underfoot so he can do that. One solution would be to find a nanny who can stay later, but as mentioned, we like our caregiver a lot, and she has her own family, so she's only available til 3pm.

So what happens is, I rush home, feel guilty if I'm not there by 6pm, immediately change out of anything that has to be dry cleaned, spend an hour amusing my child, wolf down our dinner, and rush into bath time. Is this bad? No, and it will change as she gets older. But I wonder if it could somehow be "funner."

8. How do you fit your marriage into the balance?
Well, we haven't seen a movie in a movie theater since 2010, and I am frankly bummed to have missed both "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers." We are currently looking for a regular babysitter. So, anybody in San Francisco who wants to sit for a really sweet 18-month-old, call me!

Seriously: I have fantasies about going to Carmel or Napa for a romantic weekend sans child, but I'm also not ready to leave my child overnight with anybody. It'll happen soon enough. In the meantime, we have a couch date every night to watch whatever we’re Netflixing. Once a week we supplement with ice cream.

9. Do you have time for yourself?
Hahahaha! A couple weeks ago I had a little meltdown and was like “I just. want. a fucking. pedicure.” Because I just could not fit it in, between the new job and the relocation and all that stuff, and it was eating away at my self-esteem that I couldn’t show my toes. We finally hired a babysitter for a few hours on a Saturday so I could go downtown and have a pedicure and buy a new pair of jeans.

I’m pretty sure that'll get better as she gets older. But she's so cute right now, I don't really want her to get older!

10. Who cleans the house?
I will, for the rest of my life, do whatever I need to do in order to be able to afford having lovely people come over and clean my house. If I have to take a second job making pizza, or selling real estate, or whatever, I will do that. I hate vacuuming or any house task that requires that any “push a stick object around the floor” activity—mopping, sweeping, etc.

Don’t get me wrong—I love to clean and straighten. In fact, I probably like it too much and that’s the problem. I can spend two hours emptying and re-folding my T-shirt drawer (or yours), or cleaning the fridge to germless perfection, but then I’m exhausted for the day.

We used to order in more when we lived in NYC, but that doesn't exist so much here. And Kermit's a really good cook. He does all the food shopping and cooking. As I speak (or type, really) he’s roasting chickens and making bucatini cacio e pepe. Did I mention how lucky I am?

11. How do you feel about being the breadwinner in your family?
Being the breadwinner seems almost incidental to me—it's more like a natural division of labor. Kermit likes to cook and I like to clean; Kermit likes to bake and I like to eat; Kermit's tempermentally suited to be self-employed, whereas I like the orderliness of office life and team work and all that stuff. It happens that jobs in offices tend to be jobs with health insurance and bonuses and that sort of thing.

12. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle?
It does blow my mind that my mom had six children and ran a business, too. I really wonder, did she not feel overwhelmed, or did she just shelve those feelings because she didn't have time? She is very organized, so maybe that's the answer.

I often wonder about adopting another child, but we're just out of the waking-up-several-times-a-night year, and I'm in my mid-forties, and I don't know if I have the energy to do it again. But…I'm starting to miss the baby-ness of Ella, and two kids is so much fun, and you only have one life, and if you think you'll regret not doing something, you should do it. So, check back with me in a year.
(Janet's desk)
Thank you so much, Janet.

P.S. Last summer's first balance series about moms who work from home.

110 comments:

Cara said...

Great interview! I love this. She seems like such a down to earth lady who is just trying to have a work/life balance like most of us.

Cara
www.insearchofsunshine.com

Kirsteen said...

Hi Joanna, another great interview!

I love that we get to hear how other mums balance everything - as mothers, we should be helping each other out and sharing what we do :)

urbanrhetoric said...

i was so hoping to hear from someone with a toddler and this was PERFECT. actually, my only complaint is that she totally tapped into my san fran-envy. it would be a dream to move my family there...one day, one day.

thank you for this interview!

~pemora

Roxy said...

I loooooooove this series. She seems incredibly grounded, and amazing.(And I feel the exact same way about housekeeping.

On the Rox Yoga

AVY said...

Oh, I never want to grow up.

/Avy

http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

Joanna Goddard said...

roxy, me, too, i have to say. :)

Shannon said...

This was a great interview. I don't have kids yet but I want to soon. I'm starting a new job this week after not working for a while. I'd always hoped to be able to stay at home mom but it might not work out that way for me any more financially. It feels comforting to read articles about women who work and bring up their children. Also, I am really looking forward to the day when I can pay someone to clean my house. I HATE cleaning.

Trina said...

Cool! I work at a monthly lifestyle magazine in the Bay Area and appreciate the respect paid to having a life outside of work. We seldom have to work until 6 these days and can usually leave the office by about 5-5:15, even when closing an issue. And we have some leeway to come in a little late or leave a little early to take care of kids or make it to an evening class or whatever, as long as we get all our work done. It definitely helps to have an employer who accommodates that.

Michele said...

Thank you so much for this series. I love how honest she is about the imperfections and challenges, as well as of course acknowledging the good. (Yeah for her too for finding the right guy and baby!)

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I so identify with swooning over San Francisco! She's a lucky lady to live her dream of living there. HER DAUGHTER IS ADORABLE!!

Anonymous said...

This is such a great interview. What an adorable little girl and such a great story. Wouldn't it be great if our culture really respected life balance and all companies closed at 6 and Dads and Moms both could have the best of both worlds. I love this series, Joanna! ps I want some of those brownies.

Anonymous said...

While I love the premise of this series, it is super frustrating to be reading only about women who have enough disposable income to provide regular full-time care for their children (and also enough money to apparently have someone regularly clean their house)!?

What about featuring families where both parents have full-time careers that require them to be out of the house for most of the day, but also don't have the means to pay for such extensive childcare? Or what about featuring a single mom?

I just think if you're really going to do a series on work/life balance - then at least be realistic about it! (And would it be too difficult to have some diversity here)? Not all of your readers are white and wealthy.

long time reader said...

I have to agree with Anonymous (3:13). Great series, and super impressive women so far, I'm enjoying the reads. But I am genuinely so curious to read about how a single mom juggles it all, or a high powered woman with an equally powerful partner. Will there be anyone like this coming up? In general, in this economy, it's hard to have an open and honest discussion about this when people have real concerns, like getting good insurance, finding reasonably priced daycare, etc - not just getting a pedicure ;)

Picture perfect day said...

I am really enjoying this series but can I just say how much I loved that article you wrote? The last comment about tuxedos really cracked me up.

gia said...

I just love the side story of adoption, how fantastic. Makes me think... hmm maybe I could do that if I don't meet someone and get pregnant in my early thirties. It's a nice, empowering thought.

Jenny P said...

Hmmm... so you mean I'm not the only one who was smitten with Northern California? I thought the EXACT same thing when my husband and I visited two years ago, "You mean people live here???"

Mrs. Bodien said...

I love that she asked point blank about work/life balance when interviewing. I'm filing that away for later, when I can interview for a new job.

Sara Jane Keskula said...

Hi Janet!

Great interview - congrats! I wanted to let you know, I am a professional babysitter with 20 years experience with children of all ages. I'd love to come hang with you sweet little girl. Please feel free to contact me.

Cheers,

Sara Jane

PS - Jo! Love your blog :)

Erin said...

I really love all these interviews! Post law school I have a problem reading anything from start to finish...I think my eyes and brain just hate me from that part of my life, but I so look forward to reading all these from start to finish which is a big testament to how great they are! All of the stories are really inspiring and a unique take on life and motherhood. Thank you.

Erin
http://mylifeasmimi.tumblr.com/

chic81.com said...

Haha, I loved her comment about "why doesn't everyone live here?" in regards to Northern California. What a great, honest, interview. I love how realistic and frank she is.

Anonymous said...

I love these interviews, it's fascinating to get a peek into other people's lives.

I was uncomfortable reading about her current nanny vs. former nanny - and she named them?! This seems appropriate for a talk with a friend but not for a public article/series. Especially w/o the context that kids go through different phases with different people.

Amy Powell said...

oh I love this woman! she sounds so much fun and someone & who I could learn a lot from :)

thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying reading these interviews. Thank you for posting them. I especially appreciated reading one from someone who became a mother through adoption. I just found out at 30 that I probably can't have biological kids of my own, which is really hard, so hearing stories of families like this one are so reassuring to me. If you have the inclination, I'd love to see some stories about adoption or on women who might not be moms but find other ways of nurturing.

Tiffany @ Savor Home said...

I'm not a wife or a mom (yet), but I am really enjoying these interviews. The women you have interviewed are so strong and incredibly real. They don't claim to have it all and it seems like they make do and appreciate what they have. That is powerful and amazing. Thank you.

george_7717 said...

I'm only recently got to the age when I was able to comprehend how much of a juggle it was for my mother to be a GP alongside a mother of two. I had a number of nannies and had a range of experiences with them and some were definitely favourites.
As I get older I realise how thankful I am for the UK's statutory holiday allowance and the European sensibility that acknowledges children regarding maternity leave etc rather than promoting punishing business hours that ignore the needs of parents as a whole.

I do wish there was a little more variety in the mothers chosen as their lives do seem interchangeable but it's still early in the series so I'm interested to the experiences of other women!

If anyone wants to have a chuckle youtube 'Smack the Pony' which is a female based comedy from the 90s with some great sketches. 'New Receptionist' is one of my favs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6z9LrwidsE

Heather said...

Haha, my husband and I went to Carmel over Memorial Day 'sans children' ... but two weeks later discovered we had come back with one :) What happens in Carmel doesn't always stay in Carmel!

Amazing interview and series. Love.

Anonymous said...

Echoing some of the earlier comments. The last two women you've featured appear to leave their jobs by 6:00 pm and have husbands with dialed-back careers. What about couples where both partners work long hours/weekends/etc.?

Serial Monogamist said...

I love so much about this.

One other thing: I remember reading that article when it came out (online, of course) and being fascinated. I had no idea that was you!

laura @ hollywood housewife said...

This is so nice and honest. When you feature moms who are juggling it all, these are my favorite posts on your site. I loved that whole series when you did it, and now whenever it pops up. Thank you for sharing these!

Elisa said...

I loved this interview!! Janet it great, and it's super nice to hear how she does it all. We did a cross country move when our son was 6 months and it definitely made that first year harder. I would love if there was an interview with some women who maybd aren't making $$$$. Like, what kind if sacrificing they have to make when half their take home pay goes towards daycare.That seems to be the challenge for most of the working moms I'm friends with.

alisha e. said...

Another great interview. I loved hearing about life in the Bay Area--one of my all-time favorite places.
Heather--that is hilarious! Congrats!

Paige Geiger said...

Loving this series. I can really relate to her point about coming home and feeling tired, and how your kids don't get the best of you sometimes. I feel that way all the time - I'm always thrilled to see my two little ones, but after about 10 minutes with them my tiredness sets in. I still want to be with them, but I wish I had more of "me" to give them. This interview was very open and honest and so helpful to hear how other women make it work. Thanks!

Lesley said...

Loving this series. I am 37 weeks pregnant and have given a lot of thought to how I can get back to work and still be a great, attentive mom. Reading about these successful women make me realize I can do it. It will take work and dedication from both me and my husband but i think we'll be OK :) Its also nice to hear how its not always easy, and to not beat yourself up over it. Thanks for these stories Joanna- keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

Joanna, I so love these little glimpses into the lives of others.

I am 27 and working at a high-powered and fulfilling job, and your work/life balance series makes me look forward to adding a family into the mix somewhere down the road.

But at the end of each of your charming profiles, I'm left curious about one thing (which I know is a bit gauche, but if it's on my mind perhaps I'm not alone): money. It's hard not to be a little envious when I read that the key to balancing work and kids is a job that gets you home by 6 PM every night. For better or worse, I would have to take a huge pay cut to work those hours, and living in the city (with a future imaginary child, no less!) is expensive, as you know!

I know there are more profiles to come this week, including one of a lawyer like me, so maybe this is really a topic for another day. But I would love to know, as part of work/life balance, where do finances come in? Does one partner take care of most of the bills? Do they split everything equally? Did one parent take on a larger share of the financial responsibility so the other could work less? Is there some other source of income?

It is wonderful to read about all of these lovely and successful women. I suppose I'm just looking for a clearer sense of how, realistically, they make it work.

Kayla Poole said...

I'm loving this series, Joanna. To respond to some of the criticism it is garnering (re: diversity, variance of tax bracket, etc.), I wish to remind people that none of us truly knows how much someone is making or how they are choosing to budget their income. I was raised in a single parent household with a mother who sometimes worked up to three jobs to provide for my sister and I, and yet, she was able to pick us up from school most days and spend the 3-4 hours afterwards with us until bedtime because of how she arranged her schedule. Not working wasn't an option for her, but neither was not parenting. I know it was extraordinarily tough for her at times, but she was committed to striking a balance in whatever ways she was able.

Moreover, I am a preschool teacher currently living in the (expensive) NYC metro region and while I make a modest salary relative to my environment, if I budget accordingly, I could opt to hire someone to clean my home if I wanted to: it would just mean something else would have to go.

Let's all try and offer a generosity of spirit towards a series that is clearly meant to offer perspective and bring each other up--not cut each other down.

Joanna, again, I am loving this series and very much appreciate you allowing for an open discourse in your comments.

Aya said...

Love her honesty about wanting to have adult time come Mondays or needing a pedicure...NOW.

Also, I agree with folks about wanting to hear from women who can't afford nannies and housekeepers, aka someone who lives my likely future. That is not to say that I am not enjoying this series. I very much am. I would just like an addition to it.
Thanks Joanna.

Kathleen said...

Do you know anyone who is not in media or fashion?

These are nice stories, but they feel like there all similar because they are essentially all people with the same type of job.

Nancy said...

I am loving this series so much - and Janet's story really resonated with me. After reading the recent Atlantic story (and the various responses, particularly Lori Gottlieb's more-vituperative-than-necessary response), it has been refreshing to remember that we are all just doing the best we can: to balance careers, children, husbands, home and the ever-elusive me time. As a corporate attorney in New York with a 16-month old, I have found myself more than once running--nay, full on unsightly sprinting--down the street in a pencil skirt and flapping high heels from the subway to get home to Em in time so I can put her to bed. So great to hear how other woman manage - thank you!

cicilia said...

This is such a great article! I love it! THANK YOU for doing this Joanna!

Anonymous said...

This one got me! SO good to read. Janet just seems so down to earth and like someone who you'd really enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee with.

Two moments that really stood out - The nanny from New York, Agnes...totally cried about the calendar. So touching. And then the "I just. need. a fucking. pedicure!" Too much...loved it!!!

Great interview!

Tee said...

I love this series. I do NOT love, however, all the critcism. I mean, she is not doing a master's thesis on this, for goodness sake; we don't have to see a 360 view to understand the theme or get insight and entertainment from it.

Just saying...as a working mother of two little boys...

Scout and Rice said...

Great series, I wish you'd do more like these Jo! :)

I can totally relate to her hating the 'pushing a stick around' side of cleaning, I am an obsessive tidier, wiper and duster, but don't dare to look down at my floors!

Anonymous said...

love her, love this series and love that she was your boss- it is no wonder your writing, your content and your voice is so authentic. Also so relevant to me being due in January and trying to figure it all out...

daisy said...

This was great, and the most relatable interview so far! Loved that she's older, love how down to earth she is, love her opinion about SF :)

Alyssa said...

Loved the interview! Janet was good friends with my first boss in magazines, and has always been such a smart, funny woman. I'm so happy to hear that she has landed such an awesome job--and family!
-Alyssa
thesparklylife.com

whatwouldsummerwear.com said...

Wonderful. I definitely see a lot of myself in there. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jennifer of JennySue Makeup said...

LOVE this article, and HER! I actually read from start to finish without skipping any in between- which is unusual for me. Love her frankness about just wanting an "F#$kng manicure"- hilarious!!!! I like this series Joanne- keep it going!

Danielle DeSantis said...

Brilliant. I know that this may be outside of the scope of your current series, but I think it would be great to get the work-life balance from other great women, sans children. There is this idea that nurturing your relationship with your husband/boyfriend/lover takes less investment to do well than a relationship with your kids. That said, props to all mothers because what a huge/big/amazing/scary thing you do, whether you work or not.

Danielle DeSantis said...

Brilliant. I know that this may be outside of the scope of your current series, but I think it would be great to get the work-life balance from other great women, sans children. There is this idea that nurturing your relationship with your husband/boyfriend/lover takes less investment to do well than a relationship with your kids. That said, props to all mothers because what a huge/big/amazing/scary thing you do, whether you work or not.

Anonymous said...

I live in SF! Janet, please hire me or at least be my friend asap!!

Seriously, this was my favorite one ever.

Cathryn @ MyHeartsContent said...

I LOVE this, it's my favorite interview so far. They sound like a happy family - it sounds like the best balance of work and life so far!

I live near San Francisco, with a little boy in fleece footsie pajamas (I agree,it's SO chilly at night) so Janet, I'll trade a night babysitting Ella if you come and tidy my drawers! Deal? :)

LeahJill said...

At first I was a little upset that you were only interviewing these women in really powerful, successful positions -- I am the working mom of a 15 month old in middle management and I want to hear about other women like me!

BUT, when I read Janet's rundown of her routine when she gets home from work, I felt a connection. I feel that same exhaustion mixed with excitement at finally seeing my little one after spending all day thinking about him. I want to find the "funness" in that rushed routine too!

Looking forward to reading more interviews :)

Fashalina aka The Hyperbalist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fashalina aka The Hyperbalist said...

Dear Janet, (if you are reading comments)--

You are fucking hysterical/awesome; I ADORED everything you had to say; and...you look FANTASTIC! I know many people bristle when that compliment is followed by ..."for such and such age", because yes of course you look fantastic, period, so I don't want to diminish it by saying "you look fantastic *for* being in your mid-forties," but I couldn't believe when I read down from the pictures and saw your age! You really look wonderful, regardless of age, but also for being mid-forties, if I'm allowed to say that : )

Your staccato-ed line about wanting a fucking pedicure was a riot, and I'm the same way you are about cleaning your house about blowdrys!! I will do, and DO do, whatever it takes to afford professional, salon, blow outs. I work 3 jobs (literally, I actually do), so that I can afford blow drys (among other things). My hair is a horrendous matted mess of horribly ugly thick curls, and it takes me forever to do it myself, and it's exhausting and morale-crushing to be honest, haha, and it makes my life indescribably better to treat myself to that.

The thing that the vast majority of people out there seem to be incapable of understanding (from my own experience with the blow dry choice) is that it's a financial C-H-O-I-C-E!!!! It doesn't mean I'm spoiled or have endless money...it's a twice or so monthly $50-$100 purchase that I choose to make with the money that I EARNED from the work that I did. I save in a million other areas-- from working remotely in order to save on gas money; to buying extremely cheap groceries, etc. SO THAT I can buy my blow drys because they MATTER to me where fancy gourmet food does not. To the gourmand, expensive novelty food is what matters so they take their liquid $100 and spend it on fancy food and don't get blow drys; or you take it and spend it on house cleaning and watch Netflix instead of paying for cable (hypothetical)...there are a million ways for people to save and spend money, and CHOOSING to have hired cleaning help because cleaning the house is something that genuinely upsets and frustrates you, and paying for it makes you happier and your life better, is a right and choice and simply DOES NOT mean you are some fancy schmancy brat! It's something you care about! Everyone has their preferences! There's a human out there right now who ADORES cleaning and would never contract it out, but spends money on fancy bathroom tile because having fancy bathroom tile is her preference. I don't give a sh*t about bathroom tile OR cleaning, or fancy food; so I get my damn hair blown out : ) To. each. his/her. own.

That is all. (not that you really cared about people criticizing that choice-- you articulated your reasons behind it perfectly and soundly), but I still just wanted to say a few things.

You seem super grounded and I'm glad I now know about your existence thanks to this series!

-Alina, blogger and Refinery 29 writer, and also I work full-time for the federal government. (My 3 jobs that I work in order to pay bills, live relatively comfortably (hah) and get my hair blow dried as that is my prerogative).

Karen said...

I am so far loving all the posts in this series, but this one really struck a note with me. Perhaps it's because we both live in the SF Bay Area?

In any case, I wanted to address all those commenters with questions about working the hours that Janet now works to accommodate her family time. You don't start off that way, and if you read back in her interview, she used to work much longer hours earlier in her career. Before I had my kid, I used to come into work around 8:30 PM and not leave until 8 PM. However, if you work for an understanding boss/group, you will have built up some goodwill during that time while covering for other people with families so that when it comes time for you to focus on your own, you can dial back or set the hours you need to have that time with them. It's also a matter of working your way up the career ladder. Even in middle management, I've found that if I have the desired skill sets and a proven track record, I can set my hours as long as I get my job done. Even better, if you become the boss, you won't have to answer to anyone else except yourself about your own schedule. Your colleagues will respect your decision as long as you show integrity about working at your job/company. Hopefully, this addresses how you get to the type of working hours that Janet appears to work.

Great job with this series, Jo, and I look forward to reading the other upcoming posts!

Cecilia said...

I appreciate this series so much, Joanna. One thing I'm noticing though is how diplomatic most of the responses are. I know for me, motherhood and family life bring about an incalculable amount of joy, but there is also tension. Tension where it comes to gender roles in running a household, the dynamics of being the "primary care giver" vs the most of the time-caregiver, etc. I wonder if there will be honest insight on some of this stuff (even with the disclaimer that they are grateful for all they have, of course.)

Ashley@MarriedLane said...

I LOVED this interview! She is hilarious. I kept interrupting my hubby's "Deadliest Catch" episode so I could read him sections that made me laugh out loud (especially the fucking pedicure part.) As a SAHM, it's fun to get a peek into the life of a working mom.

Heather said...

I just love this series! As a business owner and, more importantly, mama to a five-month-old, I'm generally happy with the balance I've found...for now.

I think finding balance is such a personal thing - one person's version can be so different from another's, but that's what's so compelling about this series.

I've chosen to focus on my little one and let the business take a back seat (and, luckily, I am able to do so). Sure, my business will suffer a bit, but I feel so strongly that I can't get these fleeting moments back.

Thanks for sharing these interviews!

Beth said...

I have to agree with Kathleen here (4:19), I like this serious a lot, however do you know anyone outside of media/fashion/the arts/pr? I would be interested to know how a variety of moms find their balance - not just ones that can be home by 6pm. I get that you likely had to ask around to friends to find sources for this series, but it would be great to branch out. I'm a surgeon and these schedules are pretty lax to me. I'd love to know how other working moms with non-regular hours keep things going and function day-to-day. Happy 4th!

Lynn said...

Loving this series (and the last) but would love to read about women with husbands that also have demanding jobs but not the kind of $$ to pay for house cleaners and babysitting to get a pedicure. I know, you can't please everyone :) but it seems like there are quite a few similar request already so I hope you'll consider it.

Also, big kudos and thanks to all of the women (regardless of their circumstances) who have been willing to open up their lives to us!

Isabel Ceballos said...

A great interview. I like how honest she answers about her life and how she makes simplicity to be part of a life that seems complicated.

Isabel
www.windofimagination.com

Isabel Ceballos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

She is adorable. I truly loved that she adopted and that she has found a balance that works for her. Sometimes I think that I will never want kids and it's comforting to know that the option of adopting can be beautiful in a later stage. She made changes she wanted and seems super down to earth. I know everyone keeps commenting on featuring someone that has a lower position, it's only the beginning of the week, I'm sure you'll feature a diverse balance. But for now I love to see how different everyone finds a balance in there lives. You women are amazing for working so hard and getting to where you are now.

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this series, especially at a time when being a full time working mom has been really challenging. As an aside I had to laugh at her mention of her interview at the Newark Marriott. I spent the night there after a late night flight got cancelled after a day of particularly terrible client meetings. To top it off it was my birthday. I cringe every time I see that place!!!! I'm glad to know something good has come out of that place for someone!!

Lara {simply irresistible} said...

Absolutely love the start to this new series! Can't wait to read more :)

Anonymous said...

Loved this interview. Hilarious and so fun.

E. and Baby P. said...

janet, you are awesome!

Leica said...
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Leica said...

Oh!!! You MUST post an interview with a mom of multiple kids!

Jana foxworth said...

Love-love-love this series! It's always so interesting to hear how other moms juggle mammahood! I do agree with some of the posts in that I wish you could feature moms with both parents working blue collar jobs and crazy hours.

But in your defense, I think the reason why these successful women have been featured is to demonstrate that even with high paying jobs, etc these moms still experience the same challenges, feel the same guilt, and hold the same determination to do their best! Thank you Joanna!!!!

A FANCY DAY said...

I'm loving all these interviews, so interesting and I know will eventually be so helpful.

Aurora Bori said...

Love Janet's honesty on family, work, and how hard it is to balance it all. Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer said...

Joanna - This has to be one of the most relevant topics on the internet. I hear women talking/talk about it ALL. THE. TIME. As a freelancer, I was so encouraged and inspired by last year's contributors, and I have no doubt these women are doing the same for their peers!

Anonymous said...

Danielle—I agree! I truly dislike the idea that somehow managing a household and taking care of your spouse is less important that having a family with kids.

There's a balance in that too, especially when it comes to finding time to spend together (I, too, work in magazines...Not a lot of time.), divvying up bills and expenses, and general planning. This martyrdom of motherhood that seems to be everywhere right now is frustrating for me—someone in a dedicated relationship, with a high-profile job in a big city, and childless by choice.

Sheri said...

What a great interview! Thank you for doing this series. It matters!!

Anonymous said...

Amazing series, I love it and especially as I woke up this morning thinking could I move my family from London to NY for work?

And Janet is incredible and does not look mid 40's at all, unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jo,

Great series! I would like to see though, what happens in a family where both partners work full time office jobs. All the ladies featured here recognize the fact that it is a big help the fact that their husbands have flexible schedules. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the case for most of us

clairepayn said...

SUCH a great interview!! Janet is an incredible woman! thanks JO x

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Dee said...

I don't understand all the people complaining about the "negative" comments... Yes, this is a cool blog, and yes, this is an informative series. That doesn't mean it's above criticism... Nothing is. This series could be improved in some ways and people are making suggestions. i don't see what's wrong with that or how that's "mean" or "negative". I assume bloggers want their readers not to be happy and not feel ignored, right?

Lynne said...

Great series, though I would like to hear from some mothers with more than one child - I've heard that really becomes the game changer. And also, where the male partners works in an office job too! I work in an industry where leaving at 6pm is just not an option, and it's also a little unfair on those without children that they have to work late while others leave on time to pick up kids.

Mommy Lauren said...

Great interview! So far it's confirming my opinion that for one spouse to be super successful you need another parent working a much easier/flexible job. I was a CFP working 60 plus hours and my husband is a dr in residency so when our baby came I quit my job bc I could not figure out how our family would function with 2 crazy schedules....it will be interesting to see if you have any stories like that.

Fareh said...

I am very interested in this topic and wonder if you have a wider range of women to feature, so far they seem to all be middle-aged, caucasian women who are somewhat well off like yourself. This might be who your blog is geared towards I suppose. Thanks

Celine said...

Thanks Joanna for this series - and the one you released last year. Very interesting to see both sides of the coin - i am myself switching from a dull employee status to a bright entrepreuneur to be, home working with two kids. Well we'll see. What remains unchanged is, you keep juggling no matter what :)
Interested in some akward input ?

Anonymous said...

I love this Joanna! She sounds like me. I'm a 30something mom with a 3.5yr old girl in Singapore. Motherhood is a universal language. I love her spunk, wit & down to earth nature. Thanks for this series!

P.s. her comment re "wanting to get a pedicure!" got me teary a bit.. I sometimes feel the same way! Was tearing & laughing @ the same time!

Em Levy {orange + barrel} said...

I love how so many of the men are cooking and cleaning to make the household work, which is true for my life and a lot of my friends, but maybe this is a big city thing? Three cheers for modern men and modern living.

Mairead said...

What a great interview, she seems to have all the normal problems and worries that most mums have - reading her answers felt like chatting to a friend on the phone :)

Sarah said...

Thanks Joanna, I'm loving this series!

I work full-time in the nonprofit arts, but babysit once a month or so for a little extra (and because I met a very sweet family when I first moved to San Francisco and adore watching their 2-year old girl). Janet, San Francisco is filled with 30-year old babysitters w/ professional full-time, non-care giving jobs, so I don't doubt you'll find someone great soon!

Although babysitting in your 30's is pretty normal in SF, I do worry about when it won't be socially acceptable for me to babysit for this family anymore - particularly since a lot of our friends are starting to have children. My hope is that I can babysit for them until I become pregnant myself...! ;)

Rachel said...

So great. I live in Noe Valley and would totally babysit :)

Whitney | Good Grief Miss Agnes said...

This was a great interview. Janet is a fantastic writer! I really liked that she was so honest about being glad sometimes when Monday rolled around and she could return to the adult world. I think moms feel guilty about that sometimes, but we all need adult time after awhile!
Great series!

Zulejka said...

Very interesting interview. I must mention I love Babycenter! I was reading it through my whole pregnancy and I still red it almost daily. Such a wonderful source of information (and fun, too)! Great work, Janet and co.!

toria said...

Hi Joanna, thanks so much for posting these. I am really enjoying reading these! i am a mom who works part time as a ballet teacher at a wonderful studio and i really enjoy reading about other moms! thank you!

Ana said...

I adore her! So much so that I felt composed to write a comment. As a fellow SFer, mother and writer - I feel for her! And I wish her the best. I'll make sure to check out her husbands bakery and support, too!

http://ana-embry.com

Victoria M said...

Oh, man. Great interview!

Janet, can we be friends?

Angela Broderick Bedell said...

This is so good.

I remember a similar meltdown over a pedicure (or not having the time or freedom to get one!).

I love that you find these success stories that are humans with hearts, Joanna. Nice job!

And Janet, you are just amazing.

Jennifer said...

Well... hope her current nanny isn't reading this!

christie said...

love her. so real!

Carol said...

Great profile. No romanticizing domestic life. Good analysis of what works. I'm south of San Francisco and would be happy to babysit every now and then to get my toddler fix.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI... Love the series... But also, your favorite ny mag piece is one of mine too!! Tore it out years ago and referred back to it recently and couldn't believe th byline... The blue lady gets me every time. Well done, all around.

Belen said...

I just LOVE this series!!! I'm a step-mom (high-schooler) and a step-grandma. I love reading about how other women juggle different parts of their lives...career/work, spouse time, me time, nurturing time. Great interviews!

Elaine said...

I can totally relate to the after work rush. In our home, I'm the cook and my husband does bath time. I was always struggling to get home and throw dinner together by 5:30 or 6 so that they could do bathtime and bedtime at a decent hour. About a year ago, we came up with the wonderful ideas of doing bathtime BEFORE dinner, so I could use that time to cook without 1. having the little ones running around with a hot stove on and 2. not feeling guilty that I can't play with them. As an added bonus, the girls are hungrier, therefore are less picky and eat a bit more than before. Also, I had read that there is a huge benefit of giving at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted, focused time with your kids when you first get home, which I couldn't do when I was rushing to get dinner on the table. Now, the schedule looks like this: get home about 5:20, we play until 6 when my husband does bath time and I cook, dinner at 6:30, sometimes more play time, then storytime/bedtime at 8 - 8:30. It's a great formula that works for us!

Amy said...

Janet, thanks for sharing, it's so inspiring how you balance it all!

michelle regina said...

Awesome interview. Love your realness, Janet! It definitely helps put things into perspective.

Anonymous said...

What a great interview! I think Janet should start a blog-- I think she'd be great and empowering to read when al hell has broken open at home!

Ginger said...

I totally understand what Janet means about Carmel... I've lived here for a couple years now, and am about to move (back to the East Coast), and while I'm excited, I'm heartbroken to leave this adorable place.

If you ever need some eye-candy to tide you over, here's a Pinterest board I created to get my Fairy Tale Cottage fix:

http://pinterest.com/weathersgroup/cottages-of-carmel/

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Calvin Brock said...

She lives in San Francisco with her husband Kermit and toddler Ella. Here, Janet talks about how she tries to find balance (including moving her family cross-country. Páginas Amarillas

Carla Cram said...

Jo, this is such a fantastic series of interviews. So timely for me and has really inspired me to think positively about being a mum in the future as well as continuing my career that I've worked so hard for.

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