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Friday, July 06, 2012

My Balance: Molly Peterson from DwellStudio

Molly Peterson is the Communications Director for DwellStudio, the amazing line of bedding and furniture. She lives with her husband James and 4-year-old son Lucas in Brooklyn, and they have a little girl on the way (any minute!). Here's how Molly tries to juggle it all...

1. What's your work schedule?
I get to work right after drop off at my son's pre-school, around 9am. My end of day varies on evening events and workload, but I leave by 6pm whenever I can. Just like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg! I'm a big fan of getting home in time for dinner/bedtime and hitting the laptop with a glass of wine on the sofa.

2. When you "hit the laptop," do you work or just hang?
Haha—oh, I work! TV and movies (other than family movie night, see below) are long lost in my life. I work at home from 9pm until I crash (usually pretty early ) and then I have a nasty habit of getting up at 5am, which is actually when I get the MOST work done. 5am-6:30am I am the most productive, I think. Then the kiddo gets up and we have our morning time, at which point the computer is OFF.

3. When do you typically hang with your son?
Lucas gets up around 6:30am every day. My husband leaves for work by 7am (he's a family physician), so Lucas and I have the morning just the two of us, which we love. We eat breakfast, brush our teeth and ride our scooters to school. We try to eat dinner as a family as much as we can—I'd say about four out of seven nights. I always put Lucas to bed on the nights when I'm home. The weekends are our big family time, for sure...and we hold them sacred.

4. Omg, you ride a scooter!!! You are the CUTEST.
Ha! I recently had to take a break because it was giving me contractions!

5. How do you handle childcare?
Lucas goes to school from 8:30am until 3pm, then is picked up by a babysitter we share with another family.

6. Do you have any family rituals?
Family movie night! We do this every Friday—we all sit down on the sofa with huge bowl of popcorn. We talk about what movie we're going to watch all week, building up the anticipation. It seems like such a simple and silly weekly tradition but it's an important part of our family routine. We try to go retro in our movie selection, showing Lucas a movie that we loved as children. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a big hit last week.

7. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up?
Oh, so many things, but my top two are:
a) We have no family nearby, so we're heavily dependent on childcare and our son's comfort level with the people who watch him. That can be awfully tricky—we have missed weddings, concerts, dinners, etc., but I do think you sign up for that in the delivery room!
b) I LOVE living in Brooklyn, but the commute is rough at times. If I have a dinner with an editor or industry event in Manhattan at 8pm, of course I would love to run home and see the kiddo first, but the subway or taxi commute back and forth make that impossible. So my magic wand would transport my lovely Brooklyn neighborhood right in the middle of Manhattan with subways extending every which way.

8. How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
I have to admit it's hard. But we try to go on one trip a year, just us. Getting away invigorates us as a couple every time. We've gone to Mexico, the Caribbean, Paris and San Francisco in the four years since Lucas was born.

9. Who cooks dinner and cleans?
We both cook. I'm a big foodie and love to make more complicated dinners, but James will throw a mean pasta and salad dinner together when I'm sprinting home late. I have to admit that James always does the dishes.

For cleaning, we have a cleaning service. But James seriously runs the home. And believe me, I realize that it's a major reason I can sleep at night and be a normal person during the day.

10. What do you mean by "James runs the home"?
He full-on runs it, schedules everything, etc. It's in his personality—I now realize I chose him as a partner because I need that.

We often say that I am the heart of our family and he is the brain. His work hours are less than mine—he chose to be a family doctor versus a specialist for the lifestyle, knowing his real joy is family and home. So he works from 8am to 4pm, gets home to walk the dog, relieve the sitter, start figuring out dinner...then I show up and we pull it all together as a team. Seriously, I understand how ridiculously good I have it.

11. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?
I'm lucky to have a network of women AT work who are working moms as well. I just counted, and there are ten other working moms at DwellStudio—including our founder. I definitely wonder how working moms with 3+ kids handle the juggle...but in general I find it's like a club membership you have with other moms—we're all doing our best to make it work day to day.

12. What advice would you give to new moms about how to balance work and life?
Don't be too hard on yourself. If eating out four nights in one week is going to keep you and your family happy and sane and you can swing it, don't guilt yourself out about it.
Thank you so much, Molly!

P.S. Last summer's first balance series about moms who work from home, and the rest of the second balance series about moms with office jobs.

95 comments:

AVY said...

I want a man to run my home too, so I can ride scooters all day.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com



Corrie Anne said...

Scooter time is some sweet quality time. Love these stories. My husband kind of runs the home too while I work out the creative & heart stuff!

Joanna Goddard said...

haha, avy, me too:)

Joanna Goddard said...

i love how she says she's the heart of the family and he is the brain. they are such a sweet couple.

Kassie said...

I really like her last answer. Basically she said, so what you need to do to keep your family happy and sane. Which is really awesome! Oh, and don't feel guilty about it! Love!

Anonymous said...

I love this series but would be really interested to read one where they are struggling with money maybe more in alignment with a lot of us.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a post from a single mom on here! I know a few amazing, successful working women who are doing it all on their own.

Joanna Goddard said...

yes, absolutely -- another series coming up including moms who are having a hard time budgeting and affording childcare, as well as single moms and single dads. great suggestion -- thank you!!

erica said...

Living near family and being able to rely on them for occasional (or full-time) help with the kids is such a luxury! I didn't realize this until I had children. The first time we were all sick with a stomach bug was eye-opening...

Even though I make much much less than these women, I agree that you have to do whatever it takes to keep your family relatively sane and happy rather than feeling guilty.

Roxy said...

I wonder how often she and her husband make it out to see friends. As my husband and I are currently gearing up to try for babies, I wonder if this means the end of our social life...

www.ontheroxyoga.

Lisa said...

I'm getting a little freaked out at how many of the ladies featured here mentioned that, while they manage to get out of work by 5 or 6 every day, they still do work in the evenings. Whaaaat! After working 8 hours and then commuting, I'm tired in the evenings -- and that's with my son still safely in the womb! My boss has a young baby and she also regularly cranks out 2 extra hours after her kids go to bed...somebody please tell me there's a better way.

Molly said...

Thank you so much for having me Joanna!!

Erica - you ARE so lucky to have family near...we are from Kansas with literally not a single relative within a 10 state radius. The cost of childcare in NYC is unbelievable...many women end up working to pay the sitter, which I most certainly have done.

Roxy - we do our best, that's all you can do! We also are big fans of tugging the kids along - yes, it means an early dinner vs. a late one, but we've had so many wonderful nights with other families, the kids coloring and making us laugh at the dinner table with the adults trying to sneak in grown-up conversation.

JMM said...

My husband is an EMT and I work full time in marketing, we HAVE to share the work at home. I can't believe some women around our area do all the house work. I work too many hours and I know I'm lucky that we split everything even getting up with our youngest in the night.

The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

Oh God, her and I are so so similar. And her hubs is much like mine! Thankful for this post.

Mrs. Bodien said...

Ah, I love these all so much (and felt the same about the freelancer/wahm series)!

And re: "another series coming up including moms who are having a hard time budgeting and affording childcare, as well as single moms and single dads." -- YES! That would be awesome too. I love reading about Moms who are "high powered," I guess you could call them, but I also yearn for stories about moms like me, who really struggle to afford child care and dream about affording a cleaning service. And I think you would handle that kind of series very well. :)

Jamie said...

These are all so interesting Joanna!! We don't have kids, but it's reading these stories that help me to make that decision. Some seem incredibly overwhelming and some seem very sweet. I love how they still take time away from their kid to be together. THAT is the scariest part of having a child for me - that my hubby and I won't take time to keep our relationship just as important.

erica said...

Molly, thanks for commenting! I guess in my attempt to multitask (blog comments and editing a paper), I didn't write very clearly...I don't actually have family nearby (like 3000 miles away), so I totally get your pain! We didn't want to ask our friends to help out while we were all sick and highly contagious, but we wouldn't have thought twice about asking our parents or siblings.

We rely 100% on childcare, too and it's SOO expensive in Boston/Cambridge. Now that we live in Toronto, we pay HALF of what we used to. Plus the healthcare and generous maternity leave make me think that Canada is doing a much better job of taking care of its citizens/residents--especially its families!

Anonymous said...

These are great. I've learned a lot. It doesn't sound like any of the women are involved in a community of faith or other clubs/organizations/service areas--who has time, I guess? Women friendships are super important to me, as is my faith and family outside of our own home, and I'm seeing they have friends at work. . . ? You ought to turn these into a book, Jo. I think it would be a best-seller. Would love to hear what people think of the Atlantic article. That was super interesting to me.

EllieS said...

Thanks for sharing these stories this week Jo. All of you women inspire me! I am starting a chocolate business, have a husband and dog, but no children and I am so busy. I don't even know how I would do it with children! I feel very encouraged by these stories though. Thanks again.

Turquoise & Lime

Anonymous said...

What a great collection and such a lovely idea. Still, all women sound very similar - all are still married, all have just one kid, all are financially stable, all have pretty similar lifestyle ... I'd want to see more variety - and I do think that life becomes way more challenging beyond the second child.
I'd love to see a broader scope.
Way to go, Joanna!

Anonymous said...

What a great collection and such a lovely idea. Still, all women sound very similar - all are still married, all have just one kid, all are financially stable, all have pretty similar lifestyle ... I'd want to see more variety - and I do think that life becomes way more challenging beyond the second child.
I'd love to see a broader scope.
Way to go, Joanna!

Anonymous said...

@Lisa- I was thinking the same thing. It seems like these ladies are routinely putting in at least 11 working hours a day (albeit broken up)- I'm exhausted of all that work plus kids just reading about it! Great series though- very eye opening for those of us with and without kids!

Anonymous said...

So basically having a nanny or a sitter is the way to go. Interesting.

Jen said...

These are all just so good, and inspiring. Thank you for running this series!! Definitely makes me feel confident about my choices and the shift in the attitude toward working mothers and raising a family!

Mia Stizzo said...

love her last answer. it's like my motto! do what you gotta do, right?

www.wishdownawell.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

These women all seem great. Though doing" The best that we can," I wonder how all these children will turn out that see their parents maybe one and a half to two hours a morning each day of the work week? I am older(55yrs) with three children, the youngest is eleven. I always worked. I fit my job to situations where I could bring my children to work childcare or worked during school hours. Frankly, I think most of these women are kidding themselves. They do NOT spend enough time with their children or their spouses, period. I do not mean to condemn at all. I simply feel these situations are not good for the children; the living arrangements are good for the adults. The parents do what they want, career wise, and the children suffer. Any other take on this is through rose-colored glasses. Children NEED time. If you don't have enough, or won't give enough so you can have the job you want, then maybe you should not have children. Many couples are childless and very happy! I hope this is not considered a "Mean" comment. I simple felt the views expressed were all from the "I am OK, you are OK" camp. I think children deserve more than a schedule that works for the parents. Good luck to all and thank you for the interesting series!

Pen said...

I so feel the Brooklyn commute issue and I don't even have kids yet. I worry how we will wrangle that when we do have them. Love this series, but seems all these women are doing extremely well financially. As a middle class couple who wants to have kids in the next few years it would be great to see examples from women who do this on a less substantial income. Perhaps a mid-level career person who doesn't have a doctor/lawyer/high level exec. husband.

Pam said...

Joanna, I am loving this series. I love seeing how other moms manage their busy lives. That said, I don't relate to these women who seem to carve out little to no time for themselves.

Even before I had a baby, I was just not that into work. I enjoy my profession, but when I was able to find a part-time situation that worked for me financially, I went for it!

Now, I am gearing up to head back to part-time work, as my daughter approaches 6 mo. old and I intend to continue doing the things that make me happy (being with my baby, running, doing things with my husband and as a family, seeing friends, moving a little slower all around) and I would love to see an article or two about women whose lifestyles are more like mine.

We have decided to live on less for a few years while our child is young. I would love to see what other moms are doing to change their lifestyles to save money so they can spend more time with their children.

cecilia said...

I continue to love this series. Here I go with another skeptical remark, though: I'm not so sure about the claim that these women make about working 2 more hours after bedtime. Bedtime with my almost three year old requires so much patience and discipline (on both our parts) that I usually end up falling asleep when she does. Maybe these women are all blessed with good sleepers. If I could add two follow up questions to your already awesome set of questions they would be: 1. how much caffeine do you consume during the day 2. how much alcohol does it take you to wind down at the end of the day?

Anonymous said...

This has been a very interesting series. The demographic you survey, however, is extremely extremely narrow. Perhaps you could profile some families who are not so privileged as you and your friends. Based on this series, it seems like the only way to have a balanced life in NYC is to be:
1. white
2. heterosexual and married
3. partnered with a man who is willing to do equal or more than his share of housework
4. highly educated
5. wealthy enough to afford a nanny
6. wealthy enough to eat out regularly
7. mother of only one child

Consider the tens of thousands of women in your city who live in much, much less ideal circumstances. What about profiling a single mother or someone who is not white?

-Emily

brianna said...

I'm really enjoying reading these posts Joanna! I am a working mom too (two jobs) and can really relate. I am also looking forward to reading about working moms who struggle financially too.

Anonymous said...

i think children turn out well as long as they have quality people caring for them, including their parents. In Europe where I lived for a while their is stat sponsored affordable day care during work hours and yet families are also super connected and the children are still close to their mothers and fathers. A great babysitter, like a grandmother, can be a plus for a child. They become part of the "village" it takes to raise a child. My son and his wife live in a different city and they have both worked full time with 2 children who are now in college and high school. They are very tight-knit! Everyone has their own style, but I think it can all work out. I admire all these women as well as those who choose to stay at home. Do what works for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

re: my previous comment.: My son and his wife live in a different city from me, that is ! Not from each other.

Karin said...

Thanks for this series, Joanna. These first-person perspectives are really powerful and it seems like this topic could be its own blog! I especially appreciate the down-to-earth answers (all the things you would have done as your younger self, long commutes, wishing for a stroll through Target). I would kindly echo some other commenters and say that I'd love to see a broader diversity of interviewees. You're doing a great job and it sounds like there are more good things to come!

Lisa and Marc said...

These interviews are fascinating! They make me more appreciative of the fact that I don't live in a big city and work crazy hours. Joanna - it would be great to hear from moms on the other end of the spectrum, like SAHM's or working part-time moms like myself! It's like my day is the inversion of these women! :-)

Lexie, Little Boat said...

This is such a great series, Joanna! My mom works for a much less glamorous office (State Farm) than these ladies, and when she told me about their personal/children/sick time policies, I was appalled! It's amazing how inflexible we are as a society despite the fact that it is necessary to have two incomes to live comfortably these days (or so it seems). It does make me appreciate the hard work that goes into managing work and a family!

linn said...

This serious has been fascinating, and I appreciate each one of these women so much for giving us a glimpse into their lives. My takeaway throughout has been similar to Pam's -- it just seems like these ladies are not taking enough time for themselves. I recognize that motherhood and an inspiring, creative work life both offer fulfillment, but it is so important to fit solitude and reflection into the balance somehow as well, even if that means scaling back on work and living on less. Tough to do in our society, for sure. I wonder if there are any women out there (maybe you, Pam?) who have figured out a way to fit personal time into the equation? I'm not yet a mother, but I ponder these things probably more than I ought to!

As for the many posters who have asked for more diversity, I agree that the profiles have been narrow in scope. However, child rearing comes with expenses and challenges, and I think that many women decide to have a baby (or 2 or 3) without really thinking it through. I admire that these ladies made sure that they were financially stable and in healthy relationships before taking on the enormous task of raising a child, and I'll bet they were purposeful about limiting the number of children they have as well. We can all use them as role models.

Lynn said...

I am a big believer in happy parents being great role models. You can spend hours with your child every day, but if you're not happy in your life/marriage, trust me, your child will suffer. These women seem to be happy, and I'm sure that's why Joanna picked them.

And for those who are surprised that the women work at night, don't be. You just don't get to their level of success by logging off at 6. I've worked in Silicon Valley for years, and it's the norm to be online until midnight. (I knew parents who went home at 6 then got back online at 9:30 or 10 for 2 hours. Often watching TIVO'd stuff at the same time.) In fast-paced, competitive industries, logging many hours online and carrying your smartphone at all times is normal.

Anonymous said...

HMM, I want to be positive like all these lady's but I just can't. I agree with one women on this panel! These parents are fitting the kids in to thee schedule! I say have a career but really make parenthood your priority. Maybe having a high power job take away from that! I get it, you work hard to get to a height paying position you go to school, you work hard so its hard to give it up. But having a kid I would expect coming home at 4/5 making dinner and being with your kid and husband. When do these people have sex? I think someone needs a reality check and take example from the artical in the Atlantic.....

Kayla Howe said...

What an adorable couple and son! This article also held a lot of insight.

Anonymous said...

I think women who work at a job they love are giving to society and feel fulfilled. I agree that happy, successful mom's are a great role model. I didn't work, got divorced and found myself fit for only a minimum wage job. Women deserve financial independence and the children won't suffer if they are loved and well cared for. I disagree with those who say women should stay home. No one says that about dads who work and travel.

CanadianJane said...

I agree with 12:40PM. I'm a new devotee of your blog, and have been reading the series with interest.

However, the women featured in this series are career women, front and center. I have not seen a single example of "balance" all week. They all seem to WISH they could spend more time with their kids, but clearly make the choice to have more money instead.

I just wish one of them said straight up: "yeah, I am a mom in my spare time. I prioritize my work/career and that is my choice. I am okay with that. Therefore life is balanced for me."

THEN I would feel like there was something of value to offer about their experience, instead of waxing poetic about scooter rides and weekend brunch.

Thank you Joanna.

Gabi said...

I really like this series, but feel like no one is discussing the one thing that makes the balancing possible: money. These women have cleaning services and 60-hour a week nannies (and, obviously, high-powered jobs they work hard at to pay for them), but I'd love to hear them discuss their finances, or just see a profile on a working couple or single parent with less money. How do you balance work/children/marriage if you don't have a ton of money? And if you do have money, how does it play into your balance?

Mindy said...

@Lisa - I've been thinking the same thing! I have a fantastic full-time job with a large company in Silicon Valley, work mostly 9-5, and then I am done for the day. I'll check email once or twice, and occasionally spend more than 10 minutes responding to something after my daughter is asleep, but nobody expects me to do that, certainly not my boss (who does not have kids, btw.) A couple times a year there may be crazy hours in support of a big launch, but it's rare. My evenings are for my family. There's only so much you can do with kid's sleep schedules and your work schedule, but I wish more of these ladies had time for themselves and their partners in the evenings.

caitlin said...

Its interesting to hear that a good time to have some quality time with your kids is in the morning!
Also thought her comment about sharing a babysitter was interesting- maybe an option for those that can't afford a nanny and childcare is hard to find?

Ann said...

I am a stay at home mom to two school age boys. I have loved this series but what I have found so enlightening is the comments. The issue of life balance for women is such a complicated topic. I realize now that if your job is outside the home or in the home providing child care for your child you have little time for yourself. It seems that all women are trying to do the best they can and all are making sacrifices. As I said I am a stay at home mom. I love it. I am very thankful that our family was able to make it work for one parent to be home. My children have thrived with me home. But that is not to say they would not have thrived in daycare, with a nanny, of if my husband was the person providing their child care. They would have. See, it is complicated. I have been blessed to stay home but I have sacrificed. I have time with my children in spades. I volunteer at school and could tell you the names of all my kids classmates and probably their reading levels. That is one of the benefits of being home with my kids. But I did sacrifice my economic stability for this time with my children. I worry all the time about something happening to my husband. How would I be able to get back in the job market at this point (11 years out) to make enough money to support us and get insurance? I don't know how to get back in. I will also tell you a secret, I hate house work. But I am home and I feel that is part of my responsibility so I do it.

I know my post is tangential to your original topic of workinging in office person life balance but all these comments really started me thinking on my balance and interested in the choices we all make in life to make it work.

Thanks to these women for putting it out there to start a discussion.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone here said Moms have to stay home and give up their jobs. But I hate to see what these kids will be like when they get in to high school!? This is a great series but people are just acting like everything is peachy and nice. These are little young adults that need a lot of care and attention, from their PARENTS.


Also the comment, how women shouldn't stay home because men don't having to? I thought we as women where do comparing ourselves to men. Raising kids is both Dad's and Mom's responsibility. There should be a balance so, the Child has Support and Love. No one said that women have to stay at home. People are asking, if these adults should place their priorities on their kids as much as they place them no their careers. Its up to us to decide do you see yourself as a parent or a career women/men. Its seems to me, some of these Parents (women and men) have excessive schedules and put their careers first not their children.

Anonymous said...

Thanks CanadianJane, totaly agree!

Anonymous said...

Thought-provoking series. Can't wait for the next series you do!

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I also found this series disappointing. I would have liked to hear perspectives from a range of perspectives. So few of us can afford dinners out, cleaning services let alone Nannies that work 60h weeks, as as a previous poster mentioned.

Gaby put it well, the element that allowed these women to have "balance" is money.

I would have liked to have heard from a broader scope of women. Something about this series read like lifestyle marketing...

Jacinta

Tinyo said...

Some of these series make me wonder about peoples productivity within the working day ? I have a very demanding job but I get what needs to be done finished in a 9 to 6 working day by working through lunch! And never have to work nights or evenings, and I'm told I am outstanding at my job ...... I just can't fathom what these jobs entail? I manage 50 million worth of business for our company and have about 30 key customers but can't imagine why working from home at night is necessary. I also do it without a nanny or cleaner so I too would appreciate some stories of mothers who do actually manage these things themselves.

Anonymous said...

So in summary, to be a career woman - let me rephrase that: to be a SUCCESSFUL career woman - you have to be a part-time mom. Because let's face it: seeing your kid for 2, 3, 4 - maaaybe 5 - hours a day, is just NOT a lot of time. And that blows, because all of these mothers obviously love their kids to bits but are too busy keeping everything afloat to carve out more time for them. Something's gotta give.

Kel said...

I have a smile on my face reading this interview - it appears to be the epitome of a balanced life, complete with all the seemingly organized chaos that inevitably comes with it. As I read through the comments I was appalled, though, at the audacity of questioning how someone's child would turn out! There is nothing more personal than being a parent, I just think that is completely inappropriate and quite frankly downright rude. Bravo to Molly and the other ladies for having the courage to put something so intensely personal - your glories and flaws as a mother, wife and woman - out there for others to enjoy. I always believed the when my son was born he was getting on board with a family already established,not coming into the world to be the center of it, and I love reading about other moms - working or other - doing the same thing. I believe our children will be better for it!

Anonymous said...

This series offers a very shallow approach to balancing work and family. And I agree with the commenter that said this reads like a lifestyle mag: everything is so fun and peachy, with scooter rides and terrific nannies, lazy mornings and a glass of wine in the evenings. All of the women featured here have money to pay for nannies, they're all white, and frankly, they see their kids very little. Where are the blacks? Where are the divorcees? Even: where are the mothers of three, four kids? How about mothers of teens who can offer a broader perspective as the impact their choice has had over their kids and families?
As a regular reader of your blog, and as a mother who's been facing these challenges head front all the time, honestly - I'm disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I am beyond disappointed with this series. I agree with the comments. This reads like a glossy lifestyle magazine. Meh. Not helpful for regular normal looking people with real problems.

Michele said...

Hi Jo! Thank you for this series. I enjoy your blog so much, and as a full time working mom living in NYC I read these posts eagerly. All seem like great women and I thank them for sharing there stories. Since you asked for feedback, I thought I'd share a few things I'd love to see more about, in case you do future posts.

One thing I noticed is that these women all seem to have "made it" in the jobs they want. Not even just financially (although there is that too), but I think there are lots of parents out there who are still finding their way in their careers. Maybe they aren't in the jobs they want to be in; maybe they aren't even sure yet what they honestly want to do. My husband and I are very much mid-level in our jobs and not totally established in our careers (we had our now 2-year-old boy in our late 20s).

Anyway, here are some things I and I imagine other moms like me might be interested in for future features!

Full-time nannies in our area are quite expensive, so we use daycare, and we love our daycare, but it comes with a whole host of issues to address. For one, the hours are what they are. I must pick up my son every day at the same time. Doors close at 6! So I always feel like I am hauling ass to get out of work and back to Brooklyn to get him. Tips on how to extricate yourself from work on time, anyone?

Also, when your child is sick, he can't go to daycare! (Ours is very strict about illness rules.) And he ALWAYS gets sick, with all the other germy little stinkbugs he's hanging out with all day. So there's the issue of the unexpected "Aaaaagh, my kid is puking and I have no childcare!" I would love to know how other people handle this.

When both spouses are still getting established in their careers, I have found that it is also very tough to decide whose career gets prioritized. For example, my husband works long hours, and is also in grad school, whereas I have been in my job for longer and have more flexibility (though I make less money). That means usually we need to prioritize his job, and I am the one who picks my son up every night, feeds him, and does the whole bath/bed routine -- before my husband gets home. This is the hardest part to juggle, and we try to work together to make sure my husband is getting enough time with our little boy, I am getting enough time at work, and nobody is getting burned out, but it's hard! Again, would love to hear what others do when there's conflict between spouses' jobs.

Sorry this is so long, but I hope it's helpful in inspiring fodder for future series on work/life...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry some of the comments are so harsh. It is true that I haven't recognized 'myself' yet in the series. Then again I'm a bit of a mess, without a satisfying career, and still considering the plunge into childrearing. As I think about starting a family, I see a couple of options regarding money and childcare:

a) rely on a high-powered job for (personal fulfillment and) the money to pay for childcare

or

b) rely on a close network of family (grandparents!) and friends to help

I worry because I don't have either of these. I would love to hear more about others, like me, who don't have a straightforward relationship with their own parents. What if you can't trust them to be sufficiently loving with your children, even if they wish to be?

Terra said...

I loved your series last year but love this one even more! Great job showing that it is possible to have a happy family and a successful career too.

Banyan city girl said...

To canadian Jane

So are all 'first and foremost' moms only wives, daughters, sisters and friends 'in their spare time'? Career can be as much a part of a woman's identity as relationships are, and balance is an active thing which each person achieves for their own set of priorities, not some static plateau that everyone sits on.

The awesome women Jo is profiling already know this, and that is why they inspire the rest of us. I am certain I don't want to raise my children to teach them their role in life is to sacrifice themselves to the next generation. I would want them to know they can rock their lives and raise happy children.

Anonymous said...

@ Kel, your right it was rude to question how these kid will turn out! And I do apology's. However, I can only speak from personal experience. I myself had just one parent, my Mom. She wasn't a career woman. Her career took a back seat because she wanted to focus on keeping my brother and me away from trouble. If you ask me why I question these parents, maybe I was friends with Kids that had parents just like these, career oriented parents. Parents who think they can schedule parenting! The results, which I experienced, kids who got in to a lot of trouble with drug and more personal problems. Their parents, financial gave them a lot but maybe not enough emotionally and physically. My remark was rude but it comes from a place of personal experience. You really don't know whats its like to loose a friend to drug abuse. I think people should get a reality check! Parents don't have to stay home but just maybe should put their kids first.

Stefania said...

Really looking forward to the next series- it sounds like they will have less gloss, more grit?

Mad Max and Family said...

I just discovered this series - thank you! This has been on my mind since I had Max (and now we are preparing for baby number 2). I find it to be very difficult adjusting to the balancing act of you, your husband, motherhood, and work (not to mention any other things you want to do). I currently work about 7 am - 5 pm, plus time at home, so it's challenging!

-Tara
http://madmaxandfamily.blogspot.com
http://blog.chron.com/madabouttown/

Anonymous said...

i think this is an interesting series but i find it difficult to read. most of these women have nannies who take care (raise) their children. this is not to say that women shouldn't work but as a woman in her late 40's who has raised a wonderful daughter now in college i know you can't do it all well at the same time. you might fool yourself into thinking you are doing it all and make yourself feel better by saying you are self fulfilled but the time i took off from work to raise my daughter is time well spent. i don't think she would say she wished i was around less as a matter of fact i know she appreciated that i was there when she got home from school and was able to spend everyday helping her with home work or just listening to how her day was. i do believe everyone needs self fulfillment but someone has to give the time to these kids otherwise why have them. if your career is so important and having lots of money is your goal in life then you probably should think long and hard before having kids. i think as kids get older they actually need you more not less. i know my daughter probably would not be the person she is today without the time i spent with her everyday not just on weekends or at the end of the day when everyone is tired. it is kind of sad that nannies are replacing parents.....

Anonymous said...

Agree 5:41. Thank you!

Ellen said...

Thanks so much for this series, Joanna! Being a new working mom (I'm in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 Company), every day is a struggle to reach some sort of balance/semblance of sanity in my life. Most of my friends don't have children, so I really don't have anyone to talk to. Your series allowed me to breath a sigh of relief and know that it's OK to not have things figured out. Live day-by-day, I guess! Thank you so much!

If you're looking for future material, I would love a series on children & education. For instance, I'm a big advocate of public schools, but our school district (Los Angeles) is horrible. And private schools can be so expensive! Tough choices!

Anonymous said...

The comments are fascinating. I do hope you take up the suggestion that some have made of an international series. I do think in part that some of the big issues people are raising are fairly US-centric. I work in a professional job (I'm an economist), earn good money, and yet I work 9-5/6. I never work at home and I never work on weekends (OK, maybe once a year, if there is an emergency). I work with big files that involve a lot of money (as in billions), so it's not that my work is not challenging or even important. It's just that I come from a culture in which you work to live and not the opposite. When I am at work I'm focused and getting the job done (and enjoying the challenge!) so that the rest of my life is mine. If I ever have kids I'll be able to take a year of paid maternity leave for each one, at nearly 100% of my salary; all of my female colleagues have done so in the same situation (and some of my male colleagues have taken substantial parental leave as well!). I think many Americans would be gobsmacked if they truly understood some of the services and benefits available to families in many countries in Europe and even Canada, as well as the differences in attitudes towards work.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with some of the other comments that this series read like a glossy lifestyle magazine! I so love this blog, and was so disappointed with this series!

In light of the really well-written, serious, smart article in the Atlantic, this series seems so fluffy. How about taking on some of the more important issues about balancing work/family? Like how to do it when you can't afford full-time nannies & housecleaning? Who's career is prioritized? How to find a career that's flexible enough to take time off in the early stages of having a kid? What is the one thing that should be changed to make life easier for working moms? (i.e. school hours matching work hours/real maternity leave/etc...) There are SO many interesting, challenging things to discuss - but this series just felt...silly...and glossy...

Anonymous said...

I totally loved this series. These women are amazing. They may have high-powered jobs, but they face the same challenges as many woman - working, spending quality time with their children and carving out some time for themselves and their husbands. They obviously cherish their relationships and work hard. Hats off to them for juggling everything so well! They shouldn't be knocked bc they work hard and are successful. They are fantastic role models! Thank-you, Joanna.

Anonymous said...

To offer a different perspective to the discussion: my mom was a SAHM for my entire childhood. She was definitely a super-star - cooking dinner every night, volunteering at our schools, sewing our halloween costumes. I know I am lucky to have had her around all the time growing up and I am grateful for all she did for me and my siblings.

However, I am now a young professional, fresh out of grad school and attempting to start my career. I'm not married yet and no kids, so I don't have to balance much yet. But someday hopefully I will and at times I wish that I had a role model for being a professional woman. My dad is definitely a role model for being hardworking and taking pride in your job. But because my parents' marriage had extremely traditional gender roles, I don't have much of an example for being a working mother in a more egalitarian household, i.e. the woman not doing all the housework.

So my point is that my mom's contribution to my childhood was amazing, but I feel like I missed out in having a career role model. In that way, I think these women finding their own balance and fulfillment in their careers is such an amazing thing. Being a rode model in that way is valuable, just in a different way than being a SAHM. I don't think any parent can truly "win" this game, but all these women seem to be doing what works for them & their families!

Anonymous said...

I think when you decide to bring a human being into the world, you should be willing to sacrifice...period. If you have a career that does not place your family and children as a high priority, something must change. It is sad to me that we are enamored with women that want to work basically 24 hours/day and have maybe an entire 2 hours to spend with these babies that God has blessed them with. Not trying to be harsh, but I am an "older mom" and can see more clearly what I might not have been able to understand in my 20's and 30's. I truly believe that you will regret not being present in their lives...you are missing so much goodness!

Anonymous said...

I think asking them what sort of role their own mothers had would have been an interesting question. And also if it affected their decision to be a full time working mother, opposed to one that solely raises their own children.

Anonymous said...

@11:00pm
I am 26 and stay at home with my almost 3yr old daughter. I fully appreciate raising her myself (with her father). It's not an age thing- its a priorities thing.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who found these posts exhausting and make parenting seem incredibly daunting? It makes me want to consider being childless or have one parent stay home at least part time. I'm tired just reading this.

Anonymous said...

@11:26 pm - no, I too found them both exhausting and daunting. And I wonder what's going to happen when the kids reach the teen years, when, ironically enough, they'll need even MORE parenting, not less.

Lynn said...

I'm not sure why people are surprised this reads like a "glossy, lifestyle magazine"... Joanna's background is writing for glossy lifestyle magazines. She's not Christiane Amanpour (I don't mean this as an insult). The tone of this blog is breezy and light, it's not the place for hard-hitting journalism. I enjoyed this look into these very privileged women's lives, but I don't think we should have the right expectations.

I live abroad, and I second the suggestion to have international profiles -- so that American women can see the support that exists (in Europe especially) for working moms and start fighting for them at home. They're really incredible.

Billie said...

All of these interviews make me somewhat think of the book "Mommy Wars." I can't quote it directly, but from memory, I believe the author wrote something along the lines that it isn't the AMOUNT of time one spends with a child (to a point I suppose) but rather being there when it matters, i.e. not missing that important school concert, school meetings, games, etc.

So I wonder, what these women and families would say to the questions posed in say, 10 years? As much attention a little one requires there are so many more things to "attend" when the child gets older.

Would love to hear from
1) parents who are in the midst of the middle and teenage years.
2) Parents who use daycare and can't afford nannies, etc.
3) One of us "normal folk" who live in middle America and have two parents who are trying to make it in their careers

Anonymous said...

I get that Jo isnt Christiane Amanpour, but then dont take on a serious issue if you cant do it in a smart, substantive way. I think it does a disservice to women in general when we are told that its so easy and glamorous to have "balance," instead of discussing the very real cultural and policy challenges that would make it easier for a woman to have it all.

Anonymous said...

Joanna seems to be doing multiple series highlighting families in different circumstances, so never fear, mamas who want to hear about women from various family situations. I am a working (part-time) Mama of 2 under 2 with a hubs that works 60+ hours/ week. There's nothing easy about being a parent. As I've read other Mama's stories & talked with other women, what I've realized is that MOST of us are just doing the best we can- to balance things juuuust so, to keep everyone happy. And it can be so tough. Some lean maybe too far one way and some another- overindulging their children, husbands, or themselves. But we're mostly all trying damn hard to make it work for our families, and that can look a MILLION different ways. This series has been encouraging to me! Though I'm quite different than these ladies, I sense a common thread here & can tell we are not all so different when it comes to wanting to love & care for our families the best way we can.

laura said...

Hi Joanna,
You can't please everyone, and certainly there are a lot of complaints here that people's demographics aren't represented. But I have to say: the biggest issue for me with this series (and one that has been repeatedly echoed in the other comments, as I hope you noticed) is how heavily you featured women who rely on full-time nannies. I think this, and maybe one other woman (?), were the only women in this series who didn't have one. As a woman who lives in the Boston area who is considering starting a family, where full-time infant childcare runs $2k+/mo (more than my rent), I would like to hear about how women with "normal", middle-class jobs make it work (read: teacher; editorial assistant, *not* editor in chief; social worker; etc). It's wonderful for your career I'm sure that you're connected with so many successful women, but this is a portrait of the 1%, not the 99%, and I'm really surprised that you didn't consider that when planning this series given how long you've been running this blog and that you must have an idea of what your readership is like. I'm disappointed.

Elisabeth said...

I just can't believe the judgmental tone of some of the comments on this series. Everyone has a right to her opinion, and it's more than OK to express disappointment, but I don't remember this level of vitriol to Joanna's last series of "work from home" moms. These working mothers -- and all of us -- are doing the best they can with what they have. If these women have more than you do -- they certainly have more than I do! -- I can understand the envy, but to bring out the dated 1970s insult of "career woman" and accuse them of neglecting their children is just plain ugly. If they have different priorities than you do, that's their choice. You're welcome to do "better" with your own kids. I, for one, am enjoying reading their perspectives even if their lives don't mirror my own. And in no way do I feel entitled to judge them for having a career that's more consuming and/or fulfilling than my own -- or even (GASP) than parenthood. Thanks, Joanna.

Anonymous said...

I find this series really depressing. Is this seriously what "having it all" looks like? Having an incredible career but working until 10pm with little breaks to see your kids and husband, and paying someone else lots and lots of money so that they can have the joy of raising your child? I don't get the appeal.

Beki said...

This is a great series, thanks Joanna. I think it is really important to have examples of women who figure out how to work and have children, especially for those of us who love their babies and their awesome careers.

As for the comments about not spending enough time with their kids: there are plenty of cases where full time SAHMs end up with screwed up kids.

Why don't we talk about the fact that it takes a village to raise a kid? What can we do to create supportive environments for our children, particularly when we live in a culture that sticks to a nuclear family model? Many other cultures share parenting--like grandparents or extended family members. Giving up your job to be at a SAHM still doesn't create a village. Perhaps daycare/nannies is our culture's answer to recreating villages!

Ail said...

Thank Jo, love the series. As a mum from Sydney, the work/life balance is a prevalent issue to mums in other parts of the world. Being a single mum without the luxury of being able to afford in home help makes it a bit tougher sometimes but I think all mums are constantly evaluating their values, priorities and that ever constant question "Am I doing enough/my best/the right thing." love your blog and love that I get to reminisce about my trips to NYC ;)

Pam said...

@linn- feel free to check out my blog
Pamsinel.blogspot.com

Kelli said...

Loved this one! So honest! I am with you on everything. I just wish my husband was around half as much as yours.

Kelli said...

I'm sorry but not all of us find parenting and raising children thrilling enough that we don't feel the need to have lives and careers of our own. I love my husband and baby but my career is what allows me to support them. I make twice what my husband does and he works way more hours than I do and I work about 80 hours a week most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I adore the time I spend with them but I also adore my job. I've arranged my daughter's sleep schedule so she wakes up around 4:30 so we spend nearly an hour together before I head into work every day. I never put her to bed unless by husband is on a business trip and I am working from home that evening and she is being fussy. Even then I usually keep the nanny on. I spend Saturday and Sunday mornings in the office and usually work on Sunday evenings at home. I also only took 1 month of maternity leave before I went back to work full time. Do you want to crucify me for that as well? But my husband and I go on date nights once a week without fail and I see my daughter every morning and spend time on the weekends with her. I wont be as junior in my job when she gets older and will be able to spend more time with her. This is the price we pay sometimes. Just because women work doesn't mean we don't have the right to procreate. Raising children comes in all different forms. My daughter isn't even 2 yet. I have time.

Dee said...

Wow, I am not a mom, and no where near close. BUT this sounds fabulous. I know Molly is balancing a lot, but she does it so well. To the point that it's encouraging for other women, like myself, to know that in the future I too can manage my time in a sufficient way.

Wonderful interview!! :)

Anonymous said...

Can't believe the anger here about not reflecting people with little money. I havent seen this come up before when posts are about $200 shoes. This isn't a budget lifestyle blog. Of course most of us readers can't afford a nanny and housekeeper and other luxuries but that doesnt mean it is inappropriate to have posts about those types of people.

Anonymous said...

I'm particularly concerned for these nannies who work such long hours. What about their work/life balance?? What a crazy two speed world we are living in. Those that work & those that service them by working for them. Overall I'm sad when reading this...

Anonymous said...

RE: Anonymous (10:33PM) - I completely understand the confusion wondering why Joanna's readers aren't up in arms about expensive shoes she posts, but who are turned off a bit by the disappointing homogeneity of this series (as another pointed out earlier in the comments - a very very narrow subset was featured here (white, wealthy, heterosexual, one child, etc). I think the annoyance with this series (versus $200 shoes - which are typically featured here as indulgences) - is that this series was portrayed by Joanna as something that we, as women, could all relate to and understand. And that is the part that was enormously frustrating - since many of her readers are not of the demographic portrayed here. And as such, the series came off as implying that one needs to have a large disposable income in order to "have it all" and that is a) untrue and b) not relatable.

Joanna, I realize (and understand) that you can't please them all. However, given that this is your livelihood and that a large part of your blog's tone/appeal is this idea of "relating to your readers" - then perhaps taking some effort to actually do that (e.g. interviewing women outside of your own friend group!) is warranted. And, I can assure you, that kind of effort and thoughtfulness would be appreciated by those who do read and visit your blog regularly.

Joy said...

I don't know what day cares you send your kids to but all of the ones we looked at would actually cost us much much more than any nanny. Especially because you generally pay nannies under the table.

Anonymous . . . nannies know what they are signing on for. I don't take anyone with children of their own or that is married. If they want to date they can do it in the evenings. I manage to have dinner and sex with my husband, surely they can do the same. I've had three nannies in my kids 8 years because we moved and then one got pregnant. We have relief babysitters too. Whatever you do, don't use a teenager. They cost a fortune these days. In my neighborhood they make at least 20 dollars an hour. I can pay foreign domestics 9 or 10.

michelle parker said...

Joanna,

I just found your blog and this series is the first thing I read. I have to say I absolutely love it. Mainly because I just had a baby in May and will be going back to work next month. My job is a high stress job with tons of long hours to keep me busy. Their strong heads and great comments is definitely making me breath a little better about going back. Keep up the great posts!

stacy said...

I COMPLETELY agree with Elisabeth at 2:20. We are all different with different needs and different choices that we have made to do the best that we can for our families. Some of these commenters need to get a grip with the nasty, judgemental tone. No one has it all, no one is better, and no one has all the answers to being an amazing parent. I have a feeling the children of these women are going to be just fine. Dont you worry! There are children out there with far more serious problems than a mother that is working full time. Give me a break.

Lindsay Rondo said...

That's so great she works in an office with other working moms. Sounds like an ideal setup.

p.s.i loved this whole series.

Calvin Brock said...

I leave by 6pm whenever I can. Just like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg! I'm a big fan of getting home in time for dinner/bedtime and hitting the laptop with a glass of wine on the sofa. Páginas Amarillas

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