Yolanda Edwards is the Executive Editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine by day; and during her off hours, she co-founded the parenting website Momfilter and writes a personal travel blog. She lives in Brooklyn with her photographer husband and their 9-year-old daughter Clara. Here's how she attempts to find balance...
1. What's your work schedule?
I work five days a week at Martha Stewart Living from 9:30 to 6 or 6:30. I work on Momfilter from about 6:10 to 7am, which is when Clara wakes up; and I work on it at night, but not more than a half hour, because I've had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, so I'm a little too sloppy. I usually get a chunk of work done on Momfilter on weekends. And I try to do a post on my travel blog around once a week.
2. How do you handle childcare?
Since Clara is in third grade, we only have to worry about after school care, and we have a great babysitter who comes three days a week and picks her up. On the fourth day she has after-school activities, and on the fifth day, her dad gets her. I try to pick her up at least one Friday a month, and I cringe as I write that—I wish it were more!
3. When do you typically hang out with your daughter?
We spend mornings together—she comes downstairs and snuggles on my lap while I drink my coffee. We always eat dinner together, which means we do eat on the late side, but it's important to me, since I don't get to see her all day. Weekends we're together all the time.
4. What do you like best about your current setup?
Since my husband is a freelance photographer, he generally gets to spend a lot of time with Clara, and he deals with the grocery shopping and dinner prep. But when he ends up working full days, I realize how beyond ridiculous my normal setup is. It's only sustainable because of his flexible schedule, and because he loves to cook and do laundry.
5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
The trickiest thing is I feel like I'm always behind, and I'm always feeling guilty. I hate that I don't get to email back everyone on time (sometimes it's six months later, it's terrible!), and I don't like feeling like I'm not present. The magic wand would give me more hours in the day and an extra day in the week. The closest I come to that is the in-flight internet flying across country, when I get about five hours of uninterrupted internet time to do research, writing and correspondence.
6. How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?
It's very challenging. He likes to watch a lot of TV, and considers quality-together time to be sitting next to each other on the couch. He would like us to have more alone time—as in traveling together without our daughter...we've only ever left her for three days at a time, and it was a car road trip. He has fantasies of flying far away and spending a week together, and it isn't that I don't want to be with him, in a beautiful location, it's just that I can't imagine not worrying about and missing Clara so much that I'd ruin the trip. I am very aware of how much time I spend on the computer, so when he walks into a room, I make big efforts to stop working and be more engaged. I definitely don't talk on the phone at home, ever, since that would cut into our together time.
7. Do you have any time for yourself?
Not so much right now. I probably take a shower that is three minutes longer than it should be—that's where I like to zone out. I am trying to start running, which feels a little bit like time for me. And the ten minutes of reading the paper, while the coffee is brewing, before I get on the computer, is my time. I'll go out on a limb here—isn't that why alochol is so big with parents—that each sip is "me-time"?!
8. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?
I think that no matter what you have on your plate, when you're a parent, it's always full. It doesn't matter if you work crazy hours in an office, don't have an office job—your plate is full. If I only knew what I know now, back before we had kids. I swear I would have read all the classics, been in the best shape of my life, gotten a masters, taken Spanish...
9. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
I think I need advice! My new approach is to cut and paste info from my emails—all the people I need to get back to, and the tasks I need to accomplish—and put it all into one big word document and print it out. Then, I have all my to-dos in one place, and even if its a 15-page document, I get the big satisfaction of crossing things off the list as I accomplish them.
I think we all need to give ourselves a break and not beat ourselves up. The hardest thing is to be present—when there's a smart phone in your pocket that's sending you messages while you're pushing your kid on the swing or they're calling "Look, Mom!" and you realize you're so not looking. When the three of us are together, and have no plans to meet anyone, I try to leave the phone at home, and just bring the camera.
Thank you so much, Yolanda!
P.S. Last summer's first balance series about moms who work from home.