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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

My Balance: Yolanda Edwards from Martha Stewart Living

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.

100 comments:

Nerissa said...

This was a great interview. Thank you.

happygirlgo said...

A really interesting article. It can be hard to have quality time with your partner whilst juggling lots of other things! we end up just zoning out on the couch after a hard day too... Thanks Joanna x

Chelle | The Feather Den said...

An interesting read, thanks for sharing!

x Michelle | thefeatherden.net

erica said...

Thank you for featuring a mom with an older child, Joanna! Interestingly, my mom quit work when I was 11 so she could take care of me full time. She wanted to be the one fixing snacks, taking me to soccer and crew practice, etc. I know she struggled with the loss of income as well as self-esteem during her 50s when we all left for college and she felt purposeless.

Having a flexible schedule makes a huge difference. I wish school and work schedules matched up because I would hate to miss out in afterschool activities with my sons.

Jess said...

This was a great interview, and an enjoyable read. I loved all of the insight.

Ballad of Seasons said...

I don't have kids and I like her saying "I swear I would have read all the classics, been in the best shape of my life, gotten a masters, taken Spanish...". I'll keep that in mind! Thanks for this series Joanna! really fun to read!
xxx, Betül

bron @ baby space said...

Balance with the kiddos and the working is so hard! Great new series Jo :)

Claire said...

I am so glad this series exists. This was one of the most honest interviews yet. I'm only 20, but my inevitable future as a mother looms -- as does my future as (I hope) a journalist. I'd be happy if you stretched the work/life balance series into a whole month. There's nothing like seeing other peoples' lives to make you feel both reassured and inspired that no one is perfect, but we're all trying really hard.

Angry Asian said...

my stepmother is a stay at home mom, even tho all the kids are grown up. i don't think she ever spent time with me or my siblings, i never felt like she was present. in looking at how the aunts and uncles in my family raised their kids and us, time was never spent together, but i can't even tell you what the time was spent doing.

and this is why i question my lack of desire to be a mother.

alissa b said...

its so great to get insight into other people's life about their struggles with juggling life. sometimes it seems to stretch us all too thin!

love this!

alissa b
http://alissab.us

Lisa said...

You guys should download the program/app "Things". It is a "to do" list where you can tick and fine the "thing" once you are don with it. You can also store an endless amount of data under every "thing" so you can keep all the info in there. It is amazing, would never be able to work without it as I have a job where I work with so called "cases" that have an endless amount of information, numbers, dates et each.

Try it out!!

Sarah said...

Agreed with Claire - I'm SO glad you are continuing this series. With so many responsibilities constantly pulling us different directions, it's wonderful to see how other successful mom's attempt to keep it together!

Heidi said...

Thank you Yolanda and Jo for sharing - I feel like you echo my life and thoughts perfectly!

poisonwood said...

I really appreciate her honesty. It sounds like shes doing great work at work and at home!

Ann On and On... said...

Honest interviews like this one allows many women to breathe a sigh of relief...they are not alone. This is a great series...thank you.


*It looks like the second to last photo has legs, but no body on the top. Perhaps it's just a shadow/photoshop, but it made me giggle.

Shannon said...

Joanna,

This is such a great series, and I think really important to cut down on the 'mommy wars'. It's enlightening seeing how other moms make it work, we are ALL struggling, whether WAHM, SAHM, Office mom, etc. I really hope people gain some more compassion from these interviews and think less 'she has it so easy'. I know I've been guilty of that with working moms, and I've had working moms tell me that stay home is SO easy. We are all struggling to be the most moms we can be.

Also, is that a TWO NY Caftan in the second to last photo? Kind of obsessed with those! It looks so glamorous on her!

Shannon
www.11thandshannon.com

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

as a working mom I completely sympathize with this article. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I Love, love, love this series. Thank you!!! I’m working mom of two and don’t have a great support network or friends where I live currently, and I always find myself wondering how other people do it. How do they manage relationships with husbands, friends, family and the guilt that comes from missing important family milestones? I can totally relate with her struggles and lack of free time. It’s so refreshing to get a glimpse of other career minded moms out there. Thank you again!!!

nancykate said...

My son is only 9 months old, but I felt the pain of the response, "I try to pick her up one Friday a month." My husband is a teacher and has been taking our son to "Rhyme Time" at the library, swinging at the park, walks in the wagon around the neighborhood...and I get pictures of it in my inbox. It kills me. I'm interviewing for a part time job THIS AFTERNOON! Personally, my guilt and anxiety are so great, I just can't sustain this full time schedule. Best of luck to all mothers trying to find their balance.

Katherine Boothe said...

I also love this interview and this series - thank you for putting it on, Joanna!

I noticed someone mentioned their favorite list-making app in response to Yolanda big word document to-do: my favorite is workflowy.com. I promise I'm not affiliated with them at all, I just looooove my collapsible lists! You can also share lists, so in theory my partner has access to my "personal" to do list with appointments for our daughter, household stuff, etc. Unfortunately he is less list-oriented than me, so even though I feel like we do a good job sharing the actual work, I am still the keeper of what needs to be done...

American Mom in Bordeaux said...

Great interview...I love her insights. It's always hard to juggle family, work, marriage and life in general. She's so right, it helps to have supportive people in our lives! Guilt is definitely so true for us moms! I'm happy to be taking a break from the hustle/bustle of working life at the moment..and I cherish it and I see how much calmer our life is..but I also know it's not possible for everyone so there is always a juggle. Thanks for the post!

Young at Heart said...

mmm...an interesting diversion inded on this wet dank drizzley London day....many thanks!!

christi said...

So honest and illuminating. Great series + great interview! Gratitude.

www.everydayeden.com

Tracy said...

Joanna, I really love this series that you're doing! I dont have any children, yet, but love hearing empowering stories of women making everything work for them! I am a nanny, so I think my work schedule {if I choose to have one} would be flexible, but tips and suggestions from other women are always wanted and so helpful!

Tracy

Sarah said...

I am 27 and am not yet a mother, yet this series (and the last) has been so interesting and engaging to read. Even though everyone has their own way, it seems so worthwhile to be open and honest about the many different ways to live life, work, and raise a family. It's so easy to compare and compete with one another rather than to just talk openly and without judgement. There is no prescription for balancing work/family/dreams/goals/health and well-being, is there? And that's OK. It feels so much healthier to acknowledge all of our differences rather than to cast judgement on someone else's life and their choices, or wallow in jealousy because we secretly want what someone else has.

I'm with Shannon, that caftan is GORGEOUS! Yolanda looks dreamy in that photo. I want to wear that tunic all summer long and drink whatever coffee is brewing from that gorgeous espresso machine. xo

Anonymous said...

And I thought yesterday's post was depressing...

This series, while somewhat encouraging in its own right, mostly just makes me sad. Either win the lottery and be a guilt-free, in-the-moment, never-miss-a-swing-jump mom or spend your days dwelling over your constant absense. Can these really be my only options? It's enough to make me want to shake this city grime off my heels and hit suburbia, where life is cheap and my kids don't have to fight against e-mails for my attention.

Honest and hopeful,

mom-to-be.

Yazmak iyidir... said...

This is very similar with my schedule. Plus 3hrs spent on traffic, everyday. And minus a kiddo.
If she ever finds "her advice", I'd really like to hear that.

Anonymous said...

These are such great series, Joanna! Scholars of culture could use this as empirical data of female life in our times - fascinating!
What strikes me first is the amount of time we spend/struggle not to spend on the phone and in front of screens (computer, TV). Our children will show us the affect of that in time.
What strikes me second, in both interviews, is how the grass doesn't look very green at the top of the ladder. Successful women: hectic lives.
Kate

Lynn said...

Mom-to-be's comments made me laugh. It's a struggle in the 'burbs too, honey!

Love the interviews, especially the honesty of this one.

Ashlee Dearie said...

I love how honest these interviews are! She is such an accomplished lady, and I really wish she were able to spend more time at home. We all make sacrifices though!

Julia said...

Wow Yolanda has so much to juggle!

I have no kids and think I can't get anything done,

Mothers, you are amazing!

Anonymous said...

Is it weird that these series actually make me depressed and exhausted?

mosey said...

Great interview! This felt really honest which I really love.

Anonymous said...

Props to Yolanda for being superwoman but personally, I just could not live like this. I would rather have a less glamorous job and less money than be wishing there were more hours in the day and more days in the week!

I appreciate her statement that when you have kids, regardless of what you do, your plate is full. I think her plate is double full, though!

Anonymous said...

I love her answer to number eight, mostly because i'm in my early 20s and kind of feel like my life's at a tipping point.

Anonymous said...

I love this.... this tells me that I'm not the only one... great article!

Corrie Anne said...

So enjoying reading these!! No kids yet, but it's just so fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

CanadianJane said...

Interesting series, but I agree with her that Yolanda needs advice and not the other way around. Feeling guilty and "behind" all the time and wishing she could spend more time with Clara registers for me as sad and difficult. Not balanced.

To be honest, hers is probably a more realistic portrayal of the insanely busy woman who is trying to do it all and instead feels understandably overwhelmed, with no time for herself.

I hope Yolanda can find a way to let a bit of work go so that she can feel more present, to use her word.

Thanks for writing Joanna.

chic81.com said...

I don't have children yet but she just made me think with her comment about reading the classics and being in the best shape of her life (wishing she had tried to do both) before children. I need to get cracking on all that I want to accomplish before kids! This was a lovely interview, thank you for this series!

Kate said...

My mom stayed at home with us, so that's really the only frame of reference I have. I doubt I'll be able to do the same, so it's really nice to have this series! Looking forward to all of them. Thanks.

Dana said...

I love this series so much! i work full-time (though i religiously guard my evening and weekend hours to be with my almost-two-year-old son) and have struggled with finding balance in my work and home life. even putting in the baseline 40 hours a week can feel like an eternity away from my family. so i'm not sure it's an issue with a high-powered job per se.

to all those who find these stories depressing, i feel you. but the reality is that most families need two incomes to make it (mine certainly does!) and you do the best you can with the time you have. like yolanda, i try to make my evenings and weekends count. i miss my baby like crazy when i'm away from him, but in order to support my family i have to work. i don't feel guilty about this. sometimes sad, but not guilty.

Whitney | Good Grief Miss Agnes said...

Another great interview. I especially enjoyed reading about someone who is behind two great blogs and how they manage to maintain that while still working a full-time job!

Lauren Ashley said...

Great interview - we really are all in it together!

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview. In a culture where a busy schedule is worshiped and family is pushed to the side for a successful career, I can't help but wonder what those children think...

Marnie said...

I can definitely relate to this series as I am a full-time working mom of two, ages 7 and 3. I live in the Chicago suburbs and have a 2+ hour commute. My job is definitely not as glamorous as some of these moms' jobs, but I have chosen to continue working after having children because at this point, even with a nanny, we still come out ahead and can afford to do more things when we are all together...dinners out, movies, vacations, trips to museums/the zoo, etc. Luckily for me, the company I work for is very small and, thus, very flexible in regards to time off/sick days, so I never have to miss any important days at my childrens' schools, t-ball games, or even Dr's appointments. Everyone's situation is different, but I think we are all just trying to do what feels best for our families. I agree in that I work very hard to be fully 'present' when I am with them. Some days I am better at that than others! ;) We also have family close by to swap free babysitting for date nights with the hubby!!

Chika Gujarathi said...

When I was young, I never realized how much juggling my parents, especially my mom, had to do to make sure we were happy, safe, and entertained.

I love her comment about taking the time now to do all the things you want like learn a language. I should jump start on my French.

Love your blog Jo. Hope chicago was fun (sans that afternoon storm on sunday).

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous who thinks these posts are depressing and wonders if there are only two options,

You're right, and there IS another option!

Stop thinking you have to live in a a place like NYC or make 6 figures to be happy! Go live somewhere (like almost anywhere in the U.S that is truly rural) where a family of four can live well on $35,000 total. Vermont has a great single payer healthcare where premiums slide according to income levels. Spend less money on clothes and mortgages and more time with your kids!
The idea that we have to save millions for retirement is because we assume our kids won't want to take care of us... why is that?
Kate

Anonymous said...

11:07 brings up an excellent point: what DO these children think? we've all read the studies, seen the articles, and entered the debate at least once (if not more), but how would we react if we read the interviews of the children?

enlightened? shamed? shocked? relieved?

{debbie} said...

thanks for posting such a great interview. she nailed it on the head, "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." so true!! love this series!

Anonymous said...

I'm pregnant right now and so all of these questions are on my mind. Thanks for the series Jo!

At the same time I have to agree with some of the other posters that this post is depressing on quite a few levels -- and I'm wondering what societal pressures out there make us think that writing two blogs and having a full time job is what's required of us, and that doing so is choosing what's most important. Is that a financial thing?

I know we're supposed to be in this together -- but I imagine what it would be like to sit at my computer blogging at 6am every morning, when I should be snuggling with my family in bed. Those are the moments you can never get back and my marriage would probably really suffer from that kind of schedule day after day.

Unfortunately, this is the norm. And Yolanda's situation is most likely the result of social pressure that we are never "doing enough."

But it's also up to us to say we're not going to succumb to that pressure!

Anyway -- the article is definitely food for thought. And surely someone out there will have a problem with my "balance" too. If I even find one. :)

Anonymous said...

While I also love this series and it gets my mind going on what it will be like as a mom, I am awfully depressed that it'll never be enough. I agree with everyone discussing societal pressures and am victim to it as a 28 year old-working 2 jobs to make ends meet in Philadelphia, going back to graduate school, having a healthy relationship and training for triathlons to keep my body in shape and mind at ease.

Everyone has to find what works for them I guess....and if getting up at 6 AM to blog before your kid wakes may be it...but I hope everyone can enjoy their children when they are still young enough to want to snuggle and hang with you.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, this is so sad to me! I know it's expensive to live, I know it's normal to have both parents work these days, but why even have kids if you mostly won't be there to see them grow up? I would rather go poor and live like church mice just to give parenting my all. You only get one shot and yet you CHOOSE to keep giving your career all you have? No one will remember what job you did for a career in fifty years but my god will your job of parenting be felt generations down the track. My husband's grandparents lack of good parenting in the form of their absence is still felt in his family 80 years on. I'm alarmed by how many people have read this and felt better about their own crazy schedules and parenting. Wake up guys, you don't have to be super moms but at least be around so your kid doesn't just think you're some strange company slave that happens to live in their house.

oilandgarlic said...

A few commenters asked what do the children think with the implication is that they would probably prefer a parent (mom?) at home. I think most young children would definitely want their mom around more. However, as an adult now whose mom worked, I can honestly say that she is a great mom, truly one of the best and most caring person I know. She might have felt guilt during our childhood but we all turned out fine and happy and love her so much. My point is: You can be a great mom if you work and you can be a not-so-great mom even if you stayed home.

Micha Shaw said...

I loved this series last summer when I was pregnant, and I am even more excited for it this time around. Thank you for sharing!

Anitra Sweet said...

This series is really enlightening. I cannot help but feel a bit sad for her because she feels soooo torn. Is it possible for her to just work at Martha Stewart and drop everything else?? I know it is expensive to live but it's obvious that you are so in love with your daughter and really seem to be missing out. I think something has to give. You won't regret it! I'm sorry for your mom guilt as well but even SAHM are hard on themselves and have guilt.

Christine @Fancy Function said...

These are great to read. I'm expecting my first and it's interesting to see how others balance their life with kids.

Anonymous said...

These interviews are really interesting. I find that the work/life/husband balance is really hard too. I chose to change careers once I had my daughter and hearing all these amazing jobs gives me a longing to do something interesting that I love. Thanks for all of these great perspectives.

Erin

Anonymous said...

Not being rude or disrespectful to Yolanda, but after reading - sorry, but that doesn't sound like a balanced life to me. Wouldn't a career at Martha Stewart be rewarding enough? Life's too short, a child's life is far too precious to miss out on for a couple of blogs that are side or extra projects. I think she needs more time for herself and family.

Laura said...

as for the question, 'what would the kids think?' here's my answer...

my parents are both lawyers. my dad worked particularly long hours when i was growing up, but we all ate together every night, and he read to us, bathed us and put us (my brother and i) to bed every night so that my mother could have an hour to herself. your kids are smart...explain what you do, why it's important to you and why you love it. my parents never did the 'aw shucks, sorry kiddo' routine...they were very clear that this is how our family worked and that just like i had school/swimming/tennis they had work/occasional dinners out/sunday golf games.

My mother is a prosecutor, and i have always (even as a child) thought that it was AWESOME. my mom had (and has) a job of power, of making a difference. I remember as a kid, describing my mom's career to friends as 'putting bad guys in jail'. i was, and still am so proud of the difference she makes in her community! a previous poster said 'no one will remember your career' - that is not true. my parents careers as lawyers made them happy and fulfilled, excited about where they spent their 40 plus hours a week. my mother stayed home with us for a few years, and went back to work when we were in school. We had an awesome babysitter who we loved - stop thinking childcare is some sort of punishment for your children; they're probably having a blast!

also - make time for your marriage for goodnessakes! i remember so vividly my parents having dinner parties, going to the symphony all dressed up...it made adulthood and marriage seem exciting, not drudgery. your kids want you to be cool and interesting...they don't want parents who barely leave the house and exclusively wear sweatpants! i also think this is why they're still so happy...they never stopped doing the things they loved, and so when my brother and i grew up and away they weren't left to wonder 'what the hell do we do now?' they're still going to concerts, having dinner parties and going on trips.

i LOVE my parents and we have a great relationship and i can honestly say that on the whole i never felt abandoned or unimportant. the time we had together was appreciated, we played, did sports, went on weekends away and talked and talked and talked. but we were taught a sense of independence, and that we were to paraphrase my mother 'the best part of my life, but not the whole life'.

give your kids more credit, they will be fine.

Anonymous said...

This was an honest piece, but I think one thing may have been lost in the focus on child rearing:

Yolanda's job likely is CREATIVE and FUN and she probably loves it. Which makes it not just a paycheck and likely worth the juggle for her. Her daughter still sees her every day and is obviously loved and well cared for.

P.S. My job is somewhat of a paycheck. However, taking care of kids all.day.long can be stultifying. So I work part time and find that working outside the home at least some of the time actually makes me more present when I am home. When the kids are finally in school all day, I'll focus on finding a job I love. ; )

Jess said...

What I think is missing from the comments so far is the discussion about choosing this lifestyle not just for a second income, but for fulfillment and satisfaction! As a working mother, you do NOT have to justify your choice to work just because you need a second income. Wanting to work because you love your work is OKAY, and I actually admire it. Part of the reason I'm afraid to have kids and am putting it off is because there is so much pressure to not invest so much time and energy into work once you have kids, and I LOVE working. I have a deep passion for what I do and feel I contribute to the betterment of the world with my work, and my career will always be part of my life's purpose, not just being a parent. There are so, so many options and roads to fulfillment and happiness, and there are so many different life purposes for women; many of them may include none or little formal work that keeps them away from family. Each of these paths are justified. There is no right or wrong choice, only what makes you happy. And I enjoy reading this series because it helps illuminate how to have a work/baby balance for me and anyone else who is interested in pursuing that option and could use some examples. Whether it works or not for you, this story serves to say 'it's OKAY to work full time, plus blog, plus have a kid' for those who want to but are afraid.

dani press said...

THIS was awesome: "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..."
I am PRE-kids and often ask the advice of those older than me what they wish they knew at my age. This was so helpful. Thank you! XO.

Michelle S said...

just killing it, this woman.
www.prettydinos.com

Taylor said...

Great interview - I think this sounds like a very functional and loving family unit! Kudos to Yolanda for making it all work.

While it's important to spend time with your kids, I also think it's very important to be a strong role model. I agree with Laura that my parent's careers definitely impacted my own life for the better because I got to see how to apply one's life/career to make the world a better place. I think this is particularly important for young girls, who can see that (like Yolanda) it's possible to have an amazing career while also having dinner every night with your family. It's sad to see so many talented women, especially in the fields of science and engineering, feel that they have to choose between careers and parenting and it's even more sad to see smart young girls never even consider life outside the family unit.

Personally, I wouldn't have wanted my parents to be home all the time just to look after me and I think that some children never learn to be independent because they had overly-engaged mothers/parents.

A. Cleverly said...

Joanna, thank you so much for starting this series! As a developing professional, I'm always looking down the road to when I hope to have kids, and wondering how to get both done, since they each demand such wholehearted effort! Thank you for illuminating us on how other mothers are making it work...somehow!

Anonymous said...

I intentionally chose a job in my profession with fewer work hours before I had my daughter. This required a move to a smaller city. My daughter is now 15. I have spent much more time with her because of my choice, but I have never grown to love the city we live in and I still miss my former job. I am still not sure the tradeoff was worth it...these choices are hard.

Kelly H. said...

I 100% agree with Laura's comment above. The saddest part of this interview was when she said that her husband really wants to go on a vacation with just her and she can't bring herself to do it. My parents would go away by themselves for 1-2 weeks every few years, and it made them happier and my siblings and I picked up on that. Plus, we got to stay with the grandparents who spoiled us rotten so it was a win win. (Grandparents did not live in the same state so it was kind of like a trip for us too!)

Trish said...

What an honest interview. Thanks for sharing. Parenting is a great balancing act and it's always interesting to hear how other parents swing it.

Sara R said...

Hmm, I'm sort of with those above who said this series is a bit depressing. And scary. I'm the mother of a 5 month old and I'll be starting work with a law firm next year. My husband works full time, and hearing that the only way someone can handle a career is because her husband works freelance - well that means we're pretty much SOL. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

This is so very sad. It makes me think that it is almost impossible to juggle it all.
On the other hand, why do you have to do so much? Why do women feel they have to accomplish so much? One,full time job is not enough?
I am an European living in the U.S and i am watching women here struggle so much with balancing jobs and motherhood. They want so much, they are so ambitious and so rarely happy.

Erica E said...

Great series Joanna :) I'm a single working mother of 2 and it's so hard to juggle everything and making sure you have enough time to spend quality time with the kids. i struggle with this all the time. i want them to know that i'm there even when i'm not.
BTW do Yolanda and Jen husbands have brothers?! both their husbands like to do laundry =)

Sarah H. said...

Joanna, I love your blog, and I love that these women are willing to put there lives and feelings out there for the sake of fostering discussion and trading advice. I've been a work-from-home mom since my daughter (now 7) was very little, and so I very much identified with the women that you profiled in your last series. Next week, I will starting my first office-setting job in over 8 years, joining these women in their efforts to find balance between working not-from-home and family life/marriage, so the timing of this series is really great for me, and I'm eagerly reading, looking for insights on what will be changing for me and my family in the coming weeks, months. I know that having school-age kids is different from those with little ones, since school hours account for the bulk of working hours during 9 months of the year, but I'm eager to hear how these women (especially those that don't have hubbys with flexible jobs...) handle snow days, sick kids, and all that little stuff that requires someone to be home. I really do believe that every family and financial situation and patchwork of childcare/support network is so different, but that all of us as parents can learn from these women, even if our own situations are really different. Thanks to you and to all of these gals for the honesty! And I also feel that it's ok for moms and dads to want both family and career and to want the financial security that, for some families, is only achieved when both parents work.

Sarah H. said...

Oh...and PS Just a note on daycare...When my husband and I let our 7 year old know that she would be going to a summer day camp for the last 5 weeks of summer because of my new job, her reaction was "Awesome!! When do I get to start going!" So not every youngster is apprehensive about time away from mom (or dad) and some kids really do revel in the chance to stay busy and stay around friends in out-of-the-house settings. A bit of a blow to my mommy ego, but so grateful for the reaction, nonetheless...

Katie said...

Joanna,
This series is so so interesting. I'm a recent college grad (22 years old) making my way into the working world and envision myself being a mother and having a successful career. I love reading these interviews, especially on the heels of the Atlantic article (Why Women Can't Have It All). It's interesting to read how women try to balance all the different parts of their lives, and I am taking notes. Thanks so much, it is helpful even for a young woman who is a long ways off from marriage and kids.

Alisha E. said...

I love these honest interviews and reading about what others have done to find balance. Even though my career path has nothing in common with the interviewees, the challenges of motherhood are universal.
Before we had a baby, I switched jobs to something part-time and less stressful. At first, I really struggled with my "sacrifice". I loved my prior job, but the hours were terrible. After having our babe, I considered staying home (how could I let a stranger raise my child?!), but have actually loved the balance our family has when I work part-time. I didn't fully realize the gratification I received from my new job until I was on maternity leave. It definitely is easier to go to work because we have great daycare (although it's expensive, its nothing like the crazy costs others have referenced). For me, working definitely makes me a better Mom and wife, I feel much more engaged during my time with family when I'm not home every day. I really think you just have to figure out what works best for your family.

Holly said...

This blog always hits just the right spot. I don't have kids and as a young professional always feel like I could never have a family and do my job at the same time. This is so so so comforting to read of other women who ARE doing it, even if they don't have it all figured out.

I've asked female senior leadership at my company how they managed to raise their kids while doing all of the things our job demand and they always respond with some BS, super sunny response like, "We just make it work. We use Skype at night, etc." and it makes me all the more sure I want to quit. This series doesn't change the fact that my job in particular is not ideal for having a small family but that doesn't rule out all other jobs as well.

Jo - as always - thank you!

Anonymous said...

I think this woman sounds amazing actually! We raise our daughters to be what they want - a doctor, a teacher, a scientist. And these educated, creative women are contributing their talents by pursuing a career as well as finding stimulation and fulfillment. She sounds as if she has a pretty good balance to me. She spends each morning and evening with her daughter and every weekend. Other than that, her daughter is with her dad, in an activity or with a nice babysitter. It is hectic and quite a juggle, but what an inspiration and role model for her daughter and the rest of us!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't want this series to go away - ever. I am a hard working 31 year old mom of 1 toddler and pregnant with my second baby. I always am wondering how I can do this better, whether other moms are feeling the same way, how do I carve in 'me' time, how to help my marriage - and all of this helps. Joanna - how about you do this quartlerly or at least twice a year?!?! PLEASE?!? -Laura

Anonymous said...

You said it, sister - so hard to shut off the phone or computer! I find that one almost impossible...

Annie said...

Yolanda - who is making time for you?
You seem so anxious that everyone else is happy and having their needs met. Is there nothing you could drop? Blogs are nice....but you could shelve that for a bit. Travel posts...go on. Have a clear out. Remember: nobody will die if you do.
It's just stuff.

Shannon said...

Thank you Jess! The comments that kept referring to her situation as 'depressing' are thinking only of their own personal situations and wants and desires. I was a stay at home mom who became very depressed at the thought of never working. I needed that creative adult interaction. So I started my blog and got a work at home job. Some people are just wired differently. And I can tell you, that I am SO much happier being busy all the time, than the long, endless days of staying home and being bored. I tried to get enjoyment from the swings, and the library, and story time, but it just wasn't for me.

The really powerful thing about these interviews is seeing how DIFFERENT we all are, but are still managing to be mothers. I would love to see the next series be about HAPPY stay at home mothers in the suburbs or rural areas, because I can tell you ,they struggle in different ways.

tkl said...

A few Thoughts:

To those wondering “what do the children think” I can answer this: Growing up both of my parents worked and my mother provided the primary income for our family. She was an executive in the state government, she worked long hours and took lots of business trips but she also made it home for dinner almost every night. I grew up feeling extremely proud of my mother and she provided me with an amazing example of how a woman can nurture both a family and a career. As an adult I still look to my mother for professional advice and advice about work/life balance.

I am now a professional with a 2-year old son. I work in a profession in which we are typically expected to work long hours, but I have been fortunate to find a firm that values work/life balance. After my son was born I cut my hours slightly, but there are still weeks when I work at night after he goes to bed or have to put in time on a weekend. I have had to become MUCH more efficient with my time (especially when I was pumping). It is challenging and like many readers I always wish I had more time in my week to accomplish more at work and to see more of my family. But you know what? Rather than finding this depressing, I find it inspiring! I think it’s great that we love our lives so much that we want more.

And for those readers who don’t understand how I can leave my son every day – I would like to say that it is hard, and of course I miss him, but I also feel that our time together is really high quality. And I am not just nurturing my career for myself – not only does my family need my income, I also hope that as my son grows older his curiosity about my career becomes a part of our relationship and that he is as proud of me as I am of my own mother. I also that he learns from me the importance of encouraging woman to pursue their dreams (and the importance of accommodating their needs as mothers in the workforce).

Anonymous said...

Laura - THANK YOU!

Michelle

Elisheva said...

I thought Yolandas honesty was refreshing - she was so open about her guilty feelings, which I felt made her all the more relatable.
I love it when she said everyones plate is full - as a mother of two I find myself glancing over at people with more children than me, who seem to be getting a lot more done, and that makes me feel horrible:)
I don't think someone who works that hard is doing it b/c of social pressure. It seems to me that she has found things to do that she loves, and is passionate about her work. That's great!

Jen | Our Happy Family said...

I am in love with this series! It's so great to hear what works and doesn't from other moms... we're all different but we can get ideas and inspiration! My favorite from this was that it doesn't matter what you're doing as a parent, your plate is full! So true.

Jody said...

There are a million ways to be a great mother.

That's all. ;)

crislin said...

I am so impressed with Yolanda's honesty- This interview rings so true. Before having my 1 1/2 year old daughter I had such a different life. I'm still trying to come to terms with my desires and choices and hearing different stories helps to put things into perspective. Thank you Joanna & Yolanda- I have been following both your blogs for some time but this is the first time I've been compelled to write. Great job.

Kimberly L said...

It was so great to see this post - I feel as though I have known this name for years - LOVE COOKIE - LOVE MOMFILTER - but to see photos and put a face with name and then to read her answers - I really enjoyed it - thanks!

I agree with Yolanda, each sip is MY TIME...My sauvignon blanc time, my presseco time!

I do understand the anxiety of leaving your child to go on vacation with a husband - but it does get better and easier each time. The children get to have special time and the parents need to remember how they were together before kids.

Thanks for a great read Joanna!

Jillian Anderson said...

I really love this series so far. I am only a junior in college but I think all of these interviews have been so applicable to my hopeful future. I plan to go to medical school to become a physician, but oftentimes find myself worrying about how that would work raising a family. All these women, and and also my own incredible working mom, have shown me how to make family a priority.

Any chance you could feature physicians who are mothers and wives? I would love to read that and gain insight from that part of the working world!

Anonymous said...

I'm appreciating the glimpses of different women's family lives and the attempt for balance. Can we have it all? Not all the time it seems. Yolanda eloquently describes the craziness of motherhood and having a high octane career. BUT i have to say, as (a now hopefully wiser, older) mother with now two preteen children, I make a conscious effort now to make the time to do things that bring me joy and make me complete. Not saying that my kids aren't one of my hightest priorities, but I think I've come to realize that my children need to see me as a person with needs too.

Curious to see how fathers in this generation feel about balancing, now that fathers seem to be more involved in child-rearing. Do they face more pressures and anxiety over more mounting responsibilites, or do we as mothers place that pressure on ourselves?

Nataša said...

Hi Joanna

a great series again! It would be interesting if you interviewed women from different countries because work schedules tend to differ a lot. In Slovenia, for example, we have a very different lifestyle than in the USA. I don't know any stay-at-home moms, all women work, we don't have nannies and we definitely don't work such long hours so you'll see everyone out having coffee, running, cycling and spending time with their families already at 3 pm or sooner. Americans visiting always commment on how great the quality of life is here regarding personal/family life. However, as a freelance translator and a mom of 2 girls (5 and 2), I do get really stressed because I like working in the afternoons (I'm not a morning person) but there's no flexibility whatsoever. I have to bring the kids to the kindergarten by 8 am at the latest and when I pick them up at 4 pm, I'm almost the last parent there and all other kids have already gone home. It can be frustrating and it evokes lots of guilty feelings sometimes ...

anyway, thanks for the interviews, they're great!

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Isabella | THE PILE OF STYLE said...

this is a very cute combination, and great photos. keep on with good work :)

Liliana said...

We shouldnt be so critical of each other. My mother worked a long day when I was little. I had to get myself up and ready for school starting at the age of eight. My older brother and I would walk to and from school together. When I got into high school I started helping make dinner for the family when I got home. While ours was a financial need, if Yolanda feels the desire to write blogs, that is her choice. I remember wishing my mom could come on field trips and such, but also understanding that she had to work. Now that I'm older I'm super grateful for all of her hard work and sacrifice. I feel lucky that I get to stay home with my baby, but think my mom did the best she could and don't resent her for anything. Yolanda, you are doing a fantastic job! Jo, love the series!

Anonymous said...

Laura, Jess, Taylor, and TKL

+100!

-Diane

angharad said...

Soooo thought-provoking. I am not a mother yet, but my mum stayed at home to care for my brothers and sisters and me throughout our childhood. The security and sense of 'permanence' it gave me - to know my mother would always be home at the end of the school day, or if I was sick - meant the world to me growing up. BUT... (and it's a big but)... I feel my mother didn't get to have the career that she deserved because of the choices she made, and I think that she would agree with me in saying that her self-esteem suffered when we were all grown up and gone, and she realised she hadn't made as much use of her potential as some of her friends. I will NEVER be ungrateful to her for giving us such a secure and amazing childhood, but I do feel guilt, as an adult, because of all the possibilities she missed out on.

So thanks for this amazing series, Jo. But does anyone else think this isn't just a modern problem? I've just turned 30, and I worry every day about the fact my mother made choices for her family, instead of making choices for herself. This stuff doesn't end when kids turn 18!

I just admire the honesty of the women in this series so much, and salute them for doing the absolute best they can.

Jinelle DeJesus said...

Gosh, thank you SO much for this article. I felt as if I were reading my own interview - I couldn't relate more to these answers. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one in the world!

Jessica said...

Joanna, why not some posts of moms who are not working in fashion, media, publishing, etc? How about a nurse, police officer, teacher? How about women who don't live in New York or some other major metropolitan city? How about a single mom or a same-sex couple? There are things to learn from EVERY mom from every kind of background.

You could try putting a call out to your readers with some simple questions as a screening tool to get a more diverse sample. Just a suggestion.

stephANIE {NE} said...

I'm 30 and the reality that having kids may be in my very close future is top of mind all the time! I'm loving this series and this is one of my favorite parts:

"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..."

It really helps put things in perspective that there's no reason to be in such a hurry. Thank you for that.

Chocolate and Steel said...

I LOVE this series and this interview in particular.

Regardless of your home/work situation there are times that all parents feel like they are not doing "it" right. Instead of worrying about what we're doing wrong, we should be living in that moment and enjoying it. Whether it's work related or family related. Time worrying is wasted time.


I have a career that I really love and I have two kids (1 & 6) and a husband that I really love... and some friends that I really love too. I also constantly feel pulled in many directions and am concerned I'm not devoting enough time to one thing or another. Some people are very fulfilled being a full time devoted wonderful parent. I'm not that person. My children bring me a lot of joy, but there is a part of me that is only fulfilled by the work that I do, not by raising my children.

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