So far in the Monday's Moms series, we've met two full- time working moms, Amy & Shannon, but today, allow me to introduce Erica who made the tough choice to transition out of her full time job after having kids. In her interview, she shares some of her behind-the-scenes struggles with work/home life that I think really hit home for a lot of moms of this generation.
I met Erica during a transition phase in my own business between Hawaii and Charlottesville, working part-time in Winchester, VA. She brought her adorable girls in for a mini session event I held at the Winchester Book Gallery, (read the post about it here) and we had a blast playing together, reading stories, and coloring pictures of the Hungry Hungry Caterpillar.
I am just in love with this woman's honesty, dedication, and positive spirit. It is so easy to see how her personality and dedication helped her to thrive in her entrepreneurial career but also, how much she dearly loves her girls.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
We have three kids. Our first son was stillborn and now we are blessed to have two beautiful girls, ages 3 and 4 1/2.
What is your job? Are you full-time/part-time/whenever-you-get-time/or other!?
Prior to having kids I worked in marketing communications and graphic design. I spent the first 7 years of my career working in web design and then corporate marketing communications along with working on my Master's degree. As I was completing my degree I realized I wasn't doing what I really loved which is design and branding, so I decided to start my own business Cabana Blue Creative. It was great to get out there in the community and network with other local business owners who became clients and friends.
After my oldest daughter was born I was still able to work out of my home office while she napped and went to daycare two mornings a week, but when my youngest was born it became a lot more difficult to juggle client meetings, work time and family responsibilities. I tried it for a while, but the late nights of working were catching up with me and I was just feeling like I wasn't doing my best at anything. For me and for our family it made more sense to put my career aside for now and focus on being a mom.
What factors influenced the decision about your working lifestyle?
Since I was already working for myself before I had kids I went into parenting with a flexible schedule, so that part was easy. Thankfully we found a great half day preschool which still allowed me to work in the beginning. Although my husband and I both have very close families, we don't live near family so finding good childcare was really important. We also have a daughter with severe food allergies so that was another factor that played a role in my being at home with the girls vs sending them to full day daycare and going back to work full time.
What are some challenges (if any) you face with other moms?
I am lucky to have some amazing and supportive mom friends. I know I can always count on them and never feel like they are judging me. We have learned to be moms together so we have helped each other a lot along the way. They can come over when my house is a mess and we are all still in pjs and they get it because we all have those days.
I think the biggest issues moms face with each other is when we try to compare ourselves, our lives, our kids. There is no such thing as a perfect life and especially not a perfect parent or child. We all struggle at times. Being a mom is the best and hardest job I have ever had, and I believe that is true whether you work full time, part time or stay at home. We are all just trying to do the best we can and most of us are doing that with too little sleep and too much stress. I also think social media can make moms feel bad about themselves, but we have to remember that we usually don't see the tantrums, torn apart playrooms and dishes piled up in the sink on our news feeds. The best thing we can do is just be kind to each other.
What do you feel you have to sacrifice, if anything, in order to have the working lifestyle you do?
Some days my sanity! Haha, no but seriously being with my kids full time makes little everyday tasks a little challenging. Going to dr appts and running errands means taking two little ones along and that can go really well or be a disaster depending on their moods that day. My best friend is living in Asia temporarily and obviously I can't just take off to go visit her there, so instead we get really short visits with each other when she is in the US, usually with my kids. Luckily that is a sacrifice she understands.
And yes I have had to sacrifice my career, but for now I am ok with that.
What challenges do you face personally with your work decision?
Don't get me wrong, with two young girls and all of the daily sibling fights and tantrums, I have definitely had moments where being at work sounds really, really nice. I have still been able to work on projects here and there. Right now I am loving my time with my girls and I wouldn't trade it, but it was a challenge for me to accept that I couldn't work from home AND take care of my family and our house. When you work from home there is always a distraction. I found that to be true even before having kids. But once you have kids it completely changes, someone always needs you and two kids never seem to nap at the same time. It just meant a lot of really late nights, and that doesn't mesh well with kids who get up with the sun and babies who are up half the night. I think all moms struggle with wanting to do it all, but I had to let that idea go and accept that I couldn't.
How do you find balance between family time and work or social time?
Finding time to myself, whether that is alone time or date nights with my husband or time with girlfriends...that is definitely my biggest struggle as a mom. Since we don't live near our families we always have to have one or two reliable sitters to depend on. And thankfully my husband is great about those nights when I just need to get out when he gets home from work, even if it's just a trip to the grocery store alone. There are times that my husband travels for work a lot and at those times I definitely utilize sitters. The girls and I also try to spend a lot of time during the day with friends so that's where I fit in most of my social time with my girlfriends...in between chasing after our kids.
What is your favorite part of the day?
I always love the quiet time after the kids are asleep, because most days that is the only quiet time in the house and the only time that my husband and I can have an uninterrupted conversation. But I also love the middle of the days when my girls and I are out doing a fun activity or just hanging out with friends, and of course when my husband gets home from work and they can have some playtime with daddy.
What do you like most about your work lifestyle decision and how if affects your family?
Honestly I love spending my days with my girls, even when we are driving each other crazy and no one wants to get dressed or listen to me (which is daily). And with my daughter's allergy I really appreciate that I am able to be very involved with her school and activities so we can work together to keep her safe. At the end of the day I know I am blessed to have this time with them while they are little.
What do you like most about being a mom?
After losing our first, I am just so thankful to be a mom to these little girls. It makes you realize what a true miracle it is. The best thing is when my kids are playing together, using their imaginations and getting along, and of course when they snuggle up with me and say "I love you mommy". Those moments make it all worth it.