20+ Moms On Balancing Motherhood & Work

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
10:00 am
01/23/17

ELIZA KENAN, PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARIA DEL RIO

There’s no doubt that we live in an era where moms are itching to get back to work sooner than ever after baby comes. But, heading back to our jobs, whether it’s part-time, full-time, or even working from home, while being a round-the-clock parent in most definitely a balancing act. From artists and musicians to entrepreneurs and those at the peak of the corporate ladder, we’ve had the privilege to sit down with an incredible amount of working mothers and ask them: How do you balance motherhood and work? So, if you want to hear just how they do it, read below as 20+ mom-bosses chime in.

Lisa Moir, mother to 9-year-old son Finn Fox and 2-year-old daughter James.
“Finding ways to work smarter, not harder, as a freelancer, has been the true key to finding a better balance between my home life and work life. It took some time, learning from mistakes, resourcefulness, hiring support when I needed it, a little extra planning, and working in blocks of time so I can get larger chunks accomplished. I instituted my own policy that I check emails only certain times a day unless it’s vital to a project, so that I’m at my most efficient. Efficiency is key in order to keep some time, not only for Finn, but to give myself a little break, once a week, for a massage or a hike or anything that will keep my own cup full so that I can continue to fill his.”

Elizabeth Antonia, mother to 7-year-old daughter Elodie and 4-year-old daughter Francesca.
“The only thing that creates a sense of balance is keeping a routine during the week. If everyone knows what the daily rhythms are, we are all a lot more calm. Francesca is not in pre-school full time, so I have her home some days and Elodie is in 2nd grade. I do not have a nanny or extra childcare. I pick Elodie up from school every day, so my work day is fast and furious. I want to at least do this until Francesca starts Kindergarten in two years and our family is sacrificing to make that happen. I stay up late a lot and when I am on set, I have to get a sitter.”

Megan Papay, mother to 9-year-old daughter Piper.
“When we decided to start Freda, I realized that I needed to be okay with Piper being with a sitter during the day. There were growing pains and guilt with this decision, but over time it was evident that she is okay, I love what I do, and I am proud of what I do. She is seeing me at my happiest, she is seeing me work hard, she sees me celebrate wins, problem solve, work with others, and create something I am really passionate about. I realized that this is a gift to her and it helps balance me not always being there with her. Now that she is older she comes to the office from 3-6 after school. She does homework, art projects, sorts shoes, etc. and I love having her there. At home we ‘shut off’ from 6-8 to focus on dinner, board games, homework, and reading. At the moment, everything is working pretty seamlessly.”

Christine Alcalay, mother to Thy-Lan, 13, Simone, 8, and Liem, 2.
“This is the most difficult part for me. I know that my work makes me a better mother and vice versa. Mindfulness is what I try to achieve in all the different aspects of my life. I try not to wear too many hats at once, but instead, remove one hat before putting on another. Trying to avoid the overlapping of all the aspects of life is almost impossible, but I find the key is to focus attention on what is the most pressing. When I feel pressured or pulled in many directions, I always ask myself what would matter most in five years. The answer becomes quite clear—my balance comes from the happiness of my family and my accomplishments long term.”

Anine Bing, mother to 5-year-old daughter Bianca and 3-year-old son Benjamin.
“I’m not sure there is this ‘perfect balance’ that we’re all striving for. However, I’ve learned to be more focused when I’m at work and be present when I’m with my kids. Running your own business means that you’re never completely off, but it also means that you can schedule your own agenda, which helps.”

Heidi Merrick, mother to 6-year-old daughter Hiver and 2-year-old son Alfie.
“With constant attention to both.”

Mo Clancy, mother to 7-year-old son Magellan.
“Honestly, it’s not easy and I don’t always balance it that well. But every day I get up and try to do the best I can. As long as I always put Magellan as the priority, I can do it. Two things that really help are 1.) Planning—I sit down on Sunday nights and really plan out my week and time. 2.) Rituals—Magellan and I have specific times each week, whether it’s me going to his swim lesson or Friday night slumber party, that we do every week. I never miss them.”

Jenni Kayne, mother to Tanner and Ripley.
“I make a conscious decision to balance my time. When I’m home with the kids, my phone is away and my laptop is closed so I can really be present.”

Angela Lindvall, mother to 14-year-old son Dakota and 11-year-old son Sebastian.
“It took a while to find peace in it. I always wanted to be a mom, and didn’t want to jeopardize my involvement and relationship with my boys from making work #1. It’s a challenge. I learned that fear holds us back and that ultimately following our heart, we are always taken care of. It’s just about finding the right balance, budget, where we focus our energy, and what it is that truly makes us happy. I feel I have. As soon as I surrendered and trusted, things seem to fall into place. I certainly still have growth and challenges, it’s an ongoing process. But it’s all a part of growth and worth it.”

Karen Mordechai, mother to 5-year-old daughter Sophia.
“Total work in progress, but one thing I’ve learned to do is to include Sophia in my work. She just loves it. She loves food and cooking, and going to markets with me. I’ve even see her shoot her food on my phone and she’s been really into Julia Child videos.”

Shiva Rose, mother to daughters Colette and Charlotte.
“I try to shut down work after 4pm, so I can make dinner with my girls and be present.”

Carolyn Murphy, mother to 16-year-old daughter Dylan.
“It takes a village. Like most working mothers, I have to have help and create boundaries. I wouldn’t say my industry was always understanding of this, but I it helps having an agent that has children herself.”

Amanda Chantal Bacon, mother to 5-year-old son Rohan.
“Just thinking about balance is stressful in itself. I try to embrace what each day brings. Some days I’m fully present, others I can’t get anything done. I no longer have any expectations and just roll with it. I find comfort and balance in that.”

Temi Adamolekun, mother to 3-year-old son Rayo.
“Like most mums I know, it’s an ongoing process trying to figure that one out. Balance is an elusive ideal, so I just do the best I can to enjoy the flexibility of working for myself and be present with Rayo when I’m with him. Rayo goes to bed relatively early (6:30), so that provides me a window of time to catch up on work before Tobi gets home.”

Claire Oswalt, mother to sons, 4-year-old Ozzie and 1-year-old Hagen.
“Oh, hell yeah. This is probably the toughest and most emotion-evoking question for me to answer. Working while mothering children is an amateur circus act of spinning plates. I always have an eye on every plate, making it impossible to truly watch and enjoy the beauty of just one plate spinning. The feeling of being ‘stretched thin’ is constant. But the best part about my new circus act is that I no longer do it for the attention of the larger audience, but really for just those two children sitting up front.”

Ulla Johnson, mother to Soren, Asher, and Agnes.
“It’s impossible, really. Just do your best! Hopefully our daughters will have it figured out.”

Sue Tsai, mother to 10-year-old son Nico.
“I am a workaholic, so I can work around the clock. But I have realized that time is so precious and I need to shut work off when I am with him. He is growing much too fast and I don’t want to miss a moment.”

Bronagh Staley, mother to son Fointan and daughter Isis.
“It is really difficult. I often feel guilty for focusing on work as much as I do, but owning a business makes it very difficult to turn work off. On the other hand, being my own boss enables me to not have a set schedule, so I am always there for my kids. We are a very close family and spend a lot of time together. Fortunately and unfortunately, since so much of what I do can be done on the phone, work is often mixed into family time.”

Michelle LeBlanc, mother to daughters, Lila and Louisa.
“I think the scrappy, ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ non-business plan I stumbled into has actually worked really well for balancing work and motherhood. I initially had a very small online consignment shop and used what I was making from that to start the online shop, with just two lines. It grew really incrementally from there, and I worked out of my house up until three years ago. There wasn’t a grand scheme to grow a giant business from the get-go, so it could ebb and flow as needed. I realized the value of finding amazing people to do all the day-to-day things that I didn’t need to do, so I could spend more time with my girls. I have the best help ever—Kelsee who runs all the day-to-day at the shop, and Brittany, who watches the girls. Now I’m able to work four days a week and my husband is really the best field trip dad. He is always planning out epic Saturday jaunts and is able to hang out with them in the mornings, too. It’s always a work in progress though—it’s definitely not effortless!”

Skye Parrott, mother (and step-mom) to son Stig and daughter Oona.
“I’m lucky, in that, being self-employed, I have a lot of flexibility in my daily schedule. If I’m not shooting, I make my own schedule, which means I can choose to take the afternoon off, pick the kids up from school, and take them to the playground. Doing that is one of the ways I reconcile myself with having to travel and be away for days or weeks at a time. I’m also lucky to have a partner who is a very hands-on dad, and whose schedule also allows him to jump in, when I need him to. We also have a great nanny. All of those things make a huge difference in allowing me to be a full-time parent and have a career that I love.”

Cindy Diprima, mother to son, Louis, and daughter, Sally.
“I’m not sure that I do! I am constantly striving to get my work done during the day so I can log off in the evenings and be purely present for my kids. However, I do run a start-up and when I’m styling, there are two businesses to look after. Laurent is such an incredibly attentive and intuitive dad. We give different things to our kids, but I know that when I’m working late or on the weekend, they are getting no end of love and attention.”

Eliza Kenan, mother to 8-year-old daughter Una Mae.
“I prioritize motherhood, possibly at the expense of my career. I’m allowing myself the space to change my mind in a few months or years, but for right now it feels good. I still need to pay the studio rent every month, but I’d rather skip a new pair of shoes to spend more time with my family.”

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3 comments

Karly K

I’m a little disappointed you chose to interview such a narrow demographic of moms! We are not all freelancing, work from home bloggers or corporate 9-5s. What about every hard working mom out there who does shift work – they are a HUGE percentage of working moms – probably the majority actually because it sometimes allows for more flexible childcare. What about advice that is useful to doctors, pharmacists, all medical/nurse moms who work nights and weekends? And then you also left out waitresses, retail moms, baristas, traveling moms, etc, I could go on for days! It is especially hard to balance life at home and working life when you don’t work the same hours as ordinary M-F folks and there is no way to settle into a “routine.” I love MOTHER so much, but don’t forget there are moms out there who aren’t digital media mommies.

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