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Finding that Balance…

peonies in a mason jarAs a working mom with two young daughters, I am always striving to strike a good work/life balance.  I know many of you reading this blog are committed to fostering a happy home life and raising well-adjusted kids while also pursuing your careers and passions outside of parenthood.  I know I am not alone in wanting to do it all!  I think I’m especially motivated to find that just right balance at this point in my life because we have two daughters who are just beginning to enter that stage of exploring their independence.  They are adolescents but will soon be pre-teens and I know from my own memories of being a pre-teen that I looked around at the women in my life to gauge what kind of life path I hoped to create for myself one day!  My mom worked full-time as a social worker and my stepmom worked full-time as a consultant.  Many of my friends’ moms were stay-at-home moms, though.  I often wondered what it would have been like to be raised by a mom who stayed at home full-time.  I guess you always want what you don’t have, right?  I’m very proud of my mom and the career she built and her dedication to protecting and advocating for children.  I also think I gleamed a lot from my stepmom–watching her travel for business, seeing her very organized home office–and I admired the work she was clearly passionate about.  I think we become what we see or we consciously choose to create a life that is the complete opposite of what we experienced as kids!  Like many women, I wanted to recreate some elements of the parenting I experienced and I also wanted to do a few things differently once I became a mom.

I began my career in education through Teach for America.  It was a perfect fit for an idealistic young woman who was eager to make a difference in the world.  I wasn’t sure if I would like teaching (I certainly hoped I would!) but I knew that I wanted to join a team of people who were committed to closing the academic achievement gap.  I always knew that I was lucky to attend great schools in Chicago and Evanston (both private and public schools) and that I was fortunate to have teachers who encouraged me all along the way.  I was one of those kids who loved school!  I didn’t mind homework and actually loved school projects and research.  After my two-year commitment to Teach for America was complete, I stayed on for another year at my original placement school in South Los Angeles.  I became grade level chair and volunteered to serve as my school’s technology coordinator.  After that year, I was recruited by my mentor, Kriste Dragon, at that time the Executive Director of Teach for America Los Angeles, to become a founding teacher at a new charter school in LA.  I will be forever grateful to Kriste for introducing me to the founders of Larchmont Charter School.  I took a teaching position and learned more about progressive education, constuctivism, and project-based learning.  I met colleagues who became true friends and many remain my dear friends to this day, 11 years later!

That final year of teaching, I was newly married and soon later we found out we were expecting our first baby.  We were ecstatic!  I’d always longed to be a mom and couldn’t wait to begin this journey with Chris.  At the same time, though, I was thinking about how I might combine my love of education with my desire to be a mom.  I wanted to start my own consulting practice and I was lucky enough to launch my recruitment practice around the same time Charlotte, our first daughter, was born.  I have Ben Paul, the CEO of After-School All-Stars, to thank for believing in me and ASAS for becoming my first non-profit client.

Fast forward 10 + years later and both my family and my business have grown!  We now have two daughters and most recently, we added a new puppy to our home.  I love what I do–genuinely!  I am fortunate to have found a career that I’m incredibly passionate about and that also allows me the flexibility I desire as a working mom.  I specialize in recruiting senior leadership roles for non-profits and schools.  That means a lot of my workday is spent meeting people, interacting with my clients, connecting with education leaders via email and phone, as well as ongoing business development.  I work hard but I genuinely feel rewarded by the work I do.

At the same time, though, it’s not easy to balance working full-time with raising kids!  No working parent will tell you that it’s easy.  Or, at least, I’ve yet to meet someone who claims that it is.  I think my main tip would be to find organizational systems that work for you!  I rely on my iPhone calendar, my favorite Sugar Paper calendar, as well as a daily to do list on my computer that I update each day.  I try to prioritize my day and delegate the tasks that I don’t need to do so that my time outside of work can be spent with Chris and our daughters.  They say that all moms need a village and I couldn’t agree more!  Both stay-at-home moms and working moms rely on friends, babysitters and family members to make it through each day.

I don’t know how any of us do it but I know that I wouldn’t change a thing about the life I’ve created.  I love my work and I love my family life.  I’ll end with a few of my favorite quotes on parenthood that I try to always keep in mind.

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.”  – Jackie Kennedy

“The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more that what you tell them.  They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” – Jim Henson

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”  – Stephen Covey

“We should always have three friends in our lives–one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.” – Michelle Obama

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