Chances are you work nonstop, particularly if you’re a young, employed mother.
First is the tug of kids, all those early mornings, restless nights and unimaginable emergencies that seemingly never end. Then there is the pull of the office, which for many thirtysomethings and those with an eye on a management jobs has meant longer hours and a 24/7 connection to the workplace through remote access, email and social media.
It’s no wonder that so many working women feel overwhelmed when they have kids. There’s a tremendous sacrifice going on to make sure diapers are changed, kids are snuggled into bed and all the bills are paid. Many working moms also take charge of the house, tending to chores, dinner and other duties.
These women do everything just to hear four little words at the end of the night that puts their efforts into perspective, “Mommy, I love you.”
But how do they do it?
Searching for answers, I asked some working moms in the Rochester-area about the personal traits they lean on for motivation. Here are some of their responses.
Stephanie Dana, 35, is a mother of two boys and a school counselor/department chair at Penfield High School. She works to make sure that home time is spent with family, work is spent at school and that there is time in her weekly schedule for herself, through a moms running group.
She feels a sense of responsibility to each, but tries hard not to let it become overwhelming. Know how to develop a sense of responsibility.
“If I did not stop, take a step back and appreciate my family, my colleagues, the students and parents that I work with, my friends and my health — I would be overwhelmed,” she said. “In my role as a school counselor, at a large high school, every day is a new challenge with lots of unpredictable events. Without a positive attitude the toughest days would be too much to handle.”
Harriet Fisher is an IT application analyst for the city of Rochester. The 39-year-old overcame breast cancer and has two children.
“I tell my kids all the time, ‘You decide your own happiness,’ ” she said. “When things at work or home seem to get a bit stressful, I slow down and find something positive to smile about. It might be something funny one of the kids said the day before or an email from a colleague thanking me for helping them or making progress on a project or a nice random text from my husband asking me how my day is going…there is always something.”
She added that a strong faith in God has helped manage a career, family and her health.
Bethany Stevens, 29, has a 4-month-old daughter and owns her own business, On the Move Pet Care. She manages 18 employees with more than 200 local clients all over the area.
“It’s no longer my schedule I’m working on, I’m most certainly working around my little one’s needs,” she said. “Whether that means wrapping up billing on my laptop outside of daycare, or finding a last-minute sitter for my daughter so that I’m able to care for emergency client requests, my days are much less predictable. My ability to roll with the punches is the primary thing that allows me to stay on task with work obligations while caring for my little one.”
Melisza Campos, 36, plans out her week in about 30 minutes every Sunday knowing that things will change her schedule.
The Dale Carnegie vice president and City School Board member has three children.
“I find when I open up my mindset to be more flexible … I have the best moments with my family and friends,” she said.
“Approach each situation with love as the backbone and to remember to love and respect my kids (spouse, etc.).”
Sara White, 36, is an adjunct faculty member at Monroe Community College and blogs under Mindfully Frugal Mom. She has two young kids and relies heavily on an old-fashioned planner to get through the workweek.
“I keep it with me all the time and it’s the only thing that keeps me sane,” she said. “Something about the act of writing it down and seeing my week laid out helps me keep everything together. Most of the time, at least.”
Doctor appointments, school events and other random things will pop up but she tries to build pockets of free time into her schedule just for those last-minute needs.
Kate Turner, a marketing manager at Genesee Regional Bank does some of the same. The 40-year-old mom plans work trips around her family.
“I’ve learned to work around how I know my family will react to my schedule,” she said. “What will happen if I’m not home at dinnertime a couple nights a week? What will happen when I’m stressed out because I didn’t leave enough time for re-entry after a trip? I’m much more aware of the timing of things because I anticipate the ripple effect in my home life.”
Gabrielle Favata is a 29-year-old certified nursing assistant at Maplewood Nursing & Rehabilitation with three young boys. She is also a student at Monroe Community College. While she’s on her own with no family in the area to help, she leans on “some wonderful friends.”
She tries to remain optimistic.
“I use it when I am getting overwhelmed, to look at what good will come from the sometimes overwhelming and difficult time,” she said. “I try to think of how lucky I have it and what I do have or will have, instead of what my life is lacking. There are people with ill children, living in terribly dilapidated circumstances. … As tough as this is, there are people praying for what I do have, so I should be thankful.”
Susie Kopitzki, 39, a senior buyer at the University of Rochester, has a 3-year-old daughter. Amanda Altman, 35, part of the team behind A3 Design, has two children.
Both say being patient and present in the moment is key.
“Those two things allow me to slow down and appreciate whatever it is, for what it is … whether it’s talking through a project with a client and helping them understand marketing concepts, or kneeling down to let my daughter lean on me while she puts on her shoes,” said Altman.
Kopitzki said it’s easy to feel hurried when you’re running late for work or trying to get a fussy toddler dressed in the morning, but that’s the precise moment when moms have to pull back a bit and put things into perspective.
“It won’t get you anywhere and it won’t make you any less late than you already are,” she said. “I take a deep breath and try to remember the psychology behind being a toddler and it gives me the patience I need to stay calm and work with her more effectively to get out the door.”
Candice Korts is only 34 and already has been through a lot. The mother of three boys suffered heart failure during her third pregnancy. While raising her boys, her husband has been called on to serve in the military. She suffered an injury while on the job as a local medic. She is now a field tech scheduler for Quality Vision International.
It would be easy to crawl into bed and just cry by feeling drowned out by it all, but Korts said she sometimes fights those feelings to keep forward.
“I think as mothers we all must be strong,” she said. “We have to play every role, be everything and we do it because we love it. I know there are crappy mothers out there but they aren’t mommies. … Mommies are the ones that were meant to take the challenge of motherhood on, the greatest job in the world but the hardest. (It) requires the most qualifications and pays nothing but love, which is (in the) eyes of my boys and my husband. It is the greatest paycheck I can ever get.”
Kristi Drechsler, 32, works at Unity Hospital as a surgical physician assistant and at Rochester General Hospital as a surgical hospitalist under the umbrella of Rochester Regional Health System. She has a 3-year-old and is also squeezing in time to train for her first marathon.
She changed her work schedule to be able to spend more time at home with her son. One mantra Drechsler lives by is to “embrace the chaos,” she said.
“Some mornings I will be coming off of a night shift, high-five my husband, Al, as he leaves for work and then spend the rest of the day coming up with neat ideas/experiences to do with Connor,” she explained. “Being a working mother at times is challenging, sometimes even chaotic, but in a good way. I look to embrace this time of my life because every day is a day Connor grows older and never will be as young as the day before.”
Valerie Alhart, 34, is a press officer at the University of Rochester. She has one child, goes to grad school and is involved in several community activities.
“I’ve had to cut out a lot of activities that I like to do, but just don’t have the capacity for anymore (such as) traveling to an out-of-town event, entertaining or taking on a leadership role on a project,” she said. “Through trial and error I’ve found that the best thing to do is to be honest with your peers and yourself by telling them what you currently have on your plate, and that while you would love to take on something new, you simply can’t at this time. I’ve found that people really respond well to that and that they appreciate the candor.”