Jen Panaro, mom of two young kids, has already figured out the “compare game” doesn’t work out when it comes to parenthood. I love her perspective on making time for herself – especially since she’s an introvert (I can relate) – and embracing the juggle of work and family. Learn more about how she divides her time between career and kids, and you can also discover some of her fabulous working mom style tips on her blog, as well as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Tell us what you do for a living.
I work for a public accounting firm. After ten years working in client service auditing commercial companies and private equity funds, I recently transitioned into our National Office. It’s essentially like working in our corporate office. I now focus on certain regulatory aspects of our business helping to ensure our Firm and our practitioners comply with specific regulatory matters.
How many kids do you have? Ages?
I have two boys, ages three and one.
Explain your average morning.
My husband and I typically wake up a half hour to an hour before our boys. On ambitious mornings, we might do a 20-30 minute circuit together in our living room. Even if the boys wake up mid-circuit, they’ll just watch us finish (and the three-year-old might even join us).
Workout or not, my husband makes our lunches while I make breakfast for our family. Breakfast is often leftovers from the last few nights’ dinners or mini-egg quiches that I make on the weekend and heat up in the microwave in the morning.
My husband and the boys head out the door, and he drops them at daycare. This gives me about 20-25 minutes to myself during which I finish getting ready, pack up my bags, and maybe fold a load of laundry or put away dishes. We live in the city and walk everywhere, so on his walk back from daycare to the office, I meet my husband and we walk to work together. Our offices are five blocks apart.
Give us a glimpse into your daily “juggle.” Do you work in an office or at home? Do you connect with your kids throughout the day?
I have a ton of flexibility to work at my office or work at home. I spend one to two days a week at my office and the rest working from home. I don’t see my kids during the day. Also, my boss lives in another city, so I travel to her location about once a month for a few days. She happens to work and live in the same area as my parents, so I often bring one or both boys with me and stay with my parents during those business trips. It’s a nice mix of family and work.
How does your family keep track of schedules and activities?
My husband and I each use our work Outlook calendars for personal calendars as well. Any activities about which we both need to know are created by one of us and sent to the other as a calendar invite. That way, we’re each managing our own schedules, but always know what relevant activities the other has going on that will impact our personal agendas.
How do you use your time at night once the kids are asleep?
My husband and I try to mix it up. Some nights, we eat dinner together and relax after the boys are in bed. Other nights, we do chores like folding laundry or cleaning up. Occasionally, we set aside time to watch one episode of a TV show we have on DVR. A couple of nights a week one of us will pull out our computer to do a bit of work.
A few days a week, I stay up and work on my blog for a couple of hours after my husband goes to bed. I’m much more of a night owl than he is.
What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?
I love having time to “myself” without the kids when they are at daycare, and I love having the intellectual challenges and relationship development presented by my job. While I love spending time with my children, it’s nice to have some time that I can manage myself or that’s only spent with other adults.
On the contrary, I wish I spent more quality time with my kids. I know that sounds a little contradictory, but I guess I just wish I had more time in the day. I like the amount of working time I spend for myself but wish our evenings didn’t feel like a rush through dinner, baths and bedtime. We try to make the most of our weekends with our kids given we don’t have a ton of time during the week to play with them.
How do you relieve stress or carve out “me” time?
Less sleep, unfortunately. Occasionally, I plan ahead to do something for myself on a weekend. That happens once a month or so. Generally though, I really enjoy the peace and quiet at my house after everyone else is in bed. I’m an introvert and really re-energize when I spend time by myself. I think it’s one of the reasons I enjoy creating for my blog. Although I wish I got an extra hour or so of sleep most nights, I often feel like the internal energy and revitalization I generate from having time to myself at night brings me a lot of joy.
Share a treasured tip you’ve received from another mom.
Many people have probably read Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please. If not, I’d recommend listening to the audio book. She narrates it herself which I think adds to the enjoyment given how important delivery is in comedy.
In her book, she mentions a motto “Good for her, not for me.” I think it’s important to remember that just because one style or method is good for one person, it doesn’t make it right for someone else. She’s basically saying “Stop judging and worry about your own business. You don’t know what’s best for others, so don’t pretend you do.” She’s right!
Last great book you’ve read:
Not that it’s an epic book, but I just finished Year of No Sugar by Eve O. Schaub and really enjoyed it. It’s a quick read to which I could really relate. Although we don’t have any strict rules or dietary restrictions in our family, we try to eat healthy.
Her experiences and struggles resonated with me and have helped me better define how I would like to pursue healthier eating in our home. We won’t be eliminating added sugars entirely like she did, but it’s a concept toward which we’ve been moving for the last couple of years and her perspective helped me articulate my intentions.
Your Working Mama Theme Song Would Be …
Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. Not only do I think it’s good to let things go sometimes, but my boys and I usually end up dancing together every time it comes on (even though I’m a terrible dancer..)
My greatest guilty pleasure:
I’m a huge fan of chocolate, especially chocolate chip cookies and the cookie dough. I sometimes make cookies just to eat the cookie dough. I’ve passed this vice on to both of my children (and my husband) which is probably the worst part about it.
I have a weakness for all types of chocolate really and try to keep it out of the house as much as possible. When it’s here, I’m definitely eating a lot of it.
Are you a working mom who would like share your “juggle?”
Message me on Facebook or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d love to share your story!