The Momma Interviews is a new blog series by Catherine O'Brien, LMFT highlighting the thoughts, experiences and wisdom of a unique real-world mom each week, to normalize and validate the struggles and triumphs that are a part of the universally human experience of motherhood for women everywhere.
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This week's Momma Interview is with Jessica Flannigan, Editor of Livethefancylife.com and ohboystyle.com. She's a busy work-from-home mom of two boys with some great advice on staying present and weighing what really matters.
How do you balance the mom, work, and relationship roles?
I'm really fortunate to have some natural separation between "mom time" and "work time," thanks to incredible childcare for 6 hours a day. But I'm a work-from-home mama balancing a freelance writing and blogging career. Sometimes my work calls for late-night and early-morning work and sometimes I simply can't get it all done during work hours, so it can spread into my time as a mom. I try hard to be 100% present for my children after picking them up from school most days, so that when I occasionally have to work, it's not such a big deal. I'm working to balance the relationship role, for sure. My husband and I are not great at scheduling date nights or time with friends so that's a big goal this year. I also find that balance isn't really the right word for me. I juggle it all and I juggle it fairly well most of the time. I still drop balls regularly, and I forgive myself when that happens and move on. I work hard to treat myself with the kindness I'd offer a friend.
Most moms I speak to say there are moments when they are ready to throw in the towel. Can you describe a time you felt this way? What got you through it?
Oh my goodness! Any time the kids both need me and I need to do something else can feel that way. Trying to cook dinner with a needy 18-month-old and a 4-year-old who wants my attention definitely pushes me to my limit sometimes. The hardest times for me are when a kid is sick and my work deadlines don't stop. I'm pretty much a one-woman show, so there is no one to help when I am needed. I work with companies who understand the importance of my role as a mom, so it's usually completely fine, but sometimes I just want to give up on these days. The thing that gets me through is remembering that this is just a season of life and that my sick child is SO much more important that my work. I try to embrace the sick days and the snuggles, and squeeze in work when my boys nap if needed. I find that living in the moment and choosing what's most important always gets me through.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed, overstretched, or less than?
If I'm being honest… sometimes I avoid it all. I run errands or go to the gym or head out for a cup of coffee, but this isn't the best approach. I've learned that facing it head on is usually a good idea. What I'd like to do is take one thing at a time. Overwhelm comes from looking at things as one big whole versus seeing the individual tasks for what they are.
I've had parents tell me that one of the hardest things about being a parent is the comparisons and judgements from other parents. How do you personally cope with that?
Since having my second child, I don't feel this way as often. I really feel strong and confident in the decisions we make for our family. And I really believe that every family does things differently and there is no right way. With all of that said, I struggled a lot with this after my first son was born, always feeling judged and inadequate. A lot of it was in my mind or me taking things personally.
What is the great lesson you've learned as a mom?
Everything ends. The good. The bad. It all comes to an end. Living in the moment is the only way.
What is your favorite quote that inspires you as a mom?
This isn't a quote, but I love to remember that this is only a season.
What is your favorite song that inspires you as a mom?
The Lumineers Ho Hey! I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart!
What is the one piece of advice you'd like to give to other moms?
Be kind to yourself and this is only a season of your life.
How many children do you have?
Share your relationship status.