The Mom-Work Balancing Act

I’ve been thinking for a long time about what I call “feathering my empty nest” even though with three girls ages 11, 9, & 7 my nest is far from empty.  Still, it will be empty in the not-so-far-off future and I don’t want to be shucking and jiving professionally when that day comes.

I’m a teacher by trade, with a Master’s degree in secondary education from NYU, and I taught in the New York City public school system for several years before having my kids.  I’m a nature lover and am passionate about connecting children with the outdoors.  In 2009 I founded a family nature club called Kids Unplugged with the goal of getting kids and their parents outside, into the woods, onto the trails, loving the natural world around them.  I love to garden and cook, travel and write.  And I especially love to connect with other people.

DSC_0415Because my girls are still young, it’s not time for me to return to the classroom full-time.  Even with the perk of having summers off, I want to be here to get them onto the bus in the morning and to greet them when they get home in the afternoon.  It is a blessing that we are in a solid enough financial situation to allow me to do this.  Things are always a bit tight around here and the pressure would definitely be off of my husband if I were to go back full-time, but for now, this is where we’re at. With all of that said, I am always looking for ways to satisfy myself both professionally and intellectually as well as to bring in some extra income to help take the edge off our bills.  I have some tutoring students a couple of evenings a week and that keeps my teaching chops from getting rusty.  Is getting back into the classroom again in my future?  That I just can’t say.

A lesser-known fact about me (well, not anymore, I suppose!) is that I adore Disney and Disney travel.  I love the magic of the parks and the well-oiled machine that is the Disney Travel Company.  The customer service, family-friendly cast members, cleanliness of the parks, and beauty of the destinations is absolutely unmatched.  In 2011 we took our girls to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for the first time and I found that I had almost as much fun planning the trip as I did actually being there–almost.  My family made all sorts of fun of my new obsession, but ate their words when we barely waited in any lines during our July 4th week trip, were second in line to meet Rapunzel in her coveted new meet & greet area, and scored a fabulous table at Chef Mickey’s on our arrival night.  When we returned home and my post-Disney vacation planning depression set in, I remedied it by helping friends create their own trips, employing my new doctorate in Disney World to help them have magical vacations, too.  People started encouraging me to turn my hobby into a profession and in February I decided to join the team at MickeyTravels, LLC. as an authorized Disney travel planner.  It’s been a bit of a whirlwind ever since.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since beginning my Mickey gig is the family backlash that has come from my girls, and even my husband, being unaccustomed to my not being 100% available to them at all times.  I’m not in their classrooms as much as I’ve been in the past.  The laundry piles up more than it did before.  We run out of milk.  Muffins for the class breakfast come from Whole Foods rather than from my kitchen.  I’m on the phone with clients–a lot.  I’m on the computer–a lot.

mariabailey2This past May I was fortunate to receive an invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms on the Road event which I’ve written about here and here.  It was a fantastic, 1/2 day conference packed with information that I have already begun to apply to my daily work habits, my social media interactions, and my professional philosophies in general.  The event’s host was Maria Bailey, creator of Mom Talk Radio and Mom Select and CEO of Blue Suit Mom and BSMMedia.  Maria is the foremost voice for supporting mothers in their quest to balance work and family life and has spent years creating media outlets for moms and helping women with marketing, business strategies and parenting.  It was incredibly timely for me to have the opportunity to connect with Maria at the conference and hear some of her tactics for building a business and developing goals while remaining committed to your family and your important role as a mom.  Maria shared the Disney team’s conviction that it is natural for Disney to be supporting women not only as magic makers for our families, but in our business and professional lives as well.  She explained to us that the Disney Social Media Moms conference was created as a way to familiarize families and social media influencers with the Disney resorts and parks.  As one of my primary business goals is to do just that, I knew that I had found my niche with this group of dynamic people!

As the mom of three girls I feel strongly that what I model for them, personally as well as professionally, will impact them deeply both now and in the future.  Maria echoed this sentiment when she told us that, “everyday you are teaching your children to follow their passions, goals and dreams–lessons they won’t learn from anyone but you,” which was probably one of the most popular tweets from the conference.  She also shared anecdotes from her own parenting experiences as well as some of the ways she has prevailed over myriad challenges of being a working mother.  All of this wisdom was deeply significant for me in my present work reinventing my professional self, moving into the next phase of my life and building my new business.

Listening to Maria’s insights and watching as she artfully moderated the Mompreneur panel later in the morning was a highlight of the conference for me.  And if anyone taught us the importance of following our passions, goals and dreams that morning, it was definitely Maria Bailey!

You can read Maria’s great blog, Diary of a Blue Suit Mom here.  You can also follow Maria on Twitter at @MomTalkRadio

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