Today I’m thrilled to share with you the first post in a new series called, How she does it.
When I was preparing to attend Alt Summit in January, a lovely woman named Tiffany connected with me on my Facebook page sharing a similar story to mine. Although we live on opposite coasts and had never met, we discovered we had a tremendous amount in common. Then, as luck would have it, we found each other eating at the same restaurant the first night of the conference. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know her better and when I mentioned this new series I was starting up, I was delighted when she agreed to be my first How she does it profile. Below, Tiffany opens up about coming to the decision to make a change in her work-life balance and shares some great ideas for parents who struggle with hectic evening schedules.
Name: Tiffany Walker
Occupation: Corporate VP and co-founder of the lifestyle blog, Pop and Banter
Family life: Married with two girls, ages 4 and 2
Secret weapon: Spotting trends
Current obsession: The Lively Show podcasts
Guilty pleasure: Microwaving s’mores
As a full time working mom, it can seem like you are constantly moving from the moment you wake up. What tends to be the craziest part of your day?
The craziest part of my day is the time from when I leave work to when I finally put the girls to bed. I rush out the door from work at 5:30, pick up the girls at daycare at 6, and then rush home to make dinner and do bedtime. My husband has a long commute so most nights I’m on my own with this part of the day and it’s exhausting!
How do you handle it?
The best thing I do for myself is prep in advance. I prep meals on the weekend to make dinner easy during the week. I even prep in the morning for bedtime by laying out PJs to help save myself from the chaos! Finally, if I’m losing the battle of my sanity, a dance party with my girls always seems to make us all feel better.
I’ve never considered prepping in the morning for bedtime. Genius! Now, what exactly are you doing on the weekend? I always worry about food going bad if I prepare it too far in advance.
We usually sit down on Saturday morning and plan out what we’re going to have. On Sunday we cook several of those meals so we can reheat them during the week and I’m like you – if it has meat in it – I have a strict rule in the house that it will only be good for three days. So we usually eat our meat dishes by Wednesday and go for meatless later in the week. Also, Costco meatballs last a while and it’s not much effort to throw on some marinara sauce…
Are you more drawn to a regimented schedule or do you prefer to go with the flow?
I am totally not a “go with the flow” person. I aspire to be more that way, but I’m a type A planner which has been challenging at times after having kids!
How are you keeping yourself and your family organized?
Since I’m a planner by nature, I try to create as many systems as possible that help me to be efficient and do more in advance. That includes an insane amount of Google Calendars, meal planning, and putting things on autopilot as much as possible – from diaper delivery to our finances!
Wait, so you have more than one Google calendar?
I did a post about this. I have 11! I basically plan my life with them. I have a calendar for my own personal appointments. I have a blog calendar that says what we’re going to do and when. I have a travel calendar. My husband shares his events with me so I know about conflicts. There are reminders for things like change your air filters or car inspections. Stuff that I wouldn’t be able to keep track of; I put it all on my calendar. I add a reminder so it emails me when it’s time to do any activity. It’s a great way to prioritize family time and rest time too. I go forward an entire year and put it on my calendar if it’s important to me. I already have stuff on there through the end of this year, like apple picking in October.
In a recent blog post, you gave your readers a “permission slip” to pause and breathe. Tell us more about that. (I think we could all use that permission slip!)
I love the idea of a permission slip as I feel like I need this myself. Sometimes we need someone to give us permission to do what we know inside we should do. I have a tendency to make myself overwhelmed with all the things I attempt to do even though I know in my heart that life is meant to be lived not planned or rushed through. We aren’t meant to drive ever harder every single day without enjoying the little moments. I’m constantly reminding myself this!
I know you love to read! Is there a particular book you could recommend to women who find themselves at a similar point in their life with juggling multiple priorities including being present for their young family?
For anyone with a young family, I would recommend Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. It focuses on how to be more present and fully appreciate the moments in your life right now. She relates it back to her life with her own young children which makes her insights so valuable to those of us in the same life stage. I have literally re-written certain passages into a Word document and printed them so I can have them around to see on a regular basis!
You recently switched positions within your company to allow you to spend more time with your family. What can you tell us about that decision making process?
Last year, I traveled close to 40% of the time for work. Most of those trips were cross country and I got completely burnt out. I had a sense of dread each time before I left. I had been struggling with this for months and we had even considered moving to be closer to the clients I’d been traveling to in order to reduce my travel.
I did a lot of soul searching to figure out what it was that I valued through things like the Life with Intention class with Jess Lively and other books I’d been reading and realized that I had to make a lifestyle change to live more in line with my values. It was difficult because I had to be at peace with a potential lowering of my income in order to make this shift and I’ve been the breadwinner in our family. In the end, I listened to my intuition and made the shift! It’s been so nice to be at home more.
Was there any particular defining moment that helped you arrive at your decision?
It had been building. I traveled like crazy last year and everything felt overwhelming. I felt like I was failing all around. It wasn’t the life I wanted. The book — Hands Free Life — I read that on a plane. When we landed, I tried my best to hold myself together, went to the bathroom and cried. I’ve never done that in my life. It was because the concept of being present, appreciating your life, being there for your kids — I was not in the place where I could do that. That is what I wanted. That was the turning point for me.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Tiffany, and for continuing to lift us up!
[Featured photo above by PFJ Photography]
If you would like to nominate yourself or a friend to be featured in an upcoming How she does it post, please click here to submit your story.