Working Mom Life is an interview series featuring real working mothers who are figuring out how to get the job done. Because there are more ways to be a working mom than there are ways to fold a cloth diaper, we can all learn from each other. I hope you'll join the conversation #WorkingMomLife.
Kellee Mayfield keeps hearts beating, literally, as a sales and clinical specialist for pacemakers and defibrillators. She's also a talented painter, and writes about life in southeast Arkansas on her popular blog Delta Moxie. Kellee is mom to a 9-year-old daughter, and is married to a doctor, so schedules can conflict. Here are my three favorite parts of Kellee's answers:
- Routines make life easier, even if life interrupts them often.
- It's okay to let your children hang out at work (we heard this from Eileen Jennings, too.)
- "You belong here."
Interview with Kellee Mayfield
LD: Did you always know you'd be a working mom?
KM: Probably entering college, I'd say yes. As I aged and advanced, my answer changed with my career demands and where we were located. Now that I'm older and have options, I want my daughter to see me working and contributing. I realize that may not be for everyone, but it is important to me. For many years she assumed I was a doctor like her dad, but I'm in medical device sales. She has been with me when I've had to check patients in an emergency and tells her friends, "My mom saves lives (even though she isn't a doctor)."
LD: Do you live by routines or do you wing it?
Our family lives by routines, however we often find ourselves winging it due to our unpredictable work schedules (which happens when you are both in health care). During the week, she'll stay with her "second mom," our caregiver. For the everyday juggling of schedules, she has spent many hours in my husband's office, nurses stations, or ICU waiting rooms as we finish tasks.
We have a strict morning routine that is easy because our daughter is a morning person. It begins at 5:45. Our daughter dresses herself in a school uniform and performs the normal grooming of brushing teeth and hair, washing her face. Once she is dressed, she eats her breakfast which is made the night before with almond milk, whole rolled oats, banana, and chia seed pudding. Her school lunch is also prepared and packed the night before. Makes it so much easier to grab and go.
After school routines are structured following her arrival home. She immediately begins her homework and we work together as a family keeping her on track. She takes dance on Tuesday, piano in our home on Wednesday and tennis on Thursday. There are times she will share a ride with a friend or receive transport from our caregiver.
LD: How do you keep the whole family on track?
Communication keeps our family running. Thank goodness for FaceTime, texting and mobile phones. Also, on any given day, we have a vital network of friends that we can count on in a pinch. Relaxing and socializing with this group keeps us sane. Our daughter also plays a role in coordinating our family calendars and schedules. She's a born leader and contributes to the organization of our family. She gets her calendar out and she marks upcoming events, special birthdays. The girl wants details. She must know our plans. What time will we leave? How long will this event last? What will I wear? What are you going to wear? Who will be there? Who is hosting? What is the theme? Who's car are we taking? Do we take a gift? When will we have a gift? And if she isn't going, she asks, "who will be keeping me?"
LD: I love that your daughter is so involved. How do you and your husband share domestic tasks?
My husband handles so much of the transportation as well as the kitchen area (including washing dishes) and I wash clothes. I hit the jackpot in this area. I am a road warrior and drive 50,000 miles per year. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the support of my husband.
We also have a wonderful caregiver and we lucked into the situation. Her daughter was one of our daughter's first babysitters. Our caregiver's daughter is now in college and loves our daughter like her own. If she hasn't seen her in a week or two, she'll call and see if our daughter will come spend the night or just run errands with her. To nurture the relationship... that's easy, she and her family are part of our family. We also try to make sure we don't abuse her generosity and we ensure she is well compensated. She is a gift from God.
LD: Have you ever received any really good advice about winning the #WorkingMomLife game?
Oh, Lela, I'm in a male-dominated field. The best advice I'd ever been given in my field was; you belong here. Be prepared and go for it. I have a mentor but she recently retired. She has become one of my best friends. On the corporate level, there are opportunities to join women mentoring groups, but I haven't taken advantage of them yet. I did find a blogger named Marney Reed who happens to work for my company in California (different division) and I follow her blog, Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. She is inspiring. I also learn from the men in my industry as well. There are many opportunities.
LD: Do you have any advice for new moms who plan to work, or for seasoned moms headed back to work?
Have backup plans for childcare, build a support network for yourself and your family. Allow others to help. Communicate. Invest in yourself. You are valued in the workplace. A great read is Sheryl Sandberg's, Lean In.
Thanks so much to Kellee for sharing what works for her dual-working parent family!
Lela Davidson is the of two award-winning essay collections, and the forthcoming Faking Balance: Adventures in Work and Life, to be released September 2015.