Friday, March 1, 2013

The Having It All Project: Jessica Grimes

Jessica of Keeping Mommy Sane describes herself as a "Boston mom trying to balance family, work, fitness and fun." I knew I'd found a kindred spirit when I read her "day in the life" post...except for the part where she gets up at 4 am to go to the gym. ;) Here's how Jessica is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique.
I am the mom to a 6-year-old boy and 1.5-year-old girl who works full time in PR/media relations for a large hospital system in Rhode Island. This means I have a 25-30 minute work commute to Providence from our home along the 495 corridor, but my husband’s commute to Lexington is nearly twice that. I do of all the daycare drop-offs and pick-ups, see my son on the bus two mornings a week, and pick him up at his after school program, two afternoons each week. My day usually starts at 5am – the only time I can get to the gym squeeze in a workout, which usually means I am in bed by 9pm. However, I am incredibly fortunate that I am allowed to work from home on Fridays, which I call my sanity saver, and that my boss is a mom herself who “gets it” and understands that I may have to leave early to pick up a sick child from daycare or come in late because of a pediatrician appointment. I am so appreciative of her support.

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
I am a firm believer that “it takes a village,” and am so thankful that I have incredible friends and neighbors in town who have helped out in a pinch with my kids when my husband’s been traveling or I’ve been delayed at work. I am one of those people who hates to ask for help, but working full-time with a child in full-day kindergarten, a little one in daycare and a husband who travels means I often don’t have a choice – particularly since I don’t have any family nearby who can lend a hand. Also, it’s so important to have a group of girlfriends who understand what you’re going through. I love my husband dearly, but I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t have other moms in a similar position who I can commiserate with, vent to and ask for advice.

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it. 

My husband travels frequently for work, which means I then have to scramble to cover his AM or PM assignments, in addition to getting myself and the kids out the door each morning, looking presentable with lunches and snacks packed, sippy cups filled, etc. “Flying solo,” as I call it, is both mentally and physically exhausting. You have to be “on” all day at work, but since you’re the only parent at home, you have to be “on” all night until the kids are in bed. One day, when I was covering the AM bus with my son while my husband was out of town, we dropped my daughter off at daycare and then I jumped on the highway as if I was headed to work, instead of heading back home to wait for the bus! I made it one exit before I realized he was still in the backseat. I was horrified, although thankfully we made it to the bus stop in time. That experience showed me that I need to slow down, even if it means we’re going to be late, and mentally go through my “to do” list before moving on to the next item.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you? 

I’m still looking for a balance role model. Most of the women I know who are in similar positions also seem to find a hard time with the work-life balance, which is a little discouraging. But that’s why I think it’s so important to have other women you can go to, who understand what you’re going through, and can just offer support or an ear when you need to vent. My fellow mom colleagues at work are a tremendous resource to me. The one thing I try to avoid is checking my work email after 5pm. I’ve been vocal with my colleagues that once I walk out the door, I am in “mommy mode” and that’s my main focus. Anything else can wait until the morning, and if it was a true emergency (which, in my line of work, is often something I have to deal with) my boss and a few others know how to get a hold of me. I am very appreciative that my colleagues really do respect those boundaries. One week a month I am “on call,” which means I have to check messages, but besides that, when I’m home I’m just “mom.”
Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then? 
So different. I did get the journalism degree I wanted, but I thought I’d be a famous writer living in the “big city” … not a suburban mom who only works with the famous writers. But it’s okay – my family means the world to me and I wouldn’t trade my life (craziness and all) for a second.

Relate to what Jessica is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at!

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