The Blog

Working Moms, Are You Present?

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

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. Join the conversation #WorkingMomLife.

Brandi Riley is a social media and content strategist, lending her influence to some of America's top brands. Not working was never an option. Brandi started mom life as a single mom, and like many working mothers, she was back at work by the time her daughter was 3 months old. In person, Brandi has an unusual poise and graciousness that I think you'll sense in this interview, too. She repeats the concept of being present several times, and she makes it sound easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no. Here are 3 takeaways from my time with Brandi:

  • When in doubt (or anxiety), cancel plans.
  • Do NOT get suckered into caring about other peoples 'stuff. Focus on your own stuff.
  • Just turn off the phone and be present.

LD: What was the biggest challenge of returning to work after your maternity leave ended?

I was very lucky because her daycare was located in the same building as the organization I worked for. The teachers would call me when it was time for her to eat and I would leave my office and go to nurse her. My only challenge was just being exhausted all of the time!

LD: You are a busy lady, sometimes working odd hours and often traveling for your clients. What is your secret to getting everything done in a day?

I just let stuff go. Seriously, I am okay with the fact that I can't do it all, so I don't even try. I'm not going to stress out about not being able to cook for my family on days that I'm working 8 hours and commuting for 2. They aren't going to die if I order a pizza. Not stressing makes life work for my family.

LD: What about household chores? How do you and your husband share the work load?

My husband is great at being neat, but he's not a deep cleaner. He keeps the house tidy on a regular basis, and I'm the gal that comes through with the vacuum, bleach and scrub brush to make it easy for him to keep things neat! He doesn't believe in scrubbing and I don't believe in hanging up my jacket when I come into the house. We're a match made in heaven!

LD: How to you handle mommy guilt?

Because I work so much, I tend to overcompensate with things. There was a trip recently that I was planning to take my daughter on. It was going to completely bust our budget, but I felt like I owed it to her because I've been exceptionally busy lately. I realized however, that all of that isn't necessary. She just wants quality time. We'd spend more time stressing out about the trip than spending actual time together. I cancelled our plans and just made it a priority to be more present.

LD: You make the #WorkingMomLife sound easy. Are there any words of wisdom that guide you?

Jobs come and go, family is forever. Focus on family and things will work out.

LD: What is the worst advice you've received lately?

"You work in social, it's your job to be online all of the time." - No. No, it's not. Every life needs balance.

LD: What would you offer to new moms who are going back to work?

You can't be everything to everybody. Choose the most important things and focus on them. Don't get suckered into caring about other people's stuff, especially if it's going to take away from the real work that you need to get done in order to get back home to your family.

LD: I love that line. I think many women are perpetually suckered into spending attention on things that are none of our concern. So, final question, what would you say is your super-power?

My secret power is being able to turn 15 minutes of downtime into a meaningful time of togetherness. Just turn the phone off and be present. :-)

Turn off the phone? How does one even do that? If this is too drastic a step, as it is for me, you could start with simply putting the phone in a different room. It works. Thank you, Brandi! Learn more about Brandi on her blog, Mama Knows It All.

Learn about more working moms' lives here:
Lela Davidson's award-winning, best-selling essay collections. Short reads for busy moms who smile and smirk. Available in paperback and ebook on
,
,
and other places books are sold.