Blogs > Media Moms

We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Is it ever a good time to take time off?

When you're a working mom who in addition to trying to raise a good kid works at a company that puts out a brand new product every day, sometimes more than one, it's never really a good time to take time off. When coupled with a business model tied to horse racing season in Saratoga, summer is definitely not the ideal time. That said, I'll be leaving soon for three days in Paris with my husband. That's the easy part.

With the weekend tacked on, I'll be gone for three work days and two weekend days. What I'll need to accomplish in the last few days leading up to my trip will be nothing short of miraculous. It's month-end and I'll need to pay out sales commissions, analyze and report monthly revenue figures, manage project updates and as "Murphy's Law" would have it, I have a new hire starting the same day I leave. Do I feel stressed? Yes, and no. Sure it will be a mad rush the finish, but I'm strangely calm this trip for three reasons.

What three reasons will ensure my ability to say "so long" at a critical time of the month on the precipice of the busiest time of year? A wise man (OK, my boss) told me something he learned very early on in his management career. "The best leaders hire great managers." I couldn't agree more and am proud to say that I've got THREE in my department. As individuals they bring different expertise and skill sets to the table, but as a group they each have one thing in common: they make me look good.

They'll hold down the fort while I'm off (which admittedly doesn't happen often) and I'll return the favor when they need time away with family and friends for some much needed R&R. In fact, two of them are vacationing now. Here's hoping they're making the best of it, because they'll soon be adding my deliverables to there already overflowing to-do lists. For our always-busy advertising department, there's a secret to our success. If you've ever wondered what it takes to publish and manage a daily, three weeklies, a monthly and two websites, here's how it's done: teamwork - and LOT of laughs. Oh, and some time off.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mom's night out - Sex & the City style!

Can you feel the excitement? I can, I can! Tonight I'll be joined by three of my closest mom friends and my Bunco pals for Saratoga's version of Sex & The City 2 premier fabulousness. We'll begin our sexy evening at 5PM walking the red carpet (in Carrie Bradshaw-like stilettos) at Hattie's on Phila followed by cosmos and yummy appetizers on the patio. The excitement will follow us to Wilton Mall for the 7PM premier of Sex & the City 2.

This local premier buzz is brought to us by the SPAC Action Council as a pre-party bash for SPAC's Ballet Gala on Saturday, July 10, 2010. This season's Gala will include Honorary Chairs Candace Bushnell, author of "Sex and the City" and her husband, a Principal Dancer with the New York City Ballet, Charles Askegard.

So when you see four mom's strolling down Phila Street tonight on their way to Hattie's, know that our smiles mean we deserve this time and space away from momhood for an evening of fun and frivolity just being girls.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will it be a birthday blast or bomb?

Tomorrow I have my chance to be either hero mom or lame-o mom. It's my daughter's eighth birthday, and, like most children, she's been giddy about it for the past three months.

So, my enthusiasm level needs to meet hers or I'm sure to be in the doghouse.

I got really lucky when I asked what her favorite thing to bring in for her birthday would be (within the school district's rules for goodies in the classroom), and she said, "those little blueberry muffins." So easy -- Hannaford and Price Chopper usually have those in their bakery sections daily.

She has soccer in the evening and lit up when I told her we could bring popcicles for her teammates to celebrate her birthday. Once again, very easy (except for the fast melting aspect, which will just mean a dash to the store toward the end of her game).

We haven't gotten her gift yet, but I work two blocks from G. Willikers on Broadway. Get the wrapping paper ready for me over there, guys! I'll be there during lunch break! (The folks who work there make me look so good, with their fancy wrap jobs.)

Somehow it will all come together ... or not. I'll let you know whether I turn out as a hero or heartbreaker.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Too sick for school? Nah, not these kids

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only working mom out there who puts a sick child to bed in the evening with the hopes the child will be OK to go to school in the morning to avoid the scheduling nightmare a kid home sick causes.

So when I took a phone call this past Thursday afternoon from the after-school program director that my daughter didn't seem to be feeling well, my mind flashed to how we would handle a sick kid scenario.

Don't get me wrong, my first concern is for my child's well-being, and I do work for a boss who understands that taking care of my children has to be priority. But missing work to stay home with a sick child wreaks havoc on the week's workflow. I can work from home to some degree, but to truly carry out the functions of my job in the newsroom, I need to be in the newsroom, at my desk, in the thick of things.

It used to be that I would be the parent to stay home with the reasoning that I am a salaried employee, and my husband was paid hourly. His missing work would impact us financially. Of course, I could work from home, and the fence installation job site was obviously not going to come to him. Now that my husband has switched employers, we may be able to share the caregiving duties a little more evenly than in the past.

That said, we hardly ever have to deal with this. In fact, I can't even remember the last time we had to stay home with a sick child. I was called away from work once earlier in the school year when my daughter fell on her face during a kickball game at school. (Yeah, it looked as bad as it sounds, the poor thing.) But we managed to navigate the entire winter calendar sans illness.

We are partly lucky, I guess, that our children have just been very healthy, and us, too. The other aspect is that our kids really don't let much slow them down. When they are sick, it's all we can do to make them sit on the sidelines for a little while so they can recoup.

I don't ever want to send my children to school sick, but it seems every morning this school year that either one of them could have been questionable, I've gotten an "I'm fine, Mom," and off to school they went. Those days, I make sure to keep my cell phone close, prepared for a call from the school nurse.


Sometimes Sundays stink (literally)

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Sundays. It's still officially the weekend, but I can't help but let the mental to-do list of the upcoming week start flooding back into my brain. Plus, I know there is always a lot of prep-work to do: my son's sheet and blanket for school, replenishing snacks for his cubby and straws for his favorite yogurt drink, plus my version of "cubby snacks" - Lean Cuisines, cheese sticks and yogurt, etc. to get me through the work week with the usual routine stacked on top of that. For the record, I remembered my son's provisions and forgot my own. I'm sure that sounds like a familiar scenario to other working moms out there...

On this particular Sunday, we enjoyed a nice family dinner (including a big bowl of Edamame - a family favorite), followed by a surprisingly uneventful night time routine. I was most definitely ready for a good night's sleep in preparation for what I knew would be an over-the-top kind of week ahead.

So after being sound asleep for an hour at least, I started to toss and turn. It started out, for me at least, as an irritation. Finally, I was up trying to figure out why. "What is that smell?", I thought to myself. My husband soon joined me wide awake in the present moment. Together we announced "It's a skunk!" He got up to close our windows to stop the stench from permeating our bedroom. As I ventured out into the hallway and then our son's room, it was clear that the smell wasn't limited to our bedroom. This was a full on assault of the senses! Although I knew it wasn't likely, I wondered if the skunk had gotten INTO the house. Thankfully, no. Soon our son was up looking glassy-eyed and confused and it would take an hour (more) before I could get him settled back into bed. It was now midnight.

As far as Sundays go, this one was particularly stinky. My "monkey mind" - accompanied by skunk-scented aromatherapy - remained in planning mode until after 1:00 AM. When I woke up this morning I recalled my dream. I was herding skunks in The Saratogian offices. Hmmm...I wonder what that means?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Twelve hours later

Our day began with a 7:30 AM preschool drop this morning. Exactly 12 hours later we pulled into the driveway running late for our evening routine of bath, books and bed. Some days just feel long and today was most definitely one of those days.

My mother-in-law picked my son up at 3:30 PM this afternoon from school and my husband stopped at their home to get him on his drive home from the office. After leaving the office (and apparently my Blackberry, too) at 5:45 PM, we decided that our best bet for dinner was to meet at Chipotle before heading to the grocery store. We don't normally grocery shop on a weeknight, but last weekend was sun-filled and gorgeous and grocery shopping kept getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Seriously, who wants to grocery shop on a beautiful weekend? Not me. I could somehow justify the 2 1/2 hours I spent in the office on Sunday, but the market didn't make the cut.

With our four year old in tow, we walked up and down the isles like zombies attempting to recall the items that were written on the list that still hung from a magnet on our refrigerator door. Peanut butter, yup. Vitamins, yes. What else, what else? I'm too tired now to figure out what I forgot, but I'm sure there's something. Oh wait, it was dryer sheets! Darn. They'll have to wait one more week. Will our clothes be static filled? Only if I actually make time to wash clothes this week. Sounds to me like an excuse to push laundry to the weekend to-do list, don't you think?

Labels: , ,

You mean you're cool with my being late?

As I've said in earlier posts, it's nearly impossible to escape from the newsroom in the early evening (for some reason, everything comes to a head then). However, spring sports have been forcing me to get out to get the kids to their games in uniform and on time.

So, I get everything I can edited for the next day's newspaper as early as possible, hand off the news "budget" to the night copy editors, and with a "You can get me on my cell!" scramble out the door at the last moment.

Once I'm in the car, without fail, my cell phone rings. It's not the office, though, it's my husband with my daily "where the heck are you?" call. When I admit where I am enroute, I usually get a stern, "Babe, you've gotta be kidding me."

And nope, I never am. It's the truth. I'm running late.

Last night, per usual, I was answering last-minute questions about a story as I grabbed my purse and literally ran to my car. Thirty seconds down the road — you guessed it — I get the "where are you" call. Well, at least that's what I anticipated hearing. I was all ready with my answer/excuses of my whereabouts, but instead, he just jumped right in.

He explained that he was leaving the baseball field with our daughter to get her to the soccer field for her game (what probably should have been my job). There was no panic or concern in his voice — just total calmness.

"I just told Dave (a friend of ours who was at the field with his son) that you would be along shortly. So, I'll talk to you later. Love you, babe!"

I hung up a little stunned. No flak whatsoever? Could it be that he's finally come to terms with the fact I'm probably always going to struggle to get out of the office at that time of day? Maybe. Or maybe he was just in a super forgiving/accepting mood. Either way, I was super relaxed as I drove to Doubleday fields, toted my chair to the location of the game and gave my son a little wave upon my arrival. Time for a little forced relaxation.

It was a great game, too. My son, who had seemed to settle into being walked every time at bat thus far in the season, took to heart our encouragement to get in there and swing. Two solid base hits later, I took home a beaming little boy.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Parenting a thrill-seeker

We headed out to Gavin Park to meet some friends and their children for a bit of Sunday morning fun. The adults in the group drank coffee and caught up on jobs, kids and current events while the children chased each other up the spider climber, across the monkey bars up the climbing wall and down the slide. It's an activity that seems to reoccur about once every month if schedules allow and both adults and kids agree that it's a pretty good way to start the week. The adults get the lowdown on daycare while the kids blow off steam so the adults can rest during the nap time that follows. Sounds pretty good, right?

Well, mostly. After hours of fun in the sun, my son took a nose dive off the climbing wall and split his lip. Crying then bleeding ensued while the adults ran around (mostly me) collecting paper towels, ice and in the end a Popsicle.

My husband and I (and our friends, for that matter) should be used to this. In fact, our son has endured nine stitches and a second degree burn in the last year. He's a trouper and heals as quickly and easily as one can under the circumstances, but that doesn't change the heart-pumping, nerve-wracking parental turmoil that these accidents bring along with them. He's a very adventurous boy - a real thrill seeker. It sounds funny to describe my not yet four year old that way, but he's just that. In fact, he's most likely genetically predisposed to be that way.

My husband was an extreme sport enthusiast before that term ever existed, I was super sporty as a kid, and we both have a history of climbing, diving, and jumping off high places in search of adventure. We see the twinkle in our son's eyes when he begins the ascent to a new height. Although he's quite agile - as everyone on the playground today pointed out, we still cringe at the recognition of the fearlessness in him knowing that there will be times that stitches, burns, blood and broken bones may follow. We know this because we've been there.

Now both in our mid-forties, we get our kicks from being early adopters of technology (him) and creating rockin' marketing campaigns (me). Our son, on the other hand, is just at the beginning of what will likely be years of thrill-seeking, adrenaline-pumping fun.

I'd like to say that the only thing I'm feeling is fear and concern for my son's well being. But to be perfectly honest, I'm just a little bit jealous.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Milestones matter

We're celebrating a major milestone in the Rose household. After a year and a half of potty training trials and tribulations, my son is - drum roll, please - diaper (& pull-up) free!

He's been going to the potty like a "big boy" for quite some time, but we've been taking the extra preventative measure of throwing on a pull-up before bed "just in case". It seemed like every time we'd try underpants at night after weeks of dry pull-ups in the morning, he'd inevitably wet the bed. That meant doing laundry in addition to the already tight morning routine. No thanks. This time it just felt right to let him own his big boy status and make his dry free night stick. It worked! I have to say that this moment feels really big.

So, what does this mean for me? Well, for starters, paying less at the grocery store and Target. Diapers and pull-ups cost A LOT. Plus, there's less garbage. Less laundry (think accidents). Less coaching. And, with that comes more time. Who needs more time? Me and every other mom on the planet. Seriously, a few extra minutes can seem like hours to a mom. I look back and think I was a lazy loaf before I had my son. I wasn't by most reasonable standards, but now I feel like a time management machine! When I actually have downtime (which is virtually never), I have to do something. In my mind, I've become a multi-tasking over-achiever. My husband believes (and to my dismay has supportive research with the science to prove it), that there is really no such thing as multi-tasking. The scientific community believes that you're simply doing more, badly.

Potty training on the other hand, takes a lot of practice and single-minded focus. It might have taken my son a while, but he stuck with it and mastered the art before his fourth birthday. We're so proud of our diaper-free boy. Well done, son.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Planning ahead to remain sane now

I've begun obsessing about summer vacation. I've been staying up late cruising vacation rental sites on the Internet, looking for deals on cozy lakeside cottages. Truth is, I need something to look forward to.

I've become pretty desperate to get away after a winter of working long days and weeks. My husband was laid off for a couple months, and with him picking up the kids from school and picking up the slack at home, I worked a lot because I could. My job is one in which I'm never really done. I could work around the clock; this business is just so fluid in that way.

I need to push pause here at work soon, though, so summer plans need to be firmed. The interesting thing about this year is that my children already have a month-long vacation planned -- and it doesn't include us. Grandma and Grandpa in Kansas want to take them for the month of July, and everyone is excited about it. For them, it's a month of adventure with all their wonderful relatives ou there (who will dote and spoil like crazy). For us, wow. FREEDOM!

Yes, I will miss them, but let's be honest. They are going to be having a great time, and after being parents for 10 1/2 years, we intend to have a great time, too!

We are trying to find little getaways that would be better as a couple -- the main attraction being a few days at Keuka Lake, with some boating and maybe some wine trailing. We can save the family stuff for when the kids get back in August.

In the meantime, we are in the middle of spring sports season, and baseball and soccer games dominate the calendar. Soon enough, though, we'll turn the page and get to the part where it says "VACATION" with a big arrow across the days.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spring sports scramble

In a couple hours I'm going to have to pull off another one of my "have to be in two places at the same time" tricks. Of course, that translates into "we'll be late for at least one thing, and one child will be unhappy."

Usually when our children have sports practices at the same time in different locations, my husband and I split the duties and meet back at the house at evening's end. But tonight, he has to work late, and I'm left to figure out a way to make it all happen.

There's only one real solution: getting help. I've put a call into to another soccer parent to see if my daughter can get a ride home, but I have no real Plan B if that doesn't pan out. So cross your fingers they check the answering machine before heading out the door.

If it was me, I'd never remember to do that before scrambling out to practice. In fact, I never even make it home. I asked the kids this morning to pack everything they needed for practice in the car, so the backseat is full of baseball bats and gloves, a soccer ball, cleats, etc.

I'll be escaping the office at the last minute (and hoping for green lights and no traffic) to get across town to their after-school program. I'll grab their book bags and toss them their clothes to change in the bathroom there at the school. Then we'll race to the car and off to one of their sports fields. We might have to flip a coin to see which one gets to be on time.

Labels: ,

Traveling without children

Last fall my husband and I spent a few picture-perfect days in Kyoto, Japan. I didn't even mind that I had traveled 30 hours there and back for what was essentially a two day/three night trip. The tight timeline was designed as a way to "try out" traveling without our son combined with our desire not to over burden willing grandparents on both sides who agreed to care for him in our absence.

We met the peak of Japan's fall foliage tired yet overjoyed to have time with each other as a couple outside our normal routine. I've got to tell you, it was f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c! We missed our son, sure, but time away did wonders for us.

So, when I was sitting at my desk today and heard my cell beep with the familiar sound of a text message alert, I had no idea that I'd be reading this from my husband:

"Can you talk? Want to go to Paris for a few days?"

I seriously dropped the phone. After fumbling to pick it back up, I successfully dialed my husband. He has a trip coming up to Malaysia for business and would be flying through Paris. The plan would be for the two of us to fly out mid-week and spend the weekend together. "Can you do it?", he asked. Seriously, who could possibly say no to that? To be perfectly honest, I did hesitate (OK, only slightly). In addition to needing to check my work schedule for availability, I had to admit that my desire to travel and spend time with my husband was mixed up in that moment with the "mom guilt" of leaving our son behind. Our last trip was a success - both for us and our son - but would we be that lucky the second time around?

We purchased our tickets and arranged for our parents to help out, so we'll find out soon enough. A lazy afternoon spent floating down the Seine. Riding together to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Sounds romantic, right? And what kid wouldn't have a blast with two sets of doting grandparents and cousins in the summertime? Au revoir mom guilt, and hello Paris!

Labels: ,

Monday, May 3, 2010

What winning really means

I may have experienced the best "proud mom moment" to date this weekend. And it came with a lesson for our whole family.

My 10-year-old son kept reminding us about the children's fishing tournament at the 4-H center in Milton for weeks. He hung the flier on the fridge as soon as it came home from school, one of the few things he he has ever taken out of his bag without a parent nagging him.

To say this kid LOVES fishing is an understatement. He is obsessive. He spends all his allowance on lures, thoroughly studies every piece in his tackle box and knows his book of fish in New York backward and forward.

As I kissed him goodnight Friday evening, the night before the annual kids fishing derby, he definitively told me, "Mom, I'm going to win that fishing tournament." I told my husband I was glad our son had that kind of attitude. It's always been my philosophy to approach everything with that kind of confidence.

Sometimes that confidence has bordered on the ridiculous for me. Even things I don't know much about, I just think, "I'll figure it out." Like when my bosses at The Saratogian wanted to start a magazine. I had taken one magazine production class in college, but that seemed like enough to work with. I never doubted we could pull it off, and three years later, Spirit of Saratoga magazine has a pretty loyal readership.

So the fact my son was oozing with confidence seemed very normal and encouraging to me.

When we arrived at the 4-H center, he wanted nothing to do with breakfast and was irritated by the fact the rest of us wanted to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet. He was itching to get out to the pond. Once out there, he scoped out a spot (nowhere near his sister and dad) and got to work. I followed him; but he didn't want me doing anything for him. "Mom, I know how to put a worm on a hook better than you," he told me, when I asked if he needed help. He's right, too. So I backed off and let him do his thing.

He wasn't catching anything, but his determination didn't wane. Within an hour, the organizer of the event came over and pulled me aside. He said they had been watching my son and were very impressed with his focus. They wanted to award him the Best Sportsman award. My heart melted. He was going to be rewarded for his efforts regardless of whether he caught a fish in the next hour and a half or not.

He didn't either. After someone caught a big one a bout 15 feet away (which I think actually won the "largest fish" in the tournament), he moved closer to that spot and kept at it, hooking a good-sized fish only to have it break the hook off. Instead of getting frustrated, he quickly retied a new hook, baited it and recast.

After the awards ceremeony in which he received a large trophy, he returned to the pond, still wanting to catch a fish. He did, too. We ended up bringing a couple trout home for dinner.

As we walked back to the car from the pond and he had his trophy in one hand and the stringer with the fish in the other, I asked him what his favorite part of the day was. "Catching these fish," he said without missing a beat.

As for the trophy, he apparently never doubted himself. I asked as we drove home if he thought he would be going home with a big trophy like that, and he answered, "Yes, mom. I told you I was going to win that tournament."

Labels: , ,