Name: Kristin Olsen
Location: New York, NY
Professional Industry: Recruitment Advertising/Media Sales
Company: Monster Worldwide
Job Title: Senior Manager of Agency Relations
WIXII-ISM™ FROM KRISTIN OLSEN:
“For me, having it all is about perspective. There will always be a “better” job, a “better” mother, a “better” house, but it’s about being happy with my current day-to-day. Not stressing about what I can’t control or the job I “should” be in. Feeling blessed for the things I have – not for the things I don’t. It’s about finding a work-life mix that I’m content with.”
“In terms of career, money is not the most important thing – flexibility and work-life ‘balance’ are far more valuable and rewarding. If you find a company that supports you during your early motherhood years, think twice before being seduced by a ‘better’ opportunity. Grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”
PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION:
Meet our featured Wixii™, Kristin Olsen. She is in her 30s and mother to Tatum, 2. She and her husband, Randy, were married 5 years before they welcomed their daughter into the world. She has a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Kansas. She is in the field of recruitment advertising and media sales; and she currently manages relationships and sales of Monster’s largest agency partners, presenting Monster’s solutions to clients and liaising with internal sales force. Her husband is an airline pilot.
She and her husband share caregiving/breadwinning duties 60/40. She devotes 40 hours per week to her career and would rate her job satisfaction level as 8 and work-life satisfaction level as 9 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest). She describes the policies of her workplace as quite work-life friendly because her company and, particularly, her managers, are incredibly flexible with her schedule. In a typical week, she devotes 40 hours to caregiving (20 on weekdays, 20 on weekends), 5 hours to cooking, 4 hours to Tatum’s extracurriculars, and 2 hours each to cleaning, laundry, and shopping.
To maintain her own well-being, she eats well and prays/meditates on a daily basis. She exercises and connects with loved ones weekly. On a monthly basis, she pursues hobbies, catches up on sleep, and spends time with friends. She also travels and enjoys pampering when possible throughout the year.
Describe any choices you have made in arriving at your current work-life mix. In what ways did your work-life mix change after having children?
Prior to having Tatum I took advantage of each and every opportunity I was presented with at work. I traveled weekly and did a lot of client entertaining. Post baby, work travel has drastically decreased and I try to do day trips whenever possible. Also, client entertaining is now done over lunch or during the day. I’ve had many opportunities move up in my career since having Tatum, but none has offered the flexibility I so dearly value. I could be making more money, but it wouldn’t be worth the time away from my husband and daughter.
Describe your career path to this point and any envisioned future changes.
I started my career doing television ad sales for ESPN in 2oo1, and moved to internet ad sales in 2004. I worked for Yahoo! for 6 years, and most recently Monster Worldwide doing recruitment advertising. Throughout my 12 year career, I’ve received many promotions, and envision taking advantage of more opportunities once I get through these early motherhood years. In the near future however, I’m perfectly content with a job that offers the work / life balance that I need.
What do you find most rewarding and frustrating about your career
Most rewarding would be having my own life away from all things Tatum. I’m good at what I do and like that I can be successful outside of motherhood. Most frustrating is the constant stress of trying to juggle it all – the racing back and forth from one thing to another trying to be SuperWoman.
My current work-life mix is possible (manageable) because of…
My husband’s job as a pilot is what makes our life crazy but also what makes it manageable. When he’s flying, he’s gone so everything is on me and I feel like a single mom who is responsible for 100% of everything – but when he’s home (which can be for long stretches at a time) he can assume almost all responsibility at home (childcare, laundry, cooking, etc.) and let me catch up on things I need to do. We also have the world’s most flexible, amazing daycare (a rarity in Manhattan) that we could not survive without. We do have a few sitters; however, the NYC rate is $20/hr so we don’t have date nights as much as we’d like. We also have amazing parents who fly all the way out from Colorado to help us when we’re really in a bind with work schedules (this happens a few times a year).
My job also affords great flexibility. I have an office in midtown NYC but have the luxury of being able to work from home when I need to. I can work virtually from anywhere (with wireless!) and don’t have to be at my desk at an exact hour. I can’t think of a much better situation for a working mother. I do travel for work often, which raises some scheduling issues between my husband and me, but in terms of my company, I’m not sure I could be in a better situation. This flexibility is also extremely rare in NYC so I feel very grateful.
In what ways did your work-life mix change after having children?
Growing up, I knew I would work and also have kids but I never had a clear vision of what it all looked like – if I had I’m sure it would have looked much easier than it is.
Prior to Tatum, I traveled for work at least 3 times per month. Randy and I would also travel for fun and take international trips once every 3-6 months. When Randy was gone for work, I had a very exciting Manhattan life with my girlfriends. Post-baby this all changed. You’ll now find me home at night with Tate and not traveling nearly as much for work. I’m not complaining – I wouldn’t change it for the world. In terms of household responsibilities, nothing much has changed. We did hire a cleaning woman who comes once every other week so we could take that completely off our plate. Most NYC families have nannies; however we’ve managed to do it all on our own by coordinating our schedules and putting Tatum in daycare on the week days when Randy works.
My career didn’t take a backseat, but it did have to plateau when I had Tate. I now travel less for work, and have had to watch great career opportunities pass me by while I stay in my current position. This has been my personal choice as other jobs wouldn’t be conducive to my current work-life situation. Could I keep progressing in my career right now? Yes. But is an opportunity with more money and less flexibility worth it to me? No.
What has surprised you most about juggling work and family?
I wouldn’t say I’ve been surprised, but it was certainly a shock to realize how little time for myself I now have. I went from being deliciously selfish in NYC to completely selfless when I had Tatum. No more sleep, less glamorous social life, less time with my husband alone, etc. Simple errands now take planning and organizing to squeeze into my schedule. In terms of work, I’m surprised by how easily technology has made it to work and still be a mom. I can do almost everything via mobile and email – the flexibility of not having to be in an office is almost priceless.
Describe a current “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:
7:00am: Wake Up.
7:30-8:30am: Breakfast, get myself and Tatum ready.
8:30-9:00am: Daycare drop off (if Randy is working).
6:00pm: Dinner (or yoga if Randy is home).
8-8:30pm: Tate’s Bedtime Routine.
9:00pm: Time with the Hubby.
On a daily basis…:
I am energized and motivated by the city in which I live. New York is NOT an easy place to raise children but the struggle is worth it. The city is filled with so much diversity, culture, interesting people, places, and things. There is always something to do. The other moms I’m friends with are so diverse and successful in their own right (one is about to work as an advisor for Obama, and the other is a PR guru for world famous rock bands); and though it all sounds glamorous, we are all just mothers trying to survive in NYC. It’s cliché but true that if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. I’m also motivated by my husband who is such an involved and active dad. As well as our incredible day care whose providers love Tatum and teach her so much. I couldn’t go to work and do my job well without knowing she was in such amazing hands.
I am drained by lack of sleep. I seriously haven’t felt rested since 2009. Sadly, being perpetually exhausted is my new normal, which is not to say it’s okay, but it’s the truth. I’m also frustrated by just how difficult it is to raise children in NYC. Nothing is easy or cheap here. For the first year of Tatum’s life we lived in a 1 bedroom apartment on a third floor walkup (no elevator). No dishwasher or washer/dryer in the building, AND we paid more in rent than most people would pay in mortgage for a large house. Sharing our bedroom with the baby, dragging a stroller up and down stairs, and walking blocks to do the laundry eventually got old so we moved into an elevator building with laundry, BUT we pay an insane amount in rent. It’s fairly ridiculous. I say you really have to LOVE NYC to live here because there is a price you pay for love. Another frustration is preschool – most of them cost upwards of $15-20K/yr and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get into them. We’ve made the decision to save our money and keep Tatum in daycare for at least another year, but it’s frustrating just how much money it costs to raise a child here.
On “having it all”:
For me, having it all is about perspective. There will always be a “better” job, a “better” mother, a “better” house, but it’s about being happy with my current day-to-day. Not stressing about what I can’t control or the job I “should” be in. Feeling blessed for the things I have – not for the things I don’t. It’s about finding a work-life mix that I’m content with.
I think my definition of “having it all” has changed since having a baby, but I do think I have it all. I have a healthy, happy family, great friends and a career that allows me to live in my favorite city in the world. Is it as glamorous as it sounds or easy? No. But it’s a good life and I’m thankful for it.
Share your key(s) to maintaining order (“managing it all”) and any tools you highly recommend:
I live in organized chaos – it’s been insanity from the moment Tatum was born. Randy’s airline schedule is inconsistent so every day and week is different. Just being honest! On days where it’s just me, I do prepare Tatum’s daycare stuff the night before. Hiring a cleaning lady and taking cleaning off our plate also has been key. I try to cook dinners on Sunday so we can have leftovers during the week. I’ll take Tatum on long walks through Central Park or go to yoga just to maintain order in my mind – but I can’t lie – I haven’t quite mastered “order” in my life yet.
My best resources have been other mothers. No book or website can compare to the wisdom and support of moms that are going through the same things you are.
What advice would you give an earlier version of yourself?
I wouldn’t give myself too much advice. I was pretty good about traveling and taking full advantage of my pre-child life. And no matter the advice, NOTHING can prepare you for the reality of motherhood. I think would tell myself to not be so scared to have a baby. I spent a lot of time avoiding motherhood because I loved my pre-child life so much. With Tatum, everything has changed yet at the same time almost nothing has. We do everything we used to (in terms of travel, etc.) but we do it now with her. She’s been on over 50 airplanes and is a seasoned traveler at 2.5 years old. In terms of career, I’d tell myself that money is not the most important thing – flexibility and work-life balance are far more valuable and rewarding. If you find a company that supports you during your early motherhood years, think twice before being seduced by a “better” opportunity. Grass isn’t always greener on the other side.