Name: Mary Beth Skarsgard
Location: Lone Tree, CO
Professional Industry: Real Estate/Due Diligence
Company: Skarsgard Consulting, LLC
Job Title: Independent Consultant
WIXII-ISM™ FROM MARY BETH:
“I chose to continue working as a consultant because I knew that eventually I would want to go back to working full-time, and I didn’t want to have a big gap in my resume…so working on a project basis has been a good way to keep my resume ‘fresh.’”
“I think when my children are grown, I will look back on this stage and realize how precious it was—and perhaps think that I DID have it all. I think it’s important to embrace and cherish this stage of my life, even though it’s a challenge.”
Meet our featured Wixii™, Mary Beth Skarsgard. She is in her early 30s and mother to Berit (2.5) and Baby Skarsgard on the way (due August 22, 2013). She and her husband, Steve, were married almost 7 years before they welcomed their daughter into the world. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and holds a Series 7 license. In her current role, she conducts due diligence on various real estate products (including apartments, office, retail, real estate funds or REITS) that are sold to investors. Her husband, Steve, is a Marketing Manager for Cricket Communications.
As primary caretaker in the family, she also devotes 11-15 per week to her career and would rate her work-life satisfaction level as 6 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), based on the fact that during the week she has limited child-care arrangements (her daughter is in school 1x/week for 5 hours). She describes the policies of her workplace as moderately work-life friendly; she is able to establish her own hours as a consultant and work from home, however, because she has minimal child-care arrangements, she has to fit-in work whenever she can. At home, she handles almost all of the caregiving, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, and extracurricular activities.
To maintain her well-being on a daily basis, she strives to exercise and eats well. On a weekly basis, she catches up on sleep, connects with loved ones, spends time with friends, and prays/meditates.
My current work-life mix is possible (manageable) because of…
Right now, during the weekdays, I manage it on my own. On the weekends, my husband helps with the caregiving so that I can meet a deadline. But during the week, I strictly work around naps or get up early so I don’t use too much family time at night for work. Also, by the end of the day, I am so tired I don’t think my mind will focus properly on work, so I tend to not work at night.
In what ways did your work-life mix change after having children?
Well, I went from working full time to working on a consulting basis, because I knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Prior to having a child, my husband was always the breadwinner, but by the time we had a child, my salary was not too far behind. We also shared household chores (and my husband still helps out when he can, especially on the weekends).
I chose to continue working as a consultant because I knew that eventually I would want to go back to working full-time, and I didn’t want to have a big gap in my resume…so working on a project basis has been a good way to keep my resume “fresh.” After working for 7 years, I felt that I had reached a good point in my career. I had been with the same company for over 4 years, and I liked that I had established a niche for myself in the real estate industry, which I love and still enjoy. I didn’t want to lose that, and so I felt like keeping my “foot in the door” would be a smart move for future opportunities. I felt like a future employer may overlook me if I had too big of a gap in my resume; plus, with a gap, I felt like my future earning potential could go down. At the same time, I knew that I wanted to stay home with my daughter (and any future children) during the early years, because I can never get that time back. I didn’t want to regret anything. For me, I think if I dropped off my child everyday at day care, I would always wonder what I was missing. I think because my husband and I had two incomes for so long (known as DINKS “Dual income, no kids”), it was an adjustment going to one income, but we make it work.
Growing-up, what was your vision of work and life?
I grew up in a very traditional household where my father was the bread-winner, and my mother was in charge of 4 children, so that has definitely influenced me in becoming a stay-at home mom. I cherished having my mother with us. And I want the same for my daughter.
What has surprised you most about juggling work and family?
How difficult it is! Working is not my number one priority – it’s a matter of making it fit in with my schedule. One of the most difficult parts for me is coming to terms with the fact that it may not be possible to do everything up to the standards that I had in the past. It seems as if something has to be sacrificed (i.e., if I’m working on a project, we may have less home cooked meals that week, laundry may pile up, the house may not be as tidy as I would like, etc.)
Describe a current “day in your life” from waketime to bedtime:
(On a day where I have a project, and my daughter does not go to school…)
7:00am-9:30am: wake up and change my daughter’s diaper once she’s awake; go downstairs for breakfast and plead with her to eat something; plead with her to get dressed.
10:00am: try to go out on a morning activity to get out of the house (park, errands, library etc.).
11:30am: come home for lunch, and again, hope she will eat something; play for a little while after lunch and get ready for naptime.
1:00pm: naptime; during nap time, I try to clean, work, or cook dinner ahead of time. If I have a deadline, then work comes first, and I will hope in the 2-3 hours that my daughter is napping I will be able to make some decent progress.
4:00pm: once my daughter wakes up, sometimes we play or she gets a bath at this time (trying to kill time before Dad gets home).
5:30pm: husband comes home and takes my daughter upstairs with him while he changes out of his work clothes so I can have some time to myself.
7:00pm: one of us cleans up, and the other reads books with our daughter.
8:00pm-9:30pm: bedtime is a long, drawn-out process (hence that is why we bathe earlier); we read and one of us always has to lay with her until she goes to sleep, otherwise she will not stay in her bed and won’t even try to close her eyes and fall asleep. Because I am NOT a night owl, I usually head to bed soon after this process.
11:00pm-12:00am: husband in bed.
(This is obviously an abbreviated version. I did not include mundane tasks like potty-training, which can vary from day to day, and any other challenges that may come with the daily routine, i.e. fits, stalling, not wanting to get dressed, etc.)
On a daily basis, I am energized/motivated/inspired by:
Motivated by the fact that the weekend is one-day closer! But also by the fact that I am my daughter’s primary caregiver, and it is up to me to help guide her in a positive and loving way. It is my hope that I am doing just that.
On a daily basis, I am drained/frustrated by:
Fits! Especially when my daughter does not listen, or completely defies me. We are just starting to enter into the “terrible twos,” and it is not fun. Twice this week I have been forced to sit in the car for 30-45 minutes because she refuses to get in her car seat. She is so physically strong now that I have a hard time forcing her in, and it doesn’t matter how much I bribe her, if she has it in her mind she doesn’t want in the car seat, she’s not getting in. It seems that once simple tasks (e.g., eating, getting dressed etc.) can now bring about totally unpredictable behavior, which is typical of a 2-year old. I’ve been working hard at trying to remember to follow the Love and Logic method of parenting, which means I try to give her choices when it comes to doing something. However, I’ve discovered that this can be quite difficult with a 2-year old who cannot quite reason/rationalize. But we’ll keep trying!
What do you wish you could change about your current work-life mix?
I wish I had my daughter in preschool at least two days a week. Right now, she only goes on Tuesdays from 9:30-2:30 and it is just not enough. Plus, she likes school, so by having her in school an additional day, I think it would be beneficial for both of us. Having extra child care would eliminate some of the pressure I feel to try and fit things in with my current schedule.
What does “having it all” mean to you?
To me, “having it all” means satisfaction with who you are and what you have. Many people can associate “having it all” with material items, but it is obviously much more than that. As women, I think in general it is difficult to “have it all” because there are probably few women (at least the ones I know) who are truly satisfied with every aspect of their life. But I think when my children are grown, I will look back on this stage and realize how precious it was—and perhaps think that I DID have it all. I think it’s important to embrace and cherish this stage of my life, even though it’s a challenge. I am so grateful and honored to have my daughter, and like anything, with the challenges, also come rewards. Nothing is better than a hug or a kiss from my daughter, or hearing her say “I love you!”
Do you think that you “have it all”?
I don’t think I have it all, and I don’t think many people do, honestly. Finding a “balance” is really tough, especially for me at this stage in my life. I have this little human who depends on me 24-7, which means I sacrifice other things (willingly), but because of those sacrifices, it is hard to feel like I “have it all” right now.
Share your key(s) to maintaining order (“managing it all”):
I’m not sure I have many great tips just yet. I do like to get up early (when I’m not pregnant and very tired!) so that helps. Having my husband help me at night and in the mornings is really a HUGE help (i.e., having her stay upstairs with him so I can get breakfast ready, him “taking-over” when he gets home, etc.). I recognize that is a true blessing.
What advice would you give a pre-child version of yourself?
I’d always wanted to get my MBA, and I didn’t, so now that seems like something that will have to be on the back-burner for a while. We waited almost 7 years before we had kids, which I think was a positive because there was time for career development, traveling etc. Once you have kids, there isn’t as much “me” time, so my advice would be to make sure you are 100% ready for the sacrifices that are necessary
WIXII’S™ LAST STAND:
Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your work-life mix?
I have been very candid about the tough times and challenges, but that does not mean that I’m not happy being a mom. I chose this path and am grateful for the opportunity to be the primary caretaker for my daughter. I know that I am lucky to be able to make this choice, and I’m happy to be able to be home while still having the opportunity to keep my resume fresh for future career opportunities.