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The Struggle to Juggle Is Real: Tips from 5 NJ Working Moms

NJ moms share how they stay sane while managing the kids, everyone’s schedules, the house and demanding jobs.



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All photos courtesy of respective moms unless otherwise noted.
 

Meaghan Murphy, Westfield 

Executive Editor, Good Housekeeping; Husband Patrick and kids Charley, 7; James, 5; Brooks, 4 

On being in two places at once… 

“The juggle is real! I’m often torn between a 9 am preschool concert in NJ and a big 10 am meeting in NYC. So, I get creative! Nana stands in for me and hits the show, texting video clips and photos while I’m on the train. I’m lucky to have an incredible mom, mother-in-law and husband who can often be at the place I’m not.” 

On managing work pressure… 

“I go to therapy, and by therapy, I mean the gym! As long as I hit my 5:30 am workout class every morning with my #goodvibetribe of like-minded women, I’m clear, focused and ready to handleanything the day throws my way.” 

On mom guilt... 

“I can’t stand the concept of ‘mom guilt.’ We all love our children and do the very best we can, so why obsess over how/why/where we may or may not have gone wrong?! I read an article in Psychology Today that called guilt a ‘surefire recipe for resentment and depression.’ Just say no to mom guilt!”

Photo courtesy of Little Nest Portraits
 

Five NJ moms share their best sanity-saving parenting secrets.

Ysolt Schmidt, Bloomfield

Executive Editor, Ziff Davis; Husband Jesse and daughter Lucy, 23 months

On transitioning back to work after baby...

“I’ve never felt a more intense roller coaster of emotions as I had going back to work. I was equal parts upset and delighted, anxious and relieved. As much as it pained me to drop her off, I loved going back to work and feeling like myself again. I chose a daycare where the caregivers are nurturing, trustworthy and communicative. They’ve become members of our family, which makes being away from Lucy easier and guilt-free.”

On the race to make it to daycare pickup...

“The struggle is real and will never go away, so my husband and I—both NYC commuters—deal with it the best we can. Luckily, our employers let us work atypical hours—we both start our work days at 7 or 7:30 am and try to catch the 3:50 or 4:15 pm bus home from Port Authority. One of us will do pickup while the other starts dinner. It’s a team effort. When one of us is late, those are the days we use Seamless Web or Uber Eats for dinner.”

On quality family time...

“Because we’re both working parents, we live for the weekends. We try to complete chores—laundry, meal prep, food shopping—on Friday nights. That way, we have the weekend to relax and enjoy! We call it ‘luxuriating.’ We go to breakfast, the park, see family and friends, escape for weekend getaways or just watch movies.”

Sheryl Cummings, Clifton

Senior Talent Consultant, Thermo Fisher Scientific; Husband Lester and daughters Layla, 11; Lyric, 7

On juggling the kids' schedules…

“We’re a soccer family. Both girls play travel soccer and my husband is the coach. In order to juggle the crazy schedules, we have to tag team. Since he coaches the older one, he takes her to practice while I shuffle the little one. We rarely see each other during soccer season, so when we have family time we use it wisely.”

On working from home…

“It’s way harder than I expected. I have no downtime since I have no commuting time. I probably work more hours than if I were in an office. I’m also going to school for my MBA, all online. It’s a delicate balance and honestly there are days where I can’t hold it together. I scream, I cry, I yell and yes, I curse like a truck driver. I have my ladies to keep me grounded and even though [we] live in different states, we find a way to stay in touch. Thank you, Facebook.”

On the morning routine…

“Atten-hut! Yes, I’m a drill sergeant in the morning. When school is in session I make sure they’re ready on time so my husband can take them to school. Mornings don’t always go smoothly and there are days I want to just hide. But I work from home, which provides some flexibility.”

Simone Fletcher, Newark

Assistant Store Manager, TD Bank and US Army Reserves: Combat Medic, Picatinny Arsenal NJ; Husband Henrique and kids Kimani 24; Trenell 21; Akena, 16; Nahila 11

On mom guilt…

“I know parenting comes with guilt and for me, I think of my absences when I have my military obligations and try to banish all the guilt. I think of the role model I’m being for my girls. I appreciate the fact that I’m an example for them to follow and look up to.”

On quick and healthy dinners…

“I’ve been a vegetarian for the past seven years and the kids will always try my dinnerinstead of theirs. It’s always easy to give them a quick salad while I cook, or pop a healthy option in the oven knowing they’ll enjoy it. I constantly experiment in the kitchen and they’ll happily try it at least once. If I can’t make dinner, Dad is an awesome cook and the best thing in life is having a husband who can whip up something delicious.”

On managing work pressure…

“I try to start each week with a clean slate and not bring last week’s load onto this week. Sundays are my recharge days. I go to church and strive to finish the afternoon by cooking a dinner my husband and kids will enjoy. I finish up by spending the time doing each daughter’s hair while we talk about the week’s schedule and activities. I enjoy their outlooks and different opinions.”

Donnella Tilery, Raritan

Assistant Director, YWCA Princeton and Freelance Event Planner; Daughter Savannah, 5

On working full-time as a single mom…

“I learned a lot about my will power and endurance. It’s always hard and sometimes lonely and frustrating, but when I see my daughter and the life we have, I know it’s worth it. She’s a genuinely happy kid which makes me feel the most accomplished as a human being.”

On shared custody…

“You have to put your personal feelings and ego aside to make it a civil experience. No matter how angry you get, taking the high road, or at least getting to the middle of the road and not screaming at each other, makes it better for your child.”

On your support network...

“I wouldn’t have made it the first two years without my mom. She was in the delivery room with me. Also, it’s interesting to find out what your friends and the people you date think about you as a person as they watch you go through motherhood.”

 

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