Meet the fabulous Paige Hobey. She is a contributing writer for Parenting and Chicago Parent and the author of the popular new parenting guidebook, The Working Gal’s Guide to Babyville, which should be on the nightstands of all new working moms.
She lives in Chicago with her husband Charlie and their two children, Bailey (4) and Avery (2).
Of course, the Working Gal's Guide to Babyville can be found in the Balance Books section of the Mommy Track'd Reading Room. This book is a fantastic gift for all new moms that plan to return to work. We wish it was around when our first kids were born.
How would you describe your job?
I usually say I’m a writer because that’s the simplest description. In reality, my days are a crazy combination of professional and personal stuff. I wrote a book, The Working Gal’s Guide to Babyville, which was published this summer, and I’m still helping with promotion. I write for magazines like Parenting. I also work with a designer and programmer on Internet development and marketing projects for small businesses.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
I love the autonomy and flexibility. I can take my son to preschool, go to the park with my daughter, and then come home and work for several hours. I’m not confined to a rigid work schedule.
On the downside, it’s nearly impossible to maintain boundaries between work and personal time. If my kids are happily eating a snack for a few minutes, it’s very tempting to run up to my office and check email. I usually have about ten things from my to-do list in the back of my mind, which makes it harder to be fully present with my kids.
Would you work if you could afford to stay home?
Yes, I would. I’m happiest when I combine family life with projects that challenge a different part of my brain. Fortunately, I really like most of the work I’ve been doing in recent years. That helps. When I’m in my office, the hours fly by and I usually feel more energized to play with my kids. Plus, I like being a strong role model for them. My son is only four, but he was so excited to see my book in our local bookstore.
Do you think your career path would have been different if you hadn't had kids?
If I had never had kids, I’d still be working full-time in a more corporate position and environment. Before my son was born, I was working a ton of hours directing the content development team at an Internet company, and I’d probably still have that lifestyle.
During maternity leave, I realized I couldn’t go back to that job. My son gave me a reason to make a major career change and head out on my own, which was both terrifying and liberating. In any case, it’s turned out well so far. I never would have written a book without the flexibility I have now. Granted, I have no idea what my career path will look like in five years, but that’s okay. What’s life without taking a few risks, right?
How does your life differ from when you worked in corporate America?
My typical day in corporate America went something like this: Wake up. Casually have breakfast while watching a few minutes of the Today Show. At the office, go to meetings, work on the computer, have rational conversations with other adults. After work, get dinner with friends or volunteer or go to the gym or do whatever the heck I want because I can.
My typical day now: Wake up around 6a.m. to my daughter yelling, “Mommmmy! Mommmmy!” down the hall. Go get her out of her crib. Bring her back into bed and attempt to snuggle. On a good day, we’ll hang out like this until about 6:15a.m., when my son wanders into the room all bed-headed and cheerfully groggy. This is the beginning of Good Times for my daughter, who believes her older brother is a rock star who happens to live in our house.
Over the following two hours, I use every persuasion strategy in the book to herd the kids through getting dressed, eating breakfast and leaving the house to drop off my son at preschool. And the rest of the day is a back and forth between kids and work. My days are busier now, but that’s just the reality of parenthood. They’re also more fun.
Describe your craziest working mom moment.
There have been so many! Last year I was conducting a phone interview with a director at a pediatric hospital (a very serious man), and my son somehow escaped from the babysitter. He burst into my office laughing and screaming like a maniac, running in circles until I finally tackled him and the babysitter ran into the room. It wasn’t my smoothest moment.
Do you exercise? If so, how often? How do you fit it in?
Um, no. Not officially. Time-dedicated-to-exercise went out the window about time my daughter entered the world. But I feel like I’m running throughout the day anyway, and we walk to dinner, parks, etc. all the time. Does that count?
What is the best piece of advice you have received about balancing work and family?
When I was working on the book, a woman I interviewed had some great advice. She said prior to having kids she often threw time at work problems, spending many hours making things perfect—or near perfect—in her eyes. As a mother, she’s become much more comfortable telling herself, “It’s time to go. This is good enough, or it can wait until tomorrow.” So, except in rare instances she can be home at night with her kids, in mind and body.
Repeat those words to yourself like a mantra the next time you’re frantically trying to wrap up a project: “This is good enough. Really.” It helps. So many of us are used to over delivering and consistently putting in 110%. While our kids are young, something’s gotta give. Go easy on yourself and be realistic about what is possible—and desirable—during this phase of life.
What would you do if you had more time?
Travel. Read more. Exercise (maybe). Take more photographs. Spend time with friends. Have more date nights with my husband. Play with my kids until they want to stop.
What inspires you?
Great books. People I meet. And lately, parenthood has been an inspiration. It’s messy, complicated, hilarious, and more emotional than any other job on the planet.