Monday, November 30, 2009

Moms in the media

It was so nice to attend Momcafe last Friday without having to worry how my little guy was settling in with the child care. After two experiences of him having to sit with me through the presentations, I made other child care arrangements (convenient that Grandma was in town that day). So I was able to network with other moms and enjoy the presentations without distractions.

Today’s speakers were Moms behind the Headlines: Andrea Vance, Publisher of WestCoast Families; and Tamara Taggart, CTV Weathercaster.

Andrea talked about her path to becoming an entrepreneur and publisher. Tamara talked more about how she makes it work today.

It was interesting to hear Andrea talk about her late days and nights working at EA. How that lead to a late night life discussion over Rum and Cokes, with her now husband. And how that led to her quitting her high paying job with nothing to go to and no plan.

The biggest transitions for her were:
  • Learning to work from home. How to get out of bed and out of your PJs everyday. She realized she had to think about it as ‘work’ and to prepare herself for each day, as she was going to the office. And some days that might mean staying in her sweats for the day.
  • Thought she could plan her transition to being a parent. She had 9 months to get organized. She isn’t a big planner, but feels that her work plan went well. The home plan did not go to plan, and the anticipated labour distribution plan had to be adjusted after the baby was born.
For her balance is about dealing with whatever has to get done and that she goes to bed feeling like she (and her child) ate and that things got done that needed to be done.

For her the question should not be what is next? But what is next next? What is the passion or ultimate goal?

It was interesting listening to Tamara and really relating to a number of the things she said about her life. She works in the ‘soul sucking business of TV’ (I used to work in the soul sucking business of advertising). And she waited until she was older to have kids, only because she didn’t meet the right person until she was older (same story for me). She is a worry wart and had challenges realizing that when you have kids you have to give up some of the control (amen sister).

She believes she can have it all. You just have to prioritize differently.

It was interesting listening to her story about her oldest child Beckett who was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome 5 days after he was born. Her pregnancy had been easy, and all the tests had been good. So she and her husband were completely unprepared and knew nothing about downs syndrome.  She had to learn fast. The difference in her situation is that she had to go through it in front of the public.

She addressed why she went back to work after 4 months after both children - “because they needed the money”. It is the most expensive time of your life and you only qualify for EI. So she went back to work. I appreciated that while not everyone in the room would agree with her, she was unapologetic. It was her choice for her family. She doesn’t judge others decisions and she doesn’t expect anyone should judge hers. (note to those who want to express their opinion to her in the grocery store – make sure she isn’t holding a jug of milk).

She talked about the Regis show as a ‘big show with a small town mentality’. They really made her feel comfortable and she was surprised by how laid back they were. And that helped revitalize her idea of what she does. And to her it is very important to love what she does.

How does she manage with her busy schedule?

  • She has a team. Her mom, a part time nanny and of course her husband.
  • Being home for bedtime is mandatory. Most nights both parents are home for bedtime, but there is always at least one of them there.
  • Prioritizing her time – cause frankly she’d rather shop for the kids than herself these days.
  • Nothing comes before her family.  And work knows this.  "It is what it is".  Although she does have to remind herself of that every so often.
One of the questions for Tamara was how she handles privacy for her family. She is a pretty open person (says she answer anything but her weight). She doesn’t want to hide her children, nor make Beckett a poster child for downs syndrome. But he is fantastic and wants other people to see that. Of course being in the public she does have to consider safety issues, and has had stalkers. 

Like all parents she doesn’t seem to have a concrete answer to all the questions. She notes that she replaced her Us magazines with mommy blogs and loves to learn from them. On the flip side she doesn’t have the answers, but if someone can learn from her then great.
 Both Tamara and Andrea seem, like most parents, to take it day by day and try to make the best decisions for their families and themselves.   Doing something you are patient about is key no matter what you do.

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