Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious—and maybe a little obsessed—about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”
BY THE WAY…
- Looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT, the novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
- The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
- Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
- Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.
No. 58: Audrey McClelland, Entrepreneur and Blogger
Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I changed my career in 2004 after having my first son. I was living in NYC working for Donna Karan, and I just couldn’t leave my child. I wanted to be there, but I also knew I needed to make an income. I felt the only way to create balance was to start my own “business” from home and still be able to be a wife and mom, too. The online world intrigued me so much back then, I just kept thinking… Maybe there’s something to this Internet thing and being a mom? The balance for my life started there.
If you’re a parent, is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
After I had my first son, I got pregnant immediately again. My sons are 12 months apart. I knew I needed to keep focusing on the direction I was going in with the online world and really creating content that I felt other moms would relate to and want to read. My job became trying to create an online blog, I just didn’t know it was called a blog back then! Everything shifted in my career when I became a mom because I knew I wanted to be with the boys. I knew I didn’t want to be working 10-hour days away from my babies. There was just a piece in me that was crying out to be there with the boys.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I have to be honest, I don’t think it’s realistic. I feel like we have “it all” at different times—and it’s the “all” piece that changes. On the weekends, my all is being with my family. It’s tuning out work as much as I can. It’s putting my phone down and not checking email. During the week, when I’m plugged in and getting work done while the kids are at school, it’s having “it all” to me. I’m able to be in my work zone and really do what I do best when I’m in that zone. At night, I feel like I have “it all” if I get the kids down and to bed at a decent time and homework is done and bath time is finished—maybe even getting the laundry away, too!
Throughout my life as a mom and a wife, I’ve begun to see when I have the having “it all” moments, I need to break it down to make me feel like I’m doing the best job I possibly can. I’ll never be able to be the perfect mom, wife, business woman, friend, daughter, etc. at the same time. It’s taken me years to come to that realization and be okay with it, but it’s true.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
The part of “balance” I can’t seem to figure out is explaining to my kids how hard I work to be able to make it to everything I possibly can for them. I try my hardest to work my schedule around them, but it doesn’t always happen. The balance piece of it rocks… and it is difficult to explain to little kids that you just can’t do it all sometimes. That the balance piece of life sometimes gets tough and not always the way you want it to be.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting much better at creating balance without my phone. Family time is family time. Work time is work time. It’s how I balance it all. I can’t be connected to my job 24/7—it isn’t good for me as a person, as a mom, as a wife. My life revolves around my family, so I’ve gotten much better at being able to carve out specific times when the phone is DOWN and it’s just about being in the moment and being present with the kids. It’s being PRESENT with the kids that is the most valuable to me.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. We’re all in this together and we all have good days and bad days and regular days. We’re all trying to figure it out, you’re not alone. It made me feel okay to feel emotions sometimes because many times women don’t talk about how much they’re dealing with and how hard it is on them emotionally, mentally, and physically.
From your mother? My mom always taught me to cherish the ordinary moments of life with my kids. This has brought much balance to my life. It’s not always just about the extraordinary moments of the 1st birthday or the Christmas Dance… it’s also that random Tuesday of reading together on the couch, it’s making brownies on a Sunday afternoon. These are the moments you will remember and cherish and that balance you.
From your spouse? My husband has always told me that he has my back. He’s my #1 supporter. We’re in this together. We love each other and he’s my best friend and my rock. He helps me keep the balance of my life.
From your kids? One simply statement has always brought balance to my life with my kids, when they tell me that they’re “proud of me.” So simple, but leaves a lasting impression on my heart.
If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Honestly? Watching TV—either the Hallmark Channel (I’m obsessed with romance movies) or reality TV.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That worrying about things you can’t change, changes nothing. Not to sweat the small stuff.
What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
That all the hard work was worth it.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
This is an easy one, cleaning the bathrooms. (I have 5 men in my house!)
Whose job do you wish you had?
I wish I had Kelly Ripa’s job!
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Any kind of contemporary romance.
What are you reading right now?
Pegasus by Danielle Steel
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
What do you read every morning?
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: need a date night with my husband soon!
I wish I: was able to take a week off and jet to Hawaii with my family.
My kids: are my world.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Go big or go home!
Audrey McClelland, a social media consultant and brand advocate, is the founder of MomGenerations.com, an online destination for mothers. Mom Generations is in its sixth year and is a destination for mothers featuring over 1300 videos and 7000 postings on the latest trends in fashion and beauty for moms, kid fashion, baby gear, product reviews, toys, and many other pieces of advice for busy moms. Audrey is the mother of four boys and a girl and has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, the Rachael Ray Show, The Daily Buzz and in publications such as The New York Times, The New York Post, WWD, Parenting Magazine, Pregnancy Magazine, and Redbook. She also is the co-founder of three additional digital properties: Getting Gorgeous, Digital Mom Handbook, and Rhody Mamas to extended her influence and presence online. Audrey was named to “The Power Pack” Moms in Nielsen’s Online Power Moms list, naming her one of the most influential moms online and was recently named 2013 Top 50 Fashion Blogs by BlogRank. She speaks frequently on the topics of motherhood, fashion/beauty, and social media at blogging conferences, Twitter conferences, social media mixers, and women’s business conferences.
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
AmEx’s Sobbott on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 25: J0-Laine Duke-Collins, Dessert Stylist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 26: Whitney English, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 27: Jennifer Gooch Hummer, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 28: Melissa Amster, Book Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 29: Nigel Marsh, Author and Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 30: DayNa Decker, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 31: Amy Selling, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 32: Heather Sonnenberg, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 33: Allison Winn Scotch, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 34: Bibi Kasrai, Entrepreneur and Chef
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 35: Karen Sutton MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 36: Samantha Ettus, Balance Expert, Author, TV/Radio Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 37: Pam Yudko, Holistic Health and Transformational Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT| No. 38: Nancy Huang, Nonprofit Outreach Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 39: Mary Laura Philpott, Writer, Editor and Illustrator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 40: Towanda Long, Marketing Communications Specialist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 41: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 42: Tracy Pollan, Actor and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 43: Christianne Phillips, Fitness Consultant and Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 44: Susannah Lewis, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 45: Kimi Culp, Producer, Author and Creative Consultant
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 46: Traci Bild, Entrepreneur
The Balance Project Interview Series Turns 1!
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 47: Laura Vanderkam, Journalist and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 48: Amy Tara Koch, Style Expert and Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 49: Cozy Friedman, Kids’ Hair Expert
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 50: Bobbii Hach-Jacobs, Music Promoter
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 51: Niketa Jhaveri, Game Creator and Web Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 52: Sheri Silver, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 53: Lori Pollan, Cookbook Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 54: Chatón Turner, Attorney and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 55: Joanne Wilson, Investor and Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 56: Nicola Kraus, Author and Creative Coach
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 57: Shiri Sarfati, Marketing Expert