THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 139: Maria Adcock, Writer and Blogger

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 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 novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 139: Maria Adcock, Writer and Blogger

Age: 43
Where I live:
 Long Island, NY
Job: Freelance Writer and Blogger, Founder of Bicultural Mama
Kids: Two daughters, ages 1 and 6

Maria AdcockHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Before my first child was born, my husband and I both commuted into Manhattan which door-to-door was 1.5 hours each way, so 3 hours total. We also both had demanding jobs in corporate offices that often required us to stay late. After our first child was born, it was clear that one parent needed to be closer to home in case of emergencies. At that time my career was in a transition stage, so it made sense for me to find a job that was more local. The options were limited compared to Manhattan, and it was difficult to find a job in my business specialty area and one that was at the same career level and salary. In addition, the job ended up requiring long hours that resulted in me only seeing my baby for 1 hour a day and my husband only for 15 minutes, if we were lucky. Ultimately we decided this was not how we wanted to raise our child, and I then explored jobs that were part time. However part-time jobs didn’t cover the cost of child care, so I looked into a complete career change where I could work from home. That’s how I decided to start a second career in writing, which is a field I had always been interested in since I was a child but just hadn’t known how to get into as a career.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Having “it all” may be realistic if you have a job that pays well and has flexible hours that allow you to still be involved with your child during the day, but these types of jobs are very difficult to come by. I think we should strive to do the best we can under the circumstances we’re dealing with.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
The most challenging parts of the day for me are in the morning (trying to get the kids cleaned up, fed, and out to door before the bus comes) as well as after school (getting to after-school activities, doing homework (American school and Chinese school), making dinner, giving baths, doing the bedtime routine all within 3 hours).

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting better at getting dinner on the table by planning ahead, such as setting up a meal in a crockpot in the morning or having one dish be a frozen one that can be easily thawed and cooked.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
I keep a “To Do” list on my smartphone and mark important items as “High Priority.” First thing in the morning I look at today’s schedule and also scan my “To Do” list so that I’ll remember which items are the most important to tackle first.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “When things are overwhelming, break tasks down into smaller steps so that they’re manageable and you can feel a sense of accomplishment as you tick each one off.”
From your mother? “Just do your best.”
From your spouse? “Do what you can when you can.”
From your kids? “Mommy, just be happy.” (Said to me after a particular frazzled day where I was stressing out.)

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?
I would get an acupuncture appointment. It does wonders for restoring me inside and out.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Like most 20 years olds, you find the smallest “flaws” about your physical self. I’d tell myself to appreciate my physical self instead of being so self-critical. And to save more money.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
I hope to connect more to my spiritual self and learn how to better manage stress.

What part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
House cleaning. Enough said.

Whose job do you wish you had?
I’d like to have Jessica Alba’s job. She’s a successful businesswoman running a billion dollar company who’s also a devoted mom and can act in the occasional movie when she wants to.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
The President of the United States. No matter what you do, someone is going to come down on you whether the reasons are valid or not. It’s a stressful, underappreciated, and tough job.

Favorite books?
I loved The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It was the first time I read a book where the main characters had the same heritage as mine. It made me realize that it was possible to be Asian, write about things related to your background, and others may actually be interested.

What are you reading right now?
Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age by Maya Thiagarajan. I’m reviewing it for my blog.

Biggest vices…
Activity?
 Meeting up with friends for a meal. It doesn’t happen often anymore, but when it does, it’s wonderful.
Food? Ice cream. I’m semi lactose intolerant, too, but I love that stuff.
Website? Daily Mail. It’s like People magazine but with less censorship since it’s based in the UK (they have a U.S. version). It sucks me in so I try not to read it unless I know I have a chunk of time to spare.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
6 hours. I need more like 8 hours to really feel rested.

What do you read every morning?
My “To Do” list on my smartphone, a quick scan of emails, and birthdays of friends on Facebook so that I can wish them a happy birthday.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: can look back on my life so far and say I’ve lived a fulfilled life.
I wish I: didn’t let stress get to me.
My kids: make me so happy.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
If you have to make a tough decision, imagine yourself on your deathbed, and think about if you’d have regrets if you made the decision one way or the other. That always helps me with my decision.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Find my blog at BiculturalMama.com.

bicultural mama square-no tagAbout Maria:
Maria Adcock is the founder of BiculturalMama.com, a site covering culture, parenting, food and travel. She is a first generation Chinese-American and corporate marketing professional turned freelance writer who lives in New York with her husband and two young children.

Find out more about Maria:
www.biculturalmama.com
Facebook: BiculturalMama
Twitter: BiculturalMama
Instagram: BiculturalMama
Pinterest: BiculturalMama

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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2 Comments

  1. Bicultural Mama Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you for profiling me!

    • Susie Schnall Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for participating, Maria!!

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