How motherhood has changed Chanelle’s outlook at work

I’ve been lucky to work in an industry that I love for almost 24 years now. While the constant change in media is both challenging and invigorating, nothing compares to the enormous shift in my life since becoming a parent. 

Cookie deprecation is going to be a piece of cake compared to transitioning into a working mom. 

As a career-driven woman, taking time out to have my beautiful baby, Beau, was a huge decision. It looks different for me as a birthing parent and senior agency leader but presents similar challenges and themes for many professional women. 

The transition has been harder than I expected but also more fulfilling than I could have imagined.  I’m exhausted but happier than I’ve ever been. 

Ahead of my first Mother’s Day, I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned, what I’m still working on, and how this translates into being a better mom, leader, friend, and colleague. Here’s how becoming a mom has changed my philosophy on how I think and work.

Don’t tolerate time-wasting

I’ve always believed that everyone’s time is valuable, whether they have a child, a dog, a yoga class to get to, or something going on in life that’s none of my business. Time, and the importance of it, is relative to the individual person, and everyone deserves the same respect. 

In practice, since becoming a mom, I’m still working long hours, but I’m way less tolerant of time-wasting. I recommend tackling difficult conversations head-on and swiftly. Make sure there’s a reason for each meeting you attend, and properly divide and conquer with your colleagues so you’re not duplicating work and everyone’s role is clear. 

“Confusion is the most common cause of time-wasting that I see, so cutting through this is a win-win for everyone—not just moms.”

Take the time to understand emotional drivers

Human beings are layered and complicated. We know this from our insights at work, but identifying our own motivators (and those of people around us) is harder because we don’t have a data platform to help us do it! However, there are tools like journaling, therapy, books, meditation, professional coaching, and training that can help us understand our personal drivers. 

For me, providing for my family while maintaining my personal identity and professional growth has become the driver of my ambition. This is what gets me out of bed every day. When I feel overwhelmed by the challenges of working mom-hood, I remind myself why I’m doing it (and consult my therapist!). 

For leaders, it’s also important to understand what drives those around you—by observing, asking questions, and truly listening. Self-awareness and team-awareness are powerful tools to unlock the best in everyone around you.

Ditch guilt and make confident decisions 

I would never walk into a pitch without prepping or fully believing in our ability to deliver great work. So while it’s so easy to slip into an unproductive spiral of mom guilt, I’ve alleviated some of that by working with my partner to research and make decisions we’re fully confident in: our childcare plan, our work-from-home/work-from-office schedules, and auto delivery for diapers and formula.  

I don’t feel bad leaving Beau with his nanny or in daycare because I know I’ve made the best decision for him and our family. Steve Jobs wore the same thing every day to remove small decisions and distractions. I enjoy shopping too much to be about that life, but making confident, automated decisions (big and small) does take stress away from each day. It leaves room for focus without distractions, which is another win-win.

Optimize your energy so you can “do it all”

In truth, I work more, and spend more time away from my family than I’d like to. I’ve also never been so overwhelmed by the balance of work, life, personal care, and family. I deal with this by making sure that I’m bringing quality energy to the things that are important—prioritizing moments that matter. 

For example, when I’m at work, I’m focused on work (aside from fawning over a picture update or two). At home, baby bath time is my new favorite time of day and weekends always include some sort of adventure—a walk, brunch, a road trip, or a visit to grandma’s. 

Personally, gym time is also important—it’s me time. And while it’s another hour away from home a few times a week, the mental health benefits make me a better mom and a better person—so it’s worth it. 

Figuring out what moments are important to you brings more satisfaction and focus into your day. It reframes what “doing it all” means because that’s a personal decision and shouldn’t be guided by Tradwife trends on TikTok or outdated magazine articles from circa 1995. (BTW, if you fully buy into the Tradwife trend, trust me, you don’t have time to be a working mom and vice versa.) 

Be comfortable with change

Like working in media, being a mom looks different every day. Just when I think we have a routine nailed down, something changes—a feeding schedule, a sleep regression, a fever, teeth! 

“Change is inevitable in parenthood and work.”

Fighting change is like swimming upstream (tiring and useless). It’s how we adapt to change that matters. Whether it’s a childcare schedule, a new client challenge, or a promotion, embracing changes, big or small, is the only way to conquer them. 

Find the right tools and support

Being a working mom is much harder than I anticipated. You may see a new working mom crushing it on the outside, but there’s likely a ton of physical and emotional adrenaline propping her up on the inside. I know that work and life challenges are not limited to moms, so my biggest lesson for all is: 

“Remember, you are human, so show yourself kindness and grace every day, not just on Mother’s Day.”

If you burn out, you won’t be of any help to yourself, your family, or your work. If you’re thinking “that’s easy to say, but where do I start?”, here are some super simple ideas: 

  • Take a hot girl walk
  • Go talk to a compassionate, unbiased professional in therapy 
  • Use your company’s Employee Assistance Program (it’s there for a reason)
  • Listen to free meditations on Spotify
  • Call your mom or best friend
  • Negotiate a flexible work schedule that works for everyone

My favorite and most regularly used tool is the sleep section in the Calm app. You’d think it would be easy to get to sleep after an exhausting day of work and motherhood. However, bedtime triggers “overthinking time” or “running through my to-do list time” for me. Listening to a sleep story or practicing a bedtime gratitude meditation helps tremendously.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I hope all moms get a chance to enjoy their loved ones and take time to reflect on what kind of mom, friend, and colleague they want to be. 

Most importantly, remember that we’re all a work in progress—enjoy and celebrate this moment in time, wherever it finds you. As my second favorite mom says, “You’re doing amazing, sweetie.”