Women who make it work: Suzanne Nicar


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Suzanne Nicar has a song in her heart and a passion for making women feel good about themselves. After leaving her job of seven years in hotel sales, she recently transitioned into a new role as a leasing consultant for Weinstein Properties in Richmond, Va. Though her day job involves showing prospective tenants around properties, she is also a mother of a two-year-old daughter, a regular in the Richmond theater circuit and a Mary Kay beauty consultant.

I’ve known Suzanne for nearly 20 years. She grew up around the corner from my family and she’s been friends with my sister since elementary school. A few years ahead of me in school, she arrived at Virginia Commonwealth University two years before me. Suzanne graciously rescued me from dining hall food by cooking me dinner at her apartment and making me feel a little less like a country girl in the big city.

Now that we’ve both grown up (a bit) and face the same challenges as working mothers, I caught up with her to find out how she makes it work.

Q: What’s the best thing about being a mom?
Watching my daughter grow into a little girl with her own thoughts and aspirations.

Q: What tips do you have for working moms?
Pick your battles! If you have a choice of doing dishes or cuddling for 20 minutes before your child goes to bed, cuddle. As hard as it is to let dishes and laundry pile up, those chores will always be there. I’m sure there will come a day when my daughter will be too cool to go to the park or won’t want to cuddle and watch a movie on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Also, make every day off count. Have a special count down or weekly tradition. When I pick my daughter up on Friday evenings she knows it’s movie night (popcorn included) and we’ve got “two days” together.

Q: What are your career aspirations?
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a recording artist. Right now, I’m just happy to be home to put my daughter to sleep every night. My ultimate dream would be to combine my professional experience with my passion for the arts. I would love to open a little hole in the wall theater or even café/cabaret.

image1Q: You’re an accomplished actress in Richmond-area live theater. How do you balance that calling with your career and family?
I was fortunate to be able to perform a lot before Addie was born. Now, it’s much harder to leave her to go rehearsals in the evenings. Although I don’t perform nearly as much as I used to, it’s a part of me that I’ve never been able to let go. I want my daughter to find something like that. Something that will call her no matter where she is in life and make her feel whole, like singing does for me. I want her to know that about me, and to someday soon see me on stage.

Q: What’s in your purse/bag?
Wallet, hand sanitizer, glasses, inhaler, Tylenol, baby wipes, lip gloss, and powder.

Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is that working moms face and what can we do about it?
A lot of people (particularly employers) see being a working mom as a weakness. It’s not. We work just as hard, if not harder. I think I became a better employee when I had a baby. All of a sudden, I had a finite amount of time at the office to get things done. If I had a deadline, I met that deadline because I had to leave by 4:30 p.m. to pick up my daughter. I was more productive in those 8-9 hours of work because NOTHING was going to keep me from picking up my daughter when I needed to.

Q: Who is your role model?
My mom. She worked while I was growing up and was still home to get me off the bus. She made every chorus concert, every field hockey game. Even when I was younger, I remember my mom telling me I could accomplish anything. She’s the first phone call I make when I need advice.

Q: How do you “make it work”?
My Husband. He’s my partner in not only in our marriage but as a parent. When I’m tired and can’t handle anymore, he’s always there to help.

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Free template: Meal Planning

IMG_2521I’m lucky to have a husband who enjoys culinary exploration. He’s usually the grocery shopper and chef. But he’s also an “I’ll just see what inspires me at the Farmer’s Market” kind of guy. I need a plan. And a list. Also, you can’t buy Cheezits at the Farmer’s Market and nothing keeps my toddler calm during post-work errands than a handful of cheesy crackers.

I needed an easy way to plan out our meals for the week. We keep things pretty loose around here and we rarely stick to the plan exactly as laid out, but having a few ideas helps me avoid the 3 p.m. panic at work when I realize I have no idea we are going to eat for  dinner or what’s  in our freezer.

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I like big mugs and I can not lie.

Getting up early is kind of my thing. On Sunday mornings, I take a giant cup of coffee into the living room, tuck my feet under me on the couch and plan out our meals for the week. Some of my friends have Blue Apron and they RAVE about it. I think I’ll ask one of them to post a review of it on the blog for those of you considering it.

For now, I’m sharing the simple meal planning worksheet I threw together, in the hope that it may help you keep the crazy in check. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done. I keep blank worksheets in a notebook in our family command center and when it’s filled in, I post it in our kitchen.

Download it here: What to eat this week.

Happy planning!

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Women who make it work: Kimberly Fields

 

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Kimberly Fields is a 27-year-old whirling dervish of energy and enthusiasm. Whether she is working as a communications specialist, building her own consulting business, or taking her 5-year-old daughter to ballet lessons, she’s constantly moving forward. And since we work for the same company (actually, we share a cubicle wall) I know exactly how hard she works.
Q: Let’s start with your number one priority. What’s the best thing about being a mom?

A: For me, the best thing about being a mom is the uncertainty because it’s constantly forcing me outside of my comfort zone, it challenges me to think a little bit harder before I make decisions, it reminds me to be considerate of how my actions and life affect the well being of others. Motherhood (or let’s just be frank, parenthood in general) is a NEVER-ENDING job, but it’s also the most rewarding job I’ll ever hold in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.

Q: What tips do you have for working moms?

A: I’ve got a couple:

  1. Venting is totally and completely necessary.
  2. Time to yourself is required for sanity – don’t let anyone tell you anything different.
  3. Your dreams and goals matter – achieve them.
  4. Keep everything in its proper perspective – what you experience as a mother is for YOU. Advice and wisdom is always a plus, but don’t let anyone define motherhood for you, define it for yourself!
  5. Always remember to laugh and smile more than you cry  – there will be good days and bad days; learn to count it all joy.

Q: What are your career aspirations?

A: To be a small business owner of a consulting firm. I desire to manage this in addition to my corporate career. I know that I want to make a difference wherever God takes me in my career, including, but not limited to, teaching on the collegiate level, counseling young adults and families, starting a nonprofit organization for young people and the list goes on. Truth is, I don’t have it all figured out – I take each day as it comes, conquering the present and pressing toward whatever the future holds.

Q: You’re in an executive MBA program. What has it been like going back to school and working at the same time?

Kim 2A: First off, God gets all the glory out of my life and its success. He is the head and center of everything I am and will become. At the heart of it, he makes it all possible.

Going back to school, working, being there for my family, growing spiritually, and the list goes on – is A LOT. I don’t strive to be superwoman but I’ve certainly learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was. Balance is key – learning what’s important in the moment you’re in is helpful when you’re trying to “do it all.” It’s hectic at times but in the moments where it’s calm, I realize that it’s all worth it because I get to see the fruit of my labor (my accomplishments, my daughter growing, etc) blossoming one day at a time. My husband is amazing and incredibly helpful. He definitely balances me out and helps keep me sane in those moments when I feel completely overwhelmed. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to handle it all.

Q: What’s in your bag?

A: The real question is “what’s NOT in my bag?” That’s probably harder to answer. I currently have a few random crumbs from food I can’t identify, wet wipes (I ALWAYS have these or some form of a tissue/napkin) a ziploc bag of random snacks – nothing says happy and calm like a kid with their favorite snack.
Q: What do you think the biggest challenge is that working moms face and what can we do about it?

To me, the biggest challenge for the working mom is the “I have to be everything, to everyone” attitude. Newsflash ladies: No.you.don’t. And for those of us that place that demand upon ourselves (shamefully raises my own hand) we need to learn to admit that it’s our own fault and then reevaluate. As mothers, we have to learn to set realistic expectations for ourselves and everyone else involved (yes, even our children). Learn to be okay with missing a play date, soccer game or ballet lesson here and there, sometimes I think we’re more dramatic than our families are when we “miss out” on something – your children only know and adjust to what you teach them.

Q: Who is your role model?

A: There are a lot of people I could list here, but I choose to tribute BOTH of my parents. My parents were commuters, we lived an hour away from their jobs and still to this day they make that same commute. Time during the week with my parents, was limited. Grandma made sure we had breakfast and got on the bus every day and my parents picked us up after school. Even with two parents who worked very hard to provide me and my siblings with an amazingly and extremely privileged childhood; I can honestly say, they never missed a beat. I don’t have memories of them never being there or not supporting me in those moments I really needed them. They set expectations and more importantly, they set an example. They taught me that a successful career didn’t have to be compromised because they were raising three children. They made it work; and for that I am grateful.

Q: How do you “make it work?”

Kim 4For me, there is no such thing as “throwing in the towel” or “calling it quits.” When something isn’t working, you just try something else until you find your sweet spot or balance to satisfy all that’s required of you. And quite frankly, you’ll probably never find your sweet spot because as you grow and change, so does your family, so you’re constantly readjusting. But being okay with that and being willing to readjust is how you learn to balance it all.

 

Monday Momspiration – You got this

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Mondays are tough. Mondays after a holiday are even tougher. You have to get up, look presentable (preferably in something clean that matches), get the kids up, fed, dressed and in the car, deal with a meltdown because your toddler wanted her white puppy, not her pink bunny, and try to remember your work bag, laptop, car keys and anything else you need for the day. Once you finally pry your screaming child off your leg and slink guiltily out the daycare door, you have to go to work and act like an adult.

It’s times like this that it’s important to remember that your kid’s class is full of parents doing the exact same thing as you. So, get a cup of coffee, sit down at your desk and breathe. You got this.