MOM Series: The Land of Opportunity, A Mom's View of Balancing Career & Family0
Working moms will tell you that it's a challenge to balance a career and a family. Most say they lean on others for recommendations and resources to help guide their decisions on how best to navigate through the myriad of options for childcare, stress-management and work/life balance. Jessica Fowle, mom, career-woman and lover of all things Kalamazoo shared her story of how a Michigan transplant built her life, career and family in this place she now calls her hometown.
Fowle grew up in New Orleans during her elementary years, Denver for middle school and Houston for high school. But when it came to deciding on a college and studying English Literature she looked to a smaller community and school, settling on Kalamazoo College. So, she packed up, headed to Kalamazoo, and never looked back! In fact, Fowle's serendipitous pairing with a roommate who was a Kalamazoo native solidified her decision to choose K College.
Fowle recalls, "My first night in Kalamazoo as an entering college student was spent with my new roommate (who is now like family to me). She grew up in Kalamazoo, and in my first few hours in town she introduced me to her family, to Bilbo's pizza, to Water Street Coffee, and to several of her high school friends- one of whom is now my husband!"
Fast forward several years and children later, we find Jessica enjoying the experiences that Kalamazoo has to offer, but as a wife, parent and career woman. Her growth through these stages has been rather seamless.
"After graduating college I had the opportunity to experience Kalamazoo in a new way as a young professional. … Now that I am a parent, I really appreciate the schools, organizations and businesses that enrich my children's lives and make my job as a parent easier," shared Jessica.
Jessica, now a mother of three, took full advantage of growing her career here. Currently Fowle's career includes roles as the Event Coordinator and Community Liaison for Bookbug, an Independent Educational Consultant for College Admissions Consulting, LLC, and the Content Coordinator for Best Version Media Gull Lake Living and The Heart of Texas Corners. One can only imagine the juggling act Fowle does on a daily basis to keep her family and career lives going.
"Pretty much every aspect of my approach to work and life changed after I became a mother. I am very lucky that my career path has allowed me to continuously pursue work that I find both interesting and challenging."
Fowle went on, "Now that I am working three jobs that are based from home, I really enjoy having the flexibility in my schedule that allows for the kids to ride the bus to and from school, to enjoy snow days at home and attend camps that are great but have hours that are unfriendly for those working 8-5. This flexibility comes with challenges, as there is no longer a clear line between when I am at work and when I am at home (since my office is here too!) but now on year two of this new schedule I am getting into a better balance.
Although Fowle works from home, childcare has been something she's had to manage with the type of work she does, frequently requiring her to leave the home for meetings, appointments or events. So she and her husband focused on the child care environment choices.
Fowle explains, "This meant a small enough community that the kids would know all of the teachers, and vice-versa. A location and hours that were convenient for us and a budget were the other critical factors. During our search we found several options that met those checkboxes, so we were able to make our final choice, First Care, based on the fact that it just felt like the best emotional and 'gut feeling' fit for us."
Fowle leans on her support community because not every day is smooth sailing and unexpected issues can arise at any moment.
"For me, a supportive community is key." Fowle continues, "This starts in my house with my husband and kids. They are so supportive and we really do work together as a family. My friends who are also working moms, or who are moms with kids a few years older than mine are such great resources for empathy, support, tips and a venting session when needed."
Finding the balance between work/life/family and 'me' time is a dilemma that most working moms find difficult. Fowle states, "Oh my, this is the ultimate question, isn't it? I am constantly working on this. The best way I have found to find time for work like, family life and myself is to get up really early in the morning when I have the house to myself, and also to accept that my house is not going to be spotless and perfect."
We hope you as readers find Fowle's perspectives helpful and because she's able to multi-task well she'll be joining the KzooConnect team as a guest writer. Look for one of her upcoming posts very soon and until then MOMS - breathe, we know you're doing your best!