Reflecting on being a working mom with art producer Dawn Kleidon of FCB

I recently dropped my middle child at college and am in the middle of the high school process with my third and last one.  As you can imagine, time timing caused me to reflect some on my life as a working mom.  I always have said that I am a better mom because I work but that now I have two out of the house I wanted to take a step back and reflect some on how that worked out.  Was I kidding myself?  Did I miss too many events?  Was I too distracted?  Was I always too busy and juggling too many things at once? 

I didn’t have to think about it too long to realize I would not do anything differently if I had the chance.  I was fortunate to have a job that allowed me flexibility to attend events and schedule travel that worked for our family.  I was also fortunate to work with photographers and clients that had children and understood family first.  Of course it meant lots of late nights or early mornings but that didn’t matter, my children saw me work.  They saw a woman business owner and that was important for me.

Well, I know I am not alone in our business.  Most reps and art producers and producers I know are women.  So, I reached out to one of the most dedicated mom and career art producer I know, Dawn Kleidon, a VP, Senior Art Producer at FCB and asked her if she thought being a working mom made her a better parent.  Her answers inspired me and I plan to post more interviews with other dynamic, incredible, dedicated working moms.

Do do you think working makes you a better parent?  Either way, please elaborate.
Personally for me, YES, YES, YES… I love my kids, even those times I don’t like them 😉  I am not me without them (not anything without them) but I’m also not me without work. Work for gives me purpose outside of family, home and now kids! Working has always been a part of my life, as a teenager and all through college while playing and traveling for division 1 soccer, I worked.

Both my parents are born to immigrants, and if you wanted something, you worked for it. That’s a philosophy I still live by, and for me there’s no other way, it’s how I’m wired.  Working hard, achieving goals, feeling accomplished is a tremendous part of my identity. Passing that philosophy and core quality to my kids is something I’m proud of!

My work as an art producer not only gives me a way to support my family, but also gives balance and provides an outlet to exercise my creativity, put my extroverted personality to good use, and further inspires my passion and drive for life! This profession welcomes my attention to detail, organizational skills and high energy! I get to bring great projects into reality. I need my kids, but also need my career; balance.

What about being a working parent helps you at home?
As a working parent, especially as a producer, we know how to time manage, seize the moment, and be courageous and decisive, which works great with kids and school, schedules, homework, etc. Working some very long days and weeks, and adding travel for shoots on top, work/ home balance reminds me to stay in the moment!

Not always of course. There are times I’m checking email from the sidelines while coaching my 12 year old daughter’s soccer team, or on a conference call at tball when a shot list changed for the 13th time that afternoon! But for the most part, I have learned through work, and for as hard as I work, to appreciate home so much more.  Home has been and is always the best place to be, surrounded by my people. My career allows me the outlet and balance I need, and affords me the tools to build a beautiful life with my husband of 15 years, the best partner anyone could hope for, in every way.

What is the hardest part of being a working parent?
I suppose it’s the same for any working parent– missing anything.  There are times it feels like it’s missing everything…. games, weekends, nights, birthdays, halloween.  For me, those things are always hard to explain to my family, because you never get them back. That can be hard on all our hearts…but there are compromises and sacrifices a well-rounded life requires, and there are important lessons there too. So we make it work, use other days to celebrate and have parties, with hard work and discipline you can make it work. It sets an example for the kids that will serve them well as adults.

Between school and sports, these kids have a calendar that rivals mine sometimes!

What advice do you have for art producers thinking about starting a family?
Life is what you make of it. I say, DO IT! What fulfills you? Find it. Enjoy those journeys in life, and do whatever it is you want.  Get a fish, a dog – have 4 kids… what I’ve learned through lots of challenges is, if you want something, believe you can do it. Perhaps it’s the getting there and striving that takes you someplace else. Challenges are opportunities to grow. “Let your faith be bigger then your fear”. Anyone who is expert in anything, starts as a novice at some point…

I wake up everyday to someone in my face! There’s a little someone yelling, crying, fighting, negotiating…hey producers, sound familiar? You’ve got those navigation skills already!

I have no idea what’s going on some days, or how I get through! I’m an early bird, and use the slight time difference in time zones with my home office to my advantage! By 9 am most days, I think I’ve done more than many do all day. But that fulfills me and my needs. I like busy!

What I do know for certain is every time I look in on my kid’s after bedtime and see their little faces, I wouldn’t have it any other way… off to bed now. Soon it’s time to wake and do it all over again. Good night!

What one word best describes being a producer and a mom?
Resilient.

If you work in our industry and want to be featured, please email me.  Let’s celebrate more moms!

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