Reflecting on being a working mom with art producer Jessica Nielsen Buck
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, 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 wrote a blog post about it.
The response was so positive I decided to turn it into a series on working moms and reached out to Jessica Nielsen Buck, art producer at GSD&M.
Do you think working makes you a better parent? Either way, please elaborate.
100% yes! I loved being at home with my son for maternity leave but I am also so glad to have the opportunity to come back to work – it gives me a creative outlet. Plus, I enjoy what I do and want my son to see the value of hard work –both of my parents worked outside the home and I always feel lucky to have had such a great example of a strong career work ethic from a young age. I want to be that example for him as well. I also feel that I’ve mellowed out and have a clearer perspective on things – advertising emergencies that would have gotten me completely worked up before now don’t seem as daunting after having a baby… I’m able to roll with the punches (and spit up and dirty diapers) a bit easier than I did before.
What about being a working parent helps you at home?
I definitely make my mornings at home easier with a little pre-production the night before. Prepping breakfast, bottles, diapers and any daycare needs are done in the evening so I have as much time as possible for family time together in the morning. My son is a little over seven months old, so getting him ready doesn’t take too long, but being able to start the day with cuddles and playtime is so much fun.
What is the hardest part of being a working parent?
In our field specifically, I feel it’s the need to be “available” at all times. My husband works in a profession where he doesn’t usually have to take any work home, so I often feel guilty if I need to continue to check email into the night because I’m waiting to hear from a client or still working on an estimate after hours. But, I am also lucky enough to be at an agency that believes in freedom & responsibility, so I’m able to take the time to go to my son’s doctor appointments or skip out a bit early to grab him from daycare if I need to. It’s all a balance and I’m working hard at trying to figure it all out
What advice do you have for art producers thinking about starting a family?
Do it! Bonus points if you work with people who understand the demands of family life – before having a child, I will admit I didn’t really “get” it. But now since having my son, I don’t even blink an eye if someone is calling into a meeting rather than attending or working from home because they’ve got a sick kid. You’ve really just gotta do what works for you and know that the rest of it will fall into place.
What one word best describes being a producer and a mom?
Ringleader. Production can sometimes feel like a circus and our role is all about managing, executing and delegating the behind the scene details to make a production come together seamlessly. I’ve found that being a mom is very similar; managing details of childcare (sleep schedules, doc appointments, daycare, laundry) behind the scenes so I’m able to enjoy time together as a family without having to stress about those details.
I am sure the list of people to thank is long, but who would you like to give a shout out to because without them you wouldn’t be able to juggle what you do?
I wouldn’t be able to survive working motherhood without my fellow mama co-workers – they have been sounding boards and shoulders to cry on, completely understanding of the challenges of new motherhood (and have prepped me for the challenges to come!), and have been there with encouragement when I needed a pep talk – all while being examples of kick-ass working mothers themselves.