What is your least favorite thing about being a mom? I’ve spent the better part of the last 8 years either trying to get somebody to sleep, hoping they’ll stay asleep, or trying to orchestrate an impossibly narrow window of time for a proper nap. Sleep struggles are the worst.
Motherhood is full of surprises, what is one thing that has surprised you the most about being a mom? Before I had kids I imagined (and read up on) mostly the pregnancy and baby years. I honestly didn’t think much past them. Now that my kids are moving into school-age phases I realize how many more challenges and opportunities are ahead of us. I guess you could say I was surprised by the complexity of it all, the denseness of the experience, and the fact that our kids continue to need us just as much as they get older, just in different ways.
Do you have a career? I’ve been a writer my whole life. I worked for years in corporate communications, doing internal and external messaging for executives, ghostwriting articles, and creating educational materials for the sales and healthcare industries. After my second child was born I decide to stay home full-time, but it didn’t take long before I started writing again - this time about motherhood. Since 2010 I’ve worked as a freelance writer, editor and social media manager. I’ve worked as Managing Editor at two different parenting and lifestyle websites, and my articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, and others. Most recently I’ve transitioned into podcasting, which is a really exciting area of digital communications right now (thank you, Serial! ;)). I’m a producer/editor and social media manager for a small podcast network called Life, Listened, and I co-host a podcast called The Mom Hour. While this sounds like a lot, I’ve been able to adjust work to my schedule and stage of life; I work about 10-15 hours a week right now (that has varied over the last six years) and I get it done mostly at nap time and on the weekends.
If so, any advice you can share on balancing the work/family life? I think it helps to reframe our expectations of balance. Know your own personal tolerance for busy-ness (we don’t do a lot of extracurricular activities and keep minimal social commitments because I personally don’t like feeling super busy; other moms really thrive on activity and an exciting schedule). Cultivate a community that allows you to be imperfect and ask for help. Know that nothing - the job, the kids, the “imbalance” - lasts forever. Go to bed early.
Give us your “inner Yoda” advice. What is that one thing you want to share with other moms? The kids will be OK. We have access to so much information about parenting in this amazing, digital, social-media-driven world; it’s a blessing to have that access, but it creates an assumption that there’s always a better way to do things. The drive to be our best for our kids is wonderful, but sometimes it helps to step back and remember that they’ll be just fine, even if (or, I’d argue, especially if) we phone it in once in a while.
When not with your kids, what do you like to spend time doing? I’m a late-blooming photographer, having just picked up a DSLR a few years ago and nurturing an ongoing love for iPhoneography and Instagram. I really, really love great TV. I read a lot of non-fiction books on parenting and child development, since those things are relevant to both my life and my work, and because they’re genuinely interesting to me. I’m a homebody in general but I also love to travel, and I look forward to some non-kid travel now that our kids are a little easier to leave with grandparents or a sitter.
Date night: Any great finds or places you like on date night? We moved to Orange County less than two years ago, so we still feel like tourists sometimes! When we get a chance to go on a date we like to try out new areas and great restaurants. We loved the vibe of The OC Mix in Costa Mesa (we ate at Arc) and finally planned ahead enough recently to eat at Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach.
What’s for dinner? That depends. When my husband is working late or traveling, it’s most likely something kid-friendly because I’m so outnumbered! I make french toast for dinner a lot. When we’re all home and the fridge is stocked, I love a huge sheet of roasted vegetables over rice or quinoa. I also love to make soup from scratch; it takes a while, but it’s hard to mess up and is so satisfying. My husband and I eat pretty healthy, but finding meals that the whole family will eat is an ongoing challenge.
Five year plan. Where do you see yourself five years from now? I’d like to be even more involved in the cross-section of communications, digital media, and parenting - and I’m not sure what that looks like! I’m not a big “five year plan” person (but I can project-manage the heck out of a five-week plan ;) ).
I grew up in California but spent sixteen years away in Chicago and Arizona. Returning to the land of flip-flops and surfers as a parent of my own kids is such a great feeling. I didn’t realize how much of this lifestyle was in my bones still, even after being away for that long. No matter where you live, community is key to enjoying this parenting gig. You can find it on your street or online, and when you do, it makes all the difference. As a writer I process my motherhood experience by putting it into words; whether it’s in an essay, an Instagram post, or over the digital airwaves on my podcast, my greatest fulfillment as a mom comes from identifying a common experience and putting the language around it to hopefully connect with other parents.
Meet Sarah Powers
How many kids? 3 What ages? 8-year-old girl, 6-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl
What city do you live in? Aliso Viejo
What is your favorite thing about being a mom? My favorite thing about being a mom is witnessing childhood. Kids are born wise and funny and full of personality. Watching it unfold through the baby, toddler, and early years is both hilarious and inspiring.