Our new columnist Charlotte Colley provides her take on work/life balance. ELGL met Charlotte through Jim Lenner, ELGL Midwest Advisory Board member and Johnstown (OH) village manager. Charlotte has been responsible for spearheading talks on how ELGL and the Ohio City/County Management Association can partner in future endeavors.
As you will learn in the column, Charlotte is like many of us who are seeking the right work/life balance. ELGL asked Charlotte to write about her daily experiences in managing a family with young kids and a prospering local government career.
Charlotte on Charlotte
I love what I do! Public service is something that gets into your bones and you just can’t shake it. I’m excited for what the future will bring, personally and professionally, but have to remind myself that even though the world is spinning around at a million miles an hour, life is not a race. In my little corner of the world days revolve around chaotic diaper changes, late night laundry dates, conference calls, lunch hour grocery store visits, board meetings, clearing off the piles on my desk only to get more piles, never ending personnel policy revisions, spaghetti fingers (and sometimes even graham cracker leftovers on mommy’s dress shirt!), and occasionally finding an evening babysitter so Andrew and I can have a date night (or at least a quiet meal). It’s a hot mess, but it’s my mess and I love it!
The Big Cheese
My kids are small, two boys under three years old, and they are growing up right in front of me! It’s all happening so fast and I don’t want to miss any more than I do already. I will have time to be “the big cheese” someday when they are grown up and off on their own. Right now is my time to be their mommy. It’s also the time for me to be the senior project manager and learn as much as I can so that when “that day” comes I’ll be ready.
There are many people who are “the big cheese” and juggle all of the craziness that I have described on top of it! I don’t know how they do it but I would like to know their secret! Wow!
My “Normal” Day
I’m a mom/ 30 something local government professional/ wife/college professor/ runner/gardening enthusiast/board member/daughter/granddaughter/taxi service/personal accountant/sister/best friend/dog, cat & fish caretaker. My day started at 5:50am when I heard running water and realized my husband was in the shower. I scrambled out of bed and ran to the other bathroom to jump in before he “stole” all the hot water (we have an old house with a small hot water tank). After showering and getting ready for work try to mentally prepare myself for the morning child wake up drill.
Ethan comes downstairs first and shortly after I go to “rescue” Jeremiah from baby jail, aka his crib. There are a few small fits but overall it’s a good morning! It feels a lot like an assembly line. Both kids get their diapers and clothes changed, eat breakfast, get a quick clean up and then out the door. The boys are dropped off at the babysitter’s house and I rush off to work. On the way I make a couple calls and try to remember what I have on my calendar for the day. When I get to my office I grab some coffee, check e-mail, chat with a few coworkers and get started on my projects. A few minutes later I look up and it’s 4:30pm. What just happened???!!!
After work I pick up the kids and head home. Dinner, bath time, laundry and reading some student papers are on my list for tonight. After we finally get the kids to bed my husband and I get to talk a little and then veg out in front of the TV before we head off to bed before 11:00. It’s wonderful and I’m almost asleep when someone starts crying….
This is my day, give or take a few meetings/errands/temper tantrums. I know plenty of people who are in the same boat. A few of my takeaways from my “normal” routine:
- All of us are trying to balance our full-time jobs, our family life, our personal life, and any other extra activities that inevitably get thrown into the mix!
- We work late.
- Sometimes we yell at our kids and then feel bad because of it.
- We don’t always eat well, sometimes it fast food while driving to a meeting. But through the good, bad, and the ugly we make it work.
Secret to Success?
- my husband,
- my parents, and
- my bosses at work.
Andrew is a wonderful father and a supportive husband. My parents are in my corner. They always let me dive in the deep end but were waiting to help out, just in case! They gave me the confidence to take advantage of so many of the opportunities that have come my way.
I owe a huge thanks to my city manager Joe and deputy city manager Debbie! They took a chance on me (which I hope has paid off!) and have enabled me to take part in multiple professional development activities, above and beyond my work with New Albany. This is a great place for me right now and I can’t express my gratitude for their flexibility and family friendliness enough!