Mommies Work is a children’s book intended to open an easy-to-understand dialogue with children about where and why their mothers go to work each day. I wrote the book to celebrate working women and their decision to take on family and career. We’re excited to introduce our new Working Moms Spotlight in honor of all the working mommas out there! Each blog will spotlight individual successes, challenges and reflections along the journey. Thanks for joining us!
This week we’re spending some time with Lynn Smith, CNN Headline News anchor and mother to 5-year-old Lochlan and 2-year-old Ryder! She shares how she juggles her successful TV career while being a mother to two young boys.
Tell us about your career and line of work.
TV News, especially cable and national news, can be a relentless and ruthless schedule. Pre-pandemic, most mornings I was out the door long before my family was awake and continued my most important job – being a mom – well into the evening. There was not a lot of room for errors in juggling these many tasks. These days, I am joining the rest of you working from home, filing reports from my closet and doing live shots for Morning Express with Robin Meade from my basement. There has never been a more important time for storytelling. There are so many stories that need to be told and I feel so lucky to be able to share some of them with my viewers and then running upstairs to join my boys for breakfast.
What led to your decision to continue with your career after having children?
I knew my career was a part of me that I wasn’t going to be able to give up. I knew if I did, I was going to be a worse mom. I spent 10 years building my career – spending almost every holiday working, doing overnight shifts and sacrificing a life for the next opportunity for growth. To be honest, I had hit a stride and had the best of both worlds: a job I loved and a decent schedule for once! I wanted my boys to see that their mom is doing important work and that they are my most important job that I will always come home to.
We realize things look different right now, but overall, what’s the hardest part about juggling career and family?
The guilt. By far, the guilt. It never seems to get better. Even being at home now in the mornings, I feel guilty as they scream when I peel them off of me trying to get back down to the basement for the work I need to get done. The guilt is there even though I’ll be popping back up in a few hours for lunch, a luxury I’ve never known. It’s a pit that sits in my stomach always wondering, do they need more? What if I gave them more time? Do they need more time? It’s something no mother I’ve met has quite been able to shake. I try and reverse the chatter in my mind when the feelings arise. Yes, I feel guilty, but what kind of mother would I be if I walked away from my career? The alternative has never been appealing.
What motivates you on your career path?
The stories. They educate me and inspire me as much as I hope they do for the viewer. It has always felt like a blessing to be able to tell important stories for a living. I still get excited when I’m crafting a story and getting ready to share that with viewers. It’s something that keeps me going and if it stops being fulfilling, it will likely stop being worth the time I miss with my boys.
Tell us about one of your proudest mom moments – or #momfails – recently!
I have lots of #momfails – too many to mention – but I always believe it’s important for us as mothers to celebrate our wins. Recently, my 5-year-old has been “parenting” our 2-year-old. I overhear him saying things like “Ryder, don’t talk to dad like that!” and “Ryder, say thank you.” Every time it happens, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing some of this parenting is actually sticking and maybe we aren’t doing such a terrible job.
Please share any words of wisdom for fellow working moms, especially new moms trying to navigate these experiences and challenges for the first time?
A few things that have helped me:
Ask for help and accept help. I outsource anything I can, whether that’s groceries or laundry. It may mean extra resources, but your mental health is too important if you are able to afford the help.
Date night! Every Friday night, we get a babysitter and my husband and I have a date night. This is our only chance all week to connect and catch up on all the things we never have time to talk about in the chaos of the typical day. It makes me feel normal and excited each week to have “a date.”
Establish a routine and responsibilities with your partner – this has been a GAME CHANGER. In the mornings, I feed the boys and make their lunch. My husband gets them dressed and takes them to school. In the evening, I make their dinner and put them down to bed and he gives them their bath and makes us dinner. We eat alone after the children finish, although we sit with them while they eat for family time!
To new mamas, be kind to yourself and remember it gets easier. It doesn’t feel like it, but it does. I believe we grow into our roles as mothers. There is no manual and no matter how many books you read, it’s a series of trial and error until you finally feel like you’ve got things under control. Then a new phase will begin and you will feel like you’ve started back at the beginning. What I didn’t realize until a few years ago is we are slowly growing into this massive role of being a mother – doing it all while working is what should earn you your wings.