I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Turner, an award-winning marketing professional and mom of three. Jessica is also the founder of the popular lifestyle blog The Mom Creative, whose viral post Moms, Put on That Swimsuit inspired millions of moms to get in the water with their kids. She is also the author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You and the highly-anticipated forthcoming book Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Immediately after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004, I moved to Nashville, began work at a respected Nashville PR firm and got married four months later. It was a lot of change all at once!
Two years later, I started a blog and in 2008, after having my first child, I moved into the “mommy blogger” space, writing about navigating motherhood. In 2009, I rebranded to The Mom Creative and began negotiating sponsored work, partnering with affiliates, and speaking at blogging conferences.
In 2011, I had my second child and moved into the corporate space, working for a major healthcare provider in Nashville. I still hold that job today.
In 2013, while continuing to blog and work, I signed a two-book deal. My first book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You released in 2015, six weeks after I had my third child. I like to joke that I gave birth twice in six weeks — ha!
The launch of the book lead to me adding more speaking engagements to my schedule. I travel across the country speaking to business and women’s groups about the importance of self-care, going from stretched too thin to thriving and how to blog professionally.
My new book, Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive releases September 18, 2018.
People often ask me why I don’t do blogging, writing and speaking full-time, and the biggest reason is that I feel my voice is unique because I am working in corporate America while doing these other things. My day job also provides our family’s health care benefits and security. Moreover, I love my colleagues!
Why did you found your company?
Initially, I didn’t expect to found a company. I was simply looking to connect with other creative women. But I’ve always possessed a go-getter spirit, a drive that pushes me to perform my crafts well.
As the blogger experience began to explode, so did the opportunities for me to use my space in the blogosphere to champion good causes, work alongside trusted brands, and have opportunities to speak to thousands of women about self care, working motherhood, and social media strategy. In some ways, my company found me.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
As a mom of three amazing kids and a social media professional in the healthcare industry, I’m tired of the conversations around balance for working mothers.
For several years, I’ve been working hard to pivot that conversation to one that is more realistic, a conversation that, rather than asking women how they balance it all, asks them what they are doing to thrive. We have to stop asking women how they can be great businesswomen and great moms. I’ve never met a mom who worked and didn’t love her family to the best of her ability.
Work doesn’t prevent great mothering. And interestingly enough, I have never read an interview with a man who was a father and worked that asked him how he balances work and parenting.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Ron Harrell was my high school journalism teacher and gifted and talented advisor. He made me our high school newspaper’s ad manager and it was my first experience in selling. That role caused me to discover my ability to market. I’ll always be grateful to him for seeing what I couldn’t see.
My first boss Paula Lovell will forever be one of my greatest mentors. As a single mom she built one of Nashville’s most respected PR firms. She hired me fresh out of college and gave me immediate responsibility. She saw my talents and let me run with them. Thanks to her trust and guidance, I developed skills quickly that I still use today.
Jen Hatmaker has been an incredible mentor to me, both personally and professionally. She has demonstrated the importance of work boundaries, prioritizing relationships, and speaking up for what she believes in — all of which are qualities that I desire in my own life.
How are you going to shake things up next?
With Stretched Too Thin’s release, I hope it is a catalyst to start a national conversation around the challenges working mothers face. I’ll be traveling across the nation speaking at events and encouraging women — and men — to get honest about the struggles and make changes to cultivate better lives.
A whopping 70% of American moms with children under the age of 18 work, and the challenges they face, from dealing with mental load to investing in relationships is significant. I conducted a survey of 2,000 working moms and their feedback was enlightening, though not surprising.
For instance, 4 out of 5 working moms admitted to feeling stretched too thin when it came to home management and self-care. So many working moms feel like they are drowning. We need to change this because when women thrive they are better in all areas of their lives — as wives, mothers, friends and co-workers.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?
My mom used to say, you always make time for what’s important to you. One way I have seen this lived out in my own life is by prioritizing self-care. I am a better wife, mom, colleague, business owner and friend when I am investing in myself. I will let household tasks wait and opt for a morning walk or long bath, knowing that I will be happier because of those practices.
I have heard it said in various settings that looking back at what someone else is doing will only slow you down. Working in the online space means it is very easy to get distracted by what others are producing and experiencing. I have to constantly remind myself to look ahead and focus on my own journey. Comparison only breeds contempt and resentment.
A colleague once told me, “your greatest strength is often your greatest liability.” I am an Enneagram 8 and a very strong personality. This wisdom has guided me in every area of my life. I have learned to give space for others to share their opinions and that being first isn’t always best.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?
Brene Brown has had a great impact in my self-awareness around vulnerability, guilt, and shame. I have seen her speak multiple times, taken her online courses, and read her books. I think she is one of the most profound thinkers of our time. Her TED talk on vulnerability is something I watch regularly. I also loved her interview on the For the Love with Jen Hatmaker podcast.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have lunch with the women of The Today Show. They are all powerhouses, professionally and personally. I still think about the episode where they all had lunch and talked about motherhood two years ago. I would love to be at that table.
How can our readers follow you on social media?