Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Woman's Work: Morgan Spenla of Pepper Design Blog

1. What is your job, age, children’s ages, married/single, etc? Introduce yourself!
 My name is Morgan and I am a full time working mom for an engineering firm, a blogger (to help out that creative side - Pepper Design Blog), entrepreneur and mom.

I started blogging when I was working in a more technical, non-creative environment as an SAP training consultant and when my husband and I bought our 1930’s fixer upper in San Diego. Slowly the blog has morphed from a home and entertaining creative outlet to a home, entertaining, wardrobe, craft and mom blog! Basically a bit of everything that goes on in our busy lives.

I currently work as the marketing director for a motion control and engineering firm in the Bay Area of California, though I still live in San Diego. As far as being an entrepreneur goes, I consult with a variety of small businesses to assist with web design, SEO, SEM and marketing strategies to move those businesses forward. I always have something going on on the side…

I’m also mom to two wonderful, beautiful little girls ages 2 ½ and five weeks, and wife to hubby Kevin with whom I just celebrated my sixth anniversary.

2. What is your work schedule?

I work a traditional five day work week, though I do stagger my hours to meet my girls’ needs. For example, I take an extra long lunch during the day after my oldest is finished spending time with her nanny. This allows us to reconnect and enjoy a bit of time together before she naps and nanny #2 arrives for a couple of hours.

I’m also lucky enough to spend 98% of my work time in my home office – traveling up to Monterey Bay (where the corporate office is) for just a week or so every few months. When I do travel the girls come with, I have family in the area so it’s a win-win. My side businesses get attention on the weekend or in the after hours (my husband works many nights so I often have free time post dinner).

My two-year-old will start preschool on more of a full time basis beginning this fall, and my newborn will require more time one-on-one as she gets older, so everything is constantly changing around here!

3. What works really well about your current schedule/situation?

I am lucky enough to be a full-time working mom while also getting to experience the ins and outs of my children’s day. I enjoy being a part of the little moments even if they are sliced up into a schedule that meets our needs. I love that from my home office I can hear my oldest play and laugh and sing, even if it’s a local college-aged girl playing with her rather than me. I also love that I’m available (just a door away) if I’m really needed to help kiss a boo boo or answer a question.

4. What do you find challenging/awful/crazy about your current schedule/situation?

To avoid complete distraction I do have to sequester myself in my office space for the chunks of time that I dedicate to work work. That can be challenging because there are always a million and one distractions at home. Once I’m able to focus though it’s amazing how much I can finish up without the typical office background noise that I used to be surrounded by! (aka water cooler chit chat and in-person meetings all day…)

5. How do you handle childcare?

This is changing for us soon, but previously we have worked with an outstanding group of young college girls from a university near by. I believe at one point we had four girls from the same household rotating throughout the week! There would be two shifts each day (a morning and a late afternoon, post-nap) and the girls would rotate to fit it around their student schedule. Flexible work schedule for them, lots of interaction and variation for my daughter for me. I was a lucky, lucky gal.

6. When do you get family time?

My husband also has a flexible work schedule so we’ll fit in some odd family time hours – a long lunch on Tuesday, a walk to the park on a Thursday evening.  Basically whenever we can get it! Though I would say this is one of the biggest struggles of two working parents, especially if one spouse works weekends (which my husband often does) and if both are constantly connected to work via a mobile device and are addicted to answering work emails at all times.

7. How do you fit couple time into the mix?

What’s couple time? Just kidding. We often swap couple time for family time when we do have free time… but we do try and have a standing date at our local theatre every month. We live near a fantastic museum area called Balboa Park, and within the large park are three live theatres and an amazing set of rotating plays, operas and outdoor performances (one theatre is outside).  We both love plays so we purchase a set of performances at the beginning of each season and then there’s no trying to fit in last-minute dates.

8. Do you have time for yourself? If so, what is your favorite way to spend it?

Me time basically comes in two forms around here: yoga and pedicures. Even if it’s only an hour respite from the house once every other week I do have to get outside on my own or I’ll go crazy, and that’s my favorite way to spend it! I also have a women’s group with my closest friends as well as a Women in Business group that keeps me connected to women like me.

My family recently moved to the San Diego area, so now that we have grandparents in town I’m looking forward to a little bit more solo time! Maybe a trip to Trader Joes??

9. How do you and your husband share household/family responsibilities? Do you have set “chores” or do you each just do whatever needs to get done?

Up until recently we tried to share most household/family responsibilities 50-50. But let’s just say that some of us are cleaner than others and one of us ends up doing most of the work ;). This is a work in progress.

10. If you could change one thing about your current situation, what would it be?

I would like (in the very far future) for my husband and I to be in business together so that we can balance family-work-couple time in a more flexible environment. ON the short term, it would be wonderful if we could each work part time schedules. We both actually love our careers and want to see them prosper, and I think that we could balance our family and our jobs well if we each worked 4 days or so a week and rotated long weekends in with solo days with the kids for more one-on-one time.

11. What advice would you give other working moms struggling with the balance?

Flexible work schedules are all the trend in the corporate world these days, work with your employer to develop a schedule that fits your family and your needs. I’ve worked ten hour days four days a week, have taken off one morning a week for a kid’s morning (the zoo, etc) once a week and have rearranged those work hours elsewhere, and have even managed a successful 11pm to 2am at-home catch up chunk of time for work on a regular basis (so that I could finish up at 3pm ish) during different parts of my short career.

It all starts with sitting down with your boss first to see what can be arranged - and be sure to come with good, productive ideas that share what outstanding results your new schedule will bring to the company! Stay positive and keep the good of the business at the forefront of your discussion and I promise you’ll have attentive ears.

Bottom line: make conscientious decisions and cut the guilt factor out – you’re doing the best job you can for your kids, your family and your career. And chances are it’s all going to change in the next few years anways. J

12. Do you have any thoughts on the editorials regarding whether or not women really can “have it all(Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer,  Anne-Marie Slaughter)

That was one of the most fantastic articles I’ve come across in the last couple of years. It’s realistic, to the point and instructs corporations on how to reevaluate their attitudes towards women in the workforce.

As women we travel through many different phases in our lives – student, intern, working woman, corporate woman, full time mom, part time mom, entrepreneur, business owner, educator, volunteer, high-level corporate woman, etc. If you’re stuck in one phase now and you don’t love it take heart that you’re working towards a different phase, and that after that a new phase will arrive.

I am enjoying being a full time working (from home) mom right now, when my kids are a little older maybe I’ll be a part time entrepreneur, and when they go back to school perhaps I’ll enter the corporate world again climbing towards a C-level position. I like the idea of having a few different careers including starting my own business(es). That’s where I see myself in five, ten, twenty years and that’s why I agree with Slaughter that women can have it all, but just at different times in their lives. Thinking about that makes me smile.

1 comment:

  1. Corinna, thank you so much for having me! I really enjoyed answering these questions and what a great series.

    Morgan @ PDB