How To Find "Balance" As A Working Mom

This week, Maggie is chatting with Monica Marcelis Fochtman, the Owner and Founder of Sheldrake Consulting, a career coaching and consulting company. In this episode, they talk about how women can manage being working mothers, and how priorities need to shift and change as life changes.

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Monica Marcelis Fochtman, PhD, CPRW is the Owner and Founder of Sheldrake Consulting, a career coaching and consulting company. Monica is a certified professional resume writer, career coach, and Myers-Briggs leadership consultant. She started her company because she saw too many women floundering in the job search process. They were underselling their skills and experiences. She helps clients find and tell their career stories, so they can get unstuck and pivot to their next big thing. She provides resume and cover letter writing, interview coaching, and candid feedback focused on leadership development and career advancement.

She earned her Bachelor’s in English and Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Boston College and her Doctorate in Education, with a cognate in Women in Leadership, from Michigan State University. In addition to her work as a career coach and consultant, she is an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University. She devotes her “free time” to reading, writing, hanging out at the beach, and volunteering for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds cutting edge childhood cancer research.

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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


Maggie Germano 0:08
Thanks for listening to the money circle podcast. I’m your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationships with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week, we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life, or in society as a whole. I’m currently on maternity leave until April, but there are still ways for you to get support from me while you’re on your financial journey. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.

Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Monica Marcelis Fochtman, the owner and founder of Sheldrake Consulting, which is a career coaching and consulting company. In this episode, we talk about how women can manage being working mothers, and how priorities need to shift and change as life changes. If you are a working parent, or if you hope to be someday This episode is definitely for you. Enjoy.

Okay, welcome, Monica. Thanks so much for being here today.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 1:50
Hi, Maggie. Thanks for the invite. I’m excited to be here as well.

Maggie Germano 1:53
Me too. So before we get into the weeds of the conversation, why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 2:02
Yeah, great. Well, hi, everyone. I’m Monica Marcelis Fochtman. And I am a certified professional resume writer and career coach. And I specialize in helping mid career women and industry changers get out of their own way and level up to new roles, or get unstuck. I talk with a lot of women who are in that mid career spin cycle and are wondering, Is this all there is? I live in Michigan, but I’m a born and raised East coaster, which very much informs my coaching and my writing style. I am certified on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which I love. I think it’s a very helpful tool. And I am married and mom to two boys and two pets.

Maggie Germano 2:54
Great. Well, thank you for sharing that. That’s really that’s really great. And how did you find yourself into this coaching world?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 3:02
Yeah, so I was actually always a coach. It just wasn’t called that. And the first industry that I was in, which was higher education. So I started my career as a college administrator. I lived in the dorms with the students, and then moved on to student leadership, and then academic advising. And really, the theme that cut across all of those roles was one on one interaction with students and helping them develop as leaders, which is really coaching. And in my most recent role in higher ed, I saw students coaching and advising themselves related to the job search, resumes, cover letters, interviews. And I thought, well, first of all, advising yourself not really a good idea. And some of what they were doing was not productive. And so I stepped in and said, this is a strength that I have, this is something that I’d like let me help you. And that was six years ago. And then I started to really think to myself, like, Hmm, this could be a side hustle. I really like this. I’m very good at this. And so I made it a side hustle. And then three years ago, almost for the side hustle became the full time gig.

Maggie Germano 4:20
That’s great. That’s always exciting when you’re able to do that.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 4:24
Yeah, it was an this might be part of what we get to but it was a little terrifying to be the stability of, you know, a very large academic institution with retirement and paid vacation. But yes, the the work that I do is so fulfilling and has afforded me lots of other freedoms that I wouldn’t pass up so grateful, grateful to be here to have survived the pandemic so far.

Maggie Germano 4:54
Great. Yeah. No, I’m with you there on the balance between the sick I have a nine to five job or you know, like a structured being an employee somewhere, versus having some of the additional freedoms of having your own thing and being able to really decide what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 5:14
Yes, yes, absolutely. And that’s definitely something that all of us should always be thinking about. In my previous industry, the salary was notoriously low. But the benefits are incredible. And we joked, you know, we called it the golden handcuffs, because retirement especially was a phenomenal, phenomenal benefit. But the you know, yeah, the trade off was not a whole lot of runway for growth, either financially, or enroller. You know, responsibility.

Maggie Germano 5:52
Yeah, no, we called it the golden handcuffs at my old job to where the pay was reasonable at the nonprofit I was at but the benefits were like, you look at them, and you’re like, how could you ever leave? And so whether you are happy, they’re not? It was really hard to leave?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 6:06
Yes. Oh, yes, absolutely. That was my experience as well. Oh, my brother in law is an accountant, actually. And we just got chatting once about the retirement. And he, he almost fell off his chair. Think he was just done that at how good the retirement benefit was? Because you don’t get that in other industries. But everything’s a trade off.

Maggie Germano 6:29
Yep, totally agree. So when we first connected about during this episode, we connected because I put out a call for folks who want to talk about being a working mother, balancing work and parenthood and all the things in between that come with that. So tell us a little bit about how your approach to work and parenthood has kind of shifted and changed over the course of your career?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 7:01
Well, first, I’d like to say that any parent, mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, what have you, Guardian, anyone who parents, a human is working full time, Parenthood, motherhood is a full time job. So if you are doing that, in addition to be self employed or employed for someone else, then you have two full time jobs. And if you’re doing all of that, and you’re trying to start your own side hustle or consulting, or what have you, or you have an Etsy business, then you have three full time jobs. So to just put that out there, that it is a Herculean effort, what we’re all doing as parents. And so I always want to recognize and appreciate that and how it has shifted. So I have been a stay at home, Mom, I’ve been a mom, who was employed part time and a full time student. And I have been a mom who now full time and full time working. And each role has its benefits and its drawbacks, its challenges and its opportunities, I really have challenged myself to not think about balance. Because you know, I always think of balances like that scale, right? Like the statue of the legal person, right? liberty or justice. And you know, she’s holding the scales. And that’s just I think, a false equivalency because I care way more about my kids and I care about my job. Um, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t do my job well, and you know, that I don’t excel at it, it’s just a different level of care, I should say. And so the mental time and energy that goes into them is very, very different. And so to set up balance, as the goal I feel is unrealistic. And, you know, certainly there are not systems and processes in place to help us do that. So I much prefer fit or flex, negotiation integration. Those ideas have always worked better for me personally. And that’s also how I approached my coaching and my writing with with other moms. I will also say that, what you need and what your kids need, cycles in and out and it really depends and changes depending on their age, your age. You know, toddlers for example, can do nothing for themselves. Right? So a toddler physically need you to do everything for them. They cannot get dressed, they cannot use the bathroom, they cannot brush their teeth and so the time on task with the time Either is exhausting. Versus where I am now in my life as a mom, my boys are 15 and 13. And so they don’t need me physically. In fact, actually, later this afternoon, my older son’s going to get his driver’s permit. And that’s a whole nother level of freedom for both of us. But they need me in a different way emotionally. So the time on task and the energy, I feel ebbs and flows and shifts as our kids grow.

Maggie Germano 10:31
Yeah, I mean, that makes total sense when you think about it. And and I like what you were saying about, you know, how the idea of balance is kind of unfair, it gives this unrealistic expectation as a parent of like, Oh, you just kind of find the perfect balance and everything will be great. And it’ll just stay that way. And then when you when it doesn’t feel that way, people probably feel like they’re doing something wrong.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 10:54
Right? Yes, yes. Yeah. Well said, Maggie, thank you. Yeah. And it, it just sets my teeth on edge. Because for all the reasons you just said, like, okay, so maybe I’m balanced one day, but the next day? Not. So. Does that mean, I’m a failure? for that? I’m not doing it right. Yeah, it just was never a metaphor that worked for me personally. And actually, so I have my PhD from Michigan State University. And the dissertation work that I did was actually with mid career women, on on exactly this, you know, mid career work life balance. And the metaphor that came from that research was actually of a clock spinning. So like, if you think of the cogs in a clock, and how they, they lock. And so the roles that are really close together are really salient, right. But there’s still other roles happening. They’re just spinning around on the outside. And they shift they come in, and they come out, but they never leave us all together.

Maggie Germano 11:56
Yeah, I like that. That’s a really good visualization. Because it’s true. It’s not like, if you’re, you’re at work one day, that you’re not a parent anymore, or if you’re at home one day, you’re not working anymore. It’s all of those things are happening kind of at the same time, even if you’re not focusing on them at the exact same time.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 12:17
Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah.

Maggie Germano 12:20
Yep. So So what are some of those ways that you have found that help you kind of find that fit? Or negotiating between the two? These two particular priorities in your life? So work and and parenting? How? How have you kind of figured that out? As you go?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 12:43
Yeah. Um, I don’t know that I figured it out. But I’m certainly trying, I’m definitely doing it better now than I did before. You know, it’s a learning curve. Some things that have worked for me personally, I am not a fan of the, you know, burning the candle at both ends and the the glorification of busy, you know, are busy as a badge of honor. Right, you know, the stereotype of the frazzled mom who’s like tearing into kids drop off with, like, the slippers on and their hair in curlers. And you know, I’ve been that mom, of course, it happens. But I’m just not a fan of the glorification of that. And I really have learned through trial and error and doing some things well, and doing some things absolutely, hardly, that you really have to take care of yourself first. And I know you know, we say that all the time. I think too few of us actually do it. So what has worked for me, I tried to go for a walk on at least once a day, 1520 minutes outside can really just do wonders. I’m very clear about when I’m working and when I’m not working. And my sons know that which has been really interesting with all this home. But I have a sign on my door do not come in. So if the doors closed and that sign is on it, I’m working. If the doors open, I can be you know, interrupted. Um, I read a lot reading is an outlet for me. I have taken Facebook and Twitter and Instagram off my phone so that I’m not scrolling, you know, the endless mindless scroll. And I have a core group of mom friends who I found through my son’s school, and they really are, you know, our We are the squad and just checking in with them and having that support has really been a huge, huge, huge benefit to me.

Maggie Germano 15:02
Yeah, no, all of those are those are such good examples too. And, and I think the support piece is really important that a lot of people tend to, even if they intellectually know it’s important, they tend to kind of let that go, like, your social life just kind of goes away, or that that’s sort of an idea that I’ve heard and, and I’ve thought about it a lot, where it’s like, well, doesn’t have to be that way. And it probably shouldn’t be that way. Because if our whole lives are revolving around our kids, that can’t really be good for anybody. So, yeah,

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 15:36
yes, yes. And I’ve, I have really double down almost on, on the social pieces with moms. Um, you know, of course, if something else needs, you know, if there’s made something major happening, I won’t go out with my mom friends, of course. But I have tried very, very hard to protect that time as sacred to me, because it is, you know, and so if someone, and to go on walks with them has been great. But you know, if we try to get together once a month, and I will do a lot to make sure that I can make that happen for myself. Because it’s good for me. And what’s good for us as parents, especially us as mothers, is good for your family.

Maggie Germano 16:22
Yeah, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot. You know, as we’re recording this, I’m very close to my due date with my first child. And so I’ve been doing a lot of reading around, you know, preparing for baby preparing for birth, and like all this stuff, but just thinking about, you know, that the women in particular, but parents in general really do need to be taking care of themselves as well, because there is this kind of idea that you have to sacrifice yourself for your children. And it doesn’t really do anyone, any good, like your children kind of growing up seeing that being a mother means suffering, but then also having a mother who’s suffering. And so I’ve been thinking about that a lot too, and talking to my friends who have are having their own kids where it’s like, you have to take care of yourself, that’s just as important as taking care of your kids.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 17:13
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And even more important, I would suggest, again, that whole you can’t pour from an empty cup, you know, put on your own oxygen mask first. And also, I think, but I don’t think I know how important it is for parents, mothers, especially, to model for our children, how they should take care of themselves. Also, you know, so I have sons, who are hopefully becoming feminists and men who will go out and do good things and change some systems and structures. It’s very important for them to see me working and supporting myself and our family and making a contribution to them into our world. And for them to see me doing work that I love, and then I’m good at. And it’s also important for them to see their dad and my husband doing that as well, that we are a true team. And yeah, I just am not, I don’t think that the self flagellation, and the sacrificing ourselves on the altar of motherhood is productive. And because that attitude and what we allow seeps into all of the other spaces in our lives, you know, work, church, family school. And to set up the expectation that a mother is going to have no life is is hardly unfair. And, and really does damage to everyone.

Maggie Germano 18:54
Yeah, no, I totally, totally agree. And so related to that, at the same time, it’s impossible to be able to do everything at all times, right? I mean, I talk about this with my clients like you can still be able to do the things you love the most with your money, but you can’t spend on every single thing because you’ll run out of money. And so this, the same is true with physical energy with mental energy with time. So what are some of the things that you have found in your life and just over the years that you’ve had to kind of let go of or give up for periods of time in order to maintain some of that fit?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 19:37
I have what my mentor said to me once, and I put it on a yellow post it note when I was writing my dissertation, well, she said two very important things to me. You can have it all, just not all at once. And this is a very short time in a very long life. I have really taken that advice to heart. And what it means for me is the seasons. And you know, what might be happening right now won’t, won’t be the same issues that I’m dealing with next month, next year. So again, back to the whole toddler, you know, when you’re in it, you think it’s going to last forever. And you’re like, Oh, my gosh, will this phase never end? Well, now, honestly, I can’t believe that I have two teenage boys, it really does the day’s drag, but Time flies, and it really does go fast. So things that I have let go have on my house is clean. It’s not organized or neat. Because I that was just something that I let go of I, you know, I for years, was torturing myself with, everything needed to be put away. And everything needed to have a place and it needed to basically look like no kids lived here ever. And I just, I let that go. I don’t I do walk frequently. And I do drink a lot of water. But I don’t exercise the way that I should. So that’s probably not the best example. But it’s a real one of something that, for me has been let go of. And I don’t want to say money. But just where I am at the stage of my life, and where my kids are, you know, I, we have a son who’s going to go to college in four years. And so I need a new car. Well, that’s not going to happen, because I need to put that money towards my son’s tuition instead. So there are I think, short term sacrifices that you’re always making, hopefully in service of a longer term game.

Maggie Germano 22:00
Yeah, no, I’m and I feel like that’s true. Much of the time, where there are things, we have to just give up in the immediate in order to serve a longer term goal or an ultimate kind of endpoint that you’re searching for. So whether it’s with your finances, or as in the role of a parent, or just even in career, like there are plenty of people who if they want to switch careers, they have to step down a little bit in order to get started in a new industry or something like that. And, and maybe you know, it is a sacrifice, and it feels potentially not great in the moment, but it does ultimately serve to get you to where you want to be. So it sounds like there are a lot of examples of that in parenting as well.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 22:43
Mm hmm. Yes, absolutely. And I experienced that, you know, in my own life, like we were saying at the beginning of our conversation about leaving the stability of a nine to five job where somebody else was paying me and the golden handcuffs, retirement, that was incredibly scary. And I absolutely took a step back financially. But what I gained, you know, on the other side of the coin was so much so much better and worth it. You know, I worked for myself from home. I’m here whenever, you know, if someone needs me, you know, when, when I was working for someone else, and I had a toddler who was sick. The first thing we did actually was my husband and I called each other and we’re like, okay, who has the lighter schedule today and who can afford to leave and go pick up the sick kid and then stay home and lose a day of work? I don’t have to do that anymore. Because I work for myself from home. And I have had to go get my son from middle school because he was sick. And he put himself into bed and I kept working. So So yeah, life is different now. And I did lose some things. But I also gained so many other great things too. And to be realistic with ourselves and with our partners and our spouses and whomever about what those trade offs are. Because there are always trade offs.

Maggie Germano 24:12
You Yeah, yeah. I think being like you just said being realistic. and communicating is assuming that everything’s going to be perfect and that you have control over everything at any given day. It’s just going to be very disappointing, I think.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 24:28
Yes. Yes. Parenthood, parenthood motherhood is the ultimate lesson in giving up the illusion of control.

Maggie Germano 24:38
Yeah, yeah, that’s gonna be hard for me to adjust to, but I’m sure I’m gonna have to do that right away.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 24:45
It takes practice, for sure. But yeah, I get it. You know, especially. I’m sure a lot of your listeners you know, high achieving getting women right. Yes, motherhood is you’re not in control. You are in control of very little, I guess we are always in control in theory, right of our own selves, and our own mindset and attitude and traces. But yeah, especially when you have little, little people who they have no sense of time. And I remember one time, you know, with a newborn, and he woke up at five o’clock in the morning, and I said, but it’s the weekend. And my husband looked at me and said, he doesn’t know that.

Maggie Germano 25:30
That is really true. I’ve had to kind of say things like that to my husband. And just like preparation for having a baby, I’ve spent a lot of my life around smaller kids, I have a lot of little cousins. And I used to do a lot of babysitting, so I just have more exposure to children than he’s had. So some of this is very, very new for him just in like, knowing what to kind of expect. And you mentioned earlier, not having a house that looks like a child doesn’t live there. Because that’s something we’ve had to discuss where my husband’s like, well, I don’t want like those, you know, those plastic loud toys that are like, you know, just kind of ugly, I’d like to have these like, nice, he’s a designer. So he wants to have those really nice, like wooden really good looking things. I was like, we just need to accept that we are going to have play areas, and there’s going to be toys everywhere. And it’s not going to be exactly the like, grown up house we’ve had for the last several years. But if we’re trying to have that we’re going to be sorely disappointed. So just adjusting those expectations and allowing for that to happen.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 26:38
Yes, yes, absolutely. Or, if it’s that big of a priority to whomever partners files, whatever, then that also then becomes their purview to control. Right. So for example, my husband, and thank God for him, my husband is the chef and our relationships. And so that also means that he does all of the grocery shopping. And I then clean up, right, so he cooks I clean, that also means that I really have not much of an opinion in terms of what we eat. And, you know, I’m sure some women out there will be like, Ah, you know, they’ll, they’ll have a strong reaction to that. But that’s what works for us. And it’s not my, because he does all of that and puts in all that effort. I’m not going to harp on what he chooses, or what he makes, or, you know, we said that was an agreement that we need from the beginning. So and the flipside is, he doesn’t get to comment on how I clean a pot, right? Because he’s cooking, and I’m cleaning. But that was something that we negotiated, you know, at the beginning of our of our marriage. And so that’s the other thing, too, I think a lot of problems happen when a child comes into the mix, because people haven’t talked about those things upfront. Or if you have an arrangement, whatever that might be. And it stops working, then you have to talk about it again.

Maggie Germano 28:14
Yeah, yeah, no. And that brings me to my next question, because you mentioned how important it is to you for your sons to see you and your husband model, a team and a partnership and you know, equality, feminism, all that stuff. And so it sounds like with the split of the cooking and the cleaning. That’s one way that you do that. What are some other ways that you in your own life, but also would recommend to others to kind of utilize more of that partnership if they are partnered and have kids to create more of that? That negotiation and that that team work together?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 28:56
Mm hmm. Well, some other things that worked for us. You know, especially again, when your kids are little or where we happen to live, we weren’t eligible for busing for school, because we live too close. But it was too far to make little kids walk. So anyway, we also negotiated, drop off and pickup. And you know, what worked for us was to have we did it by week. So one week, I dropped off, and then the next week, I picked up that way, it wasn’t always the same parents leaving work early or coming to work late, quote, unquote. So that was an arrangement that worked for us. In terms of, you know, finances we talk all the time about who’s bringing in what and where is it going. We both also each have our own businesses. And so that that money is is separate from They’re like family money, quote, unquote. Um, I still know what he makes, and he still knows what I make. But what we do with it and where that goes is different than like this, the central part of family money, so to speak. And that was really important to me, especially, you know, I think it’s important for everyone to know, what you bring in and where it’s going. And I think especially important for women to do that. In terms of other arrangements, I’ll be totally transparent and say that my husband does more than I do. So cooking grocery shopping, he does more laundry than I do. But I make the bed and clean bathrooms. So it’s, again, a trade off that works for us. And really just wanting to challenge and encourage listeners to do what works for them. Right. So the arrangement that my husband and I have works for us, that might not work for someone else. And that’s okay. That’s the other thing, you know, with motherhood is, there’s all these diatribes about the way. And I think a lot of that’s garbage. Because, you know, not everyone’s in the same situation. And not everyone’s in the same situation at the same time. So it really is about a constant conversation with your partner, your spouse, about what works for you, and to have the courage to speak up when it’s no longer working.

Maggie Germano 31:37
Yeah, I think that’s a really important piece is that just because something was working before doesn’t mean it’s going to work forever. And again, that applies to pretty much anything in life where you need to reassess what’s going on if, if one person is getting really, really overwhelmed, or they’re just not happy with it anymore? Trying to be like, you know, oh, well, we had already agreed on this. So I just won’t say anything. But that’s not helpful, because then you’re gonna be overwhelmed and resentful and frustrated. And so yeah, always revisiting conversations regularly so that you can reassess and see what might work better moving forward.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 32:19
Right, amen. Yes, absolutely. And, you know, if I were still working for someone else, the arrangement of like, who picks up and who drops off and you know, what parent can afford to pick up the sick kid, that previous arrangement would still be in play? I don’t, I don’t work for anyone else. Now I work for myself and from home. And so it makes more sense time logistics, schedule, availability, it makes more sense that I’m the default parent to pick up a sick kid or to take, you know, one of our sons to the orthodontist in the middle of the day. And I’m fine with that. But I’m also fine with that, because we talked about it. Right? It wasn’t just like, assumed that because my situation, my work situation changed, that all the other things would change. Also, it was it was another negotiation that we did between the two of us.

Maggie Germano 33:15
Yeah, I think that’s another important point to where I think there is a lot of assumption around especially in heterosexual relationships, that the woman is going to be taking on the bulk of the parenting activities. And like you said, leaving work if someone’s sick, or taking half a day to take a kid to an appointment, or whatever it might be, because there still is this idea that men’s careers are more important and more strict and structured, and they just can’t possibly leave for the day or take a day off to take care of their kids. And, and there isn’t really that same expectation of women’s careers, whether they’re working for themselves or not. And so yeah, I think that assumption can do a lot of harm. And even for partners who mean the best, but still have grown up in this society and witnessed that assumption that can be really ingrained.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 34:08
Absolutely, yes. Oh, yes, absolutely. There was actually just had a conversation about that on LinkedIn this morning. You know, and especially with the pandemic, and, you know, men are heroes if they give up their careers to support their wives, whereas women have been doing that for men for centuries. And it doesn’t make the news.

Maggie Germano 34:31
Right. And then related to that the idea that men watching their kids is babysitting.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 34:38
Oh my gosh, yeah. Yeah.

Maggie Germano 34:41
No, you’re a parent, you’re not a you’re not a babysitter. I’m not paying you. I didn’t hire you. You helped create this kid and bring them into this world. So you’re gonna also be their parent.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 34:51
Right? Right. Related to that, you asked earlier about, you know, things that have helped me with it and flexible goshi ation. In addition to this, you know, my mom squad, I would also say that for us, we even when our boys were little, we did a good job of going out on dates. It’s very, very easy in any relationship. But very, very easy when you’re parenting to, for your spouse, your partner, to become your roommate. And we were very conscious and wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen. And so we hired babysitters to go out on dates. You know, when they were little, it was a two hour, you know, dinner and a quick drink and back home. And now honestly, it’s amazing because I don’t need babysitters, and my boys can take care of themselves. So date nights, three hours, four hours. But that was a commitment that we made also was that we wanted to still be husband and wife, not, not just co parents.

Maggie Germano 35:55
Yeah, that’s something I’ve been thinking about to where, you know, just wanting to not take each other for granted, as much as you know, you tend to when you’re together for a long time anyway. But especially when there are kids in the mix, where everything kind of becomes about the kids and parenting and the day to day kind of not slog necessarily, but sometimes slog and that it can be again, with like, yeah, just like you were saying, how easy it is to let go of the social aspect, the outside friendships, it can also be really easy to let it slide the date nights kind of go away. And we can’t prioritize ourselves in the same way. But I think like we’ve the, you know, the undercurrent of this is taking care of yourself and making sure that there is time for happiness and fun, that isn’t just about the kids and that that’s good for everybody.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 36:50
Absolutely, absolutely. And our children, all children are so observant children do not miss anything, they are so smart and bright, and innocent, honestly. And they see and hear everything that we do for good or for bad, right. And so I hope that my husband and I are modeling what, what we hope for them, right? Whether they whomever they partner with or what you know, um, but that you have a really, you have a relationship separate from the relationship you have with your children, right, so I have a relationship with my husband. He has relationship with our kids, like there’s multiple relationships that get negotiated there, right. And it’s important that he and I, my husband and I have a strong relationship, and for our boys to see that being modeled to them. Because hopefully, then that’s what they can expect and hope for in their own lives if they choose. Right, um, and the whole, you know, like, I didn’t ever want to have my kid’s gone and be an empty nester and then look at my husband and say, well, Who the hell are you? Right, because your kids will leave someday, it doesn’t feel like it when they’re toddlers, and you’re in it. But they will go eventually. And there’s still a lot of runway left, I’m only 45. And, you know, my husband and I are really hoping to be retired at 65. And, you know, hopefully we live to 80 Well, that’s, that’s a lot of time left with just the two of us. And I want to do stuff, right, I want to, I want to know and love the person that I’m with and to want to spend time with them to travel and, you know, if you have put your relationship on the back burner for the sake of your kids, you’re not going to have much relationship to go back to when your kids are gone. You know, and we saw that, you know, with no say like my parents generation. You know, very much like women, you know, just sublimating themselves and their needs and once and then looking at their spouse 30 years later and being you know, taken off because they’re like, I don’t even like you. I didn’t want that for myself.

Maggie Germano 39:12
Yeah, I totally understand that. I mean, it’s when you think about it, it feels like, like you were saying this, you know, old generation thing where, you know, we wouldn’t be doing that anymore. But if you are putting your relationship on the back burner for 1820 years, then of course that is at risk of happening.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 39:32
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And your kids see that. No, they they see like I said they see everything.

Maggie Germano 39:40
Right, we can’t as much as we think they’re kind of just in their own little worlds they actually do see and understand more than we give them credit for.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 39:48
Absolutely, absolutely. And I learned so much from my boys. That’s the other you know, piece I think of this whole working mom. conversation is I think there’s a thread in there sometimes about if you like your kids, and if you like being a mom that you’re somehow not a woman, not a feminist, not, you know, you’re, you’re part of the patriarchy, and you’re just perpetuating systems of oppression. And yes, that is out there, of course. But I really like my sons. They’re hilarious. They’re very smart, and funny and kind, and interested in really different things. Um, our older son’s really into theater. I wasn’t into theater, neither was my husband, like, sometimes I look at them. I’m like, Who is this kid. And our younger son is very, very into history. And is an excellent, excellent soccer player. And that’s really fun. Like, I, I like my kids, I like spending time with them. And that’s allowed to, like you’re, you’re allowed to be a good mom and to like it, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a brain right and can’t contribute to the world, like, we are about to be good at more than one thing.

Maggie Germano 41:18
Yeah, I think that’s a good point is that, you know, you can be a really amazing employee or entrepreneur, or whatever it is that you do. But you can also be a really amazing parent. And having both of those things be true can be really exciting. And everyone has their own path that kind of choose based on what is working for them. And that, that that is okay. As long as you’re having those conversations, as long as you’re connecting with yourself and understanding what is working and what’s not, and being able to adjust. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 41:52
Absolutely, absolutely. And the worst thing we do to other moms is shame them for not being a mom the way that we think they should be. Right? And that’s, that’s bullshit. I don’t know if I’m allowed to curse on her. Oh, no, totally. Yeah.

Maggie Germano 42:10
No, I totally agree. There’s so much, you know, they that term like mommy wars, or whatever, which is its own its own thing. But there is so much shame out there. There’s shame around parenting, there’s shame around motherhood, there’s shame around money, there’s shame around career, you know, like deciding to take time off from work to stay home with your kids, because you do want to just be able to devote all of your energy in that kind of way that’s looked down upon by some people staying at work and not going home full time is also looked down upon breastfeeding, that breastfeeding, and there’s just so much and it doesn’t help any of us. We all are going to choose what we’re going to choose. But we shouldn’t have to feel bad about it at the same time.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 42:55
Yes, Oh, my goodness. Yes. Yes, yes. Yes, yes. Yeah. And so I’m an East coaster, born and raised in New Jersey, went to college in Boston, and I have a big mouth. And lots of opinions. I have learned to temper them. And to not, like I don’t need to say everything, I think oh, loud, especially when it comes to other mothers. That is not helpful. Right. And, you know, a friend of mine actually on LinkedIn called called that person patriarchy Patty. Right, the person, you choose a woman, but she’s still working for the patriarchy. And I just I love that metaphor. And I’m not going to be that person, right? Like you, do you. If that works for you, and you and your partner and your spouse and your family. Carry on. Right? It is not my place to say something to be all judgy. And then I asked for that respect in return. I can honestly say that the biggest barriers to my career in my first profession, were other women. And other women who were committed to like you said, shame and guilt. And yeah, that was that was disgusting to me and disheartening. I know, men do it too. I think there’s something especially egregious when it’s women doing it to other women. And I’m just, I’m not going to be part of that. You know, of course, I got it and I think things but I do it with my husband. I don’t I don’t do it online or with other women. Because that’s not helpful. It’s hard enough. We don’t need we don’t need other women bringing other women down.

Maggie Germano 44:51
Yeah, totally. I mean, we’re always gonna have feelings. We’re also always gonna have reactions and opinions and and i think it’s a matter of like Is this actually going to be helpful if I share this, one of my closest friends, she just had her first baby recently and she’ll, you know, be talking about like something she’s struggling with or, you know, going through and I’ll send her some like resources. But then I sent her the other day, I was like, just let me know when you need me to like shut up and just listen and that you’re not looking for any kind of solution or resources. I was like, I obviously, like I’m also having a baby. So I’ve been like reading and researching a lot of this stuff. So I have access to some of it. But if that is not helpful to you, please let me know. I don’t want you to feel like I’m forcing things on you or judging you in any way. And she just was like, yeah, you know, thanks. She. We haven’t gotten to that point yet. But you just never know. And so just finding the balance of kind of holding back and and being helpful, but not going too far. That can be tough, no matter what.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 45:58
Absolutely, yes. And that’s a great skill to have learned, honestly. And being a parent has made me a better professional. And vice versa. Being a good professional has made me a better parent. And yeah, to say to friend, other moms especially. Are you looking for my advice? Or are you looking for me to just listen, that has been a very, very useful tool. And I use it with my kids all the time. Are you? Are you wanting me to help you solve this problem? Or are you just venting? Yeah, very useful.

Maggie Germano 46:35
Yeah, my husband and I have started doing that with each other too, because we both need two different things. Like I really want to vent usually, and just get commiseration from people. And he wants like concrete solutions. And we both do the opposite in response to people. So we have had to start asking each other that like so that we don’t just frustrate the other person’s like, Okay, do you? Do you just want me to be like, oh, like, that person sucks that I’m sorry that that happened to you? Or is it more about what the solution is? And yeah, I definitely have found that to be helpful in in staving off some arguments.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 47:13
Good for you. Yes. Yeah. And especially, you know, a stereotype, but mostly true, that men, dads, especially, and especially at the beginning, want to help and they want to fix, right, um, you know, whenever, so I chose to breastfeed my sons. And I’ll never forget, at the very beginning with our older son, you know, you just you have I, I will only experience I had no idea what I was doing. And neither did my husband. And I had just nursed. And then like, no lie, I was actually trying to finish some coursework for my dissertation. And my husband came into my office with our son and said, Hey, thank you. hungry again. I’m so sorry. And it was just one of those moments, like, I’ll just never forget, like, and he didn’t know, and I didn’t know, and we just, you know, figured it out. But yeah, to really, again, that’s a conversation that you have to have. There’s so many we all get into trouble as parents, as spouses and as professionals at work, right, when we operate from assumption, instead of what is the actual known expectation that what what what are the boundaries here? What are the what are the rules? What, what am I really being tasked with here? And if we can, the more clarity we have around those things, the easier it is for everyone?

Maggie Germano 48:37
Yeah, no, I really love that. I think that’s really important. So is there anything else we have? I mean, we’ve touched on a lot of different things. But is there any advice that you haven’t mentioned yet that you would give to women who are currently moms who are working, or women who hope to be that someday?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 49:08
Again, at the risk of sounding not modern? If you feel that yearning, that desire that wish that hope to be a mom, a parent, and feel that it’s impossible, I would suggest that you take heart and know that it’s not impossible. It is hard. It’s challenging, but it is also so rewarding and so fulfilling and fun. I just I can’t say that enough. And I also you know, I don’t want to paint with broad strokes just very, very quickly. Our son, our older son is survived a very, very serious illness at a very young age. And so I’m not the hearts and flowers like it’s perfect and I love it and every moment is amazing. No It is hard, there will be moments where you are crying. stuff is leaking. And you just, you know, you don’t know what day of the week it is kind of like living in a pandemic, actually. But, um, yeah, it’s hard. But it’s also very wonderful. And I think that is that has been my experience. And I have found that experience with clients and other moms. It is hard and wonderful in both places in in motherhood and at work. And I think there’s a lot of messaging that we take on and internalize that it’s impossible, or that I have to be perfect at it before I can start. And so I would really want to challenge and encourage people to break out of that cycle of thinking, and go for it. If you want to go after it in your life and your business and your career and motherhood. It is possible. It’s hard, but it’s possible.

Maggie Germano 51:07
Thank you. I think that’s a really great takeaway. Is there anything you have going on with your business that you would like to promote to listeners?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 51:17
Oh, thanks. Well, I am actually hopefully Fingers crossed. Launching next week, right before Christmas, maybe, hopefully, I’ve been working on rewriting a resume writing workbook that takes people step by step from how do I find this posting that I like? And how do I then take my document and make it shine so that I can go and apply it really breaking it down step by step, like, print out the posting and highlight stuff. And then you try and translate that into a summary. And then you talk about your work. It’s like, literally going through all of the parts of a resume and how to write them. So that’s launching and will be evergreen on my site. And I’m also one of my goals for my business is to challenge myself to do video more, and to share Quick, quick tips. I had thought about a podcast. I’m not ready for that yet. But I was like, Okay, what is something that I can do? So the name of my show is going to be career Mojo with Dr. mofo. Because my initials are mF, and my name is Monica Fochtman. And so my goal is to go on as many Mondays as possible and share just quick three to five minute tips resume writing career strategy interview. Because I really want to be helpful. You know, I think there’s a lot of kind of what we have been saying throughout my day, like there’s so much advice out there that’s not really tangible, and therefore it’s not actionable. And so my goal as a coach and writer is to share nuggets that are actually useful to people.

Maggie Germano 53:12
Yeah, I love that. And that sounds like a lot of fun. And I’ll make sure to get all those links from you. So I can share in the show notes. So everyone has easy access. Awesome. Thanks. And how can folks get in touch with you if they want to learn more about your coaching or just follow along with your work? How can they reach you?

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 53:27
The best place to reach me is LinkedIn. I am very active there. I’m on the platform all the time. I bought it I think it’s a great place to network professionally and meet people. So LinkedIn. And I’m on it as me, Monica Marcelis Fochtman, and if not on LinkedIn, then my website, which and I’ll send you the link, but the name of my company is Sheldrake consulting. And that’s

Maggie Germano 54:00
Wonderful. Yes. And I will link to those as well. So thank you so much for taking the time to share today. This is been very enlightening for me and given me a lot to think about as an upcoming new parent. And I’m sure that the listeners have a lot to take away from this too. So I really appreciate it.

Monica Marcelis Fochtman 54:16
Well, thanks, Maggie. It was great to be here and Congrats.

Maggie Germano 54:19
Thank you.

Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.commoneycircle to learn more and to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me subscribe to my weekly newsletter at to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just a read my blog visit You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye