I Don’t Know How She Does It – Monica Chun
“I Don’t Know How She Does It” is a personal look at working moms I know, respect and admire and their daily lives. The column went on an unexpected hiatus but I am back with so many amazing women to introduce you to in the coming months so get excited!
Monica is one of the first women I met in my adult life who made me believe I could do it all. I had just started work as an account executive at one of the biggest PR agencies in Hollywood and on my first day, she strutted into a huge staff meeting and ran the show with smarts, a little sass, amazing personal style…and a ready-to-pop baby belly. Through my next few years there, I watched her continue her climb to the top as a mom, seasoned exec and cool colleague who you could talk to about anything from executive summaries to accessories. I ended up leaving the agency to go out on my own a while later, one year after I had Little D, because I was looking for a different pace as a new mom. But had I stayed, I would have wanted to follow firmly in Monica’s footsteps. She is now EVP and COO at the same agency, PMK*BNC (that’s a lot of initials that add up to one powerful working mama), and her son Alex is seven.
Here is how she does it:
What time does your day start and how?
5am – Coffee, coffee, coffee and my daily morning run. I run 6 miles 5-6 days a week. It is the only time I have truly to myself and the only way for me to de-stress.
What time does your day end and how?
9pm – after homework is finished, teeth are brushed and bedtime story read. I go to sleep when my son does. Only way I can get a solid 8 hours of sleep.
Do you work from home or in an office? What is the set up like?
Work from an office inside the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Set up is pretty standard. My desk is a total mess, piles of paper everywhere. I like to say it’s organized chaos – but really, it’s just chaos.
Do you see/speak to your kids throughout your work day? If yes, how/when?
I always get the call around 5pm from Alex asking me when am I coming home, and the follow up at 530pm to find out if I actually left yet (my commute is over an hour) – and then at 630pm telling me he won’t start his homework until I’m there!
What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?
Hardest thing is the constant guilt. Guilt that I’m not doing enough, or that I’m missing memories being made because I’m working and not at home. Guilt that I travel too much. Even guilt that I haven’t been able to give Alex a sibling. For about three years I was undergoing fertility treatments which required giving myself countless shots. One day I overheard Alex talking to his friend who asked him if he had any brothers or sisters. Alex responded “No my mom tried and even gave herself lots of shots but it didn’t work.” It was so matter of fact but something about the way he said just made me feel sad and of course, guilty – but really what can I do.
Although on the flip side, bc I do travel and work a lot, I really make an effort to make sure the time we DO spend together is quality time (although I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’m so tired, I’m ok with just snuggling on the couch watching TV together).
I don’t regret working because I love what I do, the people I work with and the independence I have from my career. Plus I’ve been able to have so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences working in entertainment and pop-culture. And I know my son knows it makes me happy – and that makes him happy.
Be honest, what is one thing you envy about stay at home moms?
I would be foolish to say ‘the extra time they have’ because I know that’s not true
So I would say that stay-at home moms are able to share more meaningful moments with their children than working moms. Over the years I’ve missed various school functions, holidays (Halloween, Valentine’s Day), and even birthdays because I’ve been out of town on business.
Answer the question “I don’t know how you do it?” in ten words or less.
A great support system (husband, mom, sister, and friends) and chocolate (which is why I have to run every day).
And trust me when I tell you this woman has a great sense of style; here are some of her must-haves of the moment:
I am all about accessories because it’s a great way to update your wardrobe without having to spend a fortune. I have this Gucci pashmina in four colors and wear them as scarves.
This Samsung Note tablet is my all-in-one device. You can do multiple things on this at once thanks to the split screen. I can be writing an email on one side of the screen and browsing take-out menus, er… I mean recipes for dinner on the other.
I love this Bumble and Bumble thickening spray - I have thin, long hair that is very flat and this helps give it some body.
These Cole Haan Ballet Flats are so comfortable and they have Nike Air technology in them. I can run in these. (editor’s note: and the style is called Monica…too cute)
I have these Longchamp totes in different sizes and colors. They are great travel bags, and are very versatile and very affordable.
Right now Alex’s guilty pleasure is Skylanders Giants. Whoever came up with this concept is a genius. When I was able to bring him home some of the giants before they came out to the public (through a friend at work, of course) Alex went nuts and then thought I was the coolest mom. And THEN he was SO glad I worked.