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I Don’t Know How She Does It – Erin from Such Small Steps

2013 March 7


I was introduced to Erin and her blog, Such Small Steps, at a blogger meet up last year. I immediately liked her and liked her style and then logged online and liked her blog…and then when I learned she was a very busy mama of two (Norah, 6 and Gabriel, 3 – don’t you love both of those names?!?) who travels A LOT for work, I had to simply bow down. This woman does not have an easy gig…but it’s a good one. In her role at Random House Children’s Books, she works with independent bookstores and small chains to bring in the right books for their young readers, and then helps them work with authors to market and promote those books. Translation: she is making sure your littles are learning to read and giving them great material to get excited about in the process. So check out how she does it all here, and then go and give her a big old thank you for her hard work on Twitter (and make sure to check out her blog for great book recommendations for you and your kids, too!):

What time does your day start and how?

My day starts way too early, at 6:15 when my kids bust into our room full of energy. Then we get them dressed and fed and at 7:15 my husband leaves with our three-year-old son for preschool and my daughter and I head out to her kindergarten. After drop-off I go straight to Crossfit or the gym (it’s then or never!). After that, it’s breakfast, shower and work until late afternoon. That is on a day without an early conference call or a trip out of town. Since I travel for work, every day is a little different.

What time does your day end and how?

We do dinner as a family almost every night, so by 7:30 the kids have been fed and bathed with stories read. Then my husband and I head downstairs for a few hours together to drink a glass of wine, watch TV and catch up on our days. We go to bed way too late but I can’t give up that time together to unwind and relax.

Do you work from home or in an office? What is the set up like?

I have always worked from home, which is wonderful. I miss having co-workers to chat with about my weekend, but it’s nice to have a quiet, peaceful space to get projects done. I fixed up our spare room to be a very stylish work space last year in the hopes that I would use it more but I still often find myself emailing from our couch. It’s close to the kitchen and is much more comfortable than my Eames desk chair!

Do you see/speak to your kids throughout your work day? If yes, how/when?

I don’t see them until it’s time to pick them up from school. I had a nanny at home until my son turned two but it was always a challenge to work when I really wanted to spend time playing with them, plus trying to keep a toddler quiet so I could be on work calls was almost impossible! I prefer my set-up now. It helps me stick to a stricter boundary between work and home (which is hard any time you work from home anyway). I’ve gotten much better about setting down work for the day when the kids are home with me, which is great for us all. I’m even thinking about having a bowl at the front door for depositing our cell phones and Blackberries when we get home. We’ll see if I could actually stick to that!

What is the best thing about being a working mom? Hardest thing?

The best thing is feeling the confidence that comes from being good at something I love. I know my daughter is seeing one option for her adulthood, that of a working mom who enjoys supporting herself and having a career. I don’t care if she does the same, but I want her to see that I do it without resentment and that it’s fulfilling for me.

The hardest thing is the constant juggle. Between my weekly out-of-town work travel and my husband’s two contract jobs, we have each day planned down to the hour. When a kid gets sick or something comes up, everything is thrown out-of-whack. My husband and I joke that the kids know when we have big work projects coming up because that’s always the time they end up home sick! That’s where our family comes in. Without their help, we would be lost.

Be honest, what is one thing you envy about stay at home moms?

I am jealous of moms who can go to Girl Scout meetings and host afterschool playdates for their kids. I thought things would be easier as my kids got older but I’m finding out that school-aged kids have so many more regular activities and I can’t commit to them all with my schedule. I’ve told my daughter she can do any activity she wants as long as they meet on campus, so she’s doing yoga, dance and Spanish. It’s working for us so far.

Answer the question “I don’t know how you do it?” in ten words or less.

I couldn’t do it without good friends, family help and Sauvignon Blanc!

And because I am telling you, this woman has smarts AND style, here are her must-haves of the moment:


 Clockwise from top left:

My daughter lives in colored skinny jeans and this shiny silver pair would be so cute for “dressier” occasions. (Wouldn’t mind them in my size, either!)

Living in sunny San Diego, I’m constantly putting hats on my kids to protect their fair skin. This fedora would be adorable on my little guy.

I own six pieces from Amy Paul’s San Diego art series but I’m coveting this one, too. I love her simple depiction of urban neighborhoods near me.

I think TOMS shoes have already achieved classic children’s shoe status, much like Saltwater sandals. I love this sparkly pair and so does my daughter.

The perfect delicate necklace to wear with everything.

The Zoku popsicle maker saved me last summer. My kids and I can make healthy fruit popsicles together which counts for together-time and dessert. It’s a win/win 🙂

A friend just gave me this book as a gift and I love it to pieces. It’s a drawing of the favorite books of all kinds of famous people along with a firsthand commentary of why they chose the books and what each one means to them, and it’s fascinating!

I loved Marion Deuchar’s book Let’s Make Some Great Art, and her newest book Let’s Make Some Great Placemat Art is genius. I’m always looking for ways to keep my kids busy at restaurants before our food comes and this is so much more creative than letting them play Angry Birds on my phone.

I’d use these in every room to help stash my kids’ toys quickly when guests come over.

3 Responses
  1. March 7, 2013

    Thanks again for having me. The other women you’ve featured are amazing and it’s great to be in their company!

  2. March 7, 2013

    Great series, I’m going back to read the others. I always like knowing how women navigate their life.

    Erin is amazing. I watch as she juggles work and family and yet always manages to workout, know all the new restaurants, travel, and have just the right gift for you when you aren’t expecting it. She’s funny, a good listener and the best person to grab a drink with to discuss books and life!

  3. March 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for this profile of Erin! When reading her blog I do think so often just “how does she do it?” And now we know! A fab example of balancing mothering with a career that she loves. And a career I would certainly love too!! 😉

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