Smart + Stylish Mom Spotlight: Balancing Work, Family & Style
May is for Moms! We're kicking off the best month of the year with the first post in a new series on a diverse group of smart + stylish moms who inspire me and exemplify the ideals that BambiniWare stands for. We're starting with 45 year-old Alethia Nancoo, who's a Finance Partner at Patton Boggs LLP in Washington, DC. In our interview, Alethia gives great advice for how to successfully manage the delicate balancing act of working full-time and raising a family.
I met Alethia a few years ago through my 13 year-old mentee (who by the way, is so brilliant that she could probably mentor both of us...easily). It was on a Sunday afternoon and Alethia was so cool, calm and down-to-earth that you would have no idea that she was juggling the competing demands of being a wife, mom to a toddler, a partner at a law firm AND 8 months pregnant behind the scenes.
Alethia was so stylishly put together and had such a radiant glow that I remember thinking, "This is what I want to look like when I'm pregnant." So, of course you can imagine how thrilled I was a year or so later when Alethia called me after she found out that I was pregnant and asked if I wanted any of her maternity work clothes. Was she kidding?! OF COURSE I did; and the best thing was that they were exactly the kinds of pieces that I would have picked out for myself. Sidenote: Alethia was also BambiniWare's first customer! Two days after we launched, she purchased the Nantucket gift set in blue for a friend's baby shower--I told you that the woman has great taste!
In addition to being a partner at Patton Boggs, Alethia is married to Antonio Hunter and mom to Chase (6 1/2) and Clarke (2 1/2). Interesting tidbit: in 2006, Alethia was named one of the 25 Most Beautiful People in Washington, DC by Washingtonian Magazine. And let me tell you, she IS, both inside and out. Just read her answers to my questions below about how she manages her work life and prioritizes her family and you'll see for yourself...
Riche: What's your favorite part about being a mom?
Alethia: Seeing the world for the first time through their eyes. It is like hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching for the first time (all over again), but from their perspectives. I am always in awe to witness how something so simple as seeing a flower bloom can awaken a sense of discovery in them. It is exciting to see and I always feel so blessed to be able to witness them uncovering the world as they know it.
Riche: What's the smartest decision you've made since becoming a mom?
Alethia: Not forgetting why I married my husband. Too often we get so caught up with “handling” the kids that as parents we forget why we fell in love with our spouses and decided to create a family with them. It is not easy sometimes, but my husband and I go out at least once a week without the kids, and also take mini-vacations or staycations (e.g., leave on a Friday evening after work and get back on a Sunday morning/afternoon or just stay at a hotel in Downtown DC instead of relieving the babysitter at midnight on a Saturday night) at least once a quarter. During these date nights and weekend getaways, I am reminded that we actually like each other and that we are not just mommy and daddy, but soul mates.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do with your children?
Alethia: Sitting with them and being really present in the moment. Too often I am with the kids, but I am checking and responding to emails, texting someone, talking on the phone or just simply thinking about what I need to do next, while all the time missing out on the real connection that I have the opportunity to enjoy with the kids. I find that when I leave my phone in my bag, sit on the floor with them and just play, read, sing, dance or listen to them about their day or why they like or dislike something, it is better than any playground or amusement park.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do when you have some much-needed alone time?
Alethia: Getting a massage, or a mani or pedicure. Talking to my best friend, Virginia, without having to yell at the kids to stop screaming or interrupting my telephone conversation. I am a bit of a TVholic, so anytime I can have a nice glass of wine and catch up on “Scandal," “House of Lies," The Game” or I am ashamed to say, “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” I am a happy camper.
Riche: How would you describe your mommy style (e.g., chic, classic, trendy, etc.)?
Alethia: My mother always had this saying, “Never leave the house with your kids looking like models and you looking like a wreck.” That is always in my head, so with that I always try to keep myself pulled together (my threshold question is--if I saw someone from college on the stree,t would they go back to another college classmate and say, “I saw Alethia and she was looking busted!”). Pulled together for me is taking the two seconds to put on some mascara and lip gloss and not just throwing on the first thing out of the clean clothes pile. I can’t keep up with all the new trends so I just keep it simple with some signature pieces, so all-in-all, I would consider myself to have more of a classic style.
Riche: What's your secret to being a great mom and looking great too?
Alethia: Admitting I can’t do it all and asking for help. I am at my worst (as a mother, wife and attorney) if I try to do all things 100% at the same time. When I stop and realize that I can’t do it all but need help or need to prioritize things, I am a terrific mom and a great attorney…and at times a fun and great wife.
Riche: What's your best advice for moms who are working full time, with kids and married?
Alethia: Prioritize things. At the beginning of each day, ask yourself, “What do I need to do and what can wait?” I'm fortunate to have a part-time nanny, but I don’t use her as a substitute mother. That said, I make it a point to be home in time for bedtime stories and connecting with the kids before they fall asleep every night. I always remind myself that while I have a great legal practice, it only serves as a means for me to take care of my family.
Never forget that being a “mom” will never disappear but being “mommy” will. Embrace the sitting on your lap moments (even if it will wrinkle your dress before work), accept the snot on your blouse, or the dirt or sand in your hair as your little one runs up to you after school to show you their newest mudpie or sand project.
Don’t beat yourself up when you miss the client call because you are at the zoo with your kids…the client will be there, but the kids won’t always want to go places with you in the future. On the flipside, when you have work deadlines, don’t promise things to your child that you can’t do. If I can’t get to a school event I tell my kids upfront, as I think the worst is saying you will do something or be somewhere and you don’t. Along the same vein, don’t set work expectations that you can’t meet.
Lastly, your child’s play at noon is just as important as a meeting with your client. I enter my kids’ school events into my work calendar the same as a major client meeting (i.e., From 12-2 – Attending an out-of-office meeting), as to me my job in my kids’ mind is “MOMMY," and I simply love this job title!
Hey Haute Mamas! I'm Riche Holmes Grant, a modern mom + mompreneur who designs smart + stylish products that make your mommy gig easier.
When I'm not busy taking orders from my toddler boss, I'm contributing to MarthaStewart.com or in the kitchen whipping up delicious baby + toddler gourmet creations in my BambiniWare Apronini.
Get my FREE book on How to Make the Best Food for Your Baby here!
I live in the Washington, DC area with my husband and daughter. Follow our adventures on Instagram via @BambiniWare!
- Riche Holmes Grant