Someone once called parenting the hardest job you’ll ever love. Time off is nonexistent, the day doesn’t end at 5 p.m., and there is no perfect formula for work-life balance. Success looks different for every family, but as these local women can attest, a thriving, prominent career and happy, well-rounded family don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The key is to set realistic expectations, keep your kids involved and take care of yourself, too.
monica black robinson
diversity and inclusion leader | washington university
Monica Black Robinson’s career at Washington University is centered on the idea of inclusion, and so is her family life. She brought her now college-age daughter, Brianna, to a variety of work, school and cultural experiences, which strengthened their relationship. It also made parenting easier and gave her daughter a rich set of personal interests and skills, Robinson says.
“My daughter has had more interesting experiences than many adults,” she notes. “I took her to places like Carnegie Hall in New York when she was very young. And I was lucky to work for wonderful companies that let me integrate her into my workday. It’s important to develop a trusting relationship with your employer, so you can be
present for your kids while doing your job.”
Brianna also tagged along when her mother went back to school as a single parent. “The instructors were great about having her there,” Robinson recalls. “They even asked her questions in class and let her say what she thought.” Now, Brianna teaches piano, performs as a vocalist and musician, and is earning a degree in psychology.
Robinson is involved with mothers’ groups for moral support, noting that gaining insight from other women is important. “Being around other ladies of wisdom has been so important for me as a parent,” she says. She stays centered through volunteer projects at church and runs etiquette workshops for underserved St. Louisans. “I feel blessed to have my daughter and my husband part of the wonderful experiences in my life,” she says.
agent | coldwell banker premier group
Kim Carney is one of her company’s most successful real estate agents, but she works equally hard at being a mom to her twin daughters. She got into the business after becoming fascinated by the intricacies of her own home sale. “I discovered I was finding good deals before my agent did,” she says. “I took a training class, got a listing right away, and fell in love with the business. It speaks to my competitive side.”
Carney says while working in real estate is challenging, it also allows some flexibility for her parenting responsibilities. “You are ‘on’ at all times, but you also have free time,” she explains. “I can get the kids up for school every morning and be here when they come home.” She also enjoys passing on practical knowledge to her daughters. “They knew what a contingency contract was when they were 8 years old,” she jokes. “I think they are developing a good work ethic by seeing how I provide for them.”
She says it’s also important to accept help from loved ones, especially as a single parent. “I am lucky to have family and friends in the area,” she says. She is a cancer survivor and tries to set them a good philanthropic example by being involved with St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness.
Carney advises other moms not to be too hard on themselves when balancing a career and family. “We’re often our own worst critics,” she says. “Sometimes you’ll fail, but don’t beat yourself up. It all works out in the end when you see you’ve raised great kids.”
president | go! st. louis
Mona Langenberg began working for GO! St. Louis, a nonprofit centered on running and fitness, when she was just 19. “I’ve been here a long time, and I think that really helped my early career as a mom, too,” she notes. “I was able to stay in a key role but do part-time work when my three kids were little. At a small nonprofit, the environment often is more family-oriented and liberal, so you can do what’s needed for your family and your job.”
She says caring about her ‘work family’ helps her and her staff be better employees and parents. “It’s a natural progression,” she notes. “When you are in tune to the needs of the people who work for you, they’ll be the same with you. We are a close group, and we create a nice give-and-take.”
Langenberg says she parents with a down-to- earth set of expectations about her own personal time. “You hear a lot on social media about doing all kinds of special things to take care of yourself as a mom, but it looks different in reality,” she notes. “I can’t get massages every week or take lots of relaxing vacations. But I can buy myself a good cup of coffee every morning. That’s much more realistic.” She also believes in teaching her kids to help each other. “It’s a good way for them to learn some autonomy, and it makes life easier for me,” she says.
Not surprisingly, Langenberg keeps mentally balanced by staying physically fit. She views exercise as a chance to work in quality personal time. “I run six days a week, sometimes at 4:30 a.m. before the family is awake,” she says. “I always keep exercise in my schedule. It’s the best time I have to myself.”