17 October 2011

Kerry Scott - How She Does It - Secrets from a Geneamommyblogger

About myself:
I'm Kerry Scott from Clue Wagon. I used to be an HR executive. Then I was an HR executive with a baby. Then I was an HR executive with a two-year-old and a baby. Then I was an HR executive with a two-year-old, a baby, and directions from my boss to make a list of the two-thirds of the people in the company we should lay off, because the company was shutting down. By then I'd had enough, so I put my own name on the list, took my awesome severance package, and went home.

I started a blog so that I could learn how blogs and social media worked (since I'd never had time for that sort of thing when I was working 60 hours a week with two kids). The blog was originally about job hunting tips. After a year, I decided I was going to focus on genealogy. That was almost two years ago, and now I'm the Online Community Editor for Family Tree Magazine/Family Tree University. A lot of the skills I learned in designing, writing, promoting, and managing a self-hosted blog are what helped me get the job.

How I Do It:

I work from home.  My daughter is in first grade, so she's gone from 8:30-4pm. My son is in preschool, and we enrolled him in a full-day program when I got the job at Family Tree Magazine. My husband has a more-than-full-time job and also trains for and runs marathons year-round. It's not easy. I work early in the morning before the kids are up (between 5-6:30 a.m., depending on the day), then stop to get them off to school. Then I work until the youngest gets home from school at 4 p.m., and we pick my son up at 4:30.  I hang out with them for a while, then make dinner. If I'm really swamped, I go back to work after dinner, but most days we all hang out together until the kids go to bed. I go to bed not long after they do, because I'll be up early again the next day. On days when I'm really behind, I start working at 3 or 4 a.m. to catch up. My husband takes over a lot of time on the weekends when I'm working, but I'm hoping that as I get more settled in my new job, the weekend work will be minimal. Before, when I was doing freelance work, I worked ALL weekend because my son was not in daycare during the week, so that was the only time I had someone to take care of him while I worked. That sucked.

When I Grocery Shop:

Peapod! I order groceries online and they're delivered to the house. When you consider your hourly rate (and your sanity), it's not really more expensive. In fact, I order EVERYTHING online. Toilet paper, light bulbs, batteries, Christmas presents...it all comes from the internet. I have an Amazon Prime account, and I use it several times a week (sometimes several times a day!). The UPS man is practically a member of my family. Being in stores is a huge waste of time, and internet shopping is the one thing that tips the scales in favor of me being able to keep the house reasonably well-stocked without losing my mind. Our banking is all automated too—I don't sit down and pay bills, ever. I love the internet.

When I Sleep:

Sometimes I don't. One thing I've figured out in the past year or so is that the cleaner the house is, the better able I am to keep up on stuff, and the more I get done. This really sucks, because I don't particularly love cleaning, and I have two kids who mess it up anyway...but it's true. When there are piles of stuff everywhere and I can't see the surface of my desk, I slide into a pool of unproductivity that ends in me reading every word on the blogs of the Real Housewives on Bravo (true story). I try hard to keep at least the main floor of my house straightened up, because it's the one with the kitchen, main bathroom, and office—the one I'm on when I'm at work. I'm amazed at how much it helps.

What I Don't Want People to Know:

That I don't always get a shower. That my personal email has unread messages from two months ago, because I haven't gotten to them yet, and I think I will today but we all know I probably won't. That there are 17 sticky notes on my monitor right now, and probably only eight of those things will actually get done, because the other nine will eventually lose their stickiness and fall off and slide under the desk and be lost forever. That I'm totally not kidding about my mild obsession with the Real Housewives shows. (My husband teases me, because the only shows I watch regularly are American Experience and the Real Housewives.  I'm like, dude, that is called A BALANCED DIET. It's like having broccoli and a Pop-Tart for lunch. Which I've done, because the broccoli had to be used up, and Pop-Tarts are delicious. Stop judging me.)

How I Take Care of Myself:

Sometimes I shower. About twice a month I remember to take a vitamin. (Actually, in all seriousness, I just took an "Intro to Knitting" class, because I feel like it's important to have a hobby, and now that genealogy is my job, I needed a new one. So far I suck at it, but it's a great way to unplug.)

What I Hope My Kids Will Remember About Me:

That I had a job and I worked hard...because I think it's important for kids to see that Mama is a person, not just the chick who comes and helps you in the bathroom when you poop. I also hope that they'll remember that we did lots of stuff together. When I'm getting up at 3 or 4 a.m. to get work done, it's so that I will have time to hang out with them after school and on the weekends. It's not quite as balanced as I would like right now, but I'm getting there. I also hope that when they're older, they'll understand that I made a big career change, and exactly how and why I did it. So many people stay in jobs they hate or let life sort of push them into one spot or another. I want my kids to know that it is possible to be in charge of your own life. You have to work really, really hard to be able to do stuff like that, and you have to have a certain amount of nerve...but it can be done. You don't have to let life make decisions for you.


Kerry Scott
Milwaukee, WI

beginning October 15, 2011. If you missed a day, click here.


  1. Kerry the changes in your life have been some of what I have gone through the last year. A lot of hard work seven days a week but it is beginning to pay off. Plus, I didn't want to just be the woman my kids call when they poop either. There is more to me than that. Great post!!

  2. Jen--thank you. There are quite a few of us in this boat, I think.

  3. Great post Kerry! My nest is empty now but I remember well how crazed life could be. (I also spent a big chunk of those years as a single mom of four.) You're doing a great job balancing the craziness.

  4. This is an excellent post!! It never occurred to me to have everything delivered. I will be starting that this week. Welcome back 12 hours a week. Thanks for the great tip!

  5. Kerry, I have a three and seven-year-old. I feel your pain, especially about being the chick who helps in the bathroom! It makes me feel better to know there are other moms out there trying to juggle it all.

  6. "...because I think it's important for kids to see that Mama is a person, not just the chick who comes and helps you in the bathroom when you poop."

    This is quite possibly the best line ever written.

  7. Excellent advice. I gotta get me one of those Amazon Prime accounts. I'm another one of those people whose productivity goes down when the house is dirty and messy - sad but true. And that showering stuff is overrated.

  8. So true! And sounds so familiar... balance is incredibly hard to achieve, that's for sure.

  9. I actually enjoy shopping. It gets me out of the house once in a while, and sometimes I buy stuff for me, just because. Besides, we live in the middle of nowhere; last time I checked, no grocery stores delivered out here. We're lucky we still have any.

    And I agree about showers. They're a total time-waster. I call it my water conservation project.

  10. The Peapod and keeping the house tidy are revelations to me. I'm not sure about the waking up at 5am, but I might try it.

  11. Kerry, I'm a heckuva lot older than you. In fact, I am old enough to be your mommy, and when I read this, I was in total awe! When I grow up, I wanna be just like you! You're smart, sassy, ballsy, and you're my hero! Congratulations on your success with family AND career!

  12. Kerry, you're doing an amazing job balancing all that you do! And your kids will tell you 20 years from now your example taught them what a work ethic was all about. My kids told me that about a month ago, they too are hard workers with goals! You're doing great! I do wish I had your writing skills however!

  13. You all are giving me a swelled head. None of the hats I'm learning to knit are going to fit if this keeps up.


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