“We need alone time as a family in order to center ourselves”, by Dr. Ely Weinschneider and Kristen Wessel

Learn to say no. There is always so much going on and many opportunities to stay busy. Sometimes what is best for me and my family is just being together, with the 4 of us. When we get too busy and we are going from activity to activity, we all become exhausted. We need alone […]

Learn to say no. There is always so much going on and many opportunities to stay busy. Sometimes what is best for me and my family is just being together, with the 4 of us. When we get too busy and we are going from activity to activity, we all become exhausted. We need alone time as a family in order to center ourselves and get back on track.

I had the pleasure to interview Kristen Wessel, Senior Director of Public Relations at ChicExecs. A former Emmy-Award Winning News Anchor, Kristen brings a fresh and dynamic energy to ChicExecs. Most recently a News Anchor at San Diego 6, XETV, Kristen has Anchored at WSPA in Greenville, South Carolina, KCWY in Casper, Wyoming and KZSW in Temecula, California. Kristen prides herself on being able to tell great stories and build lasting relationships with the media. With almost 10 years of news industry experience, Kristen’s insider knowledge gives her clients an advantage to understanding how the media works. As a result, Kristen has secured meaningful media placements for clients and goes above and beyond to help promote and maintain their brands. Kristen has a B.A. from Southern Methodist University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and playing tennis.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?

Thank you for having me! Yes, my career is very rewarding and I’m thrilled with the place I’m at now and also have a deep appreciation for where I came from. I have a news background and was a News Anchor/Reporter for almost 10 years. I worked in NBC, CBS and CW affiliates all over the country, including Casper, Wyoming, Greenville, South Carolina and San Diego, California, which is where I grew up and where I currently live with my family. I loved the news industry! It was exciting, challenging and incredibly rewarding. I left the news business when my first son was born because I couldn’t physically get up at 2 a.m. anymore! I worked on the morning show and as much as I loved the adrenaline of live TV and the overall newsroom environment, I just couldn’t give my son the attention he needed and deserved. Shortly after my son was born, I was so fortunate to have found ChicExecs, a PR, Social Media and Retail Strategy Firm, where I currently work as a Senior Director of Public Relations and Operations. It has been a game-changer for me!

Can you share with us how many children you have?

I have two children, a 5 year old boy named Jackson and a 3 year old girl named Kennedy. I also have one baby boy in heaven named Jameson Robert. I had a stillborn last year when I was almost 6 months pregnant.

Where were you in your career when your child was born/became part of your family?

I was still Anchoring at San Diego 6, XETV, in San Diego right up until my son was born in September 2013. Shortly after, I began working at ChicExecs and was enjoying the change of pace and not having to get up at 2 a.m. for work anymore. Instead I was getting up in the middle of the night to feed my son and that was much more rewarding. 😉

Did you always want to be a mother? Can you explain?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a mother. I have always been very career driven too so I knew it would be important to me to find a career that would allow me to still be present as a mom. I wanted to do both!

Did motherhood happen when you thought it would or did it take longer? If it took longer, what advice would you have for another woman in your shoes?

My husband and I got pregnant with our son a month after our wedding so it happened very fast! We had said we wanted to possibly get pregnant within the first year of our marriage but we were very lucky that it happened quickly for us. I’ve gotten pregnant quickly with all of my children actually. I do, however, know the pain of loss and losing our son when I was almost 6 months pregnant was devastating. I can imagine how difficult infertility is as well and I do have empathy for couples who struggle to get pregnant. It seems like miscarriages, stillborns and infertility are way more common than society portrays.

Can you tell us a bit about what your day-to-day schedule looks like?

My day-to-day schedule is busy. 🙂 I get up before the kids and do a daily devotional to start my morning. I like the Bible App on my phone because it allows me to customize the lessons based on what is going on in my day. It’s very helpful to center my day around God right when I wake up. It sets the tone for my day at work and with my family. Shortly after, I check work emails and texts and check my calendar to see what I have coming up for the day. I like to get in a workout before the kids go to school, but it depends on the day. That doesn’t always happen. 😉 After I take the kids to school, I either head into the office or back home to dive into work. Client facing, employee management and process improvement are all important facets of my job and consume my day-to-day schedule. Phone calls, emails, texts, DM’s; these are all ways I stay connected to my employees and clients throughout the day. I enjoy working. It is challenging, rewarding and important to me that I contribute to our family. I am lucky enough to have found a supportive company that recognizes and appreciates my skill-sets and encourages me to dream big. I love ChicExecs and our founders, Nikki Carlson and Kailynn Bowling. Coming to work for them has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Once I pick up the kids later in the afternoon, I switch to “Mom mode” again. My son usually has some sort of sports practice so I multi-task between sports, carpool and work until it’s time for dinner. I make dinner and we eat when my husband gets home at around 5:30 p.m. and then start the typical bed-time routine of baths, books and bed. Kids are in bed by 7:30 p.m. and then I dive into emails again because I don’t like to leave things until the next day. Once I get everything situated, my husband and I spend much-needed time together. We like to watch shows and talk about our days and decompress together. I’m fortunate to have such a supportive and understanding husband. He is the best! We usually go to bed around 10:00 p.m. and then it starts all over the next day. We are a routine-oriented household and I typically plan everything down to the minute. That really helps me to stay organized and productive. 🙂

Has being a parent changed your career path? Can you explain?

Being a parent has changed my path because I thought I would work in the news business forever and I worked so hard to become an Anchor. But once I had kids, my priorities changed and I needed something with more flexibility.

Has being a mother made you better at your job? How so?

I think it has. Being a mother means you are constantly “on”. You are juggling a million things, which means you don’t have a lot of time. I never procrastinate. I know I have shorter windows to do things so being a mom has made me more productive. I want to be able to spend time with my kids when they are home so I get the majority of my work done when they are at school.

What are the biggest challenges you face being a working mom?

Mom guilt. I think every working mom has that. I will never be the mom who sends her kids to school with homemade gluten free, dairy free, paleo brownies, or whatever the latest fad is. I probably will never be room mom and I rarely volunteer for school events. I think my kid’s jogathon is next week… I’ll have to check on that, haha. But my kids know I love them and I hug and kiss them and tell them how important they are every chance I get. At the end of the day, I think that is more valuable. I also think it’s important for my kids to see my working and I want to be a good example, especially for my daughter. I want her to have a career and be ambitious. That has always been very important to me.

Are there any stories you remember from the early days of parenthood that you want to share?

I remember one week I was asked to fill-in as an Anchor on the news after I had my son and it was one of the most challenging weeks of my life. I got up at 2 a.m. after being up all night feeding Jackson, went in to Anchor and somehow managed to not look like a zombie, then came home to relieve my husband so he could go to work. I then started work on my PR clients for ChicExecs, all while taking care of a newborn. That was when my son was 2 months old. I was pumping during commercial breaks and it was so difficult. After that week, I couldn’t even see straight and knew I had made the right decision to switch careers. I don’t think I slept more than 10 hours the whole week. Phew, was I exhausted!

Are there any meaningful activities or traditions you’ve made up or implemented that have enhanced your time with your family? Can you share a story or example?

We love family movie nights with pizza, Legoland days, bike rides and family vacations. We are fortunate enough to have my whole immediate family close by so we see one or all of them every weekend. The kid’s favorite thing to do is go to Firehouse subs and meet my parents and grandparents there for lunch. We try to do that every weekend. It is so special to have quality time together and I love that my kids get to grow up with their grandparents and great-grandparents as such strong staples in their lives. It is very special. 🙂

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 3–5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

  1. Put the phone away. This is the number one thing for me. I can’t be present if I am checking emails and texts. I leave it in the kitchen and I cuddle with my kids on the couch or play a game and that is the only way to be fully present.
  2. Check-out of social media. This is another big distraction for me. I limit my social media time because I find that it takes time away from my children and I find myself comparing my parenting to other “mommy bloggers” and that’s not good for anybody. 😉
  3. Learn to say no. There is always so much going on and many opportunities to stay busy. Sometimes what is best for me and my family is just being together, with the 4 of us. When we get too busy and we are going from activity to activity, we all become exhausted. We need alone time as a family in order to center ourselves and get back on track.
  4. Play games together. Both of my kids love games and puzzles. Sometimes after church on Sunday, we will have a “game day”. We will get in our comfy clothes and just spend time together playing games. The kids love it and it helps strengthen our family bond even more.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I tell both of my kids that they can be anything they want to be! At one point, my son was really into trash trucks and he wanted to be a trash truck driver. I told him, “That’s great! You should be the best trash truck driver you can be.” Now he wants to be a basketball player and my daughter wants to be a princess but they are still young and I know their goals and ambitions will change over the years. It’s important to me that I show them unconditional love and that they feel that we support them no matter what. I think they are perfect and whatever they decide to do, I support. The most important thing is that they are happy. 🙂

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I really enjoy Rachel Hollis. Her book, “Girl, Wash your Face” is a great read. She keeps things real and offers practical advice for managing your life, as a parent and working mom. She encourages women not to be so hard on themselves and to really embrace everything about motherhood. Being a mom is messy sometimes and not perfect, but that is what makes it rewarding and real. I also enjoy, “Jesus Calling”, the daily devotional. It gives practical advice and lessons about how to enjoy peace in His presence. The lessons combined with the Bible verses are very powerful and it is presented in a way that is applicable to everyday life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you share or plan to share with your kids?

I like Bible verses. It is important to me that my kids know that God can provide the ultimate Life Lessons and the Bible will tell them everything they need to know. Phillipians 4:7- “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Also, my mom always told me, “This is your life, it is not a dress rehearsal.” I like that too.

If you could sit down with every new parent and offer life hacks, must-have products or simple advice, what would be on your list?

It goes by fast. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about how other parents are doing it. Do what is best for you and your family. Don’t compare. Listen to your kids. Give them lots of hugs and kisses. Don’t forget to date your spouse. That last one is really important. 😉

Thank you so much for these insights! We really appreciate your time.

About the Author:

Dr. Ely Weinschneider is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist based in New Jersey. Dr. Ely specializes in adolescent and adult psychotherapy, parenting, couples therapy, geriatric therapy, and mood and anxiety disorders. He also has a strong clinical interest in Positive Psychology and Personal Growth and Achievement, and often makes that an integral focus of treatment.

An authority on how to have successful relationships, Dr. Ely has written, lectured and presented nationally to audiences of parents, couples, educators, mental health professionals, clergy, businesses, physicians and healthcare policymakers on subjects such as: effective parenting, raising emotionally intelligent children, motivation, bullying prevention and education, managing loss and grief, spirituality, relationship building, stress management, and developing healthy living habits.

Dr. Ely also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column about the importance of “being present with your children”.

When not busy with all of the above, Dr. Ely works hard at practicing what he preaches, raising his adorable brood (which includes a set of twins and a set of triplets!) together with his wife in Toms River, New Jersey.

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