There’s comfort in solidarity and lessons learned from other moms who have paved pathways for us already. We’re excited to kickoff a new series highlighting working moms across the East Valley to share what works for them, how they juggle it all, and a few mom hacks and words of encouragement. We’ve partnered with Tide Cleaners for this working mom series because one of the biggest mom hacks we’ve found is outsourcing laundry.
If you’re a working mama strapped for time, consider visiting one of Tide Cleaners’ 18 neighborhood locations throughout the Valley, or better yet try their free home pickup and delivery service to make dry cleaning and laundry as hassle-free as possible. As working moms ourselves, it’s been a game-changer in giving us more precious time at home to focus on our kids instead of their dirty clothes. We’re sharing more about this service at the end of Anne’s interview!
Anne sure gave us inspiration as we got to know her a bit more—we hope you find pieces of encouragement from her career journey as well!
- Name: Anne Landers
- Age: 36
- Location: Gilbert
- Children (names and ages): Jaxson (6) and Jameson (4)
Tell us about your role and how you got to this point in your career
While at ASU, I was fortunate to get an internship with an up-and-coming PR agency, which turned into a full-time career before I even graduated. The experience I gained at the agency over the next six years – with far more responsibility and managing far bigger clients than a young 20-something typically would – gave me the resourceful nature and confidence I need to step into and tackle unknowns.
After a mission trip to Africa (where I also got engaged!), I realized my deep desire to spend my time working toward a more equitable future and improving the lives of others. I left the agency, proud of the work I did to promote brands like Dunkin Donuts and My Sister’s Closet, to work for a faith-based nonprofit doing community development work in Africa. I had to opportunity to step in and manage US operations for the international organization, honing my skillset in fundraising and management.
In 2014, I was ready to focus my time back on our own community. Coincidentally, one of the business partners at the former agency had sold his half and taken on a leadership role at local nonprofit Junior Achievement. He invited me to join them and create the first-ever marketing program at JA, where I’ve been for the last 6 years.
There is so much hurt and uncertainty in the world right now, and yet, somehow I know that I will look back on this season, and my years at JA as time well spent. I believe so deeply in JA’s mission to prepare AZ students to succeed in work and life. We help them imagine what’s possible and give them the skills to step into those possibilities. Every day, I aspire to make us just a little bit better, so that when we look back on our progress, we are proud of our impact on tens of thousands of students each year, and even prouder we’ve created a sustainable organization that will transcend challenges like today to continue shaping AZ’s future for the long-term.
Tell us a bit more about your current job title.
Each year at JA, my role has morphed and expanded, and now my efforts overlap with almost every part of the organization. As the VP, Strategic Impact, I’m acutely focused on how students, schools, individuals, corporations and other entities experience and engage with our nonprofit. The impact our programs have is irrefutable – I just help make sure the entire JA family and the greater community knows about the importance of these programs.
Can you walk us through your typical workday?
My typical workday looks very different now than it did pre-COVID. And every day takes a different shape.
Generally speaking, the bulk of my work time right now is spent helping create the vision and roadmap for our organization’s new future.
In between meetings, my job requires a lot of thinking, planning, writing, designing, editing, and translating our vision and brand into something the JA family and broader community can latch on to. I’m also hyper focused on implementing systems, automations and efficiencies to be able to stretch our donor contributions even further to reach more students.
Tell us a little bit about your family!
Before I was a working mom, I was a working wife! Chris and I have been married for 11 years, living most of that time in Gilbert. In addition to our two boys, we have two dogs – a sweet, tired 12-year-old black lab and a crazy mut who looks like a furry dalmatian. Fun fact – her DNA says she’s actually a black-haired dog with two white-hair genes making her have “more spots.”
How do you balance working full-time and being a mother?
I gave up the idea of “work-life balance” a long time ago. I’m a big Brene Brown fan and a few years back I started practicing the belief that “I am enough”- that has really shaped my personal satisfaction, even during the times where I fall short. I commit to giving the best I can that day, whatever it looks like. And every day, that capacity is a little different. Sometimes I can do it all; some days, I barely accomplish the first few items on my list. And, yet, as long as I can confidently say I did the best that day, I’m okay what that balance.
Walk us through your daily morning routine
Full disclosure – this daily routine is completely different from what I would have noted before the pandemic. My entire daily-life literally changed overnight, as I know so many families did.
I wake up around 6 a.m. My husband and I “open the house” (my fond way of talking about opening all our window blinds which brings in the daylight, making the bed, feeding the dogs, emptying the dishwasher, etc.) – I feel much more aligned when the house feels in order.
I spend a little time readying myself for the day. My expectation of “readiness” has drastically changed while working from home. I usually devote some of that time to just be – read, pray, think or be active.
I then help get the day going for my boys, who typically sleep until about 7:30 a.m.
I aim to have started work around 8 a.m. in my since-converted office (from a guest room we anticipate being unused for some time). My boys join me after breakfast and morning chores to get started on their learning.
The rest of the morning hours are a constant juggling to manage education assignments, constant work meetings and other time demands. I fortunately work with an amazing team and partners who have all gotten use to small-voice interruptions, and have even graciously agreed to do their best to schedule afternoon meetings, where they are less likely to have my occasional broken focus.
Can you share a mom hack you rely on to make things work in your day-to-day life?
Practice getting a little more comfortable with uncertainty, and know that every day, some things will become a little more certain. I’ve never been a Mom before. I’ve never been through COVID before. I’ve never had my job priorities change overnight. I’ve never lived in a world that has faced many of these societal and political issues over the past year. And yet, somehow, I’m learning to not let the anticipation of the unknown take away joy.
Tell us about transitioning to being a working mom. What surprised you? How do you make it work?
In many ways, choosing to be a working mom is a sacrifice. I made a commitment as I stepped back into the work world that I would regularly check in with myself to be sure that what I’m doing – my time away from my family – is work that aligns with my personal core values (the top ones being family, connectedness & growth) and that it’s moving us toward a better future. I was surprised and relieved that commitment helps me put guardrails around my work-life.
Being a working mom is hard – so hard – and it has helped shape my identity in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. All at the same time, I am helping raise my family’s own future and helping to sure-up the future for all the youth in Arizona. I’m grateful that at the end of a long, seemingly endless day, I am assured my time was well spent.
Thankfully, in my work now, I am encouraged to prioritize my family and trusted that I will still meet the needs at JA. As an example, last year, I was meeting with our President in her office and my son’s school called to have me pick him up, sick. Unfortunately, I had carpooled with my husband and couldn’t reach him. She said, “Why don’t I drive you and we can finish the meeting in the car?” and so we did. I recognize this isn’t the case for all working moms and is something I will never take for granted!
Were you able to take maternity leave? Tell us about that experience.
With both of my boys, I took 6 weeks of time off and then worked from home for 6 weeks before returning to the workplace (not unlike how I’m working now). In both instances, I worked for nonprofit organizations that didn’t have a precedent; I’m proud to have prioritized my family and set an example for my peers to protect that time – you’ll never get back those early moments with your children, so I’d recommend any new parent jump at the chance if their circumstances permit – work will wait.
What are the biggest hurdles that you see for working mothers in America?
Unrealistic expectations (on ourselves and external pressures). Being recognized for “doing it all” rather than our own unique contribution.
I truly hope that the backside of COVID results in a more flexible, forgiving work-world that truly allows us to show up the same personally and professionally, and with less guilt all around.
How did COVID change your childcare situation? What’s working for you right now?
I began working from home exclusively at that time, so we were fortunate not to “need” childcare. To say it was a transition is an understatement! And in a weird way, we’re used to it now. So much so, that I anticipate working from home a few days a week indefinitely and picking my kiddos up right after school (vs. going to aftercare). It’s exhausting, but in so many ways, a gift of time together.
In your experience, what do you believe are the key components in balancing your career, your relationships, and parenthood?
Grace for myself and believing that I am enough. No one decision defines my relationships or career. In our family, our commitment is that we will always work to grow and be better. That doesn’t mean we don’t make the same mistakes again, but we notice progress and accept each other. I take the same approach at work. 1% better, bit by bit, makes us exponentially better down the road!
For some fun chit-chat, now!
Favorite restaurant in the East Valley: Zappone’s Italian Bistro or Blue 32 Sports Grill (depending on the family mood that day)
Most embarrassing mom moment: I was on an early morning budget video-call with my organization’s President and my 6-year-old came in the room, got up on the bed behind me and bounced… completely naked. She noticed before I did…
Last Netflix show you binged: Hip hop evolution (my husband’s thing, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought!)
Greatest challenge in your career thus far: Now! I suddenly found myself not only a work-from-home mom of two rowdy, extroverted boys with tons of newfound time and misplaced energy, but also a non-profit leader trailblazing innovation to ensure the long-term viability of our educational mission. Truly, it’s been one of the biggest challenges of my life, and at the same time I am uniquely positioned to straddle both – having school-aged boys, I can empathize with the parents and teachers struggling to pave a new way forward AND I can help be a solution provider for educators, parents and students, carry the lift in some ways.
Despite many long, seemingly endless days, I couldn’t be more thankful for the extra time and perspective I’m gaining at-home, while I also get to dedicate my brainpower and expertise toward shaping the future for our youth and community.
Thank you so much, Anne, for sharing your personal journey of being a working mom! And, thank you to our partner, Tide Cleaners, for supporting working moms in a tangible way by giving them more time to focus on their family and things that bring them joy, instead of running errands or folding clothes.
Tide Cleaners offers FREE home pickup and delivery across the East Valley with no weekly contract. You don’t even need to live close to one of their locations! As long as you’re within their East Valley service area they’ll come to you. You can try it out and even pause service at any time. (This is also great even for business travel weeks when things get piled up!)
Tide Cleaners is backed by the heritage of the same Tide brand that you’re family has been using for generations, so you know it’s dry cleaning you can trust. Click here to get 30% off your first dry cleaning order or here 50% off your first home delivery order. We’ll be sharing more about Tide Cleaners in our next working mom profile, so stay tuned!