Interview: Self-Care IRL with Mary Jerome— advocating for social impact and human rights while also being a Mom & Wife
Mary Jerome is the kind of woman who can whip up a lobster salad from scratch in less than 30 minutes, and talk politics, human rights, and the finer points of marketing for global corporations, all while preparing said lobster salad (it was delicious, btw). As a principal strategist for the Eliasson Group, Mary gets in deep with global issues such as human rights, inclusion, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals through the lens of marketing and corporate partnerships. Heady stuff, right? What’s so admirable about this real-life champion of the world is that she’s equally as comfortable at the UN Headquarters as she is in her kitchen in Brooklyn, NY, making scrambled eggs for her daughter, Margot. So often, we are told as women that we can’t have it all— that you have to choose between career and marriage; life and work; baby and 9-5. The real women around me, though, teach me that you can have it all. It takes juggling, a fair share of compromise, and adjustment to the unknown (and plain old exhaustion), but why should we choose between pursuing all parts of who we are, as women? I asked Mary for her tips on wearing many different hats, and how she finds time to take care of herself amidst the chaos of life.
How do you balance being a mother, wife, and a professional?
I will say that anyone who answers that question and says that they have it all well and balanced-- I don’t think they are being truthful [chuckling]. You get used to your new life. You have to find the time to do more with the same hours, and it becomes a hierarchy of needs. So, your kid comes first— it’s biological, right? Then probably comes your husband, or your partner, whoever that is. And then comes you. It becomes really hard as a Mom to do all the things that you want to do; if you want to be a professional, a good mom, and a good wife, that basically leaves you no time in your day to do anything for you. It gets easier as your kid gets older because they’re a little bit more self-sufficient, and you don’t have to be around them at every second of every day. But especially in the first six months, even a year, I really struggled with trying to find the time to do things for myself. You have to say “No, my husband can take her to the park one Saturday so I can stay back and shower.” Or go to the gym. You always want to feel present for everything, and I think it’s OK to give yourself a break on all aspects of life. You have to be easy on yourself. We’re all trying the best we can here.
How do you find peace of mind in a bustling, urban metropolis like Brooklyn, NY?
You have to make your home your sanctuary. You walk outside and there’s people and noise, things, and chaos. You have to feel like when you come home, that it’s calm. For me, that was finding an apartment that had lots of natural light, and that I could see the sky, because I hated feeling like I got home I didn’t see the sky because the buildings were so tall. Whatever that means to you, you have to feel like when you go home, that that’s your sanctuary.
What was your self-care routine before becoming a mother, and how did it change as you transitioned to being a Mom?
It was pretty dramatic. Before I had Margot, I never really thought about it as something that I needed to schedule, or that I needed to do. Since having Margot, it’s become a really important thing. I know that I need to recharge. I need to be alone. I don’t recharge by being with other people; I recharge by being calm and quiet and not talking to anybody. Whether that’s putting on a sheet mask and lighting a candle, or watching TV. I never used to think about it as much. But when you have a kid your entire life is scheduled because they’re on a schedule. You need to actively make sure that you have the time to do those things, otherwise it doesn’t happen.
Can you share your experience with any clean beauty and non-toxic, natural skincare / self-care products?
One of the things that was really beneficial when I was a new Mom— in the MARI pack that you gave me when I was pregnant— was the Rose Quartz spray. When you have a newborn, your self-care is literally while you have a shower; that’s it— that’s the only time you have. The Rose Quartz spray was my favorite thing, because everyday when I got out of the shower, no matter what time it was, I took 30 seconds, sprayed it on my chest, and did deep breathing. It forced me to take a deep breath in a moment when you can forget to do that. It became this ritual for me that I had to do every day that was a really special thing I remember vividly: “Take a second, take a deep breath, you got this, you’re good.” If I was ever getting too frustrated, I would take a minute, walk into the bathroom, spray it on, and be like, “OK. Recharge. Reset.”
What advice do you have for other working mothers who want to incorporate more self-care and wellness into their lifestyle?
Try to do what you can at home, but when possible, make an appointment. Schedule a yoga class. Schedule a facial. Schedule a massage. If you just say like “Oh, today, I’m just going to do a face mask,” you may do it; that might happen. But if you schedule something, you’re probably going to keep it. I got Pure Barre on demand so I could use at it at home whenever I wanted. But that wasn’t necessarily the best thing, because I never did it. Find the things that you can incorporate into what you’re going to do anyway, that make you feel good. I started spending more on skincare, haircare, and lotion since becoming a Mom, because it brings me joy, and I have a couple minutes to myself to put on lotion or body oil. If it’s going to make me feel good all day, then that’s worth it to me.