Podcast: Thriving (and side hustles) with Jessica Turner

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

It is wonderful if your day job taps all your talents. But many people wind up pursuing work that taps the more lucrative portion of their skills (or at least the ones that readily suggest a job with full benefits).

What to do with the rest of them?

I have long admired this week’s Best of Both Worlds guest, Jessica Turner, for her ability to turn her interests into a thriving side business. By day, Turner works in marketing for a major health system. By night (well, more often by early morning and weekends) she runs The Mom Creative, where she showcases costumes, parties, projects, and the like. She is also the author of the new book Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive, which is out today.

In today’s episode, Turner shares a number of strategies for making all the pieces of life fit together. Among them:

Trade off on weekends. If you have a partner, this person can take the kids for a chunk of time on the weekends, and you can as well (so your partner has time for his/her interests). But you have to think about this and ask. It might not naturally occur to your partner to offer. If you’re parenting on your own, trade off with friends, or extended family, or hire a sitter for a few hours. There are 36 waking hours between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday (assuming 3×8 hours of sleep). Spending 4 of those hours on your own passions and 32 on everyone else doesn’t exactly seem like an unreasonable demand. Turner generally works on Saturday mornings on her side hustle (often in a coffee shop). If she starts at 6-7 a.m., she can be back in family mode by 10-11 a.m.

Use your (weekday) mornings. Unless you are a certified night owl, it’s hard to do creative work in the evenings. Instead of watching TV or surfing the web, go to bed. You can then wake up earlier, turning unproductive evening hours into productive morning hours. One morning a week, Turner might wind up working from 6-9 a.m. before starting her regular job. You can get a lot of stuff done in a concentrated chunk like this! Her husband normally does the morning kid run, but if that’s not the case in your family, you might still be able to negotiate for one morning “off” from caregiving to use for your hobby/side hustle/passion project.

Plan ahead. If you add up the two previous paragraphs, you’ll see that Turner has built about 7 hours into her week for her side hustle (when she’s not on book deadline). While that’s a lot of time, it’s not an infinite amount of time, which means that she needs to optimize it. She has created an editorial calendar that extends far into the future, so she knows what she has coming up (so she definitely knows her Halloween stuff already now!) This is much more efficient than doing things when you think of them.

Use found time. In general, Turner always has stuff ready to do when she has bits of time (e.g. waiting somewhere). But she also uses other found time. We recorded this episode when she was on medical leave in June (don’t worry – she’s fine!) I am pretty sure BOBW is not the only podcast she recorded from her bed/couch while recuperating from surgery.

Share the load. The Turners are both pretty relaxed about housework, and they tend to split the chores (he cooks, she does laundry). We had quite a discussion about a “rule of thumb” over how often a house should be vacuumed (allegedly, once per week per person living there — has anyone else ever heard this??)

Drop the right balls. Turner discussed a metaphor of glass balls vs. bouncy balls. When you drop a glass ball, it shatters. When you drop a bouncy ball, it’s OK. Figure out what is a glass ball in your life (for Turner, her health is a glass ball) and what will bounce and you’ll make do. The second category might be more than you think.

Change your story. Turner noted that it is empowering for kids to see their parents doing work they love. Isn’t this what we want kids to see — that this is possible? I’d add that it’s particularly important for girls to see that women can have jobs that provide health insurance (as Turner’s does for the family), that they can make time for creative pursuits, and enjoy their families as well. Plus, thanks to Turner’s platform, her kids got to meet the Property Brothers, so that’s pretty cool too.

Anyway, please give the interview a listen! The opener talks about SHU’s pumping saga, plus my family’s Disney trip in early 2019. The question comes from a listener who’s considering going part-time (a perennial topic on BOBW!) We spell out some of the questions she should ask herself and her partner (and her employer) before making that decision.

9 thoughts on “Podcast: Thriving (and side hustles) with Jessica Turner

  1. I have never heard that vacuuming rule of thumb! So my house should be vacuumed 4x per week bc we have 4 people living there??? Dear lord I would never do anything else. I probably only vacuum 2-3 times a month! (It should be said that I don’t have any pets.)

    1. There are 7(!!) people in my house. We sweep under the dining room table once a day (one of us is only 2) but the vacuum comes out twice a week–TOPS!

  2. Re: the part-time Q&A, I really liked your discussion around the pros and cons. I’ve been working part-time in a corporate environment since 2010 (with some time off thrown in there too) and the only thing that would make me consider going back to a full time gig would be financial – if my husband wanted to quit, or try something different with his career, etc. I absolutely love having the extra time for *whatever* I need it for. I feel like it allows me to create “space” in my schedule and lets me be open to the occasional volunteering at my girls’ school, or a mid-day workout, etc. without feeling super frazzled about having to make up that time somewhere else. (But I am a person who tends toward needing a less “full” schedule!) One of the things that needs an open discussion between partners is how child care and house stuff will break out if you are part-time, as well as how you prioritize who takes time off when kids are sick, for school events mid-day, etc. When I was completely off, it was untenable for me and super stressful for my husband – it really shifted our relationship, but the balance when I’m part-time is *much* better.

  3. Hilarious! I was just going to suggest Jessica when I saw that she is in your latest podcast! Can’t wait to listen to it on Sundays run!
    BTW – international listener here (Australia). I’ve now gone back and listened to all of your back catalog. Love it! I read (well, listened to) your book ‘I know how she does it’ and it was like a lightbulb! I then looked for a podcast and BOBW came up. So happy to hear from other working mums when I’m in a small rural town of SAHM’s.
    Some other podcast suggestions would be Carsen Tate, Lara Casey Issacson and Angela Duckworth.
    Let’s go for a run one day when you’re in Australia!

  4. I finally listened to this episode and I can’t find the Disney vacation planner that you mentioned that you used, Laura. I love hearing the updates on Disney planning as we still haven’t taken our kiddos yet!

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