After months of doting on your little VIP, the mere thought of going back to the office can make you wanna cry.
Know that you’re not alone. Our latest working mama is Kate Wolfson, the insanely talented Deputy Editor at Gwyneth Paltrow-helmed goop and mom to 11-month-old Sonny.
At goop, Kate has her hands in every aspect of editorial, including its covetable gift guides. Even though she loves her job (it’s as cool as we thought it would be!), she confides that there’s a lot of guilt for women who choose to stay in the workplace.
Kate opened up to us about her recent experience as a new mom, including tips on how to ease your way back to work, how she and her partner keep romance alive, and what developments in modern parenthood made grandma’s jaw drop.
The place you call home:
Brooklyn, New York. Always and forever. Currently, I live in LA.
Tell us about what you do at goop:
My job involves a little bit of everything, and truly, no two days are the same. Here’s a sampling: I help put together city guides, write fashion/culture/parenting-related stories, field copy requests for other departments, top-edit whatever comes my way, oversee product and site copy… and most recently, I was part of the team working on our 2017 gift guides—it’s a grueling process, but I look forward to it every year.
What do you love most about your job?
I love that even though I’m firmly rooted in editorial I get to collaborate with every arm of the company—from marketing to merch to ad sales to product. I love that everyone who works at goop is really f***ing cool, especially the incredibly intelligent, hilarious, hard-working women on the edit team. I love that my boss, Elise, is also my mentor. I love that there’s zero room to get bored. I love my employee discount. (I swear I’m not ass-kissing, I just have an awesome gig.)
Is there anything you don’t like?
I think that what I like least about my job is of my own doing. I put Sonny down and log back on at around 7pm every night for at least two or three hours—there is always something to do. It’s really hard for me to put my computer away and accept that things will just have to wait until the morning. I think it’s safe to say that goop people as a whole aim to overachieve.
Did you or your partner get a maternity/paternity leave following the birth of your son?
The stars aligned just so that Sam was on hiatus from the TV show he writes on at the same time that I was on maternity leave. We got to be home with Sonny for 12 full weeks before we both went back to work.
Did you ever contemplate staying home after Sonny was born?
I spent a lot of time thinking about this when I was pregnant. There was a part of me that hoped I would want to stay home, but ultimately, I knew that working is a big element of my identity, one that I just didn’t want to give up. It’s hard for me to say whether I would have stayed home longer if it were an option, but I do know that I was excited to get back to the office.
What’s been the most surprising thing about childcare?
I was ambivalent about having kids pretty much up to the year I got pregnant, so there was a lot of anxiety that I wouldn’t know how to mother. It sounds so duh in hindsight, but I was surprised by what a huge help the other mothers in my life turned out to be (people I work with, friends with kids, neighbors, random strangers, my own mom). That, and how willing and happy they were (and still are) to answer my weepy/desperate/panicked/wtf texts at all hours. In my experience, the mommy community has been so welcoming—I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy being a part of it as much as I do. It was a big relief to learn that everyone else is just winging it, too.
In what ways is your work/life the same since having kids? And in what ways is it different?
I had this fear that I wouldn’t know how to write or do my job anymore after having a kid. Turns out, I totally did.
Other than the obvious, the hardest thing has been swapping my editor hat for my mom hat in the evenings. I’d like to give all of myself to both family and work, though I guess falling short is inevitable. The work-life balance myth is something we talk about all the time at work—there’s a lot of guilt.
Now that you’re a working mom, how do you make time for yourself?
I like to stay up late-ish at night reading or watching TV before bed while my husband konks out earlier. We’ve worked out a system where he’s with Sonny in the morning and I take the evenings and bedtime. This way, we both get our individual weekday time with him, and I get to putter around the house a little later knowing that Sam will take the early shift so I can get an extra hour of sleep.
What’s your best advice to a new mom reaching the end of her maternity leave?
Make a trip to the office before your official return date—bring the babe with you if you’d like—just to visit and say hey to everyone. It took a lot of the fear out of being back in the work environment for me.
Real talk. No one can do it all. What do you do less of to make it work for you and yours?
I don’t get to spend nearly as much time on my social life as I’d like to. Couple dinners, catch-up lunches, and extra-curricular work events have all taken a backseat to spending precious time with Sonny. We do try to have two standing date nights a month, though we end up spending more time talking about Sonny than we do rekindling the romance (which is sort of romantic in its own way).
Do you think it’s easier to parent now than, say, when your mother raised you?
My guess is that being a parent is hard in its own ways no matter the decade. Though I will say that my mom is consistently amazed at the plethora of baby products that exist on the market geared exclusively toward making life easier.
She went through hell trying to keep me on breast milk, though as a working mom, she couldn’t keep her supply up. I had a hospital grade pump that did a lot of the heavy lifting for me. Meal planning was a challenge for her—the look on her face when she realized how pouches work was of sheer astonishment. And, let’s not forget, cloth diapers. On the flipside, she had a whole army of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors at the ready to step in when she had to go back to work or simply needed a break.
One thing you didn’t know before having kids that you wish you had known:
I know everyone and their mother says this, but I wish I had known right away how fast it all goes. Living in the moment has never been my strong suit, so getting out of my head and enjoying the right now is something I have to be super conscious about daily.
What do you hope is different about the workplace for Sonny’s generation?
My big hope is for there to be a resurgence of work and career opportunities that don’t involve staring at a computer all day. Tech is awesome and I owe my career to it, but I’d love for my son to have the opportunity to work with his hands.
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