Before her career as an Author-Illustrator, Lori Richmond was a corporate creative director in several media companies and a contributing editor to pregnancy and parenting brand, TheBump.com.
32/7 recently spoke to Richmond about her books, her day-to-day life, and the tricks she uses to successfully “juggle” it all. Lori lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two sons, Cooper (9) and Holden (6), who are both named after typefaces.
1. With your freelance creative design work as well as illustrating and authoring children’s books, what’s a typical day like for you?
I try to bring as much structure to my day as possible—I thrive on structure and deadlines! I take my boys to school and am at my desk by 8:45 AM. I start every day with 30-60 minutes of “ideation time.” This could mean working on a story idea, or just drawing…the only rule I’ve set for myself is that it can’t be anything related to a current project. After that, I check my to-do list (I like the app Todoist, because it’s always at the ready in my browser) and get started working! I break for lunch midday, and my babysitter picks up my boys from school until I get home around 6:30 PM. Having a sitter’s help is the only way I can work a full day.
2. What is the inspiration behind your art and stories?
I have sketchbooks and Evernote files filled with tidbits I collect from my daily life. Sometimes a story starts there but becomes something else, and sometimes it remains intact. PAX AND BLUE (Simon & Schuster, February 7, 2017) was inspired by a true story my son told me about a lost bird who wandered onto a subway car. BUNNY’S STAYCATION (Scholastic, 2017) is about Bunny, who attempts to foil his Mama’s business trip, and creates his own adventure instead. My husband is always on the road for work, and I’m home with the boys—but I’ve also been the parent who has to travel. I can tell you that neither situation is easy on the children or the parents. I hope this book is helpful to families, and I can’t wait to share!
3. What are your tricks for getting everyone out the door in the morning?
No matter what, I always feel like we’re trying to beat the clock. I used to try to get things prepped the night before, but, if the choice comes down to a late night of packing lunches or going to sleep, I’m choosing sleep. An exhausted mom can help no one! I just do my best to keep everyone on task in the morning so we can leave (mostly) on time. And, yes, this includes saying, “Are you boys brushing your teeth?!” about 500 times. Humor helps, too. Sometimes I threaten to belt out songs from Hamilton at drop-off in front of all of their friends. That definitely helps move things along!
4. Do you think it’s possible for women to find a work-life balance? How?
No, and I don’t think we should attempt to find balance—balance implies that every aspect of our lives gets comparable attention all of the time, and that’s just not reality. Some days I win at parenting, and other days I feel like a huge loser. Same with work. Same with being a spouse. We can’t put that additional pressure on ourselves when we’re already juggling so much. Maybe juggling is a better word…work-life juggle! That I can get behind. It certainly does feel like a circus most of the time.
5. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give new moms who are about to return to work?
Do a dry run before going back to the office. It feels counterintuitive, but, if you can afford it, put your baby into your childcare arrangement a week before you’re scheduled to return to work. This will allow you to practice leaving the baby, physically and emotionally, and give you some time for self-care like getting a haircut or a manicure before going back to work. When the big day comes to go back, you’ll be better prepared and it will feel less traumatic. You may even be a bit excited to get back to some adult conversation!
6. What’s your favorite working mom, time-saving hack?
Getting dressed for work always felt like a dreaded chore when my kids were really small, especially when I was so exhausted! So, I bought myself a bunch of dresses for each season. It made my mornings much more streamlined and alleviated some decision making (should I wear this shirt with those pants, or those pants with this shirt?!) because I could just toss on a dress, feel put-together, and run out the door.
7. What do you do for YOU time?
I’m terrible at relaxing. About a year ago, in an effort to get myself out of permanent sitting-in-a-chair position, I started running. Now, I try to run 3-4 times a week. I even completed my first half-marathon and signed up for another one! I wouldn’t call running “fun,” but I love its mind-cleansing benefits. Plus, I have less guilt when constantly snacking!
Photo Credit: Tory Williams (Lori and Kids)