Tips for Work, Life & Balance – Jolene Ivey

Jolene Ivey in a suit going over a paper

Ever wonder how you can balance it all as a mom? This is one interview in a series talking to mums who have found a way to make it work. Meet Jolene Ivey, a politician, real estate agent and mum to Alex, David, Julian, Troy and Aaron (21, 18 15, 13 and 11 years old).

A delegate of the Maryland General Assembly and mother to five boys, Jolene Ivey thinks she should join the circus with her talent in juggling. In addition to those two very large hats, Jolene is a caregiver to her 92-year-old father who lives with her, she’s an active real estate agent, and regularly contributes on NPR’s “Tell Me More” radio show.

What do you love about being a mom?

My boys are such a fun bunch. They make me laugh. Now that they’re older, the work of being a mum isn’t as taxing as it was when I had babies and preschoolers. Now I can spend more time enjoying them. The youngest, I’m sure, will be a comedian when he grows up. I called him a comedian once and he asked me what that was. I told him that a comedian is someone who gets paid for making people laugh. He promptly put out his hand and said, “That’ll be $5,” which made me laugh again. Every now and then he’ll tell me my tab.

What do you enjoy most about working?

My delegate position lets me help my constituents resolve problems with the government. Sometimes that is something immediate like getting a paycheck sent that was owed. Sometimes it’s long-term like getting a bike path built. If the problem requires a change to a state law, I can work on legislation that fixes it. I like being able to use a variety of skills each day and getting to meet so many people. I’m also a real estate agent and I like getting to know my clients and helping them find the perfect house. I’m just a people person and that’s what I enjoy most about both of my jobs.

What’s your biggest challenge in juggling both?

There are just not enough hours in the day. Right now, the Legislature is in session and for those 90 days being a delegate is more than a full-time job. Meetings go well into the night so my weeks are really packed. On weekends, I spend as much time as I can with the boys, my dad and my husband. I try to get some meal prep done for the upcoming week too and then handle the occasional real estate request. Did I mention the laundry that also needs to get done?

How do you deal with it?

I rely on my husband a lot. He rarely complains. He understands that while I’m campaigning, during the legislative session, or when I’m showing houses, that he’s on his own with the boys. He has learned to be a good cook and chauffeur for the kids.

How do you re-charge?

When I get the time to re-charge, I sit on my screened in porch in the evenings with some girlfriends and have a drink.

What advice would you give other women considering being a working mom?

Make sure you have a really supportive partner. You both have to be willing to do way more than 50% because times will come when one of you can’t do much of anything for the family. If you can’t do 100% sometimes, then it might not be for you.

Who inspires you?

My husband. He’s a smart, sweet man who gives great advice and makes my life possible. Not every man would put up with me, so I really appreciate him.

What one thing can you not live without?

Coffee and the newspaper in the morning. If I can have that time to myself in the morning, it helps me be in a better mood for at least the next part of the day.

If you had an hour of time to yourself, how would you spend it?

Reading a really good book.

Jolene Ivey pictured with her family