It is our pleasure to introduce this week’s Smarty Mom, Jane Jeffries Jones. Jane was “mominated” by Smarty Reader Meredith Burbank. Meredith and Jane are co-workers and friends and Jane has been an incredible role model for Meredith both in her career and as a Mom. Jane and her husband Dean have recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. Congratulations!! Now to Meredith’s momination.
I would like to nominate Jane Jeffries Jones for Smarty Mom. Jane is the mom of three “older” kids, Tanner(20) is a junior in college, Nate(17)is a senior in high school and Sarah Grace(13) is in 8th grade, and she manages to balance that with a very successful career as an attorney. She works part-time for my law firm and made partner while working part time (which doesn’t happen often). She’s our firm’s expert on executive compensation, so she stays busy and is well respected. And on top of that, she’s super fit and very stylish. Personally, she has been a great mentor to me and has always supported me at work, even when I took forever to decide whether to come back after having Molly. She completely supports my part-time arrangement and will do anything to make my situation work. To have that kind of support in your work place is incredible and to also feel supported as a mom definitely makes it easier to go to work.
How do you balance such a demanding career and your family life?
I don’t feel like a success at balancing at all! Most days, I feel like I haven’t done everything I should have for at least one member of our family (if not all of them!) and/or for work. I guess it’s woman’s guilt.
At the end of the day, when you walk through the door, how do you transition from your work persona to mom?
I pick up my daughter from school on my way home from work, which is great because we get a chance to reconnect. When I get home, I put on my mommy mantle: change to the standard mom uniform of black knit workout pants and a T-shirt, fix the kids a snack, pack lunches for the next day, start laundry, dinner, etc. and see that the kids are doing what they need to be doing that afternoon. After that, if I can, I slip out for a short walk with our two golden retrievers; that’s really my favorite thing to do to transition from the office to home. A close second would be getting a large sweet tea from Chick-Fil-A on my way home. I’ve found that life is much easier to manage if you have a sweet tea in your hand. I even had tea in my Barbie thermos when I was growing up!
What would you say has been the most important thing that work has done to support you in being a mom?
My firm, Womble Carlyle, has been very supportive over the years. I’ve been practicing law for over 20 years and working a reduced schedule for 17 of those years. I guess the most important thing that the firm has done is to allow me to limit the number of days I am in the office (currently three) and to try to respect what I am trying to do for my family. At the same time, I have tried very hard to show the firm and clients that I am committed and hard-working and to meet their expectations, so I hope it has been a win-win situation, at least most of the time…!
Even more important than the firm’s support, however, has been the support of my family, especially my husband, Dean, and my friends. Dean and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary last month and he has been incredibly supportive of my position. I still am responsible for most (but certainly not all) of the responsibilities related to the kids, but I want it to be that way. And I am so blessed to have an AMAZING network of girlfriends. They lift me up every day.
How do you help guide new mom’s through their “return to work experience” and what advice do you have for others as they return from having babies or return to the work force after having been out for a while?
I don’t feel like I have helped new moms much at all! In terms of advice, I guess I would say the most important things are to (1) put family first and (2) realize that you can’t be all things to all people. On a more practical side, I would encourage new moms to try to set limits around your work schedule and REALLY try to stick with them.
How do you make time for yourself and what is your favorite thing to do when you make that time?
That’s an easy one: I have been running for over 33 years – running has been my lifelong friend. I don’t think I’ve ever headed out for a run and not felt better when I was finished. I am very selfish about protecting my exercise time. I’ll get up at 5:00 if I have to in order to get that exercise in. I also love walking with Dean and the dogs or a girlfriend – wonderful therapy.
You have older children, what advice can you give moms that have younger children and are staring down the tween and teen years?
It is hard going from a stage when the kids like your company and you are the center of their universe to where you most definitely are not the center of their universe and they don’t really like you so much some of the time (or that’s the impression we get). I guess my advice would be to be present – to be with them as much as you can because you never know when they may want to open up about a problem or just talk about their day. I think it’s also important to know their friends so that you are comfortable with their peer group. We have always tried to make our kids’ friends feel like they are part of our family too and always welcome at our house; and we have been so blessed with many, many hours of teenager “hanging out” time at home.
Has it been hard to have one in college and one getting ready to attend?
Well, there certainly is never a dull moment! Our oldest (Tanner, 20) went through the initial college app process in 2007 and went through a similar process again this year when he transferred colleges, and now our middle child (Nate, 17) is right in the middle of the process. On top of that, our youngest (Sarah Grace, 13) starts high school next year, so we’ll have even more transitioning!
What is your favorite date-nightspot?
Having a glass of wine with Dean on our patio.
What is your favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
We don’t really have a favorite place here in Charlotte. Each of the kids loves Moe’s on East Blvd. Probably my favorite places to eat with our family are new restaurants that we try when traveling.
Favorite family activity?
Our favorite family activity is probably our annual week at the beach with my family.
Smartiest way you save $?
Probably putting away a fixed amount each month in the kids’ tuition account.
What is the best book that you’ve read lately?
The best book that I’ve read this year was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I read it while Dean and I were in Bermuda (with good friends) to celebrate Dean’s 50th birthday and our 25th anniversary. I loved the story and the writing, but I’ll probably mainly remember the book because of the stunning view of the ocean while I was reading it.
What is the best movie that you have seen lately?
I haven’t seen many movies recently, but the best one I saw this year was the most recent Harry Pottery movie. Our sons and I have read all of the Harry Potter books. Our kids used to go to the movies with their cousins (who also live in Charlotte) the first day each Harry Pottery movie came out – we have wonderful memories of our extended family anticipating the big day and then taking up almost a whole row at the theatre. This time I had to go by myself because none of my teenagers would be seen at the cinema with me! But it was worth it – I put on those nice baggy black workout pants and a sweatshirt and felt like I was watching it in my PJ’s!
Funniest thing that your children have ever done.
Too many incidents to single out one!
What moment are you most proud of with your children?
I am so proud of each of our children for so many reasons and I can’t single out one moment when I was most proud of them. One thing I am proud of for each of them is that I think they are very loyal friends to their friends. When our middle son, Nate, was four, he had a teacher who often told her class that “to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend,” meaning that sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do because the friendship is important. I think each of our kids has really shone in his or her ability to be a good friend.
What is Charlotte’s best kept secret?
The Mecklenburg County Market (1515 Harding Place in Dilworth).
I could not live without my…
Bible, family, friends… and running shoes!
And a large Chick-Fil-A sweet tea – a daily indulgence!
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