In awe of this abrupt jolt into motherhood (I feel like that’s putting it lightly!), Jill’s next comment seemed to sum up the experience.
We need to normalize things aren’t easy in motherhood. Whether they call you Mom or Stepmom, it doesn’t matter. It’s not easy and it’s okay to admit it.
As the youngest, Lexi, approached kindergarten, Jill stepped out of her career in sales to not only shift priorities, but also pursue something for herself. Enjoy reading Jill’s reflection on this experience as well as tips for any mom or stepmom feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
You aren’t alone. Keep going.
AUTHENTICITY OF A STEPMOM
The triplets are now 16 (17 in May), but Jill has been a part of their lives since they were almost 4. Jill summarized the experience.
There were no books about being a stepparent at the time. Okay, well maybe there were, and I didn’t find them. [laughter] But here’s the thing, even if there are books, who’s going to be there with you in the moment. Telling you what to say and how to handle very specific situations, for example. We’re in a week on, week off rotation with the kids. Routines and values were and are different in each household. As a result, we found ourselves retraining on the rules at the beginning of a week. Then they’d be in a good place by the end of the week only to have to start over a week later.
One particularly touching moment came when the triplets were 13. Of the three, one of the girls had been particularly resistant over the years to Jill. Not knowing anything different, Jill just continued to be there for her. Showing up with love, care, and consistency.
In the pantry one day looking for a particular box of cereal, she looked at Jill earnestly and said, “Why are you so nice to me when I was awful to you growing up.”
Jill’s response was a simple yet powerful one.
Because I love you.
(Take a moment and wipe those welled up tears away… I had to!!)
This defining moment validated Jill. Furthermore, understanding the importance of simply continuing to show up. Kids crave structure. Ultimately, they will come into their own realizations, but it must be on their time. And unfortunately, all we can do is the next right thing as we see it.
MOTHERHOOD & BUSINESS
Lexi was born when the triplets were 6. Jill described Lexi’s entrance to the family as a pulling everyone together moment.
Lexi’s nickname from birth has been Happy Heart. She is extremely compassionate, and relationships are so very important to her. Additionally, she is strong willed and has her own sense of style and confidence that is incredible to witness.
The growing family settled into a new routine. Jill working in sales fulfilled one side of her, however, she acknowledges even with Lexi in pre-school she felt off.
You’re always guilty no matter where you are. It’s frustrating to enjoy your job but then have the nagging guilt because your daughter has separation anxiety at pre-school. Then you are home and feeling the guilt of not doing your job.
She went on.
I used to be so good (at my job). Always on the leader board and at the top. Then I got average. Not being the best was new to me. Furthermore, I didn’t like it. Divided attention is really tough.
As Lexi approached the start of kindergarten, Jill realized the grind of corporate sales was not going to be conducive for her dream of getting Lexi off the bus each day. As a result, two weeks before kindergarten started, Jill quit her corporate role.
I was excited to do all the things I felt I was missing being a working mom. About two weeks in, I had the realization – I don’t know how people do this! – It was tougher than anything I had experienced!
TWO KEY QUESTIONS TO AUTHENTICITY
There are two key reasons people reach out to Jill on social media.
People reach out to find out about my hair or to ask how I left a corporate role.
For the record, this was said through laughter.
Now with a bit of a blank slate in front of her, Jill contemplated her next move. Social Elevator reappeared.
Here’s the back story.
In 2010, I was working in radio and saw this thing on the horizon. Social media. Instagram wasn’t created yet. Facebook was going but nothing like it is today. Same with LinkedIn. There was something to it and I knew there were opportunities for companies to obtain clients and generate sales through these platforms.
And as they say, the rest is history. Actually, that makes it sound easy. Rather, it’s been anything but easy.
From 2010 to 2017, this vision faded. Then in 2017 as Jill worked in consulting as a bridge, she dusted off the boxes in the attic containing what is now her business, Social Elevator. After updating the old materials, she began meeting with people who either didn’t have time to do their social media or those who didn’t want to deal with it.
Through the encouragement of her husband, she decided to end the consulting gig and go all in.
SOCIAL MEDIA & AUTHENTICITY
First Jill worked to bank content for herself for a majority of 2017. Then at the start of 2018, she began with four small to medium size clients.
People and companies found out about me through either word of mouth or LinkedIn.
Jill is very intentional about who she takes on as clients not only for herself, but also for them.
I think it’s key to be in tune with yourself and be you. I’m not for everyone and that’s okay. In fact, that has shifted as I’ve gotten older. I genuinely like people and learned to trust my gut.
While she pushes clients out of their comfort zone, HER people gravitate to this type of authenticity.
FUN FACT: It’s funny, even as I type this, I remember back to when I met Jill. It was the start of the pandemic and through LinkedIn, she created virtual networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. Completely free, no ulterior motive events to bring business leaders together in a difficult time. Her authentic – I need connection and I know others do too right now – spoke to me.
Her ideal clients range from one person to 400-person companies, but all with one thing in common.
They either don’t have time or don’t know how to put effort in social media marketing but understand the importance of it. They want to be in front of their ideal client and eventually convert sales.
AUTHENTIC IDEA PERSON
Jill describes herself as an idea person with a deep passion for others, which can be a blessing and a curse.
Even when a client start as just that… a client, they inevitably become friends.
I love supporting and connecting. Especially when we get to the point where I can honestly say – You have everything you need, go fly little bird! – I know I over index with my clients, but I don’t care. I like it.
With social media, Jill admits there is always something new. It’s easy to jump on the new, but she acknowledges not wanting to be everything to everyone. In turn, keeping this in mind for herself is key.
For example, one new area of focus is a company’s utilization of employees as advocates.
There are so many opportunities for companies to enable and empower their employees. Employee advocacy is a growing way to advertise a company’s services as well as find good talent in the time of the Great Resignation. However, the employees need to know what to post. In addition, utilizing thought leadership by a company’s leaders is a great morale and pride booster.
Her key advice to social media presence and ultimately leading to conversion is this.
Put in the time. Be real. And create connection.
AUTHENTIC ADVICE TO MOMS
I then asked Jill a series of advice tips she would provide from a few different lenses.
To mothers in general.
Don’t expect your kids to be like you. My daughter is afraid of things and I’m doing my best to allow her to be her own person. Working to let go of my own expectations of her and be open to everything. This is easier said than done and can be frustrating at times.
Your stepchildren will see things for themselves. You just have to give them time. Keep going.
Additionally, Jill shared how she reaches out to other stepparents on social media if they are struggling. Even if she doesn’t know them. Creating and fostering support in a sometimes-overlooked space.
To mothers with young kids.
I let my kid get messy. Have the friends over. Do the art projects. You can’t make up for trauma you may have had in your own life, but you can be the parent you wish you had. Stop repeating the stuff you don’t want to see. Be the change.
To summarize, Jill is a bright light. Additionally, her business reflects this because she is first and foremost authentic to herself.
Know your talents and lean into them. As a person, as a mom, and as a business owner.
She laughed about PTO, saying:
You don’t have to be good at all the things. Everyone has their talents. Crafting is NOT mine. I’ll look at the PTO P&L, but don’t make me do crafts.
As a business owner AND mother, Jill admits there are tough days.
You can’t do it all without putting in grueling time. Not as rose-colored glasses as they made motherhood look like when we were in our 20s. However, I think it’s important for our kids to see the example of us working to do it all and letting them know it’s not easy. This example is not a bad thing.
Jill uses this lens to show all four kids the importance of hard work, the value of money, and how those integrate in life.
Real. Just like her business.
Also, thank you Jill for sharing your story with The Mom Huddle!
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.
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