232 Raising Kids and Having a High-Powered Career with Journalist Amanda Lamb

Raising Kids and Having a High-Powered Career


In this episode, I'm welcoming Amanda Lamb, a former local news reporter, to delve into the challenges of how we plan, manage and juggle our time when we are raising children, having a high-powered career, and then transitioning out of that. With Amanda's experience as a news reporter, this interview promises valuable insights into balancing career aspirations with the joys and challenges of family life.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Juggling time and responsibilities
  • Transitioning between life phases
  • Parenthood and career growth


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Megan 00:00
Hey everyone, I have a fantastic guest coming on the show here today. We actually used to live literally just not houses away from one another, but we never knew each other then. Now, that said, I did know her because she was a local news reporter here in the Raleigh area. But, wow, do we have a great conversation coming for you. It is my treat to introduce you all to Amanda Lam to really talk about some of the challenges as related to how we plan, manage and juggle our time when you are raising children, having a high powered career and then transitioning out of that, and what does that look like and what new challenges do we have with our time there? So, without further ado, let's go ahead and jump into the conversation.

Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family Guess what. You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony and my team will send it right over.

Hey everyone, welcome back to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I am tickled pink to have Amanda Lam on here today. I have known her for far longer than she has known me, because I've watched her on our local news channel for gosh since I moved here 20-ish years ago, and following her career and her journey has been incredibly inspiring to me and I'm just I'm gonna save all the goodness for when we get onto the conversation here about actually juggling an incredible career and raising a family and then what it looks like as you transition out into the next stages of life. So welcome to the show, amanda. I would love it if you could kind of tell everyone a little bit about yourself, your career, your journey.

Well, thank you for having me first of all. Sure, so I have been in Raleigh, oh gosh, since 1994, so a long time and I started in journalism 35 years ago. So I started. My first job was in radio in Pennsylvania, where I'm from. My second job was in South Carolina. My third job was in Maine and I tell a lot of young people, because I also teach journalism, that my very first job. The way that I got it is I drove up and down the Eastern Seaboard with a AAA map. Nobody who's under a.

Megan 03:01
I know AAA maps.

Amanda 03:03
Okay, aaa, map a box of resumes and a box of resume tapes and two dry clean suits and knocked on doors for 2,500 miles until I got my first job. So I was very tenacious, I knew what I wanted to do and I worked my way up in television and eventually I came to Raleigh. And what I always say about Raleigh is my life happened here. I didn't expect to stay here. I didn't know that I was going to love it the way that I do. I had actually gone undergrad to Duke, but at that time Durham and Raleigh were not connected in terms of the highways it wasn't an easy way to get from one to the other.

So I really didn't know Raleigh and I fell in love and fell in love with Raleigh. So I ended up getting married and having two children and we both decided, you know, this was a great place to raise kids. So while I was working at WRL as a TV reporter, I kind of morphed into a niche as a crime reporter. I had always covered trials. My dad was a DA in the county where I grew up in Pennsylvania. My mom was an attorney, so it was really a natural fit for me to cover trials. So I ended up kind of backing up and starting to cover, you know, the incident, the arrest, the investigation through the trial, through the retrials, and it was a really, you know, incredible career. I loved it, I was fascinated by it. I wrote several true crime books about the cases that I covered. I've also written a couple of mysteries about you know stories that didn't happen exactly the way that I write about them, but there's a grain of truth in all of those mysteries.

I do a lot of national true crime shows, you know, on Discovery, investigates, discovery, and a lot of those you know programs, the documentaries on true crime stories, and also along the way as I was raising my kids. I found a lot of struggle in it. I also found a lot of humor in it. So I wrote several memoirs about being a working mom. One's called Smotherhood, which is the very first one. The second one is Girls Gone Child. The third one is I Love you. To Guide Him Back, and I really focused on vignettes that I thought people could relate to. I've also written a blog for WRIL called Go Ask Mom, and in that blog, you know, I really documented the daily struggle of being a working mom and what that looks like.

So now my kids are grown. One is in New York working, one is in college in Philadelphia, and it doesn't end, it just changes. So I'm still, you know, on call 24-7, from a distance, and I love it. I love visiting my kids, I love watching them, you know, blossom into young adults and it's just been amazing to see, you know, what they can do and what they've accomplished. So now I'm building my own career.

I retired from TV and I'm a podcaster like you, not quite as successful as you are, but I'm working on it. I beg to differ. I've done a lot of podcasts for WRIL and I have several true crime podcasts that I'm very proud of. That that I did with them, and now I'm building my own audience. I have a podcast called Ageless Opening Doors with Amanda Lam, and it focuses on transformation after 50. So kind of that next chapter, that next season of life, where do you go from here? And so that's just one of the many things I'm doing, but I love it and I'm enjoying it and trying to kind of find my way.

Megan 06:49
Oh, and I will have to say to our listeners if you're listening, obviously, or podcast person, definitely go check out the podcast. It fits into our crazy lives because she keeps them very short. And I have taken a different nugget from every single guest that I've heard you have on the show so far in terms of how to think about almost my relationship with time, as I am now over the 50 mark myself and you know, on the inside I kind of feel like I'm just getting started yet facing with a world that's almost like and now you're on the down slide and kind of how to reconcile that a little bit. So I would love for you to share with our listeners kind of thinking back when you were kind of in what I was called like the trenches of motherhood.

Amanda 07:33

Megan 07:34
I tried. I still call my mom and she's turning 80 this year. Yeah, back in those early days of you know, juggling a very time demanding career as a journalist with young kids at home, what were some of the, the tips that maybe you would give to women in that place today in terms of their own relationship with their time and their schedule?

Amanda 07:58
Sure, sure. So I've always been a list maker, a calendar keeper. You know, I'm going to really date myself. Prior to smartphones, I had a palm pilot, do you remember?

Oh, I had the palm pilot and and and I've always been very good about keeping a calendar, and part of that for me is if I am in control of my schedule and even my environment. I like to have my desk knee, I like to have my workspace knee. I feel like I can perform better and I can focus better. The irony is that I chose a career that you have to be completely flexible, right or pivot on a dime, be able to change gears all the time, and it's constantly evolving and it's not planned because news is not planned. So to counteract that, I had to have great planning in my personal life. I remember back we had the whiteboard calendars and I had multiple colors for different people in the family. So this activity you know, volleyball is this color, ballet is this color, and I think that gave me a sense. Maybe I wasn't 100% in control, obviously.

Megan 09:10
Is anyone?

Amanda 09:12
But it gave me a feeling that I could control the important stuff. And I think, really, the biggest thing for me at that time was figuring out how to triage, because I know that sometimes everything feels equally important, right, you know. But you have to realize that in some moments work is going to be more important and in some moments, doing something with or for your family is going to be more important. Obviously and crisis your family always comes first. But you know what work crises don't always take precedence over your family. It depends on where you are and what's going on. So I think I did kind of at times feel like I was drowning. I mean, that's the best way I can describe it. You know, my head was underwater and I don't know if you ever get those OneDrive or Facebook memories that come up on your phone and they'll show you right, pictures of your kids. I'll see these pictures of my kids, you know, pulling a wagon or playing in the snow, and I'm like I don't remember taking that picture. And part of it is because obviously a lot of life has happened since that time. Right, they're 20 and 24. But the other part is that I was often thinking about the next thing versus engaging in the thing that I was in, and that's a skill set that I think we develop as we get older. But I think that the sooner that you can get into that space of saying, look, I've planned everything out, I've done the best I could. Now I have to be flexible and so in this moment, if my child wants me to read a book or get down on the floor and play, or they need me, you know, to take them to a doctor's appointment or whatever, you sometimes have to push that other stuff aside and make that happen.

I have a great husband who's been a great partner. He was always the dad, because I had to be on at six o'clock almost every night. So he was the dad in Home Depot with the toddler by the hand and the baby Bjorn with the baby. He took them to Sushi, for whatever reason, when they were really young. So they both developed this incredible love for Sushi. But the place that he would go he remembers this that he would have our youngest in the baby seat on the table and she'd be sitting there eating edamame, and then, you know, the four year old would be sitting in her own chair eating sushi. So I think that's another important element if you have a partner to really make sure they're engaged. And he's not a planner, he's not a calendar keeper. So basically, it was like I was in charge, he was my deputy and I would say, hey, these are the things that we need to do today, that we need to get done, and it seemed to work.

But I will tell you, having stepped out of that space of the intensity of a career, that you don't have a lot of control over your time. It's like a breath of fresh air to make you know I'm very busy, I have a lot going on, but I'm making the schedule and it really makes a difference. Last week my daughter had fell. She heard her ankle. We thought it might be broken. It wasn't broken but I was able to jump on a plane and go and just be with her, and that's the kind of thing that I hope to continue, you know, moving forward, to be able to be there for my kids when they need me, even when it's not super convenient, but it you know, I'm able to do that now because I'm managing my time Now knowing you and knowing your career, I can't imagine that you are now, you know, sitting around and eating bonbons and doing nothing with your day.

Megan 13:03
So, as you're into this, you know next chapter, this next stage, where you've got, you know, the podcast and the speaking, and you're still writing and all of that. What are some of the new challenges that you're facing now when it comes to your time?

Amanda 13:18
So boundaries, I think, is the number one thing. So I'm working on this show, ageless. I'm talking to people about helping them develop podcasts that I would host and produce. So that's a whole nother area. I'm doing a lot of public speaking. I've always done public speaking. I love it. It's one of my favorite things to do. I have multiple speeches that I do, but you know I couldn't do it a lot because I was a full time journalist. So now I have the ability to do it. So that's happening more.

And I'm still writing. I've written 12 books. I have another one that's coming out in the fall, and other mystery, so getting ready to edit that with my editor to work on that. So it's always there, right? The work is always there when you own your own business and you're manifesting your own destiny. So you have to be able to cut it off. You have to be able to say this is what I can do.

Today I realized and this sounds very simple but I was trying to do four things a day, four business-related things a day. Today this would be one of them. I have a meeting coming up and I feel like three is manageable. I just shifted that paradigm. I said you know what. I'm going to look at my calendar every week and I'm going to say, no, I can't add that in. It's funny. I know a lot of people use calendar organizers and calendar meeting things to be able to schedule, for an example, a show like this. I can't use that because I want to be able to look at the calendar and go. I'm not going to schedule that close to that. I want to be able to say I want an hour and a half break because I want to walk the dog, I want to sit and eat some lunch, I want to go for a run, whatever it is, maybe I'll get there. I'm not there yet with the calendar scheduling.

Megan 15:14
If people saw the back end of my calendar system for you to be able to book a time to be on here, I have so many rules built into it so that when you booked this, all the time before and after got blocked off so that that time to protect them for the same reason.

Amanda 15:29
I need to learn how to do that. But yeah, I think it's really setting boundaries and figuring out what works for you. I'm a big fitness enthusiast. I do yoga every day hot yoga and I also am a runner. That has to be part of my day. That's like a non-negotiable thing. That's part of my day. Then we are empty nesters, so I do like to occasionally see my husband. Sure, just every now and then. Yeah, I couldn't sit at my desk every night at work. I have enough to do right now, but I also know that I need to cut it off at a certain time. I think it's really figuring out what those boundaries are. When I had a job, the boundaries were I walked in at 8.30 and I was done at 6.30. Sometimes Then, if I had something else I had to do, I had to figure out how to shoehorn that in.

Megan 16:21
But now I try to keep it in a reasonable amount of time in the daytime hours and not be working all the time, I think that's the biggest pitfall I see a lot of women walking through is this belief that okay, well, in the next stage of life, eventually I'll get to that point where I have all the time in the world. I find for most women that never really happens, because we have interests and desires and when this stage ends there's another one right behind it. But I just think the challenges then of how we're planning and managing our time, at what change? We don't necessarily just stop suddenly being busy, especially if you have children, even if they're adult children.

Amanda 17:01
No, I heard a great piece of advice where somebody said if somebody asks you to do something like give a speech or volunteer, and it's in a month and you thought about that thing as happening tomorrow and you didn't want to do it, then you don't want to do it in a month either. That's really good. Yeah, I'm trying to get better. I've never been good at no, but I'm trying to get better.

And I have another friend this is some buzzword stuff, but she talks about low value tasks. In other words, if you are spending all your energy on things that aren't furthering your business, your brand, your energy, your joy, then you probably need to figure that out, because you should be doing things that give you joy. So I'm figuring that out right now. My show really gives me joy because I love talking to women about their transformation, about their journey, about their struggles, about their passion. So that is giving me a lot of joy and I know that's a direction I want to continue. In Everything else, I have to figure out as I go in terms of is there value in this for me? Is there value in this for the other person? Am I doing something that's going to give anybody else value or am I just spinning my wheels?

Megan 18:22
Yeah, I always like thinking about when I look at my plan for the week. Do I see anything on there that makes me grown? I mean, sometimes it's unavoidable stuff. I mean, no, I don't love taking my kid to the orthodontist, but it's adding value to her, so I like that shift. But, yeah, really trying to say how can I get rid of those things.

Amanda 18:40
That is great, and I'm actually like I write out, I have a calendar, I have a hard calendar, I have an electronic calendar, but then I have a list every week because I like to see it in list form. And I'm looking down this list right now I'm like, eh, there's a few groans, there's a few groans, you know. So yeah, so I think it really does come down to what is what is energizing you, what is making you feel like you know, wow, this is really interesting and it can challenge you too. I mean, obviously, being challenged is a good thing, but it's also there are things that are draining and they're not adding value to your life or anyone else's, so those you kind of have to learn how to get rid of. So that's, that's a challenge. It's tough, it's not easy.

Megan 19:32
So when you look back at you know, maybe life 15-ish years ago. If you could give one piece of advice to that woman out there that might be in that place where she's feeling like she's drowning, what would you tell them?

Amanda 19:49
I would tell them that a job is a job and that your work is always going to be there and that you're always going to be employable as long as you work hard and you're good at what you do and you care about it, and that you have to set boundaries. I've noticed in the younger generation. I've gotten to know a lot of young people at WRL, where I worked for 29 years. But more recently I got to know a lot of them because I interviewed them for my daily podcast and they are really good at setting boundaries and a lot of them don't have children yet, but they're really good at saying you know, at this time I'm done and I'm with my kids or I'm with my family. I didn't know that I could do that and that's the best way to explain 15 years ago. So at that time I would have had a five-year-old and an eight to nine-year-old and I didn't know that it was okay to say no, I really didn't.

I was lucky along the way. I had some really good managers who were very giving and understanding when I had a situation like a sick child or taking a child to the orthodontist. But let me tell you I had a lot of guilt and now, looking back on it, I shouldn't have had guilt. You know, I worked really hard and I cared about what I did and I did a good job. I shouldn't have had guilt about those things. And so I would say put that aside. You know, do your best to try to balance the best you can, but at the end of the day, you know, you have to have boundaries for your work so that you can be present as a parent, as a, you know, a partner, a wife, a spouse, a mother, and and make that a priority Great advice.

Megan 21:40
And then on the flip side, for women over 50, as I am now happily part of that crowd, what would you recommend for them on on something they can do to keep that feeling of harmony in their lives, as we're just getting started in our 50s?

Amanda 21:57
Yeah, I mean, like I said, I'm a huge fitness enthusiast, so I was the boot camp person, I was a runner, I was like an adrenaline junkie and then I discovered yoga almost exactly a year ago. So I started well, december of 2022, and that helps me so much in terms of grounding and taking time for myself and just having that moment, every day, of peace and creating space. I think what we do now in our society is just we're frenetic, right? We just go, go, go, go, go. Well, the reality is, is art, music, writing, anything creative is born out of time and space, and if we just go, go, go all the time, you're not going to be able to just sit down and be creative. It doesn't work that way. So I would say, definitely, at this point in my life, I'm really focusing on making that space. So, whatever that looks like for you, for me it's it's yoga.

I do a lot of walking, we do a lot of walking. We live in the city of Raleigh and it's a very walkable area, and so we have a dog and we you know I spend a lot of time outside. I have women, friends. That's another big thing, I think, to bounce ideas off of and to talk about. You know, what are you doing, how do you handle this?

And we do a hike together in Umsted Park and I always joke it's like maybe 70 percent talking and 30 percent hiking, but the 70 percent is is really therapy, because we're talking about life stuff and you know, everybody goes through things and it's great to have other women to bounce those ideas off of. So, you know, I would definitely say, find it, find something that centers you, that gives you peace, whether it's, you know, yoga, taking a walk, reading a book, taking a bath, whatever it is and then also create a circle around you of people that you, that you love, that support you no matter what, and you do the same for them and hopefully they will give you good advice and support when you need it and you'll do the same for them.

Megan 24:16
That's great advice. I can't I cannot thank you enough for sharing your precious commodity, which is your time with us here today. I know our listeners will get a lot of value out of it and friends truly go check out the podcast. It's out on all the players. It's called Ageless Opening Doors with Amanda Lam. The guests have been a delight to listen to, so thank you for putting that out into the world. I really appreciate it. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the App Store or Google Play and download the Pink Bee app. It's one word the Pink Bee. It is jam packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five star review.


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