Anchor, KGW News at Sunrise
Mom to Isla and Grant
Ashley is one of our favorite working moms to follow, not just to oogle over her adorable twins, but because she keeps it real. Ashley's job as an Anchor for KGW News at Sunrise has her up at 2 a.m. on workdays, while her husband, a K-9 Police Officer, works the night shift. A schedule that's turned them into two ships passing in the night, and could make anyone feel stressed about childcare logistics! But they handle it as 50/50 partners because both of their careers are a meaningful and important part of their identity and family.
Ashley's been working in television for the last 10 years, holding multiple jobs waiting tables and cleaning houses early in her TV career to make ends meet. She's been determined, resilient, and has worked incredibly hard to grow the career she has today. "I believe we are only as good as the amount of effort we are willing to put in. Had I not scrubbed that toilet ten years ago, I might not have made it to where I am today. That grit is what kept me going, and helped me fully pay off all my student loans by age 28."
We're proud to feature Ashley's story, sage advice and refreshing perspective on working and raising a family.
The Returnity Project: Tell us about yourself and about your experience returning to work after having your twins Isla and Grant.
Ashley Korslien: I took three months off after having my twins, which was wonderful, but my maternity leave went too fast! My saving grace was this: throughout the year, I saved up all my vacation time so that when I returned to work I could do half-days for six weeks without any impact to my paycheck. That was the best decision I ever made! My transition back was so much easier because I only worked four hours a day, then had the rest of the day to be home with the babies. I have been back full-time since mid-December, and am still trying to find my ‘work/life’ balance (if there is such a thing!) Our twins were born prematurely, as many are, and our son Grant was 4 pounds when we brought him home. He had a host of issues like jaundice, reflux, constipation, low iron supply and was (and still is) a terrible sleeper. Isla is a much better sleeper, but it was really hard to get them on a similar schedule. That was a challenge when returning to work! My husband Chris and I do everything 50/50. It’s true teamwork in every aspect of the word. To be honest, he’s probably done more overnight feedings than me. He’s that awesome! We are extremely fortunate that we both have moms who are very involved. My mom nannies for us and Chris’s mom is over several times a week. I’m aware that I probably wouldn’t be able to work the hours that I do without them. I am also very grateful for that. I know many women don’t have a support system like that, or at least one nearby, so I count my blessings daily.
TRP: Give us a glimpse into a typical workday for your family.
AK: I wake up at 2 a.m. for my job as a morning news anchor! Yeah, it’s as rough as it sounds. I am out the door, with lots of coffee, by 3 a.m. and on the air by 4:30. Once I’m on air, my day is fast and furious. I’m usually home by noon, which is when my husband wakes up. He works the nightshift as a K-9 police officer so we really are like ships passing in the night. We have quite a tapestry of childcare, with my mom working as our primary nanny. Luckily, she lives right down the road from us and comes over early every morning and stays with the babies while my husband sleeps and until I’m home. As I mentioned, Chris’s mom takes several shifts with the babies each week, and we love that both grandmas have a hand in raising their grandkids. Once I’m home for the day I’m on duty until I go to bed around 7 p.m. Chris is usually home a little after midnight, so he takes over feedings once he’s home. If you’re wondering if the babies are sleeping through the night...the answer is NO. Ha! And now they’ve started teething. Please send help.
TRP: What advice would you go back and give yourself if you could as a new working mom?
AK: I would tell myself that it’s ok to enjoy going to work each day, and not to feel guilty about it. Because I am a public figure, I occasionally get messages from people asking if “I have to work” or “wouldn’t you rather be home with your babies?” The answer: no, I don’t have to work. It would be tight financially if I stayed home, but we could do it. And yes, of course I want to spend as much time with my babies as possible. But I also feel it’s important not to lose sight of who I am as an individual. I’m a wife and a mom, but I’m also a journalist who worked very hard to get to this point in my career. I love what I do, and I love feeling fulfilled outside the home. To be completely honest, I feel that working makes me a better mom. Here’s my thought: if you want to stay home, stay home! If you want to work, work! There is so much pressure to do what society deems appropriate, that we tend to overlook what works best for US and our FAMILY. I think being a SAHM is probably the hardest job in the world, and these super-moms don’t get enough credit. Someday I may change my mind about wanting to stay home, and I’m entitled to do that. But for now, this is what works for me and for my family. I’m so fortunate to have a husband who wholly supports my goals and my desire to work, and at the end of the day, you have to be a team in order to make it work logistically. I have days where I feel on top of the world, like I can do it all. I feel accomplished in what I do at work and at home. And other days I forget to feed our dogs, can’t get the babies to stop screaming and I cry for no reason. I’m learning to embrace the chaos. I’m also learning to accept that there will be highs and lows, and it’s ok to feel a roller coaster of emotions. We aren’t meant to live at one speed and we aren’t meant to always feel happy. And that’s ok!
TRP: What has been one of your biggest challenges as a working mom?
AK: Normally I would say SLEEP (or the lack thereof) - but that’s no different for any parent, whether you have one, two or six! So instead, I would say, I struggle to find a rhythm after my workday is done. The babies normally nap around the time I get home, so I don’t get to spend time with them until they wake up, then it’s feeding time. I swear, by the time I look at the clock, it’s time to get the babies ready for bed! I’ve also really had to work on letting things go around the house and shift my mentality toward spending time with the babies first, chores later. I’m such a type-a, organized person, so putting off cleaning and laundry drives me nuts! My resolution for 2019 is to slow down and be more mindful of being present. I’ll let you know how that goes ;)
TRP: What do you enjoy most about your career?
AK: I absolutely love news and love being the first person our viewers wake up to in the morning. My colleagues are fun, smart and hard working, and they challenge me to be better every single day. Having a tight-knit team makes the difficult or tragic news days easier. There are definitely days (and lots of them) where I feel emotionally and mentally exhausted after work, but no matter how drained I feel, I truly love what I do. Ultimately, our viewers make me want to wake up each day and do it all over again. A simple “hello” or “we love watching you” from a stranger at the grocery store gives me motivation and the satisfaction of knowing I make a difference.
TRP: Given your job as a morning anchor for KGW news, you’re in the public spotlight more than most. Has that had an impact on you since becoming a mom?
AK: As a public figure, I’m in a unique position where I’m able to reach other women who follow me on social media, and share my own struggles in a way that resonates with them. I hate that social media presents a false sense of “perfect,” so I try to be as real as possible when posting stories or photos. We live in a society where everyone wants to share their beautiful vacation photos or Instagram worthy outfits. For me, no makeup, messy hair and spit up on my shirt sum up my days after work. I love posting real moments and thoughtful reflections. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok not to have it all together. My followers and viewers are so wonderful, and have offered me so much support throughout my motherhood journey. I truly couldn’t do it without them. There will always be internet trolls, but for me, being a public figure has brought so much more positivity than negativity.
TRP: What are you most proud of?
AK: I am most proud of the father my husband has become and the teamwork we have cultivated in our relationship. I always knew Chris would be an incredible dad, but he’s blown me away with his patience, compassion and love for our babies. He works full-time and is often on-call with his k-9 partner, not to mention his duties as a firearms instructor. He is busy! But he always makes time for his family, and we are both intentional about putting our marriage first. I think a lot of couples let their relationship slip to the side and put the focus on their children. I think this can have damaging effects on a marriage. We always make sure to check in with each other when we can sense one of us is getting overwhelmed, even if it’s just a five minute phone conversation. I distinctly remember one evening when the babies were about 5 weeks old. I was cleaning a stain on the carpet and I just started crying for no reason (hello, hormones!!). He sat down next to me on the floor, took the rag out of my hands and just hugged me. He told me what a wonderful mom I was. Then he ran me a bath and poured me a glass of wine and told me to go upstairs. I am so blessed to have a husband like that. My advice to any single women out there is to marry the man who will love you at your worst, appreciate your love for Merlot and put in equal parts effort. Trust me, they are out there!
My last words of advice to any moms returning to work, or staying at home: you are doing great mama! You literally brought life into this world - you are a superhero! And no matter how you’re feeling at this very moment, just know that YOU ARE AMAZING.
Anchor, KGW News at Sunrise