Executive Editor, Good Housekeeping
Mom to Charley (8), James (7), Brooks (5)
Meaghan Murphy is a mother first to three beautiful children, Charley, James and Brooks, and is the Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping.
At the magazine, Meaghan helps guide the editor-in-chief’s vision for the brand, edits all of the pages to maintain a consistent look and feel for their 18.4 million readers, plus pitches and develops native/sponsored content with their advertising partners. She also gets to represent GH on shows like Live with Kelly & Ryan or Today as a lifestyle expert and hack master!
One of the many things we love about Meaghan is that she consistently involves her family in her career, even including them in interviews. She wants them to see how lucky they are. She states "I work hard, but my job is fun and offers many unique ways to involve Team Murphy, so my hope is that they learn that when you love what you do, and find joy in your work, it's incredibly energizing!"
Check out our full interview with Meaghan below on how motherhood has changed her views on career and family, and what her return to work was like. Thank you Meaghan for sharing your story and beautiful family with this community!
The Returnity Project: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current role as Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping.
My biggest and most rewarding role is Mama to Charley, 8, James, 7, and Brooks, 5. I married my younger brother’s best friend (scandalous!), and I’m so grateful that he’s my best friend and the ultimate co-captain in life. Did I mention that he does the cooking?! Our teamwork is what makes the commute to NYC and my big(ish) job as Executive Editor of GH possible. At the magazine, I help guide the editor-in-chief’s vision for the brand, top edit all of the pages to maintain a consistent look and feel for our 18.4 million readers, plus pitch and develop native/sponsored content with our advertising partners. In addition, I love that I get to represent GH on shows like Live with Kelly & Ryan or Today as a lifestyle expert and hack master.
TRP: You’ve been known to involve your kids in your career by bringing them to the office, and even including them in interviews. What do you hope this shows them?
MM: I hope they see how lucky we are! I work hard, but my job is fun and offers many unique ways to involve Team Murphy, so my hope is that they learn that when you love what you do and find joy in your work, it won’t feel draining or like a slog — it’s incredibly energizing! My crew will proudly tell you that they’re professional GH Toy Testers. Every July they are among the panel of kids we bring into the GH Toy Lab to help our engineers pinpoint the best toys of the year. How cool is that?! But I think my favorite thing we've done together is a digital series we did at our home called At My House featuring our holiday decorations and projects from Halloween to Easter.
I’m also grateful that I’ve had the chance to include them in a number of Today and Good Morning America segments over the years covering everything from Superbowl party ideas, winter boredom busters, wacky science experiments, crafty gift projects and more. Because of all of this, they're learning to become curious and eager storytellers. Now any time we discover something like a new game or try a DIY they’ll say: “Mom, mom, take a picture and share it on Instagram. Other kids would love this, too!”
TRP: Has motherhood changed you and/or your views on career and family?
MM: Absolutely! I think differently about work now because anything that takes me away from my kids has to be worth it. I’ve become much more precious with my time, getting really good at saying “No thanks!” with zero guilt to nice-but-not-necessary meetings, events, dinners, drinks, trips, you name it — anything that encroaches on my mom minutes. Easier said than done, right?!
My trick: Constantly remind yourself that you are smart, talented, skilled and difficult to replace — and that you work hard when you are at work — and that skipping a Happy Hour or whatever that’s not important to you is not a career dealbreaker. And if it is, maybe it’s time for a change or work to find other ways to make more time for what does matter.
TRP: Many of the stories we’ve shared on The Returnity Project focus on both the challenges and beautiful moments of motherhood; specifically the return to work. What was the return to work like for you and was the experience different with each child?
I’m a better Mama because I work, but it took me 3 kids to know that for sure. After the birth of my daughter 8 years ago, my first day back post maternity-leave was a Cry Fest from the PATH train to the subway platform to the walk to the office. I sobbed, convinced that my baby was going to forget who I was and fall madly in love with the nanny by the time I got home. Thankfully, Charley did fall in love with our nanny, who was wonderful and gave me peace of mind, but I saw that I was still Number One.
Eighteen months later when I had my first son, I knew the drill and I was secure with my childcare, so heading back to work was much easier. The third maternity leave was a blast because I truly got to enjoy my kids and my time home with zero anxiety about how I’d manage back at the magazine. I was a pro!
TRP: You have had an amazing and successful career being a leader in the media space for more than 20 years. You were one of the founding editors of Teen People, an on-air lifestyle correspondent for MTV, helped launch the creative for the PINK line at Victoria’s Secret, and so much more. As you’ve grown in your career and your family through all of these successes, what advice would you give to other working moms out there?
MM: Pursue the paycheck that gives you a charge! I think a lot of my success is accidental. I never set out to be the Executive Editor of GH. Honestly, I didn’t have lofty career goals or a strategic roadmap to rise through the ranks. But I did land some pretty cool gigs along the way and I think it’s because I always cared about something — and cared about it a lot — and so found a way to translate that passion into a paying job by making others care, too.
It’s so clear now: I was a teen obsessed with Justin Timberlake when I was working at teen mags; I was single in the city, navigating the dating scene during my Cosmo years; getting engaged/married/having babies during my tenure at SELF and then suburb-bound with a white fence and a swingset the second I joined GH. I’m not saying that most people’s trajectory will be that clear, but excitement and energy are contagious and can always engage the right people and lead to the right opportunity at the right time. Even if you don’t believe it right now, you have to listen to the answer when you ask: What really matters to me? What energizes me? And focus on that.
TRP: What are you most proud of?
MM: My kids, of course, but beyond Team Murphy, I’m really proud of my Yay List and new Instagram account @theyaylist. At it’s core it’s essentially a modern gratitude journal. It started by me asking myself, “What me me say YAY today?” and sharing those yay moments, from new running sneakers to a killer sunrise on my Instagram Stories.
Initially it was therapy for me. The exercise helped me to have an attitude of gratitude and to begin to see and appreciate the good in the world more automatically, especially after losing my father to pancreatic cancer in a 5-month whirlwind. And now The Yay List has caught on, and I get DMs and texts all the time that my daily YAY has helped someone else find their YAY. That is the ultimate high-five. The greatest way for me to honor my father’s memory is by creating a legacy of positivity.