An Ex Bartender Turned Writer Turned Mom Expert On Her Path And The Sweet Spot
Megan Harper is a force. She has a fun and very funny vibe that has carried over from behind the bar at the original Pastis into a full and lively life with three kids. Her journey in work - from the restaurant industry to Instagram influencing to freelance writing and back to full time work at JetBlack - caught my initial interest but her humor and energy across all the shifts is what I (along with her entire IG following) most admire. Our back and forth, below, was a reminder that career is a long game, the dots always connect backward and balance takes constant experimenting and recalibration. By coincidence, today is her first day back at work after maternity leave and there’s a whole lot of us rooting for her.
Neha: You were a Sommelier-turned-freelance-writer which led you to girlgonechildnyc and back to a current full-time role with JetBlack. Let’s start with this - what was the path from wine to writing? How did you make that happen?
Megan: Before kids, I worked in the restaurant business. I love everything about the buzzing food scene in NYC. The vibes and the excitement NYC chefs bring to the table, but I really loved talking about wine. After having my son, the restaurant industry didn’t cater well to raising kids so I thought of other areas I might want to shift my career into. At the time, social media was an outlet to talk about motherhood for me. I talked openly on my Instagram about my struggles, my successes, and what worked for me being a young mom in the city.
This led to writing for at Gugu Guru. This Gugu Guru article happened to land on the Instagram of a Jetblack employee and they called me in for an interview when Jetblack was still in stealth mode. I’ve been there ever since.
Neha: Freelance life has a lot of appeal alongside kids but without the right help or mindset in place it can be a doozy. How did you tactically divvy up your time between two kids and writing?
Megan: Working nights for most of my 20s made me a night owl. I’m always running around the city taking the kids to fun things and I feel like I get creative energy from this city. Funny things would happen or ideas would spark and I’d write them down quickly in my phone. Then I would reference back to my notes when I would sit down and write after the kids went to bed.
Neha: Everyone seems to have a love hate relationship with Instagram and the whole Influencer thing. What compelled you to start GirlGoneChildinNYC and how do you think it has served you personally and professionally?
Megan: My influencer life came very organically. I love having girlgonechild as a creative outlet and a place to put all my thoughts about motherhood in one place. I love curating product lists and girlgonechildinnyc is a great way for me to compile lists of everything I love I also love other moms using my IG to find cool things to do with their kids in the city. My kids also get a kick out of scrolling through IG and seeing old photos of themselves. I think of this account as a bit of a scrapbook/love letter to them.
As far as personally, it can be hard when my kids meet new friends and their parents find out I have a big following on IG. I’ve had some awkward conversations about it before.
Professionally, I think girlgonechildinnyc has helped me land the position I’m in now, but I constantly have to make sure nothing is a conflict of interest.
Neha: Many mothers in our community are thinking about the return to full-time work, how did you know you were ready for that? How did you prepare for it?
Megan: I started out freelancing working three days in the office and two from home. I’m now full-time M-F but I really feel like the two days working from home was the real sweet spot as a working mom. It was just enough in the office where I felt like I wasn’t missing too much, but I also got to be home to pick my kids up from school two days a week as well. Working full-time is so hard and I struggle daily being away from my kids. I don’t think that goes away ever, but I tell myself every single day it’s important for my kids to know moms can work and have careers just like dads can.
Neha: Now you have three (I am in awe) kids and a full-time job but you are still one of the more effortless, fun loving parents I’ve seen. What are your strategies, tools, tips in making the parenting bit simpler?
Megan: I take my kids on adventures a lot. My husband works a ton so sometimes it’s just me vs. three kids. I see the first-time moms looking at me like I’m crazy but honestly the more my kids learn to be out in public and the more they socialize, the better behaved they become.
Take them to a museum, take them on the train, and take them to the nice restaurant (leave the ipad at home). You’d be surprised on how well kids adjust if you put them in a situation and trust them to behave. I also communicate with them a lot so they know exactly what the plan is. My kids don’t do well if I throw in a surprise they didn’t see coming. I joke that my kids behave way better in public than at home.
I also feel like when having kids you have to give up a lot of control. Schedules work great and all until there is a growth spurt and the entire script is flipped. I think I just roll with it a lot and try not to get too upset if my kids miss a nap or they only eat hot dogs for two days straight. They aren’t robots so I can’t make them fit into this little perfect schedule bubble all the time.
Neha: Honestly, I am so into your energy as a parent and a professional. Tactically, when and what do you make happen to keep yourself feeling good?
Megan: I take time to make myself to feel and look good. This sounds vain but I have a better day if I have a shower, my hair is done and I’m wearing something that makes me feel good. Sometimes this requires waking up at 5 am, but to me, it’s worth it to set myself up for success for the day. I also drink a ton of green juice, black coffee and wine (in that exact order), so maybe that’s it.