This Publicist Shares How Mothering Her Son Has Helped Her Mother Herself
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, their life, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
There has been a lot of talk lately in our women circles about learning how to not overextend ourselves. The narrative of being "Black Superwoman'' has been ingrained in us for as long as we can remember. But I have to admit, WE ARE POPPIN' out here. Black women have been killing the game with being the most educated demographic, breaking the glass ceiling in corporate america, dominating body positivity in media/entertainment, running our own businesses, leading organizations to social justice change, and being amazing mothers to beautiful children. I mean the list goes on and on. While we have been proving for generations the resilience black women have, we still have to recognize when it is time to focus on ourselves instead of the world.
DeVynne Starks, 26, is a full-time Biomedical Targeted Marketing Program Manager for one of the world's largest humanitarian organizations and runs her own boutique PR agency, Cultiv8 PR. DeVynne understands what it feels like to work hard towards her career, while also being a full-time mom to her son. When DeVynne became a mother, she noticed that women, especially black women, experienced 'Mommy Burnout' but very few people were having the conversation. DeVynne has been very intentional and passionate about helping other moms recognize the signs of 'Mommy Burnout' and how to master balance. DeVynne believes "it's time that moms learn to take time for themselves without feeling guilty."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
In 2018, DeVynne Starks launched a digital platform called DeVynne Intervention. This blog was a way to build community with other moms where they discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of motherhood. "As a black woman, you feel pushed or obligated to be successful and leave your mark in this world. Whether that means you are looking to be the first at something or the best at something. But when you are a mother, you have to figure out how to not become so distant from your child that the child ends up feeling like they are not a priority."
For this installment of "Finding Balance", xoNecole had the chance to speak with entrepreneur DeVynne about motherhood, prioritizing self-care, and the importance of keeping your faith.
xoNecole: At what point in your life did you understand the importance of pressing pause and finding balance in both your personal and professional life?
DeVynne Starks: Pressing pause has been new for me. Four years ago, after the birth of my son, if you would ask me what balance was, I would look back and ask, "What is that?" But when I realized I was doing so many things and not carving out time for myself, that was when I needed to take a moment and reassess. I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced.
What are your mornings like?
With my mornings, I start with prayer and giving myself time to talk to God. Then I practice stillness, to be intentional about listening to God and hearing what He has to say. After that, I try to give myself 30 minutes of work out time. Whether that's jogging or walking around the neighborhood.
How do you wind down at night?
I love to give myself a good facial and read a good book. I also like to wind down with my son. We will watch his favorite cartoon or play with action figures. Any moment where I can dedicate one on one time with him, he really appreciates it.
"I have learned that balance is about happiness that comes from within. Happiness doesn't come from other people, a new job, or from becoming a mother. You have to make that conscious decision to find that inner peace to get to the stage of feeling balanced."
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
When you have a busy week, what's the most hectic part of it?
The most hectic part of the day is honestly sifting through emails. It took me a really long time to not allow my inbox to negatively affect my day. I have been learning to just say "no". Saying "no" is definitely a skill you learn over time as a business owner. With practice, it gets easier and easier.
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
Giving my mind and eyes a break has really been helping me. There are days when I am on the grind! So stepping away from my computer and doing something peaceful is big for me. Daily facials are definitely my me-time.
What advice do you have for busy women who feel like they don’t have time for self-care?
Even though it may seem like being busy is the right thing to do, it can really physically drain you and stress your body out. To start off, what has helped me is incorporating micro self-care techniques. One technique I use is journaling. I used to write a lot before having my son, so now I squeeze in time at the end of day to self-reflect and write it all down. This is my way to take care of myself while still being busy. I also suggest making time to just be by yourself with no shame or interruption. I had to learn how to utilize the village around me.
When I first became a mom I would tell myself, I got this! But while you do have this, you still deserve to book a hotel for the weekend, even if you stay in the room the whole time (laughs).
Courtesy of DeVynne Starks
How do you find balance with:
With my friends, we check in on each other every week. A lot of my friends are entrepreneurs and business owners. So it can get tricky to talk to each other often. But having that line of open communication has helped us keep that balance in staying connected.
So what I have noticed is that, the areas that you give intentional energy to, those are the areas that thrive. Granted, finding balance in dating can be difficult, but it's about being available to be intimate with someone and share quality time with them. This has helped me personally to separate from being a parent to a woman who is currently dating. Finding balance within relationships also means knowing who you are outside of them.
I have been thinking about different ways on how I can be more healthy. Last year, I was able to lose 50 pounds in less than five months. What I do now are daily tea detoxes in conjunction with the keto diet. I have been feeling so much better and I have way more energy. Setting my healthcare goals and sticking to them has really set me up for success across the board.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I really pay attention to my thoughts. I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. So changing your thoughts to what you want in life allows you to connect to your intuition. So when I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me.
"I honestly believe that the way you think about yourself and the world around you, creates your own reality. When I do have those moments of negativity, I remind myself that these are temporary feelings. I am aware that I have to make that shift to be more positive in order to change things around me."
And honestly, what does success and happiness mean to you?
Success means that you understand that you are going to fail at some part in your journey. But you are resilient enough that those failures are minor and they don't become huge obstacles for you. Before I became a mother, success to me meant just getting through the day. But now success for me is striving to be the best version of myself in order to be a better mother for my son. As far as happiness, I would say, I am still navigating that.
Every day I am learning what truly makes me happy and I try to be grateful for all the good things that are happening in my life.
To learn more about DeVynne, follow her on Instagram here. Read more about how career women find balance in xoNecole's "Finding Balance" series here.
'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood. We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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