BTB 13 | Corporate Mama

 

Moms go through a lot of things physically when taking care of and raising their children, with most of them deprived of sleep and always in a hurry. But there is one significant area impacted by this huge responsibility that is seldom discussed: mental health. Joining The Bunny Barbie is social media influencer Sarah Steele to discuss how she advocates proper care of both mind and soul through TikTok to help overcome the challenges of mom duties, particularly in this time of the pandemic. They also share their own experiences of raising kids, managing their online platforms, and Sarah’s plans to venture into bigger endeavors like providing courses and worksheets for fellow mothers.

Watch the episode here:

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The Mommy Behind The Work Place TikTok Corporate Mama

I’m excited to talk to you again. We recorded this before in October and the audio was not doing it. We’re back for another one. How are you doing? What’s going on? I’ve been seeing lots of videos of you talking about mental health, which is so important. I want to talk about that. Before we get started, tell everyone where to find you.

On TikTok, you can find me @TheCorporateMama and on Instagram @SarahJeanSteele.

You haven’t changed it over to @TheCorporateMom on Instagram yet?

No, I had the corporate mama handle already and I finally changed that and added a word at the end of it. I have to wait fourteen days before I can request to use that one. Let’s see if they’ll let me.

Why?

I don’t know. Even though I own both accounts, it says that account name is not available for fourteen days.

You had it on a separate account. By the time this comes out, you will be The Corporate Mama.

I could be. I’m a mess.

How has it been? The last time we talked, you didn’t blend your Instagram with your Tik Tok. You had a secret TikTok. How has that been blending it into your real life?

I did. I got out at a little bit by my boss. The reason that I now tell everyone about my TikTok is I had posted a video that a lot of people have stitched that said, “Tell me you’re a Millennial without telling me that you’re a Millennial.”

There are a lot of people. I see that once a day.

I’m almost annoyed with myself now for how often I see it. It’s cool but it’s also a lot. It was picked up by a Yahoo News article that my boss happened to see.

Did they ask you or they just put you in an article?

All women are amazing, but they change when becoming a mom and start doing things they might have felt were impossible. Click To Tweet

I was in it. I hadn’t even seen it. He sent a text to our entire team at work and said, “In case anyone didn’t know, Sarah is a TikTok influencer,” or something. He put a link to the news article, which I had not seen. I click on the article and I’m freaking out like, “Who’s going to think this is weird? Who’s going to be mad at work?” I sent him a text with the eye-roll emoji and was like, “Thanks.”

He should have sent it to you.

I know. It’s like, “Say something to me first.” He said, “Let me get this straight. You don’t care what 100,000 people who you’ve never met on TikTok think about you, but you care what nine of us at work think.” I’m like, “You’re right. Maybe I have issues that I need to sort there,” but it’s been great.

It’s difficult because it’s your real life. It’s different being an online personality versus your real life.

There are people that could have big impacts on my day to day.

Do they follow you now? They obviously all know.

A lot of them follow me on Instagram and they’ll watch if I share things over on Reels. The one who are in TikTok do follow me, which is funny. They’ll DM me links or they’ll drop it in a chat at work and be like, “Who was this about?” They might be inspired by people.

You do a lot of work atmosphere kind of TikTok, which I think is great. That’s embarrassing but I’m glad that it worked out.

I just needed to have someone rip the band-aid off for me like that. Sharing my TikTok on Instagram, my Instagram following has exponentially increased, and I’m getting opportunities to work and speak with people that I was not getting before. I needed to get over myself a little bit and believe in what I was talking about enough to tell people about it.

I’ve been seeing you doing lots of corporate like Millennials in the office kind of thing. The videos are doing well. I’m happy for you.

Thank you.

I have seen a lot of stuff about you doing mental health and check in on your mommy friends. That is important to check in on your mommy friends. Do you want to elaborate on that a little bit and what your videos are?

It’s important for moms to share their experiences, especially if they know people who maybe aren’t as confident or don’t understand what it is that they’re going through. With both of my kids, I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety, and I also have ADHD. Those together created this messy cluster of me trying to enjoy being a new mom while also not mourning the sense of self I had before having kids, and who I was as a working person with big dreams. I loved my kids to death, but I felt like I had no sense of who I was. Everything was overwhelming. I could get emotional just talking about it. It felt like I had no one to reach out to, even though I did have a great support network. I just didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling in a way that I could get help through that.

BTB 13 | Corporate Mama

Corporate Mama: Moms should share their experiences, especially with people who aren’t as confident or don’t understand what they’re going through.

 

It’s been nice when I share either clips that remind me of how I felt at the time, or sharing facts and resources about those things. There’s this great community of women on TikTok and on Instagram who have said, “I experienced these things. I didn’t know that’s what this was. Who do I talk to about this? Thank God, someone else is talking about this because I have nowhere else to turn to,” which has been rewarding for me to think that I could be helping anyone who felt some semblance of what I did.

I remember when I had my son. I had friends that have older kids. They were teen moms, but I hadn’t had any close friends that had kids lately. All their kids are ten. I was going through this alone in a little sense, then I found a local moms group which helped me. We used to have parties once a week and all the babies would get together. It was such a great environment. It was good for my mental health. Me and my mom have never had a good relationship. I always thought that, “After I had my son, my mom could be a good grandma and it will fix our relationship.” That didn’t happen. It was more stressful than I even could deal with.

My husband didn’t know what to do with a baby. I know he has two older kids, but he kept going to the office, kept doing his thing. I’m home alone with this baby. He doesn’t even go to the office. It was a weird environment at home. He was going to the office and leaving me home with the baby all day. I remember after two weeks, I was hysterical and I’m crying. I feel like I’m all alone. When my son was two weeks old, I’ll never forget this. There’s this woman who works for us at one of our companies. She’s got three kids and she was a newer mom. My husband called her and he’s like, “I think my wife has postpartum depression. We need a nanny.” I’m like, “I just can’t with you,” which is probably true. He was like, “I don’t know what to do.” It was not good for our relationship at that point to either.

It was until my son was one when me and my husband stopped fighting about baby stuff, even with having help. Every once in a while, you need a minute to yourself like, “Take him.” My son was one of those babies that you could not put him down without him crying. He had to be held 24/7. It was stressful. He had colic, he cried all night. Even with having help, I still felt at some parts that he wasn’t there for me a lot with having my son until my son was one. I feel like something changed and he got more bonded with my son. Now he’s, but it was very stressful in the beginning.

It’s this weird thing that I even talked to my husband about how you’ve had months with this child in you. You know them the second they’re born and regardless of how hard it is with colic and those experiences, you almost have that gut visceral reaction to their crying and things. It’s almost like you’re bonded in some way, where husbands or partners or whoever, they meet the baby and then it takes them time. They didn’t have that 8, 9 months experience. It’s almost like you can’t see the forest through the trees because there is so much weighing down on you emotionally and physically. You’re recovering. You’re trying to figure out how this baby works that your body cared for automatically before. To see your partner do things that you feel are not the most helpful or almost failing you in a way, it made me ragey almost like, “You’re not helping the exact way that I need you to, but I don’t know how to tell you that I need help in a different way.” You’re arguing and fighting. Around the year mark, something switch happens.

I remember when my son turned two, I started sleeping full nights. That’s why when everyone’s asking me if I want more kids. I’m like, “I don’t.” That was traumatizing. I would not have any time to be on TikTok. Until they’re two, it was hard. I know not all babies are like this, but my son still has a very independent personality. He always wants to be with someone and active. He’s still got that personality, which I love now. As a baby, it was hard even with help. When my son turned two, life was puppies and rainbows. I was sleeping and I was happy, and it’s so much easier. I cannot imagine having another baby.

It’s different every day. Some days are amazing and some days, I’m like, “I don’t know how.”

How old is your youngest?

He’s twenty months. He’ll be two in April.

You’re almost there.

I’m about to round a corner because my oldest will be four in June. I’ll have a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, which will be so much more manageable. When quarantine and COVID hopefully are somewhat of a thing of the past. If work gets back to normal, I’ll be able to take work trips without feeling I’m abandoning my husband with these two little babies that he can’t handle. He can handle them on his own and he’s a great dad, but it’s different. It will be different with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old than an infant and an almost two-year-old.

I remember when my son was younger, I take him in the car to go to grandma’s house. I’m like, “I need to be there because this is going to be chaos if I’m not.” Now I’m like, “Go for the day. You can go, it’s fine.” My son just turned four and it’s been amazing. It keeps getting better. It keeps getting easier other than the fact that he’s not sleeping. We went to Wyoming, which is a two-hour time change and he was staying up late. He was staying up until 10:30. Now, we’ve gone to bed at 12:30. It’s been late. I recorded him the other night. He was screaming, running around the bed at midnight. He’s like, “I am the earth.” He’s running around the room. He’s like, “I’m green and I’m blue. I am the sun. No one could survive on me.” I’m like, “Go to sleep.” It takes me an hour to wind down after he falls asleep. I’m up until 1:30 and we woke up at 10:30 AM. I’m like, “What’s happening to my life?” It’s better than staying up with a crying baby all night. I would never want to go back to that, but I’m still up very late.

It’s amazing that you’re able to do that, and go after all of these businesses that you have at the same time and treat those as if they’re your babies. All women are amazing, but there’s something that changes in you when you become a mom, and you’re able to compartmentalize in a different way and lend energy and attention to things that before you might have felt were impossible. Sometimes I’ll look back at what I was doing when I was 24, 25. I’m like, “Was I not bored? What did I do with all that free time?” I just talk to myself.

Single people long for more interaction, especially in this time of the pandemic. Click To Tweet

I think that too. I was talking to one of my friends who has two kids and her sister doesn’t have any kids. She’s like, “You’re not doing anything. You should work out more, do this or whatever.” She’s like, “You’ve got nothing going on. I’m working out with kids and you don’t have any kids.” It’s funny to look back and think about my twenties. I used to wake up at 4:00 PM. I could never live like that again. It’s crazy. Has there been anything in particular that has been rough on you holiday-wise and stuff?

Holidays in general, it’s cold, it’s dark and it snowed here, and we’re in quarantine. For me, trying to find ways to stay motivated at work, and still excited about these new opportunities I have with social media and deal with my kids. They get home from preschool and daycare, and it’s dark at 5:30 and we’re just stuck in our house for hours until they go to bed. For me, it’s been trying to find little things that bring me small pieces of joy, things to look forward to, or ways to make every day feel more fun. I have this weird fear that I’m going to look back in 5, 10 years and be like, “I didn’t take advantage of that time enough in quarantine and COVID.” It’s overwhelming and stressful. I’m like, “How do I not set myself up for failure by overpromising myself that I’m going to make every day magical? How do I feel not soak around?” When I let myself swoop into that place, sometimes it’s hard for me to pull myself back out of it.

Me too. I was live on TikTok every single day. I was very active, and then I wasn’t feeling myself in the beginning of the week. Sometimes I need a little bit of a break to chill, save my energy, and focus on other things. A lot of people ask me a lot of times, “How do you get so much done?” My thing is I have to set aside a certain time. They would be like, “How do you have time to make TikToks?” I have to set aside time. I’ll go online and do my makeup, and then I’ll get off. I’ll make twelve videos and then I’m done. I have to turn it on and turn it off. Do you batch record your videos too? Do you think of stuff?

I try to batch some things that feel more evergreen that could work any time. I leave myself a little bit of time for trying to look at trending videos or sounds that I could use. I agree. If I don’t batch it, then it feels almost last minute and not fully thought out and rushed. I get the same questions from people like, “How do you have all this time to make TikToks? Don’t you have a real job?” A TikTok, most of them take me maybe 37 seconds to record. I go in and add captions. If these people think I’m just sitting here filming myself for hours on a day, not doing anything. I’m like, “What is wrong with you?”

A lot of people record stuff and then delete it and redo it. I never ever rerecord a video. I’ll say what I need to say and I turn it off and that’s it. I’ve been yelling for 30 seconds and then it cuts off. That’s why I don’t spend that much time doing it. I spend more time on live like communicating with people back and forth, but I find that emotionally rewarding. Communicating with people and maybe talking to them about what’s going on in their lives and things like that. I find that very rewarding. I feel like I’m on FaceTime with my friends. That feels a little bit self-care because it’s nice. I’ve got to do the videos quick and then get them all out. I’ll post ten videos a day in twenty minutes. I don’t care.

It’s working for you with over a million followers. You’ve got people watching all ten every day, multiple times.

I saw some comment and she was like, “My favorite part of the day is watching all the videos you did.” One night when I was going to bed, someone commented like, “You haven’t posted in six hours. Are you okay?”

Heaven forbid, you have something else to do.

I’ve been doing those fashion videos again and those are super easy for me to do. I don’t put makeup on, I do myself out small. I have people send me the photos, so I don’t have to search and stuff. I screenshot them and then make a video. It takes me five minutes max to make those fashion videos. That’s why people are always like, “Can you put closed captions on your videos?” I’m like, “I can’t.” If I did one video a day, I could put the closed captions on it, but I just don’t. I do ten videos. It would take me too long. Every time I do it, it takes me at least fifteen minutes rather than uploading something for fifteen seconds and posting it. TikTok should have it in there.

They should. This Siri voice thing is not it. It’s funny but they need to have that be a feature because I don’t want to have to use all these other apps to try to add the captioning and do it. I’ve tried it on a couple and it’s such a hassle.

I like recording in TikTok because they make you look nice but it doesn’t look fake. When you use Instagram, the colors are blown out and it’s too much. I don’t like that.

It’s a subtle enhancement.

It’s very subtle, which I like. I don’t want to record it on my phone, and then use this other app, and then it doesn’t look good. The threads one, which Instagram has, their filters are horrible. I hate Instagram filters. It looks like you’re trying to edit things on your face. I want to record in TikTok and I want TikTok to add the words to it so it will be easy to. People watch the videos and they like watching the words. I get more interaction on those videos. I just don’t have the time to do it. If it was on there, I feel people would like it. Sometimes I even watch my TikTok and I won’t have the volume on. If it’s something where someone’s talking, I’d just scroll.

BTB 13 | Corporate Mama

Corporate Mama: With people performing from home, there’s no reason to have them back into the office.

 

I do the same thing.

Especially, if you’ve got a kid sleeping next to you.

My phone screen time has been atrocious. I was looking at it and I realized the majority of those hours are lying in bed with a kid or lying in bed at night watching on mute, no sound, just scrolling and swiping through. I’m like, “I have got to stop, go to sleep, stop looking at TikTok at 1:30 in the morning.”

It’s hard to turn off, especially now that you can justify yourself being a creator and researching. It’s hard to turn it off for sure. I’m sure it’s hard for people that aren’t creators to turn it off, but it’s definitely become very addicting.

My husband makes fun of me so much for being on there, but now every time I look over, he’s scrolling through watching stuff too. He just doesn’t post anything. I’m like, “Give me a break. At least I’m doing something productive with it.”

My husband used to make fun of me for being on TikTok until TikTok started paying me. Now he’s like, “Be on there all day, I don’t care.”

He’s like, “Do you need a light man?”

The thing that I hate though is when I hear my husband watching my videos. I can’t stand it.

I saw you one day. I think you were playing a clip of him listening to it.

We were in a hotel room. He plays his phone so loud. Even when he’s watching other stuff, it annoys me how loud it is. I’ll hear him five rooms away. I’m like, “Stop, I can’t listen to it.”

My husband is such a troll. He wouldn’t follow me until I got 100,000 followers, and then he would do it. He would religiously watch them and wouldn’t follow me until I got to that point. Now that these opportunities are coming through, he gives me less of a hard time the same way, but I still do the same thing. I hear him watching it. I’m like, “Can you watch that somewhere else or later? Not around me, please.”

What opportunities do you have going on?

I had my first official sponsored content go out from a platform that’s developing a tool to help parents plan for the financial implications of having kids. I’ve started to get inquiries from brands talking about whether it’s using a product or a service, how I can start to integrate them into my TikTok, which I don’t think is a new concept to anyone who has been a real influencer, which I still don’t consider myself at this point. I hate saying it. They’re like, “You’re an influencer.” I’m like, “I create content on TikTok that I hope helps someone.” I don’t know that I’m the goal to look toward. Being part of the TikTok creator fund for all its pros and cons has been a nice little extra.

No one will believe more in you than yourself. Click To Tweet

Do you have an agent or a manager?

No. I do everything myself.

You should probably get one. I’ve interviewed twelve people. You would do well on mommy blogs and stuff. I have a good PR lady that does mommy stuff. That would be good for you to be on parenting magazine.

I definitely should consider those types of things. I’m now talking to an attorney about trademark stuff. I probably should do that. The idea of an agent or a manager scares me a little because that means I’m legit. I’m investing in this and I’m going to turn it into a thing, which should be motivating.

Managers usually take a percentage so they’re not going to charge you anything up front. My PR lady charges but not a lot. She gets you onto magazines and stuff like that.

I take all my other life advice from you so I guess I do that one too.

Don’t take your life advice from me, screaming on people in a closet.

I love it so much. My favorite is still the ones where you’re running in your different shoes. They make me happy.

I recorded one. I haven’t posted it yet because I already posted five videos. Someone was running your heels like you’re running from the cops. My son has a police costume and he’s chasing me down the hallway.

I can’t wait to see it. That’s amazing.

He was like, “I got you. You’re going to jail.”

My son was watching Shrek and now he’s running around the house yelling, “Seize him,” and pointing to people. Now that’s all he says like, “Go get this person.” 

I’m very excited for you and where things are going for you. You should definitely look into getting a manager and stuff. I could totally see you doing mommy workshops and self-love mommy things. I see that for you and your future.

BTB 13 | Corporate Mama

Corporate Mama: You can give off the energy of growing to others by showing that you believe in yourself.

 

I’ve been thinking that maybe somewhere I want to take this as to how could I do either a course, worksheets, or something for moms or women who plan to have kids and work. How to plan for that, how does maternity leave work, and what tips and things I have for this. I haven’t fully thought it through, but going down to mommy course is probably where I’m heading.

Especially in dealing with mom guilt of working and having kids. You work full-time. You used to work in an office. Do you plan on going back into the office or do you think you’ll be home?

As of now, we won’t be going back in until at least July 2020. Even then we’ll see what that looks like if it’s reduced capacity and you’re in one time a week or what. I would prefer not to go back. I would be fine going in once every other week or once a month for big things.

What companies will probably do is if people are performing from home, there’s no reason to have them back into the office.

It’s a waste of money paying rent for all those commercial spaces.

The biggest drop out of all of this will be commercial real estate. A lot of buildings are not going to be as full. This is going to take a long time because corporate leases usually take 5, 10, 15, 20 years. They’re very long leases for companies. Our company is up in 2021 and I don’t think we’re going to renew. It’s definitely not for the amount of space that we have for loss of employees. If people are working from home and doing well from home, there’s no reason to. It’s also hard for people working from home full-time too. Some people like it and then some people don’t like it. I feel like parents like it more. I may be wrong, but single people feel like they want that interaction a little bit more. They’re more lonely. They’re home alone all the time during quarantine. They miss that environment and interaction. Whereas I feel like parents have so much going on. It’s so much easier to work from home.

I totally agree. There are less things I have to do before I start work for the day. If I run an errand or do things around the house and get stuff for kids ready, I can do it in between meetings. It’s so much easier for me to be at home.

I’ve always known that I wanted to homeschool my son, but I can’t imagine getting up with him at 6:30 AM and getting him ready to go to school. That sounds so miserable to me. I’m such a late sleeper. I can’t even imagine doing that, but your kids still go to school.

They do. They’re going five days a week. My husband usually wakes up with both of them. He’s an early bird and he’ll get one of them ready, and then bring them both in. He is like, “You need to get out of bed. Let’s go.” I’ll get up and get the second one ready and I take them to school.

After you’ve been on TikTok all night?

I’m like a zombie. I take them to school and he picks them up in the afternoons or evenings so that I can do meetings later into the day, or I can spend a little bit of time doing TikTok stuff while he goes and gets them. That works out.

That’s funny. Is there one specific kid that he gets ready or it’s either ones?

Whichever one gets up first. Our three-year-old has been coming into our room in the middle of the night. Sometimes he’ll already be in there with us, which I hope stops. We said that he hasn’t done that in a while and then he showed up in there 3:00 AM. It’s normally whichever one wakes up, he’ll get ready and feed, and then I had the other one. We pretty much do everything 50/50.

It takes a certain level of courage to take the risks you are unwilling to go through. Click To Tweet

That’s good though. It’s a good balance. My son still sleeps with me too. As I know, I’m only having one and I’m fine. Honestly, I feel like he’s safer with me. I don’t know why. I don’t like having him so far away from me.

I understand that. I love the cuddling and that part of it. At 4:00 in the morning, I swear his elbows are sharper. If he would be still, that would be fine. 

He hasn’t been waking me up. I bought this huge body pillow, those long ones. I put it in between me and him. He doesn’t grab me. He’s been leaving me alone the couple of nights. Every once in a while, I usually sleep with him for a week. I’ll be like, “I need a break. I need a minute. I need to have a night by myself.” I sleep by myself and then I’m like, “I miss him.” I sleep with him for a week. That’s our pattern. It has been easier since he’s been sleeping a little bit later. When I’m about to get my period the night before I’m going to get it, I’m like, “I need to sleep alone. You guys need to go,” and I’m going to be alone.

“Don’t look at me. Don’t talk to me.” I feel you 100%. “Don’t touch me.”

“I need little time.” This is great. Before we get off, thank you so much for giving me your time again. Sorry for the last one. The two questions I ask my son every night before he goes to bed. The first one is, what was the best part of your day?

This is going to make me sound petty, but I was going to get my coffee after I dropped my kids off at school, and this very rude person whipped in front of me and cut me off going into the Starbucks parking lot. They got in the drive-through line and I had done a mobile order ahead of time. I went into the store, got my drink, got back in my car and left. They were still eight cars deep in the line. It made my day. They were rude and then they had to wait longer for their coffee. I got to leave and drink my coffee in peace, which is petty and small of me. After a long week of work, that was the best thing. I was happy all the way home.

You probably have Monday off too so you’ve got a long weekend.

Yes, thankfully. I’m looking forward to that.

Hopefully, it’s relaxing.

We’ll see. The schools are close too. That’ll be something.

The second question is, what did you learn today?

I learned that no one is going to believe in me more than I’m going to believe in myself. I sent an offer back to someone, a counter asking me to participate in something, thinking it was a little ridiculous. I doubted myself before I sent it, but they didn’t blink an eye. I have to have confidence. No one else is going to encourage me to take those risks that I’m not willing to take myself. It was a nice reinforcing feeling of like, “If you believe in yourself, then put yourself out there. Good things will happen.”

They will and you have to believe in yourself more than anyone else because if you believe in yourself, you’d give off that energy that I am worth this. I am giving off that energy. People are more attracted to seeing everything you have going on. I’m excited for you. I’m excited to see everything happening. I hope I will have you back and we’ll be celebrating you hitting a million followers. I’m sure we will be celebrating lots of things by then. It was fun talking to you. I miss you.

I miss you too. We need to do it more. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me on.

Thank you. Have a good rest of your day.

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