By KATIE CLARK
ATLANTA — As a wife, a mother of three and the executive director of the Atlanta Steeplechase, Jean Bird has found a way to make motherhood and career work.
While on a vacation in college, Bird received some advice she would apply over a decade later.
She and her mother were at a beach and heard about a small conference being held at a local hotel. The conference’s guest speaker was a successful business woman who sold expensive evening purses to celebrities and anyone else who could afford one of her purses priced at $1,000 and up.
Bird and her mother went to the hotel and found the woman to be extremely wise. Bird decided to introduce herself and then asked the woman how she was able to manage all her traveling and keeping up with her family.
The woman’s response became the framework for Bird’s future lifestyle.
“At a certain time of the day, you just have to cut off work and make it all about family,” Bird says. “You’ve got voicemail — turn off your phone and give your attention to your kids or else it’s going to drive you crazy because you’ll never be able to give 100 percent one way or the other.”
Along with keeping healthy boundaries between work and home life, Bird also credits her friends for always helping her where she needs it.
From picking up the kids from school to coming into the office to stuff envelopes with tickets and maps for the approaching Atlanta Steeplechase, Bird’s friends are there to help her where they can.
“I am amazed at how Jean manages her career and all the family activities she always has on her calendar.,” says Ellen Gibson, Bird’s marketing director and friend. “She comes to work every morning with a funny story about something that happened the night before with one of her kids and always comes in ready to start a meeting or go see a sponsor.”
Bird does not claim to be perfect, but striving to stay disciplined at protecting her boundaries and having an amazing support system has created a less stressful life at home and at the office.