Administrative Support Assistant for Journalism and Public Relations at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida | Wife to FRANK, mommy to Nicolas (15), Matthew (14), Christopher John, aka CJ (12) and Lucas (10)
For Martha Collada, making time for each of her four boys and her husband Frank i incredibly important. As a working mom, she gives her job 100 percent during the day, but switches gears when she gets home so she can enjoy the little moments with her family.
How do you balance work life and family life?
My family is very important to me and so is my job, but I do disconnect from work when I am with Frank and the kids. When I am on the job, I give it all I have to get things done, but when I am with the family they have my heart and my undivided attention.
What does your typical workday look like?
I wake up and get the kids out of bed with the help of my wonderful husband. Since we only have two bathrooms in our home, we have a schedule for bathroom time, and keeping the schedule is usually the first challenge of my day. I then drop the kids off at school and head to the office. Once I am done working in the late afternoon, I pick the kids up after school and head home. Most days of the week I spend about an hour at home doing whatever needs to be done, like getting a load of laundry in or getting dinner started, before I head out again to take the boys to soccer practice or martial arts. From that point on Frank and I tag team the picking up and dropping off depending on who has practice at what time. This can be challenging with multiple schedules, but we do a pretty good job of taking turns and working together. Communication with Frank about the schedule early in the day to make a game plan is key so we can both get things done. Dinnertime is also a challenge certain days during the week because my teenage sons sometimes train into the late evening, so on those days we have to have two dinner shifts. We always sit at the table with the boys when they are eating so it feels like we are all having dinner together and so we can maintain a sense of family time, but the younger boys eat first so they don’t have to wait until later. From that point on it is a combination of cleaning the kitchen, throwing in another load of laundry if necessary, picking things up around the house or doing anything else that requires my attention, like helping the younger boys with school-related work. Frank and I try to get some time together before we shut things down for the evening and sometimes it is as simple as watching a favorite TV show before we go to bed or taking our dog out for a walk.
What advice would you give other working parents?
Try not to bring work stress home, and enjoy the time you have with your family. I think it is necessary to disconnect so you are not distracted, which I know is easier said than done. I am constantly trying to remind myself to enjoy the little moments because they grow up faster than we would like, and in the blink of an eye our kids are not so little anymore. Frank and I always say, “The days are sometimes long, but the years seem to go by too fast.” My oldest son is now 15 and I feel like he was just born yesterday. I still refer to my youngest son as “Little Lucas” and now he is 10. Time is precious and kids change every day, so make sure to enjoy those moments because you will never regret spending more time with them instead of being at the office.
What sacrifices/compromises have you had to make?
I have always tried to balance what is important to me and what life brings my way with an awareness that my kids are at the top of that list, which is why I would say that my career has been my compromise. I always envisioned myself out of college as having a big corporate job, and I was in several managerial corporate roles until I became a mother. Everything changed when Nicolas was born and I then chose to take time away from working outside the home. I never had any regrets about it, but I am aware that it forced me to reinvent myself several different ways and to rethink my work-related goals to fall in line with my new priorities of family first.
When and how do you make time for yourself?
I take a moment for me whenever I get one — anytime, anywhere. Sometimes it is as simple as a quiet moment while in the waiting room of the dentist office or sitting on my front porch enjoying nature for five minutes as I wait for the laundry to finish. I live in Tioga and I love walking my furry baby, Diamond, around the neighborhood or walking to my parents’ house, which is a couple of blocks away, for a short visit. When the schedule permits, I love spending time with friends enjoying a good meal and a nice glass of wine or two. I am always up for a girl’s night out and that usually recharges my battery and keeps me going until the next escapade.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
All the women in my family who came before me have been my inspiration — my mother, my grandmothers and my wonderful aunts who have always been such good mothers and loving women. They are great role models for me of what unconditional love is and have always been supportive of me as a woman and especially as a mother.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My parents are so supportive of my family and help us out all the time. They just moved to Gainesville earlier this year from Miami, and it has been a wonderful blessing to have them close by.
If you had a day all to yourself and money was not an object, what would you do?
That is challenging because all things that come to mind, like a day out boating on a beautiful yacht, I would want to share with my family. But if I had to be alone then I would say that a day of pampering at a spa retreat, preferably by the ocean so I can spend part of my day at the beach, would be lovely.
Which TV character most resembles you?
I think I can identify with Claire Dunphy of “Modern Family.” She has a strong personality and is sometimes exhausted by her family responsibilities, but she is a great mother and is always there for her kids. I identify with her character, especially now that she has gone back to work after being a stay at home mom for some years. Like her, I am enjoying this new phase of my life where the kids are more self-sufficient and older but still need my love and support.
Finish this sentence: I hope that I have taught my children …
to be good people, who are kind to others and loving to each other. I try to remind them that they will be brothers for life and that it is a friendship that will stand the test of time. I also try to remind them to enjoy life and make the most of all opportunities presented to them.
What is your go-to breakfast?
During the week I am not a big breakfast person, but I am Cuban-American so my go-to is a café con leche (Cuban espresso with warm milk) in the morning and a yogurt in the office around 10 a.m. On the weekends, my favorite breakfast is eggs over easy on a grilled corn tortilla with salsa and avocado slices and a café con leche, of course!
What is your coffee order?
I think you may already know this … café con leche! But I do also love a pumpkin spice latte this time of year.
What is your must-have work tech item?
A good computer and a strong internet connection.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
I think I would want to have more control over speed so I can do things faster. Why? This way I can do things I don’t like (like mopping) in less time, but still be able to enjoy the moments I do like in real time.
What are five things you must have at work?
A good computer, my cellphone, my morning cafecito, a cute and comfortable pair of shoes to walk around in, and my Yeti thermos filled with ice water on my desk so I can make sure to drink it throughout the day.