I’ve known Sheinelle Jones for years. But until this week, she didn’t know me.
Like millions of others, I’ve welcomed the Today Show anchor and co-host of the show’s third hour into my home every morning — her energetic presence and contagious laughter doing more for my wake up routine than coffee ever did. A dogged reporter, Jones moderated a panel at BlogHer Food, a conference for female entrepreneurs and content creators hosted by SheKnows’ parent company SHE Media. This after a super early wake up call for the morning news and talk show.
In addition to a heavy workload, the journalist and host is also mom to 6-year-old twins, Uche and Clara Josephine, and 9-year-old Kayin. So obviously she was the perfect person to chat with about work-life balance, Meghan Markle and how, exactly, moms can learn to be just a little kinder to themselves.
SheKnows: What advice would you give to new working moms and is that advice any different than for working moms of multiples?
Sheinelle Jones: I would say — and I don’t know if anybody will listen to me — but go easy on yourself. Please. The mom guilt is insane. We just had Jennifer Lopez on the other day and this woman has twins so she’s a fellow mom of multiples, she’s heading out on tour, she has her Las Vegas residency, she’s got this YouTube channel, everybody knows she’s with [Alex Rodriguez], all of these things and even she talked about mom guilt…. We all feel this guilt and it’s one of those things where if we all took a breath [and ask ourselves]: who is not doing their best? Honestly, are you not doing your best?
SK:I’m really trying.
SJ: The Lord is going to look out for you; you’re a mommy and it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be okay, the day is going to get done.
It’s fine to take a breath. Just give yourself a break, you stressing out and having guilt is not helping anybody. And it’s certainly not helping us physically or emotionally. So if you give yourself a break, you’re giving yourself some extra wiggle room to be a better mom.
SK: I’m dying to know what weird thing you packed in your hospital bag on your way to deliver?
SJ: [Laughs] My mother packed my hospital bag. When we got to the hospital, there were Doritos, Oreos. I was like, isn’t this supposed to be for me? It’s like they were going on a camping trip. There was nothing in the bag for me.
We got in there, and, I kid you not, it was overcrowded and they were like you can probably go an extra day — because I was going to be induced. They call me the next day…so I go and prepare to be induced and I look over, and I say, ‘Mom, where’s the hospital bag?’ She forgot the bag! She had that bag packed for months and when it was game time we did not have the Doritos and Oreos.
SK: As a journalist, you know that Meghan Markle has become the face of what racism and misogyny look like on a global scale. What is the media’s responsibility in covering those stories?
SJ: I think the takeaway to this is: you can only control what comes out of your mouth and the energy that comes out of you. I can’t be responsible for what a journalist across the street does or in another country, but I can be responsible for the energy that I contribute to it. Even today, [the day Baby Archie made his debut], I made sure to say, ‘You know what? She looks like a glowing mom who just had a baby. She’s a little swollen, she just looks like she wants to stop talking to us and hold that baby.’ You just send out positive vibes and I think if we can each just take a moment to be responsible for what comes out of our mouths, what comes out of our fingers when we type, we’ll get a lot further and I think we can overpower the negativity.
I think we can overpower the media that’s a little nasty. There are enough of us — there are enough talented writers and women who understand what she’s going through, so we can overcome all the negativity. I can’t be responsible for this larger abstract ‘the media,’ I know that’s not who I am. I know that when I go home at night, I said nothing that I can’t go to sleep with.
SK: Your kids are still quite young, but they’re old enough to understand what’s going on in the world. How do you talk to them about things like bigotry and school shootings? How do you explain those things?
SJ: It’s a challenge. We live in Harlem and there was an argument or a fire at a local school and [the kids] saw it on the way home. They wanted to know why that school looks so run down and theirs doesn’t. It was a time to sit down and talk about education, how sometimes it’s just not fair, [that] some kids don’t have a choice about where they go to school and what we can do. We can volunteer, we can go to after school programs. I think the important thing is, once we teach them about the social injustice and the inequality that exists — especially in New York City — we can teach them how to be proactive about it. We can’t make the trouble go away, but we can show them that maybe we can do something to help.
SK: You’re a woman in the public eye, how do you deal with mom-shaming?
SJ: If you project reality and if you’re authentic, it takes the sting out of it a little bit. Trolls are more likely to attack when they smell like somebody’s insincere. So for me, frankly, you can’t tell me anything about myself that I don’t already know.
SK: Studies show working moms regularly take on a “second shift” of household labor and child care in addition to their day jobs. Do you feel that’s true for you? If so, what does a “second shift” look like for you?
SJ: I don’t even have shifts, I have 24-hour non-stop [days]. The only break I have in my schedule is when I’m sleeping. And when I go to sleep at night, it’s because I physically can’t keep my eyes open anymore. There are days when I fall asleep in my clothes and wake up with one lash on. I’m always going, [but] I’m working on slowing down a little bit. The shift never ends.
This interview has been edited for style and length.