As Executive Editor at Good Housekeeping Magazine, reaching an audience of 18.4 million people, and mom to ‘Irish Triplets’ Charlet (8), James (6) and Brooks (3), #MindrMama Meaghan Murphy knows a thing or two about staying busy. We caught up with this mama mogul to find out how priorities and positivity help to keep her head above water, why she believes a made bed means a quiet mind, and how a dinner invitation from J-Lo could lead to all the rules being thrown out the window.
You've said you're always guided by what's best for your family, who you call Team Murphy. Talk us through the ways family drives your decision-making, even when you're on deadline.
My motto is “family over everything” — and that requires creating some very distinct boundaries. For starters, I’m fiercely protective of my mornings and only work late two to three nights a month, when I have to because we’re closing an issue.
I front-load the day with quality kid time. After the kids wake up, we have a no TV/no devices rule and instead read a couple chapters of Captain Underpants (it’s the one series they all agree upon!). We eat breakfast, pack lunches, make beds, brush teeth… and argue over outfits. When the babysitter, arrives I power shower with just enough time to walk my little guy to preschool before hitting the train. I don’t schedule meetings before 10:30AM with the exception of a TV appearance so I have this Team Murphy time.
Once I’m at work, I’m there to work and I say no to things that aren’t work-related… a lot. The joke around the office is: “Don’t ask Meaghan for drinks because there’s a zero percent chance she’ll say yes.” It’s not that I don’t like my co-workers or business contacts, or that I don’t like to be social, but with an hour-plus commute to the ‘burbs, one drink means I miss what my family calls Highlights (a rundown of what made my kids say “YAY” that day) and the nightly tuck-in — and I need those things! A dinner request from JLo and A-Rod might be the only thing that would keep me in the city past 7PM!
As Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping, you're in a high profile and high pressure role. What do you do to look after yourself and stay fully charged?
I’ve got a pretty consistent routine that keeps me operating at full battery. Exercise is key! I’ve found the only way to fit in fitness is to do it at the crack of dawn with my #goodvibetribe of like-minded workout buddies. We cheer each other on and make each other accountable. I’m at the gym by 5:30am and back by 7am, but I swear I feel like I’m going for drinks when I leave the house! Our exercise routine is pretty set: Extreme Boxing at POE on Mondays; Tuesdays it’s hot yoga at Home Power Yoga; FireBeat hot barre on Wednesdays; SLT Thursdays and The Blast (interval workout) on Fridays.
There’s also lots of “extras” that give me a charge: things like matching my mani to the cover of Good Housekeeping each month or over-decorating my house for every perceivable holiday!
You recently launched "The Yay List," recommending that people take the time to pay attention to the moments of joy that come up in any given day. Why do you think practicing positivity in this way is important?
Your brain might not be a muscle, but you have to train it like one to see the good. The more you actively and purposefully seek out the positive, the more easily you begin to automatically default to the positive, noticing all the awesome things around you. It doesn’t mean you no longer perceive the negative, it just prevents you from dwelling on it. The good vibes take over.
What is something you think needs to change about the way our culture treats parenthood?
My husband didn’t carry our kids for nine months or push them out, but he is 50% responsible for their existence and their livelihood. Yet, I often feel like society puts more onus on the mom for everything. Somehow it’s supposed to be my job to: organize the play date; volunteer to be the class Mystery Reader; RSVP for the birthday party and buy the gift; etc. etc. etc. even though my husband and I both have full-time jobs. I love doing (most of) those things, but my life only works because I have an equal partner — a teammate who cooks, walks the dog, signs my son James up for karate and more. I applaud companies like Estee Lauder that now have 6 months paid leave for both moms and dads – it’s a start in the right direction!
What are your favorite go-to strategies for maintaining an organized home even amidst the chaos of working parent life?
Make the beds! Studies show that people who do are happier and more productive. When I leave the house with at least that one thing done I feel calmer, more in control and ready for the chaos ahead.
My #momlife hack is Beddy’s, zip-up bedding that makes it ridiculously simple for the kids to make their own beds. Also, if you can, hire help. Biweekly we have someone tackle the bathrooms, vacuum, dust…things I weirdly enjoy doing, but have to take a backseat to family time. You’ve gotta learn to outsource to the extent that you can!
Meaghan Murphy has been in the media for 20+ years. She got her start at YM when she was 19, after winning an essay contest on overcoming adversity, and being spotlighted on an NBC special. Two years later she was one of the founding editors of Teen People, an on-air lifestyle correspondent for MTV, worked on the creative team at Victoria’s Secret, helping to launch the PINK line, moved on to a senior editor role at Cosmopolitan before heading to SELF, where she was the fitness director and Deputy editor for nearly 9 years. Meaghan is now the Executive Editor at Good Housekeeping. She married her brother’s best friend who is 4 years her junior and they live a happy life in the Jersey suburb of Westfield where Meaghan was named Chief Spirit Officer, unofficially renaming the town Bestfield.