As one of the most recognizable faces in Milwaukee, Washington is a top-rated news face for the WISN 12 news team, as she anchors the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Kathy Mykleby. Last summer, OnMilwaukee.com named her one of “The 100 Most Beautiful Things in Milwaukee.”
Turning the television personality stereotype on its heels, Washington arrived for our interview sans makeup. She comfortably provided a peek into her life that includes a workday that begins at 2 p.m. at the station and ends near 11 p.m. when she heads home.
Moms and dads learn to juggle
Outside of television, Washington juggles care for her daughter, Alivia, who turns 2 in December, with her husband, Brian, and a part-time nanny. Washington smiles when she describes her husband, Brian, as a bona fide “Mr. Mom” who also holds a management position with WISC-TV in Madison, Wis. Part of the couple’s juggling act includes driving in two different directions on I-94 to get to their respective jobs on two very different schedules. Brian works a day shift. When he comes home at the end of each day, he bathes and gets Alivia ready for bed where she heads at about 8:30 or 9 p.m., just before Mom goes on the air. She is awake by about 8:30 a.m., the following morning when Washington also starts her day.
It’s clear that the Toya and Brian Washington create a team. When Brian travels for business, Washington checks in with him to make sure she’s got the bedtime routine correct. While she acknowledges that her daughter’s lengthy sleep patterns are a godsend, Washington says her biggest challenge is finding time to sleep, herself.
“In my mind, I’m going over what I need to prepare for tomorrow, and story ideas. And oh yeah, trying to do one more thing, like laundry.” Her normal bedtime: 12:30 a.m. or later.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Washington says she manages her life by reminding herself what matters most in her life. “The center of my universe is my husband and child,” she says without hesitation.
And, she enjoys her career.
“I’m extremely devoted to my job, and the station is very flexible.”
Like most working moms, Washington admits to a tendency to keep her child busy with daily slates of activities that include swimming lessons, trips to the museum and play dates.
We wonder aloud how our parents managed, and decide that the answer may lie in our parents’ generation being less concerned about keeping their children entertained, and simply, safe. In those days it wasn’t unusual for an entire neighborhood to keep an eye on its children. Punishments began with the parent that witnessed misbehavior and parents followed with their own protocol at home.
Are stay-at-home moms our role models?
“Full-time stay-at-home moms have the hardest job and I couldn’t do that. I would go bananas,” Washington says. Her voice rises as she addresses the myth of the superwoman.
“I’m baffled. Who is she? She doesn’t have a face. She doesn’t have a name. How are we ingrained that we’re supposed to plan the parties, cook the meals, and do it all?
“Certainly, we all need to ask for help sometimes.”
Washington’s husband, Brian helps steer her back on course when it all becomes too much.
“He’s good about recognizing when I need a break,” she says.
Washington unwinds by designing jewelry. She wears many of her own designs on the air, and also creates pieces for brides and their bridesmaids.
In search of a new definition
As one of many legions of working moms, with her own business, I, personally, submit my answer to the definition of superwoman: she doesn’t exist. Not in the way we’ve defined it.
But, there’s hope. Perhaps the next generation is figuring it out. Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys’ new release, “Superwoman” suggests a new definition:
“When I’m breaking down,
And I can’t be found,
And I start to get weak,
‘Cause no one knows,
Me underneath these clothes,
But I can fly,
We can fly.”
‘Cause I am a Superwoman.”
It’s ok to drop a ball now and then, Superwomen.
Perfect Balance Gal
Lora Hyler is a communications expert who has worked as a journalist, an executive speechwriter, a public relations CEO, and a consumer product marketer. Through her 11-year-old company, Hyler Communications, she handles media outreach campaigns, conducts media interview and public skills training, as well as marketing programs for corporations, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. www.hylercommunications.com