Raise your hand if you’re a working parent who has come *this* close to losing their mind during the pandemic. Many households have been challenged immensely in 2020, as families balance childcare, distant-learning, and the responsibilities of their job all under the same roof (and often, the same room!) It’s a journey lifestyle journalist Jenn Sinirch has taken in stride, as she has juggled the duties of being a mom to her toddler and continued building her freelance empire. She’s a revered journalist for dozens of outlets, including Wedding Wire, Brides, What To Expect, Reader’s Digest, Healthline, and many others. Somehow, she manages to crank out 40 to 50 stories a month—all while chasing after her 18-month-old little girl.
Here, Sinrich took time to speak with Press Hook about her typical day-to-day routine (that’s anything but predictable), how to build a relationship with a reporter, and more:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s an average day for you like?
JS: As a working parent in a pandemic, every day always seems to offer a fun surprise! But having a routine has truly kept my sanity. I pulled my daughter out of daycare back in March and tried my very best to pull off the impossible balancing act of working while caring for my then-13-month-old. In the last few months, I've hired a babysitter to make everything more manageable, and I still get morning with my Mila to top it all off.
Every day starts the same: I wake up around 6 a.m. to get two hours of work in before my little one wakes up. I check my email and make sure every loose end is tied up. Once my daughter wakes up, I give her breakfast and then we enjoy a nice long walk before heading to the playground. After the playground, it's back home for lunch and then a nap. Here's where my workday really begins. Once she’s down for her nap, it's go time. There's no minute left unused to the max, simply because I can't afford to waste a second. I work straight through 6 p.m., when the babysitter leaves, and usually pick back up at night once I've gotten [my daughter] down to sleep.
I'm hardly the only parent doing their best in this inconceivable situation, and I feel extremely lucky for a job that allows me the flexibility and the opportunity to spend so much time with her.
How many stories do you work on in a month? How do you keep yourself organized?
JS: Things have changed a bit since the pandemic, but these days I'm working on about 10-12 stories a week, so about 40-50 stories a month. Staying organized is a constant effort. I have email folders set up for most of the product-based stories I'm working on, and my Google Drive is immaculate, with folders for absolutely everything.
How do you find sources and/or products?
JS: I've been a full-time working journalist for more than 10 years now, so I've created a pretty extensive digital Rolodex of sources who I've worked with for years and whom I trust to be prompt with deadlines and lengthy and detailed in their explanations. When it comes to products, I have the same Rolodex concept for publicists with whom I also have a similarly trusting relationship. I keep everything in a spreadsheet with separate tabs for every subject.
What stands out to you in a pitch from a publicist?
JS: [Genuineness] first and foremost as well as kindness. No one wants to feel like just another person being sent a mass email. I try to build personal relationships in my business and hope that publicists attempting to work with me are looking for the same.
How do you come up with story ideas?
JS: I do a lot of reading. Being up on the news as well as trends is extremely important. I also like to reach out to my experts network and ask what they find to be new and interesting. I try to pitch unique, curiosity-driven stories that I'm dying to read, but can't find anywhere.
What's the hardest part of your job?
JS: The balancing act. Being a freelance journalist, you're always on. Right now, I'm working on a Sunday morning—and I worked yesterday as well. It's a beautiful part of the job because you can work anywhere at any time, which provides you the luxury of freedom. It can, however, be quite unforgiving. I had such a difficult time pulling away after having my daughter. Four days out from delivering her, while in recovery and on absolutely no sleep, I found myself finishing up stories and emailing my editors. There's no support for freelancers on maternity leave. In fact, as a freelancer, there is no maternity leave unless you stop working.
What advice would you give to a publicist to catch your attention?
JS: Be kind. Be real. Be understanding. We're all hustling to make a living and do the best we can. I want to hear from you and about your clients, but I'm just as busy as you are. If you can reach out to me with a product or an expert who is a true fit for the kind of stories I work on, that's great. Email me once, and go ahead and follow up in two weeks if you haven't heard back from me. But don't flood my inbox or pitch me things that are such a stretch that you know I won't have an opportunity to feature. It just wastes both of our time.