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This woman wants to know where all the 'middle class moms' have gone this Christmas

What's with all the "immaculate houses" and "$500 Target hauls", she wonders.

middle class mom, middle class, christmas decor, momfluencer, mommy blog, motherhood
@bridineen/TikTok

Bri argues that the extravagant Christmas decor she sees online doesn't reflect her reality.

Generally speaking, folks are feeling…shall we say…financially cautious this year when it comes to holiday spending. According to USA Today, a combination of inflation, dwindling savings and rising debt has caused many Americans to focus only on the essentials when it comes to their Christmas celebrations.

However, social media tells a different story. A five second scroll through TikTok will make you think that every home in the world (besides yours, of course) is prepped for the holiday issue of Architectural Digest. Spotless, all white furnishings, giant decorations that would put department stores to shame, luxury brand snacks left out for delivery drivers…you get the picture.

And sure, while watching aspirational videos online might provide a fun temporary escape, many are feeling like the novelty has worn off.


Take Bri, for example. Bri is wondering where all the moms like her have gone on social media. The moms who, as she describes it, “ are wearing a sweater from 2016?” The moms whose nicer things they own “were gifted to them at some point in their lives, who the newest part of their Christmas decor every year is the Christmas tree.”

These moms are certainly not on Bri’s social media. Instead, she gets a barrage of “massive, massive hauls of new Christmas decor with you know mom in like this brand new outfit, babies dressed to the nines, house is immaculate and massive. Cars brand new.”

Meanwhile, while filming her own video, Bri sits in her 2015 car with over a hundred thousand miles on it. She will not be, as she wrote in her caption, showcasing “$500 Target hals” because instead, she’ll be saving to replace said 2015 car, as well as paying off student loans, and you know, buying groceries to live.

Bottom line: most of what Bri sees online she simply cannot relate to, and she suspects the same is true for many others.

@bridineen There will be no $500 Target hauls of Christmas decor happening here bc we have student loans to pay, a new car to save for and groceries to buy. But if you are looking for some middle class mom content, here I am! My home is not completely renovated, our cars are old and anything new that I buy is for my babies 😅 Ib: @evelyn | real mom life 🫶🏼 #middleclassmum#middleclassfamily#middleclassmom #middleclasslife ♬ Holly Jolly Christmas (Sped Up) - Michael Bublé & Sped Up Songs + Nightcore

“I do not relate to the over the top extravagant lifestyles with a mortgage to kids, student loans up the wazoo and the price of groceries. Like that's just not my life and it probably never will be and that's okay,” she says, adding “I don't think that's the reality for a majority of us honestly, for real. Like in this economy, absolutely not.”

Turns out, Bri is definitely not the only middle class mom feeling this way. Thousands showed up in her comments section to show solidarity.

“The only new christmas stuff I bought this year was WRAPPING PAPER,” one revealed.

Another admitted “None of my decor ‘matches’. It’s just a hodgepodge of thrift and craft sale finds. My kids won’t remember if the decor matched, so who cares.”

Others shared situations that were almost exactly like Bri’s—proving that many are in the same boat.

One person commented, “Here here here!! One income and one car family drowning in student debt in a rental townhouse 😅😅 fighting that overconsumption temptation errday”

Another echoed,“Hi! 👋🏻 we are here! Old clothes, tired, overwhelmed, dirty house, and 2015 car here with 155,000 miles lol - you are not alone!”

One person even astutely pointed out that maybe most regular moms are simply too drained making everything happen and running on fumes to post content, writing “We’re in the majority but too tired/busy to be posting all the time. You’re doing great ❤️.” To which Bri replied, “tired. So tired.”

All this to say, if you’re struggling with feeling like your holiday celebrations somehow don’t measure up, remember that what’s carefully curated online is in no way an accurate reflection of what most people experience. Most of us are simply trying to exist, using what we’ve got, and very, very tired. Don’t let any perceived shortcomings rob you of the inherent joys that come with the season—gratitude, time with loved ones, and maybe, just maybe…a nap.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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