Moms Make it Work: Erinn from Pennsylvania

Today's guest blogger is Erinn, one of my sweet 'internet friends' that I met through TheBump's Pregnant After Loss board nearly three years ago. I've loved watching her adorable family grow into the happy 'Two Under Two' crew they have now, and knew she'd be a great fit for this series as a SAHM who loves what she does. Enjoy!



momsmakeitwork


(Find the entire series linked here to read more) 




Hi Friends, I'm Erinn from Strawberry Swing and other things.  I am so excited Julia asked me to be part of this series and I have loved reading about every one's story and how we all Make It Work in our own way.  I'm a wife of four and a half years to Pete and mommy to 21 month old Ashlynn and 8 week old Kenley.  I always imagined myself a mom, and while it's harder than I ever dreamed (I mean who really dreams of the hard parts), it's even more rewarding and satisfying too.





- What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

I'm a 31 year old Stay at Home Mom living in the Philadelphia suburbs.  I grew up at the Jersey Shore (except not the Jersey Shore you're thinking of, our town was dry and I'm Irish, not Italian).   Basically like I mentioned, I always dreamed of being a mom.  Of course this included lots of playing "house" growing up, but later on in my teens I can remember thinking "when I have kids... I'm going have nachos for them after school, or fresh cookies" and think of how our house would be where all the kids would hang out and I'd butter up my children's friends with the snacks and sugar and they'd tell me all the high school gossip that my kids would refuse.  I'd be "the hip mom, the cool mom" (kidding, but I have major Mean Girls obsession, couldn't resist).  

I graduated college with B.S. in Business Administration with a double concentration in Finance and Accounting.    My university offered a five year co-op program, where for three of the five years you take six month internships.  This gives you 18m of real work experience upon graduation, pretty sweet, not to mention all the networking. I was offered a full time job at a public accounting firm after my last internship.  I did sit for a few portions of the CPA exam before deciding, I really didn't like accounting at all and never had the intention of staying in an accounting position or role where a CPA would be necessary or where I would have to keep it active with annual CPE credits.



At that same job, I met my husband.  We worked together during my internship and we started dating shortly after I came back on full time.  A few months after that, he left public accounting. Three years later we were married. 

I left public accounting after about 3 years and became a Financial Analyst for a company who was bought by a very large and well known company at the same time.  By the time our company, and specifically our office, was integrated, they decided to phase our office out.  Coincidentally, this was a few weeks after I found I was pregnant (about 3 years after I started there).  My due date and release date were just about a month a part.  When Ashlynn was born 5 weeks early, I had exactly 12 weeks of maternity leave ending right when I was released (aka, laid off).  Thanks universe.

My husband and I always discussed that I would stay home after having children, however this sealed the deal.  And so here I am, almost two years later, at home with my two amazing daughters.






-What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

Honestly, I could babble on and on about the best parts of my situation, but you could just read my blog since that's pretty much all I do there.




The biggest challenges have to be the changes I've (and we've) made from going from a very healthy two-income family to a one-income family.  We are blessed and very lucky that we can afford to have me home with our children, but that doesn't mean we don't make sacrifices or haven't had to make changes in our spending habits.   I've had to cut back on a lot splurges I'd make without blinking when I was gainfully employed.  Salon quality (i.e. expensive) shampoo and conditioner and goodies from Sephora, shopping at Anthropologie and J.Crew on the regular, buying shoes without rubber bottoms, and grande two pump vanilla soy lattes whenever I wanted.  Turns out, I don't have many places to wear the nicer clothes, since I'm not taking the chance of getting spit up or pb and j on a dry clean only blouse.  And why would I wear anything other than my Rainbows, Toms, or Nikes when running to Target with the kids?  But I do get a lot of guilt when buying extras for myself since I still see the money as not my own. Which is silly, especially since my husband never makes me feel that way, it's just my own hang up of leaving the working world and having someone else provide for me.  In the end, the things I've given up definitely don't even come close to the satisfaction I get from being home and being just a mom.



The other challenge is something most people don't want to admit in fear of seeming ungrateful or taking it all for granted and I probably would have wanted to slap someone for saying this after our loss, but it can be hard being home all day.  There are no breaks.  Ever. I don't help the matter since I basically choose to never leave or get a  sitter, but it's hard being "on duty" from the moment the children wake up and until they go to bed... and wake up multiple times during the night.  As much as most people hate them, I used to love my commutes.  It was my time to unwind, alone, with my thoughts. Turn up the music, call a friend, or relax.  Nowadays I don't even pee by myself.  You know what I mean?... see, now I'm coming off ungrateful! Not the case, but I need to work on getting some Mommy-Free Time more often.






-Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?

To be honest, pretty much.  Sure the day to day stuff or adult stresses... or the road we took to get here, were never dreamed of.  But yes, I always dreamed I'd have the chance to stay home while my children were young.  

There, keeping this section short.  




-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?

Not to say this life isn't without some bumps and sacrifices, but yes.  It's exactly how I'd pick it to be.  You know, outside winning the lottery and hiring a cleaning service or something.




-Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years, or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?

I'm still undecided.  I always thought after my kids went to school, I'd become a teacher.  Summers off and hours that mostly reflected my childrens' so I could be there for all the after school activities. While I'm still not 100% about my future career, I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out for teaching.  I'm definitely not ready to finish the credits and testing it would require to become certified at this point with two small children at home. And while I could always return to a position that would utilize my degree, I'm not sure that's really what I want.  I don't feel satisfied in that line work, and while finding the right part-time or partial work from home position sounds pretty decent - supplemental income, yet still able to remain a caregiver and active in my kid's activities, I just don't consider it my first choice. 

Last Fall, I opened an etsy shop selling children's teepees. I really loved the work, I've always found doing things with my hands - building, crafting, sewing... blogging? really therapeutic.  Of course the dream is to love what you do, and I guess I feel if my job is purely supplemental, I'd like to explore an area that brings me more satisifaction.  If we decide we need a larger contribution (ie, utiliizing my degrees in a more corporate setting), then I'll gladly step back into that role to make sure my family is getting what they need.  I just would prefer to be home when my kids get home from school and be available to take them to soccer practice or a piano recital, whichever.    





-Tips on how you make this work for you? And how do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role?

I'm not sure I really have tips.  Advice I would give myself, is to cut myself some slack.  With having an eight week old who still nurses on demand, sometimes I have to rely on Mickey Mouse occupying the toddler so she climbing on us during a feeding.  I still think she doesn't get nearly the amount of screen time some children do as I keep the tv off during the day, but I always feel guilt when I rely on tv.  I feel since I'm a "stay at home mom" I should be engaging and teaching my children at every opportunity, which is a little ridiculous.  No one is a "pinterest" mom with constant arts and crafts, music, and calligraphy or whatever next ridiculous thing we should be teaching our toddlers is. So that's an area I (and anyone else) should cut some slack.




This also goes for some of the other roles of "homemaker".  Just because I stay at home with the kids doesn't mean I have to complete the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and errands and to have a spotless home every day.  We probably have 3-4 fresh meals a week and the other nights leftovers or easy frozen stuff, and that's okay.  So is waiting to split half the chores with my husband over the weekend.

Finally the guilt of "being just a mom" definitely weighs over me, and the student loans I'm still paying off.  That's still something I'm working on, but I cling to the fact I know I'm happier here at home than I ever was in my career.





-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying home is the right choice? 

If you have the means to stay home and it's your dream, don't allow the societal judgement to keep you from that.  While women have been working decades to shatter the glass ceiling and be strong career minded women, it doesn't mean you are weak or less of woman to want to stay home and raise your family.  Most female mammals nurture their young, it's embedded in our DNA and there is nothing wrong with fulfilling that urge if you are lucky enough to do so.





Thank you so much for having me Julia and readers of My Life in Transition!

(Find the entire series linked here to read more) 

15 comments:

  1. What a great series! This is so similar to my own story and found myself nodding in agreement with so many things! I also was in public accounting and now doubt I would go back into that field if I had to go back to work in the future. I also contemplated going into teaching so that I would have the same hours as my kids in school! I also agree with so many of the stay at home "guilts". Nice to hear I'm not alone!

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  2. Erinn I loved reading this! I'd didn't realize until reading this that I never knew what you did pre-beautiful babies! And I am looking forward to going back and reading the other posts in this series.

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  3. What a sweet, beautiful family! I think those are a couple of the things I'd struggle with most as a SAHM - the never getting a break and the putting pressure on myself to cook/clean/do stimulating activities with the kids/etc. etc. Both sides have such major challenges, and such major perks, too - being a mom is just hard/amazing for us all, not matter which path we choose. Love how this series is illustrating that. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Beautiful post! Erinn is such a lovely person.

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  5. Thank you all for the comments, and Julia, thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this series. It really does highlight how there is no "right" way to be there and raise your children. Just that we all love motherhood as much we can despite how we go about it!

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  6. Found you through Erinn's blog and I am so glad I did! I LOVE this series idea. I loved Erinn's post and can't wait to go back and read the others!
    Chasin' Mason @ birenbunoutoftheoven.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Elizabeth! Nice to 'meet' you!

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  7. Loving this series, Julia! If you decide to extend it and need more mamas to chime in, I'd love to write something up... partially for my own therapy, as one of your earlier moms pointed out :) Despite all of us being in different parts of the country with different job descriptions and different personal situations - we're still all so similar. The unity you're providing to all moms is just awesome.

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    1. Thanks, Amy! I'm so glad you like the series. Right now we are totally full until May for this---but I'm thinking about doing it again later this year or early next. If so, I will put up the invitation on my blog to get more posters.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story Erinn! It was great to read! Julia this is a wonderful series! Glad I found you through Erinn's blog!

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  9. Oh my gosh, YES, paying my student loans while not working stung like crazy every month! We just paid them off recently (thanks to a generous aunt who sadly passed away) but I still feel the guilt if not utilizing my education regularly. I assume I'll go back part time once the kids are school aged, but still, it's another stress I didn't expect to encounter as a SAHM.
    Your family is adorable...looking forward to following your blog regularly :)

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  10. I just discovered your mom through Melissa Dell as she suggested I check it out for your posts on breastfeeding/pumping while traveling. I'm so glad I did!! I am loving this series! :O) I'm a working mom of 3 boys, 4, 2 and almost 8 months. Will be going on my first trip away from baby and ever while breastfeeding in the next few days. Going to check out all your posts now. Congrats on your pregnancy! I love being pregnant and all things baby!! Honestly I already have baby fever like crazy!!! They just grow much too fast!

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    1. Hi Mindi! Welcome and best of luck pumping on your trip. You will do great, I'm sure. And oh man, I hope baby fever never comes back to bite me again since Nate says we are 100% done after 3! ;)

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