Moms Make it Work: Lauren from Missouri

Today I am featuring Lauren in our Moms Make it Work Series, one of my original 'internet friends' from back in our wedding planning days in St. Louis. Although I miss Lauren's blog, I'm happy to follow along with her growing family on Instagram, Facebook, and emails. Super excited she agreed to write this post, since she is a little busy with a brand new baby (!). Enjoy!


Hi!  My name is Lauren, and I am a 30 year old mother, wife, and 5th grade teacher.  I once blogged at Live, Laugh, Love and now I just Instagram at @lhcass. My husband, Mike, and were married in 2008, welcomed our first son (Ethan) in 2011, and just had our second son (Will) only 5 weeks ago.  We live in St. Louis, Missouri and enjoy spending time with our family and friends in our new home (that we are constantly updating and improving).  I was so honored when Julia asked me to be a guest blogger for this series.  Julia and I “met” seven years ago (really?) through an online wedding forum in St. Louis, and actually met in real-life once for a blogger’s brunch.  I will say that writing for this series is definitely a bit intimidating, as I am not a witty, funny, or extremely awe-inspiring writer, like many of the ladies that have been featured.  But I do feel like my working situation is somewhat unique, as I work full-time during the school year, and I am a SAHM during the summer.  I get the best of both worlds, and I look forward to sharing our story.
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What is your background story? What was your career/schooling before you became a mom? And now where are you?

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher.  As a young child, I used to take worksheets out of the recycling bin at school, and bring them home to teach my siblings and neighbors kids.  I loved to babysit, teach, and work with children, and education seemed like a perfect choice.  My mom got an education degree, but stayed home with me and my siblings, and I always figured that was what I would probably do, too. 

I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Mizzou (University of Missouri- Columbia) in 2005.  I got my first job as a 5th grade teacher, working in the district from which I attended and graduated.  I started taking night classes in 2007 to work toward my Master’s Degree, thinking that one day, I would become a principal.  Finally in 2010, I got my Masters in Educational Administration.  After the birth of my first son in 2011, I continued taking courses and completed 30 hours of night classes to get my MA +30.

For the past 9 years, I have taught 5th grade in the same school and I really love it there.  Next year, I will be teaching 2nd grade for the first time, and I cannot wait.  I was feeling like I was in a professional slump, and I am looking forward to this change.  I am currently enjoying my maternity leave, and will return to school for one week at the end of the year, before summer vacation.  

Additionally, three months ago, I decided to become a distributor for the health and wellness company, It Works.  I am looking forward to earning some extra income over the summer, while enjoying time at home with my boys.  So currently, I am snuggling on the couch with my new baby, and enjoying every single minute of being home with him during my maternity leave.
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-What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 

            There are some incredible perks of being a teacher and a mother.  The first (and most obvious) is summer vacation.  I get to enjoy June and July with my children and those 10 weeks are absolutely incredible.  I try to jam-pack them with tons of summer fun and plan to get out of the house for an activity every single day.  Last summer, Ethan and I enjoyed stroller fit class, music class, a week long day camp, carousel rides on rainy days, and swimming lessons.  We enjoyed many trips to our AMAZING zoo, met with friends for playdates, and swam in our neighborhood pool.  During the summer, I feel like a rockstar mom.  I absolutely live for summertime and I’m getting anxious for it to roll around again.  Of course, it will be a bit different this year with a 3 year old and 3 month old, but we will figure it out.

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            There are also some challenges of being a teacher and mother.  I think most people do not understand that a teacher’s job never really ends.  Although I am only in my school building from 7:30-5:00, I still have hours of work to do when I get home.  Emails to read and reply, papers to grade, curriculum to learn, and lessons to plan.  We can’t just leave our work at school…it comes home every single night.  I will say that I had to make a big change in my life when I became a mom.  I had to stop.  I realized working at home wasn’t an option anymore and I need to make a change, which meant being more productive at work and arriving earlier/staying later.  Realizing that and making that change, was life-changing for me and my family. 

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

          Honestly, I did not think that being a teacher would be as hard and as time consuming as it is.  Education was very different when I was a child than it is today.  There are many more expectations for teachers now, and along with that comes a lot more paperwork, standards, time, and stress.  As a teenager and even college-student, I ultimately pictured myself as a stay-at-home-mom.  But once I entered the workforce, I realized that there were many great moms in my school that make it work. 
         The first time around, maternity leave was VERY long.  The crying, the exhaustion, the crying, the diapers, and did I mention the crying?!?  It was hard for me, and I was actually really excited going back to work.  That surprised me!  I missed my friends, my job, and feeling “productive”.  I missed getting dressed, showering regularly, and putting on makeup.

I am currently in my 5th week of my second maternity leave, and I am LOVING every second.  A non-colicky baby, endless snuggles, and a great sleeper has me suddenly thinking if I really want to go back to work.  Again, this is surprising me!  But in the end, I know I will go to work in August, and by that time, I will probably look forward to going back again.

            Before I had children, I thought that I would be a principal.  That dream is definitely on the back-burner right now.  Although I can see myself ending my career as a principal, it is something that I do not want to think about until my children are grown.

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-Is this your ideal situation?  If not, what is?
            I don’t know.  Although I LOVE my summer break, the school year is very stressful and I often feel overwhelmed for the 10 month school year.  My daily schedule feels crazy- dropping off the boys (next year at 2 different places), working a full-day, picking up the boys, cooking dinner, eating, bath time and bedtime, then cleaning up, maybe talking to my husband, and finally falling asleep.  It doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for quality time with my family during the week, and I am usually falling into bed exhausted.

            I wish that there was a part-time option within my building and school district.  I feel like being home for a few days during the week would be such a wonderful balance that would leave me feeling much more relaxed and less stressed.  It is hard to find the time for grocery shopping, cleaning, blogging (which is why I don’t do it anymore), errands, working out, and grading papers when all I want to do is want to spend time with your husband and little ones.  I am jealous of moms that get to work part-time.  I do think I would love that in my life.

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-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?
            Although I may change jobs within the education system (principal, professional developer, specialist), I do not see myself completely changing career paths.  Being a teacher isn’t a job, it is a career and a passion.  I have spent too much time (and money) receiving advanced degrees, and I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else.  If I make any change at all, it will be to stay home with my children for a few years, but ultimately, returning back to the classroom.

-Tips on how you make this work for you?

-Working together with my husband has been so important.  For the past 2 years, he has woken early to get our son up, dressed, and fed, while I just have to focus to get myself ready for work.  I really commend those mothers that are able to get themselves and their children ready and out the door on time without help.  It takes a lot of planning and organization, which are two areas where I’m seriously lacking.  I cook when I get home from work and dinner is ready by the time my husband is home.  He cleans up the kitchen while I bathe my son(s) and he comes up to put him (them) to bed.  (Since we haven’t found a rhythm or schedule with our second son only being 5 weeks, it’s hard to say what we will do in the future.)

-Spending some time each week on ME helped keep my sanity.  Before I got pregnant with Will, my sister and I woke up early on Sunday mornings and went to a personal trainer.  It was wonderful to get out of the house (without a diaper bag in tow) and push my physical limits to become a healthier version of me.  I ended up losing 30 pounds (and of course, got pregnant)!

-Getting some friend time is also so important.  During the week, I am not good at calling to chit-chat with friends.  My girlfriends and I are making an effort to get together at least once a month for brunch, a girls' night, or even a sleepover to reconnect and I think it is so necessary.  Even just an email chain during the week helps with feeling connected.

-Meal and menu planning and prep have been really helpful.  During the school year, I like to schedule our meals for the week, so I can get right to cooking when I get home.  This also saves a lot of money when grocery shopping for the week!  I also go to a place called Time for Dinner in St. Louis.  I make 12 meals over 2 hours that are all ready to go straight into the freezer.  Add a bottle of wine while cooking and you have a great girls' night that will make the work week much easier.

-Remembering to cut myself some slack.  My house is never really spotless (thank goodness I have an OCD husband that loves to clean), my 2 year old watches more Team Umizoomi than he should, I miss workouts all of the time, we aren’t eating organic, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, and I lose my cool every now and then.  I’m not perfect, but I’m doing my best.  I am constantly telling myself to choose to leave the guilt behind and stop comparing myself and my family to others.  I am the best mommy for my boys, and that’s all I can do.

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-How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role?

                I can honestly say that I don’t feel a lot of guilt by going to work.  Of course, there have been days where I have asked myself “Why am I teaching other people’s children instead of my own?” but those days are few and far between.  Because I feel like my job is incredibly important, and because I know my boys are being cared for while I work, I don’t feel too bad.  I enjoy being able to contribute financially to my family, and I know that we would not be able to enjoy our current lifestyle if I didn’t go to work.  I don’t want to live by a budget and I want to be able to send my kids to music lessons, soccer camp, and go on family vacations.  For us, we would not be able to afford many experiences we enjoy. 

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

            I can only speak to moms going back to work outside of the home.  Those first few days are hard, but honestly, the anticipation was worse for me than actually going back.  If you are happy with your childcare provider, it will make all of the difference in the world.  Ethan loved his in-home sitter for the first two years.  Now, he adores his preschool teachers and is learning so much at school.  He gets to spend 2 days a week with his grandmothers (my mom and my mother-in-law each take a day), so I feel confident that he gets all he needs during the week.  Lots of love, learning, and fun.  It totally makes being at work much easier.

           If you are miserable at work, stay home.  Life is too short to be unhappy.  You have to decide what is best for you and your family, and no one can tell you otherwise.  Go with your gut and follow your heart.  This time in our lives is fleeting and we all deserve happiness, whether that means working full-time, part-time, or staying at home.  Good luck to all of the mamas out there and thank you to Julia for letting me participate in this awesome series.


  1. Yay! Another STL mom! Lauren, we need to meet up for coffee sometime! :) Great post. So glad to hear that maternity leave is much better the second time around. I'm really hoping that's also the case for me. Totally agree about the meal planning and Time for Dinner (which I actually blogged about today). What a small world!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. You have a beautiful family! I feel so inspired. Blessings to you.


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