Moms Make it Work: Rachel from Canada

Today we have Rachel posting on the Moms Make it Work series, the first Canadian mommy lined up but not the last! I've always known that Rachel loves her gig as a SAHM but somehow I missed the fact that she babysits other kids at the same time, too! I'm excited to share our third pregnancies together and really enjoyed this post. Hope you do, too!
Hi! I'm Rachel! Wife to John and Stay at Home Mom to Henry (almost 3), William (15 months) and Ottilia (Due in July!). I am also a mommy blogger and blog over at Rachel and John. I met Julia through blogging and I am so honored she asked me to be part of this series!!

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

I have always loved kids. I babysat as soon as I was old enough to and it was my most frequent part time job. I did it part time during the school year, and full time in the summers. Right after High School I went to University and got my B.Sc Degree. still working as a babysitter (but now I called it nannying!) part time around my class schedule, and then full time in the summers. After I graduated I could not for the life of me get a science related job. So I got a nanny job instead and it was awesome. While all my friends had crappy entry level jobs that they hated, I spent my days at amusement parks and the zoo, or picking fresh fruit at local farms with the kids. But eventually I realized that as much fun as it was, I couldn't be a nanny for the rest of my life. So I looked into graduate school and after a whirlwind few months I had been accepted into a M.Sc program in Calgary (way across the country). My then boyfriend of 9 years John was totally into moving somewhere far away and just before we moved, he proposed. As soon as we were married 1 year later I wanted babies. But I had to finish my degree first. And maybe get a job that I could go back to after maternity leave (it's a year PAID here in Canada). After about 1.5 years of my 2 year degree it became apparent that my supervisor really enjoyed that I was cheap labour, and every time I would get close to being done my project, he would change it and make it more work. Which meant more time. So I did something crazy and got pregnant so I would have a final end date to my studies. We really wanted a baby anyways, we just moved up the start date. Of course this meant I wouldn't be able to get a job until after my sweet baby was a year old. I wasn't worried. "Degrees don't expire" was my go to response to all my concerned family members. I successfully defended my thesis at 37 weeks pregnant. 3.5 weeks later I gave birth to Henry.

As the months went on, when I would look for jobs, it became more and more clear to me that I wouldn't be happy anywhere but at home with my baby. So John and I decided that I could be a SAHM for a little while. It would take sacrifices, but it was possible. When Henry was just 10 months old we were lucky enough to conceive our second son William. If I was going to stay home for a limited amount of time, then why not have all my babies at once? When William was 10 months old we again conceived our third baby,  a sweet little girl due this July.

As for work right now, I babysit 3 mornings a week. 2 mornings I just have 1 additional child but on the 3rd morning I have 3 additional kids, making me responsible for 5 kids under the age of 3 plus the one in's busy to say the least! It makes me feel better that my kids are interacting with other kids, and I get to make a little bit of money to contribute to our household financially. And hey, I still have my kids with me.

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

The best part is being with my babies all the time. I see all their firsts. I know how their days have been. I get to take them to the zoo and other fun places whenever they want to go. I get to control how much TV they watch and what foods they eat and how much time they spend outside. I genuinely feel that I am responsible for the people they are becoming. Including their bad habits and that time Henry started saying "oh s**t"...Oops.

The biggest challenge for me is isolation. We live across the country from most of our family and friends. My husband works long hours and lots of weekends to provide for our family and allow me to stay home. Isn't that a ironic? He works enough for 2 people so I can stay home with our kids. He also has to go on many work trips and being a solo parent is really hard. I have to make play dates for my own sanity.

Another challenge for me is thinking that John's job is not stressful at all. I occasionally will start thinking that he drives a quiet car to work, and sits in a quiet office getting stuff done without interruption all day long. He eats his meals warm, he has adult conversations and then he drives a quiet car home from work. I don't know why I start thinking that. I know for a fact he has a very stressful job. But I sometimes get wrapped up in the noisy chaos of my home life with the kids and I start thinking that he has it easy. It's so important to remember that we are both doing our parts and they are equally as hard/stressful.

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

I honestly can't even remember what I thought it would be like pre-kids...It's probably better than I expected. Can you really even know how awesome kids are until you have them?

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

Almost! So close to perfect. In a completely ideal situation we would live closer to our family and John would travel less, and work less weekends. And you know, money wouldn't be a worry! And maybe throw another baby in the mix...

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 would love to stay home until my youngest child is in grade 1, or full time. That's the only part I'm certain of. I ideally would like to be a midwife...but that would require 4 more years of schooling, and it will depend on our finances at that point in time if it is even an option. If not, I will likely find a part time job that used my M.Sc. Degree. And I'm not completely against getting a full time job and having a nanny for the kids.

Tips on how you make this work for you:

We are a team. A parenting team. Yes I do most of the parenting because I am home during the day, but as soon as John walks in the door at night, he jumps right back into it. When he is gone for trips (like 10 day trips!), I have to get us out of the house: Play dates, activities, walks, just a car ride...something. And it took me a long time to think I deserved it but I started hiring babysitters so I could still go to my prenatal yoga, or take a cake decorating class, or do something alone while John is away. Here is where having some family around would be helpful and cheaper!

How do you handle Mommy Guilt?

I feel like I have minimal mommy guilt...maybe because I'm really good at blaming situations for things that are really my fault. Example: "My house would be cleaner and organized if our basement was finally finished and I was able to use our storage room." I also have a few awesome mom friends and we are constantly telling each other how awesome we are as moms and not to feel bad. If I feel bad my house is messy, someone is always telling me theirs is too and that's just life with little kids. I've also been pregnant or nursing since July of 2010 so the whole "I'm keeping a person alive" is something I tell myself to ease any guilt I feel. It's tough work and sometimes people don't take enough credit for it. I probably take too much credit for it, but that works for me.

Advice for New Moms:

Trust your gut. If you think staying home is the best thing for your family, then try to make it happen. Go through the budget, make sacrifices. Maybe it won't work forever, but you might be able to make it work for a few years. If you have to go back to work, then find the right child care for you. I was a nanny for a long time and I honestly loved it and all the kids I watched. Was I as good as their mom? No, but I took GOOD care of their kids. It's OK to trust others with your babies!

(thanks, Rachel! Find the rest of the series here). 


  1. Two boys and then a baby girl! Exciting. ;)

    Bummer to not have family close by, but you seem to handle it well!

  2. Great, positive outlook on being able to stay home and parent not only your kids but there peoples too - it takes a village! I wish we could pay someone like you to watch our Bean, rather than a daycare :) I'm curious about the finances of having earned both a BS and Masters in canada as in, do you have the stress of inordinate school loans? Anyhow, thanks for sharing - I'll have to check out your actual blog, too.

  3. I am guilty of occasionally feeling jealous of my hubby who travels quite a bit. He gets to sleep (for the whole night, uninterrupted!) in a hotel, eat wherever he wants, watch whatever he wants on the hotel tv, etc....but I know that's really not the case. I know he misses being away from us, spends his evenings catching up on work & email in the hotel & would much rather be with our crazy kids. Plus, he's usually traveling in very rural areas so his accommodation choices are not all that luxurious :)


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