Moms Make it Work: Jenn from California

Today we have Jenn, another blog reader that contacted me and requested to get in on this Moms Make it Work series, and she is a Colorado girl living in California right now. She's a SAHM to three boys including a set of twins and has done a lot of solo parenting through the years, as her husband travels for work. I loved Jenn's insights and tips (SLEEP!!!) on how they make things work in their family, and know you will, too. Enjoy!



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Hello! I am Jenn, a stay at home mommy here in sunny Southern California! You can find me blogging at The Kearney Good Life or Instagramming at kearneygoodlife. I have a husband Rian and three boys. Cameron is 5.5 and Collin and Casey. Twins who will be 3 on April 17th! We just moved to SoCal almost 4 months ago and we are loving our new lifestyle to say the least.

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I would like to thank Julia for letting me badger her into letting me do this. A few things I thought and typed out were eye opening and cathartic. Thanks Julia!

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

I attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO and got a BS in Marketing. Towards the end of my junior year, I also realized that I really would like to be a teacher. Luckily, there are business and marketing classes for high school students, so I could combine my degree with teaching. I added that part to my degree and took an extra year of teaching classes. I got a job right away at a high school in the suburbs of Denver. I also met and started dating my soon-to-be husband that same year. I was happy in love, but not so happy at work. I loved teaching, but I didn't necessarily love the school I was at. I only taught there for one year and then decided to make the change to a high school in the suburb I had grown up in. It was a little more diverse and I loved that. I worked there for the next seven years. At that time, I also decided to get my MBA. I still loved business and teaching, but went the business route just in case I wanted to use that degree again. It also bumped up my paycheck at school by quite a bit. I did it at night, and loved it. I "graduated" one week before our wedding.

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Rian and I got engaged a year after we started dating, and got married (2006) a little over a year later. He works in the financial real estate industry, and at that time he was an internal wholesaler. He was very up front from the start of our relationship, telling me that he wanted to be a wholesaler in the industry. This meant, traveling and possibly moving. I was 100% on board with this. I love that he loves to push himself at work, and to achieve higher goals for himself. Right after we got married, we wanted babies. We started trying immediately. The path to parenthood for us was not easy. I did not get pregnant. When I finally did, it ended in miscarriage. I was then diagnosed with PCOS (see what that is HERE), and started seeing a fertility doctor. It was hard. Not as hard as what many people go through, but still hard for us. I had another miscarriage and then finally got pregnant in October of 2007. We were so thrilled. It was everything I expected and more. By then, Rian had moved to a new start-up company. He was doing the same job, but there was a better potential for him to get a wholesaling job, but in the process, he took a pay cut. I knew that I would still have to work, which at the time was fine.

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Cameron was born in June 2008, and I got to take the first three months off of teaching and then went back part time! My high-school was on a block schedule, so I only worked every other day, but always Wednesday. One week MWF, the next TWTh. It was AWESOME! Additionally, my sister was taking care of Cameron for the first year (I still count years by the school calendar. When will that end?) So it was ideal. I did cry the first day dropping him off, but I was also more comfortable calling my sister every hour to see what and how he was doing. I stayed part-time for the rest of my teaching career. The next school year, 2009-10, my sister got a job, so I did have to take Cameron to a daycare. I thought I was more prepared to take him because I had already done it with my sister. Wrong. I cried and cried. I remember walking in to school the first day and running into a very good friend. He asked what was wrong and I couldn't even get words out. Cam stayed at that daycare until October, when his provider just decided to quit daycare altogether. Weird. But things happen for a reason and we found the most amazing daycare lady. We still keep in touch with her to this day and call for advice.

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Fertility affected me. As it should. It's heartbreaking and ugly, and I wanted to give it a big kick in booty and get pregnant again and say "take that stupid ovaries". We started trying again when Cameron turned 1. It wasn't pretty. I went through many, many treatments. I felt gross, gained a ton of weight and had to give myself tons of shots. Yuck. Also, Rian finally got a wholesaling job and was traveling! YAY! He had a very small territory, and his company did not mind if he stayed in Colorado. Cameron turned two. Things weren't looking good. I was getting desperate. Then it happened. I got pregnant. With triplets. WHAAAAT? It was 2010, I was still teaching part time, Cam was part time at a daycare, Rian was traveling. At my 8 week ultrasound (you get a LOT of early ultrasounds at the fertility clinic), we found out that we had lost one triplet, but still had twins. We were sad, but still so grateful that the twins were there. It's was a very strange high and low experience. During the first few months of my pregnancy, I knew it was going to be different. I was large. I was working part time, but closer to full time. I was working every day now, but every other day was a half day. Crazy schedule I know, but I liked it. Then, I had some bouts of pre-term labor and my doctor recommended I stop working earlier than we had thought. The twins were due at the end of May and it was only mid-January! I had to use up all of my maternity leave before the twins were even born. I needed it though, I had two more pre-term hospital stays before the twins were born. I was put on light bed rest in the middle of February and then strict bed rest in the middle of March. The twins made an early arrival in mid-April at 5 weeks early. Get this. Casey was 7 pounds and Collin was 6lbs 3ozs. Not kidding. Five weeks early and more than 13 pounds of baby. No wonder they wanted out of me!

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It was at this point we decided that I needed to stay home with the boys. Cam would still go to preschool part-time in the mornings, but Rian was traveling and starting to make up for my missed income. However, we did not realize how much traveling he was doing until the twins were six weeks old and he had to go on a trip. I hired my college aged cousin for the summer to come help me out during work trips, thank goodness. She would help me drive Cam to school, go with me to the twins physical and occupational thereapy appointments and spend the night on nights when Rian wasn't home. It was life saving. Still with that help, I am still in a fog about it. I don't remember a lot of things and every picture of me, I look exhausted. I was. It was hard. But, I found help for myself, and Rian was great when he was home letting me take little breaks when I needed them and letting me sleep in on weekends. My cousin went back to school in August, and I hired a former student to help me! By then, the twins were almost always sleeping through the night, so I didn't need help at nights anymore, but I did join the bowling league with my Mom and her friends on Wednesday mornings. After bowling we would go to lunch. It was great. Sure, I was one of the youngest girls, and I wasn't the best bowler (I got better!), but it was fun and a little, much needed, three hour break.

Rian's company finally let us know we needed to move to his territory. So, we packed up and headed to Omaha. He covered a large territory in the mid-west and we had family there, so that's where we chose. We didn't live there long though. Not even two years. Rian was traveling even more now. Unfortunately, Omaha doesn't have the largest airport, so getting from point A to B, usually added point C and sometimes D. He was gone almost 4 days of the week every week for 7 weeks and then a week spent at home working.

Looking back, I almost think it was harder than when the twins were newborns. I didn't know anybody besides my sister-in-law and bro-in-law and they both have time consuming jobs. So I was on my own most times and didn't have bowling dates to look forward to anymore. Being home with your kids by yourself for four days straight is hard! I give so much credit to single parents, because, holy mackerel is it hard. I would get tired, Really tired, and found myself snapping or losing my temper more than I should. Also, when Rian was home, I didn't want him to leave our sight. I didn't want to lose one minute with him. Rian and I decided to put the twins in an early preschool program a few days a week. Cam was going to preschool part time as well, so towards the end of living in NE, I did get a few solid hours to myself every other day! Awesome. So worth it to me. During those hours I would clean, watch tv, take a nap or do what I like to do. I have a little Etsy shop where I sell my crocheted blankies (Kearneyville Kikis) and that was a great time to do that type of stuff. Also, right after we moved to Nebraska, I did volunteer with the March of Dimes, and stayed in touch with one of the people there who had also went to CSU. I started getting more involved with volunteering and even temped for them when all of the boys were at preschool! I loved it and especially loved the event planning that I helped with. It was a nice to see in myself that I actually do like working, that I was good at it and that I was helping people while doing it.

Last September, Rian was offered the same wholesaling job, but in Southern California. He would only cover SoCal and Hawaii, and would ONLY TRAVEL ONCE EVERY 7 WEEKS! We jumped on it. Moved in December to the Encinitas/Carlsbad area of San Diego. We went to the beach on Christmas! We have found a great school for Cameron, the twins are on the waiting list, I am still staying home with them, but there is less stress. We are happier. Rian is home. We can eat dinner together. We can play outside together. Now we just need to find a babysitter so we can go to the movies...

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

The best is that I can stay home with my boys. They are so funny and awesome. I do try to keep a little structure while Rian is working and Cam is at school: reading, playing, outside, snacks, etc. I don't kick myself if we just end up going to the beach or park though. Cam will start kindergarten in the fall and the twins will be in preschool. What will I do with all of my free time? I have tons of options.

The challenges are the same as many SAHMs. Finding time for myself. Most of my me time is after the boys go to bed. Like I said earlier, I am a crafter. I have a little Etsy crochet business, and I scrapbook the heck out of my kids lives. So I am busy most nights. Also right now, Rian and I are working on the balance of us time and me time. It's a challenge, but it will get better! We are also challenged with Collin, the older twin. He has some sensory issues, which for him basically means not being able to calm himself down if he gets mad. The twins are two, will be three in two weeks. We all know the terrible twos, but the really terrible threes are worse. So picture this. Collin acts naughty, gets told no, has an epic temper tantrum and then goes into bad sensory processing and can't calm down. It can take up to 30 minutes sometimes! This can also happen multiple times a day. We have been working on it, and it is getting a tiny bit better, but man is it hard.

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

Yes and no. I always thought I would be a SAHM. Always. I just always thought roses and rainbows, and its not. I have three kids. Twins. It's hard. I get tired, grumpy, hungry and some days if I have to talk about what "number" I put in the toilet one more time, I will lose my mind. But, I have cuddly, loving, smart, handsome boys and I totally expected that. :-) Somedays are so great. At the end of the day I think that this is what I thought my life as a Mommy would totally look like. Some days, I have to remind myself that no one is perfect including myself, Rian and my kids, and not every day has to be the best day ever.

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

Ideally, we would win the lotto jackpot, buy a huge house in a Southern California beach town and start a non-profit we could run from our home. But if that isn't in the cards, than this situation is pretty ideal. :-) I get to hang with my kids everyday, see my husband (almost) every night and we are together as a family. It's an awesome life for us.

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 do think I will be making a career change. I think that I will enter back into the work force in some capacity with a non-profit. I really still enjoy working with and teaching kids, so maybe a non-profit along those lines. I do think that I will wait until the twins are in school full time before I do this though. Non-profit work is obviously not the highest paying industry, and living in California, daycare costs are through the roof! I would DEFINITELY be spending my entire paycheck to keep the twins in daycare.

How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who does that task in the family?

Rian is the cook.. THANK. GOODNESS. I cook a few meals here and there, but he mainly does the cooking and he enjoys it. I finally convinced him to see the light and join Pinterest, and now we are having new awesome recipes all of the time! I am so thankful for that. I obviously do most of the breakfasts and lunches during the week. What I find most helpful is meal planning. Nothing to crazy and specific, but if I write down lunches for the week, and go to the store on Sunday, than it is much easier for me to get a healthy and balanced lunch together. I have noticed that if I don't do this, I get lazy or busy running errands, that it just becomes easier to go grab lunch for the boys while I am out. So, I have recently been working on the lunch meal planning and shopping. It has really seemed to help.

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How do you handle mommy guilt?

My guilt comes out differently now that I am a SAHM. Some days I feel so guilty because I think, "I want to go back to work so bad. I could drive my car without having to listen to Frozen a thousand times (boys like it too!), I could eat lunch at my pace, I could work!" Then the daydream is over and I do feel guilty. I truly wish I didn't, but I do. I have a great partner in life that reminds me that I am a good mom and all we can do every day is try to be better than the last, and if we're not, start over again tomorrow.

Also, Cam and I have started a new nighttime talk. We talk about our day and everything we did. We then ask each other what was the best and worst part of the day. I am always so humbled and happy by Cameron's answers. He will say things that made him happy are swimming lessons, family walks with our dogs, playing games together, etc. His not favorite things? Not seeing where the snail they were following ended up, getting smacked in the head by the door, not getting two scoops of ice cream and only one, his brother pootered on his leg, etc. Never "Mom, you were grumpy" or "You didn't listen to me". I always think, thank goodness I have these amazing kids that help remind me that I am not doing that bad.

Tips on how you make this work for you?

Get enough sleep. Meal plan for busy meal times (maybe all of them). Take deep breaths. Find me time. Get enough sleep. Laugh. Play. Don't take things to seriously. Get enough sleep.


(Thanks, Jenn! Find the rest of the MMIW series here)

7 comments:

  1. Great post Jenn! I don't have twins, but man alive, I relate to that fog! I see pictures from right after my daughter Becca was born, and sometimes I don't remember them at all!

    I also laughed out loud at the win the lotto comment--I've had that thought many a time!

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  2. I enjoyed reading this, Jenn! I, too, live in SoCal...Solana Beach to be exact, so we are neighbors! :) Need a friend? ;) (insert awkward creeper friendship invitation here). We moved here about a year and a half ago and it's been a little tough to find fun people to hang with, as I'm sure it is in any part of the country when you uproot your family and have to rebuild.

    I also love that you have a marketing/business degree and used it to teach that subject in high school. I'm in the corporate world but have been itching for a change. I have a marketing degree too but am SO craving something less corporate...like teaching! I just didn't know how to incorporate those two. You solved my problem. haha! :)

    Enjoy your beautiful boys! I have a Kindergartener this year and boy is it fun! :)

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    1. Totally need a non-creeper friend! Email me @ jenngoodlife@gmail! We'll talk!

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I follow you on IG and it's nice to put a story with a face!! Beautiful family you have. Jealous of you living in So Cal as I wallow away in cold Wisconsin. ;)

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    1. Thanks Erin! We are definitely so happy to live here, I can't complain!

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  4. Get enough sleep. Love it!! Sometimes I feel guilty for napping or going to bed early but then I remember that the sleepy beast is worse than the one who takes a little time for herself.

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  5. Thanks for sharing! I follow you on IG and it's nice to put a story with a face!! Beautiful family you have. Jealous of you living in So Cal as I wallow away in cold Wisconsin. ;)….!
    JOBS

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