Moms Make it Work: Stephanie | Part-Time Working Mom, Solo Parenting

Today we have Stephanie posting for our Moms Make it Work series, who is a long time reader of this blog, and she contacted me asking to write for the series. Stephanie is a Part-Time RN with one adorable daughter, and her husband is in the police academy, living out of state while he finishes his program. So Stephanie is a 'temporary' solo parent during the week which makes her situation a bit unique. I really enjoyed her take on how their family makes it work, and hope you do, too!


Hi mamas! I'm Stephanie from the very neglected blog: Blessed Beyond Measure, and you can find me on Instagram @Mrsbigtime. I found Julia way back when in days, when we were both newlyweds (we have the same anniversary!) and motherhood was still far on the horizon.


Blogging has been a tremendous tool in my growth as a woman. From a new, young wife, to a new (ahem…not-so-young) mother, the daily glimpses into the lives of others in similar stages have served as tools in my own growth and confidence. The stories and experiences of other women, seemingly just like me, have helped shape me and allowed me to see a world much bigger than what is right in front of my face. This not-so-little world of blogging is a gift and when so much of what we experience in daily life has the potential to wear us out and tear us down, the opportunity to encourage and celebrate other women is one that I will forever be grateful for. I have always enjoyed Julia's blog, but this series really takes the cake - it is so cool to see how other mother's make their lives work! I have loved reading about how everyone does things differently, but through all of our differences, we all have the same priority: being the best damn moms we can be to the children we love so dearly.


So, without further adieu, and before I hyperventilate out of nervousness because OMG! I AM WRITING ON MY LIFE IN TRANSITION!!! is how I {do my best to try and} make it work!

A little background: My husband Ben and I have been married for 7 years and we have one darling daughter, Lydia. We live in the ‘burbs of Portland, OR and I am a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse at a local children’s hospital and Ben is a Police Officer.


I am fortunate to have found my calling for work early in life and I went to college right out of high school and graduated with my BSN (and a heck-of-a-lot of student loan debt) 4 years later. My husband, however, came about his career in a path a bit more convoluted than mine was. He was 3 years into pursuing a degree in Industrial Design when he felt called to law enforcement. About two years later, at what turned out to be the most perfect time, he started with a local police agency.


I can honestly say that I never imagined myself to be a Police Officer’s wife, but here I am and it’s been pretty great so far! I have been blown away at how much my husband has changed in such a short amount of time, and before my eyes I have seen him become the man he is truly meant to be. It’s awesome! I could not be more proud or absolutely smitten with this man of mine! Ok, that’s enough! I’ll save the sap for my own blog (Ha! As if I’ll actually write a post anytime soon!).

Our family has been on quite the whirlwind adventure the past few years, but we’ve found ourselves constantly counting our blessings because the reality of our life right now is so much sweeter than we imagined it would be!

That’s not to say we haven’t had our share of bumps along the way, and one bump we’re dealing with right now is that we’re not living together...let me explain:

Right now Ben is away studying at the Oregon State Public Safety Academy, and while he is attending it, he is living there, about an hour away from home. We are so fortunate that he has the opportunity to come home every weekend, but for the other five days a week, I am a “single mom” and Ben is living the bachelor life on his own. Obviously, since Ben isn’t here for the day-to-day, I get all the burdens and responsibilities (and joys!) that come with caring for our daughter, home and life on my own. 1b8f9e7a-bb23-40ec-bf97-1398c58859a8wallpaper
The hands-down hardest part of this situation is my working. After a stretch of work I was already exhausted, and that’s with Ben helping share the household burdens. Doing it on my own? I felt absolutely overwhelmed! Thankfully (seriously, God’s timing is so perfect!), I only had to do this life and working full-time for a short while, because my boss approved a job-share for a coworker and I, which means I only work half-time (2 days a week). Oh my gosh!! It is glorious!


Even with working 2 days a week (and sometimes I work weekend days, where Ben is home with the baby), I’ve had a heck of a time finding childcare that works for us. We were fortunate to have Ben stay home with Lydia while I worked for nearly 10 months, so when we were needing care outside of the two of us, I felt a little more comfortable because she wasn’t so tiny and new, but I was still afraid. The thought of sending my precious little daughter into the world and having her be at the mercy of a stranger (so dramatic, I know!) scared the daylights of me.

It may not make sense as to why I was so nervous, but I’ll try to explain a little. In my job, I have been exposed to the most awful, vile, terrible things. It is a heartbreaking reality that some people are evil, and children are the innocent victims. I’ve seen horrors inflicted by people you’ve never expect: parents, grandparents, daycare providers…I won’t say more, but just know that I can’t think about letting someone else care for my daughter without every experience flash through my mind.

After two failed trials for childcare, and no options for centers open both early and late enough to cover my full shift (even the center at my hospital!!), my only choice was finding a nanny. This petrified me - I was responsible for choosing someone to spend the entire day alone with my helpless baby. I had to use my judgment to determine if someone was safe enough to leave my most precious gift with. I began to feel absolutely crippled with the decision. My husband tried to be supportive, but he was away and he couldn’t devote the time to obsessing over every little detail like I could. Ultimately, the decision was mine and I was very afraid. This was easily the hardest decision I ever had to make.

I joined and received responses from more qualified people than I could possibly go through. I met with nearly 10 women/girls and exchanged emails with probably 40 others. I was obsessed with finding the most perfect person and every thought and prayer I had over that 30 day period was about finding someone. My deadline for finding someone was coming quickly when I met my very own Mary Poppins. Seriously, this woman is amazing and the second she stepped into my home I knew she was the nanny for us. My fears dissolved and I knew my Lydia would be loved and safely cared for in my absence. Talk about weight lifted!! In fact, to add a little sprinkles to my ice cream sundae of care providers, I actually found another girl who I loved and I now have two amazing women who not only do I trust, but they actually want to spend the day playing and having adventures with my daughter. What a gift!


It wasn’t until I hired my nannies that I realized how much stress I was holding onto about this whole childcare situation. As I look back I know now that it was because it was a test of motherhood. It was the “mama bear” in me rearing her head and I just didn’t know what to do with it. Lydia is my baby and if I could somehow provide a constant bubble of love, safety, joy, sunshine and glitter {non-toxic, of course}, I would in a heartbeat, but since I can’t quite do that, I have to rely on my instincts and learn how to trust them. This whole experience has really helped me feel confident in myself as a mother, as someone who is ultimately responsible for the life of another precious human – it is the most important, incredible, overwhelming and beautifully breathtaking burden and I am honored to get to do it.


The Best Parts:

I feel so fortunate that I get to live my lifelong dream of being home with my daughter, while still fulfilling my career goals. I try to split my two days up, so I really do feel like a stay-at-home mom most of the time. My work/life balance is really wonderful!

I love that I get to spend so much time with Lydia! She is growing and changing every day, so having the opportunity to witness every little thing is so amazing! If I'm not working, I am with her. We do everything together. Everything! Sometimes, this can be challenging, but this season of life is about focusing on what my little one needs, and she needs her mama, so that helps me prioritize what I should and should not do. It a very, very rare occasion that I will do something without my little sidekick. My favorite days are spent being together, running errands together, and splitting a piece of Costco pizza and just living life with my favorite little person. My days have no agenda except being a good mama and trying to make this life as sweet as it can be for my sweet girl.

The Worst Parts:

Um, living alone, for sure! I miss Ben! I miss my husband coming home every day and I hate how quickly our weekends fly by. I know this season is temporary, so I don’t want to complain too much, but so much alone time gets old really quickly!


I have to deal with every little catastrophe on my own. When our second car stopped running, I had to figure out a way to get it to the shop. When our nanny got super sick one day, I had to find an emergency back-up care plan while I was working. When Lydia got Hand, Foot and Mouth, I had to deal with our first feverish, cranky baby all on my own. Every middle-of-the-night wake up and every surprise poop in the bathtub. I take out the trash, do the laundry, make sure the toilets are clean and our cupboards have at least enough food to live off of. I run to the bank, make all the phone calls and ensure someone is available to care for Lydia while I’m working. Me. I get it all.

This is a heavy burden, especially when I’m used to having someone else to lean on. It’s been a hard adjustment to say the least. Ben does his best to be present and helpful when he is home on the weekends, but he is exhausted too and just wants to spend time with his girls. He misses being home and I don't think it's fair to throw a laundry-list of chores his way every weekend. I try to honor that as best I can, which just means I have more to add to my plate every Monday. IMG_2863

Parents who do this alone all the time, you are amazing! I am so often overwhelmed and there is a very clear “end-date” to all of my aloneness. I have so much respect and admiration for people who carry all of the burdens of a family on their own shoulders! If you know someone doing this right now, buy them a coffee and tell them how freaking awesome they are! Better yet, go to their house with that coffee and fold a basket of laundry while they take a nap.

Is this our ideal situation?

No, but it’s very close. Obviously, in an ideal situation, we’d live together as a family.


If we’re talking ideals, like ideal ideals, I’d love to only work one day a week! I know, I know – common, lady! You only work 2 days a week as it is! I think 1 day a week would be so lovely, especially when we had another baby or two to our little mix. Ben’s dangled this carrot in front of me a time or two, and it’s definitely not the right decision for us right now, but maybe after we pay our student loans off we’ll be able to mange it.

Oh, and I’d love for the grandparents to move closer. I’d love for them to be a part of our children’s daily lives the way mine were when I was growing up. Plus, it’d be wonderful to have some options for (free!) help for the little things like grocery shopping and having my hair done.

Do I see myself making a career change in the next 5 – 10 years?

Nope! I LOVE my job. I love that I have the opportunity to care for children and families in some of their darkest days. When I tell people what I do, I am almost always greeted with a face of disbelief, as if I am some sicko-freak who loves to see children suffer. Obviously, that isn’t true! It is truly an honor for me to be able to do my small part to bring peace and comfort to a child in need. It is my greatest privilege to walk beside parents as they are literally living in the midst of their nightmares, and if I can do anything to make that situation just a tiny bit less scary and awful, than I consider myself absolutely blessed to do what I do.

How I make this work:

Honestly, most days I don’t feel like I know what the heck I’m doing! However, my daughter is thriving, my house is only partly a disaster, and my marriage is blissfully intact, so I must be doing something right. There are a few things that I couldn’t do this part-time single-mom my life without.

They are:
  • My nannies. I still need to work, and my job isn’t really conducive to having a toddler strapped to my back, so having someone to rely on while I go to work is vital.
  • Baby Bootcamp. Three days a week, I load Lydia up and meet a group of local moms at the park to workout. We keep the babies in the strollers, tending to them as needed, and spend an hour getting a serious sweat on (this isn’t pushing your strollers around a path, y’all, it’s a for-reals, muscle-ripping workout!). This has been so good for my body, my mind and my socialization! I’ve lost pounds and inches and made some wonderful friends in the process. An added bonus, after some playtime with her buddies, Lydia is totally ready for a nap, which give me a few hours to myself. I highly suggest checking out a Baby Bootcamp if you have the opportunity!
  • Naptime. For some reason, I swore I wouldn’t be the mom who looked forward to her kids going to sleep (how judgy we are before we are in the thick of it!), but holy moly, toddlers are exhausting! I need those precious few hours of quiet. Sometimes I’m productive during Lydia’s naps, but most of the time, I use it to shower, eat lunch without sharing and watch some trash TV (Scandal, anyone?). I crave my little afternoon oasis! It’s just the break I need in order to be genuinely excited to see her little bootie wiggle awake again.
  • My job. Loving my job makes going to work so much easier. I don’t know if I could do it if I didn’t like what I was doing. I also have the most wonderfully supportive co-workers, who have switched and covered days for me while I juggled finding childcare. They’ve offered to help however is needed, and given me lots of opportunities to get out of the house and break up the monotony of every day.
  • My friends. Seriously, where would we be without our girlfriends? Being a grown up with kids and a husband would not be survivable without an army of women behind you! From play dates, to happy hours, shopping trips and just cups of coffee on my couch (despite the chaos of toddler toys around us), my girlfriends have kept me sane.
  • My husband. Yep, I’m saying I’m a single-mom, but really, I can make no such claim. I have a very attentive, committed, wonderful husband. Even though he is away, he’s not really gone. This situation is temporary and it helps to remind myself that he is doing this for the benefit of our family. When he comes home, he jumps right back into our life. He is the best dad and Lydia and I’m pretty fond of him as a partner in this crazy life.
  • iCal. I am a slave to my calendar. I keep every appointment on it, and if it’s not on there, it doesn’t happen.
How I handle the “Mommy Guilt”

Oh, man! The mommy guilt! Whether it’s about the amount of quality time I’ve spent with Lydia that day, the fact that I didn’t make her own food, or if I’ve spent too much time away from home that day, something always gets me! If I allow myself to venture down this rabbit hole of negativity I can get pretty deep, but I try to stop myself before I do. Usually, when I’m feeling particularly crappy, I make myself put down whatever I’m doing and crawl on the floor with my baby. I chase and tickle her until she erupts in a ball of giggles and we smooch and snuggle until my heart feels better. Her little smile and the way she squeals as she runs into my arms reminds me that I am the most important person in her world. The thought of that is mind-boggling, for sure! The weight of such an intense responsibility can sometimes be so heavy, but then, when I focus on the fact that I love that little girl with every fiber of my being, and all I want for her is good, I am reminded that I was chosen to be her mother. I was chosen. I was given this perfect gift. Me, with all my failings and short-comings, I am the only one who can love her the best, and somehow, dwelling on those thoughts calms me and helps me put aside any bit of doubt or guilt and I just go back to being a mom.


How I maintain my house:

Hahahahaha!! Excuse me…I have to catch my breath, I’m laughing so hard! My house is always one the very border of chaos. I try to contain the majority of mess to one room, so that at least my main living area is put together. I tend to suck at tidying, but I’m pretty good at deep cleaning and organizing, though I make a big mess in the process. I usually devote an hour or so to picking up after Lydia is in bed. At the very minimum I put all the toys away and clean the kitchen. We also have a Roomba vacuum and he's in charge of keeping the carpets clean.

Cooking is not one of my spiritual gifts. I don’t like it and I am not good at it. My poor husband! The first meal I ever made him was Rice-A-Roni with canned chicken. OMG. My skills have gotten slightly better, but not much, unfortunately. Every week Ben asks “What do you eat? We have no groceries!” I vowed to not get take-out while Ben was away, and so far, I’ve been faithful to that, but I don’t count my local market’s salad bar and deli! I tend to make very easy meals when it’s just me - lots of eggs and toast, salads or quinoa with ground turkey. Easy and thoughtless.


Any advice for moms contemplating going back to work or staying home?

You know what is right for you family. If you know you are supposed to go to work, go for it! If your heart yearns to be home with your babies, figure out a way to make it happen! Only you and your husband can make this decision for your family, please don’t let anyone else’s opinion sway you one way or another! Remember, YOU are the only one who can love your children best, and that means, whatever decision you make is absolutely the right one!

As someone who does both, my advice would be this:

Working moms, find a care provider you trust implicitly. You will never be able to focus on your job if you are anxious and worried about your baby. It may take some trial and error before you find the right fit for you, but rest assured that the right person is out there. Also, don’t bother with any guilt over daycare or nannies. That is crap! Whatever you choose for your children, as long as you are comfortable with the care, and your baby is being safely attended to, that is the right decision!


SAH moms, get out of your house! Those four walls become too small too quickly and you’ll go crazy if you don’t get out and experience the world every so often. Go for walks (or better yet, find a Bootcamp!!), do story time at the library, plan picnics in the backyard for your best friend and her kids, pack a bag of snacks and set your kid on your lap and get your toes done (bust out the iPad with a movie, if needed!). Whatever it is, do something on a regular basis where you get to interact with other adults. I would suggest this for working moms, too.

We are not meant to do this life alone. We all need a tribe. A network of support and love. That’s what’s been so lovely about this MMIW series. We are all very different women, from very different parts of the country, with very different situations, but we all have the same ultimate goal: to give our children the best of ourselves. If we can encourage one another in our journey, that is an awesome gift!

I’ll sign off with this: Mama, you are doing a great job! Especially you mamas doing this alone: YOU ARE AMAZING! Did you hear me? Let these words really sink in: you are amazing! The days are so long, I know, but the years are short, and the sacrifices and work you do every day is building a beautiful foundation of love for your children to stand on for the rest of their lives. Give yourself a giant hug from me, and keep on doing your thang, mama - you are awesome!

{Thanks, Stephanie! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}


  1. Great post! I'm glad I'm not the only one who uses one room of the house to hide the mess ;) My bedroom is on a different level than everything else, so that's where the mess goes, and stays.

  2. I hear you! My husband switched careers to be a police officer too; I was taking care of an infant all alone while he was working and in school 15 hours a day. And now the schedule of a police officer means I do a lot on my own still. But I so agree, he became much happier when he made the career change, so I can only support him fully for that. :)

    I also do the same thing with meals. I can totally live on eggs, cereal, simple, quick things when I'm eating by myself - I almost look forward to those nights - less clean up, quick food, more me time.

    You're doing amazing too- nice post!

  3. What a great post!

    The thought of anyone hurting a child makes me very ill, I cannot imagine being actually faced with it in my line of work. That's amazing you can do that.

    We found our nanny on, too, and I also knew from the moment she walked in our door that she was the one. It is PRICELESS to have that gut feeling about someone and to know that your children are being well cared for.

  4. What a great post!! I love hearing how others make it work! How awesome you were able to go part time!! The solo parenting gig is hard (I live it all the time). Thanks for the shout outs but I think I feel that way about working moms. I don't think I could do that -- we're all different and we make it work! That's why I love this series. Thanks for sharing your story!

  5. I am a fairly new reader to this blog and what I love about this series is the fact that no one gives me the impression that their situation is any better or harder than what the rest of us experience. I esp. love hearing about solo parenting since I am one. My husband and I literally work complete opposite schedule, only getting a couple of hours together as a family each week, so it is very interesting for me to hear how other solo parents make it work. Thanks for sharing!


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