Moms Make it Work: Jeane | Stay at Home German Mom in Ohio

Today on the Moms Make it Work series, we have Jeane who is German, married an American (after meeting him in Germany), and now lives in Ohio. They have four beautiful children and Jeane stays at home with them---something that many German moms aren't accustomed to doing. Her post is extra interesting to read when you compare it to Sarah's post from 8/7/14: Sarah is an American mom now living in Germany (and staying at home) versus Jeane: a German mom now living in America (and staying at home). I really enjoyed Jeane's post and I know she was nervous about grammatical errors since English is not her native language, but I thought it read really well!


Hi everybody. My name is Jeane and I am super excited to participate in the “Moms Make It Work” series.

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

About me… I am originally from Berlin, Germany. So I’d like to apologize for any grammar mistakes or weird sounding, and especially super long sentences (Germans are known for those ;-)) since I’m not a native English speaker.

I met my husband in Berlin in 2001 when we both started working at the same institute. He is from the US and came over for a year to work on his Ph.D. We met right at the beginning of his 1 year stay, so we had the entire year to date and finally realized that we’d like to try and make this thing work. He went back to the States in the fall of 2002 and I had to finish my vocational school first, which was until the end of 2004. It’s hard to translate what this means in English but you pretty much go to school and to work for 3 years and practice the job you’d eventually would like to specialize and work in.  For me this was the field of accounting.

We saw each other quite often during our long distance relationship and I had my first visit to the States. Since his chances for a job in Germany were super slim, we made the decision of me immigrating to the US. So I finally moved here in December 2004, and we got married in February 2005.
Saying good-bye to family and friends at the Berlin airport (hardest day of my life)


Since I was here on a visa and getting the Green Card took a long time, I wasn’t allowed to work right away and had to wait at least 3-4 months to start looking for a job. He also got a job offer in Ohio at the Miami University as a Professor, so that’s where we moved shortly after I got here. We had talked about, while dating, that we’d love to have 2, maybe 3 kids. So when he got the job offer, we also decided to start trying for a baby and got pregnant right away. We welcomed our first daughter, Laney, in November 2005.

My husband and I had talked about a lot beforehand on how we would like to raise our kids. SAHM vs. working. In Germany staying home is not common at all so it felt kind of weird to me to have him go to work and me stay home with the little one.

We then added another girl, Olivia, to our family in 2007. In 2010 we had another girl, Anabel and thought we were done… but that’s not how it works sometimes, so we had our 4th child, our son Jacob, in 2012.


So as of right now I’m a mom of 4 and their ages are 8, 6, 4, and 2 and stay home with them (well, besides the two older ones going to school) while my husband works at Miami University.

2014-06-15_0011 What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?

The best part of this situation is that I am around my kids all day. I love that I am able to take them on little trips during the day, have play dates with other moms, just hang out with them at home, to be there for them right away when they need me. I love that after a long day, and even though I’m probably totally exhausted, that I know that this is the right way for us to raise our kids. I love being their mom and I love that we have this opportunity for me to stay home with them.

With that being said… there are of course challenges. Although being home with 4 kids for pretty much all day can be very rewarding it is also very very exhausting at times. There are days where I am counting the hours until bed time (I hate to admit this but yeah, that’s how it is). The two older girls don’t really get along well at this point in their lives and it is exhausting to watch and hard to “change”.


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

Like I said, it isn’t very common in Germany to stay home with the kids. We do get a pretty good maternity leave (up to 3 years if you wish, although most moms get back to work around 1 year since after the 1 year mark it will be unpaid leave) but everything after that is very very rare. So no, this is not how I expected it to be pre-kids. I thought I’d stay home that first year and then start back in my profession.

I also honestly never thought I would have 4 kids since this is also something that you don’t really see in Germany. Occasionally you see families with more than 2 kids but the average is 2 kids per family. The 6 of us are always quite the sight when we visit Germany ;-). So only when I realized that I will move to the States and my husband will have a job that can support me staying home I started to think about it more and started realizing that I would like to give this a try. 15We just spent 6 months in Germany and were able to be with my family for Christmas. It was the best time we ever had

German carnival at the girls’ school

German school they went to

First day of German preschool

35 Oma and Opa picking her up from preschool

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

Yes, as of right now this is our ideal situation. I can’t imagine not being around my kids and can’t imagine going to work and having to drop them off at daycare. There have been days (when nothing is going right and the kids are fighting all day long) that I wish I could work part-time but those are usually just short-lived thoughts and are only based on a bad mood. As of right now I am staying home at least until Jacob will be in 1st grade and everybody will be gone all day. Kindergarten here is half-day so I’d still like to be home for that year.

-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?

My husband and I started talking about what to do once all 4 kids will be in school all day long. I’m kind of dreading thinking about it since my degree I got in Germany doesn’t really mean much here and it also has been awhile since I last worked outside the home. But yes, eventually I will start getting a degree. In what field, that is still the question. I’d love to start working at my husbands university as an accountant or some kind of secretary work but would love for it to be half-day. That way I can still be home in time for when the kids get of the bus. I have also started a little photography business but due to my main focus on being with my kids and family, it is VERY slow going. I have maybe 1 or 2 photo shoots a months, which is totally fine with me. I am not sure yet if this might be something I get more invested in it once the time has arrived. It’s all still very unclear what I’ll be doing in around 3 years.


-Tips on how you make your situation work for you:

 I do like being spontaneous but right now it is a much smarter move for us to plan ahead. I do meal planning, try to see if I can set up play dates in advance and have at least one or two activities per week planned. With having 4 kids our schedules are super tight, especially in the afternoon. There is swim class, ballet class, Girl Scout for 2 of them, gymnastich, etc. etc. It sometimes is hard for me to not freak out and lose sight of all of it. My husband and I constantly have to check each others calendar and everything needs to be planned way ahead.

I couldn’t do this without my husband. He is amazing and so incredibly involved with the kids. I am baffled sometimes where he takes all the energy from. He comes home after a long day at work and takes over with the kids and gives me a break, to cook, to go to appointments I have, etc. or just to head out for an hour. His job is very flexible, which I am very grateful for and I think part of the reason why things work so well in our house.

It is super hard not having family around. Not only feeling guilty for taking my parents the opportunity to watch their only grandkids grow up but also to be on your own and not having that  ‘built in babysitter’ that would love to watch your kids for free ;-) I envy the moms and dads that have family close and have an extra set of hands when they are in need. So we were on our own for a long time but then started making friends with some amazing people that are like family to us now and are the most helpful people in the world.

17 My girlfriends I have also started to have some me-time. I always felt guilty to get a sitter so I could do something on my own. It took me 4 years until I had one come watch my kids. I do feel guilty sometimes even about that but there are days where I really need that time for myself.

2014-06-15_0014 My husband and I got to visit the volcano Etna in Italy for our very belated honeymoon this year ;-), went to Paris, and got to visit the tulip fields in Holland

-How do you handle mommy guilt?

Hmmm… I occasionally feel guilty that I get to stay home and my husband has to work. I feel guilty for getting a break when it’s nap time for the little ones and I can hang out on the computer or read a book or even get a nap. I don’t think I handle it very well then. I feel like I should do more. Especially when talking to my friends in Germany, that are all working moms… that’s the worst. I feel like I’m not good enough since I don’t contribute to our income. Then I get a meltdown and just feel miserable. That’s when my husband jumps in and keeps telling me that if I wouldn’t stay home with the kids, then he couldn’t do the job he is doing as good as he does and so without me and me being a SAHM, he wouldn’t contribute as well as he does. I hope this kind of makes sense? Not sure how to explain it but it sounds reasonable when he says it to me, haha.


So yeah, he is my rock.


-How do meals work in your family? Meal planning? How often do you grocery shop? Who is in charge of this task in your family??

 Like mentioned above, we do meal planning for our family. I am the one that is in charge of that and even though sometimes it can be kind of frustrating (when not everybody agrees with the meal we are having) I LOVE it. I love making lists of options what to eat. I include the kids’ suggestions and we come up with something that hopefully everybody will like. I go grocery shopping at the supermarket once a week but also try to go to the Farmers Market in town. I am also the one that cooks in our family, except when it comes to grilling. This huge thing intimates me and so this is my husband’s job ;-)

-How do you keep your house clean? Power cleaning after bedtime? Staying out of the house as much as possible? Cleaning while kids are awake? Purging often? Cleaning schedule?

We have good days and bad days when it comes to the cleanliness of our house. We live in a 3 bedroom ranch and it seems like there is stuff every.where!!! The girls want to keep every single drawing they made and things just get out of control sometimes. So on days where I’ve had enough I go on a crazy cleaning spree. We also try and pick up things as soon as we are done with it. The kids each have their own little jobs as well and I think they actually like it.

6 My mom came to visit us in the US.


That’s how we celebrate New Years, through the web cam. They are 6 hours ahead, so we get to see each other twice that night ;-).

13 My girls LOVE their Oma and were very sad when we had to leave them

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

It is hard to give advice since I have only seen one side of this whole thing but I’d say that if you are struggling to decide if staying home is the right choice and you have the opportunity to then I would definitely give it a try. If you realize that this isn’t for you after all then at least you know you have given it a try and could still start going back to work. To me it is amazing how rewarding this is for me to stay at home with my kids.  2014-06-15_0017

Thank you for having me, Julia!
{Thanks, Jeane! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}


  1. Aww this was really nice :) what a beautiful family!

  2. Beautiful family and some incredible pictures!

  3. Beautiful family! It would be so hard to have family so far away, but it seems like you've found a good support network for yourself here!


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