Moms Make it Work: Kendra | Full Time Working Mom in Management

Today on the Moms Make it Work series we have Kendra posting as a full time working mom in a management position. I had a few requests for this type of mom to post and Kendra came through for us via Instagram. She is a fellow Wisconsin girl in healthcare, who suffered a miscarriage so automatically I could relate to Kendra (even without the management-type career). And then the sleeeepp issues. Oh, the sleep. I feel you, girl!! Enjoy;)


Hello, my name is Kendra and I'm a full time nurse coordinator (think of it as mid-level management) and mother of a one year old (July 8th!) living in a suburb of Madison, WI.  I've been following Julia since somewhere around her 1st pregnancy and it's just worked out that topics she has shared ended up having relevance in my own life (miscarriage, cloth diapering, pumping, etc.) later on.  This series has been so interesting to me, as it began shortly after I returned to work and I feel like my pumping sessions wouldn't be the same without all of these awesome guest posts!  I don't currently blog, but I'm on Instagram as kendraoc.

What is your background story?
I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, but always dreamed of going away to college.  I did a health care apprenticeship in high school where I worked as a nursing assistant in a hospital and then a nursing home, so I knew early on that I wanted to be a nurse.  I loved helping people, getting to know all sorts of patients, and I also knew that there are so many different job opportunities in nursing.  I went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for four amazing years.  While I was there, my mom was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer and while attending radiation treatments with her, I realized that oncology was where I belonged.  I worked on an inpatient oncology and bone marrow transplant floor at a major university hospital back in WI after my junior year of college, and ended up with a job there after college when my best friend from home asked me to be her roommate.

I only planned on being back in WI for a year or two, but as the end of my first year approached, I met my husband at a co-worker's party.  We dated for 4 years before getting engaged, and have been married now for almost 5 years. He now works for his family's business that is based here, so we're pretty much settled here for quite a while.  

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I always somehow "knew" that conceiving a child would be challenging for me. Long story short, I don't ovulate on my own for unknown reasons.  My husband and I embarked on fertility treatments in November 2011 and were overjoyed to get pregnant on our third cycle in February 2012.  We had planned a trip to Paris and Nice, France in March as sort of a last hurrah before babies, so it seemed that things were falling into place.  Unfortunately, on our second night in Paris, I had a miscarriage. Our first views of the Arc de Triomphe were in a cab on our way to the American Hospital in Paris.  It was an experience that I can't even begin to describe here  We got pregnant again our first cycle after the miscarriage, but had a missed miscarriage in June 2012.  

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We took a small break from things and got pregnant again in October 2012.  As if the emotions of the year had not been enough, I got the positive pregnancy test result for my third pregnancy less than 24 hours after sitting at my grandmother's bedside as she passed away.  

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My husband, fertility doctors, therapist and the OB I chose were so great in supporting me through the vomiting, anxiety, and impatience of this pregnancy. I gave birth to our daughter Elsa on July 8, 2013.  

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 What was your career before you became a mom? 
I've worked at the same academic medical center since college, changing roles a few times, but always staying with oncology.  I'm currently a nurse coordinator, managing the clinic where patients receive chemotherapy and undergo procedures. I've been in this role for 2 1/2 years.

-What are the best parts of your situations?
Unlike some jobs in nursing, I don't work any holidays or weekends, just M-F. I love the field that I'm in and I'm constantly learning new medications and technology.  I've maintained my clinical skills so that I can jump in to do patient care and cover staff for breaks.  It can be so satisfying to be able to place an IV on the first try for patient who has been through some rough times.The people are who really keep me coming back: I have a great manager who is also a working mom, a lot of staff that I'm friends with from before I took a management role, and of course some pretty awesome patients.

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What are the challenges?
I'm sort of obsessed with my daughter and spending time with her, so obviously I'm thinking about her all day.  I mean look at this face:. 

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More practically speaking though, my commute can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and since almost every major roadway is under construction this summer in WI, driving and parking can sometimes be very stressful.  On the days I pick Elsa up from daycare, my husband knows I can call with 15 minutes notice because I am stuck in traffic and won't make it.  The one and only daycare "event" they had for us around Christmas I missed because it was snowing and it took me an hour and 45 minutes to get there.  I cried for about 15 minutes, and then realized at least this year she wouldn't remember that Mommy wasn't there.

Keeping the household in order from cooking, cleaning, bills, grocery shopping, etc. also stresses me out a bit. There just never seems to be enough time, and I've had to lower my standards significantly in the cooking and cleaning departments for sure. 

At least one night per week, my job requires me to be the late manager on site.  This means I am there until the last patient is gone, which can be anywhere from 5:30 on a great day, to 7ish when we have an emergency patient situation or someone who needs to be admitted to the hospital.  I know that's not horribly late or anything, but see the above about my commute, and then factor in a child who is not the best sleeper and pretty much refuses to go to sleep until Mommy is home and can breastfeed her.  This means I pretty much fly in the door, grab the child, change my clothes, pull out the boob, and do the bedtime routine.

Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
I never really pictured myself SAH, although it is a nice grass is always greener sort of fantasy I have, I think I'll always be working. I did however, think with a job in nursing that I would work part-time once I had kids, but once I took a management position, it sort of locked me into a full time job, at least for now.

-Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?
I think my ideal situation would be my same job but working 4 days a week instead of 5, in order to get all of the household stuff done during the week instead of letting it take over our weekends.  
-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 had actually started graduate school for a masters in nursing administration while I was pregnant, but I've put that on hold since I think it's pretty much impossible with my current set up to be doing school while working full time with a child.  I think I'll stay in my current role for at least the next 5 years, but at some point I would love to finish my masters to open myself up for different career opportunities.

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-Tips on how you make your situation work for you:
1. Daycare: We love the center Elsa goes to, and I have full confidence in her teachers.  She is a pretty social child and she lights up when she sees her main teacher and all her little friends.  We picked a center that is 5 minutes from our home and my husband's work. He has much more flexibility in when he goes in or leaving early to pick her up if she's sick.  When I was pregnant, I assumed he would do most of the daycare drop off and pick up, but after I went back to work, I realized that I enjoy interacting with her teachers and learning about what she's doing. Now I try to do a mix of 5 pick ups or drop offs per week.

2. Hour flexibility: About a month after I went back to work, I had a talk with my boss and told her I was really struggling with the days I was the late manager.  I was gone from Elsa from 7 am to close to 7 pm, so we worked out a plan that I come in around 9:30 am the days I am expected to work late.  I mentioned that my husband's hours are flexible, and he can even work at home if he needs to, but it also helps that my manager is also very understanding of the need to leave early or come in late for doctor appointments or if Elsa is sick.  

3. Use "shortcuts": I use online shopping for a LOT of things.  It's just so much easier to order stuff on my Amazon app on my phone while I'm pumping or stock up on clothes on sale online with free shipping and returns than trying to schlep to stores on the weekend or after work.  We also used this site Plated for meal delivery a lot this winter, when I was struggling with meal planning.  You pick at least two meals for the week and they deliver all the food you need to make it, with things like spices already measured.  I love cooking, but deciding what to make, so this worked well for us.  In the summer, we use a local farm's CSA, so we have big bags of produce that I actually pick up at work, so I can throw together meals from whatever is fresh that week.  

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-How do you handle mommy guilt?
Well, I try not to compare myself or my child to anyone else's---I know that we're all just doing the best we can, and that every child is different. I've learned to trust my instincts as a mom and do what my husband and I feel is right for Elsa and right for us, rather than try to read through parenting books or feel bad that I'm not following the latest unsolicited piece of advice.  I've also learned that along this parenting journey, things go much better when you don't start saying, "oh, I'll NEVER do xyz".

 My best example of all of this would be Elsa's sleeping: I remember when I was pregnant telling people that she would be in our room in a pack and play until 3 months old.  Well, 3 months came, and after an awful night of trying to transition her to her own room/crib, my husband and I realized that neither of us actually wanted her out of our room, we just felt like that's what we were supposed to do. We brought her back in the next night and we all slept much better.  Around 5 months, I came down with an awful flu and she started teething and we were just not sleeping.  I ended up bringing her into bed with us, and she slept better than ever before.  Now, at 11 months, she usually sleeps in her crib until about 10:30 and then sleeps with us in bed the rest of the night.  I've had lots of advice on how to get her out of our bed, stop nursing her at night, sleep through the night, and on, but my husband and I are okay with our situation for now, so we're not trying to change anything at the moment.  Unless I can find someone giving advice who wants to come to my house and wake up with my daughter throughout the night, we'll probably figure things out on our own.
-Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? Or struggling to decide if staying at home is the right choice?
I guess see above about trusting your own instincts, and know that what's right for you might not be right for the next mom. I also agree with what others have said about giving your situation some time to settle before making a big change.  I think it's always hard the first few months you go back to work, but then you get into a groove and figure out what works and doesn't work for you and your family.

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-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?
I never really feel like it's up to my standards anymore, so I suggest lowering these significantly :)  I really hate spending a lot of my Elsa time on the weekends cleaning, so I usually have my mom or mother-in-law watch her at our house for a couple hours so I can do a big clean all at once. My husband usually cleans up any toys while I'm nursing Elsa or doing the bedtime routine. I'm not good at doing a whole lot during the week other than dishes and washing cloth diapers.  I actually think I finally convinced my husband that we need a cleaning service twice a month, so I think this will make me worry even less about house maintenance.

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


  1. She is adorable. My commute is about the same and those hour days are treacherous. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I really enjoyed your post and especially this part: "Unless I can find someone giving advice who wants to come to my house and wake up with my daughter throughout the night, we'll probably figure things out on our own".Yes. Yes. Yes, Amen and Hallelujah. My daughter did not sleep through the night until 2 months before she turned 2. We nursed for 21 months. And everyone had an option on what I was doing "wrong". I did A LOT of research on sleep trying to find a solution and then eventually I just found a peace about it. It was not ideal for me to keep getting up with her over and over at night but I just felt in my gut it was what needed to be done at the time. Little changes here and there as she got older and then one night she just got it. Hang in there momma, enjoy your little girl and I hope a good long nap is in your future :)


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