Moms Make it Work: Laura from Minnesota

Today's post is from Laura, yet ANOTHER Minnesota girl (representing for our neighboring state with this series!). I get to say that I know Laura in real life after meeting her in person last summer, on a family trip to MN. Truman and Bella were particularly adorable together and this little (growing) family is pretty awesome in person and online;). I really enjoyed Laura's post because of how content she is in her current situation and I love her outlook on parenting/balance/getting assistance during the week when needed. Enjoy!


Hello, readers of My Life in Transition! Thank you to Julia for letting me share my story for the Moms Make it Work series. I have been blogging for almost six years now (actually a decade if you dig deep on the internet) (not advisable) and you can find me at Navigating the Mothership. I also instagram (navigatingthemothership) and occasionally tweet and pin and all those other things.
Family 1
Milissa Sprecher Photography

So me in a nutshell: I'm a 33-year-old (*spoiler alert!!*) dietitian turned stay-at-home mom named Laura. I live in a suburb of the Twin Cities with my medical-industry-businessman husband named Raj (fake name!), our daughter Arabella (4.5 years old), our son Oliver (2.5 years old) and I am expecting our third baby in late March.profile
Milissa Sprecher Photography
The above photo is a very accurate representation of my daily appearance and lifestyle as a SAHM in Minnesota. Ahem.

I'm Team cats, Team books, Team Ryan Gosling, and Team Organize-All-the-Things-Until-My-Husband-Yells-That-I-CANNOT-KEEP-MOVING-EVERYTHING!  What else? I enjoy a fine scotch on the rocks. I have also seen myself listed as a favorite Mormon blogger, and while that makes me feel very nice inside, I think I better share up front that I'm not, in fact, Mormon.

Wait. I lied about the scotch. (But weren't you intrigued for a second there?) Team wine, all the way.

Shenanigans aside, here's my version of how I make it all work.

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

I always imagined my life path would lead to motherhood but it wasn't a clear dream or goal, just more of a vague "Yeah, someday, probably."  For example, when I impulsively got a yoda rose tattoo at age 21, I had enough foresight to strategically place it where it would not get stretched out during theoretical future pregnancies. On one hand: Wise thinking for the future, young Laura! On the other hand: Might want to spend more time thinking about WHAT you want tattooed rather WHERE you want a tattoo, young Laura!

Because now you are curious about the ol' yoda/rose tattoo, this link will give you all necessary information. For the lazy, basically this is what I'm talking about:
Regret tattoo decision I do. Young and foolish I was.

So all this is to say that I knew babies were on the hazy, blurry horizon but it wasn't something I was planning my life around. I did have an inkling all along about wanting to be at home with kids and my husband and I even discussed that being the plan well before marriage (which I find somewhat odd in retrospect), but maybe that inkling was more about me liking the idea of pajama pants and being a homebody than about wanting to nurture young lives.

Let's rewind back to my college days. To give you a visual of what life was like back then, just picture the TV series Felicity. I attended college exactly when Felicity did and even managed to have an unfortunate haircut right around the same time she did her/our sophomore year. (And yes, my major chop was about a boy, too. And just like Felicity, my ratings also dropped.) So it's the late nineties and there was a lot of sweater wearing and awkward moments and I was an over-the-top kind of undergrad student who majored in nutrition and minored in psychology and did silly things like be the president of the nutrition club. I thought that I would really like to work in eating disorders but I was also interested in academia and research. After graduating from college, I completed a 10-month dietetic internship at a local hospital (a requirement to become an official registered dietitian). But as my internship came to a close I found I wasn't really sure about being a dietitian as a career anymore. Or, at least, I could sense that most of the traditional R.D. roles weren't for me. However, I needed a job so when a research/lab technician position for a high-protein diet study opened up at the hospital, I took it. It wasn't my dream job, but at that time entry-level dietitian jobs weren't in abundance and it seemed like a good enough fit as I got my bearings with my career/life. Since it was only a 32-hour per week position, I also took on occasional hospital dietitian shifts and volunteered to be the editor and a contributor of the newsletter for our state's dietetic association. It took me a while post-college to realize I didn't HAVE to keep being such a joiner and volunteering my time for resume-building purposes. But oh well, good experience and all that. Plus, like all my other jobs (whether paid or not), it taught me what I enjoy and what I don't enjoy (i.e. I like writing but I don't like writing on super specific topics that don't interest me.)

I quickly realized that sitting quietly in a laboratory with test tubes was not the right fit for me and there was increasing talk that I was going to need to start processing poop samples for the diet studies (NOOOOOOO!), so after eight months or so I began to apply for other jobs. In the meantime, I ended up falling for a research fella whose lab was down the hall. So while the job was a dud, it ended up being a beautiful case of timing. You can read more about that job (and meeting my husband) in my love story.

Citlalli Rico Photography
Sometimes a rebound relationship with a coworker works out really, really, REALLY well.

In June of 2004, I was delighted to get a call from a local eating disorders treatment facility saying that my resume (which I had submitted back in March) had fallen through the cracks but they were very interested in me - was I still interested in them? YES! I got the job and that started my work in a very challenging and draining yet incredibly rewarding field. I wrote about the specifics of that job in a post titled "The Hardest Job I Ever Had."  My work there changed somewhat over the years, but basically it was a mix of individual dietetic therapy, leading therapeutic groups, eating meals with clients, helping clients with their coping skills in a variety of ways, doing various eating-related experiences (restaurants, cooking), helping clients with meal-planning and time management planning, and a lot of other things in between. As I wrote in the post referenced earlier in this paragraph, I was - first and foremost - a counselor, followed by being a coach, friend, mother-figure, teacher, comedian, and - at the bottom of the heap - a nutritionist. Working in that type of healthcare is unusual because of the intensity and because you often spend so much one-on-one time with each client. While I maintained boundaries, I struggled to let go of work outside of work because my heart was wrapped up in it and there were a lot of really difficult situations going on for many of the clients.

At one point, my husband (then fiancé) expressed his concerns about me staying in this line of work because he could see how stressed I was on a daily basis. He had a valid point, but I was also really proud of what I was doing and many days I did truly enjoy it. So to manage burn-out I switched to doing less meal groups and increased my time spent doing individual therapy. That helped a great deal and I figured I could continue to work in the field for quite a few years yet. I was toying with the idea of what my next move might be as far as getting a Masters degree or maybe a PhD, probably in something counseling or psychology related. We were also beginning to think about starting a family as we had just gotten married.

But then one cold January day in 2008, I happened to come across a job description that seemed practically ideal for my interests: a large local university was looking to fill a brand-new position - a dietitian for their food service department. The job would be a range of really cool things: nutrition programming for the undergrads, menu development for the cafeterias, increasing healthy options for all the many retail stores and restaurants on campus, assisting with students who had food allergies, and a ton of other things that got me very, very excited. This seemed like it would offer me the best of everything: a creative and non-traditional position that wouldn't carry the burn-out factor with it. I could even keep doing some of the eating disorder work that I was really passionate about, albeit in a more indirect capacity. Everything happened very quickly after I applied for the position (no lost resumes this time!) and I was so excited when I got the job. I also got a hefty salary increase - WOO HOO! I remember thinking as I started that job that my vague plans of someday being a SAHM might have to shift because this job was going to be too exciting for me to give up. We also put baby plans on hold for a bit so that I could focus on work.

But then my dream job turned out to be not so dreamy after all. This was a brand-new position for the University, but when it came down to it, no one really wanted me there aside from higher ups at the University. My boss had little time for me so I had no one to turn to for direction or guidance. I honestly saw her one-on-one for a 15 minute meeting each month if I was lucky and she never once stopped by my office. Most of the managers and chefs viewed me as someone who just made their lives way harder since I required them to make changes. Outside of the marketing department, I was met with resistance from nearly every person there. The entire position felt like a miserable group project in school where I couldn't complete my portion of the work or had to turn in poor quality work because no one else was doing their part. I couldn't even help the students by providing accurate allergy or nutrition information - a key piece to my job - because recipes were rarely followed. It was so frustrating and I had a really hard time not being able to take pride in my work. I'm sure if I had stuck with the job for several years I could have made decent headway, but my heart was not in it...especially once I became pregnant. So the decision to stay-at-home once I had my baby became an easy one to make.

And all the while I was navigating my career path, my husband was completing his MBA while still working in his lab job. His graduation date and my due date were pretty much one and the same.
Just a little bit pregnant. Not scary at all to other graduation attendees.

A third thing that was happening at the same time as baby coming and MBA graduation was that his lab was about to run out of funding, which meant he was soon going to be out of a job. Through the magic of the universe and also a lot of excellent networking skills on the part of my husband, he landed a job that utilized his MBA skills and combined his science background. Even better, his new job covered what we had been previously earning at BOTH of our jobs. We are and were very, very lucky to have everything come together like that, and the timing of the old job ending and the new job starting meant a solid 3-week paternity leave to boot.

As a precaution, however, I had left things open with my previous position. I had tried to quit, and even provided 2 months notice, but they insisted that I keep the possibility of coming back open. Now, this isn't because they were generous folks. This was more because leaving my position open like that meant they didn't have to hire anyone else. They basically made it look to the University like I was the one who was being wishy-washy about returning after maternity leave even though I had given more than enough notice. From a moral standpoint, I disliked the duplicity of the situation. But from a financial standpoint, I could see the absolute wisdom in having a job to return to as I probably would have had to return to work had my husband not been able to find a job right away. I look back on how that all worked and I'm amazed frankly.

I found the transition from working to being a SAHM to be a positive career change and therefore it was a fairly smooth transition for me. Many of the things I learned in my previous jobs were so useful when applied to being a SAHM. I had to have a lot of self-discipline when it came to my job as a college food service dietitian - no one followed up on me or checked up on me or cared really, so I had to set my own expectations. I find that to be the case with staying-at-home. Aside from my co-parent (my husband), no one would call me out if I let the kids watch hours of TV every day and just fed them crackers and cheese for meals. Sure there are days when that happens, but it's self-discipline that keeps it from being the norm. And my eating disorders job was really an excellent preparation for staying-at-home. That job didn't have a lot of clear deliverables or large rewards. I learned to celebrate the very small things - a client eating a bit more or being able to go several days without purging. Small, incremental changes were big deals in the big picture. Doesn't that ring true with kids as well? The pats on my back are mostly in the forms of little things, but it's all so meaningful in the big picture. And from a practical standpoint, I spent a lot of time eating meals with people who often wanted to do anything but eat, cleaning up meals, meal planning and cooking, helping others deal with their emotions while simultaneously keeping my own emotions in check, crafting with clients, educating...that is the bulk of an at-home parent's day right there.

I'm glad to have had a career before kids and I'm so grateful to get the chance to stay at home. The fact that my previous job left me so disappointed works in my favor as I am not left feeling like my career is on hold. It's more that I feel like I had a career in dietetics, now I'm a stay-at-home mom, and there will be a second career to embark on in a few years time. Whether that second career is also dietetics-related has yet to be decided. In the meantime, I stay current with all my continuing education so that I can keep all my options open. It's very rare for me to have thoughts of "Oh, work would be easier than this" in regards to my challenges as a SAHM because when I think of the jobs I've held, I can't think of one that would feel easier or more enjoyable than staying-at-home. They would all feel less rewarding and a whole lot more stressful. I feel lucky to be in the role I am currently in.

What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges? 
I think I have the kind of personality that makes being a stay-at-home mom a pretty easy fit for me. And by that I mean I'm naturally more introverted and a homebody so all those hours "stuck" at home without adult interaction feel quite nice to me. I'm someone who prefers to keep a daily routine so that means I'm don't feel confined to all the routines that kids require. I like doing arts & crafts and don't really care that it makes a mess while we are doing it. I completely recognize the way that staying home with kids each day can feel like "Groundhog's Day" but I do not mind the daily grind of "my work." Rather, I feel like my job description is always changing enough to keep it interesting (i.e. the kids keep getting older). And now that I've been parenting for 4.5 years, I can see more clearly that during times when my job is feeling overly difficult (read: the kids are going through one unpleasant phase or another), it will pass.

Family 2
JP Ramler Photography

But on the flip side, there are some factors about my personality that maybe aren't the best for being an at-home parent. I take myself too seriously. I tend towards being over-protective. That introvert thing? Well, sometimes that means I might lean towards participating in less stuff than what might be ideal for my kids, especially since my daughter is SUCH an extrovert. For example, I joined a Mom's club after we moved a year and a half ago...and went once. I don't relate to the need for many playdates each week - once a month is enough for me. But of course no one person is ideal for any job and I think overall I can and do fit well in my role as a stay-at-home parent.

Row 1.1
Milissa Sprecher Photography

I think the best part of my job is getting to spend a lot of unpressured time with the kids and being able to be influential in all the small parts of their daily life. Being a stay-at-home mom has enabled me to do a lot of things that are important to me: feed the kids in a particular way, breastfeed each kid over a year, cloth diaper part-time, get the kids outside or doing physical activity each day, and make sure that daily life includes creative and educational activities (not so much running math drills, more that we can learn organically as we move through whatever activity we might be doing). Obviously all of those things are done by working parents all the time, but I'm grateful for the simplicity of things like extended breastfeeding as a stay-at-home mom. I doubt I would have had the stamina to keep that up if I had to schedule in time with a breast pump throughout a busy work day for months on end. Plus there are so many little perks that would be impossible in a regular job: the extra pajama wearing time, the ability to drop what we are doing in order to take a long walk outside just because the weather is gorgeous, the convenience of avoiding the roads and having cozy days inside when it's blizzarding out, and let us not forget: I can take naps as long as my little guy is sleeping and my daughter has a charged iPad. It can be pretty darn cushy some days.

But while staying at home is the easier and better choice FOR ME, it is not without challenges. I already mentioned the lack of tangible or obvious rewards or kudos. My husband is great about telling me he appreciates what I do for the family and the kids are very sweet with random comments here and there, but it's not like I have any major moments of fist-pump victory at my daily job. The rewards come in very small, but very sweet moments.

It can be challenging to be the sole daytime caretaker during times of illness or life stress. I was hardly living up to my SAHM ideals while I was super sick for a few months during my second and third pregnancy. When I'm in a bad mood or a funk or feeling lazy, I technically can (and do) slack off at my job, but it's not quite the same to slack off at home compared to slacking off at an office job. There is an extra layer of guilt about doing a sub-par job when you have little eyes and ears observing you and imitating you at every turn. And while we are at it - the lack of being able to take a sick day without causing major drama (i.e. requiring my husband to stay at home) is a definite downside to the stay-at-home parent gig.

A challenge that comes and goes depending on the ages and stages of the kids is the lack of any predictable downtime or personal space. That's not currently a problem for me since the kids are predictable in their schedules, they can sit through a TV program if need be and I have a weekly babysitter for 4 hours, but I know I'm about to enter into a time where "me-time" becomes a rarity for several months. I can get "touched out" from the constant contact with little beings all day (both my kids wanted to be held most of the time as babies) and when there isn't a predictable naptime/rest time to count on and I don't get to sleep through the night, then I just long from some personal time away from the intensity of the children. It's in those moments that I wonder if a job away would bring me some much needed reprieve, but then I wonder too if that would just add to my stress. Regardless, those challenging times do pass and I go back to feeling like I'm right where I belong.

Row 2.1
JP Ramler Photography

I would also like to mention that one of the challenges I faced right after switching from a career job to a stay-at-home role was that I found I didn't know how to talk about myself and my life in social situations, especially in situations where I didn't know the other people very well. I found myself saying, "Oh, I'm just a stay-at-home mom" when someone would ask what I do at a party. JUST a stay-at-home-mom. I would inwardly cringe as the words came out and yet it happened more than once. I didn't really feel that way, so why was I undermining myself to other people? After that happened a few times, I made a concerted effort to never include "just" prior to stating what I do and at the same time (at least initially) I kept a few things to talk about to new people in the forefront of my mind: I could mention my writing, I could share that I was a dietitian but currently staying-at-home, or I could talk about things outside of professional roles because  - hello , there's a lot more to a person's life than what they do for work!

Another challenge worth mentioning is that having one parent stay home while the other works a traditional job can be stressful to a marriage. I feel like my husband and I have done a good job negotiating our arrangement and we try to keep the lines of communication open. It helps very much that he has always supported me staying at home. It was always our intention that one of us would stay at home so I'm glad I don't feel the need to prove my worth in this role. But even with us both feeling happy with what we are doing, there are still squabbles about spending or debates over who is more exhausted and in need of a break. This kind of bickering mostly happens when either of us is stressed or sleep-deprived. We occasionally pull the "must be nice" kind of nonsense regarding the other's job, even if we don't say it out loud. But you know that kind of thinking: "Must be nice to get to sit quietly at work and drink hot coffee while on your computer..." or "Must be nice to get to play outside all afternoon..."  But at the end of the day, neither of us would actually want to swap roles and we also recognize the hard work the other does and the reality that is their work. The coffee drinking is happening while looking at incredibly dull information on a computer screen in an sterile office environment. That outside time is no peaceful stroll in the park and involves a lot of breaking-up squabbles and unfortunate stops at port-a-potties. Each job has its benefits and downsides and we recognize this. Well, we recognize it most days :)

Row 1,2
Milissa Sprecher Photography
Reaching new parenting and marriage heights!

A final challenge that comes with being a stay-at-home mom is that I feel a little weird about the fact that we are in such traditional gender roles and I wonder what impression that will leave on the kids. I am the mom at home who does nearly all the chores. Daddy is the one who dresses up in suits and goes to work and takes business trips. We both came from families where the moms did pretty much all of the child care and chores and we both feel our workaholic dads could have and should have stepped up to the plate more. But while I would theoretically love it if Raj took over all the cooking and the dishes, it really doesn't make any sense for us. He works 10+ hour days and I have time in which I can watch the kids AND take care of cooking and cleaning. So I do not see any need to change that set-up, especially if it meant cutting into how much time he spent with the kids. It's enough that the kids regularly witness Raj pitching in with the daily stuff in the evenings, weekends, and on vacations. Even more important to me is how involved Raj is in childcare. He spends the bulk of his free time with the kids and when he is on a business trip or even just has busy patches at work he remains in active communication with the kids through facetime or by texting videos of himself and sending pictures throughout the day. We are co-parents and the fact that we are in traditional gender roles seems more like it just turned out that way than any feeling that "women stay at home" or "men go to work." I think that message will come across to the kids without needing to spell it out to them (though I do try to say it directly on occasion).  Plus it helps that we have a lot of friends and family who have their family lives set up in all sorts of different ways: dads who stay-at-home while the mom works, or both parents work and the kids go to daycare or they have a nanny, or lots of other variations of "normal."

Is this how you expected it to be pre-kids?
Right now I would say yes. I think that's where all my years of blog reading came in very handy as I had a decent peek into what the future might hold. I thought I would adjust to motherhood quite well and that was true. I also thought that going from one to two kids would be very tough for me and well, that was true, too. Now my hunch is that two-to-three will not rock my world all that much. Hopefully I will be 3-for-3 in my predictions.
Row 1.4
 Milissa Sprecher Photography

Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?
Yes, right now my situation is nearly ideal. Sure, a regular 40-hour work-week for my husband where he was home by 4:30 PM in addition to local family who wanted to babysit the kids for a day or night here and there would be awesome, but right now life is so very doable and happy.

Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?
Now that I am in a place where I know my family is going to consist of three kids, I can look to the future with a bit more clarity. My youngest will start kindergarten in the fall of 2019 (whoa, weird to write that out!) Once I have three in school I will need to pursue some type of part-time work, because I can't see myself being okay with simply managing the house for 6-7 hours each day (though that does sound dreamy). I am not thinking full time work would be a good fit because it would be a major challenge to coordinate the realities of three kids, a husband with a fairly inflexible job and not much in the way of go-to family for emergency care. It wouldn't be impossible, of course, since many can and do manage, but a flexible part-time role just seems like it would be a better fit for our family. However, if a full-time dream job were to land in my lap, we would find a way to make that happen for me.

Ideally, I would love to have part-time work that would be mostly from home where I could determine my own hours and fit work around the kids schedules. I admire that my mom, a physician, was able to take her career in a non-traditional direction that allowed her to work from home (she has her own healthcare software company). There could be all sorts of interesting ways I could combine my love of writing and my nutrition background as I re-enter the work force. I try to keep my eventual goal of working from home in mind as I keep plugging away at various blog and personal writing goals. Though to be very sure, those goals are on the back burner right now. If the work-from-home writing career doesn't pan out, I'm glad to know I could resume working as a dietitian in the future. The nutrition profession is generally very family friendly and far more forgiving than most fields when it comes to people taking a break from their career and re-entering later in life.

JP Ramler Photography 

Do you have tips on how you make this work for you?
First and foremost, I view my work as a stay-at-home mom as a job and one I take quite seriously. I have goals, expectations, and parameters/norms. Nothing super specific (and certainly not something that requires the kids to meet milestones by a certain time or something), but I have a general sense of what each day should include. For our family that means I want the kids to grow up in an environment that feels loving, creative and active but also prepares them for life (i.e. life isn't always fun and games so yes, you DO have to brush your teeth/help me clean up this mess/go to the grocery store with me). I want to set a good example and since the kids are constantly observing me, it makes me try harder to be a better person.

So that's all very touchy-feely and lovely, but what does that MEAN as far as day-to-day life? It means I keep a decent amount of structure to our days. Most weekday mornings we have specific activities (preschool or gymnastics are the current ones). The other mornings (and the times when it's just Oliver and I) are filled in with getting out of the house for one reason or another: the gym, a playdate, or errands. The middle of the day is when my youngest naps and my daughter and I each get some "rest time" (she does 30 minutes of quiet play time and then gets 30-60 minutes of screen time). Then we usually do a creative activity of some sort and some house cleaning or meal prep before Oliver wakes up from his nap. The couple hours before dinner are more open ended and in the summer are invariably spent outside, but in the winter we either play in the house or go to the gym. Then dinner and bedtime routines end our day.

I would like to be upfront that one major reason that my current lifestyle works super well for me is that I have a babysitter for four hours each week. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful I find this for my psyche to do my own thing for a chunk of time each week. I might blog at a coffee shop or go to a midwife appointment or run errands without kids in tow (or all three). This sitter also comes over for a monthly date night and even spent the night with the kiddos so we could celebrate our anniversary at a B&B in December. I hesitated for six months after we moved out to the suburbs to find a new babysitter, thinking I could handle it all on my own. Well, I could handle it, but I was also dealing with a permanent feeling of being very overwhelmed and I was honestly feeling baffled about how I was going to see a dentist for a routine appointment.  So one day I bit the bullet and signed up for Sitter City even though I had a somewhat bad experience with a sitter from there in the past. Oh, I'm SO GLAD I gave it another chance. We fully trust our sitter and it makes such a difference in our quality of life to know we can escape or take breaks as needed. So I would encourage anyone with with limited family help to look into sitter options or consider trading sitting time with friends with kids.  Another reason I feel like I have a nice work/life balance right now is that we have house cleaners who come once a month to do a deep cleaning. These two things go a very, very long way towards me having a great deal of work/life satisfaction.

As far as other tips, I just wrote a post about things I do to make my life as a stay-at-home mom run more smoothly and it includes links to my meal planning post and also some info about my daily/weekly chores.

A final tip? Do the dishes before you go to bed at night. It makes the crazy morning routine feel a whole lot nicer and it gets the day started on the right foot: a step ahead instead of a step behind.

How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with your role?
I think mommy guilt can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and I find that for me it changes over time. My current guilt is with having extra help in the form of a weekly babysitter and the monthly house cleaning. It's not a lot of guilt, but I do feel uncomfortable with the privilege of getting help while also being lucky enough to stay at home. Plus there are feelings of inadequacy about "needing" extra help. Other moms do it all without extra help - why can't I? But the truth of the matter is that I am a much, much better wife, mother and person if I have four hours of guaranteed free time each week and help with the deep cleaning. It gives me enough space to feel like I can have some autonomy away from the kids. And if I didn't utilize a babysitter each week, well, then my kids would have to watch more TV, they would have less fun time with me to do crafts or free play and they would have a super grumpy mom to contend with most days. When 'mommy guilt' flares up, I have to remember that comparing about this kind of stuff is pointless. We all have our own set of circumstances and a variety of help in our lives and our kids require different things at different times.

What is your advice for new moms struggling to decide if staying home is the right choice?
If you are having a hard time figuring out if staying-at-home OR working is right for you - I guess I would say that no situation has to remain static. I feel like every six months or so I stop and ask myself if my situation is still working for me. My husband also poses the same question, "Are you still happy doing this? Does anything need to change?" I have tried to remain open to the possibility that maybe working might be the better role for me at any given point in time. So far I haven't felt any urge to change things, but I think it's healthy for me to remember that there are always options. And within any given path, there are a lot of different ways to structure your life so it works best for you and your family.

Row 1.3
Melissa Sprecher Photography

Thanks again to Julia for the opportunity to share my take on being a stay-at-home mom! It was a fun challenge to finally put into words all my (many) thoughts about transitioning from my dietitian career to being a SAHM. Happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments!


  1. Loved this post, even if I did "know" most of it! I still feel like there really isn't any mom who is doing it ALL with NO help - if they don't hire help, they probably have some kind of mom's day out program, or family help, or want to tear their hair out most days, or even just have a lot of other SAHMs in their neighborhood, etc. It does take a village, even if in your case that village is paid ;) I'm excited to see how your role will grow and change as the kids get older! I can see you doing some very exciting things for work in the future!

  2. Great read, Laura! You got me on the scotch…I've been reading your blog for several years now and I scratched my head wondering why I'd never heard of this love of scotch before, lol!
    I sometimes worry about how our current setup is also very traditional with my husband going to work and me staying home and what kind of example we are setting for our children, especially with two young daughters. It's one of the BIG reasons I would like to work outside the home, at least a little bit. But, like you said, realistically, this is just what works for now.
    I also like you advice for other mothers - I agree with it all. Especially getting those dishes done before bed ;)

  3. Awesome post. Also love that it was loooooong, since I'm up next and was thinking I'd gone on way too long. ;) But when there's lots to say, it's ok!!

    Loved your perspective, and I think if I were a stay-at-home mom, I'd be a lot like you. Needing structure, having goals, treating it very much like a JOB, since it is one. Refreshing to hear how content you are and that you're always re-examining to make sure it's what makes sense for you and your family.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Love these!! I am loving all the detail everyone is putting into it!!

  5. Thank you again for letting me be a part of this series!

  6. Julia, just wanted to let you know that I'm loving this series! So interesting to read about everyone's unique situation. I agree with Rachel about loving the detail everyone is putting into it!

  7. Great post! Thanks. This is a really interesting series.

  8. With each post I am amazed by just how different everyone's situation and perspective is. I was a little worried that by the time we got to me I wouldn't have anything new to add but so far each post has been so unique! Loving this series so much!

  9. Erin - Thanks for the encouragement and the compliment about future work. Esp meaningful from you given your career :)

    Mama T - Yes, and I think the fact that this is just a "right now" situation will help our children see that life is flexible. Realistically our kids will see us working for at least half - if not much more - of their lives at home.

    Erin - Yes, make yours nice and long, too, so I don't feel so self-conscious. I could have cut a bunch out, or posted it as separate things on my own blog but then I wouldn't have felt like I was giving this post the attention and detail it deserved. Really excited to see your post, too!

    Thanks to all the others for your comments!

  10. Nice post! And now I think I'm going to have to follow your blog!
    I also just wanted to agree about the worry of re-creating the 'traditional' gender roles of woman-at-home and man-at-work. That's how it is in our household, just because that's how it worked out. I sometimes worry that my daughter will grow up internalizing these gendered roles. But, another SAHM friend of mine told me that if your kids see equality in your relationship - regardless of what your roles are - just that there is equality, mutual respect, and that you help one another - that's the most important thing. I think about that when I start to worry...
    Thanks for the great series!


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