Moms Make it Work: Amanda from Minnesota

Today's post comes from Amanda, who is a reader of this blog and a friend of Erin's (another Minnesotan!). After reading Erin's post Amanda commented that she would like to contribute to this series, so I took her up on that offer. Amanda doesn't have a public blog but she does have a public website found here, and she also has an interesting perspective on being a working mom with a husband who works odd hours. I love the concept of 'We Do What We Do Because it Works For Us' and not over scheduling yourself to death while the kids are little. Yes! Enjoy!


Thanks Julia, for letting me contribute to this series. I’ve loved reading all the posts so far! So many different situations that work for so many different women, so inspiring.

What is your background story? And now where are you?

Born and raised in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I’ve been a writer ever since I could wield a pencil or crayon. I went to school for journalism at the U of M and worked as a writer and editor at a regional magazine for nearly 10 years. After I had my first child in 2010, I started to feel less interested in the work I was doing and started looking for a change. And in January I switched jobs, left journalism and became a curriculum writer.

My husband and I have been married 8 years in April. When I was an intern at a newspaper in 2004, I was writing a story about online dating and created a profile “in the name of research.” In August of that year, I met my husband online and after our first date, it was pretty much love at first sight. We married in 2006 and had Mason in April 2010.


This turned out to be a big year and a half for us, because Jon decided to change careers from engineering to law enforcement, going to school to become a police officer. When Mason was a newborn, my husband worked 6 am-3 pm and then went to school from 4 pm-9 pm every day. I was alone with a newborn A LOT. It was HARD. Later that year, my mom who had multiple myeloma since 2005, had a massive heart attack. There I was with an infant and a husband with a crazy school schedule and now my other lifeline, my mom, was basically an invalid. My mom continued to deteriorate over the next six months and decided to stop all treatment in April 2011. Her last trip out of the house was for Mason’s first birthday party and she passed away on April 21.

In December I experienced a miscarriage, but fortunately by July 2012 we were pregnant again and had Maisy in April 2013. Mason & Maisy are 1 day apart for their birthdays. Joint birthday parties for awhile, it seems! And now we’re done having kids! And so looking forward to watching them grow up.


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

It was never a question that I would work after we had kids. Financially, we need two incomes, but I also know enough about myself to know that I can’t stay home full-time. Work keeps me balanced. It’s my time to do something for myself, while also getting a break from my family (not in a bad way… it’s a good break). My kids are engaged and learning and playing hard at daycare and I’m doing the same at my job. Both my parents worked and so did both of Jon’s. It’s what we know and what feels right to us.

The best part of our situation is our daycare provider. She is the third member of our parenting team. I tell her, “You make me a better mom.” My kids love her and she’s a wealth of knowledge for a newbie mom who doesn’t have a mom of her own anymore. She has great hours and is flexible when we need her to be.

Because my husband works odd hours, I’m usually the sole pick-up/drop-off person every day. I’m lucky to have had a job that was flexible in that regard, and was fortunate enough to negotiate that same type of schedule at my new job.

The biggest hurdle is the odd hours of a police officer. This year, Jon works 6 pm-6 am three to four nights a week. That means he sees the kids for maybe 20-30 minutes when he gets home in the morning and before he leaves at night. He misses them a lot, which is hard on him. I’m left to do bedtime and wake ups by myself. I was really getting the hang of it with just Mason, then we threw in another kid and it’s taking some time to get used to that, too.

This also means he sleeps during the day on some weekend days, and I’m entertaining two kiddos by myself (in the winter, this sucks big time, and Mason really misses the rough-housing he can do with his dad). We also have to try and be a bit quiet so daddy can sleep.

However, all of this is worth it because as an engineer Jon was very unhappy. He’s so much happier now, and a happy parent makes a happy family (also a goal with my job change, too).

One other challenge is the lack of me time. I have some evenings to myself to catch up on TV, but as much as I love my kids, I miss weekend naps, going to movies, staying out late and sleeping in, and not having to wake up at 6 or earlier every single day. I know this will change – soon they’ll be self sufficient to get up and get their breakfast and turn on the TV – but in the moment, I do miss those lazy weekends pre-kids.


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

I’m not one to have too many expectations about anything, because then you can’t be disappointed when things don’t work out. I didn’t have too many thoughts pre-kids. I just wanted Jon to be happy, so I was willing to pick up more on the kid-end for that to happen and so he could change careers. Everything evens out. He was able to change his schedule for 2013 so he was home nights and weekends while we had a newborn. He didn’t love what he was doing to get that schedule, but he did it for me and I so appreciated it.

I think that’s something many couples should keep in mind. Maybe one of you will go back to school or work extra for a few years, but then it might be the other’s turn to do something for themselves and you switch. Over the course of a marriage, it all evens out – from career changes to who does the dirty dishes.

However, I never expected to be doing any of this without my mom. Every day I miss her and wish she could see Mason learn his letters or Maisy learn to walk. I selfishly wish she was here to give me breaks on long solo-parenting weekends. Or to just talk to. She was SO excited to have grandkids and it sucks big time that she’s missing out on it here on Earth. I know she’s watching, but I wish we could hug her and see her.



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

Right now, this is pretty ideal. We’re both in careers we enjoy. We’re making the money we need to make. Hopefully we can save more now, too. The kids are in a safe daycare environment. They’re healthy and happy. I will always wish Jon was home more, but that just means when he is home, we cherish our time together.


Do you see yourself making a career change in the next 5-10 years?

Once the kids are in school and busy with activities, both of us working full-time outside of the home might be more challenging. Especially since if we can’t move (underwater mortgages are fun!) we might open enroll our kids and that means we’ll need to drive them to and from school… Anyway, someday it would be really nice to work from home full-time, contracting writing and editing work and making enough that way, while also having the flexibility to shuttle kiddos places. That would be the only “career change” I could see.


Tips on how you make this work for you?

My biggest “thing” is consistent bedtimes. As soon as those babies could get a regular bedtime and routine, it saved my sanity. I NEED time alone (or with Jon) at night and the kids need routine. Our bedtimes rarely fluctuate and they learned that early on and don’t fight it. Knowing you have that time at night to get things done or just veg on the couch is wonderful.

Another tip I try to live by is letting go and learning to say no. My house is never clean enough for my standards, but I have to let it go. I just don’t have the time and energy for it (right now) and that’s OK. Because I’m sole pick-up parent, I have to say no to a lot of after-work activities. I’m OK with that, too. Also, having two working parents and two kids means family time is sacred and you just have to say no to people who want to intrude on that or want to overschedule you. (Though we both consciously make sure we have date nights and friend nights, too.)

Having littles isn’t forever, so 1) cherish the time without overscheduling yourselves to death and 2) know you’ll be able to get back to those things you miss (clean houses, friend time, extended family activities, happy hours) soon enough.


How do you handle mommy guilt that comes with each role?

I don’t feel much guilt, actually. That’s not in my personality. I’m unapologetically a Family First person and We Do What We Do Because it Works for Us. I don’t listen to the peanut gallery. I know I’m a better mom because I work. I know my kids have more fun at daycare then if they’d be home with me all day, every day.

I also know that some moms excel at certain things and others excel at other things. And that’s OK! Julia is awesome at crafts! I am not. Erin and Ben are awesome at family meals. My kid eats PB and oatmeal on the regular. I hate cooking and meal planning. But I know I’m great at teaching my kids skills and helping them learn through play. I’m also extremely patient and rarely lose my cool.


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

I don’t know if I’m in the minority, but I was excited both times to go back to work after maternity leave. I’m not meant to stay home full-time with them. So, I guess the advice would be to listen to yourself and learn what type of mom you are and want to be. I also caution women from making a rash decision right at the end of maternity leave. You’re emotional and scared to leave your baby, but try going back to work first – that first week could totally change your mind one way or the other. I have a friend who went back full time. Then she switched to part time because it felt better. Then after her second child, she stayed home. And now it feels right. Another friend went back full time, then started working from home by the time her daughter was 1. But it took a journey to get there. And there’s no right way for anybody.

This is long-winded! But we’re one example of a family with an alternative working schedule who can still create balance and have family time. It’s hard, but it’s great, too!


  1. Loved this, Amanda!! I hate that your mom can't be here with you on this journey.

    You are so right about each mom having things they do well - and if Ben wasn't there with me to help make dinner, my kids would NOT eat nearly as well as they do now - 2 parents at dinnertime is key for me to handing working AND doing family meals!

  2. Loved this, especially since my husband is in the same field, so it was nice to hear someone else mention having to stay quiet while he's sleeping, the odd hours, feeling "alone" a lot of the time. I think that was my biggest struggle after having my first - since my husband worked such odd hours, even times he was home, he was asleep and I just felt so alone all the time! We've obviously worked through it and things are much better now, but it's always nice to read about others who are in the same situation! I love how content you are with everything and your point about every mom having their strengths was a great one!

  3. Great post! Harboring less guilt is awesome, an example for us all.
    Being a mom-less mom is tough. I'm in your camp, and everyday I long for some kind of contact with my mom. I've learned so much about my mom since becoming a mom!
    I love your respect for others choices in the stay at home/work conversation. Maybe has something to do with your firm footing and confidence you are doing the best for your family? Another great example!

  4. Great post. Can totally relate as my husband works shift work also. Julia, if you would be interested Id be keen to write for you also, Ive been reading your blog since Truman's pregnancy and I can offer a different perspective again as I live in Australia, am a full time SATM to 3 under 3 (yes, crazy!!) and have a husband working shifts. Let me know if you would be interested, no problems if not :-) . Love this series anyway. So nice to know you are not the only one going through the challenges (and joys) of mummyhood.

    1. Definitely email me/comment when I put up the prompt to do the second round of this series, probably in the fall! I am all booked up through the beginning of May and plan to take a break for a bit after that but I would love to have you write for the series!!

  5. Guarding that family time is such great advice - something we've struggled with and have gotten better at since starting our family 4 1/2 years ago. As a two-parent working family, that time all together is absolutely precious and vital!

    You have a beautiful family. So sorry to hear that you lost your mom. And good for you for supporting your husband so he could find a career he loves. It has to be hard to be a solo parent so much!! But sounds like it's all worth it.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great series! Love Amanda's post. Bias: she is a friend of mine. Amanda is the best advice-giver and the best example of feeling guilt-free. If you listen to your gut and you believe what you are doing is best, then there's no guilt to be had. I'm trying to absorb that sentiment daily. I'd be happy to contribute sometime to your series, too--I work from home basically full time (I left my job before my now-14-month-old turned one) and my husband is also self-employed (and has been for several years). I think we've started to find a good balance and Ruby has a couple different care providers, etc. to make it happen!

  7. Key takeaway for me was definitely your advice to guard your family time. Great reminder. I need to make more of an effort with this. I am a pretty social person, and also have people-pleasing tendencies, and consequently have sooooo much trouble saying no. We have so many extended family members that I find sometimes compete for that time, and I get overwhelmed trying to keep everyone happy, usually sacrificing our own family time. The kids need it and my husband and I need it. Thank you.

    (Also, I hope this doesn't come across as stalker-ish but I swear you live in my neighborhood, like 6 blocks away from me, based on the photo of your husband with your child in a sled. That spot of town homes with the highway wall behind it, VERY FAMILIAR, even though those townhomes are relatively common so I may be totally wrong. Ha!! Sorry. I'm trying to find a way to talk about it without saying the city and violating your privacy. ;) First-ring suburb? Trendy new restaurants in your neighborhood? Adorable little revitalized main street?)

    1. YES. You got it. That's crazy! This might mean we'll have to meet up at Triangle Park by the Police Dept this summer!

      And it might make me a crank, but I have no qualms saying no to extended family that wants to monopolize our time. Our little family time, plus our couple time, plus sleep and alone time are first priorities in my book. But, that's just me. I can't be busy, busy, busy and shuffling people everywhere and still BE happy. :)

      (Also, isn't it funny how older family members forget what it was like with little kids? They completely forget about nap schedules, bedtimes, work schedules, etc. They're far removed from it, of course, but I hope I remember all that when I'm in that position. My mom was always so good about valuing our time. I wish everyone had her good sense!)

  8. I too was excited to return to work after I had my little boy. I love Abe more than anything but new before I had him and after that there was just absolutely no way I would not go back to work. I teach high school English and aside from the very helpful pay check, it also feeds my soul and my sense of self. I sometimes feel guilty that I do not miss Abe more when I am at work but that doesn't mean I do not think about him; I do all the time! And every mom is different; we just have to try not to compare ourselves to others.

  9. Well said as always, Amanda! I so enjoy your perspective on things. And I saw your comment about older people forgetting what it is like to have children. YES. That is my mother-in-law. She definitely wears rose-colored glasses.


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