Moms Make it Work: Anne from California

Today we have Anne writing for our Moms Make it Work Series. Anne reached out to me as a blog reader, asking if she could participate in the series as a working mom in California. I said 'of course' and loved reading about her life as a mom who balances it all so well.  She is expecting her third baby any day now, so the 'baby watch' is officially in full force on all forms of social media. Enjoy!


Thank you Julia for letting me participate in this series.  I reached out to her after following along and reading everyone stories, and thought that my story would be fun to share.  As I write this edit, I am currently on my second week of maternity leave and am impatiently awaiting the arrival of baby number three.  I hope by the time this is published she will already be here!

Once again, thank you so much Julia for letting me share my crazy chaotic story. 

About me:
Hi everyone.  I'm Anne, a wife to Jason, Mommy to Keane (4 years), Gehrig (2.5 Years) and Marra (due April 9).  I am an occasional when-I-have-time, make-time-for-it-blogger on Our Adventures In Lala Land and Beyond, and post lots of pics of my kiddos on instragram @mianlwls.

Besides being a wife and mommy, I am a TV photo publicist (a creative department/marketing function) for a major TV and Movie studio.  As with lots of people in Los Angeles, I also have a side gig as a wanna be actor with who auditions for commercials mostly, and day player roles here and there. 




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

There are two things I always knew I wanted to be when I grew up.  First and foremost, I wanted to be a wife and mom.  Second, I wanted to be an actor (I know you are probably thinking "actress" but everyone out here refers to each other as "actor" regardless of gender).  I got bit by the unfortunate acting bug when I was 7 years old, and had decided from that age that I wanted to be in the performing arts.  As much as I wish I could shake it, it won't go away.  There were periods in my 20's where attaining both those goals seemed impossible, and thought maybe I should just give it all up and get 30 cats, and find a "real" job.

I attended UC San Diego, where I changed majors 3-4 times, before ultimately going back to being a theater major with a minor in psychology.  My last semester included a class called "The Business of Acting" which basically prepped me for how to tackle the acting world when I got to Los Angeles.  However, now looking back at it, it failed to train us for how to support ourselves while pursuing acting careers if we weren't trust fund babies.

Three months after I graduated, I worked for a very small production company where I worked as a receptionist for three months.  Shortly after that, I got another offer asking me if I was interested in working as a set production assistant on a movie called LIFE AS A HOUSE.  Since I wasn't thrilled with my position as a receptionist, I promptly left and started working on that set.

The set production assistant job was exciting, new and a bit of a thrill when I first started.  It was working on an actual movie with a decent budget, with well known talent, producers, directors, cinematographers etc. For the first time I got to see all the people and the work it takes to create a movie.  After a few weeks into it though, I realized that I did NOT want to work on the production side of things, and I still itched to be the talent.  I loved seeing actors in action, studying, prepping for their time in front of the camera and longed to be in that space again  It was a huge eye opener for me and made me realize at that time that it was still what I wanted to do.  

When that gig ended, I pursued acting full time.  As all actors in Los Angeles do, I waited tables to support myself in between looking for agents, going to auditions, and going to acting class. I managed to do some extra work, nabbed my first agent, auditioned for A LOT of things, and booked a few, did some student films, and got my membership to the Screen Actors Guild.  I did all the things you're supposed to do to work your way into the the business.  Also fulfilling my pre-reqs as an actor in LA, I was pretty much a starving artist living pay check to pay check. 

My starving artists headshots back in the day when they still did them in black and white, and needed physical headshots.    Everything is now in color and submitted digitally.


Four years into my acting pursuits, my husband moved to California from the East Coast as he had always wanted to live in Los Angeles.   We met 3 weeks later, and the rest is history!  When it became established that he was the one, it also changed my acting endeavors slightly as I knew that the starving artist lifestyle was not going to work, especially if starting a life and family with him was the plan. 

Our Early days 

A year after we started dating, I left my server position which I had for 3 years and started working as a TV photo publicist for the studio I currently work for. It was a job in the industry that I loved (entertainment), but in a capacity that I never even knew existed and thankfully enjoyed. My husband happened to start working for the same company as well, but more on that later. 

I also managed to grab a new commercial agent at the same time I started my new job.  I discovered that I could have a "regular" job and still audition during my lunch breaks.  Who knew?  The job provided the salary and benefits that I needed and had been neglecting while pursuing acting.  Insurance, 401k, AND pension, you know, all that grown up stuff that matters.  It also turns out that so many people in the office that I spoke to were aspiring actors, screenwriters, directors, and some have managed to succeed in their dream and leave the day job.  I was in good company, and still am.  Had I known about this sooner I probably would've gone this way as opposed to the server, struggling artist route. 

After dating for 4 years, we got married in 7/7/2007 (yes we were one of those couples). Not to long after that, we started our family. 

Post wedding gondola ride where I tried really hard not to fall asleep. 

We always wanted three kids.  I was already 31 when we got married and was paranoid about fertility, and didn't want to wait too long.  Had we been younger I probably would've waited a little longer to get more of the financial stuff in order, but I didn't want to regret waiting to have money stuff settled and "perfect" and find out that I had fertility issues.  With my age paranoia always around, we started trying for a family after our first anniversary.  Then in October 2009, our first son Keane was born.

First family picture with Keane in the NICU.   

Nineteen months after having Keane, we had our second baby, Gehrig.

Brothers meeting for the first time. 

Our first photo as a family of four.


Then I took a 2 year breather from being pregnant and a one year break from nursing.  My biological clock was continuously ticking in my ear during that hiatus.  We had decided after having Gehrig that we were going to start trying for our third child the month I turned 37, and well, happy birthday to me!  July 2013 ended with a positive pregnancy test, and we are expecting our baby girl, Marra, within the next few weeks. 

Expecting baby #3!  
22 weeks pregnant

34 weeks

The boys giving some love to their baby sister.  (35 weeks)

My husband and I had always agreed that I would work full time until we felt more caught up with our nest egg (see above in regards to starving artist days) and feel that we have enough saved up in the children's college fund.  As much as I would love to work a little less to have more time with the kids, I also don't want to be paying for it when retirement comes around, nor do we want our kids to be saddled with the student loan debt that my husband and I had (we happened to pay off $45K in the school loan debt we had in the past 2 years, but that is a different post altogether).  I have a great fear that we will be in our 60's with no money and end up asking my grown children for financial support.  So to keep that nightmare from happening, I need to work now, and am happy to do so.  Our goal is in the next five years to feel a little more caught up so I can have more options as to changing my career path, if we feel that's where we need to go.  For now however, this is where we choose to be.

On location for a photo shoot. 
After maternity leave, back to work I went (and will go after this baby is born) with the kids in full time daycare.  Fortunately, the boys daycare is on site or "On The Lot" as we say, which makes them a two minute walk from my office.  It makes my life so much easier and lessens the mommy guilt that I suffer from because I have the ability to visit them throughout the day, take them to lunch, or even read a story to their classes.  Even when they are having a rough day, I can get a call from their teachers, walk down there and do my best to console or talk them through whatever issue is happening.   

My husband and I had been working for the same company since 2004, until recently that is.  Before this recent change, we had the luxury of  carpooling and dropping off the kids at daycare together.  We had lunch dates with each other every other day, if not more.  We worked a lot, but we also saw each other a lot.  That changed as of last summer since he has done a career switch as a restaurant manager as it his dream to one day open up his own restaurant.  This has been quite the transition since we went from seeing each other all the time, to seeing each other for a few hours when either of us gets back from work.  As you know, restaurants are not M-F, 9-5 gigs, and so our time spent together and his time spent with the boys has probably been cut in half.  However, we know this is our choice to live like this.  When we do have time when all of us are together, we do not take it for granted and we make the best of it.  We also know that this scenario will not be forever and are hoping to change it within the next 12-24 months.  Right now that I am on maternity leave, that has changed a bit and I am enjoying seeing him more, but I know once I'm back to work, back to the half days of seeing each other will begin. 

What are the best parts of your situation? What are the biggest challenges?
Best part of course is that I have had the family I had always dreamed about.   I'm still in awe that my husband is mine and my kids are MINE, not due to the fact that people sometimes think I'm their nanny  .   I am so in love with this little family of mine and can't believe how lucky I am that I have what I have.

On balancing my job and being a wife and mom:
Fortunately my job is exciting and fun, so I usually don't mind going to it everyday.  Of course there are days where I am sick of the commute, wished for more time at home with the boys and to just get house stuff done, and the usual office politics that I could do without.  I think that is just about every corporate gig though, so I really can't complain, and just learn to deal.  Thankfully there are a lot of pluses that outweigh the negatives on most days.  Our childcare situation is fantastic.  The boys love their school and their teachers.  If I didn't have that I am sure I would be more of a wreck.  Having the ability to see them at a moments notice, take them out to lunch, read a story to their classes before lunch, nap time or play time is fantastic.   One of my favorite things to do is take my son to lunch at the commissary, share an ice cream, and then go back to his class, help him brush his teeth, and then tuck him in for nap time.  I know I am so lucky that I have the option to do that during my lunch hour.

Lunch with my biggest boy with "New York Street" as our view.    

Keane post Thanksgiving program. 


Once the baby starts at the daycare when she is about 6 months, I can walk down to the daycare and nurse her as opposed to pumping throughout the day (yay because I hate pumping!). Another great bonus that the preschool offers are extra curricular activities that we can sign up for extra fees such as soccer, gymnastics, karate and ballet.  They also have a hair dresser that comes once a month to cut their hair.  All these little perks have been great as it cuts down on the errand running on our weekends.  Needless to say, I love our childcare situation. 

I also love the environment of working in the TV and Movie business.  I love working on my shows and walking on the lot and seeing lots of the most popular shows and even movies being created before my eyes.  I always get a big kick out of that even after being there for 10 years.  I also appreciate the fact that if I have an audition, I can just go during my lunch hour and dont have to explain to anyone where I'm going.  Unlike the days when I was waiting tables, where I would have to worry about getting shifts covered. If an audition happens to take place not within "lunch hour" boundaries, I just don't go, as I know this job is more important than booking an acting gig at this time. 

Lastly, if not for the support and true partnership of my husband I don't know how I would manage to juggle all of this.  Every morning he wakes up at 5:30 or 6 and does all the morning prep and also gets the boys ready for the day.  This is even after nights where he'll come back from the restaurant at 2 am.  I always tell him I can manage and he doesn't have to worry on those morning, but he still does it anyway.  On days where he has the mornings off, or the whole day to himself at home, he cleans the house from top to bottom (he's the neat freak out of the two of us).  On those same days, he also makes dinner so that when we get home at 7, all I have to do is heat it up and not spend an extra half hour or 45 minutes cooking.  On nights where he's working and we come home to an empty house, he'll assemble an elaborate track on our Thomas the Train for the boys to play with to let them know he's thinking of them. On days where he opens the restaurant, he picks up the boys from school so that he can have some more one on one time with them.  He really is such a hands on husband and father, and I truly would be lost without him helping me balance all of it.


On The Biggest Challenges....
The biggest challenge is the fact that the work day and the kids day at daycare is very long.  Our childcare is great, but that still doesn't make up for the fact that it's still a really long day.  Before we had the kids, we lived a mere 4 miles away from the office and it would take me 10 minutes at most to get there.  When we moved to "The Valley" once Keane was born, that became a 14 mile commute which equals 45 minutes in Los Angeles traffic on a GOOD day.  It usually takes an hour.  My work day is 8:30-5:30 which means we are out of the house at 7:20 to accommodate traffic and drop off times, and it also means we're home at 7pm.  Before 7:20am we obviously have to get the boys dressed and fed, and this has to accommodate for any meltdowns that may occur ranging from they don't like these spoon I gave them to eat with, to they want to wear their Angry Birds t-shirt and not what we picked out the night before.  The boys don't know any different so they are used to it, but it absolutely kills me on certain days that their days are that long, and we don't have more time at home in the evenings to spend with one another.  It's pretty much, dinner, bath, books and bed when we get home, and very rarely do we have any play time in between.  KILLS ME.

Right now that I am on maternity leave, it is a little different as I am not rushed in the morning to drop them off, and we pick them up 2 hours earlier.  THIS would be the perfect schedule if at all possible at some point, but in our current non maternity leave lives, it's not possible.  

My carpool buddies. 

Another challenge that we are currently facing which I mentioned above is the fact that we do not have as much time with my husband as we used to.  We went from working in the same office and seeing each other all the time, to seeing each other partial mornings and evenings on weekdays, and half days on weekends.  We do once a month full days off that we consciously make an effort to have.  Frankly, it sucks but we are making it work for now.  I have friends (both men and women) who have families and work as police officers, firefighters, and doctors who have waaay worse hours, so for me to whine about our situatuation would be stupid, because it's manageable.  We do plan and hope to make changes because it doesn't change the fact that it's hard on him to not see us as much.  We do make sure that when all 4.5 of us are together, whether it be early in the morning or in the evening, we make the best of it.  About 3 nights out of the week all of as are at the table having dinner.  I live for those nights especially our traditional Friday pizza and movie night which the boys talk about all week long and discuss what movie will be viewed. On weekends where he works nights, we have big elaborate breakfasts together and make sure we go out for a little time in the sunshine before he leaves for work at 2pm.

Sunday morning family time.  

Is this your ideal situation? If not, what is?
It's definitely not ideal, but it's what works for now.  I would love to have a shorter commute, a 30 hour work week so I can have more time at home with my husband and the kids.  If we are talking about ideal situation and dreams here, it would be actually making use of my SAG membership and booking a job once or twice a month which would probably actually equal my current salary  and working a freelance gig part time, whether it be in photo or a job in casting.  (On a side note:  acting is REALLY lucrative if you book the right job.  I have a friend who booked a Doritos commercial when she was 8, and that one commercial paid for her New York University education.  Flo in the Progressive commercials, easily a millionaire.)  If I had the dream of booking an acting job once a month while doing freelance work, it would allow me to be the mom chauffeur to all the activities for the kids once that part of parenting begins.  That would be the dream/ideal situation.  I am however a realist and know that if anything, booking an acting gig would be more of a fun one day, once a year, type thing which would help me supplement our income, and I'm perfectly fine with that too. 

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?
I don't intend on leaving my industry because I do enjoy it.  I can see myself shifting roles within the next 5 years.  Whether it be in my current position with new responsibilities, or a different role altogether.  I would love to stay in my current position with more responsibility, but with the flexibility to do more work from home.  We currently have that ability to work from home (which I have done many nights after the boys are down) but we currently do not have a telecommute policy in place.  If I could telecommute 2-3 days out of the week and just come in for meetings and photo shoots, that would be perfect in terms of balancing my life at home.  If that were to happen, I could see myself staying here for another 10 years. 
Once this little girl is born, I am definitely plan on being more active in working on pursuing acting roles.  As I mentioned earlier it will not be a career switch as I would've envisioned when I was in my 20s, but more of a hobby/side gig to help supplement our income.  If I book one commercial a year (which hopefully shoots on a weekend), that would be more than sufficient to fulfill my financial goals and scratch my chronic itch to act.  

Do you have tips on how you make this work for you?
Like many of the previous posters and as I mentioned above, this works for me because my husband and I have a clear vision of what our goal is as a family. We also work very hard together to achieve our goals, as well as make sure all the little day to day things are taken care of.   Together we make sure to make an effort to spend quality time with the kids and each other despite our chaotic schedules.  His help and support is absolutely crucial in making all of this work.  I truly feel lucky to have him as my husband and the father to my kids.  

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

I don't really know if I handle it or just live with it.  I'm Catholic so I'm supposed to feel guilty about something at all times right?   In all seriousness though,  it's always there, I don't really know if there is anything I can do to change it.  When I'm with my boys I do my best to be present in the moment, and make sure they know that I am paying attention to them.  Not cleaning the house, or thinking about unfinished work, or making dinner, but attending to their needs and the attention they deserve so that they know that they are loved.  When I'm with them I just push the mommy guilt aside and enjoy the time I'm spending with them.  The guilt usually creeps when I'm working and missing them, and at that point there's not really much I can do.  I could go and visit them at school, but I can't do that every hour and disrupt their day.  I have it, I live with it, but I don't let it cripple me or influence the way I parent my children.  I accept that I do feel guilty for not spending as much time with them as I would like, but I still do my best to be the kind of mom I want to be for them.  I hope one day they come to understand that this time I spent at work away from them was also for their benefit.  My mom was a working mom, and I truly appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me and my brother.  I do not resent her one bit for not staying at home, and I hope my boys  kids (gotta get used to that since a girl will be in the picture soon) will feel the same way about me too. 


Advice for new moms struggling with returning to work outside of the home? 

If you have thought long and hard, as well as discussed with your significant other what works best for your family dynamic, and your decision is to return to work, then all will be okay.  It is really hard thinking about leaving your child with someone else, especially the last few weeks of maternity leave where your anxiety can be at an all time high, but once you get back to work, all is fine.  I believe the key to this is also finding childcare that you absolutely LOVE.  Not like, not "they seem okay."  You have to LOVE the people that are taking care of your kids.  Search high and low for that perfect caregiver because it makes all the difference in the world, for you, your significant other and for your babies.

Also, if you happen to go back to work, and it's not working out, you can always change things.  I have had many co workers realize that going back to work is not working out for them, and they do what they need to do so that it becomes possible for them to stay home instead.  Nothing is permanent, ever.  You can always change things to suit the needs of your family and what makes you happiest, and as long as you prioritize what is best for you and your little ones, it will all be fine.

One last thing to note:   Do your best not to compare your situation with others.  Do not listen to people who try to make you feel guilty for your decisions.  What works for you is what works for you and that is the bottom line.  You do not love your kids less for going back to work (even though some people have actually suggested that to me!), the same way you would never say a stay at home mom doesn't "work" because we all know that stay at home moms work so hard at what they do, and it is just as grueling, if not more so than being in the work place.  We all do what we do because we love our families, and we as parents should respect everyone's choices, as they should respect ours. 


  1. Loved this!! After getting to know you just a bit on Instagram these past few months, it was fun to learn more about your background and your life! Glamorous. ;) Or parts of it anyway!! I wish you luck in your future acting pursuits. You need to let us know if we should start looking for you in a particular commercial or show in the future!

    Would you ever look into getting a nanny? The on-site childcare sounds amazing, but you could maybe do a couple days with a nanny and a couple days where they are now, and then the kids would get more time at home. I'm no expert having just started with a part-time nanny two weeks ago (!) but it is so nice knowing that the boys can just chill at home on those days instead of experiencing the same old go-go-go that weekday mornings bring.

    Your family is beautiful and it's great that your husband is such a hands-on daddy. Those opposite hours must be tough, but hopefully he's happy doing what he's doing, and you two seem to be a great team! Also love that you always wanted three kids - me too. Hope that baby girl gets here soon!!!!

    1. Thanks Erin! I guarantee you it is not glamorous. I still like the business, but if you look at it from a PR/Marketing perspective, Hollywood is a well oiled machine that makes it all look glam! During a seminar, an exec put it best by saying "we are just a factory but we just happen to manufacture movies and TV."
      We are considering getting a nanny for the baby part time and Jason will watch her the days that he's home. That way she gets bonding time with daddy and doesn't have to deal with the commute for a while. Unfortunately, not an option for the boys because they do not do part time at the daycare/preschool on the lot. It's all full time, full days. I would even have loved to take them out during my mat leave but they would lose their space, and the waitlist there is LONG. I probably would've more likely taken out my younger one during my mat leave, but he starts the preschool program in June after he turns 3. My older one has done so well there that I wouldn't want Gehrig to miss out on that. I don't even want to think about what it will be like once Kindergarten starts in terms of managing all of this! Thank goodness he is an October birthday and I have an extra year to plan it out.
      Thanks for the kind words and I'm sure once she's here I'll blast it all over the internets. :)

  2. Loved reading this and especially loved your advice on handing guilt and on not comparing! Sounds like you have an awesome childcare situation which makes it so much easier, that's for sure! Good luck with baby girl!

  3. Oooh how exciting to have someone from LA! I am a full time nanny in LA (right by Fox) so I feel you on the long commute with traffic. I feel like I spend so much time in the car. I have heard only positive things about the childcare available at the studios. How wonderful to have that option!

    1. Kate! Where do you live? I used to live by La Cienega and Olympic. So you can guess what studio I work for. ;) And yes traffic blows all the time. Just part of life here I guess, but I know it's always shocking to any out of towners at how horrible it actually is.

  4. I loved this! How awesome that you are setting such a great example for your kids by working to provide for your family and still pursuing your dream in acting. You are completely right -- you do what you have to do for your family because they are your everything. Your kids have wonderful role models in both you and your husband. You are showing them that they can do anything they want to do in life and there's nothing better than that.

    Best of luck with baby girl -- hope she comes soon! And, I'll watch for you on TV!


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