Moms Make it Work: Mateya | Full Time Working, Solo Parenting, Military Mom

Today on the Moms Make it Work guest posting series, we have Mateya--a blog reader that contacted me, willing to share her story. Mateya fits a few of our 'must find' categories for the second phase of the series: she works full time (one day at home), has a husband who works long hours as a farmer and he's also in the Air National Guard, and Mateya travels for her own job as well. Another fun fact: Mateya and I were pregnant with Cecelia and her Hayden at the same time, with due dates a few days apart. And now we are pregnant again together, two days apart for the next round of babies. Love those connections that the blog can make to women I'd never meet otherwise and I really enjoyed Mateya's take on being a working mom who does a good amount of solo parenting, in a small South Dakota town. Enjoy!!


Hello! My name is Mateya and you can find me at The Best is Yet to Come where I blog (not as much as I would like) about my life as a mom, farm wife, fitness enthusiast, and lover of shopping! You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter (both @mateyab32). My husband, Robbie, and I are high school sweethearts and live on an acreage in South Dakota.  He is a farmer and is also a member of the South Dakota Air National Guard. We’ve been through three deployments together.  One while we were dating, one while engaged, and the most recent (last summer) while we had a 1 year old! We have a 2 year old son, Hayden and are expecting Baby #2 on July 10th!


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

I went to a small private Christian college and majored in Business/Communication.  I thought I wanted to be a big time PR/Marketing professional and had planned on moving to a big city.  Why I thought this would actually happen, I have no idea.  My husband and I had started dating in high school and although we had taken a few breaks between then and our early college days (while he went to Basic Training) I always knew I’d end up with him, which meant I’d be ending up on the farm.

I met some of my best girl friends during those 4 years and had a great time learning and living on my own and experiencing the “city” life.  I had a great internship in corporate Human Resources for a large national bank during college, but unfortunately they weren’t able to hire me on full-time after I graduated. I really needed the full-time income and benefits so I had to look elsewhere.  Thankfully one of my co-workers’ brothers-in-law was looking for an office manager/marketing person for his small engineering firm and I was lucky enough to snag the job.  That whole “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” thing is so true.  Especially in small-town South Dakota.  I loved the job, but Robbie and I got engaged during this time, which meant I would be moving to the middle of nowhere farm and out of the city when we got married and needed to find a new job. 


The nearest town to where we live is 12 miles and has a population of 1,400 people.  Yes you read that correctly.  Needless to say, there are very few job opportunities available, especially ones that pay well.  Pretty much everyone in the town works either at the hospital or the school and they stay there until they retire or die.  Sad, but true. So I had to look for jobs in the nearest “big” town (30 miles away) and stumbled upon a job opening as an Admissions Counselor at a local University, similar to the small private one I attended.  This sounded too good to be true, so I said a little prayer and sent in my resume.  It turned out my now boss knew someone from my prior internship (again, it’s who you know). I got a call back the next day and had an interview the following week.  I’ve been there ever since.


-What are the best parts of your situations? What are the challenges?

I am extremely thankful to have a job that is flexible and one that I actually enjoy.  When I had Hayden I really struggled with the idea of going back to work.  Unfortunately, staying home wasn’t an option for us at the time, so I had to find a way to make it work.  My boss commutes 3 hours one way, so she typically works from home 2 days a week.  I figured if she can do it, why can’t I? So my first week back at work I happened to have my annual evaluation with her and I just threw it out there.  My stomach was in knots and I was sweating bullets.  I told her I was struggling coming back and with the commute, etc. and asked if it would be possible for me to work from home one day a week.  She told me we could try it for a few weeks and see if it worked out.  Thank goodness it has and I’ve been able to stay home 1 day a week for the last 2 years.  If Hayden’s sick and can’t go to daycare I stay home, no questions asked.  If I want to take a day off to take Hayden to the zoo or do something fun, I can. It really is nice to know that I don’t have to stress about those little things.


One of the difficult things about my job is that it does require some travel which is difficult with a child(ren). Our busy travel season is during the fall which just so happens to be one of the busiest times on the farm as well, harvest. We are lucky to live down the road from my in-laws and less than an hour from my parents so they are all very willing to help when we need it.

With Robbie being in the Air Guard, he’s gone one weekend a month and has various trainings throughout the year.  This means Hayden and I have a lot of one on one time. With farming, he has many “busy” times where we don’t see him for days at a time.  He comes home after we’re in bed and leaves in the morning before we wake up.  This is not only hard on me, but especially on Hayden who doesn’t quite understand why Dad’s not around.  One of his most recent phrases is, “Dada work.” which totally breaks my heart. I keep reminding myself that it’s only a season. I’m praying we don’t have any deployments in the near future either.  Thankfully, last summer Hayden was too young to really understand what was going on. 


Last summer while Robbie was deployed I decided to do the Advocare 24 Day Challenge to give myself something to push me with my health and fitness goals and to keep my mind off of him being gone.  I had no idea that Advocare would turn into being a huge blessing to our family not only health wise, but also allowing our family a little more “breathing room” where finances are concerned.  This is been great, but it also means more “work.” I spend time each week helping other people on our team reach their health/fitness and financial goals.  Thankfully, this usually happens at night after Hayden has gone to bed.


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

Yes and no.  I knew that being a farm wife would be hard and that I’d have to do a lot on my own, but I don’t think I realized just how much I’d be on my own.  Before we had Hayden I would just do my own thing.  Spend my time at the gym, visit girlfriends on weekends, head to the city to go shopping, do whatever I wanted.  Now that we have Hayden it’s not easy to do any of those things anymore.  I am the sole caretaker 90% of the time.  I do all drop offs and pickups at daycare, I get him up and ready for the day, I make his supper, give him a bath, and put him to bed basically every single day.  I don’t say that to be throwing myself a pity party, by any means, but it’s the truth.  I love having a little companion at home with me, but I didn’t realize how lonely it could be, especially on those hard days when nothing seems to be going the right way. 


I didn’t realize how hard it would be to fit in even the smallest tasks.  I used to teach fitness classes at the local gym and had to give that up because I didn’t get done in time to pick Hayden up from daycare.  I’ve had to give up a lot of my “luxuries” like my gym, shopping after work, etc. because I’m the one who has to pick him up.  Now I get up at 5 am to fit my workouts in at home and I have to get groceries on my lunch break. 


Now that Hayden is older, if Robbie or one of his brothers are around and not super busy they’ll take Hayden with them in the tractor for awhile or let him run around outside with them.  If Robbie is home in the mornings, he will help get Hayden up and ready for the day, but most of the time he leaves before it’s time for Hayden to get up so I’m on my own.


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

No. Ideally, I’d love to be able to find work closer to home so I don’t have to commute and I’d like to be able to work part-time or dive into Advocare full-time. Before I went back to work after having Hayden, I wanted so badly to be a stay-at-home mom. Now that I’ve been back at work for the last 2 years, I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.  If we lived in a bigger city and had things to do, like the library, zoo, children’s museum, moms groups, etc. I think it would be different.  Where we live, there aren’t a lot of options for things to do so we’d end up staying at home the majority of the time and I think that would get REALLY hard, especially in the dead of winter.  I love spending time with my little guy more than anything, but I also think that I would miss having an adult “outlet.” I am really anxious to see how it all unfolds and how my heart changes as we welcome Baby #2 to our family this summer.


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

I just remind myself that this is the way it is.  It’s not going to change (or at least not anytime soon) so I need to make the most of it.  I’m thankful to have family close for those long weekends when Robbie is gone and to be able to have help when we need it. I’m a pretty laid back person by nature so I definitely think that helps.  Hayden and I spend a LOT of time, just us, and I am so thankful for that.  I try to do a lot of fun things with him, it’s just a bummer that a lot of times Robbie misses out on them.

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-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 don’t really have any advice because this decision was ultimately made for me.  I think that no matter what decision you make or are forced to make, you just need to make the best of it.  And remember, the grass is always greener :)

 photo 1

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

I’ve tried meal planning and we NEVER stick to it.  Ultimately something comes up or we end up wanting something else to eat, so I kind of scrapped that idea.  I typically grocery shop once a week but inevitably end up stopping at the store randomly for little things I forgot throughout the week.  In the summer we grill a lot and Robbie does that.  When he is home he actually enjoys cooking because he likes to eat haha! So I am grateful for that, but most of the time the cooking falls on me.  I don’t mind it, but I don’t love it.   


One of the hardest adjustments was the time we eat.  I was used to eating between 6-7 pm, but if we want to eat as a family that usually means more like 8-9 pm.  Obviously this is too late for Hayden to eat and me (especially when I’m pregnant haha!) so I end up eating something quick with Hayden and then cooking something for Robbie after Hayden’s gone to bed.  This is definitely not ideal. I’ve learned to rely on the crockpot a LOT which helps with the timing. We can just eat when we’re ready!


-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?

Good question.  My house isn’t necessarily clean, but it’s picked up.  Most of the time.  I typically clean the kitchen immediately after supper because I hate coming back to that mess after Hayden is in bed.  Once he’s sleeping I do a quick sweep of all of his toys and try to put everything away.  My husband doesn’t understand this.  He says it’s pointless to put them away just for him to drag them all out again the next day, but I just can’t go to bed with stuff strewn all over the house.

As far as deep cleaning goes, that’s something I do when it gets so bad I can’t stand it.  That sounds horrible, but it’s the truth. Occasionally I get the crazy itch to clean and do a major cleaning, but typically I just do it as I notice it getting bad. I despise cleaning.  I usually hire someone to come in and do a deep clean of our house twice a year.  Usually when Robbie is gone for guard trainings haha! Full disclosure.  I’d rather spend time with this cutie than be cleaning!

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I just want to thank Julia for hosting this series.  It’s been so refreshing to read other moms’ stories and to see how they all make it work! Thanks again Julia!

{Thank you, Mateya! Find the rest of the MMIW series here}


  1. Great post, and how exciting that you are about to have baby #2! Your situation does certainly sound like it has its challenges, and I wish you tons of luck as you welcome #2 into the mix! But I love your advice about just making the most of your situation - so very true. We all have pros/cons to our situation, and it's our attitude toward it all that makes all the difference! Am going to start following you on IG right now so I can be on baby watch for you, too, as I am with Julia! ;) Congrats and good luck!

  2. I love this! I think my favorite is to make the best of the situation you are in. Sometimes I forget that I get to spend a decent amount of time with my kid. It could be worse.


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