Moms Make it Work: Jenna | Part Time Working, Solo Parenting Mom

Update as of 8/6/14: 
I've turned off comments for this post. Two days seems to have been ample time to voice opinions on this blog. I'm ready to move on from this, and maybe you are, too. 

Update as of 8/5/14:
Wow, this post has been extremely polarizing, hasn't it? I have emailed Jenna and if she wants to respond directly to the criticisms about her outsourcing, her outlook on parenting, or her love for her children she can certainly comment here. I cannot speak for her on those sensitive subjects and I'm not sure if she will, either.

But I just wanted to say that you can mark me down as another person feeling sadness related to this post. Not because of what Jenna wrote but because this entire series is supposed to involve supporting other moms without judgement. There have been some positive comments as well but the negativity surrounding this post makes ME sad, too. 

It also bums me out that many of you wish I wouldn't have published this post at all. And that some are saying this gives the series a bad name or reflects poorly on the other posters included in the series. I guess that's the risk I'm taking with allowing guests to write here--it's intended to showcase many different viewpoints, different situations, and various opinions. For any of you that have read my blog before, you must know that I tend to take the 'middle of the road' approach and want to avoid confrontation if at all possible. So to have a post on my blog cause so much backlash is a real bummer for me personally. I really don't want one post to negatively affect the rest of the series--that is the part that bothers me the most. 

I don't think taking Jenna's post down will help anything, since what done is done. That would probably only make things worse at this point and I don't know how to make things better right now. I'm at a loss. But know that I never meant to upset or hurt anyone with this series---I had quite the opposite intentions, actually. 


Today on the Moms Make it Work series we have Jenna from That Wife, sharing her take on being a mom to two kids while her husband travels Monday through Thursday. One of the requests you readers had for this second phase of the series was for me to find more moms who 'solo parent', with a spouse who travels for work/is deployed/works a LOT of hours. A follower on Instagram suggested Jenna for the series, and so she offered to write about how she makes it work as a 'solo' mom. I have known Jenna for many years now through our blogs, and even though mine is the one with 'Transition' in it's title, I think Jenna takes the cake for going through the most changes over the years. I know Jenna was hesitant to write about this topic at first, since her journey through motherhood has caused many conflicting emotions, but ultimately she felt she was ready to share. Enjoy!


Hello Transition readers! My name is Jenna and I'm a mother of two (a boy (4) and girl (1)) in the Bay Area of California. I'm currently making it work as a part-time photographer/blogger with a husband who travels for work Monday-Thursday (and usually works the other three days of the week as well). I call what I do solo parenting, and some weeks are better than others. When my kids are out of the house I manage Pinterest Fail, work on getting my Jenna Cole photography business up and running after yet another cross-country move, occasionally drop by my personal blog That Wife, and post lots of pictures at few weeks ago I also launched Hardly Sweetened, a recipe site for low-sugar mixed drinks. Testing out cocktails in the evenings is a really nice way to unwind after the kids are in bed. ;)


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

We met in Utah in 2007, married in Washington in 2008, lived in Dallas until 2010, did two years in Chicago for my husband's MBA program, and have lived in two different cities in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2012. I was raised in a conservative Mormon household and never really thought much about having a career, so all of our decisions about where to live and when to move have been determined by my husband's career.

The importance of motherhood was stressed from a young age, and so I bounced around between majors until I found one that was easy for me and didn't require any math or science. I always assumed I would stay at home, love every second of it, and my husband would be the only breadwinner in the family. (It was the middle assumption where I really got things wrong.)


I left BYU with just over 20 credits to go and wasn't very interested in finishing my degree. I pushed my husband to get started on kids and was pregnant 6 months after we got married. My thinking about a lot of things changed after I left my Mormon beliefs behind and I graduated with a bachelor's degree in English when I was 14 weeks along with our second child.

Currently I work MWF from about 10am-5pm. This break from my kids is absolutely essential for my mental health and emotional well-being, acting as a reset button after each day of full-time (usually solo) child chasing/cajoling/coaxing. During my office hours I chip away at whatever I have on my to-do list for that week; preparing posts for Pinterest Fail, editing photos, coordinating future projects, paying bills, writing photo tutorials, answering emails, etc. It brings in a little bit of money, and lots of joy as I get to set and work at my goals, but it's really about personal fulfillment more than anything. I think a lot about getting a job working for someone else and building up a career, but I'm hesitant to commit to a different work scenario while my husband works the way he does. Part-time self-employment without the stress to make ends meet is a luxury, and I'd like to stay in this position for at least another year.


I usually work on personal projects in the evenings after the kids are in bed, and try to force myself to only work on profitable endeavors during MWF child-free office hours. The hardest thing about self-employment for me is that it feels like I've never done enough, and it's tough for me to step away from the computer when there are still elements of a project I need to complete (and then there is always something on my "lake list," you know that list of never-ending projects that you feel should do but take forever to get to). My husband works from our home office some weekends, which is great because then he can see us a little bit more, but also means that I'm shut out from my office for the entire weekend. That was a difficult adjustment at first, but I've found that it's crucial for me to not put any items on my weekend to-do list that require computer time or long periods of concentration. I've used the app Remember the Milk for years and consider it an essential part of my daily life. I'm the best version of my mother-self when I use the postpone features on Remember the Milk and the Mailbox app from Dropbox that takes all of my tasks and emails and puts them out of sight and out of mind. This allows me to go on the back patio and watch my son ride his bike while my daughter crawls into my lap without feeling like there is something else I should be doing.

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

I don't know that they outweigh the bad, but there are a few advantages to a 1950's style parenting arrangement with a spouse who travels for work. I have total control over what the kids wear, what they eat, what they do, when they go to bed, how they are disciplined, etc. In the evenings after the kids are in bed I get to watch whatever I want as I fold the laundry, and can work late into the night if I please without a spouse asking me to come talk or canoodle (these are not bad things of course, but it's nice to have complete freedom over how I spend my time). Monday-Thursday is one less day where I have to worry about feeding another adult, or cleaning up after them (actually this is all days, my husband works so much that I haven't cooked a handful of meals for him in the past few months). The best of the best parts is that my husband is paid very well and we get to live in an expensive area on one income + the little bit I make from blogging and photography each month. And we get to do that with all sorts of indulgences, including child-free time for me and a killer preschool that our son goes to full-day Monday-Friday.


The challenges? *sigh*. This past week was a good illustration of how frustrating and draining it can be. My husband left on Monday morning, didn't come home until Friday afternoon. I picked up my son and brought him home from preschool at around 5pm, which meant the kids had about 10 minutes with their dad before both parents left and were out until late that night. Saturday and Sunday my husband went into the office, with a total of about 19 hours working out of the house over the weekend. These are the weekends where I do things like walk 45 minutes one-way to the grocery store in order to eat, run errands, exercise, and kill time all at once.

If I had two choose the two things that are hardest for me, it would be that I only have a few hours a month where I don't have to pay someone to do something without my kids in tow (we don't have any family around) and that all of the stresses of parenting young children fall entirely on me. Using food as an example, I plan the meals, shop for the food, prepare the meals, feed the kids (while begging them to please eat something other than the dipping sauce I put on their plate as an incentive), and clean up the meal all on my own. My floor is rarely swept, I eat almost all of my dinners standing up while trying to unload/load the dishwasher, and I'm grateful they teach my son to brush his teeth at school because once dinner is cleaned up all I want to do is get them to bed as fast as possible.


Most of the time on the weekday evenings I want to work on something at home, but there are times when my girlfriends get together and I need to decide if I want to pay someone to sit in my house while my kids are sleeping so I can leave the house. That "trapped" feeling really stinks. Whenever I'm invited to something for families I make sure and clarify "It's going to me, and my kids. No husband." It's hard to make couple friends when I don't have a partner to attend dinners and events with.


My oldest is starting to ask where his daddy is, and why his daddy doesn't come home at night. I try to help him understand, but dealing with his confusion and sadness at such a young age is very troubling and difficult. I can only hope that there are other employment opportunities in the future that don't involve regular travel.

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

As a couple we have this discussion a lot. I think our ideal would be that we both have careers we love and can afford hire the help we need to make it work. I think a more realistic ideal would be a 9-5 job for my husband with only a handful of hours of work on the weekends, and a part-time job for me. I would like to continue with my photography business, but we're both pragmatists and not sure that it's a viable career in the long-term as technology develops.


-Do you see yourself making a career change (whatever that means) in the next 5-10 years? Or is this current set up staying put for the long haul?

For me it's not about changing careers. I feel like I have yet to launch a career! I'm still not sure what that is yet though. I'll be 30 next year and I feel so behind everyone else. Maybe there's an opportunity just around the corner that I can't quite see yet? I'm trying to do my best on the daily and take baby steps that build a good foundation for whatever comes in the future.


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

We hired a nanny for 20 hours/week in the mornings for three months after my daughter was born, and that's how I survived the newborn stage without all of my hair falling out. Now I'm treading water because I have full-day preschool M-F for my oldest and 3 days a week of full-day childcare for my youngest. Monday-Friday the same family who watches my youngest sends either a 12 or 14-year old girl over for about an hour to help get my kids dressed and out the door in the morning. I worked really hard to establish a support system and network of babysitters that can show up when we need more help.

My BIL is living with us temporarily as he builds up his business stateside (he lives in Poland) and this means that we can tell the sitter to go home after the kids are in bed. I like the arrangement so much that I'm campaigning for my sister to move in with me later this summer! I think it might happen which would solve a lot of my problems; craving adult interaction in the evenings after long days with the kids, someone to do stuff with on the weekends, the ability to leave the house on weekday evenings to spend time with my girlfriends, etc.


-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??

Peanut butter sandwiches! This is what my kids have for dinner almost every weekday, on the way home from school. It makes my life so much easier to feed them in the car, and then I can clean up the kitchen while they play and unwind a bit before bed. It also means I can go to the gym with them on Tuesday/Thursday in the evenings and then bring them home right afterward and put them to bed. We have a standalone freezer in the garage that is filled with microwavable meals from Trader Joe's. When I do cook it's large batches of stuff on my weekdays with my daughter so I can put stuff together throughout the rest of the week. One of my favorite things is to shop at the farmer's market on the weekend and put together a nice dinner on Saturday or Sunday. Though I lately haven't felt the desire to get the kids out of the house all by myself that early on a weekend morning, and it's always discouraging to put so much work into a meal and then eat the entire thing standing up while trying to simultaneously clean up the kitchen and fetch milk and napkins and clean up plates knocked to the ground.

I'm passionate about sustainable food and healthy eating, but one day I decided that I wanted those things to go on the back burner for a little bit as I worked to find ways to manage my anxiety and stress levels during this unique period in my life. My kids still eat pretty healthy (my current top priority is low-sugar), but there is less variety and a lot less stuff made entirely from scratch (I used to make my own whole wheat bread). My son's school emphasizes low-sugar whole foods and provides two snacks per day in addition to lunch, so I only need to think about breakfast and dinner for him when he goes to school. I was actually kind of sad to see my daughter advance in her solid food intake, because the pouches of puree made feeding her so easy.


-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?

A few weeks ago I got rid of about 90% of our toys. The 10% leftover are made up of a train table, a basket of toys in their bedroom, a box of stuff in storage, and a collection of completely random outdoor toys I've picked up at yard sales and thrift stores over the year. I don't like clutter and I used to spend a lot of time stomping around the house huffing about how I'm not the maid and I don't want to be picking up everyone's messes all the time. Now I only do that once a day! (And I don't huff about it anymore (most of the time).) I'm neat, but not clean, which means my house will look okay for Instagram pictures but would never pass the Mary Poppins white glove test. For that sort of cleaning I outsource, hiring the nanny we used after my daughter's birth to come in every 3-4 weeks and do a deep clean of the entire house. Most of my housework is done on Tuesdays/Thursdays when my daughter is home with me, except for the dishes which I try to tackle once a day.


-How do you handle mommy guilt?

I went to therapy! Very worth the investment. Outsourcing childcare has also alleviated a lot of my mommy guilt. I only have both kids on the weekends and holidays, and my youngest is with me for two weekdays each week. That doesn't leave me a lot of opportunities to screw things up. Ha! I have full faith that the caretakers I've found are phenomenal so I send my kids off to their respective situations guilt-free.


When I showed the rough draft for this post to a friend she said "How did you get rid of all of your toys without your kid freaking out?" I think it's probably because I've decided to divorce myself from screen-time guilt. My kids (really just my oldest, though I don't prevent the youngest from seeing the screen when it is on) have a little bit of TV in the mornings and evenings on weekdays before and after school. On weekends there are cartoons in pajamas in the mornings and TV during quiet time when baby girl is napping and screen time right before bed after the pajamas are on. That's why they don't need a lot of toys, between school and trips out of the house on the weekends and time in the backyard on warm afternoons and TV time they have enough toys to meet their needs.

It reminded me of another way I'm fighting the mommy guilt - I'm done worrying about meeting impossible standards or the thinking that the newfangled ideas of today are the only way to raise successful and compassionate children. I don't see my husband dealing with any daddy guilt, and I don't know any fathers who speak about their parenting the way all the mothers around me do. I think we all need to be a lot kinder to ourselves.


I reject the helicopter parenting model and prefer something more like the mothering style of the past, which I recently heard Teri Gross refer to as the "drone style." I think the "The Economist's Guide to Parenting," produced by Freakonomics, is one of the greatest parenting guides you can find. My takeaway from the parenting pieces they've done is that who kids turn out to be is largely determined by who their parents are. Not how much TV the kids watch or how many boxes of blue box Kraft they eat, but whether the parents are ambitious, kind, open-minded, educated, curious, friendly, persistent, humble, empathetic, and willing to say "I don't know" and "I love you" and "I'm sorry." According to Steve Levitt, quoted by Stephen Dubner, "What matters most is who parents are; not what they do."


I've faced a lot of criticism about my parenting choices, but the critics who really matter (my mom, my husband, therapist, etc) have consistently validated my efforts and gently pointed out small changes I can make to do better. I turn to them for guidance when I am humble enough to seek feedback and implement changes. The Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey may have said it best when consoling Lady Mary - "There's more than one type of good mother."


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


  1. There is so much I love about this post. We eat lots of PB sandwiches too. I love the Freakonimics guys - my husband and I reference them all the time. And it's so true: it doesn't matter if they play with Barbies or watch Princess movies or use squirt guns outside...It's what you TEACH them and how you empower them that matters.

    While I'm not quite as solo as you, (this week my kids will see their dad Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon), I know a bit what it's like to do it all. (And I love some of the alone time too!) I think it sounds like you're doing an amazing job. :)

  2. I love the honesty in this post. And I love that you're allowing yourself the freedom to parent how you feel is right regardless of what everyone else (or books) are telling you. Go, mama!

  3. This post made me reflect on my own childhood a bit. I grew up with a lot of things that some would probably find abhorrent -- lots of TV time, junk food, was a latchkey kid for a few years, parents divorced in bad circumstances, was the kid at sports/extracurriculars whose parents never showed up. The idea of my mom doing a 'Pinterest project,' or many other things I see in mommyblogging culture today (and, to be honest, that I often do as a mom of two myself) is hilarious to me. And yet, I turned out pretty great. I am a successful, healthy, happy, high-achieving person. So is my sibling. And what I remember from my childhood the most is that my mom constantly told us she loved us, joked with us, pushed us to achieve, and was (is) our biggest champion and fan.

  4. My daughter eats pb&j a lOT! Partly because she is hungry before dinner is ready and partly because I know she won't like what I'm cooking but it's what I want for dinner. I love so many things in this post.

  5. You are seriously without a doubt one of the laziest mothers I have ever only have two goes to pre school full baby has full time care three days a week..AND you also have help from a 12YEAR old girl for an hour in the morning.....and yet you feed them peanut butter sandwiches in the car.....

    1. For all her talk about how much cooking and cleaning she has to do, it sure seems like she doesn't actually do any! Why doesn't she go to the gym during the day? Surely blogging can't take up that much time?

  6. I love your thought towards the end on parenting. There really are so many ways to parent and it's no use beating ourselves up if we are doing it a certain way and that isn't the same as someone else. I also like how you point out being open to suggestion from the people you trust.

    I can't imagine having my husband gone that much, but I totally get how you like being able to do your own thing. My husband is around a lot so I sort of miss that alone time (but I wouldn't change my husband's flexible schedule).

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. I couldn't even finish this interview because this is such crap. This person is not a mom making it work. She isn't even mothering her kids - everyone else is! A "nanny" comes to help them get dressed in the morning, and then the preschool has her son all day, another sitter watches the daughter so she can work on Pinterest projects (?!), then she drops them off at the gym daycare for a while until it's time to go home and "put them in bed as soon as possible." And even then, she has a family member there that can watch them should she need to go out and do anything. Her whining about not having friends around to help with the childcare is completely unfounded, given the amount of caregivers and helpers she talks about. Sounds to me like she's only in it for the money she gets from her husband's employer, and she doesn't have to worry about taking care of him since he's never there, or the kids since she pays someone else.

    If you need valid interviewees for this series on your blog, then you can hear my story where I truly am making it work - My husband is a police officer working 5 days of 12+ hour shifts each week, and I work full-time out of the home. We have 3 kids, a set of twins - one with cerebral palsy. I hire help because he needs it, it's a medical assistant, not because I want it so that I can decide if I want to go out with my girlfriends or not. And dang if I wish I could stay home and do it myself because those children of mine are a gift from God, but having special needs children is expensive, and I married for love and not money. I wouldn't change my situation for this Jenna person's, believe me, but if you are going to tout a series of you interviewing moms that have difficulties to overcome, in order to encourage other moms and your readers, then you're definitely doing it wrong.

    1. Sure, would love to have you post for the series as your situation sounds really interesting and challenging. I'm sure many readers would love to read how you juggle it all.

      Just to clarify, I didn't intend for the Moms Make it Work series to be about moms with difficulties to overcome. I mostly want it to show a variety of mothers in different situations, in hopes that someone who is reading can find a bit of inspiration/encouragement. I have had requests for moms with children who have special needs to post---and just had my first poster who fit that request (she posted last Friday). So again, I feel like this series is now being driven by readers' requests---finding moms in specific situations. Would love to hear from you if you want to write!

    2. How about Moms who have an actual job? Or Moms who stay at home and actually parent their children? I almost feel like this interview could have been featured in The Onion. How could anyone possibly relate to this cold, out of touch woman, with her ridiculous first world, upper middle class problems?

  8. Interesting post. Jenna, have you considered hiring a live-in nanny? It would be expensive, but not much more than you're currently paying for childcare, and it would be great for the kids.

    1. This seems like a good solution for Jenna. I have enjoyed the Moms Making it Work series, but this post...I don't know.

  9. I actually found this a really depressing post. Instead of reading about how another mom makes it work, I learned about her resentments. I am all for outsourcing when appropriate and asking for help when needed, but PB&J every day in the car for dinner? Hired help to get the kids DRESSED?

    This is *sad* and I am not sure why it's being celebrated here.

  10. What about this is solo parenting? Seriously? Jenna might be making it work but she is absolutely in no way a solo parent. Sure, her husband is away a staggering amount of time, but she literally has a village of hired help watching her children.

    I wonder why she had two kids? It was so obvious after T1 was born that she was not adjusting well. I won't even begin to speculate or judge, I'll just say that it was a very, very obvious struggle. One that she put on the internet, including her blog and in some truly horrifying pictures and videos on YouTube. Which begs the question...what made her think adding a second child to her life would be better? I really really truly do not understand. If you would rather identify as anything other than a mother, why did you have two kids?

    I really don't care what adults choose to do or how they run their lives, live and let live. You're the only person who has to wake up every day and live in your shoes. But the kids? They don't have a choice. They just have a mother who documented her own "benign neglect" (her words) and thinly veiled distaste of them on the internet where she earned small money via advertisements on her myriad websites.

    I'm seriously so sad and so disappointed this ever made it out of your draft folder. This is just sad. And it has nothing to do with the vast amount of childcare or her need for copious amounts of alone time, and everything to do with the fact that anyone can tell this continued behavior is and will continue to hurt her children.

    1. I also wondered about the decision to have a second child. Maybe some pressure from the Mormon religion? This post just makes me sad.

  11. You feed your kids peanutbutter sandwiches in the car for dinner every night? That's where you lost me. Sorry.

    1. and spends all day meal planning? what a lot of contradictions.

  12. Believe me, I know how emotionally, mentally and physically exhausting raising kids can be, but this post made me so sad for these babies. One child is in preschool full time while the other is in childcare 3 days a week, plus the help of the teenage sitter, the brother in law and the gym childcare when she needs it. However, despite all of this assistance, Jenna seems to be so eager to rid herself of the children as much as possible. These precious years will be gone in the blink of an eye, hopefully she will realize this before its too late and the children are grown.

  13. I'm dumbfounded that you need help getting two children dressed and to daycare/preschool in the morning. I don't want to judge the choices mom's make about work and daycare, but I've yet to meet an adult that was so flustered by two children every morning that he/she needed help. Particularly when those two children will be out of your hair shortly. I work at home, full time for people who expect me to be on conference calls and skype fairly often so I use full time daycare/preschool and know the morning rush. Its not rocket science, and if my job was semi-blogging and semi-instagraming then it surely would be easier because instagram isn't going to call me at 8:05 and expect my complete attention. You must be kidding me with this.

  14. First, I have to agree with some of the others in that this post doesn't make me feel camaraderie with another mother that's in the trenches of young parenthood, it actually has quite the depressing tone and outlook on motherhood, despite the copious amounts of help she is receiving. Added to that are the handful of contradictions in her story and justification for so much help and escape. In one paragraph, she says she hopes her sister will move in because of "craving adult interaction in the evenings after long days with the kids, someone to do stuff with on the weekends, the ability to leave the house on weekday evenings to spend time with my girlfriends, etc." (understandably, we'd all like that!) but then she goes on to say later that she only has both kids weekends and holidays. So, she needs adult interaction and getaways with girlfriends after spending a staggering TWO days a week with both her kids? We all want and need getaways and adult interaction as mothers, but I don't know very many mothers that find one or two days with their children so deeply formidable. It wouldn't strike me as so odd if the amount of time actually spent with children vs. time spent trying to unwind from said childcare wasn't in such stark imbalance. I think we all here are strong supporters of women getting the childcare help they need and not assuming all the tasks of parenthood on their backs alone, but there is some line of immense outsourcing coupled with nonchalance about spending time with your children that, when crossed, leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

    I'm just really left scratching my head with this guest post.

  15. I'm trying not to judge but this post just completely rubbed me the wrong way.

  16. I am so conflicted about this post. While I do truly appreciate her honesty, I am insulted that she considers herself a parent. I have two girls 23 months apart so believe me, I understand how overwhelming and exhausiting it can be, so I try and give parents a lot of slack. You have to do what you have to do to make it all work, but this seems way above and beyond. Jenna doesn't seem to actually have that much time where she is required to actually take care of both children. PB&J for dinner at least 3 nights a week. I'm not judging that part because I have surely fed my children plenty of non organic, fast food type things, but what I will "judge" her on is the fact that she complains about having to cook and clean all by herself. PB&J isn't fancy, complicated food that requires lots of different pots and pans and utensils. And it sounds like her husband isn't home for dinner most nights, so she is really complaining about the fact that she has to cook food for her own self and then clean up that mess. And I don't judge her on wanting to be a working mom. There are plenty of moms out there who want/have to work for monetary reasons or for their own self worth, but it also seems like a majority of those moms that I knew felt guilty about working rather than spending quality time with their kids, but in her case, it seems like she is trying to figure out how she can spend even less time with her kids than she does already. Which then begs the question, why did she even have children in the first place? Yes, I know that there is societal pressure on us women to have children, that's what we were put here on earth to do, have and raise kids, but you know what, its actually a choice to have kids and if you don't want them, then its pretty simple, don't have them. I know several women who made a choice not to have kids, one of them even said that she did it out of selfishness because she enjoyed being able to travel and do what she wants when she wants, but in my book its better to be "selfish" like that then to be like Jenna and have kids only to apparently resent them. Okay, so maybe initially she didn't realize that she didn't want kids, but when seems to have become apparent after T1, why on earth did she have a second? I obviously don't personally know this Jenna, but just from reading this post, it seems like she is a very selfish, self absorbed person.

  17. Delurking here. This post gave me the sads, seriously. I don't know anything about this woman but just from reading this post it sounds like she only had kids because it was expected of her, not because she wanted them. It's glaringly obvious that she sees them as roadblocks to having the ideal lifestyle of being a stay-at-home wife with a part-time blogging job. I just hope these kids are getting lots of love from all of their paid caregivers and their dad when he's home. I don't sense any warmness from mom, even with all those pictures she included.

    I have two kids of my own and yes there are days when I'm excited for them to go to bed, but those are few and far between. I cannot imagine constantly pushing my kids off on someone else and then getting them back and wishing away the few hours I have with them.

  18. I just have no idea why Jenna feels so much stress solo parenting when she has so many people watching her kids for her. I'm sure she loves them, and it would be awfully hard having a husband who works so much, but why does she need so much alone time? It seems like she gets plenty but still feels stressed by what time she does have with her kids. I've got a newborn micro-preemie daughter in the NICU who my husband I visit for hours every day. It took 10 years to conceive her. I hope that I won't ever have to work while we're raising her, but if I need to to make ends meet, you'd better believe I won't be outsourcing the precious time I'll have with her before and after work. I don't get the feeling that Jenna likes having kids, which makes me sad for her little ones.

  19. I just have to comment again to say I'm really surprised by the comments on this post. Every person parents differently and in the end, this isn't a competition of who can do it better. I believe Julia created this series as a way to support one another, not compare and criticize.

    In a world where there is Legit Neglect going on out there (other police officer wives know what I'm talking about - our husbands see it every day), judging someone on PB sandwiches for dinner feels a little off base. These kids are beautiful and loved; that's what matters.

    We're all just doing our best. I hope people can remember that.

    1. Who on earth hires a TWELVE YEAR OLD girl to help a grown woman of (nearly) THIRTY dress her two kids in the morning? Who both then go on to full time/three times a week pre school...this pre school also taught her SON how to brush his teeth...and you think that's not neglect...that a mother cannot be bothered to show her own child how to brush his teeth...a mother who cannot be bothered to cook evening meals for her own children so she feed them PBJ sandwiches in the car so she doesn't have any *mess to clear up when she's at home.....

    2. I guess I just question how loved these children truly feel, considering both their parents choose the spend the absolute minimum amount of time with them and instead outsource their care to daycares and electronics...

    3. I've gone back and reread this post several times now and there are just too many sentences scattered throughout that range from head-scratching to downright depressing to copy/paste here. I feel like what we read here is not someone trying her best, but who is trying to do the bare minimum for her children personally.

  20. I had trouble finishing this interview, I found it disturbing. I wish you didn't include it in your otherwise amazing series of Moms Making it Work.

  21. I agree with the comment about having a live-in nanny. That would make far more sense than employing a bunch of different sitters, including a 12 year old girl (?!) to dress the children in the morning. As far as the rest of it goes, I'm kind of dumbfounded. How is she so bogged down with cleaning the kitchen and emptying the dishwasher, when she admittedly feeds her two children peanut butter sandwiches in the car on weeknights? Peanut butter sandwiches involves maybe 3 minutes of cleaning, max. I mean, we all have to clean up our messes, whether we have children or not. I just don't get it. On the positive side, I guess the children will have many pretty photos of themselves to look at when they are older.

  22. I'm really disappointed you included this post in this series. I work part-time and also often solo parent many days a week and I found this post completely unrelatable, when it had the potential to be the one I related to most since I am in a similar situation. Normally I find this series to be very fascinating, even in those posts where I parent differently or I am in a very different situation from the poster--I like hearing the stories of other families and how other moms get stuff done. This, though? I just...I can't even.

    I literally don't even know what to say. This whole thing leaves a really bitter taste in my mouth. I'm just really disappointed this even made the cut.

  23. I don't understand this article. This woman literally has help with nearly every aspect of parenting, and the stuff she is left to do on her own, she does the LEAST amount of work possible just to get to bedtime for me of "her time". Why have kids? And why does she have a kitchen to clean each night if she is giving them the easiest sandwich on the planet for a meal? Oh, I missed it, she makes HERSELF a meal, but don't worry, lest you think she is spoiled, she eats standing up at the sink? What in the world? They don't have toys because handing them an iPad is easier? She needs help dressing TWO KIDS in the morning and she doesn't have a physical disability? Man, I should just stop typing, because I've nver read someone so honestly unhappy about how motherhood has disrupted HER life. Hey sister, go ahead and "divorce" yourself from all of your Mama-guilt, I mean as long as YOU feel good, right???? The only thing this woman is making "work" is figuring out how to be a mom without any of that pesky KID stuff.

    I don't like to post negative things about people, maybe this mom just comes off wrong?

  24. This made me really sad. I get that having children can be overwhelming but she doesn't seem to spend more than an hour or two with her children on a daily basis. I really feel sorry for those kids being raised not by their parents but by those hired to care for them.

  25. I'm a single woman without kids and even I'M jealous of how much 'alone time' this woman gets!! More than me!

  26. Hi Julia, after reading the disclaimer at the top of this post, I am really wondering if you were totally unaware of the online controversy and negative attention surrounding Jenna before deciding to publish this post. I do not read her blog, but I've seen other pieces by and about her around the net, and have frankly not seen too much positivity or support for her. Iyour decision to include her does cast an unfortunate light upon this series.

  27. "But I just wanted to say that you can mark me down as another person feeling sadness related to this post. Not because of what Jenna wrote but because this entire series is supposed to involve supporting other moms without judgement. There have been some positive comments as well but the negativity surrounding this post makes ME sad, too."

    At what point is it OK to not be supportive of something that appears to be an objective example of bad parenting? I am a big believer in "Moms [and Dads and Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents] Make It Work' and certainly that looks like different things to different families. I was raised to believe "Different strokes for different folks' and 99% of the time I think that holds true. But this isn't an issue of SAHM vs. working or various sleep-method training or breast vs. bottlefeeding or any other of the typical mommy war topics that are so detrimental. This post was a mother, in her own words, detailing how she spends as little time as possible with her own children and still complaining that she doesn't have more "me" time.

    I say this as someone who doesn't have children, but even so, I recognize that being a mom is incredibly hard work. I think most parents are just doing the best they can to raise happy, healthy kids and keep their own sanity as well and I will support what method works best for them, but that's because those people are doing it for their kids and their family.

    The reason people are being so judgmental on this post is because Jenna just told all of us that everything she does, she does for her. I think people are upset because they see this series as a way to see how others balance all of the demands of life and motherhood and this post was more about paying your way out of motherhood. As my husband and I discuss starting a family, I have really enjoyed reading this series. This post was just a major bummer.

  28. Julia, I'm sorry that you feel bad so many of us were disappointed in this post, so I'm coming back to comment and tell you why I personally felt disappointed. It's because this particular poster doesn't seem very engaged with her children and doesn't realize what a slap in the face this post would be seen to some. In that way, I'm disappointed that you didn't see that either. I would LOVE to be able to afford to stay home with my son full time. As it is, I work part-time and am going back to work full-time because we've stretched our budget as much as we could to allow me to stay home part-time these past two years. So then to read this post about a woman who wants to call herself a solo parent but who basically offloads her kids out to other people as much as she possible can? It was just...very disheartening to me, when I would give anything to be in a financial situation that would allow me to spend as much time as possible with my son. Jenna, from her own words, appears to do as much as possible NOT to spend time with her children.

    I had post-partum depression and a very difficult adjustment into motherhood, and so I really wanted to be able to relate to Jenna because I know how much of a shock and how taxing it can be sometimes. But she doesn't seem grateful to have children at all--this may not be the case at all, but this is the way Jenna, in her own words, has portrayed herself here. I also believe in the whole "it takes a village" mentality, but my village is daycare two days a week, extended family when they can come in from out of town, and the rest of that time is on me, when my husband is working long hours. I AM a part-time solo parent. Jenna appears to be (from her own words) only a part-time mom.

    Are these feelings on me? Yes. They reflect what I think, and not necessarily on Jenna. But you couldn't honestly have read the draft of this post and thought, "Wow, this is a great example of solo parenting and my readers will be so interested in this!" Because the truth is, she's not a great example of solo parenting. I'm sure she loves her children, but the way this was written, it appears she doesn't love them as much she loves herself.

    I enjoy this series for the most part but as someone who solo parents 5 days a week, I find this poster's attitudes towards "solo parenting" completely distasteful and also totally off the mark. This is a completely unrealistic depiction of solo parenting and I wish this category (part-time working, solo parenting) had been represented better.

  29. Gosh, I just want to give these sweet kids a big hug and a homemade meal. My husband travels constantly too ~ and rather than feel resentful and woe is me, I feel sad for him that he is missing out on some of the best years of parenting. Our kids are 7, 6 and 4, and they are amazing. PBJ in the CAR? I just picture the poor kids, muting away on the same meal, looking out the window sadly, night after lonely night, after spending yet another day with one paid caregiver or another. If you would like to feature a Mom who works a little bit outside of the home (teaching yoga), and NEVER sent her babies to daycare or who hated or resented her husband or children or felt "trapped" by the people that my husband and I chose to make, I would be happy to let you know what life could be like with a husband who travels and young kids. Jenna, your take on life and motherhood is incredibly disturbing and my heart goes out to your children. I truly hope that you continue with your therapy, and that you show your therapist this interview. I hope that your husband sees it too. Is he aware of how unhappy/incapable you are?

    1. Wow, this post is horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I appreciate you (Julia) adding the commentary at the beginning but am also a bit surprise you posted this. I'm a long-time reader of your blog and love this series, and basically got the impression this woman does whatever she can to avoid spending any time at all with her kids. I guess it "works" for her, but my pregnancy hormones are definitely over-active right now. I understand not everyone loves being a parent, but it basically sounds like she finds no joy in having kids at all.

      I used to read her blog and had to unsubscribe from it before she had her daughter---I actually think the reason I unsubscribed was because she bashed parents who send their kids to daycare, but I could be confusing her with another blogger. It took me a few minutes to realize who she was.

      And serious advice for Jenna---have you considered Boarding School when the kids get a bit older? I noticed a few other comments about a live-in nanny, but then the kids would be "there" a lot. Boarding School might be a good option to consider.

  30. Wow. Ya know how there is a saying about how any guy can be a father; it takes a real man to be a DAD? This Jenna character illustrates that there is a huge difference between being a mother in the biological sense, and being a MOM in the loving, nurturing, relational sense. She paints herself as basically a pregnancy surrogate for all these paid caregivers who I hope to God inundate these children, these miracles, these gifts from God, with all the love and nurturing they could ever ever ever need.

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  32. I can't say I'm surprised by the comments here, but I can say I disagree with most of them. I've been following Jenna online for several years now - since T1 was just a babe in arms. I've watched her evolution as a partner, a parent and a person, and I have absolutely zero doubt that her children are well loved by EVERYONE in their life. Parents - usually mothers - in Jenna's position are almost always looking for ways to make it work, but the ways they look to usually involve some kind of parenting hack designed to invent extra time and somehow squeeze blood from a turnip.But that almost never works, no matter how hard we try. What does work is asking for help when and where we need it, and Jenna has done that. She and her husband have designed a life that enables her to be the best mother she can be when she's with her children - however little that might be (and for the record, I have no qualms whatsoever with the amount of time Jenna spends with her children). Would you prefer she increase the quantity of time she spends with them? Even at the expense of quality? Why? Do you just assume that as a mother, she should desperately want to spend every possible moment with her children and miss them the moment they go to sleep? Why? Why is that what so many people expect of mothers?

    As the mother of just one toddler, who is passionate and engaged in her career, but who is also midway through week-five of unemployment after having been laid off, I can say with absolutely, 100% certainty that I am a better mother when I'm working. Spending 40 hours/week away from my child makes me happier, calmer, more present, more appreciative, more nurturing, more patient and more capable of being the kind of parent I want to be than spending those 40 hours/week with him. And….I'm sorry, but I'm NOT SORRY about that.

    1. No, I absolutely would not want Jenna to spend more time with her children, as it clearly would be detrimental to them. What I see as the difference in your situations is that you actually do parent after your work week (sorry to hear about your unemployment, hopefully the job market turns around for you soon) whereas Jenna does not. It's not 'let me spend 40 hours at work, being myself, and then come home to be a better mother to my kids.' It's more like 'let me work, and also do anything else I possibly can to spend absolutely no time with the children I brought into this world.'
      Not everyone is cut out to be a mother. Myself, I cannot stand children and I'm a selfish person, but I recognize those things about me and have chosen to never procreate. Personality-wise, Jenna and I are probably very, very much alike. But I have the self-realization to know that and NOT to chose a life of motherhood. She obviously should have stopped at 1 child, let's hope there's no more. Now that she's already put herself in this situation, it is what it is and she should do whatever necessary to ensure someone in those children's lives loves them, like a nanny. But she should absolutely not be held up as an example of 'making parenting work' or 'mothers who make it work' when, if given the opportunity, she would chose not to be around her children 100% of the time.

  33. As a working mom of 4, I found this woman to be the most selfish and entitled person I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. I have many, many mom friends (some single parenting, in marriages, and some with husbands that travel often) and NONE of them talk or act the way this woman does. I understand Julia's intention with this series but this woman (I can't bring myself to call her a mother-since she seems to "outsource" that to others) is not someone anyone I know could ever relate to. Perhaps she'd be better off commiserating with Kim Kardashian or Beyonce. The rest of us mere mortals will be here raising our children and keeping our homes.

  34. Agghhhh, I left a long comment that blogger subsequently ate. Oh well! Just wanted to say that while overall, I think this series has been great, this post was very troubling to me. I think one of the overall goals of the series (or at least my chief takeaway) is that moms regardless of the choices they make are doing the best they can and trying to do right by their kids....sometimes that's working, sometimes it's staying home, etc. What bothered me about this post, though, was the focus on self happiness and fulfillment rather than the family. Isn't "making it work" about balancing kids needs with your own needs, finances , beliefs , etc. rather than just a personal journey to happiness? I'm just not sure how "making it work" is involved here.

    One other thought: from my own experience , the joy and happiness I feel from my little boy is directly related to the effort I put into him. It makes me so happy to see him learn to count after me practicing with him for months. It brings me such joy to bring him to the zoo and watch him have a blast . I can't imagine I would feel the same happiness if I was mostly carting him around town and not putting the investment into him... Otherwise , he would seem like a chore . I just think the amount of satisfaction you get from anything (kids, marriage, work, etc) is related to the effort put into it.

  35. I've been reading Jenna's blog for years, and I'm really disappointed at a lot of these comments. I haven't always (or even often) agreed with Jenna's viewpoints on things, but I've always admired her candid spirit and willingness to explore herself. This single post is not enough to show even an inkling of the kind of work that this woman has put into her businesses, her relationship with her husband, her relationship with her children, and her own personal fulfillment. It's rare to see someone go through as many changes as Jenna has, internally and externally, since she started posting about her life on the internet. Change isn't easy, and it comes with a certain amount of emotional turmoil, which I think is fair to say that she's experienced. Jenna has taken a lot of very wise steps to keep herself happy and her children well cared for.

    I'm so disappointed that anyone would dare criticize someone who ensures that her children are growing, developing, having nutritional and social needs met, and get to come home to a happy mother. She isn't beating or abusing these children - for Pete's sake they're eating PB&J! My mom was a SAHM and that's what we ate for much of my childhood - because that's what my parents could afford! For the record, my parents did a pretty great job and I survived just fine on sandwiches. T1 & T2 will be just fine.

    It's a real shame that people need to feel better about themselves by striking down strangers on the internet. None of you are martyrs either; step down off your high horses and show a shred of decency.

    1. The thing is, she can afford it. She often tells her readers what a great income her husband has, and she has enough money to go on blogging conferences, register many domain names, buy expensive photography gear, meals from trader joes that are seemingly just for her. I don't think PBJ is a very nutritious dinner, especially for growing children. I wonder what they have for breakfast? At least they get a decent meal at daycare. I've read more than just this post, so I'm judging her based on more than just this. Her 'businesses' don't seem to make money - more like just pouring money down the drain so she can have fun without being dragged down by her kids.

    2. Ah! I had told myself not to comment anymore and add more fuel, but here I am:) But the "defending PB&J" arguments are making me batty. There is nothing wrong with giving PB sandwiches. I don't think anyone is truly saying THAT. The problem with the sandwich debacle is the intent behind it as we read from her account. Give your kids PB sandwiches everyday? Absolutely fine. But from her own account here, these are meals given with the intention of getting the kids eating before they even get home so she can get them in bed that much quicker (and I'm sorry, based on the tone of this post, I don't think she is strict bedtime maven for strictness sake, it's because she wants them out of her hair quicker despite the whole day separation). Again, do I give my kids a sandwich in the car sometimes on our way somewhere? Absolutely. But I don't do it every single night to avoid the normal mealtime tradition and those pesky interactions with my children. THAT is what speaks volumes to her priorities and attitude, not the sandwiches themselves.

    3. I have no problem criticizing someone who sees the baseline of parenting being "keeping children alive" as you seem to, as well, with your comment "someone who ensures that her children are growing, developing, having nutritional and social needs met". That is NOT all that young children need. They need to learn unconditional love. They need routine. They need to feel safe. They need security. They need to feel wanted, prioritized, cherished. These kids may have great caregivers, but those caregivers are being PAID to take care of them. Do you think that if you took away the pay the caregivers would stay? No. So that is conditional. And I know I only talked about Jenna, but Mr. Jenna obviously has NO problem never seeing the children that he created, that too is an issue. If you ate PBJ because that is all that you can afford, great! Jenna has made it clear that they have means, there is no reason that a child whose parents can afford 371 professional photo shoots (see above) can't eat a decent dinner. Fact. Cooking for your family is one method of nurturing. Same as brushing your kids teeth, creating bedtime rituals, if the husband works all the time so family dinners are out how about family breakfasts? (NO! too hard!! Hire a child laborer to dress the kids instead.) Its shameful. There is NOTHING in this post that talks about teaching kids love, security, empathy, kindness……its all about how their toys are annoying so shut them up with screen time and feeding them is annoying and messy so shove a sandwich in their hand in the car. That isn't how people talk about children in my circle, and it IS disturbing if you are coming across this sort of parenting for the first time. Believe me, I don't feel better about myself by "striking down" this woman who gave this interview. I've always felt happy about being a Mom because I chose this and I give it my all. I consider parenting and making a happy home my #1 job right now. I walk away from this article sad because while I see firsthand hungry and neglected kids at the food cupboard I volunteer at, I forget that there are emotionally deprived and stunted kids who of means out there too. This article reminded me of that, and that always haunts me, because it doesn't have to be that way for kids like these.

  36. Kate Middleton has less staff than this one right here. For the sake of your children, your husband and your self, get off the internet. Engage with your children, and stop outsourcing the parenting of your children. You are not a role model, you are a selfish person-having someone come and dress you children?!?-and should re-evaluate your self.
    For her friends/relatives-I would seriously hope that after reading this that one of you would have a "no BS, come to Jesus" meeting with her.

  37. When you lay down the facts, she is not that different than me. I am a full time office-job working mom. I outsource childcare (in the form of daycare) for about 48 hours per week, and I also outsource my house cleaning. Basically, this mom does the same exact thing, with the additional outsourcing of the morning help.

    The main differences, in my eyes, are 1.) she doesn't have to work financially, and her work brings in a small amount of money (total assumption based on her wording, compared to a more typical annual salary of a working mom, for instance), and 2.) her husband isn't around most of the time to help.

    The fact that she chooses to work despite not needing to is her right, and quite frankly, I don't judge her for it. I understand it. Some people - myself included - aren't at their best in the role of SAHM and we should respect that. If she's working out of financial necessity or to gain personal fulfillment, that's her prerogative.

    There is always more than meets the eye and I have a feeling the intimate parts of her mothering were omitted from the post; on purpose -- who knows? I think the post read slightly defensive, as though she knew she would get judged on her choices and thus wrote it kind of defiantly. And that might have been kind of intentional, maybe? But as another commenter said, there is real, legitimate neglect in this world, and I think a mom choosing to work on projects that may seem frivolous to others is not a form of neglect.

    Just because people can't understand how she makes the choices she does, doesn't mean her choices are bad or wrong. They are just different than the choices you make.

  38. "But I just wanted to say that you can mark me down as another person feeling sadness related to this post. Not because of what Jenna wrote but because this entire series is supposedto involve supporting other moms without judgement. There have been some positive comments as well but the negativity surrounding this post makes ME sad, too.

    Here's the thing about the bolded part. I fully love the fact that you want to support moms from all walks of life and situations. The issue is that Jenna is doing everything in her power to avoid being a mother. She rarely sees her children and, when she does she freely expresses that she doesn't want to see them. That she can't wait till they fall asleep and go off the next day.

    She hates all "everyday" aspects of motherhood. From dressing to toothbrushing.

    The series is supposed to help. This interview doesn't help in any way. It shows a damaging way of "parenting." It sounds harsh, but the interview is clear: She had her kids because that's what she thinks should happen. Marry, home, kids.

    Yet her kids come last. Very last. The interview would have been very helpful if Jenna had, say, started with her current thinking and than realized how wrong her "parenting" is/was and how she is looking to improve that. Not, as in this interview more ways to avoid her children in all ways possible.

    I know 'dangerous' and 'damaging' sound terrible. But her oldest already knows mom doesn't have or want time with him. That is what's damaging and dangerous. Jenna can say that showing compassion, etc. is important to raising children. It is. But if you don't show that to your children, they will believe they don't matter. They know that mom wants more time on the computer.

    Again. The only way this might be helpful in your series is to highlight it as something mothers should avoid at all costs.

    Computers, apps, photographs, jobs. They come and go. We can get a second chance.

    You don't get a second chance with your children. They are finite. They are fragile. They are perceptive. Compassion, attention, love and want is what children need. Discussions of others rights, showing "good" to others is important. However, you must show that dedication and compassion towards your children first. Otherwise, they will grow never knowing if they matter. If they are truly loved. And that lack will impact them forever.

  39. I don't think women need to blindly support each other. The comments here aren't judgmental and mean over: putting your kid in daycare, going back to work, working for personal fulfillment not financial necessity, not feeding your kids lavish meals every night, etc. This is a woman who has 1 kid in full time daycare (nothing wrong with that), 1 kid in part-time care, works from home, gives her kids PB sandwiches for supper. But none of those things are something to be judged about. It's those things with the addition of her commentary of being trapped, not enough me time, get them to bed as soon as possible, no time to teach son to properly brush his teeth, all while she has full time child care, part -time child-care, helper that comes over in the morning, helper that gets them ready for bed, childcare at the gym. And still she plays the mommy martyr card? And get them to bed as soon as possible? And feed them in the van to avoid dishes and clean-up and having to spend additional time with them? I think the people here that are hurt/offended about the judgement that they see going on in the comments are projecting them onto themselves. This isn't about working, our preserving your sanity, taking care of yourself, having other interests, getting help, etc. This is about someone who complains about every aspect of being a parent, doing very little if any parenting at all, and would like sympathy and support for her braveness.

  40. I've been following Jenna for a while now. I would love for her to write a piece that describes why she clearly doesn't like parenting. Is it the struggle of leaving Mormonism and finally feeling like she could have a voice? Or is parenting just not what she thought it would be... I think that may help me relate.

    I had the opposite experience. I enjoy the everyday tasks of parenting far more than I ever thought possible. I found immeasurable joy in parenthood. I feel so sorry for her.

  41. I only had one child (who is 18 & starting college soon) and worked full-time outside the home my whole adult life. I do however have 2 nieces who are parenting 3 kiddos each, without help, and who do a fabulous job! One has a 7, 5 and 2 year old and runs an amazingly busy photography business while her husband work outside the home. The other niece is married to a soldier who is deployed with Special Forces 6 MONTHS EVERY YEAR and is a spectacular Momma to a 5, 3 and 1 year old. I am amazed at what this woman said...I'm not to judge but I am very sad for her. And it makes me so proud of my nieces, you Julia, and so many other women who actually parent their children.

  42. I'm sorry but OUR criticism is what makes you sad? Not the woman who goes out of her way to outsource every second of parenting? I have stay-at-home Mom friends, working Mom friends, and working, single Mom friends. We all have different styles of parenting and they make some choices that I wouldn't, and I'm sure vice-versa. So, I'm not knee jerk when it comes to criticizing parenting styles. But this lady is beyond the pale. Seriously, re-read what she wrote and tell me we're the ones in the wrong.

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