My Balance: Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day

Jordan Ferney writes the blog Oh Happy Day about parties, crafts and all things pretty. She usually lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons, although they’re lucky enough to all be spending this year in Paris! Here, she talks about how she balances it all…

1. What’s your work schedule?
Now that we’re living in Paris, my schedule is much different than when I was in the U.S. My husband and I share childcare duties pretty equally. In Paris, we work from 5pm to midnight (American hours) so we have the whole day to hang out with our kids. We sightsee, sit at cafes, go to the park and visit museums. Our boys go to bed around 7:30pm, so the last few hours after dinner they watch a movie or play with toys to wind down before we put them to bed. This is the best schedule we’ve ever had.

In the U.S., I was the primary caretaker. Our schedule was this:
9am-1pm Babysitter arrived, took kids to the park, did a little preschool session, and fed them lunch while I worked.
1-6pm I take care of the kids. We go to parks, museums, etc., and I would do household errands.
6pm-midnight My husband Paul put the kids down while I got back to work.

2. How do you handle childcare?
Being in France has been so interesting. The French support system for mothers is amazing. France has state sponsored daycare and preschool, and they are really good. We just started our oldest son in preschool this spring. His teacher is excellent, and it is very organized. He only goes for three hours a day but he loves it. If your child is younger than 3, then placement in daycare depends on if both parents work and income, and then there is a sliding scale fee. My friend is a stay-at-home mom in Paris and takes her toddler two mornings a week so she can get errands done. It’s a huge burden taken of a mother’s shoulders if she has affordable options for childcare.

Another awesome detail is in Paris they have a large section on the bus for strollers. So you can get on and off the bus without ever closing your stroller. In fact its encouraged! So different from the glares you get in the U.S. for getting on the bus with a stroller. I wish the women’s movement would jump on this issue, it’s so important for moms not to feel trapped at home.

3. Where do you work during the day?
Right now we work in our home. We have a desk set up in our bedroom. When I really need to buckle down and reach a deadline I just close the door. I prefer working in my home so I can pop out and play with my boys during breaks.

4. What do you find best about your current set-up?
Spending the day with my family is a huge luxury. I doubt we’ll ever have a situation like this again so we are trying to enjoy it. Since everyone in the US is asleep while we are out I don’t even feel a need to check the internet or twitter because nothing is going on.

5. What do you find tricky about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
Our biggest struggle is always setting boundaries. When you work for yourself the success of your business is directly related to how hard you work. We could work forever and still not be done. Setting limits and sticking to the schedule is really important to keep everything running smoothly.

6. What advice would you give to other moms about the juggle?
The main thing I’ve learned is that you can’t have it all. What I mean by that is you are always sacrificing something with any decision you make. For example I have friends that buy really rad clothes for their kids. They are always dressed adorably. My kids have clothes that fit them and that are kind of cute but nothing that compares. That is something that I would enjoy and I wish I had more time to do. But when I choose to have a job I sacrifice some of that.

I think the secret is to try to reevaluate the situation often to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. We are constantly tweaking things about our schedule to make sure everyone (including the parents) are healthy and happy.

7. Do you think the juggle is harder for women than for men?
Yes! My husband is very involved in childcare but if he leaves for work he doesn’t think about home or worry. I swear he is hardwired differently than I am.

Thanks, Jordan!

  1. Anonymous says...

    I wish my juggles in motherhood involved making my kids look good in rad clothing. When I think about juggling my home life with work life I think about whether to see my child’s school play or call in sick from work in order to attend it.

  2. Ahh..Europe, as they say, Europeans work to live while Americans live to work. Just go to any dinner party and you’ll notice the difference based on conversation topics!

    Anyway this is a helpful series for those working moms and those planning to be working moms. I’m going to answer these questions myself on my blog in hopes of shedding light on life as a working mom with a non-flexible schedule and I hope other working moms will do the same.

  3. great interview! as an american married to a frenchman and living in a suburb of paris, france, it is wonderful to hear such positive things said about the french system! but what i loved even more are the great things she said about keeping balance!

  4. Have to agree! Am in Germany visiting parents-in-law and the whole system, down to changing tables in 98% of restaurant bathrooms, makes being here with a toddler of so much easier! Being in Paris sounds wonderful. From a fellow San Francisco mom!

  5. In my opinion one and all should browse on it.

  6. Wow, living in France sounds amazing if you have kids and need support! I wish the U.S. would start being more reasonable like that.

  7. I loved reading this entry. Thank you for sharing!

  8. yes, every single detail takes time.. food for your husband, dressing the kids, decorating home, making up yourself, do exercise, make the kids do exercise.. and work!! the day has 16 hours awake.. and the cake has to be divided..

  9. Thanks for the anonymous jab.

    I didn’t mean anything bad about SAHM or WFHM, I think its wonderful. I was just implying that I think a lot of women in the US aren’t given the opportunity to SAH with their kids whether they’re single parents, can’t afford it, or work for that fortune 50 company.
    It would be nice to hear from mothers that are like the MANY I work with everyday.

    And their positions aren’t only highly stressful 8-5 but also 24/7 when they come home to their kids…

  10. I LOVED reading this interview. My husband and I lived in Paris for a year, for half of which I was pregnant, but then we had to move to the UK. We wish we still lived there (because Natural History is still a young business I need to stay here a bit longer) and the fact that it is so child-friendly is something we had noticed.

    We will move back there – it makes me very jealous to read about Jordan’s time there!


  11. nice pictures..looking great..and nice family this one..cute baby..and girl is looking so beautiful..well post here..thanks for sharing here with us..

    seo usa

  12. True in Utah they won’t let you get on public transportation with an open stroller. Such a pita and potentially dangerous. Last year a two yr old was run over. So you have to either not bring a stroller and it is NOT a little city to easily traipse about or fold one up, juggle at, your bags and your child. Struggle to get it on and off and get dirty looks or be told it’s too crowded you can’t come on at all. Being a single parent I’ve found it confusing how people work at home with kids. I have not been able to do it as well as I would like just looking for jobs.

  13. Anonymous says...

    Great idea for a series! The blog Sweet Fine Day also has some really great posts about finding balance as a working mom. Very thoughtful, honest, and reflective.

    I too would like to hear from moms who are working full time, and even from those who are not working at all. It’s sometimes harder to find balance when so much of your time is dedicated to one endeavor.

    I have to say, I can see where one commenter is coming from when she mentions real sacrifices. I think everyone can relate to both the wish-list sacrifices moms make, as well as the ones that are harder to talk about. There is a lot of potential out there to address both!

  14. i believe men are hardwired differently too. my hubby is able to focus + do one thing at a time whether it’s at work or home and throw himself into it. for me, home + work are always meshing together…i ping-pong back + forth between thoughts of both, always organizing, sequencing + multi-tasking. oy!

    found it interesting to see the accomodations of paris vs. u.s… enjoyed the interview too!

  15. I have always thought I got off easy moving out of the city before I had kids and had to worry about strollers or taking cabs with babies. It’s one of the few things I added to my “Pros” list at the time (the “Cons” list was a bit longer;)

    P.S. Love this series so far, Joanna. I remember us talking about schedules back when I first had Devon, so it’s nice to see how all these talented women handle the balance, yourself included!

  16. Anonymous says...

    To JBergum:
    You really didn’t think that SAHMs existed anymore? I know many people that stay home with there children full time, and I can tell you firsthand that it is a “highly stressful position” that is not only 8-5pm, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I just clicked on your blog and perhaps you don’t know any SAHMs because you are not a mom. The concept of a SAHM is hardly outdated or archaic and perhaps you should widen your social circle if you have not been exposed. Good luck with your fortune 50 company while someone else raises your children.

  17. I thought this post was interesting. However, as much as I love reading cup of jo and women of the world like Jordan and Joanna, I would like to hear from women who have 8-5pm highly stressful positions. I work for a fortune 50 company, and I don’t know ANYONE who stays at home with their kids. Either they’ve chosen their career over SAHM or more than likely can’t afford to be a SAHM. To be honest, I didn’t even think SAHM existed anymore until I was exposed to the blogging world…

    BTW I’m totally in love with Paris. Jealous! :)

  18. I don’t have any children of my own yet, but reading this kind of made my head spin (in a good way!) about the balancing act that all parents must play at one point or another.

  19. Beth F. says...

    Great series! a question…how do you WAHM work when your child is there???my almost 2-year-old can not be at home when I am trying to work (even with a babysitter) because she wants to be IN MY LAP at the computer or on the phone, etc. I have tried to “pretend” I am not home but it does not work. How do you guys make this work?? As a result I have to have my part-time daycare outside the home. I would LOVE to be able to have her here with me, but it seems impossible. Suggestions???

  20. Awesome post!! And Jordan – your children are always amazingly dressed. Sooo, it must all be about perspective ;) Thanks for sharing your secrets to balancing!!

  21. Beautiful wee boys

  22. Another great blog!!!

  23. Jordan,

    I applaud you for living YOUR life as it best suits your family and being flexible enough to change it as you need to.

    The haters are going to hate. Envy is a powerful emotion (but I think most of us sincerely just want to cheer you on as you inspire us to make the most of our lives–wherever and however that happens!)


  24. For some reason the Paris photo made me think of the cover of the French Milk graphic novel. Beautiful.

  25. Barbara says...

    My boy is 2 and a bit, my boyfriend works 4 days a week.
    The boy goes to daycare 2 days a week, so I get to work 3 days a week. Which is not enough by far. (I am a freelance interior architect and set designer).

    I would be greatly helped if I could work in the evenings, but I am exhausted by the time the little one goes to bed.
    There is no way that I could work until midnight and then be fresh and rested the next day.

    I am curious about the time Jordans boys wake up, and wether she naps in the afternoons when they sleep (do they still?).
    How much sleep does she need to get by?


  26. @Jen

    I wasn’t referring to “fancy” clothing. My friends spend time at thrift stores or buying vintage clothes off ebay. Its not expensive (or more expensive than Old Navy on sale) but it takes time to do that well. :)

    I used this not to talk about serious sacrifices but to illustrate a point of how when you are balancing life as a mother you can never “have it all.” And its all about choices.


  27. Jen says...

    Can we just be clear on one thing? Please don’t pretend that not dressing your children in stylish clothing is a sacrifice. Many mothers make actual sacrifices in order to work, or in order to care for their kids. It’s clear from your response that you really have no idea what that’s like. Dressing your children in fancy clothing is a luxury, and one that many don’t even have on their radar screens when they’re trying to balance work with childcare.

  28. this is such a lovely little blog! thanks for sharing it with us :)

  29. What a great post and can’t wait for others! Interesting to hear how others make it work, and inspiring too. I’m a workin’ mama, but it seems like all my friends are either SAHM or plan on being SAHM…sooooo, I feel a bit lonely. Just one of the reasons blogs are so great! Thanks!

  30. I love this post and I’m so excited to hear what the other working moms have to say this week. I am a new mom myself (my daughter is 3 months old) and I was delusional and thought I’d be able to carry on running my business from home and take care of her without help…what was I thinking??? I’m still figuring it out, and it really helps to hear how other moms do the same. Thanks for this post!

  31. I’m not a mom yet, but I’m already stressed out about all the changes that come with it! Paris sounds perfect…maybe I just need to move there! Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s stories!

  32. This is such a great post! I’m not a mom yet, but it’s so encouraging to hear how you’ve scheduled time for both work and play, especially with your family. Thanks for sharing, Jordan! Xo, Katie

  33. Hi Joanna,

    I was so happy to read this post today, as I have been following Jordan’s blog and her adventures for some time now. I have been in awe of her stint in Paris and have often wondered how she and her boys have managed it all. Now I have the answers. Thank you.

  34. GREAT series. So well written by Jordan, as well. Thanks for doing this Joanna! :)

  35. Oh boy, I loved everything about this. Awesome post!

  36. Monica says...

    Loved this :)

  37. Thank you Joanna! This is absolutely helpful, just to read about someone else’s experience is already therapeutic.For me, the hardest part of being a freelance journalist is to set realistic bounderies so I can know when to stop working!

  38. It took me a long time to let go of all my perfectionist qualities I had prior to having kids. I learned to breath, take a step back, and realize that everything is going to be okay if I don’t get to that one load of laundry or if dishes set in the sink until tomorrow. I heard a quote I love: “You can always tell a good mother by the state of her house. If it is a little messy, you know she is spending more time with her kids.”

  39. We did not need another brilliant reason to move back to France! Work hours in the evening?! Hang with the kids all day?! Sounds divine! Thanks for sharing, Jordan & Joanna! xo

  40. Great post! It’s so interesting to see how different moms balance their work lives, their family lives, and their personal lives. I agree that it’s about priorities and what you choose to focus on. Trying to do everything will just make you crazy.

  41. @ C from DC: Word.

  42. I wish my daughter’s dad would help out more…

  43. Love this post! Can’t wait for the rest of this wonderful series!

  44. Oh man. I loved this guest post. Thanks so much for sharing. Jordan, I especially liked what you said about how you’d like to dress your children “cuter” (I always think they’re adorable), but that’s just not something you’ve chosen not to focus on. That’s totally hard to do, but in the long run – it’s what keeps you sane. I loved this post!

  45. I am a francophile! I admire Jordan for taking that step with kids and all. When I lived in France i thought it would be my last chance, that after having kids it would just not be possible. Thanks to Jordan, my living in Paris hope has returned! Kid and all! Thanks for posting this interview and thanks Jordan for sharing your daily family life with us :)

  46. This sounds like the perfect schedule, great interview. Loved to get a glimpse at how your juggling your work and your kids. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  47. It’s so wonderful that you’ve decided to spend this year. It’s a great time in your life to take this opportunity! Great post!

  48. Jordan – Your work schedule and life in Paris seem so ideal! Are you sure you’ll want to come home? :) PS. Love following you + Paul on Instagram. x

  49. just what I needed to read! GReat insight into your schedule and balance of work and home. Plus I love what you said about sacrificing some things for others! so true.

    I also agree that the Women’s movement needs to focus their/our attention on things like room for strollers on buses, more of a community/village aspect for child care (like the two days a week option your friend has in Paris- so awesome!).

    thanks for your interview!
    ~abigail tiptoethrough,blogspot

  50. i’m really loving this series too. when does she sleep, though?! sounds like a pretty nice life nevertheless. :)

  51. Lovely interview Jordan. So candid and equally eloquent. You are a joy to follow.

  52. What a great life! Checking her blog now, thanks!

  53. Such a great and inspiring interview> It’s always good to hear other working mamas stories… looking forward to reading more of these :)

  54. I totally agree, fathers are totally wired differently than mothers when it comes to childcare !

    Lovely interview !

  55. “I wish the women’s movement would jump on this issue, it’s so important for moms not to feel trapped at home.”

    Favorite! Folding a stroller and getting a Metrocard out with a baby on your hip, bag on your shoulder and an annoyed line of bus riders (who forget their mothers once did this for them) behind you is a logistical nightmare. Add several flights of subway station stairs and even now with a 21 month old, it’s no easier.

  56. This is fascinating. Joanna and her sister were born in Paris and I took them to the state nursery 2 mornings a week. There were only a few children and two really wonderful women who took care of them. I think you schedule of spending the day with your children and then both you and your husband working at nights sound brilliant. Also, I have friends who are both professionals and have put their children in day care or camp from 6 weeks on. They have nights, weekends and holidays together. The children are teenagers now and the family is super close; the children are amazing! Whatever you moms decide is the best for your particular family will work out. Your children just need to know you love them!

  57. Janet says...

    Jealous! I’m a 9-5 worker, my husband works crazy hours, we just wouldn’t be able to make ends meet if we didn’t both work, and with jobs being scarce these days in our city, we just feel lucky to even have jobs! I don’t want to whine, but sometimes these sorts of stories make average people like me feel kind of sad, that this kind of life is not really a possibility for most of us.

  58. what a wonderful experience to have with your children — living in paris for a year, lovely. that is fantastic that you can expose them to such a different lifestyle at a young age.
    thank you for admitting the difference between you and your husband. i am a first time mother and my husband runs his own business. he is a fantastic husband and partner but i completely agree that once he leaves the house, he is in a different mode. it made me feel better to hear someone else feeling the same way.

  59. C from DC says...

    Excellent post and I look forward to reading the rest. However, it would have been nice for you to feature a mom who works 9 to 6 at an office. I know the grass the always greener, but it is really hard being a parent while having a job that is not flexible, especially when your husband works a ton! Yes, I have FT childcare but I still have to play with my daughters, cook, clean, etc when I get home!

  60. leathergal says...

    Like several other commenters, I don’t have children (yet!), but I do work from home for a publishing company and hope to continue that once I do become a mom. Thanks for the glimpse into your (charmed) life!

  61. I’m not a mother yet but I think if one day i had a child I’d like to be a stay-at-home mom, I mean if i have to sacrifice something it would be my job not raising my child or spending more time with my child. To tell you the truth I think raising a child is the mother’s job ,of course the father have a role but not as big as the mother’s

  62. I just recently became obsessed with her website. It’s all things amazingness…

    Just a Silhouette

  63. I dont have any kids but I find this all very interesting, and see it as all good tips to keep in mind for the day I do. But hello, Paris? parks, cafes, walks, this sounds like total bliss!

  64. This was so helpful – thank you!

    I am just now starting to work from home writing my blog and trying to build a career for myself as a freelance writer. Let me tell you, it sure is tough with three kids under 9.

    I like your advice to keep checking in to make sure everyone’s needs are being met. This is something I need to do more often. Definitely before any issues arise.

    Thanks again!


  65. I love this post! I follow Jordan on twitter and think this whole Year In Paris thing is just fascinating. I would love to do something similar someday.

  66. thank you for the introduction to her blog! I love to read about other parents that have moved overseas with small children. I have to agree with her, the support system for new mothers in Europe is remarkable. They get one year off for maternity leave!!!!! compared to 6 weeks in the US.

    I will have to stop by her blog and read more about her life overseas, what a great opportunity!

  67. I hope to be a part-time writer from home plus at-home mom someday. I’m going to keep these tips in mind!! :)

    Also, no matter what your baby is dressed in, he is BEAUTIFUL. :)

  68. I love this interview, it is pretty much how I handle things except when things go the wrong way… Thank you Jordan!

  69. I am only 22 and newly married, so I don’t have any kids yet, but I definitely hope to within the next few years. I also work from home and want to continue doing so once I have children, so it was very nice to have a glimpse into the life of someone with a similar structure, especially since this lifestyle doesn’t seem half bad! Though I don’t know if my work will ever take me to Paris — but I wouldn’t object! :)

  70. Lea says...

    Paris, wow.
    I`m new here in this comment area and I just want to ask, what you are working for – graphic design, journalism?


  71. I have adored her blog for quite a while now! Thanks for introducing it to new readers!! Happy Monday. :)

  72. What a great interview! I don’t have children of my own, but when I was studying abroad in France, I really appreciated all that was available to parents. Considering that the doctors I met in France were some of the happiest I have ever seen, I am seriously considering working over there. Jordan’s interview adds so much support to this idea. I was really envious of all the children who were exposed to such history, art, and lifestyle from a young age. C’est vraiment parfait!

  73. Those kids are disgustingly cute

  74. I love this series! I don’t have kids yet but finding balance is always tough. I’m excited to read the next interviews and see how other women lead their lives.

  75. I love this series! It’s nice to see real honesty from working Moms and also that Moms are still living fulfilling lives after kids. So refreshing.

  76. Kristi says...

    I love “I wish the women’s movement would jump on this issue.” Satire, and active feministing indeed – brava!

  77. I completely understand the fine balancing issues of being a full-time mom and working from home. Jordan seems to do a great job at both!