My Balance of Work/Baby/Life

My lovelies, last week,seven amazing mothers shared how they juggle work/life, including the ups and downs. It’s so wonderful to be honest and normalize what all mothers are going through. Thank you again to those brave and lovely bloggers!

Now I’d love to share my own juggle post. I have to say, it feels strange to be sharing my own routine because I didn’t have a decent schedule figured out for a long time. After Toby was born, it took me months to figure out a solid schedule that worked well for us, and I’m still experimenting and tweaking!

OK, here goes….

1. What’s your work schedule?
I work from home Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, plus a few evenings a week. I try to take weekends off completely.

During the workday, I run Cup of Jo, write freelance magazine articles, and do branding and trend consulting. I’ll also be blogging for a magazine again later this fall (yahoo!).

2. How do you handle childcare?

Toby wakes up at 6am, and Alex and I switch off waking up with him. So, every other day, I get up with Toby (bleary-eyed!), feed him breakfast, take a quick shower while he chills out and chews his rubber ducky in the bouncy chair, and take him to the playground really early (we’re often the only people there!) or take a walk or bike ride together. Even though I’m usually pretty sleepy on those mornings, it’s lovely to spend that time with him, and see the city as it’s waking up. Then, every other day, Alex will get up with Toby, while I either sleep until 8:30 — bliss! — or get up at 7am and start my work early while they hang out.

(A little note: Alex and I didn’t always switch off. I used to get up with Toby every day, and after a while, I felt completely exhausted and run ragged. So, finally, I asked Alex to switch off—and we both were sort of like, wait, why didn’t we do this sooner? It’s funny how easily and subconsciously we can fall back into long-held stereotypes that the mom is the #1 main caregiver, even when spouses are both happy to share parenting responsibilities equally.)

Anyway, then the babysitter arrives around 9am. We have two beloved babysitters: Naudia on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Sophie on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They stay from 9 to 4. Now and again, they’ll stay an hour later if I have extra work or a big deadline.

After the babysitter leaves, Toby and I spend every weekday afternoon together from 4 to 7:30pm. I absolutely adore this special time together. Whenever possible, we try to make it 100% hang-out time—no errands allowed! — and go to the playground or meet up with friends or take bike rides. On Wednesday afternoons, we have a playgroup with a bunch of other neighborhood one-year-olds and their mamas. (Once in a blue moon, I’ll take Toby along to an evening work event — but then we run the risk of scary camera flashes!)

I feel so lucky and grateful to get this wonderful quality time with him every day.

(Afternoon activities might be a bit trickier in the winter, I’m guessing. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about this coming winter with a toddler who walks! It will take some imagination to make our tiny apartment fun for Toby every afternoon. We’ll have to learn to make soups together or something!)

Then, in the evenings, around 6:30pm, Alex gets home from work, and Toby and I will meet him back at our apartment. And we’ll spend an hour together feeding Toby dinner, giving him a splashy bath, reading bedtime stories, or just hanging out on the bed in the nursery.

3. Where do you work during the day?

When the babysitter and Toby are outside at the playground or the library, I work at my desk in our living room; when they’re at home, I work on our bed.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?

I feel really grateful that my schedule is flexible. Even though I work full-time hours (40 hours a week), I can decide to work early mornings or late evenings, in order to have my afternoons off with Toby. The other day, I ran into a dear friend who loves her amazing job at a major beauty brand; she looked chic and windswept on the street, wearing a silk dress and a chignon, but she admitted that she was literally running home from work to see her baby. Every work situation has pros and cons, and everyone does such a great job doing it all.

5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand??

You know, I really hate working on my bed! Sometimes I feel like I spend 20 hours a day in my bedroom. It’s a nice enough room, but that’s a little crazy. :)

If I had a magic wand, I would rent an office space outside the home, where I could be part of a community of people. It can feel really isolating—especially in the winter—to be working at home alone all day. I would love to be surrounded by other creative people during the day, to inspire each other’s creativity or discuss last night’s 30 Rock episode or order lunch together. (Unfortunately, it’s tough to find an affordable place like this in Manhattan, although I’m still looking!)

On the rare day when I have a work lunch or meeting (maybe once a month), I always feel SO revitalized to be around adults and feel part of a working community.

Another thing that was tough, especially at the beginning, was when I was working at home, and I could hear Toby crying in the other room. The sound was heartbreaking to me, but I couldn’t go out to him because I was busy working or on a conference call—and plus I had to respect the sitter and trust her to take care of him. There’s a certain stress of being on deadline, and a certain stress of hearing your baby cry, and I was getting both at once. (And when I heard him playing and laughing, I would want to go out to him, too!) I do crave some mental and physical distance from the baby while I’m working.

6. How do you and your husband fit your marriage into the balance?

Toby goes to bed around 7:30pm, so Alex and I have the rest of the evening to hang out together. Alex is a great cook, and he’ll make us dinner—like spaghetti Bolognese, or eggs and sausage, or a big salad with tons of toppings—while I finish up work. He listens to music while he cooks, so it always takes a while (since he’ll just stand there, drumming on the counter and watching the water boil:). Then when dinner is ready, usually around 9pm, we’ll hang out for the next couple hours, and watch a movie or play games or just chat. Also, a couple nights a week, we’ll go out to dinner with friends, or we’ll invite friends over. We usually go to bed between 11 and midnight. I cherish that grown-up time at the end of the day.

My parents got divorced when I was little, so I’m really conscious of focusing on my marriage as much as my child/ren. I feel lucky to be able to spend frequent quality time with Alex and love having our own adventures together, separate from the baby. Plus, I think most kids like seeing their parents dress up and go out to dinner together; it’s exciting! (There’s a beautiful passage in the book Peter Pan about Wendy watching her parents get ready for an evening out.) I love the idea that the goal should be not only to have a happy child, but to have a happy family.

(By the way, a few commenters last week mentioned that it’s hard to afford babysitters. I totally agree! At $15/hour, it adds up. Everyone needs to figure out a solution that works best for their family. For daytime babysitters, it definitely makes sense for me to work, financially, and I also enjoy working overall. As for evening babysitters, we talked it over, and we decided we would prefer to spend less on other things so we could afford to spend more on babysitting. It’s too bad we don’t all live closer to grandparents, aunts and uncles, who would be happy to babysit for free—what a dream that would be!:)

6. Do you have any time for yourself?

Not really! For me, the thing that ends up coming in last place is free time alone. Now and again, Alex will go out to meet a friend, while I’ll stay home, have a glass of wine and read magazines; or I’ll sneak out at night while he’s home and get a pedicure, but overall free time by myself is pretty rare. That’s ok for me, though. I’m kind of a pack animal anyway.

7. Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Have you talked to other women about it?

Yes, I’ve wondered about it so much, which is why I really wanted to do this series. It’s so wonderful to hear from other moms and realize that we’re all in the same boat, even though our circumstances might be different. I only wish I’d had time to feature many more parents (single moms, moms working in offices, stay-at-home moms, dads, etc.); but like I mentioned last week, this time, I wanted to feature moms who are in similar work situations, so we could see how they’ve each created very different schedules that work for their families.

I think sometimes people feel nervous about talking candidly about motherhood and their own scheduling choices, and I understand that. Parenthood is emotionally ridden, because everyone cares so much about their babies—so sometimes it can seems as if, when another mom makes a different decision from you, you are at odds. Differences in parenting choices can make people defensive. But, really, making various parenting decisions is like apples and oranges. We have to remember that there are 824,739,894,536 ways to be incredible, loving parents, so we should all support each other and our lucky babies.

8. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

My own mom often tells me, “Take gentle care of yourself,” which I think is a surprisingly profound thing to remember. Of course, it’s true for everyone, not just mothers. Everybody feels overwhelmed sometimes, and it’s really easy to beat yourself up or put too much pressure on yourself or assume everyone around you has a perfect life. That’s not true, and we should be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves like the sweet souls we are.

One commenter last week left a great line: She said, “Bless you new moms. If you’re trying, you’re doing a great job.” We don’t have to be perfect; we just have to be gentle to ourselves and take it one step at a time.

  1. Thanks fo this series. I think we all need to know that we are not the only ones who are struggling with work and kids. I have a full time job and am stuck in an office for 8 hours every day. My mother watches my son because that’s one of the perks of living on a small island. But I still miss him loads and still struggle with finding time to do the ‘other stuff’. Especially if the ‘other stuff’ has anything with doing something I need to do for mysef (like get a facial etc). So we all have different issues we need to face no matter where we are.
    P.S. Your blog is insteresting and inspirational.

  2. acp, yes! that’s the beautiful whitney pozgay from Whit xo

  3. oh, C.Bernadette, good luck, how exciting!!! :) xoxoxoxo

  4. ellis!!!!! i’m so happy that you tracked down the peter pan passage!!!! i wasn’t able to find it online, and it’s lovely to read it again. i remember feeling like that as a little girl, too :) thank you!!

  5. abigail, you’re right, maybe it would work to bring moms together and work together somehow — maybe we could go to one women’s apartment, while the babies were at another, or something….food for thought!

  6. i LOVE the ideas of babysitting swaps. Ali K, i agree! once you hire a babysitter for 3 hours, take a cab to the movie theatre, and buy $12 tickets, it’s already over $100 — and that’s without drinks and snacks! crazy! :)

  7. i love these comments!!! thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts, hopes and fears. it is so touching and enlightening. i love this community here so much. and Kassandra, Five Minutes Peace looks adorable and hilarious! :)

  8. oh, lara, i am thinking of you. how heartwrenching and devastating to go through four miscarriages; you will be such an incredibly strong and loving mother after all you have endured. i am thinking of you!!! xoxo

  9. Lara says...

    I will bookmark this post for when I myself am a mom.

    I’m now in my fifth try at having a baby (4 pregnancies ended in early miscarriages because of immune issues), I’m 6 wks pregnant and reading your blog is one of the things that keep me hopeful.

    Praying I too will be blessed with a chance to figure out how to balance things out with work, marriage and a baby. And praying it’ll be this pregnancy.


  10. This is a truly touching post. Thank you. I am a stay at home mom trying to launch an etsy business and its soo hard to find a balance between the two. I will keep your mom’s words to heart because I’ve come to realize that we become better moms when we are happy individuals. Again, thank you!

  11. I have only 2 words for you Joanna: THANK YOU!!!! While I was reading your answers, I was thinking of my own answers and I couldn’t have learned more about myself and this new condition called motherwood. I share a lot of thoughts with you and I truly cherish your mother’s advice. And the other advice about trying, cause it’s so true. Because us, new moms, everything we do, we do it for the best interest of our kids, no one will treat them better then us, so we are always right. There’s no such thing as perfection!

  12. Dear Joanna,
    Thank you so much for starting this wonderful series!
    I loved to read how people are juggling their lives and see that every body has a different structure that works. I feel much more “at ease” about having a little munchkin and combining that with work! Thank you so much!!!
    xoxo Gabriëlla

  13. I loved reading every word of this post and also thorouly enjoyed last week’s posts. It is so hard to find the right balance but practice does make (semi) perfect. It is reassuring to see that we are all in the same boat. I liked the quote you used from a reader who said “if you’re trying, you’re doing a great job”. I never thought of it like that but it’s so true. Kisses to you amazing mama Jo!

  14. Like all of your readers I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this series – you feel a little less alone, a little less pressured and a little more like most mothers trying very hard.

    I am an English women, working in Amsterdam The Netherlands away from all family support with a 3 and 4 year old who also works mostly from my bedroom ;-) My routine is constantly being tweaked, going off balance and changing with the demands of my growing children.

  15. I love the stories! Its very inspirational and helpful. My husband and I are newly weds and are both police officers. We are hoping to start our family soon but its so stressful to imagine how to work around our rotating shift work with babies! There are a few other police mommies that I work with and these women are my heros…Im looking forward to the great adventure =)

  16. I loved reading about your day. I am also a mom who tries to juggle it all and sometimes it gets so overwhelming and I feel so lonely. So happy to know that every mom juggles differently.

  17. Thank you sharing, it really does help to know there are other WAHMs out there, spinning their plates and in your case, showing the way.

  18. Brilliant! I have only recently found your blog and this series has been so interesting! I want more! It has been especially inspiring to find out that a lot of you live in small flats and work in your bedroom. I am thinking about starting my own business but I have been putting it off because I can’t afford an office space and I would have to work from our tiny little flat. But if you can do it, so can I! :) I also got all teary-eyed by the “gentle care” bit. I always forgot.

  19. This is the first post of the series that I’ve read and I can’t wait to read what the other mothers have to say. Thank you Joanna for being so candid and genuine. There is such comfort in knowing that we’re all in this together.

  20. And yes, you should absolutely do a post about second babies. It’s a tough transition. I spent my entire second pregnancy feeling badly because I held so much guilt over the my antipathy about the baby I was growing. And then after she was born, I loved her so much I felt guilty for my first daughter. In the end they both amaze me in totally different ways, and I am so happy that they have shown me how to love in new ways every day.

  21. I have loved this series so much! And the timing has been key for me as I struggle with my angst over potentially returning to fulltime work soon. My girls are 6 and 3 next month, and I have just had a year with them as I’ve tried to build a freelance writing business. NOT easy as you know! Although I haven’t completely given up, I feel like it’s not really working. The illusion of balance still eludes me, and it’s revelatory and inspiring to hear your trials and the tribulations of the other amazing moms in this series. I have to say that what I love most is the way that you have prioritized your relationship with Alex. It can be easy to lose sight of the person you made the commitment to make a family with, or it has been in my case. Thank you for sharing and for being so honest and giving me hope that there is a way to do the things you love with the people you love nearby.

  22. Thank you for sharing this. As always, you beautifully articulate and touch upon the many aspects of career/new-mommydom that I constantly ponder.

  23. I started to write a book in this little comment box, but suffice it to say that so many of your words and insights are so relatable to me–especially being able to hear your little one crying down the hall and not being able to go to him, and also making husband-time a priority out of the belief that that is also best for our little ones. Thank you SO MUCH, Joanna, for this series and your own input on it today. Wonderfully uplifting! Bravo!

    (oops, looks like I wrote a book anyway :)

  24. I’m not a mother, or anywhere near that point in my life, but tonight I was at a movie and a woman and her husband walked in with a young baby. The baby was quiet and I think asleep through the movie and I was amazed by this alternative to a babysitter (at least while they’re very young). It made me think of this blog :)

  25. Joanna-Thank you for this series! It has made me appreciate how much my mom sacrificed her “me” time to raise my three sisters & I. As a daughter who saw her parents separate & then fight to rebuild their marriage, let me say your investment in your marriage will speak measures to Toby. I LOVE and cherish seeing my parents get dressed up for eachother. I’m a woman who aspires to continue her career & juggle motherhood so I’ve printed many of these posts & stuck them in my journal for reassurance one day so I can read them when I’m tired, overwhelmed, and feel like I’m not doing it the “right” way. Thank you, thank you!

    P.S. Have you read Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy?

  26. i love hearing your thoughts on motherhood and enjoyed this series so much! the women you chose to feature are all so amazing, I find them so inspirational. After reading about Amanda Hesser’s balance, I found myself going to work today with a little extra spring in my step — thank you!

  27. Sasha says...

    What a lovely series!
    I have a dream of one day working here – seems like a dream space for writers!

  28. Going back to your point about babysitters costing a lot, one evening my Husband and I went to the cinema and realised we’d dropped about $70 on parking, tickets, drinks and the babysitter! I had a mini freak out and emailed my friends immediately and we all agreed to watch each other’s kids. We wouldn’t have swaps as such, we’d pay it forward to the next parents in need, it’s worked so far and saved us a fortune!

  29. I’m not a new momma ( or a momma at all!) but I do know how hard it is to juggle nursing school, home, husband, and a blog…there really aren’t enough hours in the day! i loved reading this and getting a peak into your life outside the blog :)

  30. Thanks again for this wonderful series! I’m honestly going to bookmark it for when I (hopefully) have a family and career of my own. I eventually hope to write full-time too and I’m so glad to have a success story like yourself to look up to.

  31. Thank you Joanna…thank you for hosting this series, for opening up a dialogue, and for sharing your own story. Jut another reason to love your blog!

  32. I too have enjoyed this series. I agree that -we as women, do not often share our little tricks, tips and successes… it’s so important to do so! So I thank you for doing this for all of us!

    I’m still figuring out my own schedule with my 8month old and I’ve been tucking away some variations form this past week and can’t wait to put them into practice.

    One thought- I know renting an office space in the city can be pricy, but it seems you are not alone in needing your own space (I too work and can hear my daughter crying… it’s tough!) SOOOOooo maybe you and the fellow working moms from this series could work something out office wise!? Go in on something together? share the cost and reap the benefits of your own space away from home and having a little community!

    Report back if you do!

    all the best and thanks again,

  33. Your writing is so lovely and evocative, Joanna. I often find myself welled up to that blissful almost teary stage while reading it. I had to go read the Peter Pan reference and completely agree that I was mooned over as a child by the sight of my parents dressed up.

    “Then Mrs. Darling had come in, wearing her white evening-gown. She had dressed early because Wendy so loved to see her in her evening-gown, with the necklace George had given her. She was wearing Wendy’s bracelet on her arm; she had asked for the loan of it. Wendy loved to lend her bracelet to her mother.”

    That reminds me of another wonderful passage in a later book in the Anne of Green Gables series where her daughters gush over how lovely Anne looks dressed up to go out. I’ll have to find it and share. :)

  34. Joanna (and others), thanks so much for this series! I’d love to read more from other types of moms too, maybe as a monthly feature or something! So useful, and so much perspective. I’m a shift worker (nurse) and still have no idea how things will fall into place once our bub gets here, but this inspires me to think about it more!

  35. LOVE this series!!!

  36. thank you so much for this post, and this whole series! it’s so good to read about other new moms’ experiences..

  37. thank you so much for this series. it is so nice to know that other moms are out there making it all work! i especially like what your mom told you to “take gentle care of yourself”

    now pop on over for my art giveaway

  38. Don’t forget the fathers/husbands…It seems to me all of the featured women talked about equal parenting partnership as a key comportment in their work/parenting situation. They either cook, clean, take shifts staying late/waking early, or bath the children… Salute to those men who share the responsibility as well!

  39. Anonymous says...


  40. This has been such an amazing, comforting series to read. My husband and I have been married just long enough for people to begin asking, “so when will you start having children?” And I’ve been so overwhelmingly busy this year and the last few months especially that I can’t imagine having the time to be the parent I hope to be. I’m thankful that my husband and I are on the same page- we want to wait until we’re more stable financially, and until we both are well settled into careers so that we can make time for our kids. Reading this is a comfort, because while life may never get as easy and timely as I wish it would, I see that each of you are doing jobs you love, and you’re also loving parents. There’s hope for us yet. So inspired! Thank you, Jo.

  41. This series was great. I am about to go into labor any day now and would love to balance work and motherhood and this really helps. I always look forward to reading your blog, it is oh so inspiring.

  42. What a lovely series–I enjoyed reading all of the posts. I definitely feel like I am still learning how to juggle it all. So far, my only solution has been to not sleep very much. I feel very fortunate to work from home with my little guy, but wish for more hours in the day!

  43. I loved this last week’s series. As a stay at home mom myself to my 21 month old son, i always wondered how mom’s who worked from home or otherwise managed. I’m starting to reconsider my staying at home choice because i crave the stimulation that work brings. It’s tough not to feel guilty about not always being there. Slowly though, we all realize we need to do things for ourselves so that everyone is happy.

  44. Is that Whitney Pozgay in the photo shoot??? Loved reading this post…

  45. Good series – I enjoyed it. so good to read what works for others. That doesn’t mean it will work for me, but they are great starting points, and very thought provoking.

  46. Loved this series!
    An idea for babysitting that my friends and I have just begun to do:
    One night a week we go and leave our husbands home while our baby is sleeping and go to our friends house to watch over while they go out. It’s great and free!

  47. Oh Joanna! You’re so sweet. I love that you mentioned that part in Peter Pan. That’s so wonderful. I imagine you don’t have much time for yourself, but you have really great priorities. Love ya!

  48. Thanks for posting this series… Although I’m still half a decade away from kids at least I love hearing about parenthood. I’ve always felt a strong pull to be a mother, even at a very young age and I find all of these stories both inspiring and also sobering. I love when bloggers share the truth about parenting and relationships so that readers are reminded that bloggers are real people too!

  49. This is lovely. Babysitters are expensive, but worth it. I always try to tell new moms that you can still do everything you like/want, it just has to be more deliberate. If you like to travel, exercise, go out, watch movies, whatever, you can still do all that, it just isn’t as spontaneous as it used to be. You can do anything with a little planning and flexibility!

    I’m envious of two things: 1) that Alex wakes up with the baby. My husband wakes up with our kids, but only after I’ve yelled, “I’ve fucking had enough! Get your ass out of bed, goddamnit!” And 2) The kids in bed my 7:30 – I have a hard time getting them down before 9p. Envious!

  50. Anonymous says...

    That is funny! You didn’t look nervous at all. Your blog is one of my favorite stops. Keep it coming!

  51. Joanna, thank you for this series…from a mom of a five-month-old who is still trying to figure out this whole work-from-home-with-a-baby balance :). Hearing everyones stories has been very enlightening :)

  52. I loved this post, so thank you! I could relate to many things that you shared, but I especially loved that you and Alex switch off mornings with Toby. My husband and I parent our Levi similarly (as in, I am not the sole caregiver just because I am female) and it seems we are some of the only ones in our circle of friends. Sometimes my husband catches flack for it and it is so frustrating. This is 2011, right?! Plus, doesn’t a child need equal time (when possible, of course) with each parent?

    Anyway, thank you again!

  53. Anonymous, how FUNNY that we were sitting by each other at edwards!! you know, that was one of the first days we went out on our own, and left toby with a babysitter. i was a nervous wreck! i had a big glass of wine, haha! :) goes to show you how appearances can be somewhat deceiving :)

  54. i always thought my mother was superwoman, and after reading this series and watching my own friends begin the process of finding ‘mama balance,’ i am SURE mothers are the most amazing people in the world.

    as an unwed, childless young woman who will someday (fingers crosses) be a wife and a mama to a few sweet babies (my parents divorced when i was in college), i’m all the more mindful after these posts of how important it is to prioritize your family over career . . . thanks so much!!!

  55. Jessica, that doesn’t sound silly at all! i think moms who stay home with their babies sometimes have a harder time getting it all done because they don’t get breaks — for me, work feels like a break of sorts, and i can ask our wonderful babysitters to help with tidying up or picking up baby Tylenol, etc., so it’s almost like we have three parents helping out. i agree that it’s really hard to find time — i have so, so much respect for SAHMs.

  56. Anonymous says...

    I have loved this series! We moms are all just doing the best we can and it is nice to feel like we are all in this together. As a side note, a while back when you were still a new-ish mom, my husband and I were coincidentally sitting next you and Alex at Edward’s in Tribeca. I remember thinking thinking how much you looked like you had it all together! ; )

  57. Jo says...

    Thanks so much for this series. My partner, Luke is a baker and works third shift. We really struggle to balance the childcare issues AND the adult relationship. Last month we finally went out on a date (our son is five months old now) and I was immediately reminded why I fell in love with him in the first place :) Its nice to see that we’re not alone in the craziness!!

  58. oh, lora96, i wish i were there to give you a big hug! it’s so hard to figure it all out, isn’t it? it will get easier, i promise you, and i’m sure you’ll be able to find a system that works well for you and your husband. (also, i bet he will become a morning person–alex is a tried-and-true night owl, but he’s shifted to be a semi-morning person after a cup of coffee:) people do what they have to do.) sending you a virtual hug! ps. exciting that it’s a girl!

  59. Smitten, by Britain, my friends ask me how i don’t get tempted by tv/email/etc. when i work from home — but i have such a long task list that it’s easy to focus since i am always in such a rush! :) my old boss said the best way to get the most out of an employee is to “overload her” with tasks — since then she will be super focused and won’t dilly dally (do people still say “dilly dally”?:) anyway, i feel like that’s definitely true for me!

  60. Courtney, i agree with “grass is always greener” — it’s very easy to idealize other mothers’ situations, but really everyone is just trying to figure things out and no one has it 100% perfect. i feel for you that you had to give up your job — it’s a DRAG that childcare isn’t easier in this country.

  61. Abby, omg, i totally agree; i would LOVE to figure out better ergonomics. otherwise we are going to suddenly find ourselves feeling like old ladies in a year or two! :)

  62. thejadeleaf, luckily our bedroom is in the back of our apartment, down a long hallway from our living room, so we shut the door, turn on the fan and turn on a noise machine. it ends up blocking out all the Toby noise…except for a short phase when he was really into screeching :)

  63. Joanna- as a single, working gal who hopes to one day be married with children (and still work at least part time), I loved this post, because I already worry about these things! I even wrote a paper in college about the SAHM/WAHM/Working Mom divide that often crops up when women enter this phase of life. I would love if you would continue this series, perhaps a once-a-month thing? I think it’s a brilliant for all of us women to have, and that you started an amazing dialogue!

  64. haha, thedirtyknitter, errands are a drag! the babysitters help us with some small errands (mailing letters, dropping off the dry cleaning) when they’re out with Toby, and we do errands on weekends usually. i would love a personal assistant, wouldn’t you? :)

  65. Sarahblu, as for working out, we don’t belong to a gym or take yoga classes or anything. but we throw toby around all the time (he’s fat and heavy, haha) and we walk and ride bikes with him all the time, and we ride bikes a lot on the weekends. that’s it! :)

  66. dana, you wrote, “we always had the perfect present for each other – getting up with the baby for a whole week straight.” i LOVE that!!!! now i know alex’s birthday present, haha :)

  67. chereemoore, i hear you! i love working, too, and would find it tough not to work. would you consider doing something outside of your field, like maybe working at a bookstore or something like that? there could be a great community there. or you could work remotely, so you could work for a company online from home, not sure if that is possible for your field of work. anyway, i’m rooting for you, whatever you decide for now! xoxo

  68. JenAHM says...

    Thank you for this inspiring series! As a first time mom to a now 3 month old girl, I’m working hard every day to balance raising her, having my own fledgling business,working part-time from home, and being a good partner for my husband. It’s hard…very hard, but I’m glad to see that it is possible!

  69. lindsay, you wrote: ” I would love to give my husband the opportunity to wake up with the baby, but even if he does, I feel like I’m missing out, or “should” be with him, and I can’t let myself sleep.” i AGREE! it was like that for me at the beginning, too. it definitely faded as toby got older and i grew less anxious and my hormones normalized. but i definitely felt the same way earlier on — i’d say until toby was about nine months. all to say, i’m pretty sure you’ll let your husband get up early one of these days soon, ha! :)

  70. I have LOVED reading how other moms juggle everything. I have a 6 month old son and work outside the home, and I was really inspired by reading how these women balance baby/work/marriage. It’s hard!! What I loved most about the series was the kindness and generosity that these women convey. There can be a lot of competition in the mom arena, so it was truly refreshing to see how honest and, well, HUMAN, these women are. Makes me feel less alone. Thank you, Joanna!

  71. great interview, thank you for sharing!

  72. anonymous, that’s a great idea about doing a post about how people feel about going from one child to two. my aunt was incredibly worried when she was expecting her second baby because she didn’t think she could ever love the new baby as much as she loved her first son. (but it turns out, she could :) but i think it’s a complex transition for sure. i would LOVE to talk to other moms about it. great idea. xo

  73. anonymous, i love how you said, “Very liberating to see it can be handled in a thousand different ways – all of which mean giving up something.” i agree!!! the most reassuring thing to me, honestly, was that no one had it 100% figured out! :) you just do what works well enough for you :) realizing that was a huge weight off! :)

  74. This was a really inspiring series which I hope you would do more of in the coming months. Thanks to you and all the 7 other moms you featured for being so open and honest. It’s good to know that we’re all in this together and that we’re all trying to be the best moms we can.

  75. this has been such a lovely series.

    if you’re looking for coworking space in the city, i’d recommend, they have many options in nyc at a variety of price points. good luck!

  76. I actually heard a minister last week echo your idea of a strong, happy marriage being the base to a strong, happy family. I think it’s so important for children to know that mom and dad love each other and make special time for each other.

    I don’t have any kids yet, but brava to all you beautiful working moms (whether you work in the home or outside it!!!). You ladies are an inspiration!

  77. Anonymous says...

    Great series. I went on a work hiatus about 2 years ago and while I miss the mental stimulation like crazy, I don’t miss the world of PR. While working, I always felt like I was doing it “wrong” in trying to balance it all. This series is great because I’m ready to get back in the workforce and turns out no one does it “right” or “wrong” so you just do what works for your family. Very liberating to see it can be handled in a thousand different ways – all of which mean giving up something.

    On a seperate note, I’m due next Tuesday with our second (and last) baby. I’m overcome with emotion in saying goodbye to the days when it was just me and my son. I’m not all that excited about having to share my time with another baby and the emotions (or maybe hormones) are hitting me like a ton of bricks. I know one day it will be hard to imagine us as just a family of three… but for now it is very hard to imagine how it will all fit together with someone else. That would be my gentle request for another series from moms of more than one about the emotional aspect of going from one child to two.

    This motherhood thing can be tough to navigate and it always is so nice to see that not only other people are having the same feelings as you, but to see how they manage them.

    Love your blog about all things, but the Motherhood Monday has been an awesome addition.

  78. For me your smile in this post’s photo says it all. Thanks for sharing your balance.

  79. This has been such a wonderful series Joanna. Thank you for all you do…You have been such an inspiration to so many, and your blog is one of the highlights of my day!

  80. i love you joanna. you inspire me in so many ways. thank you so much for including me in your series – hearing from all of the other mothers and all of the amazing readers makes me just so proud to be a mama!

  81. Jamie says...

    Jo, as a long time reader, and new momma myself, this has been my favorite “series” of all. I had really bad post partum depression because I was shocked about the trials of motherhood. Now my daughter is a year old, and every month has been a new challenge, but also I grow more in love with her everyday as I discover how to balance things.
    Your honest advice and encouragement is awesome! You should be writing a book!
    Anyways, thanks a lot. Really moved me.

  82. Joanna, I have absolutely LOVED this series! Eddie is now 5 months old, and I’m definitely struggling for balance. I would love to give my husband the opportunity to wake up with the baby, but even if he does, I feel like I’m missing out, or “should” be with him, and I can’t let myself sleep. Hoping this all normalizes soon!

  83. I have really enjoyed this series. I will become a first-time mom in November and I am excited and nervous all at once.

    With the poor economy, a year ago I found myself leaving a job I loved so that my husband could pursue a job that would benefit our little family the most. Unfortunately it has been hard to find work for me in our new town, so I am trying my best to embrace the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. Reading these posts make me realize how much I miss working and how much I always believed I would at least work part time. Regardless, I know that I will be striving to find my own balance in the year to come.

  84. My husband and I switched off like you guys with #2 because he was such an early riser (5-5:30). The best part was that we always had the perfect present for each other – getting up with the baby for a whole week straight. It was free and it was the best present in the world!

  85. Joanna, this was lovely – and your effort to have so much time with both Toby and Alex is inspiring. While you must be exhausted now, I can only imagine how many benefits you are going to reap from your focus on strengthening those relationships! I love what you said about marriage – my husband and I have also always said that the best thing we can give our kids is a lifetime of seeing their parents love each other. So important. And you and Alex are just so cute!

  86. This was such a great series.

    I, too, dread the coming winter because being cooped up inside with a toddler is so very very hard. I have anxiety about it even though it is the middle of July and 90 degrees outside today. However, Gabby over on Design Mom posted about how the Swedes take their kids outside every single day regardless of the weather and damned if I didn’t start doing the same thing (it was May in Salt Lake so still basically winter this year-it snowed on Memorial Day) and it was life changing. Absolutely life altering. Yeah, it is a pain sandwich to get you and the kiddo ready to go outside, but wow, what a difference some fresh air made for both of us.

    Anyway, there’s my tiny two cents. Kudos to all the moms and dads out there stumbling through parenthood.

  87. Joanna, this is a great series. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m a newlywed and just today actually I had my first day at my new job at a non-profit. It’s exactly the job I’ve been searching for and a really wonderful entrance into my future career. I’m now at a point where I know we want to have children, and probably soon-ish, but I also just started a job that I want to stick with for awhile. I’ve never been 100% sure if I’d be a stay-at-home mom, and I still don’t know what we’ll do when the time comes. If you ever feel so inclined, I’d really love to hear more stories of women in different settings, namely working moms who don’t work from home.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  88. I have loved every post in this series! It sparked me to try and continue the conversation with my readers as well. I sure hope a few contribute!

    Thank you for putting this subject in the forefront and getting all of us talking about it.

    You’re blog is such an amazing and bright spot in my day.


  89. Sarahblu says...

    When do you and Alex get in workouts?

  90. Thanks for the great series Joanna! I work at home and often wonder about how I will manage to incorporate children into my “office”. I am curious to know how these women manage keeping their houses clean and the laundry done as well! My policy has been to just continually declutter (if I don’t own it, I don’t have to clean it).

    Love your philosophy on your marriage too.

  91. Anonymous says...

    This is an amazingly heart-felt post. Thank you for sharing your struggles. This has been a wonderful series.

  92. Thanks for a great series! As a SAHM who consults here and there, it was so interesting to read how others find balance (or attempt to anyway). Here in SF, there are many great shared work spaces–like this one, Something similar must exist in NY…right?

  93. When DO you find time for errands? I find that is a huge time sucker for us. So we either sacrifice “couple” time or end up spending date night grocery shopping together!

  94. This is such lovely insight– I don’t have a child yet, but I plan on it within the next 5 years and I have a similar work routine as you do, work from home, etc. and I always wonder “how will i make this work? Juggle it all? ” etc—you’ve given a lovely view into your life that says, “Hey, yes, it can and does work :)” and the advice from your mother is GOLDEN.

  95. This is a great series! As a hopeful Mom-to-be, it’s wonderful to hear how others manage to juggle everything. Kudos to all the Moms- you ROCK!!!

  96. Since I don’t have children, I haven’t read the motherhood series much, but it’s a relief to know it is here as a resource once I do!

  97. I’ve just eaten this whole series up. I love it!

    Have you ever looked into WeWork for office space? There are a few locations in the city. My husband works there and loves it. Having worked from home (and on my bed), I know how wonderful it can be to have a place to work outside the house!

    Thank you for putting together this wonderful series, it has made me very hopeful that we’ll find our balance :)

  98. What a great series, I loved this one. It really highlights how many different ways there are to balance and how any way is a good way as long as it works for you. Thank you!

  99. such a fabulous series, joanna. you’re full of such great ideas; so many of the topics are easy to relate to. i loved this so much, i was checking 4x a day for the next post! thank you!

  100. Such a thoughtful post. Thanks!

  101. woaw this was a great serie to read, It reminds me how amazing,wonderful, beautiful, increadiable all mum´s are..My *babies* are 12 and 7 years old now..not babies any more..hardly remember all sleepless nights..all the best to all mums out there..Marie

  102. This series confirmed for me that mamas are a force of nature in an awesome, powerful way! THANK YOU!!!

  103. leathergal says...

    I agree with some of the other commenters-I’m not a mom yet, but these posts made me feel better about my chances of maintaining my career in a year or two when my husband and I have a child:) Thanks so much for the insight-loved your post as well!

  104. Thank you so much for this… from a faithful reader and a brand new mom of a 3 week old on a particularly overwhelming day!

  105. My other thought in response to this post was how on earth do you sleep in whilst Toby is awake in the next room? Ear plugs?

  106. What a wonderful idea to share. Loved reading it. Inspiring for mommies learning to juggle all of the things in life. Hugs!

  107. Beautiful post about the toughest yet best job in the world!

  108. Wow. I suddenly feel like I have lots of time up my sleeve! I am a stay at home mum to one little babe, and love every second. Joanna, I love your honesty, it is truly refreshing. Thank you. Jade x

  109. What a fabulous, honest post.

    It seems like you, Alex and Toby have found a great balance and have a wonderful, caring home :)

    You are a very inspiring mother, I hope to be similar to yourself when I have my first child. Thanks for your honesty Jo!

    Niki @ LQM&M

  110. I have absolutely loved this series! I am a SAHM right now, but I’ll admit I wish I worked! A couple weeks ago I got a part-time job, but childcare was too costly and complicated that I finally had to admit my defeat and quit! I was sad and frustrated, but I keep reminding myself that there is a time and a season. In lots of ways I am lucky– I know there are plenty of moms who wish they could stay home. (the grass is always greener!) I plan on going to culinary school once my daughter starts kindergarten (in two years), so I suppose I should just eat up this time while I can.
    I appreciate this series so much because it is so honest. It’s so sad and frustrating how women are so quick to judge each other, particularly when it comes to mothering. I think opening up and sharing so candidly will go so far in helping us understand (and help!) each other. It also really showed me how many options there are when it comes to work schedules– it’s really inspiring to see so many strong women. (I have to admit, your schedule and work sound perfect and awesome.) Thank you!

  111. Abby says...

    This is one of the best series that you have done. I loved reading every post. I live in Europe and every day of this series I was refreshing for a new post hours before there was any hope of seeing one.

    One thing that really stands out to me is that so many of the posters, you included, need a more ergonomic work set up! Working on a couch or bed has got to start hurting over time..

    I’m studying independently right now and the isolation and lack of in-person professional peers does get to me. It was a comfort to see that sentiment shared by so many on here.

  112. Bethenny says...

    Great series – and I hope that you think about including single parent families next time! There are a lot of single parents here trying to make it work too – and without the benefit of a great partner like Alex.


  113. What I have the most difficult time with is focusing on my work and not being tempted to check email all day and Facebook. How do you stay disciplined not to waste the day away doing fun stuff?

  114. I loved reading this! It’s so neat to see how other people handle being parents. We’ve always had our little one on a schedule, and I’m such a fan of doing so. Raising a child can be chaotic, so it’s nice to have some stability.

    I love that you guys take turns waking up with Toby. We take turns taking our little one back to bed when she sneaks into our bed. It so nice to have someone that not only is willing to help out, but wants to!

  115. This is a very inspiring series. I am also impressed by the responses to this series including those left by readers who don’t have children yet. This is certainly a topic that resonates. Every family’s situation is different. Every mother/father/baby/child is different. Resources are limited (time and money,) so we set priories and make choices. * Oh, I sound like a politician! * I don’t’ think ‘having it all’ is realistic, it certainly can be difficult at times but I believe most of us mothers can agree on that our overall experience is rewarding. Thank you Joanna for hosting this series and thank you all for sharing your personal experience. I believe it will be equally inspiring to hear the perspectives of mothers with different working arrangements. And I also see an increase of stay–at–home/work–from–home fathers in recent years. Perhaps a new series? I enjoyed the posting a while ago on fatherhood from Alex’s perspective.

  116. this was a great conclusion to a really interesting and insightful series! Makes thinking about being a working mom [in the future] slightly less intimidating!

    Thanks for sharing!

  117. I’ll probably come back and read these 8 posts again and again. As a newlywed with crazy work schedule, I often wondered how “those moms” do it. And totally had something like “I don’t know how she does it” (book, soon to be a movie), in my head.

    Reading these made me feel so much better, made me feel like it’s really doable, and slowly convincing myself that I really won’t go insane living with children. :D

    Thank you for doing the series, and thank you even more for sharing your own story. What a grand finale!

  118. Thanks for this series of posts. It’s nice to hear that it’s a challenge for other families, too. As for winter activities, you might check out my post on indoor summer activities for a toddler (we live in the desert, so we’re currently in the midst of our mostly indoor play time). Some of them might work for you guys, too. :)

  119. Anonymous says...

    I’ve never posted here before (though I have enjoyed this lovely blog daily for quite some time) but had to pop out from the shadows to thank you for this series. I am childless now but am planning on having kids (or kid, singular, we shall see!) within the next five years and this was amazingly enlightening. Seriously, thank you for this. And your advice from your mother is wonderful and something we all should carry with us, daily. Thanks again!

  120. After this series I feel so inspired! I truly believe in your mom’s words. If we are happy with ourselves everything will finally fall in the right place. Your schedule sounds really good and it seems that you reached a wonderful balance in your life! Toby is such a wonderful little kiddo and for winters a homemade cinnamon playdough with tons of cool cookie cutters will do the trick:) Toddles love those stuff and there are like 10 different types you can make. I can send the recipes if you want:) Have a great afternoon. Kisses

  121. I’m seven months pregnant with our first baby (it’s a girl!) and I’m kind of worried about scheduling so this was a really helpful post for me. Thank you.

    My dh moves sloooow in the mornings and usually doesn’t manage his time well enough to put kibble in the bowl for the dogs so I’ll be on my own in the mornings.

    Also I live in a rural area and the only day care situation I consider acceptably safe and clean is pricey for us. My mil offered to keep the baby a couple of days a week but she keeps her other grandchild and complains constantly about how the incredibly sweet one year old is “hyper” and “bad” and has to be spanked and put in time out all the time so No Thank You.

    Gee, I was just going to thank you for your sweet post but I’m just a bundle of anxiety today. Sorry.

  122. this is so interesting! thank you for sharing! i am curious to see how my work situation changes when i have children. we’ll see! xo jillian

  123. When our son was little a bunch of us who all had small babies and toddlers used to pool babysitting and would sit for one another. We had a system of sorts that kept it balanced – and a rule not to be out too late as we all had little ones to get up to. We all lived close by so it was easy. Worked a treat and meant we didn’t have to pay – it gets so expensive. It’s worth trying?!!!!

  124. I still don’t know how you mamas do it. My husband and I are fortunate to be able to work from home (not easy on the finances, but perfect for our idea of sanity). Still, there are plenty of distractions as it is without having a baby. Kudos to y’all hard-working mamas and daddys.

  125. We’re expecting baby #1 this fall. Reading this was very reassuring to me – you CAN work full time, have quality time with your baby, and hang out with husband and friends. The work/life/baby balance has been worrying me a bit so it’s nice to know it can work out!

  126. I enjoyed reading about how you balance work, baby, and family. I am expecting in January and it was refreshing to read that there is not just one way to parent. I do believe people can get caught up in what others do or believe is right. I hope to stay true to myself through the parenting process. I also wanted to let you know that despite New York’s colder weather I would suggest making it outside with Toby almost everyday if the weather doesn’t get too cold. I live in Norway and have worked at a preschool here for a few years. One of the wonderful things that I have learned here is despite the weather. . as long as children have the right clothing we let them outside to blow some stink off and it really helps with that cabin fever feeling. Even if they are only out for a half hour:)

  127. Working mothers amaze me…I have a few side jobs here and there (I’ll do some haircutting in my kitchen, I used to be a hairstylist pre babies, I also do some fragrance vending every once in awhile)
    However I can’t seem to get everything done…Where do you find the time to clean? Fold laundry? Grocery shop?
    Can you do a series on how non working mothers keep it all together?!! I know it sounds silly to a working mother that a non working mother can fit it all in:)

  128. Anonymous says...

    This has been a really motivational post! I don’t have children, but the thought of being able to balance motherhood with work seems a little more possible now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  129. this series definitely has been eye opening. while i’m not planning on being in a position where i can make up my own hours at work, it’s still nice to know that the juggling can be done. and it’s also nice to hear how much most husbands are/are willing to do their part and sometimes even take more than their fair share. i think it’s important that kids have memories with both sets of parents, and pictures to look back on that have both parents in them, at one time or another.
    and i also can’t agree more on focusing on your marriage just as much as your child. i’m a product of divorce too, and it’s made me really think deeply about getting married and what it’s going to mean to really work at it, even, and especially, once babies come into the picture. i’ve heard that the best thing parents can do for their children is to be in love with each other and i think that’s totally true.

  130. such a sweet series. all of the entries have been so authentic and honest. as i’m expecting my second baby, i feel like i have a whole new perspective on cherishing the fantastic aspects of figuring out how to be a working mom.

  131. I have been reading for about a year and I think this blog is amazing. There is SO much to learn from sharing perspectives with other moms of all kinds. One of the things that resonated the most with me from this series was seeing how involved all the dads are. My husband and I are in a similar situation of sharing work and parent (we have a 20 month old son)/home duties very evenly and it feels great to know that more and more this is becoming the norm.

    Again, thank you for the wonderfully thoughtful posts and compassion for self and others.

    Being a mama is hard work!

  132. This has been a great series – but I especially have loved hearing your answers. Thanks for taking the time to share!
    Much love,

  133. I am hitting up Mr Right tonight about switching off mornings. My girl rises at 5:30 am and I’m one tired mama. :)

    Wonderful series Joanna.

  134. Been waiting for this one! Toby is so lucky to have not one, but two parents who are both eager to spend quality time with him. What a beautiful family you have.

  135. hi joanna! i haven’t commented in a long time (though i still read your blog everyday). i just had my first baby — he is going on 5 weeks tomorrow — and have so appreciated this series! i plan on working from home PT + managing my etsy shop after life settles down a bit.. maybe in a month or two. but i just wanted to say that i loved your point #8: “take gentle care of yourself.” already in the past month i have felt so overwhelmed & know i have been putting so much pressure on myself & just comparing myself to other new moms who seem to have it so together! my husband says the best thing i can do for myself (and for the family) is to rest & de-stress. i totally agree & am trying to keep that in mind in my most frantic moments! thanks so much for this series — loved every bit of it :]

  136. Great advice. I’m not a mother yet, but I really loved and appreciated this series. Thanks, Joanna! xo.

  137. I’m with your friend- I love working but I feel like I RUN to the sitter’s to pick up my son- and on Friday when I pick him up, I cackle greedily that he is all mine for 2 whole days! This was refreshing to read. You hear it over and over againg that you aren’t the only one, and I know I’m not but it’s still nice to read other people’s daily lives. Glad your back Ms Joanna

  138. I love your mother’s advice to take gentle care of yourself. It reminds me of something my grandma said to me once when I was being hard on myself. She said, “Grace yourself!” I had never heard the word grace used like that. It is easy for a mother to be gracious and forgiving of others (sometimes) but so hard to “grace ourselves”.

  139. that such a inspiration for future baby planning & honestly even balancing schedules without babies! Thanks for the series :)

  140. I love switching off on mornings – like you I used to do it all and felt I was getting so resentful = then we decided to take turns and now I reeeeallly value my sleep-ins and my husband. And also totally agree with you re. marriage time – I think we have to remember that one day our kiddos will be old and will have moved out and moved on – and all we’re left with is our partner – so we really have to foster a good relationship NOW so to build a good foundation for the future! Hope you had a lovely time in England!

  141. Oh, i gobbled up every word of this. You are amazing and your life sounds just like mine- SO SUPER BUSY ( and i dont have a paid job, just an extra kid).

    I’m up at 6 or before with our son and last night we totalled about 3 hours of broken sleep. Best thing with my morning coffee? An honest (post from) cuppa jo.

    Thanks lady

    xo em

  142. This was so refreshing to read…’s nice to know that other moms have a hard time doing it allllll…and don’t always have time for themselves as well. I’m obviously not as busy as you but since I started blogging it has added a whole new (fun) yet challenging demension to the pie..I truly enjoy reading your fantastic blog and totally appreciate that you took the time to tell us how to DO it!

    P.S I love what I says under the post a comment…maybe we have the same RUDE anonymous commenter..prob not but still that person sucks.

  143. haha, well, I get 6 hours half the week + 8.5 hours half the week. :)

  144. I have enjoyed this series so much… but as a first time mom-to-be I have to say I’m quite shocked at how little sleep all of you working moms get per night. The though of trying to thrive on 6 or less hours of sleep is sobering to say the least.

    Thank you so much for this eye-opening series!