Employed Mom/Stay-at-Home Mom Interview: Part 2


Welcome to Part 2 of our interview on motherhood with my friend Laura, who is a SAHM of 4, and me! If you haven't, go back and take a look at Part 1, where we answer questions 1-5! Part 1 also includes a little intro to this interview, so if you missed that click here.

6. What is the hardest time of the day for you? What is your favorite time of day?

(Amanda: This is me one morning at daycare dropoff. R and I were matching, and she wanted to take a picture, and J wanted in too!)

As with everything else in motherhood, I’ve found that answering the question of hardest time of day is a phase. It also depends a lot on the day. Sometimes everyone is in a great mood and things go smoothly; other days it’s a hot mess express at my house!

Daycare drop-offs are never my favorite because I always feel sad to leave the kids, but it’s definitely gotten easier as they’ve phased out of the screaming and clinging to me and shouting “mama!” after me as I walk out (edit: I wrote this answer a few weeks ago, and this past week J just started doing this again to me uggggggh). There have been many days I’ve cried all the way to work because I felt so horrible leaving them. When they were in their biting/scratching stages, I dreaded pickup because I didn’t even want to know what kind of incident report I’d need to sign.

Evenings are both my favorite and least favorite time of day. I get home from picking them up at daycare between 5:20-5:30, and they are all wound up, tired from the day, and cranky and hungry, and I am too! But at the same time I’m SO excited to see them. It’s a rush to settle in after being gone all day, get dinner on the table, clean up, do bedtime, and try to get them down at a reasonable hour while still getting in some quality time after being apart all day. So it’s super challenging but also my only solid few hours with them each day, so I try to get in as many hugs and stories and “I love yous” as I can. Sometimes I feel like we balance that pretty well, and sometimes I’m just sad that I get so few hours with them each day and we spent it rushing around.

But truly, my favorite time of the whole week is Saturday morning. We don't have to rush out the door, I make breakfast, and we just stay in our pjs and sing songs and play cars. It's wonderful and fills my tank for the week.


(Laura: This is me feeling torn between folding the laundry and holding the baby.  Also pictured are three children who always like to occupy the same square foot as me.)

When my husband is gone (which is usually 1-3 nights a week right now), bedtime is often the hardest. I’m exhausted, the house looks like we’ve been robbed, and I’m somehow trying to help four tiny people let go of their troubles and fall asleep. Even with our predictable bedtime routine, people (self included) can get way off track. 

When my husband is home, bedtime is much easier, and school pickup wins hardest time of the day. My baby or toddler or both have to go right from nap to the car, and that can be a tough transition. I learned pretty quickly that giving everyone a snack on the ride home can help prevent some hangry drama. Even still, there are a lot of tired personalities in one minivan.

My favorite time of day is…bedtime. I know I just told you it’s the hardest. If we can push through the hard parts, it’s often the sweetest time I have with them. I love reading stories, chit chatting, and cuddling. They say some funny and endearing things in those few minutes when we’re alone. And then they go to sleep. ;)

7. How do you prioritize time with your kids?


I truly believe that quality of time is more important than quantity of time. It’s extremely important to me that I take time every day to intentionally sit and talk to my kids, play with them, and hug them. And honestly doing this doesn’t take me any focused thought. I miss them and I just want to do those things! 

Sometimes on the way home from daycare I’ll stop at the park for a bit. We eat dinner together at the table as a family almost every night, and we ask the kids what they learned and did that day. We rarely turn on the TV in the evenings, which I think helps us all be able to interact together (we also just don’t really have time to sit in front of the TV!). I read to them before bed every night. Sometimes if the morning has gone well, we snuggle on the couch and read a book before getting in the car for daycare dropoff. There are a lot of ways to take advantage of small moments that can add up to a lot even if I’m not with them for the majority of the actual work day.


On school days, I try to get on the floor with my two-year-old and do whatever he wants for a few minutes. With the school kids, I lean in to quality over quantity. My oldest son loves to cuddle/wrestle (it’s a fine line), so when he gets home, I invite him in for a hug, and that turns into a few minutes of some kind of close contact. Sometimes on the weekends, my husband will take one or two kids out for an errand, which makes them feel special. We also outsource some of that to grandparents. Sure, it’s not the same as special time with us, but it’s a great alternative.  

8. When do you get things done as far as household chores, meal planning, grocery shopping?


Short answer: whenever I can fit it in! Longer answer: I’m awful at household chores, and it’s hard to even keep the kitchen from descending into madness. I usually unload/load the dishwasher in the mornings while the kids eat first breakfast (before real breakfast at daycare). 

I toss in a load of laundry and set the delayed timer so it starts around 3 or 4:00 and is finished when I get home, so I can move it to the dryer immediately. I usually end up having 3-4 loads of laundry to fold all at once, so I knock that out in an evening once or twice a week while watching something on Netflix or catching up on my Marco Polo videos. 

I typically either do a quick grocery store run during my lunch break or immediately after work with the kids (if I go home, I won’t leave again, so I just go straight from pickup; and honestly I’ve always loved taking them grocery shopping with me… I know, that sounds so strange!). Jordan and I also often go on a big grocery store run on the weekend as a family. If I meal plan, it’s typically right before I go to the grocery store so that I have a list ready. I’ve never done grocery pickup (I know, I’m nuts, right? Maybe that’s another post for another time lol).


Some of it gets done during the day, and some of it happens after the kids are in bed. About two years ago, I told Amanda that I was getting our groceries delivered, and I'm pretty sure she thought I was crazy to pay extra for something I could easily do myself. When she told me she enjoyed grocery shopping with her kids, I thought she was crazy. Actually, she is crazy and selfless and joy-seeking. One of the gifts of friendship is realizing ways I can change my perspective. 

I'm back to doing my own shopping now, and I do find that it can be a fun way to connect with my toddler. He gets excited about his favorite foods, and he makes amusing observations. It’s not always fun, but it can be when I have the right frame of mind.

I sure thought it would be easier to stay on top of chores as a SAHM. Alas, I was wrong. I haven't logged the minutes, but I think there's about a 1:3 ratio of time spent doing a chore and time spent cleaning up what happened in the other room while I was doing the chore. I do little bits during the kids' wake time, but it often gets finished or redone when they're asleep. And my husband frequently reminds me it’s okay to let things go.

9. What are 1-2 practical tips you’ve found helpful in your day to day?


Regarding meal planning/prep, I try to always have staples on hand that I can use to make simple recipes when I just don’t have any other ideas. Frozen chicken; cans of corn, beans, and diced tomatoes; taco seasoning (I make my own! So easy!); pasta noodles; cheese; loaf of bread. I’m pretty good at throwing together a meal using things in my pantry if I haven’t been to the store in a while. So I guess my actual tip here would be to get comfortable enough in the kitchen to figure out what things to make sure you have stocked so you can almost always put something easy together even if you’re completely out of ideas and out of time to prep anything.

I also HIGHLY recommend pre-cooking hamburger meat and chicken and freezing them in portions of 1-2 cups. I can easily pull out a bag of frozen (but cooked!) hamburger meat to thaw for tacos or put in the crockpot for chili. Or frozen (cooked!) chicken for a salad or a broccoli bake or fajitas. It’s not as easy to pull out 1 pound of frozen meat that I now have to thaw and cook (drain the fat, etc.) before I can use it in a recipe. This has saved me so many times!

And really, just embrace frozen nuggets + mac 'n' cheese. Sometimes Kraft really hits the spot, and I have no regrets.


I try to involve the kids in cleaning, but I cannot yet trust them with a bottle of Windex. Enter E-cloth. Any microfiber cloths are probably fine, but I can vouch for this brand. Anyone who can walk can take a cloth and hunt for dust and dirt. They clean marvelously, they won't poison anybody, and the kids mostly have fun doing it.

(Note from Amanda: the above is an affiliate link because I haven't linked to anything in a while, and Laura said it was ok to make a few cents off her recommendation ;)

I love @busytoddler's Instagram feed. Her activities are low-prep and use stuff we almost always already have, and she’s not pretentious. You know what I mean. She’s an educator who promotes play over academia. That’s my jam.

10. What’s one thing you’ve learned about staying at home/being employed from being friends with the other person? (So one thing Laura has learned from Amanda, and one thing Amanda has learned from Laura)


Laura has been a really great encouragement to me over the past couple of years, and I’m so thankful for her friendship. It’s obviously easier make and stay friends with people in similar stages of life, but it’s important to also have friends who can offer a different perspective. I could write many things about what Laura has taught me (practically speaking, she’s been super helpful with all sorts of random kid-related questions!), but what comes to mind—and what I’m grateful for—is that she’s taught me a lot about how to be a good friend.

It’s no secret that my first year back at work after having R was extremely challenging. R was born in August 2015, and Laura’s second child was born just a month or two before, so we were in the same stage as far as having babies the same age, but completely different situations since I was working full time and she was at home. She was supportive and encouraging, and she really helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. 

She taught me that where we spend our work day doesn’t eliminate mom guilt, household and marital stress, or mean that life is easier. We all have good days, and we all have bad days. We all struggle with difficult toddlers and keeping our house clean. At times we all question if what we are doing is making a difference. Our employment status doesn’t define our motherhood, and it doesn’t have to create walls between people who might otherwise be friends.


Amanda has really helped me see that no mom fits in one box, and some labels are inaccurate and diminishing. Employed moms don’t all work for the same reason. “Full-time mom” isn’t only reflective of SAHMs. Moms who are doing “the most important thing” are actually just all moms. Where we spend our time isn’t reflective of our worthiness or caliber of motherhood. 

She’s also taught me what vulnerability and personal growth look like. Each time she’s gone back to work after maternity leave, she’s been very open about how hard it is. When I’m going through my own struggles, I look at my journey through a microscope, and that makes it seem like there’s never any change. Seeing Amanda move from agony to peace over the last few years has shown me that every mom has big battles, and the growth is just as big even though it takes time.

Laura and I really hope you've enjoyed this two-part interview! We'd love to hear from you if you have any comments or feedback. We might even be open to a Part 3 if there are other questions we didn't cover here. (I haven't actually asked her about that, but maybe I could convince her haha! ;) 

Of course, we know that every family and every kid and every person is different, and we are not in any way trying to speak for everyone with our answers. But we hope this gave you some insight into the life of a mom who stays at home and one who is employed. 

We had fun working on this, and not to sound super cheesy, but we hope you had fun reading it too!
AnneMarie said...

This was such a fun series to read! One question I have is: how do you work with your spouse on household duties? I've heard from other stay-at-home moms that this can just be a weird thing to figure out; and unfortunately, in some marriages, the husband at the office is under the impression that the wife should do most household things with no help because she's home all day (though with the kids). I don't know if Laura has experienced or noticed any of this imbalance/pressure, but I tend to think that families where both spouses have "office jobs" have probably figured things out in a more balanced or nuanced way. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it!

Hannah said...

This has been an interesting series! My husband and I are foster parents and do not have biological children. I've parented in a variety of situations. I worked full time with two (and then just one) children at home, while my husband worked second shift (4pm-2am). During that time I experienced the challenges of working moms, and also felt like a single mom on the days my husband worked. After that, I stayed home with three kids. Now I work part-time and am home the rest of the time. This season is also the first that my husband is on days and is consistently around for bedtime. It's a happy balance for me. I do like that my experiences give me understanding of the many challenges facing all different kinds of moms!

The Lady Okie said...

Hannah, I love that you've had such experience with all types of situations. I definitely see how it could feel like being a single mom when your husband works those hours. I do think part time would be the perfect balance for me also and something I hope might work for us at some point in the future. Thanks for reading and for sharing! It's a wonderful thing you're doing being a foster mom. I have several friends who do it, and Jordan and I have discussed that and adoption and something we are interested in!