Featured Mama ~ Catherine McCavanagh Owner/Founder of The Honest Eye

Check out our newest Featured Mama, Catherine McCavanagh, Owner/Founder of The Honest Eye!

Meet Catherine McCavanagh… A 37 year old wife and mother of 2 children (Jane, 4 years old and Walter, 2 years old).

I own an Image Consultant/Personal Shopping business called The Honest Eye. I recently started my business and have been doing it for the past year and a half. I have always shopped for friends and family, but recently decided to make it more official, giving it a name and a website, The Honest Eye!

CatherineMCareer Challenges…

Balancing the time I devote to my business and the time I want to spend with my husband and children. I realize my kids are only going to be these young ages for so long so I don’t want that time to slip away but I also am so passionate about my business and I want to devote my energies to it. It’s a common case of not enough hours in the day!

Rewards…

The most rewarding thing about being a working mother is having something for myself. Being home with children full time can be very draining as in you are giving, giving, and giving, and rarely is anyone looking out for you.

Essential ‘must have’…

My essential ‘must have’ is my mother! I am so blessed to have her close by. She is retired and is able to help me as much as needed. I realize that most working moms don’t have this luxury so I feel very blessed in that department. I also have a very supportive husband who pushes me to do my thing and will pick up the slack wherever needed.

Family Dynamic…Catherine&Jane

I have two children – Jane, 5 years old and Walter 2 years old. Jane is spunky, artistic, very independent, and absolutely loves animals, from worms to horses and everything in between.  Walter is more on the cautious side, checking something out from all angles before jumping in. He loves the typical boy things, like cars, trucks, bugs, and balls. Jane and Walter are so in love with each other, not to say though I don’t have to break up a hair pulling fight on a daily basis!  My husband Patrick is a wonderful husband and father. Playing with balls and trucks comes easier to him, but he tries so hard to give the same amount of time to Jane with her dolls, animal figurines, and art projects. Along with having a full time career in media sales he also coaches lacrosse for various local teams.

Organization tips…

I try to stay organized by writing everything down in both my calendar at home as well as putting it into my phone. On Sundays I take a look at the week ahead and try to tie up any loose ends. I try not to over commit to activities for the family because I think it gets to the point where the kids don’t appreciate it anymore and the parents end up resenting it. Along with playschool and preschool for the kids I sign them up for one activity at a time, whether it be swimming, art, nature camp, whatever I think they’re strongest interest is at the time.

Healthy Perspective…

I can tend to be a worrier but have gotten much better in the past few years. As long as I am giving my family a healthy amount of attention, and that everyone is healthy and happy, I will not stress about material things or trying to do too much at once.

Me Time..

I try to have a bit of ‘me’ time every single day. Whether it is going to pilates for an hour (I put the kids in the day care at the gym), or it’s taking a half hour to read the latest Vogue when my husband gets home from work. He will look at me sometimes when I am feeling worn down and say ‘go upstairs and take a bath’ – he knows it’s not good for anyone in the family if I don’t have some alone time! I am definitely the personality type that needs some quiet time without anyone around. As far as seeing friends, I try my best to not let slip through the cracks. It is a challenge though since we are all trying to raise families, and we all have different schedules, it’s so exciting though when we can nail down a date to catch up. It’s a cheesy saying but it’s true that it’s food for my soul. My favorite personal activities are reading, exercising, and although cliché, shopping. I wish I could paint more. I’m not the best at it, but I love the feeling of creating something that has an actual end product. I find it cathartic and rewarding.

Finding Inspiration…

I find inspiration everywhere; women and teenagers on the street, books and magazines, and historical trendsetters like Jackie O and Lauren Hutton. My essential must have for myself is fashion and décor magazines – I absolutely devour them every night before bed. My iphone is pretty essential as well. I held out for a while before I got one, but now don’t know what I would do without it.

Balance Challenges…

My challenges are keeping our house intact. I never feel like everything is as organized or clean as I would like it to be. I am constantly 3 loads of laundry behind. half the time the beds are unmade and toys are strewn all over our floors. I realize things won’t be this way forever and I try not to be too hard on myself. My kids don’t notice a messy house and it doesn’t bother my husband when he comes home to it. Once again, I just do my best and get to it when I can.

From one mama to another…

Don’t give up too quickly on working if it seems like it’s getting to be too much of a juggle. Soon enough the kids will be in school for longer periods of time, and you will be grateful that you have kept your foot in the work door. It’s so much harder to get break back in the longer you wait.

I don’t feel like I am the right person to be giving other working mothers tips. I am trying to figure it out myself, as I was home with my kids for a few years. I am now back in the game and unfortunately learning by trial and error. The only tip I can give is to try not to be too hard on yourself. Just listen to your gut and keep plugging along, everything is happening for a reason.

 

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Featured Mama ~ Melissa Guimaraes of Melissa’s Budding Artists

MBA-Zinga-103My story… I am Melissa Guimaraes and I’m a mother, wife, artist, art teacher, a graduate student and now, a small business owner!  We live in Peabody, MA and are surrounded by family and friends.  My husband has been my biggest supporter and when I originally, and very casually, approached him with the crazy idea of beginning my own paint party business, he didn’t think it was that crazy at all.

What I saw happening all around me at local restaurants and bars was the really cool idea of a bunch of adults getting together to make a painting.  There are quite a few nationwide businesses who focus on getting a few drinks into people while they fumble with a brush and have a great time while doing it. I loved the idea of people being creative – most of them probably hadn’t made a piece of art since a high school elective forced them to. What I wished to see more of, however, was the idea of families making these paintings together. Instead of in bars, during late hours, no one was catering to the afternoons, weekends or even early evenings. Basically, the idea of anyone under the age of 18 (more like 21 most of the time) participating in these paint parties was out of the question. In mid-July I began Melissa’s Budding Artists, and we do paint parties for artists of all ages. We specialize in throwing paint parties where little kids and adults can sit and create a piece of art, side by side. We aren’t only creating masterpieces, we are making memories!

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My career began… in May of 2003, when I graduated from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA.  By December, 2003, I’d finished my student teaching and earned my teaching certification. In the summer of 2004, I was hired by the same high school I graduated from to become part of the visual arts department. I’ve been an art teacher at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School ever since. Teaching art is my passion, there’s really no other way to describe it. It won’t ever make me rich but it is the most rewarding job and I can’t think of another career that would fulfill me the way teaching art does.

My biggest challenge… as a mama, has been balancing my personal, career, and social life, or what’s left of it.  With three children, you begin to really understand what people mean when they say “there aren’t enough hours in the day”.  I’ve always thought there weren’t enough weekends in the week!

My biggest reward… is to see the respect my six year old has for me, my career and my business.  It fills me with joy to hear her tell others “my mommy is a painter” or “I want to teach art like my mom”.  She’s already so creative and unique, I know she’s got the natural talent to draw.

At work, I’m a role model to my students and I take that very seriously, as well.  When I began teaching at 22 years old, some of my students were only a bit younger than me.  After they graduated high school and went on to college, we kept in touch. Currently, I have quite a few close friends who were former students of mine. The first paint party I threw was in my own backyard and I sent out a Facebook Event Invite to all of the former students I could reach. That night, every easel I owned was propped up in front of a 20-something year old who used to sit in my classroom. That paint party was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Not only did it mark the beginning of my business venture, it also showed me that what I do makes people happy and proud.

My career must have… is creativity. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, trust me!

My family consists of… my oldest daughter, Kenna, six years old and just beginning the first grade.  She’s kind, funny, smart and very sharp, also nurturing and has gorgeous hair!  Kinsley is two and a half and is sometimes shy around new people, but when she’s warmed up to you she’ll be your best friend. Kinsley was the perfect baby and to this day has been a great eater, sleeper and gives the best hugs with encouraging pats on the back. Our youngest son, Boaventura, turned one in July. We call him Bo. (Boaventura means “good times” in Portuguese.  It’s a family name my husband is very proud of, and I’ve always adored it, especially with such a neat meaning and cute nickname.) Bo is a sweet, smiley little baby who loves trying to keep up with his big sisters. We recently found out Bo has a peanut and egg allergy, so we’re monitoring his diet, and we have regular appointments with a highly recommended allergist on the Northshore. We also have our dog, Doby, who is like a little furry baby to me, and sister to the kids. Doby has the patience of a pre-school teacher and I admire her agility at times, especially when there are three kids on her tail.

My husband…Jose, is a plumber who took on working many extra hours to make up for my unpaid maternity leave from teaching the 2013-2014 school year. He is an amazing father, and the kids absolutely adore him. I swear, you’d think a celebrity walked into the room when he comes home from work, and he is always just as excited to see them.  Jose keeps me grounded and has taught me so much about parenting. I know I’ve found the perfect man for me because I can’t think of a way it could get any better than this.

We are a bilingual family… Jose’s first language is Portuguese. He was born in Brazil and moved to America ten years ago. In our home, we speak Portuguese. My parents are from the Azores, so I grew up speaking Portuguese, mostly, with my grandmothers. When I met my husband, we hit it off right away because there wasn’t too much of a language barrier. Eventually, I learned to change my accent a bit, depending on the company. Kenna is bilingual and fluent in Portuguese. Kinsley is putting together words in both languages, also. And it’s obvious Bo can understand anything anyone says!  Even the dog responds to both language swithout hesitation. Peabody is a very diverse community and we’re proud of our culture and the culture of those around us. It’s celebrated in our homes, schools and communities.

To keep organized… I rely on the calendar app on my iphone, especially for long term dates and responsibilities. For the most part, I try to take it one day at a time while having the big picture in the back of my mind, too.

Our favorite family vacation… spot is the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We stay in this little inn where they have about a dozen horses. Jose grew up with horses and has instilled his love for them in Kenna. When we visit, Kenna takes several horse back rides on her favorite pony, Tinkerbell. During the summer, we also enjoy our pool. The kids love swimming. We have plans to fly to Brazil in the very near future to visit my husband’s parents and family there.

I rely on my iPhone… in an almost unhealthy way. It contains everything I need to make it through my day and I would be lost without it. Some days, I wonder how I was capable of juggling anything before my iphone. Then I remember I had an iPhone before there was really much of anything to juggle.

Our family must have… other than the obvious answer of “love”, is laughter. My husband is always going out of his way to make the rest of us laugh and I’m a bit of a practical joker myself. We’ve been playing a family game of “who can startle who the best?” where we go out of our way to try to get each other to jump!  Kenna has perfected the art of hiding plastic insects in places like under our pillows and balanced on the bathroom door knob.  As Kinsley and Bo grow up, Jose and I are both a little nervous about being outnumbered in our little game as Kenna teaches them all she knows!

Me-time… is scheduled every few weeks. It isn’t ever anything too fancy, I’ve never been that kind of person. I’m happy sitting on a park bench with an ice coffee, while I doodle in a sketchbook. Sometimes, I’ll meet up with a friend for a liquid lunch, not going to lie!  One of my favorite personal activities and one of the things I wish I could do more of, is painting.  It must seem like between teaching high school art and owning a paint party business, I do enough painting. What I really want to paint, I never have enough time for. It’s always fun doing demonstrations for classes and creating new pieces for our gallery and calendar. Sometimes, though, I want to make art just for me. There isn’t a lot of hours left in the day to do that very often.

Inspiration… I am inspired by a lot of different things in my every day life. Sometimes it’s the pattern on a paper towel, the cover photo someone just shared on Facebook, a t-shirt a student might be wearing; anything can be inspiration because it all starts with an artist. My students inspire me every day in the classroom. And my own three children are my muses, too!Portrait-Paint-Party-012

A me must have… is music. I don’t need cable or expensive purses. I need music. It pairs with art-making and it’s always on in the background at our house. My six year old daughter’s favorite band is Queen! Ice coffee is pretty essential, also.

My advice to working mamas… is to take LOTS of pictures of your little ones!  And pose in lots of pictures with them, too! Moms always seem to be the one behind the camera.  I think it’s important to record memories that capture you in the those special moments, also.  Don’t worry about how your hair looks or if you’ve got your makeup on.  Just keep clicking away!  You won’t ever regret taking too many pictures!

I teach full time at a local high school and I throw between one and three paint parties every two weeks.  I’m able to balance this schedule with the help of my family and friends.  They’ve come through for me time and time again.  My loved ones are an essential part of my success and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Please check out Melissa’s at www.facebook.com/melissasbuddingartists

 

Thank you!

sunflowersWe have been so honored by our recent featured mamas, and their willingness to share their stories and lives with us and our readers.  It has been inspiring to read everyone’s unique approach in navigating this world of the working mama.  One of the most amazing parts about this whole project is learning just how creative, smart and amazing we are as women and mothers.  It seems the time has come to really let all of our talents shine and to put our natural affinity for multitasking to the ultimate test!  We aren’t perfect, we may not always feel at the top of our game, but we’re a strong group who now have this incredible platform in which to support and encourage one another.

We are very grateful to our followers and hope you will continue on this journey with us as we work hard to expand our ideas and share more from hard working, dedicated moms that walk among us everyday.

With gratitude,
Blissfulmamas, Erin & Becky

Featured Mama ~ Kristin Grasso Marriage & Family Therapist, Children’s Outpatient Clinician & Administrative Assistant for Finance

kgrassofamilyMy Story…My name is Kristin Grasso; I am 34 years old and am married to my husband Jamie and we have two amazing kiddos: Elizabeth (age 6 ½) and Nicholas (age 2 ½). Elizabeth is entering first grade and she is already reading everything she can touch. She is inquisitive and bright and we find her always caring for those who are sad, even those she doesn’t know. Nicholas is a ninja. He is our bouncing baby boy who brings a smile wherever he goes. When he is not showing off his ninja skills he is snuggling his mommy, daddy or ‘sissy’. We currently live, work and play Vermont. I grew up in New Hampshire and my husband in Connecticut for 8 years and then VT for the remaining years. I am currently a Rostered Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice, a Children’s Outpatient Clinician in community mental health, and an Administrative Assistant for Finance at Keurig Green Mountain. Yes, you read that correctly, three jobs!

I always knew I wanted to be in a ‘helping’ profession. My undergraduate studies were completed at the University of New Hampshire with a major in Family Studies. Towards the end of my degree I found a job as an Administrative Assistant that paid far more than a social worker position, and so, like many others, I got a job not utilizing my degree at all. For years I worked ‘helping’ managers and senior executives, only not to the capacity I had always dreamed of. It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I realized I wanted more, that I needed more. Every day was a personal struggle sending her into the care of someone else for me to go to a job that was not richly satisfying or fulfilling. Sending her into someone else’s care was a must, I found myself eager to get out every day and even counting the minutes they had with her versus the minutes I had with her. Since I had to work I knew I had to find a new plan.

My ah-ha moment…one night (or perhaps one early morning) when I was nursing her and fantasizing about what kind of woman she would be, and at that moment I realized that she would be the kind of woman that I showed her to be. It was then that I knew I had to re-enroll to earn my degree in mental health in order to satisfy not only my career need but my need to show my daughter that she too could find happiness and balance in anything she chose to do.

For 3 long years… I worked late nights and early weekend mornings to read, study, write papers, and answer posts while working full time and caring for 1, and then 2, children. I spent 2 separate weeks away to complete residencies; I lost more sleep while finding an internship site and then completed a year long, unpaid, internship. I now have completed my schooling and am working towards licensure, another enduring task however the stress is much less as I have given myself credit for how far I have come and have worked hard to take the pressure of reaching licensure as quickly as reaching graduation.

My good fortune…I have found that I was very fortunate to work for a large company who supported mothers. With both my children I was in a company that had a nursing mother’s room. Two separate companies, but both had very similar cultures and were both very flexible in allowing for unexpected time off. I have been very fortunate in that sense. What I have found to be the biggest challenge is my own internal battle about being a working mama. I find guilt and shame creep up on me at times when I am either vulnerable or simply wanting to stay at home a little longer one morning. Societal pressures show their ugly faces to both stay at home moms, and working moms, and thus I feel conflicted at times.

Satisfaction… It is the satisfaction I receive when I am with my clients and the instant gratification I get when completing a task that has meaning to me as a therapist, and not just a mom, that allows me to help push away the shame and the guilt of being a working mama.  Even during the times when I have to cancel clients because of a sick child (which is rare since I have a very supportive husband who splits our childcare responsibilities 50/50) I find shame and guilt creep in right before the phone call and then by the end of the call I am reassured because people understand that these things happen, and so I move on.

I have worked hard… and continue to work hard, on balance and self-care. I rely heavily on my husband and my friends. My husband and my friends allow me to laugh, cry, vent, sulk, smile, and most importantly normalize my fears and worries throughout all of my work and schooling. A must have career essential for any working mom is support. Support from your spouse, family, friends, mentor, or anyone who will give it to you. Support is a must.

My current schedule… can bring me to three different places in any given day. I balance by clustering appointments to my advantage based on time and place. This leads me to another career essential – a planner. I utilize an hourly notebook planner because of clients but I also add appointments and other events to that calendar. I also utilize my smartphone calendar. These two calendars hold every personal and work appointment, from clients and appointments to birthday parties and upcoming girl’s nights. Finding a way to organize your time is another must.  I book shopping trips and girl’s nights out months in advance at times because sometime that is the closest available time. For me time I attempt the gym at least once per week, I have girls night typically once per month, I see my own therapist, and a chiropractor. The better I care for myself, the more balanced not only I am, but my family as well.

KgrassoFamily time…is very important in our home. We do everything together as often as we can. Our philosophy is they will be young for only a short time so absorb it, laugh at it, love it, and cherish it. Birthday parties, hikes, movies, swimming, sports of any kind, reading, gardening, community family fun, and anything we can get our hands on we’ll try. My organizational skills keep us organized for fun. Both my husband and I cover meals and meal planning. My husband, thankfully, does all the bills – after a year of unpaid internship I never wanted to know where we stood financially all I wanted to know was whether or not we could go out for ice cream! The essential must have for our family is teamwork. We want our children to know that we are a team in all that we do, whether we succeed or fail, whether we are standing by each other’s side or holding one another accountable, in the end we will always be a team.

My words of wisdom… for all the working mama’s out there is to do your best and be easy on yourself. We are our own worst critic. Many times there is nobody actually judging us for what we fear they are judging us for, but rather our worry is what brings us unhappiness. Do your best, be kind, smile, let others help, take care of yourself physically/mentally/emotionally, cry when you need, laugh even more, and enjoy all that life has to offer.

 

 

Featured Mama ~ Angie Andrews Creator, Angie Andrews Inspire

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My Story…My name is Angie Andrews.  I am the creator of my business, angieandrewsinspire.com.  I blog and do one on one coaching centered around the idea that self-love and self-care are the foundation for both joy and personal transformation.  The goal of my business is to support and hold space for women and men to fall in love with themselves and nurture themselves thereby allowing them to share deeper more connected love with all those around them.  My business is new, but my goal is to not only blog and coach, but to speak publicly about how important self-care is and to hold retreats to allow individuals to connect with themselves and gain clarity around their purpose.

Career evolution…I have almost 20 years of experience in Ophthalmology both as a technician and as a practice administrator.  That was most of my career up until recently.  For several years I have been experiencing a shift in my life, a shift towards personal and spiritual transformation.  Last summer I went on a retreat and since that time have been very clear what my purpose is here, hence the creation of my business and my departure from the world of Ophthalmology.  (Well mostly.  I still work as a consultant in healthcare to allow myself the time to grow my business)  My goal is to blog/coach and speak as my full time job in the next few years.

There have been many challenges being a woman and being a mother. Working full time and helping to run a household is exhausting.  I am very much a nurturer, so I would say for me the most difficult piece is finding the balance between too much mothering (spoiling at times) and not enough.  I still struggle with this sometimes.  When I am home I want to do things for them and give them everything because my time is limited.  But I also realize this can be a disservice to them as it hinders their independence.  This is a work in progress for me.

What is most rewarding… to me is that I set an example for my kids that women can work and be good mothers.  That being independent and productive is important.  Just as importantly, for me I love working and contributing in this way.  Being of service in some way is extremely important to me.  I want my kids to see that.

Supporting working mamas…in my last place of work, which was the practice I ran, was very conscious of supporting our working moms.  We created a space where they could bring their kids to work when they had a childcare emergency.  We were always flexible to allow them to make appointments, field trips and other special occasions.  It was a very supportive environment.  When my business gets big enough for me to employ others, this will be a big focus for me.

Freedom and flexibility…It really desire to be able to take time off to be with my kids and my husband.  I want to be able to travel and work remotely from wherever we are.  I have only recently discovered that this is what is true and essential for me!!

My Family…I am mother to 2 boys. Evan is 7 years old and Cameron is 15 years old.  With this big age difference we are often very busy dealing with 2 totally different sports/activities schedule.  For instance juggling Drivers Ed with day camps.  Evan is very outgoing and super energetic.  He always makes us laugh, but at the same time keeps us on our toes.  He has zero fear and will try just about anything.  He likes school, but mostly for the social aspect.  Sitting still and being quiet are not his favorite.  Cameron is also very social and makes friends very easily.  He is also very kind and pretty intuitive for a 15 year old.  He excels is school and really enjoys writing.   As a child he was much more reserved than his younger brother.  He was also much more timid and afraid of trying new things.  My boys have an amazing relationship.  Cam is such an amazing older brother.  I feel very blessed by this.  They certainly have their moments, but that is to be expected.  My husband works at a retail job close to our home full time.  His job is close to home by design.  I travel often for work, so he is often parenting on his own for days/weeks at t time.  I am the primary breadwinner at this time.  Steve (my husband) is amazing with the boys and does a fantastic job holding down the fort while I am gone.  He spends a lot of time trying to foster their independence which is great.  It is often hard for me to come home from being on the road for week and not spoil them and wait on them.  As I said this is a work in progress.  I certainly don’t want to undermine all the work he does when I am gone.

My chaotic organization…I have always handled most of the bills, so I continue to do that.  With online banking and banking apps, it is easy for me to handle that while I am on the road.  We share grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and other chores.  Who does what depends on if I am traveling or not.  For instance, when I am gone, the boys make piles of clean laundry in the living room and get dressed from that each day.  It works for them and at least they are clean and clothed.  I could not tolerate that if I was home, but when I am not, they do whatever works for them.  I had to learn to let little things like that go.  I did finally give in recently and hired someone to come to the house once a month to do a full cleaning and we fill in in between cleanings.  I have historically fought this, but I finally decided it was necessary and boy has it been amazing.  Now when I am home I can focus on time the boys and Steve instead of cleaning.  Best investment I have ever made!!!

Family fun…We like to spend time outside together playing basketball, lacrosse, football or whatever the boys are into at the time.  Many times because we are so busy during the week or I am gone, we just try to hand out together on the weekends.  Maybe go the farmers market or watch a movie.  We don’t do a lot of vacations, opting to do more small weekend trips.  When we do go away, we go to our A-frame in NH or to see my parents in Florida when they are there in the winter.  I am planning on much more traveling in our future.

Me time…I spend at least an hour a day on me.  I have set up a morning practice where I get up and journal or meditate and/or do yoga.  I have created a boundary around this time because I know it will help me start the day with focus and intention and allow me to be more present for everyone, including my husband and kids.  I often will take a small amount of time in the evening to switch gears from work mode to being at home mode. The activities I enjoy the most are yoga, mediation, writing blogs and hanging out with my family.

I wish…I had more time to just hang out with my boys and my husband.  It is hard to find down time with 2 busy boy schedules and 2 full time parents.

Inspiration…I find inspiration in other people, in nature, in prayer.  There are lots of places I find inspiration.

My essential must have… is time to care for myself and fill myself up so I can share more with others.  It can look different depending on the day and what I have going on, but I take the time every day.

Tips for us working mamas…I would say that my biggest take away has been to be present in whatever way works for you and your family.  Put down the phone, the Ipad or the computer and just BE with your kids and your significant other.  You don’t have to do anything special or extravagant.  Just be there and listen and enjoy the moment, even if they are brief because life gets in the way.  Oh, and don’t take yourself to seriously.  Life is too short for that!!

My schedule… is all over the place.  There are months when I travel 3 weeks.  That can mean leaving on Sunday and getting home on Thursday or Friday.  Then some months I am home more.  I have to get up early to get in my me time and I try to head to bed soon after my younger son goes to bed so I am rested in the morning.  I wouldn’t say I have the balancing part all figured out, but we seem to manage each day as they come.

My challenges… would be the same as most mom’s.  Trying to get my work done, keep the house in order, pay attention to my kids, my dogs and my husband and stay sane while doing it.  A challenge I have that only just realized is that my role as the primary bread winner has lead to me living in the masculine much more than I should.  At my core, I am very feminine, but that has fallen by the wayside as I have taken on more responsibility and more control.  I am working to turn that around so when I am not working, I am in my feminine.  It is not easy after years of living the other way.  Taking time to switch gears from work Angie to home Angie has been helpful.

Take each day as it comes…  I find planning to far ahead or thinking too much only overwhelms me.  I would rather focus on each day as a gift and deal with it as it unfolds.  It certainly helps that I have a very supportive, very helpful husband working it all out alongside me.  I would say teamwork is a big factor!!

Featured Mama ~ Angela Whitford-Downing Founder, Lovin’ the Oven

AngelaChefMy Story…After I had my daughter, I just never thought there was another option. Be a stay at home mom or working mom. Sure, I would hear stories about job shares and spouses with jobs that allowed them to work from home but that seemed as unattainable as getting into my pre-pregnancy clothes right after I gave birth! My gut told me I needed to work and, after maternity leave, I did. The initial, extreme guilt was almost too much to take. Never mind the hassle of feeding myself, my family, pumping, commuting, etc. The chaos settled into a routine but why was I commuting an hour each way for a full time job that wasn’t fulfilling?

Going part time where I worked wasn’t an option. I looked for part time “mom jobs” but since selling shakes, telemarketing and bartending weren’t for me I was stuck. Then a friend said, “Why don’t you start your own company? You’re a great cook and a great teacher. Try something with that!” A few months and a lot of evening hours later, Lovin’ the Oven was born. I left my good salary and nice office behind to become a personal chef and never looked back.

The best part… of my job is helping other working moms. I remember my friends and I talking about our nutrition when discussing nursing and our milk supply. I would always ask, what are you eating? I was amazed at what my friends were eating and it usually wasn’t enough food or unhealthy. Nursing or not, Moms need to eat healthy meals! I dreamed of having someone come to my house and make good meals for my family and now I can do that for other moms!

My schedule…Now, my daughter is three and I’m working a schedule that will allow me to bring her to and from kindergarten just as I do now for day care.  The hardest part for me is trying not to think about work when I’m with my daughter. Owning your own company requires long hours!

How do I balance it all?… I can’t “do it all” and still be sane… as a result, my house is a mess most of the time! I also try to stick to a cooking schedule (that I also teach other moms). Cook two meals on Sunday, which will provide dinners for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Cook another meal on Wednesday after you’ve eaten which gives you dinner Thursday and one weekend night. I’m also a firm believer in take out or going out once a week to give the cook a rest! Better yet, go out with your friends!

The essentials…For all women, girls’ dinners are essential. I think it’s even more important for working moms because they may not be able to set up a playground meet up or play dates. It’s something I can’t live without. I need to step away from my messy house, work emails and family demands to see my friends. I find them more relaxing than date nights because I know my baby is with my husband not a sitter.

For years to come…I’m blessed in many ways and I hope I get to continue my work helping other families for years to come! If you need a recipe or if you ever have a cooking question, feel free to contact me at Lovin’ the Oven! www.lovintheovenchef.com

Featured Mama ~ Becky Couture CoFounder Blissfulmamas

BeckyfamilyMy Story…I’m Becky Couture and I’m 33 years old, I love Disney, the ocean, and everything about Boston!  I have been married to my husband Chad for 9 years we have 2 little boys and 2 St Bernard’s!  We moved to the Boston area from VT about 2 ½ years ago and really enjoy Massachusetts.  I have worked in Ophthalmology as a technician/scribe/surgical assistant/ophthalmic photographer for about 11 years and absolutely love my work.  In the last 3 years I have moved twice, had 2 baby boys, and 3 jobs!  Needless to say, I have experienced more change than the average and have learned a lot about what I need as a mom to be successful in my career and at home.  Erin and I both hope that by sharing our stories and hearing from other moms, that we can all inspire one another to keep striving to achieve our dreams and goals all while minimizing the guilt and fear.

My Career… I have worked in ophthalmology for about 11 years and have had many different responsibilities involving care of patients.  When we moved from VT, I left a long-term job in a very family friendly private practice and needless to say, it’s been tough to replicate.  The first job I took in Boston was not accommodating to my family needs.  I had a manager leak my pregnancy to my entire department before I was even out of my first trimester.  I fought hard to get time off for my doctor’s appointments and only found out a week before I delivered that I would be granted part time, if I moved to a new department.  I was grateful for the effort of one really fabulous supervisor, but in the end, it just didn’t seem worth the commute and  time away from the boys for something I didn’t believe in.   Luckily, an amazing opportunity came up, one that I had actually turned down the year before.  Not only were they willing to work with my schedule, but they also provided a place for me to pump while at work and offered some flexibility.  It’s been a dream come true and I am loving my career/work balance.

Proudest Mama Moment...I feel that by working and doing something I love, I am providing a great example of work ethic for my boys and giving them an opportunity to socialize and become independent.  My proudest moment, was when my 3 year old jumped on the train at the playground and proudly stated that he was heading to work in Boston like mommy!

Career Must Have…my smartphone and a supportive husband!

My Family…Chad and I keep busy raising our 2 boys, Finn 3 and Kieran 16 months.  Both boys are very active and have large personalities.  Finn is a very helpful big brother and adores his little buddy.  Kieran is always smiling and loves his big brother and big dog Duke!  Having two boys so close in age, has had its challenges but also so many rewards.  The boys are very close and very often playing in Finn’s bedroom giggling and getting into trouble.  My husband and I share household duties although he is much more talented in the kitchen!  I currently work 3 days a week and on those days, he is solely responsible for getting the boys up, fed, dressed, and off to daycare.  Most days, he is also picking up and making them dinner.  I literally could not do what I do, without a supportive partner and a flexible schedule.  We have laundry on the couch, unmade beds, and dishes in the sink most days during the week.  Most evenings, I pack the kids lunch and any items they may need for daycare as well as pick out the boys outfits for the morning.  This has worked well for my husband who has to get 3 people out the door in the am.  Our schedule does vary from week to week, but our boys are happy and loved and it works for us. beckyfamily

Family Fun Time…When we’re not working, we love going to the beach, outings in Boston, the Aquarium, playgrounds, our back yard or traveling to see family out of state.  It’s rare that you’ll find us hanging around our house.  We love to keep busy and do fun things with our boys as much as possible.  This past year, we traveled to Walt Disney World for our first trip as a family and it was just a dream come true.  We’ve also spend time in NH, VT, and Martha’s Vineyard.  It has always been a dream of mine to travel with the kids as much as possible.  In the future, my hope is to be able to continue in country travel as well as trips abroad including France and Ireland.  We’ll see what the future holds!

To Keep Organized…We basically manage our time with lists, texting, and my iPhone calendar.   Because we spend so much time running around, we typically discuss schedules and plans while driving around in the car.  I have found that discussions during that time, allows us to maximize our time at the beach or playing in the backyard. I am a procrastinator by nature and tend to be fairly disorganized. I have yet to find a method to keep everything straight on a consistent basis.  The funny thing is, I sort of thrive in that chaos and love the problem solving.  It keeps my mind sharp, but of course a little less craziness probably wouldn’t be a bad thing!

Me Time… is typically my commute to and from the city.  I head into work pretty early, which affords me the time to walk from the train station to my office.  I try to walk each day that I work, averaging about 4.5 miles per week.  I always feel inspired on my morning city walk, Boston has an infectious energy and I love dog watching in the Public Garden.  I also find inspiration in my kids, my friends, and the amazing patients I help care for everyday.  I deal with the sensitive topic of visual impairment and often in the elderly population.  I consider the time I spend with them to be a privilege and feel honored that I am a part of their care.  I use my train time to read, catch up on emails, or even sleep!  It also gives me a chance to catch my breath before heading home to my family.  I would love to make more time for outings with girlfriends, especially times where we leave the kids at home and just get a chance to unwind and talk.  It’s certainly a goal to try and work toward this year!

Finding Balance…I think the most important thing to remember is that we are all different.  We are all doing it right and to the best of our ability.  There is more than one way to raise a family and by sharing our stories with one another, we can truly see that there are many different ways to manage home and career.  I think it’s amazing and we are just so lucky to have so many opportunities for success and fulfillment.  I love the idea of a place where we can celebrate our successes and failures and laugh and enjoy those moments.  As our family grows together, I know that our needs will continue to evolve and I welcome the challenge and the change.  That’s what life is all about, and I am so grateful for the experience.