Chicago moms share how they balance baby and career


At a time when modern technology gives moms the freedom to work from home-or even from the park-many women are jumping at the chance to take a part-time job while staying at home with their children.


When the phone rings at my house, my 3-year-old knows exactly what to do: She stops whatever she's doing and gets very, very quiet until I hang up the phone.

She knows that when I'm on the phone, I can't play with her. I can't get her anything. I can't even speak to her. I'm working.

It's quite the balancing act, but it's possible if you're a good multi-tasker.

These Chicago-area women are able to take their kids to preschool, run to a mommy-and-me class-and type a work email from their phone while feeding the baby a bottle. They have it all, and were willing to explain exactly how they manage it so you can, too.


Sophia Oh Gray

Home details Two children, 3 and 6

Work details Editor and project manager

Hours per week 25

How I got the job I moved to Chicago when my oldest was 10 months old, and the company I worked for didn't have an editorial office here. So I started working for them on a project basis and became a freelancer.

How I juggle My oldest is in school, I have two babysitters and my parents help out. I also find myself working nights and weekends. I'm always juggling and it's exhausting.

Why I do it I wanted to be able to spend time with my children but continue to work. This allows me to do both.

Why I love it I was able to build good relationships and I have a good reputation. Even though I'm part-time and a freelancer, I'm committed and reliable and I'm good at what I do.


Mollie Fisher

Home details One child, 3

Work details Office manager/legal assistant/accountant

Hours per week 15

How I got the job My husband started his own law firm, and he hired me to work there.

How I juggle My mother watches my daughter when I work.

Why I do it My wage is minimal, but I do it to help my husband's firm. It also keeps me sane and gives me a break from make-believe land.

Why I love it It gives me a chance to associate with others who speak "adult."


Sarah Charles

Home details One child, 2

Work details Mental health consultant

Hours per week About seven

How I got the job I worked full-time after I finished graduate school and I stopped when I had my baby. I actually planned to leave my full-time position because it didn't make financial sense to pay for childcare with my salary. But I speak some Spanish and they couldn't find another consultant, so I got to keep that part of my job.

How I juggle I use in-home childcare providers five to eight hours a week.

Why I love it I love being able to keep my professional identity and my professional skills, to keep up my license, and to have a break from the day-to-day challenges of being home raising a child. Fortunately, my husband makes enough to support our family, so I don't have to worry about the financial side of it, but I do make enough money to pay for the childcare I have. It also helps me to have time to do errands and schedule appointments where I know I can be child-free.


Stephanie Hettrich

Home details Two children, 1 and 3

Work details Sales and marketing associate

Hours per week 25

How I got the job I worked in the field pre-kids and the owners of my current company approached me.

How I juggle I have a nanny twice a week. I also am very organized and efficient with time-although there are many nights when I only get a few hours of sleep in order to fit everything in.

Why I do it It pays for everyday expenses and for school tuition.

Why I love it I enjoy being among adults two days a week with responsibilities that have nothing to do with children. It gives me a new perspective, which keeps me sane and helps me appreciate my children more. I also think it makes me a better mother since I want to lead by example. Children need to know that work is a part of life.


Shanna Bruer Hess

Home details Two children, 3 and 1

Work details Freelance strategist

Hours per week 18, plus one two-day trip to New York every month

How I got the job Before having children and moving to Chicago, I lived in New York and worked in the apparel industry. After leaving, I freelanced for one of my former jobs, but I quit after the birth of my second child. Recently, I returned to work part-time for them.

How I juggle My husband takes my children out of the house for about four hours a week, and I hire a sitter for six to eight hours. I work an additional five to eight hours between 4-6 a.m., and again between 8-11 p.m. When I go out of town, one of the grandmas takes care of them.

Why I love it It has been a great way for me to stay current in the apparel world, where I have a passion and education-as well as using my mind (I was finding myself too involved in Curious George). This made me feel as though I hadn't completely distanced myself from my education and field of interest.

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