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Baby Steps: The Seasons of Motherhood

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Mom Series-Jessica Paulsen and Ashley Waldorf

We are happy to share our third installment of Baby Steps, KzooConnect's ongoing series on being a working mom in Kalamazoo! We want to share the many reasons why Kalamazoo is a great place to raise children, and what working moms are finding out along the way.

We would like you to share your ideas! Let us know what helps you balance your family and career. Do you have a successful 50/50 relationship with your spouse? What makes it easier to get out the door in the morning? How are you finding time to relax? Make sure to post your comments on the blog or by sending a Facebook message or Tweet us @KzooConnect.com.

Learning as you go is something only another mom would understand and often involves baby steps. Find out why Kalamazoo has all of the pieces to help build a successful family. Stay connected at www.Kzooconnect.com.

Photo Caption: Jessica Paulsen and her daughters are pictured in the bottom left of the photo. Ashley Waldorf and her family are pictured in the top right.

Summer's over and for some that means back to school. As a Mom you either love it or you hate it. Either way you learn to deal with it. And whether you are a Mom who works from home, or not, no matter how many children you have - it's "that" time of year again!

"This time of year is crazy, and most people call me crazy, but I like being back in a routine!" said Ashley Waldorf, a mother of two children ages 5 and 7, who works more than full time. "I am a planner, I like knowing what needs to be done and doing it."

Waldorf acknowledges that most young families are juggling work, family, school activities, and sports. For her family the effort is worth it, but couldn't happen without the help of friends and family.

"Both kids are playing soccer, tennis, and piano right now - this makes the schedule more hectic, but I think it's important for them to be part of a team, stay active, and be exposed to different activities that might spark their interest," shared Waldorf.

With a nursing degree from Western Michigan University, Waldorf has worked full time for Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals as a Field Reimbursement Manager for 11 years. She is also a Regional Vice President for Arbonne International, a health and wellness company. In addition, she and her husband recently opened Peachwave a self-serve low fat yogurt store in Kalamazoo. Now that’s a busy Mom!

"Bayer is my full time job - I am fortunate to work from home. Arbonne is my passion since health and wellness is forefront in my life and I love educating others on how to become the healthiest version of themselves," said Waldorf.

Over 90 percent of the moms interviewed by CNN said the desire for family flexibility is the number one reason they work from home. It can also mean managing work and family around the clock. This type of mom, complete with the acronym WAHM (work at home mom), can be seen texting at soccer games, taking a conference call in the school parking lot, or starting an assignment after everyone is in bed.

"I am not going to lie, there are days that I wonder if I have lost my mind for taking on so much," said Waldorf. "But I love what I do and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that I am showing my children what it means to work hard and chase your dreams."

To balance things out, the Waldorf's aim to have every night be family night. "We make sure to have dinner together and do something as a family until bed time," she said. "Sometimes it's movie night, sometimes it's arts and crafts, but we always make sure the four of us are together those last hours of the day."

Any advice to other working moms?

Waldorf shared, "If I can say one thing to all the working moms (and all moms in general) - be kind to yourself and to other moms. No judging! We are all doing our best to make it through the day. No one is perfect, we are all facing different challenges."

Jessica Paulsen, a nurse at Borgess Health, is a working mom of three. With two daughters, ages 10 and 8, and a four-month-old baby boy, her juggling routine includes school and daycare. Paulsen's key to success is planning!

"I plan and cook meals with my daughters - both for the help, and the time together," said Paulsen.

Transitioning into fall means less time with the girls during the day. "We do homework together right after school so that we have the rest of the evening," said Paulsen.

She went on to share that participating in sports and activities only in the winter and spring makes summer and fall less hectic. "I try to do one thing at a time. I realize I can't do it all!"

The good news shared by Paulsen is that if you have to "do it all," Kalamazoo is not a bad place to do it. "It is a diverse community. It's a fun town with great places, events, and restaurants. And free college! Need I say more?"

Most working moms agree that it truly does take a village, along with careful planning, to navigate transitions like heading back to school. Support and help from family, other moms, and groups such as Kalamazoo Moms Group can make a huge difference.

"We need to help each other, encourage each other and give each other a little more grace," said Waldorf. "We are all doing our best to make it through the day."

Moms today are realizing that balance in what they want for themselves and family is a tightrope walked daily. Sometimes the best laid plans blow up and there are going to be 'wacko' days that are stressful. But the one thing all Moms have in common, is their love for their families and what they do as CEO's of command central. And, most importantly on any given day they wouldn't have it any other way!

*If you are a working mom with ideas on what might work to ease transitions, or have found ways to multi-task that work better than others, please share it at www.kzooconnect.com.

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