It's Working Project

“I do love my job and I love what I do … but I would much rather be at home with my kids.”

A health coach chooses to go back to work … for now.


After two daughters, Melanie Lipps knows she is not done having kids yet.

“Maybe once we have a third, I’ll stay home with them, or just work part time,” she said. But Melanie feels she needs to work right now, and she enjoys her job as a health coach and program coordinator at a local university. Her job requires her to juggle a lot: sporadic weekend and evening events, and an internship program. Melanie is a registered dietician and even taught an online nutrition class.

“That’s my goal,” she explained, “To do [online teaching] on the side and stay home with my kids.”

Melanie knows she is not alone in her wish to be at home. She speaks of other women she knows, including her best friend, who quit to stay at home with their kids and are very happy with the decision. But for her, it’s not quite time yet. She feels lucky to have her parents nearby who watch her two girls, Jordyn and Jocelyn, twice a week, and an in-home daycare to take care of them on the other days.

“To have a supportive family, that makes things so much easier, it’s a given,” said Melanie. Her workplace was supportive too. Melanie took two months paid maternity leave after giving birth to Jordyn, which she had supplemented with vacation time. But she could only take six weeks of paid leave after Jocelyn was born, which she felt was not enough time. “I don’t think six weeks is enough time for anyone,” she said. “Especially a first-time mom.” When she returned to work, the University allowed her to work part time to ease into the transition, which was extremely helpful, though the emotional tug of leaving home was just as hard.  “I was so emotional,” Melanie said. “It was awful.”

Right now, Melanie is focused on her day-to-day work, encouraging university employees and students to make healthful decisions, like quitting smoking. But she has an eye toward what her future work situation might look like: teaching or a project on the side, but full-time at home, with her kids.

“I don’t know how easy it would be,” she considered. “But I think I could make it work.”