It's Working Project

You’ll hear Rachel DesRochers say that she’s grateful. A lot. Thing is, she means it! With her vegan graham crackers, Grateful Grahams, Rachel doesn’t only provide a sweet treat, but challenges people to really think about what they are grateful for today, and every day. For Rachel, that not only means finding her husband James and blending their families, but starting her own business so she could create her dreams (and jobs), be mom, make a difference, and do work she was proud of. Check, check, check, and check! Here Rachel & James share their insights on family, work, and everything in between.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could offer your former, pre-child(ren) self?

James: Follow your dreams – not the dreams of others. Surround yourself with good people.

Rachel: I am one of those people that believe it all happens for a reason. I am so grateful I had a child young and married my partner and had 2 more amazing kids with him. Maybe it would be – don’t be afraid to dream big!!

Rachel, how did you share the news of your pregnancies with your employer or clients? How far along were you when you had the conversation?

I have birthed 3 children. With Camden I was young and my life so different than it is now. I was in school and working part time. I just did what I had to do.

With Rosalee I had lost my job and enjoyed around 6 months off completely, just being a wife and mom. When she was born I realized that I had to put all these dreams to work. That is when Grateful Grahams was born too (when she was about 6 months old). Ellis was born 18 months after Rosie, so one grade schooler, 2 babies, and a small business were all happening at once.

How long did you take for parental leave before heading back to work? How close was your back-to-work plan with the reality upon your return? How was this different with each child?

James: With my oldest son, James from my first marriage, I never really had time off. I went back to work right away.

I got to do this all over again with “our littles” and really experience all these stages over again and in person. I guess that is one huge bonus that came from me losing my job. I took vacation time after the birth of Rosalee and Ellis. I lost my job when Ellis was around 18 months and was able then to stay home with him and Rosie for about 18 months- that was amazing to be a bigger part of this stage of their lives.

Rachel: Being self employed, Rosie was around almost all of the time at least for her first year of life. With Ellis, I was back in my kitchen when he was 2-3 weeks old, he was satisfied hanging out in my sling or countless other seats or carriers. Reality was I had to go back to work and keep growing this business, but the difference was that I could bring him with me and stop to nurse when ever he needed it.

James, what, if any, adjustments did you (or your workplace) make to your schedule after you became a father?

With the littles, I was in retail management and was able to have a bit more flexibility in my schedule so that I could take a weekend off or be home in time for dinner.

James, what was your biggest back-to-work post-baby challenge?

I was responsible for many aspects in my management position and would find myself working on my off days. That was definitely a challenge not just for me but for our family. At this time with 2 babies my wife had started her own company and she was trying to work as much as possible when I was off.

Who was your biggest source of support in returning to work?

James: My team & my assistant at the time that I managed was a huge support all around the births to the return back to work. They knew we were a very attached family.

Rachel: MY TEAM!! I have to say I have an amazing support system. From friends who would come over and sticker bags with me around my dining room table to my kitchen team who could ensure the grahams would not get burnt as I was taking yet another nursing break. I think for me that is one reason–my kids–that I always made sure I had a great team in place to help me. I didn’t want to start a company so I had to do everything all the time and that no one saw mom at all, but so that I could create my dreams, be mom, create jobs, make a difference, and do work I was proud of.

Rachel, biggest pregnancy indulgence?

Hot fudge sundaes!! Ha. I am a lover of sugar- don’t worry I drank my super food smoothies but a sundae sometimes was the cure to all that ails you!

Fill in the blanks:

As a working parent, I never expected cosleeping to be so hard and nursing would be so much easier!

Rachel, why do you think so many families ascribe to the traditional notion of dad working 9-5 and mom as the primary caregiver? What do you think work/family roles will look like 10 years from now?

It is easy. Personally I think that. I mean even when my husband and I swapped roles – having a stay-at-home parent was easier. Or at least for us it was. Now with both of us working and my schedule being all over the place, some days it is a 3-ring circus- but the beauty is that it is my 3-ring circus. The house may be a bit messier or dinner may not be the most from scratch. I am super grateful that I also had a partner that was hands on, involved, and not afraid of housework or taking care of the kids.

What did family look like in your home as a child, Rachel? What did work look like?

For me my mom stayed home for the majority of my life and all of my younger brother’s life. My dad is an attorney so he was always the one working 9-5. My mom worked various jobs and now she actually works for me 1-2 days a week in my kitchen!

Rachel, what makes the partnership part of your work and lifestyle the lynchpin?

I personally could not do it with out a supportive partner. James is willing to pick up my slack, jump in when and where I need him and do anything from running errands for my business to helping keep up our house. Knowing that I have a dependable partner who believes in what I am doing makes a huge difference in my ability to say YES to the offers that come our way.

What do you do when work and family issues collide (for instance deadline coincides with dreadful bug), Rachel?

We figure it out. I am super grateful to have a 14-year old (I totally believe God knew I was going to need 2 adults in the house LOL!) Camden is a huge help from childcare to cooking dinner. I am not afraid to ask for help, bring my kids along (thank goodness for iPods!), or just say “no.” I have learned to be at home moreso now than a few years ago when I was away almost every evening. I also have to have grace around all situations, I have missed huge award events because I have literally just forgotten about them. Also, knowing my husband is away 2 nights a week for work and that booking events while he is gone makes it that much harder, sometimes I just have to decide to say “no.”