How to Have a Successful Career and be Married to a Chef – Part 2

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Today, I’d like to continue the discussion about having a career AND being married to a chef.

Last week, I shared my thoughts and experiences about this, but I totally left kids out of the equation, as I have never worked full time outside the home since we’ve had children.   However, I know many of you work full time outside the home AND are married to chef AND have kids.  So I decided to ask for some help on the topic. Today and next Monday, I’ve asked two of my fellow chef wives to share their thoughts and experiences about raising a family with a chef AND working full time.

Today, I’d like to introduce to you Nina Sargent.  Her chef/husband Eric is a chef at Blue Moon Cafe in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.  They have 2 boys. Here is her story . . .

Since the very beginning I’ve been a working mom while my husband has been a server then chef.  There were times when I supported the family because he was between jobs. We have two boys ages 8 and 5.  Each job that my husband has held has brought with it different demands and requirements. Some jobs required him to work 16 hour shifts 6 days a week and I was essentially a single mom.  Other jobs have him working dinner shifts, allowing him to be with us in the morning as we get ready.  Being a working mom and married to a chef is not easy.  Heck, being a working mom is not easy in and of itself.

On top of all of this, my husband has an anxiety disorder and is OCD.  Within the last year he has finally decided to address the parts of these conditions that make home-life unbearable, but also are the conditions that make him highly successful in the kitchen.  Changing behaviors that have been a part of him for 34 years is an ongoing struggle and we are working together to recognize its effects on our boys.

How to have a successful career and be married to a chef part 2

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Keeping everything together involves me keeping my life in a large notebook sized planner that I refer to multiple times a week. At times there is so much going through my head, I have to give myself five minutes with a piece of paper and write down EVERYTHING that is swarming my brain.  Chef and I utilize our phone calendars and send event notifications and reminders to each other constantly. If there is something that I need for him to do in the morning before he heads to work, I can either call him or message him.  We also leave notes for each other in regards to household issues, consolidating student loans, car maintenance issues, etc.  Communication has been the single biggest improvement that we have made to keep things on an even keel. Also, opening my mouth in a proactive and non-accusatory way has also helped. He likes that I ask for his help.  He feels needed not just for his paycheck.

I do have dinner at the restaurant my husband works at with the boys. This particular place is very family friendly. I know all of his staff and the owners.  Some spouses may argue this with me, but I feel that it is important to patron the restaurant from time to time and meet the co-workers.  My boys have received many hand me downs and free desserts from the staff just for being cute. My husband take pride in his restaurant and enjoys seeing us come to support him.

Chefs lead chaotic lives in the kitchen.  Because of this it is easy for them to “let you handle it all”.  It has taken many blow ups throughout the years for my husband to realize he wasn’t being fair to me. Do I naturally handle bills and the phone calls? Yes. (I actually apologize to representatives for my husband’s phone behavior.)

We have a policy in the morning. Chef is allowed to talk about work for ½ an hour. Then he needs to help me get the boys ready for school. He takes one boy to the bus stop and then I drive the other boy to daycare.  Sometimes I’ll even ask him to make the boys’ lunches for school. They like daddy’s lunches better than mine.  He sometimes will prep our dinner for us to make it easier when I get home.  It’s not always easy. Depending on the time of the year he might not be so cooperative but you have to be able to communicate!

It took many years for me to stop being so hard on myself . You will forget things.  Unfortunately he may comment on something that you didn’t do. Don’t worry about it and start forgiving yourself. You are super mom on steroids and no one can downgrade that!  I’ve said to myself many times, “Are small children going to die if I don’t do _______?” You know that the answer is no 99% of the time. What needs to be done will always be there tomorrow and that is ok! If I spend time reading to my boys, playing a game and my house is a mess, that’s ok!

Chef usually has Sundays and Mondays off. If there is a family event, I try to give him as much notice as possible for him to mentally prepare for it.  Sometimes, I give him the choice to plan what we do on Sunday.  My husband has really grown to cling on to the Italian way of life in regards to Sunday dinners. He really loves to cook all day to serve a massive meal at dinner time. Because he enjoys this so much, I indulge him with his ingredients and make a big deal of it.

Being a library director, I’m programmed to research.  I seem to find the best solutions when I’m stressed and looking for answers. This led me to Flylady, Pinterest solutions and personal therapy. The most important thing as a working mom married to a chef is to protect yourself. If you need a third party to talk to, do it! Blast music in your car for the 20 minute drive that you have to work, do it!

I am so thankful to Nina for sharing this with us.  Being crazy organized is so helpful, no matter how many hours a week your work!  

How do you go about organizing your life when you have so many different things to juggle each day?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

(You can view this entire series here.)

From one chef’s wife to another,




Follow Jennifer @ Emulsified Family’s board Married to a Chef on Pinterest.


  1. julianaloh @bilbaobab

    THANK YOU for sharing!

    Really appreciate this post. I don’t even have kids in the equation and struggle all the time with finding a balance with my 14-15 hour day job on top of travel and I feel terrible when the fridge is empty or when we run out of coffee simply because I wasn’t physically present with all the work travel to manage the household! I might just forget to feed the kids if I was a working mum! *the horrors*!

    • Jennifer

      Feeding the kids probably falls under the “Are small children going to die if I don’t _______” part she was talking about. 🙂 Don’t forget to feed yourself too!


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