If you’ve been following EVM for any amount of time, we’re sure you’ve seen Ashley around here. She’s one of our veteran contributors who always has the best toddler entertainment advice (seriously!) and is the mastermind behind the monthly family Disney day ideas.
As a teacher married to an ER nurse, when COVID hit, it truly rocked both of their careers.
Impossible to teach virtually with two toddlers lose in the house and a husband on the front lines of the pandemic, Ashley chose to walk away from the classroom and open a small business to support at-home preschool learning.
Read on to hear how Ashley has navigated the change from working mom to mompreneur, and how she juggles caring for her children full time while nurturing her new business.
Name: Ashley Lessard
Location: Queen Creek
Children: Charlotte, 4 and John, 2
How did COVID change your career? What’s working for you right now?
I would say COVID is the main reason for our change in childcare and work.
The school I was working at had an aggressive approach to virtual learning, which was great for the kids, but I had parents and administrators expecting me to continue to do the same thing I was doing in a classroom, but with my then three and one year olds in the background.
When they announced we would continue virtually in the fall, I knew I needed to leave something I was very passionate about.
Meanwhile, I was trying to teach my own kids preschool from home and came up with the idea to make these alphabet sets for hands-on learning. They were so fun to make. I wanted to keep making them. I had a few friends buy a few from me and realized it was something I could open an Etsy shop for!
It’s been great because I still feel like I’m making an impact on education, just on a much younger age group. It’s a win-win because now we don’t need childcare.
Tell us about your business and how you got to this point in your career?
Right now, my main role is mom, but my background is teaching and I thought I would work in education forever. COVID made it hard. My husband still had to go to work everyday, so teaching online with two toddlers running around was nearly impossible for me. I was also trying to teach my toddlers preschool from home, and that’s how Magical Munchkin, my small business was born.
Magical Munchkin launched in October of 2020 selling preschool kits and other fun kid activities made of non-toxic epoxy resin.
Tell us a bit more about your current job title and the ins and outs of your day-to-day work.
I like the phrase “mompreneur” because it states you’re a mom first, and a business owner second. Which is how my life is.
Most of my day is just keeping two toddlers alive, but like most small businesses it’s just me running my small shop so I work whenever I have a second alone.
What are the greatest challenges and rewards of being a working mom?
I’ve truly been every “type” of mom. I’ve been a stay at home mom 100 percent, I’ve been a part-time working mom, a full-time working mom, and a work from home mom. Every single one of those “types” have great challenges and great rewards.
I typically work everyday during John’s nap time and after the kids go to bed at night. Naptime is when I pack orders, print shipping labels, write thank you notes and prep for all the night time epoxy pouring. After the kids go to bed is when I mix and pour epoxy.
Tell us a little bit about your family!
My husband, Kevin, is truly the best. I know everyone says that about their husband, but he really is. He is a charge nurse at a local emergency room. We’ve known each other since second grade, but didn’t start dating until we were 20.
Charlotte turned four in March, she enjoys all things princess and swimming. She’s got enough sass for three toddlers.
John turned two in April and he is definitely the baby of the family. He enjoys climbing on everything and is always running full speed. He also likes to be a dinosaur.
We have two rescue dogs and a hedgehog too, because we like to keep life chaotic!
Walk us through your daily routine
We wake up and I get all the coffee I can. Everyday is a little different, but I like to schedule the biggest things in the morning for my kiddos.
We play, do activities, appointments, etc. in the afternoon when my son naps, my daughter has “quiet time” and that’s when I work.
When he wakes up we continue with our fun, have dinner, bath, bedtime, and as soon as they are both in bed I start working again.
As a working mom, how did you decide what childcare situation was best for you and your family?
When I was teaching, we were very lucky. At that time my husband only worked 3 days (12 hour shifts) a week. One of which was always a weekend day. We only needed childcare two days a week. Now he works much more and childcare is so expensive, it really didn’t make sense for me to keep teaching just to pay for childcare. The cost of childcare played a massive role in our decision to make so many changes this past year for me to walk away from teaching.
For some fun chit-chat, now!
Favorite East Valley date night activity? Alamo Drafthouse! It’s not far from us and I love squishing dinner, drinks, and a movie all into one, especially when finding a babysitter is hard.
Favorite restaurant in the East Valley? Oof this is hard. My sushi faves are Masa Sushi and Sushi Neko.
Best mom advice you’ve been given? I wasn’t given it, but I read it somewhere and now it’s my advice to everyone. Find a mom with kids slightly older than yours to be your mom friend, not someone who will give you advice, but someone who will say “yeah, I remember that phase. It sucked, but it’s just a phase. Here’s some coffee.”
Favorite family tradition? Coordinating Family Halloween costumes (read more about this tradition of hers here!)! Last year, with covid we dropped the ball! I’m excited to all dress up together again this year!