In 2011, Aly Mashrah was a 19-year-old new mom who was sleeplessly cradling a colicky baby boy and desperately searching for solutions on the internet. Her clicks led her to parenting blogs, many run by moms helping other moms, and Mashrah found herself inspired to join in.
“During my teenage years, I was always on the blog scene in general,” she says. “I was always into having an online diary and sharing my thoughts with online readers. I feel like that transformed when I became a parent, and I wanted to reach out to a more focused niche. I wanted to reach out to moms specifically.”
It has been six years since Mashrah started navigating the mom blogosphere and four since she established her official domain: themichiganmom.com.
Visitors to her page can find a collection of health, wellness, lifestyle, travel, food and beauty posts for hardworking moms with bustling schedules.
“I’m pretty much all about making things easier for moms,” she says. “If I can help at least one person with my blog, then I’m a happy camper.”
If there is one word that describes Mashrah’s journey so far, it’s busy. She juggles motherhood with maintaining an income and pursuing a degree. This has been the norm since 2010: She was a student at what’s now Henry Ford College when she got pregnant with her son Zach.
“I was there for about three years trying to balance mom life and student life,” she said. “I was taking art classes at the community college, because I didn’t really know what to do yet.”
After becoming a mom, Mashrah says she was always trying to learn more about health and how to take care of her body. To her, the research was fascinating, so transferring schools to pursue a new program was a natural next step.
Now 24 with a 5-year-old, Mashrah is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in public health with minors in art and nutrition and food science at Wayne State University.
“I go to school three times a week, and so I try to blog or do blog maintenance about two times a week,” Mashrah says. “I feel like if you have a schedule you follow, you can make it work – even if you’re only posting once a week or biweekly.”
She’s in school at the same time as her son, so Mashrah has made doing homework together a bonding experience. But she makes sure they have fun, too.
“We love watching movies, I take him to the park when it’s nice outside, he plays in the snow, we like to go to museums and the zoo,” she says. “I like to take him out and give him experiences.”
Mashrah will be graduating this year and, looking ahead, she says she sees herself perhaps doing research, working in a hospital or even teaching.
“I know that in my life I want to help people and teach them about the importance of health and wellness, so they know what they’re putting in their bodies.”
From mom to mom
What started off as an outlet is now an enterprise. Mashrah runs The Michigan Mom on a tight schedule and has cultivated a network of subscribers.
“My blog is geared towards busy moms like myself, juggling children, school and work,” she says. “Whether it’s tips for meal prepping or recipes that are easy and quick or skin care and date night looks, there’s a variety of things on there that would be helpful.”
Speaking as a mom to other moms, many of Mashrah’s activities, tips and advice are things she does for Zach.
For instance, Mashrah says many of her posts are school-year related, like back-to-school tips for busy moms and how to be prepared for when kids get sick out of the blue and you suddenly need to change your whole schedule.
“I noticed every time I would pick (Zach) up from school, he would be so hungry. I would have the hardest time trying to find snacks I could keep in my bag.” That led to Mashrah’s savvy snack storage compartment guide.
“It goes around the headrest in the car and I fill it with snacks,” she says. “So after school when I pick him up, he already has his snack ready to go.”
Motivation and management
Mashrah admits she gets overwhelmed and shuts down when things become too much, but what keeps her going is her schedule and support system.
“I have this bullet journal I use as a planner and I seriously write everything down,” she says. “That really helps me stay organized and focused.”
A single mom who lives with her parents, Mashrah says her family has been amazing. Whenever she needs to study for an exam or do other work, her mother steps in to take care of Zach.
“She never says no, she’s always there and she’s a great, great grandma,” she says.
Mashrah’s family also helps her blog, and she features them whenever she can. For example, her brothers played a big role in her Super Bowl posts, because they’re crazy about football.
“Whenever I can find an angle that includes my family members, I always do.”
However, Mashrah hopes to become more independent after she graduates. Her dream is to strike out on her own and continue giving her son a life full of great memories.
Some changes aren’t too far off. “Currently I’m actually also launching a new blog all about health and fitness,” she says.