Food blogger and entrepreneur Haylie Duff wants people to know it takes help to balance work and parenting — and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
The mom to daughters Lulu Gray, 14 months, and Ryan Ava Erhard, 4, with longtime fiancé Matt Rosenberg doesn’t shy away from admitting that her nanny helps her and Rosenberg keep up with their careers.
“I have an incredible, incredible nanny who makes it possible for me to work,” she tells PEOPLE. “I always think it’s funny when people don’t admit that they have help.”
“I am so grateful to her — she’s part of our family and her family is part of our family,” continues Duff, 34. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do, so we all just work together and figure it out as we go.”
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But the Real Girl’s Kitchen blogger still loves to pack lunches for Ryan, who’s starting her third year of preschool. Partnering with Cans Get You Cooking, Duff says she enjoys saving prep time by cooking with canned foods, “so I have more time to spend with my family.”
A current favorite? Baked chicken taquitos, which she makes by mixing rotisserie chicken, corn, black beans and cream cheese, and rolling it up into flour tortillas. Duff packs some with guacamole for Ryan’s lunch, and she’ll sometimes add diced chiles so she can have them for dinner with Rosenberg, too.
“It’s nice because I’m killing two birds with one stone,” she says of adapting the recipe, which Ryan loves. “Every time I open the lunchbox, they’re gone. That’s always the badge of honor when you’re a parent. You’re winning that day.”
She also gets some help from her older daughter, who loves being a big sister to Lulu.
“Every single morning, Ryan runs into our room, and the first thing out of her mouth is, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom, is it time to go get Lulu?’ ” Duff says. “From day one, she’s been really excited about having a sibling and being a big sister.”
But as older sibling herself to TV star Hilary Duff, she knows sisterhood isn’t always perfect. “We’ll see when they hit 16!” the star jokes. “So far, they’ve been real smooth sailing” — particularly baby Lulu.
“That is a little peach pie right there. She’s the sweetest, happiest baby ever,” Duff says. “Lulu’s biggest struggle in life right now is she really wants to walk and she is just not walking yet. She’s furniture walking all over the house, but she’s not ready to take the steps on her own.”
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Even with a nanny to help, Duff acknowledges that parenting can be tough. She remembers last Monday, Aug. 19, when her nanny had to leave early to attend a back-to-school orientation for her own children.
Duff still had work to do, but now also had to watch Ryan and Lulu, who “tore the living room apart.” She posted a photo on Instagram of her daughters with their toys strewn across the room, captioning it, “This is real life!”
“My job doesn’t stop, but they’re my kids, they’re my responsibility,” Duff tells PEOPLE. “It was just total chaos, but it was also a great day. It just is what it is, and you do what you’ve got to do, and you deal with it.”
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