I'm so excited about introducing this new series here on Mamatoga. My Mom Life is a question and answer series designed to share the experiences of other parents. In these interviews moms are going to share their insight into finding their own balance, their must-haves, what their daily schedules are like and how they spend their free time (when they have any). I wanted to open up the discussion about finding balance as a parent and how difficult it can be to achieve, and to give a little peek into the world of another mom through her own words and pictures. Here is the first installment (of many to come) in My Mom Life, Christen Gowan. Hey, Mamatoga readers! I thought I should introduce myself. I’m Christen. I’ve been married to my husband Trevor for over four years and we have a 15 month-old daughter Hadley and a dog Sadie. I work in the Communications Office at Union College, where I write news stories, edit videos and manage the college's social media channels. I’m also a connoisseur of all things chocolate (preferably with peanut butter). You can read my blog here and follow me on Twitter: @ChristenGowan
A typical day looks like this:
5:30 a.m.: Get up and start getting ready for the day.
6:45: Leave the house. Drop off Hadley first, then Trevor.
8:00: Get to Union and start my day with a big cup of coffee. Spend most of the day out and about on campus, writing stories and editing videos. I also work out at the gym on campus around lunchtime at least 3 times a week. It's a great perk of the job having a free gym membership and its great time to myself.
4:30: Leave to pick up Trevor and Hadley.
5:45: Get home, start dinner, walk the dog, eat dinner, bath time.
7:00: Hadley’s bedtime, then relax most of the night; watch TV, have a glass of wine, eat something chocolaty.
Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?
I get some time every night after Hadley goes to bed. We believe in a nice, early bedtime (since we get up pretty early) so I’m on my own from about 7 p.m. on. I spend a lot of that doing laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, etc., but I also get time to catch up on our favorite shows like “Parenthood” or “Modern Family.”
What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
It’s all about priorities. I have a long commute everyday so I know that some things I can’t get to on weeknights. Outside of doing the dishes, I don’t get to a lot of cleaning done during the week. I also never grocery shop during the week so I’ll plan out and shop for everything we need on Saturdays. Not putting those pressures on myself allows me to go home at night and just focus on being with my family.
Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?
Definitely. I’m always open for tips from other moms. I’m amazed at how we all balance so much while retaining our sanity and finding a little time for ourselves.
What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule?
The best part of our schedule is our family car pool. My husband is a geologist based in Clifton Park so we do have the luxury of commuting together (when he is in town). While it’s a long car ride, it’s a nice chance for us to talk.
What do you find tricky about your current set-up/schedule? What would you change if you could?
I’d like to be closer to my job. I love working at Union, but the one-hour drive from Greenfield everyday can get tedious. We’ll be looking to move in the next couple of years closer to Schenectady.
What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves?
Parenting must haves: Plum Organics pouches: they’re great to send to daycare to know she’s eating her veggies; a kid’s size Water Bobble: I have an adult-sized one and she now carries hers around the house. She drinks a ton of water now; the SkipHop Pronto Changing Mat: I’m terrible about remembering to pack a diaper bag so keeping this in the car is great when we’re out and about.
Non-mommy must haves: Yes to Blueberries Facial Towelettes: my New Year’s resolution was to take better care of my skin and these are great at the end of the day; my iPhone: it’s seems so clichéd, but I’m on it constantly, whether I’m reading work e-mails, tweeting or taking pictures on Instagram;
What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?
I didn’t really understand the bond that I’d have to my child until she was laying in front of me. It’s the greatest kind of love to see her grow into such a little person. She is the best version of Trevor and I, and I love seeing her develop everyday.
Going to Pilates. I used to be so good about going to Reform Pilates in Saratoga, but with my husband’s travel schedule, I just can’t get there as much as I’d like. I feel amazing after one hour there.
Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have kids? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?
Definitely! I’m way better with e-mail than with calling. The nice thing about having a long commute though is you have time to call up family and friends. I haven't noticed any sort of gap between myself and my friends who don't have kids, actually. I think everyone is so busy these days, whether it be with kids, jobs, volunteer work or whatever, we can all relate to not having enough time to ourselves.
I think the biggest key for me in the work/life balance has just been to let some things go. No, I don't have the cleanest house in the world, but I have a happy family who I love spending time with. That's more important to me than finding time to fold clothes or do the dishes. Yes, those things have to get done, but once I stopped striving for perfection in every facet of my life, motherhood became much more enjoyable for me.
Thanks to Christen for being the first in the series! And stay tuned to Mamatoga for more interviews in My Mom Life...