It’s Smarty Mom Saturday! Meet Kristen Felty, mother of surviving triplets, Mac and Cooper, who are 4 years old, and two dogs, Louie and Stella. Kristen is a stay-at-home mom, aka, dedicated woman who works her behind off but doesn’t get paid or ever get promotions:-) In addition to her stay-at-home role, Kristen has a full- time volunteering job as the President of Charlotte Mothers of Multiples (CMOMs). As if that weren’t enough, Kristen is a member of the Junior League of Charlotte and just finished a 3-year term on the inaugural Family Advisory Council of the Levine Children’s Hospital where she served as the Secretary for two years.
As President of CMOMs and a mother of surviving triplets, how do you find the right balance between work and family?
I’m not sure I’ve really found the right balance in the last 18 months since I’ve been CMOMs President, but it’s not for lack of trying! Our household schedule helps tremendously from a time management perspective and I’ve got a great home office setup that allows me to actually do work even when the kiddos are home and awake! My husband built us a half-wall with baby gate entrance in the playroom. This allows me to work on the computer on CMOMs stuff while also being in the same room as the kids to address their needs and provide support, yet they cannot physically enter my office space. Having multiples is a great thing because they have a built-in playmate, so I can often work for an hour or two with very few interruptions while they play with Hot Wheels, paint with watercolors, or play a board game. Dave has been incredibly supportive of my CMOMs work, yet he is very good about pointing out when I’ve been overly consumed and then helps me find my balance again.
You mentioned “household schedule” – what is this and how do I get one?! I stick to a pretty strict schedule when it comes to caring for the children and the household as it gives me some degree of predictability. At age 4, the boys are familiar with the routine and do their best to stick to it. I have found that their behavior is always better when we follow our routine and they know what to expect. My household chores are scheduled for various days of the week and I stick to it! Laundry days are Monday and Thursday. On Sundays, I change all the bedding and launder it. Sunday is also the day I trim the boys’ fingernails. Believe it or not, I think I’ve only altered this schedule less than 5 times since the boys were born! Am I anal-retentive or what?!?!? Doing chores this way just helps me plan my days effectively and avoid that “overwhelmed” feeling that often plagues a stay-at-home mom. I experienced that feeling in the first few weeks that the boys were infants and I did NOT like it! I try to cook a decent meal (meat, veggie, starch) at least 3-4 times per week. Sunday and Friday are typically “Family Dinner Nights” since Dave is rarely home for the boys’ 5:30 meal time during the week. For “family dinner nights”, we go out/order in for one of those nights and I cook the other. I try to do most of the dinner prep during the boys’ quiet/nap time. I have found that if I’m prepared for dinner in advance of the late afternoon “witching hour” we are more likely to have a nice dinner! Toys are cleaned up and put away in their place each night and finally the boys have become better helpers with this task. One thing I can’t tolerate is waking up to a mess in the morning because then I feel like I’m starting the day a few steps “behind.” The boys are in school 4 mornings per week, so I try to spend two mornings working on my CMOMs volunteer work and the other two mornings are spent running errands or dealing with appointments. We are fortunate to have a housekeeper and her twice monthly visits force me to put away anything that has grown cluttered in the previous two weeks. There always seems to be so much “incoming stuff” that needs to be put away – mail, school projects, packages, etc, – so I find a home for everything right before the housekeeper arrives! At the beginning of each month, I plan the times when we need a babysitter, including at least 2 date nights per month, and schedule the sitters all at once. I NEVER have luck finding a sitter at the last minute, so this process really works for me! I keep an Excel spreadsheet of dates, times and scheduled sitters for the month so that I can reference that in one single place! There are indeed a few aspects of our life that are completely NOT organized – my home office is always a cluttered mess and my ironing piles up and is done on an as-needed basis!
Favorite weekday activity with kids? I’d have to say it is coming home after school and playing football, soccer or baseball in the backyard with Mac and Cooper. We all love the exercise and fresh air! We also love playing out front with the neighborhood children in the late afternoon. I love socializing with the other moms and the kids have a blast!
Favorite weekend activity with kids? The boys love to go bowling with their Daddy and we all enjoy a “family bike ride” on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway that runs at the end of our street. Of course, in the summer, we love spending the day at the pool!
Favorite restaurant with kids? Aside from Chick-fil-A, we love the Carolina Soda Shop in Park Road Shopping Center. Yummy, inexpensive food and great ice cream sundaes. Plus, the boys love their gumball machine! Mac and Coop also love the “race car restaurant” (Quaker Steak and Lube). On weekends for “family dinner night” we like to take the kids to family-friendly places like Outback Steakhouse, Village Tavern (on the patio is the best!) and Portofino’s.
Favorite children’s boutique? I rarely shop boutique clothes anymore because the boys are simply too rough on their clothes these days! When they were younger, I enjoyed home shows like Just Ducky and Mudpuddles and also enjoyed The Plantation Shop and The Buttercup. I do love the new Southern Stationers store near Cotswold Mall – it’s a great place to purchase adorable children’s stationery.
Favorite place to get a good deal on clothes? Why, the CMOMs Semi-Annual Clothing and Equipment Sale, of course! Held in March and August each year, I literally purchase nearly 70% of their wardrobe at the Sale. Everything is gently used and I get great deals on everything from Land’s End winter coats for $11 to Orient Expressed button-down shirts for $8 to Children’s Place pants for $2 to Talbot’s swim trunks for $1.50! The next CMOMs Sale is March 8 at Metrolina Expo, so visit http://www.cmoms.net/ for all the details. Also, for all you readers out there who have “high-end” clothing that you’d like to sell…contact CMOMs! CMOMs allows non-members to consign their “high-end” clothing with us and you receive 70% of your sales…higher than local consignment shops! I also love to get “basics” like t-shirts or sweatpants from places like Target and Old Navy, and love to get end-of-season bargains from Talbots online for things like polo shirts and khaki pants and shorts!
Minivan or SUV? Definitely a minivan. With multiples and carpool lines, you simply cannot beat the convenience of the power sliding doors, not to mention the ability to easily walk to the back of the vehicle in the case of an emergency. This has been invaluable to us on long car rides!
Favorite children’s book? When they were younger, my favorite was Goodnight Moon and the boys loved to find the little, tiny mouse on each page.
Favorite twins gear? Hands-down, my favorite twins gear was my double jogging stroller. I still use it for walks around the neighborhood and when we go to the beach. It was truly my saving grace in the spring after the boys were born. We’d been stuck inside the whole winter and getting out for an exercise walk was such a treat for mom and the boys!
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you? Okay, this is one of those moments when I feel like a bad mom because I haven’t done a good job at journaling my children’s childhood! Each day holds promise of yet another hilarious comment from the kids, but I think my favorite things they say are when they try to discipline each other and they imitate me or Dave during the process. Very humbling….
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte? Charlotte is such a close-knit community and folks are always willing to help one another. I love that we live in a suburban neighborhood yet Dave has a mere 7-minute commute to his job downtown! There is so much to offer in terms of arts, culture, shopping, sports, events, etc. Plus, the weather is awesome! Charlotte is a big city with a small-town feel!
I could not live without… My Diet Dr. Pepper each morning. It gets my day going!
I wish someone told me sooner about… Laser hair removal! I started this last winter and am amazed at the results! This summer I should be swimsuit-ready at any given moment (provided, of course, that I first lose 15 pounds!) After I started sharing this great beauty tip with my friends, I learned that several had already done it. Wish they had told me sooner, I could have been swimsuit ready LAST summer!
Thanks, Kristen! Loved everything, and I was happy to read that someone else drinks Diet Dr. Pepper every morning! Do you have a mom you’d like to nominate for Smarty Mom Saturday? If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why. We’d love to hear about her!