Heather Tamol is Group Supervisor of Public Relations at Wary Ward and mom to two children, Nicole (5) and Blaise (4). She lives in the Sardis area and has mastered the art of being a full-time working mom. She usually spends her time getting press and recognition for her clients, but we think she is due some of her own since she is a true Smarty Mom! Meet Heather:
As full-time working woman and mother of two, how do you find the right balance between work and family?
I think I’m very hard on myself when judging my ability to balance work and family, but I try to find the right mix for everyone. The most important thing to reaching that balance, for me, is to ‘be where I am.’ It sounds like a lesson in simplicity, but when I’m with my kids, I want to be with my kids – not checking e-mails (which is why I’ve resisted the temptation to get a PDA), not rushing through bed-time rituals so I can finish a report. When I’m at work, I want to channel my energies into my projects and clients so I serve them well and still can leave in time for a family dinner, which means a little less chit chat at the coffee machine and working through lunch some times. What is integral to that balance is that I have a family who is supportive of my career goals and an employer who is supportive of my family needs.
As a working mom, how do you stay involved in your children’s activities?
I pour over the school calendar and get everything on my calendar as soon as possible, so I can figure out what I can and can’t do. Since I can’t do school-hour activities every week, I do things like chaperone field trips, where I can take vacation time from work. I also choose my extracurricular activities – in professional development, family and personal enjoyment – carefully. I am a soccer fan, so I am coaching my daughter’s soccer team, which will be something I’ll enjoy plus will give me time with her. I volunteer with Discovery Place, which fulfills my need to give back to the community and hopefully helps Discovery Place remain a top science and technology museum, which will benefit my kids and all kids in the area; plus, it’s a place that I can take my kids for quality time together on weekends and non-school days.
What is your favorite weekday activity with your kids?
Snuggle time. It’s the last wakeful hours of the day, where I take turns snuggling with my kids in their beds in their night-light lit rooms. With my 5-year-old daughter, I call it ‘confessional,’ where she tells me what made her scared or what she did wrong or, even better, what made her laugh the most that day; it all comes pouring out. With my 4-year-old son, we sing songs and talk nonsensical silliness that makes him giggle, and that is a priceless gift.
What is your favorite weekend activity without your kids?
Date night for dinner and a movie with my husband, which I confess we don’t do often enough; we get so little one-on-one time that I love the moments we can catch up (though when it is just us eating I find it hard to resist the urge to lean across the table to cut someone’s meat). And the only way I won’t fall asleep during a movie is if I’m in the movie theatre, so that’s always a treat.
What is your favorite family ritual/routine?
When my kids were smaller – and even now – I didn’t want to give them anything with sugar in it just before bed. (You all know the repercussions of sugar intake past 6 p.m. in a toddler!) So we started doing breakfast birthday parties for our family. It centers around the kitchen table – which is the heart of our home – and it’s become quite a celebration, with all the non-birthday people decorating the kitchen with streamers and birthday signs and party hats and colorful napkins the night before. We pile the birthday gifts on the table, and then we dine on cake for breakfast. On my son’s birthday last week, we drank milk out of champagne glasses. The kids love it, and there’s no better way to start a birthday for this work-going, school-going, gotta-get-out-of-the-house-on-time-but-can’t-wait-to-see-you-tonight family.
What is your favorite restaurant with kids?
Chick Fil A, especially since they started letting you substitute fruit for fries in kids meals.
What is your favorite restaurant with NO kids?
The Fig Tree. Their dinner is awesome, but even just a nice glass of wine and cheese plate at the bar in front of the fireplace is complete and utter relaxation.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
When my daughter, Nicole, was 3 she gave me a long soliloquy about the wedding she already was envisioning for herself. “When I get married I will wear a white dress and a veil and shoes with heels and earrings and a necklace and a bracelet and a ring and I will dance with Daddy and (my brother) Blaise. I will dance with you, too, Mommy. You can wear a skirt.” I loved the excessive detail she had put into her outfit, and all she did was throw a skirt on me. Is that a reflection on my lack of style and glamour on a daily basis?
Favorite store to find children’s clothes?
Gymboree – I think they combine style and comfort pretty well.
Favorite place to get a good deal on clothes?
My attic! I have an awesome friend, Joan, whose kids are older then mine and give me tons of hand-me-downs, which I’ve organized by age in the attic. When I do need the mall shopping experience, The Children’s Place Outlet at Concord Mills.
Boyce Park off Sardis Road. It’s close to home and has it all – the playground equipment, the playing fields, picnic tables and walking trails. It’s a perfect park for a quick outing for us.
Favorite birthday party venue?
I like home parties – it’s a little more trouble on my planning end, but you don’t have to worry about head count and really, my kids just want to play with their friends.
Minivan or SUV?
SUV; my friends with minivans tell me I’d love one but I just can’t make myself do it.
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
The climate. We have outdoor play all year round!
I could not live without my…
My DVR, it lets me focus on my must-do ‘chores’ and then watch the shows I want at my convenience. . .My husband, who is hands-down the best guy ever and keeps me believing I can have it all. . .My Starbuck’s Mocha Frappucino, which I gave up for Lent but I am counting down the days!
I wish someone told me sooner about…
Finding a good daycare. When we moved into Charlotte a few years ago, I had no idea how hard it was to find daycare – both in terms of finding a good one and getting on a wait list early enough. It all worked out for us in the end, but it was a time of high-anxiety that I might have been able to avoid.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The YMCA’s indoor pool at the Harris Y – it has splash toys and slides, a mini Lazy River, and is a great winter destination for indoor family fun.
Thanks, Heather! Do you have a Smarty Mom or Dad you’d like to nominate? We’d love to hear about them! Email here at email@example.com