It is my honor and pleasure to introduce this week’s Smarty Mom, Robin Dumas. Robin was my very first friend when I moved to Charlotte more than 14 years ago. We met at drug testing for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (luckily we both passed!) and became fast friends immediately. While my teaching career lasted only 3 years, our friendship has grown as we blossomed from 22-year old roommates out of college to wives and mothers. Robin is married to her college sweetheart Jason and has two incredible kids, Jackson (8) and Savannah (5). I am constantly amazed at Robin’s ability to not only successfully manage her family but to also find just the right balance between work, family, time for herself and with friends. She is truly a great wife, mother and friend and one of the Smartiest Moms I know – meet Robin!
Being a teacher, you essentially have the best of both worlds – working mom while your kids are in school and stay at home mom during the summer. What is your favorite aspect of each?
Teaching really is a great gig for moms. I absolutely love having the summers, workdays and holidays to just hang out with my kids and the hours are great.
When August rolls around though, I’m ready for structure! I like what I do and I think being a teacher is like on the job parenting training. Over the years I’ve learned a lot from my students and their parents. I’m forever thinking…hmmmm….I don’t want my son/daughter to get in this predicament/situation or wow!…I hope my kids have this type of work ethic, manners, interests, etc. I also get the opportunity to compare parenting styles and strategies first hand.
How do you balance work and home life?
It is a challenge and I’m frequently teetering on the edge but thankfully I have a phenomenal support system between my husband, family, neighbors, colleagues and girlfriends! (Both our families are in town and we have been blessed with friends who are like family!)
I have learned that planning ahead is essential to maintaining a peaceful and productive household. Procrastinating leads to chaos and tears (both mine and the kids). We pack lunches in advance (individual snacks, freeze ham sandwiches, have enough water bottles so no problem if the dishwasher doesn’t get run), layout outfits (including hair-bows) and our soccer gear, faith formation books, gymnastics clothes all have their own bags and are packed at the start of the week ready to grab as we head out the door.
I’m all about out-sourcing! I’d much rather pack my lunch and spend the money to have my house really cleaned every other week and have a tutor each week to help with the set weekly tasks like writing spelling word sentences than scrub bathrooms on Saturday or fight with Jax over rounding decimals! (It doesn’t matter that I’ve taught for almost 15 years…according to my son I know nothing about doing homework!)
I plan and collaborate with friends in scheduling activities picking times where we can carpool. I also make sure I plan both me time and couple time as both are essential in maintaining the balance. I joined a moms group at my church seven years ago (Ministry of Mothers Sharing) and it has been a Godsend! It’s like a support group for moms! Getting together with these ladies renews my spirit. We share ideas, recipes, Halloween costumes, kids clothes, tears, laughs, and prayers. We learn from each other’s mistakes (like my email about my son’s teacher that went to her instead of my girlfriend…I still feel awful about it!) and triumphs.
Jason and I also make a real effort to put aside our cells, emails and the television (thank goodness for our DVR) to spend time together whether it be reading, talking or just going to bed at the same time. Jason is incredible. He understands (or at least he pretends to) that being a working mom is tough. Sometimes there is this intense inner-strife or conflict between both worlds and when this happens I need lots of validation. He is great about that!
Your kids are always so well behaved – what’s your secret?
Wow! That means a lot to me! Again…after being around kids all day long, some of which don’t behave…I’m determined to instill in my kids manners and good character traits. I think bad behavior stems from bad situations….running late, not prepared, too much stimulus or sugar. We try are best to avoid such situations.
Our kids also have a plethora of great role models. They are fortunate to have had many opportunities to do things with our friends and families without Jason and I. I think this is important because they see/experience good values in practice not just by mom and dad. It also helps when their incredible grandparents or their super-cool aunt or uncle or our friends reinforce things we’re focusing on like following directions or table manners. It shows that mom and dad really aren’t making this stuff up. Smacking when you eat really is rude and obnoxious!
What is your favorite family activity?
We love playing in our backyard and weekend trips. Saturday mornings are also fun as we hit the soccer field or basketball court for games and then grab lunch. Great family bonding!
Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
Brixx, Tony’s Pizza, Qdoba, Chili’s…. Eating out too much is a working mom hazard. The up-side is my kids have great restaurant manners, can totally order for themselves and get to experience the small-town feeling in a big city when the waiters recognize us and know what we like!
Favorite weekend escape?
We’re ASU grads so Boone is were we head to escape.
Favorite date night place/activity?
Eating out at Firebirds or 131 Main alone or with friends. Its fun to get dressed-up and not have to consult a kid’s menu.
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Gymboree or Gap Outlet
Mini-van or SUV?
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
Its location…three hours from the beach and two and half from the mountains, experiencing four real seasons and the south Charlotte community
I could not live without my…
Technology: Cell phone for scheduling, chatting with friends, ordering take-out, keeping up with family, lap-top for emailing, working late at night, and ordering things from the internet and our DVR…getting to watch my shows on my schedule is great for downtime.
I wish someone had told me sooner…
Yelling gets you nowhere. Staying calm and keeping a low-tone is so more effective with kids.
Saying a little prayer about things heavy on your heart makes a huge difference!
Thank you Robin for letting us get to know you. If you would like to nominate a Smarty Mom, please email us.
Don’t forget to register to win our Smarty Giveaways:
–3 sets of tickets to Blumenthal’s MOTHER LOAD
–5 free passes to the Divine Consign Preview Show next week