I am happy to introduce you to Smarty Mom, Tara Croom. Tara and I have known each other since high school and she is true friend through and through. Tara is a native of Charlotte, a full-time working mother of two beautiful girls and just a funny, great person to be around. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.
You work full time and are the mother of two little girls, how are you successful as a working mom, wife and mother?
It’s a juggling act! My husband, Greg, and I try very hard to work together to make our house run as smooth as possible. We each handle different household responsibilities and work together to make our individual calendars fit into each others schedule. Our number one priority is to spend time with the girls and each other, so we try to eat dinner together as a family as often as we can. We are also very lucky because most of our family lives in Charlotte and we get a tremendous amount of help from them!
You just had your second girl this past summer, was it harder to go back to work after your second maternity leave, or were you ready to get back to the work routine?
I thought it would be easier the second time around, but I was shocked – it was harder for me! I stayed home for 12 weeks after my second daughter, Spencer, was born and I really struggled with going back to work when the time came. I literally stared at her picture all day long missing her for the first week or two that I was back to work. It took me about a month or two to snap back into the work routine.
What is the biggest challenge of being a working mom?
For me, its when my kids get sick. So far in 2009, we have had ear infection after ear infection, sinus infections and stomach viruses… It seemed like I was at Charlotte Pediatrics almost every week in January and Dr. Moran became my new best friend! Trying to manage work obligations and taking care of my sick child simultaneously is a challenge and is a source of guilt for me, because my heart wants to be home with my little girls first and foremost.
The other challenge is trying to fit it all in! I think this is a universal challenge for all moms – working or stay at home. The never ending quest to try to be the greatest mom, wife, daughter, friend and employee and then maybe fit in cooking dinner and a quick walk somehow!
So today is Valentine’s day, and it is usually a day to celebrate with your spouse, but how do you include your girls in this holiday?
We are lucky this year that Valentines Day is on Saturday, so we can spend the whole day together as a family. My husband has big plans to make pancakes in the morning with my daughter, Emerson. She insists that they will be heartshaped and red…… heartshaped, possibly…red, doubtful!
Where is your favorite place to celebrate Valentine’s day with your husband?
We started a tradition a few years back where we celebrate at one of our favorite restaurants a night or two before Valentines Day (to avoid the crowds) and then stay home and cook a really nice dinner on Valentines night.
So tell us more about your family, what is your favorite activity to do on the weekends as a family?
My daughters are 3 (Emerson) and 9 months (Spencer) and they love the swings and slides at the park, so we frequent Carmel Park on the weekends. We spend a lot of time outside and take walks or pull the girls in their wagon around our neighborhood. We enjoy spending time with our family and friends and will frequently have dinners at our house on the weekends.
What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant?
Panera Bread, Salsa’s and Brooklyn Pizza are my favorite. Last weekend we met some friends at Brick Tops for dinner and had 3 kids under the age of 3 at the table. I was a little nervous because I thought that dinner might take a bit too long for my kids and there was a good chance of a major melt down, but I was pleasantly surprised because Brick Tops really catered to the kids. They brought them all doodle boards the minute we sat down, kept the animal crackers and milks coming and made sure that the kid’s meals were brought first. The kids were happy and so was I!
What is your favorite rainy day activity?
Going to the Movies (Emerson’s favorite recently was Bolt), reading books and building princess castles with legos and blocks with my girls.
Tell us about your favorite kids birthday party you’ve attended or thrown?
We are having Emerson’s 3rd birthday at Space Kidets in a few weeks, so I will let you know!
What is your favorite mommy-only activity?
I have a couple…mani/pedis, dinner and drinks with my girlfriends, dates with my husband and just having time to read a book or catch up on Greys Anatomy or one of my girly shows that I DVR!
Favorite piece of baby/kid gear?
Phil & Teds double stroller – I LOVE IT!
Favorite place to buy kids clothes?
I like Gap Kids, Childrens Place and Belk, but I am a huge bargain shopper and I love searching for great deals at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
The weather is so beautiful in Charlotte and you can spend most of the year enjoying time outside. Most of all, I love living in Charlotte because our family is here and my kids have all of their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins around them constantly.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
I have 2 – one for the spring/summer and one for Christmas time. The White Water Center – we went whitewater rafting with friends for my birthday last year and it was a blast! The facility is huge and beautiful! There’s a rock wall, zip line, trails, white water rafting and a restaurant for drinks/food!. It is also a great place to bring your kids and go hiking on the trails, have a picnic or watch people raft down the river. Check it out – it’s really a lot of fun!
During Christmas, Greg and I took the girls to see Santa at Ballantyne Resort. I thought this was awesome! It was not crowded, they had crafts for the kids to do, stationary for the kids to write letters to Santa and a mailbox to put their letters in (Santa wrote back a few days later!), a buffet of cake, cookies, milk and coffee and they gave parents an opportunity to take pictures after the photographer was done. I was really impressed and we will definitely go back next year!
I could not live without my…
husband – he is the sweetest, smartest, most wonderful man alive!! Happy Valentines Day!
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