It is with great pleasure to introduce Allison Wood as our Smarty Mom this week! Allison has been married to Gene for 9 years and they have three beautiful children, Charles, Katharine and Mary Amelia. All 4 years old. Yes, I said “all.” Allison and Gene have triplets! I have always thought Allison was so “smarty” from the day I met her.
I met Allison at a Charlotte Mothers of Multiples outing. I remember thinking, “I could really learn a few things from this girl.” Even when the triplets were 6 months old, she appeared so calm and collected. She was taking meals to other mothers in our CMOMs group before her kids were even 1 year old. Then to see her manage the three of them at the pool. I would say, okay now get it together Dana, you only have two.
Seriously, though, Allison does an amazing job juggling a variety of roles. For example, she has even volunteered as a member on the executive board of CMOMs. When she is not running off to get the kids to soccer practice, she is always scheming up something fun to do. I was lucky enough, to tag along with her to some activities like, horse back riding at Latta Plantation. We have also had some adventures berry picking this past summer.
Prior to being a stay at home mom, Allison worked as a Community Relations Manager for Prudential. Prior to that, she worked in development for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She and Gene relocated Charlotte five ago. We are so lucky to have Allison here in Charlotte! She surely is a spectacular wife, mother and friend.
Can you tell us what are your secrets to staying sane and always seeming so organized when you have triplets?
I actually don’t feel sane or organized most of the time – I feel like I’ve given up control of the house to the kids! At this age, it seems like they truly enjoy making as much of a mess as they can, and the destruction of toys, not to mention our walls (now beautifully colored in Crayola) is unbelievable.
When they were babies, I was really structured with them, and I think it benefited both them and me. As difficult as infancy was with three babies, I felt much more organized and on top of things. Since they hit toddlerhood, and particularly when they stopped napping more than a year ago, things have become pretty challenging. Although we’re still somewhat structured, it’s not the same as when they were younger, and I feel that I’m constantly struggling to find a balance between the basic things I have to do (errands, housework) and making sure I’m spending quality time with the kids. Now that they are four, it’s really hit me how fast the time goes, and I want to make sure I’m really enjoying these precious preschool years with them. I’m always working to plan different activities/playdates/outings for them, and I will say that in the last several months they have started playing together for longer periods of time with less intervention from me, which has been helpful. I don’t want all my time with them to be in “referee” mode.
Since they are all in school more days each week this year, I’ve tackled some big household organizing projects during the last few months, which has definitely made me feel better. I’m working on keeping myself on more of a schedule, so I can knock things off my everyday task list and really enjoy the time when the children are with me, without feeling overwhelmed by a million things that need to get done.
What kind of support systems are essential for moms with multiple children whose families do not live in Charlotte?
I have been a member of Charlotte Mothers of Multiples (CMOMs) since I was pregnant and have found it to be a wonderful resource and a great way to connect with other moms who have multiple children. Although all moms have similar experiences with raising children, there are definitely some unique aspects to having multiples, and it’s nice to be able to commiserate with other moms who are going through the same thing.
If you don’t have family in town, I also think that it’s important to hire as much help as is feasible for your family, whether that be a part-time nanny, a mother’s helper, or someone to just give you a break once a week. It’s really hard not to have any parents, siblings or other relatives around to help out (especially if your spouse works long hours) and with triplets, I really did need an extra set of hands, especially when they were infants.
What is your favorite family activity?
My kids love to be outside and active (the rainy Fall just about did us in), so we enjoy finding different things to do around the city, go to a park/playground or spend time outside riding bikes and doing chalk art on the driveway. Gene is also good about taking the kids on Saturday mornings so I can sleep in – Phil’s Deli has become a regular Saturday breakfast outing for them.
What is your favorite place to shop for kids clothing?
For my son, I find a lot of his clothes at Gymboree and Old Navy, although I greatly miss Talbots Kids both for he and his sisters. For the girls, I shop everywhere, including the CMOMs Consignment Sale that is held twice each year. That sale is particularly good for finding boutique items that have only been worn a couple of times and are still in good shape. For all three kids, I purchase most of their shoes at Tootsies – the staff is always so helpful and knowledgeable, and I think they have a great selection.
What is your favorite park in Charlotte?
In the summer months, my favorite morning park is Latta – nice and shaded, and the sprayground is really fun. We spend a lot of time at Princeton as well, which gives me peace of mind since it’s enclosed.
Best place to eat out with the kids?
Hard to choose just one place! When we’re not at Chick-Fil-A (the kids’ favorite), we love Pike’s and Luisa’s – both are really kid-friendly – Pike’s has a good kids menu and Luisa’s is of course fun on Tuesday nights (kids night).
Your idea of a perfect date night?
It’s amazing to think how few date nights we have nowadays! We were married for several years before having children, and we used to be able to go out whenever we wanted and frequently tried new restaurants. We still enjoy doing that, and if there is a place to go out and listen to music afterwards, even better. We’re going to Sullivan’s in a couple of weeks for my husband’s birthday, and they most likely will have jazz in their bar area, so that will be perfect – makes us feel like we still live in Chicago!
What is the best kept secret in Charlotte?
Mueller’s – they really do have the BEST burgers, and the rest of their menu looks good as well. They have some outdoor seating, and it’s fun to drop by for lunch or do takeout.
What is the funniest thing any of your children has ever said to you?
Wow, it would be difficult to narrow this down, but one thing stands out from a few months ago: The kids had been talking about being babies in my “tummy” and my daughter Mary Amelia said “Mommy, we had to be in your tummy because there wasn’t room in Daddy’s – his tummy is too big!” Gene didn’t find that comment to be very funny…..
What is the best birthday party you have given or attended for a child?
We recently attended one at Luisa’s – a pizza making party. Each child got to make – and eventually eat – their own pizza. The clown who is there on Tuesday nights was doing balloons and face painting, and there were other games and activities for the kids as well. It was something a bit different, and the entire family had a great time.
What is your favorite thing to do when you have some alone time?
Honestly, it’s nice to be able to go into a store and browse – not the mad dash to Target and the grocery store during preschool hours, but time to really look. That is a definite luxury for me right now.
What has been your favorite CSP blog thus far?
I’ve really enjoyed the Green articles – we’ve always recycled and try to do our best to conserve, but I wouldn’t say I’m very knowledgeable about all things green. I’ve learned a lot and have put some of the information to use in my home.
What is the best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
It’s very accessible and easy to get around – after living in other cities with a lot of traffic where going anywhere was a production, it’s refreshing to be able to zip around and not to have to worry about the kids getting too antsy.
You could not live without (mommy or kid related)?
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my Honda Odyssey. I was always one of those people who said I would NEVER drive a minivan, and here I am – love the sliding doors, the ability to easily move around in the third row to buckle my kids in their carseats, and the fact that although it doesn’t look like a lot of space, I can fit all the contents of a large Costco shopping trip in the trunk.
I wish someone had told me sooner about…….
The book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” – I think I would have gotten my children to sleep through the night sooner than I did, which would have been great, because it was absolutely life changing for me when they finally started doing the 10-11 hour sleep at night. Also, I always heard about the “Terrible Twos”, but did not realize that age three is often times worse – it was for us, and I’ve heard that from a lot of other moms as well. Had I known, I may have been better prepared for last year!
Thanks so much Allison. If you would like to “mominate” a Smarty mom please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.