I’m so excited to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom, Meredith Burbank. I have the pleasure of living three houses down from Meredith and let me just say, she is never afraid of an impromptu playdate/happy hour in the cul-de-sac on any given night! Meredith is a working-stay-at-home mom to my twins’ future wife, Molly age 4, and Davis age 6, who just might snatch up Ansley if he keeps working as hard as he does!
Meredith is married to hubby, Matt, who just happens to be my idol since he’s a real, grown-up identical twin and never flinches when I ask him endless questions about identical boys. Meredith and fam are loads of fun and we’re thrilled that they are part of our neighborhood crew.
Let’s meet Meredith!
As a part-time working mom, what would you say are your favorite aspects of this set-up?
For the most part, it works really well. I had a career for several years before I had children, and I love that I am able to stay active in it, even though it is in a reduced capacity. I appreciate the days that I get to get dressed up and interact with adults, and I think it helps me appreciate my time with the kids on the days that I’m home. Also, when the banking world was collapsing and my husband’s work future was uncertain, I was glad that we still had my job as a safety net. I’m very lucky that my law firm respects my desire to be home with the kids and basically lets me set my own hours.
Do you ever find yourself wishing you could do more of either working or staying at home?
Yes. I think that working part-time (or really, working in any capacity) is a delicate balance. Sometimes everything clicks and I have a great week. Sometimes, I feel like I’m failing miserably on both fronts. The time when I wish I worked less (or didn’t work at all) is usually summer because the kids don’t have a consistent schedule. That’s also the time when I just want to hang out at the pool with them every day! Once the kids are in school, we get in a routine and it generally works well. On the other hand, sometimes I do wish I had more time in the office. Law is a client-driven field, so I can’t always fit my work into the hours that I’m in the office. I find that I sometimes have to work late at night in order to finish the work I didn’t get done during my two days in the office. It’s possible that I will increase my hours once they are both in big school, but right now I’m pretty happy with the amount I work.
As an avid workout buff, what are your tips on staying in shape and staying on track?
I have not always been good at this, but I really found my workout stride after having Molly. Now it’s a pretty essential part of my life – for mental health as much as physical health. I think the most important thing is to schedule your workouts in your calendar just like any other important obligation. Also, find a means of working out that you enjoy. If you hate it, you won’t stick with it. I really like to vary up my workouts: cycle classes, power hours (love Mary Dare’s 6 am Monday class at Harris Y), running outside, stairmaster, weights, etc. Also, working out with someone else helps keep you accountable. If you can afford it, I recommend getting a trainer (or splitting one with a friend) to help you jumpstart your routine. It’s an investment, but you can do it short-term just to get you on track.
You knew I couldn’t resist touching on this subject – what’s it like being married to an identical twin?
I don’t really think about it that much, but their identical mannerisms can be eerie. For the longest time, my poor daughter couldn’t tell them apart. Fortunately, my husband’s twin (Scott) would play along and pick her up when she came running up to him saying “Daddy!” Even now, occasionally one of our kids will run up to the wrong dad by accident. The funniest thing now is that Scott and his family live near us in Charlotte, so they are constantly confusing other people. Scott is a doctor, so sometimes his patients see my husband out and come up to him to talk to him about their injuries.
You are very close to your original playgroup that you started 5 years ago. What is your advice to other Smarties looking to start a playgroup and how do you make it last once everyone is on different schedules over the years?
I love my playgroup. The way we have lasted as a playgroup is to shift the focus from our kids to us. At some point, we stopped getting together with the kids (it was way too chaotic), and now we just get together for lunches and girls nights out. They have been an amazing support system for me for the past 6 years. My advice is to find people who have kids your age, and just suggest getting together for a playdate. If it goes well, bring in a couple more people and try to do it on a regular basis. The key is to keep it small (nobody wants to host a dozen 2-year olds at their house).
What is your favorite activity to do with your children?
Not really an activity, but I love when they come downstairs in the morning and crawl into bed with me. I love lazy mornings with them when we can stay in our pajamas all morning (sadly, those are harder to come by these days).
During this harsh weather, I often find myself stumped when we can’t play outside. What is your favorite I-gotta-get-these-crazy-kids-out- of-the-house-or-I’m-going-to-scream winter activity? Dump them at my sister-in-law’s house? Just kidding! My kids love to go to crazy places like Monkey Joes, Chuck-E-Cheese and Plaza Fiesta. It does help burn some of their energy.
Favorite family-friendly restaurant?
Having lived in a few other cities, I think that is something that Charlotte needs more of (at least in my part to town). Our most frequent spots would probably be Moe’s and Hawthorne’s Pizza.
Favorite date-night spot?
Sullivans is our splurge place. It never disappoints. Other than that, we try to vary it up and try new places when we can.
Favorite GNO activity?
I love to go try a new restaurant with my girlfriends and sit and drink wine (or martinis) and talk for hours. Our last GNO was at Vivace, and it was really good. However, the best is going on a weekend away – which we don’t get to do often enough.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
They crack me up all the time, and of course I can’t think of much of the top of my head. A few months ago, Davis was telling me about his girlfriend at school and how he was going to marry her. Molly looked at him with this sweet, hurt expression and said “But Davis, what about me?”
Best kids birthday party you’ve ever attended/hosted?
I love the Harris Y parties. When my son was 3, we had a Batman party, and we paid a little extra to have Batman appear at the party. Whoever they used (a teenager) was totally into it, and the kids were completely spellbound. Davis still talks about it. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do for Molly’s 4th birthday – she’s very girly. I’d love some ideas!
Best place to get a children’s birthday cake?
I make my own cakes. I took a class at Michael’s a few years ago, and I love to come up with new designs. My favorite cake to make is the princess cake with the doll sticking out of the top and the skirt as the cake.
Favorite place to get kid’s clothes?
I am very lucky to have some good hand-me-down sources, so I don’t have to buy a lot of clothes for the kids. When I do, I like Target, Old Navy, ebay, consignment sales, etc. I’m not a big spender.
Favorite place to get kid’s shoes?
Here I will spend money sometimes. I like Kixx and Tootsies Too, but I have also found some cute shoes at Target.
Best book you’ve read lately?
I love to read! Recent good ones were The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Fault Lines by Nancy Huston and American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. Loved all of them. PS I recently vowed to stop buying books, and I get all of my books from the library. They make it so easy – you can request the books you want online, and then they send you an email when it comes in. Even when you are really far down on the waitlist, the books come pretty quickly.
I rarely see grown-up movies anymore! I prefer to rent tv series. We recently watched all of the past seasons of Weeds, which was great, and now we’re making our way through Mad Men.
Favorite CSP article?
I can’t single one out, but I love the articles where moms share their collective wisdom, like summer reading lists, shopping lists for Trader Joes, recipe ideas, places to take kids, etc. CSP is a great resource for stuff like that.
Minivan or SUV?
Minivan. Never thought I’d drive one, but I love it. Once I got over the “not cool” issue, I realized that it is the most practical car for my current lifestyle. The only time it bothered me was when I drove up to my 10-year law school reunion – I was actually self-conscious about it, but then it just became the big joke and nobody cared!
I wish someone told me sooner about…
…how to get my kids to be better eaters. I think I have not done well in this category. My son has a dairy allergy, so I have always been limited in what I can feed him. Now he seems to be outgrowing it, but I find that I still often make a separate meal for the kids. I’m working on changing that situation, but I appreciate any advice!
I could not live without…
…my blackberry? I know that sounds awful, but the way I make part-time work is by being able to look like I work more than I actually do. My blackberry allows me to respond to a lot of work issues while I’m sitting at the pool, in carpool line, etc.
Thanks, Meredith, for living Smarty every single day! If you have a Smarty Mom or Dad, please email us!
Tomorrow is your last chance to register for the Zoe’s Kitchen Giveaway of the Week: This Smarty Giveaway is one you can really sink your teeth into! Our friends at Zoe’s Kitchen are giving one lucky Smarty one month of lunch for two every, single day! That’s 60 free meals, Y-U-M! Now grab your hubby or Smarty girlfriend and get over to either location, Metropolitan Midtown or Blakeney, and enjoy! Click here to enter to win one month of lunching at Zoe’s Kitchen, but hurry, you only have until Sunday, 1/17 at 10p! Big thanks to Zoe’s for such a fabulous and delicious giveaway and good luck, Smarties!