This week, I am so pleased to present our Smarty Mom, Holly Dede, who I met through Charlotte Mothers of Multiples (CMOMs), an organization that supports and connects mothers of multiples in the Greater Charlotte area.
When I first moved to Charlotte, I found CMOMs and it was an amazing resource to connect me with other parents going through the same highs and lows that come with raising two or more babies at once. It helped me feel connected in a place where I didn’t have friends or family.
When I first met Holly I was in awe at how pulled together she was…fashionable, confident, upbeat and seamlessly pulling off being a mom to twins, running a successful real estate and home staging business, homeschooling her kids, traveling the world and volunteering her time to organizations like CMOMs. She’s an amazing mom and, more importantly, an amazing human being and I’m so excited to share some insight from Holly below…
Holly’s Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: The love of my life, Bernard
Mom of: Rocco and George
Years in Charlotte: 15
Hometown: Montgomery, AL
Alma Mater: Huntingdon College
What inspired you to get into Real Estate?
I have loved architecture, interior design, and landscaping all my life. I also naturally connect with people on a soul level, right where one’s home typically resides. So a career in Real Estate is a glove fit. It was so easy, I dismissed it as a career choice because I didn’t think of it as work. In retrospect, I see how I believed on some level the “responsible” thing to do would be to get a job with a bi-weekly paycheck and benefits. I got a great job as a corporate trainer, and I loved it, but I did not like how I could move mountains for my boss and only get a 3% raise, or be a top producer and still had to miss important life events to be at work. I am an entrepreneur at heart, and I love eliminating waste and bursting through glass ceilings at break neck speed. When I became a mother, I realized my lifestyle was designed around my work schedule, and it did not align with my passions in life. I thought about how if Rocco or George were grown ups and asked me if I thought it better to follow their hearts or sit behind a desk pushing emails, my answer would be 180 degrees different than what I was modeling for them. So I decided to pursue the career in Real Estate I’d shoved into the back corner of my heart. It was waiting for me all that time! That decision was the best one I ever made. It also set the course for many more, not only for myself, but decisions for my family, which empowered me to retire my husband from the restaurant industry to pursue his passion for travel and real estate, and for us to homeschool our boys, which is an amazing gift.
What is your secret to juggling a successful business and being a Supermom?
In one word, authenticity. My children inspired me to be true to my own calling. Real Estate was the one way I could serve my community by helping people through change in their lives, realizing and achieving their goals and dreams, and making financial decisions which help them thrive. When I began my career in Real Estate, I did not have any child care and my husband owned a restaurant, so I took them with me in a wagon to meet neighbors, pass out my business cards, preview houses, put up open house signs, tour new construction…I did deals on the playground. Of course, there are some things I do not invite the children to do with me, but I find a lot of value in allowing them to see service to communities, and so much of what I do falls into that category. My hope is service becomes a part of who they are because it’s all they ever will have seen. I also find it fulfilling to share a business with the world where a mom can create for her family a life by design, and to lead other women to do the same. I had to develop crystal clear clarity on my identity, my values, and my mission in order to find that authenticity. I would encourage every mother to recognize she is enough, just the way she is. Pay attention to those little things in your heart that spark your passions. They are there for a reason. That’s where your gift to the world lives. The more you live your passions authentically, the easier it will be for your children to pursue their own passions, and I think that’s at the core of what we all want as mothers.
Your family decided to homeschool you kids. What inspired you to do that and what has the journey been like?
As I grew my Real Estate business and Bernard was a restaurant owner, we came to a cross roads. Lots of things were going well. Our businesses were thriving. The boys were doing all their milestones and looking cute on facebook just like everyone else’s. Somehow, we found ourselves miserable. We were exhausted. We barely saw each other, never spent time with the boys unless we were stressed out, and when we looked at our life objectively, it was nonsense. We took some time of intense focus, and we established our family’s core. We imagined what we would spend our time doing if we only had a little bit of time, which clarified a lot and helped us see areas we were spending our energies on routines which were not benefitting us or contributing to anything we valued as a family. They weren’t bad, they just were unnecessary. Then we rearranged our family’s priorities to match our core and cut out everything else to make room for the things we did value. Out of all that work, we found we need to travel regularly to get away from minutia and recharge. We discovered we love exploring outdoors with our boys. When we began putting all the pieces together, it made more sense to homeschool because we can maintain our time freedom to travel, and we can teach them so many things through play. They are in Kindergarten, and I want them to be able to play long enough to fully investigate what makes their hearts soar, which doesn’t happen at this age in a desk. Amazingly, our homeschool journey began with a trip to the Aegean coast of Turkey and Bernard’s hometown, Izmir. How can I begin to describe the education opportunities there? One day we were in Ephesus exploring ancient Roman ruins, and the next day Bernard and the boys were catching sea urchins and releasing them again. We don’t plan to always go on big trips. There are so many places to see in the USA and even right here in Charlotte! As a curriculum, we have decided to start Classical Conversations, which is based on a timeline of history. Each week we attend a community group where the boys and we share ideas, do projects, and the boys do presentations on what they are learning. The group takes field trips to different events like plays, or hiking, or to exhibits related to the material. At home, we never say, “OK boys, time for your school work!” Instead, we may find a frog outside, research what kind of frog it is and learn characteristics of the frog, then tie that to something we’ve learned in Classical Conversations, then we may draw pictures of frogs or hop around the house like a frog and stick out our tongues pretending to be flies. This life is so rich. It took Bernard and me 7 years to have babies, and we had two at the same time. I just can’t imagine missing this part of their life. It’s breathtaking.
Do you have any advice for parents that are debating if homeschooling is right for them?
If you are considering it, keep your mind open and stretch yourself and consider the unimaginable. You can homeschool around any lifestyle or schedule. Homeschooling is not a one size fits all approach. I find a lot of parents are afraid they wouldn’t be able to teach their children. I fall into that category for sure, so I decided not to homeschool in a super structured environment, but to instead flood my children with opportunities and chances to explore those things which interest them. Kids ask a bazillion questions. Most of them I do not have any idea how to answer. So instead of panicking, I realized I can google things, pick out a book at the library, or find someone who knows and let the children discover the answers. Homeschool offers complete freedom to design your child’s education around the lifestyle you choose. Become very clear on what is bringing you value in your current lifestyle and schedule, and what is not. Bernard and I sold a restaurant because it did not match our true desire to share time and life with our children at their current age. We believe their very best interest is in spending time learning through unlimited play, and on our terms. Another thing I would offer is it is possible for homeschooling to be the best choice for your family now, and not later. Or for one child and not the other, so be open to all the layers of choices and think all the way through it, avoiding limiting beliefs.
You’re super active with Charlotte Mothers of Multiples organization. Can you tell us more about the organization and your role?
Charlotte Mothers of Multiples is the largest support organization for Mothers of multiple birth children in the United States. We support our members through socialization with other families who have twins, triplets, or quads, and we offer assistance for the needs of our membership community. What does that look like? We offer scholarships to members who want to start a business, or to member children with special needs, or to our member families who have fallen on hard times, and we also serve the community at large in ways that continue our own mission. For example, we participate in local charity events supporting premature birth, and other issues which are close to our members. I serve on our Executive Committee as the Vice President of Marketing, and my role is connecting our club to business sponsors whose products and services help our member families. I am constantly looking for businesses who would like to partner with us, and for an extremely reasonable sponsorship fee, I get the sponsor’s business information in front of our members and create ways for the business and our membership to interact for education, enrichment, and marketing. I would LOVE to know if any of your followers have a business they would like to share with us. I am happy to grab a cup of coffee and talk about how we can help each other.
How do you find the time for everything?
I don’t. I have the same 24 hours, wishing it could be 26 hours. If it were, I would wish I could have 28. I just pray a lot. I depend on grace, creativity and spontaneity to cover all the holes. For instance, today I had several deliverables for clients and I promised to get the Christmas tree. When I began the day, I found out a client needed some assistance getting a document sent from another country to their lender to get clear to close. Closing is tomorrow. So I shifted. I leveraged a few items which were phone calls and follow up to my assistant, spent whatever time was needed with my client at the lender’s office with all hands on deck, and got cleared to close with just enough time to meet Bernard and the boys at the Christmas tree stand. It was 5:00 traffic. So instead of freaking out that I had no time to make dinner, I pulled into the parking lot and ordered hot chocolate for the family and dinner from Amelie’s next to the tree stand. I was able to answer a few emails while I waited for my order, the boys got there, we got our tree, and they were super excited to have their hot chocolate as we all played hide and seek between the trees. There is never enough time. I find the best strategy is setting my intention 100% to serve whoever I have in front of me with my whole heart. There’s nothing to be crazed about when I focus on them, because everything always works out. And I get my share watching my clients jump up and hug their mortgage lender, and hearing my children’s belly laughter under the moonlight. My hands are full, but my heart is too.
Now, for the fun stuff!
Favorite Family Activity?
Favorite Kid-Friendly Restaurant?
Any brewery. They have yards toys, and Bernard and I can enjoy dinner while they act a fool in an appropriate setting for foolery.
Best Date night spot?
Any place with a ping pong table. Bernard and I are very competitive, and ping pong seems to make us laugh
Best Part of being in Real Estate?
The honor of holding people in a vulnerable point of change and seeing that process of growth manifest in the realization of lifelong dreams
Best Part of being a mom?
Knowing for two people on this planet, I am their safe place, and my greatest responsibility and pleasure is developing their essence
Twin gear you couldn’t have lived without?
That wagon I dragged them around in!
Favorite Organization tool?
My notebook. I keep it with me and write notes for everything.
Favorite self-care activity/ritual?
Getting away and putting my technology out of reach for the day to go on a hike with Bernard.
Charlotte’s Best Kept Secret?
Our Greenways. Not sure how many people think it’s a secret, but they are the best way to get a run in if you’re alone with twins because they can ride their bikes and scooters and you have to keep running to keep them in sight, and they are everywhere! I like to go to the Little Sugar Creek and start at Metropolitan and take it to Freedom Park, then have a little lunch in Dilworth before heading back. Talk about wearing some kids out and family fun time!!