Smarties, I’m so, so excited to introduce to you our newest Smarty Mom: Kiara Harlow! You might recognize her name already because we’ve featured her some in the past, whether she was dishing about her decision to have a “mommy makeover” or giving us great advice on what we can teach our kids about Black History Month. She also happens to be a personal friend of mine, a fellow mom of three young boys. I think you’ll find that her spirit and attitude are contagious! If you’re like me, you want to be around Kiara, or at the very least living vicariously through her! Without further ado, find out for yourself!! – Smarty Carroll
Meet Smarty Mom: Kiara Tucker Harlow
Husband: Justin Harlow
Children: Remington (6), Chandler (4), Langston (3)
Hometown: Elgin, S.C.
Alma Mater: Emory, USC Law
On how she ended up in Charlotte: After my husband finished UNC Dental School, we both thought our hometowns would be the perfect places to settle down. His is Atlanta. Mine is just outside of Columbia. Not exactly similar…so we chose Charlotte as the perfect middle ground! And it’s been very, very good to us.
On why she decided to become a stay at home mom: Fun fact: I had my dream job for six years. Legal recruiting fell into my lap after a fated conversation at a Charlotte Chamber mixer. I worked with the best, funniest, brightest people, doing challenging work, at an exciting pace, in an office less than 10 minutes from my house. Then I had a baby, and everything was great. Then I had another one, and everything was even greater! Then I had a third baby 16 months after that. And a pandemic hit. And I was supposed to work from home in our bungalow in the city with three kids, ages 3 and under running around. And things were less than great. I realized everything that I was missing out on in the day-to-day with the boys, how short life can be, and that there might be even more joy and calm waiting for my family if I was personally handling more at home. So despite having the world’s best nanny, by the time August rolled around, I put in my notice and started my stay at home adventure!
About her husband’s public service and what she learned during that time: He served on the Charlotte City Council (from 2017-2019) representing District 2, while getting our first dental practice off the ground, as we welcomed our second son. It was a BUSY season and I spent a lot of time solo parenting. While those were definitely dark days on the family front, I learned to find joy in the little things and how to successfully manage taking care of the kids on my own. And I’ll always be grateful for that lesson.
On working as part of her husband’s dental office: I handle HR, benefits administration, and payroll for our two practices. It sounds like a lot, but it’s a small role right now. But I foresee my position growing once the boys are all in full-day school.
About their decision to move their family from uptown Charlotte to Steele Creek? We bought a house in Biddleville when we were brand new to Charlotte, expecting to live in it a few years. Fast forward eight years, three kids, and one pandemic, and we were bursting at the seams. Once the kids were kicking balls over the fence numerous times a day and learning to ride their bikes on basketball courts in the park, we knew it was time to explore a new option. Steele Creek made sense because Justin was already commuting there for work, and we found a great lot where we could build the house that I dreamed up and sketched on a piece of computer paper at the height of the pandemic. This house—with its double washers and dryers, big backyard with pool, wraparound deck, and dedicated UPSTAIRS playroom—is perfect for our family in this season. So while it was painful to leave the idyllic neighborhood we had and all the close friendships we had cultivated over the years, I know that we’re in the right spot for now. And I’ve made it my passion project to build community in our new neighborhood. I’ve started small with ice cream socials, wine nights, and texts when I’m headed to Trader Joe’s to see if they need anything. And, you know what? It’s working!!
On navigating marriage with three kids: We are far from perfect, but my favorite things about our marriage right now are our weekly date nights (we have a sitter every Wednesday from 5-10 p.m.,) cultivating new hobbies together, and taking spontaneous trips. I struggled with deciding not to have any more babies, but the newfound freedom we have and the ease that we’re able to enjoy—as a couple and with our kids—is truly lifegiving and validates our decision to stop at three.
Smarty lightening round
Favorite place to take kids for activity or playdate: Discovery Place, if it’s raining; Carowinds if the weather is great. We have memberships to both, which takes the pressure off. We can go for an hour or two, enjoy ourselves, and not feel forced to stay all day to “get our money’s worth.”
Go-to spot on date night: The Bar at Supperland— drinks are delicious, it’s totally Instagramable, and the vibes are always on point.
Go-to for girls night out: El Puro for Cuban tapas, excellent music, and fun cocktails.
Favorite vacation spot: Turks and Caicos! We took the kids on a whim during the pandemic and fell in love. We even matched our pool color to the water there. We’re going back with our friends on a couples-only trip later this year, and it’s guaranteed to be a blast!
Last trip you took: The hubs and I met our besties in Napa last month. We stayed in the cutest condo on Coombs Street within walking distance to downtown, drank ALL the wines, visited the swankiest wineries, ate delicious food (including a Michelin-starred meal,) and stayed up late playing cards and catching up. It filled my heart to bursting and recharged us both.
Best place to find boys clothes: A close friend of mine has three sons with the same age gap as my boys, so I actually get most of their things second-hand from her. It’s perfect because she has great taste, it’s sustainable, and I can release the anxiety of them ruining expensive things. But we do have a fun beginning-of-summer tradition where the boys each get $100 to buy their summer play clothes.
First place you’d take a visitor to Charlotte: I want to take them Uptown for international tapas at Essex, right at the intersection of Trade and Tryon. Then we’re buying flowers off the street and heading to the Whitewater Center for live music and yoga.
Best part of being a mom of all boys: Their chaotic energy matches mine! A lot of our life also involves being outside, and I love that.
On what you love (and hate) about social media: I love the community that social media provides. When I was new to the stay-at-home gig, I had no idea how to structure my days. It was so helpful to talk to other moms about what works for them and to have someone to talk to when there were lulls in the day. My Instagram (@ourharlowhighlife) is filled with all the everyday magic I get to experience with my boys and all the random things that are going on in my life. You’ll get a lot more from my stories than my posts, but it’s all a reminder that joy is happening right now. My plan is to archive my page eventually and save it for the boys, so that they can know how loved they have always been and understand me better when they’re older.
Last book read: “All About Love” by Bell Hooks was a Valentine’s Day gift from my sister. It’s a great read that outlines steps for society to become more loving and nurturing. A lot of the advice can be transferred to parenting, which I found really helpful.
Finish this sentence: I hope my boys…. “hunt down delight in everyday and never wait for some theoretical future time to be happy.”