Kristin Wilson's blog has plenty of funny details about her family, but it's more than a personal blog. "The Not-So Stay At Home Mommy" is an incredibly useful tool for parents around the Triangle who want to branch out beyond their neighborhood park. Each entry reviews a park or other kid-friendly destination with an eye toward safety, amenities and -- perhaps most importantly -- the ability to keep kids' attention. So if you and your kids are sick of the same old places, spend a few minutes on "The Not-So Stay at Home Mommy" blog and you'll find yourself out of your rut in a hurry.
Q. Tell us a little about yourself, and about your family.
A. I am a stay at home mom (duh) in Holly Springs and former sports journalist. When we decided to have a family, I knew sports writing would have to be a thing of the past. My hubby (Brian) is a professional geologist and works long hours. Jordan (3) and Dani (nearly 2) are my little girls, and they are full of life, humor and energy! Jordan is a very sweet, caring, big sister who takes her job VERY seriously. She cuddles, coddles and picks on Dani like a pro! Dani is the stereotypical little sister, feisty, constantly moving and always up for a challenge or new experiences. She almost afraid of nothing, which is terrifying but really fun. I am a tomboy and didn't know what I'd do with a bunch of girlie-girls, but I didn't get them! My girls are rough and tumble and love kicking a football or throwing a baseball as much as diapering a "baby" or playing with Barbies. I am absolutely in LOVE with my girls, and while I would love to go back to work I am not sure I could tolerate the "politics" of office life after seeing their smiles and ALL of their major milestones right in front of my eyes. Sometimes I sit in bed in the morning, planning what fun we will have that day, and I have to fight to keep myself from waking them up to see them.
Q.When did you start "The Not-So Stay at Home Mommy," and why?
A. My best friend, Stephanie, works full-time and more. She joked one day that if she ever got to stay at home with her daughter she'd have to call me to find out where to go every day. With her in mind, last spring I started writing about the places I love the most, so she and other moms like her can enjoy what the Triangle has to offer for parents and their kids. And there really is a lot! As many places as I have written about, there are as many out there to visit and even more I don't know about. I always chuckled, though, when I told people I was a stay-at-home mom, because I never felt like I was home with my kids. Also, I am a bit competitive and wanted to find the hidden gems of the area before my mommy friends did. But as I quickly learned, the best activity ideas I got would come from my mommy friends. (shrug)
Q. Where do you get ideas for places to visit?
A. The BEST place to get ideas for activities is to ask other moms and dads. They're BY FAR the best resource. I learned about Pullen Park from a friend of mine who dragged me there. Of course, now it's my favorite. From there, I just started visiting the places I knew and talking to people about where they go. I heard about RDU's Observation Park from a mom in my neighborhood whose kids are a bit older than mine, and that's a fantastic park for little ones. The list goes on ... the best places come from moms (and dads, too). I will also cross three lanes of traffic (safely, of course) to visit a place I never knew was there. I am not much of a planner, so these tend to be the most comfortable, successful trips we take!
Q. Your blog is enormously helpful to other moms looking for things to do outside of the house, but how has it helped you?
A. First of all, I have met some amazing women and their children and also a few great dads. Really, I've learned that the more I think outside the box, the more my kids think outside the box and are willing to try new things. They are braver, more apt to walk up to someone and ask them to play because we're not seeing the same kids over and over. But I also learned I don't have to run around all over town, either, to please my kids. Sometimes the best days are the days when I stay at home, cuddle up with a stack of books and puzzles and just enjoy my kids!
Q. So of all the things you've tried and places you've visited in the Triangle, what's your favorite destination when you're with your little ones?
A. I love Pullen Park. It's absolutely fantastic on the weekdays. It's like an inexpensive amusement park for really little kids. The jungle gyms are wonderfully varied, and the sandboxes are phenomenal. But the best part is, my kids enjoy it for a different reason every time we go. We love the train, the carousel, the boat ride, too, but sometimes the kids just want to run around and it's even better for that! You cannot beat this park. However, my second favorite place is kind of unknown. It's a hidden gem, which is one of the reasons I started the blog so I feel like I should share. It's Kelly Road Park in Apex (or Kids Towne). This place is wonderful! You have to see it to understand, but it's built sort of like a castle or fortress and has so many different activities including sandboxes, tire swing, a mini "zip-line" like thing. I cannot even name them all! It's such a neat place and was built by volunteers. Love that!
Q. What place/activity was the biggest disappointment?
A. Well, Greystone Indoor Recreation area was just OK. I expected more for that huge hike and the way people talked about it. But it was fun enough and worth it to get out of the rain and house.
The worst experiences I've had are with the Fuquay-Varina parks. South Park would be the exception to this rule (so far). Unfortunately, it's not one activity but a group of parks that are simply not well maintained. There equipment is often dirty and pretty old, which cannot be helped in some cases, but there was glass and huge drop-offs in the equipment, and some of the playgrounds were beautiful but impractical. One of the slides in Fuquay was too scary for me to go down due to the slope and height. Understand, though, I am writing from the perspective of a mother with two pretty young kids. So not all moms would feel the same way.
Q. What's your favorite thing around here to do when you get a few hours to yourself?
A. That's a tough one. I don't get out much. My husband read this and joked, "Lie! You don't want people to think you're a one-trick pony!" But honestly, my neighbors are fantastic, so I often have a few glasses of wine with them. I am a runner, or used to be, so I like the Tobacco Trail and Harris Lake Park trails for running. Now that I cannot run I focus on food, and I love My Way Tavern in Holly Springs and Chow in Raleigh (Monday night Burger and Beer deals are amazing and you gotta try the wings and sweet potato fries). I wish I were more socially active, but it seems I live for my kids. And I am OK with that!
Q. What's the best parenting trick you've picked up?
A. I'm not sure this is a trick but more of a system/person to help your baby sleep. My first child slept like a dream! We didn't know how good we had it. But Dani came and was up every two hours for the first two months of her life. While this sounds pretty normal for some, I couldn't handle it with an 18-month-old toddler in the house and the baby. It just so happens one of my neighbors (now a friend) became a sleep coach and offered her services to my family. She taught me how to be consistent with Dani and slowly get her to sleep. Within two weeks of working with Irene (Gouge), Dani was sleeping seven hours straight and taking consistent naps. She was amazing, there for me whenever I needed to talk to someone or vent, and she is a wealth of knowledge and "tricks" to help you find the best way to get your baby to sleep. Loving-lessons.com is her website. She saved us. My husband and I had time alone together, I was taking better care of my toddler and Dani seemed to perk up and be a much happier baby.
Q. What's the best advice someone has given you about being a mom?
A. Give yourself a break. I still beat myself up about every little mistake I've made, but at the end of the day I let it go. I have to; I have all-new mistakes to make the next day. And don't be afraid to ask for help. It's amazing how many moms need help, and if you ask they feel like they can ask you to return the favor. So you're not only helping yourself and your kids but your friend and her kids.
Q. What's your least favorite part and most favorite part of mommyhood?
A. My least favorite part of motherhood is dinner. My kids are really frustrating at the dinner table. Breakfast I can handle, and lunch always flies, but dinner is a 45-minute exercise in futility. Sometimes I wonder why I even put food on the table; it just ends up on the floor or in their hair.
The best part about being a mom is the vulnerability my kids show to me. They fall asleep on you and drool and relax with in a way only mommy and daddy get to see. Last weekend my daughter had a 104-degree fever, and she did something we never allow, which is sleep in our bed. Daddy slept in another room. Dani (nearly 2) fell asleep face first on the bed and butt in the air. If I slid over in the bed, she somehow found her little body next to mine within minutes. She just wanted to know I was there. Of course I was!
Know a cool mom with a story to tell (or are you that cool mom)? We're always looking for new moms to meet! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.