The suburbs are vast and everyone is looking for that parent that’s just like them. This month we’re taking a look “Behind the Trike” and meeting the parents who bring Lake County to you everyday. Today we’re meeting one of our newest contributors, Maureen, a “Mom Raising an Active Family.”
Many folks may know you as the former owner/operator of Stroller Strides. What prompted you to leave the business and how’s life changed for you?
Owning and operating Stroller Strides was the most amazing experience, and I loved the more than 4 years I spent as a fitness instructor and small business owner. But, as with many businesses focused on young children, it was exhausting to recruit new clients and remain profitable. Children grow, they get sick, and they change schedules constantly. I felt great every day I showed up to teach a Stroller Strides class. But the demands of finding locations in the winter, the expenses of maintaining locations, insurance and certifications, and the pressure to make sure a class was provided, regardless of if my kids were sick or busy, or wanting to take a vacation, etc., became overwhelming. In the end, I found that I spent a large portion of my day focusing on Stroller Strides, for a minimal financial contribution to our family. It was clear that I could be a better mom and wife if I wasn’t so focused on my business. I miss the classes and the friends I made dearly, it played a pivotal role in my motherhood experience.
What’s your workout routine these days and how do you fit it in with 4 kids?
I do whatever I can to make time for fitness in my day. Everyone in my house now sleeps until at least 6:30am most days, so I set my alarm for 5:45, and get up and do a 15-20 minute workout DVD, every morning. It took some getting used to, but I find that is the only way I can guarantee that I will get exercise, and it makes me such a better person. I feel awake and happy when my kids get up, and ready to start our busy morning routine. In addition, my 20-month old twins are just starting to tolerate the gym babysitting room. I try to take them twice a week to the gym, so I get a little break, and it’s a fun outing for them. I’ve never been a big fan of the babysitting room, but I do think a break for mom and kids is good occasionally. Some days I bring the stroller to the mall and walk for 45-minutes, and then let the boys play in the play area. Other days I focus on flights of stairs in the house while I clean. I aim for 25, or 50 flights of stairs in a day, just to keep me active. And as soon as this snow melts, I will be out with the stroller for a walk or a jog, probably every day.
3 words to describe raising 1-year old twins?
Crazy, chaotic, fun
Best advice for a mom expecting multiples?
Take a deep breath and relax. Juggling two or more babies is not easy, but trust your instincts and go with the flow. The first year is very hard, so you need to do whatever you can to get through it. Ask for help and don’t be afraid to admit you need help. And if you can get the babies on the same schedule, that’s a bonus. It took me about 10 months, but once we got there, life was easier.
What’s your favorite Lake County activity for the whole family? What makes it appeal to mom, dad, the older kids as well as the twins?
We are a bibliophile family, and take a trip to the library at least once a week. The twins and I try to take in one or two story times a week at different libraries, and we bring the big kids most weekends to check out books, or to a programming event. The library is free, and it’s such a calm and peaceful place. My older two kids love to read, and we check out about 20-30 books a week. The story times and programming at the library offer socialization and learning, without the hefty price of many other activities for kids.
Where’s your favorite place to dine out as a family?
This is kind of embarrassing, but our favorite dine out right now is Costco! We have found that all 4 kids enjoy the Costco cheese pizza. We’ll go shopping on a Saturday night and load up on our healthy produce, fish and meat for the week. Then we order a cheese pizza and ice cream from the deli and sit and eat. The older kids think it is the best dinner, the twins love sitting in the shopping cart and being fed pizza, and my husband and I can feed the whole family, with leftover pizza to bring home, for about $15. Besides that, we like to refer to the Little Lake County Kids Eat Free page in the event we go out to eat (which does not happen very often).
What do you to do recharge?
I recharge each morning with my cup of coffee and my 20-minute workout. A walk outside on a nice day will always boost my mood. I also love reading a good book, and meet once a month with a great group of women for a book club. Once or twice a month I sneak out to play Mah Jong with another great group of women. I don’t stress out too much about finding “me” time, I know my kids are growing quickly, and soon enough I will have all sorts of time to fill without them around.
Maureen calls Vernon Hills home and four children call her “Mom.” With children ages 8, 6, and 20-month old twins, Maureen is a busy Stay-At-Home Mom, who dedicates herself to modeling an active lifestyle for her family.