This week’s Featured Mom is Jen Berry, a part-time nurse and full-time supermom to three and a half year old twins Lila and Tyler. She has graduated from breastfeeding and cloth diapers for two to making her own chicken stock and taking care of other new moms like Mom Meet Mom co-founder Julia. Jen makes excellent posole, and isn’t afraid to use it.
Tell me a little about who you are, and what got you to your current mom universe?
I am a mom of 3 1/2 year old twins. I like to describe myself as a “nurse disguised as a stay-at-home mom”. I am currently not employed, but I have worked part time since having my children. I always thought that I would go back to work, but financially having two children it didn’t make any sense for me. Then I found that I really enjoyed being home with my kids. When I did go back to work, temporarily for about 6 months, I saw how difficult it can be to balance work and home life.
Being a mom to multiples carries unique challenges right from the outset. What were the biggest challenges for you?
Twins are definitely a challenge, especially early on. I think that the biggest challenge that I have found is finding individual time with them. So much of our day to day life is spent together and it can be difficult to find the time to make for one-on-one activities, but I feel like this is so important to them developing their own sense of self.
How did being a twin help prepare you for parenting twins?
The greatest advantage to being a twin myself is that my own mom is a tremendous source of advice and help. Having been there herself, she is a great resource for some of the specific challenges of parenting twins. Having said that, all children are different and that is probably what I am most sensitive to raising my kids. It always bothered me growing up when someone would refer to my brother and I as “the twins”. It is a unique relationship that we share as twins, but my brother and I are very different people. I try to recognize that my children have different needs even though they are the same age and I try to foster their individual talents and strengths.
How long was it after Lila and Tyler were born that you were able to really get out of the house? And did that impact your ability to make mom friends?
The logistics of life with infant twins is a challenge. I remember feeling like going to the doctors office felt like an amazing feat. My babies were a few weeks old before my husband and I would venture out for short trips and it was more like a couple of months before I would go places or run errands with them on my own. Thankfully there are great products now for multiples like strollers and carriers that do make life easier. Having them in the middle of winter also contributed to us being home bodies for the first few months.
Are your mom friends pretty sympathetic to the differences between having one child and having two?
I am thankful that I have a great group of mom friends who have always been very supportive. It is funny, I hear from people, friends and complete strangers that they “always wished they had twins”. Having been there, I would never change it for the world, but it is definitely very challenging at times. People have this sort of fascination I think with twins and multiples, and I always think to myself that you should be careful what you wish for. It is very fun, but not easy.
What strategies do you use to make sure you get time for yourself?
As a mom it is hard to find time for yourself, no matter how many children you have. My husband and I find that making time for ourselves is important to not only our own sanity, but allows you to be a better parent. We try to allow each other time to ourselves at least a couple of times per month. I am also an early riser. Even though I am tired sometimes I find that getting up early before anyone in my house is awake allow me to get my day organized and have a little time to myself before the chaos of the day begins.
What’s your mom superpower – something you feel that you are particularly good at?
My biggest mom superpower is probably my organization. I am probably organized to a fault, but it makes me far less stressed out. I have a list for just about everything because I like to jokingly say that if it isn’t written down, it will be forgotten in my world.
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