A Q&A on parenting and life while raising children with my friend Kristen!
Traveling down the East Coast from Simsbury to New York City, the Q&A series takes a stop in The City That Never Sleeps to chat with my good friend Kristen. We’ve known each other for almost twenty years – ever since the first days of college! A lot has changed since then, but some things have stayed the same: our love of running, alternative and punk rock, and spending quality time together with friends.
Kristen lives in New York, NY with her husband and three children. As with all my Q&As, I hope this is enjoyable to read and also highlights a meaningful perspective on parenting. And be sure to check out Fatherhood in New York City: a Q&A with Eric – Kristen’s husband!
A big, heartfelt thank you to Kristen!
Peter: Readers might not know you as well as I do. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Kristen: My name is Kristen! I’m now a stay-at-home mom, and I used to be a dentist. I currently live in New York City with my husband and three kids: my older son (6 years old), my daughter (3 years old), and my younger son (1 year old).
What’s it like being a mom in New York City?
It involves a lot of walking!
We commute everywhere with a stroller. My husband has always joked that my stroller is like my SUV – I carry everything in it! That’s a big part of parenting in New York City – trying to figure out how to get all of the kids from one place to the next with the stroller. Anytime we visit the suburbs, adapting to having to use car seats and getting in and out of a car feels very strange!
There’s also lots of activities to do with children, and you tend to meet people very organically. People with kids are always around, and that’s very nice for us – you can just walk through the neighborhood and make a friend!
What’s your favorite thing about living in New York City?
The food! There are so many great restaurants, and you can have any type of cuisine at a high-level. And it’s always delicious!
If you could live anywhere else, where would you choose?
My husband and I visited in 2008 for 12 days. We went to Melbourne, and my husband played a poker tournament and we went to the Australian Open. The people were great, and the whole experience was just incredible! We actually said after the trip that it was the only place outside the U.S. that we would consider living.
Did your feelings about being a stay-at-home parent change after your first child was born?
The thing that surprised me the most was how much I loved being home with my firstborn, and being there for every little thing!
Before children I was a dentist, but I wasn’t very happy in the office where I was practicing. Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I decided to leave and take some time off to stay home with my newborn. The plan was to potentially look for a new dentistry practice that was closer to home and had a better commute.
Ultimately, I was so much happier as a stay-at-home mom than I ever was as a dentist – including the sleep deprivation and all the hardships of parenting. I did go on a few job interviews and got some job offers over the first couple years of my firstborn’s life, but each time I got an offer I wasn’t ready to go back to work. That’s why I’m still here – almost seven years later!
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your parenting style?
We ended up doing a lot more screen time than I would have liked. My oldest child did not watch any TV until he was two years old, and before the pandemic we limited screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
That all went out the window when coronavirus happened! There was no way I could entertain these children for all those hours by myself! So we now do a lot more screen time than we ever did in the past. I would like to go back to limited screen time, and often wonder how I’m going to get them used to watching less TV.
Which was the hardest transition for you – going from 0 to 1 child, 1 to 2 children, or 2 to 3 children?
I would say going from 2 to 3 children has been the toughest transition so far.
From a logistics standpoint, you get less of a break. Since it’s hard for one parent to manage all three children, downtime now consists of having one child and the other parent has the other two children. So we end up doing this “zone defense” a lot.
Going from 0 to 1 child in some ways was hard, but not as hard as I expected. It came very naturally to me.
What’s something you did before kids that you gave up, but secretly wish you could still do?
Running with other people on a consistent basis.
I still run, but most of my runs are alone or with a stroller now. I used to be a part of this running team – the Dashing Whippets. I would go to their training workouts and other team members were always at races. I really enjoyed the social and community aspects of the team. Even if I do a group run now, I rarely can do the social part because of the limited amount of time I have.
What has been your favorite child age so far?
I really like 2 and a half years old!
The twos get a really bad rap as the “terrible twos”, but if you meet them where they are emotionally (which is very challenging because they’re all over the place emotionally) I think it’s a great time because they’re really trying to express themselves and develop their personality. You can get more of a reciprocal relationship going with them.
What’s the best (and worst) children’s product you own?
The best is definitely our strollers. We actually have two BOB jogging strollers – both the single and double. The big tires in the city really make a huge difference, and they have a large amount of storage space underneath so you can fit everything you need.
These stroller clips are also great for hanging bags from the stroller handlebar, and these strap clips are amazing for keeping toys off the ground:
The worst is the Mamaroo. A lot of parents and their children love it and think it’s great…none of my kids could stand it!
Also, this isn’t a product, but another best is this YouTube video that plays high-contrast black-and-white images set to classical music. It’s actually bookmarked on my phone as “baby meltdown saver.” It’s really great for children when they’re really young!
What’s your favorite season to spend with your children?
There’s less going on – no school and fewer activities. You have more time with your children and can do things with them that you can’t always do during the rest of the year.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
Our older son used to have Pizza Friday at school last year. When the coronavirus pandemic started, we kept Pizza Fridays going. And we have kept Pizza Fridays going ever since!
What’s the spiciest thing your children have eaten?
We gave it to our older son and he was not a fan. However, he was a big fan of the spicy salsa at our local Mexican restaurant. We’d have to get two cups of it: one for the chips and one for him to drink.
Will your children be able to convince you to get a pet?
It’s not me they need to convince – it’s dad! And his answer is no!
What fictional characters do your children wish really existed?
My daughter: Peso the Penguin from The Octonauts.
My older son: Mr. Conductor from Dinosaur Train.
Green Day or Blink-182?
The Offspring or Weezer?
My Chemical Romance or The All-American Rejects?
The All-American Rejects.
Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi?
What do you think working parents should know about what it’s like being a stay-at-home parent?
Nowadays this perception is less common, but prior to social media I think a lot of working parents envisioned stay-at-home parents sitting around and not doing all that much. When you’re home it becomes 24 hours – there are no set hours for anything!
What advice do you have for other stay-at-home parents?
Make sure you have something that is still yours. Something that is only you. For me, it’s running.
Having alone time is a big thing, too. I need some “me” time, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes a day. I find that really rejuvenating!
Thank you, Kristen!
Share your thoughts with Kristen by leaving a reply in the comments below!
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