We want to hear how you do it, Moms! Are you a mom in Edmonton, a career mom, a stay-at-home mom, an entrepreneur mom, something somewhere in between? Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be profiled!
Tell us about you, your children and where you live
Hi, my name is Sarah Chesterton. I’m 31 years old (or 29 – take your pick!), and I, along with my wife Lynn and our 2 and a half year old son Noah (also known as captain awesomepants, turkey-butt, or monkey-baby), live in a townhouse in south Edmonton where for the past year and a half I have run my home business – Duck and Goose Dayhome. On any given day, between the hours of 6am and 6pm, I have my own son as well as between 4 and 6 children, currently aged 2-to-not quite 4, keeping me running with their boundless energy, curiosity, accidents, successes, creations, and play.
Do you have help? (incl childcare, housework, personal assistant)
Yes, absolutely! Although it tends to be more mental than physical, and more of a reprieve than a take-over. I take care of up to 7 children every day. That’s a lot of work! Good work, and sometimes even great work! And also sometimes exhausting work. Hard work. More mentally than physically. So every once in a while Lynn has a day off, or starts work later, and she helps me entertain everyone or takes Noah to do something special so I can focus more on everyone else. Usually once a week my Mom will come by when she’s done work, and the kids get so excited to see her! They all call her Grandma, and take turns climbing in her lap for stories, or making her “tea and food”, or playing trains with her. I don’t find I need the help to keep up with housework, or keep track of appointments and playdates, or even to do the basic care that all the kids need. But every once in a while the mental break is nice. Someone else steps in for a moment so that I can regroup for all those other moments. Or even just so I can go to the bathroom without 7 toddlers knocking on the door asking if I’m peeing on the potty, and if I’m done, haha!
I keep up my close friendships, and even if my best friends are too far away to do more than offer an ear or advice when I need it, that still helps. And I am part of a thriving community network of moms, on Facebook and Twitter, who I can turn to for almost anything from the various uses of coconut oil, to where they serve the best coffee in Edmonton, to what to do with toddler potty-regression!
Reading. It’s my little escape when everyone else is occupied with something else, or when the kids are all asleep. During the school year, one of my favourite moments was right after all the kids currently in the house would fall asleep, when I would sit on the front step with my coffee, phone, and a copy of Robertson Davies’ ‘Rebel Angels’, waiting for my last kids to get home from school so I could start their lunches and activities.
Extracurricular activities for you?
Self-care is so important, but it’s the one area that most of us moms are so very bad at! I don’t have any extra-curricular activities that don’t include my family, in one way or another. I am a member of the Edmonton Lesbian Book Club, whose books I do try to keep up with, but with the exception of one time, I haven’t attended since Noah was born. I love playdates because they are the perfect combo of me-time and baby-time.
Extracurricular activities for your babe/children?
Noah is only 2 ½ years old, and he’s a very family-oriented little guy, so no extracurricular activities that don’t involve a close family member yet. Also, he is still nursing between 4 and 6 times a day, and relies very much on that Mommy-and-Noah bonding time as part of his regular routine. But soon! He loves loves LOVES playing the guitar. And trains – one day you’ll find him conducting! But he’s a lefty. Not relevant to conducting trains, but very relevant for playing guitars. Right now he has a right-handed children’s guitar that we’ve just re-strung to be left handed. On his next birthday we’ll be giving him a proper left-handed children’s guitar, and hopefully signing him up for playing lessons! He gets such joy from watching his Grandpa and his Uncles playing, and he has tried to play and sing along since he was not quite a year old and first dragged his Grandpa’s spare guitar into his lap, so I think that’ll be something he grows up loving and wanting to do.
What does a typical family day look like to you (Saturday/Sunday)?
Being such a busy family during the week, there’s really no such thing as a “typical” family day on weekends. If both Lynn and I are off work, it’s the one part of the week where we don’t have to stick to a particular routine. We have family all over the place, so sometimes Saturday morning will find us in Red Deer or Saskatoon or even Valleyview! Sometimes we spend the day at Fort Edmonton Park, or the swimming pool, or picking food at a local garden. Summer is a bit of a gong show, but we try to do church on Sundays at least mostly-regularly, and we quite often find ourselves lunching with one set of grandparents or the other.
Who cooks dinner?
Truthfully, it’s whomever is least tired at the end of the work day. If I’ve had fewer kids, or we’ve had an unusually calm day then it’s me. If Lynn’s had a quiet day at work or was in meetings most of the day then it’s her – and sometimes Noah gets to help out a little too with mixing and stirring. We do a lot of prep in advance, and the rule of thumb is that if it’s not something you can prep quickly and then just throw in the oven, it has to take less than half an hour to cook, or it’s not happening. Children not leaving ‘til 6 means supper is already going to be at least as late as 7, and anything later means I’ll be trying to wake up to do dishes at 5am. So. We eat a lot of salads, chicken, and rice!
How does the grocery shopping get done, by whom, with the kids, and do you use coupons?
Grocery shopping is a family outing for us! We pile into the car, usually on Sunday afternoon, and head for the closest grocery store. Noah has to pack his little lunch box full of his toy trains, and tote that and his favourite stuffed animal (Tyrone from the Backyardigans) along with him, as well as his ever-present Diego hat! Realistically we should be a coupon-friendly family, considering the amount of food our little family and the dayhome go through, but we tend to shy away from newspaper subscriptions and flyers so we honestly don’t often see a coupon in our house unless it’s a coupon for juice that we got off the back of a cereal box. And even then, Noah prefers his Bolthouse “green juice”.
How often do you buy something for yourself?
My one regular concession to self-indulgence is coffee. Don’t mess with my coffee, seriously! As a parent and as a dayhome provider, I spend a lot more time buying things that will make a large group of toddlers (or just one particular toddler) happy than I do worrying about whether or not I need new shorts or a new phone – both of which I really do need, in case anyone is wondering! So I get to pick whatever kind of coffee I want for the week when we grocery shop – usually Kicking Horse Decaf – and I get to drink as much of it as needed (wanted) to remain a happy and productive member of society for the approximately 16 hours of the day where a small person is likely to be clambering over me, gleefully invading my space and trying to get me to smile with tickles and hugs and trouble.
Do you exercise and if so, how/when do you fit the time in to do that?
I am truly terrible at creating and sticking to a regular exercise routine! Trying to rouse myself in enough time to exercise before the first child arrives at 6am is a lost cause for me, and by the time my work day is done, supper is done, Noah’s bath and my shower are done, and the cleanup following the tornado known as Toddler is done, I don’t feel like doing much of anything but sitting down with Lynn for a few minutes of grown up time, or falling asleep with Noah when I try to get him down for the night, which he rarely does without one or both of his parents laying down with him at the same time, as we are a co-sleeping family. We do a lot of family outings like walks or swimming during the evenings/weekends though, and I like to pretend that between those and pushing a double stroller and packing a third / magically also holding on to at least two others to and from any dayhome outings, I get SOME exercise at least. Plus, any mom will tell you – toddlers are fast, so you have to be faster!
Labyrinth. It will never change. When I see that movie, it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I am thirteen years old again, stretched out on the floor of my parents basement with my best friend, eating blue candy sticks and reciting every line of that movie off by heart because it’s the fourth time today we’ve seen it. That movie shaped my childhood and my dreams. It gave me a love of fantasy and make-believe that only built on the imagination my parents tried so hard to give free reign. My favourite scene is that with the staircases all around, right side up, upside down, sideways and inside and out. It probably helped that at 13 years old I was likely harboring a pint sized crush on Sarah Connelly…
Favourite nookie song?
Hahaha! Really?! Wait – does nookie still mean the same thing it did 3 years ago? I’m just going to go ahead and assume it does, and I’ll apologise later if it doesn’t…
Okay, well, sometime after Noah was born (*cough-almost immediately – cough*) we went from having a soundtrack for *that* to having a soundtrack for naptime/bedtime. I can tell you what that is, if you’d like? For the longest time Noah would only go to sleep listening to me singing, and then it was the “I like the flowers” song, and then Mamma Mia, and now it’s one of the numerous Glee soundtracks. “Nookie” time has officially become a time of sneakiness, and that means quiet. My son is not exactly a heavy sleeper most nights, and after he’s been asleep a couple of hours, any loud noise or “disturbance in the force” is permission to wake up and attempt to declare play time…
Favourite beverage special coffee, cocktail?
I love my coffee. I think we’ve all gotten that by now, haha! But my favourite drink is actually water. No, really! It’s my go-to when I’m thirsty, hot, or tired, but also when I’m aggravated or angry or embarrassed. I go get a glass of water, and that time that it takes to pour the water and stand over the sink while I drink it gives me that few more seconds of calm to rally myself and get back to business. Sometimes it takes a couple of glasses.
Favourite pair of shoes?
I have 3 pairs of shoes. 2 pairs of flip-flops, and one pair of sneakers. If at all possible, I prefer my bare feet. In the summer shoes are hot and uncomfortable at best, in my opinion. And while I do love my flip-flops, if it rains they are completely useless. Slippery, soggy, and painful where they rub your skin raw. The last time I took my son to Fort Edmonton Park, grandparents in tow, we got caught in a thunderstorm. In my flip-flops. In his sweater. At one point he was wearing my jacket, and my parents were carrying him while we took it in turns holding an umbrella as I swung my flip-flops in my other hand and walked/ran over the sidewalks in my bare feet, having long since given up trying not to fall in a puddle in my very-wet footwear! Fun, and much more effective!
‘Cannot leave home without it’ item?
Cell-phone. Yes, it’s cliché, I know. It has all my work information in it, phone numbers for clients and family, apps to keep an angry toddler happy if necessary, Twitter (don’t roll your eyes – you know you love it too!), notes, etc. I can be accused of being addicted to my phone, and I won’t deny I probably get a lot more mileage out of it than is really necessary! It has all my son’s favourite music on it, including his naptime/bedtime soundtrack, and the once-upon-a-time “nookie soundtrack”. It’s been dropped (me), thrown (not me), dropped in the dog’s water dish (Noah), run over by the stroller (combined effort), sneezed on, chewed on, puked on (toddlers are great, aren’t they?), and it still works as well as it did the day I bought it. At this point, I’m starting to think it’s invincible, and it’s definitely earned it’s “cannot leave home without it” status! And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m looking into new phones!
Thank you for sharing with all of us Sarah! Thanks for being an Urban Infant reader!