Celebrating and honoring mom has a whole new level of meaning this year. After one crazy 2020, we know that moms have been in the trenches more than ever. We caught up with 3 moms from our own circle to check in on and celebrate how they've been able to stay sane in the past year. Scroll on to hear from Free Fly Ambassador Jenny Tates, Free Fly Design Manager Olivia and our FF Brand Specialist's mom, Michelle
Free Fly Ambassador and new mom as of last year, Jenny Tates.
FF: What has been the biggest struggle as a new mother having a baby during Covid?
Jenny: My mama bear instincts kicked in the moment we found out we were expecting - which were especially heightened during a global pandemic. One of the greatest challenges has just been finding the right balance between comfort in meeting new people (even family) and exploring new things but protecting our number one girl. Nothing about this has been easy but I wouldn't change the timing of it all if it meant meeting our baby girl in September 2020.
FF:How have you been able to recharge and find time for yourself?
Jenny: I have definitely been able to recharge and find time. My husband and I make a point to give each other that space whether it be a couple hours fly fishing, surfing, or just a few runs on the mountain. This past winter was probably the first real time I skied alone on a power day while my husband was at home with our girl - it was refreshing and just what I needed. I'm so grateful for our partnership and family.
FF: What advice would you give to other moms going through this crazy time?
Jenny: Listen to your instincts, hang tight, lean into your partner and other mom's during these unique times, remember the importance of self care. We're almost there.
FF: What are you most looking forward to this year? Any plans to get the little one out on the boat?
Jenny: We will definitely be getting our little girl on the water this summer as much as possible. We've already put a practice fly rod in her hands which she seemed to love (at least I like to think so). I can't wait to show her catch and release, waves, solitude, and everything that comes with being on the ocean. This girl is going to slay one day!
Free Fly design team lead, Olivia.
FF: We’ve been working remotely at Free Fly for over a year now - how has it been being at home with Thea and your husband and balancing your role as our Design Team Leader?
Olivia: What a year! It’s definitely had its challenges. While my toddler has crashed an occasional zoom, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we were able to adapt and find new routines both at home and at work. Routine and a strong support system have helped me stay sane and balanced, especially during this time with so much uncertainty. It also really makes me appreciate my relationships professionally, working with such talented people, and personally, I love lunches with my little one. I’ve really enjoyed spending extra time with my family — plus having a 10 ft commute has been amazing.
FF: What have been some of your favorite escapes (personal or family) during Covid and being a busy working mom?
Olivia: I’m so thankful to live in such a beautiful place like Charleston. Having to stay local, the beach and county parks have been my go-to escapes throughout the year. Getting out with the fam or even a solo walk by the water really helps me stay energized. My little one is such a water-loving, nature baby we try to get as much outdoor time as we can — luckily it’s warm here most of the year.
FF: What advice would you give other working moms to stay positive during this crazy time?
Olivia: Carve out time for yourself and let stuff go. My husband and I try to make as much effort for “me time” as we do for family time, even if it’s doing something small to enjoy every day. As a working mom during a year of curveballs, letting stuff go and focus on what matters most has helped me reduce unnecessary stress. While these aren’t new concepts, they’ve been great reminders for me to keep a positive outlook.
Michelle, mother of FF Brand Specialist, Connor.
FF: Travel and holidays have been uncertain this year. What has been difficult about having kids who live out of town?
Michelle: "I think the most difficult part of having kids living out of town has been the uncertainty of when I would next be able to physically be with them. My husband and I live in VA but our kids live in SC and NC. The impact of the pandemic on our family gatherings first hit me in the spring of 2020 when it became apparent that our children were not going to make it home for our traditional Easter celebration. Our son-in-law is in the army and is rarely allowed to travel far from base, and I initially did not feel comfortable traveling. While living in different states is hard, it is usually made easier if I have a date on the calendar for the next time I will be with my children, but that has not always been possible this past year."
FF: What have been some ways of overcoming that?
Michelle: "A few things helped us overcome the separation from our kids. Being able to see their faces through family Zoom or Face Time calls helped ease the heartache of not being able to hug or kiss them. Thankfully, we were able to meet our kids at a few Airbnb’s a couple times during the year. And since we couldn’t be together for Easter 2020, I invited some young couples from our church to come over for a picnic on our screened porch. While they could never replace having our own kids at home, the joy of having young people in our home was life giving. The other distraction was my pandemic purchase of a standup paddle board. The regular rhythm of being out on the James River or on a local lake without a mask, soaking in the beauty of nature, was extremely peaceful and restorative."
FF: What advice would you give to those kids with parents who are empty nesters?
Michelle: Three words: communicate, communicate, communicate! Try to return texts or calls as soon as possible and, if it isn’t convenient to return them at the moment, send a quick message letting your parent know when you will have time to call. If your parents have unreasonable expectations for communications, be honest about it and try to reach an agreement on how often you can talk. Call occasionally when it is not expected, boy will you earn many brownie points! Be empathetic if your parents express sadness about the amount of time between visits. They probably aren’t trying to make you feel guilty; they just miss you. But, if you sense they are trying to use guilt or shame to pressure you into seeing them more, gently call them out on it rather than enabling their behavior and ending up resentful Explain to them that missing you is ok, but shaming tactics will only harm your relationship. You may be surprised how much your parents are willing to grow and learn from their kids when their children express disappointment in a kind and loving way.
FF: What are you looking forward to this year?
Michelle: I am looking forward to being fully vaccinated at the end of April! Once Virginia has been opened up more (and more Virginians are vaccinated), I want to visit some favorite restaurants, continue visiting our favorite breweries, return to our favorite winery, and host several gatherings in our home. As the temperature climbs here in Richmond, I look forward to getting on the river with my standup paddle board and my favorite SUP pup, Murphy. My husband and I also have some short trips planned this year. We are heading to Charleston in June to visit our son and to New Hampshire later in the summer to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. And hopefully our twice-canceled dream trip to Scotland will actually happen in spring 2022.