Smart + Stylish Mom Spotlight: Managing Motherhood and Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Today’s smart + stylish spotlight is on Kristen Archer, a 29-year old publicist and owner of Precisely PR & Events who lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Ted, and daughter, Paris Franchesca (9 months).
I’ve actually known Kristen since she was about 12 years old. She and my sister, Jade, were best friends in middle school and Kristen has remained a part of our family since then. But it wasn’t until Kristen and I both became moms nearly two decades later that I really got to know her. Now, she’s one of my best mommy friends and closest confidants thanks to BambiniWare.
Our first business meeting (and yes, the babies came too!)
Although she’s been a phenomenal asset to BambiniWare, what impresses me most about Kristen has nothing to do with the work that she’s done. In the midst of being a fantastic wife, mom, daughter, friend, and now, mompreneur, Kristen’s also been battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 2011. She doesn’t let it stop her though; in fact, since she’s become a mom, Kristen is even more motivated to beat MS at its own game.
Kristen managing BambiniWare's booth at the 2014 DC Birth & Babies Fair
One thing that I’ve learned in my own journey through motherhood is that if you don’t take great care of yourself, then you’re no good for your child(ren). Kristen is a prime example of how you can face a serious health challenge, fight it, get knocked down, get back up, but not let it define you. In fact, if I had to create a dictionary entry for Kristen, MS would be at the very end. Yes, it’s part of her life, but she is fiercely determined not to let it take over her life or her role as a mother.
A pregnant Kristen managing the Team "Funk MS" at the annual MS Walk in 2013
In our interview, Kristen shares with me how she manages motherhood, MS and “me” time, all while maintaining her classically chic mommy style.
Riche: What's your favorite part of being a mom?
Kristen: My favorite part of being a mom is seeing the world through my daughter’s eyes. As she experiences things for the first time, she has this overwhelming sense of excitement that is both endearing and inspiring. It’s about appreciating the little things that, as adults, we often take for granted.
Riche: What's the smartest decision you've made since becoming a mom?
Kristen: The smartest decision I’ve made is two-fold—leaning on good mom friends and hiring a nanny—but it all has to do with it “taking a village” to raise a child. I’ve been blessed to have great friends (present company included) who are also amazing moms, and their help, support and advice is invaluable, even if it’s just to reassure me at times that I’m not crazy! I also cannot stress enough the importance of trusted care. Being able to hire a good nanny, who I can trust to keep my daughter happy, healthy and mentally stimulated throughout the day, enables me to do things that are important to me, and that will ultimately benefit my family.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do with your daughter?
Kristen: Paris loves being outside. She is so observant and interested in all of the sights and sounds of the great outdoors. I enjoy taking her for long walks in new places—from parks and ponds to city streets—and explaining to her what everything is. She may not “get it” just yet, but soon she’ll be telling me all about the flowers, trees, boats, babies, cars, statues and people she sees on our walks.
Riche: What's your favorite thing to do when you have some much-needed alone time?
Kristen: Honestly, I have to do better at taking advantage of my alone time for my own sanity, stress-relief and relaxation! I usually find myself doing laundry or something equally ridiculous! But when I’m really able to unwind, I enjoy reading a good book (I’ve become a pretty impressive speed-reader…motherhood will do that to you!) or enjoying a nice mommy manicure.
Riche: How would you describe your mommy style?
Kristen: I would describe my mommy style as classic…with a twist! I love a good loafer, ballet flat, or black dress, but I like to spice it up with a surprise stripe, neon, polka dot or animal print.
Riche: What's your secret to being a great mom and looking great too?
Kristen: Being a mom—especially a new mom—it’s easy to be bogged down by insecurities. Once you let go of what “the Joneses” are doing and focus on yourself and your little one, the stress magically dissipates. And the results can be experienced physically! I noticed in the beginning that I would get a cramp in my forehead from furrowing my brow; it was all of the pent-up worry that I was doing something wrong or somehow going to “break” my daughter. Letting that go, and drinking LOTS of water, have been the most surprisingly beneficial beauty routines I could have incorporated.
Riche: What's your best advice for moms who are working full time and battling health challenges?
Kristen: My advice to working moms battling health challenges is to know and accept your challenges and communicate, communicate, communicate. I was diagnosed with MS in 2011, and survived wedding planning, pregnancy, and now, new motherhood—all while working a full-time job and consulting on the side. MS has brought its share of difficulties—pain, exhaustion, memory issues, etc.—but it has also been a blessing in disguise in that it challenges me to understand my own needs more, and motivates my husband and me to communicate in instances where I would typically “go it alone.”
Once I understand where I need help, I can better communicate that to him and we can work as a team instead of me bitterly taking the peaks and valleys of working motherhood on by myself. For example, there are days when I may not feel comfortable carrying my daughter all day. I let him know that and he takes the lead with the physical stuff, while I do something else for her that is equally meaningful and gives me a sense of purpose. It’s a constant challenge, but not one that’s insurmountable.
Connect with Kristen on Twitter at @polkadotprose!
Hey Haute Mamas! I'm Riche Holmes Grant, a modern mom + mompreneur who designs smart + stylish products that make your mommy gig easier.
When I'm not busy taking orders from my #miniboss, I'm contributing to MarthaStewart.com or in the kitchen whipping up delicious family-friendly creations in my BambiniWare Apronini.
Get my FREE book on How to Make the Best Food for Your Baby here!
I live in the Washington, DC area with my husband and daughter. Follow our adventures on Instagram via @BambiniWareLife!
- Riche Holmes Grant