Michelle and I went to high school together. (Class of 95 Rules!) Michelle was the talented one of our class. She is an amazing singer and actress. She really made our school plays awesome. Michelle is what some would call a "go-getter". She is driven and determined and accomplished. She runs the parenting site Mommyhood to Hollywood, where she graciously let me write articles. As she works hard to further her career, she still manages to be a very hands-on Mom to her daughter. She makes the balance between work and Motherhood look easy.
Michelle took some time to answer a few questions for me.....
How many kids do you have ? Will you have more?
We have one child, our daughter Madison and yes we definitely want more.
What are your feelings on helicopter parents?
I think I may be one of them-lol. Madison is our first and only child so of course we, mostly me, closely monitor everything she does. Do I hover? Yes. Do I think I will learn to let go a bit? Of course. As for other parents, to each their own.
Are you a Nap Nazi? Stickler for routine and schedules
Yes I am. I’ve let go a little on the napping because Madison rarely does nap anymore when we put her down, but I still try. Routine and schedules have always been important to me.
Most surprising thing about parenthood?
How exhausting it is! People tell you that you will be tired, but you never do comprehend it until you become a parent. It’s both physically and emotionally draining, but it’s still the most worthwhile experience.
Is your partner the type of parent you imagined them to be?
Yes. My husband Mark is a very hands-on-dad. My only complaint is that I wish he would give more baths! Other than that, he is everything I imagined and Madison adores him.
Where did your kids names/nicknames come from?
I have no idea! I just come up with these random nicknames and they usually rhyme. Like our dog Monty, I call him Monty Bonty. He was our first baby, our doggie son. Now that we have Madison, I call her Munchkin Bunchkin. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but these rhyming nicknames just fly out of my mouth. As for their real names, well have you noticed a trend? All of our names start with the letter “M.” Yes, we’re one of those families, but I love it: Michelle, Mark, Madison, and our dog Monty. Yes this is an annoying trend that will continue.
Did you enjoy pregnancy?
Yes I loved it. The only thing I didn’t like was the Charly Horse cramps I would get in my legs in the middle of the night. They were the most excruciating cramps I have ever felt in my life. One woke me up in the middle of the night and I screamed. I screamed so loud that I scared the crap out of my husband and out of our poor dog too, who jumped from his own bed as well.
What’s the best parenting advice you have ever received?
Trust your gut instinct, it’s usually right.
What is your favorite baby gear? Must haves?
The baby carrier, specifically Baby Bjorn or what my husband calls the ‘Static Cling Baby.” It’s great for traveling, walks, and food shopping.
What is your parenting philosophy?
I’m a very hands-on-mom. I don’t know if I necessarily have a philosophy, but I do believe in being very active in my child’s life, I want to be very connected and communicative with her on a verbal, emotional, and physical level. This is very important to me. I think children need a lot of love and a lot of affection. There is a children’s song that says, “4 hugs a day, that’s the minimum, 4 hugs a day, not the maximum.” That’s me, 4 hugs a day would never be enough for me to give my daughter. She gets hugs and kisses from me all day long.
When you were 16 did you imagine your life would end up where it is now?
No. I thought I was going to be a Pop Star living in the Hollywood Hills married to Johnny Depp. I think my life turned out much more meaningful.
What is the ideal Mother’s Day gift?
Spending the day with my family with a homemade gift from my daughter and a brunch put together by my husband.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship after kids?
Quickies. Ha! Ha! Sometimes that’s all you have time for, however date nights work too.
Life is more stressful now and less carefree. Before we had kids we were a lot more self absorbed and had time to go out and just have fun as a couple. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your kids and their needs and routines once you have them and make that the main focus of your lives. However, I think my husband and I have learned to balance it and can still find couple time for one another. We’re just planners now, we can’t just pick up and go wherever and whenever we want anymore, but we’re okay with that.
What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
Family outings like going for ice cream is always fun. Snuggling with my Munchkin Bunchkin is always great too. The simple things mean the most to me.
What was your favorite book from childhood?
The Hungry Caterpillar.
How do you deal with discipline in your house?
Discipline usually starts with a firm talking to and/or a warning. If that doesn’t work, then a time-out usually does. We use the 1-minute per year method. She is 3 years old, so she gets 3 minutes of time-out. We do not talk to her until her time-out is over. Once it is over we get down to her eye level, explain to her why she is on time-out, and we also explain to her how her actions that led to time out made us feel. A time-out conversation may go something like this.
Me: “You’re on time-out because you hit mommy when mommy said you couldn’t play with that toy anymore. Why did you hit mommy? (I would ask her something like this, so that she can learn to verbalize her emotions that led her to wanting to hit me). Do you know that when you hit me that hurts my feelings and it hurts my body too? Hitting is not nice. We should never hit anyone. Doesn’t it make you sad if one of your friends hits you? That’s why we should not hit."
Usually she answers the questions that I am asking. She often offers an apology for whatever it is she is on time-out for. When she does apologize, I say “Thank you for saying sorry.” I never say, “That’s okay.” We always end a time-out with a big hug and I always tell her, “I love you,” she usually tells me she loves me too.
Do you have a picky eater? How do you handle that?
Madison can be a picky eater. If I allowed her to only live off of macaroni and cheese then she would. I used to hide vegetables in her food, but she quickly caught on to that. I just try to show her how we are eating the vegetables and how yummy they are. This works sometimes. Other times I resort to if you want an ice cream sandwich after dinner, then you need to eat your broccoli, that usually works much better-lol. Sometimes I find myself singing Yo Gabba-Gabba to her, “Try it, you’ll like it.” Yes, it’s a work in progress.
What is your favorite meal to make for your kids?
French Toast with blueberries and strawberries. We love breakfast in our family.
Where do you go first when you need parenting advice?
My mom, my friends who are mothers, and of-course my husband and I rely on each other as well.
Who is your Mom-spiration?
There really isn’t just one mom who inspires me. There are several mothers who inspire me for different reasons and I learn what I can from each one of them.
I asked Michelle's BFF Celina (also a high school friend) to share a few thoughts on Michelle as a Mommy...
"Michelle and I have been friends since childhood and I really got it yesterday. Michelle is a MOM. Her daughter is 3 but it just hit me yesterday, the difference between MOM and Mother. When Madison was having a difficult moment yesterday at a birthday party she seemed almost inconsolable, and meltdown that only a MOM could handle. After only a few words away from everyone Madison came back feeling much better and ready to enjoy the rest of the party. I don't have the first clue as to what she said. I do know that Madison has an amazing MOM. Mom's are a calming force. Your touchstone when all is a mess and you can't make sense of anything. A Mom is always there no matter what, and that is what Madison has in Michelle."