Kid Friendly: Nice to Meet You …

By Katie Hellmuth Martin

Hi, my name is Katie and I’m a mama of three kids (ages 1 to 8), wife to one man, a forever dog mom of one dog who was with me for 17 years, and a cat mom of two cats.

The Current asked me to write a kid/parenting column, and at first blush, I didn’t know if I’d have enough ideas. Now that I’ve said yes, the ideas are all around me, spoken to me by my kids as they mold the new way I see things.

By way of introduction, I’m a business owner, creator, writer, designer and tinkerer. I publish A Little Beacon Blog, and I own Tin Shingle, a training center for businesses, artists and makers. I also own Katie James, Inc., which produces couture branding.

The three amigos (Photo provided)

The latter business is super personal for me (James is my middle name). It started out as my designer label for sewn accessories I made and sold at markets. While my sewn-things-making life is dusty at the moment, I use Katie James to write off impulse purchases of fabric at Beetle and Friend in Beacon, as if I were still producing product. (Shhhh!) I now buy cheerful fabric to cover old furniture in my home that is doused in yogurt and spilled apple juice.

This is the second column I’ve written for a newspaper. The first was a love advice column I did in college called “Dear Trudy.” My hope is that “Kid Friendly” will be a love-inspired column about kids and the realities of having them.

To get things rolling, I thought I’d ask parents to share their responses to two questions. I’ll go first.

When was the first moment you felt like a mom?
That would be after days and nights of my first baby crying and eating a lot — at all hours. I couldn’t even make a 10 a.m. brunch at Homespun, which is within walking distance of my house, with my friend who also had a new baby. That made me feel like a failure.

Also, when people around me were telling me what to do, or at least strongly recommending something I did not agree with, I pushed back for the first time in my life and said “no” with assurance and without remorse. If they persisted, my answer was: “OK, you be in charge of the baby, and I’ll go to the store.”

What has surprised you the most about being a parent?
First: childcare. I work for myself, primarily so that I can be with my children. However, being with my children while working is nearly impossible. I grew up with my mom “staying at home.” She quit her job in advertising to raise kids, and sold Discovery Toys and clothing lines in our living room on the side. When I realized I needed childcare, it was a guilt-ridden and emotional choice, since I was “the boss” and no one above me was forcing me to come into work on a snow day.

Second: forgiveness. Growing up, there were things that frustrated me. Like when my mom would shuffle through her credit cards to find the right one at checkout. Now, I do that. Even worse — I do the Balance Transfer Dance on my phone if I need to quickly move money into the right account to check out. Or being hijacked in the car. “Don’t you want a smoothie at Beacon Natural while I get groceries?” or “Don’t you want a lollypop at Rhinebeck Bank after I make the car payment?” Yeah, I do all of those things now, which has broadened my understanding of my parents, and yielded greater love for them.

But enough about me. We’re going to be talking about kid-friendly approaches to life here! Off the top of my head, we can tackle entertainment, interior design, food, fitness, events, working-parent life, childcare. All the things we need to do in order to make kid-friendly work.

Email Katie at [email protected]

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