How to Be a Savvy Mom: A Chat with Sarah Morgenstern
All that is entailed in being a mom simply can’t be summed up in a sentence or two… but a whole website? Well, that’s more like it! If you’re a mom, you’ve likely encountered many fantastic websites and blogs out there dedicated to the needs of mommyhood: Everything from parenting to food to health to style. We recently learned that one of the most popular sites in Canada is Savvy Mom. So, of course, we tracked down Sarah Morgenstern, who co-founded Savvy Mom with Minnow Hamilton, to find out what inspired this duo to launch what has become a go-to resource for moms!
BT: Sarah, so great to meet you. Can you tell us a little about Savvy Mom and how your website got started?
SM: After my business partner Minnow and I, former university roommates, became moms, we realized that our to-do list was much longer than it had been before we were moms, and we were looking for tried and tested solutions to our everyday dilemmas. We figured other moms were looking for the same kind of information—were time-crunched and looking for a little entertainment too—so we set out to create what is now SavvyMom.ca. We really wanted to create the go-to resource for moms across Canada.
BT: Congrats, you’ve since become one of Canada’s most popular website for moms! What type of background expertise did you have, that helped make this happen?
SM: Our expertise was our experience as moms. We figured that if we were spending all this time researching ideas for family outings or family dinners or what was the best stroller out there, other moms were too and we wanted to help them. My background is actually in management consulting so I have a lot of experience in problem-solving and research—the motherhood and publishing stuff has been self-taught though!
BT: With such a busy work life, how do you balance a family with your career? Can you tell us a little about some of the major challenges you’ve faced and how you deal with those?
SM: Before starting SavvyMom.ca, I traveled for work 4 days a week and since we started SavvyMom, while the travel has been less, the hours remain long which is my biggest challenge. However, I find keeping organized and planning ahead to be the best tool for successfully managing family and career. Looking ahead at the week to decide which days I might want to leave the office a bit earlier to pick up the kids from school or take in a sporting event they are involved with allows me to plan my work accordingly. It's a challenge in the evening as the work is never done and it's a temptation to keep on the computer when I am home, but I make sure between 6–9 pm I am focused on the kids and their needs and then if I have more work to do, I do it when they are in bed. Now that my three kids are older I have started involving them in some of the family responsibilities such as making their beds and emptying the dishwasher so we can spend time together and get things done around the house too. I find it's a good time to connect with them and find out more about what's happening in their lives!
BT: What’s your secret for keeping family meals fun at home and happening on a regular basis? How important is this to you?
SM: Ever since reading The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier by Miriam Weinstein (and recommending this book on SavvyMom!) I have been very committed to ensuring we eat together as much as possible as a family. However, the kids' weekday extracurricular schedule is very busy—my son is a rep hockey and soccer player and my girls study ballet several nights of the week—so we ensure that on weekends we eat together as much as possible.
We've incorporated several traditions that the kids enjoy—they each take turns selecting the menu for our Sunday night dinner, and then help me shop and cook for the dinner. We also go around the table and reflect back on our week by each sharing two 'roses' (best thing that happened), and a 'thorn' (worst thing that happened) and then we share what we're looking forward to most in the coming week.
BT: What a great way to stay connected. Can you share one of your favorite family recipes with us?
SM: Most of the recipes I cook on weeknights need to be food that can sit on the stove being warmed so as the kids and their parent chauffeurs come and go over the course of the night...dinner is there waiting. One of our family favourites is this Pumpkin Chili which was first published on EatSavvy, our food edition, and was an instant hit on our website. The pumpkin adds a little sweetness that kids enjoy and of course is full of vitamins!
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So great chatting with you Sarah! We definitely find that when it comes to planning our busy lives, a great resource can be a lifesaver—whether it’s about meals and recipes or life in general. Congrats on developing an excellent site!