RRP: How do you balance being a mom and working full-time at the Alabama Department of Health?
JA: Work-life balance is something I struggle with. It’s mostly the guilt. Guilty of not being at work or not being with the girls for an appointment or event, etc. It is getting better. I am learning to give myself grace in both situations.
RRP: As a former gym owner, health and fitness are important to you. In what ways do you teach your children about self-care?
JA: I talk to the girls about self-care and try to be a good role model. I am teaching them how to eat and cook whole foods at home. We walk around our neighborhood and do yoga together. Once or twice a month, we each have our own bath time with a bath bomb while listening to meditation music. We also discuss the importance of relieving stress through breathing properly, relaxation techniques, attending therapy, and doing things they enjoy.
RRP: You advocate being a student for life. How do you continue to improve and learn throughout motherhood?
JA: I am always seeking to learn and improve myself as a human and a mom through attending church, reading books, listening to podcasts, surfing Instagram, sharing and seeking advice from my mom friends, and being open to what motherhood has to teach me.
RRP: Raising two young girls, nine-years-old and four-years-old, how do you handle co-parenting?
JA: My ex-husband and I put our daughters first. We are on the same wavelength when it comes to parenting decisions. I am blessed to have a husband who is supportive of our co-parenting. We are all flexible with our schedules and help one another when needed. All of our families are very understanding and supportive as well.
RRP: How do you handle the challenges of raising children with different personalities?
JA: I remind myself that no two children are the same. They have taught me this over and over. What worked for one may not work for the other. I try not to compare them to each other in front of them so they don’t think any aspect of their personalities is undesirable.
RRP: What have been the most helpful books, podcasts, or websites for you as a mother?
JA: My list is too long to include here. Most recently, Michelle Kenney of Peace and Parenting and Big Life Journal for parenting; Dr. Elana Roumell for wellness; Bobby Parrish AKA FlavCity for grocery store and cooking tips; and Scary Mommy wins for comedy and relatable content.
RRP: How do you stay connected with your partner of five years while being a mother?
JA: We don’t stop communicating our needs, and spending time apart and together is a priority. We are fortunate to have my mom and a wonderful babysitter who spends time with the girls, so we can have date nights at least every other month and take child-free trips at least twice a year.
RRP: Your children are involved in several extracurricular activities. How do you encourage them to pursue their passions and interests?
JA: We encourage them by providing opportunities to try new activities and revisit previously attempted activities. My oldest has tried out t-ball, soccer, basketball, and piano. She has stuck with dance, gymnastics, art club, and chess club the longest.
RRP: One of your hobbies is travel. What advice would you give to other moms desiring to travel with young children?
JA: Have low expectations and be flexible. Most of our trips are less than four hours. I’d recommend visiting family and friends, whether they live close or far away. It allows your children to see how others are familiar with life and gives you a support system at your base.
RRP: How do you create a positive and supportive community for your family?
JA: I frequently talk about how life is a blessing while validating our moments of sadness, anger, jealousy, etc. My husband and I spend a lot of time with our kids as a family, and we try to spend one-on-one time with the kids, which further fosters connectedness. As a family, we often discuss what we are grateful for. We have conversation cards that we read at our table while eating. These cards facilitate meaningful conversations where we learn more about each other and allow the kids to express themselves. These conversations build trust, encourage openness, and provide a lot of laughter. The four-year-old has some doozies for answers.
Jennifer Allen has been married to Scott Allen for almost five years. They have two daughters, Olivia (9) and Hayden (4), and the family lives in Montgomery.