Real Mama: Kimberly Mannion

Image by Echard Wheeler Photography

This fun loving and laid back mama who has a knack for home decorating and DIY projects (just check out her blog) has one bigger love - her family. She gets to live on her own island - no really… and is happy just living in the moment and enjoying life with her boys. What could be better? This mama is full of fun, and makes being a mama look easy.

Tell us a little about yourself…

I’m a happily married mom of two boys under the age of two who recently left behind a successful eight year career in management consulting to become a stay-at-home mom. On any given day you can find me working on DIY projects with my hubby, playing with my boys, running the trails, touring model homes for new home design ideas, spending time with friends & family, and enjoying the good life living on the water.

Where is home?

Home is on Kent Island, a small Maryland island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. My husband and I have lived here for three years (eight months in our current home) and we absolutely love it! My parents live about five minutes away from us, so it’s nice to have family close by. We lived in Northern Virginia for five years, so when we visit friends in Arlington, it still feels like home to us too. The same thing goes for Harrisonburg, VA where we met and went to college at James Madison University. So I guess you could say home is wherever we are together!

Are you a working mama, stay-at-home-mama, part-time working mama?

When I had my first son Cooper, I had five and a half months for maternity leave, and then went back to work four days a week (three in the office and one at home). I did that schedule for eight months. My maternity leave with my second baby is up this week (five months) and I’ve decided not to return to work, so I will be a full-time stay-at-home-mama. I recently started a blog and have a few other things in the works, so they will help keep me busy too!

What kind of mama do you consider yourself to be?

I consider myself to be a mama who doesn’t wish the time away and is very content just living for the moment. I’m not in a rush for solid foods and walking or school and sports. I am so proud of my babies when they reach milestones, but I’m never rushing the time away. I like to savor each stage of their life, while encouraging them to grow.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a mama and everything else you manage to fit into a day?

I eliminate as much chaos as possible in my house. There’s enough action with two boys and a dog, that I don’t need other chaos. Although our house can be a mess throughout the day with toys, everything is picked up and put back in its place at night. We go to bed every night with dishes put away, laundry folded and a clean playroom. I designed the house with a lot of covered storage so that we can relax and have adult time when the kids go to bed without feeling anxious and overwhelmed with a large amount of stuff. I also keep a calendar handy for meal planning, appointments, weekly goals and errands.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My kids inspire me every day to be a good mama. They are both so happy and so excitable – you can’t help but feel loved around them. My husband inspires me when I watch him interact with the boys. He’s such a hands-on father, and it makes it all worthwhile when I see all of them together. I’m also inspired by my own mama, who (simply put) was perfection. She always made each of us feel like her number one priority, including my dad. She is a great example of how to balance being a great mama and a great wife.

What has been the best advice you’ve received as a mama? What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you’ve given as a mama?

My sister-in-law told me that sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do to make your babies happy. Sometimes they just need to cry and have a tantrum and you can’t stop it. My oldest son Cooper was colicky and there were days that nothing could make him stop crying. At first I felt like such a failure as a mama! I had to learn that sometimes you can’t fix it, but you can certainly be a comfort to them. When you keep that in mind the crying seems a little softer and your days aren’t quite as long. The best advice I think I’ve given as a mama is to do what is best for you and your family. No amount of advice or judgment should ever come before doing what you think is best for your babies. Oh, and find a great pediatrician who you can put all of your trust into.

Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be

I would definitely say I am the kind of mama I thought I would be. My only real goal in life was to be happy – and I knew that having kids and a loving marriage would give that to me. I always knew I would be the kind of mama who was completely consumed with her children. When I’m with them (which is pretty much 24/7), I give them 100% of my attention. Everything I do has them in mind. This is probably why I never get manicures, go shopping alone or go to the gym, but it’s working for me and I wouldn’t change it. As they get older this could change, but for now, I’m happy being consumed with them.

If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be?

If it had to be a famous person, I’d probably say Martha Stewart, only because I think I could get some awesome housekeeping tips from her. Have you ever seen her fold a fitted sheet? That alone would make it worthwhile! I wouldn’t mind a quick bite to eat with Justin Timberlake or Paul Walker either.

Image by Jamie Horton Photography

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to have the ability to make my boys feel better any time they are sick, hurt or upset. It’s heartbreaking as a mama when you can’t take away all their pain.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ten years from now I see myself juggling lacrosse practices, soccer games, family vacations, cocktail parties with friends and date nights with my husband. I’ll be getting close to my 40th birthday and hopefully I will still be as happy and fulfilled as I am at 29, if not happier!

Were your birth experiences all that you hoped they would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

My birth experiences were both completely unexpected. With my oldest son Cooper, I was induced two and a half weeks early because I was diagnosed with preeclampsia during a routine 37 week check-up. I traditionally have low blood pressure so the sudden spike was a little scary. I was in labor all day and hooked up to a blood pressure machine that took my pressure every three to five minutes. Because my pressure was so high, it was painful every time the cuff was tightened! With my second baby Carson, the surprise was he came so quickly! I went to a 2 p.m. appointment on my due date and was six centimeters dilated! I was admitted to the hospital immediately and delivered at 5:30 p.m. I don’t think I would change anything about the birth experience because both boys came out perfect and healthy.

How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore you wouldn’t do?

I would say I am more confident in my mothering skills since the early newborn days. I don’t have to second guess everything, although there will always be some things I question. I am still very hands on and very cautious – two things that I doubt will ever change. I swore I wouldn’t let my son eat snacks throughout the day but he had other plans for me. He’s a “grazer” and a vegetarian (he HATES meat!) so I let him eat when he’s hungry even if it doesn’t match my schedule. He gets lots of good stuff, but he also gets his fair share of pretzels, goldfish and cookies too.

Do you have a mama mantra or something you find yourself repeating over and over when times are tough?

Part of being a good mama is constantly reminding yourself to be patient and understanding. I try to remind myself that even in the most chaotic moments, “this too shall pass,” and everything will be calm again.

Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?

Last week I read a post by Kelle Hampton on her blog “Enjoying the Small Things” that really spoke to my heart and I’d love to share it with the Mama Say What?! audience:

You don’t have to go an extra mile to create imaginative memories for kids-an inch is all it takes. A lunch becomes a picnic when you add a blanket. A nail painting session becomes a spa night when you throw some cucumber slices in the mix. Dinner becomes a dinner party when everyone wears a hat. Cooking becomes a “cooking show” when you describe every step while you stir (and do it in a British accent!). A living room dance becomes a Carnegie Hall performance when you shine a flashlight on the dancer. Grocery shopping becomes an adventure when you stop to talk to the lobsters. And life becomes Enjoying the Small Things when you dare to take a different perspective.”


By Melissa T.

Melissa is a full time working mom to her first baby boy (born 3/11) and beautiful baby girl (born 6/11)! Melissa was married to her best friend in September 2009 and lives in Maryland with her little family. When she is not working or being a mom (is there time for other things??) Melissa is always on the go... she loves to go out to eat with her hubby, a good glass of wine, reality television, spending time outside and hanging with her friends and family.

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One Response to Real Mama: Kimberly Mannion

  1. Well said mama! I really love hearing how women become more confident as moms! I definitely experienced that myself- though I do still have times where I feel conflicted and have doubt.

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