Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom series where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Kenilworth mama of two and my partner in crime for CNSMoms; you guessed it… Shawn Culbert! Shawn was recently the Lincoln Park Moms Site Curator and I’m thrilled that her move to Chicago’s North Shore has landed her on this site. She brings a wealth of beauty and travel knowledge while being her authentic lovely self and I’m so proud to call her my partner! Get to know Shawn, where she hails from, and her excellent mama advice that we should all heed. Welcome, Shawn!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
I grew up in a small town near Lansing, Michigan. My parents traveled with us quite a bit and through it all, city trips were always my favorite adventures. So shortly after college I moved to Chicago and never looked back! I stayed in the city for almost 15 years, so at this point, it feels more like home than Michigan.
I met my husband at a Cubs game through friends the weekend after he moved to Chicago from Manhattan. He was looking for a little slower pace, but wasn’t ready to leave city life yet either, so we decided to stay once we had children.
We lived in Lakeview and then Lincoln Park with our two kids and didn’t plan to leave- until the Pandemic made our space and lack of yard feel VERY small. Our good friends lived in Winnetka and became our “bubble” friends this summer and the more time we spent in the North Shore, the more we loved it… So a week before the school year started we took the leap and moved to Kenilworth. It was a quick decision, but we’re so happy we made the move and absolutely love the North Shore!
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have two boys, 8 & 5. I love them dearly, but they drive me bonkers! I’m very much a girly-girl as far as activities go. Growing up I was in gymnastics through high school, ballet until my freshman year of college and never played a sport through either. My boys are both rough and tumble and active non-stop, so it’s been an adjustment! I’m definitely the craft/books/board games/dance in the living go-to, while my husband takes on the sports.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
I love seeing tender moments play out. My 5 year old has been worried about meeting friends at a new school during a pandemic and seeing the joy on his face when a classmate specifically greets him is so sweet! Catching them playing well together, or snuggling with the dog in a fort, etc.. I decided to stay home after only going back to work for a few months after my first. Many days I feel like I’m losing my marbles, and it’s the lowest paid job on the planet, but worth it to catch those special moments!
Please share your favorite mom tips that make quarantine/COVID life a little easier…
My number one tip is to give yourself A LOT of grace! This pandemic has been going on for over 9 months and as social beings, we weren’t meant to live this way- children included. Create a bubble! We have only a few friends that we go into each other’s homes without masks, but even that is incredibly helpful mentally.
I also have a ton of crafts, and a few project boxes to break out when we need them. We do virtual kids yoga classes and have a lot of Mario Kart tournaments, and when all else fails, new legos sets always provide a few hours of entertainment!
If you have any podcasts or apps that help inspire, calm you, help you run your business or organize your life, what are your faves?
I don’t spend a ton of time listening to podcasts, which I know is an unpopular opinion! I love music, and miss seeing live music terribly, so if I’m listening to something, it’s Spotify. I also read a lot. For meditation I listen to a playlist on the calm side and walk to the lake with my dog.
I have at least 5 apps on my phone for organization, but honestly white boards & physical wall calendars still work best for us!
What are one or two things people would be surprised to know about you…
I grew up camping A LOT, and not glamming, hard core camping! My parents are kind of hippies and had a pretty large piece of land near Traverse City growing up. We spent a lot of time there. We slept in a tent or small pop up camper, had a solar shower in the trees, brushed our teeth in a stream that ran through the property and mainly cooked over the fire… for a week or two at a time, and often! My sister and I joke that roughing it for so many years drove us to city living and resort vacations as adults.
The other is that I’m extremely shy, to a fault. Once I’ve chatted a few times the awkwardness wears off slightly though! Lol.
Favorite ways to spend time together as a family?
We’re pretty casual in general- outdoors, legos, games. My boys are super high energy so we’re in constant motion.
This is a little nerdy, but my two of my favorite places to go are music festivals and Disney trips (the later only with my kiddos obviously- I’m not THAT nerdy;) ). I love live music, nostalgia and have a short attention span… They both satisfy all of that and variety! My little guys were suppose to join me for a day at Lollapalooza this year before it was canceled & I can’t wait for next year. Street festivals are a close second to those and we love attending as a family!
Disney is a obviously a very different situation than a music festival, but they’re actually similar in many ways. There are so many activities in one place! I know that sounds crazy, but the options make it perfect for my active boys! Having everything in one place makes the transitions less painful. We can go from the pool to mini golf, to an outdoor movie and never have to “get ready” or drive a vehicle. We don’t completely geek out and do the parks non stop- it’s actually one of the most relaxing trips we take with the kids. We may spend 1-2 days at the parks and the rest is snacking club level (the boys think it’s such a treat!), pool side in a cabana and exploring. We make it as “luxury” as possible so we’re able to enjoy it as much as the kids. I’m all about ease. Easy variety and good times over anything these days! We have years to do the cultural trips and get fancy. For now though it’s a lot of beaches, skiing, street fests and Disney. We do travel stateside quite a bit with our kids. Through that + many Disney trips I ended up working with a concierge travel company, Glass Slipper Concierge. So we’ve become long-weekend-warriors and have loads of travel tips with kids.
What are your family’s go-to local takeout restaurants?
We love Napoli in Wilmette, Kyoto Sushi in Winnetka, Sushi Cafe Hannah in Skokie, and Farmhouse Evanston. In true city-people fashion we live 50% off takeout and don’t cook very often, so we’re always trying something new, but those have become staples. I’m always looking for new options!
You’re a Site Curator here at Chicago North Shore Moms. I was so excited when I heard that you were moving here from the Lincoln Park Moms in the city and it’s been kismet ever since! Please introduce your roll at CNSM!
When we decided to move to the North Shore, I had just started as the curator of The Lincoln Park Moms Network 6 months prior. It was a really tough time to launch a resource website with the entire city shut down and unrest throughout, but the community bond that formed because of these huge, life changing events was amazing.
When we decided to move, I thought it was best to find someone to take over the Lincoln park site. I loved what I had started and didn’t want to completely give up working within The Local Moms Network (our parent company), but it didn’t feel authentic to continue the city site while living in the suburbs. City parents take a lot of pride in navigating the urban setting with littles! I know that it’s not the same as the suburbs – especially an area like the North Shore. At this same time Ellie was trying to balance work with 3 kids home 24/7. We met for coffee & instantly clicked! When Ellie asked me to partner with her as a curator at CNSM I was thrilled! We compliment each other well and two heads are always better than one – especially through this tough year! It’s amazing to have found not only a partner, but a friend through this and I’m so thankful to be a part of CNSM with Ellie.
What did you do prior to this endeavor?
Before Lincoln Park Moms I had taken 7 years off from working outside of the home. I didn’t want to miss any moments as my boys grew up. Prior to that I had gotten my esthetics license right after college and worked in that field for over 10 years in a number of ways. I worked as an esthetician at Bliss in the W, Exhale, and Allyu, I taught esthetics at The Aveda Institute for 2 years, and just before having children I was a sales rep/trainer for Ole Henriksen and Jurlique. I’m a skincare junkie and spent many years in and out of Sephora and Department stores for trainings- so if you have a product question, chances are I’ve tried it! I have an embarrassing amount of product under my sink.
Are your kids remote or hybrid? How do you get work done with constant distraction at home?
My kindergartener is in-person and my 2nd grader is remote, and they only have instruction from 8:30-1, so it’s tough. I try to work while they work or at night after they’re in bed. Every Morning I’m set up right around the corner from my son who’s home so I can be sure he’s staying on task. Our work space is smack dab in the middle of the house, and most days it looks like a bomb went off, but we’re making it work and that’s the best we can do this year, right? I feel very lucky that I have a lot of flexibility with my job and I try to set real expectations. If Mom & Dad both have a busy day, the house is a mess and there might be more screen time- and that’s okay.
What is your favorite thing about co-heading a local parenting site?
In a normal year, I’m out exploring the neighborhoods constantly. I love knowing what’s going on, supporting local businesses and helping parents in some small way. I wish there had been a site like this when my first son was born! At the time Chicago Parent was pretty much all we had, and it spanned the entire city, suburbs and beyond. It’s so great to have a more local source, and a place where parents can connect.