Whether it’s juggling child care and play dates for infants and toddlers, carpooling teens to their academic, social and sporting events, or assisting adolescents with everything from college, work, and relationships, it’s easy to see how Staten Island moms of all ages often neglect themselves in order to take care of their families.
Many work around the clock – from the wee hours of the morning to the stroke of midnight – balancing a busy home life while also holding down careers. It’s no wonder they are an exhausted bunch in need of some down time to help bolster their mind, body, spirit, and improve their inner and outer health in the New Year.
Some local moms ushered in 2017 with a resolution to carve out more time in their hectic schedules for themselves — doing everything from yoga and music, traveling and ballroom dancing, and exercising and spa treatments.
“Always putting the family first doesn’t really leave much time for yourself,” admitted Elaine Gil, 40, a children’s entertainer, Zumba instructor, and realtor.
The Grasmere resident and mother of 17-year-old Mateo admitted that it’s very easy to devote energy to her family. “But, when it comes to me, it kind of gets pushed to the side,” she explained.
Like many moms, Ms. Gil, who has been known as “Bubbles” the Clown for 20 years, hopes to find more balance and time for herself in the New Year. Her hectic daily routine often includes entertaining at a children’s party, teaching Zumba, showing homes to potential buyers — and being a homemaker, mom, and wife somewhere in between.
“It’s easy to get lost in life and sometimes you forget who you are and what makes you happy.”
Weight loss and exploring different activities with her Zumba students, including yoga, kickboxing, tap dancing, swimming, meditation, and travel, are all on her 2017 wish list.
“I feel like it might make me a happier, focused, and balanced person on the inside, considering on the outside I must always have my happy face on for everyone,” she added.
Like Ms. Gil, Anakristina Santiago, a 36-year-old mother of two is always on the go – with little time to herself.
Her daily schedule begins with laying out school clothes and packing lunches at 5 a.m. and is crammed with school, extra-curricular, and sports activities – not to mention her own work schedule.
In addition to her job four days a week as a customer service associate at Walgreen’s, she also volunteers for school lunch duty five days a week, and juggles a grueling activity schedule, including dancing school with 5-year-old daughter Aubrey, two days a week, and basketball with her 8-year-old son, Stephen, three days a week.
“If you notice my workload, there is no mom time,” said the Port Richmond resident. “I live for my family 100%, and maybe I have to live 99% for my family and give myself 1%.”
While her husband, PJ, assists her with some of the responsibilities, she has since added more mommy time with kickboxing as a means of staying physically and mentally fit, and hopes to add ballroom dancing to her self-improvement repertoire one day.
Fellow busy mom Sandra D’Auria of Princes Bay shares the struggles of a 13-hour day that includes work and commuting. She’s often in mommy mode most of the time — even though Nicolette, 18, is a college freshman; Julianna, 16, is a high school junior, and Alexis, 24, is married and lives in North Carolina.
While the girls are self-sufficient – minus lots of carpooling with Julianna – she has kick-started a new jogging regimen after the “hustle and bustle” of the holidays, and is interested in treating herself to a spa massage.
“I’ve chosen to concentrate on myself more because it makes me feel better on the inside,” said the 45-year old executive assistant at Morgan Stanley and independent designer for Origami Owl.
Staying healthy means she is able to stay active in her daughters’ lives, and keep up with housework and family needs – and rest and catch up on her favorite TV shows.
Ms. D’Auria and the other moms all believe the efforts to enhance their inner and outer selves will be a win-win for them and their families.
“Taking care of myself helps me to better take care of my children,” Ms. D’Auria said.
“If I could better myself to the point of happiness, then my family would be happy too,” Ms. Santiago added.
Dawn Twomey, a 52-year-old appointment scheduler for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, agreed. “I have a son, and aging parents, and they all want a piece of me – I cannot be any good to them, if I am not good,” said the Castleton Corners resident and mother to 24-year-old Michael.
To ease a demanding schedule that begins at 6:30 a.m., Ms. Twomey set aside two hours, three weeknights to read, talk on the phone, or other activities. “I plan to be present for myself just as I am to everyone else,” she added. “I intend to be the best version of myself that I can be. The only way to accomplish this is to take care of myself.”
Weekly yoga classes and monthly music appreciation classes also balance out her commitment to self-improvement, and one day she even hopes to visit Italy, Greece, and Egypt.
Staten Island moms say they will recognize their own needs as the New Year progresses. However, as Ms. Twomey pointed out, “I will eventually retire and have more free time, but ‘mom’ – that job will never end.
By Christine Albano, a Staten Island writer and mom of three.