Mom Spotlight: Jennifer Keener Judge

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In today's blog post, we've decided to spotlight one of those amazing moms who somehow manages to have it all: two gorgeous little boys (both under two!!), a kick-ass career, and a sense of humor! Color us impressed.


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, when did you start your family, etc…?

I'm a 31-year old mom of two boys under two, wife to my high-school sweetheart, and I work full-time as an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.  I'm from Dallas, Texas, which is where I met my future husband in high school.  We both went to college at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and then spent three years in Austin, Texas while I went to law school at the University of Texas.  Since I graduated, we've lived in Dallas and love it here.  I had my first son--James--in 2012 and just had my second son--Sean--in August. 

2. What are your new mom must-haves?

Absolutely Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. They're the perfect size for swaddling and for babies in Texas, they're the right weight to make sure that newborns don't overheat. I always have one in my diaper bag and use it as a blanket, nursing cover, security blanket, and emergency burp cloth. 

Both my kids are obsessed with their "loveys," which are the Angel Dear animal blankies.  We have about 4 for each boy that we keep in rotation while others are in the washing machine.  James' loveys are the baby-blue bunnies and Sean has the brown bears.

For nursing moms, I couldn't live without the My Brest Friend pillow.  It makes feeding time SO much easier and keeps me from having to hunch over to feed the baby. I even bought an extra so I have one in our living room and one in the nursery.

3. What was the best part about being a new mom, for you?

I know how cliched it is when everyone says the best part is realizing how much you could possibly love this little baby - but it's true! Until I had kids, I didn't know I could just stare at someone and watch them sleep for hours on end. The second best part is watching my husband become such an amazing dad. I love watching him play with our sons and develop their own routines and traditions.

4. What was the hardest part about being a new mom?

Obviously, you can never prepare yourself for how tired you will be with a new baby.  Sean had acid reflux and was colicky his first three months, which meant we didn't sleep much.  With a colicky baby, you also spend so much time alone in your house, because you don't want to go somewhere and have him scream the entire time (ask me about an epic trip to Whole Foods that involved red-faced screaming...).  So it can be very isolating at times.

5. How on earth do you juggle two?? 

It's so important to have a partner that you can rely on.  When Sean was born, my husband basically took over all things Toddler while I tended to all things Baby.  A few times my husband went out of town for work while I was out on maternity leave.  At one point, the baby was crying because he was colicky and James was crying and trying to climb in my arms because he wanted me to hold him instead of holding the baby.  I realized that I couldn't tend to both boys at the same time and just kept repeating to myself "The days are long, but the years are short" and got through it with no one worse for wear.  

I also recommend wine.   

6. What is your most trusted resource?

Book-wise, I loved and still refer to Baby 411 and now Toddler 411. They're well-written and the information is accessible and it's easy to find what I'm looking for.  I'm also very lucky to have close friends with children around the same age and we all compare notes and offer encouragement (and wine and sympathy) when necessary.

7. Are there any key pieces of advice you would pass on to new moms?

Like everyone says, don't be afraid to ask for help. If people offer to bring food or come over, let them bring you food or do your dishes. Alternatively, dirty dishes never killed anyone. Sleep when you can and cut yourself some slack in the housekeeping department for a few months.  Hold and snuggle your baby as much as you can because soon, he or she will be a toddler that won't tolerate snuggles and long hugs. 

8. Finally, do you have any advice specifically for working moms? 

People warned me, but I totally understand the working mother's guilt now.  I don't want to do anything on the weekends that takes me away from my kids because I feel like I can't spend enough time with them during the week.  But force yourself to spend some time on "you" every now and then and carve out time when you're not a mother/wife/partner/employee. An hour here or there really does make a world of difference, even if it's just watching TV alone or getting a pedicure. 

In addition to childcare, it's incredibly helpful to have a reliable emergency/backup care.  Nannies get sick and don't show, or kids are too sick for daycare, and having someone to take your kids for those emergencies can give you real peace of mind.

I know I said it earlier, but it goes double here: cut yourself some slack in the housekeeping department.  If you can afford it, hire a maid or cleaning service.  

And if you can find a daycare with webcams, you can spend hours during the workday with that on in the background to assuage any extra guilt!

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