mothers of invention: erin condren
[don’t forget to enter the “the billboard bag,” giveaway on saturday’s post… now, meet erin!]
first name: Erin Condren
age: 40! Yes, 40!
current city: I live in Hermosa Beach, CA and work in El Segundo (15 minute commute).
living situation: I live with my husband, Hilary (yes, he is a man), and twin children, Kate and Finn, who will be nine on July 24th.
occupation: Business owner of erincondren.com, which offers personalized planners, address labels, stationary, et cetera; Graphic designer, creative director, and marketing maniac!
how do you structure your time and space? I started my business from home and worked every minute the kids napped and slept at night. Long nights and pots of coffee brewed at 7:30 p.m. kept me fueled until my cut off at midnight. I would then go every night at midnight to Kinkos to get my printed sheets cut down to note cards. Crazy! My husband was extremely supportive, knowing we needed two incomes to live where we do. When the babies turned a year old, I hired part-time help and shared a nanny with a friend. Carmen came twodays a week and I would work nonstop from home while she went to the park with the kids, helped with laundry when they napped, et cetera.
As my business grew, so did hours with Carmen. Eventually, I merged with a larger fine art printing business 15-20 minutes from my home, and Carmen was with us full time. We were definitely a “mommy team!” Now that my kids are in school until 3:00, I share her time with my brother’s family who lives just a block away. How lucky am I?
The balance of going back to work “full time” with kids was really tough at first. I still sometimes have a guilty pang when I see all the activities and events that we just can’t get to. On the other hand, my children are so well-adjusted and very proud of what I do. I never hear them complain. Instead, they “brag” about mommy’s office, et cetera. et cetera. Since I do own my own business, I can steal away for school plays, teacher conferences and such. I dedicate one hour every two weeks in their classroom at school. They love that! My kids are in the same class, which might go against some twin parenting “rules,” but it has made life much easier for all of us for now. At some point they might request to be in separate classes, but for now it works beautifully for all of us.
I feel like my children are very active in extra-curricular activities, but nowhere near as much as many kids. I just can’t get them all around town in the middle of the day. I’m okay with that now and have a great group of friends and family close by that can help carpool when needed. I take six kids to school every morning since I leave for the office at the same time. I love our morning commute together! Five boys and my daughter are quite entertaining as we crank up Michael Jackson tunes and play “I Spy” and “Sweet and Sour” each morning on the way to school. I sure will miss these days. Next year we will be walking distance from our school, and the kiddos will all walk together.
using the metaphor of seasons to describe the phases of women’s lives,
-what are the particular challenges and highlights of your current season? This season is SPRING! As the sun stays out longer, our family can play catch in the front yard after work and go on bike rides to dinner (with jackets!). This is my slow time at work, so I take this time to enjoy vacations with family. For spring break, we are staying in town, but going to local spots with the kids instead: Griffith Observatory, La Brea Tar Pits and more. Can’t wait.
-What season(s) preceded this one? WINTER. My busiest time of year is the fourth quarter, which includes calendar season, Christmas cards, and more. The hours are long, and often extend to the weekends. It is hard on me to be away from my family so much, but my husband and I tag-team and have worked through it enough to make it all work. It is never easy though, and I must admit that I sometimes dread that time of year!
-What season(s) might your future hold? SUMMER. My company is on fire with new HOT ideas, and I can’t wait for longer days and more energy to make things happen. We will soon heat our pool, which means nightly swims after work with my kids — my favorite thing to do!
80’s day at Erin’s office
favorite family activities: We love to ride bikes along the beach and stop for Mexican food on the pier (which includes margaritas for mommy!). We also LOVE to tent camp!!! Yes, real tent camping…well, Condren style. My husband is an incredible cook and brings all his commercial equipment, even a deep fryer for tempura shrimp! We don’t have the typical hot dogs and chips at our camp; it’s all about the food and fun! We recently took an RV trip and decided we prefer tent camping in many ways.
Having two eightyear olds is such a joy. Life is so simple these days. The early years are all such a blur. We just struggled and juggled to get througheach day with newborn premies. This makes us appreciate the carefree life we lead with our “grown up” kids now!
favorite solo activities: Boy, this is a tough one. I really don’t have time (nor do I make time) for much “solo” activity. My mom tells me I never liked to be alone as a child, and I guess that still stands. I would like to say that I read, but I really don’t make time for that either. Someday I would love to be in a book club or just pour through novels and best sellers. For now, my favorite “alone” time is spent shopping on the web. I do love shopping online and waiting for the boxes to arrive. It feels like Christmas each time, like I didn’t really spend the money — Santa did!
sources of inspiration: I love to read home décor magazines. My favorite is an English publication called, Living, etc. Seeing new color trends, fabrics, furniture and art always inspires me at home and in my career. I am very “trendy” and don’t spend a lot of money on my interiors at home. With small kids and a packed social calendar at “Club Condren,” it’s not worth the investment. Thumbing through the pages gives me great ideas to inexpensively update my home with an accent wall or new area rug. The trends I see in magazines are creative boosts that inspire new designs on my website too!
best MakeShift moment: My mom taught me the trick of letting the babies play with pots and pans while attempting to cook a meal. It used to drive my husband nuts because it was so loud as they clanked lids and slammed pots on the floor (not good on wood, but who cared at that point?). At least it gave me about tenminutes to tear open a Trader Joe’s bag and call it dinner!
find erin on the web at
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