Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Kelly Reilly
Kelly Reilly is a local Des Moines mom, freelance writer, and a huge part of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Learn more about her love for freelance writing, her best tips on juggling all the things and her number one parenting tip I think we all are striving for.
Give us a little background of your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life?
I’m wife to Tim, the nicest, most level-headed, patient, and helpful person you will ever meet. We’re the parents of Henry, our verbose 3-year-old; Connor, our cheerful 1-year-old; and Higgins, our high-maintenance 7-year-old French Bulldog. I’m originally from Eastern Iowa but have called Des Moines home for the past eight years. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are also in the area, and I’m actively campaigning for my parents to make the move as well.
What is your business, and what do you do?
By day, I’m the director of marketing for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, where I help connect people to our mission of exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants. By night (or whenever I can fit it in), I’m a freelance entertaining, gardening, and lifestyle writer.
Why did you become a small business owner?
I freelance because I have a passion for lifestyle writing, storytelling, and service journalism. I was a digital editor for Better Homes & Gardens prior to coming to the Botanical Garden. My favorite part of that job was serving women with ideas that helped them do everyday tasks better so they had more time and energy for the things that matter. I’m always seeking more opportunities to help women make small yet impactful tweaks. I don’t necessarily love the term “work smarter, not harder,” but that’s a lot of what I try to offer busy women through my writing. Plus, my job at the Garden can be very analytical and strategic, so I appreciate having a creative outlet.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, obviously (#shamelessplug). But seriously, there’s nothing like warming up in the conservatory on a cold winter day. We also love the Science Center of Iowa and the Playground for Kids when we need to burn off some serious energy.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
Again, we love the Botanical Garden (I mean, have you seen our outdoor gardens at the height of summer? #shamelessplug). We’re also big fans of the Blank Park Zoo, and honestly, just setting up a pool and slip ‘n slide in our backyard can make for some pretty joy-filled summer afternoons.
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
Oh gosh, I wish we had more of these! We’ve really become lunch date people over the past few years, but if we had a babysitter and an open night, I’d go out for burgers and drinks on a patio somewhere downtown, then catch an I-Cubs game (TBD whether I could stay awake until the fireworks).
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
This is something I’m always working on! If someone has it figured out, please let me know.
First of all, I think the idea of work-life “balance” is a misnomer because it’s rarely 50-50. I think a better way to look at it is work-life “harmony,” with the idea that everything is working well together, whatever that percentage looks like. To help make this happen I think it’s so important to find an employer who lets you be a good employee and a good parent. It’s comforting to know I rarely have to miss an appointment or if a child gets sick, I can find a way to be there within an hour and catch up on the work later.
I also think it’s valuable to look at what the return on time is for some of those essential household tasks and outsource what you can. For example, I could spend all day Sunday or an hour each night making, serving, and cleaning up dinner, or I could have the fantastic people at The Grateful Chef take care of the heavy lifting for me so I can have more time to play with my kids (and bonus: the food is way better).
I also think we can all be more intentional about our technology use, and I’m as guilty as anyone of spending too much time on my phone. Using the Moment app has helped me set some clear boundaries so I don’t inadvertently get sucked in when I can or should be doing something more productive (like sleeping!).
Also, I can’t underscore the importance of seeing your friends on a regular basis. We’re all tired, all of our houses are messy, and we don’t have time to make each other fancy food, but just have people over. Seriously, no one will care, and you’ll all be so much happier and healthier for it.
What is your number one parenting tip?
Get more sleep.