Melissa Kyler and I first crossed paths at the Bomb Mom Getaway! It was so great to make a connection with another mom and learn about her passion for eyes and vision. Meeting Melissa made me really think about my children’s eyesight and I quickly set up their first appointment with her. Learn more about Melissa’s Des Moines favorites and her best parenting advice below.
Give us a little background on your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life?
I grew up in Urbandale, attended Iowa State for undergrad, and my husband Erik and I met as classmates in Optometry School at Indiana University. We have two fantastic children, Emmaline (7) and Kendon (5). I love living and working in my hometown!
What is your business, and what do you do?
I am an Optometrist at Urbandale Eye Care. My history with the practice is deep! I was a patient there as a child, then worked as a technician and receptionist, and returned as a doctor about 11 years ago. It’s great to serve the community I grew up in. I am passionate about the vision and my patients, and I love getting to form relationships and watch families grow! I see patients of all ages, starting with providing free eye exams for babies 6-12 months of age. You can read more about it at www.infantsee.org. One of the fun things about my day is the variety that comes with routine eye care for all ages, fitting contact lenses, treating urgent care problems, managing eye disease, and evaluating conditions like diabetes that can affect the eyes…never a dull moment! Almost 12 years in, and I truly love it.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
The Valley Community Center is an easy go-to! The staff there is always friendly, the kids have a great time, and the food and coffee selection is great for a lunch or snack there with the kids. They also would choose swimming any day of the week, so we get over to the pool at The Athletic Club (formerly Prairie Life) as often as we can. My creative daughter would pick Glazed Expressions or Artfull, and I’m always up for that!
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
We love exploring parks and playgrounds that are new to us, especially if they have natural playscapes and trails. Greenwood Park is one of our favorites. My husband and I enjoy sharing culture and music with our kids, so anything going on downtown in the summer is typically on our radar. The kids love to run and play in Western Gateway Park. The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our neighborhood! We love living in West Des Moines (Iowa in general), where our kids can play in the yards with friends from the neighborhood. The trails and playgrounds in our area are wonderful!
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
My husband and I love to explore bike trails and fun spots along the way. We’d stop somewhere like The HandleBar in Dallas Center, The Chicken in Orilla, or anything along the High Trestle Trail. If we were REALLY lucky and also had the evening to ourselves, we’d clean up and head downtown to check out a new restaurant and listen to some live music.
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
It’s hard, isn’t it?? It’s not possible for working parents to make it to every event at school, but I have found you’ll see what type of involvement makes your child light up the most. Then plan that in. Even if it is just once per year, it will make your year and theirs. We talk a lot with our kids about what we do at work, and why it is important for us to be away, even when it means missing things or working on a Saturday sometimes. Try to plan date nights, plan friend time, and plan YOU time. You know…between loads of laundry, work emails, dishes, and sorting through all the school papers. My husband is fantastic at getting up early to work out in the morning…we can all learn from him.
What is your number one parenting tip?
At each stage, I’ve heard something that stuck with me from someone. I have never forgotten the first advice I got to find something to cherish from each stage (even the difficult ones) because it will be gone before you know it. As my kids approach 6 and 8, I’m feeling it. I think it is important to talk to the men and women in your life who are an inspiration to you. We are all still learning and can learn so much from each other! My amazing mom, mother-in-law, and friends provide advice, support, and suggestions. Follow your own heart for your family, but don’t be afraid to share with others and reach out when you need it!