Mamava Mama: Kelsey Berger
Kelsey Berger and her partner, Matt, are raising four children together outside of Dayton, Ohio. “It’s like a whole herd,” Kelsey says. “I have a flock!” Kelsey and Matt’s family started the day they met, as Matt came with his two-year old son, Hunter. Six years in, their family has grown by three kids. Luckily, Matt is a hands-on dad and supportive partner who can even assemble a Spectra breast pump.
Kelsey shares how the Berger-Stephensons keep it all together—family, work, and their relationship—with four kids under the age of seven. Hint: it involves grocery shopping dates and Jenga.
Share your feelings with your partner.
When Kelsey was pregnant with twins, now two years old, she spent a lot of time researching breastfeeding and planning how she’d track feedings. “I had 10 apps on my phone!” But the twins were born early at 35 weeks and Kelsey’s careful planning flew out the window. “I thought it was all my fault that they were premature and that they were on formula,” admits Kelsey. “I shut down and didn’t include Matt in anything.” The night she finally told Matt how she was feeling was a turning point in their relationship, and in their parenting. “He made it clear that the twins were his children just as much as they are mine,” says Kelsey. Knowing that Matt saw himself as her co-pilot on the parenting journey allowed her to relax, she didn’t have to be Super Mom, going it alone.
Celebrate the unique strengths you each bring to the relationship.
When Kelsey and Matt’s youngest, Eli, was born Kelsey was nervous about trying breastfeeding again. But Matt gently reminded her that trying it didn’t mean committing to it for the long haul—she could just see how things go. Eli is now seven months old and breastfeeding has worked well this time around. In part because Matt helped set Kelsey up for success by researching the the best pump for Kelsey and figuring out how it worked. “He really looks into things to try and understand them,” says Kelsey. “I couldn’t figure out the Spectra pump—it’s like eight pieces—but he can put it together like no one’s business!”
Make sure you each have “Me Time.”
Kelsey is firm on making sure that she and Matt each have time to themselves. “There’s two of us with our own identities as individuals,” says Kelsey. “Sometimes you just need to go to Target by yourself. And buy something you don’t need.” Recently, Matt started reffing basketball games a few nights a week, and Kelsey’s joined a monthly mom mentoring group at work.
Embrace date moments where (and when) you find them.
Kelsey and Matt try to schedule a date night once a month, but they’ve also learned to value the everyday moments. After the kids are in bed, Kelsey and Matt make it a priority to spend time together, watching a show or playing Jenga. “The laundry can wait,” says Kelsey. “I’m a better parent when I have time with Matt.” Even grocery shopping can be an opportunity to connect. “I think the small moments add up to a lot more than one big date night,” says Kelsey.
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