Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

Advice on motherhood from Hillberg & Berk COO Mary

We sat down with Hillberg & Berk's Chief Operations Officer, Mary, to gain insight into her family dynamic and to learn some of her parenting advice.



Tell me a little bit about your family.

I have four kids. Sarah is 14, James is 11, Claire is 6, and Ella is 5.

The kids all get along very well most of the time! We spend as much time as we can at home. We always have music playing. We've even got the kids into some of our 90s indie/rock favourites. Basically, doing exactly what our parents did to us when they made us listen to their records! (Note: we all turn into a combination of our own mothers and fathers. It's a fact!)

We had an interesting discovery this summer at the lake. Fishing is a big thing at Kenosee so we gave it a try. All the kids loved it and basically spent all their time standing on the dock together fishing from the moment they woke up until it was too dark to see. It was very cool to find an activity that everyone enjoyed and was capable of doing at any age.

Watching them interact in such a calm and peaceful environment made me very proud as a mom. I could picture them as adults all standing there enjoying a moment together. It felt like "yes, they are going to be okay! They are turning into wonderful humans!"



How would you describe your parenting style?

I’m pretty relaxed about most things. I'm very serious about things like watching for cars and washing your hands, but I don't get worked up about the little things. If they don't want to comb their hair or they want to wear some crazy outfit I really don't fight it. I think often in those situations "does this really matter?"

I think when it counts you need to help guide them - for example how they treat each other, how they talk about other people, how they spend their time. Something like being online and using Instagram and YouTube. We do those things together and we talk about it. It's part of our everyday because it's part of their everyday and that's not going to change.



What is your favourite thing about being a mom?

My favourite thing is the physical closeness that you have with your kids. I love the cuddles, hugs and kisses. I've always been very affectionate with them. When they call out "I love you" before running off with their friends that is a great feeling.


What are some of the unexpected challenges of being a mom?

As your kids get older, you really start to see how they are influenced and impacted by the world around them. I think you know this will happen when they are little, but when you are actually faced with your kid going to high school it's scary. You just want your kids to be happy and feel safe and the older they get the harder it becomes to protect them from everything. I don't think I realized until very recently how terrifying that is for a parent.



What is the best advice you have received about parenting?

Just do what works for you; when it stops working then start doing something else. You go through all these ups and downs as a parent - kids not sleeping, not eating, biting, fighting, tantrums, whatever. You are never going to find a permanent fix so it's best to just try things and iterate. I guess you could say Steve Jobs inspired me as a parent!



Are there any universal truths of parenting?

When you are going through difficult stages as a parent I often think how it’s like the game Survivor. I don't mean that in a morbid way - but you really do have to Outwit, Outlast, Outplay your children sometimes!