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Modern Mom {Jen Senecal}

We’ve had our eye on Jen Senecal, this month’s modern mom, for some time. Trust me when I say she rocks the title well. Jen’s the kind of mom you instantly want to become BFFs with. She’s gorg, charismatic and witty (have you read her blog?). Oh, and her dynamic personal style just makes me want to swap closets on the regular.   

Oh, and for those wondering where Charlotte {Jen’s youngest daughter} is… she was taking her nap one room over.

Meet Jen, Averi & Lily.

What does a typical day in the life consist of? The girls usually wake up around 6:00-6:30, at which point we dish over every electronic device in the house in hopes of keeping them occupied a bit longer so we can pretend that we’re actually getting more sleep. In reality, we hear a Power Rangers episode deafening our ears, a child’s incessant cry for chocolate milk and possibly another one scaling her way to the top of the fridge, where the chocolate stash is kept. Once we’re up, we’re getting lunches packed and feeding hungry mouths. As soon as I’m able to sit down (and by sit down, I mean stand up) with a cup of coffee, I spend a bit of my morning answering emails, filtering messages, scouring posts (to update Rhody Mamas), writing blog posts or features, communicating in the social media networks I contribute to, and possibly throwing a load of laundry in while doing so. Then, it’s school pick-up and time to hang with the girlies — whether it be cooking, enjoying the backyard, grabbing a Del’s Lemonade or hitting up the dollar bins at Target. Late afternoon is filled with design work, more email answering and dinner prep. After our nightly family dinner, it’s baths, showers, books, TV and bedtimes and then I head to the gym. I usually get home around 9:15 pm and finish up a few work things for the day and then hang out with my husband. By the time all is said and done, it’s midnight. I head to bed, play about 2 screens of Words with Friends and I’m out. Somewhere in between, I shower. More often, I make popcorn.

Tell us about your blogging career and the inspiration behind it? I was a pre-med major and ended up in a career of graphic design, writing and blogging. That’s the appropriate starting point, right? Once I graduated from PC (many moons ago) and realized that I maybe didn’t want to go to medical school anymore (sorry, mom & dad), I began to wander down the path of “What the heck am I gonna to do with myself?” I’d always loved art and writing, but never actively pursued either. I was at my sister’s college graduation in 2001 when my dad’s cousin approached me and offered a sales position with his printing company. I took it, partly because it sounded like something I might be able to do and mostly because I would get to work with my family. While I was there, I found myself more drawn to the graphic design side of things than what I was actually doing, although I had no experience in it (some serious high-fives to all you sales people out there, though). Once I left the company, my now-husband–who actually did graduate college with a degree in design–and I took a leap of faith and opened our own design studio. I quickly learned the ropes and we did well together. In between, I began writing for Providence Monthly, which set off another creative outlet and a need to give life to words. Naturally, blogging was the next step. Then, in early 2011, my cousin Audrey asked me if I’d like to start a business with her, where we’d build a community of moms and focus on their needs, host events geared towards them and simplify their shopping by posting local and national shopping deals, promotions, events and giveaways. Thus, Rhody Mamas was born. And, I have some plans in the works for a new project that I hope to release later this year. While my husband veered off along the way to the world of corporate advertising, I’ve been blessed to be able to manage all of these ventures from my own home now, while watching after my three young girls. I’m one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason, and I know that the path that unfolded for me was meant for me to do what I love while hanging with my girls (you’re welcome, mom and dad). I am blessed and grateful.

Aside of work and being a mom, what are some of the other things you’re passionate about? Health and fitness! I am a first-born Virgo, so it’s needless to say that I get fixated on things. I’ve been a workout fanatic my entire life (except for the five short years that I spent reproducing children), and at the start of this year, I started to really focus on mindful and healthy eating as a family. Let’s face it, everyone loves food. But if you do a little research and manage that love in a way that promotes good energy and health, then you’re happier. The more people who are happy, the better place the world is. At least, that’s how I feel. I schedule my workouts as though they are daily meetings I can’t skip. It doesn’t matter how long of a day I’ve had, that 8 pm meeting is waiting for me and I show up. I want my girls to know that health is not something to ever take for granted and, like everything else, you need to work hard at it. I love that they understand the need to eat well and take care of their bodies. When I plank, they plank. When I lift weights, they lift smaller ones. Health and fitness are commitments and priorities for me and I hope to instill that dedication in my children. I just registered for my first Tough Mudder event in June and while I’m completely terrified, I know my family will be proud.

What is your favorite mom moment so far? There are so many. One that particularly stands out was when my oldest daughter Averi, who was 4 at the time, came along on errands one day. Our fourth and final stop of the day was to Target (obviously) and it was only then that I noticed that she’d been holding something, cupped in her hand. I asked what she had and she slowly opened it to show me three shiny pennies. When I asked what they were for, she softly replied, “I’ve been holding them all day to buy you a coffee.” I nearly lost my mind and I most definitely lost my tears right there in the Target Starbucks. We walked over to the counter and ordered my coffee and she handed over her three shiny pennies (as I picked up the rest when she wasn’t aware). In that small moment, a huge impact was made on me. This little person of mine left the house wanting to buy me a coffee. It doesn’t get better than that. 

If you could describe your family in three words, what would they be? Hilarious. Compassionate. Driven.

How would you describe your personal style? I definitely don’t fit any one classification. I take from everything that I love—Bohemian chic, trendy, edgy, effortless (that’s a style in my world). I adore bright and bold color and I’d rather be loud than understated. I love to balance opposites: flow with fit; Hard with soft. You would find maybe one black item in my entire closet. (And it’s half leather. So it’s black that rocks.) It’s a far cry from my days of growing up as a Floridian prepster.

Who is your favorite style icon? I love Jennifer Lopez (post-Diddy). Say what you want about the Kardashian sisters, but I adore their style. And, anyone who wears Michael Kors.

What’s one activity you love to do with your daughters? Bake! Have you ever seen a 3 year-old crack an egg? She blasts that thing against the counter so it doesn’t stand a chance to make it anywhere near the bowl. It’s hilarious. We’re working on her skills.

What is one of your most popular go-to meals during the work week? I have a couple go-to meals. Marinated sirloin tips with any combination of roasted sweet potato disks brushed with coconut oil, carrot fries, sautéed brussell sprouts or roasted asparagus. The other is taco salad night, using ground buffalo and a buffet of fresh toppings, all piled on mixed greens. Both meals are super easy and loaded with happiness.

(For the steak tips, I marinate them in a little bit of olive oil, Worcestshire sauce, chopped garlic and Montreal steak seasoning. It’ll knock your socks off.)

Being a mother is a big job in itself. How do you tackle career and home life? Do you have advice for other moms? Ah, life’s biggest question! It is a constant struggle to balance it all and there is no perfect solution. Some days, I feel like I’ve stood on a nail head at the top of a mountain with one leg whereas others I’m teetering by 10 am. I only know life as a work-at-home-mom, so the advice I can give to other moms in the same situation is to create a routine and try to stick to it. Set work hours and family hours and know that if you didn’t get to answer an email at 11 am, it will still be waiting for you at 4 pm. I think we’re a culture of “immediate response” and if we don’t address it, we feel like we’re missing out. I’ll fully admit that I fall prey to this on a daily basis, which is why I try my best to stick to a schedule. If you remind yourself that there is only so much one person can do, you let yourself off the hook a bit. On the days I have my work and family schedule all figured out, my house is a disaster. On the days you could eat off my kitchen floor (which aren’t often), I haven’t done a single piece of work. But in the overall big picture of things, it evens out and I still know what our priorities are.

Other tips for making life easier as a busy mom is to food prep on the weekends for the upcoming weeks, be OK with saying no to events and invites, unplug when you can, and DRINK SANGRIA.

What’s you’re currently listening to? A lot of remixed top 40, since the only time I listen to music is when I’m in the gym. Unless you count KidzBop. I’m listening to them when I’m asleep.

Three things we’d find in your handbag right now? My iPad mini. 3 apples. My sanity.

On date night, we’d find you where? We’re fortunate in that both my husband’s and my parents live very close to us and offer to babysit whenever we need them, so we go out a lot. We love going out for dinner and drinks in and around Providence—downtown, East Side, Federal Hill. We also love outdoor social events in the city and fun festivals. Basically, as long as there’s sangria and whiskey, we’re there.

On the flipside, once the weather gets nicer, we forgo some of our date nights and replace them with bringing the girls to a friend’s house, letting them stay up late to run like lunatics outside, splash in the pool and make s’mores by the firepit.  And still drink sangria and whiskey.

Local Loves: Cancun Family Restaurant, Tortilla Flats, Adesso on the Hill, the Brown University quad for picnics, Waterfire, street festivals.

Jen’s Must-­Haves: Mary Kay Satin HandsCover Girl Lash Blast mascaraBiolage shampoo and detangler, m. vieiPad mini (although I’m craving a Canon body upgrade.)

photography by Corey Grayhorse Photography

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  1. Heather @ Housewife Heather on May 31, 2013 at 8:51 am

    I love all the pictures of you & the girls! Great advice for a work at home Mom & getting in a gym workout. I need to start scheduling my day better, scheduling those things in. I loved reading this & look forward to what you have to say next time!

  2. Liza (Cira's Lyrics) on May 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

    love this jen! this article came out great and i love all the photos! you seriously motivate me to want to get in better shape. i still can’t believe how you manage to get it all done ;) but you do! xoxo

  3. Carla on May 31, 2013 at 10:39 am

    You rock! Your philosophy and approach is awesome and so refreshing.

  4. cathy costantino on May 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    girlfriend, you’re livin” it right! this was a great article and inspiring in so many ways. may the happiness in your life last and last. Oh and may you always have coconut oil and mary kay satin hands LOL

  5. Rachael on May 31, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Absolutely adored everything about this article. Your approach to finding balance in life and still enjoying every moment to its fullest is so inspiring – you clearly know your priorities and how to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It was also interesting to see the path of work that led you to where you are now. Great pics, too! You are definitely a force to be reckoned with!

  6. Heather @ Kraus House Mom on May 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Excellent article and pictures. I love how you put it simply, on days that work gets down the house doesn’t and vice versa. I really need to get in gear and get in shape.