LiveMom: How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
Allison: Three, my son Hunter is 4 and boy/girl twins Locke & Madden are 2.
LiveMom: What was the motivation behind launching Cheer Up Buttercups?
Allison: I had three kids in the span of two years, and outside of the support of my wonderful husband, I didn’t have any family physically nearby during challenging times. The first few years of motherhood were the most challenging (and humbling) of my life. I had to lean on the expertise of many talented individuals with every new curve-ball thrown my way. I saw lactation consultants, sleep consultants, post-partum therapists, behavior specialists, and craniosacral therapists. When my oldest was only 15 months old, I was put on bed rest for three months when I was pregnant with my twins. Again, I had to depend on wonderful childcare givers for support. I realized all of these specialists were my village, and I thought wouldn’t it be great if there was one place families could turn to during the challenging times? I also wanted to take the judgment out of parenting as much as possible. One of our most important missions is to support the family no matter what their goal or beliefs are. For example, when it comes to babies and sleep there are a variety of choices on how to approach it. Some parents share a bed with their child and follow the babies lead, while other parents believe in getting their child on a schedule. We have five sleep experts on our team and depending on the goals and philosophy of the parents is how we choose which sleep consultant they work with.
LiveMom: Which services are offered through Cheer Up Buttercups?
Allison: Lactation consulting, nutritional counseling, sleep consulting, potty training, car seat selection & safety, prenatal and postnatal counseling, in-home personal training, and baby spa services such as infant massage and in-home kid haircuts. We are in the process of adding birthday party event planning, childcare consulting, and birth photography. Sky’s the limit!
LiveMom: How did you come up with the name?
Allison: My youngest son, who is extremely happy-go-lucky now, was a fussy baby. I overheard one of my sitters tell him to “cheer up buttercup…” as she was changing his diaper and he was screaming his head. I was knee deep in the process of trying to choose the perfect name and a light bulb went off!
LiveMom: Monika Burgett is your partner in crime in this business. How did the two of you come to know each other?
Allison: Monika and I first met at a playgroup 4 years ago when our oldest were infants. We instantly connected and ever since then have been good friends. Neither one of us has immediate family nearby to lean on during those difficult first few years. Both of us could have felt isolated if it weren’t for the wonderful support and guidance we received from various caretakers and experts we reached out to during this time. We are a good example of two women with different parenting philosophies at times, but truly believe what is most important is to support one another as mamas.
LiveMom: How long have you lived in Austin? Where else have you lived and which location has been your favorite?
Allison: I moved here to attend graduate business school at UT and thought I would move back home to Boston after 2 years. Fast forward 15 years and I am still here. I feel like Austin offers all of the advantages of a family-friendly big-city such as Boston but without the hassles of one such as exorbitant housing prices or having crowds everywhere you turn. I have also lived in Saratoga Springs, NY, Hilton Head, SC, Charlotte, and Dallas. While I enjoyed all of those cities, Austin is by far my favorite. If only I could get my family to move here!
LiveMom: Have you had a tough time building up your village since moving here or did you find that Austin is a relatively easy city to parent in?
Allison: One of the reasons I decided to stay in Austin permanently was I knew how family-friendly the city is. It is also one of the easiest cities to meet people I have ever lived in, especially other mamas. I don’t think I have ever visited a park without meeting another mama.
LiveMom: Do you work from home? If so, what are some challenges that you face on a daily basis?
Allison: I do, but I try as much as possible to schedule meetings and work outside of the house. It is much easier for me to zone out noise at the busiest café then focus in my on house when the kids and laundry are calling my name.
LiveMom: What are some things that you like to do in your downtime?
Allison: Read, go to the movies, cafes, live music, jog around Town Lake, yoga, cook, and spend time with my girlfriends.
LiveMom: What are some of your favorite family-friendly activities to do in Austin?
Allison: Downtown Farmers market, Whole Foods (great food for adults and playground for kids- hard combination to find in town), Zilker Zephyr, splash pads, storytime at the library, food trailer parks, and the children’s museum.
LiveMom: Cheer Up Buttercups has recently launched a singer/songwriter series that happens once a month at Central Market. Will there be other events like that coming up?
Yes, we have also launched a series of workshops around town. On April 10th we have a nutrition workshop called “Strategies for Your Picky Eater” and on April 13th we have a workshop called “Parenting 101: Post Birth Preparation” for pregnant mamas. Both of these workshops are free! Information is on our website.
LiveMom: If you could give unsolicited advice out, what would you say and to whom would you say it to?
To all the mamas out there I would say do the best you can and try not to beat yourself up over what you aren’t doing. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything. My mother spent the last few years of her life apologizing to me for everything she didn’t do right, and she was the best mother in the world. I already have regrets about things I am and am not doing as a mother, but I try and remind myself that all I can do is the best I can.