Name: Erica Rourke
Where did you grow up:
I grew up in a small, eclectic town 90 minutes from NYC called New Paltz. We had freezing winters, and apple and pumpkin picking in the fall. It is really one of those places where everybody knows your name! To this day, whenever I go back for a visit I am greeted by all of those familiar faces that I love so much. I LOVE taking my children back in the fall to experience the change of season, and everything fall has to offer. New Paltz is such a fun little town and will always hold a special place in my heart!
Why you love living there:
What’s not to love about Jupiter? We have some of the most amazing beaches in the entire country. We LOVE spending our weekends hunting for conch shells and crabs at Coral Cove, and then lunch at either Guanabanas, Dive Bar, or the Burger Shack at Lighthouse Cove. I love that it has a small town feel but quick access to all the luxuries of a big town/city living. Specifically, we bought a home in Jupiter Farms, and living out here is really a dream. Our children have enough room to roam safely, and explore the outdoors – just like I did growing up. And while the schools in Jupiter are all amazing, Jupiter Farms Elementary is really top notch! You get the “feel” of a private school, with the amazing communication between teachers and parents, and the sense of community the school has to offer. We are just so happy here. Our life in Jupiter is a mixture of beach & country living – it really is the best of both worlds!!
Often people ask me how I manage with four children but I truly feel like its a walk in the park. I have two little mommy helpers in my girls. They both love “babysitting” their little brothers and are such big helpers around the house. Lola is my firstborn, type A, eager to please just all around good girl. When she was a baby, her smile would light up a room! I always jokingly say I don’t think she’s ever been in trouble once in her life. Delilah was born just two years later and she came out as feisty as they come!! She was a TOUGH baby, but has grown into a sweet, sassy, bubbly little doll. She is sharp as a whip a total social butterfly. We are so fortunate to have two sweet girls who are best friends with each other. Fast forward three years and along came little John!! While he was a pretty chill baby, the terrible twos started at about 14 months and have lasted well into the threes! (Being brutally honest here!) He is a sweet little boy and loves his mama but boy is he a BOY! I think a big part of me just wasn’t prepared for the level of energy he has after having two girly girls. He’s rough, he’s tough, but he melts me at the end of the day with his snuggles and by telling me Im beautiful <3 Just the other night, he looked up at me with big blue eyes and said “mommy, one day I will buy you a ring”. Melt my heart. When little John was about two, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 4! Im being totally raw and honest here when I tell you, I was so upset. I had just finished breastfeeding little John, and after years of being pregnant and breastfeeding, I was really ready to have my body back. I also couldn’t imagine spreading myself any thinner, and feared I wouldn’t be able to give as much attention to all these kids. It took me a good 6 months to really get excited about the idea of a fourth, but now that he’s here my heart could not be more full and I cant imagine life without him! Ford is an absolute JOY and perfect baby. He’s SO darn happy, and cute and sweet and lovable! Our entire family just adores “our baby” and he’s been the perfect addition.
Favorite things to do with the kids locally: Aside from the obvious beach & boating, this summer we’ve loved exploring some of our local state parks! We’ve hiked Jonathan Dickinson, and John D. MacArther state park, and loved learning about some of the history that our local area has to offer. Our other favorite local spots are Loggerhead Marine life center to visit the sea turtles or watch a release, the River Center, catch the food trucks at Abacoa or head to downtown gardens to ride the merry-go-round and the choo-choo. Our favorite spots for dinner are Dive Bar <- hands down favorite (sushi or fresh local caught fish for me, steak for hubby, and the best chicken tenders and honey mustard for the kids), we also love Utiki – great view and so kid friendly!
What is your best parenting advise. Lay it on us. Being a mom is the hardest, most rewarding job one can ever have. One thing that has made my journey as a mother a little easier, is learning to trust myself and my instincts. No one knows your kids better than you, and know one should ever tell you how to parent your child. Whether its a friend, a doctor, a family member or even a random person on the internet, YOU know whats best for YOUR child and its so important to trust that gut instinct! For me, co-sleeping was something that felt right. It felt natural, and it made sense to me, and each of my children has slept in our bed until about 3 years of age. It saved us so much sleep, and it helped everyone in our family feel safe and secure. It works – FOR US! If I had listened to what others said, I may have missed out on something that I feel is so important. At the end of the day, no two children are the same, and no two families are the same – so my advice is to trust your gut, do what works for you and try not to worry about anything else! Put the mom guilt to bed and just do your best – and know that you are a superwoman to those kids!
What do you do for self care? While I am currently deep in the trenches of motherhood, there is not much time at the end of the day for myself. Aside from the obvious hair, nail and facials theres one thing I want to touch on that keeps me feeling like a human. Date your spouse. Regular date nights have always been a huge priority to me. Theres something about getting dressed up and going out for a night of dinner and dancing that makes me happy. It reminds me that I am more than just mom, and also keeps our marriage alive and fun. The one thing Ive learned is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you don’t make your marriage a priority, everything else will in your life will suffer. When Mom is happy – kids are happy!
Anything else you want to share? Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey as a mom and my photography business! You can find more of my work on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EricaRourkePhotography or IG https://www.instagram.com/ericarourkephotography/ and purchase presets here https://gum.co/CNipP.