This week’s Subscriber Profile is of Jen Levinson, mother of 5 boys (including 2 sets of identical twins!) and owner and editor of the popular e-newsletter, Jen’s List. Jen runs a thriving business, and even has one set of her twins working on a television show. Being at the center of this busy household has turned Jen into an intuitive expert at knowing what moms need to get through their day: Jen’s List is a daily compilation of parenting, activity and household tips for parents from her base in Calabasas. Her mothering credentials make her an expert on both boys and twins, which is where our conversation begins:
National Geographic has a cover story on twins this month – any reflections on their observations? I have not had a chance to read the story, but I’m very curious to see what it has to say. We have two sets of identical boys, which is extremely unusual, so I’m frequently approached for advice on how to deal with twins. For us, the biggest challenge is treating everyone like an individual while dealing with the five of them. Click here for the online version of the National Geographic article, including some wonderful photo essays. ***See Editor’s Note
Can you give us a brief tour of a typical day in your life? It’s crazy. Mike leaves pretty early but does help to get the 5 kids off to school as much as possible. Then it’s some work around the house – making beds, straightening up, laundry, dishes, etc. I usually work on and answer emails around lunch time, then it’s off to school(s!) to pick up and head out to some combination of karate, basketball, hip hop, flag football or Hebrew school. Mike, thank goodness, helps do some of the schlepping to the afternoon activities. And then we wrap it all up by getting the five of them down and getting ready for the next day.
How does the younger twins’ role on the television show impact your family life? The youngest set of twins have been on the Secret Life of the American Teenager for three seasons, and most of their filming takes place when the others are at school. The older 3 boys get a kick out of their brother being recognized by 15 year-old girls and don’t mind bragging about the TV star little brothers! This opportunity fell in our lap, we took it and it’s been a blessing, financially, for the kids. They will be in good shape when they go to college.
What’s a perfect day in the life of a 9 year-old boy? Playing with friends, Legos, Wii, Scooters, Handball and snacks. Activity is good for kids and I like to keep them busy! A down day is a boring day – LOL!
What’s the best birthday party you have ever thrown? There are a few places that come to mind: Movies By Kids, Tumbleweed, and My Gym. Anything where they help you to set up/clean up and entertain the kids is good by me!
Describe one perfect moment with your family at home with television and media – what works to bring you all together? We watch the appropriate parts of The Secret Life of the American Teenager together as a family. We love Extreme Home Makeover – it shows people from many different parts of the country, with different kinds of struggles, and I think it teaches them a lot about others. We also really enjoy a healthy competition of family Mario Cart or Just Dance as a great way to get everyone together. For those moments it’s just the 7 of us and nothing else matters.
Still… How Do You Do it All? My husband and I know what we each do “best” and try to manage those tasks that we do well and leave the others to the spouse. For example, I can’t cook my way out of a paper bag, but Mike loves to cook. So, he cooks and I clean. It works out perfectly. Another example is I love being involved in the kids school and Mike enjoys the after school activities, such as sports. We both try to never step on each other’s toes and if one of us makes a decision about something, the other will support them. Day to day, dealing with 5 kids schedules, personalities and needs is not a walk in the park. I do get frustrated and don’t always handle the pressure with grace. But, I am human, I do the best I can.
*** Editor’s Note: We get National Geographic every month. It sits on the coffee table in a place of honor, a remnant of a bygone era perhaps — but, there’s still no match around for incredible photography and stories that capture your heart. A subscription is a great gift, too.