Krystal Hays is a mom, wife, business owner and lifelong Edmond resident. She chatted with us about her home, marriage and the tough decision to return to work after becoming a mom.
MFM: Tell us about your background and family.
KH: My husband Tanner and I have been married 10 years and we have two kids. Lorelai is 4 and Harrison was born in October. I have an art education degree from University of Oklahoma and taught at Edmond North High School until I had Lorelai. When Lorelai was a baby I started working for Anthropologie as their event coordinator. But about a year ago my boss actually pushed me to leave and start my own business. I used to do signage for the store and everyone was always asking me how to do the calligraphy I used on the signs. So I started a brush calligraphy business called Pen to Paper. I do a lot of calligraphy for weddings like envelopes and signs. I also teach classes, either private classes at people's houses or a store will host me for a teaching event.
MFM: What's your favorite thing about where you live?
KH: My favorite thing about this house is the location and the character because it's an older house. Our neighbors are just great. We practically live outside because it's so fun to have people walking around and see everybody. Tanner brews beer so people stop by a lot. I grew up less than a mile from here. My parents went to Memorial High School, I went to Memorial High School. We're definitely Edmond people. We just love the people here. We've been in this house three years and we're slowly putting our own touch on it. My husband embraces my creative side. He let me paint the dining room ceiling black. Our bedroom is bright green. He just goes with it and I love that.
MFM: How do you want other people to feel in your house?
KH: Like it's their own. Our friends and neighbors definitely feel that way. Yes, we have kids but I don't necessarily want it to feel like that when people walk in. Their rooms reflect their personalities but the rest of the house really is for me and Tanner. Lorelai is welcome to play in any area of the house with whatever toys she likes, but she knows that when she goes to bed her toys go to bed. We don't keep kid things out because we believe as the parents this is our space. They have their rooms but the whole house is not open for all their stuff.
MFM: What are your parenting philosophies?
KH: A priority for us was that we didn't want to lose ourselves when we became parents. A lot of people think it might be selfish that we have date nights once a week or put our kids to bed early so we can spend time together or that both the kids spent the night away with grandparents when they were four weeks old. But I think of it the exact opposite. Tanner's my husband and he comes first. If we're not good then our kids will not be good.
MFM: What did you learn from your own upbringing that's impacted the way you parent now?
KH: My mom worked from home growing up and I really learned so much watching her juggle it all. I love that Lorelai is having the opportunity to do the same. She has a desk in my office. I'm blessed that she loves art as much as I do. She'll ask if it's time to work and I'll sit at my own desk and she loves to sit at hers and color or play with a canvas I'm not using. I learned to multi-task from my mom and I see Lorelai is already becoming a better multi-tasker than me.
MFM: Tell me about your decision to go back to work after having kids.
KH: I was a teacher but when I had Lorelai I became a stay-at-home mom. That lasted a whole five months. I thought after I had her that I would be done working. But I've got to be my own person. After just a few months I realized staying home just wasn't what I really wanted. I got a job as the event coordinator for Anthropologie. I had to stand on my own feet. I've been working almost my entire life. I got a job teaching cheer when I was in middle school and I've been working ever since. So stopping just made me feel like I was losing a bit of my personality. It was a hard decision to decide to work with a baby, but I knew it was the right one when Tanner said to me, "I feel like I have my wife back" after just a week of me going back to work.
MFM: What's the best advice you've ever been given about being a parent?
KH: Enjoy it because it doesn't last long. Every stage just passes so quickly.
MFM: What's your favorite stage of motherhood so far?
KH: When they're 2 or 3, it's so fun because you can just do no wrong. You're their entire world! I never experienced "terrible twos" or the dreaded "threenager" stage. That stage with Lorelai was just so fun.
MFM: There's a lot of talk among working parents about balance. Do you believe it exists and how do you achieve it?
KH: It's so hard to separate work and home life. I have to make a list, create a schedule and really stick to it. I take Lorelai to school at 9:30 a.m. and I have to come home and work until lunch. If I decide to run some errands during that time then the day is over. I'll never manage to get into my office. If I can get those three hours in each morning, I feel so much better. Then Tanner comes home for lunch (he works just down the street) and the afternoon can be more about errands and chores and household stuff.
Just when I was about to have Harrison, I had a friend text me some advice. She said I would have to let go of being a perfectionist. She said I wouldn't be able to do as much and instead of trying to do everything I should just put my family first and then do the best I can with everything else. I look back on that text a lot to remind me I don't have to try to do it all. That resonates with me so much.
But putting my family first means saying "no" a lot. And saying "no" sucks. I'm debating making a big career move and it's really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But it would mean being stretched thin at home. I don't want to miss out on anything. My mom told me when I was pregnant with Lorelai that all her friends said their number one regret was that they didn't stay at home more with their kids. I don't want to regret anything later. When I was working at Anthropologie, Lorelai broke her leg and I couldn't take her to get her cast. That's one of my biggest regrets. It's silly because she was fine and my mom took her. But I still can't look at photos of her with that cast on without crying. Because I am her mom and I should have been there. So no matter what, you're going to miss out on either something with your family or something with your career.
MFM: How do you and your husband split responsibilities at home?
KH: Tanner is the hardest worker and he truly does it all. He works his butt off five days a week and comes home and does the laundry, mops, vacuums, does the dishes. He does it all. He's the caretaker and I'm the gift giver. That's just the way our relationship works, those are our love languages. So I surprise him sometimes at his office or do something sweet and he's just so good at taking care of things.
MFM: What are the best and worst things about motherhood?
KH: The best is hands-down the smiles. Lorelai's smile can transform my entire day. I can be feeling so bad and that smile just turns it all around. The worst is the guilt. I don't know what's worse, the mom guilt or just the frustration that dads don't even understand what that guilt is like. Dads will just never understand what that feels like.
[Editor's Note: This interview was edited for style and clarity.]