Happy August! This month we're spotlighting local mom, Kate Bennett, social worker at Children's Hospital! Read all about this incredible mom in our exclusive interview below!
Please tell us your Name / Employer(s) / Profession(s)
I’m Kate Bennett, a social worker by trade, providing clinical mental health and behavioral therapy for children & families at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) and the Institute for Child & Family Well-Being (ICFW. My official title is “Well-Being Lead Clinician,” and I have been with the organization for 10 years. I am also a Certified Level 1 Trainer with PCIT International, training clinicians to use Parent-Child Interaction Therapy within their scope of practice.
Please tell us about your kids! Names and ages.
Calvin, age 10
Sawyer, age 6
Charlie the dog (my furbaby), age 7
Patrick the turtle (my reptile baby), age 14
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I grew up in a small, northern Wisconsin town (Lena, WI) with a population of approximately 600. I have one younger sister, who is a family physician practicing medicine in the rural area near my hometown. My dad is still the main large animal veterinarian in the area, and is lovingly referred to as “Doc” by most.
When I graduated high school in 2004, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to study so I dabbled with a few majors while in college at UW-Oshkosh and felt a bit lost in the process. I decided to join Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity (ZTA) in order to meet and make connections with other women. I still am part of that alumnae organization today, and it helped me find my niche in Criminal Justice and Social Work. If I hadn’t been part of ZTA, I likely also would not have met my husband, Ryan, who was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Fast forward a bit, and we had our surprise baby, Calvin, right out of college.
Fast forward a bit, and we had our surprise baby, Calvin, right out of college. We struggled financially initially when starting our family so young, and I am proud of the strides we have made over the past 10 years to make a comfortable home and life that fits us.
We currently live in Oconomowoc, and we enjoy spending time in all areas from Lake Country into Milwaukee. Ryan was recently promoted to the Managing Director of SafeNet Consulting in Milwaukee, and Calvin and Sawyer have had a busy summer playing in both baseball and rugby leagues. We love to have movie nights, go fishing, and stay active as a family.
Explain/describe one of your proudest mom moments recently.
One of the highlights of my year was hearing and reading the feedback from Cal & Sawyer’s teachers and camp counselors about their willingness to help others in their classroom and throughout the school. Our goal as parents is to raise kind, caring, and compassionate children…and I feel like we are on the right track.
What do you like best about your work?
I wear multiple hats in my role at CHW/ICFW, but the thing I love most about my work is the opportunities that I have to make meaningful connections with others. Whether I’m providing clinical services, training, or with my team, the relationships are the bread & butter. In my PCIT work, I get to see relationships between parents and their children evolve for the better within a matter of minutes…it’s absolutely magical!
What's the hardest part of being a working mom?
Finding balance for all of the family activities, academics, sporting events, etc., while still being mindful that we all need time with one another and time for ourselves. Life can be so stressful for both parents and kids. Ryan and I are very conscious of protecting the boys’ mental and emotional health so we make sure that they have a voice in that balance, too.
Ryan and I are very conscious of protecting the boys’ mental and emotional health so we make sure that they have a voice in that balance, too.
What has been the biggest surprise so far in motherhood?
The humbling aspect of it all! For example…I believe that I have quite a therapeutic skill set in working with kids and teaching parents/caregivers effective ways to manage behaviors, but I absolutely have my imperfect moments as a mom and my kiddos have imperfect moments, too. I’ve been humbled by how much love heals, and I’ve learned that sometimes hiding in your closet with good sushi and a glass of wine is therapeutic in itself.
What does self care mean to you?
Self-care is all about routinely checking-in with yourself and meeting your own needs: physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally. It’s not just about getting manicures, massages, and shopping (although, those are great things to do sometimes!) To me, it’s about really about feeling healthy and fulfilled. It’s about managing stress effectively and safely.
How do you practice self care on a daily basis?
As a mom, I know I’m one of the primary role models for Calvin & Sawyer so it’s good motivation to keep myself healthy in all aspects of life. Daily self-care for me includes adequate sleep, my 5am workouts (usually at OrangeTheory Fitness…which has been wonderful for me), morning coffee, 80-100 oz of water throughout the day, mindful breaks at work and home, and 1:1 time with family and friends.
I have had major issues with anxiety due to a personal traumatic experience and take medication to manage it, which is one of the best decisions I could have made.
I have had major issues with anxiety due to a personal traumatic experience and take medication to manage it, which is one of the best decisions I could have made. I have really started to limit my social media use as well, which has improved my mood and sleep habits tremendously over the past few months. I’m a creature of habit and love to stay routine as much as I can.
Do you have any words of advice for other working moms, especially those that are newer working moms and learning how to navigate this new world?
There is unfortunately not a handbook for parenting or balancing the working mom life, and we are all literally just trying to survive and do the best for our kiddos. My paramount piece of advice for moms would be to be your greatest advocate in your work role (or wherever needed) so that it’s clear your family is your priority. Learn to say “no” and know that the world won’t crumble if you’re not doing it all every single day.
What is Milwaukee's biggest opportunity to improve the lives of working moms and better support them?
Relationships foster resiliency!
I believe that connecting working moms the way that WMM has begun to do is a perfect start to growing a network of empowered women that aren’t afraid to ask for help and talk about serious issues.
I believe that connecting working moms the way that WMM has begun to do is a perfect start to growing a network of empowered women that aren’t afraid to ask for help and talk about serious issues. I’d love to see some virtual connections over Zoom or something happening for moms who maybe can’t make it out for events, but still want to have time to socialize and meet others.
What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant in the area?
Oooh… I have to say the Kiltie Drive-In is our current favorite!
Favorite date night spot?
Lately, it’s been on our couch eating homemade charcuterie boards and playing cribbage.
Do you and your family have any fun plans for the month of August?
We are going up to the Goedtel Family Cottage in Gaylord, MI for 2 weeks in August and we can’t wait! It’s out annual trip to relax and unwind as a family before the hectic school year begins.