Today’s Meet a Mom interview is with North Shore native and super creative mom of 2, Jennifer Gange. Jennifer is the owner of Earth Craft Creations LLC and she and her husband build the most amazing mud kitchens. If you’re not sure what a mud kitchen is, this interview is for you! Jennifer’s kitchens are built for outdoor sensory play and provide endless hours of entertainment for your kids. Keep reading to learn more and see some stunning pictures of her work.
Where are you from originally and what town do you live in now?
I am originally from Wakefield, Massachusetts, and now live in Pelham, New Hampshire.
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
I have 2 daughters: Sky, age 17, and Charlotte, age 6. Along with my husband (and dog Noah), they are the loves of my life!
What’s your favorite family activity on the North Shore?
We love visiting the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield, Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, and Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester. We also enjoy wandering around Salem, browsing all of the shops and visiting the Peabody Essex Museum.
Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop on the North Shore?
Finz in Salem, Manhattan Sandwich Company in Marblehead, Champions Pub in Peabody and Richardson’s Ice Cream in Middleton!
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started building mud kitchens?
I enjoy helping others live better lives. My formal background and education are in social work, counseling psychology and education. I also LOVE playing outdoors with my children. I am a total day dreamer at heart. Earth Craft Creations LLC began as a daydream while playing with the mud kitchen my husband and I built our youngest daughter, for her third birthday. Daydreams paired with some motivation and a bit of a plan can turn into wonderful things!
What are some of the benefits of sensory play?
Sensory play is beneficial to every part of a child’s development including supporting cognitive processes, enhancing memory and language skills, encouraging scientific and mathematical thinking, fine and gross motor skills practice, imagination and mindfulness. A health benefit specific to mud kitchen play, is that exposure to dirt helps build a strong immune system. One other very important benefit that every child will tell you right away, is how much fun this type of play is!
How do you come up with the ideas for your mud kitchen designs?
I am inspired by being out in nature and I love being creative. I play around with ideas then collaborate with my husband. I bring the fun and creativity, he brings the practicality and together we end up with some really fun and beautiful designs!
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Plenty of things so this was a tough question! I’d like to share something that has actually come as a pleasant surprise to me about myself–I LOVE being a middle aged woman! I think we are somewhat conditioned to dread moving past our youth and I was no exception to this trepidation. If you are a mom approaching 40 or whatever the magical middle age number is to you I urge you to own this stage, love all that this life stage has to offer. Allow the realization that time really does pass quickly to become your fuel towards living the life you want to be living NOW.
Any tips for balancing work & motherhood?
My first thought is figure out what recharges you. That is going to look different for everyone and that is fine! Make time for doing that as much of a priority as working and caregiving for your family. You will be better for it. Your work endeavors and commitments will be better for it. Your family will be better for it. The stronger and more fulfilled you feel, the better you can perform in all of your roles.
What is the best piece of mom advice you ever received?
Enjoy your children, it goes by so fast. As a mom of 17-year-old, I promise it does go by as quickly as everyone says. Soak in every good moment you can and savor the heck out of them. This doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect all the time. That is never how it goes for anyone, but focus intentionally on what is good, there is really so much.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me” time?
To recharge, I love to be outdoors, close to nature. My favorite places to be are at the ocean with my feet in the water, walking in the woods or swimming in the lake where I live. When I am not soaking in all the serenity I can outdoors, I love to go to the gym, read human interest stories or historical fiction and more often that I should (sorry, not sorry!) enjoy a nice bowl of ice cream.
Visit the Earth Craft Creations Facebook page to learn more about Jennifer’s business and as a special treat, mention this interview and receive 10% off any order placed now through September 3, 2020!