Katie Flynn, local mom of three boys, is getting creative and using social media to connect parents, students and the community in Fairfield during these difficult times.
Where are you originally from and how long have you been in the area?
I was raised locally in Wilton CT. I met my husband Chris, a life long Norwalk resident, in high school. After getting married and having our oldest son we spent years trying to find the place we wanted to raise our family in Fairfield County. Fairfield checked all the boxes. This Fall will marks seven years for us in town. We love being apart of this wonderful community.
Children / Age(s)
We have three boys. Patrick our oldest is seven, and our twins Owen and Lawson are four.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I have struggled with learning disabilities my whole life. I hated school for most of my early childhood. I was blessed to have wonderful teachers and supports that helped me tremendously over my formative years. As an adult I have come to value those teachers and experience more than I ever got to articulate as a child.
One thing you wish someone would have told you about motherhood?
The days are long but the years are really short. (yes I know it sounds obnoxious and condescending when you are on three nights of no sleep with a newborn and covered in baby vomit but I swear its true)
Having newborn twins with a toddler under three caused basically a year long parenting black out. I wish I lived in the moment more, let the messes stay, the dishes pile up, slowed down and enjoyed them all in that stage more. It all went by really fast.
Favorite local things to do in Fairfield?
Bonfires at Lake Mohegan. Days at the Beach. Exploring local businesses and restaurants. Most weekends though you can now find us at one of the boys sporting events, baseball fields, basketball courts or lacrosse fields your pick, with three boys it takes up a large majority of our time.
We are so lucky here in Fairfield. I feel like there are always things for young families to explore in town, from farmers markets, to school events and outdoor activities.
What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Fairfield?
We love the neighborhood feel in Fairfield, it was the main reason we ended up here. We bought our house in large part because it made gave us the ability to walk to our elementary school, North Stratfield. We love our school communities from our preschool Grace Methodist to now the Early Childhood Center and North Stratfield, we have been so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful communities for our children and our family.
Fairfield also gives us access to so many outdoor activities from hiking to the beaches and everything in-between, for an active young family its the perfect place to be.
Do you have a favorite family friendly restaurant? Date night?
Colony Grill and The Blind Rhino are always our go-to for family nights out. When we get a chance for a date night, we frequent Brick Walk Tavern and Malibu Taco.
What is your go-to activity for your family? For yourself?
I am loyal member of Burn Bootcamp Gym. I love having a local gym that connects so many wonderful women here in town.
Our family is members of the Gaelic American Club and we enjoy spending time there with family and friends. We also love days at the Beach or Lake Mohegan and spending time exploring the Fairfield Museum.
Best mom hack that makes your life easier?
Find your village…Put yourself out there, introduce yourself to that mom at the park or coffee shop. Your village will become your safety net, your confidants and your kids biggest fans. Being a parent is a collective experience. Even if you have a supportive and involved family, parenting involves an immense amount of community support. I learned very quickly to ask for the help and accept it, you and you family will be better off because of it.
Name one thing you regret when learning the ropes of parenthood and what you learned from it?
Always be overly prepared…pack the extra snacks, (we now keep a communal neighborhood snack bag in our car) have a first aid kit, extra water cups, the list could go on. In the summertime my minivan is basically a traveling closet, sand toys, towels, multiple changes of clothes, with young kids you can never be too prepared. Oh and buy the travel potty, it’ll get plenty of use!
Tell ll us about your local Facebook Page, when & why you started, and the reason behind it?
Several months ago, Kassandra Marshall (another local Fairfield mom) and I started a local Facebook page, Parents of Fairfield Public Schools. We really wanted to create a educational platform with resources for local parents, but also a place to advocate and keep parents informed about school related topics specific to Fairfield.
One of the main things I noticed after my children began school in Fairfield was that as wonderful an asset our neighborhood schools are, it can leave parents a bit disconnected in a district spanning eleven elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools.
I had been an active PTA member and Board of Education Representative for our elementary school for the past three years and it always shocked me how little people knew about what was going on outside of their school in whole school district, from activities to curriculum to our budget process. We wanted one location for all parents in Fairfield to find information, stay engaged and get connected.
After the emergence of Covid-19 that mission has shifted a bit as we try to facilitate the sharing of educational materials, activities and virtual events to keep our students and communities connected.
How did you decide that this was the right career move for you while having a family to raise?
Prior to having my children, I worked in the New Canaan Public Schools. Education has always been a passion of mine, so I always knew I wanted to find a way to harness that advocacy and community involvement in some capacity to help our local Public Schools. Parents of Fairfield Public Schools has really been a broad way to do that. We hope it continues to grow as the needs of the district and community do. Connectign advocacy for our schools and charity needed for our community in this moment was really a happy accident in the past few weeks.
Tell us about this new venture you are doing with the food drive, what is it, how did it start and how can people help?
When we started hosting events on our Facebook page, they were mainly to connect the kids through neighborhood hunts, sharing educational resources and support for parents during these difficult times. Through that mission we were connected with Neighbors helping Neighbors, an organization helping to make sure Operation Hope has the needed donations during this trying time for our community. I had seen the work that they had been doing and knew it would be a great place we could maybe help.
I cam up with an idea last week to challenge the eighteen schools across the district to compete to donate as many goods as possible. After one phone call with Alexis Harrison (one of the founders of Neighbors helping Neighbors), we were off and running. In under a week, we had a press release and community support I never could have imagined. The Food Drive School Challenge was a huge success over this last Sunday. We had donations from all eighteen schools, over 260 cars came through and we were able to collect $1800 in gift cards. We were also able to not only fill the current capacity of Operation Hope’s pantry, but also fill a pod outside as well. The most heartwarming part for me were the donation bags. We encouraged the students to label their bags with their school names. Each bag with it’s hearts, notes and child’s handwriting represented the engagement and connection we were seeking. It was wonderful, and really showed the type of community Fairfield is.
We look forward to creating more ways to help Fairfield students not only stay engaged and connected to each other, but also find age appropriate ways for them to help their community during this difficult time.
How can someone get involved?
The best ways to get involved is to join and follow Parents of Fairfield Public Schools and Neighbors helping Neighbors – Fairfield & Southport on Facebook. We will be updating there both for future Food Drive Events and also continuing to share educational resources and fun events for the students of Fairfield Public Schools
What do we have to look forward to with the School Drive Challenge??
We have a few more challenges in the works, next week we are challenging the High Schools in town to a head to head food drive challenge. The High School Sports teams and PTAs have been so responsive, it’s been amazing to see and really says a lot about the kids and families in Fairfield. They are all facing losing a lot of momentous events this school year, missing their friends and “normal” life, seeing them channel that energy to positive outlets like the Food Drive is really inspirational!
We also have something in the works closer towards National Teacher Appreciation Week, we are so fortunate to have the wonderful teachers we have in Fairfield, honoring them is a huge priority for us now more than ever!