A working parent’s stress-busters

How Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg handles it all


Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg picks up Maia, 1 1/2 and Camilo, 4 1/2 from daycare. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
July 9

● Snacks fix everything. Simon keeps a sleeve of Ritz crackers and a box of fruit gummy snacks in his car. The drive home from day care each evening takes less than five minutes, but he has found that offering Camilo and Maia a preferred snack on the way keeps everyone happy. That philosophy helps him during weekly grocery store trips, as well. He usually makes the produce department his first stop and grabs an apple for whichever child has accompanied him. Munching on a piece of fruit keeps the child occupied while Simon shops.

→ Plan and prep the week’s meals ahead of time. Simon does all the cooking in the house (Paola says you wouldn’t want to eat her cooking), so he also does the grocery shopping. Before he shops on Saturday mornings, he plans the meals for the entire week. Then, on Saturday and Sunday evenings after Maia and Camilo have gone to bed, he does as much work ahead of time as he can. Sometimes that means assembling a baked pasta dish that he can just throw into the oven one night after work, or roasting a chicken (Camilo’s protein of choice) to eat later in the week. During the summer he likes to toss a flank or skirt steak in a marinade in the morning, then grill it when he gets home and serve it with corn on the cob. Recently, he prepared the base for cioppino, or seafood stew, on Saturday night. He also chopped the fish and peeled the shrimp in advance.

→ Cultivate your own interests. Paola and Simon each spend an evening out of the house alone every week, pursuing hobbies. Paola takes a pole class at DivaFit in Falls Church on Fridays and Sundays. Simon has been taking guitar lessons on Tuesday evenings since January. It gives them time to relax and recharge. Paola said the weekly evening alone is “essential” for her sanity.

→ Prioritize what matters. Time is in scarce supply for Simon and Paola, as it is for most working parents. When faced with a choice between scrubbing the toilet or taking Camilo and Maia to the pool, Simon and Paola choose the pool every time. So the Sandoval-Moshenbergs have a cleaning service that comes in every two weeks (they increased that from once a month after Paola got a raise). A lawn-care service comes every few weeks during the growing season, because Simon sees lawn care as “wasted time.” Paola agrees, saying, “We are not home-fixing people. Our time goes to the kids and work.” They don’t do much maintenance work on the house or the lawn between the visits from the pros.

→ Get a little help from family. Simon, an only child, grew up in Alexandria and his parents still live there. His father, Dan Moshenberg, is a professor at George Washington University. His mother, Sammie Moshenberg, was the legislative director for the National Council of Jewish Women and is now a private political consultant. Paola said having her in-laws nearby is a huge help to them. When Camilo was a baby, Dan Moshenberg watched him one day a week. They bring dinner over on Friday nights, so Simon can stay at work a little later. They help out when the kids are sick or day care is close and Simon and Paola can’t break away from work. And, of course, they make it possible for Simon and Paola to have a date night a couple of times a month, such as a recent trip to Captain Pell’s Fairfax Crabhouse. Simon’s parents get quality time with their grandchildren, and Simon and Paola can enjoy appetizers and dessert during a more leisurely dinner than they would have with the kids.

Mari-Jane Williams

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