Ciji Danielle Serdula
Ciji Danielle Serdula is a case manager at Wesley Place on Honeysuckle. She and her husband, Ryan, have been married for eight years. They have four children: Jenna (17), Jayce (14), Elliot (7), and Leia (5).
WP: How would you describe your parenting style?
CS: Relaxed and laid back. I think letting kids be kids and navigate as much of their day on their own as they can, with some oversight of course, helps foster creativity by using their imagination to the fullest. It really is fascinating to watch kids just be kids and see the interesting little games and scenarios they come up with! When they have spats with each other, I encourage them to figure out a solution on their own but most of the time they realize it’s not that big of a deal anyway!
WP: You have two teenagers. What’s it like navigating that sea of hormones?
CS: Oh it’s fun! Now, I can’t speak on how boys are like as teenagers but girls, I have had a healthy dose! It’s really eye-opening to see yourself in them mostly, especially when one of your most prominent traits is stubbornness. At the same time, watching them turn into these really interesting people that you really didn’t expect is especially cool. What else is fascinating is how different each child can be! Jenna is fun loving and outgoing, where Jaycie is more introspective and imaginative. It’s just been a crazy, wild ride for sure, but right now I think is a sweet spot for them. They get along really well. That has not always been the case. Anyone with a sister can attest to that, I am sure!
WP: Your kids are pretty spaced out in age. Was that intentional, and why?
CS: I have always wanted a big family. I think it just kind of evolved into what it is by chance. I had my first two girls pretty young. I went through nursing school with an infant and three year old while their father worked. Directly following my graduation, their father dove into engineering school. Those years were a whirlwind. Ultimately, we went different directions and I met and married my current husband and father of my youngest two. The age differences have really worked! I think it gives all the kids a little bit of an uncommon perspective. For the older girls, being like little bonus moms at times, helping fix snacks or lunches and babysitting. For the younger kids, having the extra love and support of a much cooler version of Mama.
WP: As the mom of four kids, life is undoubtedly busy, but it’s important to make time for one-on-one connection with each of them. What does that look like for your family?
This is a tough one but super important. They will tell me if I am falling short in this area, for sure! I work full time so I have to maximize my little opportunities. I make sure to keep in mind what they like when I am planning one-on-one time.
Jenna enjoys shopping trips with just me and her. Quality time is absolutely one of her love languages, so I will hear it loud and clear If I need to do better! Jaycie and I like to take walks with the dog and talk about whatever. We try to do this a couple times a week. Elliot likes to ride his bike and is very good at it! We take little bike rides around the neighborhood. Then with Leia, it’s easy! She has cheer class every Thursday so we do that together and I practice with her throughout the week. I have tried to instill the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle in each one of them. It’s easy to come up with quick and fun things to do with that in mind. We enjoy hiking Forever Wild together and riding bikes at James Oates Park often.
WP: Do you have any organizational or time management hacks that help you stay on top of everyone’s schedules and activities?
CS: We have found ourselves falling into a pretty solid routine over the past few years. I think having that helps. Of course, since the younger kids have started picking up afternoon activities we have had to fine tune our flexibility. The kids know the drill after school: snacks, homework, play, dinner, baths, devices turned in by 7, then bed by 8. With the older girls, of course, things look a lot different! I do encourage them to have lights out by 10 during the week. As far as making household tasks easier, we build our grocery list through the week. Everyone participates! I try to encourage each child to offer one meal suggestion and we place an order for weekend pickup. Grocery pick-up is such a life saver! We are fortunate that Ryan is usually home in time to take care of dinner so by the time I get home at 5:00 we can jump right into having dinner and anything else we need to do for the evening.
WP: What’s something you do at home that you think promotes better family time?
CS: We always have a meal together in the evenings. I think it’s crucial! It’s a time for everyone to connect and talk about what’s on their mind and how their day went. It really is non-negotiable unless you are sick! My rule, of course, is no arguing at the table, but other than that, pretty much anything else is fair game.
WP: What’s something you hope your children are learning from you, even if it’s not a direct lesson?
CS: That’s pretty easy. I have to say hard work. I want them to know that nothing worth having comes easy and that hard work does pay off. You learn so many other lessons along the way.
WP: Do you have a favorite fall or Halloween memory?
CS: My family had a lot of bonfires growing up so that’s one of my favorites. The smell of the fire is 100 percent what gives me all the fall-feels.
WP: Does your family have any fall or Halloween traditions?
CS: We enjoy the Peanut Festival just as much as anyone around here! We also enjoy heading to Aplin Farms pumpkin patch for a hayride and to pick out our pumpkins!
WP: When it comes to Halloween, are you a store-bought or make-your-own costume kind of mom?
CS: Absolutely store bought! My poor kids would be in a mess if I had to make their costumes! Picking out costumes is quite an event at our house. We have pretty much been deciding on costumes since July!
WP: As we approach the holiday season, life tends to get busier. How do you avoid mom burnout?
CS: Pacing and planning. It’s definitely okay to not attend every little party or event that pops up. I have learned that quality over quantity is the best course of action with the holidays! For those that we do attend, I plan out as much as I can. If it’s Thanksgiving for instance; I prep all I can the night before, and then all that’s left on the day of is popping in over or adding the final touches. This has helped to avoid any meltdowns that would otherwise dampen the mood of an otherwise fun and festive time!
WP: Speaking of preventing mom burn-out, if you could, what one chore would you forever outsource?
CS: This is the easiest question of them all. Laundry! I will tell on myself a little bit, Ryan takes on the brunt of this chore but I get tasked with putting it away, which we all know is the absolute worst. If I didn’t have to ever do laundry again, I would be a much nicer mom most days!
WP: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
CS: Perfection is an illusion. Just do you and enjoy every minute of it. I think we as moms get caught up in this idealistic perception we have of ourselves and it’s not always the best thing for us. It’s okay to be a little messy and unrefined! I think we are all more alike than what we think, and the façade that we sometimes put on only hinders ourselves and others. So ultimately being true to yourself is the best bet.
WP: Any words or wisdom or advice for new moms?
CS: Give yourself a little grace and know that there is beauty in the process! It’s not always smooth sailing, but you will have a lot of wins. I guess the most practical advice I would offer is to not take on too much. When you spread yourself thin everything suffers and you can’t give the best version of yourself to those that need you the most.