Crocktastic Parenting Tips from Nicole

OK, ParentLab readers, you’re in for a treat! Crockin’ Girl Nicole Sparks joins us this week as our special guest blogger.

But first, a little Crockin’ Girls history: What started as a fun and fast way for Brownwood, Texas, residents Nicole Sparks and Jenna Marwitz to share recipes with their family and friends quickly (and much to their surprise!) went viral. The Crockin’ Girls now boast more than 5,000 Twitter followers, 2.2 million-plus web page views per month, and over 100,000 CG Club members! Their first cookbook, The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion, hit bookshelves in April. It features gorgeous photographs of every one of the 165 flavorful, nutritious, timesaving, and simple recipes, ranging from enticing appetizers to hearty main dishes to decadent desserts. For more info on the book, the girls, or just about anything CG related, check out their website:

Now, on to the blog!

Busy “mom-preneur” Nicole pressed the pause button on her Crockin’ Girls schedule to dish with us on her biggest parenting challenges, how she juggles her diverse duties, why family mealtime is a must, and then some!

So take a breather from your must-dos and gain some great advice from one of ParentLab’s favorite contributors, Nicole Sparks.

PL: What are your biggest challenges as a parent?

NS: Consistency with my almost 3-year-old. I know that it is really important for him to consistently see what is right and wrong and know the outcome for the choices he makes. And patience with my 1-year-old. She is so strong-willed!

PL: Your life has shifted dramatically since becoming the famous Crockin’ Girls. How are you navigating those changes as moms and wives?

NS: We took it on as a family, and we have adjusted to our new “normal”! Daddy is doing a lot more chores (I even made a laundry chart for him), and the kids are learning that Mama and Daddy both have jobs that require us to be away from them sometimes. I have also had to change my expectations of how I thought things needed to be done and just be thankful they’re done!

PL: What are your top tips for balancing your professional/personal lives with your role as parents?

NS: When you are home, be home! There is a difference in being there and being there. Get off the computer, phone, etc., and give them your full attention so they know that they are important.

PL: Any advice specifically for moms?

NS: Don’t be so hard on yourselves! Don’t let this short time in your life slip by without really enjoying it and giving yourself a pat on the back!

PL: Why are family meals so important?

NS: Things in our society have gotten to the point where sitting down with family for a meal is no longer a priority. Some of my greatest memories with my family come from moments spent gathered around the table and enjoying each other’s company! It was made a priority in my childhood, and I think I owe it to my kids to show them that we want to sit and talk with them, “turn off” the outside world, and really engage with one another.

Don’t have a copy of their cookbook yet? Pick up The Crockin’ Girls Slow Cookin’ Companion today from Barnes and Noble, Costco, or via their website: