How does she do it?: Lisa Dobson

While her husband lives in Pennsylvania, this mother of five is a small business owner and community volunteer in Antigonish, NS

Photo by Aaron Fraser

Age: 45
Kids: Ben, 2, Kate, 13, Edmund, 18, John Paul, 16, and Bruce, 8
Marital Status: In a long-distance marriage with John Dobson

On parenting

What is your parenting philosophy?
You are the parent and not their friend. Negative behaviour or activities, especially for teens, has to be owned.

What is sleeping like with your family?
We still have Ben in bed with us. Luckily, with the teens, we’ve had few curfew issues.

What are your family’s favourite bedtime stories?
We make our own up, usually from our childhood. I grew up in Cape Breton and John in Mexico, so we compete for the best story. The older kids like Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and non-fiction.

What is the one parenting tool or trick you can’t do without?
The “naughty chair” and “1,2,3 fix it.” For the older kids, we pull the cord out on the Internet.

What do you do that makes your kids say, “You are so much fun!”
I have always rhymed my way through dull daily activities (like getting dressed, changing diapers and brushing teeth) to make it more fun. Now I hear my older kids doing it and they don’t even realize.

When was the last time you looked around and thought: “This is a good moment”?
Saturday. My husband left back for Pittsburgh and he skyped with us while we were sitting around the table. He could hear us laughing while he waited at the airport for his flight.

On relationships

What is your secret to a happy relationship?
Patience, trust and a willingness to help one another pursue new endeavours. Communication is very important, so we skype a lot.

What are your favourite me-time activities to do?
Catch up with family and friends, go to movies and read home decor magazines.

On career

What is your job status?
Owner of a retail gift store and manager of a wholesale fair trade jewellery business.

What do you do for child care?
Our two-year-old is with a home sitter nine to five weekly, and Bruce is with a sibling or aunt after school. My mom lives close by and provides immense support, and Kate helps out a lot.

What vehicle do you drive?
Blue 1992 Dodge Caravan. It’s great for teen drivers and a lot of kids.

On food

What is your no-fail, go-to meal everyone in your family will eat?
Quesadillas.

What is your typical weekend breakfast?
Waffles or crepes and fruit.

How would you describe a typical dinner in your home?  
Lots of conversation and nagging and bragging.

On downtime

What is your preferred way to exercise?
Stroller walking, gardening, stationary bike for winter.