Meet the Mom behind Polk County Moms - Polk County Moms

Hey, There!
I’m Mari (Mar-E).

I am the editor and site curator for Polk County Moms. I am a stay-at-home mom of one. Before becoming a SAHM I worked as a mental health counselor. I was born in Nicaragua but have been in the United States since the age of 4. Growing up we moved around often. My father is a doctor and moved us wherever he found better employment. I’ve lived in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida. I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life.

I am an avid crafter. It’s how I unwind and relax – I like to make things. I am passionate about supporting local shops, makers, businesses, and especially local farms. I am always out and about throughout the county exploring, eating, and shopping.

How did your business come about?  
Once I became a Stay at Home Mom I realized I was not very good at Staying at Home. I went from working 2 highly stressful jobs to being at home with no one to report to. I need a schedule, deadlines, and accountability to function properly. Without that, in place, I struggled to accomplish anything and everything. Eventually, I began working part-time as an assistant to a Lifestyle Influencer in Miami in 2014. I worked for her until I started Polk County Moms.
When we moved to Polk County in 2019 I discovered that there wasn’t a site like the one I worked for in Miami. A site where I could find events throughout the county not just in one city, and where I could learn about businesses, places to visit, learn about events, shops, and things to do without having to visit multiple websites. Since there wasn’t something I was looking for I decided to start one.
What are your biggest challenges? 
The biggest challenge I faced was figuring out how to connect with local people & businesses when everything shut down due to the pandemic. The initial goal was to highlight things to do, small businesses, and places to go – that’s kind of impossible when there is nothing going on. Additionally, we closed on our house the day the shut down was announced. I had to adjust my plans and goals not just about work but in my home life as well. BUT Social media was a godsend because it allowed me to connect with people in the county.  Currently my biggest challenge is sharing pictures of myself on social media. I prefer to remain behind the scenes and not show my face too often. 
What has been your biggest success?
The greatest success I’ve had is watching as my audience grows across all platforms. When I began posting content I focused on things that caught my interest. I wasn’t sure if anyone else even looked at what I was doing or even found the same things interesting.  Our Things to Do This Weeknd post is one of our most popular posts now but in the beginning, there may have been only 2 people who liked my post – thank you, Carly (The Savvy Succulent) & Kelly (Swan City Chandlery). And to be honest that is still how I do things – I look for things that I find interesting or that my followers share with me. I’m glad others find it useful.
What are your goals?
My goal is to continue connecting with local residents and businesses. I love that my followers feel comfortable asking me questions and reaching out to me. There are people I chat with often but have never met in person. I want to continue doing that and maybe actually meet some of them in person!
What do you love about living in Polk County? What do you dislike?
After living in South Florida for many years it was nice to return to smaller towns like the ones I grew up in. I love how friendly everyone is, and how I can go from one end of the county to the other end in such a short time. It used to take us 45 minutes to drive our son 10 miles in South Florida and now in 45 minutes, I can be on the other end of the county. What I wish I could improve is having more diverse food options. I miss Guatemalan, Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Argentinian food. I also miss Miami Cuban food (not the same as Tampa Cuban) – That is a whole other argument.
What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice I ever heard was to focus on what makes you happy. Everyone will have an opinion on what you do and how you do it. Ultimately the only person who needs to be ok with what you do is yourself. Truth be told, this advice came from Billy Joel’s song “My Life.” Still one of my favorite songs.
What is your must-have this holiday season? 
This holiday season my must-have is being content, creating memories, and being present – in the moment – with a purpose. As someone who lives and works off of social media, it can be hard to disconnect. However, I only have a few years left before my son heads to college. I want to enjoy this time before it passes.

What’s your favorite part of parenting? Least favorite?
My favorite part of parenting is watching our son grow up. He still makes me laugh daily and I love seeing the world through his eyes. My least favorite part about parenting is how fast it is going by! Where did my pudgy 2-year-old go and who is this 5 ft 4 inch preteen?

What is your “mom” uniform?
I’m what can be called “extra.” Even if I am at home with no plans on leaving the house I make sure to be presentable and have jewelry on. It makes me feel better.

Advice to someone who wants to start a social media page and/or website? 
Go ahead and start. It doesn’t have to be perfect all it has to be is authentic. Be yourself. Share what interest you, your sense of humor, things you love, or things you dislike. There are others who like the same things you do and you’ll find each other.

My Life in a Nutshell

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