Mom About Town with Leila O'Brien of Safe Splash + Swim Lab Swim School
We are so excited to share with you a new monthly post called: Mom About Town.
We will be interviewing moms about town that are doing amazing things. From working moms and business owners to mom’s that go above and beyond for their community. We want to highlight all the moms that make this town turn!
Our first Mom About Town mom is Leila O’Brien. Leila is married to Shawn and mom to two daughters, Keira and Kailee. She is the owner of the Safe Splash + Swim Lab Swim School opening up in Kingsley in April. We sat down at Panera to chat all about Mom Life, being a working mom, and what Fort Mill means to her.
Like the majority of the population in Fort Mill you didn’t grow up here.
Where are you from and how did you get to Fort Mill?
I grew up in a small town called Wyoming, Ohio. I graduated high school with 96 people. Very small town. I followed my brother to Davidson College where I played soccer. So I’ve been in the greater Charlotte area since 1996. After college I stayed in the area and got a job in the banking industry. We settled in Charlotte but loved the idea of moving to Fort Mill. Fort Mill really was kind of everything that I dreamed. Even though it is bigger than it was, it still feels like that small town I love.
It is a cool feeling being connected in a way that I didn’t feel when we lived in Charlotte.
Why did you pick Fort Mill to open your business?
Because of that connection we didn’t feel in Charlotte and now feel here in Fort Mill I want to claim Fort Mill as my town as mom. That is also why I wanted to have a business in Fort Mill. I wanted to be a part of this community. I love it here in Fort Mill and love being a part of the neighborhood.
My kids would go to swim school when we would visit my parents back in Cincinnati during the summers and it was a great experience. But when we came home there wasn’t anything in town. I just don’t have the time to drive 25 minutes to Charlotte every day. Our town needed a swim school. Moms are so busy and they want to claim ownership over their lives and that is really hard to do while driving all other the place. I always wanted to own my own business so I just said lets do this!
What part of you business are you the most passionate about?
Growing up swimming and being around water was such a huge thing. I didn’t learn how to swim until I was older and I know it freaked my parents out. Swimming is such a huge thing in the lives of families, it's just what so many do over summer. Dads come home from work or moms come home from work and you go to the pool. It’s a great family bonding thing. The safety of kids learning how to swim is so important, and I’m so passionate about kids and families.
The other side of what we do is the competitive side! I love that, because I was a college soccer player and a competitive athlete all of my life! Now to be able to give swimmers this video analysis software that hasn't been available to anyone but Olympians before is super cool. Parents want to give their kids an edge and there's also adults that are training for triathletes and things like that. It's pretty cool to be able to take the safety learn to swim side and then morph it into the competitive side.
Let’s talk mom life.
What’s the hardest thing about being a working mom?
Oh goodness. I think the hardest thing I've felt as a working mom is not feeling like you're shortchanging work and your family because I think we all struggle with that. It's a change, because the minute you have kids they become your focus, you want to be with them and you want to help them grow and you want to be involved. Sometimes with your work you can't be there for all the little things you want to be there for. I think you just have to accept that. You’re not bad at being a mom nor are you bad at your job. It’s hard.
You are always your own worst critic. I think that's what I need to tell myself all the time. I'm doing all this stuff for my family, for my kids, and I need to give myself a break every once in a while and not be so hard on myself.
I think as Moms we all do this. We're so hard on ourselves. People look at you from the outside, like my gosh you're doing such a great job. But all we see of ourselves is I did this wrong or I didn't make it to this event at the school and or I couldn't go out to take that client out for dinner. I think the hardest part is that internal struggle of feeling that you’re not enough for either one of those things.
What is your favorite thing about being a working mom?
Now that I’m starting my own business I see it more, like I'm showing my kids that you really can do something if you want it. Whenever we ask our girls what they want to be when they grow up they say a mom or a doctor. I tell my girls you know what, you can do it. If you want to be a mom and stay at home that's a hard job but you can do it! If you want to be a doctor, you are going to have to work hard but you can do that too. It all takes working hard. I tell them with Mama starting her own business, we’ve had to make sacrifices to do this. But in the end it’s going to be good for everybody. I think this is the best for us and its going to take a lot of work. I think that’s the best thing about being a working mom. Showing them they can do what every they put their minds too.
I think another lesson is honestly and humility. They also see me stressed out which is hard because sometimes I get cranky and it's not their fault. But I also show them some humility and say hey, sorry Mama was in a bad mood. I have a lot going on. I apologize. I think that's also an important lesson, people aren't perfect and we make mistakes. You just own it.
What is one of your families favorite traditions or things to do in Fort Mill?
We love going to the Fourth Of July parade in Fort Mill. We love Fourth of July and all things Americana. It feels like my town where I grew up. Even when we were living in Charlotte we would come to the Fort Mill Fourth of July Parade. I love it, the kids love it. We dress up and just love being around other families.
We also just love downtown Fort Mill. It’s so cool and shocking to me sometimes. I love to go down to the Improper Pig and pick up the pulled chicken for Keira, she just loves it! It’s always packed. Amor Artis is also always packed. It is just really awesome what they are doing and I’m just proud to be another small business in Fort Mill. I think there is really something special here. The people just love being a part of the Fort Mill community. Even Fort Mill Mom Life, its such a great community! The first time I went to a Moms Night out event I walked in by myself. I didn’t know anyone but everyone was just so welcoming and just wanted to talk.
You know I think that everyone is just so friendly and it’s really the cliche southern thing, but it’s true and heartfelt. There’s no place like it and it’s just home.
We loved chatting all things mom life and Fort Mill with Leila! There is so much excitement about the swim school opening and we can’t wait! Safe Splash + Swim Lab swim school is taking registrations now and their grand opening ribbon cutting is April 23rd at 1pm. You can find more information about the school here.