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LOCAL

Who's the best mom in the Rockford area? This author wants the answer to be yours

Portrait of Chris Green Chris Green
Rockford Register Star

Roscoe's Erin Sturm remembers what it was like years ago juggling motherhood and the nearly daily task of finding something fun to do with her kids.

The old standbys and the things and places she already knew about were good, but she knew the community had more to offer. And she and her kids were at the perfect time in their lives to experience it.

The only problem was — as Sturm would find while searching the internet for her family's next adventure — there was no good, single place to go to for go-to information with moms like her in mind.

Things like where do they have the best playground equipment, where can my kids visit with animals, where can we go swimming, where can we get immersed in nature, where can we go when its raining — Sturm longed for a mom resource, a guide to being a mom in the Rockford area with everything from best places to throw a kid's birthday party to best summer camps and best road trips with kiddos.

Eventually, Sturm decided to fill the void for other moms herself, and was born.

More:Looking for something to do this weekend in the Rockford area? Here are 28 upcoming events

In July 2018, Sturm launched the website from the basement of her Roscoe home focusing on everything to do with kids in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Over the past six years, the site has featured well-researched lists of seasonal and year-round activities alike from summer camps and swimming pools to local museums and parks. Many of the lists are built around Sturm's own memories growing up in the area, that of other moms and children in the Rockford area.

Sturm watched as the community flocked to her most popular list to date — area trunk or treat events held each year before Halloween. She's also watched as the summer camp guide spikes each spring as parents weigh their summertime child care options.

There was the time in 2020 when much of the world was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic when Sturm used her creativity to fill the void once again. Unable to do her typical list of best Easter Egg hunts, she created a digital Easter Egg hunt on her website for parents to enjoy with their kids.

"I had so many people participate," she said. "They had so much fun with their kids looking for it, and I had prizes for people who submitted a list of where they found them."

The community's response to her site has been humbling, Sturm said, and heartfelt.

"People make me cry on regular basis just with kindness because they are so appreciative," she said. "I helped them experience something with their kids that will be a memory forever. That's very heartwarming to me."

Today, Sturm has gone a step further to help area moms make the most of their time with their kids.

Sturm's latest project is a book called "Best Mom Rockford."

The Northern Illinois University English major said her passion for libraries and reading thrillers, mysteries and memoirs helped fuel her desire to write a book, a process that ended up taking seven months and helped Sturm check something off her bucket list.

Similar to Stateline Kids, "Best Mom Rockford" is a compilation of 75 best of lists from "Best Place to Find Your Zen" to "Best Place to Splash Around."

Sturm dedicated the book to her children — Norah, 9, and Miles, 6.

After families have participated in activities in the book and made their own memories, Sturm said it is her hope that children will come to view their own mothers as the "best mom ever."

"Best Mom Rockford" can be found at Barnes and Noble, Rockford Art Deli, Inkwell Books & Threads in Rockton and on Amazon and online at Target.

Chris Green is a Rockford Register Star general assignment reporter. He can be reached at 815-987-1241, via email at cgreen@rrstar.com and X .