Moms are pretty amazing across the board. Moms who also balance the role of mother and entrepreneur are even more impressive, toss in a global pandemic and things officially cross into superhero territory. We wanted to know how a few boss/moms in the biz were navigating this unusual time, so we asked some of our faves (including our co-founder and aspiring mom-hero-to-be Rachel Cohen who is due in September) how they are staying grounded while keeping their kiddos entertained.
Beauty impresario Indie Lee is used to turning negatives into positives. Her eponymous line was launched when her cancer diagnosis led her to look for eco-friendly skincare solutions. She’s balancing Zoom calls, third-grade curriculum, and puzzles in Westchester.
Who are you quarantining with?
I’ve got a full house: My son who is 20 (who just finished his sophomore year at University of Colorado Boulder), my daughter who is 17, my goddaughter who will be 9 this month, her grandmother, and then my husband and two dogs.
Keeping up with the third grade has been the most difficult part. I come from a long line of teachers, and I appreciate how they have pivoted. This isn’t how they learned to teach, so I have so much respect for them.
How has work been?
I am very mindful of how lucky I am. I am so inspired by how my team has rallied together. Everyone has been impacted, but we have pivoted as a brand and I feel very positive. I’m busier than I’ve ever been and, considering this is my other child, it’s really beautiful to watch.
What’s been the most surprising part of having everyone together?
The conversations are so much deeper and more meaningful! Sure, we usually have incredible relationships, but now my children have actually gravitated towards doing stuff with me. My son will say, “Hey Mom, let’s watch this series together,” or my daughter will sit and do a puzzle with me. And then, we have these vulnerable discussions that I don’t think we would have had otherwise. I’m big on finding silver linings, and this time with my children is a gift. At their ages, they don’t normally want to hang out with me. Now, I’m the only game in town, so I’ll make the best of it!
Have you developed any new hobbies or habits while you’ve been quarantined? You mention puzzles...
I love doing puzzles, but I can’t say I’ve done one for 10, 15, 20 years. Now we’re obsessed. Saturday or Sunday, I’ll get up early and put a big thing of soup on and then mid-day (which is when my kids wake up), we puzzle. One day we did puzzles for eight hours—we had soup, I had some wine, we listened to music, and we laughed. I’m starting to understand the whole concept of Shabbat. This is what it’s supposed to be—to take time.
How are you staying grounded during all of this?
I think the reason why I’m sort of thriving during all of this is I’m a practicing Buddhist. I meditate twice a day, every day. I have a very large greenhouse in my backyard, and I haven’t planted like this in probably eight years—cleaning it up, watering, nurturing. We’re putting so much pressure on ourselves to come out with a side hustle, but it’s not going to be that way for some people. For me, I’m using the tools to cope I had in my toolbox and then layering on time with my children. Am I concerned about the economy and all of those things? Of course, but I need to focus on what I can control.
Do you have plans for Mother’s Day (that you know about)?
No, I don’t think my kids are that organized, and I know for sure my husband isn’t. I’ve dropped subtle and not-so-subtle hints about getting lobster delivered, but if we’re just hanging out together then that’s fine.
What’s been the most surprising part of motherhood for you, both in general and during the pandemic?
The patience and empathy that I’ve developed is something that I never thought would be possible. You gain the ability to step back and realize what it was like at their age. As a parent, I always say to live in the present, but this is a real opportunity to put it into practice. It’s been beautiful to get a glimpse into the adults they will be. They’re handling it so well—in some ways they are handling it better than the adults I’ve seen.
Michelle’s quest to share the power of acupuncture and herbal medicine led her to found WTHN with Dr. Shari Auth, DACM, LAC, LMT, so it’s no surprise she’s leaning on her own tools and tactics as she hunkers down in Brooklyn.
Who's currently quarantining with you?
My husband, my three-year-old son Sam, and his soon-to-be baby sister (I’m due in September).
What’s been the most surprising part of having this much time with your children?
How even a few minutes in between meetings throughout the entire day can add up to a huge difference in terms of feeling more involved, connected, and present in my son's life. I feel like I know him even better now as a unique little person than I ever have before.
How are you balancing childcare with everything else you have going on right now?
It's an adventure every week...We’re trying to stay organized. Every Sunday we plan activities for the week and get out supplies for science experiments, crafts, etc. I’ve found amazing online resources even for 3-year-olds including gym and art classes and sing-alongs. We’ve been using the grandparents for Zoom story time and other activities.
What are you doing to stay grounded during this time?
We live on Prospect Park, so spending as much time outside as possible! I also love WTHN sound meditations in the morning or before bed to zen out.
Have you developed any new rituals or hobbies?
I'm really getting into gardening (it's just a small little herb garden and a few flowers but it totally helps). My son loves dirt more than anything so it's been super fun for us to bond. In the absence of facials and facial acupuncture, I've also started doing regular DIY at-home face-cupping with our WTHN face cupping kit, which has helped relax my tight jaw muscles and make me feel glowing.
What’s been the most surprising part of motherhood in general?
Everyone says this but I didn't believe it until living it, but it's amazing how much your heart can expand. I'm excited to see what happens when we add another kiddo this fall. Even though the days can very often seem very long, the years truly do fly by. It's been a crazy few months, but I’ll definitely look back and cherish this forced slowdown!
Our co-founder is due with her first child in September and spending even more time with her partner (and our other co-founder) at home in NYC.
Who are you quarantining with?
It’s just Andres and me, 24/7. Building a brand together, we were together a lot, but there were whole days at work we wouldn’t see each other. Now we’re together all the time, and we’re trying to make sure that parts of it actually feel like “quality time”. Meals have become moments to connect away from work, instead of on the fly. We’ve spent an afternoon with the windows open and having a “picnic” in the living room and have been hosting virtual trivia nights with our families. We’re also trying to give each other some space—working out separately or having our own Zoom hangs and catch-ups with friends. It’s good to try to carve out some distance even if you can’t physically distance too much.
It’s obviously surreal to be pregnant now, what’s felt the strangest as you navigated your early pregnancy indoors?
Honestly, the funniest part was the timing. I was just over three-and-a-half months when we closed down the office, so we hadn’t told anyone yet. When we did everyone was like "so, wait, the next time we see you you’re going to have a baby?!?”
Are you spending more time getting prepared for motherhood since you’ve been home?
In some senses, this has kept us from preparing much at all—we’ve been so busy navigating this new normal that we haven’t been focusing on a lot of the getting/building/doing baby prep. I am certainly focusing on being extra healthy and nourishing myself and resting, but it really shows you that all the other stuff you can figure out later. I am reading Expecting Better by Emily Oster, an economist who went through pregnancy and then was frustrated because there was no good data available. It’s a really grounded way to look at pregnancy and helps put everything in perspective. At the end of the day, I think the most important prep will be finding a way balance being a caring, thoughtful mom while running a business and being a good partner - we’ll get there!
Did you pick up any new hobbies or habits since you’ve been quarantined?
In general I’m very organized, so I’ve been rejiggering and decluttering everything to get ready for the baby—which has actually led to a lot of sweet moments of finding old photos of Andres and I and going on little trips down memory lane. I’m starting to bake—but I’m not nearly on the sourdough or focaccia level - that’s Andres’s territory. We’re talking thrilled-if-I-don’t-burn-chocolate chip cookies-basic, but I’m improving!
Do you know if you are doing anything for your first pre-Mother’s Day?
My birthday was last week and Andres went above and beyond, since this was my last just-me birthday. I’m normally very casual about the whole thing, but this year he pulled off an incredible Japanese spread. One of my favorite things in the world are izakaya meals, perfect small plates and sake, so he replicated that. He got incredible fish from Osakana in Brooklyn, he made chawanmushi, yakitori and several other treats, then with my sister he organized all our family and friends to upload messages using VidHug to make this incredible video wishing me happy birthday. I’m not usually super sentimental, but it made me tear up.
How are you trying to stay connected with family, since that’s usually such a big part of pregnancy?
I’m constantly FaceTiming with my family, and I’m getting to see them even more. Now there are these little moments when my sister is home with my niece and we can chat in the middle of the day for 10 minutes when I would have been in the office and not been able to take the call. And with Andres’ family so far away, we’re talking to them now more than ever - and everyone’s adopted video, which makes it all feel a bit closer. I think it’ll change how we communicate permanently. I want to prioritize actually connecting with the people that matter most to us, no matter how busy we get.
How has this pandemic changed your feelings as you prepare for motherhood?
It seems surreal. As a woman, you are so acutely aware of your pregnancy at all hours of the day as your body changes or you feel the baby move, but this situation has made me even more introspective. I’m more focused on what matters most and what we’re going to want longer term for this child and our nuclear and larger families. The excitement we were already feeling and would have felt is just heightened. We started Snowe together and it’s a living breathing thing we brought into the world, but to now have this is extra fortunate. I don’t take any of this for granted and have set a high bar for ourselves.