I sat down a few weeks ago in sunny Palm Springs with one of Nook’s favorite fellow moms, Carmen, aka Carmen the Modern Mom. We got candid about life as moms and I asked Carmen some tough questions about how she balances having four kids ranging in ages from 9 months to 18 years with everyday life, parenting advice and why Nook is Carmen’s go to brand for everyone in her home.
Life with Carmen
Nook: How long have you been in the baby industry?
Carmen: For as long as my first born is old, so 18 years. When he was a baby, I started to work Saturdays in a children's boutique and eventually went to full-time and then managed the shop. After a good 4 years I decided I wanted to work for myself and opened my first store. My store was open for nearly 12 years until December 2014 when we decided to move to California from Canada. And after a 6 month break I decided to get into blogging and now get to use my knowledge in a fun way!
Nook: What is a common misconception people may have of you?
Carmen: That things came easy for me. Because I am a pretty upbeat and positive person, it’s always assumed I had many things handed to me. I actually survived on my own as a young teen and was a single mother for years working hard to give my kids the life they have.
Nook: Share a not so "glamorous" mom moment.
Carmen: This depends on how you look at glamour. I would think a not-so-glamorous mom moment was when my oldest lost my main store key (he was about 12 years old) and I yelled like a crazy person at him because I was going to have to change all the locks. It didn't go so well and I felt terrible for the rest of the day at work.
Nook: Favorite part of being a mom?
Carmen: I love all parts of motherhood. From nursing my little babies to riding bikes with my teens to night cuddles and laughter. It is a dream come true having my kids.
Nook: What is something your kids have taught you?
Carmen: To breathe in the moments and see the beauty around you. I see them look at life with big, open eyes and I have learned to see the little things more - like the ants crawling across the sidewalk on walks, the rain puddles to splash in, the adventures life holds.
Nook: How do you balance 4 kids at such different age/stages in their lives? From an 18-year old to an 8-month old?
Carmen: I hadn't really planned this age gap. I feel like some days, I am flying by the seat of my pants and other days I have it all mapped out and perfect. Adjustment and flexibility is the key to sanity.
Nook: What’s a typical day in life look like for you?
Carmen: I usually wake up to nurse miss Apple at 7am then she goes back down for another hour. I take that time to tidy up the house and get myself dressed. I have been pretty lucky that Kurt (my hubs) does morning duty with the boys while he is working from home. I then check and attempt to reply to all my work emails. My days vary currently from being needed with designing a restaurant (my husband is opening one) to blogging but they are always filled with something to do while the kids are at school. When the boys get home we often start supper prep together. Having my kids in the kitchen with me has always been a good time to talk about their days and get more than grunts of a “yes” or “no” moms so often hear from boys.
We are really like any other family. In the evenings, we go for walks or ride bikes or hang out in the bedroom joking around (the boys like to flex muscles and tease each other.) Then it’s brushing teeth for everyone. The younger ones go to bed early and the big boys take downtime on their computers or iPhones. I usually get back on my computer to finish up the Instagram questions I get throughout the day and by 10pm, I shut things down and watch a little T.V. Seriously, just a regular family!
Nook: What do you love about living in Palm Springs now? How do you think you all have adjusted?
Carmen: The weather is wonderful and the people are so friendly! We have all adjusted very well. For many years, I would travel and stay for extended times in Palm Springs. After meeting and marrying Kurt I had told him it was a dream to live in a warmer climate. He had always wanted to do so too! Thankfully, he loves Palm Springs as much as I do, so when we moved it really didn't take much to feel settled. We are living out our dream. Apple was 2 days old when we brought her home to the US so she won't ever know Canada. Kingsley loves Palm Springs and says he does not want to go back to Vancouver in the rain! Kaeden, my 14-year-old, has made so many friends at school and loves all the activities around. We expected Kaeden to flourish here. Braedy, who is 18, is just getting settled since he came from Canada much later. Once our first restaurant is open, he can't wait to get back to work. He will be starting college mid-year and that will help him find routine and happiness too.
Nook: What are some tips you have for other working moms or entrepreneur moms?
Carmen: I could probably say so many things that I wish I knew earlier or regret. The most important thing I have learned is to not look at what others are doing. Worry about yourself and not the shop next door. Your energy should be focused on the growth of your business not wasted comparing yourself or getting angry at copycats. When I quit caring about what the shop next door did or how they would swoop in and copy everything I brought in, I started to enjoy my shop more and that, in turn, gave me more success.
Nook: What is your everyday look or go-to outfit?
Carmen: For sure a dress. I love wearing dresses because you look so put together and it is literally the easiest thing to grab and wear. I vary on my hair, some weeks it will be in a bun or braids and other times curled.
Nook: Do you have favorite parenting advice/helps for new mom friends?
Carmen: Do not stress about the little things. If you plan to go out at 10am and don't leave until 1pm, that’s nothing to worry about! If you are out and baby starts fussing, don't worry about what people think! Relax and take the break you need to either nurse or feed or care for your little one. Leaving your grocery cart at the check-out to take 5-10 minutes to calm your baby is so much better than feeling the pressure to get through the line with all eyes on your screaming baby.
Nook: What are you the most proud of?
Carmen: This is hard. I want to say I am proud of my husband for stepping up and parenting my big boys like his own. It is never easy in a blended family. I am also proud of the way my kids treat each other. They have such love and care for one another, it melts me.
Carmen + Nook
Nook: What makes Nook and its products so special?
Carmen: I think Nook stands out because they really care about what they are manufacturing and offering, keeping the product line made in North America using organic and non-toxic materials.
Nook: Do organic (or all natural) baby products matter to you? Why?
Carmen: Yes and no. I believe that, when possible, making the change to all-natural and organic is important. As I’ve grown older and understand more about the chemicals and worry about using what is best for my kids, I have adjusted. I now have all of my kids sleeping on Nook mattresses. All that Nook offers like breathable, non-toxic and the use of organic materials gives me peace of mind for the long hours my children will spend using this product.
Nook: What do you love most about Nook and our products?
Carmen: The pebble material and fun colors. I must admit that years ago, I was initially attracted to the look of the mattress but once I did my research, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the company was with their promises to make non-toxic items!
Nook: Favorite Nook product and why?
Carmen: My favorite Nook product, hands down, is the Niche. I love everything Nook. We have a house full of Nook, but the Niche is definitely my favorite. It has been a great tool for me breastfeeding with Apple. It’s just so comfortable. The size is perfect. I find that the fabric is nice because it washes very, very well, which is awesome for a feeding product. If the boys play with her, cuddle her or give her a bottle every once in awhile, they’ll use it too, so you can definitely use it bottle-feeding too, which is nice.
Nook: Absolutely. I still use mine with my 16-month old, so it definitely has the longevity of use.
Carmen: It also has helped with the bumps while Apple was trying to sit, so we would place it right behind her and when she would do the flip back, it definitely was a great cushion for her.
Nook: It’s like a prop seat, yeah!
Carmen: We have two of them and we cannot be without them. We have one that stays in her nursery and one that’s in our living room because I have to have it.
Nook: What is your favorite Nook color?
Carmen: Oh, it’s definitely the Blush. Having a girl after three boys, it’s definitely the Blush. I just love it. The white is beautiful too, though. The white just looks nice in photos if you want to do that photo shoot kind of thing with your baby, but the Blush hands down.
Nook: If Nook could create something new, what would you want it to be?
Carmen: I would love to see Nook team up with Dock-a-Tot. The perfect sleep combo!
Nook: Favorite Nook item to gift for a baby shower?
Carmen: The LilyPad Playmat. I know that it makes a perfect spot for baby and it is not always on a new mom's list of "required" items. It is so fun and moms love them when they get them!