Mama Muse: Jen Hartford
Mama Muse is my monthly feature where I chat with creative moms I admire. It may be anyone rad and inspiring - entrepreneurs, travelers, artists, photographers, musicians, foodies and anyone else who seems to be able to do it all while making it look easy and stylish! Give me all the secrets and advice - I can use it!
Jen Hartford is the owner of Noble Carriage, a gorgeous online boutique for organic children's clothing and accessories. She's also a new mama to a sweet little nugget named Sofia. As a business owner and new mother, I thought it would be great to check in with Jen and see how she's had to shift her life with a newborn and get any insight she may have during this transitional time. Sofia's entire adorable outfit is from Noble Carriage.
In my experience, having a newborn and being a work-at-home mama can really rock your world. Any advice for moms in the same boat?
My best piece of advice is to plan as much as you can before the baby comes so that you can take at least 3 months off. Plan for a maternity leave! Outsource as much as you can so that you can focus all of your attention on your newborn and your own recovery. Lastly, ask for help. That is one thing I did do right. I hired an administrative assistant a few weeks before delivering, a doula for post-partum care, and enlisted my cousin to come help when the doula left. My only regret is that I thought I could work in those first few months. Although I did find a way to get some work done, I really wished I could have unplugged and taken that time completely off.
What are some of the ways motherhood has changed priorities professionally?
There is nothing like becoming a mom to teach you to work faster and more efficiently. I probably have 4 hours of work that I can get done a day(tops!). Because of that restraint, I've learned to outsource and hire good people to take on the time-sensitive work that I am not able to manage. My number one priority is our customers and making sure they are happy. Second, being a great manager to my employees. Third, my to-do list. And my last priority is email. That might sound insane, but my inbox will always be waiting for me and if something is an emergency, they can easily call or text. Thankfully, I work with a lot of moms who are in the same boat as me.
Best piece of parenting advice you've gotten so far?
I've received so much good advice, but the one piece of advice that has helped me this week is to have zero expectations for how the day will go. Somehow, starting the day off with this mindset works for me. I'm more patient with Sofia. I don't expect her to be perfect or fit into my schedule. I have a plan for how I want the day to go, but I don't get thrown off when it doesn't go that way. I take a second to surrender to the moment, remember she is a baby, and I just be present with her. Of course, this isn't the case every time, but it's the goal.
What are you looking forward to about watching Sofia grow?
Everything. I already find her hilarious. I can't wait to see her little personality continue to develop and to see her try everything for the first time.
These newborn days can take so much out of a mama, do you have any advice for ways to carve out a little bit of time for yourself?
My advice would be to start small. Commit to one activity for yourself. In the early days, I scheduled a girls night once a week with friends. Having just a couple hours to escape my mom duties and vent to other moms was just enough to keep me sane. I didn't always want to leave Sofia, but I forced myself to take this time and am so glad I did. Now that Sofia is 4 months, I've committed to swimming 3 times a week. The days I am able to work out I have so much more energy and confidence.
Since you’re a super stylish mama, tell us some of your favorite brands or finds for littles!
Thank you! I try to only shop for organic or sustainably made baby clothing. So, of course, 90% of Sofia's wardrobe comes from my shop, Noble Carriage. I love Gray Label for how soft and cozy all of their clothing is and Misha & Puff knits for special events. I'm also a sucker for hats, so she's currently rocking beanies from James Street Co. I also spend more time than I would like to admit scouring Etsy, Ebay, and local boutiques for vintage baby clothing.