At Natural Child World, we were very excited to read Minimalist Parenting, a new book by Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh. The idea of doing less to be happier and better parents might seem counter-intuitive at first, but when you dig into the details, it is really a breath of fresh air. In the March/April issue of Natural Child World, these two power moms shared their 5 Dirty Secrets To Happier Parenting. We wanted to learn more about the women behind two wildly successful blogs (parenthacks.com and bostonmamas.com).
Here they are in their own words:
NCW: Anytime we’ve e-mailed you, no matter what day of the week, you’ve gotten back to us very quickly (This goes for both of you). How often do you check your e-mail or are we just really lucky to get a timely response?
Christine: Well, I don’t respond to all e-mails within 24 hours, but I do check my e-mail regularly through the day, every day, whether by laptop or phone. And I do prioritize anything that is time sensitive or just plain awesome; incidentally, your e-mails have been both time sensitive and awesome!
Asha: Christine’s right, you get preferential treatment! I rely on Gmail’s smart filtering and Priority Inbox, which does a pretty good job of letting the important stuff bubble up to the surface. I try to answer those emails in chunks throughout the day. But I rarely check or send email with my phone. That’s one way I keep my online time contained…I keep it confined to my laptop.
NCW: Since a lot of what you do requires you to be online, do you set “screen time” limits for yourself?
Christine: It’s challenging for sure; my palette of work (blogging, designing, consulting, etc.) requires so much screen time so I either try to set limits (e.g., no screen time while I’m with my kids after school on weekdays), let the natural trajectory of the day set limits for me (e.g., on the weekends, I’m not on my laptop much at all), or do whatever I can to do translate my online work offline (e.g., brainstorming ideas on paper instead of on my laptop, editing manuscripts in print vs. on my laptop).
Asha: My limits are similar to Christine’s. My work time is during the school day, and I’m generally off after the kids get home. I periodically check in throughout the evening (and weekend mornings are my favorite time, when my family’s asleep), but I make sure not to have a device strapped to my hip. It’s too distracting, and my kids can feel when my attention is divided.
NCW: A lot of people want to get into blogging and they have many different reasons why. What advice would you give someone considering it?
Christine: I always tell people to start blogging if they have a passion for content and community not because of other things such as money or accolades. The latter will probably come if you stay true to the former!
Asha: Part of the reason Christine and I are such close friends is that we’ve always been on the same wavelength about blogging. My advice, at this point, is to recognize that it takes time to develop your voice and become a part of a community. Be prepared to work at it for a while.
NCW: On that note, I’m sure you get asked often if a person can really make a career and enough money out of being a blogger. What’s your response?
Christine: How to monetize is probably the first question I get asked about being a blogger. And whether you can say “I’m making a career out of this!” depends on your goals (e.g., part-time or full-time, $10K/year or $100K/year). Personally, I’ve found that blogging has become my online portfolio; a way for people to learn about my voice, style, and consistency. And while yes, I do make money on ads and things, the blog has been a springboard to other opportunities that have rounded out my professional palette.
Asha: At this point, career blogging is just another kind of freelance writing. You can get paid for writing content, for putting ads on your site, or for outside projects. So, yes, you can make a career out of it, but like any entrepreneurial venture, it takes persistence, and there are ups and downs.
NCW: Your book, Minimalist Parenting, is in stores now. What exactly is MP? What made you write it? What are you hoping parents will take away from your book?
Christine + Asha: In a nutshell, Minimalist Parenting is about lifestyle editing; tuning in to your unique values and priorities in order to focus on the things that bring you and your family joy and shed as much of the rest as possible. We both heard from our readers and experienced ourselves such a palpable (and sometimes painful!) sense of overwhelm related to the volume of options, information, and “shoulds” out there. Our hope is that parents will read the book and be equipped with the confidence and tools to move forward in their lives doing more of the things they want to do and less of the things they don’t.