Every Monday, Momstamp features interviews with women that inspire us. Discussing the impact parenthood has had on their personal and professional lives, we find out what tricks they’ve learned along the way to help them manage their lives more effectively.
This week, Marti Noxon, Executive Producer and Creator of Bravo’s Girlfriends Guide to Divorce talks with Momstamp co-founder, Julie Hermelin. Marti has written and executive produced for many critically acclaimed shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Brothers & Sisters. She has also acted as consulting producer for Mad Men, Prison Break, Angel, and Glee. Noxon’s film credits include I Am Number Four and Fright Night. She lives in Hollywood with her two children and is co-owner of the recently launched Grist & Toll, an urban flour mill in Pasadena.
What are your top 5 parenting hacks?
1. Exercise Adventures
There’s so many creative ways to get children to exercise. I love to hike and my kids can be sluggish. Getting them outside can be a challenge. My son is really into horror movies and spooky stuff. Recently I told him, “We can take some of the old baby dolls we have around the house and string them up outside and make them look super creepy.” He was like, “I’m in!” The next thing I know, we were hiking up the mountain making a little horror movie on my iphone and excersizing along the way.
If your kid is into crafts, get outdoors and “knit bomb” the tree. The inspiration is, “Let’s do a weird art project in the woods, so we have to walk into the woods.” In our case, it’s super creepy because we’re us.
2. DJ AM
In the car on the way to school each kid gets a turn being the “DJ”. The kids are really into Spotify, so they get to choose what song they want to listen to. It can be really fun to see what music they’re into and we talk about it. Each kid gets a chance to be in control, so there’s no fighting over who is in charge of the radio and it makes the ride fun because we’re all trying to find music everyone responds to. Although, sometimes it can just be, “Turn down that awful, bleeping, rock and roll,” or something because I’m old.
3. One-on-One Time
One thing I think is really special that we do and sometimes it’s hard to coordinate, but every Friday, I spend the evening either with my son or my daughter. We have our own night together to do stuff. This way, they get some one-on-one time with me without the other one poking at him or her.
4. Advance your Weekend
I try to think about the weekend ahead of time, like on Tuesday or Wednesday instead of waiting until Friday. I have older kids, and if I get to Friday and I haven’t thought about sleepovers, or plans, or looked to see if there’s birthday parties, then the weekend can quickly go sideways.
5. Present Closet
I keep a “present closet.” Every time the kids get a double or we want to return something and I think it’s a good re-gift, I just put it in the present closet. I keep a bunch of wrapping paper and buy cards ahead of time so that I’m not always scrambling to get birthday presents.
For more great advice and recommendations from Marti check out her Momstamps Here!
How has becoming a parent influenced your work?
Oh wow. Endlessly. When you’re talking and engaged with children, your mind is just more fluid and moves to more unusual solutions to problems. Then, in terms of just being able to relate to one of the most powerful human experiences and write about it, I couldn’t have even begun to guess what it’s really like without doing it. Hearing about parenting is not the same as being a parent. Neither is better, just different.
I think that if you look at my writing before I had kids versus what my writing is like now, there’s been a shift from more genre and supernatural subjects to more reality and family based topics. Right now, I have 3 projects, all of which look like they’re going to be on the air over the next year or two. I’d say they’re all pretty strongly feminist driven pieces with criticisms of modern culture.
I think it’s been refocusing for me. I’m constantly writing about sexual politics. If I didn’t have a daughter, I don’t think I would necessarily feel as fierce as I do about these subjects. The same goes for my son.
I’ve always written about interpersonal relationships but I used to write about them with vampires. I’m not opposed to vampires, zombies, monsters, or anything, but now I have other ways to write about human interactions and connections.
You and your ex-husband split your time with your kids, how did you both manage that transition with them?
Someone said the best thing to me about it, “you never stop transitioning.” Your kids are constantly changing. I’d say now we’re mostly passed the initial separation hurdles. The initial questions of, “Why?” “Why did you split up?” and “Why can’t you not be … ?” have mostly faded. Now we’re transitioning into, “Okay, well this is how it is”, “How can we do it better?” “How can their dad and I be a better team?” We go to a child development specialist together to help us with communicating. You’re constantly transitioning.
I’m very, very, very lucky that I can afford help. I think about doing it alone and it’s daunting. Having people help me with the house and my life, lets me have more quality time with my kids. If I didn’t have that, I’d be spending a lot more time with them doing household work and not being able to just spend my downtime with them making fairy houses.
With your hectic schedule, what are some ways you look to carve out quality time with your kids?
So many things. I think that it does help, as boring as it sounds, to try to be organized. The more you don’t have to do every stupid little thing over the weekend, the more time you have to manipulate your kids into being part of your exercise routine.
What do you feel you are giving your kids in the work you do? Where do you see them learning from it positively and negatively?
To me, one of the greatest gifts you can have in life, really, is to make money doing something that you look forward to doing. No job comes without parts that you hate, it just doesn’t exist. I hope that I’m modeling for them that when you love something and you work hard to do it, work becomes a part of your life that you don’t dread.
I just think that everybody who is lucky enough to have an education, who have parents who are focused on that, and have the luxury of figuring out what they’re best at, are very fortunate. I pretty much hammer that idea into them. My kids are going to need to be self-supporting and I don’t want them getting up every morning and being like, “Oh crap. I have to go do that awful, boring thing.”
I think that when you are doing something you love, you’re a service to other people because you’re modeling something joyful. You can be a better boss, employee or whatever it is that you are. I don’t really feel super invested in what that is for my children, as long as they can take care of themselves.