Every Monday, Momstamp features interviews with women that inspire us. Discussing the impact becoming a parent has had on their lives, we find out what tips and tricks they’ve learned along the way to help them manage their lives more effectively.
As we know at Momstamp, there’s no one right way to do anything, there’s the right way for you. We hope the range of these interviews offer helpful glimpses into other parent’s processes.
Today’s featured interview, Filmmaker and Webby Awards founder, Tiffany Shlain, talks with Momstamp’s co-founder, Julie Hermelin. Tiffany’s current Emmy-nominated AOL show, The Future Starts Here, has had upwards of 40 million views.
What are your top five parenting hacks?
- I use an app called Asana for my “to-do” lists. Its so easy to share what needs to be taken care of with my husband and my work team. Anytime a “to do” pops into my head, I’m able to just put that thought somewhere and everyone has access to it.
- Amazon Prime really has simplified my life.
- Plated is a new service I’ve been trying out which delivers all the ingredients for a meal for me to cook but it delivers the perfect amount of fresh ingredients and I can cook a fresh, amazing meal that I didn’t know how to cook before at home.
- If I need advice about something, just being able to reach to my community on Facebook and then my Twitter community has been a huge help.
- Non-technologically, Family Rituals, are really important. Families need rituals, they make memories. Friday night we always have another family or other interesting people over for Shabbat. It’s a ritual for us to make a big feast. I make challah every Friday with my girls and it’s super fun. Then it’s no screens from Friday night to Saturday night. We call it our technology shabbats. My husband and I always go on a date night every Saturday. These rituals really bring a sense of balance to the craziness of parenting, for me.
What else have you integrated into your life that you feel helps you with parenting?
I love what I do. I love making films and I have a lot of incredible support around me. Two and half days a week, I have someone helping me with errands, school forms, and all that kind of stuff, which is incredibly helpful, and I didn’t realize that. Before I was hiring a babysitter to be with my kids, but now really it’s more of a house assistant that I find useful. It was a big breakthrough for me when I discovered that at this point I prefer to pay people to do the things that allow me to be focused when I’m with my kids, rather than paying someone to be with my kids. Also, having an extra set of hands, allows my husband and I to have a third-party to offshoot stuff that needs to get done around the house to so we can have better time together too.
How has being a parent influenced your work as a filmmaker?
In every way. Children give you a perspective on the continuity of life that you can never really understand until it happens. Usually when I’m making a film, I’m trying to figure something out more deeply. A lot of the subjects of my films since I’ve had children have been about technology’s effect on our brain and how to create boundaries around technology.
A recent film I made called “Parentechnology”, explores the question of getting my child a cell phone. It was a question I was really wrestling with. Another one of my films, “The Science of Character” is really geared towards my eldest daughter as I was trying to understanding how to develop into the best person you can be. We launched “Character Day” in conjunction with that film and partnered with schools around the world to screen the film and explore this idea more fully with their students.
I’m interested in a range of subjects, but now a major part of my perspective is this lens of motherhood… and being a Jewish mother is probably in there too.
How has technology affected you as a parent?
So many more women are able to have greater flexibility with where and when they work because of today’s technology. I remember my stay-at-home mother going back to school for her PHD when I was eight; it was a dramatic change. She was gone so much. Technology, the web, is what the feminist movement really needed to allow us to contribute in the world while simultaneously being present mothers. My mother could have been home a lot more while she was getting her PhD had she had access to the web like we all do today.
But as much as I love what technology has brought to women’s lives, technology has also made me distracted. There are those moments when I’m with my kids and I get a text or a call, and it makes it harder to be fully present. Instead of being in the moment, I’m taking a photo of the moment. Wanting to be more in the moment, is really what inspired me to introduce my family to these “Technology Shabbats.” Every Saturday for the last five years I have implemented this day of “no screens”. As a parent, I don’t need a neuroscientist to tell me it’s not good to be so “plugged in”.