Mama Muse is our 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! xx Julia
This month, the Mama Muse feature is a fun little shoot + interview with my girl Merrill Melideo and her sweet son, Leo. Merrill is an absolute true beauty on the inside and out - the kindest human you'll ever meet, who parents with ease and also manages to take on seemingly endless cool projects. She and her husband and their little dude Leo travel constantly and they just bought and restored a home in Joshua Tree called The Coyote House,
which you can rent on AirBNB. Follow Merrill and her sweet family on all of their travel adventures (with the cutest style) on Instagram @merzydotes.
What do you admire most about your child?
There are so many things I admire about Leo…it’s crazy that you’re asking a mama to pick just one thing ;) I love that he’s soft-spoken yet assertive, I love that he loves books, I love that he thinks he’s funny. Lately he’s been extremely empathetic…he plays a game he calls “big big owie” where he rolls off the bed (our mattress is on the floor) and then says he has a big big owie and I have to snuggle him until he feels better. And that evolved into some of his stuffed animals getting big big owies whenever they are tossed across the room and he rushes over and gives them kisses while saying “poor baby”. I think empathy is such an important value to instill in our children, especially in the crazy world we live in right now. And teaching a boy to show emotions and affection is one sure way to empower that empathy.
What are some of your favorite ways to instill creativity into your child's play?
I love watching Leo play on his own because he’s just getting into the stage where he understands the concept of pretend, so he’s actually creating stories and reenacting things from his own experiences with his toys. I’ll jump in with different scenarios or come up with different characters but he usually directs the narrative on his own.
Best piece of parenting advice you've gotten?
“You got this”. I’ll never forget a passing stranger saying that to me on the street while walking Leo around the neighborhood at one week old. I was in the midst of postpartum realness and struggling with lack of sleep, lack of identity and a whole lot of "what the hell am I doing?" I must have looked a real mess because a beautiful angel of a woman stopped me and asked me how I was, and instead of replying I just burst out in tears. She just gave me the biggest hug, told me to take it one day at a time and that it would get better. I will never ever forget her and I try to reach out to every new mom I see walking down the street and tell her the same thing.
Most of us know that balance is a myth but what's the best way you've found to run your business and spend time with your family?
I’m so lucky to have a husband that also works at home, so we’re able to share home-life responsibilities and baby stuff as equally as possible. We also live close to my inlaws who are always happy to watch the baby when we need to get stuff done. I know a lot of people don’t have that luxury, but any kind of childcare helps. In my experience, your friends and family are more than happy to watch your little one for you so don’t hesitate to ask!
When you travel with your son, are there any activities that take priority for you?
We love outdoor adventures like hiking or throwing rocks into a river. But Leo is also a homebody and totally happy inside as long as he has a few cars to play with and books to read!
What are some of the ways motherhood has changed priorities professionally?
I actually took a huge step away from my professional life once Leo was born. I started accepting less jobs so that I could prioritize my son, and at first that felt really hard because I thought I should still do it all. I felt like I was supposed to be a kick ass mom and kicking ass at my job but I was feeling burnt out while trying to hold on to that thread of who I was pre-baby. So by saying no to things and taking less work I was able to regroup and focus on the jobs that I really want to do, which has made me happier all around.
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