CEOMOM Summer 2020

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Summer 2020





Share YourLegacy AN OPEN LETTER TO


CONTENTS 06 MEET DENISE WOODARD OF PARTAKE Mom Creates Vegan & Allergy-Friendly Snack Company

13 BACK TO SCHOOL 5 Ways Your Child's Classroom Will Look Different After COVID

36 MEET ALLIE CASAZZA Teaches moms how to live with intentionality and simplicty. Allie discusses making minimalism a family affair.

58 SUMMER FAMILY TRAVEL 8 Coronavirus Travel Tips to Keep Your Family Safe This Summer


SHARE YOUR LEGACY Editor-in-Chief Vonna Matthews

Contributing Designer Photo Editor Cover Photography Contributing Photographer Contributing Writer Contributing Writer Contributing Writer Contributing Writer

Taly Melo Krystal Jackson Tommy Oliver Meagan Shupta Noni Robinson Michael F. Kay Krystal Henry Hari Abburi

Editorial Office

Little Elm, Texas 75068 +1-972-302-9150 | CEOMOM Magazine is published by For Her Media Little Elm, Texas 75068 | +1-972-302-9150


A CHANGING WORLD IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS Since our Spring issue so much has changed in the world. Instead of getting back to some version of normal, we have become even more chaotic as a nation... as a world. People across the globe are fighting against police brutality and racial inequality, the pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down, leadership is questionable at best, and the uncertainty of our educational system has parents preparing for a different "back to school" routine. The continued chaos is causing all of us to take a step back and reevaluate the necessity of our fast-paced, over-productive way of life. It's forcing us to focus on the things that matter- family, connection and community. The conversation regarding mental health is being pushed back into the forefront, because quite frankly, quarantine is driving us crazy. We miss personal connection and the privilege of enjoying dinner and coffee with loved ones without face masks and the need to social distance. I once had a friend tell me that with every storm comes a blessing. I believe that even now. I have seen businesses and people of all races, backgrounds and lifestyles come together to fight for Black and brown people who are disproportionately impacted by police brutality. I've seen a plethora of new businesses created in response to the changing needs in the market. I've seen children and teens answer the call and take action to change our world into one that is not defined by inequality and hatred. I've seen the rise of campaigns such as #SharetheMic which is dedicated to having tough conversations and magnifying the voices of people who are often unheard. I've seen people take the lead in supporting families who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 from healthcare workers on the frontline to those who are feeling the brunt of the pandemic financially. Although this is only the beginning, we are experiencing an evolution right before our eyes. In our Summer 2020 issue, we had the opportunity to share the heart of our moms in our Share Your Legacy campaign. The moms revealed what they want the world to look like for their children now and in the future. We discussed how today's climate is impacting their families and businesses. We had a candid conversation with our cover mom, Codie Elaine Oliver, co-creator of Black Love, about how her roles as a thought leader and mother are shaping the way she responds to our changing world. This issue highlights recipes you can make with your kids, the hard lessons we've learned managing our businesses during a crisis and what to expect for this upcoming school year. Though we can't see what the future brings, we can work digilently to shape it based on what we've learned today and our willingness to stand up for what we believe, who we are, and the lives we are working to transform.


Vonna Matthews CEOMOM | 5



Food allergies among children have increased exponentially within the past two decades. In the United States, allergies to peanuts and tree nuts have more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. According to Food Allergy Research and Education one in 13 children have a food allergy. Denise Woodard discovered that her daughter was experiencing food allergies shortly after her first birthday. Like many American families, Woodard worked to find dietary solutions for her family that would be safe, nutritious and delicious. After not finding what she wanted, Woodard created Partake Foods, a line of allergy-friendly snacks. CEOMOM Magazine spoke to Woodard about her quest to create products that are safe, healthy and inclusive, what it takes to get your products into retail stores and what an investment from JAY-Z has meant for Partake’s growth.

Photos Courtesy of Partake

Who is Denise Woodard? I’m a mom, wife, and the founder of Partake Foods, a line of allergy-friendly snacks that was inspired by my daughter’s experience with food allergies. Tell us about your cookie company, Partake Foods. In 2016, shortly after my daughter’s first birthday, we realized she had several food allergies - eggs, corn, tree nuts, and bananas. That summer the idea for Partake was born in my living room. I was frustrated with the options that existed - from a taste perspective, a nutritional standpoint and an inclusivity standpoint. While there were safe options for people with food allergies, I didn’t think those brands had done an adequate job creating products that were tasty, nutritious, and interesting enough that even someone without dietary restrictions could enjoy them. I aimed to solve that with Partake.


Mom Creates Partake Foods: Vegan & AllergyFriendly Snack Company


While I wanted to create something better for her I wanted to share that with other

food allergy families. You set out to create an allergy-friendly, healthy snack for your daughter. What inspired you to turn your recipes into a business? Prior to Partake, I spent my career at Coca-Cola, and very serendipitously worked in their Venturing & Emerging Brands group. There I got to work on brands that Coca-Cola had invested in or acquired. Through that experience, I realized that normal people with ideas they were passionate about could create meaningful, scalable businesses. My experience at Coca-Cola caused me to want to make Partake a scalable business from day one. In addition, I knew my daughter wasn’t alone in her struggle with food allergies - two kids in every classroom in America has a food allergy. While I wanted to create something better for her - I wanted to share that with other food allergy families. JAY-Z invested in Partake through his firm Marcy Venture Partners. What did that investment mean for Partake? What words of wisdom do you have for Black women founders seeking investors? The $1M seed round that was led by Marcy Venture Partners brought so much brand awareness to Partake and really advanced existing conversations with retailers about getting on their store shelves. Additionally, it gave Partake the capital to hire a team. Until January 2020, I was the only full time employee. It also allowed us to invest in marketing. Partake is now available in over 1,600 Target stores across the U.S. and on Briefly describe the process for getting your brand into retail. What were some of the challenges and lessons learned? The process was long! I met the Target Supplier Diversity Team at Expo West in 2017 while I was walking the floor with samples in a Ziploc bag. We continued to keep in touch, update them on our progress and advance our business, and in May 2020, we launched in Target nationally.


Lessons I learned from this experience are: 1) Getting onto and staying on retail shelves is expensive - We are still a very scrappy team, but it’s important to invest in marketing to drive sales. 2) Getting on is great, but staying on and driving movement is critical. 3) The process can be long. What advice do you have for a mom who wants to get her products into retail? Reach out to the retailers. You’d be surprised by how many of our accounts we brought on based on cold emails from me. Remember that these buyers are being approached by hundreds of companies, so hone in on what makes your product/brand special and what that will do for the buyer/category. Also, build sales stories - even if you’re just in one to two stores. Monitor those sales, analyze that data, and use it to share your brand’s potential with buyers whose stores interest you. Partake continues to be a voice for social change by partnering with the Food Equality Initiative, spotlighting Black businesses and brands in Target and beyond, and speaking up against racial injustice in the U.S. Why is speaking up so important to you? What do you hope your daughter learns from you using your voice and platform to inspire social change? I think that being silent is being complicit, and it’s my duty as a mom, a citizen of the United States, and a business owner to speak up when I see injustice. I aim to lift up others, and to use my platform and my privilege to drive positive change. I hope that my daughter sees and understands that her voice matters, and it’s important to always stick up for what is right and defend those who may not have the same platform or privilege. Learn more about Partake Foods at

I hope that my daughter sees and understands that her voice matters, and it’s important to always stick up for what is right and defend those who may not have the same platform or privilege.

FRUIT AND NUTRIENT PACKED SMOOTHIE BOWL This smoothie bowl recipe can be adjusted for all sorts of diets. Use your favorite non dairy milk. Trade in coconut yogurt or leave the yogurt out altogether. Play around with variations and see what you and your kids like best! Smoothie Bowl without Bananas If you’d like to leave out the bananas for preferences or because you don’t have any, do it! You can use ½ cup frozen mango instead, which makes the mixture super creamy too, or use other frozen fruit and add in some yogurt, a few tablespoons of avocado or nut butter for creaminess.



1 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy) 1 cup frozen blueberries or mixed berries 1 banana, sliced Optional add ins: 1 scoop protein powder, ½ cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, and/or 1 handful baby spinach Optional toppings: granola, sliced banana, additional frozen berries, shredded unsweetened coconut, pumpkin seeds, and/or dried fruit

INSTRUCTIONS Place the milk, berries, and ½ of the banana into a blender. Add any other add-ins you are using. Blend until very smooth. Pour into bowls and top with granola, fruit, seeds, or coconut as you like. Serve immediately. Enjoy! Provided by: Noni Robinson

CHEESY AND BEAN STUFFED PEPPERS A little smoky chorizo goes a long way to flavor these grilled bell peppers that are piled high with beans and cheese.

INGREDIENTS 4 large bell peppers 2 tbsp olive oil 2 oz piece Spanish-style dried chorizo 1 (15.5 oz) can small white beans, drained and rinsed 1 tsp smoked paprika 2 cups grated Monterey Jack or Manchego cheese, divided 2 tbsp chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS Set the grill to medium. Halve the bell peppers lengthwise and remove seeds. Brush peppers with the oil and grill 3–4 min. per side, until almost tender.


Meanwhile, halve the chorizo lengthwise, then thinly slice. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, paprika, and chorizo. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Carefully spoon bean mixture into each partially cooked pepper half. Top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Grill, covered, 5–8 min., until filling is hot and cheese is melted. Garnish with the parsley to serve. Provided by: Noni Robinson


Photo Credit: Mihai Stefan




Prep is everything! Start with a long wearing primer or a hydrating serum depending on your skin type.


Before I create any eye makeup look, I check to see if my clients’ eyes are red. If they are, I use LUMIFY redness reliever eye drops to help brighten their eyes. LUMIFY helps make the eyes look whiter and brighter, ultimately helping my makeup to really stand out.


Use long wearing or waterproof products around your eyes.


Be patient with yourself and start small. If you are not used to eye makeup, you might be uncomfortable starting out with a big dramatic eye makeup look.


Set your makeup with a setting spray. I'd recommend the Maybelline lasting fix makeup setting spray.

What are your tips for an easy brow routine? "My favorite brows are the ones which have multiple textures because they have depth. My recommendation is to use the Shiseido brow ink trio first because it has a powder smudge on one end and a mechanical pencil on the other end. Then, I would finish by flicking the glossier brow flick on any still visible hole in your brows in the direction of hair growth.”

When I'm walking down the street and I see a bold makeup look under a mask it makes my heart sing.

Back to School: 5 Ways Your Child's Classroom Will Look Different After COVID No one knows exactly what awaits in September and in the years beyond, but there are predictions that can be made based on trends already in place leading up to school closures, and the implications of the developments over the last few months. Brainly's Chief Business Officer, Eric Oldfield, is an expert in online education trends and a father of two school-age children himself. He's compiled five predictions for the future of learning in a post-COVID world. "To say that these are unprecedented times is an understatement," Oldfield said. "Even as we all grapple with the only constant in this environment being change, there are some very clear trends that have the potential to fundamentally shift the way we educate people of all ages around the world." Online learning is here to stay: Already seen as a major trend even before the pandemic, online learning tools and tactics, while not perfectly

operationalized yet, have shown to be effective at increasing lesson retention and to provide flexibility for students to learn at a pace more efficient for them on an individual basis. Look to see these practices integrated into traditional inclassroom learning in a bigger way than ever before. Self-directed learning: A byproduct of remote education, self-directed learning will provide students the ability to guide their own educational journeys, work at their own pace, go back and better absorb previous material, and accelerate past material they already understand well. Gamification of learning will increase: The challenges of maintaining a student’s attention grow significantly in a remote education setting. In order to keep students engaged, online lessons will become more interactive or gamified. This has already shown to

increase engagement and motivate learning and will become more prevalent as traditional classes move online. Use of non-classroom resources: Embracing a hybrid on-and-offline education program will mean introducing educational resources not available in the classroom. Online tools like Brainly and Coursera, which offer supplemental instruction options will work hand-in-hand with traditional classroom curriculum. Digital citizenship will become a priority subject: To fully embrace online learning, students must also learn to become good digital citizens. Much in the way we currently teach civics and social studies lessons to inform children how to be engaged citizens in the real world, so to will we have to teach them how to be engaged citizens in the digital world.



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Photo Credit: Brian Smith


Maya Smith has created an above average natural hair care brand that is recognized by its hip hop inspired design aesthetic and the superior quality of each product. For Smith, beauty is a lifelong career that started at the age of 15 and continues to evolve. Like real hip hop, “it don’t stop.” "To all the ladies in the place with style and grace," The Doux Hair Care Line is setting trends for women of color who are embracing the versatility of their natural texture. From her popular staples such as the MOUSSE DEF Texture Foam to her Bonita Afro Balm Texture Cream, The Doux is on the frontline of a self love movement that merges culture and beauty. CEOMOM Magazine interviewed Smith to discuss how her love for street art and hip hop has influenced every aspect of her beauty brand and her role as a young creative.

Describe Maya Smith in five words. My kids would say someone who is “not to be played with.” You have one of the most recognized and loved natural hair care brands. Tell us about The Doux. What are your signature products? I developed The Doux in my salon for clients. Most of them are professional women, busy moms, or students. They want to wear their hair according to their natural texture without having to layer several products or spend all day waiting for their hair to dry. My line was created to eliminate multiple steps, and give people the salon look at home. MOUSSE DEF Texture Foam and C.R.E.A.M. Twist & Curl Cream are crowd favorites these days.

Photo Credit: Brian Smith

It wasn’t intentional, but my love for music tends to come out in the brand’s aesthetic. How did your career in the hair care industry begin? I’ve been working in a salon environment since ’93. I went from being the kid they hired to sweep hair and answer phones, to enrolling in beauty school at 15. I was licensed by the time I started my senior year in high school. I’m proud to say that this has been a life-long career for me. Your brand is inspired by hip hop. Walk us through your process for creating such a unique brand concept. I’m a stylist, but I’m an artist first. I have a background in design, so I created my packaging and direct the visual messaging for the brand. It wasn’t intentional, but my love for music tends to come out in the brand’s aesthetic. My packaging reflects my creative influences: street art, hip hop, and the nostalgic vibe that brings me back to my beginnings as a hairdresser starting out in the 90’s. You are now entering into the face mask market. Tell us about Douxrags. I initially launched Douxrags in 2012, as a spin-off to my hair care line. I sold head wraps and hair accessories made from fabric that I designed, but eventually stopped creating them because running my salon and the hair care line was all-consuming. When we entered the pandemic, I had some left-over fabric, my creative juices started flowing, and I decided to re-launch Douxrags to address a need that we all have.

You work with your husband on a podcast and other creative projects. What is the key to running a successful brand with your spouse? What advice do you have for a couple who wants to start a family business? It’s important to be friends first. My husband Brian and I have known each other since high school, and authentically enjoy each other’s company, which makes day-to-day operations much easier. We’ve learned over the years to set boundaries on our personal time. We carve out time for the two of us as a couple, and leave business conversations out of our love life. You are the mother of five black boys in a country that does not always recognize their greatness. I read a quote that says, legacy is not what you leave for your kids, but what you leave in them. What legacy do you want to leave in your sons? Integrity and personal responsibility are values that we want them to carry as adults. We want them to use what we’ve taught them to contribute to stronger communities, and believe that community starts in the home. Black manhood is a complex, but I’m blessed to have their dad as a daily example. Learn more about The Doux at CEOMOM | 17

Back to Business Agility

HARI ABBURI 5 Business Lessons Hard-Learned Amid COVID-19 Catastrophe

If there’s one thing the global business community has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ebb, flow and unfold on the daily, wreaking having on bottom lines in every corner of the world in its wake, it’s the outright imperative for companies to be agile “from top to bottom.” In fact, agility is rapidly establishing itself as “the great equalizer,” asserting its unbridled authority over which companies—from global conglomerates to mom and pops...and EVERYTHING in between— will survive another day. While business agility has always been a key driver and benchmark of notably successful operations, now more than ever it’s become abundantly clear that a business’s ability to rapidly (and accurately) assess a situation and then pivot quickly and with relative ease in response can be a deal breaker in the most profound sense. For many


companies, lacking this agility ability, on not just one but multiple (if not all) levels of the operation, is the literal end of the road. Though commonly correlated directly to “innovation,” business agility encompasses so much more. We know that superstar, wildly successful companies undertake tremendous efforts to best ensure all facets of their business become and remain aptly nimble—to the extent foreseeable, at least. Then COVID-19 struck. This crisis has exposed unanticipated cracks, insufficiencies and vulnerabilities that have put companies and industries at-large in a tailspin—even those once ostensibly at the top of their agility game. As we endure the pain and even appropriately shift focus to more human-centric health and

socio-economic concerns, individual leaders, businesses and industries as a whole must still undertake due diligence in relatively short order to identify—and shore up—agility failures to emerge from this horrific happenstance stronger and more dexterous than ever. This will, of course, be easier said than done. Learning from this crisis and implementing requisite change to become appropriately resourceful and flexible requires a seismic shift in operational paradigms, not simply tweaking crisis management plans. Below, are a few observations on some of the hard lessons learned amid the pandemic and offers of strategies in relation. This includes the top three key elements of operational agility: intersections, interfaces and insights.


Hard Lesson #1: Not working at the speed of the customer Crisis amplifies flaws. The pace at which the coronavirus has not only magnified, but also accelerated the damage these flaws create, has been eye-opening and replete with lessons to be learned. Today we see mid-sized companies scrambling to activate digital tools with customers and employees, but not realizing that interface tools are just one element of agility. Being digital is a delicate balance between design and scale that directly changes the way a business operates. Even companies that have had digital transformation projects underway for some time now have realized that they just aren’t “really” digital to the extent needed. Operating at the “speed of the customer” requires a deep understanding of where your customers and their experiences lie, though without any boundaries–of industries, technologies or expertise. It is about being at the right intersections and with the right interfaces and insights. New customer buying habits and expectations are being created right now. The businesses that are analyzing these emerging trends and modeling out the long-term implications will adjust faster to industry—and the global economy’s—new normal. Hard Lesson #2: Not having a ‘globalized’ market mindset We often hear that we live in an interdependent globalized economy. But situations like the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed the vulnerabilities and negative impacts of the closing of geographical borders, countries prioritizing their own needs and leaning hard on multinationals to function nationalistically in their own homelands. However, the problem and the solution are the same. No single company, or country, has all the expertise, experience or skills required to function at the speed of the customer. Hence sharing, trading and ongoing learning are the key necessities to promote a stable and healthy globalized economy. The key reason we have start-ups disrupting large traditional players, or being valued as much as those that have been in existence for multiple decades, is that access to knowledge, skills and capital is truly global. Hard Lesson #3: Not Identifying the right platform, data and technology I hear many arguments on how and why large players have access to technology due to their deep pockets. While that is true, many traditional businesses have demonstrated the value of platform thinking whereby they build an ecosystem for their customers to connect their needs despite dissimilar services. This could be your local street corner bakery or an Airbnb. The ability to imagine your business as a platform is key. Otherwise, if you haven’t dealt with how your business can sustain itself if and when there is another pandemic, you are essentially risking losing it all. This time it was unexpected. Next time, businesses should be better prepared...those who aren’t will suffer a greater toll.

Hard Lesson #4: Not building an augmented workforce strategy We can expect COVID-19 to spur huge changes in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and intelligent automation. Yes, humans doing it alone is rapidly becoming an antiquated concept, like it or not. Objectively speaking, augmented workforces are smarter–they learn fast, focus on value adding activities and are overwhelmingly customer-centric. By 2025, I believe that there will be a mix of four to five bots or virtual assistants (or RPA processes) per employee in all types of companies. Almost 30 percent of every job has some level of automation potential. If companies can redefine their strategic workforce planning beyond just planning productivity with humans, they will multiply their customer value while actually creating more jobs in other areas of the economy. Hard Lesson #5: Not thinking about the future in a different way Those business leaders who believe we will return to “business as usual” are at a huge disadvantage. COVID-19 will have permanent consequences on the future of every type of company in every type of industry. While many leaders talk about future, very few do something truly effective about it. This is an unfortunate truth even of enterprises with abundant capital. This is due to a combination of factors, including a lack of imagination or not knowing where to start the journey amid a litany of future issues that loom large. In my work, I help leaders take a hard focus on ideation: a commodity that is in short supply due to a glut of pressures. For investor-driven operations, this includes the weight of meeting quarterly numbers in an ever-growing, fickle-minded, risk averse climate. The ability to think, plan and execute in a clinical fashion is the key to realizing transformation. This is not to be confused with a rigid plan. Rather, it is about thinking through the ideas, experimenting quickly and scaling up. It is about surprising customers with possibilities that they never thought were possible. All told, the World Economic Forum reports that the global economic slowdown is forecasted to cost the global economy at least $1 trillion in 2020—and that’s aside from the tragic human consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the UN’s trade and development agency, UNCTAD. Such a gut-wrenching estimate should be motivation enough to take a cold, hard look at your organization’s adaptability—or lack thereof—and think-tank concerted strategies for a multitude of scenarios—even those that are “highly unlikely but in the realm of possibility.” The best plans will serve as “ideation insurance,” accounting for worlds we don’t yet live in...and, in some cases, hopefully never will. Hari Abburi is an internationally recognized global executive and consultant to Fortune 500 firms, small to mid-size enterprises and start-ups.

CODIE ELAINE OLIVER Photo Credit: Tommy Oliver


For Codie Elaine Oliver, it’s more than a love thing. It’s a passion for storytelling. It’s a calling to use her platforms to magnify Black voices and move them beyond the role of supporting character. It’s family. It’s commitment. It’s transparency. It’s Black Love. Six months after meeting, Oliver got engaged to her partner in life and business, Tommy Oliver. Together, they sought to bring the diverse and relatable stories of Black love to the screen. The Black Love docuseries made its debut in 2017 on OWN TV and is now working on its fourth season. They have featured notable couples such as Oscar winner, Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, as well as “This Is Us” star, Sterling K. Brown and his wife, actress Ryan Michelle Bathe. With several projects in the works under their production company, Confluential Films, and brand, Black Love, Inc, Codie Elaine Oliver is dedicated to creating content that she’s passionate about, no matter the subject matter or platform. Oliver spoke to CEOMOM Magazine about her role as a content creator and how she is using her platforms to fight for social justice. Who is Codie Elaine Oliver? I'm a mom and a wife who loves my community. My life's work has been devoted to creating conversations in my community about being the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves, most notably Black Love. You and your husband, Tommy Oliver, have been on a journey with Black Love as creators and owners of the show? Describe what it’s like to be leaders in the docuseries space, specifically on topics that reflect your personal story as partners in life and business. I don't know that we think of ourselves as leaders in this space as much as people who are

committed to telling our stories, especially Black love stories. We are committed to telling stories that talk about the human condition and who we are as people universally. We are doing that as much as possible through Black and brown faces. I'm fully aware that Black Love launched the conversation around more content in the authentic black space. And I say authentic from a documentary perspective as opposed to scripted or even reality, which is loosely scripted. I'm humbly aware of the impact that Black Love has had. I'm grateful that we have created something that we’re passionate about and something that people want to either model or build upon. Now, how does it affect us doing something so personal together? It does in good and bad ways. We joke that it gives us the cheat codes in terms of tips and resources to have a better relationship- no matter who you are, where you are, what stage of life, or how many years you've been together. So while it gives us those insights and tips, that doesn't necessarily mean they're committed to muscle memory. We may know that when you're having issues communicating you should talk it through without judgment and phrase the question in a certain way. While we may know that intellectually, emotionally it isn't always possible. So we spend time course correcting and getting it wrong just as much as everybody else. That also applies to working together. It is a delicate dance working together and being married and raising three kids under four. We’ve figured out when to turn something off. Sometimes that's turning mom off. Other times, that's turning business off for our relationship. It is a process and we have to be reminded when not to talk about the office, the business or the next project.



Photo Credit: ChristianeFe Photography

How has Black Love shifted the narrative on love, parenthood and marriage in the Black community? Black Love has shifted the narrative because we pull back the curtain on what it takes to be a husband, wife, mother, father, partner. For many of us growing up, whether it was happy relationships or bad relationships, nobody was talking about them. I believe Black Love has struck a chord, because nobody was talking about what was making a relationship work or the obstacles they had to overcome. We’ve discussed infidelity. We’ve discussed finances. We talk about those dumb conflicts that you have over and over and don't know how to resolve. We show that a lot of people are having them. We're offering examples of ways to cope, ways to problem solve, ways to compromise that typically you have to go to therapy to figure out (and people should still go to therapy). Black Love the docuseries, our social platforms and are resonating with people because we are creating conversations that often are not being had. You are a partner at Confluential Films with your husband. Describe your process for taking on new projects. It's whatever we're passionate about. There's not a format that's off the table. Both Tommy and I have been in and around film and television for over a decade so we have a lot of friends who are wellestablished, and many not, who will come to us with various projects. For us, it's about how it makes us feel. My husband is particularly good at knowing what the marketplace is looking for. We’ll like a project, but will have to determine what to do with it? Figuring out a specific format or distribution platform that's right is just as important as being passionate about it.

With Black Love the docuseries, and the Black Love live events, what’s next for the Black Love brand? What other stories (especially those of the Black community) do you want to tell? I'm passionate about black maternal health. And while that may not sound like the sexiest TV concept, I am actively developing some ideas around doulas. I think that they're an important and interesting part of the childbirth process, and that not enough people know about them. It’s something I am very passionate about. I continue to tell love stories. We created Black Love, Inc. to best support the show as well as, our Black Love social channels and live events, but also to create content that was specifically romantic content featuring Black people. I got into this business to tell our stories. I went to USC for film school after Howard undergrad. I went to USC with the intention of telling universal stories through the Black lens, stories that anyone can relate to, but that have us at the center. We are the minority in terms of numbers in this country, but we are also relegated to the minority in tv and film. I am always looking for and excited by projects that showcase us in ways that we've never seen. That is what I am committed to through and through, no matter the type of project or the subject matter. For me it is important to have us at the center.

No amount of time is too little to put yourself first. You did an interview where you said, “I prioritize my sanity.” As a mother of three boys, what is your top tip for prioritizing your mental health? I would say the most important tip is, no amount of time is too little to put yourself first. I'm actively learning that. For me that shows up in different ways. For example, we're working from home now. I just want to go downstairs and have a s'more and not work for a couple of minutes. It just took me 30 minutes to change these diaper rash-having, poopy babies. Now, I just want to scroll Instagram for 10 minutes. It’s taking a breather when you eat and saying the work and the babies and everything will still be there. As I mentioned, I'm actively learning to stretch that one minute to 10 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour, and make it much more intentional. I have to remind myself that it's okay to give myself grace and step away. Black Love is one of the leading voices in modern Black culture. How is Black Love using its platform to speak up against social justice and racial inequality? First of all, I deeply appreciate that designation. We set out to uplift us, highlight us, and help us be the best versions of ourselves. We put content into the world that allows Black people to showcase love and, as a bonus, it allows the rest of the world an example of Black people as loving husbands and wives and mothers and fathers when the media has made a practice of showing us as everything but. Our commitment is first to continue to affirm our own community at a time when we are inundated with images of us being hunted by our own government in the form of police officers and the justice system as a whole. We've outlined what it means to defund the police, the significance of Georgia's new hate crimes bill, ways to support racial justice in addition to protesting, and more on in addition to stories about parenthood, relationship intimacy, and self love. I use the Black Love platform the series,, and the social pages - to get necessary information into our community from action campaigns to mental wellness resources and reminders to hold one another up as Black kings and queens. Learn more about Codie Elaine Oliver and Black Love, Inc. at

Photo Credit: Tommy Oliver


Photo Credit: Elton Anderson


Photo Credit: ChristianeFe Photography

To my babies, Brooks, Aristotle, and Langston: It is important to me that you know how beautiful you are. You are each perfectly designed from your chocolate and caramel complexions to your bright, joyful eyes, from the way that you comfort one another when one of you is crying to the fact that you also push your brother away when you’ve had enough. You have empathy already, at almost 2 and 4 years old, and you know your boundaries. I don’t want this to ever change, despite a world that sees you differently than you see yourselves. Your father and I are raising you to love yourselves and one another so deeply that no one can break your spirit and no one can make you question what is right. There are people in this world who will treat you differently just because of your gorgeous brown skin, but you will know better. It will be painful at times, but your mom is here to tell you that your worth is defined by your humanity, your kindness, your respect for yourself and others, and your work ethic. Your brown skin is a bonus for you that some folks find uncomfortable because they don’t have it. It is one of your superpowers. You come from a legacy of people who have triumphed over more trauma and agony than you can imagine. You come from people who fought evil so that you can go to school and play in our backyard and walk down any street you like. You don’t yet understand terms like racial equality and social justice, but know that they mean standing up for what is right. There are many people who believe that some folks are better than others and shouldn’t be treated the same. But they’re wrong. Then there are folks filled with hate raising children mimicking that hate. I want the world that you grow up in to include more children and adults asking questions, listening to people that don’t look like them, and appreciating their differences. And I want those people asking questions and listening to then speak up for what is right. That’s the world I want you to live and thrive in. But, my babies, the only thing you can control is you. I am raising you to show up in the world with love, as love. That means remembering that your compassion, your confidence, and your spirit are your gifts. You will have to fight for your dreams but know that you are deserving of whatever you can dream up. But fighting for your dreams is your legacy. That’s your superpower.




MINDFUL EATING TIPS FOR MAMAS “When walking, walk. When eating, eat." Zen Proverb

Mindful eating is not about guilt or deprivation. It’s about listening to the signals of your body and allowing them to guide you.

Of all my self-care practices, mindful eating by far is the hardest one for me. Actually, it’s pretty much the one of only two things for me that feels really difficult in terms of bettering my health and well being. No matter how much I practice, it is something I have to focus on day in and day out. As I was recently preparing for healthy meals/snacks with mindfulness during the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought about the fact that I was going to be able to be more intentional without feeling exhausted and rushed when it came to shopping, preparing, and eating my meals. I would be home for a lengthy amount of time, right? What better time to get a jumpstart to my selfcare struggles? I would have more time, focus, and energy or so I thought……I am ashamed to say that sadly it didn’t last. I quarantined at home and fell into my old habits until I literally had enough. I gained a few pounds and I knew things had to change. It wasn’t the kind of weight gain that anyone else noticed initially, but I felt it. I’ve always had a pair of jeans that were a bit tight in the hips so they looked good in the legs, and I call them my “going out” jeans. Do you have them too? I am ok with them feeling snug in the hips because I convince myself that I’ll eat less after I wear them, which usually doesn’t happen. But I digress… When my workout clothes with elastic waistbands began to feel uncomfortable I knew I had a bigger issue than I ever had before, and it was time to re-commit to the mindful eating strategies that I had thrown by the wayside. I have used these strategies on and off, but now that I am using them religiously I am feeling better in my clothes, and most importantly I don’t feel like I am dieting or watching what I eat constantly. The reason I have been struggling is because I don’t want to think about food and what I’m eating every minute of the day. I don’t want to feel deprived or guilty, and I bet you don’t either!

Mindful eating is not about guilt or deprivation. It’s about listening to the signals of your body and allowing them to guide you. These are my best tips for making this a reality in your life, and what I am doing day in and day out for it to be my reality too: Do a body scan before you eat. I realize that I hold tension in my body before I begin a meal, and this causes me to eat really fast. When I pause before I eat to take a few deep breaths and notice where the tension is in my body so I can release it, I eat much slower from the onset of my meal. Bless your food. I grew up saying grace, and I think it is a lovely tradition. Our food doesn’t just appear on our plates. It takes Mother Nature, farmers, truck drivers, grocery checkout clerks, and someone to cook the food for us to eat. It also takes our hard earned money. By taking a mindful moment to express gratitude for our meal, we can appreciate it for how it is nourishing our body. I usually say something(s) like “I love my food, and my food loves me.” “Thank you God for this blessing and the hands that have prepared it.” The upside is that it is hard to bless junk food, so you also give yourself time to get out of a situation you may not feel 100% about! Do you actually like what you are eating? I think most moms can relate to my opinion that there are good french fries in this world, as well as bad french fries ones. Every once in a while I happily indulge in a few fries that are crispy, salty and piping hot. To me they are worth it, and I feel no guilt about enjoying every one. Then there are fries that are cold, mushy, and tasteless. These are the ones that we mindlessly eat off of our kids' plates and then feel guilty and ashamed, and we beat ourselves up wondering why we can’t make better choices. CEOMOM | 29

If I am eating something that I consider a splurge, like a dessert or fries, I take a bite and decide if I truly like it, and if it is worth it for me to continue eating it. I may eat one cold, mushy fry and say “no way, totally not worth it.” On the other hand I may taste a bite of heavenly, decadent cake and decide that savoring a few bites is what I want to do. And there is no beating myself up involved. Are you really hungry, or is it something else? Snacking can be really habitual. Maybe we always have a snack when our kids do, or always at 3:00 pm or always while watching TV after dinner. Just because we have created this habit, it doesn’t mean we can’t break it! Working from home means that I am near my kitchen all the time. I realized that I had certain patterns around eating, such as eating to procrastinate, eating when I’m bored, and breaking off a piece of dark chocolate from a bar every single day after lunch. Paying attention to the signals our body gives us around hunger can help to break these habits. Hunger comes on slowly and builds, whereas cravings come on strong and fast. I heard a tip from a nutritionist recently that really clicked. She said to use the fruit rule. If you feel hungry and would be willing to have fruit, you are most likely legitimately hungry. However, if the only thing you’d be willing to eat is a bowl of ice cream or cookies, you are having a craving. Sometimes I eat when I am really thirsty, and a cup of tea or a big glass of water can be a go to before I always reach for a snack. Appreciate what you are eating. I have eaten so quickly that I don’t even remember tasting my food. My plate was clear, but I kind of missed the meal.

If you can describe the flavors of your meal and the texture of what you’re eating, even in your head, you are most likely eating at a mindful pace. When we appreciate our food it all seems worth it, even the splurges, because we are truly enjoying them. You may only need a bite or two of something rich or sugary because you were able to savor it instead of getting in every bite while you can. You don’t have to say no to foods if you eat them slowly, only when you truly want them, and stop when you feel satisfied instead of stuffed. Put your fork down between bites. It sounds simple, but when you really become aware of this, you may notice that you are already preparing your next bite of food on your fork before you finish what’s in your mouth. This can make you feel rushed and cause you to swallow before you’ve really had a chance to chew your food well. Slowing down in this way can also help you realize when you are full. If you are shoveling your food, and feeling like you have to clean your entire plate, you may miss your body telling you that it’s full, and all of a sudden you are overstuffed. Prepare. When I take the time to prepare healthy food for the week on Sunday I notice a huge difference in how I eat all week long. I call it my “Sunday Prep.” I take one hour to cook things like lentils, quinoa, oatmeal, mason jar salads, and roasted veggies that I can put together in different ways to make healthy meals all week. Having your fridge stocked with healthy options makes it much easier to make mindful choices. I hope that these suggestions serve you and help you to make mindful eating a reality in your life. Drop the diets and the struggle around food, and let your body guide you to food freedom. CEOMOM | 31

Photo Credit: Collette Photography


For some people, the discovery of their passion happens at an early age. The minute she picked up a pair of grooming scissors at 16 years old to cut a dog’s hair, celebrity dog groomer Ashley Ann Odom felt right at home. She felt a sense of belonging and purpose that defines the work she does as the owner of the luxury dog grooming salon, Diamonds in the Ruff, the creator and host of the popular radio show, G’Rumor Has It and a teacher for the Asian dog grooming techniques. As one of the few African American dog groomers in the United States, Odom works to break down barriers in the pet industry. Odom spoke to CEOMOM Magazine about her roles as a teacher and innovator in the dog grooming industry and how it has impacted her life as an entrepreneur, a trailblazer and a mother.


Who is Ashley Ann Odom? Ashley is a mother before anything. I am a resilient business owner, a master groomer, a celebrity groomer and an international groomer. I am certified in South Korea, London and China. I am a mentor. I am an icon in the grooming industry. I strive to become the first African American to have her own grooming school in the United States. Tell us about The Grooming Extraordinaire. What are your products and services? Grooming Extraordinaire is the brand of Ashley Ann. I own a luxury dog grooming salon called Diamonds in the Ruff. I serve celebrities such as Teresa Guidice from Real Housewives of New Jersey. I am also a teacher; I travel and teach the Asian style of grooming techniques. I have my own radio show, G’Rumor Has It, which focuses on being a CEO in the pet industry, a minority and a small business owner.

How did your life journey lead you to a career in dog grooming? I am fortunate to be blessed with a passion and a career. I started grooming at 16 years old. It was one of my first jobs. The minute I had a one on one with a dog on a table I realized the special bond that I had with dogs. When I groomed my first dog I immediately fell in love. I felt like I belonged with them. Fourteen years later I have not lost that passion, I am still in love with dog grooming. It has been an amazing ride developing this platform in the industry as an African American, which is not always seen in the grooming industry. I have broken this barrier and it creates a hunger in me. I love sharing this gift and talent with other women who look like me, and people all over the world. You’ve stated that dog grooming changed your life. Describe the impact that dog grooming has had on your life. I come from a very rough background. My parents divorced when I was young and I was raised by my father. I am the oldest of five children. We struggled financially. The dog grooming industry introduced me to a completely different world. I realize that this isn’t something you would normally see from an African American woman. As an African American I had so many struggles climbing this mountain in this industry, but it has brought incredible character out of me. It has helped make me an amazing mother. It has allowed me to influence people all over the world from Africa to Russia. If it wasn't for grooming I don’t feel like I would have reached my greatest potential. You are the first African American dog groomer to complete the Master's Program in Chongqing China at the prestigious Yin Li Grooming Academy. Why was it important for you to be a part of this program? Again, in the dog industry especially in the United States, African Americans are not known to own their own dog grooming businesses. There is a glass ceiling. In 2016, I fell in love with the Asian methods for dog grooming. I admired their sense of dedication. I realized that grooming was much bigger in the United States, but the grooming industry was not interested in teaching me Asian techniques. I wanted to become the best. I reached out to one of the schools in China and expressed my

passion and how important it was to me. It was essential for me to reach the greatest potential that I could in dog grooming. The school invited me to China to attend their top school. It was surreal. Tell us about your radio show, G'Rumor Has It. I realized the amount of connections I was making in the industry from magazine editors to book authors to radio hosts. There were so many businesses and entrepreneurs that were struggling to be heard and seen. I had a platform and I wanted to use it to magnify other voices. When I started my business it was to be a dog groomer and have celebrity clients. I soon realized that there were other African Americans who experienced the same struggles. I needed to share my story and let other people share their stories. It is important to uplift others. It is important to let others know that they are not the only ones who have struggled. I reached out to others in my industry to be a part of the show. To see the growth and the prosperity made me realize that this was the right choice. It is important for small business owners to be seen.

It was essential for me to reach the greatest potential I could in dog grooming. You are blazing tails in the world of dog grooming. What legacy do you want to leave for your daughter? I want to leave the legacy that her mother is a resilient and strong African American woman who has changed the face of dog grooming. I want her to know that there is nothing or no one that can stop her. I want her to understand that it is important to face her obstacles because it fills her character. My goal is to lead for my generation, for my daughter, for my grandchildren. That is my role as an African American, to set the tone for the legacy I am going to leave for Gabby. The world is hers and she should always dream big. Learn more about Ashley Ann Odom at








To my beautiful baby girl Gabrielle, You are everything I’ve dreamt of and more. I still wake up every day thanking God for his grace and blessing me with you. Being your mother has been my greatest joy. There is nothing in this world that can match the fulfillment I have as your mother. The day I found out I was pregnant with you, I knew at that very moment that you would forever change my life. You’ve molded me as a woman. You’ve trained me to be a mother. You have taught me unconditional love. Baby girl, you are wise beyond your years. Although you are just four years old today, I will never be surprised by any milestone or accomplishments you achieve throughout your life. You’re beautiful. Anyone we cross paths with, stops in their tracks when they see you. The minute you speak, you capture hearts. The moment you laugh, it’s never forgotten. You hold great power at such a young age. God knew exactly what he was doing when he created you. I’m telling you all of these things because the world that we live in right now can be cruel. There are people that will tell you the opposite of what I am raising you to know. There are spirits that are so lost, they are incapable of understanding love and diversity. They don’t understand the power of adapting, the blessing of different cultures, the expansion of your knowledge as a human being. I am as strong as I am because of you. I need you to understand your strength, and you will see that through me. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are my child, you are Gabrielle Joyce Odom. You are a princess. You are of royalty. Your bloodline runs deep. Remember each challenge that you experience will only make you stronger. Every hurt you endure will teach you how to love harder. Every person you lose in life will teach you how to never take the next one for granted. These are gifts that you will learn to teach others. You will grow and always show what compassion is, you will uplift everyone that is blessed to have you in their lives. You are going to embody strength like no one has witnessed before. No one can stop you, no one will stop you. You will set the example of what a young black woman is to be. As long as I’m alive I will see it no other way. I feel immeasurable pride every morning that I wake up and see your face. I appreciate you every second, every minute, every hour, every day. You made me who I am today. You are the reason I am in this magazine and writing this letter. Look at how you’ve changed me, I was lost before you. Remember what mommy tells you every day. You’re beautiful, you’re special, you’re powerful, you are going to change the world, Gabrielle. You are my legacy. Love,



Photo Credit: Brian Casazza

Allie Casazza TALKS SIMPLE AND INTENTIONAL LIVING Allie Casazza is on a mission to take moms from "I'm counting the minutes till bedtime" to "I love this sweet little life of mine!" She teaches women how to embrace and leverage the joy of simple living. Her minimalistic approach to everything from organizing your home to raising your children is changing thousands of women’s lives through the process of decluttering- mind, soul and home. CEOMOM Magazine was excited to interview this wife, mom of four, blogger, author and inspirational speaker about her passion to help women live simple and intentional lives. Casazza discussed her belief that motherhood can exist in the context of abundance, and how she makes minimalistic living a family affair. Describe Allie Casazza in five words. This felt awkward to do at first, and I sat here with this question for way longer than I care to admit, but this question really made me think and get grateful for myself, so thank you for asking it! Here we go: Grounded. Driven. Intuitive. Resilient. Passionate

You help moms declutter and simplify their lives. What does a simple and decluttered life look like? It’s the absence of unnecessary chaos. Life and motherhood already have pieces of chaos, stress, and overwhelm. The last thing we need to be doing as moms is make it even harder on ourselves, yet that’s what so many of us do! Living a simple, uncluttered life looks like less cleaning, less yelling, less obligations taking up calendar space, less junk you don’t even need stealing your time and space at home. It’s about freedom, really. It’s being fully present in each thing you do. It’s not constantly running around, cleaning up after a life you’d rather be living. What are your top three tips for moms to begin the process to declutter their homes/lives? Don’t do it for the house or the cleanliness — do it for the deeper why. Do it to clear space and mental energy for you to show up as the best version of yourself. Do it for your kids to not be raised in materialism and to know what it is to use their imaginations when they play. Do it to foster relationships in your home rather than stress.


wanting to be a mom if this is what it meant - stress, constant cleaning, constantly getting the kids “out of my way” so I could catch up on never-ending housework. I wanted to be a mom who enjoyed her kids, but I didn’t know how to do that when it was all so overwhelming. I had this moment of realization on that bathroom floor that changed my life and was the seed of the company I run today — all I did was clean up and maintain, clean up and maintain, clean up and maintain. And for what? The stuff I was maintaining was mostly junk we didn’t even need… it was just there because it always had been! I was making life harder on myself. I got rid of so much that night, and the next day, and the next day, and the next. Until all that was left was what was worthy of my time and energy. Everything changed. And I do mean everything. I became lighter internally, I was more fun to be around, I was much less stressed, my depression lifted, my kids played better with less options (they were so over-stimulated!), my marriage even improved. When you’re not stretched thinner than Saran Wrap over a casserole dish, you’re better to be around, both for yourself and others. I was able to be myself again. I started blogging and sharing my journey, and my passion only grew as more women got on board. Today my message reaches millions and my programs change lives the way mine was changed. There’s a system and a process without rules or limits that come with “traditional” minimalism, and it sets people free from the cycle so many get stuck in- the cycle of maintaining the mundane. We were made for so much more than that. Photo Credit: Brian Casazza

Start in the bathroom. It’s the easiest room to make quick “yes and no” decisions about, and you’ll build up momentum. Notice how you feel. Decluttering is a spiritual act. It’s purging physically and emotionally. It’s okay if you feel drained, just notice it and listen to yourself. Open yourself up to the lessons that can come from getting rid of physical items no longer serving you. Tell us about your life journey. What inspired you to create the Allie Casazza brand which consists of online programs, a podcast and a website? My business was born out of my own story. At one very hard point in my life, I had three kids under age three, my husband worked 14-hour days, six days a week, and I was definitely depressed. I woke up every day with a feeling of dread, wondering how I was going to do it all again today. That’s no way for a mom to feel at the start of a new day! I had been stuck in this place for so long, and one day I had really just reached my breaking point. I sat on my bathroom floor, crying, and started talking to God. I felt guilty for not

Open yourself up to the lessons that can come from getting rid of physical items no longer serving you. Your minimalist lifestyle is a family affair. How has minimalism changed your life? What is the key to raising minimalist kids? I’ve involved my kids in this since pretty early on. They understand the why behind it, they understand how to make decisions about their things and I don’t have to nag them or be a minimalist for them. They’re little minimalists themselves, which takes pressure off me and creates a happier family culture. No mom wants one more thing to carry on her shoulders. No mom wants to make all the decisions for her kids, because all that’s going to do is make them feel disempowered and probably foster a hoarding mentality.

Photo Credit: Ariana Brookshier

I’m all about empowering your kids to do this for themselves, and that starts with you as the mom leading by example, and creating a family culture based on simplicity, ease, and less of what doesn’t matter. You live by the scripture John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” What role does spirituality play in your work? I am a very spiritual person, and I am a very spiritual CEO. Running a business is a spiritual thing! I’m leading people, I’m helping them make decisions that will have a deep impact on their lives, their children’s lives, their legacy. Meditation, prayer, gratitude, taking daily walks, yoga, breathing, EFT… these are all things that are key for me in running my company. When people ask me what strategies I used to grow so much so quickly, I think they want me to say some secret formula, some complicated strategy they can write down and copy. Strategy has its place in how I got where I am today, and I do love a good strategy! But it absolutely takes a back seat to the spiritual side of things. You can have all the strategy in the world, but if you don’t deal with your internal stuff (limiting beliefs, money blocks, fear) you will self-sabotage and stay stuck. And about John 10:10… I love that verse for a lot of reasons, but my favorite thing about it is that moms are not excluded from the promise of an abundant life. In our culture, we kind of are! Motherhood is seen as this time of precious memories, but also of not having any time for yourself, of just barely scraping by, barely making it through the day, sucking down coffee then switching to wine and then finally the kids are asleep and you can breathe.

What kind of memories are we really creating if this is how we live out our motherhood? What kind of legacy is that? I don’t want my kids to see that from me! They’re not a problem, they’re not in my way, they’re my heartbeat and my reason for doing a lot of the things I do in my work. They’re my catalysts. Motherhood doesn’t have to be the way our society says it is. Abundant life for all, especially those of us raising the next generation. With the current fight for social justice and racial equality, you are standing up as an ally for Black people. Why are you using your platform to speak up? What advice do you have for your white followers who want to stand up as anti-racist, but are afraid or don’t know how? One of the biggest ways my own privilege used to show up was in this thought that used to play in my head: I don’t have a political brand. I’m not an activist, so I won’t share about this issue. What I was really doing was hiding behind excuses, which is a privileged choice to even have! I didn’t know what to say, so I used this excuse to stay in my safe little bubble while people were being hurt and killed because their skin color is different than mine. Racism is not a political issue! It’s a heart issue, a systemic issue, a generational issue that must be stopped. As a white woman, I have a responsibility to show up as an ally for my Black brothers and sisters; to exit the safe bubble and lock arms with them. If you don’t know what to say, find out. Being an ally is something you work on, something you practice, it’s not a place you arrive at. Read a book, listen, follow Black people on social media and hear their voices, get out of your privileged safe space and join the fight that should not even be a fight. To learn more about








To Bella, Leland, Hudson, and Emmett - my babies.

I hope for you and your fellow human beings there is justice. Real justice. I hope anyone and everyone can walk down the street without the fear of being arrested and killed. I hope anyone and everyone can sit in their car with a book without fear of being shot. I hope anyone and everyone can sleep in their bed, in the safety of their home without a break-in and a fatal gunshot. My hope for your tomorrow is that there is true equality. That women of all races are esteemed, respected and deeply admired by all sexes. That all sexes of all races would be seen, heard, hired, and seen as the beloved humans they are. I hope people of every race are treated in fairness, and that bias is a thing of the past- a painful sore you look back on and only see the scar. I hope you and others of your age and your color learned. I hope you make us proud… prouder than we can be of our own generation. I hope the fighting and pushing that I am seeing in my days did something permanent. I hope there is deeply embedded change in your world. And I hope you fight to keep it that way. Love,


Chelsea Allison


Photo Credit: Meagan Shuptar

Motherhood is a beautiful, yet complicated journey filled with twists and turns that can be as scary as they are empowering. The moment you learn of your pregnancy your mind races with questions. You want the best medical care, the most effective tools, and a community comprised of women who can help you navigate the uncertainty. As Chelsea Allison embarked on her physical and emotional transformation as a new mother, she discovered that support for the specific and varying challenges of modern motherhood was less than sufficient. CEOMOM | 42

In 2019, Allison founded Motherfigure, a maternal wellness brand that combines curated products with easy-to-access info, tools, provider reviews- and community. She spoke to CEOMOM Magazine about her mission to provide a guide that is reshaping the way women are supported- from pregnancy to postnatal.

Photo Credit: Meagan Shuptar

Tell us about Motherfigure. What are your products and services? What is your company mission? Motherfigure is a maternal wellness startup focused on supporting the motherhood journey by lowering the barriers to support. We offer a national, community-driven maternal wellness provider directory (the Motherlode); a magazine, The Mothership, where experts share evidence-based info and moms share their stories; and we also offer products like nursing pads and maternity activewear that provide meaningful improvements on existing offerings. What was the defining moment that inspired Motherfigure? It was really a series of moments that led me to create Motherfigure. Probably the most salient moment was when I learned that my OB-GYN didn’t do deliveries, which set me off on a journey to find a new provider. I found myself realizing that I didn’t know what I had preferences about, or even what questions I should be asking in order to

find the right “fit” — this felt so much bigger than assessing whether I liked someone’s bedside manner. Instead, I found myself interrogating what kind of birth I might prefer, if I had the option, and where and how I might feel the most empowered through my journey to motherhood. I learned for the first time about our country’s rampant C-section rate, about the difficulties many experience during lactation, and more. I personally felt that a lot of the existing “solutions” out there — like online communities — didn’t feel like guides at all, and instead ended up exacerbating rather than quelling anxieties. I realized that I felt most empowered through gaining knowledge and building trusted relationships, and so I wanted to make that possible for everyone. When I realized that Motherfigure could also positively impact providers through a marketplace model, I felt I’d really hit on something that this journey needed.

I realized that I felt most empowered through gaining knowledge and building trusted relationships, and so I wanted to make that possible for everyone.


You’ve talked about your own challenges being a new mother. Describe some of the challenges of new motherhood. What was your key to not only getting over those challenges, but navigating through them? The most profound challenge for me was the shift I experienced in my identity: I was 31 when I became a mother, and so I had gotten to know myself, my priorities, and my relationships for more than three decades. But becoming a mother shifted my relationship to everything and everyone, including myself. On top of this psychological change, I also found the physicality of new motherhood surprising: Beginning with the marathon of birth, a difficult recovery from an episiotomy, and challenges with breastfeeding. The experience was humbling, and I found that I had to seek support in order to navigate these challenges — but at first, that support was hard to come by, which ultimately is what led me to build Motherfigure. I credit the “team” I assembled, including a doula, lactation consultant, pelvic floor physical therapist, and Pilates instructor, with helping me move forward, changed but stronger. What are some specific ways Motherfigure is impacting the women you serve? At the end of the day we’re empowering moms and helping new parents feel less alone. We’re enabling moms to process their birth experiences and find community through storytelling; dispelling the notion that there’s one “right” way to parent; and connecting moms with providers. I’m most proud of the way we’ve been able to make information more accessible — some moms have reached out to me about the eye-opening insight our hospital and birth center profiles have given them; others have actually been able to find mental health providers who specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders; still others have connected with nonjudgmental lactation consultants who in addition to helping with the physical work of lactating can also support unpacking a complicated relationship to nursing. Tell us about Motherlode and how it is helping women maintain maternal wellness. The Motherlode is our national, community-driven perinatal wellness provider directory. Our goal is to create awareness of different support available to birthing people throughout the United States — and actually help them find it. We include categories ranging from doulas to pelvic floor physical therapists to lactation consultants to mental health providers who focus on serving the perinatal population. Families can filter for things relevant to them, like virtual services or trauma-informed providers, and they can read detailed, contextualized reviews from other families (kind of like “Yelp for Moms”). We also help people choose their birth locations, which has a huge impact on birth outcomes but often isn’t given second thought. Through our partnership with Leapfrog,


Motherfigure features more than 1,400 hospitals across the United States and provides their self-reported key statistics related to maternal outcomes, including total number of births, episiotomy rates, C-section rates, and more — all statistics that are too hard to come by, but are really important for people to be informed about. Through our partnership with the American Association of Birth Centers, we showcase hundreds of freestanding birth centers nationwide and include things like midwives on staff, pain relief options, emergency transfer rates and more. We are currently in a time when companies and organizations are encouraged to create and maintain a diverse team and customer base. How is Motherfigure playing a role in this national conversation and the movement to more diversity? I believe a couple of things are really important here – transparency, accountability, and humility. I’m proud that we have a growing team of people who identify as women — many of whom are moms themselves — who are building Motherfigure, from our editor to community managers to our developer and designer. And it’s hugely motivating for me that we are able to support the many providers on our directory who are themselves entrepreneurial woman small business owners. But we need to do better and bring more non-white contributors onto our team, into our directory, and in our magazine. It’s no secret that the birth world, and many of the providers who support the journey to motherhood, and healthcare in general, is devastatingly white. In certain parts of the country, it’s not even possible to have an all-Black care team — because there aren’t enough Black providers. That needs to change. We’ve been in business less than a year, and yet as I look forward, one way we will have to achieve our mission is to bring more people into these professions and make it feasible for them to grow their businesses. That’s one reason why we are committed to providing the listings on Motherfigure free of charge to both families and providers, in order to make things more accessible. There are lots of barriers that exist in the birth world, not to mention in the business and startup community. One of our goals is to make it easier for providers to find clients — and for aspiring entrepreneurs to take the leap, too. Awareness is another one of the first steps we are taking to effect change — we want to shine a light on these disparities, and their consequences, while also giving some source of hope. To that end, we will release a Maternal Health Report annually beginning in 2021, and in addition, we will be releasing a Provider Transparency Report, also in 2021.

3. Be bold.

Motherfigure recently shared your excitement about a conversation on the HBO hit show, Insecure, regarding Black women and maternal health. Why was that such an important episode to you? What needs to happen to see changes in America’s maternal mortality rates, especially for Black women? Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from childbirth and childbirthrelated complications than white women. Even when you control for income, the disparity remains. Even the most powerful Black women among us, like Serena Williams and Beyoncé, have spoken out about the challenges they experienced. And I think that — as well as storylines in influential TV series like Insecure — helps shine an important light on this reality. For too long, people have been unaware, or merely acknowledged this disparity but scratched their heads over why this could be; it’s increasingly clear, however, that this is the result of systemic racism that exists in our society and in our healthcare system. I don’t have the perfect answers, but I think the broader conversation we are having as a nation is meaningful, and as we are discussing police brutality we need to discuss this killer of Black moms, too. In the short term, I’d like to see more training of healthcare providers around implicit bias, the racist roots of our medical system in general, and the support and embrace of more advocates for moms and Black moms in particular, like doulas. I’d also like to see creative solutions to get more Black providers into fields like doula work and midwifery — Black women started these roles, and were pushed out. Their expertise is needed now more than ever, and they need to be supported. I’d also love more affordable or covered solutions that bring providers into homes or even via telehealth — pandemic aside. Motherfigure started in 2019 so you’re fairly new. Congratulations on your launch. Taking a glimpse into the future, describe the Motherfigure impact. Our goal is to help one family at a time and help shine a light on important conversations in maternal health. As I look forward, however, our purpose is for more moms to get the support they need. And I want Motherfigure to help providers run successful, sustainable, growing businesses. I want to support more providers entering this ecosystem of service, to create this virtuous lifecycle. To learn more about Chelsea Allison and Motherfigure, visit

In the short term, I’d like to see more training of healthcare providers around implicit bias, the racist roots of our medical system in general, and the support and embrace of more advocates for moms and Black moms in particular, like doulas.

To Henry and our unborn daughter: When I became a mom, it was easy to make you the center of my world. Love — that specific, unconditional love I have for you, my darling children, the kind of love that mothers know — made me blind. Because if I put you at the center of my world, as my friend Kaitlin recently reminded me, then your wellbeing could be all that matters: If you are well, then I am, too. If you are well, then maybe I could somehow ignore the hate that envelops us, ignore our place in it. We are white, we are upper-class, we are lucky beyond measure for these facts alone. But we are all accidents of our births — me as much as you. We have been well because the world is broken, not despite that fact. My center cannot hold. When I went to the hospital to give birth to you, Henry, I was afraid to meet you, but I was not afraid. I did not know if my preferences would be honored, but I did not even think that I might not be believed. It did not even occur to me that, in 2020, a mother in the United States could die in childbirth, or after. I did not fear that the hospital might not be the best place for our family. That is not the case for Black mothers, who die at three to four times the rate of white mothers due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related complications. Most of these deaths are preventable. Many of these deaths are the result of systemic racism. As I write this to you, we have been holed up in our homes for many months, closing ourselves off from the world to prevent the spread of a novel pathogen that we don’t fully understand and for which there is no cure. We have done it for ourselves, for the unborn you in utero, for our community. But the impermeability of the boundary we have drawn, too, has been a privilege. We can work easily from home. We have space to do so safely. Not every family is so lucky. Meanwhile, Black families have been getting sick and dying at a disproportionately high rate, still more glaring evidence of enduring racism and inequality. For the past few weeks, we have borne witness to demonstrations in our city and country as our community convulses with the pain of centuries of oppression — and cries out for relief. As he lay dying, as he lay being murdered, George Floyd called out “Mama.” For me, it was a wakeup call. One that came embarrassingly late, but one I must act on all the same. By the time you are old enough to read this, I hope that you won’t recognize the world I describe. But hope is too flimsy to count on with something as important as this. So I pledge that you will know our history, about bias, and that God created everyone equally, but it was we, the people, who did not treat everyone so. Much of this will be hard; white supremacy was designed to be hard to undo, which is why we cannot be blind, and why we must keep trying. The great lie of white supremacy is that somehow the world is zero-sum. You will see me make mistakes. I want you to remember that mistakes are OK. Doing nothing, failing to learn from them, is not. Love,



Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.

Romans 12:12

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She is well put together. She wears many hats and does it with such grace that it appears effortless. She is everything to everyone… except herself. Too often, that defines the CEO mom. She appears to be fine until you peel back the layers to discover a woman who has not realized her greatness or made herself a priority. Latham Thomas has made it her life’s mission to change that by inspiring women to “own their glow.” Named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, Thomas is revolutionizing the way we see self-care by guiding women everywhere to “mother themselves first.” Thomas is the founder of Mama Glow, a global women’s health and education brand serving women along the childbearing continuum- from fertility to postpartum. Her book, Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within, is an invitation for women to embrace who they are to the fullest and become a fully expressed version of themselves. Latham Thomas shared her journey to becoming a celebrity doula and maternity wellness expert, why Black women need to embrace self-care more now than ever, and what it means to “Own Your Glow.” Who is Latham Thomas? I'm a mom. I am from Oakland, California. I now live in New York City. I'm the founder of a company called Mama Glow which focuses on advancing maternal health. We educate doulas globally through a professional training program, and seek to create more birth equity for pregnant women and birth workers. You are a celebrity doula and maternity wellness expert. What does each role entail? How did your life journey lead you to becoming a doula and maternity wellness expert? I have a son who is about to be 17 years old. He was born in a birth center in New York City. Shortly after that experience, I was inspired to move into doula work. My son was born at 1:09 PM on a full moon with a double rainbow outside. I walked home six hours

after giving birth and began my life with him. In birth centers, you don't stay overnight, you go home the same day. The birth center where I delivered was about empowerment. They were rooted in helping us have our own advocacy as parents. You have to do 21 hours of education before you deliver there. They want to make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. It was amazing; I had this beautiful experience. From then on I became focused on how I could be impactful in the birth outcomes of other people because I had such an incredible experience. When my son was born, I didn’t take any drugs. It was just my consciousness, breathing techniques, the tub, and the support that I needed. There were moments I was even laughing. I was held in my humanity during that experience, and I remember every aspect of it. For me, that was the beginning. That’s how I started my work as a solo doula. After many years of people wanting to work with me, I decided to launch a training program so that I could have people who could continue to do the work. That would allow me to put all of my energy into education rather than doing as many births. All parents want the same things. All of them are vulnerable in the same ways during labor. All of the babies want to be swaddled and supported when they come to this other side of the threshold. When their children are born, parents have something that they didn't have when they started, and they are deeply vulnerable. It doesn't matter who you are and what background you have or how much money you have, you're in the same state as someone else. I show up to meet the needs of whoever I'm serving regardless of who they are, where they are in their lives, and what their economic status is. But I think that a lot of people are so focused on celebrity culture, that they get really fixated on that. I'm driven by creating a culture of awareness and improving birth outcomes, especially for people who are on the margins. If people are using their voices, which a lot of my clients do to help create more awareness around the maternal health crisis in this country, specifically how it affects black women, then I'm grateful for that.


We have to think about community care. CEOMOM | 52

You started Mama Glow to support women along the childbearing continuum, from fertility to postpartum. What is Mama Glow? How do you support women along their pregnancy journey? Doula support is our entry point with people. It’s fertility support, it’s hand holding- pregnancy to birth to postpartum. We also support women who have experienced loss and abortion. We work with the entire reproductive continuum. We have a conference called the Continuum Conference that outlines our values and how we address this very unique period in a person's life, where they move from one area of reproductive activity to the next. We support people and make sure that they feel seen and heard and that they feel like they have the tools they need to succeed. A lot of it is education, nonjudgmental support, partner support, advocacy and physical support. All of these things help people figure out how to move through each stage of the birthing process because a lot of it is really emotional. During times like now with COVID-19, no one's there. A lot of what we offer is virtual support to fill in those gaps for people. It is creating a birth village of people who are on this journey with you. You are revolutionizing self-care by not only helping women prioritize themselves but also encouraging them to slow down and be more intentional. With everything going on including the pandemic and the fight against systemic racism in the U.S., what are your top three tips for women, specifically Black women, to maintain self-care? How do we slow down and be more intentional during an economic and social crisis? This is a really important time. We’re so challenged, because we come from a legacy of people who have put everyone else's needs before their own. Now we're in a time where nobody is here to take care of us. We have to take care of everybody. I think about self-care and how it has been co-opted in the past few years; we've seen this focus on activities such as bubble baths and vacations. All that is amazing, but self-care is not only about what you do, but what you don't do. What do you do on a moment to moment basis? How are you making sure that you're okay? For instance, if you're tired, because it was a really

long night and you were watching the news about the protests, you might want a phone fast. You might want to turn off your devices including TV and social media. Make sure that you're getting enough hydration and that you’re eating well, especially during this time. Fortify your body, it needs a lot of minerals, especially when we're depleted from stress. You also need to learn stress management techniques like meditation and prayer. All these things are free tools. For Black women, our health is so critical that we need these tools more than anybody. We’re the ones who are on the fringes with health disparities. We are the ones who suffer the most when there is a health crisis in our country. Because we're the most vulnerable, our bodies metabolize stress differently, and we experience systemic racism firsthand, self-care is what we need to do to survive. Self-care is a pathway for us to make sure we stay well. We can look at our ancestors for models, during times of civil unrest and even the civil rights movement. Or look at the Black Panther Party and the work that they were doing through the survival programs they had in place for Black people to have meditation, yoga and free acupuncture. These programs were offered to people in the community. We have to think about this as community care. It's a way for us to look after each other and ourselves. It’s a way for us to fortify ourselves. We can’t do anything if we’re not well. We have to ask ourselves if we’re doing too much. What can I lean into in terms of support? Are there people that I can rely on? What does support look like for me as a Black woman? It’s very different when we talk about this with white women. When a lot of people talk about being able to achieve, it's traditionally at the expense of Black women or women of color who have shown up and done a lot of the work that would have made it possible for them to succeed. And so for us, we've had to do the work of the home. We've had to do the work of the community. We’ve had to do the work of the family. We have to do our own work in the office. In addition, we have the lived experience of racism that we have to carry with us. There's so many more things that make us vulnerable which means that we need to take really good care of ourselves.

You recently participated in #SharetheMicNow, a movement that helped amplify Black women’s voices against racial and social injustice. Describe your experience with #SharetheMicNow. Why did you decide to participate in this movement? I was invited by my friend, Luvvie Ajayi. I had no idea who I would be matched with and then when I learned, I was really pleased because I admire Gwyneth Paltrow. I admire what she's been able to achieve in her pursuit of wellness and also how she has disrupted the space. She's found a way to bring her life, her interests and her love for wellness to her product and services and lifestyle. She turned a newsletter into a multimillion dollar business, so of course, there's a lot to admire. She’s been criticized for not being inclusive or being tone deaf to certain issues, so I think it was great for her to be open to having a discussion and share her page for me to talk about the things that were important to me. I addressed the issues around diversity and wellness. I did address systemic racism through the lens of maternal health in this country, and she was open and excited about learning. I think #SharetheMicNow was awesome and it was also a great entry point for a conversation about how to have this as an ongoing practice beyond a one-day effort. Let’s figure out ways that we can dismantle these systems that are not supportive.


I look forward to more people doing it. I think it'd be great if more people decide to use their platform in that way. I should also say that it's not enough. It’s not enough to say, “I'm going to let somebody take over my space, because it is work for the person who takes over it. It is work for the Black person who does that. That person must be met with safety, all for the sake of educating. People could be in the comment section spewing hate so it is something you prepare yourself for. I do think that there are things that can happen offline that we want to see support with, too. For example, share the mic in office space. What does that look like? Share the mic in the boardroom? What does that look like? I would like to see people sharing the mic in leadership so we can advance this conversation, but also see the ripple effect of what's possible when people put their minds and hearts together.

"Let’s figure out ways that we can dismantle these systems that are not supportive."

Photo Credit: Syed Yaqeen

Photo Credit: Syed Aqeen

Tell us about your book, “Own Your Glow,” which is now available on paperback. What does it mean to own your glow? What inspired you to write this book? “Own Your Glow” came out in 2017. When I think about where we are now and where we were then, it's almost a completely different world. I think the book is still important today. I really want to inspire people. This guy in my comments one day said, “This book is good for us, too. It's good for men, too.” I thought that was really wonderful to hear because I didn't write it with men in mind, I wrote it with women in mind. I wrote it with a person in mind who was searching and trying to figure out what was next, but they weren’t moving enough because they were so focused on fitting into a certain archetype. We've been taught to hustle, move fast, launch, rush through things and not really savor the time that it takes to build and grow. Unwind. Go slow. Be intentional. I’m about slowing down and allowing something to mature. We don't live in a culture that really appreciates that. “Own Your Glow” is an invitation for us to slow down, to revel and practice self-care. It’s permission to think about what's possible for us when we lean into possibility. It’s about expanding your creativity and your capacity to receive. It's about forgiveness. It's about letting go. It's about moving on, but it's also about embracing who you are to the fullest and becoming a fully expressed version of yourself. I think in a time like now where people are rethinking their career path with COVID and being in the home and wanting something more for themselves, something deeper, something more fulfilling, it's a great book as a pathway to that. It's a guide to help you navigate that terrain, to uncover for yourself what that next step is.

What do you hope women take away from “Own Your Glow?” I hope that they take this invitation to start to slow down and reconfigure the culture around them. I hope women learn to do things with more intentionality without burning ourselves out. I don't want to see people burned out the way they were before this virus hit. I want to see people designing their lives in a way that really centers their needs. As we move forward, I want to see people making choices that are healthy. I want people to choose themselves. I hope Black women who encounter it put themselves first for a change. Everybody needs that, but I think especially Black women right now with all that's going on, including the anxiety that we face. We need permission to write a new story. I think that if people can take the journey and do the self-reflection exercises including the journaling, the meditations and the reading, they can start the process for healing deep-rooted wounds and believe in themselves more deeply and differently. I would love to see people challenge how they've perceived themselves and lean into their power, owning their greatness. I don't need anyone to validate me. God has validated me. I'm here. I want that energy. I want women to step into that power and people who read this book, whoever you are, however, you identify, I want them to be in that energy. Learn more about Latham Thomas and Mama Glow at Follow her on all social platforms@glowmaven and @mamaglow.

Family & Finances

How Families Can Bounce Back from the Financial Impact of the Pandemic By: Michael F. Kay Therapists agree that the trauma and PTSD in relation to COVID-19 will linger long after the pandemic has ended. Not only are parents impacted, but children who have been ripped from their routines are also feeling the effects and anxiety. For many, the financial implications have been anywhere from lower investment account balances to the loss of their job or earnings. COVID-19 has shaken our trust and definition of normal in our ‘take-it-for-granted’ attitude. Reclaiming a sense of normalcy can help build confidence in moving forward and healing. While young families have a greater time to recover, the problems can be far greater. For example, many young families are part of the “sandwich” generation, looking after the needs of both their children and their parents, therefore stretching their capacity to the limit and beyond. Even if you aren’t helping or worrying about parents, having to drastically shift routines and habits can create chaos. On the other side of this horrific coin, one can clearly see financial strengths and weaknesses. This view allows you to appreciate what you’ve done well and focus on correcting the areas that are vulnerable. Here are a few ideas to zero-in on to help you bounce back:

Bouncing back from a bad place is actually an opportunity to rethink your priorities, talk about your values and create a game plan for the future.

For most people, these last several months have seen their entertainment, travel, vacation, gasoline, and dry cleaning costs go to zero. But what might have become illuminated is just how much it costs to run your household. In particular, how much debt you are carrying and what resources would be available without it. Debt can cripple your chances to get ahead and accumulate wealth for things you truly value (college for your children, a secure retirement or maybe a special vacation). Examine the debt you carry, the interest rate and term of the loans. For credit cards, unless you’re ‘gaming’ the cards, you might have a sizable rate on your unpaid balance. Not only does this balance weigh you down, but it also impacts your ability to get credit if you need it, for home buying. Focus there and get rid of those debts to create a life without balances following you month after month. If you lost your job and became dependent on unemployment and savings, no one needs to tell you the importance of having enough money on the side ‘in case.’ Whether it’s a global pandemic or a recession that costs you your ability to earn money, a healthy emergency fund can float you comfortably so you can focus on reentering the workforce. For those who have lived hand-to-mouth and are caught in the jaws of this dilemma, the only option is to take a very hard look at your spending decisions (from housing to take-out) and make choices that will leave a surplus at the end of the month for you to begin to fill that very important bucket.

Two important points to consider: 1. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much you should keep. It depends on your job security and how much it takes to keep your ship afloat. Note: keeping debt to a minimum can really help you keep your ‘cash on the side needs’ down. 2. It would be great if you can blink your eyes and fill the bucket to be full, but realistically, it’s going to take time, focus and reasonable decision-making as to the quickest route to satisfying this need. Bouncing back from a bad place is actually an opportunity to rethink your priorities, talk about your values and create a game plan for the future. The conversation should begin with your understanding of your financial situation and then examining the various risks to which you are exposed. The insurance industry hasn’t even begun to deal with the impact of COVID on their actuarial algorithms and how it will impact the ability to buy life insurance or other types of protection and at what cost. As you begin the process of assessment and next steps, remember, momentum is important. If you need help, either from a financial professional and/or a therapist to help you deal- go get it. Your path to a more secure financial life is paved with intention matched with action and follow through. Remember, nothing is static, so don’t hold onto a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ attitude. Financial security is dynamic and requires the buy-in of all stakeholders. Michael F. Kay is President of Financial Life Focus, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisory firm based in Livingston, NJ. A financial professional for over 25 years, Michael began his career as an accountant, later shifting his focus to personal financial planning.


Family Travel

8 Coronavirus Travel Tips to Keep Your Family Safe Presented by: BabyQuip And on the 3,789th day of quarantine, all the mommies and all the daddies in all the land booked a vacation. If you have the travel bug or really want to visit friends or family in other places, we hear you. COVID-19 has canceled travel plans throughout the world and for almost all families. With some places starting to open back up, we’re finding that families are looking to travel again, and soon. Whether it’s a vacation you need after days upon days at home or some good old fashioned, much-needed extended family time, we’ve done the leg work for you and curated a list of helpful coronavirus travel tips and tricks for safely getting around during and after COVID with babies and/or little ones. Here are 8 ways to minimize coronavirus exposure risk and travel as safely as possible with babies or little ones in the age of COVID-19:


Pay attention to the numbers when traveling during and after COVID. You definitely want to look at cases in your own area and cases in and around your potential destination when choosing to travel during and after coronavirus. This will give you a sense of how widespread the cases are where you live and where you’re going so you can assess the overall risk. Keep in mind, however, that testing ability has been pretty low throughout the U.S.; so the numbers don’t necessarily reflect the real number of positive cases in any given area. Nonetheless, it will give you an idea. Here’s the World Health Organization’s global COVID dashboard.


Think about who you are going to see or visit .Although we totally miss grandma and grandpa, if they are high risk, you may want to hold off on that trip. Or if you have a loved one who has a chronic illness, cancer, autoimmune disease, etc. These underlying conditions may increase a person’s risk of contracting Coronavirus and it probably isn’t a great idea to travel to see any family members at a higher risk. For now, stick to FaceTime.


Research travel restrictions and country or state regulations when traveling during and after COVID. It would be awful to travel somewhere and not be able to do anything! Or be stuck in a mandatory quarantine. The best thing to do is research your destination. Some states are requiring folks who travel by air to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival (hint…Hawaii). Some countries aren’t allowing foreign travel in or out. Other states are not welcoming folks from certain places. So, do your research when planning any travel during or after COVID so you can avoid an unfortunate situation. A good place to start is the CDC travel website.

4 5

Look at closures and accommodations. Yay! Your destination is welcoming visitors. Phew! The next thing to research is what will be available and open in that state, city or county. Maybe restaurants are still closed. Maybe state parks aren’t open yet. You’ll want to figure out what you can and can’t do. Especially with little ones in tow.

Determine the best way to travel during or after COVID. For some, air travel might be less risky. For others, a road trip may be the best option. Whatever you’re most comfortable with, make sure to do some research about specific rules and regulations. Some airlines require masks. Some pit stops along your route might be closed. If you choose to travel during or after COVID by air, your airline should have detailed information about their COVID response and requirements on their website. But here’s a great list that has lots of information about many popular airlines. PRO TIP: Know your refund policies on anything you book: airfare, hotels, Airbnb’s, etc. That way, if things change and you can’t travel, you know what to expect when it comes to refunds or credits. The great news is that most companies are being pretty flexible these days. Take a look at this list of refund policies from Airfare Watchdog.

BabyQuip has curated a list of helpful coronavirus travel tips and tricks for safely getting around during and after COVID with babies and/or little ones.


If traveling by airplane, book strategically! Decided to fly to your destination? We recommend booking a nonstop flight to minimize your interaction with others. Better yet, find a non-stop red eye flight. Red eyes aren’t as popular so there will likely be far less people on the flight and in the airports. Another bonus about red eyes? Your baby or little one will probably sleep through it! Woohoo!


Prepare your crew when traveling during and after COVID. No matter what age your kiddos are (OK, maybe the baby won’t get it) you can definitely prepare them and talk to them about being safe during your trip. Teach them to sing happy birthday or the ABCs when they wash their hands. Explain to them that it’s best to distance themselves from others right now. If you prepare them in the weeks leading up to your trip, they’ll be more inclined to listen to your instructions and follow safe rules. They may even remind you to follow the rules too!


Since we already mentioned handwashing… The CDC states that this is one of the most basic and most important ways to prevent the spread of COVID. Practicing good hygiene while at home and especially while traveling is a must-do.




Summer is often a time when teenagers take major strides towards independence. They may start their first job, land an internship, volunteer with a charity, or visit college campuses to plan for the future. However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic reshaping the entire world right now, many teens have had to put their traditional summer plans on hold. Parents, too, will need to rethink their approach to technology when it comes to guiding and supporting their adolescents through these difficult and uncertain times. As part of our ongoing series, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development has teamed up with some of the top experts in the fields of parenting, education, and child psychology to bring you a new collection of helpful hints for making the most of this pivotal moment in your teenager’s development. Hit reset. Neuroscientists have found that roughly 60-90 minutes of heavy technology use creates a major overload in the brain, and an overloaded brain simply doesn’t work as well as a calm one. Luckily, the cure is easy. TAKE BREAKS. A short break, even as few as 10 minutes, is like hitting “reset” for your body. Brain scans show us that exercising, taking a walk outside in nature, talking to a friend in person, working on a crossword puzzle, listening to music, and, in fact, any activity that takes your mind away from your devices can be beneficial. Stepping away for 10-15 minutes every hour or so will help “reset” your overloaded brain so you can function more smoothly and effectively. - Larry Rosen, PhD, Professor Emeritus and Past Chair of the Psychology Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills Connect and cope. Remember when you were a teenager, on the edge between childhood and adulthood? Your mind and body felt ready for more grown up things, but part of you longed for the safety and security of childhood. As teens, we feel so much, and it can be difficult for many to put these feelings into words or to know when and how to share them. Imagine being a teen today when there is so much to feel. Take advantage of the time when you and your teen(s) are in the house together. Think of a movie that explores some of the feelings your teen might be feeling. Watch together and ask them questions about what the characters in the stories were going CEOMOM | 61

Be open to all their explorations and listen. through, how the characters felt, and what they think the character did right or could have done differently. Be open to all their explorations and listen. The movie you choose might be about a crisis, about a cultural revolution, or just about being a human being dealing with big things. Also, try some fantasy and comedy to visit times and places that bring feelings of calm and spark the imagination. Let them choose some shows or films to show you, as well, and ask why they like them. Stories help us focus on problems and solutions in a space where the consequences aren’t ours. They help us move through difficult feelings and consider how we want to be in the world. I hope that some of these experiences with your kids can end up creating silver linings in your family’s shared memories of this moment in history. - Karen Shackleford, faculty member in the Media Psychology doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University, and Incoming Editor of Psychology of Popular Media, Independence Day Teens need opportunities to exercise their emerging sense of independence, which can be difficult to do when most of their time is spent at home. This summer, help them find (safe) ways to get out of the house and do something without you. It could be as simple as hanging out with friends, or it could be more involved, like participating in a social cause they care about. Whatever the activity, the key thing is that it’s theirs. - Katie Davis, Associate Professor, University of Washington Information School Use the news. Between COVID, climate change concerns, and protests over police brutality and civil liberties, teens on social media are likely seeing a lot of contradictory information with high emotional stakes, so it’s important to use this opportunity to teach them about media literacy and healthy habits when it comes to news consumption. Teenagers are capable of understanding a lot, and often want to talk about these issues as part of their emerging political identity, but

they need a way to sort through and make sense of it all. Talk to your teens about different sources and biases, using reverse image search to verify pictures, and the pros and cons of expressing one’s views on social media. As teens may be exposed to images of racial violence and trauma circulated online, talk to them about how they manage their media intake, how it makes them feel, and what they can do with this information. For teens who want to express their views, talk to them about how they can manage the risk of online political expression by thinking about which platforms they use, who they follow, and how they comment on others’ posts. Not sure how to proceed? Check out Common Sense Media Resources such as Parenting, Media and Everything in Between and Resources about Race and Racism. - Ellen Middaugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Lurie College of Education, San Jose State University, @emiddaugh on Twitter, Stay connected. Cut your teens (and yourself) some slack, and let your kids connect with their friends online. An important part of being an adolescent is learning about friendships, and in a COVID world this is happening increasingly online. If your teen is a gamer, let them play extra Fortnite with their friends, or if they love social media, encourage them to reach out, create, and connect on TikTok and Snapchat. Luckily, the research shows that most kids are not negatively harmed by this kind of social connection, but of course be sensitive if your teen seems to be exhibiting any extra anxiety from the additional screen time. Make sure they balance screen time with family time and physical activity (which these days can also involve screens), but don’t worry too much, especially if they are using these platforms to socialize. As one teen said pre-COVID, “I’m not addicted to technology, I’m addicted to my friends.” And that’s a good thing! — Yalda T. Uhls, Ph.D, Author, Media Moms & Digital Dads: A Fact not Fear Approach to Parenting in the Digital Age, Founder, UCLAs Center for Scholars & Storytellers Rest is best. For good mental and physical health, it’s vital that adolescents receive 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. A lack of quality rest puts teens at far greater risk for anxiety, depression, impaired learning,

poor diet and obesity. Teens have an extended circadian rhythm, which means they’re susceptible to staying up and sleeping in later, especially if they engage in screen media at night and don’t have structured activities to get them out of bed in the morning. Unchecked, adolescent sleep patterns during the summer can quickly become completely deregulated and dysfunctional. Many teens need parental intervention to maintain healthy sleep habits. Often the best thing that parents can do for the health of their adolescents is ensure that they get out of bed by 8AM and stay out of bed during the day. Parents should also consider completely eliminating screen media from their teen's bedroom, which will keep the teen out of their bed during the day and help ensure that their devices don’t keep them up or wake them up late at night. Getting adolescents out of bed in the morning can be a challenge, but it can be helpful to gradually open window shades in the morning and let natural light into the room, which helps teens wake up and resets their circadian rhythm correctly. Teens typically don’t appreciate this type of structure being put into their day, but it can do wonders for their health and well being. - Paul Weigle, MD, American Academy of CHild & Adolescent Psychiatry's Media Committee Chair Engage in anti-racist action. Take time this summer to engage in a collective effort to confront racism online and offline through co-watching, co-reading and discussing works that illustrate the impact of systemic racism on Black people in the United States. Several documentaries, docu-series, and films are available to watch, as well as historic speeches and debates such as James Baldwin's debate with William F. Buckley in 1965. There are now several online resources, such as this one, which presents several ways in which you and your adolescent can schedule time each day to increase awareness around racism, and how to combat racism, in the United States. Remember that contribution is one of the key developmental tasks of adolescence, and engaging in dialogues around important societal issues is one significant way to validate your adolescent's perspective and growth. - Kate Mills, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon

what was happening and this led me to Dr. Jessica Borrelli’s research on just this issue. Borrelli wanted to understand what happens when parents step in and try to problem-solve for their teens. Borrelli ran experiments where they created a computing puzzle where teenagers were asked to do a puzzle which was basically unsolvable. The parents were told not to help. Monitors that measure stress levels were placed on the skin of the teens and the parents. Once the teens started failing at the puzzle most parents stepped in to help. The researchers found that when the parents stepped in and tried to help they had decreases in their stress and the teens had increases in theirs. This scientific explanation helps me with problem-solving and now I often employ these simple phrases which have made a huge difference with my daughter, "I am curious, what solutions have you been thinking about to address that problem? And, "I am here to brainstorm solutions whenever you want me to — just let me know." These phrases let her know I have faith in her problem-solving skills and also they put the sense of control in her hands—if she wants my input she has control to ask me for it. - Delaney Ruston, MD, director of Screenagers, and Screenagers NEXT CHAPTER about uncovering skills for stress resilience, and author of the parenting blog, Tech Talk Tuesdays. This summer is already shaping up to be a challenging one for parents and teens on a number of fronts, but such challenges can yield important physical, mental, and social growth if approached with a healthy mindset. Encourage your teens to engage with the world in safe and thoughtful ways while at the same time giving them the space to develop their own identity and values. Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development is a 501C(3) national non-profit organization founded by Dr. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. Children and Screens advances and supports interdisciplinary scientific research, enhances human capital in the field, informs and educates the public, and advocates for sound public policy for child health and wellness. .

Let teens lead. When my teen daughter Tessa was not long ago experiencing lots of stressful emotions all I wanted to do was help her. Yet, each time I stepped into to try to suggest solutions, I just made things worse. As a physician, I looked for science to explain what


Pandemic Parenting

5 Tips to Help Kids Overcome the COVID Learning Slump this Summer Presented by: Brainly

Ask any teacher, student, administrator, or parent of school-aged kids, and they'll tell you that the end of the 2019-2020 school year has looked a whole lot different than it did at the beginning. The impact of COVID19 on education systems around the world has been stark. Millions of students traded classrooms for Zoom chats, and educators at nearly every level struggled to adapt to a completely new way of educating young people. Unfortunately, this means it was also a time when many students lost much of the academic skills and knowledge they'd gained throughout the school year before the pandemic changed life as we knew it. The fact is, learning loss due to coronavirus school closures, dubbed the ‘COVID Slump’ by experts, is becoming a common phenomenon for many students across the nation-- and one that’s actually preventable if the right measures are taken over summer. Consider this: About 84% of U.S. parents are worried that COVID-19 related changes to their child’s education negatively impacted their learning, and 61% are worried their child’s college or career prospects will be negatively impacted, according to a recent Brainly survey of 1,600 moms and dads.

So how can parents prevent their children from backsliding during school closures? Eric Oldfield, Chief Business Officer of Brainly, the world's largest online learning community, and father of two school-age daughters, is well aware of the risks of two months out of the classroom can have on students, and he has tips aimed at combating it. Here are his 5 tips to help prevent COVID-19 learning loss this summer: 1. Create hand-built projects. With all the screen time kids are getting from online learning (not to mention their noneducational screen time), sometimes the best thing you can do to get kids flexing their brain muscles is to have them physically design and create something with their own two hands like a 3D puzzle, creative board game, cardboard box space station or maze, pop-up storybook, treehouse (with adult supervision) or time capsule, to name a few examples. 2. Take up an educational hobby. Now is the perfect opportunity for students to take up a new hobby. Learning a new musical instrument, geocaching, creative writing, playing Chess, taking a coding class, or joining an online trivia league can help students of any age stay sharp through the pandemic days.

3. Move the learning outdoors. It may seem basic, but a little sunshine and fresh air are excellent for everyone’s mental health and can help bored students reinvigorate their learning by helping them escape the monotony of their home learning space. Physical activity can also help memory recall and increases mental dexterity. Try passing around a soccer ball in the backyard while learning the state capitals, playing hopscotch while reciting new vocab terms, or going on a nature walk and identifying all the native flora and fauna. 4. Enroll them in an online course. Think of it as a virtual summer camp. But before you blindly sign up for some online program, look for some specialized programs designed to keep children learning with engaging activities and personalized instruction, and take advantage of these slower months to boost problem areas. 5. Encourage them to keep their curiosity piqued. Even inquisitive children can use some coaxing to keep learning over the summer. One way to do this is to motivate them to read more books by implementing a point rewards system where they can earn different perks or privileges for every book they complete. There are also many services, like Brainly or Scholastic Learn at Home, where children can ask questions, learn new things, and keep stimulated to prevent the COVID slump.


Krystal Henry - Around the Way Mom

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