Rosie Pope on Successfully Managing a Business and a Big Family

Designer, entrepreneur, TV personality, and mother of four, Rosie Pope has been pumping pregnancy and motherhood full of style for nearly a decade. In 2008, after finding it difficult to shop for stylish clothes that fit her growing belly, she began to develop what would become a successful maternity line for fashion-forward moms-to-be.

Having established herself as a trusted motherhood guru, she launched MomPrep, prenatal and postnatal classes which offer everything from infant CPR to stroller cleaning.

In 2011, her maternity concierge services were the subject of Bravo’s docu-series “Pregnant in Heels,” a sometimes ridiculous look at the concerns and needs of affluent parents-to-be.

Parent.co: What are the products you’re recommending most to new parents these days?

Rosie Pope Mix and Match Layette 

Doc-a-tot

BassiNEST

Rosie Pope x Aden+Anais Collection Swaddle

Rosie Pope x Aden+Anais Muslin Bibs

MommyNearest App (great for traveling or in a new city with information like where to breastfeed, bathroom, change the baby, go shopping for maternity wear, etc.)

Medela microwave sterilizing bags for bottles, breastpumps, pacifiers, etc. – amazing product!

What is the most helpful thing someone can do for a friend who just had a baby?

Come over and ask them what would really help them out. They may not feel okay letting you watch their baby yet for a date night but it’s the things like laundry, dishes, thank you cards, getting birth announcements out, that can really get a new mom down. Do whatever she needs so that her focus can be on the baby instead of all the other things she has to do.

What did you find most challenging about having two babies so close together?

I think simply that they are both babies at the same time. While it does seem emotionally less challenging for the older sibling as they are so young the fact that you are dividing your attention seems easier to get used to. The trick is to remember you have two babies and your oldest really isn’t that old at all. Remembering that will prevent you from being too tough on the older one or expecting too much. They need their mama, too!

How is managing a large family like managing a business? 

I always joke with my kids that after solving disputes between the four of them I can handle anything at work! I think they are similar in that running a business means constantly navigating through things that you did not expect to happen. Staying flexible, being able to resolve conflict, lead, and nurture are all true of both family and of business.

What is the most over-the-top item anyone has ever put on a baby registry?

Okay, so I’m going to give you a few that your readers could actually register for:

Hermes baby socks

Baby Dior layette

Diamond-encrusted gold pacifier

Crystal-encrusted Baby Bath Tub – for some bubbles and, of course, sparkles!

Even If You Don’t Own Guns, Talk With Your Kids About Them

Every parent needs to talk with their kids about gun safety – even if they don’t own any. Parents need to talk about it too.

We don’t own guns. Neither my husband or I grew up around them, and to be honest, I can’t recall ever seeing a handgun that wasn’t strapped to a police officer. We aren’t anti-toy guns (as evidenced by the stray Nerf gun foam bullets scattered over our yard), but my kids’ relationship with them ends there.

I’ve reiterated the rules to both of my kids if they ever find themselves in the same room as a gun at least three dozen times:

  1. STOP.
  2. Do not touch it.
  3. Move as far away as possible. Preferably, out of the house.
  4. Tell an adult.

But the truth is, that’s not enough. For one thing, my 10-year-old has to accumulate 40 consecutive hours of me telling him ANYTHING before he commits it to memory. (Including but not limited to “put your dishes in the dishwasher ,” “stop making your sister scream,” and “if you can smell your feet, I shouldn’t have to tell you to wash them.”)

Despite the serious nature of the rules around guns, his (totally age appropriate) track record suggests I’d be foolish to assume he’s fully grasped this one just because his life depends on it.

Moreover, kids do incredibly dumb things when they’re with their friends, or get caught in the fallout. Once, at a friend’s potluck family dinner party, several boys were implicated in what has become known as “The Onion Fight Incident.” I’m 98% certain mine had nothing to do with it, but he certainly didn’t call a ceasefire.

The fact is, kids are curious. And expecting them to resist the urge to touch something that’s off limits is fine if it’s a birthday cake or an expensive bottle of perfume. (Spoiler alert- they probably won’t.)

Keeping guns out of the hands of our children is on us.

Three thousand kids die from gunshot wounds every year in the United States. Kids whose parents had explicitly told them never to touch a gun. Kids whose parents accidentally left a weapon unlocked and accessible ONE TIME.

The most foolproof way to make sure kids never touch a gun is to prevent them from ever finding one. Many parents think their kids don’t know where their guns are kept. Surprise! Three-quarters of them do.

And nearly a third of all US families with children under 18 have a  gun in their household.

(Are you convinced your kid would know better? Stop right here. Watch this shocking clip from the ABC special “Young Guns” What young kids do with guns when parents aren’t around.)

It’s time to normalize the conversation about gun safety.

Ill-fitting underwear is uncomfortable. Airplane seats are uncomfortable. Know what shouldn’t be uncomfortable? Asking other parents if they have guns in their home before sending your kids over to play, and asking if they’re stored securely.

Play dates often come with a list of dietary restrictions or the occasional screentime policy review. And we’ve become accustomed to asking other parents if their child has allergies or other needs.

Asking about guns in the home should be that normal. Just an everyday question asked between parents. “Do you have guns in the house?”

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So You Want to Join Our Moms Group?

We’ve been looking for some new blood since Shannon ditched carbs and in turn, us, for CrossFit.

Hey! So you’re interested in joining our Moms group?

That’s fantastic.

We’ve been looking for some new blood since Shannon ditched carbs and in turn, us, for CrossFit. We should have seen it coming when her entire wardrobe was overtaken by lycra. Hindsight’s 20/20. We miss her for sure, but if her 2012 paleo obsession is any indication, it’s only about six months before she’s back on the radar.

Should things with you pan out, don’t worry. There’s room for both. Especially if you know the M.C. Kat rap from Paula Abdul’s 1988 smash hit “Opposites Attract” as well as our friend Kate, who’s spending the year abroad. We do that number at karaoke and losing her contribution is really putting a damper on the performance.

We have no weekly meetings, but it’s likely that there just aren’t enough ENTJ personalities in this current configuration. (BTW, what’s your Myers Briggs type? It’s fine if you don’t know, but we all took the quiz last time we went out for overpriced cocktails, so you may want to catch up. I hadn’t learned so much about myself since Buzzfeed confirmed I’m 95% Rachel Greene. Fascinating.)

That’s not to say that we’re ever truly out of touch. I mean, just last week my phone vibrated clear off the counter because Jen lit up our Messenger thread with preschool birthday party politics peppered with Friday Night Lights gifs.

Resist the urge to cry at work, and find yourself falling apart in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods instead? Fire off a text, sister. We’ll talk you down long before you’ve self medicated with $40 worth of chocolate covered granola.

Wonder if that romper you’re trying on while shopping with your tween at Urban Outfitters crosses the line into “cry for help?” Snap a selfie. We’ll be honest.

Clearly, it’s a magical time to be alive.

We’d love to catch up in person more frequently, but truthfully this whole “long days, short years” business where we squeeze soccer games and board meetings, 50 hour work weeks and nightly homework battles all into the course of seven days, ad infinitum (until it’s not, I guess) makes for quality over quantity.

This is the part where I should mention that most of our shared time is spent out of the company of our children. It’s not that we don’t love being with them, it’s just that it’s damaging to their developing psyches to hear us talk about what insufferable assholes they can be.

However, in the event you have one that’s still in that potted plant phase, by all means, feel free to bring him or her along. We all love an evening of the ovary shattering game Pass the Baby. Most of us have crested the ass-wiping stage of motherhood and can see the glory that is the other side. We’re not going back, but damned if those chunky little goobers aren’t completely intoxicating. (Especially because we can hand them back over when they cry or shit halfway up to their ears.)

Also worth noting, our gatherings are by no means a four-hour airing of child-related grievances. Sure, that accounts for some of the time, but it’s squeezed in between unboxing lifetimes worth of body issues, vibrator recommendations, dramatic reenactments of our favorite 80’s films, and Netflix binge recommendations.

When we do connect with children in tow, it’s a little “Lord of the Flies” meets “Troop Beverly Hills.” I mean, no one’s wearing fur (ok, not on a regular basis. And relax. It’s vintage), but we pretty much ignore the kids altogether unless someone has a bone sticking out or lights a trash can on fire. (Though we’re willing to experiment with ways to ensure a team of firefighters crash another get-together. Perhaps, next time, sans pants.)

There is no obligation to share babysitter contacts among the group. That shit is SACRED. None of us are going to text you photos of our kids rashes and ask you to assist in diagnosis. Nor are we going to ask you to start hocking mascara or protein shakes (and we’re going to have to ask you to promise the same. Pinkies out.)

So, if you’re up for it, we’d love to connect.

In the event you host, don’t clean your house for us. In fact, if one of us is coming over, grind a few fistfuls of potato chips into the carpet and scatter that pile of unopened (maybe even late) bills clear across the kitchen counter. Leave the dishes in the sink, don’t even think of consulting Pinterest for finger food recipes, and if an entire pantry’s worth of snacks resides within your couch cushions, well, consider us friends for life.

Maybe Parenting is Just Training to CRUSH it at Game Shows

Come on down! The price isn’t right.

Parenting has prepared me for a variety of things. Multitasking, stain management, and operating on 4 hours of sleep after being awoken by a sleepwalker who tried to piss in his pants drawer, just to name a few. (I guess college could have helped with that last one, but add it to the list of things I missed.)

It recently occurred to me that all these years I’ve basically been training to absolutely CRUSH it at a whole host of TV game shows. Let me explain.

Supermarket Sweep

In an average week, I’m at the grocery store no less than four damn times. I know the shelves of that fluorescent lit hell pit like the back of my hand.

And dashing around the store like a ticking time bomb is whining about goldfish crackers hanging off the edge of the cart while I fill it with all the expensive things? THAT’S MY SPECIALTY.  

Family Feud

You don’t have to be smart to win Family Feud. You have to think quick and cease to be embarrassed by the exclamations of people you are associated with. Sufficient training consists of running errands with four year olds and/or anyone who finds it acceptable to shout, “MAMA! LOOK AT THAT MAN! HIS HEAD LOOKS LIKE A SHINY BABY BIRD” or “I THINK I’M POOPING!” in line at Starbucks.

Survivor

I can fashion a diaper out of band-aids and restroom paper towels. I once slapped a panty liner on the shin of my toddler whose rain boots were making her leg “feel like fire” and bought us three more hours of traipsing about. I can probably make a shelter out of big leaves and a pack of the double bubble if I had to. I’m also a pro-snack forager and can go days without a shower. You want me on your team. TRUST.

Win, Lose, or Draw

Between all the time, you spend trying to decipher what the hell frantic people are trying to tell you, and responding to demands such as “DRAW ME A PIRATE, MAMA! ON AN AIRPLANE. EATING A SANDWICH. THE LONG KIND,” you’re basically primed to wipe the floor with your opponents. 

 

win_lose_or_draw_sally

Press Your Luck

Seriously, if this isn’t parenting in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. Pressing your luck is pretty much the name of the game from day one.

Will they have colic? NO WHAMMIES, NO WHAMMIES, NO…phew. A perfectly affable baby.

I’ve scheduled two meetings and a date night for tomorrow. NO WHAMMIES, NO WHAMMIES, AW! Look who just fell asleep on the floor with 103-degree fever!

We’re used to winning and losing shit for no apparent reason. Home turf advantages in this case.

https://gifsofthe80s.tumblr.com/post/120809327083/press-your-luck-cbs-1983

 

The Milestones That Don’t Make Baby Books, Like Smart-Assery

First steps, successful potty training, emerging teeth- all milestones worthy of the baby book. But maybe we should make room for some new ones.

Learning to walk, feed yourself, and control your bladder are solid milestones, worthy of notations in the baby book. But as time marches on (or, more accurately, blasts forward at breakneck speed) the developments are slightly more subtle.

With the basics out of the way after that first couple of years, the days between ages three and four are prime for honing skills of smart-assery, social grace, and independence.

Perhaps there’s no room in the childhood ledger for skills such as these, because even with a lifetime of practice it’s tough to say if they’re ever truly mastered. As an adult who leaves the house and interacts with other adults, I can confirm: some never do.

This past year of my daughter’s life, I’ve watched her transform from toddler to full-blown kid. She stands taller – the combination of a lengthened frame and new found attitude. She uses words like “basically,” “actually,” and “amazing.” (And also “bagina.”) I’ve snapped photos that catch my breath, seemingly capturing at once a ghost of the baby she was and the image of the woman she’ll be.

Maybe there’s no place in the baby book for them, but these moments, snippets of assurance that this curly-headed little creature will make her way in this world just fine, seem far more noteworthy than the standard fill-in-the-blanks.

How to be a smart ass (without being totally obnoxious)

One of the most rewarding experiences of having more than one kid is watching them develop a relationship with one another. Each time they hold hands without being forced to or curl up together to read a book, you wonder if anyone has ever spontaneously combusted from being unable to process the cuteness.

Of course, moments later you’re stepping into the middle of the third fight of the day, certain these two clowns are still going to be arguing over who gets what dinnerware at their first Thanksgiving home from college because “she got the blue plate last year!” OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I’M GOING TO LIGHT MY HAIR ON FIRE. WHY DOES IT MATTER? IT’S A PLATE.

Until this past year, the unhappiness or discomfort my daughter wrought on my son was more or less due to her existence, not because she was sophisticated enough to orchestrate her own brand of misery. Now that she’s spent enough time figuring out what makes him tick, she trolls him with surgical precision.

It’s well known around our house that my son will find any excuse imaginable to get out of going into the basement alone. Daytime, nighttime, it doesn’t matter. What he’s afraid of that being escorted by a preschooler could protect him from, I don’t know. But she’s no dummy. The last time he made some lame excuse for her to come with him while he fished his soccer shorts out of the laundry, she refused.

“You can go by yourself. I’m busy. There’re no monsters.”

With a huff, he slowly worked his way down the stairs.

I watched as she quietly abandoned the castle she was building and tiptoed to the basement doorway.

She took a deep, deliberate breath and bellowed, “OH SHIT! THERE’S A GHOST DOWN THERE!”

He scrambled up the stairs so fast it’s possible his feet didn’t even touch them.

Finding the line between independence and knowing when to ask for help

My daughter is the type of kid who rarely asks for help. Since she was old enough to have her own agenda, she’s pretty much taken matters into her own hands. I admire her do-it-myself attitude.

But you know what I find even more commendable? She knows when to draw the line. The truth is, some things just aren’t meant to be dealt with solo, whether you’re four or 40.

Last time we were visiting her grandparents, she dashed off through the field to the school yard to play with her brother and cousin. Fifteen minutes later, before I even realized she’d returned, she emerged onto the deck, completely naked, a tail of toilet paper trailing behind.

“I pooped my pants. I tried to clean it up, but it’s not working.”

Not working was an understatement.

“Man, I really stinked it up in here,” she offered as I swung the bathroom door open to take in the horror show for myself.

She studied my face as I cleaned and disinfected each shit-streaked surface.

“You’re not mad, mama. I can tell because you’re not making that mad face. I bet you’re just disappointed.”

“I’m not mad. Not at all. I’m not disappointed either. I’m actually pretty impressed. I can’t believe you even tried to address this nuclear disaster. Knowing when to ask for help is a pretty important skill.”

She stood up a little taller, proud as a poop-encrusted peacock.

“Well, thank you,” she nodded.

You can’t take everything personally.

Driving home from preschool pick-up last winter, she prattled on from the backseat about the trials and tribulations of that day’s playground time. Allegedly, one of the girls was crabby and refused to accept her role of “sister” in the game of house they all agreed to play.

But instead of dramatically complaining about the injustice, she thoughtfully offered, “She talks really nice. She was just mean outside because she was cold. I think that was the problem.”

Friends are everywhere if you’re looking.

It’s possible this kid has a more robust social life than I do. Last week she overheard the squeals of her neighborhood buddies and laid it all out for me. “I’m going next door to Olivia’s house, and if she’s not in her yard, I’m going to go to Ella’s house, and I’ll look both ways before I cross the street but there’s never any cars because it’s not even really a road.”

Slow your roll, Captain Threenager. You’ve only been tall enough to reach the doorknob for four months and while I fully trust your capabilities, letting you go alone could give me a prime spot on the 6 o’clock news.

And it’s not just when we’re home. Trips to the playground, a morning on the green at the farmer’s market, or a long line at the Post Office, it doesn’t matter. She always seems to find someone to enjoy herself with. Often, I watch from a distance, as she twirls her way into the orbit of the nearest kid with the biggest smile. She patiently waits for an acknowledgement, playing alone until they notice. It’s usually only a matter of moments before they dash off in the same direction, without so much as a pause to introduce themselves.

“Mama, I learned two new friends today,” she tells me at bedtime. Learn friends. That’s what she calls it.

Because they’ve really been there all along – no “making” required.