In this new series, we’re not only peeking into the homes and lives of parents we admire—but we’re gleaning their parenting tips, tricks and life hacks to make the day-to-day realities a bit easier.
Today, our friend and creative powerhouse Andrea Lipps, author + curator at design institution Cooper Hewitt in New York City takes us into her new home on New York’s Upper West Side and into her workspace at Cooper Hewitt. Mother of Liv, age 2 and Luca, age 4, she’s got a packed schedule always and here’s how she stays sane, productive and, gasp, creatively inspired, too. (P.S. You can shop our Pops pacifiers and Chew teethers at Cooper Hewitt’s beautiful store.)
I start my week waking up before the kids—around 6:45AM—so I can get myself ready. Once they wake up (around 7:30AM), they demand all attention: Breakfasts, getting dressed, hair combed, making lunch and getting out the door for school by 8:20AM. I tend to keep to this schedule until about Wednesday each week, when I find that I progressively go to bed later and later each night in order to keep up with things I don’t have time for during the day. So usually by Thursday and Friday, I’m sleeping through my alarm and waking up frantically with the kids around 7:30 AM and promise myself that I won’t do this the following week. And then it happens again. It’s humbling and comical and ridiculous and just a part of parenthood.
I arrive to work between 9AM and 9:30AM. I am a big believer in microtasks, tackling bigger tasks in small, micro doses to get them accomplished in a manageable way. Big tasks used to feel herculean to me, but if you just jump in somewhere, it’s surprising how much you can get done. And then I’m home by 6pm almost every night to have dinner with my kids. It’s important to me that we share a meal at the end of the day and reconnect.
When I’m on a book project, I carve out time anywhere I can find it—early mornings (waking at 4AM) and/or weekends. I really need to lean on my husband during these times. I’m too fried to write in the evening after work and kids’ bedtimes. My best writing time is when I’m fresh at the start of the day.
As busy moms, I think we are all creative in our own way—that’s how we make it all work! For one, I think it’s important to consider that creativity manifests not just in art or design, but in ideas, written words, and our interactions with others. For instance as a mom, how do you get your kids to brush their teeth? I can be as stern as I want, but once I make it a game, both my kids will happily and enthusiastically brush their teeth. It’s helpful that as moms we forgive ourselves and recognize that creativity is already a part of our lives, just perhaps a bit more banal right now.
At the same time, I find that creativity happens in quiet moments when we allow ourselves mental space. Sometimes I get my most wild, connective, and resonant ideas for exhibitions and books in quiet moments when I’m washing the dishes after the kids are in bed or just before I fall asleep.
I am perpetually reminded that I know so little. Everyday I learn something new or deepen my knowledge about life. I love that. Second, that for as crazy as this moment in life seems—with a young family and a demanding career—it is ultimately temporary. The kids are growing and one day I will miss the energy of it all.
ON PARENTING HACKS
I count the small victories right now—both kids in bed on time. A stocked refrigerator. A clean apartment. A managed inbox. Just don’t look at my closet. I also feel victorious when an exhibition or book I’ve been working on for years comes to fruition and is released to the public for the first time. Those days are few and far between, but they are exhilarating.
I’ve stopped holding myself up to some standard of leading a “balanced” life. I just don’t believe in it. Life with young kids is hard and a struggle yet achingly beautiful in its ephemerality. It’s like the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, which locates beauty in imperfection. Perhaps this is more of a mental hack than a life hack, but I’ve given myself permission to find beauty in life’s flaws and to stop chasing an unattainable, impossible ideal. Also, headscarves are brilliant for those days you don’t have time to shower. You’re welcome.
Also, this advice from my son: “Mom, put your phone down, you’re missing it.” (Replace “it” with really anything.)
ON THE DESIGN OF OUR POP PACIFIER
The Pop pacifier is an incredibly innovative, smart design. First and foremost it is one single piece made of silicone – no small feat. I can’t imagine the time that went into the precision of the design, engineering, and tooling to ensure it functioned properly. I’ve seen other “closable” pacifiers on the market, but they were made of multiple materials and parts and were super clunky. Their materiality made them heavy and awkward to use.
Second, and what I find most salient, the Pop is exemplary of sensory design principles. Its silicone is pleasingly tactile and soft. It is lightweight. Its colors and form are elegant to the eye. And it is quiet when it falls. When other “closable” pacifiers fall to the ground, the hard plastic shell that encapsulates the nipple creates a loud sound, which isn’t only displeasurable but can actually wake up a sleeping baby. (There is seriously nothing worse when you are a sleep-deprived mama.) Overall the Pop is such a thoughtful, elegant, and human-centric design. It just makes you feel good.
Pick up a copy of Andrea’s new book, here.
Shop The Pop at Cooper Hewitt here.