Our special Mom Month Mondays continue with Ria Sharon from My Mommy Manual. Ria is the “practical mommy” voice at My Mommy Manual. We met Ria a few years ago and continue to be impressed and inspired by her. She is always on the cutting edge of social media and technology all while finding balance and harmony in her daily life as a single mom. We know you will love Ria as much as we do so sit back, relax and enjoy!
Did you ever think you would be so involved in helping others with parenting through a website, parenting courses, conferences, etc?
I’ve said many times, “I didn’t plan on being here. But the only way I could have gotten here is the way I came.”
Professionally speaking, I went from media buying at a big ad agency to becoming a graphic designer and managing a design firm to starting my own business and teaching myself about online marketing and social media. Like many women, becoming a mom caused a big shift in me, beginning a search for meaning beyond a successful career. I chose to stay home with my kids for a period of time, which brought into sharp relief how much I had previously identified with my work as validation.
I’m a big fan of Sarah Susanka’s book, Not So Big Life. I aspired to the idea that she suggests in her book, that you can break down all the “compartments” of your life to create a life that truly fits YOU and that fills you.
So in that consciously unconscious way, that’s what I created with MyMommyManual.com. It’s a space where I am who I am — no more and no less. There aren’t any walls between who I am and what I do. And no one is more surprised than me that my experiences as both a mom and a marketer have dovetailed so perfectly to create resources for parents like the Yogi Parenting course.
Did you always want to be a mom?
I was never the little girl that played house and dressed up dolls. I do recall that at seven, I traded a Barbie doll for the little gadget that crimped her hair. So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m such a tech geek now!
Being a mom was not a given. I’ve recently realized that it’s not in my nature to plan too far into the future. Five years out is really a stretch for me. I was married for five years before I got pregnant. I remember looking around and noticing that all my friends were having babies and realizing we hadn’t really given it much thought.
But again, I’m amazed at how an experience I hadn’t necessarily planned is the thing that I most needed. Suzanne (my co-creator on My Mommy Manual) and I joke that parenting is the most amazing crash course in self-development you’ll ever take. There’s nothing like having kids that will force you to look at your own issues! LOL!
It’s the tremendous love you have for your children that compels you to do “the work;” to a degree and depth you would never take on just for yourself.
Acceptance. I have to accept that there are a lot of things that are not in my control — being any kind of parent, whether you are single, married or in a long-term partnership teaches you that! But specifically being divorced from their dad means that how they are parented 50% of the time is not up to me. My situation creates an awareness that my way is definitely not the only way or necessary the right way, it’s just MY way. And yet my way of being a mom and of being me is enough for my children. In fact, I’ve come to accept that it’s perfect for them.
Do you have a favorite “mom moment” that you can share with us?
At my daughter’s last parent-teacher conference (she’s in 2nd grade), her teacher told us how good she was when working in groups. Ms. Reardon said, “She is a hard worker, very curious, very focused, but she also knows when it is better to allow other people in the group to do their own work.” At bedtime that night, I praised my eight-year old, saying, “I was very impressed by what your teacher said. If I had learned that lesson when I was eight, how different my experience of life would be.” And she replied, “Well, I could teach you.”
You have some great reviews of various products on your blog. What would you say is the “must have” baby product?
There are so many. I love this new Popatot- it’s clever portable activity center designed by active parents. I couldn’t live without my double stroller. I had the Jeep Wagoneer Tandem. That stroller has circled the globe two times! I even took 3 year old and 1 year old to Mexico by myself, which I couldn’t have done without it.
And honestly, I (heart) my minivan. I happen to have a Honda Odyssey and even now that my kids are older, it’s indispensable. I don’t care that it isn’t the coolest car on the block. I like that I can throw everything is there: kids and dogs and groceries and bikes and gear.
Any advice for first-time parents?
Two words: Let go. The secret to happy parenting (and a happy life, I think) is to let go of expectations, let go of planning, let go of the need to control, let go of “perfect.”
Now for a quick glance into Practical Mommy’s life
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go & what would you do there? I have a soft spot for Rome, the Eternal City. I love walking around and seeing people live their modern lives right next to ancient ruins. There’s something so poignant about that. It’s an exclamation point that our own personal lives are so temporary. And yet, we are part of something really big.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Sugar! I know, I know — it’s “poison that tastes good” but one of my personal mantras is “Dessert First!” Or, at least know what’s on the dessert menu so you can plan your meal around it.
What is an instant de-stressor for you? Dance. Argentine Tango is an improvisational dance so it requires true present mindedness. It’s meditation for me.
If someone was going to write a book of your life, what would the title be? Plan Z
If you have any questions or comments for Ria, please leave them in our comment section.