Modern Moms: Modern Mom Probs With Tara Clark

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Jen: Hey, modern moms, welcome to MomCave Live, where we may have lost our minds, but we have not lost our sense of humor. Yes, I’m Jen and I’m here today with Tara Clark, who is ModernMomProbs. Hey! 

Tara Clark: I love Jen. Thank you for having me. This is really exciting. 

Jen: I’m excited to have you too, and we’re also live over on Instagram, which is like our behind-the-scenes cam. For those of you that don’t know who Tara Clark IS, she’s… she’s so many things. So let’s see, she’s like an icon of the parenting, humor genre. She’s written for all the places. Tara wrote a book called Modern Mom Probs: A Survival Guide for 21st Century Mothers.

She’s a spokesperson for The Blue Dot Project, which we may talk about in a little bit. And she just started a subscription fashion style box. It’s called the Modern Mom Style Box. Great. So many things, first of all, how do you do so many things? 

Tara Clark: I don’t know. And you know, it’s funny, like.. Thank you for that introduction, because that was an incredible introduction. And uh, I don’t know actually how I do all the things. I’m also the PTA president at my son’s school and I don’t know how or why I do all, I don’t know. 

Jen: I just accepted to be, not the PTA president, just the class parent rep for the second year in a row. And I was kind of like, “Oh, I’ll do it if no one else will step up….” Reluctantly.

Tara Clark: And that’s actually how I did it. At least in my case, becoming PTA president is no one else wants to do it. So I was like, “I’ll do it. I’ll serve as Tribute.” That’s always my thing. I think just in life, I think that’s always just how things happen to me. I just do it. Everyone else takes a step back and I’m that one person standing up front and I’m like, “Yeah. Okay. I’ll do it. Sure.” 

Jen: I know. Adding a thing never sounds like a big deal. But when you realize you’re adding ALL the things, then you’re like, I can’t. I can’t possibly give them all the attention!

Tara Clark: Boundaries. That’s my advice to everyone watching right now—Set boundaries, 

Jen: Right. And picking which ones are more important to you. And another thing I’m working on is like, this is a season. So in this season, I can do these things and this other stuff I’m going to do in another season.

Tara Clark: I’m going to, I’m going to steal your seasonality and keep that.

Reading (and Writing) Books for Modern Moms

Jen: I love to read. This is not the season for me to read novels because my kids won’t let me. This is the season for like five-sentences-at-a-time-on-the-toilet-reading. And then in a few years, I’ll get back to novel reading.  

Meme about Moms and Reading Books. "No one is more hopeful than a mom who brings a book on vacation" MomCave MomCaveTV

Tara Clark: That’s true. That’s totally right. I haven’t read a good book in a while. Unfortunately. Uh, unless the I’m like “Who? What? Where? Series” counts? Like my son, he’s in third grade and he loves those books. It’s like, “Who was Ernest Hemingway?” or “Where is Area 51?” Those books are awesome. And so those I’ve been into recently. 

Jen: So we were just talking about books, that you may not have time to read books, but possibly that’s because you are busy writing books for modern moms!

Tara Clark: True. Yeah. That was my pandemic baby. Right. Everyone says like, oh, either you got a pet or you had a baby or you, you know, did a crazy purchase or something. I guess we did get a pet and wrote a book…

Jen: You’re making us look bad here. 

Tara Clark: But seriously, yes. So I wrote “Modern Mom Probs: A Survival Guide for 21st Century Mothers.”

I had gotten the book deal right at the very beginning of the pandemic. All of the publishers were like, no, no, no. Like the bookstores are closed. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the world. Like, no, no, no. And this one publisher, Post Hill Press said, “Yes, this sounds like a great idea. Let’s give it a shot.”

And so they published the book and I had six weeks to write it. It was during the summer of 2020. My son was home. And I was like throwing him fruit snacks and being like, “Here, watch TV.” And like, I’m writing a book about how to be a good parent while trying to navigate this new world of pandemic parenting. That was the summer of 2020. And then the book came out this past spring. 

Jen: Oh, congratulations. We’re going to give away a signed copy to somebody who’s watching and comments-the craziest comment, whatever. We have a comment from TJ saying remote learning became a full-time job.

Tara Clark: My son was virtual all year last year from September, right through June. And it was definitely a full-time job. Yes. I can attest to that. 

Jen: It is, it is. We were lucky we got to go back last year for most of the time, because my kids were mostly outdoors, which was cool. They built like these outdoor classrooms and it was interesting. So yeah, the kids being in school is something that they need and we need. Everybody needs it. 

Modern Mom Probs Tara Clark on MomCave LIVE\

Tara Clark: It was a big adjustment for me, I think like dropping him off this year and then not having him in the house, you know, like he was always with me last year. So while I was working and he was going to school, he was in a different room. We had a dedicated room for him in our house. And so I was always just used to him being around. And then all of a sudden he wasn’t because he was at school. 

Jen: Yeah. Isn’t it crazy how, when your kids are around and you have something to do, you’re kind of getting annoyed and you’re like, “Oh, if only I had uninterrupted time to do this,” and then they go away for hours at a time and you kind of miss them? Yes. 

Tara Clark: It’s true. It’s true. No, I definitely feel like that. I especially felt like that. Like I said, at the beginning of the school year, when I had to adjust to the fact that he wasn’t there, but now I’m good. Now I’m in work mode. And so I try to… because obviously, I work for myself, right. So I adjust my work hours. I really try to keep it to the school hours as much as I can.

That’s not always the case, you know, but, as much as I can, I try to be present with him when he’s home. I really try to make an effort to have face-to-face time with him. And now he’s at the age where he just wants to come home and watch TV or play video games or stuff like that anyway. But I’m like, “No, like let’s hang out.” And he appreciates that because he’s still a big snuggler. 

Jen: I’ll keep the snuggles while you can. It’s getting to be tough with my mine. He’s a little older and it’s like, oh no, we’re in that stage. 

Tara Clark: And mine’s going to be nine in November. So I’m really trying to hold on to that. Because I thought eight was a great age. I still think 4-8 is a great age. And so I’m curious to see what those tween years are going to be like. 

Jen: Yeah. I feel like kids today kind of skipped the tween years almost. There’s like, no tween now. It’s just like kid to teenager.

Tara Clark: I think you’re right. Maybe like 10, 15 years ago, there was definitely like that tween concept, like where that’s, how they even came up with the term tween. Right. Like that was a thing, but you’re right. I think it sort of just goes kid to—-now all of a sudden you’re growing up and you have a phone and you’re doing grownup phone things. Yes. 

Jen: It’s a little scary. Yeah.

Screen Time Talk

Jen: There are some portions of the book that I think could be really helpful for you to tell people about. And one of them was you have a whole section on screen time and managing screen time. Can you give us a little overview of what parents can do to manage kids’ screen time? 

Tara Clark: Definitely. Screen time, as I already mentioned is a big topic in our house right now. Especially because my son loves Roblox, which if your kids aren’t into it, don’t let them get into it!

It sucks up so much time, just always talking about it and he wants to play it and he loves it. And I understand that. And he was making friends and all, but like, I think it’s a huge time suck personally.

Having said that, it’s really important to set boundaries around screen time. Even before you physically hand over the iPad to your children, you know, “Let’s set a timer. How much time do you think you want to play on your device today?” And they say, you know, half an hour, an hour or whatever it is. Set a timer. If you have an Alexa or something like that, have her set the time or ring the buzzer and say, “Okay, you know, screen time is over.”

Jen: And then, you know, go play outside, go read a book, go do crafts, go do anything else.

Boundaries

Tara Clark: But I think it’s really, really important for modern moms to set the boundaries before you hand over the device. Or before you hand over the remote control for the TV, any of those things. Let’s say you don’t set the boundaries ahead of time, then you’re doing it on the backend. That’s where the fights happen. That’s when they’re already like, you know, I call it “Screen Fiend.” That’s when they’re already fiending for that. And they’re like, “No, I don’t want to shut it off! No, I don’t want to give it back,” and all of that kind of stuff. But if you have that discussion ahead of time, then it helps ease the transition.

Jen: It takes a lot of communication around the screen time. And I notice it now more that my son’s older. When he was younger, it didn’t seem like such an issue. So when he was maybe like four or five or so I’d say like,”Okay, that’s it.” And he’d be like, “Okay.”

But now with the iPad and the video games, that kind of stuff, I really have to set limits because it’s challenging.

Tara Clark: I’ve spoken with many experts on this many different times and many people say you need your child to put the onus on them so that they can understand that they’ve had enough. Their eyes feel dry. Maybe their eyes are tired. Or their thumbs hurt from playing. Like maybe they’re like pent up from sitting too long. And like, if you let them decide for themselves, then they can control it. 

And they feel like, “Oh, I got this. I played half an hour of video games. I’m done. I want to go do something else.”

But that’s not true for every kid.

Jen: Or either of my kids.

Tara: I try to put the onus on my son to be responsible for that, to like build that independence. But unfortunately for him, it just wasn’t the case. He’ll just play and play and play and play because the video games that they engineer nowadays and code nowadays are so different from the ones that they did when we were kids. They make Roblux to be addictive. They want you to spend more time. The longer you spend the eyeballs on Instagram, Facebook, all of those platforms are meant for you to be there, locked in there for the longest time period possible.

And so it’s hard for kids to take the onus and, and be independent to say, “Okay, I’ve had enough.” So I think we do have to like jump in and try to set those boundaries when we can. 

Jen: Sure. I mean, if we can’t even control it as adults… We know it’s not good to look at our phones before bedtime. We know we should be getting to bed. I say we, and I mean ME. I’m just scrolling in the rabbit hole of TikTok. Going down and learning about crazy weird things. And you just want more and more and more. And it’s like, we can’t control that. We know it’s bad. We don’t have a grown-up telling us what to do. So kids need that grown-up telling them what to do for sure. 

Tara Clark: I agree. And like I said, many people say to let them try to figure it out for themselves. But my kid will play literally all day if he had his druthers. You just can’t have that after a while. So you do have to step in and say, you know, “That’s enough.”

And you want them to be in tune with their bodies enough to know, oh, like, are your eyes tired? You know, is your back hunched over? Like, does your back hunched over too long? You have to let them to sort of be mindful of how their body feels. If they watch too much screen time if they play too many video games, any of those things. So ask them to sort of check-in with themselves. 

Jen: That’s interesting. I’m going to try that for sure.

Tara Clark and The Blue Dot Project

So to change the subject a bit, because you do ALL the things and I want to try to get to a little bit of each thing real quick. So you’re the spokesperson for The Blue Dot Project . Can you tell everybody what that is?  

Tara Clark: Absolutely. The Blue Dot Project is a campaign that I hold really close to my heart. The Blue Dot Project brings awareness to maternal mental health issues for modern moms. And actually coming up in October, it’s maternal suicide awareness month. And so we’re going to be doing a lot of Instagram lives talking about the importance of maternal mental health and getting professional help when you need it. 

Jen: Oh, wow. Okay. I’m definitely going to check those out.

When you talk about maternal mental health, most people think of postpartum depression and I assume that’s probably the most prevalent. But what other kinds of things do you guys work on? 

Tara Clark: So, absolutely it’s postpartum depression. It’s postpartum anxiety. It’s postpartum rage. OCD. All of those things fall underneath the umbrella of the Blue Dot Project. And again, it’s for bringing awareness and stopping the negative stigma against mental health issues.

Jen: It’s so much more common than we think. And the idea of being a great mom for some reason doesn’t include being human. So if anyone’s having any of these kinds of struggles and they don’t feel like they can admit it because then they’re not a good mom. And then they’re not going to get help. And then they’re not going to be a good mom. So it’s the self-perpetuating cycle. 

Tara Clark: It’s a terrible cycle. That’s why the Blue Dot Project exists. That’s why an organization like 2020 Mom, which the Blue Dot falls underneath, exists to get women the resources that they need to be successful, to be happy, to be safe for their children to be safe and for them to lead happy, productive lives. And like I said, it’s a project that holds that I hold really dear to my heart. 

Jen: Lynn has a comment saying, “I think a lot of the stigma is the fear of losing your kids.” And that makes a ton of sense. Absolutely. 

Tara Clark: Lynn. I agree with you. I think there’s definitely a stigma of, if I speak up to get help, then either professionals will think I’m crazy will take my kids away from me. Or they will not think that I’m a fit mother to parent them. And so I think sometimes people, especially historically, would bottle those emotions and those thoughts and, and unfortunately suffer unnecessarily. 

Jen: Yeah. And I mean, it’s hard enough if you have a supportive partner who wants you to get help and is there for you. But if you are single or going through a divorce, that’s when people get really afraid of losing their kids. So you want to make sure you’re the stable one.

So there is help. And it’s TheBlueDotProject.org, if you want to learn more about that.

The Modern Mom Style Box

Jen: And now we’re going to move on to a more fun and lighthearted topic, which is dressing, not like a mom, but dressing like a modern mom. 

Tara Clark: So I’ll tell you the whole story about the style box. Twenty years ago, at my first job out of school, I remember having a business lunch with my boss and coworkers at the time. And we were just sort of talking about business ideas. And I was like, “You know what would be a really cool idea? If you could rent clothes that you wouldn’t necessarily have to buy. And then when you were done wearing them, then you just send them back and then get new clothes!”

Jen: Like a library for clothes. 

Tara Clark: Like a library for clothes. Exactly.

I didn’t really grow up with a lot of money. So I didn’t always have the money to get new clothes. And so that was sort of my idea for, for the concept. And so when I mentioned that at lunch, everyone laughed at me. Totally. Poo-pooed the idea. They were like, “That’s the dumbest idea ever. That will never happen!”

And here we are, 20 years later! It may have taken 20 years, but what’s happening is The Modern Mom Style Box.

It is a monthly subscription box where a member signs up and she receives three articles of clothing per box. And so she could keep them as long as she wants.

So let’s say you get them and it doesn’t fit. It’s not your style. You don’t really love it. You can send them back. And then, in just a few days, then you get more clothes. And so it’s not three items per MONTH. It’s three items per BOX.

I’ll give you an example, my first box. So we just launched two weeks ago. My first box came last week. I tried on two blazers and a pair of joggers. And the joggers were good but the blazers were a little big on me. I kept the joggers and I sent the blazers back. And now my next box should be here probably today or tomorrow.

Jen: So you could just keep sending things back as much as you want? So you’re not just committed to those three garments for the whole month?

How the Modern Mom Style Box Works

Tara Clark: You can keep them for the month if you want to. But if you’re like, “Nah, hard pass,” send them back. And then you get three more!

And so we have new stuff coming in and it’s also exciting. Because then you’re like, “Ooh, what am I going to get this time?”

Jen: How does the shipping work do you pay for the shipping?

Tara Clark: No. Shipping is free. I work with a company called Castle, which handles backend logistics. So everything comes through Castle’s warehouses. They’re also the ones that sanitize the clothes. They double wash the clothes. That we do. That washing we do, the dry cleaning. And then we run them through this giant steam tunnel. That’s like 240 degrees Fahrenheit and everything is sanitized through there and then they’re shipped out.

Jen: And their brands are brands that you’ve heard of. 

Tara Clark: It’s Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft… There are several other brands as well, but those are the ones that just pop up off the top of my head. Oh, Express is another one too!

It’s perfect for working moms. When I always worked in an office, I had like four blouses and maybe three pairs of slacks. And you’re trying to mix and match those to make them look like a new outfit each time. But now here you could always keep getting new blouses with new slacks or new sweaters or blazers or whatever, whatever you’re looking for.

It’s a really cost-effective way to constantly have new clothes in your wardrobe.

Jen: Cool. Can you tell us how much it costs per month?

Tara Clark: So it’s $60 a month. And like I said, you get three items of clothing per box, but then you could keep switching it. So let’s say you receive it on a Monday. You get, let’s say we have a lot of dresses, right? So let’s say you work in an office and you wear a dress on, let’s say a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, send those back on a Friday. Probably by next week, you might have more clothes then to wear for the following week and you just keep them forever. 

Jen: So you know how my brain works you said 60 bucks, I broke it down. Like that’s $15 a week. I would think nothing about buying a $15 shirt, at TJ Maxx once a week. I should think about it, but I don’t. That’s just part of my routine.

Tara Clark: So that’s what it is. And it’s sustainable because then we’re not going through the fast fashion of always having a $15 shirt from TJ Maxx that’s ending up in a landfill or something like that.

All of our clothes are quality checked by our team, making sure that all the zippers work, the buttons are on.. All of that kind of stuff. And then we were just trying to help the environment while making moms feel cute and stylish again. 

Jen: Yeah, that sounds great. We got into that. You know, it’s a big day when I… I showered this morning and put on makeup for you since you’d be here…

Speaker 2: You look gorgeous. I was going to say, Jen, really. 

Jen: My husband offered to drive the kids to school today. And I was like, “Yay, shower time!”

Tara Clark: You have such a cute shirt on too. You look adorable.

Jen: Thank you very much. My entire wardrobe pretty much comes from Old Navy at this point. So I definitely would like to try some things from some more upscale brands…

Tara Clark: There are other brands than the ones that I just mentioned. Like Express and the Banana Republic, like those have a lot of brand recognition right away. We have super cute dresses, really cute blazers, in the blouses, like Calvin Klein, like really, really beautiful stuff. So you have to check it out. 

Jen: Great. I’m psyched about that. For everybody that’s watching, if you want to win a signed copy of Tara’s book, Modern Mom Probs: A Survival Guide for 21st Century Mothers, leave us a comment and tell us what you think is the biggest modern mom problem. Yes. And then we’ll choose one. And maybe even if we know the answer, we might answer the problem. Yeah. But we probably won’t know.

Tara Clark: I hope, right? Sort of what I do is answer modern mom problems. Right. 

Jen: It’s been so awesome to talk to you. You’re funny. You’re great. You guys, go follow her on all the places. Visit The Blue Dot Project. And I’m going to go sign up for a style box as soon as I possibly can. 

The Psychology of Clothes

Tara Clark: I think you’re going to love it, Jen. Like no joke. I see that you have like cute style. Like you’re going to be like, oh my gosh. Like every other day, you get new dresses. 

Jen: That’ll make me happy. My life is like a mess and falling apart in so many ways all the time. I at least can get dressed and look cute. That makes me feel happy. And you guys could feel happy too. 

Tara Clark: That’s why I’m doing this. Because you know, over the pandemic, I gained weight and my clothes don’t all fit me. And so I’m sure that I’m not alone in that. I’m sure I’m not the only person that her pants don’t fit anymore and stuff like that. And so the great thing about the style boxes that you could always have different sizes. So if you’re transitioning between sizes, then you’re not committed to anything. So you try on, you know, a six or an eight or whatever it happens to be, and, and you’re not committed. And then you’d send them back. If you want to, you can buy them if you want to. It’s totally up to you. 

Jen: That’s so awesome. I always say like, women go through so many sizes for so many reasons, you know, there’s pregnancy and there’s then hormones changing and your metabolism changing. And my husband’s always like, “Why do you have so many clothes?”

And I’m like, “Well, really I only have like a third of those clothes. Because a third are the ones that I can currently wear. A third of them are ones are that I’m hoping I can someday get back into. And the last third are the ones from when I was pregnant or postpartum that I don’t quite want to get rid of yet. 

Tara Clark: Yeah. That’s exactly. You totally hit the nail on the head on, on what it is. That’s how my closet is.

Jen: If you have something really nice that you use to fit into, you’d hate to have to go rebuy that again. If you got rid of it and you then could have got back into it, I don’t know.  

Tara Clark: And the holidays are coming up too. So now you can rent dresses from the style box for the holidays.

Jen: That’s exciting. And whatever happens this holiday, at least we can look hot. 

Tara Clark: Yeah, exactly. Who knows what’s going to happen?

I see a comment from Lynn. “So the big problem is when you stop, it takes four people to replace you.” A hundred percent Lynn. Yeah. I agree. Because we’re doing all the things all the, all the time.  

Jen: We can do a whole episode about that. Oh my gosh.

So we’re going to sign off and I want you guys to go check her out on all the places and get your style boxes. And um, thank you so much. We’ll have to do 

Tara Clark: Thank you for having me on. This was such a pleasure. I could chat with you all day long. So thank you. 

Jen: I’m wanting to, but then I’m like looking at my to-do list. Okay. We’ll talk soon. Okay. Thanks, everybody. Thanks for joining.

Listen to this interview as a podcast here:

Modern Moms -Modern Mom Probs with Tara Clark Smiling Mom laying on Legos on Blue background MomCave LIVE
Jen

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