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We first discovered Bethany Ciotola from her amazing Instagram feed featuring photos of her drop dead gorgeous boys, Kai and Rowan. After spending the past 3 years of her life either pregnant or breastfeeding, this mama has decided it’s time to focus on herself. After receiving constant requests from her following, she decided to launch her own blog, Bethany and Her Boys. She admits having her two littles less than a year apart and launching her own blog has been a lot more ambitious than she thought it would be, but we’re thinking she’s got this motherhood and business owner thing down. Read on…

Bethany Ciotola

We love following your adventures with your boys, Kai and Rowan. How has motherhood changed your outlook on life and career?

Being a first-time mom who made the decision to stay home, I thought, “cha CHING! I’ll now have so much time on my hands. I’ll be able to learn another language or take up an instrument!”. When Kai arrived, everything changed. My life wasn’t about me anymore, my purpose was to take care of this wonderful, little human. This is not to say I completely neglected myself and my own needs, they just took a backseat. Honestly, one of the biggest changes for me was not making my own money which is something I had done since I was in high school.

What inspired you to launch your blog, Bethany and Her Boys?

After having my second baby, I knew I wanted to start making my own income again. When Rowan hit the 3 month mark, and I started getting more than 3 hours of sleep a night, my brain could actually function well enough to start thinking of ideas. (I once put orange juice in my cereal during his newborn no sleep phase!) I’m obsessed with taking photos of my boys and I have a degree in Advertising and Journalism so it was a natural path for me to follow.

Tell us more about your Instagram and why you think it’s been so popular?

My kids are pretty cute but of course, I’m biased. I think people really resonated with my honest captions of what motherhood is really like under the photos that looked like I really had it together (spoiler: I really don’t).

If you’re teeter tottering with an idea or project that scares you, I say go for it. If dreams weren’t scary they wouldn’t be as exciting, and if they were easy, you wouldn’t feel as accomplished when you achieve them.

What advice would you give to other mamas wanting to start a blog? What has been your biggest roadblock?

Just start. There are so many blogs, created by women who have been blogging for years and I was intimidated for a long time. How could I compete? Would anyone want to read what I have to say? After weighing the pros and cons and having MANY conversations with my husband (big shout out to him for putting up with all my insecurities and being a shoulder to lean on!), I decided in October to go for it. I researched every blog that spoke to me and took note of what I liked and didn’t like. I then started writing short pieces to “find my voice”, and reached out to a few bloggers for advice. Only 1 out of the 5 actually responded, which at first discouraged me, but eventually it put a fire under my butt and made me realize I had to figure things out for myself and work harder if this is what I really wanted to do.

What do you wish you had known before you started?

I wish someone would have told me how much work went into creating the bare bones of building a website. There were several times when I first started navigating WordPress that I seriously imagined how good it would feel to throw my laptop out of my 15th floor apartment window. Thankfully, no computers were harmed during the making of my blog.

Did you have someone who really influenced and helped to develop you in the early days? A mentor? What was that like?

The members of the heymama community were a huge support and Katya was my cheerleader to turn my blog fantasy into a reality. It’s a true testament to how wonderful this network is because not only has Katya and I become good friends, I’ve been introduced to a world of mamas who encourage and motivate each-other and I couldn’t be more grateful. After attending a couple of events and seeing how many fellow like-minded women could be both a mama and success in the workplace, I knew I had to give this blog my all. I launched just a few short months ago, so it’s still in the newborn stage, but I’m absolutely loving every minute of it.

I wish someone would have told me how much work went into creating the bare bones of building a website.

What was the launch day like for you?

The day I launched I was more nervous than I had been in a long time, but it was an amazing kind of excited thrilling nervousness. I’m looking forward to sharing my motherhood messes and triumphs with my readers.

What can we expect from reading your blog? Do you plan to continue the voice you started on IG through the blog?

I want to give tips and tricks of navigating and balancing being a mama while fulfilling a passion project. I’m going to show how yes, even though my Instagram has pretty photos of my boys hugging each other making life look like butterflies and roses, behind the scenes can be very different. I don’t own that beautiful and pristine white rug you see on other moms’ pages, it wouldn’t last a day with my boys. My apartment is eternally in some kind of disarray and when you see me somewhat put together with hair and makeup, I took that photo for a reason to show I’m not always a mess. If you saw my laundry, it’s made up of 80% pajamas, which tells you how often I make it out of the house. I don’t know if my blog will eventually generate a steady income but what I do know is I’m grateful for what it’s already given me. I now have a creative outlet and an additional purpose. That unfulfilled feeling is disappearing and I’m connecting with so many new people creating beautiful friendships.

Is there anything that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I have a very entrepreneurial personality. I started a jewelry company in college and also a resale company where I would buy and sell designer gowns that I found at sample sales. I loved making my own hours, the flexibility, and not answering to anyone else.

Any words of encouragement you can give back to your mama community?

If you’re teeter tottering with an idea or project that scares you, I say go for it. If dreams weren’t scary they wouldn’t be as exciting, and if they were easy, you wouldn’t feel as accomplished when you achieve them. The classic line, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” couldn’t be more perfectly applied. If you’re thinking of changing fields, leaving your profession or starting a new project ask yourself, “what can I do that wouldn’t feel like work”. When I had jobs that were solely taken to make money, I would stare at the clock and time would drag on forever. I now sometimes work from 8pm, after I put the boys to bed, and get so caught up in writing that the next time I look at the clock, it’s already 4am when it seems like only an hour has gone by. Making a decision this life changing isn’t easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it, but it is possible. Do something that makes you excited to wake up in the morning. Do something that you can’t wait to talk about to others about. Being happy with your work affects every other aspect of your life and what may be hard work now could pay off in so many ways in the future. Ask yourself what your dream job looks like and make it into a version that you can turn into reality.

I don’t know if my blog will eventually generate a steady income but what I do know is I’m grateful for what it’s already given me. I now have a creative outlet and an additional purpose.

3 pearls of wisdom

1.

Take advice with a grain of salt. After I had my children, I've been given a lot of unsolicited advice. A LOT. At first, I felt the need to take every little piece of advice into consideration because as a first time mom, I thought I was doing everything wrong. You live and you learn. No baby book or piece of advice can prepare you for motherhood. It's a beautiful journey that you have to experience first hand. You have to make mistakes to know what not to do, and it makes the occasional mama triumph moments that much sweeter.

2.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. In our age, we are obsessed with the idea of the "perfect" marriage, the "perfect" home, posting the "perfect" photo, and this obsession with perfection can be unhealthy and distracts us from what really matters. Your child's idea of a perfect parent is receiving your love, attention and time. When I'm home with the boys, I always make sure that we get some quality bonding time in.

3.

It's OK to lose your mind. Since becoming a mother I've lost my mind on many occasions, and some days I loose it more than once . If I'm feeling especially overwhelmed, I stop whatever I am doing, take a long, deep breath, and remind myself that I'm doing OK. As long as I know I'm doing my best, the rest of my endless "to do" list can wait.

xx Bethany Ciotola
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