If you have littles, you’ve probably come across her insanely popular (and hysterical!) blog, Mommy Shorts or the @averageparentproblems Instagram feed. We’ve been following Ilana and her adventures with her two girls Mazzy and Harlow for years, so we were delighted when we received an advance copy of her book. We headed to our “office” (also known as the cafe next to my kids’ school) with the sole mission of diving into Ilana’s world and by the end of the first chapter we were crying from laughing so hard and had snot coming out our noses. It’s that funny.
Wiles is arguably one of the most relatable mamas out there. Although her girls are adorable, she doesn’t sugar coat her daily life with them, nor does she complain. She just tells it like it is and argues that if you can step back and realize that your life is dictated by the wants and needs (real or imagined!) by a toddler, you could become a pretty successful comedian with all that fresh content! Wiles is a self-proclaimed “average mom” and she’s ok with it. The book is full of personal essays on all aspects of motherhood and packed with photos and infographics (like the one below) that will have you shaking your head in agreement. Embrace your inner “average mom” and be prepared to feel much better about your epic parenting fails.
There is no way to master anything because parenting is a constant state of change, progression and adjustment. Instead of feeling like a failure, I ended up finding a way to entertain myself with my struggles instead.
Congratulations on the publication of your first book, “The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting”! When did you realize how much better life could be as an “Average Parent”? What is that philosophy about?
When I had my first kid, like many new moms, I wanted to be an amazing mother. I was used to working at something until I mastered it and wanted to excel at parenting in the same way. Or at least do everything correctly. I kept asking people— what is the right way to do it? And I soon learned there is no right way. There is no way to master anything because parenting is a constant state of change, progression and adjustment. Instead of feeling like a failure, I ended up finding a way to entertain myself with my struggles instead. I started my blog and found tons of other parents were all struggling with the same things and just wanted a way to laugh about it. There’s something hilarious about an entire community of intelligent successful people all being taken down by a two-year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed or a pacifier that rolled under the seat while you’re driving. Nothing humbles you like parenthood.
There’s something hilarious about an entire community of intelligent successful people all being taken down by a two-year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed or a pacifier that rolled under the seat while you’re driving. Nothing humbles you like parenthood.
How were you able to make the jump from your successful career in advertising to blogging full-time? What was the tipping point that made that happen?
I was laid off from my big advertising job shortly after I returned from my maternity leave. It was a bit of a shock because I had been very successful there. I was a Creative Director and a Senior Vice President at a pretty young age. I never intended on being a stay-at-home mom so I started freelancing the very next day, which also freed up time to start my blog. I thought my blog was going to be the thing that was going to get me a better advertising job, but by the time people in advertising recognized the value of what I was doing, I realized the better future was as an independent influencer as opposed to working for a large ad agency. And my ad background gave me a definite edge in the blogging world because I liked working with brands and knew how to make content that wove in the brands I liked creatively.
What was life like as a working mom for you in the corporate culture? It’s so stressful going back to work and trying to pump and get work done. What was your experience like?
I found it really difficult. I always felt like my family thought work was my priority and work thought family was my priority, so I wasn’t excelling in either place. I tried really hard to make it work. I brought my baby and my mom on a ten day business trip to Vancouver. I was working all day and breastfeeding all night. Both my mom and I were exhausted by the end of it. And then my nanny quit the day before I flew home. It was like I had worked so hard to make it seem like I could do both and then I got thrown a total curve ball just when I thought I had pulled it off.
Pumping while freelancing was an experience too. In each new office, I had to find a new pumping home. The smaller companies never had a designated room. In one office, I was pumping in a co-ed bathroom three times a day. There was no chair or counter. I had to lock the door, change out of my clothes and balance the pump on the top of the sink. I tried to do everything so fast that nobody would take any issue with what I was doing. One time, I left the bathroom with my dress tucked into the back of my stockings. I had walked through the whole office before I noticed. I just untucked my dress and kept walking without a word or a glance at anybody. But boy, was I mortified inside!
One time, I left the bathroom with my dress tucked into the back of my stockings. I had walked through the whole office before I noticed. I just untucked my dress and kept walking without a word or a glance at anybody. But boy, was I mortified inside!
That is so mortifying! What is your typical workday like and how do you balance working from home vs an office? What sort of support do you have to get it all done?
I’ve never really worked out of my home except if you count working at night after the kids go to bed. Since I was freelancing in advertising the majority of the time, we kept our nanny during the week. When I wasn’t freelancing, I would work out of a coffee shop. Three years later, after I started making a substantial income, I got a shared office with a friend who was running her own company. We split an assistant too. Since then, we have both expanded to our own offices with our own teams. My nanny still works for us part-time. She picks up the kids after school and stays until 6pm.
We are in awe of your management of not one, but 4 Instagram accounts! How can you keep them straight? I’ve definitely accidentally posted @heymamaco stuff on my personal account and vice versa. Do you have some super crazy organization system we need to know about?
I definitely focus more on @mommyshorts and @averageparentproblems than @insta2yearold and @pinkinnyc. I try to post on all of them daily but I’m consistent with the first two. It’s hard but I love Instagram and really enjoy it. I always say— focus on the social media channels you truly enjoy using. That’s Instagram and Snapchat for me. I love Snapchat. I’m ilanawiles on there. It’s been harder to figure out what to put on Instagram Stories when you have four accounts! I’ve only messed up a couple of times. Then I just delete quickly!
Can you share “3 Pearls of Wisdom” with us on motherhood and or career?
- Every parent makes mistakes (probably more than a few a day), but that doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. It just makes you normal.
- Every parenting fail makes a great story later.
- If you want to be a successful working mother, make sure you marry a man who cooks.
If you’d like to purchase “The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting”, you can find it here!