Mom-Style: Traveling Mama Jen of 'Folie à Deux'

"Mom-Style will serve as my platform to put the spotlight on fashion-savvy moms from all walks of life... Being a mother is a full-time 'job' and as a result, many moms tend to forget to take care of themselves. So making an effort to look good can, in turn, become an inspiration for others to also look and feel their best. This is something truly admirable and worthy of praise.  Mom-Style is dedicated to all the hot mamas out there, especially to my fierce and fashionable friends."

That was my introduction to this special blog feature which I launched late last year -- putting a spotlight on stylish moms via MOM-STYLE.  It took me a while to post a follow-up since I wanted this to be more than just showcasing fashionable moms. I want to recognize and applaude them for their individuality, their brand of parenting, as well as possessing that unique sense of style that transcends fashion.  So before my anniversary month ends, allow me to present my first Mom-Style headliner.
Jen and her adorable girls

I thought it's fitting to feature the woman who made this all happen for me, who encouraged and inspired me to start a blog. My heartfelt thanks to my oldest friend in the world -- a supermom in her own right, lifestyle and travel blogger extraordinaire, Jen Laceda of Folie à Deux.

1. Please share with us what your typical day is like?
My typical week day goes like this: 
I wake up around 6 to 6:15 am, get myself and the kids ready for the day, prepare our individual lunch bags, herd the kids to the car, have breakfast on-the-go while driving to my mother-in-law’s (15 km. from home) to drop off the kids for babysitting. Then, I haul myself to work (another 20 km.), typically arriving at 8:15 am, and putting my nose to the grinder for the next 8 hours. Then I go home, my husband and I switch (I jump out of the car and he jumps in) to pick up the kids.

For the next hour or so, I cook dinner until they arrive home, wherein they have a bit of time to play. We, then, sit down to have a meal and talk about our day. After dinner, while my husband cleans up all the mess, I bathe the kids and get them ready for bed, and my husband and I take turns reading to them until they fall asleep. And we do this all over again the next day.
Girls and books
My weekend is normally more relaxed and stress-free, since this is my time to clean our home and do more elaborate cooking or baking projects or go to the gym. We also like to take the kids outside to play sports, depending on the weather, of course. After all, I live in Toronto, Canada!

2. What do you enjoy most about your current occupation?

I thrive in stress. I don’t mind working under pressure because it keeps me 'real' and not become so lazy. I am a full-time working mom who blogs about travel, food, and lifestyle at Folie à Deux. What I enjoy most about what I do is that I feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. And I totally agree with that Nicki Minaj rap, Moment 4 Life…"everybody dies but not everybody lives".  I want a full life, and I believe I am living one, or at least, in the path to living one. 
A breathtaking view of Santorini, Greece -- with the baby
 3. As a follow-up, can you share one or two practical tip/s or advice in relation to what you're doing right now?

Whenever I have the chance, I take my 2 girls travelling with me. And even though I’m on assignment most of the time, I find ways to make it fun for all of us. True, with young children, I miss out on certain events like reviewing nightlife and high-end restaurants. But I am rewarded in many other ways: I get to spend time with my children in a different country and different culture; we learn foreign words and phrases; we sample local foods; we see many beautiful places, etc. I am so fortunate to be able to share these opportunities with them.
Touring the Louvre
My 2 tips for today’s parents who are excited to share the world with their kids are:
  • If you can afford it, take at least 1 vacation per year to a foreign land.  Create a learning experience for your kids when you travel, but make it a time to bond as a family also. Travelling can create culturally-sensitive and emotionally-intelligent kids. It gives children a distinct advantage as well, because travelling teaches them – among many things - finance (value of money and exchange rates), history, art, culinary, science (the mechanics of transportation such as trains, airplanes, boats), to name a few.  It also exposes them to different lifestyles and allows them to adjust to the situation (i.e. backpacking and travelling frugally OR seeing different living conditions in a foreign country).
  • If you can’t afford to travel, try going local and instilling the values of travel at home.  Some of the things you can do are make side trips or day trips to local places and attractions. Take your kids to a museum, a zoo, a nearby beach, and even to a mall or restaurant, but make it a learning experience. Let kids save up and pay for their entrance fees or their shopping; learn about a different country and recreate a dish at home that celebrates this culture; buy a map or an atlas and let your kids pinpoint a place which they’d like to go to or learn about – instant geography lesson! What you learn in travelling, translates well in real life. Yes, our schools and teachers can teach a child about geography, history, and art. But NO school or book can pass on the appreciation and passion like a parent can.
4. I launched MOM-STYLE to feature mothers with style and substance, and I believe you possess those qualities.  So what's your Mom-Style?

Describe your mothering style and personal style in fashion, or design philosophy.

My mothering style is pretty relaxed but organized. I make meal plans, but I allow for changes. I have a routine for the kids, but I am flexible with what we do. I always leave room for surprises and plan B’s, but my kids know that there are some things that are non-negotiable in life, such as health, safety, and certain values. However, I am fortunate to have easygoing kids (for now) who are a pleasure to live with.

Everybody thought it couldn’t be done -- to have kids and have white furniture at home. As you can see, our home is decked in full fledge white – white Delano chairs, white chaise lounger, white Allegra dining chairs, white-padded Bertoia chairs, and even white Ikea drawers and bookshelves in the kids’ room.

I love to decorate but my husband and I have a particular penchant for Modern and Minimalism (especially when it’s done in white). We have a lot of chrome, glass, and high-gloss lacquer at home – and yes, I do get a little crazy over greasy fingerprints – but the key is to train, train, train. Train the kids not to mess with mommy and daddy’s design vision! There is a time and place to make a mess – which is in their room or the kitchen – but also (always) a time to tidy up! Train them early and it becomes second nature. 

5. Who are your Mom-Style icons?

Fashion-wise, I look up to moms Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Elle Macpherson, Karolina Kurkova, Sophia Coppola.
Dressing up girls are fun!
Ideal-wise, I look up to my own mom and my mother-in-law, because they raised me and my husband, and we turned out to be ok people, hahaha! Also because they love their grand kids unconditionally.

I can't imagine myself travelling alone, and with baby at that!  You live an extraordinary life and you proved that moms can still fulfill their dreams to travel and explore the world even after having kids. Thank you for sharing your family, your mommy adventures, and your mom-style!

Visit Jen's amazing food and travel blog site:
Folie A Deux
All photos courtesy of Jen Laceda.
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MOM-STYLE is a special feature for mothers with style and substance. To highlight their diversity, expect the same questions for each mom on the spotlight.

See some of my fave celebrity Mom-Style icons here.

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