Q & A with TheFabMom Jill Simonian

Christine_HeadShot By: Christine Soussa

As parents we have all felt overwhelmed, insecure, and unsure. Without question all parents are superheroes. Especially moms who find themselves in a new normal. Managing any and all adventures that life brings with a strong desire to bounce back after baby, not only quickly, but also elegantly and naturally.  As a Mom myself, I am often perplexed by the notion that moms hesitate to offer straight talk to other moms.  For example, much has been written about work-life balance. I prefer to take a work-life integration approach because it’s more in alignment with my reality and quite frankly, less stressful for me.  Similarly, there are a lot of decisions parents need to make as it relates to education, travel, discipline, and the list goes on and on.  As community and connectivity are critical, I appreciate authentic straight talk and thoughtful testimony.  I’m a huge fan of Jill Simonian’s work because she is dedicated to providing practical and thoughtful parenting tips that build confidence.

Jill Simonian w_ daughters Nov 2016

For over a decade I have been dear friends with Jill Simonian. I have seen her evolve as a TV personality into a bride, mother, entrepreneur, parenting expert and most recently author!  As a friend I have enjoyed watching her grow.  I remember having sushi with her a few years ago when her blog was just starting to sprout. Her posts were, and still are, honest, funny, relevant, valuable, heartfelt, and sometimes controversial.  In a short few years she took her Fab Mom blog and turned it into a widely respected, successful resource destination for moms.  All moms are FABulous. For Jill, FAB doesn’t stand for fabulous but rather Focused After Baby. I particularly appreciate that the book offers practical tips, funny tricks and authentic empathy to help moms navigate parenting options and realities confidently.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Jill. Here are her answers to a few of the questions I asked her!

{CS} You have a beautiful job building your business and brand? Share a little bit about the journey with us…

{JS} I started blogging when I was 9 months pregnant with my first daughter back in 2010, to stay creative and ‘relevant’ in media because I always knew I wanted to return to work in some way after I became a mom. I had an offbeat mission to ‘bounce back’ in mind, body and spirit after having kids so that I could return working on TV. But, after having two babies within 2 years (back to back) I really realized that I wanted to be able to be home with them rather than working the 50-hour weeks I used to work before I was a mom. Blogging let me develop my own ‘brand’ (even though I feel strange saying that). I found ‘TheFABMom.com’ available for purchase and interpreted it to mean ‘focused after babies’ so I just jumped in and started writing when I could. One small thing led to another and I continued…. I’d write blogs during my babies’ nap times during the day and after they went to bed at night and then started doing television segments on Los Angeles television all about motherhood. If you keep at something, small things will always lead to bigger things. Now that I have my own regular segment on CBS Los Angeles news (every Wednesday night on the 5pm news and Friday mornings) and a book, I look at everything and am genuinely shocked (and so happy!) about how all that random, hard work on off hours paid off and added up to something legitimate.

Writing the book was especially tough last year, especially because I got the publishing deal just a few weeks after I got my job at CBS Los Angeles. I basically sacrificed every spare minute, my nights (after the kids went to sleep) and all my Saturdays and Sundays so that I could write last year. I remember taking care of all my ‘mom’ responsibilities and then drinking coffee at 7pm so that I could stay up until 1am writing sometimes. It wasn’t glamorous. I was given 5 months to write the book at the same time I’d started a new job that I was responsible for building from the ground-up (writing, producing and appearing on-air). I was slammed with meeting my deadlines (for the book and for the TV segments), which left no time for social life. I just kept thinking, “If I make every minute count, those minutes will add up.”

{CS} How has being a Christian Armenian women influenced your parenting style?

{JS} My kids come first, always. Any goals I have take a back burner to their welfare. If I get the sense that I’ve been working too much, I’ll ask them. If they say ‘yes,’ then I’ll spend time with them and just drink coffee after dinner so I can stay up late to get done whatever work thing I need to finish.

Even though I’m a modern working mom, I do feel tied to a lot of traditional ideas about family and marriage because of our heritage — for instance, I always feel like I’m the person responsible for cooking and cleaning (even though I’ve been working full-time hours lately… no, I don’t have full-time help). I’m lucky that my husband (plastic surgeon Andre Panossian) will always pitch in to help with grabbing dinner, dropping off kids or giving them baths when I ask him to, but I do feel tied to the domestic duties because I’m the woman.

As for my parenting style, I’m strict — that’s the way I was raised. I take my daughters to Sunday School every week and church is a big part of our lives — I can’t imagine it any other way. I don’t understand how so many Armenians do not take their families to church regularly… it’s not only important for faith, but also a deep-rooted part of our entire culture. I have so many friends that tell me, “I would love to take my kids to church but it’s just too hard.” It’s not easy (definitely not easy for me either) but I think the struggle on Sundays is worth it, so I suck it up and do it. Now, my girls know church as their second home… but only because we make the effort to go regularly.

I have a really close and fun relationship with my daughters, but I also believe in being a parent first — I don’t let them get away with behavior that’s not okay just because they’re ‘cute kids.’

{CS} What advise do you have for working moms?

{JS} Don’t try to be a stay at home mom and a working mom at the same time! It’s not possible and it’s definitely not fun (trust me, I’ve done it and still slip back into doing it from time to time). If you’re working full-time, then don’t feel like you have to volunteer at school — you can only do so much while taking care of yourself. Women can’t have everything all at the same time. That’s not sexist, it’s just real. Also, don’t feel guilty and don’t apologize. Whether you need to work or want to work, don’t feel guilty for a circumstance. Guilt is a wasted emotion. If you constantly find yourself unhappy reconciling work and home life, then change course and find another way to make it all work. Also, don’t be afraid to opt out of things that infringe on your life — for instance, I skip most Sunday night dinners with my husband’s family because Sunday nights are the only times I can prepare our entire family for the week ahead, and I need that time to make our lives work (grocery shop, clean the house, have some down time, etc). Make choices that are right for you, don’t second guess yourself and don’t apologize for it.

{CS} What’s next?

{JS} I’ll continue to grow my FAB Mom segments on CBS Los Angeles news (and hopefully beyond), but right now my priority is to sell the book and get it into the hands of every single pregnant mom, so she can be confident and resilient from the end of pregnancy and through the first year of motherhood. Learning to make tough choices without doubt, and stick to them confidently, sets us up for parenting success for the long run.

We are grateful to have Jill Simonian in our community as a friend, mentor and member of AIWA-SF. Her book is amazing and I am personally so proud of Jill! You can purchase her book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and TheFABMom.com.

About The Fab Mom’s Guide:

The FAB Mom’s Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby  (Skyhorse Publishing).

Fab Moms Guide FINAL COVERTHIS BOOK ISN’T WHAT YOU FIRST MIGHT THINK… bouncing back after baby is NOT about the body.

The FAB Mom’s Guide gives first-time moms more than 50 to-do’s to ‘bounce back, mind & spirit’ after having a baby. F-A-B = focused after baby. The book builds confidence and resilience for new mothers and also features sweet and hilarious celebrity stories to motivate & inspire — how Russell Brand powered my working-mom mojo, how Ellen Pompeo organized my new mom life, how Matt Damon helped me cope with baby separation anxiety issues.

The book motivates new moms with funny tricks and against-the-grain tips, to help first time mothers navigate choices confidently:

  • Why tending to baby only in underwear the first 30 days makes a new mom feel more body confident
  • When opting out of breastfeeding – without shame or guilt – might really be best for mom and baby
  • The most damaging F-word that no new mom should ever say (it’s not the word you think!)
  • Why new moms should skip the ‘push-present’ and opt for a ‘MOMento’ at baby’s 6-month birthday instead

The FAB Mom’s Guide also offers exclusive tips and advice from renowned lifestyle experts; author Samantha Ettus, pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, family food guru Catherine McCord, fatherhood advocate Doyin Richards, TV personalities Ali Landry, Debbie Matenopoulos, Orly Shani and more. The book is a fast and fun read for any new mom and an entertaining read for experienced moms.

About Jill Simonian:

Jill Simonian TheFABMom headshot2With an engaging personality across social media and on her blog TheFabMom.com, Jill Simonian is a nationally-recognized Parenting Lifestyle Media Personality. Jill can currently be seen every Wednesday night on CBS-2 Los Angeles’ 5pm news broadcast, discussing hot topic parenting & lifestyle trends alongside beloved anchor Pat Harvey.

Jill is also a regularly-featured contributor TODAY Show’s Parenting Team, weekly commentator for HLN’s “The Daily Share,” a blogger for Right Start baby stores and contributor for popular online parenting resource Mom.me.

About AIWA-SF:

The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global non-profit dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives,  AIWA is dedicated to impacting positive social, economic and personal advancement of Armenian women worldwide through educational and other community activities that promote gender equity, and emphasize our Armenian cultural heritage.

To learn more about AIWA, please visit http://www.aiwainternational.org. To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com.

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