If you aren’t following @modernmomprobs (and nearly 600K are!), we’re here to tell you Tara Clark, mom to an 8-year-old son, is sharing the double dose of humor and honesty you need in your life. We asked her about her book, her instagram and juggling it all.
New Jersey Family: You are a force of humor and honesty for moms @modernmomprobs on Instagram with 600K+ followers! How did you get your start?
Tara Clark: While I was a SAHM mom in 2017, I created the Instagram account @modernmomprobs as a way to connect with other mothers and have a creative outlet to make jokes about motherhood. Although the tone of the account is light-hearted and humorous, it also is uplifting and normalizes the tough conversations surrounding modern motherhood. What started out as a creative outlet turned into a full-time career, including my writing a parenting book which launches in April. It’s called Modern Mom Probs: A Survival Guide for 21st Century Moms.
NJF: Your social media community is so engaged. How does that community inspire you and what have you learned from them?
TC: The community inspires me everyday. My book is even dedicated to modern moms because I am in awe of their resilience, grace and strength. From the community, I’ve learned that although we may be in different parts of the world, we are sharing common experiences, which unite us.
NJF: Your book comes out in April. What is a modern mom prob and what inspired you to write the book?
TC: “Modern Mom Prob: (noun) an unwelcome, uncomfortable, or inconvenient situation or problem experienced by a parent in the twenty-first century. The problems are generally, but not always, characterized by technology, social media, big box stores, overpriced coffee, or nonsensical internal pressures that nineteenth century moms would scoff at.”
I think of modern mom probs as first world problems common to many mothers. They can be humorous or serious.
NJF: How did the pandemic change the book and what you share? What was it like to write the book in quarantine?
TC: When I sat down to write it, I wasn’t sure how much I should refer to the pandemic, but I realized there was no way around it. The world has changed. Modern mom culture had changed and it needed to be addressed. Writing the book during Summer 2020 was challenging because my son was home from school and there was no free second to sit down and write. He was simply home. So I would throw him a snack and then I would continue to write. Writing a parenting book while trying to be a good parent was the ultimate dichotomy. It was the epitome of a modern mom problem.
NJF: The book covers everything from baby and sleep problems to picky eaters and kid probs of all kinds (from math homework and advocating for your kids). How did you go about documenting such a comprehensive list?
TC: When organizing the book, I thought it would make sense to cover ninety-nine modern mom problems. Ninety-nine of anything is A LOT of topics to cover. So I methodically went through everything that a modern parent may encounter and landed on the 99 that I felt I could write about. Some topics are very serious, like maternal mental health. Other topics are light-hearted. The book has a nice cadence to it, but admittedly 99 problems is the tip of the parenting iceberg, so
the book is by no means comprehensive. If I missed a problem some readers encounter, maybe that will be for the next 99 problems!
NJF: Then there’s self-care which you call the most overused word of the millennium. Beyond taking a shower, what are some of the things you share in your book that we all need to recharge our batteries?
TC: A big part of self-care is removing things from your life. I’ll explain. Eliminate toxic people from your life. Remove things from your to-do list when applicable. Delegate chores or work when you can. Saying no to things that don’t “charge your batteries.” All of these things are self-care. Caring about yourself. If you want to get your nails done and hair blown out, that’s great too, if it recharges your batteries.
NJF: Your book is filled with pro mom tips. Can you share a one to make daily life better?
TC: When unwinding at night, store your phone away from your bed. It will keep you from mindlessly scrolling social media. Plus it will help you
sleep. Then when you wake up in the morning, don’t look at your phone immediately. Let your brain adjust to being awake before you throw yourself into the digital world. This allows for creative thinking and mental quietness… unless your kids are jumping on you to wake up.
NJF: Moms (and dads) need their own playdates, too, as you so eloquently put it in your book. What is your best advice for finding your people?
TC: My advice for making new mom friends is take a deep breath, step outside of your comfort zone, and ask that mom to hang out. You’ll be so glad you did. You can meet up at the park for a picnic blanket playdate or stroll around the block together. Check out local “Mommy and Me” groups for some baby “enrichment.” Keep an eye out for the mom who gets annoyed at her baby’s singing performance or the mom who is trying to one-up everyone’s scarf catching abilities during sing-along time.
Making mom friends with school-aged children is often easier because children meet in class or on sports teams and begin to form their own friendships. Having older children affords you the opportunity to have longer conversations with moms at pickup or during playdates. Another unintended benefit: hanging on the playground lets you observe how the kids act when playing. If their kid is sh*tty to yours even though the mom is cool, it may not be a lasting relationship. You have to gauge how much you want to invest in that relationship. Making mom friends is similar to dating except there are more interested parties involved—your kids and her kids.
NJF: As more of us get vaccinated, travel is coming back. Any tips to help make travel with kids actually feel like a vacay?
TC: I often used to say, “start by lowering your expectations” of what a family vacation may look like. Sometimes notions seem better in our heads than in reality once we hit the open road or runway. Make a plan for what you’re looking to get out of a trip. Is it education? Relaxation? Family reunion? Then think of the best ways to hit those objectives without running your children or yourself ragged. If your children want to stay at the hotel pool one day and don’t want to explore a theme park, let them. There’s no sense in forcing fun. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. Vacations shouldn’t be power struggles. Let it go and let it evolve organically.
NJF: Your social media success has inspired a new business advising folks about their social media. Tell us about that and how it works.
TC: Yes, I am very excited about this new venture. Some of my close Instagram friends and I are offering an all-access monthly membership for people interested in growing and marketing their Insta accounts. Rachel Sobel, a seasoned marketer, has been featured on several daytime talk shows about her account and her motherhood journey (@whineandcheezits). Holly Loftin, a professional writer, has been running her blog and account for 5 years (@fromthebottomofmypurse). Together, we created the Insta Savvy Course and Membership. Members will have access to live interactive sessions with us as well as digital downloads and course materials. Think of it as your girlfriend’s guide to Instagram.
NJF: You live in Closter. What are your favorite spots in town?
TC: If you ever find yourself up in Closter, Stern and Bow is a must try! Their food is outta this world! The Hill is also a great restaurant with an imaginative menu. Last but not least is Ma Mi Eatery. Our family tradition is ordering the same dishes every Friday night (Pho and Pad Thai). It gives me another reason to look forward to Friday nights (as if I needed more reasons).
NJF: What’s your favorite NJ day trip?
TC: Gosh, it’s hard to pick just one because NJ has so much to offer, from the mountains to the beach. But I would have to say nothing beats a day at the shore, particularly North Wildwood.
NJF: Who makes the best pizza in NJ would you say?
TC: Oh….tough one. Pizza is one of my favorite foods. At the shore, I love Three Brothers on the Seaside boardwalk. Their slices are as big as my head! In Closter, I would say Ray & Carmine’s. Love their classic NJ pizza! It’s the perfect amount of crispy.
NJF: What does a blissful day look like for you and your fam?
TC: My husband and son are homebodies (well, in the pandemic, we all are), so spending the day home together is always very special.
NJF: What does your modern mom uniform look like?
TC: Funny you should ask, you can take a page right out of my book.
“Yoga pants. Because parenting is a full-contact sport (usually black to cover any kid-related stuff thrown your way). Also, when I wear yoga pants I look like I have my life together.
– T-shirt (short sleeve in summer, long sleeve in winter). The softer, the better for cuddles.
– Sneakers or slip-on sneakers. Because moms are always on the run.
– Hat (optional). Especially on “bad dirty hair days,” those are the ones a few days past the “looking good dirty hair days.”
– Mom bun (if your haircut allows). We moms can’t be held back by getting wisps of hair in our faces. We have stuff to do!
– Hair tie on the wrist. For the inevitable ponytail or mom bun. As a Mom, your hair is usually in variations of ponytail or bun…unless you’re just coming from the salon. Then milk that blowout for all it’s worth, girl!
– Cross-body bag or backpack. For hands-free action. You need your hands freed up to catch falling cups or toddlers with your ninja skills. Plus, your kids make you carry all of their crap, so you can’t be tied down.
– Sunglasses. Sunglasses are a girl’s best friend. Up all night with the toddler? Don’t sweat it, sunglasses got you covered. Instant Hollywood glamour!”
Many occupations call for wearing a uniform. My mom, who worked in the restaurant business, wore bow ties, vests, and tuxedo shirts my whole childhood. When she was home with me, she only ever wore black clothes. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mother in anything except black and white. So as modern moms, we don’t have the lock on uniforms, but we may have just perfected it.
NJF: What advice would you offer to moms who aspire to be influencers and or authors?
TC: Be yourself. Be persistent. Everyone has a story to tell. Don’t be discouraged by a saturated market. There is enough room for everyone to shine. Engage positively. Ignore trolls.
NJF: In keeping with finding the humor in modern mom probs, can you share a favorite meme or two with us?
NJF: You’ll be speaking at a virtual event hosted by Bloomingdales in Short Hills in May. Can you tell us about it?
TC: I’m thrilled to be a part of the In Her Shoes: #MomBoss virtual Panel Discussion with Hip New Jersey’s Maria Falzo on May 6 at 9:30 am. I’ll be sharing tips about work-life effectiveness and being a mom boss. You can register for free at bloomies_momboss2021.eventbrite.com.