I first met Jennifer Pate and Barbara Machen when I helped them develop their awesome book, The Mothers of Reinvention. That project came to me at a perfect moment in my life. I was feeling some frustration about motherhood, and where “me,” in other words, the human woman, fit into the equation.
After several months of working with these incredibly positive, forward-moving women, absorbing their stories and those of the many other moms featured in the book, I finally started to “get it.” Meaning, I got that I needed to find a place for “me” in my life (which sounds crazy, I know, to anyone who doesn’t have kids) and I got the kick in the tushie I needed to really start making things happen for me. Not in spite of my family–more like “next to” them. 🙂
Jen and Barb are stars of a fun and informative web series called Jen & Barb, Mom Life. On their website, you’ll find tons of episodes to help you figure out everything from How to Work at Home with Kids, How to Buy a Car, What to Make for Dinner, and more. Entertaining and educational, edifying and empowering!
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1. Please tell us a little bit about Jen & Barb Mom Life? What made you decide to do a talk show for the web? What were you thinking you’d accomplish–and how have your results reflected those early goals?
We met in a Mommy and Me class over 8 years ago. We like to call it the “mommy pick up”. You know…you see a cool mom, you want to be friends, and you use the line, “Hey want to set a play date?” to secure a mom date. We were fast and furious friends. While hanging out and sharing what we were going through (both feeling as though the other had it all figured out), we realized how alone so many women feel and wanted to create a community for women to feel like they had a place to go to laugh, get some tips, and share experiences. We chose the web because we realized that is where moms spend most of their time these days and wanted to be where moms are. The results have exceeded our wildest dreams. Who knew that less than 5 years later, we would have produced over 120 episodes, been seen by over 45 million women, and have grown such an engaged community.
2. Can you share with us the moment you knew this was going to happen, that your show was really going to happen?
The moment we knew that the show was going to happen was when we were flown to New York for the New Fronts (a time for advertisers to see prospective content for the web). We made our little sizzle reel (a trailer of what could come) and ended up onstage alongside Billy Bush. They were screening our sizzle reel along with about a dozen others at the Nokia Theater to over a thousand advertisers. We were both overwhelmed and not sure how our show would resonate with the almost all-male attendees. The laughter and emotion we saw was our first clue, but it was the reception afterwards that sealed the deal for us. We were bombarded by men and women showing us their children’s photos and sharing intimate details of their lives with us. Total strangers sharing with us. We knew we struck a nerve. That was the moment.
3. Having worked with you, one of the things that impresses me most about your partnership is how well you work together. As moms, it’s almost a cliche of ours “Find a way to work / play together / get along!” But you guys really nail it. Can you tell us how you pull this off–and is it as easy as you make it look?
It is so true that finding a way to be dear friends and business partners is an art form. The most important thing is that we trust one another implicitly and we respect each other’s areas of expertise. We don’t step on each other’s toes and we try to make time for our friendship as well. We’re also both a little “male” in the way we don’t get our feelings hurt easily by one another. We are able to be very frank with each other and move on. Like any relationship, it takes work and we both put the work in.
4. Your book, The Mothers of Reinvention, incorporates the voices of many mothers, giving it nice dimension beyond what you two have accomplished. It really proves that with the right mindset, any mother can reinvent. You have a great community of moms. Can you tell us why you feel having this kind of community can be important for any mom?
Having a community is imperative for everyone, whether you are a mother or not. A support system helps for many reasons. The most important is that it helps you know that you are not alone. Think about it. If you had a rough day and you go out with a girlfriend and share that your husband is a slob and your kid had a tantrum and you feel fat, your friend is going to commiserate with you and share the craziness of her day, too. By the end of the conversation, you both end up laughing and realizing that we put so much importance on small things and aren’t nearly as upset anymore.
5. What advice can you give other mothers who may feel “stuck in a rut,” both in terms of how to discover their dreams (when they barely have time to do the dishes) and how to work with their families to make it happen?
Our first piece of advice for a mom who is stuck in a rut is to go out and buy The Mother’s of Reinvention! We’re only half joking. We really mapped out the steps for women who are feeling lost or stuck or just plain confused. For the sake of this piece,here are the Cliff notes: The time is now. You have to make changes in your life. You can. You will be a better mother, a better wife, and a much happier woman. Think about what you love, figure out where you can make time (yes, you can), say no to things (we all say yes to way too many things…if you don’t bring homemade cupcakes to the bake sale, no one will judge you and if they do, screw them!), buddy up (having a partner in crime so to speak is our saving grace), and do not give up. If you don’t have the juice to do it for yourself, then do it for your kids. We are their role models. Show them that adult life can be joyful. It can!!!
BONUS QUESTION: What’s next on the horizon for you guys?
We are most excited right now about our new project for Latina Moms. We are going to franchise our show Jen and Barb, Mom Life to the Hispanic market. We are currently casting our hosts and will hopefully launch in the next 6 months (fingers crossed).
Sounds exciting, Jen and Barb! Thanks for stopping by!
Buy THE MOTHERS OF REINVENTION now!
Since we launched our show, Jen and Barb, Mom Life, the number-one question moms have asked us is, “How did you guys do that?” The subtext was not about producing and hosting an award-winning web series, but how we reinvented ourselves, especially given our roles as mothers, wives, and career women. Over and over, moms confided in us, sharing their frustrations, fears, and dreams. How could it be that so many of us who had always dreamed of having a family were feeling like something was missing?
In The Mothers of Reinvention, Jen and Barb share their steps to help you realize your full potential as a woman while maintaining your joy as a mom and/or wife. Whether you’re a new mother, a mother of schoolaged children, or an empty-nester, Jen’s and Barb’s personal stories, along with accounts from other women and experts who have also reinvented, will engage, inspire, and motivate.