Sidewalk Talk with Kate Hughes

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Kate and Will might have royal names but they’re living the freewheeling freelance life. Hear how a flexible schedule and empathetic approach to parenting lets them not rush, keep their cool, and build their businesses. (Ahem, kingdoms.)

Name: Kate Hughes

Occupation: Freelance Writer | Portfolio

Children: Penelope (Almost 3!) & Hazel (1 mo)

What’s your favorite kid-friendly brunch spot in your neighborhood?  
Cantine on Union St (Columbia Heights). Garden seating, rock paths & a freelance writer’s dream: al fresco Wi-Fi. Plus, the homemade egg biscuit.

Favorite playgrounds in your area?
The one with the tire swing (Mother Cabrini). 
The one with the sandbox (Cobble Hill). 
The one with the tennis courts (Van Voorhes).

What are your children’s favorite activities
Penelope’s three favorites would be yoga (Little Wise Feet), swimming (Camp Olympia), and the balance beam (Rumble & Tumble). She also loves her dada/daughter mornings on Sundays when they go to an art museum or on a new running route in the BOB. Hazel just digs breastfeeding and snoozing.

Two foods your little one(s) are obsessed with?
Anything our toddler can dip! Pears & cinnamon. Carrots & hummus. Apples & peanut butter.

What three things do you always pack for your child when you go on vacation?
Penelope’s magazines (Babybug), no-break rock crayons, and her favorite stuffed animal elephant, Boba. 

What are you most strict about when it comes to parenting?
Repairing the situation. If you throw it on the floor, you pick it up. If you hurt someone, you ask if you can help them feel better. 

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What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Penning some odes (with Brooklyn Poets) 

Best mom hack...
Other than Sawyer? That’d be Will. He’s a sanity saver and takes charge of lots of family stuff like co-op snacks and doctor’s appointments. 

Favorite quick kid-friendly dinner recipe?
She’d eat veggie burritos every day if she could.

Who is your biggest mom crush?
Mom-preneurs. These incredible women founded their own businesses and created their own worlds: Jana of Jana Davis Pearl Photography, Katie of Katherine Lincoln Jewelry, Lisa of Hope Yoga, and Margaret of Tulip & Bear Candles. Plus, Stephanie & Marissa of Sawyer (!)

Favorite quote...
Own your vulnerabilities or someone else will use them against you. 

What does a day in the life of you and your children look like?
Wake up at 7am. Will is a freelancer too so we trade off co-op dropoff/pickup and infant-snuggle time. During the schoolyear, whoever’s home takes Penelope to Little Bears Co-op four mornings a week. [Hey, there’s a 4-day spot open if you want details!] Then we nap and do an easy class or stroll in the afternoon before dinner/bath/bed. If Will’s home, I’m freelance-writing ads and editorials for fashion/beauty/tech/lifestyle clients from Vogue and Viacom to Under Armour and visiting clients at agencies, publishing houses and tech shops around the city. Asleep at 10:30pm.

Favorite rainy day activity…
Always reading. We go to Books are Magic or the local library. On the way there, we make a scavenger hunt list of what stories we want to find and then go off scouting them. Sometimes we stay in and make our own books with paper and crayons. 

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Funniest thing your children have said to you…
“Mama, it’s hard to bend down because I have a pretend baby in my belly.” (from a month ago when I was pregnant)
“Dad’s favorite color is denim.”

What is your favorite part about being a parent?
Letting someone know I see the light in them every day.

One thing you miss about your pre-parenting life…
Reading and writing for myself.

What do you do when your children go to bed?
Will and I set aside a few minutes each night to ask each other for things we need instead of asking/texting throughout the day. It helps us better focus on lifting each other up and we’re not distracted. And yes, then we eat ice cream and watch Hulu.

Favorite bedtime book…
“The Little Half Moon” – teaches about the phases of the lunar/physical world
“Shy” – teaches courage to shy ones
“I Wonder” – teaches the power of saying ‘I don’t know’
“Older than the Stars” – teaches about how expansive the universe is

How did you come up with your children’s names?
We liked that both Penelope (weaver, bobbin) and Hazel (tree, color) had character and felt grounded. 

One thing you'd tell your pre-parent self…
Parenthood is gradual. Nothing changes overnight. At least, for us it didn’t. We learn every day and we learn together, which is a gift.

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How do you keep your cool as a parent?
We don’t rush. It’s a perk of being freelance and not having a strict schedule. So our girls have time to explore (close a stray brownstone gate, walk backwards slowly) without frustration and we have time to wade through their feelings and motivations to find resolution without (either of us) acting out.  

Best tantrum tactic…
Empathy and validation. We try to play how she feels back to her, so she knows we’re grasping her experience. It helps her start saying “yes” instead of “no” and then we can progress onto what options she does have – like coat first or shoes first or cheese snack in the stroller or at the park. 

Favorite parenting reads…
For infant-to-toddlerdom, Laura Markham’s “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
For pregnancy and birth, Paula Spencer’s “Body Soul Baby
For motherhood, Nicole Caruso’s “Super Mama Series

Sidewalk TalkBen Green