We did it mamas. We made it another year. An especially hard year at that. This year was a beast at best and you deserve all the luxury and pampering you want for handling it like the incredible person you are.
Here, motherhood icon and juggernaut Madison Bontempo and I share our combined tips and tricks to help moms keep your broods happy, healthy, and relatively out of your hair, as well as product recommendations (with lots of links) that will fill your cup -both literally and metaphorically- and ensure you get time to recharge and reset at the end of a long day.
How An Influencer Balances Work and Family
Madison Bontempo is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. A mom of four young children – twins Taytum (4) and Oakley (4), Halston (2), Oliver (8 months) – her world is brimming with life. Not only is she parenting a brood of littles, but she’s also managing the family’s social media as well.
Her account boasts an impressive 1.8 million followers. Her children have over 3.8 million followers combined. In terms of Instagram and YouTube families, the Fisher Family (her married name) – or Fish Fam, as they’re known – are royalty. A powerhouse in the influencer world with big-name partnerships like Fabletics and a recently-announced personal YouTube channel The MadLife (the family’s established YouTube channel The FishFam has 4.36 million subscribers), this woman is unstoppable.
We chatted with Bontempo about how she’s handled having four kids in four years, how she juggles her career, and asked for tips on how to keep kids entertained and ourselves sane. (Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity).
VILLAGE VOICE: What is your morning routine?
MADISON BONTEMPO: I feel like I’m a great mom during the day and a questionable mom in the morning. I am not a morning person and neither is my husband. We love staying up late! However, my kids love waking up between 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. If there was a hidden camera it would look like us sleepwalking while making bottles and putting in a DoorDash order for Starbucks (pink drink with cold vanilla foam all day – or crystal light caffeine packets) and all our kids jumping on us while we try to squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
My four-year-old twins’ newest “thing” is dressing themselves head to toe right before they come into my room. I can’t tell if this is making my life easier or harder! Sometimes their outfit choice is preschool appropriate and other times … they’ve got on princess dresses, lipstick, eyeshadow and four bow clips on top of a headband. So, I usually have to re-dress them while still making them feel confident that they did a great job!”
Next is breakfast and preschool. Baby Einstein and Cocomelon save us in the mornings while I get the twins out the door. I usually get myself ready in two minutes in the morning. I throw on whatever outfit is easily accessible- for makeup it’s just foundation and mascara, slip on some slides and that’s it. If I need to really get ready for the day it’s usually during the kids’ first naps. I only wash my hair every five to six days so that makes it a lot easier to get ready most days. Ninety percent of what I wear is a workout outfit from Fabletics. If I’m not wearing that, I’m usually in an outfit from an Instagram shop or Revolve.
I tag all the family’s outfits on our Instagram photos [sharing their IG tags here]. My go to trendy lounge sets for the kids are from @kambiakids and @aviatornation. For everyday kids’ clothes, check out @mintedmethodshop, @luibellekids, @plumnyc, @childsplayclothing @ivycityco @khloejeanclothing and @showmeyourmumu. If you need custom dresses for birthdays, princess outfits or anything fancy, use @dolorispetunia. If you don’t want to shop on Instagram: Zara Kids. I love to put my girls in bows. We get ours from: @arbiilabel @littlebowpip and @labellebaby, and Oliver gets his baby boy outfits from @orcaslucille @cashandco, @little_bipsy, @slouchheadwear, @atnoonstore and @childshoodsclothing. While I wear workout clothes most mornings, I don’t usually get a chance to work out. If I do, I use my best friend Katie’s workout app, Thrive by Katie.
What does a normal day look like for you?
We both work from home and our job is to have fun; we have to think of the coolest, most creative, cute things we can do every day. I live for imaginative play, art and exploring! Crafts, painting, drawing, Play-Doh, make-believe, turning our house into a spa, turning our backyard into a magical fairy land, acting out Disneyland rides in our home, putting on plays and pretend dance recitals, makeup and dress up in the princess room I made for them under the stairs, playing in the house or playhouse, riding bikes … My kids are so busy! All day long. I love kid stuff and kid life. Before I had my own kids, all I wanted to do was be around children. I genuinely enjoy it.
We collaborate with hundreds of cute brands and boutique shops, so I usually have photo shoots planned for week with tons of outfits all lined up. I try and get a photo done every day. We also film two to three YouTube videos a week, as well as TikToks and skits. If we are not at home being busy, we usually end up at a really fun kid’s museum, zoo or park. We have about three brands a week that sponsor us; filming content for them takes up a good amount of time in our day.
What is your evening routine?
Dinner, baths, prayers and bed. One thing I struggle with is cooking. I do not find the time to make meals, so we love just ordering food for delivery! That’s one thing I really want to get better at. For the kids’ bedtime, we have a star projector that shines stars on the girls’ ceiling and it connects to Bluetooth where we play Disney lullabies; they love it. I also spray lavender essential oils in their room. I want to sleep in their room, the vibes are so relaxing! At night we also read online books on Readeo with family in Utah, my kids are obsessed. It’s like Facetime and virtual books combined – both can see the page flipping at the same time and we all can pick from hundreds of books.
Do you have help?
Wednesdays and Fridays we have a nanny from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and let me just tell you, there’s not a day that goes by that I say “we need a full-time nanny!” We always say we’re going to find one, but we never do because it is really hard for us to find someone we trust. I just cannot get myself to go on a nanny site and do the whole interview thing. My parents, my sister and I are all going to move to the same neighborhood this week, however! So much help is coming our way soon.
What does a house with four young kids look like?
I made sure to create rooms for the kids so that they can have their space in hopes that the rest of my home can try and stay clean. They have their own salon under the stairs, with their own light-up vanities, kid makeup, dress up clothes, accessories and dolls. We never decorated our front room and we loved it because the kids rode their bikes in there, we had pull-out mats so they could tumble around if they wanted, they even used it as their dance room! We eventually wanted to decorate it of course, but it was nice having that room open for them. We turned our dining room into a comfy couch movie room too. We just like fun and comfort over here.
We also keep sippy cups and bowls at their level. We have all the kid snacks in the bottom (reachable) pantry and we have a mini fridge at their level that is stocked with chocolate milk and apple juice. Art supplies, paper and crayons are all in the bottom cupboard in the kitchen for them to access. We are all about our kids being able to get things on their own. That way I can get the things done that I need to and minimize constant pausing for the “mom I need this and mom I need that” demands because I can just say “it’s in the mini fridge, go grab one and I can open it for you.”
What is the most challenging part of motherhood for you?
Balancing it all! It is so hard. Finding the time to bond with each kid, being successful with work, taking care of myself … when you have four kids ages four and under you have to find joy in the messes and chaos and be ok with plans and schedules getting messed up on the daily.
What is the most rewarding part of motherhood for you?
Motherhood teaches you to have the best qualities : selflessness, service and sacrifice. I feel strong and confident, like I can do anything, because I am a mom. One of the most rewarding things for me is watching my kids reach new milestones and seeing them enjoy life! I’m sure every mom can relate to this and knows how rewarding it is. There is nothing in the world that compares to the happiness and joy that comes with motherhood.
What are your current business ventures?
On top of our YouTube channel and social media accounts, film production company, acting and Kyler’s country music, we are currently starting our own clothing line, skin care line, and some other really cool companies that we can’t wait to share! I also just launched my very own beauty channel as well.
Madison’s perfect Mother’s Day:
I would love to escape the day before or after and go with my girlfriends to a spa all day and relax. On Mother’s Day I love to be with family, and to hang out with my mom. She taught me everything about being a mom, and because of her I can be a great mom. She’s the best grandma in the world and spends all her time trying to be with her kids and grandkids and that’s what she lives for. I was able to have four kids so close together because my mom is there to help me – I am so grateful to her. I would also love to spend my Mother’s Day remembering all the best moments with my kids.
Madison’s mom hacks:
- I have a portable potty in my car because somehow all my toddlers always have to use the potty as soon as we get on the freeway. We’ve had tons of accidents! So, the portable potty has changed my life. It has little bags that attach with absorbable pads in it. After they go, you tie it in a knot and throw it out when you get home. It’s the best thing ever!
- Honestly, a new toy or activity they haven’t seen before entertains them for hours. When I need to get a lot done, having a cupboard full of some new toys or objects is golden.
- Including the kids in the things I’m doing helps keep them happy and not fighting. For instance, if I go into my bathroom to get ready without the kids, two things happen: they start to fight, or a crazy mess happens. But if I let them put on lipgloss and pretend to curl their hair while I do mine, they are so much happier and they are learning.
- Quiet time once a day is a huge thing for us. I try to put the two little ones down for naps at the same time, and I put the four-year-olds in quiet time, so they can stay in their room and read or play.
- I learned a way to communicate with kids in a way that helps them want to obey. Instead of saying ”it’s time for bed” you say “do you want to put jammies on first or brush your teeth first” – it’s a way for them to feel like they are in control. Give them options! It really works for us.
Madison’s wellness and beauty tips:
- Hair- REF shampoo and conditioner. It’s a ten spray and curl cream, the Croc straightener is the only straightener that works! Paul Mitchell Neuro Unclipped Titanium Curling Wand 1″ Rod and Hair By Chrissy for hair color.
- Skincare- Facial Lounge products literally changed my life. Their Pore Clarifying Cleanser, Feather Light Miracle Moisturizer, Brightening Exfoliating Pads and all their masks – it’s all incredible. I’ve struggled with acne my whole life and it has been one of the only brands that has cleared up my skin. It’s miracle stuff.
- Face- I love IT Cosmetics. I use Tarte loose setting powder, Iconic London blush, Patrick Ta creme bronzer /contour, Iconic London illuminator for highlighting, Tarte eyeshadow palette and mascara.
- Health- I love juices and juice smoothies. I have drinks delivered to my house weekly from Methodology. I love driving over to Nekter. We’ve been doing the greens and reds drink powders – we add a scoop to coconut milk and drink it every morning from Organifi.
How a Writer and Stay at Home Mom Makes it Work
As a working mom and a SAHM of two toddlers, my house could be described as organized chaos. To the outside (and to my colleagues listening to my children’s feral yells on our newsroom Zooms) it may seem out of control, but for my husband and I, we’ve got it dialed in. I’ve amassed a cherished list of all my favorite products that keep us sane (as we can be) and tips to keep kiddos happy and the household running smoothly.
My morning routine:
I get up at 5 a.m. to practice morning meditation and self-care following Zenwise’s guidance. Their gentle instruction helps me take a moment before diving into the grind of the day. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to be taking care of myself in this way until I started doing it. Their ritual includes setting intentions, taking digestive enzymes and vegan Omega-3 (super gentle on the tummy), and meditating. It’s small but it’s something. After, I get some work done until the rest of the family is up. My husband then joins me in taking Goldmine’s Adaptogen Powder, a stress support blend sustainably sourced and made by a company founded by women. After breakfast, we usually have a toddler dance party to get our wiggles out. Right now, we are all about the brilliance of Ylvis.
What a normal day looks like for me:
A normal day is nonstop. I am constantly trying to find new activities to entertain the kids and make my life easier. I rely on Bala’s triple enzyme activation hydration packets to keep us all hydrated as we bounce from playground to beach, balcony water table to indoor fort. If I find myself stressing out, TerraVita’s Relax CBD Capsules help me out. They’re a mixture of Broad-Spectrum CBD, GABA, Reishi Mushroom and Ashwagandha Root. I love them.
My evening routine:
We usually do a meal kit like Sunbasket a few times a week for the kids, to ensure an easy yet healthy meal for them at the ready. After dinner, dad takes over so they get some one-on-one time and I get a brief break. I take this time to practice more self-care, which is usually in the form of one of my favorite indulgences: Cutwater (the best margaritas in a can, period. Their new peach and strawberry flavors have made my summer the best one yet and it’s not even summer – they’re also now in frozen form, so it’s a hot mom summer for sure), Caliva’s Deli Nickels (these gummies are seriously tasty and the passion fruit flavor makes everything just … wonderful. A must for folding laundry, you’ll have the time of your life, I swear), DELOCE (a new contemporary canned Espresso Martini cocktail that is relaxing without being tiring, I really enjoy cooking while sipping on one of these), Corralejo Tequila and Crystal Head Vodka are also great spirits as well if you want to be in great spirits.
Don’t want to imbibe? I will forever sing the praises of Optimist Botanicals. Optimist Botanicals are artfully distilled botanical spirits that are completely free of alcohol and taste divine. They are SO refreshing poured over ice; my go-to drink for watching the kids splash around. Like a lot of moms, sleep eludes me. I’ve found a few things that help me good a great night’s rest are: Kin Slips‘ Shut Eye strips (a relaxing combination of 5mg CBN and 5mg CBD), Potli Dream Honey (hemp-infused raw honey that promotes deep sleep), Mello’s CBD Sea Salted Caramels (if I find myself up and restless these help take the edge off).
A moment alone with a great blend of soothing tea always does the trick for me as well. Dr. Ackerman’s Blend from family-owned and operated coffee and tea shop Vices and Spices is specially formulated to help cope with anxiety, nausea and sleeplessness. Detoxifying and relaxing, the handmade blend consists of Peppermint, Chamomile, Skullcap and Yarrow, all with their own medicinal properties to help nourish your body and soul. (I am clearly not a doctor, talk to yours before imbibing alcohol or partaking in cannabis products).
My perfect Mother’s Day gift:
I was recently gifted a necklace by the Tough As A Mother Tribe and it has become so special to me. The pieces come in several designs – Mama, Names, Initials. I chose a delicate necklace with my children’s initials and have been wearing it every day since I received it. Made by a mama for mamas, each necklace comes with a gemstone on the clasp to signify your unique journey.
I also love Corkcicle. We rely on their kid’s sippy cups and insulated stemless wine glasses during the summer. What makes them stand out are the colorful patterns on adult cups and the flat mouthpiece on the kid’s cups. It keeps my 1.5-year-old from dreaded straw chewing.
My mom hacks:
- Bring the outdoors inside. Like a lot of city-dwellers, our condo doesn’t have a backyard. When all the playgrounds closed, I decided to bring the outdoors in. We bought an extended Pikler triangle to encourage balance learning, ordered a Fisher Price roller coaster and then drilled a large disc swing to a joist in our living room ceiling. So much fun!
- Let them get messy. Get yourself messy too. Have some fun!
- Get the Nugget. Part-furniture, part-toy, it can be anything. It’s great for imaginative play! We have two and it’s the perfect size to make our stairs a giant slide. Even my husband and I can have a go, which is super rad after a Cutwater.
- Take an easy hike! The fresh air does wonders, and the exploring is great for early childhood development.
- Hello allergies. If you have a sore throat, Tahi’s 100% Manuka Honey Lozenges would be my recommendation for you and for kids old enough to suck on a lozenge without choking. My 3.5-year-old loves them, and I love how good they are for us.
My beauty and wellness tips:
- Hair- Aura and eSalon have been absolute game changers for me. Even before the pandemic, going to get my hair done just wasn’t really an option. eSalon creates salon-quality hair color made especially for you and delivers it to your door. Aura hair care has a variety of products, but I swear by their shampoo, conditioner and hair masque. After two kids back-to-back, the texture of my tresses is just … all over the place and Aura has assisted me by blending a formula just for me that brings out the natural qualities of my hair.
- Skincare- Míage. I’m all about Míage. I was seeing it all over Instagram and in the Grammy and unofficial Oscar nominee gift bags so I tried it for myself and I am so, so into it. Míage uses a proprietary La Milpa cactus solution and a regenerative nutrient blend that is capable of awakening and activating the dormant epidermal stem cells that helps bring back vibrancy and luminosity to my natural skin.
- Pain- I have a bad back. So does my husband. It’s perfect because my youngest is huge and we have three floors. My number one pain reliever is CBD and other cannabinoid blends. I rely on a CBD ayurvedic ointment muscle rub made by The Root of It All – it is truly amazing. I also recommend the vape cartridge Coastal Breeze by Cardiff along with the Vessel Vista vape pen battery – a discreet device that is ultra-safe. Caliva also makes a few lotions that I keep my cabinets well-stocked with, including their clove and frankincense muscle and joint lotion. It has a 2:1 THC to CBD ratio and will really do some work for you after a long day of hunching over a computer.