Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Michelle Muller—co-founder of Little Spoon, a fresh, organic baby food company—and an amazing mom of three boys!
Why did you start Little Spoon?
When my first son was born, I had a difficult time finding a baby food that I was comfortable feeding him. Everything was shelf-stable, filled with stabilizers, severely lacking in vital nutrients and most shockingly, all of the food was actually older than my son who was consuming it. I set out working on recipes and flavors that babies love using only fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. Fast forward to meeting my business partners a few years later. We joined forces and Little Spoon was born. Our mission at Little Spoon is to offer convenience without compromise, so you can be sure you’re giving your baby the best and freshest food at every meal.
What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
The truth is there is no secret: my work life and family life are far from balanced. Some weeks, luck is in my favor so I have more time with my boys but more often than not, I work more than I would like to. I think this is the burden that every working parent carries – we constantly feel that our children need more of our attention. One thing I have learned is that no matter if I were a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I will most likely carry guilt in some shape so it is most important to focus on being truly present when I am with my children. My phone is on silent mode when I am with them so my boys have 100% of my focus. I can always stay up late after they are in bed to work on emails or deadlines, but I will never be able to replace this time with them.
Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I once participated in a friend’s study focusing on how mothers interpret the job they feel they are doing with their children. Each of the mothers was interviewed and asked questions like “How do you feel about the job you do as a mother?” “How do you think your children view the job you do as their mother?” Across the board, all the mothers’ responses were negative (including my own): “I need more patience;” “I wish I had time to prepare better lunches;” “I should spend more time focused on my kids;” “I need to stop raising my voice.”
The next part of the experiment was to interview our children. My oldest son, Pearce represented my three children. The interviewer asked my son “How would you describe your mother?”
His answer: “My mommy is my hero. She is so pretty. She makes the best apple pies and quiche in the world. I love her so much and want to be around her all the time.” I realized that I must be doing something right and need to stop being so critical of myself. Feeling a sense of success with my children gave me confidence both at work and at home. I’ve stopped second-guessing myself as much and hug my boys every chance I have.
What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
My biggest challenge is the constant battle for a work-life balance is accepting that I will probably never find that “perfect” balance and that it is okay. Recently my mother was in town over the holidays, and she asked me about my memories from our relationship during my childhood. I lovingly remembered waiting for her close to the mud room so I could hear the garage door click and be ready to fling my arms around her legs once she walked through the door. My mother recounted that she always felt exhausted and zapped of energy when her feet crossed the threshold, but it was my absolute favorite moment of the day – I think this really surprised my mother. My favorite moment of her every day was the time she felt the most inadequate. My daily challenge as a parent is remembering that my children value every moment they have with me whether it is 5 minutes or 17 hours. I try my best to value every second I have with my sons, because there is always another parent somewhere in the world who would give anything for just “a little more time.”
What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
Don’t wish your life away – be in the moment. Clichés are clichés for a reason: life is short indeed. I think it is incredibly important to be truly present in each moment of your life as it happens. Don’t wish away your single life hoping to find a partner. Don’t wish away that beautiful courting period hoping your partner will propose to you. Don’t wish your early married life away hoping for a baby. Don’t wish your baby’s first weeks and months away hoping they sleep through the night sooner. Every hour, day and year of your life is precious and valuable. Make an effort to look around you, feel every feeling and enjoy your life because everything will eventually pass.
If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Involvement in charity work is very important. Working with the less fortunate holds a special place in my heart and one of my favorite quotes is from Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I believe it is critical to communities, both large and small for the fortunate to give back. Not only do YOU gain from the act of giving but those on the receiving end are better for it as well. I was recently educated that 90% of individuals who are involved in charity work in childhood continue their involvement as adults.
What is your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree
What has been your favorite kids’ class? Karate classes for my three boys. It teaches mindfulness and presence and builds a great mind-body connection.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Between my and my boys’ schedules, we are running around all day long Monday thru Friday, so on weekends I love to curl up on the couch and watch a movie with them. Nothing beats snuggling under a blanket with them.
What is your favorite rainy day escape? If I’m solo, you will always find me squeezing in a yoga class and with my kids, we like to check out what’s new at The Whitney.