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Motherhood, entrepreneurship, and finding balance with Erin Allweiss

Erin Allweiss lives in New York, where she leads No. 29, a communications and brand development agency with a purpose. The entrepreneur is also mom to Gideon, her son of 2,5 years old. She talks to us about how becoming a mother has made her better at business and vice versa:

‘I feared motherhood would be limiting, that I would lose my freedom. It’s been the exact opposite.’

On how motherhood can make you far better at your job
‘Since becoming a mother, I work more sustainably, both in terms of hours spent at work and the environmental issues I am passionate about. I’m more intensely focused because there are only so many hours in my day. I have to get it done and be on top of things. Motherhood has made me far better at my job, forcing me to delegate (something that historically I’ve been terrible at, but now, even my team acknowledges that I’ve gotten much better at). I feared motherhood would be limiting, that I would lose my freedom. It’s been the exact opposite. I actually feel so much more connected to mothers around the world. I met so many women who are incredibly successful in their careers and have kids. Knowing what balance that requires – the juggle and the struggle – allows me to connect with them on a much deeper level instantly.’

On the strength of a mother

‘I feel much stronger both physically and mentally now. Lifting a child, carrying a stroller up and down all these stairs – I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape. But also having to be mentally strong for a little person… That doesn’t mean pretending everything is always okay, but having a sense of perspective, conviction, and understanding of how to set boundaries. Especially with things you cannot control. I see that I’m better for him and stronger for him when I set clear boundaries. That means saying no more often. It’s the one excuse you really do have: “I can’t because of my child.” I want to make the most of the time I spend with him. It’s been really fun to have adventures in New York and see things I’ve never seen, like the transit museum, the botanical garden, toddler yoga, and inviting other moms and dads along to bring their kids and join in the chaos.’

Sustainable is being available
‘My son has truly made me much more present. I don’t want him to have memories of me holding a phone all the time because work is so important to me. It’s hard to step away, even if occasionally because I love my work. I still make myself do it. The recent backlash to phones has been really exciting to me. I’m curious to see where that goes in terms of protecting our kids, but also protecting ourselves. What’s sustainable is being available to our families and friends and being away from work. This is a big part of what I would like in my future.’

On sustainable parenting
‘One of my biggest concerns about having a kid was not only the environmental impact but also what environment they were going to be entering and what the future looks like. I’m trying to live in a way that is as close to the values I want the world to hold. We avoid plastic as much as possible, take the subway everywhere (what I love about living in the city), save all the hand-me-downs, and pass things amongst friends. I also like to teach my son about the realities of things while making it fun. Like compositing or going to the farmer’s market. We always make it fun.’

On being fed up but not giving up
‘That’s the tagline of my podcast Enough. We started it during the pandemic. As a parent, if you don’t want to come home anxious about the state of the world, I find that if we do the work and look to people who are actually making a change for the better in the world, brings my anxiety levels far down. Motherhood has made my goals much clearer. Do the things to fix that what’s keeping you up at night. Go and do voter engagement. Go and interview the people who are clearly finding the solutions and activating them. That was the inspiration [behind Enough]. I know that there are people doing the hard work – I work with so many of them and love they come from all walks of life. A member of Congress, a designer, a farmer doing regenerative farming. If you look at any industry, there’s someone working to change it, and that is so heartening. That’s the thing that gets me out of my anxious state and into a better place. What I hope to achieve with the podcast is to provide that conversation and example to other people. I would also love to create more jobs for people who do such meaningful work. In that sense, I feel more ambitious than ever.’

On how to reconnect to oneself, your community, and nature
‘Being in nature is incredibly calming and reminds me there’s a greater, bigger thing happening in the world than whatever task I’m working on. It can all feel so critical when you’re dealing with one email, one client, and then you go outside and it’s this reset. This is why doing the 20-minute walk to the farmers market to drop off the compost, as small as it sounds, allows you to connect with people. I have to move every day in some way. I walk, run, and make sure to carve out that time for myself. There are certain things we all need to be good humans. Rest, community, food, and movement. It’s actually not that hard when you get back to the basics. I try to remind myself if I’m not okay to check in and be like, what is it that I’m doing? It helps me be accountable to myself. I also really believe in solo travel. If you’re in a co-parenting relationship, taking a trip alone to reconnect with oneself and just to go with friends is phenomenal. I’m going away with friends this summer who range from 68 years old to in their 30s, and I’m really excited.’

On embracing the chaos
‘Prepare to support yourself in all the best ways when you do have a child. Don’t just think about buying things. Think about what you want it to look like. If you’re pregnant or want to have a baby, connect with people going through the same process and who have the same ethos as you. You can ask questions and go through all the milestones with them, together. Look to the right people for resources and information so that it all feels less scary and stressful. One of my dearest friends is 65 years old, and she brought all her friends so I could ask them questions. She taught me to embrace the chaos. You don’t need the house to be clean. Everyone forgives you – and it’s so true. These days, I’m like, come in, join in the mess. You’re not alone. It should never be one or two people alone raising a child. It should be a community, together.’

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