Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there, of past and present! This past week I sat down with writer, blogger, fashion and wellness enthusiast, and mother of a two, Denise Nicole (@abrooklynbabe). Since today is Mother's Day, I thought it would be fitting to talk about some of the ways Denise is incorporating healthy habits into her kids' lives and what some her regular self-care routines are. Even though I'm not a mom myself, I really want to stress the point to all the mamas reading this that taking time for yourself is not selfish! Your personal wellness should always be a priority, not an afterthought.

Denise and I share a lot of common interests - wellness, fitness, matcha, fashion, meditation, healthy food...you get the picture - but I was wondering how she manages all of that on top of being a homeschool mom to two kids under five! Her son Dexter is four, and her daughter Dakota is two. And did I mention Dexter has been reading since age three? When Denise told me her son will check ingredient labels at the grocery store and can recognize artificial ingredients, my jaw dropped. She explained that she started reading to both her children when they were in the womb. OK, definitely doing that if I'm pregnant in the future! For some more tips from Denise, see below for some Q+A!

ASHLEY: As a home school mom you pretty much spend all day every day with your children. When do you schedule time for yourself and what are some of your favorite self-care rituals? 
DENISE: My husband works long hours during the week, but on the weekends if possible I try to make time for myself. I will grab a matcha or brunch with a friend, have a meditation session, or take a yoga class. Sundays I always try and make it to church, which for me is the ultimate self-care for my spirit. During the week when I’m with my kids if I need a minute, I just sit and enjoy a homemade matcha or adaptogen elixir. Getting outdoors is also always great for us together and meeting with other mom friends really encourages me. 

I imagine that raising kids in New York City is a pretty unique experience. With all of the abundant resources the city has to offer, what are some of your favorite places to take your children? 
We love Prospect Park; being in nature is just so good for you on so many levels and we really enjoy it there. We also love Brooklyn Bridge Park, our local libraries, and the Museum of Natural History. Oh I also cannot forget our local coffee shop where I can pick up a delicious matcha, and the kids love their Dough Doughnuts

Since you love health and wellness as much as I do, I wanted to ask what healthy habits you are working to instill in your children and if you have any tips for parents who are trying to be more health conscious. 
I just talk to my kids about everything, even things they may seem too young to understand. I tell them about ingredients in food, artificial ingredients and the health benefits of eating certain foods, exercise, and drinking water. We have our routines like our vitamin dance and morning water we drink as soon as they wake up. I’m teaching them yoga and meditation as well. Their practice won’t look like an adult's and that’s OK - they are learning, stretching, growing, and developing more and more each day. They also really enjoy the time we spend together meditating and practicing yoga; it’s so fun for them! But all kids definitely have moments when they don’t want to eat their veggies, or anything! That’s when green smoothies come in handy; my kids love them and have been drinking them since they were very young. 

Adults can learn as much from children as they can from us. Have there been any major lessons or reminders you've picked up from your own kids that you would like to share?
My kids remind me everyday to remain present. Stay rooted in right now and mindful of this moment. Kids are so concerned with right now! They don’t want to wait for anything and rarely lament on the past - it’s an excellent reminder to do the same. They also remind me how powerful I am; I spend a lot of time and energy caring for two little humans and it’s a lot of work! When I see how amazing they are, I don’t take too much credit, but I do honor the strength it takes in me to mother them through this life. So to all the other mamas reading this, you are enough and you are amazing. 

I imagine that becoming a mother is both one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in life. If you could offer one piece of advice to first time moms, what would it be?
Slow down. 
From the moment your baby is born everything moves so fast. It seems slow, in the hours of no sleep and crying and millions of things to do, but it goes by in a blink. Slow down, enjoy every cuddle, and take all the naps with little arms wrapped around you. Don’t stress the mess, because the messes will come! Take care of yourself and your baby and enjoy all the moments. 

I also asked Denise if motherhood has changed the way she looks at the world. She said yes, in many ways, but one way in particular is that she has even more compassion than before. For her, it's a reminder that everyone's coming from a different place and that you have to look at people for more than what's on the surface. I think we all could use this reminder, parent or not.
Denise, you are an inspiration.

All photos c/o @abrooklynbabe.