This week we got a chance to ask a few questions to the awesome moms behind the “Hi My Name is Mom” podcast.
Corri English, Kaela Kinney and Jen Mayer Kulp share their insight into their motherhood journeys, parenting during COVID, how they cope with mommy brain drain and a glimpse into what we can expect from season 3 of the “Hi My Name is Mom” podcast. English, Kinney and Kulp started the show together in 2020 after realizing that their individual experiences of motherhood struggles, like loss, loneliness and identity issues, were being felt by all moms. So they decided they wanted to do something. They all had each other to talk about these feelings with, which they did so a lot, but what about a mother who doesn’t have that? Of course, there were times that each of them was that mother. They saw that life did that sometimes. So together they wanted to create something tangible that offered the kind of friendship and support they have with each other, to other moms far and wide.
Corri English: I’m Corri English-Bentli, and I’m an actor, voice-over artist, songwriter and podcaster! I’m married to Ty Bentli (proud wife moment – you can listen to The Ty Bentli Show every day on Apple Music Country), and we have three kiddos – my two boys Radley (8) and Sebastian (3), and our newest addition, 8-month-old baby sister Teddi!
Kaela Kinney: Hi!!!!!! (Yes I use that many exclamation marks when I talk in real life) I’m Kaela Kinney. Currently going through an identity crisis, so I’m not sure how to even introduce myself. I was a full time entrepreneur/designer/entertainer and now I’m taking on the most precious role as a mom while trying to figure out how to keep running my companies. My husband Jonathan and I have been married for 9 years, have a beautiful 18 month old daughter Loxley Rae, and we have 6 angel babies. I adore motherhood and fell into the role very naturally. It is hard, but so beautifully hard.
Jen Mayer Kulp: I’m Jen Mayer Kulp, by day a veteran television creator and executive producer, having produced more than four dozen well known reality television series—I’ve worked for Discovery, HGTV, A&E, Food Network, Bravo, TLC, and ID, to name a few. I am married to Adrian Kulp, the voice behind the well-known dad brand Dad Or Alive—he is the author of six best selling parenting books, and has made the jump from full-time stay-at-home dad, to full-time highly sought-after country music producer. We have been married for 13 years and have four children together, Ava (12), Charlie (10), Mason (7), and Evelyn (3).
How it all started:
Corri English: The seeds of “Hi My Name Is Mom” were born out of my journey after my first baby was born, and the ensuing identity crisis – when you go from being an individual person to being an extension of a tiny human, with a brand new title and name! I created sort-of-a vlog by the same name, that wouldn’t really know what it was trying to be until I was having conversations with two of my ride-or-die mom friends, Jen Mayer Kulp & Kaela Kinney that we realized (and HOPED) other moms were also out there having. Those mom-friend moments were keeping us sane. So we decided to put those conversations in front of a microphone – keeping it as real as possible, while staying far far away from any kind of judgement about what parenting should look like. The goal was to create a fun and therapeutic escape for ourselves and, hopefully, for all the mommies listening.
Jen Mayer Kulp: Corri and I have been friends for twenty years, and as we found ourselves away from Los Angeles and ensconced in the DC area as moms, we reconnected in a truly meaningful way. Corri, Kaela and I have all had similar and yet completely different experiences on our journeys to take on that mom moniker. Once we were all living in the same city we were fast friends, and we realized that the things we were casually discussing over post-school drop off coffee could help other moms out there—those who didn’t have the kind of close friendships we did, or more specifically didn’t have the same kinds of blunt open-ness and raw undertones to their conversations. We decided to put the mics on those relatable and real MOMents.
The “Hi My Name is Mom” Podcast
What was your focus in the first two seasons of “Hi My Name is Mom”?
Corri English: We started season 1 with “The Identity Crisis” – the new mom phenomenon where you try to find yourself and your purpose after having kids. Becoming a mom is the best thing EVER, and it can be surprising that while you can love being a parent more than any other job in the world, you can really struggle at the same time – I think that can catch a lot of women off guard, and can cause a lot of guilt as well, but it’s totally normal. From there, we leaned into what was really going on in our lives – which happened to be a pandemic. Over the course of seasons 1 & 2, we talked about homeschooling, having a baby during a pandemic, having covid. We had “virtual” happy hours with friends that we recorded and shared. It became a lot more about staying connected than we’d planned for, but it also felt very real and relevant to what was happening in our lives. We also used the podcast as an excuse to have some really fun moments with our mom friends on Zoom – we had Deanna Stagliano, Kristen Brust, Kasi Wicks, Christine Lakin. I had my own sister on! We took on some heavy topics like miscarriage and bullying.. but we always tried to keep even the heavy moments hopeful. And we laughed until we almost peed (which we know is not a difficult task after having babies!) a LOT.
Kaela Kinney: From my perspective, the focus of “Hi My Name is Mom” season 1 revolved around my pregnancy. Our first official “planning meeting” I told Corri & Jen that I was pregnant. Which was a huge shocker because it was my 5th pregnancy (I miscarried the previous 4), and we were getting ready to do a whole fertility journey. My pregnancy was a surprise unplanned one, however I was extremely sick and had a lot of health issues throughout gestation. So, my perspective and focus in season one was to remain joyful and positive during my pregnancy and shed light on fertility issues and how to stay positive during them.
Our first episode was “Identity Crisis”. I honestly couldn’t relate to the topic at that time because I had wanted to be a mom for so long that I didn’t feel like I was in “crisis” mode. I was just so happy to have been able to carry a full term pregnancy, everything else just faded out. (NOW I am going through the identity crisis, 2 years later).
Jen Mayer Kulp: The focus of HMNIM in the first two seasons evolved heavily—it was truly just THERAPY for us, as we faced losses and pregnancies and as one of us finally saw her realization of becoming a mother for the first time, we saw a major shift in both content and tone. We started amidst a major tornado hitting Nashville and destroying a huge portion of our city, and then a worldwide pandemic hitting us.
How has your vision evolved since season one of “Hi My Name is Mom”?
Corri English: We launched our first season at the beginning of the pandemic. Two episodes in, our podcast studio closed down. Suddenly everything about the way we’d intended to proceed changed, and we were struggling to find an hour on Zoom while juggling kids being homeschooled, as well as working with kids at home. But we had so much amazing feedback from listeners telling us that we were helping them to feel less isolated during the pandemic. Our goal was always to make women feel like they are not alone, but the pandemic took this to a whole new level. It was tough to find the time to not only record, but edit, distribute and share. But we kept going. THIS season, we’re back in our studio, without kids and with wine. We’re finally having the opportunity to do things in a way that matches our original vision.
Kaela Kinney: From season 1, I think our vision has evolved to a much bigger scope. While we dreamed of a huge platform, we honestly started this as an outlet for ourselves. We were having these hard conversations with each other and just felt that every mom needs this type of support and community. We’ve narrowed down our niche, exactly what our brand is. We are working moms. Stay-at-home moms. We’re trying to do them both and it’s hard. Evolving also took a lot of strategy on making this a profitable business. As mothers who wear all the hats, we had to prioritize [the show] if it was to help support our families financially and also be a resource for other moms in need.
What can we expect in season three of “Hi My Name is Mom”?
Corri English: For season 3, we will be releasing content a lot more frequently! We’ll have our main episodes releasing on Tuesdays, with shorter bonus pods coming out 2 or 3 times a week. We have a new featured called “The 10 Minute Gabfest” where we literally set a timer and just chat about a random topic until the timer goes off and another called “Why I Wine” – which is a light-hearted mommy vent (one of our kids ran off with a toilet brush? We’re not gonna whine, but we definitely will wine!). We’re also going to have tons of amazing guests joining us to share their mommy journeys!
Kaela Kinney: Season 3, we embrace ourselves and our motherhood styles unapologetically. We open up personal doors that we held back on in Season 1 & 2, and we really invite fellow moms into the messy parts of motherhood. We are truly focusing on healing the “isolation” part of being a mom. So if we share our mess, other moms can take a breath and know they have a community of moms cheering for them, in the trenches with them.
Jen Mayer Kulp: Season 3 is how we always anticipated launching, and we did it accompanied by a big killer party with some of the best mom friends. Season 3 is a continuation of big-name guests, fun, relatable and salacious content. We’ve finally found a groove together and I think our podcasts have a great balance of laughter and lightness, but also honest dialogue and deep vulnerability—we don’t want to add to the mom bricks you carry, we want to relieve some of them.
How has the pandemic changed your perspective on mothering?
Corri English: To be totally transparent, it’s made me more of a worrier. I’m a more nervous parent than I used to be. I struggle with postpartum anxiety, and I’m working to find that sweet spot of being cautious without being paranoid. When some really extreme things started happening in the world, it became harder to tell myself, “oh that will never happen,” which has meant my mind can get VERY creative about things I find to worry about! But thankfully, I’m taking lots of deep breaths and voicing my fears, which seems to steal their power. I’m slowly starting to back away from that helicopter I find myself wanting to fly over my kids. Baby steps!
Kaela Kinney: I’ve ONLY been a mother in a pandemic so I don’t know motherhood any other way. I had my daughter in April 2020, so everything had literally just shut down before I gave birth and I actually thought it was perfect when she was a newborn. I loved the slow down. Loved having my husband home. Also loved that strangers weren’t coming up and touching my newborn or asking to hold her (yes that happens). My daughter, however, is growing up in a world where everyone wears masks. So I’m curious how that will developmentally shape her with socialization skills as she gets older. For right now though, this is just our normal.
Jen Mayer Kulp: I have always, always loved spending time with my kids. They are crazy and it’s insanely chaotic, but I’d take having them around any day. I’ve always “kind of” wanted to be a homeschool mom, and I got my fill, LOL. I started a healthy-ish food blog for moms about five years ago called Think Outside the Lunchbox, all about eating-the-rainbow, with whole foods style bento lunches for kiddos. Actually, one of the things that the pandemic taught me was to take my foot off the food gas a bit. It’s ok to let your kids have those Cheetos or Bagel Bites or Oreos. The pandemic was just about surviving. For the first time EVER I fully stocked my freezer with some processed foods and we are all doing just fine—and although we still cook meals five nights a week, our time management is now so much more efficient!
Mom to Mom
How do you juggle everything you do? What do you do for mommy brain drain?
Corri English: It REALLY is a juggling act! I gave up on “balance” being a thing a long time ago. As much as I’d love to believe there is this perfectly balanced approach to giving everything that’s important to me the perfect amount of time and attention, I just really don’t think it exists! In reality, each day is fluid. I take days as they come, and have mostly given up on trying to control anything.
With 3 kids, my best laid plans for what a day has in store are almost always going to get tossed. But what has helped me, is lowering my own expectations for what a great day has to look like. I might not get ahead on work, or get all the laundry folded, or have time for the epic outing with my kids that I’m dreaming about in my head, but if I can make my kids giggle, give them a few more hugs and kisses than they actually want, maybe squeeze in 10 mins of legos, and stay awake for half an episode of a home improvement show with my husband at night – I’m winning!
As for mommy brain drain…it’s real. I have days where I just feel truly burned out and like I need a “week off.” Wouldn’t that be cool, if you could call in sick and someone would just do all the mom things for a day?? But usually I’m surprised by how little it actually takes for me to feel re-centered. Sometimes it’s a shower or a glass of wine. You know what always works? Going to Target BY MYSELF! This is my new version of a spa day, and usually by the time I’ve been away from my kids for a couple hours, I’m ready to kiss those little cheeks and watch Paw Patrol again!
Kaela Kinney: If you have the answer to this, I would love to know! I’m still figuring this one out. Before Loxley, I travelled and worked SO much trying to build my empire. I guess the best solution I found to balancing it was accepting that I can’t do it all, and I need to delegate. Also, right now isn’t the season, for me personally, to focus on my career as much, so I’m TRYING to be at peace with that (hello identity crisis).
I recharge with family time. My daughter lights me up and whenever I’m exhausted with mom life, or work situations, we take a break and go on a dog walk. It’s our favorite family time and always gives us a 15 minute reset.
Jen Mayer Kulp: I have absolutely no idea how I juggle everything I do. I’ve spent years as a woman recovering from some heavy Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a child, teenager and young adult and that transitioned into postpartum anxiety after the birth of my last child. I have been able to keep the anxiety at bay by being responsible for everything—everything. Need a team mom? I got you! Someone has to be room mom? I’m in! Planning the holiday parties? I can do it in my sleep. I rarely said no, I never asked for help, and always just took on more and more and more, but while that type of control can maybe sustain some like me for a bit, that doesn’t work in the long run. Something has to give. I always say that for me,
“I’m a wife, a mom, and an executive—always at the same time, and never in the same order.”
I have been a television executive working 60 hours outside the home. I’ve been a working-from-home-mom struggling to find a few minutes to wipe poop off a floor vent and stuff a cold pizza crust in my mouth with the other hand. No matter how much I work, I wear all of these hats every single day and some days one gets more attention than the others. And that’s ok. All of the hats, all of the parts to my personality matter and are meaningful, both to myself and to others.
I am truly blessed to have an amazing partner in my husband—we have had some serious trials through the years, but we’ve learned how to be the support system each other needs. When he comes out of his office at the end of the day, or home from the studio, he takes over cooking and I get in the bath. About twenty minutes later the spell has worn off and the THR-eenager comes in; but for me, those twenty calm minutes with my Kindle, or streaming shows on my phone, and a cup of coffee and some Epsom salts in a hot bath are EVERYTHING. Oh, and I love pretty nails—never underestimate the power of a manicure.
What would you say to a mom who is feeling lonely out there, longing for a mom-community but struggling to find the time?
Corri English: I’ve definitely been the mom needing the community but struggling to find time. I can easily take on too much, and often the first thing I give up is time for myself. But all that does is make me a cranky, edgy mom. I’ve really learned that finding time to tick the boxes for myself means that I have much more quality time when I’m with my kids.
We recently talked on the podcast about how 10 focused minutes with your kids can be so much more valuable than 3 unfocused hours, and I find that to be so consistently true.
Making time with mom friends is, I believe, almost as important as making time for your kids. It’s truly therapeutic. And if you REALLY can’t find the time, you can turn on our show while you’re driving or nursing a baby or showering! We’ll be your mom friends!
Kaela Kinney: I would say, you are valid for feeling lonely. Motherhood is isolating and I think it is healthy to acknowledge that part. If you need to cry sometimes, cry. GET THAT STUFF OUT. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then move on. There is no magic answer to make motherhood easy, but you do have people who are right there with you. You are alone with your situation, but you are NOT alone in this book. So many mommas are writing the same exact chapter you are walking through.
We started the podcast because as moms, we don’t always have time to get together. So we have episodes ranging from 5 to 50 minutes in length. Grab a cup of coffee and put your earbuds in, or turn on a podcast while driving to work. Podcasts are such a great way to feel like part of a conversation, and we are here for you. Also, even if it is once a month, go to Target or TJ Maxx alone. Smell all the candles, buy the picture frames and pretty pillows.
Jen Mayer Kulp: Moms need friends. We need outlets. We need people, a tribe, a community to both inspire and be inspired by. I’m a member of a lot of online mom groups. I’m so encouraged by what I see happening in some of those groups—and that is moms ASKING FOR FRIENDS. As someone who has moved around and had children in four different states, adding to your group of friends is of paramount importance. It takes time and effort but it’s one of the most rewarding things out there. Just like you have to work at your marriage or relationship, never stop dating your friends.
Listen to the “Hi My Name is Mom” podcast here. “Hi My Name is Mom” is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Season 3, Ep. 3 airs this Tuesday, Nov 2nd 2021.
The Pandemic’s Toll on Women & Work
Balance Life with Mom Coach Deborah