March Cover Bethany Braun-Silva
At New York Family, we have the privilege of meeting all types of parents. It is an inspiring job; it is impossible not to learn and take in everyone’s story that we share. We also attend many events, talks, and summits because, as most parents know, parenting has many layers. Frankly, some of these events can feel a bit junior high and twirling around in my brain as I walk to each one is usually, will I have anyone to chat with? Will I know anyone since most of our relationships these days are via social? The answer is usually yes.
I met Bethany Braun-Silva at a parenting talk a few years back. Bethany walked up to me, introduced herself, and with her upbeat personality, she shared how she was also a parenting writer. As I have gotten to know Bethany, I now know that on top of being a prolific parenting editor, she is an on-the-go mom of two boys, Elias, 10, and Jake, 7, who she raises with her equally busy husband, Manny. On any given day, you may see an article pop up in the world web that she has written as a Special Projects Editor at Wild Sky Media. Or you will find her sharing helpful parenting advice and mom hacks on TV news segments. So it was not surprising when she founded her podcast and web show “The Breakdown With Bethany” on Mom.com, where she interviews celebrity moms and parenting experts that are a refreshing listen.
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I caught up with this busy mom to learn more about how she has pivoted into a new career (the podcast) while keeping her day job as a writer and parenting expert.
DDL: What inspired you to start The Breakdown With Bethany?
BBS:Mindy Kaling! Well, not directly, but during my time as the Editor of Parenting.com, I got offered an interview with her and couldn’t believe how lucky I was. The interview went well, but I didn’t get the green light to publish the conversation on Parenting.com, so I thought, “why not create my own platform for all these interviews with amazing moms I was being offered?” I love talking to mothers about their ambitions, motherhood journey, careers, relationships, struggles, and triumphs; I truly feel that is what I’m meant to do, so I just did it. I bootstrapped the project for so long, and now I’m so proud that it’s widely available on multiple podcast platforms and YouTube.
DDL: You interview many well-known moms, although they are all pretty famous; what are some things that make them just like us?
BBS:Get ready for a major name drop, but it was actually Serena Williams who said to me during an interview that “motherhood is the ultimate equalizer.” I think moms, famous or not, go through similar emotional struggles: guilt, shame, fear, and loneliness. Something that I’ve been so grateful to help do through my interviews is destigmatized conversations around postpartum depression and anxiety. This is something we talk about a lot on “The Breakdown With Bethany,” and famous or not, this is something that no mother is immune to, and I love that I’m able to help bring more and more awareness to this important topic.
DDL: Any incredible interviews where you signed off and said to yourself WOW?
BBS: Any time I can make a real connection with someone is a “wow” moment. I do the interview through Zoom, so this can definitely be challenging, but most recently, I interviewed Jenna Bush Hager, and from the first question, I could tell that this was going to be a great interview. She is so giving as a reporter and as a guest, and I am also such an admirer of hers that when I finished, I needed to take a minute to take the moment in.
DDL:I also love hearing mothers’ stories; there always seems to be a common thread: we have a lot more in common than we think. By sharing these mom stories, do you feel it helps you parent?
BBS:I do! I think any time I feel connected and like I’m not alone on this crazy parenthood journey helps me to be a better parent. And that’s exactly why I wanted to share these stories, to help other parents, especially mothers, realize they are not alone. When I conduct interviews, I usually have a question (or two) pertaining to my life. For instance, I recently interviewed a well-known parenting writer who is coming out with a book about astrology and raising kids. I mentioned that it always seems to be a battle with my older son, who is an Aries, and she told me that Aries often like to “fight for fun.” She gave me some great recommendations on relating to him, like sparring with him a bit lovingly. So far, it seems to be working!
DDL: While still a working editor, you have made some pivots to follow your passion for storytelling; what advice can you share with parents on making changes in their careers (keeping in mind many of us still have to pay our bills)?
BBS:I totally get that bill-paying part. Nobody is bankrolling me or my husband so my desire to make a career shift has been fueled by my passion and ambition but it has also been incredibly intentional. What I would suggest to parents who want to make a change in their careers is to follow their passions and to go for it absolutely but not blow up their lives. What I mean is don’t quit the day job without a revenue stream. My journey to television and creating the podcast was, at times, painstakingly slow— because I couldn’t just leave everything behind to pursue the big dream, and I still can’t. But I’m finding that doing things at a slower, more calculated pace has helped me reach levels I never thought I could. So I say to go for it with all your heart, but don’t be afraid about taking it slow and making smart (and best) decisions for your family, even if it feels like a step back. You’ll get there!
DDL: What do you do to banish mom guilt?
BBS:Mom guilt can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when you are as ambitious as I am. In the moments when I’m feeling especially guilty, I take a moment to practice mindfulness and really get present with myself. I check in with myself by asking questions like: Are my kids okay? Are they healthy? Are they safe? Are they happy? The answer is usually “yes,” thank goodness, which helps ground me. And then, I spend some time with them where I am 100 percent present to check in and reconnect. But if I’m being honest, I mostly ignore it and push through.
DDL: You are a born and bred New Yorker; what do you love about raising kids here in the city?
BBS:So. Many. Things. I grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, and my husband grew up in Astoria, so raising our little New Yorkers to appreciate all the things we loved growing up is so fun and rewarding. From stickball in the schoolyard to trips to quick trips to The Met, there are so many things to appreciate about being from NYC. Watching them experience the same things I did for the first time is such a joy. They really are little New Yorkers and have a hard time understanding that pizza is not available 24 hours a day in other places.
DDL: What are some of the ‘rules’ you feel you have broken to create a life you are happy living?
BBS:I love this question because I’m actually writing a book that has to do with this very topic. I love breaking “rules.” I was a mother before I was a wife; I pursued a career in journalism without any formal education on the subject, and I started a podcast out of a sheer desire to spread a message and cultivate a community. Maybe it’s my New York sensibility or being an only child but I hate to be told I can’t do something. I advocate for myself professionally a lot. Sometimes it feels scary and a little desperate but I know who I am and what I can bring to the table. So I would also encourage other women to do the same!
Bethany’s New York Favorites
Favorite Places to go with mom friends?
Any place with a good wine selection or fun cocktail menu with good music. Favorites include bibi in the East Village and LouLou in Chelsea.
Favorite weekend fun to do in the city or near?
In the summer, Jacob Riis Beach or Citi Field to watch the Mets. In the winter, we hit local batting cages or love a weekend in the Poconos.
Favorite family-friendly places to eat?
We love The Mermaid Inn in Chelsea. They have a killer kids menu and give you free pudding…win! 456 New Shanghai is another favorite and nearly every time we go we sit at a large round table with strangers. It’s such a classic New York experience. My husband is Cuban and really appreciates Chinese/Cuban fusion. For a more upscale experience we love Calle Dao but the real spot is Nuevo Jardin on 32nd and Broadway in Astoria.
Central Park – Adventure Playground. This is a classic and is big enough that my kids never get bored no matter how many times we go.
Chelsea Piers – Chelsea Waterside Park. We love this park in the summer. It feels like a vacation. Just try the big slide at your own risk. IYKYK!