She's making television, writing cookbooks, innovating in the baby food industry and raising three kids under four, but for Daphne Oz, having it all doesn't mean doing it all at once—and it certainly doesn't involve "bouncing back" right after having a baby.
The multifaceted mama welcomed her third child, daughter Domenica, in December, and has been very open about her postpartum experience, sharing her story (and swimsuit selfies) on social media in the hopes of helping other mothers be kind to themselves during their own fourth trimester experiences.
"I'm trying to have this conversation where it's like, 'look, the journey will be whatever it will be'," she tells Motherly. "It takes me close to a year to get back to a place where I feel like my body has rebounded, and I don't want to have to feel like I'm hiding in my house or hiding in a sack until that time."
For Oz, hiding was never an option because working makes her happy, and she says that question—what makes a mother happy—is one that is often missing from postpartum conversations.
"Moms have a huge role. We have a huge role in setting the tone for our families and making sure our kids are looked after—that's food and sleep and bath time and all the rest of it—but it's also about modeling for them what happiness looks like."
In her case, happiness means preserving the parts of her career that she was passionate about while also raising a family. But when you have multiple jobs and multiple kids, the to-do lists can get out of control quickly, especially when you're trying to do everything at once.
Oz admits that early on in motherhood, she did find herself worn out, due to a problem we at Motherly call "continuous parenting", the burnout-inducing practice of trying to be "on" all the time.
"That's exhausting, and you never feel like you're doing it right and you constantly feel like you're failing," Oz recalls. "I think where I was really tripping up was I was constantly trying to split my time wherever I was."
These days, Oz isn't trying to pull herself in two different directions and be all things at once. If she's at work, she's at work, and if she's with the kids, she makes sure she's present physically and mentally.
"I have to be able to live in the moment and enjoy whatever I've chosen to do that day and acknowledge that I'm making that choice because it makes me happy and be okay with that, especially or even if it means not crossing off every to-do list or responding to every email," she explains. "I'm constantly in search of this balance where when I'm out of the home or I'm away traveling for work or whatever it is, I'm 100% on, so that when I'm home I get to be 100% mom."
That means that some days, Oz is a better mother than colleague, or vice versa. Some days she's a better mom than a wife, or a better wife than a friend, but she says we can't define success in parenting the way we did in school: You simply can't get As in every subject at once now. We can't study because there is no right answer.
"Motherhood is not like that. There's no prescribed, perfect way to do anything. I think you have to be comfortable in that feeling of doing the best you can every single day, and knowing that every day is a new day," shares Oz.
For Oz, doing her best means trying to find that balance between work time and family time, while also being gentle with herself. The cookbook author has built a career out of cooking and eating delicious food, and she's not about to give up her love of food in a quest for a pre-baby body. Still, she says that while she's "no gym rat," she makes "health a priority, not an obsession," and makes healthy choices part of her routine.
She's having the food she loves, the career she loves and quality time with the children she loves. The key is not trying to have it all in the same moment, and not putting her body, or her happiness, on a deadline.