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Motherly @ Work features the stories and insights of modern women growing their careers—and their families.



Xza Louise Higgins is one of those mamas.

She’s mother, wife, and founder of MommyCon: a natural parenting boutique style conference, MILK : An infant feeding conference, and WEAR: A babywearing conference. She and her team have built a safe, supportive community of parents who are like-minded when it comes to raising their children. Xza works to empower these families on a daily basis by educating moms and dads on birth options, babywearing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding—to name a few.

So how did MommyCon come to be? And how does Xza keep up with their fast growth and her growing family? We caught up with Xza to find out her secrets to success—in business and family.

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Why did you believe you needed to create MommyCon?

Xza Louise Higgins: MommyCon started very organically. It was a result of my own personal parenting journey, which began with the birth of my first child.

I had a need to connect with other like-minded women who shared the same values and philosophy as me.

So I started a blog called the Mommy Dialogues, and organized informal meet-ups. The response I received from other women made me realize that I needed to create MommyCon.

What was the need in the market?

Xza Louise Higgins: There was a need for an event that united families, and built community around natural parenting advocates and enthusiasts. Community and extended families are a cultural norm in many countries. However, it seems to be increasingly lost in our urban, transient cities.

I look at MommyCon as a way of rebuilding the village.

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What inspires you to do this work?

Xza Louise Higgins: I want every parent to feel a sense of community. It is what drives me through every single day. I want parents to feel a part of something that will forever change their lives.

What did you learn from the first MommyCon, and how has MommyCon grown since then?

Xza Louise Higgins: The very first MommyCon took place at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. There was a lot of irony that went into the first event. I wanted to have an event in Las Vegas, because natural parenting isn’t typically the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vegas.

We certainly made our mark as parents from around the country hit social media to see if we would then travel to their area. I restructured the business plan and we hit the road with what we called “MommyCon Mini.” The original idea was to have one big event per year, but our audience wanted us to do more, and so we did!

We have had an average of 8 events per year for the last three years.

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You work with a lot of baby/kids brands. How do you choose the best brands to work with?

Xza Louise Higgins: I look at whether I would use the product for my family. If my answer is “no,” I consult a few people on my team and in our community. If it’s not a product any of us would use then I kindly suggest they pursue another event.

It has to be an authentic connection.

At the end of the day we want our community to be happy about the offerings we share, and we want the brands we work with to be happy too.

Tell us about your career to this point—how did you get here?

Xza Louise Higgins: To cut a long story short: I started off in the music industry, then moved into the hospitality industry. When the recession hit, I migrated into small business branding, and then I became a mommy and started documenting that experience during my pregnancy.

I felt alone during pregnancy and needed to find like-minded mommies online.

Bringing them together in person seemed like a natural progression, and is how MommyCon was born.

What are your secrets for integrating work and family?

Xza Louise Higgins: Lots of coffee. Just kidding! Well sort of…I set personal and work boundaries so that I am not working 100+ hours per week. I am a workaholic so if I don’t set a “stop point,” I just keep going.

I try to plan tons of activities outside the home so that I can tune work out and get a change of scenery.

You’re a busy woman—How do you recharge?

Xza Louise Higgins: I love taking bubble baths, practicing yoga, and planning adventures for my family.

Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to that’s helped to shape you as a woman and a mother?

Xza Louise Higgins: I have quite a few wonderfully impactful women in my life, one of which is a fellow baby industry veteran. She has one of the largest cloth diapering brands in the world, and she offers me practical advice and encourages me on rough days. She created her business from $100, and that is very much the MommyCon story too. It started off with selling baby carriers to fund an event.

Tell us about your children. How have they transformed your career?

Xza Louise Higgins: I have two amazing children. Atticus who is 4, and Luella who just turned 1. They inspire me to be a good role model for them, and prove that anything can happen if you work hard and keep your head held high.

What gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you inspired and excited about life?

Xza Louise Higgins: MommyCon is a really exciting place to work. We have a beautiful office that is family-friendly, and my team is made up of super passionate people who care about happy and healthy babies. We do everything with a tremendous amount of heart, and being in the office and out in the field is pretty inspiring.

Tell us about a typical day in your life.


At 6: 30 am. . . Hope that I am still sleeping.

At 7:45 am. . . Making sure my kids are eating their breakfast, this is usually the first fight of the day.

At 10:00 am. . . This is usually my first pump break. I use the Ayla bra from the Dairy Fairy and can pump hands-free while I answer emails.

At 1:00 pm. . . I have usually had at least five calls by this point and am knee-deep in spread sheets. I focus on event execution, managing our budget, and creating original concepts to implement into each event.

At 3:00 pm. . . Snacking on popcorn and pushing to get through the day.

At 5:00 pm. . . I usually walk through the door at home at 5pm, and immediately get hugs from my amazing kids. I then start dinner or plan on ordering food.

At 9:00 pm. . . Hopefully my kids are sleeping and I can work a bit more or watch something on Amazon Prime. I am super into Transparent and Orphan Black.


What’s one thing you do every day (or try to do every day!) to ensure that your work and home lives run more smoothly?

Xza Louise Higgins: I am a list maker. If I don’t make a list, I feel like I am running in circles.

We’d love to hear—what would you tell other mamas who have a big idea? How did you make your dream a reality?

Xza Louise Higgins: Dream big, but have a business plan first. If you don’t have a business plan you will be constantly playing catch-up on your great idea.

What are your big dreams for MommyCon?

Xza Louise Higgins: I would like to take the event global, or at least increase our national presence by traveling to more cities.

What do you hope your children learn from your career?

Xza Louise Higgins: That they can be anything they want to be. Particularly for my daughter; I want her to know that she can do anything she sets her mind to.

What’s in your purse?

Xza Louise Higgins: Kate Spade polka dot wallet (changing to a bright wallet has helped me exponentially—no more digging to find my black wallet in my black purse), keys, Babyganics diapers, Water Wipes, EcoLips, headphones, Jackery battery pack, business cards and a KIND snack bar.

What does ‘Motherly’ mean to you?

Xza Louise Higgins: To nurture, to cherish, to hold, to love, to be loved.


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It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

"At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

"Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

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When it comes to taking care of the baby and the house, modern dads say they want to be equal partners.

But when Saturday arrives, research shows men are often relaxing while women are the ones doing unpaid housework with a “leisure time" discrepancy of more than 50 minutes a day on the weekends.

The study revealed that women were more likely than men to spend their weekends watching kids or performing housework.

So after a long week of watching kids or clocking hours on the job, what does mom do more of than dad? Work.

Claire M. Kamp Dush, Ph.D., an associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University, and lead author of the new study, says she is hopeful we can all find more balance. It's just going to take some hard discussions—and an understanding that there's more than one way to load a dishwasher or dress a baby.

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The study published in the journal Sex Roles saw Ohio State researchers tracking how 52 dual-income couples spent their time on a minute-by-minute basis as they welcomed their first child. The participating couples kept time diaries for workdays and non-workdays during the third trimester and for about three months after the baby's birth.

The researchers expected to see a lot of entries where mom and dad were doing childcare or housework together, but they didn't.

“Men actually increased their time doing leisure while she was doing work across the transition of parenthood," Kamp Dush shares. “It actually got worse once the baby was there."

According to Kamp Dush, there are a couple of factors behind this disappointing dynamic.

“One thing that's going on is women have a lot of societal pressure put on them to be perfect mothers. So if something is less than perfect with the baby or the house, the consequences are coming back on them," she explains, adding this pressure to have everything done to high standards may lead some moms to micromanage their partners.

If a dad is slacking, Kamp Dush suggests moms ascertain what his motivations are. Often, she says the solution may be as simple as empowering him to do things his own way. (Even if it isn't the outfit you would have picked for the baby...)

“It may also be the case that he just doesn't want to do it and he enjoys his leisure time," says Kamp Dush. If that's the case, she suggests calmly explaining the cost that his rest requires you pay. That may prompt him to do a bit more because, as Kamp Dush says, “He might also enjoy having a happier spouse and co-parent."

The earlier you can have these conversations, the better

Unaddressed resentment in relationships tends to build overtime, which is why it's essential to check in on how you (and your partner) are feeling early and often.

Kamp Dush suggests moms with heavy mental loads write down the tasks and duties they're dealing with. Then rip the list in half and hand it to dad. Couples can certainly negotiate the listed responsibilities, but the important thing is that they're not all on mom.

“Then, you're going to have to let it go," she explains. “Men know how to do these things. As women, we need to just let them do it."

Dads need to do 50 minutes more of unpaid work

The gender disparity in unpaid work hurts our careers, our families and our relationships, but it doesn't have to.

According to the Promundo's State of the World's Fathers' report, if men did 50 minutes of unpaid work a day we could close the gender gap.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, tells Motherly.

When dads are more empowered and moms feel like their household responsibilities are more balanced, the whole family is going to be better off.

[A version of this post was first published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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For new mamas back to sitting behind their desks at work some six weeks (or fewer) after their babies are born, the institutionalized parental leave policy in Denmark is the stuff of daydreams: Over in that Scandinavian paradise, parents are granted 52 weeks of paid leave to divide between them.

There's no denying this is much, much better than the state of parental leave in the United States, but it isn't quite as perfect as it seems from the outside. According to Denmark's Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, women take an average 93% of leave allotted to couples. And when they do return to work, mothers' wages suffer both in comparison to men and women without children.

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The good news is that it seems the solution to this gender income gap is something we—the mothers of today, even here in America—can do something about.

A new paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research that examined Danish administration information from 1980 to 2013 found the motherhood penalty “creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run," which is comparable to the gap in the United States.

What's more, the income discrepancy only increases for each child a family in Denmark has: If a woman has four children, her income is only $0.60 to every dollar a man makes—10 years down the road.

While this indicates paid parental leave alone may not be the panacea for the gender income gap, the researchers suggest that changing the way we think about roles in the workplaces and homes could help—at least when it comes to the next generation.

“As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons)," the researchers note, explaining that the more a daughter's mother worked while the girl was growing up, the less the daughter's income was affected when she became a mother.

“Women tend to adopt a balance of paid work and childcare that is correlated with the one they saw their mother strike when they were growing up," Henrik Kleven, a Princeton economist and the paper's lead author, tells Quartz At Work.

What this looks like in practice is splitting household responsibilities from the get-go and encouraging fathers to take more leave. (In Sweden, where fathers are penalized for not taking advantage of paternity leave, women's earning rose an average 7% for each month of leave that men took.)

According to the State of the World's Fathers' report, produced by Promundo (a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality in partnership with Dove Men+Care) 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands want to take paternity leave, and yet less than 50% of fathers take as much time as their country's policy allows, and social norms, financial pressures and a lack of support from their managers are all factors.

The report also found that if fathers are able to do just under an hour of unpaid work per day, mothers can cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, told Motherly.

This may help shift us toward more income equality today—and, as the research shows, our daughters will really be able to reap the benefits.

[A version of this post was first published January 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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There's no doubt: It's a new parenting era than 20 or 30 years ago.

Now faced with questions about how to limit screen time, when to give children phones and how to protect them from cyber threats, there are simply some issues that today's parents can't get advice on from our own parents.

Does that mean it's harder to be a parent today than when we were growing up? Yes, say 88% of young moms and dads.

According to a BPI Network survey of 2,000 parents in the United States and Canada, the leading reasons parenting feels harder than ever include: social media distractions, challenges with two working parents, emotional or behavioral dysfunction, peer competition or bullying, and violence and safety concerns in schools.

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Of course, most of us weren't fully aware of the challenges our parents faced when we were young—such as the fact they couldn't readily call on their own moms for advice lest they wanted to rack up major long-distance bills and couldn't have anything in the world delivered to their doorsteps within two days.

Regardless of whether it's true, the perception that parenting is harder than ever has contributed to some two-thirds of the respondents saying they've experienced "parental burnout."

"Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion," says Neil D. Brown, LCSW, author of Ending The Parent-Teen Control Battle. "It leaves parents feeling chronically fatigued… and it can lead to depression, chronic anxiety and illness."

With 40% reporting parental burnout has "significantly" affected their qualities of life and another 49% saying it has "somewhat" affected their wellbeing, it's time employers take a vested interest in addressing the issue, says Dave Murray, Chief Strategy and Research Officer at the BPI Network.

"It is staggering to look at the incidence of [parental burnout] symptoms among working parents in America and understand the implications this has for added employee burden, cost, concern and downtime," Murray says, adding that counseling services to promote healthy parenting should "certainly" be among the benefits employers look to offer.

Many working parents are also hopeful that their employers will recognize the importance of practices that support healthy balance between work and life—with 78% of respondents to Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood survey saying they believe it's possible to combine careers and motherhood. Of those who worked outside the home, the biggest changes they would like to see include subsidies for childcare or on-site childcare, paid maternity leave and more flexible schedules.

In our second annual State of Motherhood Survey in 2019 just over half (51%) of mothers said "I feel discouraged: it's extremely challenging managing trade-offs" associated with combining a career and motherhood.

The consequences of unaddressed parental burnout have an unfortunate way of spilling over to other members of the family. According to a recent study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, a sample of 1,551 parents suggested "parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation."

While employers have a stake in addressing this issue, there's also a lot that individuals can do—like starting by cutting ourselves a break on self-imposed expectations. As research has shown, the more grace we give ourselves and others in the ways we parent, the less prone we ultimately are to burning out.

And while we've heard this all before, it's also worth remembering just how important it is to take time for ourselves. "We must have regular practices to refuel," LMHC Jasmin Terrany previously told Motherly. "We don't need to feel guilty about taking this time for ourselves—our kids will not only learn that self-care is essential, but when we are good, they will be good."

Then don't feel one ounce of guilt about using that time to call someone long-distance or place another Amazon Prime delivery so you can remember that parenting in this day and age does have its perks.

[A version of this post was originally published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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