Authenticity is core to Molly Madfis, on her blog, on her Instagram, and, well, everywhere. Even the title of her DIY and recipe haven of a blog – Almost Makes Perfect – tells any reader right up front: this is as real as it gets. And we gotta tell you, it’s a breath of fresh air to read just as many #momfails as perfect mommy moments.
So when we found out her adorable nursery for her nine-month-old Arlo was brimming with homemade and personal touches, we can’t say we were surprised. From that sweet rainbow banner (made by Molly herself) to the illustrated smiling moon (drawn by hubby Gideon), each detail in this soothing and special nursery had extra thought and love behind it. Read on for why Molly is so committed to showing her genuine self, how she makes date nights happen, and baby Arlo’s book recommendations:
Your blog, Almost Makes Perfect, is DIY heaven and we love the accessibility of the name and the content. Tell us about launching your blog and how it has evolved in the past six years.
I started it as just a little creative outlet for myself while I worked freelance and didn’t really have any idea what I was doing, I just have always been creative and making things for the house so I decided to put it out there for nobody to read. I am really good at coming up with ideas and designs, but sometimes my execution leaves a lot to be desired, so I decided to just embrace that! All you need to do is practice and you get pretty good at anything you want to do.
Over time, the blog organically grew, and as time went by I developed some actual style and got better and better at making things. Now that I’m older and I’m past the point in my life of making things for the sake of making things — the blog has kind of developed into more general design, lifestyle, and now, motherhood.
As a blogger, an editor, the co-founder and designer of Blogzilla Studio, a Society6 shop owner, and the mom of a 9-month-old, you have a lot going on (to say the least!). How has your division of time changed since Arlo was born?
It basically means there is literally always something for me to do. It’s very rare for me to not have a task I need to finish or something I should be working on, any time I have the chance. I have always been pretty good at multitasking (how I ended up with way too many small businesses), but when you become a mom, it’s a whole new thing! I am always keeping a to-do list and checking things off — it’s the only way I can keep up!
We’ve loved watching your home take shape, how did the process unfold? Did you have any idea of what you wanted from each space when you started?
I knew I wanted to create a neutral room that was warm and cozy, and I think it might be my favorite room in the house. I knew right away I wanted Gideon to draw something for the room, so I had him illustrate a smiling moon and framed it over his dresser. We later decided that I should make some art for his room, too, so I painted the rainbow over his crib.
Was designing Arlo’s nursery easier or more challenging than you expected? Did you have any pieces you knew you wanted from the start? How has his room changed as he’s grown?
The room has changed a lot already — but that’s mostly because I’m a crazy person who can’t make up their mind. I got a vintage Beni rug originally but decided to move it to the living room and get a new one because of how much time we spend rolling around on it. The bookshelves I had custom built ended up being sort of dangerous, so I swapped them out for Ikea ones instead.
Your aesthetic is very neutral — has that been challenging since Arlo entered your space? Tell us about your approach to storage for plastic toys and other not-so-gorgeous baby items.
Baskets everywhere! They are your only hope for corralling all of it, and as a baby, his toys are already everywhere, I can’t even imagine what the future will look like.
So many of us crazy moms think we can dictate and curate our baby’s toys, but it’s just not realistic. So while the majority of toys I personally buy for him are handsome and wood, some of his favorites are the plastic colorful ones he’s been gifted (or just plastic Tupperware and bubble tape containers), and I just have to be okay with that! That’s what the cute baskets are for.
Your bedroom is always a favorite when I scroll past it on Instagram — those soothing vibes are unbeatable. Are there any rooms you find yourself spending the most time in?
We definitely love our bed and love watching TV in bed when Arlo is napping on weekends. We clock a ton of hours on the rug in Arlo’s room playing with his toys and building towers for him to knock over.
I love your candid captions on Instagram — the honesty and humor make you one of my favorite people I’m following. Do you ever encounter negativity from your community or the Instagram community at large? How do you deal with judgemental comments, DMs, or attitude in response to posts/stories?
Oh for sure! Mostly people comment about how much they hate when I curse — to which I say sorry, but that’s how I talk. And if you’re offended that easily I’m not really sure what you’re doing following me because I guess I can be fairly crude.
How have your daily rhythms and routines with Arlo changed since your first few months with him?
It was so scary at first, I dreaded every time my husband would leave for work. But besides being older, I am way more comfortable now that we’ve sleep trained because we have a regimen that I stay with. So, I know when to nurse him, when to feed him solids, when to put him down for naps, and how to actually plan my day around all of it. I really only get about 2.5 hours to myself maximum, but I’ve learned how to make the most of that time, more or less…
I’m all about Arlo’s book recommendations. What is he loving right now?
He looooves books. His favorites are “I Want My Hat Back,” “Toto’s Apple,” “Arlo Needs Glasses,” and “Opposite Surprise.”
You have three pretty adorable, fluffy cats — and it looks like Arlo has made friends. Were you concerned about introducing them to Arlo after he was born? What was that process like?
Yes! You have no idea what to expect before the baby gets here, so you assume your cats are going to turn into vengeful monsters, or at least we did. In a newborn class we took, the teacher said we can absolutely not let the cats sleep in our bedroom with the baby in there, so we freaked out for a few weeks about how to transition them because we knew they’d meow at the door all night if we locked them out.
So, we decided to say forget that and let them sleep in our room, and it was never an issue. PHEW.
Arlo is pretty rough with the cats and grabs them as hard as he can, but they’ve been surprisingly patient with him, and my husband says it’s because they “know where their bread is buttered” haha.
With pets and a baby, what’s your strategy for keeping your house (relatively) tidy?
A housekeeper twice a month. So crucial — we always say it’s literally the best luxury you can spend money on if you want to have a happy marriage. We also got a Roomba, but I forget to charge it, and once it dies under a bed, it’s gone for months because I forget all about it. Our hardwood floors are really dark so they show all of the fur, and that’s the #1 wishlist item for our next house so that I don’t have to clean fur piles so often.
As a work-from-home mom, what’s your setup for getting work done? Do you find yourself frequently distracted or it is easy to fall into the rhythms of work? Where in your home do you generally work?
Honestly, it is so hard! There are days when I can get a lot done, and we’re in much more of a rhythm now that he’s a little older, but his naps are shorter so by the time he goes down for one and I eat/relax/do 10 minutes of ab exercises with a Youtube video, I can usually just answer a few emails before he wakes back up. I have a babysitter twice a week, and that is pretty much the only way I can really get work done currently! I try to work in my studio when she’s here with him, but a lot of times I will sit on my laptop in bed where I am by far the happiest.
You took Arlo on his first vacation to Hawaii a few months ago, how did travel with a baby compare with your expectations? Any tips you learned along the way?
He did so great on the plane so my expectations were suddenly so high, but then he got sick the next day so the trip was sort of a disaster with a few moments I’ll cherish. We’re taking him back to Hawaii this summer, so I’m really hopeful he’ll be healthy and have even more fun now that he’s older.
How do you divide parenting roles with Gideon, and in what way has your marriage changed since having a child? What have you learned about each other since Arlo was born?
We try to divide responsibilities as much as possible, so while I’m home with him, Gid does a lot while he’s home in the mornings and at night. He puts him down every night and for his morning nap before Gid leaves for work. When I nurse Arlo in the morning, Gid makes coffee and then changes his diaper afterward. Those little things really add up to make it feel like you’re both doing your part and helping each other as much as you can.
You do realize how precious your time together is once the baby arrives and how you really do need to make an effort to be close and focus on your relationship because it’s easy not to. We make sure to do a date night once a month at least. We’re more honest with each other now, and I also think more demonstrative, because we’ve seen each other take on this new role and admire each other for it. Or at least I do!
What have you learned about yourself since having Arlo? How has motherhood differed from or reinforced your expectations?
I enjoy being a mom more than I expected — I feel really proud to be a mom. I also didn’t expect this, but when I’m out without him, I strangely want people to know I’m a mom like I feel sort of naked without him.
And I actually think I’ve changed, for the better. I think he’s made me be a nicer person, sweating the small stuff less, and just being more patient.
How do you deal when you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed?
This sounds corny, but Gid always helps me through every stressful situation. I turn to him when I need any advice or moral support or even help writing a caption. Sometimes when I don’t have deadlines and I have the babysitter here, I’ll use that time to relax and take a bath or watch Housewives and paint my nails — that little shred of personal time really does help make me a happier person overall.
When it comes to being a mom: what are you most insecure about and what are you most confident about?
Probably like most new moms, I’m insecure about my fears — like not leaving the house enough because it’s such a pain or it can be daunting to do challenging things with Arlo in general. I have made an effort to do more with him, but I still avoid doing some errands until I don’t have to take him along.
And as for most confident, just seeing him flourish makes me feel like I’m doing a good job. Teaching him how to do things like chew food, wave hi, sit up, crawl, and just such a happy baby, in general, make me feel like maybe I’m pretty good at this.
If you could only pick one, what has been your favorite memory from motherhood so far?
Meeting him was pretty bonkers, but I really will never forget the first time I saw him smile. He was only two weeks old, and I pet his head with fingernails and he just got the biggest grin on his face. and he’s been smiling like crazy ever since.
Molly Madfis is The Everymom…
Favorite DIY you’ve ever done? These magnets were so simple to make and they make my fridge still feel so happy.
Go-to meal when you get a night on the town? Katsuya Studio City for sushi — we literally do the same date night every month because there is nothing better.
Current reality TV obsession? “Real Housewives of New York” has always been my favorite, but this past season when they went to Mexico was magic.
Next family vacation you’d like to take? We’re going back to Hawaii with my in-laws again. Someday I would love to take Arlo to Martha’s Vineyard where I used to spend summers.
Favorite photo on your camera roll? I have an Arlo iCloud photo sharing album that we have all our family subscribed to, and I post to it regularly, so pretty often we sit in bed and look at all the photos over and over again.
Best thing about living in California? The weather, the sushi, and the amount of amazing destinations a car ride away
Scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen? The original Black Christmas and Paranormal Activity were the two that made me lose the most sleep.
Favorite Mom-Arlo activity? When we have our own giggly dance parties.
Most embarrassing mom moment? Not going to the grocery store for like the first six months with him. I still sort of dread it every time we go, but I have made a point to make myself do it once a week.