The Rebel Mamas: More Than Just Moms
Founders of The Rebel Mama, Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem, are breaking down the stigma surrounding new moms, one page at a time.
When a book begins with a “common-sense disclaimer” promising that you’re about to receive a “shit-ton of advice about things related to pregnancy, childbirth, nutrition, and sleep habits, among other things,” and assures you that all information within the book is based upon genuine, real-life experience, you know you’re in for an experience.
Released in 2018, The Rebel Mama’s Handbook For (Cool) Moms is a one-stop guide to early motherhood. Promising to be “the instruction manual you wish your kid(s) came with,” it was put together by an all-female team in Toronto and has already hit No. 1 on the Amazon bestseller list. As well as covering all of the topics listed above, it is split into other sections that explore siblings and finding time to get away, comes complete with a cocktail list and has been designed to empower women to look beyond rules imposed by society so they can be moms on their own terms.
The idea itself was pioneered by Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem, two women who, after getting pregnant within weeks of each other, decided they wanted to break down the stigma that typically surrounds new moms. Before publishing their book, they decided to do this with a blog which, launched in 2014, quickly became a safe, welcoming space for those who held the same beliefs. “Very quickly, we realized that we had not been alone in our distaste for the status quo,” reads their blog. “This whole time, an entire generation was out there too – desperately searching for engaging content, meaningful community connections, and valuable online information sources.”
‘Very quickly, we realized that, we had not been alone in our distaste for the status quo’
According to 2018 statistics from Pew Research Center, more than a million millennials are becoming moms every year in the U.S. alone, with 1.2 million millennial women giving birth for the first time in 2016. With a new generation of moms comes inevitable change and a different way of thinking. The Rebel Mamas are at the forefront of that change. “There’s so much about the postpartum experience that people should warn you about, but don’t,” continues another page on the blog. “Here’s all the good, bad, and disgusting information that your mom/your friends should have told you but didn’t.”
Their support doesn’t just stop with their blog and book, though. The pair have set up a closed, invite-only Facebook group called REBEL MAMAS. Positioned with a reminder that “there is more than one formula for a healthy family dynamic and more than one kind of woman who can be a good mom,” it’s a group that brings people together to create a community where women support other women in a way that’s raw and real. While there is an application process and fee to join the group, a portion is donated to relevant charities and organizations, and members receive perks such as giveaways, discount codes and meet-ups. At the time of writing, proceeds are going to The New Mom Project, a Toronto-based organization that provides basic baby necessities to families in need.
With content being added to the Rebel Mamas regularly and with their book continuing to make an impact in Canada and beyond, it seems Stanley and Jassem aren’t just resonating with women around the world, but are also only getting started.
Q. How did you two meet, and what were some of the qualities you admired in each other?
A. We met on a packed dance floor in Toronto sometime around 2007, and the party has just kept on going since. Over a decade (and three kids between us) later, we still haven’t forgotten how to have a good time.
Q. Why do you think women struggle with feelings of guilt when it comes to leaving their kids, even if it’s for a short while?
A. Women struggle with this because it’s something society arbitrarily imposes on us and us alone. But the good thing is, we all get to decide whether to adhere to it or not. We choose not. Women should never feel guilty for stepping away from their family to regain their sense of self. In fact, the best thing we can do for our families is give them a happy, fulfilled version of ourselves.
Q. Where did the idea for the book come from?
A. We wanted to show women that they can do motherhood on their own terms. There are so many rules society imposes on women in general and moms specifically, but we’re here to remind everyone that outdated rules can (and should) change.
Q. What do you consider uncool?
A. To us, there’s nothing more off-putting than a mother being judgmental or unkind toward another mother. We’re here to make kindness and empathy cool.
Q. What is your go-to snack for kids?
A. Bananas. They even come with sustainable packaging.
Q. “Who’s the Boss” is one of the chapters in your book. What do you do as parents to ensure you remain the boss in your household?
A. We want our kids to understand that we are there to create boundaries for them to keep them safe. That’s our job as parents. We set clear rules and expectations, and hold our kids to them. We do our best to choose our battles and give our kids autonomy where we can.
Q. What is the one thing you hope to teach your kids as they grow up?
A. That whoever they are is enough. They should never feel like they need to pretend to be someone they’re not. We want our kids to celebrate their authenticity, and we challenge ourselves to be a good example of that.
Q. List some of the items you have in your fridge now, compared to what you had in your fridge prior to having kids.
A. We have very little food in the fridge now in comparison to pre-kids. We are the only women in houses full of men. Supplies get depleted fast.
Q. What is on your playlist now?
A. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but it keeps us chill through the chaos: Drake (of course. Raptors are in the FINALS, BABY.), Solange, Childish Gambino, Nina Simone, Rolling Stones, Queen (Stanley’s kids are obsessed), Prince, Bob Marley
Q. What makes you feel confident?
A. We feel the best when we’re in great company, who we can just fully relax with and enjoy. A great vintage outfit and a slight suntan never hurt anyone, either.
The book is available at Chapters Indigo and Amazon, as well as select boutiques across Toronto.