Hacking Parenting, Mindfully & Intentionally

Motherhood is wildly unpredictable, and it is easy to feel incompetent if your baby doesn’t behave the way the parenting books promised. How do you learn to live in the moment and accept that your experience is okay, even if it’s different from what the experts advertised? Can you parent in a mindful way, giving your intuition the same weight as what you are reading and hearing?

Is there a way to hack parenting?

When her son was born, Asha Dornfest felt abandoned by the experts. The experience of parenting wasn’t lining up with what she had read about in preparation, and Asha was desperate for practical advice. So, she created a community where parents could swap useful tips and share creative advice: Parent Hacks.

Today, Asha joins me to discuss the unpredictable nature of parenting and how her early struggles led to the creation of Parent Hacks. She shares the process of turning the blog into a book, the origin of the phrase, and the hacks that had the biggest impact on her life. I ask Asha about her minimalist philosophy, and she explains the idea of making space for many different versions of motherhood. Listen in for Asha’s insight on mindful parenting and learn how she measures success in terms of connection rather than numbers.

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #076

Some quotes from the episode 

  • “I can get as prepared as I can in terms of the logistics of getting the stuff packed and buying the dorm supplies, but as for emotionally preparing, I don’t know if that’s really possible. I’ve gotten more comfortable with just experiencing what happens as it happens rather than trying to protect myself from what’s going to happen.”
  • “The unpredictability of parenting—and life in general—is just amazing. That doesn’t show up in the books you read and the stories people tell.”
  • “Of course, we should prepare [for becoming a parent], but if things go sideways or if things turn out a little differently than expected, it doesn’t mean we’ve done something wrong.”
  • “I found that the advice that I got from other parents was always so much more useful or at least more comforting that what I was reading in the books. I felt really abandoned by the books and the experts.”
  • “Blogs were very much a two-way thing, and the line between writer and reader—it was so faint. It was a wonderful time to be able to actually connect with people and say, ‘I am not alone.’”
  • “I saw my family there [in India] taking care of kids in incredibly skilled, wonderful ways—and there wasn’t all that stuff. It just didn’t seem necessary.”
  • “There are lots of right ways to do things.”
  • “Don’t discount what your gut is telling you.”
  • “There’s something about a blog which is more like inviting people over to your house rather than posting something on Facebook, which is sort of tossing something into the stream.”
  • “If we treat our audience as numbers, then we become numbers, and we don’t feel human either. It just doesn’t have to be like that.” 


Asha Dornfest is a writer and community organizer based in Portland, Oregon. She launched the Parent Hacks blog in 2005 as a real-world alternative to ‘expert’ parenting advice, and the platform took off, gaining a readership of thousands and winning awards as well as international press coverage. In 2016, Asha collaborated with Workman Publishing to create Parent Hacks, an illustrated collection of the best hacks from the blog. She also co-hosts the Edit Your Life podcast with Minimalist Parenting co-author Christine Koh.



Thank you to the sponsor of this episode: Acuity Scheduling. Acuity functions as an online assistant, helping to organize your schedule and collect client information. Take advantage of Acuity’s 45-day free trial for Startup Pregnant listeners at https://acuityscheduling.com/startuppregnant.

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