Meet Melissa and Jessica, Founders of The Parent Collective!
How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport?
Melissa: I have a 3 year old boy and a 7 year old girl. We’ve been in the US for 6 years and moved from East Norwalk to Westport 2 years ago when we bought our house.
Jessica: My boys are 7 and 9. We moved to Westport from London in 2014 and love it here!
What has been the most difficult age with your children to date? What helped you overcome the challenges at that time?
Melissa: I’m having a tough time with my 3 year old as we speak! He does not listen to a thing I say and I’ve turned into the Mum that leaves places with their child kicking and screaming in their arms. It’s so embarrassing! I haven’t quite overcome this challenge yet, so if any of your WestportMoms have any advice, it would be greatly appreciated!
Jessica: Each age when I am in it feels the hardest! I would probably have to say the baby phase was toughest only because of sleep deprivation. I don’t cope well without my 8 hours. But each age has its challenges. My 7 year old is going through a phase where he whines and baby talks for all communication right now. And my 9 year old is going through a ‘the world is against me’ phase which I am usually at the receiving end of. Ahh the joys of motherhood.
What is your favorite family activity to do in Westport or the surrounding towns?
Melissa: My daughter has always been obsessed with the Aquarium. It’s become a bit of running joke in my family how many times we’ve been there!
Jessica: In the summer, it’s definitely the beach. Oh how I miss the beach…. This winter, since its been so warm, we have been going on walks at Lake Mohegan in Fairfield or trying to get the kiddos comfortable on skis at Sundown.
What was your most memorable family vacation and why?
Melissa: We went back to England last year and took the kids on a double decker bus around London. We had never done that ourselves and it just reminded us how beautiful London is (when it’s not gray and raining, which is never! Ha!) We then went onto Spain and then the lakes in Italy; we were gone for 6 weeks in total. It was incredible, but a little too long to be away from home.
Jessica: Begrudgingly, I would have to say Disney World. I had a seriously bad attitude about it going in but there is a reason it’s referred to as ‘the most magical place on earth’. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it, I think because the kids were so happy – it was contagious! We went with my parents and my brother’s family for maximum togetherness. All of that said, I have checked that box and won’t be returning. 😉
What’s your favorite restaurant in town for a family dinner? A night out with friends?
Melissa: The kids love going to Angelina’s Trattoria and Shake Shack. My daughter says Angelina’s does the BEST pizza she’s ever eaten! For a night out with friends it has to be Bar Taco or The Pearl, which does the most incredible sharing dessert named after the restaurant. It’s a white chocolate pearl, which is melted with hot chocolate sauce and inside the chocolate pearl is ice cream and all these delicious goodies. It’s gorgeous!
Jessica: My kids love going to Sakura – the fire is always a big hit and they love getting hit in the face with shrimp, attempting to catch the chef’s throws. For a night out with friends, The Whelk or Kawa Ni are always great but for date night, my hubby and I love Finalmente Trattoria!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Melissa: I thought of two things straight away and realized they are both kind of connected… the first one is that I have the worst teeth in the world; they look nice but none of them are real! The second is I have to eat something sweet every day. Hmmm, somehow I think the second is the reason I have the first!
Jessica: That I absolutely loathe public speaking – thank god for Melissa! She is our sales force and chief presenter.
If you had 24 hours to do whatever you wanted – what would you do?
Melissa: Wake up naturally, go for a 4 hour brunch, hit the movies for an afternoon matinee, dinner then drinks, and of course be able to sleep in the next morning and really wallow in my hangover with breakfast in bed.
Jessica: Sleep. 😉 I would probably head into NYC for the day – hit up a spa for some excessively indulgent package, have a leisurely lunch, see some friends and go to the theatre.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Melissa: Try to put yourself in their shoes.
Jessica: I would say make sure you have that group of friends who you can be real with (my girls know who they are!). No one needs to feel like they are being judged or made to feel like they are failing – life is hard enough without any of that.
How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project it is you might be doing?
Melissa: Jessica and I went out for a coffee one day and were saying how we could not have gotten through our pregnancies without the girls we met in our pre-natal classes in England. We were surprised there was nothing like it in Westport and that’s how TPC became ‘our baby’. We really just wanted to offer a judgment-free series of classes which would help you through the last trimester and when the baby came home but with the knowledge that you would also meet other parents and hopefully make some lasting friendships.
Jessica: I had both of my kids in London and thankfully enrolled in a prenatal class, which is known for helping connect expectant couples in their neighborhoods. The idea being that when the classes are complete, you leave with a support network of friends and the knowledge to get through your baby’s birth and those early weeks at home. When I moved back to the states, I was amazed at how little attention was paid to helping couples connect. Melissa and I talked over coffee one day and The Parent Collective was born!
Our business offers a new approach to prenatal classes here in Westport, designed to provide information, foster open discussion and establish connections among couples living locally and due at the same time. New parenthood is so much easier with a network of mom-friends and dad-friends to lean on. To learn more visit: www.theparentcollective.com