Ask any mom to show you her phone’s camera roll and it’s practically guaranteed to be populated with hundreds — if not thousands — of photos of her kids. But when it comes to getting said pictures off of the digital device and printed IRL, the universal through-line is that it simply doesn’t happen. Who has the time? Certainly not a mother to seven children, but that’s precisely who solved this modern-day parenting woe when Vanessa Quigley co-founded Chatbooks in 2014 with her husband Nate.
After realizing she didn’t have baby books for her youngest three children — let alone printed photos for the baby of the family — Quigley was inspired to launch Chatbooks, which automates monthly photo books from your Instagram account or camera roll for as little as $5. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, the trained opera singer and former Walt Disney World cast member held the title of “Mom-in-Chief” and spent over two decades focused on raising her brood: Calvin, 24; Laken, 22; Henry, 20; Aidan, 18; Claire, 15; Isabelle, 13; and Declan, 11.
In addition to running a business and a household alongside her partner, Quigley hosts The MomForce podcast, where she talks about the trials and travails of parenthood with her four sisters (she herself is the oldest of 12!). Considering she wrote the actual book of parenting tips as the author of Real Moms, Real Hacks, who better to ask for child-rearing recommendations that apply to tweens, teens and young adults? From Venmo-ing allowance to mom meme accounts that’ll make you cry-laugh, Quigley’s picks do not disappoint.
The podcasts I’m listening to right now
“My youngest child Declan and I love to listen to Wow in the World together, a podcast that guides children and adults around the wonders of the world. It dives deep into new stories in science and tech. As soon as an episode of our new MomForce podcast launches, I’m also listening to that. I love re-listening and gaining new insights into what our listeners might love to know in the future.”
The children’s books our family reads on repeat
“My kids are all older now and don’t really love when mom reads to them — you know, ‘baby stuff!’ — but no one complains when I pull out one of our Shel Silverstein books and read those silly poems to them. They are the best! Chatbooks are definitely our forever favorite book. Declan has a collection of Chatbooks next to his bed that we find ourselves looking through nearly every night. They are a great reminder of our adventures. Over the summer our team actually partnered with developmental psychologists from BYU and the University of Utah to learn more about how looking at photos together can help parents positively engage in conversation with kids. The findings were super interesting and it’s made me even more excited to look through our Chatbooks together!”
The books I’m currently reading myself
“I have a stack of several books on my nightstand. The last one I read cover to cover was The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle. Raising cooperative children is a feat, but Tuttle knows what she’s talking about.”
The snacks I always have on hand for the kids
The beauty product I always keep in my bag
The app that makes my life as a parent easier
My favorite parenting-related social media accounts to follow
“I follow any and all ‘mom meme’ accounts! Kids are the Worst is my favorite, she has hilarious and relatable content. Simon Holland on Twitter is also hilarious. He tweets about his kids and they are too good.”
The toys that keep my kids occupied for hours
“My youngest is always playing with Legos and Pokémon — they never get old. The Tinker Crate by KiwiCo is another great one. It’s a hands-on science kit for kids 9 and older. They are delivered every month so it’s a nice surprise to have on the doorstep. The entire family is entertained by and learns from them!”
The underrated children’s brands I’ve recently discovered
“Raising Wild swimsuits are hands down my favorite. My sisters founded the business and I have to say they nailed the effortlessly stylish swimsuit that is perfect for every season of life. Girls and women look amazing in them at any age. Every trip I go on, I only pack my Raising Wild suits — they are seriously the best. I also love June & January. I don’t have any babies anymore, but they are my go-to for baby gifts.”
The clothing brand that helps make up my mom uniform
“I love Nena & Co.’s bags and the mission behind their business. They support artistry and cultures from around the world with ethical business practices and help to create a sustainable income for the artisans of the bags. I love supporting them, and their bags are everyday essentials in my wardrobe and accessory collection.”
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