When you think of the term “mom blogger,” visions of a preternaturally well-dressed woman whose children are always elated to be in front of the camera probably flash before your eyes. And while yes, you’ll find made-for-Instagram family photos and Pinterest-worthy kids’ recipes on Caitlin Houston‘s eponymous lifestyle site, it’s also where she opens up about the weird physical changes that occur during and after pregnancy, her bout with weaning-induced postpartum depression and her most controversial parenting decisions. In other words, girlfriend keeps things real.
The former elementary school teacher has been blogging for more than a decade. What started out as an online diary called Bear-y Excited Bride where she documented her wedding planning process for friends and family quickly grew into a bonafide blog, renamed Confessions of a Northern Belle, which followed her life as a New England-bred newlywed living in the South. Earlier this year, she rebranded her site once again under her moniker to more accurately reflect her current life stage as a Connecticut-based mom to two daughters — Annabelle, six; and Ailey, three — whom she credits as both the inspiration and motivation behind her blog.
Since she doles out BS-free advice and product picks for a living, we decided to tap Houston for her most-beloved parenting recommendations. Spoiler: She knows how to navigate the aisles of Costco like a mother.
The podcast I’m listening to right now
“The most recent podcast I listened to was ‘Blogging, Unscripted with Danielle Gervino.’ She talks a lot about Pinterest and blog traffic, so I can listen to her while I’m working.”
The children’s books our family reads on repeat
The books I’m currently reading myself
“I have three books on my nightstand, all for pleasure, and I started the thriller All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda first. I read The Last House Guest, also by Megan Miranda, a few weeks ago and it was so good I finished it in less than 48 hours! The other two books I have in the wings are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and To Love and Let Go by Rachel Brathen, both recommended to me by my sisters.”
The snacks I always have on hand for the kids
“Many of my snacks are pretty standard and bought in bulk at Costco. I love the huge boxes of Pirate’s Booty, apple sauce pouches, Nutella & Go snack packs, Goldfish, Annie’s Fruit Snacks and lots of fruit — blueberries, bananas, strawberries and raspberries. Something I found that I love and my daughters love too are plantain chips from Trader Joe’s; the plain kind and not the flavored — they’re so tasty and filling!”
The beauty product I always keep in my bag
“You’ll always find some sort of lip balm in my purse — my lips get dry easily because I talk a lot and I can’t stand the feeling of dry or cracked lips. I am not particular about a brand, but my current favorite is Lip Luxe Peppermint by Mizzi Cosmetics, which was created by a Connecticut mom in her kitchen.”
The app that makes my life as a parent easier
“PBS Kids Games app is a lifesaver when we go out to dinner with my daughters. They can play educational and fun games featuring all of their favorite PBS characters!”
My favorite parenting-related Instagram accounts to follow
“I absolutely love @theeverymom because it’s a mixture of information, humor and real-life posts from real moms. I love that they target the ‘every’ mom and not just some particular type of mom. The other parenting-related accounts I follow are actual friends of mine, fellow bloggers who share their everyday life with the world such as Claire Wiley of @homewiththewileys and Lauren McBride of @laurmcbrideblog. I find it comforting to see real moms in similar situations as myself sharing their experience with the same stuff as me, like solo parenting, potty training, toddler tantrums, etc. All the moms out there are on a different path of motherhood but we can meet somewhere in the middle to commiserate, sympathize with one another and to offer support during the tough times. It is helpful to know I’m not alone on the days when I feel it most!”
The toys that keep my kids occupied for hours
“My daughters love the following: Magna-Tiles, Barbie Dolls and Disney Princess figurines, and good ol’ coloring books with crayons. The girls can play with these items all day long and be completely content without television or technology. My daughters are very imaginative so if we had none of these things around and just a big cardboard box with markers, they would be just as happy!”
The underrated children’s brands I’ve recently discovered
“We just started checking out the brand Bella Bliss and they have the most adorable children’s clothing that I wish came in adult sizes! Dudley Stephens carries fleeces for children that are made from recycled water bottles and so warm, so I invested in a few for this winter.”
The clothing brands that help make up my mom uniform
“I am pretty standard when it comes to my mom style because I shop at the same store over and over again. J.Crew and J.Crew Factory are my go-to stores for classic pieces that seem to never go out of style. I also wear Dudley Stephens items a few times a week! It’s a women-owned brand that’s local to Connecticut, focused on easy-to-wear clothing for women — and kids! — made from sustainable recycled yarn. Their warm fleece tops are a must-have for New England fall and winter weather.”