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Momsessed: ‘The Small Things’ Founder Kate Bryan’s Parenting Essentials Include Hair Detangler, Belt Bags, & Fuse Beads

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Kate Bryan spent years in the hair salon before she transitioned from perfecting bobs to writing a beloved blog. More than a decade ago, the professional hairstylist founded The Small Things. It started as a place where she could share hair tutorials for her clients, but it wasn’t long before she amassed a following that went well beyond her home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Whether reading posts on The Small Things, or following Kate’s journey on Instagram, Youtube, or Pinterest, fans can learn about all things hair, beauty, style, and more. And while they watch tutorials and comb through (excuse the pun) product recommendations, the hope is that they also indulge in some well-deserved self-care.

“My passion is to share my knowledge,” she said on her site, “…so you can feel empowered and confident in how you look and feel!”

And when Bryan, get’s a chance to turn off the heat tools, pack up her makeup, and mute her notifications, her passion is her family. The mom of three — David, Luke, and Emily — says she is happiest at home with her family and a cup of coffee. And boy, can we relate.

So just how does Bryan go from having coffee with her kiddos to creating content for hundreds of thousands of followers, all without having a hair out of place? Well, we asked Bryan to give us a peek beyond her vanity and into her home life, and she shared the parenting essentials she has at the ready. And as you might have guessed, the small things do make all the difference.

The podcast I’m listening to right now

I really love the SmartLess podcast with Will Arnet, Jason Bateman, and Shawn Hayes. It’s so entertaining and is something I listen to when I’m getting ready for the day. Podcasts are such easy ways to consume a little entertainment, and since I’m my kids’ DJ in the car, the morning is my best time to listen! 

The books my kids are obsessed with

Time for a Hug is one of my personal favorites. It has a sing-song rhythm to it and you can make it as fun or as calm as you like. The pictures are adorable for the kids to look at when they’re young toddlers, and the messaging is all about going through your day but checking in for a hug whenever you feel like it. Physical touch is one of my favorite ways to show my kids love, and reading this book means multiple hugs as we work through the pages! 

What I’m currently reading myself

I just finished a completely heart-wrenching book called Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I was fully swept up in the story and couldn’t believe it was based on actual events. It was a slow build but I was determined to see it through, despite the really sad parts. 

The beauty product I never leave the house without

Lip balm! My lips are perpetually dry, so I usually have at least one lip balm in my bag. I’ve also started carrying a small Vaseline lip product for my kids because they never think about bringing any kind of lip balm with them when we go outdoors! 

The app that makes my life as a parent easier

I love the Evernote app! It syncs across multiple devices, so I can add something to an ongoing grocery list from my phone and know that it will sync up with the list on my desktop computer. There are so many things to keep track of as a mom, and it’s helpful to know I can keep ongoing lists on my phone. I used to be a paper grocery list kind of gal, but I would forget the list at home too many times so I shifted to a digital list and never looked back. 

The music we listen to as a family

Right now my boys are into pop rock like One Republic, and my daughter is into anything she can sing along to! Beyond that, a safe bet to put on in the kitchen is country or instrumental versions of “Today’s Hits” because the lyrics aren’t always age-appropriate!

The TV shows and movies I actually enjoy watching with my kids

Truthfully, we aren’t big TV people. We love movies! One of my favorite Friday night activities is making homemade popcorn and snuggling up on our sectional couch together to watch a movie. We’ve seen lots of Disney movies but we’re just starting to introduce the boys to the classics from my husband and my youth like Little Rascals and Homeward Bound.

The parenting accounts I follow

More than parenting accounts, I would say that some of my favorite people to follow on Instagram are those who share parenting information in a non-judgmental, relational way. Kate Strickler from NaptimeKitchen does this so well. She shares moments of parenting that I can relate to, and when it makes sense, she’ll also share actionable steps to work through an issue as well. I really love to see what other people are doing to learn as I go through the different stages of motherhood. 

The subscriptions I have for my kids

We get Highlights magazine, which was a personal favorite of mine when I was a kid, and we also do Home Chef to keep a few meals really simple and delicious during our busy weeks. My boys are quite avid readers so we also check out a lot of books from the library. Most recently, my husband and I gave our 9-year-old a Kindle so he’s renting library books to read on that device! It’s been really great. 

The skincare products my kids love

I like to keep it simple when I can, and my boys use some 2-in-1 body wash + shampoo. My daughter has thick hair that she’s trying to grow out to be “as long as Rapunzel’s,” so we’re doing what we can to keep it tangle-free and healthy. I use Kirkland’s Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner, which is supposed to be similar to Pureoglogy Hydrate (a personal favorite of mine). I also use It’s a 10 Leave-in spray on her tangles and in the summertime after we swim in the pool.  

The non-screen-related toys that keep my kids occupied

They love Fuse Beads (also known as Perler Beads)! I’m actually impressed at how long they will sit and create things on the little peg boards and then run and find me to iron them together. I remember doing crafts like that as a kid. In fact, do you remember Shrinky Dinks? It was a craft you would color and then put in the oven to shrink down?! All of my kids are creative, which I love to see, and I provide opportunities to foster that desire. 

The products my kids can’t live without

I really tried to think about this for each of my kids and honestly, they all love SNACKS! What is it?! I mean, I love a snack too but it seems like every time we run out the door if we’re going to be gone for over an hour, we must grab a snack. More often than not, it ends up on the front seat of the car and I have to put it back in the pantry when we get home, but they all love to have a snack with them! 

My kids’ favorite piece of clothing

We have gotten the kids some soap from the Sohpshop and they had fun with that. It’s little balls of soap that have a toy hidden inside. It’s a great idea because it encourages the kids to use the soap to get closer and closer to the prize! I loved Kyte Baby pajamas and sleep sacks for my kids when they were little. They make the softest, stretchiest baby pj’s! 

The clothing brand that helps me ‘mom’ in style

I’m all about the basics but I love a good handbag. Lately, I’ve been enjoying wearing Clare V. Bags. They really go with anything, they feel casual and yet are polished enough to be dressed up as well. The woven patterns are my favorite, and they also make a perfect belt bag that can be worn crossbody!

To get even more parenting recommendations, read about the other stylish moms featured in our Momsessed series.

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