For the past six years, Neha Ruch’s life has revolved around “the gray area.” Living in it, centering her work around it, and helping other women navigate it. It’s that undefined, nuanced space between having a “traditional” career and being a “traditional” stay-at-home mom. It’s an area that Ruch says is both beautiful and messy, and it’s an area she started diving into back in 2017 when “girl boss” and “mom boss” culture reigned supreme.
“‘Lean in’ had been the rallying cry for a long time,” she tells SheKnows. “So, there was a lot of pressure on women to really go in that direction. And I was noticing too that was there was this tug of war.”
There was a whole demographic of women, she says, who were looking to leave the traditional workforce but worried about being written off as anti-feminist or not ambitious. And so Ruch launched Mother Untitled, a community and resource for women in the gray space. On Instagram, she helps women reframe their understanding of identity, self-worth, productivity, and success, and on her site, she shares guides, networking opportunities, and even a “flex jobs” board that helps match women (if they want!) to “meaningful work that actually works alongside motherhood.”
And in a couple of years, followers will also be able to turn to Ruch’s book, The Power of Pause.
“It will be a game-changing narrative for women to talk them through their journey of deciding to pause, settling into that pause, and then really being able to leverage the stage in their life to unlock what’s possible on the other side,” she says. “There are so many [books] that have been all about how to be more productive with hours in your day and do more in the workplace. And I really hope [my book] grants women permission to lean into what feels right for them and in that season without penalty on the other side.”
As she does with all her work, Ruch will be writing this book in her own gray area, blocking off time between caring for her kids, Bodie, 7 and Lyla, 4.5. She describes her parenting style as “evolving.” When they were younger, “organization” was the name of the game. Ruch was all about making sure she scheduled time for arts and crafts and other activities. Now, it’s about giving her kids more range and a sense of independence. And sometimes, it’s about scheduling a babysitter.
“And I get to say to them, ‘The only reason I would get a babysitter and not be with you for these hours is that I get to help other moms feel proud and excited about spending time with their children,’” she says.
So yes, sometimes helping other moms takes a village. It always requires “ruthlessly prioritizing” time. And her parenting essentials (below!) go a long way in keeping her family physically and mentally healthy.
The podcast I’m listening to right now
Podcasts are such a gift to our generation of parents because we can learn while walking to pick-up. Pulling the Thread with Elise Loehnen really makes me think deeply and always inspires conversation. And then there’s Mom Curious by Daniella Rabbani who was born to host honest, hilarious conversations about the lesser talked about parts of womanhood.
The books my kid is obsessed with
Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth has been a favorite of ours since my oldest started preschool. It’s the book I wish I’d had growing up that really guides children to see differences as a beautiful thing.
What I’m currently reading myself
I just finished A Likely Story by Leigh Abramson which was such a juicy, heartbreaking, and heartwarming book about mothers, daughters, and ambitions. I read it in one flight! I’m a big believer that the content we consume can influence our mood so I swear by a rotation of rom-com books — my favorites are from Abby Jiminez — to break up business reads.
The beauty product I never leave the house without
I always have an Ilia multi-stick cream stick on hand. It’s a blush, lip, and highlighter in one and it’s an easy application and a fast way to look a little more put together for Zoom or a coffee date.
The app that makes my life as a parent easier
Even I want to roll my eyes at this but my non-negotiables every morning are a 5-10 minute meditation via InsightTimer, 5 minutes spent bullet listing my gratitudes and intention for the day in my Notes app, and if I’m feeling ambitious, a 20-minute movement flow on Melissa Wood Health. Facials and massages are few and far between but this little 30-minute routine sets the tone for my day. For managing a team of freelancers on Mother Untitled, I really recommend Asana which keeps the emails somewhat to a minimum and keeps us all accountable for doing work on our own time.
The music we listen to as a family
If I could go back in time and do one thing differently, I wouldn’t have played nursery rhymes so much when they were babies. Currently, if it’s up to my kids it’s a lot of “I’m A Gummy Bear” and “Floor is Lava.” Recently we’ve gotten into “Morning Classical” during breakfast and getting ready which seems to actually quiet things down. Otherwise, we try and keep a rotation of Queen, The Beatles, and Coldplay. I think they are starting to take to “Yellow Submarine” which I count as a win.
The TV shows and movies I actually enjoy watching with my kid
I wish there was something! Peppa Pig and Blaze and The Monster Machines have ruled our roost for far too long. My husband and I agree This Is Us will go down as the best television ever but are currently watching Succession and Ted Lasso.
The parenting accounts I follow
For practical guidance on creating equitable relationships in the home, I love all things from @everodsky. For fostering independent play — something I’m admittedly still working on — I follow @workspaceforchildren. Just for fun, Olivia Metzger, @livviejane, is one of my favorite accounts to follow. Her approach to rhythms, home, and raising kind boys is a little peace in the otherwise doom strolling
The subscriptions I have for my kid
Dopple has a fantastic selection of specialty kids’ clothing that I get every quarter. I WISH I had taken advantage of food subscriptions like Tiny Organics especially when I was feeling overwhelmed with the transition to two kids and starting to default to frozen nuggets and pasta. We’re doing a lot of unwinding the picky eating now! We’re just about to order The Week Junior, a magazine to read with my older son.
The skincare products my kid loves
I have a soft spot for Weezie robes which make you just want to freeze the moment after bath time when the kids just look so delicious. Bubbsi skincare — founded by Sweta Doshi during her own career break — is a coconut oil-based product that is just so yummy on their skin, especially during New York winters.
The products my kid can’t live without
Bodie is now very into the Yankees and his Fitbit which actually has inspired him to get really into movement. He shockingly offered to clean the whole apartment to beat his “steps record.” Lyla, meanwhile, lives for her Jellycat dog, Bobo (named after her brother).
My kid’s favorite piece of clothing
Maybe it’s that my kids and I are homebodies but we have a thing for pajamas. On my quest for the softest and sweetest, I found Esme pajamas and now they are my go-to gift to new parents as well.
The clothing brand that helps me ‘mom’ in style
I have Naghedi bags in every style from the cross-body to the totes. The neoprene weave is durable but the stitch and colorways are so chic that it can go day to night. Kilte sweaters, especially the classic The Sage Pullover, have a little extra detail while still being classic. Mother Oxford, founded by two mothers with impeccable taste, is a button-down collection that fits just long enough to pair with leggings or jeans and withstands all the ketchup and marker stains.
To get even more parenting recommendations, read about the other stylish moms featured in our Momsessed series.
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