Actress and our Holiday cover model Kellie Martin has always seemed at home on the screen… but talk to her about motherhood, and she lights up with a joy that is positively infectious. It’s hard to tell who is learning more about life these days – Kellie, or her daughter Maggie (age 6).
We were delighted to chat with Kellie about parenting, gardening, and how she was inspired to take over the online toy store, ROMP, when it nearly closed down last year.
What has your daughter taught you about life?
Kellie: I’m a Type-A person. Love to be in control. Even with pregnancy, I realized that my life would change in a major way. Maggie has taught me to roll with things, having a child is beautiful chaos. I take each day as it comes now and find joy in the little things. Being in nature, picking my daughter up from school and cooking for my family far outrank anything work-related these days.
We hear you have a garden. Does your daughter help out with it?
Kellie: Our garden is fantastic! We started it to teach Maggie that food comes from the earth, not from the grocery store. Maggie loves being a farmer. She actually plants seeds when we’re not looking, only once they start to sprout do we realize what she’s done!
Tell us about other family hobbies you have… cooking together as a family? If so, what is your favorite thing to make?
Kellie: Maggie harvests the fruit, herbs and vegetables for me to cook. But mostly she loves to bake. She loves measuring out ingredients and kneading dough. We love making hummus and baking cookies together. Other hobbies we enjoy are hiking with our yellow lab, and we are currently reading the second installment of Harry Potter.
We were delighted to discover ROMP and the products you carry – especially the classic style, low-tech toys. We also believe in no-battery toys to help foster creativity and independence in kids. How have you seen that to benefit your daughter?
Kellie: I have a very creative kid. She can make a toy out of anything. She actually gathers sticks, rocks and leaves from the backyard and spends the afternoon (with the yellow lab, of course) playing make-believe. The huge benefit of having her grow up around open-ended toys is that Maggie never gets bored.
How important is sustainability when you choose toys? Is there anything surprising or shocking you learned while researching toys?
Kellie: I’m shocked by the amount high-tech gear that’s being sold to kids by mainstream toymakers. Children’s development is the same as it’s always been. Their brains have not changed, even though computers have become a big part of our world. Wait as long as possible before introducing computer games and high-tech toys to your child, because there’s no going back!
Long before I took over, ROMP had been a great place to find unique toys made by small companies in the USA and Europe. I think it is essential to teach your children to take care of their things and care of the earth. It’s better to have fewer but better toys–toys that they will pass on to their children.
This will sound strange, but I know a toy is safe or well-made by the way it smells. I love getting a box of wooden toys and opening it up in the office. These toys smell wholesome, clean, and fresh.
How will your family enjoy the holidays this year?
Kellie: We usually keep the holidays very mellow because ROMP is hopping at the holidays. We stick close to home, and I do a ton of cooking and baking!
What are your top holiday gifts this year?
Kellie: My favorite toy of all time is the wood camera, so that is my top gift for ages 1-5 years old. I also love a new product, castle blocks, and finally, these sweet pups.
All of these items are made in the USA by small independent artisans. Love it!
Our readers love inspiring words or lessons from moms. Care to share a gem with us?
Kellie: I find kids inspiring. I love their innate curiosity and love of life. If you let them guide you, you are in for some pretty awesome adventures. My daughter (my little guru) inspired me to make our lives simpler and richer. Organic foods, eating together as a family, tending a garden, not over-committing to too many activities, watching a spider build a web. Having a child made me slow down and pare-down. That’s really good for the soul.