Tania Kwong is the editor-in-chief of Glow magazine and appears as a beauty expert for TV shows such as The Social, ET Canada and The Global Morning Show. Also a mom to two girls, she makes time to cultivate magic for them when she’s at home, whether that’s hunting for caterpillars or whipping up homemade granola on Sunday morning (an obsessive baker, she discovered the habit during her first mat leave and has never let it go). Tania describes herself as a mother/nourisher/maker/frequent smiler on Instagram where you can witness her charmed perspective come to life. And trust us, she really is a frequent smiler and we’re convinced her sunny disposition is what makes working motherhood a state of grace.
When I went back to work, I knew I wanted to keep my professional life as it was before I became a mom. I didn’t want perceptions or expectations to change because I was a parent. Not to say that I didn’t embrace motherhood. When I went on mat leave I became a crazy supermom. I was grinding up their food and even launched a baby blog. (While that’s long gone, I started two email accounts for the girls and I send them updates, funny stories and sayings that I find meaning in). I took full advantage of the time I had off with both Olivia and Ella.
Now I take full advantage of my time at work and at home. From nine-to five, I’m what I call the professional me and am committed to my job. But once I’m at home, I barely look at my emails and I am totally devoted to the girls. I feel like I’m giving my all to both sides of my life and I keep it balanced however and whenever I can. For example, if I have an event after work, I’ll wake up a bit earlier to hang out with the girls before my day starts.
I remember to make time for myself too. I have to have me-time so I don’t only identify with my career or with being a mom. I take short press trips to New York to take a breather. I also have a one-hour commute to and from work which I consider my daily me-time. That’s when I’ll listen to an uninterrupted podcast (what bliss). I love Oh Boy (presented by Man Repeller) for inspiring career-focused profiles and on the flip side I’m obsessed with Modern Love from The New York Times and Crybabies from The New Yorker’s Susan Orlean and actress Sarah Thyre. They punch me in the gut with their emotional storytelling. Even though I may have had a bad morning or know there’s a stressful day ahead of me, I have this time to relax, listen and just be grateful.
Gratitude is a habit I started after I attended Oprah’s life class a few years ago. She talked about writing down five things you’re grateful for every day. I take a mental note on my way home from work and when I wake-up every morning. I feel like focusing on the positive does shift things for me, no matter what or how much is going on in my life. The other day I saw a gopher eating an apple and I was amazed. I’m teaching Olivia to do the same to help with her own anxieties, which usually comes up when she has to go to the doctor’s.
Olivia had brain surgery to remove a cyst when she was 14 months old. She has to have follow-up MRI’s every few years which causes some anxiety because she has to go under anesthesia and that’s why I’ve been teaching her to practice gratitude to help calm her down. The older she gets, the better she adapts because she has a better handle of what’s happening. Of course she says, “Why me?” every time we go and she’ll ask why Ella, her younger sister, doesn’t have to. That’s when I bring up other kids’ experiences at Sick Kids Hospital. It’s a beautiful place to learn about the life of others and a lesson in gratitude, too.
Paul, my husband, will ask how I’m able to stay cool with everything Olivia’s faced. I think it’s because I tend to stay calm and focus on the positive. That definitely comes from my mother. She’s always been a happy, positive and warm person. That’s her default and I’m thankful it’s in my DNA too. For some reason, I just feel it. I know everything is going to be fine and we’ll deal with everything that comes our way.
I have so much help too. My husband and his mom help me get through it all. Often, she’ll have dinner ready for me; she takes care of me and the kids. And Paul is a hands-on dad who has given me the space to explore and expand my career. Whenever I go away on a work trip or work late, I don’t’ have to stress out about who’s going to pick up my kids or anything like that because I know that he’s there for them. His work has given him that kind of flexibility when we need it most.
Whether at work or at home, I don’t’ take myself too seriously either. When I was younger, I felt like I had to keep up appearances and prove my worth every minute of the day. I love my work, however I don’t want it to define me. And when it comes to parenting, I’m going to make mistakes and that’s okay. There was a mother’s day event at Olivia’s school that I was late for but I recovered quickly because I didn’t want that sinking feeling to ruin my whole day. I was at work, things happen and it’s not the end of the world.
I read a quote—I think it was from Sienna Miller in Vogue—and she said she just tries to recreate the magic she remembers. For me, that magic is eating dinner on the porch, staying up extra late to see fireworks, collecting caterpillars and watching them cocoon. Often, I’ll pull the girls outside to look at a particularly pretty sunset or full moon. Sometimes I’ll leave them personalized notes from fairies. We’ll make habitats out of tissue boxes for caterpillars and snails or flower bouquets out of egg cartons. And I’m sure the girls will remember those moments more than anything else.
HOME TOUR A townhouse with nods to France
Olivia fiddles with her hanging art that is displayed proudly in the kitchen.
An ode to Oivia and Ella in the TV room.
Tania makes the most of a nook in the girls’ room with bookshelves lined with essential titles.
The shed that her husband Paul built that’s outfitted with a chalkboard for notes and an expanded herb garden.
Herb plants dot her kitchen windowsill ledge for easy access.
Tania spotted copper wire mots at Restoration Hardware and decided to make them herself thanks to this DIY tutorial.
MY FAVOURITE THINGS
A fragrance-o-phile, her bedside table and cupboards are stocked with perfume. These are some of her faves.
Two prized dresses from her own childhood that Tania wishes the girls’ would wear.
Her private Pinterest board with gift ideas that only her husband can see. “That’s where I pin all my favourite things so he can find what’s on my wish list,” including this collection of Louboutins.
The cookbooks she swears by: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (“You have to try the Big Cluster Maple Granola”); Food52 Genuis Recipes (“There’s a simple tomato sauce with just three ingredients that the girls’ love”); The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (“During a family vacation in NYC, I made the whole family go to Brooklyn to visit this café in Brooklyn even though it was raining”).
For her normal to sensitive skin, Tania’s essentials are: Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel, Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin, Shiseido Power Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, Caudalie Make-up Removing Cleansing Oil, Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector, 3D Lab Anti-Aging Cream, Fresh Créme Anceinne Eye Cream, Darphin Anti-Fatigue Smoothing Eye Gel (“I get swollen puffy eyes, especially if I watched a sad movie and cried all night. This totally depuffs and helps me look normal”) and Clinique Moisture Surge (“It feels like a smoothie that your skin drinks in. It’s simple, absorbs quickly and feels as effective as a moisturizing mask”).
Her 5-minute makeup routine: Nars Blush in Orgasm, Nars Assist Eye Palette, Nars Blush Brush, Urban Decay 24/7 Waterline in Legend (“It’s a pencil that actually stays all day. I’m too lazy to use a liquid liner”), Lancome Hypnose Volume Mascara, Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil in #6 and Stila HD Beauty Balm.