Interview with Jordan Reid, Author of The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People

It’s hard not to like a woman whose Instagram profile is “author, mom, expert mistake-maker.” Jordan Reid is the woman behind the phenomenally entertaining (not to mention inspiring, uplifting and reassuring) website, Ramshackle Glam, and she is the real deal. She tells it like it is and holds nothing back. She is honest and upfront about the obstacles she faces as the mom of two toddlers. She remodels her house with lots of DIY’s that actually work, tries (and sometimes fails) to create Pinterest-worthy meals, turns thrift-store-finds into runway-worthy style, and uses herself as a guinea pig for the latest beauty trends. She has written three extremely entertaining and helpful books about being a new mom and she’s just an all-around cool chick. Find out about the inspiration behind her latest book, the best advice she’s ever received, and how she handles the mommy police.

What inspired you to write THE BIG FAT ACTIVITY BOOK FOR PREGNANT PEOPLE?

When I was pregnant with my first child six years ago, I was anxious whenever I sat down to write a new post for Ramshackle Glam. I was absolutely certain that I’d be crucified for everything from what I ate to what I wore, and it turned out that I was right, because you cannot avoid the mommy police. They are watching everything you do, and they are going to let you know that all of the things that you are doing are wrong.

My second child is two now, and oh man, have I ever stopped caring about what a bunch of strangers think about my pregnancy or parenting style. Erin Williams (my coauthor and the book’s illustrator) and I decided to write The Big Fat Activity Book For Pregnant People first and foremost because pregnancy is ridiculous and horrifying, and the best thing to do when something is ridiculous and horrifying is to laugh at it - but also because we wanted to create something that was a conscious rejection of the mommy-policing so present in parenting books (and in life). At the book’s essence is the belief that if you are pregnant, congratulations: you are a hero and should get back rubs and cake.

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?

Finding the time to write a book when it’s not your “primary” job - Ramshackle Glam takes up most of my day - is obviously challenging, but honestly? Researching terrible turn-of-the-century baby names and writing up lists of Things Every OB-GYN On The Planet Has Been Asked By Newly Pregnant Women isn’t exactly a miserable way to spend your time.

I’d written a couple of books on my own by the time we started writing The Big Fat Activity Book For Pregnant People - Ramshackle Glam and Carrying On - but they were both memoirs. I write about my life on Ramshackle Glam every single day, and being able to shed the “me me me me meeeeeeeee” part of my work and just write - about all the uncomfortable, gross, weird, and spectacular realities of becoming a parent - was like opening a release valve.

How did you partner up with Erin Williams on THE BIG FAT ACTIVITY BOOK FOR PREGNANT PEOPLE?

A couple of years ago, Erin and I - who met because she was a hate-reader of my site who moved to my town, contacted me for real estate advice, and later became one of my closest friends (really)— started an e-commerce site called glam | camp. Erin’s an artist and writer and spectacularly funny and talented human being in general, and at one point whipped up a mini coloring book for new parents to sell via the site. I thought her drawings offered such a cool, unique blend of humor and empathy that I asked her if she’d be interested in working together on a larger project, and over time The Big Fat Activity Book For Pregnant People evolved into…am I allowed to say this?…mayyyyyyybe one of the funniest books on the planet. Or at least one of the funniest books for pregnant people, because the literature that’s currently out there on the topic of pregnancy tends to skew less “fun” and more “overbearing and judgy.” This book does not judge you, even when you pour some Chinese food over your cold pizza and call it breakfast.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given (in general and during pregnancy)?

Oh god, that’s a big question. Maybe it was from my wise friend Francesca, who told me (over and over again) that I needed to stop talking about writing books and just write them.

As for advice that I got when I was pregnant, it mostly involved people and Internet articles telling me that I could not do things that I really wanted to do, like eat my weight in brie, and freaking me out. Which is why TBFAB suggests that pregnant people is to step away from The Google, because all Google does is make you panic, and you’re already doing an excellent job at that on your own.

Describe a typical day in your life.

My day starts at 6:30am on the dot with either one or two people screaming into my ear, clearly about to expire from starvation if waffles aren’t delivered within seconds. What happens for the next hour and a half is sort of a blur because there’s a lot of caffeine and yelling, but it usually ends with everyone wearing pants, or at least something resembling pants, which is good.

We have a nanny who watches our daughter while our son is in school, so I spend the hours between 9 and 2 hiding in my bedroom with my computer so that my daughter won’t see me, realize that I’m doing something that doesn’t involve staring at her, and stop me from doing that thing via yells. I write posts for Ramshackle Glam, put together proposals for potential clients, schedule and plan shoots, work on promotion and marketing for TBFAB, source products for glam | camp, and drink between two and six more cups of coffee.

Our nanny leaves at the same time that my son finishes school, so afternoons are generally spent doing a guilt-dance wherein I simultaneously worry about work and worry about not fully experiencing my children’s fleeting childhoods because I’m worrying about work.

At some point, I give up and put my kids in front of the TV. Screen time makes everything better.

Describe your writing process. Do you outline? Write by hand?

I actually wrote an entire post on my book-writing process - which does involve significant outlining - but when it comes to writing posts for Ramshackle Glam, it’s much less planned-out. At the start of each week I try to have a general sense of what the week’s posts will look like, but I usually just sit down at my computer and start writing, and see how a post evolves from there.

Oh, and I always write on my laptop. I think I used to be able to write by hand, but that ability went away in the early 2000s.

Where do you find inspiration for posts on your incredibly entertaining website, Ramshackle Glam? What is the hardest/most frustrating or inspiring part about blogging?

I think one of the coolest things about writing a blog every single day of my life is that I’m constantly searching the world for interesting things to write about, which means I pay a lot more attention and experiment a lot more than I think I used to.

I’d say the most frustrating part of blogging for a living is how unpredictable the industry is - the landscape changes so quickly, and it can feel like you have to reinvent the wheel every few months just to stay “relevant.” What this usually looks like for me: I stomp my feet for a bit, end up joining Snapchat (or whatever) because my managers made me, and then discover I actually enjoy it and get all irritated because now I have to admit that fiiiiiiine, I was wrong.

What books are on your nightstand?

Right now, I’m in the middle of three books - Lean In, The Opposite Of Spoiled, and a Ruth Reichl book that I literally started reading two Christmases ago. I never used to read multiple books at the same time, but I think parenthood has destroyed my ability to focus for the amount of time it takes to get through a book in one go. Also, most of my “reading time” is spent making my way through the Star Wars For Beginning Readers series. (It is terrible.)

What are you working on now? Any new books on the horizon?

My two-year-old just came into the room and announced to me that she ate her fart. It is unclear to me what she means by this, but it also makes me feel certain that the next book is going to basically write itself.

For a daily dose of the charming Jordan Reid, check out her website Ramshackle Glam. You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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