Talking Kids With Soleil Moon Frye

Back in the ’80s, little girls all over the country idolized the independent, feisty heroine of the TV show Punky Brewster. Whether it was her fashion sense or her general joie de vivre, we’ll never know, but “Punky Power” was the battle cry for kids back then. These days, Soleil Moon Frye, the cute little girl who played Punky, has become a major force in the parenting world. In 2008, Soleil, together with Paige Goldberg Tolmach, founded The Little Seed, an eco-friendly kids boutique in Los Angeles’s Larchmont neighborhood. The Little Seed specializes in innovative organic products for kids, and in 2010, the store launched its own line of brightly colored, eco-friendly clothing for children and infants.

Soleil has now ventured into the world of online parenting support. Feeling overwhelmed with her daughters Poet, now six, and Jagger, two, she posted a few “Am I the only one who feels crazed when…” questions on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, and instantly saw thousands and thousands of similarly exhausted parents respond with “Yes! ME TOO!”  Recently, Soleil has found even more ways to reach out: first, with her Mommy Ambassadorship with Target, second, with her website Moonfrye.com, and most recently, newly released book, Happy Chaos.

We caught up with the multitasking dynamo for a few minutes to hear about her latest projects, her family, and her hope that parents can just let go of their crazy expectations and enjoy spending time with their kids.

Can you tell us a little about your book, Happy Chaos? How it came about, the inspiration to write about your life, and what you hope to get across to other moms.
I thought back to my moments when I felt like everyone had all read some manual or guide that I hadn’t been given. And I wanted to share some of the great advice I’d received through social media with the world, as well as my own stories and advice.

So, how do you find a happy balance as a working mom?
Well, you have to create it. When you’re stressed out because your kids are asking them to play with you and you’re trying to get dinner made, sometimes you just need to get on the floor, and play with them and forget about making dinner for a few minutes. Get down on their level. Because that’s what they’ll remember, not the dinner you made.

Is it that easy? The words “Happy” and “Chaos” don’t necessarily go together for everyone. Trust me, I had a hard time with those two concepts too! Like trying to go somewhere for a business meeting and being covered in spit-up, or worse!  But with all the craziness, I think parents are too hard on ourselves. We just have to try our best, and if we have a bad moment or fall apart, we just have to try better the next day. I also think parents need to work harder at connecting and supporting each other instead of making judgments.

Between the book tour and the Target Ambassadorship, you’re on the road so much right now. Do your kids travel with you?
Not always, but it’s Poet’s sixth birthday this week, so I brought the girls with me to New York City. In fact, I went to the Target in Harlem and bought streamers and balloons and party favors to decorate the hotel room for her. I also bought my first copy of my book, which was awesome!

Do you like to cook? If so, what’s your go-to dish for the family?
Yes, me and the kids love to cook and bake together.  It serves as a great opportunity to be creative and teach the kids how to measure at the same time.  Our go-to dishes include: blueberry pie, chocolate chip cookies and lots of fun pastas and salads.

What are your favorite parks and playgrounds?
Any place where the kids can run around and have a good time.  There are some fantastic parks in Los Angeles and of course our favorite is when we indulge and go to Disneyland.

What do you guys do for family fun when you’re back home in California?
We love being at home, doing crafts or baking, or having an ’80s dance party! Another big activity our whole family loves is geocaching. And when Jason (my husband) and I can sneak out on our own, we go to the movies—it feels so indulgent!

What’s in your bag? Tell us what must-haves you carry at all times.
I have my favorite Bonnie Bell lip smackers stashed in every bag, and always carry baby wipes and try to bring sunscreen and a change of clothes for the kids just in case. I also like to keep fun things like crayons and coloring books in my bag for the girls! If I have room, I throw in my camera so I’m always ready for impromptu photo-ops. Plus, something with caffeine to keep me going.

What’s the best family vacation you’ve ever had?
This last winter, we all went to Mexico together.  My husband surprised us with a trip and we had a great time bonding with the kids.  We spent a ton of time reading, drawing and being in the water.

- Sarah Bossenbroek