The single mother of a 9-year-old son, Jessica Denay founded the Hot Mom’s Club after seeing herself fall into the doldrums that claim many new mothers after their children are born.
“We’re redefining what it means to be a mother,” Denay says. “Yes, moms are typically cast in the role of caregiver, but they’re also individual women with unique personalities and specific passions.”
Gone are the days when mothers rarely explored the world outside their homes and families. HotMomsClub.com and its founder, Jessica Denay, celebrate this fact each day by speaking to members as women as well as moms.
“I got so caught up in my son and his needs that I lost myself in the process,” she says. “Finally I realized that I’d never be the best mom if I wasn’t being the best me.”
In her conversation with TravelingMom founder Kim Orlando, Denay highlights the benefits of the Hot Mom’s Club – articles, forums, support groups and more – while also explaining the philosophy behind the site.
“As moms, we have a never-ending To Do List,” Denay says. “My advice to fellow mothers is that they place themselves and their needs somewhere on that list. They don’t have to be No. 1, but they need to be somewhere. That’s what the Hot Mom’s Club is all about – helping moms make themselves a priority alongside their kids.”
An avid traveler, Denay also discusses the many treks she has taken with her son, offering destination ideas for families looking to tour California. HotMomsClub.com is fun and cheeky, she says, but at its core, the Hot Mom’s Club celebrates the way that women today can have it all and do it all while still taking time for themselves and being really wonderful mothers.
TravelingMom: What exactly is a hot mom?
JESSICA DENAY: A hot mom is any mom. A hot mom is a mother who is confident and empowered.
TravelingMom: So when you say hot, you’re not talking supermodel hot, right?
JESSICA DENAY: God no! Being a hot mom is not about the physical. It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what shape or size. I believe that inside every mother, there’s a hot mom just dying to break free.
TravelingMom: What was the motivation for starting the Hot Moms Club?
JESSICA DENAY: After my son was born, I totally fell into the mommy rut. I threw my hair in a ponytail and wore the same sweats three days in a row. I fell into a monotonous routine and stopped being interested in what was happening in the outside world. Then one day I realized that I’d never be the mom I wanted to be if I wasn’t being the person I wanted to be. And that’s when I started making changes.
TravelingMom: What did you do first?
JESSICA DENAY: I started taking better care of myself. Physically and emotionally. I completely changed my attitude so that I was focusing on the positive and not allowing my son’s needs to consume my entire being.
TravelingMom: Is that a bad thing? Your son’s needs superceding your own?
JESSICA DENAY: Not at all. This is a tricky subject to discuss, because as mothers, we naturally put the needs and desires of our children ahead of what we want and need for ourselves. That’s the way it should be. But if moms remove themselves completely from the priority list, odds are they won’t be happy. And an unhappy mom isn’t going to be a very good mom.
TravelingMom: So be dedicated to your kids, but make yourself a priority as well. Is that what you’re saying?
JESSICA DENAY: Exactly. Not the highest priority, obviously, but put yourself somewhere on the list.
TravelingMom: With all they have to do – the kids, the house, the bills, and many times, the outside job – how can moms rationalize taking time for themselves?
JESSICA DENAY: By understanding that doing something for yourself now and then will actually make you a better mother. We all make time for the things that we feel are really important, and this is one of them. A mom who is refreshed, recharged, and rejuvenated is an asset to her family. Days just plain run smoother when mom is in a good place.
TravelingMom: How do you mean?
JESSICA DENAY: Think about it. On days when you’re frazzled and stressed and at the end of your rope, the kids always seem to be losing their homework or spilling syrup down the front of their shirts. But on days when you’ve managed to stay calm and collected, things with the kids go fine. They pick up on all your frantic, negative energy, and their behavior reflects it.
TravelingMom: So making time for yourself will actually save you time in the long run?
JESSICA DENAY: Precisely.
TravelingMom: And the Hot Mom’s Club can help women do that?
JESSICA DENAY: I believe it can. We’re a social networking community which acknowledges the joy of parenthood while viewing women as more than simply mothers. Becoming a hot mom is free and comes with all sorts of cool benefits.
TravelingMom: What sorts of benefits?
JESSICA DENAY: Thousands of moms from all over the country have connected through the Hot Moms Club. They’ve formed playgroups, support groups. And we have tons of articles on topics pertinent to moms – eating styles, parenting tips, how to model relationships for your kids. We even have a book series called the Hot Moms Handbook.
TravelingMom: And the site has a travel group?
JESSICA DENAY: Absolutely. It’s an integral portion of the site, because travel, whether it be for work, pleasure, or both, is an important issue for many moms.
TravelingMom: I understand you’re quite the traveling mom. Do you typically take your son along on trips?
JESSICA DENAY: All the time. He’s been to New York, Chicago, Florida, and also Canada and Mexico.
TravelingMom: How old was he when you started traveling with him?
JESSICA DENAY: He was very young – about 2 months old. I live on the West Coast, but my family is out East. I go back and forth every couple months, and I’ve been taking him along since he was a tiny baby.
TravelingMom: Is your son a good traveler?
JESSICA DENAY: For the most part he’s very agreeable. It’s easier now, of course, because he’s older. When he was 2 and 3 it was more of a challenge – he’d just get really squirmy on the plane.
TravelingMom: What’s been your favorite trip that you’ve taken with your son?
JESSICA DENAY: Every trip has been a lot of fun because for him, it’s all new and exciting. He’s really getting into the sightseeing stuff now. We did the typical New York stuff last Thanksgiving – Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building – and he loved it. Somehow it feels a lot less touristy when you’re standing beside an excited child.
TravelingMom: Do you have any trips coming up?
JESSICA DENAY: We’re going to Washington D.C. this spring – my son is very excited about it. It’s amazing to me how many times he’s been on a plane in his nine years. When I was his age, the most we ever did was get in the car and drive a couple hours in one direction or the other.
TravelingMom: So you don’t do road trips?
JESSICA DENAY: Oh no, we do. Living in California, we have tons of great road trip options. We love to drive down to San Diego, for example. Or Laguna or Malibu or Santa Monica. I highly recommend this area as a vacation spot for families.
TravelingMom: Why is that?
JESSICA DENAY: There’s just so much to do. There’s the beach, the sheer magic of being near the ocean. And there’s Disneyland, of course, and the Pier at Santa Monica, and so many others. The Treehouse Social Club in Beverly Hills, for example.
TravelingMom: What sort of place is that?
JESSICA DENAY: It’s this indoor treehouse play area. A unique destination to try if you’re visiting Los Angeles. It’s a place where kids can play safely while moms hang out and chat, or even get a manicure. My son just loves it.