Location: Birmingham, AL
Kids: 5-year-old, Leland; 2-year-old, Elise
Tonia is a photo-stylist, creative director, model, and mother of two. She loves farmers’ markets, dance parties, outdoor adventures, contemporary art, good music, and dirty jokes. She hates Spongebob SquarePants, gossip, frogs, horror movies, “mom clothes,” and the word ‘bae.’ She’s a workout enthusiast, decent mixologist, girls’ girl, and writes in her free time. You can follow this stylish mother on her Instagram at @toniatrotter.
After having kids, what product can you not live without?
Bourbon and Peppa Pig on repeat. Kidding. Kind of. Honestly, Botanikō firming eye cream, coconut milk lattés, and a good vacuum cleaner.
What was the best kid-friendly vacation or day trip you’ve been on recently?
I love taking the kids to my parents’ lake house. It’s in the boondocks. There’s no wifi, Verizon service, or cable. We don’t even have Netflix. We are forced to completely unplug, swim, boat, read, engage in meaningful conversations, play with the hot-mess-mostly-naked Barbie dolls that belonged to me as a child, compete in Trivial Pursuit 90s edition or games we invent like tossing wine corks into a basket that the kids have to hold while wearing other baskets as helmets on their heads. I’m serious. We call it “Cork You.” (Mother-of-the-Year over here. Whatever. They freaking love it.) On rainy days, we drive to the farmers’ market or go thrifting. I give the kids a $2 allowance to buy whatever they want. To them, it might as well be $100.
What is a parent hack that you’ve discovered?
Good looking baskets to hold all the toys (and for rounds of “Cork You,” obviously). My favorite baskets are available at Winslet & Rhys.
Also, don’t waste time folding their clothes. Hosing them down in a baby pool can count as a bath in the summer.
What are your kids’ favorite books right now?
Elise wants to read “Olivia” every da** night. Leland loves “The Day the Crayons Quit” because peach crayon is naked, and he’s currently obsessed with nudity.
What is the your child’s favorite activity right now?
Elise loves to color or play kitchen. Don’t think you can politely decline a cup of tea or wooden cupcake either. She will jam that sucker down your throat. Food is her love language.
Leland is currently into reading atlases. I bought him Aleksandra and Daniel Mizieliński’s MAPS and hung vintage maps of different cities in his room. He studies them for hours.
What’s a really useful product that you don’t see on a lot of registries?
I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to baby items. I’ve never even baby-proofed or installed a baby-gate. I like to give utilitarian or developmental items that look stylish and adult, like Hape’s artful wooden play gym or January Moon teething jewelry for shower gifts. For me, less clutter equals less stressed mommy. One of the best gifts I didn’t register for was a 1-hour facial. Babies just need diapers, milk, sleep, and love. Mommies need an enzyme peel and an hour of quiet.
Do you love your stroller and/or baby carrier, and would you recommend it?
YES! I have used my Stokke Xplory stroller for both kids nearly every day in many different cities since for over five years, and it’s still going strong!
I also love the Ergo carrier and wear Elise on my back when we go for family hikes.
What is your kids favorite toy right now?
Elise loves baby dolls, which is funny because I have always been kind of freaked out by dolls. The kind that talk definitely still give me the heebie-jeebies.
Leland is all about Hot Wheels, Legos, or anything else that hurts like a son of a b*** when you step on it at 5:45 am.
What is something about having kids that you didn’t expect you would love?
Waking up early. Don’t misunderstand; I still love to sleep in whenever I have the opportunity! But, I enjoy getting up and making coffee, breakfast, and cuddling on the sofa while they watch cartoons and I check emails and read the news.
What advice would you give to first-time moms?
Roll with the punches. Not everything will go the way you dreamed. I hoped for a natural delivery with my first and ended up with an emergency c-section. I pumped a freezer-full of milk with each child but had two babies who refused to take bottles and ended up nursing both for 18 months each. I lived in a love-fog with the first and experienced post-partum depression with the second. My OCD has been tested to the nth degree by sharing a home with a toddler and preschooler who live in a flurry of crumbs, smeary fingertips, Play-Doh remnants, and tiny plastic toys that seem to spontaneously generate. You have to learn to let go, because somewhere, along the way, someone is going to give your kid an artificially-flavored neon green sucker, and it will be ok. Your child is going to throw a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, and it will be ok. They will crack your iPhone screen or take a sh** in your most expensive shoes, and it will all be ok. Roll with the punches, carve out some time for yourself, and learn to laugh at how funny kids are. I think that’s the key to managing the stress of raising small children. Laughter is always the best medicine! You know, behind bourbon and Peppa Pig.
Top left: Graham Yelton for Ills Optical Shop; Photos 2,3, & 5: Fairlight Hubbard for January Moon silicone teething necklaces; Photo 4: Graham Yelton for Noha Hadler Handbags; Photo 6: Graham Yelton, Chanel earrings.