I do not think about motherhood often, but when I do, my mind jumps to holiday-themed onesies and how fun it would be to have someone in your life who is forced to love you unconditionally.
But while my Instagram feed is diluted with gender reveals, babymoons and push presents, I often fail to consider how lonely and isolating motherhood can be. For a lot of mothers, it can often be overwhelming when your friends are in a different phase of their life — especially if you do not have access to resources or a community.
And this is why Michelle Kennedy started Peanut — the “Tinder-for-moms” networking app aimed to connect like-minded women who happen to be mothers. Launched in 2017, Peanut — also the nickname for Kennedy’s five-year-old son, Finlay — has over 650,000 users and is a testament to women wanting a product like this.
“They want to connect, and they want to have a community,” says Kennedy, who started her career as a lawyer, worked her way up to Deputy CEO of the European dating app Badoo, and to board advisor for Bumble, the women-first dating app.
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I spoke with Kennedy on the joys of motherhood, the work-life balance myth and an ever-changing tech industry.
Q: How should a mom use Peanut?
It’s very much up to the user. There are some women who absolutely want to use Peanut to find playdates — to kind of have that interaction for them and their littles. We also have a huge number of women who just want to find connections for themselves. Whether that is to chat within Peanut or meet up in real life and go for drinks, it really depends on the personal preference of the user.
Q: Your app gives women access to a community, how does that make you feel?
It’s the best! Whenever we hear stories of women who have met their best friend, or they’ve started a business together or whatever it might be through Peanut, that’s amazing. You can’t ask more for than that.
Q: What is the most rewarding part about running Peanut?
I think it’s just knowing that we are building something that is actually having an impact on people’s lives. Whenever you’re building something, it’s really hard and it’s challenging, and we have to do a lot of groundwork ourselves that perhaps you take for granted when you’re in a bigger company (that there are always people around you to do this and we’re a very small team so there is an element of the hard work). [But] I think the reward that comes from knowing that you’ve built it yourself and you remember every single conversation [you] had about that particular screen and the product or that particular hire or whatever it might be.
Q: What are your thoughts on this concept of work-life balance?
I don’t really believe in it. I think it’s just another pressure that we impose upon women. That they should have this work-life balance and then when they don’t have it there’s this overwhelming sense of failure. The ‘oh god that’s just another thing I’m not doing right.’ I think what we’re all doing is juggling and we’re all trying to make sure we’re getting it right and sometimes we are and sometimes we’re not. And I think really it comes down to how we’re dealing with it. Are we being kind to ourselves and the fact that sometimes we get it completely wrong and get priorities wrong? I do it all the time. [I’m] still learning.
Q: What are some of the most interesting things you have seen on the Peanut Pages?
It depends on location and it depends on type of user. I think for me the most exciting is when women are sharing conversations or having conversations that are not only deeply personal but are around topics or issues that might be considered taboo, that maybe people aren’t having outside of Peanut. Whether that has to do with their sex life … or whether it has to do with tricky interpersonal relationships. It shows the trust of the community and how important that is.
Q: What is some advice you have for new mothers?
Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. I think that’s probably really impossible advice, but it’s so important. Everyone does things at different speeds. Your baby will do things at different speeds. You will too. It doesn’t matter. Just stay in your lane and don’t worry about it. You are exactly where you need to be.
The second one: Don’t say no to help ever. When I was a first-time mom, I really had this idea in my head where I was going to do everything myself. People offered to watch the baby while I had a nap and I was like ‘no, no I’m fine.’ And actually, there’s no rewards for being a hero. If people are offering you help, take it. You’ll benefit from it, and therefore the baby will benefit from it.
Q: What is your morning routine?
My morning routine usually [starts with being] rudely awakened by my little boy — too early. And [then] we are on a military operation to get out of the house and do the school run and get to the office. Everything is like clockwork — we have to get up, get breakfast, get dressed, get the puppy out, get ready to leave the house, drop him at school, and get to the office. It’s very precision-oriented. Five minutes is very important. It can make a big difference. (Boring stuff I never thought I’d say before I was a mom, by the way.)
Q: How do you practice self-care?
I think self-care is really just about taking time. My favorite part of the day really is taking my makeup off at the end of the day. When sitting there having that quiet time taking your makeup off and putting your face oil on, it’s almost meditative. And it doesn’t have to look like a huge regime, it can be really simple. But it’s just about enjoying whatever moment works for you. That’s my favorite.
Q: What is the best part about motherhood?
I think it’s the way Finn looks at the world. I’m fascinated by him and how he thinks about things, his views, and he’s so … there is just this pureness and innocence which is so amazing. You don’t really know it until you spend some time with a little person. I just love seeing the world again through his eyes.
Q: What is the hardest part about motherhood?
It’s probably the more independent he becomes, the less he needs me — and that is quite hard. You become so used to dedicating everything to someone and then they get a bit older and they become a little bit more independent and you have to adjust your role.
Q: What is a piece of advice do you hope sticks with your son?
You can do anything.
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