Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing two energetic and dedicated women here in London. To be honest, before this instance, I was unfamiliar with these ladies and the awesome work they do on a daily basis.
Melissa Shadd and Vanessa Rempel
They make up the two halves of the hit Rogers TV show “Vanessa + Melissa.” Having recently rebranded from “Diapers & Lipgloss,” this show features “two full-time moms on a mission to talk about everything parents deal with on a daily basis.”
As I looked further into what they do, I discovered a vibrant online community and fan base where Vanessa and Melissa engage with and inform moms, dads, and viewers generally, everyday. From real life troubles to everyday outings, to openly discussing miscarriage, through vlogs, blogs, and the show, these two hold nothing back, and their viewers love them for it.
So, what would two moms with six kids between them (ranging from newborn to age seven) enjoy discussing with us? Well, things that moms should never say of course! We wanted to dig deeper into all the age-old, faux pas things that everyone knows exist, but moms especially, aren’t supposed to say or admit to. Now, let’s see where our twisted minds went to and how these two lovely ladies responded to it!
To start, can you guys give us a little background on how you got started with the show and the recent rebranding?
Vanessa: We both come from corporate backgrounds, Melissa was in corporate sales and I was working in the advertising industry in Toronto for a while. When we became parents our focus shifted to a major passion for our kids and parenting and we had both always had a major interest in media and I had gone to film school. We were both working at Rogers and moonlighting an entertainment show so we decided we wanted to pitch a parenting TV show because there was nothing out there addressing all the things as moms we were going through.
Our pitch was eventually greenlit and it started as a local events show called “Diapers & Lipgloss” where we traveled around the tri-city area talking about all the things parents can do with their kids and things we were experiencing as moms. From this, we really started our life on social media and realized we were sending out a message that was resonating with people. We started getting a strong following on social media and that kind of took on a life of its own.
After a year of this we decided to change our name to “Vanessa + Melissa” because, although we do still have kids in diapers, we also talk about a lot of lifestyle, female, and marriage stuff so we rebranded across all channels and now, not only do we have a strong community of local moms, we have one globally in places like Monaco, Australia, and the States. So, through Facebook live, the show, and other social channels, we kind of have our fingers in everything right now.
Wow! There’s so much going on!
V: Yeah sorry to be long-winded but it’s hard not to be with all this stuff happening!
No worries! Okay, let’s get into some questions… with answers that moms “aren’t supposed to say!”
Sometimes, everything and everyone can just drive you crazy, kids included.
Do you ever just tell it all to go away, to leave you alone? How do you deal with that?
V: Umm, daily [laughs].
Melissa: Yes, I agree with Vanessa, daily you might want to tell your kids to go away, you want to tell everyone to go away, you just want to curl up into a ball. But the easiest thing to do is for us, the mom, to go away. It’s how we both deal with it and it’s just like “mommy needs a timeout right now,” and then you just crawl into the bathroom or the walk-in closet and just take that little break. That allows us to get our sanity back.
V: Yeah we always talk about kids timeouts so we take mommy timeouts…
M: A glass of wine at night helps too [laughs].
Oh yes, wine always helps!
So what is it you guys miss most about your pre-mom days?
V: We always preface stuff like this with “we love our kids but…” [laughs]. For me, I love traveling and before I had kids I was a globetrotter, I loved going everywhere and anywhere and I would never say no to a trip. But, having kids really changes traveling. I do love taking trips with my kids but I do miss just being able to jump on a plane and go. It takes A LOT of planning to go away when you have three kids!
M: I’m very similar. I’ve never liked to be situated in one spot for long and, as Vanessa said, although I love my kids, I honestly never pictured myself as a mom with three children. With that being said, I can miss who I was as Melissa before Melissa-the-mom. That person had total freedom to go to the gym whenever, have lots of wine when she felt like it, or sit and read a book all day. I could do all those things back then but I can’t do that anymore.
V: Part of our mission though is to help moms find that part of themselves again. Maybe you can’t jump on a plane to South Africa tomorrow but how can you find that escape, or peace, or freedom now. We want moms to have these feeling in everyday life and not just fantasize about them.
Everybody thinks their kids are the cutest kids. Are your kids the cutest kids? Or is it possible to think someone else’s kids are cuter than your own?
V: I’m sorry, yeah I’m going to say that yes my kids are the cutest kids [laughs]. This is just how I am, Melissa’s much more open minded than I am [laughs].
M: Sometimes you go to that place where you brag about your kids so much that you’re almost annoying and we’ve actually had an argument about it before!
V: I can appreciate other people’s cute kids but there’s just something about your own, you know?
Oh yes, that makes sense!
Okay, be honest, in one day on average, how many photos do you take of your kids on your phone?
V: Oh geez. I’d say for me…. At least 20. Is that bad [laughs]?
M: I think there’s a spectrum for me. Because our world is so engrossed in social media that when I’m with my kids, I don’t take any pictures. It can feel like I miss out on things and when people ask “oh do you have a new picture or post” I don’t because I honestly just forget about taking pictures.
V: My husband works a lot so we often communicate through photos because I’m with the kids so much.
It’s true, it really has become a way that we communicate. Instead of sending a text with text, we send a photo of what’s going on.
V: Totally! When my husband’s like “what’s going on” I’m just like “take a look…”
On to the temper tantrum. Have you ever thrown a tantrum right back at your kids?
M: Yes! That’s the best way to get my daughter to calm down.
V: The reenacting thing can work really well because sometimes you can laugh them right out of it.
So once they’re looking in a mirror, they stop [laughs]?
M: Yeah… or they keep going because they think it’s really cool…
What’s the one most annoying thing your kids do, if it’s just one thing?
V: I don’t know if it’s the MOST annoying thing but something that drives me crazy is when my kids put food back in the cupboard empty or with like a crumb in it.
M: That was a really nice one, Vanessa [laughs]. For me, my kids are three years apart, my daughter’s almost four and my son’s almost eight and she’s started like reenacting everything he does. If he whines a certain way she does the same to try and get her way. I have like twin whiners and it’s this echo all day long in my house of just whining.
V: Or sometimes it’s the bedtime routine. If they get a second wind and you’re exhausted but they just won’t sleep, that can be really difficult to deal with.
Speaking of irritations, do you ever just want to fully take the day off or go on strike?
V: Ohh yeahhh. We’re big advocates for that. Like booking a spa day or getting a babysitter. I think you’re a better parent when you do that. There’s no award for being worn out and exhausted or feeling angry and frustrated. So we recommend that people should take the help they can get. If you’ve got trusted help, take it, have a break, and you’ll be a better parent for it.
Lastly, do you have a favourite child? Is it possible to have a favourite child? People joke about it but is it a real thing?
M: Well Vanessa thinks that she was the favourite child [laughs].
V: Noooo, actually it was my middle sister growing up, she was the known favourite child in the family. It didn’t upset me because I was still very loved but it was real.
With my kids though, even if I wanted to have a favourite one, I wouldn’t, I just don’t have a favourite. I find them all wonderful in their own ways. But I do think some families have favourites… there was one in mine that’s for sure [laughs].
M: And our kids are still really young. It’s common for the older kids to be disciplined more so they think you love a baby more than them, but it’s not the case. Still though, you can bond with one child more than another.
V: Yeah, your personality can be more similar to one child than another so it may be an easier relationship. But sometimes the harder relationship is the one you fight for more because it can be frustrating. But I don’t know that makes a favourite, I just think it’s different dynamics.
Is there anything else you guys would like to add?
V: We would really love people to come check out our YouTube channel because we’re really growing that space right now and we release three videos a week on there. One of those are the Mom Files every Wednesday where we give different tips and tricks on what we’re dealing with as moms.
And then we also release lifestyle blogs each week, the two of us. As much as we’re really great friends and business partners, we also have really different kinds of lives so we like to share behind the scenes.
And don’t forget to tune into Rogers TV to catch the show itself!
Feature photo courtesy Vocab Communications