//

“I want to inspire a movement of women who forgot about bouncing back, and instead decided motherhood was an opportunity to launch forward.” with Saralyn Ward and Akemi Sue Fisher

I am so tired of the lack of value we place on mothers in this country. We are told we need to “bounce back” — a phrase that is so indicative of how we treat moms — as if who we are now is no longer valuable or powerful. But it’s impossible to bounce back physically or mentally, just […]


I am so tired of the lack of value we place on mothers in this country. We are told we need to “bounce back” — a phrase that is so indicative of how we treat moms — as if who we are now is no longer valuable or powerful. But it’s impossible to bounce back physically or mentally, just like it’s impossible to keep living life the same way you did before you had kids. So many women are blindsided by motherhood and how it changes the very core of their identity. It can feel like we are sacrificing everything — our careers, our bodies, our relationships, our bank accounts, our mental and emotional health, our freedom…. But that’s because no one talks about all these changes! No one is saying, “Yes, your life is going to change, and it will be hard as hell at times, but who you are on the other side will amaze you.” Motherhood will show you your true strength, your potential and your resilience. It will siphon out the bullshit — you won’t have time or energy for anything that doesn’t fulfill you or inspire you. Becoming Supermom isn’t about being perfect. It’s about realizing the depth of your power, designing life on your own terms and giving yourself grace in the process. I want to inspire a movement of women who forgot about bouncing back, and instead decided motherhood was an opportunity to launch forward.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Saralyn Ward, founder of the Mama Sagas.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I often call myself an accidental entrepreneur, because this path found me. In retrospect, so many of my previous career experiences were building the foundation for what would become The Mama Sagas, though I had no idea at the time. On paper, my resume was admittedly all over the place: 13 years teaching private Pilates to pre- and postnatal women, 6 years as a freelance writer, several years moonlighting as a commercial actress and TV host, 3 years as an editor and brand manager for a fitness website, and a few more years in digital marketing…. None of it really made sense together, until I found myself building a media company for moms.

I remember when the idea came to me: I was awake one night at 3 am with an inconsolable baby, feeling so isolated and alone. My family lived 2000 miles away. I couldn’t call my doctor or friends at that hour. I remember looking at my phone and thinking, I wish there was a community I could tap into from the palm of my hand, any hour of the day. I wanted quick, easily-understood expert advice and other moms to tell me what had worked for them. I didn’t have time or energy to read lengthy, dry research and I didn’t want generic, sugar-coated information. I wanted someone to tell it to me straight and give me actionable advice. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone; I wanted to hear stories from other women who had been through what I was going through.

The idea stuck with me though I didn’t do anything about it at first, since I was in over my head with a newborn. But then, two years later I was laid off from my job and found out I was pregnant with my second child. I decided on a whim to start making the content I wanted as a new mom. And the rest, as they say is history.

I love to tell this story because so many first-time moms worry that their careers will suffer when they have kids. For me, becoming a mom was the catalyst that helped me find my purpose and passion. Our traditional corporate structures make it difficult for working moms to succeed, as professionals and as mothers. But there’s a HUGE opportunity for us to flip what’s not working and create something so much better.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I think the common thread that runs through my experience building The Mama Sagas is learning to leap, without waiting for the perfect plan or the perfect situation. I’ve learned not to wait to take action, because circumstances will never be perfect. Two months after we filmed the first videos for The Mama Sagas, I submitted the series to an A&E Networks unscripted development competition on a whim. A couple of weeks later, I was shocked to find out we were chosen as one of 15 finalists! I was 37 weeks pregnant and had to get a permission slip from my doctor to fly across the country to the New York Television Festival, where I pitched the show to network executives. I had NEVER worked in TV production before. I was so green — I probably had no business submitting the series because I had NO plans for what how it would develop, and no real idea of what I was doing. I was still thinking of The Mama Sagas as a hobby! But I took that opportunity to learn as much as I could! That experience made me stop and say, “Wait, maybe there’s actually something here.”

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The mommy media space is very crowded. I think it’s because all of us are trying to broadcast the stuff we wish we were warned about! But The Mama Sagas stands out because it’s a collective of voices. I never wanted the brand to be only my voice; I realize that my experience is just a small snapshot on the spectrum of motherhood experiences. There are so many women I’ve met on this journey who have taught me so much. Giving them a platform to share their stories is fulfilling, in so many ways.

As the company grows, I look forward to evolving the brand into more advocacy work. I want to use content to inspire action. The Mama Sagas’ mission is to change the script: motherhood doesn’t have to be a sacrifice, it can be an opportunity — both individually and collectively — to live life on our own terms. Mothers are uniquely qualified to bring about social change because every day, when we look at our kids, we are staring the future in the face. No matter who we are, where we come from or what we look like, moms all want the same thing: we want the best possible future for our children and ourselves. There’s a fire inside all of us burns to make that happen. It’s clear: if anyone is going to lead the charge toward things like paid family leave, better postpartum care, affordable childcare, and equal opportunity for all of our kids, it’s us, the mothers.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! In June of 2018, I published the first fully interactive ebook for new moms, called The Guide to Survive Motherhood: Newborn Edition. I worked with over 25 experts to create a quick-read guide that covers more than just baby care, but postpartum recovery care as well. The first year of motherhood is a huge benchmark for how confident and supported a woman will feel as a parent — it really sets the tone. It’s hard to feel like you can conquer the world if your body feels broken, you don’t trust your thoughts, you have no village and you’re peeing your pants when you sneeze. So I think it starts there — with helping women feel empowered again after giving birth.

This April, I’m bringing the book to life with The Better After Baby Jumpstart. It will be 14 days of live Facebook broadcasts with me and the experts featured in the book. We will cover a different topic each day — everything from working out to mental health, from healing the abdominal split to infant tongue tie, breastfeeding and how to choose a formula. Women will be able to ask their questions in real time and get answers immediately! When they sign up, they’ll get a free copy of my book, a Tongue Tie Quick Reference Guide, and some of my favorite Mom Hacks — tips I’ve shared on the air in my parenting segments. I wanted to bring the village to new moms everywhere, and keep it affordable. The jumpstart is only $37 but the info we cover is worth its weight in gold. As someone who felt lost when she was a new mom, I wish I had a village like this to tap into then!,

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Effective leadership of an employee means recognizing and appreciating them as a whole person. So many women feel unsupported at work because they have to work as if they don’t have kids at home — meaning, they don’t feel like they can be honest or transparent about the challenges they face when trying to integrate work and family life, because it might put them in jeopardy of losing their job. Working mothers need flexibility. They need to know that if their kid gets sick and daycare won’t take them, they won’t be penalized for working from home that day. They often can’t stay late for a meeting that runs long because they have to pick their kid up by 5:30. They don’t want their loyalty, productivity or capabilities to be questioned because they have to manage their time differently. Working mothers are some of the most effective, efficient people on the planet. They might not be able to make that afterhours client dinner, but allow her to work at 4:00am before her kids get up for the day and you’ll be shocked at how much she accomplished in 2 hours. Making a working mom feel supported will go a LONG way toward keeping her engaged, productive and dedicated to her work.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I don’t manage a large team (yet) so I’m going to pass on this one!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I feel like my entire career thus far has been graced by the help and support of many amazing people. There are so many people who have taken a chance on me or have gone out of their way to help me. I recognize that NONE of this would be possible without them. But if I had to name one person who has had the biggest impact, it would be my dear friend and cinematographer, Heidi McGuire. Heidi and I became friends 6 years ago after meeting on a work assignment. She had just launched her own production company after years working in broadcast news. When I decided create the content that would become The Mama Sagas, I met Heidi for tea to ask her if she knew any student filmmakers who would be willing to work with me, since I didn’t have a budget. I told her my idea of bringing the village to moms, and sharing the untold truths of motherhood. She wasn’t even a mom herself but she believed in the idea so much she offered to film the content for me, free of charge. It was Heidi who introduced me to local television producers and convinced them to give me a chance to do one live segment… which eventually turned into a weekly parenting segment on live morning television. And it was Heidi who flew to New York with me to pitch The Mama Sagas, when we were just starting out. She’s been there for advice and encouragement the whole time, at times believing in me more than I believed in myself.

Just 4 months ago, Heidi was diagnosed with the deadliest form of brain cancer: glioblastoma, stage four. She’s lost the ability to work her camera and she’s facing an uphill battle trying to beat this disease. Yet her positivity, upbeat attitude, and willingness to learn whatever she can from this experience are deeply inspiring. I’ve learned so much from Heidi in the 6 years we’ve been friends, and every day that she fights this disease, she teaches me more. While the cancer diagnosis is scary and sad, I feel grateful that I’ve been able to tell her, face-to-face, how much I appreciate her support and friendship, and all she’s done for me. Too often, we don’t get the chance to tell people how much they mean to us… but a cancer diagnosis forces you to take that chance. I look forward watching Heidi beat the odds and live for many more years, shining her light on everyone she meets. If anyone can, it’s her.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe that when mothers thrive, we will all thrive. We are raising the next generation, after all.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am so tired of the lack of value we place on mothers in this country. We are told we need to “bounce back” — a phrase that is so indicative of how we treat moms — as if who we are now is no longer valuable or powerful. But it’s impossible to bounce back physically or mentally, just like it’s impossible to keep living life the same way you did before you had kids. So many women are blindsided by motherhood and how it changes the very core of their identity. It can feel like we are sacrificing everything — our careers, our bodies, our relationships, our bank accounts, our mental and emotional health, our freedom…. But that’s because no one talks about all these changes! No one is saying, “Yes, your life is going to change, and it will be hard as hell at times, but who you are on the other side will amaze you.” Motherhood will show you your true strength, your potential and your resilience. It will siphon out the bullshit — you won’t have time or energy for anything that doesn’t fulfill you or inspire you. Becoming Supermom isn’t about being perfect. It’s about realizing the depth of your power, designing life on your own terms and giving yourself grace in the process. I want to inspire a movement of women who forgot about bouncing back, and instead decided motherhood was an opportunity to launch forward.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Live the life you love. As cheesy as it is, it’s really that simple. Don’t settle — find a way to live the life that will make you the happiest. We only get one shot, and time is not guaranteed. Don’t wait to take the vacation or act on your dreams. Ask for what you want and need. Make your life what you want it to be. You may be surprised at the doors that open when you do.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There are many! But I am constantly inspired by Sara Blakely. She seems to balance entrepreneurship with motherhood and still manages to laugh and not take herself too seriously. She’s a risk-taker, someone who followed her dreams when everyone else doubted them. And she’s a big believer in the power of women to do big things. I’d love to meet her one day and share her story on The Mama Sagas!

Thank you, this is very inspiring!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Launch Forward: A Manifesto for Modern Motherhood

by Saralyn Ward
Work Smarter//

Top Tips for Overwhelmed Guilt-Ridden Working Mothers

by Alexandra Hughes
Community//

Successful parenting is “sending happy, productive, kind young adults into the world”, with Drs. Katie B. Garner and Ely Weinschneider

by Dr. Ely Weinschneider, Psy.D.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.