Jessica VanderWier of Our Mama Village: “My best advice (that I am still learning how to do myself) is to try to set aside hours to work even if you have to work while your children and family are around”

My best advice (that I am still learning how to do myself) is to try to set aside hours to work even if you have to work while your children and family are around. I would try to do work during quiet time every day. My youngest would nap and my oldest would watch a […]

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My best advice (that I am still learning how to do myself) is to try to set aside hours to work even if you have to work while your children and family are around. I would try to do work during quiet time every day. My youngest would nap and my oldest would watch a movie and I’d spend an hour or two working. I would also set aside time at night to try to get work done. I found that having this set time helped me know when I would have some time to work instead of just trying to squeeze it in while the kids were wanting to play with me.


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place. As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica VanderWier.

Jessica VanderWier is a Registered Psychotherapist who helps families understand and respond to their child’s “big feelings” with gentleness and respect. Jessica has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and has logged thousands of clinical hours supporting parents and their children. Through groups, presentations, and one-on-one clinical sessions Jessica has helps hundreds of parents restore peace to their home.

As the founder of Our Mama Village, Jessica uses her expertise to support parents through online courses, personalized coaching, and free resources. Our Mama Village offers daily parenting guidance to over 300,000 families on their popular Instagram account.

Jessica lives in the Niagara Region with her husband Scott and their two daughters, a 15-month-old and a 4-year-old. Whenever she finds the time, Jessica loves to be outside in nature, hiking or biking, before refueling with Scott at a quirky hole-in-the-wall restaurant or a fun coffee shop.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Hey! Thank you so much for having me. Before starting Our Mama Village, I worked as a registered psychotherapist working with some of the children in my city that had the most challenging behaviour. I would work in family homes, with their teachers, and with the children as well. After I had my own baby, I went through an experience of postpartum anxiety and couldn’t believe that even though I had worked with families for a long time already, I felt so unprepared for the mental health struggles that came along with parenthood. I ended up starting Our Mama Village as well as my own private practice to talk about the intersection between child behaviour and parental mental health! I had no idea if anyone would be interested in this topic. 3 years later we now have over 350,000 community members and we are still quickly growing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

The most interesting story truly has been the way that this page has taken off and how much people WANT this information. When I started this business 3.5 years ago, I had no idea that anyone would even be interested in this information! I just posted with no goal in mind to grow a huge audience, but somewhere along the line we have grown this amazing community of parents!

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

I’m always working on something new! My team laughs at me because I am constantly bubbling with ideas. Right now we are working on finishing up updates to our bestselling parenting course! We filmed the last version of our course in my living room at 37 weeks pregnant. We were ready to update it and hired a film crew this time around to make sure we have the best possible videos for the course!

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?

My husband Scott has truly been my partner throughout this entire journey. He was the one that encouraged me to start writing about child behaviour and mental health after my journey with postpartum anxiety, he is the one I turn to when people on social media troll me and I need a pep talk, and he does all of the tech work behind the page. There’s been a few times where I wasn’t sure if I could keep going but he has always been my number 1 supporter.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on so many businesses. Before the pandemic, I had an in-person office where I would see clients from in my private practice where I work with parents. I closed my in-person practice soon after COVID hit and I am glad I did. With the current rules in Ontario, I would still likely not be able to return back.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

We’ve really focused on our online work. My private practice has moved entirely virtual and we have a few therapists seeing clients in Ontario right now. I have also focused on helping make information more accessible through my online offerings.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

As a mom in the pandemic, childcare and navigating working while having my children at home has been a unique challenge. I worked for 7 months without childcare this year and that was tough on my family.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

We ended up hiring childcare to come to our home so that I could have the support needed to work a few days a week. I also have taken to working evenings after my children are in bed to make up for the lost hours.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

My best advice (that I am still learning how to do myself) is to try to set aside hours to work even if you have to work while your children and family are around. I would try to do work during quiet time every day. My youngest would nap and my oldest would watch a movie and I’d spend an hour or two working. I would also set aside time at night to try to get work done. I found that having this set time helped me know when I would have some time to work instead of just trying to squeeze it in while the kids were wanting to play with me.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

If you have a partner at home, set aside time to switch off watching the kids with them when they are home as well. Even if it just means you get 30 minutes to yourself to take a shower, it can be so helpful to know you have that 30 minutes for you. I also found it helpful to get outside as much as we could for a change of scenery. Further, I would build in little sensory breaks for myself in the day where I would just go to the bathroom, put my baby in her crib for a minute, close the door and just breathe to get a quick break!

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

There has been so much news back and forth this last year that has made us feel so hopeless and depleted. I encourage parents to take a break from the news if they find they are constantly left feeling more stressed and hopeless. Instead, I encourage the parents I support to focus on the ‘what is” instead of the “what if”. Take time to notice what is happening in your home and in your life right now. What are 5 things you can see? 4 things you can hear? 3 things you can touch? 2 things you can smell? 1 thing you can taste? In the moments when I feel really overwhelmed and overstimulated by the world around me I find this really helps.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

The very best thing we can do is offer our listening ear. I love the lines “tell me more” and “help me understand how this feels” for trying to understand and support people in our lives that have anxiety. This really helps the person in your life feel like they can trust you and talk to you about the big feelings they are experiencing. It also takes the pressure off of you to have to fix whatever it is that is going on.

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

I know this is probably such a common “life lesson quote” but ever since I heard the line “Be the change you wish to see in the world” from Gandhi, I have really tried to live this out. When I started Our Mama Village, it was because I didn’t see anyone who talked about parenting also talk about mental health. When I talk about parenting, I really talk about changing the way we relate to our children to be the way that we want them to relate to us. I believe so much about supporting the world and the people in it starts with being the change ourselves.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’d love to have you join me and our growing village of parenting at Our Mama Village on Instagram! We provide daily insights and support to help you parent your little kids in a way that feels good!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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