Mother Essentials: Laura Fenton
Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
If the past several months confined to your living quarters has caused you to look harder at your space, you’re not alone. Luckily, if your home is on the small side, Laura Fenton is here to help you embrace it! The New York-based mother of one (William, 5) is the author of The Little Book of Living Small, an inspiring read full of handy advice for fellow small-space dwellers. Below, the prolific journalist and former lifestyle director at Parents magazine shares her top 20 Mother Essentials—including organization hacks for tiny spaces and other eco-minded faves.
Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes. “We settled on metal containers as the best reusable option for our kid’s lunch containers: They don’t stain, break, or wear out—and if you lose the tops, these brands let you order replacements.” LunchBots Medium Trio II Snack Container, $24.99, Amazon; U-Konserve Nesting Trio Food Storage Container (Set of 3), $24.99, Target.
Dansko Clogs. “I tried to be the ‘cool clogs’ type of girl, but I really need a comfortable shoe that I can walk for miles in. I’ve been wearing Danskos for more than 20 years after a co-worker at a restaurant recommended them for long shifts.” Dansko Distressed Professional Clog, $135, Nordstrom.
Watercolor Paints. “Painting is an activity my whole family enjoys and we all feel happier after we’ve had a chance to be creative. This brand is not too expensive but still has brilliant color.” Reeves Acrylic Paint 22ml Tubes, Set of 10, $34.73, Amazon.
The Wild Robot. “I recently finished this young adult novel by Peter Brown. It is the first chapter book my son and I have read together and I enjoyed it as much as he did. It’s a beautiful story, but be warned: the last chapters are a little scary—I opted to provide a synopsis for my son who is only five.” The Wild Robot, $8.27, Bookshop.
Christmas PJs. “I give all my nieces and nephews and my son matching holiday PJs every year. When we’re together it makes for adorable photos, and I love that we now have a tradition that the kids look forward to. I order Hanna Andersson’s the weekend after Thanksgiving when they are usually on sale.” Long John Pajamas In Organic Cotton, $46, Hanna Andersson.
Canvas Storage Bins. “We have three canvas bins from Pehr to store most of our son’s toys (his LEGOs and blocks have their own wood crates). I like that these are made from a natural fiber and will be useful for years to come.” Printed Canvas Bin, $46, Pehr.
Favorite Vegetarian Cookbook. “I’ve got a library of plant-based cookbooks, but Joe Yonan’s Cool Beans has instantly become my most cooked-from book. There are so many one-dish meals, which save me time, and his flavors are incredible.” Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World’s Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, $27.60, Bookshop.
The Perfect Swimsuit. “It took me five years to find my ideal mom swimsuit: This is it. I feel cute and supported, and everything stays in place when I’m chasing my kid on the beach.” The Tulum Swimsuit, $95, Andie.
Miele Vacuum Cleaner. “If you are in the market for a vacuum cleaner, don’t bother with anything else. I regret the many terrible vacuums I bought over the years that ended up in the trash. The Miele is so effective and they are known to last for decades. I never thought I could love my vacuum cleaner this much!” Miele Classic C1 Turbo Team, $399, Amazon.
Carrot Seed Facial Oil. “This facial oil is so hydrating. It keeps my skin happy, especially in dry weather.” Naturopathica Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil, $65, The Detox Market.
Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap. “I love this mild soap because my whole family can use it, which frees up space in our shower. The bar version is totally plastic-free, and I love the company’s commitment to regenerative agriculture! Citrus is my favorite of the scented bars, but Unscented is great for babies.” Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap. $7.94 (for 2), Walmart.
Space-Saving Bunk Bed. “I did a ton of research to find the best bunk bed for a small space and this one from Pottery Barn Kids was the winner: It’s low in height, compact, Fair Trade manufactured, and made from FSC-certified wood.” Camden Low Bunk Bed, $1,299, Pottery Barn Kids.
Blinc Mascara. “Pretty much my whole make-up routine these days, this mascara instantly makes me look more awake. I’ve used it for years because the tubing formula never runs, smudges, or flakes.” Blinc Mascara, $26, Sephora.
Flisat Wall Ledges. “These book ledges from IKEA are a great way to store children’s books: Your kid can easily choose his favorites at bedtime and they take up absolutely no floor space.” Flisat Wall Storage, $14.99, IKEA.
The Little Book of Living Small. “My book has chapters devoted to play areas and work-from-home spaces, which are two areas I know a lot of families are interested in maximizing these days. Plus, there are some really awesome family homes for inspo!” The Little Book of Living Small, $22.99, Bookshop.
Mint Tea. “An essential part of the post-kid-bedtime, wind-down routine, my husband and I love Harney’s organic peppermint tea so much that we buy it by the 1-pound sack of loose leaf.” Organic Peppermint Tea, $12 for 3 oz., $12, Harney’s.
Waffle Weave Towels. “I switched to these cotton waffle towels years ago and never looked back to traditional terry. They are super-absorbent, dry quickly, and take up minimal space in the closet.” Waffle Weave Bath Towel (Classic Style), $30, Gilden Tree.
Libby App. “This app is a total game-changer: When you upload your library card to Libby you can borrow e-books and audiobooks for a Kindle or other e-reader. It means I always have access to something new to read—even when libraries are closed.” Libbyapp.com.
Simple Families Podcast. “This is my go-to parenting podcast: Listening to Denaye has taught me a lot about how to approach parenting and simplicity. It’s nice to have an outside voice in this long road that is motherhood.” SimpleFamilies.com.
Running. “I wish this were part of my everyday routine, but even one run a week keeps me centered.”
For more Mother Essentials, peep our past columns with Citizens of Humanity creative director Marianne McDonald, Curasalve founder Kelley Williams, Trade Street Jam Co. founder Ashley Rouse, Weelicious and One Potato founder Catherine McCord, Milky Mama’s Krystal Nicole Duhaney, mega-influencer Chriselle Lim, Matana Organics founder Gabriela Babila, interior designer Susan Work, author Tiffany Dufu, Les Gamins founder Veronique Nguyen, Lonny editor Angela Tafoya, Wiley Body founder Vanessa Wade, DockATot’s Roma Patel, designers Anna Wallack, Cynthia Rowley, Rebecca Atwood, and Dana Haim, Olympian Alysia Montano, cookbook author Hetal Vasavada, model and muse Slick Woods, children’s author Serena Minott, clean living expert Kristian Henderson, Oakland retail queen Sherri McMullen, wellness influencer Joanne Encarnacion, author LaTonya Yvette, and many, many more!
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