If there’s one word Hollywood doesn’t exactly bring to mind, it’s natural. And yet somehow, Hollywood actress, mother of two, and entrepreneur (phew!) Sarah Wright Olsen manages to exemplify just that...
Whether it’s her easygoing nature, her all-natural organic baby product line BAEO, her online parenting platform Your Zen Mama with fellow actor mama Teresa Palmer, or her approach to time management, one thing is for sure: Sarah keeps it natural.
Her pleasures are simple ones. “I love to have a bath and look out at the view. I also love to cuddle in our bed with the kids and read books”, she tells us. And while she is a fan of the very-LA combination of green smoothies and yoga, she also shares the same guilt and struggles as most mothers. “It’s easy to say, but we moms beat ourselves up a lot. We always feel we could be doing more, or feel guilty when we take any time for ourselves. I have to remind myself of this constantly. It is ok to take time for me, it recharges my batteries and makes me feel good inside and helps me to be a better mama across the board.”
Then again, there are certain things in Sarah’s life we can’t quite relate to. “It was a pretty shocking ‘dream come true’ moment in my life to be cast as the lead opposite Tom Cruise”, she recalls. “My audition with him in Atlanta is something I will never forget. When I landed in Atlanta for the audition that was to be the next day, I was headed to the hotel on the phone with my husband, and a call was beeping in. My husband joked ‘You better get it, it’s probably Tom.’ I switched over the call and it was my director welcoming me to the city, and then he said, “hold on a sec, Tom wants to say hi.”
Today, Sarah is immersed in the world of mothering – her book Zen Mamas, authored with YZM co-founder Teresa Palmer, launches today. Between them, the two women have six children, and share their journeys juggling everything that comes with them. Alongside stellar careers, to boot.
We spoke to the Mad Men megastar about her experience processing birth and grief, building her passions into a career, and the phone call with Tom Cruise that changed her life.
If you could go back to one stage of motherhood, what would it be?
I often daydream about the first three months of motherhood. Those dreamy postpartum days laying in bed sleep-deprived with a new cooing sleepy baby in my arms. There is something so beautiful about the bond that occurs during those first few weeks and months and the learning curve you go through figuring out all the needs of your new babe.
If you could help spread a message to other moms, what would it be? What would you share with other moms?
Try not to be so hard on yourself. It’s easy to say, but we moms beat ourselves up a lot. We always feel we could be doing more, or feel guilty when we take any time for ourselves. I have to remind myself of this constantly. It is ok to take time for me, it recharges my batteries and makes me feel good inside and helps me to be a better mama across the board. So since this is a constant lesson for myself, I would share it with other moms in hopes to ease some of their guilt or worry.
What do you remember about the early days of your acting career?
That I had no clue what I was doing, but I loved every minute of it! Comedy was such a dream to me. I started on a sitcom and I laughed my way through the entire season. I loved the people I worked with, and I learned so much about acting on my first job (Quintuplets). It fuelled my desire to pursue this career even more and filled me with so much joy.
And if your children wanted to become actors, what advice would you give them?
We would support them and encourage them to explore all the passions they have in life, including this one.
What has been your most memorable career highlight?
It was a pretty shocking “dream come true” moment in my life to be cast as the lead opposite Tom Cruise. My audition with him in Atlanta is something I will never forget. When I landed in Atlanta for the audition that was to be the next day, I was headed to the hotel on the phone with my husband, and a call was beeping in. My husband joked “You better get it, it’s probably Tom.” I switched over the call and it was my director welcoming me to the city, and then he said, “hold on a sec, Tom wants to say hi.” I’m pretty sure I was in shock from that moment until the moment we hung up. I would then meet him the next day for a four-hour audition. I flew home the day after that and when I landed in LA I was told I had the job.
Can you share a few moments from your births which you’ll never forget?
My first birth was a home birth with my son. It was a pretty long labor and it was challenging getting the baby out. He was big, and got stuck in the last few moments, but on all fours pushing with everything left in my body he came out into my husband’s arms. The most memorable moment to me was all the walking I had to do in the early morning hours, trying to get my body to dilate. I walked outside having contraction after contraction, as my neighbours all passed by on their morning commutes. My husband walked by my side along with my doula, and I drank coconut water while looking out over the ocean.
My birth with my daughter was very different. I had just lost my father a few months before, and I wanted to approach this birth setting the intention with the word ‘joy’. I laboured all night in my bath and shower while eating grilled cheese and drinking a glass of red wine. As I laid in the bath that night, riding the waves, I looked out at the moon and felt that I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was so happy, and couldn’t wait to meet my daughter. We drove to the hospital in the morning and I birthed my 11-pound baby girl two hours later.
When you’re sleep deprived, how do you take care of yourself?
I try to get a nap in, or a yoga class to get my blood moving. I also LOVE coffee and will very much enjoy a morning cup to help wake my very sleepy brain.
What kind of supplements do you take?
I am not a huge supplements gal. I take a prenatal vitamin and then I eat a pretty healthy diet full of all the colors.
Do you drink smoothies – if so, what’s your favourite recipe?
My husband makes a green smoothie every morning and the kids and I have some of it. It has lions mane, an algae blend, spinach, blueberries, maca powder, coconut water and plant protein.
What’s your approach to diet – do you treat yourself or are you quite strict?
I for sure treat myself, but we eat pretty healthily. We don’t eat meat anymore, just some fish. We make a lot of meals at home, and try to eat all the colors of the rainbow. I am celiac so our whole house is GF.
Tell us about your home – how long have you lived there, and how would you describe the style of your home?
We have lived in our home for seven years. It is a cosy “beach cottage” style home, about 1900 sq ft. The colors throughout our home are greys, blues and white, which make you feel calm. Every room has windows that look out to a beautiful view of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.
What’s your favourite way to unwind at home?
I love to have a bath and look out at the view. I also love to cuddle in our bed with the kids and read books.
What parenting books would you recommend?
One of my favourites is Permission to Parent: How to Raise Your Child with Love and Limits by Robin Berman MD.
Tell us about Your Zen Mama – how long has the platform been going and what do you love about what you’ve created?
We started working on YZM When we were pregnant with our first babies. We love that through this community we have created a space where women all over the world can share their stories, and feel heard. We have learned from the mamas, papas, caregivers, doctors, doulas and friends on our site, and we have found a love for sharing our own stories. It has been a very healing space for us as well. With the love, losses and challenges we have met in our lives, we have found a judgment-free community where common shared experiences unite us.
What do you love about working with Teresa and what are some tips for other moms on a successful business partnership?
Gosh, I’m not sure, I just know that I was blessed the day we met, with a friend I will have my entire life. I feel so connected to her and time never passes between us. She fills my cup as they say, and I think I fill hers too. I just recently went through something that she has been through before, and I really needed to see her face and connect with her over FaceTime. She was in Wales and I was in the US. It was a rough time for me and her shared experience, kind, love-filled words, and guidance helped to gently pull me through.
In terms of working together, we love to bounce giant ideas to one another. We have absolutely loved writing and filming vlogs together, and we share a very similar passion in life about family and relationships with our partners and our children. I think that drive and bond keeps us going very strong.
When picking a business partner, find someone who you admire and find inspiring. You will be tossing around ideas, making decisions and using your creative voices with this person on a regular basis. You want to feel aligned but you also want to complement each other. Some of her strengths are my weaknesses and I love that about working together.
You’ve just released a book – can you tell us more?
Yes, we have written a book called Zen Mamas: finding your path through pregnancy, birth and beyond.
We cover the joys of pregnancy and the grief of loss. We delve into our journeys of motherhood, and share some of the knowledge we have collected over the years from the Your Zen Mama community, from expert mentors, and through being in the trenches of parenthood ourselves. From prepping for pregnancy all the way through to birth, the first twelve weeks with your newborn, and figuring out the kind of parent you want to be long-term, we share our personal struggles, joyful moments and hard-won realisations.
This has been a dream of ours and it has been healing, challenging and insanely rewarding to type these words and research some of our most beloved topics.
Talk us through bāeo, which you have created with two other moms. What inspired the launch and what has been the most rewarding part of your business journey?
I started bāeo with two friends around the same time I was working on YZM. It takes a long time to launch a business, but especially one for the whole family that is USDA organic. We are a year old now, and the most rewarding part is having products that I am proud of, that I love to use on my kids and myself, and all the very happy returning customer feedback.
We took our time and created a line that is gentle enough for babies but effective for the whole family. Our five products are plant-based, eco-friendly and made with organic ingredients. We have a bare butter (a moisturizing body butter) a bare booty (a diaper balm and barrier cream that is also amazing on sensitive skin) a bare suds (shampoo body wash that dads love to steal cause they love the way it smells and feels), a bare face (soothing face stick for dry skin, winter wind, and post-sun) and a bare kiss (an organic lip balm that has become one of our top best sellers).
What are your time management tips – how do you run two businesses and mother two children?
I am lucky I have jobs where the time is flexible. I try to work when the kids are at school. I love to be there for their pick-ups and drop-offs, and then I spend time with them after school. We have family dinner almost every night, and then I work again when the kids go to bed. I have help with an amazing doula/nanny and an incredible husband. The weekends we spend together as a family and we really value that time together. My husband and I both have multiple things going on so we try to get that work in when the kids are sleeping.
Three favourite places to go in LA with your kids?
Malibu to the beach. Disneyland. Downtown sushi date night (with the kids).
3 beauty essentials you can’t live without?
Baeo bare butter – I use it to take off my makeup and to moisturize. My skin loves the oils in it and it has made my routine and travel so much easier.
3 fashion brands you love right now?
Doen, Freda Salvador, Clare Vivier, Citizens of Humanity … (reallllllly hard to pick three!)