Chudney Ross is a Writer, Teacher, Entrepreneur and most importantly, a Mom. She is the founder of Books and Cookies, a mobile literacy enrichment program focused on rethinking the way that we share books, bring stories to life and build community around literacy. Her love of books also led her to write a middle grade children’s book called Lone Bean, which was published by HarperCollins. Additionally, she’s the Chief Kid Officer at The Jane Club where she has created a space for children to learn, play, and grow alongside their working mothers. Her daughters Callaway (9 years old) and Everlee (2 years old) love to learn, play, read… and eat cookies, too!
It's definitely not a secret, but I think the truth is that it's not possible to do it all. If I try to parent and work at the same time, I'm not doing either very well. I do my very best to focus on my work when I'm working and be present with my kids when I'm with my family. Even though my career is extremely important to me, I have made the choice to put my kids first. Though maybe not the best choice career-wise, my kids are only this little for such a short time and raising happy, healthy, good humans is my priority right now.
I have always known that I wanted to work with children. I knew I had a talent for connecting with kids from a young age and luckily, I had my little brothers and cousins to practice my skills. When I graduated from college, I became an elementary school teacher with Teach for America, which was short lived, but definitely led me to my work now. I was working with and focusing on children's education long before I was a mom.
My original idea for Books and Cookies was to open a bookstore that also sold coffee and cookies, but what I learned quickly after opening the doors in Santa Monica in 2011 was that people with young children were looking for a space to build community. We created a welcome and joyful space to bring people together, make new friends, and find love and support. Though I closed the doors to the physical space a while back (luckily, pre-pandemic), we have continued to build community all over LA and virtually with our interactive musical story time gathering. How lucky I am to continue to share books and songs, learning and connection in the sunshine even during these unique times.
I created the Child Care space at the original Jane Club which opened almost four years ago, but sadly closed during the pandemic. The space I created was more than your average daycare. My mission was to create a unique learning space where children could safely play, learn, and grow alongside their working parents. During the pandemic and now, I help curate online programming for Jane families to engage in fun and educational connection online.
I began working in the mom space before becoming a mom and so the most rewarding experience was having a community of new and experienced parents as I became a mom myself. The Books and Cookies families embraced me and shared so much support and love as I entered mom-hood and working mom-hood. What I have found most rewarding is the sense of community, support, and love from other moms.
I think what's so exciting about being a business owner and a mom is that I never fully know what the future holds! Of course, I want to continue rebuilding a mobile Books and Cookies, write more, create meaningful content, continue to build community around literacy, and most importantly continue to guide, love, and embrace each moment with my daughters. I think these past few pandemic years have definitely taught us to live each day to the fullest and go with the flow of ups and downs that life brings. I hope to continue to do that in my personal and professional life… and who knows what exciting peaks I will reach!
Having two kids at home during the pandemic was overwhelming at times, but I think that by taking things more slowly and putting less pressure on the juggle of it all helped overcome fears and frustration. The biggest blessing of the pandemic has been the time spent together focusing on family and connection. As we emerge from this unique time, I think the greatest challenge with a toddler is her lack of experience with the big bad world. We are dipping our toes in little by little and helping her navigate these experiences, where my older was much more independent by two years old. This has been such a hard time for everyone and Everlee is really just happy being with us, but also so excited to experience the world outside of our home.
Be gentle and patient with yourself! Not all career goals have to happen on the same timeline.
Seek out support when you need it. (You don't have to do it all!) Whether it’s help with the kids so you can get work done or support with work tasks so you can focus on your family — they weren't joking when they said it takes a village!
Write everything down. My brain is always working overtime, so I make lists to keep things organized and create vision boards (or dream/goal lists) to remind and encourage myself through the struggle.
Be your own cheerleader! You can do it! Anything is possible with hard work, passion, and planning!