Mom Talk with Totum’s Erin Erenberg
Mom Talk with Totum’s Erin Erenberg
Erin Erenberg is the founder of Totum, a company providing the highest quality, healthy lactation cookies for women. When she had to go back to work after having her first baby, she realized her milk supply wouldn’t survive the transition. After reaching out to her uncle (the COO of Mrs. Fields!) she created a cookie designed specifically to keep breast milk a’flowin’ — one that actually tastes good!
“I want Totum to be a force for helping women remember that they matter within and beyond the needs of the people who rely on them. I want to help them actively pursue wholeness on their own terms.” — Erin Erenberg
We caught up with the entrepreneur to talk business and get a glimpse into her mom-life…
Tell us the story of how you started your business?
I started Totum in 2017, just before we had our third baby, Beau. Since giving birth to our first baby, George, and becoming a mother in 2012, I felt called to support women in their transition into and through motherhood. There was so much that surprised me each time I became a new mom, and the surprises mounted as our children grew. Let’s face it: our country is not set up with systems to bolster mothers; and modern living doesn’t come with a village (or even a buddy) to hold our hands through motherhood. When I noticed that women blamed themselves for any trial they faced as mothers, I felt compelled to pour my time and skills into supporting modern mothers and helping them feel whole. At Totum we provide products, resources, and community to modern mothers, and we adjust our offering based on what we see and hear modern mothers craving.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Real talk: check our son’s blood sugar on an app on my phone. He’s recently been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We have no family history and this happened during quarantine, so our world has been rocked! Pre-diabetes, the first thing I did was go to the kitchen and make coffee. I’ve made a habit of sleeping without devices in our bedroom, and it is awesome.
And what is the last thing you do before you go to sleep?
Read my Kindle. I’m always reading a book. My husband calls my Kindle my “lovey” because I can’t fall asleep without it.
How do you find balance?
I don’t believe in balance… and I’m a Libra! In fact, part of the reason we landed on the word “Totum” for our brand name (it means “whole” in Latin) is that we think mothers strive for balance at their peril. Balance implies this evenly distributed load, and motherhood just doesn't feel like that. More personally, I notice that every challenge and win in motherhood is a phase and there’s no perfect job, arrangement, or partner that’s going to hand me a balanced life. I’ve decided that I find wholeness by actively considering what I want, what I believe, and designing a life that lines up with that. I do this by writing out my top five values, defining them, and actively making choices based on living them out. I also consistently make time for friendships where we remind each other of who we are and the gifts we bring to the world. If I didn’t, I think I’d vanish under the blur of the ever-present needs of our kiddos and our home life; we have a lot going on, as do most women!
How do you practice self-care?
Self expression is a huge part of self-care for me, so I keep good friends close — people who “get” me and who I understand as well. I also have to move my body every day to keep my mind healthy. I run or walk the beach almost daily and do strength training virtually with an amazing trainer two times per week via FaceTime.
What makes you feel like a good mom?
I feel really in tune with our kids feelings. It’s almost as though I can feel what they’re feeling inside my own body so when I’m really paying attention to them — engaged and looking them in the eyes; listening more than talking — I feel this wonderful sense that I’m exactly what they need. I believe in playing the parenting game where connection matters as much as correction.
What is the one lesson you’ll teach to your kids?
That they matter, that they’re loved by us, and by God. I believe kind people are people who are anchored in that kind of worth.
What excites you most about motherhood?
Watching our kids grow and develop into their own people with pursuits, passions, and gifts we’d never imagined.
What websites about parenting have been helpful?
I’m a huge fan of Dr. Harvey Karp and his practical parenting books and online resources. I also love Gabor Maté’s Hold on to Your Kids and Permission to Parent by Robin Berman. Big fan of NYTimes Guide to Parenting, and I love Fair Play by Eve Rodsky on how to reclaim your time and passions by creating a more equitable division of household labor.
Who are your mom icons?
It really looks like @EarthyAndy (Andrea Hannemann) has it all figured out (happy sun-kissed kids, healthy food, laughing while working out with her husband on the beach), but that’s Instagram. And I’m into Chrissy Teigan and any mom who shows up honestly and with humor. Joanna Gaines seems to truly be kind, hardworking, and connected to her family. Also, my own mom was and is amazing!
What is your all-time favorite recipe?
ANYTHING from Jessica Seinfeld’s Food Swings (it’s a must-have for every kitchen)! Giada’s Happy Cooking has a marinara recipe that I make weekly and serve with just about everything.