In the age of internet parenting, there is a constant bombardment of ideals – from what the home should look like, to how children should dress, to what quaint meals should be on the table ( no matter how challenging getting the kids to eat). Often looking at such images can seem more overwhelming than inspiring.
After years as editor of Food, the popular online food magazine, Faith Durand decided to create a parenting website for moms and dads looking for more down-to-earth ideas and advice. Durand, a mother of two young girls from central Ohio, wondered “how do I create a home that I feel really happy in, but that my kids are also home in.” Given that Kitchn is part of AT Media, which operates the home decorating and organizing website Apartment Therapy, it was a logical choice. A weekly parenting newsletter, Cubby, debuted in October 2020.
Now a fully-fledged website, Cubby provides content such as what to cook, how to organize your living space and what to do with children. “We’re really committed to exploring what family home and family life are for all kinds of families,” says Thao Thai, Cubby’s editor and Lewis Center resident.
While the parenting experience can vary widely depending on where families live – setting up a play space requires a different strategy for small urban apartments than for large suburban homes, for example – Thai aims to keep the universal experiences of raising children front and center. “Everyone needs to go through toilet training,” she says.
Another universal thing for families is the need to eat, and that’s where Cubby’s connections to Kitchn come in handy. James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Durand says her readers are always on the lookout for “another easy dinner idea.” Simplifying meal times is something Durand has long championed. “My big mantra at Kitchn is, ‘Easy isn’t stupid. Easy is smart,'” she says. “Don’t feel bad for doing something easy, be really proud.”
Parents of young children themselves, Durand and Thai understand their audience. Durand says they approach their work with the idea that “we learn with you”.
“Our writers are all parents themselves – some are single parents, some are…same-sex parents, parents who work in intergenerational households,” says Thai. “What we want to convey is that ‘we’re in the middle of this with you’.”
Cubby’s catch-all aesthetic appeals to mother-of-three Ojus Patel, who also contributes to the site. “Reading Cubby, I never feel less or like I can’t keep up with what’s new and the latest – I just find ways to support the life I already have and love,” she says. by email.
Settling in Central Ohio
Although AT Media is headquartered in Manhattan, Durand and Thai chose to locate in central Ohio.
Raised in Pataskala, Durand moved to Florida after graduating from Ohio State University and returned to Columbus for what she thought was a temporary stay. Over a decade later, she’s still here with her family and they love exploring the city. “We’re very, very big conservatory fans,” she says of the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. “I think the conservatory’s kindergarten is…one of the most special places.”
In their spare time, Durand and his daughters, Thea, 5, and Petra, 3, love to sample local restaurants. His daughters are fans of everything from shrimp tempura to Akai Hana to Wendy’s Frostys (though Durand jokingly laments their preference for vanilla over classic chocolate). When they want to eat near their Clintonville home, Katalina and Winston’s waffle pancake balls are favorites, and Durand looks forward to the arrival of Destination Donuts on North High Street.
Durand is also involved in local institutions. In 2019, she was the star chef at ProMusica’s annual Culinary Capers benefit dinner, for which she created a pasture platter that served as an edible centerpiece at each table, said Mary Yerina, former chair of the ProMusica Sustaining Board, by email. “[It was] beautiful, tasty and truly unique!”
Thai first lived in Columbus about a decade ago while studying for an MFA at Ohio State. She moved frequently after graduation and found that other cities felt either “too big or too small.” When her husband got a job opportunity here, she was ready. “I was so excited to come back,” she says. “I’ve always loved how Columbus feels like a small town inside a big one.”
Thai likes the “warm and friendly” community at the Lewis Center where she has settled. His family likes to spend weekends at Olentangy River Brewing Co., a kid-friendly brewpub, where they get to know the baristas. “Passionate seamstress”, Thai also likes to make clothes for herself and her daughter.
As the holidays approach, Durand is looking forward to celebrating and is also thinking about what she would like her daughters to learn about being kind to others.
Thai reminds parents to extend this generosity to themselves. She says one of the lessons of the pandemic is to “let go of…the things that feel alien and embrace the things that feel true and meaningful.” In other words, you don’t have to do everything just because you’ve done it in the past. Talk about the traditions that mean the most to your family, then make the most of them rather than wasting time on less important things. This is a useful parental ideal.
This story is from the Winter 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.