Nikki Reed On Motherhood, Clean Living, and Keeping Herself Accountable

Nikki Reed in a turtleneck and jeans at dusk

Sami Drasin

You might know Nikki Reed from Twilight, but it’s also just as likely that you know her from her Instagram account where she has 3.7 million followers (at press time). She posts everything from photos of herself on her farm with her cows to missives about shopping sustainably. You might also catch her posting about motherhood, as she is a mom to a 4-year-old daughter she shares with her husband, actor Ian Somerhalder. 

She is also the CEO and founder of sustainable jewelry brand Bayou With Love, creative director for vegan sneaker brand LØCI, storyteller for camera brand Leica, and strategic advisor for clean medicine brand Genexa. She's also a passionate advocate for animals, sustainability, and the planet.

Reed is the real deal. For her, conscious living isn't just something she posts for likes. She is a rarity in that she truly practices what she preaches, whether that be giving herself grace or giving followers a glimpse into her creative process. And it all plays out through thoughtful, considered posts on Instagram. In short, she lives with intention in everything she does, from work to motherhood to daily life, down to the cleaning products she uses.

In our exclusive interview, she shares how she’s parenting in a pandemic, living with purpose, and how she’s making it work without a car right now. 

Nikki Reed with daughter at lake near mountains

Sami Drasin

Verywell Family: How is motherhood going? 

Nikki Reed: We've all had to find a new normal and new balance with parenting during a pandemic. To not bring that up and make that a part of this [interview] would be sort of like denying the elephant in the room. My daughter is 4 now. There have been different challenges. Not to be the eternal optimist, but there are some wonderful silver linings, like the time spent together.

In the beginning, I know we were all going, ‘Wow, this is so amazing to have a lot of indoor time together to be present,' in a way that I think many of us wanted, but we had so many work excuses, things keeping us out of the house—offices, and things like that.  It comes with learning curves, for little people especially. 

My daughter was out of school for a long time, as I'm sure many parents experienced. And now she's back in school. So [we’re] figuring out how to do that in a way that feels balanced and also safe. It’s necessary for them to have that interaction. 

We’re gearing up for a little holiday break which is so nice. We spend a lot of time on the road in our RV. We have a Fleetwood. We're about to hit the road and that's going to be exciting. I'm really drawn to small spaces. I’ve always been that way. My comfort is not in these vast, huge houses.  Some people want 100 acres and I'm like, you know, two acres is a pretty nice thing.

I’m happiest when I'm in a small space because it keeps you really present. You don't have the distractions of everything in the house. We've got two options. We can either sit and watch a movie together or play a board game together and that's it.

VWF: You’re known for committing to clean living and a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle. How does that reflect in your daily life? 

NR: Holding yourself accountable is really the biggest thing. But I'm going to follow that with the opposite, which is that life is short, and we can't spend all of our time focusing on perfection. Otherwise, we will be chasing the unattainable. 

I try my best to hold myself accountable. About two years ago I started making a list that I actually write down. On the fridge. Or in my bag. Or it's posted on the mirror in my bathroom. Whatever it is, I make a physical list with a pen and paper. I don't print anything out. 

Sometimes [my list] is 30 things—I think the first list I made was like 30 or 50, but it gets shorter and shorter. I make a list of the things that I want to make sure I hold myself accountable for and what I’m feeling I can take on. Like before the pandemic I decided I am not going to travel so much. My partner travels a lot and, when I was younger, I flew on a plane three days a week, but I decided not to travel that year. 

Or, I decided I’m only bringing my own to-go Tupperware to any restaurant that I go to.  A restaurant will never put their food in your Tupperware if you send it back to them to box it up, but if you just bring a Tupperware in your purse, you can put it in yourself. Whatever the things are, I commit to that list and I hold myself accountable, I’m really good at making sure that when I make a promise myself, I keep it. We talk about that in our house a lot. I talk to my daughter a lot about that. Whatever you promise, we have to keep our words. 

But in the same breath, I also can't live in a way that's really rigid because I've noticed that rigid living is also just another form of control. It's controlling yourself to a certain degree and life is full of things that we can't control. I haven't taken a sip of water out of a plastic water bottle in I don't know how long, but God forbid I’m out and about and my daughter is screaming that she’s thirsty and I forgot her water bottle. I don't know a single parent in the world who wouldn’t go get water, even if it was plastic. 

I set goals, I keep them, I am always learning new things, and I'm always finding ways to do better. And I don't beat myself up if I'm not doing it perfectly.

I set goals, I keep them, I am always learning new things, and I'm always finding ways to do better. And I don't beat myself up if I'm not doing it perfectly.


VWF: We heard you don’t have a car right now? 

NR: I don't generally work without a car. But for the last two years. I've decided that I want to wait until the exact car that I want is coming out. It's an electric SUV. I have so many animals and dogs and my kid and all the things. I have to pack it in. I decided to wait.  That’s me holding myself accountable. I just committed to waiting.  My car doesn’t come until August 2022. 

I'm figuring it out, borrowing cars.  I do a lot of walking or riding my bike. It's a little crazy, but I committed to it. I couldn't have done it if we weren't in a pandemic, but now it’s doable. 

VWF: What other tips do you have for parents? 

NR: I love that you're prompting me because this is so much a part of my everyday life that sometimes I even forget to say the things that I'm doing because I'm so deep in this. I actually make a lot of my cleaning products. I use vinegar and baking soda and water. I used Hypochlorous acid, it’s one of the most gentle but effective cleaning products.

We compost. We have fruit trees, and we have some hydroponic veggie towers so we can grow our food. In my experience, teaching a child how to grow something is actually one of the most powerful lessons. There’s that empowering feeling that comes from knowing that they started something,  they planted something,  they watched it, they watered it, and then they get to eat it. It does something to the brain that I think nothing else does. It makes you feel powerful. 

I can see the confidence that's built in my daughter. It also makes you appreciate things in a totally different way. I don't know if it's just because my daughter really grew up in nature or if it’s just a childlike wonderment, but my daughter can sit still and look at a tomato for 20 minutes. She’ll hold it in the pocket of her overalls or in her coat pocket. She doesn't want to eat it, she just wants to look at it.  It's so beautiful that she grew that thing. And then when we do eat it, it's a ceremony.  She’s learned how to cut it open, count the seeds. 

We try our best to have a plastic-free home. That means we use shampoo bars and conditioner instead of buying [bottled] shampoo and conditioner. My daughter knows that anytime we're putting anything in the fridge, it goes in a resealable pouch. I try to shop at local farms. Eating seasonally is so important for our bodies and when we're importing foods, we're not eating seasonally. 

VWF: On that note, you’re an advisor for clean medicine brand Genexa. 

NR: I come from a family medical background. My grandfather was a world-renowned surgeon and a very, very respected man in his field. I grew up with this fascination with the idea that we could heal people. I have a tremendous amount of respect for medicine and I don't believe that there's a world where we only heal people with plants and nature. I say that honestly because I've had to do both. I think there's a world where they live together. 

Like any conscious parent, I'm always out there seeking out alternatives that are better for my body that are also extremely effective.

Like any conscious parent, I'm always out there seeking out alternatives that are better for my body that are also extremely effective. My passion for Genexa was there before I had any relationship with the company at all. Genexa is what is in my home.  I like things that are effective. I'm like that in my path towards conscious living. 

For example, I'm not going to use a floor cleaner that's natural just because it's natural if it doesn't work. I want it to work! I want to be effective. That’s how I feel about Genexa. It’s the same recognizable, proven ingredients like acetaminophen, but without all the other crap. There's a way to do better and still have things to work.

VWF: In addition to being an actress and advisor, you are a jewelry designer, photographer, and more. How do you do it all? 

NR: I have a really compartmentalized brain, and I am really good at multitasking. That doesn't mean that I should be multitasking, but I am good at it. I hate the word “balanced.” I want to cleanse all of us from the word balance. We feel like we have to have this sense of balance, but what does that mean? 

I am super, super busy, but instead of taking on the approach of mom guilt and shame, my hope is that I can talk to my daughter about it and have her see that she has a very hard-working mom who feels a lot of passion for what she's doing. We talk about it. That Mommy is really busy. Daddy's very busy too. But I've chosen to make sure that I stay completely grounded. That means if he is traveling a lot, my feet are on the ground. 

I am super, super busy, but instead of taking on the approach of mom guilt and shame, my hope is that I can talk to my daughter about it and have her see that she has a very hard-working mom who feels a lot of passion for what she's doing.

My company Bayou is luckily L.A.-based.  Our factory is an hour away. And everything else I'm doing is mostly pretty remote. But I don't know that I live in balance in any way. I just have found a rhythm that seems to be a rhythm that I can live with and dance to.

My daughter sees that. She knows Mommy is really busy, but I'm here. I’m not willing to sacrifice or compromise. That list looks different for everybody, though. For me, I want to be able to take my daughter to school. I want to be able to do bath time. I want to be able to do meals if I can. I want to read books. I want to go on nature walks. Does that mean that I'm doing every single one of those all day every day? No. The list fluctuates and it changes. 

I just want to encourage parents to know that you can do things your way. Just find a rhythm for your family. I'm not “in balance.” I'm juggling so many things, but I feel calm and peaceful about it.

VWF: What’s bringing you joy these days? 

NR: Togetherness and connection are bringing me all the joy in the world. Living in California, we spent a lot of time in our cars pre-pandemic. There was a distance between things. You had to drive. There was already such limited human contact. I'm just really looking forward to safely and consciously giving hugs and seeing people that I love. 

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  1. Block MS, Rowan BG. Hypochlorous acid: a reviewJ Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2020;78(9):1461-1466. doi:10.1016/j.joms.2020.06.029.