7AM to 7PM: How Ariel Foxman Is Speaking to The Nontraditional Family

Plus, how his family is celebrating Pride Month.

Ariel Foxman and family

Verywell / Ariel Foxman

Parents don’t work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—we work 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., from the moment our kids wake up until they go to sleep. This is an unfiltered look at a day in the life of former InStyle Editor-in-Chief and ABBAPAPA founder, Ariel Foxman.

Boston-based Ariel Foxman is no stranger to the power of influence. He held the prestigious role of Editor-in-Chief of "InStyle" magazine for 8 years and is currently a contributing editor at "Vanity Fair." Foxman has worked with celebrities, such as Blake Lively and Kate Hudson, and consults with big brands, including Pepsi and Olivela.

Recently, he decided to give us an intimate look into his life as a parent. He launched his newsletter, ABBAPAPA by Ariel Foxman, in 2020, with the hopes to inspire other parents in a positive way.

“When I first started looking for information and community as a new parent, I was struck by just how much is geared to moms, exclusively,” he explains. “And whatever dad content I could find was coming from a jokey perspective that assumed dads were just dolts when it came to child-rearing.” 

Ariel Foxman

I wanted to create a space to share ideas with and hear from other caregivers, especially ones who are breaking convention by redefining roles and challenging expectations.

— Ariel Foxman

ABBAPAPA’s name comes from abba, the Hebrew word for dad. It’s also what Foxman called his father growing up. Papa is Spanish for dad, which is what three-year-old son Cielo calls Cuban-American Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, Foxman’s husband. (He calls Foxman "Daddy"). 

“I wanted to write about my experience as a dad, as a gay dad, and as a dad in a nontraditional family," he says. "But more importantly, I wanted to create a space to share ideas with and hear from other caregivers, especially ones who are breaking convention by redefining roles and challenging expectations.”

Subscribers to the free newsletter can expect concise, melodic essays and articles by Foxman on topics such as toddler independence, what to do when family toys don’t represent your family, and how parents can “counter the gender-norm agenda.”

His thoughtfulness makes ABBAPAPA intentional and an easy read despite how deep and complex the topics may be. Reading his essays feels like talking to another parent, one who is authentically honest.

Foxman and his husband obviously have a unique perspective. “As a gay dad, I am perhaps more focused on and invested in imparting lessons of pride,” he says. “Celebrating differences while reveling in what connects us all and being a kid by honoring ourselves and seeing others.” 

Ariel Foxman

We like to point out that we are a ‘rainbow family’ and we show him all the instances where folks are celebrating the specialness of families like ours.

— Ariel Foxman

They are celebrating Pride Month in their home, the GLAAD board member shares.

“Our son is still a toddler, so for us, we've been all about rainbows," he says. "We like to point out that we are a ‘rainbow family’ and we show him all the instances where folks are celebrating the specialness of families like ours. My husband has also been adding rainbow sprinkles to our son's daily oatmeal, which has become a favorite!”

Foxman says his goal as a parent is a simple one: to have his son feel comfortable in his own skin. “I know and believe that he is whole and perfect as he is—and that so is everyone else.” He acknowledges that his son’s generation is a special one, and he doesn’t take the job of raising him lightly—although there is plenty of fun and joy along the way.

"Cielo's generation has the ability to heal our country, our planet," Foxman shares. "This is the generation that will do heavy-lifting when it comes to the work to tear down systemic racism, to expand the definition of what it means to be he/she/they, to reverse the damage of our climate crisis, and so much more.”

He also applies this lens to his social media, where he reveals an unfiltered glimpse into his life. His posts show everything from dinnertime chaos to spilled hot cocoa to school dress-up days.

Below, he shares a day in his life, including how he and his husband divide and conquer responsibilities, when he starts thinking about his son’s dinner, and what his nighttime winddown routine entails. 

Ariel Foxman and his son

Ariel Foxman

Wednesday


7 a.m.
While my husband Brandon wakes our son, I head to the kitchen and prepare Cielo’s lunchbox and school bag for the day: a drink, a fruit, a snack and a clean water cup. I will either make a sandwich or pack up intentional leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. We convene on our terrace with coffees and breakfast to watch the boating activity across the dock from our building. 

8 a.m. Brandon gets ready for his workday. He’s the Executive Director of Ivy Street School in Brookline, Mass., and works out of an office there. I get Cielo dressed in something colorful and comfortable. We wash up and brush up, and I throw on something that’s not necessarily pajamas in order to do drop off. We wave goodbye to Papa as he drives off, and we walk a few blocks to school.

9 a.m. I switch gears to work mode, working either at a dedicated desk in our apartment or on the second-floor lounge of our building. (The faster WiFi and a non-stop seltzer dispenser is awfully tempting). I scan and respond to any social media messages that came in overnight, read newsy newsletters ("CNN," "ReCode Daily," "WWD") and do a skim through the "New York Times," opening stories I want to read later in tabs along my laptop.

9:30 a.m. I spend most of my morning responding to emails that have come over the transom while I was asleep. I am working on a big branding project and launch with one client who lives in California and whose creative director is in Perth, Australia. Communication is round-the-clock. I hop on a bunch of catch-up next-step calls and Zoom meetings with clients and any third-party vendors I am managing on their behalf.

12 p.m. I put on my writing hat. Shifting my client work to the side for an hour or so, I take next steps on any writing assignments I am working on—scheduling interviews, editing transcripts, etc.—and I do research and planning for whatever next issue of ABBAPAPA I am working on. I will also order myself lunch in and when that arrives, I stop everything and do a social-media catch up.

2:30 p.m. Back to client work. I’m also thinking about what I am preparing for Cielo’s dinner so that when he’s home from school, the meal is pretty much ready, short of heating some things up. I like him to see some of the food prep and cooking, but I also need to keep it speedy because once he sees the food in the works, he is hungry for dinner on the spot.

I either run to Trader Joe’s to supplement ingredients or pull a meal together based on what we have. It goes into the fridge, portioned and plated.

4:00 p.m. If I haven’t already showered and gotten dressed dressed for a lunch with a friend or colleague, I do so now. I check the weather and make an afternoon activity plan for me and Cielo once I pick him up. Playdates are coming back and coordinating that has been a fun process as well.

Ariel Foxman

We spend the time being as silly as possible, and I listen to all sorts of stories from the school day.

— Ariel Foxman

4:30 p.m. I head out to pick up Cielo from school. We either head to a park or playground for some scooting, run errands (Cielo loves to push a shopping cart around any store), or do something extra special—like a trip to the aquarium or ordering a vanilla milkshake at Shake Shack. 

We spend the time being as silly as possible, and I listen to all sorts of stories from the school day. Who sang what song in what way? What did someone else bring in for lunch (lots of talk about one vegan student)? And what did he see on his walks outside?

6 p.m. We make our way home. Cielo plays in his room or watches me put dinner out. We like to watch the boats coming and going, asking questions about destinations, schedules and what floats and why. We also like to FaceTime family and friends and check-in. Dinner moves into bath time, which is about 80% play and 20% cleaning and scrubbing.

7 p.m. Once Cielo is in pajamas and ready for bedtime, he has an hour or so for some quiet play. It’s around this time that I circle back to emails and projects, catching up on what’s transpired over the past couple of hours.

I try to be off my phone as much as possible when we are spending one-on-one time after school outside. 

Ariel Foxman and child

Verywell / Ariel Foxman

7:45 p.m. Brandon has come home and either one of us will put Cielo down, reading multiple stories and planning what our dreams will be in the coming night. Cielo has recently learned about bookmarks and he likes to return time and time again to some of his larger storybooks so that he can place his bookmark. We stay in his room until he falls asleep.

8:30 p.m. Brandon and I have dinner—take-out tacos or sushi delivery many nights—and reconnect about each other’s day, Cielo and any upcoming plans. We may strategize through a work challenge or share details about a news story we are passionate about.

9:30 p.m. We begin our wind down. I check emails again or hop on a call that accommodates other time zones. One of us fires up the TV so we can continue watching a series or documentary we both fell asleep to the night before. Proud to say we made it through the entire “Special” and “Shrill” and the final season of “Younger” recently. 

11 p.m. I check in on Cielo, adjust lights and temps, and check email one last time so that nobody is waiting on something for another 8 hours across the globe. To bed.

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