7 AM to 7 PM: How Katya Libin Runs HeyMama While Co-Parenting

Plus, her favorite frozen pizza dinner cheat.

Katya Libin, Hey Mama co-founder, and her daughter

Katya Libin

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 few days in the life of HeyMama CEO Katya Libin.

Katya Libin is an unstoppable force. She's an immigrant who is living the American dream (her family moved from Russia to Queens, New York, when she was just 3 years old).

In 2014, along with Amri Kibbler, she co-founded HeyMama, a networking community for working moms. She is currently the CEO and runs the company, while being a single mom to her daughter Lili, 10.

The company’s mission is all about community. “I was inspired by growing up in really big cities,” Libin explains. “I grew up in Queens. My high school had 5,000 people and my college had 20,000 people.”

Libin reflects on her days as a new mom in a big city—she craved the "Cheers" atmosphere, where everybody knows your name. “It did not feel warm and cozy in Queens,” says Libin. “HeyMama is about having a support system in big cities, especially with so many women not living close to their families. We need better villages around us to support our goals.”

Just before she started her company, Libin was working in an office full-time, and struggling to find a work-life balance. “I was not really able to take part in so many of the mom/kid activities that were going on,” she shares. “I wanted to meet women who were really passionate about growing their careers and businesses—and who also wanted to talk about diapers, deals, and everything in between.”

I wanted to meet women who were really passionate about growing their careers and businesses—and who also wanted to talk about diapers, deals, and everything in between.

While HeyMama is a global network that allows women to connect and inspire each other, it's not accessible to all. The group is membership-based and costs $35 a month or $350 a year, though there are some grants awarded. Potential members must submit an application and be approved to join. The group includes some splashy household names—top fashion designers, established founders, entrepreneurs, creatives, doctors, lawyers, and more.

There are approximately 50 live or digital events per month, some of which are local meetups. Members can find workshops on everything from how to grow your brand's social media to triumphing over imposter syndrome.

Outside of events, the mamas communicate through Slack and email forums. While there is a lot of helpful parenting advice shared—be it nanny listings or sleep-training support—it's not all baby talk in this group. It's very much about networking and building your career. Working moms and business owners can ask any member any question (without being "friends" with them first, like on some other sites).

When Libin is not building the massive HeyMama tribe, she is spending time at home in Westchester, New York, with Lili. “My daughter is a gem—she's such a little force,” Libin gushes. “I co-parent with her father, but a lot of the time, it's just [us]. She's my little mini-me, for sure, but very much a young lady all her own. She’s fearless. I'm always inspired by her.”

When it comes to co-parenting, Libin realizes that she is privileged to be able to get along with Lili's father. “For me, it's been a really smooth experience,” Libin says. “I'm very fortunate to have a very good relationship with my daughter's father. We're very aligned on a lot of things, which is rare. I don't want to be unrelatable. I think most moms have a really hard time co-parenting.”

What is great about a good co-parenting relationship is that the kid benefits, and that's really the most important thing.

Libin attributes this to their great communication. “We generally tend to agree on a parenting approach and are very united to her," she explains. "She doesn't really sense that there's one rule here, one rule there."

Libin also gets along with Lili's father's wife, and texts them both to make sure everyone is on the same page. "I have a great relationship with his wife and try to include her [in conversations], as well.”

Lili’s parents have put aside any differences for the sake of their daughter. “If there is tension and animosity, I think kids really pick up on that,” Libin says. In the end, it's all about what is best for Lili. “What is great about a good co-parenting relationship is that the kid benefits, and that's really the most important thing. They want their parents to be in a good place, and they want to feel like their parents really love and care for them. That's all that they truly, ultimately need.”

Follow along as Libin walks us through a couple of days in her busy life.

Katya Libin, Hey Mama co-founder, and her daughter

Katya Libin

Tuesday

7 a.m. I am a morning person in that I’m really cheery and happy in the morning, but I don't wake up super early. I am more of a 7 a.m./7:30 a.m. riser as opposed to a 5:30 a.m. riser.

I wake up and if Lili’s not in bed snuggling with me already, then I go in her room and wake her up and give her a big morning kiss. I typically like to meditate and do a little workout in the morning. I do a 20-minute workout, something like Pilates or a little flow.

Then Lili and I make breakfast. I walk her to school or drop her at camp.

9 a.m. I get my coffee on my way home and I’m ready to start my workday. I typically have my one-on-one calls at this time. Sometimes, if I don't have a morning meeting, I'll go for a quick local hike.

I do meeting-free Mondays, which has been a great implementation and game-changer. Different team members have put in meeting-free days as well, and it's just really helpful to get some actual work done. But typically, it's all meetings.

I actually don't know exactly when people work. Generally, people are online during the day; but if someone needs to go pick up their kid at noon, I'm not micromanaging that.

12 p.m. I fast every day. I don't typically eat until noon or 1 p.m. I go across the street and get a salad. That makes me happy—just leaving the house for a little bit and going to get lunch. Sometimes I do the whole hummus, carrots, and chips lunch. I have no time! It’s nothing elaborate—I think we're all just quite busy.

3 p.m. I pick Lili up from school or camp. She is on the soccer team, so I’ll take her to soccer practice. I have flexibility. I don't have anyone else that does [drop-offs or pick-ups] for me. I give everyone who works for us a lot of grace, and they give me a lot of grace. That's helpful because things come up as a parent, and you need to be able to adapt to them.

I actually don't know exactly when people work. Generally, people are online during the day; but if someone needs to go pick up their kid at noon, I'm not micromanaging that. People are adults, they know how to get their work done, and they appreciate flexibility. It’s a typical start-up. There's always a lot to do, and a lot on everyone's plate. You have to be flexible.

6 p.m. We'll cook dinner and eat on the balcony. I'm no Chef Boyardee. I keep it quite simple. It's always a protein, a veggie, and a carbohydrate. I eat whatever she's eating because I don't have the energy to make myself something else.

I'll take whatever she's eating and I just add hot sauce. I'm like, all right, grab the red pepper flakes, put them on the pasta with butter and we're done. I make her a ton of simple foods: steak and broccoli, or salmon and mango with rice.  

Generally, in the evening, it’s the two of us hanging out together. We’re best friends, we're really close. I feel like we have our own little version of "Gilmore Girls."

7 p.m. At this age, they go to bed so late. It’s really funny—she just doesn't get tired, or she claims she’s not tired.

Generally, in the evening, it’s the two of us hanging out together. We’re best friends, we're really close. I feel like we have our own little version of "Gilmore Girls." We like puzzles, and we like playing Monopoly.

I'm lucky if she's asleep by 10 p.m. When she goes to bed, finally, I have a little bit of alone time. I have a glass of wine on the balcony and watch some TV that I can't watch with her. I do love to read but the funny thing is, as soon as I start reading, I start to fall asleep. It’s unfair. I love books, but I just cannot get through them. Goodnight!

Katya Libin, Hey Mama co-founder

Katya Libin

Friday

7 a.m. I wake up. I try to journal when I first get up. These morning activities really help me feel good. I go out and get some sunlight on the balcony and just look at the outside world. I love to kick off that circadian rhythm and reset my body clock.

8 a.m. Lili is gone at sleep-away camp for two weeks. It's her first time at sleep-away camp. It's so cute. I miss her a lot. I hope she's doing well over there.

9 a.m. During the day, I do try to take breaks, here and there. I actually have some standing calls with people. I have a weekly walking date with one of my closest friends. She’s also running a business, so we have always have a lot to catch up on. I find it important to get those meetings on the books.

Even with Lili away at camp, I’m still thinking about her. It’s hard juggling work with being a single parent.

2 p.m. Even with Lili away at camp, I’m still thinking about her. It’s hard juggling work with being a single parent. One time last week, I thought her camp ended at 3 p.m. but it ended at 12 p.m. I had a huge meeting at 12, company-wide, and the place to pick her up was 40 minutes away. I had to call one of the other moms to be like, "If it’s okay, can she come back with you?"

I'm always asking moms for favors. "Hey, can you pick her up?" Or, "Could she come over after school?" Because at my house, it’s just her. She’ll get bored, and she’ll want to play. I'm always trying to arrange play dates, and I'm always happy to take other people's kids, as well.

But most people have multiple kids, so their kids aren't inherently always bored. Lili’s twiddling her thumbs like, "I'm tired of hearing my mom on a conference call, and I'd actually like to play with other children!" I definitely lean on other moms.

7 p.m. I like going out to eat. We have a sushi place next door that [Lili and I] really like, but she's more of a homebody, so she does not love going out to dinner. She prefers when we just make a meal at home.

A lot of times, we'll just do frozen pizza. I love Costco. The Kirkland frozen pizza—that's our guilty pleasure. I mean, listen, it's good.

I have the night to myself but typically, we watch "Modern Family" at the end of a long day—that's Lili’s favorite show. I don't always do the TV thing, but sometimes, we're just so tired at the end of the day. Sometimes, I’m just a pizza and TV sort of mom.

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