In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Julie Beasley felt called to write a children’s book about the experience– specifically, about the way the devastating hurricane brought out the best in people. She shared the inspiration behind the book, suggestions for talking to kids about the hard stuff and a white lie you just might want to borrow.
Congratulations on the recent release of your children’s book, H is for Harvey. What inspired you to write this book?
Thank you! My inspiration for the book was the devastation that occurred in Houston and the surrounding areas during hurricane Harvey, and witnessing all the people who rolled up their sleeves to help in any way they could. The rising flood waters, the cries for help, the first responders and everyday heroes…all of these things moved me so much and made me realize that the letter H was everywhere. Hurricane. Harvey. Houston. Heroes. Help. Healing.
I thought to myself: Wouldn’t it be great to have a book that kids like my own—who were just four and seven at the time—could have to understand the significance of the storm and appreciate the good in people helping others during times of need, and at the same time have money from the book go to Harvey relief? So, I found local illustrator Eduardo Martinez, Texas publisher TCU Press and got the Astros Foundation to write the foreword. All the book royalties will be going to the Astros Foundation for their Harvey Relief efforts.
As parents, we’re often baffled by how to talk to our kids about difficult events. Do you have any suggestions for parents struggling on how to breach these topics with their kids?
Being honest with kids and acknowledging their feelings of fear and sadness are so important. My family and I didn’t get water in our home during Harvey—we were so lucky as people were being evacuated from their homes just blocks away. But my kids were very scared, so I can only imagine how fearful the kids were who had to be rescued. I think, more than anything, that kids just want to be assured that they will continue to be cared for and loved in any difficult situation. Finding ways to talk to kids on their level about difficult events is also invaluable. That’s what H is for Harvey tries to do. It speaks frankly about what happened during Harvey, but keeps things simple and focuses on the love shown during this epic storm.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Folding the laundry. It’s not really an everyday chore, but boy does it feel like it! I joke with my husband that he must change t-shirts five times a day. The moment I’ve folded the last shirt, ten more seem to appear in the hamper along with 50 other things, including tiny kid socks with no matches. ARGH.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Wondering around an independent gift shop or home store buying things I don’t really need. There’s nothing like a candle or a throw pillow to put me in a good mood.
What is your best parenting hack?
Getting up earlier than my kids, at least an hour before my youngest calls out—Mom! It’s quiet, and I get so much done before the chaos begins. Oh, and having Goldfish crackers on hand in my purse at all times for those moments when my kids just “can’t” wait to eat.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
I told my kids a couple times that the smoke alarm has a camera in it, so I can see if they throw a ball in the house or sneak food out of the kitchen. Not sure they bought it.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
My five-year-old daughter had her first sleepover at our house a few months ago. The two girls were whispering very early in the morning, and I heard my daughter whisper, “I want to be an author like my mommy.” She said her book would be about a snowman.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
To have compassion and empathy.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
You’re not alone. We’re all just trying to figure out this whole parenting thing as we go, so be kind to yourself and your partner.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
As an advertising copywriter, I’ve done the full-time working mom thing at agencies in New York, and now I’m writing part-time from home in Houston, and both positions have their own work/life balance challenges. When your home is also your office, the lines between work and life can get more blurred. I’m working harder to put the phone away and turn off my work brain and give my undivided attention to my kids when I’m with them. It’s not always easy, but I am really trying. Lastly, I write EVERYTHING down (old school, in a planner) and put the important stuff in my phone calendar, as well.
What was the last book you read?
Bossypants by Tina Fey for the second time. She’s my idol.
Favorite Beauty Product:
Vaseline– it’s my go-to lip gloss.
Favorite Form of Exercise:
What is on your DVR?
Favorite Kids Store:
Half Price Books. It’s a Texas-based bookstore… and then some. They have discounted new and used books, CDs, records, stationary and toys. My kids never want to leave.