Catherine Belknap & Natalie Telfer, CAT & NAT'S MOM SECRETS

Catherine Belknap & Natalie Telfer, CAT & NAT'S MOM SECRETS

“I think that that’s what moms are superheroes at, is getting through the day. Even in your not-best-self moment, you can still be a light to someone else even when you don’t think you are.” Zibby is joined by best friends Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer, better known to many as Cat and Nat, to discuss their new book, Cat and Nat’s Mom Secrets. The three chat about the importance of finding humor in every day (especially over the past two years), what it was like to cancel so many of their live shows due to the pandemic as well as how they’ve tended to their community in the meantime, and which projects they’re dreaming up next.


Zibby Owens: Welcome to “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” I’m so excited, Cat and Nat, to talk about Cat and Nat’s Mom Secrets: Coffee-Fueled Confessions from the Mom Trenches.

Author: Thank you for having us.

Author: You did beautifully. It was perfect.

Zibby: My two attempts just to say one-syllable words, Cat and Nat. It’s hard sometimes.

Author: Oh, we know. We know.

Author: We’re hidden in a room with seven kids roaming around, so wish us luck.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, my kids are at school.

Author: We’re away in Florida right now. We have texted the husbands to let them know that we’re busy, but you know how that can go.

Zibby: Know how that can go. I read your last book as well. This book is equally hilarious. I was laughing out loud, per usual, and even read the section about — whose child was it who came into the bathroom? You were like, in what world do we have to live in that it’s not okay to film while we’re on the toilet? fictitious YouTube channel. My kids do that all the time. They’re like, “Like and subscribe.” I’m like, nobody’s watching. No one is watching this.

Catherine Belknap: I know. They’re four and three. You’re like, am I a bad parent in this? Is this the new norm that no one’s talking about, that our kids are all YouTubers and walking around? They used to play Cinderella and fictitious Disney characters. Now they’re all YouTubers. I’m like, are we good as a society right now? Are we all a-okay?

Natalie Telfer: Cat and I were coming from — we had to go to LA and New York to work. The dads flew with the seven kids here. All the kids let us know that — we call baby Coco, because she’s the youngest of them all — our two are called the babies. The babies need a towel. The babies need a snack. They’re seven and six. Apparently, Coco was taking her iPad and vlogging the whole journey in the airport. We should probably watch that.

Cat: I have it on my phone now because we’re synced. Now I have a vlog of her whole life coming down.

Zibby: That’s the other thing too. One of my kids is like, “Do you watch my vlog?” I made an album on Apple where you share, subscribe to just the album. I’m like, when is the time in my day going to come for me to watch the seventeen hours of you doing skincare? Not that I don’t adore her. I love her.

Author: You’re like, you have to edit it. Edit it, and then I’ll watch it. Make it down to a minute. Fifty one-second clips, that’s all we watch now.

Author: Fifty percent of your video is up your nose with the ceiling, so let’s get it together. If we’re going to do this, let’s do this right.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, so funny. Of course, what makes you guys so funny is that you are, A, really funny, but B, just so relatable. The things you’re talking about are things we’re all going through and maybe not taking the time to write about and certainly not writing about it in as funny a way as you two do when you just cut to the chase. When you were like, our kids have access to all the information known to man and yet they choose to go on TikTok, it’s so funny.

Author: You know what’s funny? Every time you mention the book — those stories in the book, Mom Secrets, they were ignited by anonymous confessions from our audience. Then we build on the chapter to say how we can relate or our personal stories about it. Honestly, when we were writing the book, you don’t write the book thinking that it’s going to be there for the to public read. You just write it kind of for yourself. The two of us, we tell our stories. We don’t stop and think, wait, who’s going to be reading this? Should I have said that? Then all of a sudden –

Author: — Everybody read it.

Author: You get the book. The editors go through it. You read it. We’re like, this is really going up to the — is it too late — did we say too much? We don’t know how to just tell it exactly how it comes to our minds. We’re missing that filter.

Zibby: That’s great. That makes the consumption of it even easier. It’s like drinking coffee without one of those lids. Woosh. It just comes right out.

Author: There’s nothing cryptic about our stories. It’s pretty blatantly obvious what we’re saying.

Zibby: I liked the question that came in that you based a chapter on about, should your husband be your best friend, basically? You’re like, I’m out here at this nice dinner with you. I actually washed the bra that I happen to be wearing. I don’t want to hear that you think I’m your best friend. Why do we have to be best friends?

Nat: Honestly, that’s one of the chapters that I’m like —

Cat: — It speaks to Nat a lot.

Nat: It speaks to me a lot because I do think I am his best friend, kind of. He’s not mine. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that before.

Cat: Yes, you have.

Nat: But not really. I have, but I always kind of say it in a joking way. I don’t sit him down and let him know.

Cat: Okay, got it. So this is going to be new to him.

Nat: If I have said it, maybe I’ve had a cocktail or two. When you put it in a book, I was dead sober when I wrote those words and told that story. He’s going to have to get over it. There’s no surprise who my best friend is. Get your own best friend.

Zibby: It’s funny how you say it, but I do feel that it’s a lot harder for men to just be as open. I don’t mean to generalize. Obviously, there are men who have very close relationships with guy friends. For them to trust as much — I feel like I tell personal stuff to so many girlfriends in a way that men don’t tend to do. I don’t know if it’s trust or just the way they’re wired or whatever.

Author: I don’t think they put as much weight into their thoughts.

Author: Yeah, as women do. I think that they move through things — not all of them; some of them — a little faster than — we like to process in a different way than they do. It’s interesting. I don’t know if they have the same interest in the topics that we talk about, to be honest with you. I don’t think it’s there. That’s why they relate to actionable items versus these in-depth conversations that they’re kind of bored of. Oh, it’s really hard. They’re like, then fix it. You’re like, that’s not what I want to do.

Author: We like to talk about our inner feelings. Our husbands literally will stare at each other like, what are they even talking about? They’re not even making any sense. To us, we’re making perfect sense.

Zibby: I have to say, sometimes with one of my daughters — I have four kids. With one of my daughters, it distresses me so much when she’s really upset about something that I do try to fix it in a way I wouldn’t do with a girlfriend. A girlfriend, I have all the time in the world. I’ll sit there and hear her out and commiserate or give calm advice. If it’s my daughter, sometimes, which I shouldn’t do, but I’m like, okay, here’s what you can do. Do you do that?

Author: We don’t want to watch our children have to go through pain when we know the answer, so easily how to fix it.

Author: Often, they’ll find every problem. Then you’re like, you could do this. They just want to — okay, I’ll just listen. But you’re ignoring me. If I give you advice you don’t want — I hear you. I don’t know what to say to you. I hear you.

Author: Oh, man. Story of our lives.

Zibby: What has it been like, this tour that you went on? You write so funny about the tour itself and finding male strippers and the unglamorous parts of touring and making everything. How much of that went on before the pandemic disrupted it? Are you going to go back on tour? What’s the latest?

Author: First of all, during the pandemic, we realized that we couldn’t connect and go on tour. We actually started these virtual Late Night Lives even before that for women who were not able to come to the events.

Author: We were full-on in tour when the pandemic hit. When the pandemic hit, we were in New York. We were supposed to go out. We just did LA. That was two years delayed from the pandemic. We were in the midst of it all. It was like, .

Author: There was a short window where things were open in September and November.

Author: We went out in the fall before —

Author: — before it got bad again. We really locked in ten, twenty, thirty shows in the fall. We are now just having conversations about what — we’re about to release a whole bunch of new dates. It was really hard. That’s why our virtual evenings were the closest thing we could do to be able to — we still had our strippers come on virtually. We still had special guests and all of that because we knew that we needed it.

Author: The whole entertainment industry has, sadly, taken a massive hit. Just when they thought they were getting back, round two has come around. We feel so hard for a lot of the workers in the theaters who, it’s their livelihood. They’ve really been disrupted for a lot of years. In the fall, we were a lot of first people’s shows to go back after two years. Whatever this thing is hadn’t even started again. In December, it hit again. I was like, oh, my gosh, this is so hard.

Author: Trying to find good, consistent dancers that have survived through the pandemic, not an easy feat. They’ve retired and moved on.

Author: It was pretty intense. It’s been a pretty intense ride. Just when you think you’re getting your feet back, it’s like, and next. You’re like, ahh! It’s a lot of work to book shows. Then to have them moved or canceled or people nervous to go, it’s been a very interesting time.

Zibby: When did this book come to be? Was this partially a reaction to that? Okay, let’s do the book?

Author: before the pandemic.

Author: It started before the pandemic. Then during the pandemic, I feel like the world actually did stop for a little bit. Then we had to make a decision to either write about the pandemic or not include the pandemic. It’s an interesting topic. If anyone knows, when you write a book, it’s not like, let’s write it next month, release it. It’s a long process. You’re looking sometimes at years from start to finish when it actually happens. They were nervous about it not being here still when the book was released, so we don’t really have the pandemic included in the book. Although, it’s a very big reality for a lot of people. It was during. It was before. There was shortages in some — it’s just been a never-ending —

Author: — Also, it took us a while to get the book going. Books aren’t easy to write. We feel like the first one, it was smoother. The next one, because of so many disruptions in life, it took longer. We are beyond excited that March 20th, 2022 — I think that’s our date — it comes out. We’re just so excited that it’s finally going to be birthed to all the moms and women who need to have this kind of laughter again.

Author: It’s been an interesting time.

Zibby: I sincerely appreciated the laughs myself. I will tell you that.

Author: Where we’re from, it’s still lockdown. The kids just went back to school. The restaurants are still closed. It’s been one of the longest times ever.

Author: It’s been a long time.

Zibby: Aside from the fact that you two have each other and have your community at your back and that you can always be creative to get yourselves through, is there anything else that has really helped, some secret habit or something that you’re like, oh, okay, now this just might stick?

Author: A lot of people said we got them through a lot of dark times, which actually surprised me because I felt like we weren’t having our best — we usually have a ton of fun wherever we go. We have a lot of fun. Because the kids have been home for so long, it wasn’t as easy to always just get together. For a lot of the time, it was illegal. It was literally illegal for us to walk into each other’s houses. People were calling the cops. Not on us, but you heard of these tickets and stuff. We’re like, what? I think that part of it was, each day, just doing it. I think that that’s what moms are superheroes at, is getting through the day. Even when you feel like you’re not your best self or having the best time, that doesn’t equal how you feel to everybody else. Sometimes when you show people you’re doing it, that makes them feel like they can do it too. I think that that’s okay we didn’t feel our best selves. I think that that shows that even in your not-best-self moment you can still be a light to someone else even when you don’t think you are.

Author: And especially when we have the seven kids and everywhere they turn, people were talking about — it was kind of a scary time. We were committed to showing them that we could have fun, we could do fun things, we could get together, we could have dance parties so that they could feel like, when they looked to us, it wasn’t the end of the world. When they looked to the news, it was the end of the world. With us, we will always be able to find something to keep them going.

Author: They’d go to school, get home from school, get sent to school. Wear a mask. Don’t do this. Don’t talk to each other. Go in dividers. It’s been an interesting few years. I think just showing other people that you can smile even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re always smiling.

Zibby: Yes, I totally agree. I think now, without a sense of humor you’re kind of stranded. There’s nothing else. Either you cry all day or you laugh.

Author: You see people that are crying a lot in the past still crying.

Zibby: Or both.

Author: Yes, absolutely.

Zibby: I see this whole expansion that you’re doing with your brand, which I find really interesting. Where are we going with this? Tell me some things that are on the horizon or things maybe you decided not to do or some of the —

Author: — One super random thing that I think is very relatable to your podcast is, we’re pitching an erotica book as we speak. I don’t even know if we’re allowed to say that. I think that fantasy and dreams and possibilities and different ways of thinking are just so needed right now. I feel like never has something like a fantasy world been so important. I think that that’s kind of what kept us going. Our whole brand is built on possibility and dreams that no one thinks is possible. When we said we wanted to go on tour one day, it wasn’t called tour. It was like, let’s just throw one big, epic party with a whole bunch of people so we can get together and have fun. It became a tour. I think that as you grow up, you begin to lose that possibility of dreams. You begin to take on what everyone says isn’t possible.

Author: Except for us.

Author: I think that the goal is to have dreams. Make them crazy. Go as far as you can with them. See what happens. Literally, I wrote an email one day in the middle of the pandemic to our book agent. I said to him — he’s a man. He’s fairly successful. I was like, “I’m going to write an erotica book.” He’s like, “I’ll call you tomorrow. Let’s get this on the road.” I was like, “Sounds great.” It was so weird to write it. That’s such a random genre for us. I was like, it’s missing, women-empowered erotica.

Author: Gentle erotica.

Author: Not porn.

Author: Romance and fantasy. Not a lot of actual — when you think erotica —

Author: — It’s not butter guy on the front of — what was his name? He was blond. Come on, guys.

Zibby: Oh, Fabio.

Author: Fabio. You know what I mean? It’s very, very different.

Author: It’s also self-exploration for women that have been married for a while, that have children, or in a different phase of their lives.

Author: I’m speaking this into truth. I’m trying to talk about it so that when it happens we can look back and say, remember when we had this wild dream to have this area that is untouched in women and go for it and see if we can do it?

Author: We drink wine. We love wine. We’re like, I wish we had our own wine. Why do we have to be drinking everybody else’s wine when we can actually create, from the bottom up, our very own wine?

Author: We’ve been talking about that for a long time too.

Author: We launch it February 14th. It is a California rosé and white. We have it here. We’ve been drinking cases of it here in Florida.

Author: Cases.

Author: It’s nice and light and crisp. It’s a crowd-pleaser. You don’t have to be too fancy to like it or know too much about it. It’s easy wine to drink, sipping wine. It’s perfect for everything.

Zibby: That’s amazing. What’s it called? I want to buy it.

Author: It is coming out February 14th. It’s called Twin Truths. It’s called Twin Truths because —

Author: — It’s actually good. I know I say that I’m not supposed to, but a lot of people will just put their name on something.

Author: We created it. We went to the winery. We tasted thousands of different notes of wine. We worked with sommeliers.

Author: I like a really expensive rosé, really expensive, thirty dollars in Canada. My husband was like, “You can’t have an expensive wine if you haven’t tasted a lot of wines,” but that’s the only one I really liked. There’s two or three that I like.

Author: She’s like, says who?

Author: We tried a million. I was like, this is actually delicious.

Zibby: I’m very excited. Twin Truths, I’m totally — maybe I can do a giveaway or something.

Author: I don’t know if you can give away wine, though.

Zibby: Oh, shoot. Okay.

Nat: I don’t know.

Cat: Maybe she can. Maybe we can’t because we’re the owners, but maybe she can.

Nat: It’s going to be online, so not in the stores. You can easily just ship it online, have it on reoccurring monthly subscription, as I do with my wine.

Cat: We’ll be going back on tour. When Natalie tells us what we’re doing, I’m like, wow, we are doing a lot. Every day, we have a new idea. It just depends on what road we decide to go down with it. We’ve taken these past two weeks to regroup. We got our kids on a beach in Florida as we speak. I think we’re just getting ready before the storm comes, the good storm, as Natalie says.

Nat: It’s going to be the most brilliant storm. This is the ten-day calm before it. I told Cat, I’m like, get ready. Families, be prepared. We may not be home a lot.

Cat: We will be home. We just will be busy.

Nat: Finally traveling.

Zibby: That’s awesome. I feel like I relate in that I’m always having ideas. I have this whole list of big ideas I don’t have time for. There are just so many things that sound fun. Then of course, the new idea always sounds more fun than just continuing to execute on the old idea.

Nat: There is a bonus to having a partner. When you say it to someone else and if you agree it’s a good idea, then you kind of can hold yourself accountable to that.

Cat: We also have a group which is sort of an extension of our brand and not so much Cat & Nat. It’s called The Common Parent. It’s where we bring in experts into the platform who talk about the topics that are tangible, not overarching. I think a lot of parenting books are amazing, but to get through a whole parenting book, often, the problem is gone by the time you get through.

Nat: Moms don’t have time to read books.

Cat: We bring in speakers who do quick-hit webinars to grasp the topic and give you actionable items to execute. Having been a social worker previously before we started this, I feel like that’s what’s missing, is these items that you can put in your toolbox versus big concepts.

Nat: We used to think that it was so hard having babies and toddlers. Then we realized the issues that we’re dealing with as parents are a lot bigger and more important and long-lasting. We don’t have time to read ten books. We just need quick bits of how to handle this stuff.

Zibby: Totally get it. It’s funny because your on-the-road and outward-facing, very-fun-mom, always-laughing personas, I feel like, hide the fact you’re very shrewd businesswomen building a business. It’s like the secret truth that is not in the book.

Author: I know. We do talk a lot about it in the podcast, in the “Moms Truths” podcast.

Author: You know what? We work hard in terms of ideas and not being afraid to take risks. We don’t get stuck in a lot of the steps that a lot of people take and get stuck in. We don’t think through a lot of things because I think we’re not afraid to fail. If someone was to ask us, what were our biggest failures? I don’t know if we can necessarily answer that because I don’t think we’ve “failed.” I think that we’ve learned from everything we’ve done because there has been no road before us, really. We started this before social media was this epic, huge platform. I do feel each day, we wake up and we grind. We have grit.

Author: Some reason, somehow, we have a lot of capacity. We’ve got a lot of room for all of the kids, the husbands, our extended family, business, travel. At the end of the day, we still have time to have some fun, which means there’s also probably —

Author: — If we’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. If you’re not making memories, we’d be out. We’re very fortunate that social media did come along and we were able to create a platform for free without having to invest in a massive — although, I just read all about NFTs this morning. That is just a bit much for me at the moment. They are coming so hard and fast and furious. I’m like, just when we almost have a million on TikTok and I think we’re good and we’ve mastered another platform, guess what? Another one’s coming down the — 3D web and 2D web, I was just like, here we go again. As entrepreneurs, I’m sure you can relate, every time a new platform comes up or you start hearing the rumbles, you’re just like, . It’s another thing to do. It’s not like you get to let go of another one. You have to add another one in. It’s probably the hardest part of it, is mastering new platforms as they come in and keeping up to date with all of these things.

Zibby: I’ve been thinking about NFTs. I’m like, oh, maybe there will be something cool there. What could that be? What would that look like? I decided I had to start researching, so I did. Yes, there’s always something new coming. It’s a struggle. On the writing side at least, what advice do you have on writing together? What advice would you have for people who are out there trying to write their own version of their mom truths? Or mom answers, frankly.

Author: For us, the way our book is written, a lot of it is about a conversation between two best friends and being open and honest about it. For us, our format in both books was that storytelling, our honest stories, our real stories. Even though a lot of them have happened in the past, it’s just about not overthinking the stories, putting them out there. There’s so much editing that comes later. Just putting your idea and your stories — and stories that you haven’t told yet before anywhere else. You want to put them out there because you know that it’s going to resonate with other people. If you’ve been through an experience, you’re not the only one who has. To just share the things that maybe before you were afraid to share, you realize that other people need it, to hear it too to feel normal and to be able to laugh at it.

Author: In terms of a book, also, there’s so many options now where you’re not getting so bogged down in terms of — part of social media, you can do microblogs and books to see what people feel about your content while you’re writing it so you’re not spending a ton of money investing into a book. There’s so many ways you can gauge the content that you’re writing to see the feedback from it before you put it down onto everything. That’s how we started. Someone found us on social media or mailed us on social media and was like, “You guys should a write a book.” We were like, pardon? People who would really want to write a book, it’s a long process for some of us. It’s not necessarily a linear — it’s not one way to do it. You don’t always have to pitch a book and write a book to get it to be a book. Sometimes, take a risk. Don’t overthink it. Social media’s a beautiful, free place to write things and see how your audience grows from it. Then you really do begin to build your own distribution of selling and writing a book. If you are passionate about being an author — we actually know someone in our life who is a great writer and is always pitching and writing books but doesn’t have a social media platform. I think to myself, if this person just maybe wrote smaller things, they could grow an audience to see what resonated. It doesn’t always have to be a personal diary. It can be — TikTok now, I hate to say it, has fictional stories on there that lead to the actual book. They get their actors to act out the book and see more. You get enthralled in the story. They’re like, it’s a book. I’m like, genius. Genius. There’s so many creative ways to get out what you want to do. Look outside the box rather than looking at how it was done. Look at how you can do it now.

Zibby: I started my own publishing company. It’s called Zibby Books. I’m trying to change up the way it all works to make it better for writers and to create authors as brands and give them all the tools they need for social media and marketing and publicity because all that is so important to being an author.

Author: And changing daily, right?

Zibby: Yep, and changing daily. Yes.

Author: Also, being able to be prepared that you can’t just put a book out there and think you’re going to be a number-one best-seller. Marketing is so important, and how much you’re committed to marketing your book.

Zibby: Yes, and it’s not over just because it came out two months ago.

Author: That’s right. Evergreen.

Author: I know. They give you thirty days. You’re like, what? I’m not the best-seller?

Zibby: It needs time, like everything. It was so great chatting with you. Thank you so much for spending the time with me and keeping the kids at bay and everything.

Author: Oh, my gosh, look at what we’re looking at. I don’t know if you can see.

Zibby: Oh, wow. I’m so jealous. Wow, that is a beautiful view.

Author: That’s what I’ve been looking out at.

Author: If you see my eyes wandering past you, they’re looking at the ocean.

Author: In four days, we’re back to snow.

Zibby: Enjoy your time.

Author: Thank you.

Zibby: Take care.

Author: Thanks for having us.

Author: Bye.

Zibby: Buh-bye.

Catherine Belknap & Natalie Telfer, CAT & NAT'S MOM SECRETS

CAT & NAT’S MOM SECRETS by Catherine Belknap & Natalie Telfer

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