Meredith Sinclair, a mother of two teenage boys, has dedicated her life to spreading the importance of play. Sinclair began this journey by writing a traditional mom blog and working in TV for several years, but as her boys grew older she wanted to do something a little different.
“As I started to shift my writing and TV work into the world of play and its impact on us as human beings, I decided to dedicate my site to sharing practical ideas and inspiration for incorporating playfulness into our everyday lives,” Sinclair says.
Sinclair has been building her brand and blog (Meredith Plays) for more than 10 years, and her hard work has paid off in a big way. She recently published her first book, “Well Played, The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit,” and was invited to speak at the Mom 2.0 Summit, winning the conference's IRIS Breakout of the Year award.
“I was 100 percent sure I wouldn’t win, so when they called my name, I nearly fell off my chair," Sinclair says. "I learned a valuable lesson that night. In the world of social media and content creation, it’s not always about numbers of followers and trying to get the most clicks and views. People want true connection and genuine passion."
To top off this success, Sinclair does regular play-related TV spots on "Today," and is the new “100% Family Time Expert” for Juicy Juice. Sinclair tells Mom.me how she manages to juggle her busy work life with motherhood.
Describe the moment when you were inspired to write “Well Played, The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit”?
I’ll never forget it. I was asked to do a presentation for the Mom 2.0 Summit, where I could talk for five minutes about anything I was passionate about. I had been noodling the idea of a book for parents about the power of play with our children, and also how playfulness is vital for us as adults as well. I decided to workshop this idea in my talk, because the audience at the presentation was the perfect target audience for the book as well. After my talk, mom after mom came up to me (several with teary eyes) thanking me. They told me they had forgotten how to play for themselves and never realized the impact of incorporating play into their own lives as well as their children’s. That’s when I knew I had to write this book.
In addition to being a mother, you’re the author of "Well Played," you write your blog Meredith Plays, and you’re now a spokesperson for Juicy Juice. How do you make it all work?
Being a working mom is not easy, but I love my job. “Balance” has been the buzzword for busy working parents for a long time, and it can be a nearly impossible goal. It’s really more a blend than a balance. Some days are well-blended, and others are not. And that’s OK! When Juicy Juice first approached me to be their Family Time Expert, I was beyond thrilled. This campaign really embodies what Meredith Plays was designed to accomplish—providing easy and fun activities for families to do together, in whatever time they have. Nearly all of the activities in my book and the tips I share as part of the Juicy Juice Family Time campaign are things I’ve done with my own children.
When did you first feel successful?
I have felt successful throughout my life in various ways, and not just through my professional work. I loved being home with my boys when they were young and felt really proud of that work and quite successful. The first time I felt really successful as a “working mom” (although, let’s be real, all moms are working moms) was probably my first segment on "Today." That and the day my book launched. Those two are tied!
Has there been anything about writing “Well Played” that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
I absolutely loved learning about how a book is created from start to finish. It was such a fun challenge for me, and the process felt super empowering. My editor at HarperCollins and my literary agent were incredible at guiding me through the process and encouraging me when I felt stuck or scared. Writing a book can be quite daunting even when you’re sure of your topic and love what you’re writing about. I learned to really trust my own voice.
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own blog or write their own book?
Just start writing! A blog is an amazing playground on which to find your voice and connect with people through the written word. Write about what matters most to you, not what you think will get the most clicks or comments. The thing that people tell me over and over again is that they connect with me because they know I’m authentically passionate about what I share both in my writing and on television.
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and author to keep everything in balance?
The biggest sacrifices quite honestly have been in my own free time and self-care, but I’m definitely getting much better about taking my own advice to play more for myself. In the early years when I was building my brand, I spent many hours at my kitchen island shooting and editing videos for my blog, writing columns, producing and hosting TV segments for free and hustling from the time my kids left in the morning till they walked in after school. Meanwhile, a lot of my stay-at-home mom pals were off playing tennis, going to the gym or lunching while the kids were away. I don’t regret the time I spent hustling for my brand, but I now understand that whole “blend” thing a little better for myself. I’m much better at everything when I fill myself back up now and again.
If you could have lunch with any business person/mogul/entrepreneur living or dead, who would it be and why?
It might sound a little crazy, but it would be Bethenny Frankel. She is a woman who built an original brand with hustle, gumption, grit and a 100 percent laser focus—and then sold it for millions. I love her no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is unapologetic business acumen. She fascinates me and scares me a little, and I love that.
How was the process of writing your book different from writing your blog? Do you enjoy one more than the other?
Writing a book is like climbing a massive mountain over the course of nine months. You chip away little by little, and stop to breathe in the view after each new crest. Blogging feels more immediate and spur-of-the-moment for me, like a brisk hike because the sun is out and you need to stretch. I actually like them both individually for what they bring to the table. I think I’ll give book writing another go at some point—pretty sure there’s a children’s series in me somewhere!
Is there anything new on the horizon for Meredith Plays?
We have some cool videos launching that were filmed at my home in California as part of my work with Juicy Juice. I am so excited about this partnership because it’s completely authentic to who I am and what I believe. I have some show concepts in development and hope to be bringing at least one of those to the small screen in the next year or so. I’ll be also continuing my regular play-based TV segments on "Today," "Fox and Friends" and "The Home and Family Show."