Chriselle Lim, Hallie Swanson, & Nabela Noor Martin Talk Navigating Mom Life

And the major lessons they’ve learned along the way.

TZR/ Photos: @chrisellelim, @nabela, @halliedaily

To an outsider looking in, the world of a content creator is about as glamorous as it gets. Between the epic, picture-perfect getaways, designer clothes, and seemingly pristine homes, their lives appear unvarnished. But, of course, we know that is not the truth. In fact, in recent years, many influencers have used their platforms to raise awareness around the realities of their experiences with things like mental health, fertility, and even navigating motherhood.

And while being candid and authentic about your real-life experiences can be a positive in that it helps you connect with your audience on a deeper level, it can also have its drawbacks as it opens you up to harsh criticism and judgment — especially once children enter the picture. “I think being one of the first generation of content creators online, and also being one of the first of my generation to have kids, you didn't really know what the consequences are going to be after posting everything online about your personal life,” says longtime content creator and entrepreneur Chriselle Lim. Indeed, since hitting the scene in 2011, the business owner and mother of two has shared virtually every major milestone and life event, including her divorce in 2021. “I was always very open about my life and I did struggle quite a bit when I was going through my divorce, just because everyone felt entitled to that information — and to my kids, because I decided that I was going to not show them as much.”

Over the years, the Phlur founder has learned the value of drawing clear boundaries to protect herself and her children, especially as they get older. “When they're babies, they're a little less aware. But now, Chloe is almost in her preteen years and Colette is pretty much aware of everything going on, being almost 6 years old. So, I do really try to not document every single moment of my life.”

LA-based content creator Hallie Swanson seconds this notion, adding she only posts images of her teenage son when he gives his permission in an attempt to avoid resentment and tension toward her career in the spotlight. “One time I heard my son say, ‘Mom, I hate your job,’ because whatever we do, wherever we go, I have to take pictures,” she says. “I would always like to have him in the pictures with me. After that, I decided to respect his choice. Now, I say, ‘I'm going to take pictures. Would you like to be in them with me?’ Sometimes he say yes, sometimes he says no.”


With two little girls under the age of three, designer and entrepreneur Nabela Noor Martin says she often thinks about how her public persona will impact them in the future. “I love to share my daughters, but I like to do it in a way that still feels like I'm honoring and respecting them,” she says. “I think to myself, when they're 12 or 15 or 25, will this make them feel embarrassed? Will it make them feel humiliated? I think from that lens. So, you'll never hear me share when my daughter has her first crush, these are not my stories to tell.”

Ahead, the three creatives discuss their experiences with early motherhood, and how their careers in the spotlight have changed how they see the world as well as their relationship with their children.

Balancing Career & Motherhood

For Swanson, finding balance came as a result of good old trial and error, as motherhood came right at the start of her career in content creation. The Chinese influencer had just welcomed her son when she stepped into the influencer world in 2010. At the time, the space was uncharted territory, so Swanson had no point of reference on how to navigate this new life of fashion blogging.

The LA-based creative had little forewarning or preparation on how this new career would impact her day-to-day. And considering neither her nor her husband’s family were in close proximity, she stepped into the role of blogger and mother with little help aside from her partner. “If I went to an event, my husband would come along with the baby and they’d wait in the car,” she recalls of those early days. “So, during that time, he was very supportive. When your family is supportive, it helps in your success in business and life.”

As her career and profile picked up (Swanson made Vanity Fair’s 2013 International Best Dressed list), Swanson found balancing the priorities of family and her increasingly demanding job more challenging. “In the beginning, I would have these important events that I really didn’t want to miss, but my husband would be sick or my son would be sick,” Swanson recalls. “I'd just go just because I thought they would understand, they would support me. But after one or two times and I realized, ‘No, that's not right.’” These days, the creative says she always puts her family before any job opportunity — as she sees the bigger picture much more clearly. “Everything else in life is just like a firework,” she says. “They show up, but they disappear. Family is always there. We make mistakes but we learn. So I'm happy I learned from that.”

For Lim, who’d been an influencer for some five years before welcoming her first child, her initial experience with motherhood was a jarring one. “When I had Chloe, I was completely in shock,” she recalls. “I was not prepared for the transition.” Throughout her pregnancy, the soon-to-be mother said she had a very idyllic view of her life postpartum. She assumed she’d be able to juggle all of her responsibilities — both old and new — easily, without a hitch. “I was like, yeah, I got this, I'm going to be able to work from home, I'm going to be able to jump right into it,” she says. “I run my own business and I can't take that much time off. So, that led to a really challenging experience as a new mother. I think I also had postpartum depression because I was so burnt out.”

At the time, Lim didn’t have healthy boundaries in place to protect her mental health as she made this new life transition. With the birth of her second child Colette in 2018, however, Lim felt better equipped and knew the power of making her own terms — and saying no. “I did actually take a proper maternity leave [that time],” she says. “No one gave that to me, but I had to give it to myself. So it was just a lot of drawing those lines and letting my team know, ‘Look, I'm not going to be available, and if something comes up, you guys are going to have to handle it. If it's obviously an emergency, you guys have my contacts but please do not try to get me involved unless it's something that is extremely, extremely urgent.’ I think, as women, we have typically been labeled as superwoman or being able to do it all. That might sound like a compliment, but it really backfires on you.”


Noor Martin credits her “village” for helping her navigate the early stages of motherhood. After struggling to conceive for years, the Bangladeshi-American content creator welcomed her first child in 2022, and was overwhelmed by the amount of support she received from family. “My family come from Bangladesh, and the village mentality really is strong,” she says. “I feel very blessed and grateful to have had an experience where we all just came together. I had caretakers, I had family members, I had everything that I could ever dream of to be able to help make this process more manageable.”

But even with the physical assistance provided, like Lim, Noor Martin says she also felt her mental health needed to be cared for during this time. “I was still in therapy,” she explains. “I think that should be a prerequisite. So before you leave the hospital, they make you watch all these videos ... about SIDS, car seat awareness, shaken baby syndrome, everything. And you have to watch them all to acknowledge that you're going to adhere to that guidance before you can check out. And I wish that there was something that parents have to watch before checking out, which is specifically about mental health and seeking help.”

On “Influencing” Your Children

The experience of living — and working — in the spotlight is a unique one. As creatives like Swanson, Lim, and Noor Martin raise the next generation, they’re cognizant of how they share there own lessons in self-confidence, identity, and (of course) the impact of social media with their children.

“One thing that I'm really excited about and really grateful for in having this platform is that I am unconventional in many ways,” says Noor Martin. “So seeing a girl like me live out her dreams in real life, in real time is something that just is not as common. So me being able to — in my body, in my size, with my skin color, with my background — live a life that has been reserved for just one type for so long, I hope that empowers them and makes them feel like anything is possible.”

While Lim’s little ones aren’t navigating social media yet, she says when they do, she hopes to instill in them a realistic view of an often unrealistic space. “It's really important to me that they know that not everything that you see online is real,” she says. “It's something that I'm showing them as I'm filming a video, as I'm putting on makeup, as I'm editing a photo, how everything can be changed and it could also be edited. I think a very important thing for me to teach them and also their generation is not to believe everything they see on the internet. I always tell them, and this is actually very true, I feel the most beautiful when I don't have any makeup on and I just have clean, fresh skin.”

For her teenage son, who is just starting his journey with social media, Swanson says she tries to lead with trust, approaching her child as a friend and supporting his creativity within the space. “I just look at his account when I feel I need to, or I'm interested in knowing a bit more about his life,” she says. “I think he has a good attitude about self-image and social media. Sometimes we discuss videos he posts with his friends when they’re playing around. I’ll tell him ‘I feel a little bit uncomfortable when I'm watching this,’ and he’ll agree. So I’ll say ‘What would you like to do with this post? Would you like to keep it up or would you like to delete it?’ I always ask his opinion and he always makes the right decision. So, yeah, I just talk to him like a friend.”

At the end of the day, leading by example is the goal for these content creators. In living their own lives authentically, they’re teaching their children to do the same. “I hope that by me doing that literally as my job, that they're able to have that ability to filter out what they're consuming and understand what they're consuming is just a portion [of real life],” says Noor Martin. “And I hope that that's something that they gain out of it, because then I think that it'll empower them to be more authentic and confident and not compare. If I can teach them that comparison is the thief of joy, then it'll be a job well done.”