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Supermodel Coco Rocha on Life as a Mom and Role Model

She’s a modeling industry icon, but a parent above all else.
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By Lauren Barth, Associate Content Director, Lifecycle
Published January 24, 2023
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She may be known as the Queen of the Pose, but Coco Rocha doesn’t fancy herself royalty. As a mom, model and mentor, she maintains perspective and prioritizes life with her husband and three kids above all else. And while she loves the industry that gave her a career, she also acknowledges it has some serious flaws—and she’s not afraid to speak her truth and advocate for others. Just look at her Instagram feed; it’s equal parts glam and fam, fashion model and role model. The Bump recently chatted with Rocha about her parenting world behind the camera. Here’s what she had to say.

The Bump: As a mom, model and businesswoman, you juggle a lot every day. How do you keep all the balls in the air—and how do you know which hat to wear at each moment?

Coco Rocha: I rely on my support system. The grandparents—my mom and my father, my mother-in-law—they’re all so hands-on. Then, when it comes to business, my husband and I are partners. Yes, I do the modeling part, but James does so much behind the scenes so that I can also be Mom, and that’s the most important thing to me. So I always tell people that are trying to get into business, you can try and do it all, and then you’ll just burn out and be overwhelmed, and nothing will be accomplished. Or, you could find a support system—whoever it might be—so that you can carry through to do all these things and wear all these different hats.

TB: Mom guilt tends to come with the territory. What do you say to yourself when you hear those negative voices creep up in your head?

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CR: For me, my mom guilt isn’t about time away from my kids, because I spend every moment with them. If we go on trips, they’re with us. If they’re not on a trip with us, we’re only gone for 24 hours—and it’s rare. So my mom guilt is more like: I had a long day, I’m tired and I snapped—and I know I shouldn’t have, and I’m annoyed with myself. You want to learn from it, but, sure enough, you’ll do it again. I wish there was some sort of solution to say, “Oh, it’ll never happen again.” But you have to remind yourself that there are so many great moments too. We have to pat ourselves on the back for those moments… I use the analogy of social media. You can look at comments—and there’s all these lovely comments—and you kind of bypass them. And then you see this negative comment, and, for some reason, you just want to focus on that all day. So same thing—we kind of want to pick out these moments where we’re at fault. But we ignore all the positivity throughout the day.

TB: With three kids, you’re familiar with the rollercoaster fourth trimester. Can you offer some words of wisdom for moms going through this major physical and emotional life transition?

CR: When it was my first baby, I was reading all these books, as if they were going to tell me how I should feel. There was this chapter-by-chapter expectation. And I remember just kind of being overwhelmed… You realize, no, it’s just going to be the way it is: Each baby and each time will be different. The expectation of needing to hit a mark, or comparing with your friends or what you see online. You struggle, like: “Why am I just not getting it right?” So I realized by baby number three, it’s going to be different—again. And I’m going to roll with the punches and it’s all going to be good. You go with the flow, and when you have that realization, it feels better.

TB: As parents, we’re constantly bombarded with advice. Is there a piece of parenting wisdom—or maybe a parenting cliche—that you think parents should just completely bypass and ignore?

CR: I remember hearing so many opinions when I was first pregnant. And you do listen to them, and then you kind of get overwhelmed. And you’re like, “Oh, my goodness, what’s happening? Why do I need to listen to all this?” I remember this one older lady came up to me and was like, “Can I give you a piece of advice?” And I was like, “Ah, here we go again.” And she says, “Don’t listen to anyone’s advice.”

There’s going to be so many ways to love a child. In the end, you’re going to find the right way. You can listen to the advice, but don’t overwhelm yourself with it. So I’ve always kind of tried to remind myself that I don’t always have to listen. It’s just there as an opinion… As long as a kid is loved, fed and taken care of, what more do they need?

TB: What do you think has been the biggest parenting learning curve that you’ve encountered?

CR: It’s so fascinating. You think you’re kind of molding your child, and you’re like, “Wow, I’m such a good parent, look at how my kid acts in this restaurant! Look at my kid, being such a good person.” And then you have another kid, and, well, that’s never gonna happen again! This kid will be different. This kid is quieter—or this kid is louder. And you’re like, “But I did the same thing. Why aren’t they reacting the same way?” And, sure enough, you have a third… Really, they’re little people. And they become their own little selves, which is so fascinating. You’re not creating robots. You’re creating people that genuinely will become their own selves. It’s amazing to see how one gets there faster or slower. For example, my oldest very much wants to please. My middle one is a very sweet little boy, and, wow, he’s the most cuddly and loving. And our youngest holds her own. She can stay in her own little corner and do her own little thing. She’s determined. And, yet, they all had the same upbringing. How did that even happen?

TB: What was one of the scariest or most surprising parts of pregnancy for you?

CR: Being pregnant [with my third] during [the start of COVID] was terrifying, because no one knew anything. And so we took our precautions very seriously. You didn’t want to go to the hospital at that time. You were told to go to the hospital, wear a mask and your significant other couldn’t be with you at visits. For those moms that were having their first, it was so upsetting to think they had to be alone.

But what I also loved about that time was that I already was a very hands-on mommy. So that time was even more [special]—hanging out even more and being together as a family. And I was so grateful for that time together.

TB: Travel is a big part of your life and job. Where is the most exciting place you’ve traveled as a family? And what destination is on your must-visit list?

CR: Let’s be honest, the kids’ favorites were Disney and Universal. I was really excited for them. When it comes to my favorites, it’s a beach—and probably some sort of cocktail in Mom’s hand. So we’ve done the Virgin Islands, we’ve done Turks and Caicos, we’re hoping to go to Mexico. When they get older, I’m so excited to share more with them. We went with my oldest to Iceland—that’s probably my favorite destination. I’d love to go back. And my goal is that when they do get older, we can do trips that aren’t just beach trips—where you can actually go on excursions or take an RV and just stop wherever you like and hike up a mountain. I went to Botswana as an adult by myself—and I’d love to redo that with them. I honestly would love to repeat everything, and see it through their eyes.

TB: Speaking of travel, what’s one thing you never travel without?

CR: My Pluto Pod. Whenever we travel for work, I’m very thankful that my jobs sometimes pay for business class. (I’m always like, “Yay, this is gonna be a good night’s sleep for me too.”) But then when we go on our own family trips, it’s economy style. The kids lay on me—I’m going to be the person they sleep on. But when it comes to Mommy having just a quick little nap? It’s fantastic that I can just sit up straight and actually sleep with the Pluto Pod. Personally, I can fall asleep in seconds. As parents, I think we’re so sleep-deprived, that it’s a magic trick. And just being able to just sit upright and have a little nap while my kids use me as their bed, it’s perfect.

TB: What’s your go five-minute self-care routine? And what’s your favorite all-day indulgence?

CR: So this is the one thing where I think I can do better. My self-care? Is it going to be a shower—or is it going to be taking off my makeup at the end of the day? That’s as far as my self-care goes. I’m proud of myself if I get cream on my face at the end of the day, to be honest. I’m that person. I wish I’d do better, and I think I’ll do better. This is one of my goals. I wouldn’t say “me time,” because my favorite time is just hanging out with my kids… I love massages; I love all of that sort of stuff. It’s just not something that I would take a day off to do when I could probably hang out with my kids instead.

TB: I know you’re passionate about the mentorship work you do through your modeling camp. Tell us more about what that looks like. What lessons can be extended into everyday life?

CR: Some people have told me it’s very much like a life coach. It’s an inspiring place, and you don’t really have to think of it only for a modeling career. But I invite models to come because I truly believe there’s no space or place where models can invest in themselves, but also educate themselves on their career and path. So it’s a place where they can come and work on their craft, continue to build their careers and also learn the business side. And, in the end, it’s really about confidence building.

TB: You have daughters, and you’re very passionate about mentorship and advocating for models and for children. What do you really want your daughters to know about the industry you’re in?

CR: When they were little, I would always tell them, “I’m doing a talent show.” That seemed like an accurate statement—like, I go up on a stage and I perform, and that made sense… But now I want my older daughter to understand that it’s not about beauty. Really, it isn’t. I honestly think anyone can model, and I really mean that. It’s finding people who are well-rounded, inside and out… But a few rules in our house: My kids aren’t allowed to use the word “ugly.” Because in our industry, I heard that word maybe a little too often. I never want my kids to think that I’m in an industry where it’s so focused on the outer appearance—which it can be. They know that Mommy is in it for a different reason.

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