August Cover: Natasha D’Anna of TwinDollicious
I met Natasha D’Anna at a press day at Coney Island when our boys were still in the infant stage. We had just met and had our elementary school-age kids with us, so we watched the other mom’s baby while we hopped on a ride with our older kids. It only took that first meeting to know that this mom has your back. When you meet a mom like this, one whose warmth and caring demeanor seep out of them, you want to hold on to that new friend and stay connected.
Psst…check out Carnivals, Festivals, and Parades: August 2023
I’m not alone; with her many social followers who gravitate towards this Staten Island mom of three, this author and creative force behind TwinDollicious (@ twindollicious) has created a nurturing community. Her followers learn about new products, parenting tips, and helpful kid lines. She often is asked to speak on panels for well-known brands as a result of her background in Behavioral Therapy, Special Needs and her lifestyle brand makes her a trusted advocate in the New York community.
With the warmth mentioned earlier and infectious energy coupled with her relatable reels of raising her kids — Kennedy, Sebastian (Bash), age 6, and twins Vittoria D’Anna and Kennedy (the twins), ages 12, Natasha reminds us to take deep breaths, work through the beautiful chaos of motherhood and let’s all enjoy the ride.
Read on to learn more about Natasha and why community is everything to her.
You have a tight social community. What propelled you to start your brand TwinDollicious and author a book, ANY TWO CAN BE TWINDOLLICIOUS?
I started TwinDollicious & Co because I wanted to create, and I wanted to create something with a message. I wanted to share the message of community and the importance of being a happy parent (mom) without judgment or guilt.
I didn’t know much about branding, but I did know that a community of moms and children (especially twins) needed to see, hear and learn more about the fun part of being a twin. I also wrote a book under Twindollicious. Whenever I searched for a book to read to my twins, I would only find the Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope, which led me to the number one belief about many things..,..if it isn’t available yet, then it must be made. I met with a branding representative who suggested that I change the name and not use TwinDollicious-but I had already envisioned the characters and the little readers enjoying the book- so it stayed.
Donna, I love that you mentioned community because it truly means so much for us moms and I love having you as part of my community.
Ahh, thank you! You are always out there; I see you at community roundtables, and you are known to speak on panels-how has the parenting community benefited you in parenting?
I genuinely LOVE Community! So many people seek new learning skills and shared stories. Within a community, you can find plenty of encouragement of expression, especially from seasoned moms who share their opinions and experiences. It’s always great to serve and figure out what people need. If there is a roundtable or panel to which I can add value, I am more than happy to speak and support. Being active in the community has benefited me in ways where I am reminded that I am not alone on this parenting journey- it is just fitting to be able to grow and learn from each other. The most significant benefit is teaching my children that they can also find great community in their lives-they are always watching and learning. Growth happens when we gather with like-minded people at events to fill each other up.
As a mother of 3, how are you bringing up your kids differently from your upbringing? What life lessons have you brought to your parenting?
I am raising my children in a completely different environment from how I was raised. I loved how I grew up until I began to feel and be told I was different from everyone else. Besides the environment, the difference in upbringing includes raising children with the courage to ask questions, express themselves, and enjoy being a child. The life lessons I have brought to my parenting include family bonding, sibling love, and living in a judgment-free zone. The overall life lesson is to feel good about themselves and know the rooms and environment they are most comfortable in are where they will grow.
Growing up in NYC, one of the world’s most diverse cities, has been a blessing. I have shared some of the most humbling experiences with my children, not just through books or media but through experience. They have walked through many streets of NY with questions. It’s a gift to feel just as connected to a less fortunate person and feel the same connection with someone fortunate. I love giving my children the opportunity to give back their time, joy, or kindness through voluntary experiences. I also love sharing with my children the experience of being part of an art-filled community and opportunities to travel outside our diverse city.
A big part of the life lessons that I have learned also stems from spending Summers with my grandparents in the South. This portion of my upbringing is reflected in parenting when I need to escape the city and have our family regroup together in a smaller setting with quiet moments and slower activities; this has become one of our favorite traditions.
Your background is in Behavioral Therapy. Can you give us parents some tips on how to get kids ready for Back to School?
Behavioral Therapy is connected with the basic expressions of behaviors (behaviorism), which is derived from the idea that we learn from our environment. The behavioral therapy method includes changing unhealthy behaviors, which can be self-destructive. As a parent, we are always looking to modify some behavior because modifying is a way to adjust to change. I am working on ways to bring behavioral awareness in parenting and connection to our kiddos in the community.
My parenting tips to get the kiddos ready for back to school include adjusting my behaviors; as the parent, conversations and routines to include transitioning back to the school schedule two weeks before school begins. We begin by doing something as simple as meal planning more, instead of winging the many meals in the kitchen when I am not working out of the home. I plan lunch and dinner but allow them to choose their breakfast. Changing the mealtime routine helps with training ourselves that the seasons are changing. When you think about it, back-to-school season is starting the harvest season, which will include more harvesting meals and more time at home or in the home. However, right before the transition happens, I recommend doing something exciting-take a trip, going to an amusement park, and being adventurous for yourself and the kiddos!!! Then, as you lead up to the first day of school, they will have that memory and look forward to something new and fresh when school starts.
Any special tips for us parents with Autism kids?
For my beautiful parents with children who are Autistic, it is best to stay in a routine. However, the introduction of new activities, routines, or semi-spontaneous activities can be successful when parents create a conversation board. It is a board with pictures, places, and everyday activities that can be introduced in conversation to your child, whether verbal or non-verbal. The delivery of language and expression can be receptive when trust is present that the transition into something new is ok. Once this is established, once a week, a new activity during the Summer (even if it is as simple as going to a new ice cream parlor or playground) is tangible and fun for everyone.
Natasha D’Anna’s best-loved activities on Staten Island!
• My family loves the Staten Island Playhouse at the Empire Outlets next door to the SI Ferry
• The Staten Island Children’s Museum and the gardens are beautiful all year long
• Outdoor dining by the Marina and fishing at Great Kills waterfront is always relaxing
• An outdoor golf day or indoors at one of our favorite places; Shot Shaver Golf
Follow Natasha @twindollicious