The founder of design blog Oh Joy! and her surgeon-husband are teaching their kids to love color, embrace imperfection, and be as happy as a rainbow.
Q: You two are in very different lines of work. Do you approach parenting in the same way?
JOY: We are different types of people. Bob is a pediatric spine surgeon and he’s very scientific. I’m a creative, artsy person. In many ways, I think that’s reflected in our parenting. I tend to be more emotional and he tends to be more…
BOB: Matter of fact. :) But we’re on the same team and we present a united front. When we find ourselves not doing that, we regroup when the kids aren’t around to get on the same page.
Q: How do Ruby and Coco get along?
B: They’re best friends but they spend too much time together right now. I think all of us are dealing with the fact that no matter how much you love someone, you need time away from them. I go to work every day and Joy goes into her office, but the kids are in the house most of the time and haven’t had a lot of time apart.
Q: You built your house from the ground up. How was that?
J: It was the most stressful time of my life.
Q: Did you share the burden?
J: We made big decisions together, but for the little things, I mostly did it—plus the managing of the loans and all that stuff.
B: Joy probably stressed more than the average person because design is her job. She put a lot of pressure on herself, but I think she did a great job for all of us.
Q: What are you most proud of with regard to the house?
J: I love that it feels like it’s exactly meant for us. There are decisions that people make for renovations based on future owners and resale. Since we plan to live here a very long time, we made decisions based on our needs, and I’m so happy about that.
Q: Do the girls love color? What happens if as teens they’ll only wear black?
J: As of now, they both love color. If I ever give them something plain, they’re like, “Why is this so boring?” Because that’s what they know. Someday they’ll want to choose their own things, and I think we’ll let them!
B: I think I will let them more than you. [laughs]
Q: What are they into right now?
B: Our older girl loves crafting and our younger one is starting to, as well. I wish I could say they weren’t so into YouTube, but they love it, mostly to learn crafts. We’ve also been playing games, like the old board game Mouse Trap. And we’re on Nintendo Switch. We try to do as many things together as humanly possible.
Q: How do you guys stay connected as a busy couple?
B: We try to watch TV together after the kids go to bed, though I refuse to watch The Bachelor.
J: He loves anything Star Wars-ish, like The Mandalorian. My shows are more like Emily in Paris—things that you would watch if you were 18, even though I’m 41!
B: We’ve also gotten into gardening. We have this LettUs Grow aeroponic unit. We’re growing Sumo tangerine trees.
J: Before COVID, we were pretty good about date nights. Now we’re hunkered down and enjoying things that we can do at home.
Q: Where do you spend the most time as a family?
B: In the kitchen.
J: We’re cooking way more together. He’ll do the main and I’ll do the sides, or vice versa.
“I just love these people. Celebrate all the little things, enjoy the wins, and be OK with not always being OK…this is the messiness and beauty of life. ”—Drew
Q: Joy, looking at your Instagram, people might think your life is perfect. Do you ever feel that way when scrolling?
J: Oh, my gosh, totally. You can get sucked in and find yourself on your phone scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I once took a break for a few days for my own sanity and I noticed how much better I felt. But social media is part of my job, so I can’t just drop it. And I love the good parts—the joy and inspiration you can create.
Q: Your vibe is so optimistic. How do you keep that rosy outlook for the kids when the news is bringing all of us down?
J: To be honest, there are some days when you just have to say, “This sucks.” Early in quarantine, I was having a really hard time. I was crying and overwhelmed with the change to my work schedule, the kids’ school, and having to manage all of that. Bob was good about letting me feel that but also reminded me of what we have to be grateful for: being healthy, being safe, being employed, having a house—so many things that other people don’t have.
B: There are positives for us. I usually travel a lot for work, but I haven’t been on an airplane since last March. So I’ve been home, which is awesome. We’ve been able to get a lot of family time.
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Join Linda & Drew At Home as they talk to Joy about family, design, and more!
By Laura Morgan | Main photograph by Lily Glass | Instagram images courtesy of Joy Cho