Good Nightstand

How Mollie Chen Is Taking Back Bedtime

Since Mollie Chen had her first child, Lilly, two years ago, she’s made a concentrated effort to reclaim her bedtime routine. Her life had been more than a little fast-paced: After nine years running brand voice and experience at Birchbox and then bringing her talents to the  plant-forward food subscription service Hungryroot, she decided that it was time to trade go, go, go for slow, slow, slow—just in time for the arrival of her second baby. Professionally, that’s meant consulting, advising, and investing in businesses she believes in, and, personally, that included taking her nighttime rituals more seriously than ever. So she’s swapped the pre-bed Instagram scroll for airplane mode and even picked up some light journaling. Turns out, that’s help set her up for a stellar morning routine, too.

A Journal Practice to Stick With

“One of the things I keep on my bedside is The Five-Minute Journal, which I’ve been doing since December. It’s basically a ‘Journal for Dummies.’ I’ve never had a journal practice or a meditation practice or any sort of regular practice, and I would say that five days out of seven, I actually do it. It’s been really great for me to take back the beginning and end of every day.”

A Kindle

“One thing I do pretty regularly is download lots and lots of samples of books to see what I want to read. If it’s a fun light read, I’ll probably just buy it on my Kindle, and if it’s something I want to keep, I’ll buy it in hardback. So on my table, I have my Kindle, and then I have a stack of stuff I’ve either read recently enough or I’m trying to get to. Right now, I have Sally Rooney’s Conversations With FriendsI just read Normal People—and I recently started The Most Fun We Ever Had.”

Books in Every Nook and Cranny

“My husband and I both love reading, so there are just way too many books—on our shelves, piled next to our bed, beneath our bed—that we might’ve finished reading but wanted close at hand or just haven’t put away yet. There’s always a stray New Yorker or a part of a newspaper lying around. I enjoy looking at books; I enjoy having books. Whenever we’ve moved from place to place, I’ve always ended up packing books last because they’re easy to pack—but also because I think a room feels a little naked without them.”

A Gentle Skincare Regimen

“I’ve been going to Heyday for facials pretty regularly for the last few years, so a lot of my products are either from Heyday or Birchbox. Heyday got me hooked on the double-cleanse at night, so I use a cleansing oil first, one from One Love Organics, and then a cream cleanser from Grown Alchemist. Weirdly, my skin has been really dry this summer, so I use a heavy-duty moisturizer—the iS Clinical Reparative Moisturizer, which I discovered at Glowbar, an amazing concept opened by a Birchbox alum—and then an oil from Herbivore Botanicals on top of that.”

A Zero-Waste Prenatal Moisturizer

“Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve been trying to be really good about moisturizing because you hear everyone say that’s the best way to make sure your skin can stretch. I use this thing called Mama Stone, from Kate McLeod, which is a solid moisturizer in the shape of a stone. It’s really cool. You just rub it all over your belly and the rest of your body. I’ve never seen anything like it before, but it melts when it touches your skin—so it’s not greasy. There’s also no packaging, so it’s very sustainable.”

Candles for Ambiance

“I really like candles. I know a lot of people like candles, but I just feel like they’re a nice thing to have in your eyesight, even if you don’t light them. I love Otherland candles a lot. I know the founder, and I’ve been really impressed with what she’s building. We also have a lot of fun matches from great restaurants in the city or places we’ve visited, so those are scattered on our mantle as well.”

Pictures of—and for—Family and Friends

“One of the things I love doing is printing out pictures from a place called Adorama. We take all digital pictures and then print them and give them to family and friends. We don’t have as many our pictures framed as I’d like. We end up with a lot of boxes of pictures, but when you do frame them, it’s a treat to have them displayed.”

The Airplane-Mode Phone Setting

“I really try not to go to bed after scrolling on Instagram for 45 minutes, so I put my phone on airplane mode—even if it’s only for 10 minutes—to at least have time for my eyes to wind down and do something that’s not on a screen before I go to bed.”

Workout Clothes

“Depending on whose morning it is to work out—my husband and I switch off most mornings—I’ll usually change out of my pajamas and right into workout clothes because I find that if I do that, my odds of actually getting a workout in are much higher. Then, the one of us who’s not working out takes Lilly downstairs, and nine times out of 10, she wants a banana at first—so she gets a banana, I get my cold brew, and we get on with our day.”

Slow It Down