Meet A Mom: Cara Beatman
Meet Cara Beatman, a Saxe Middle School art teacher and mom of two, who lives in West Norwalk. Over the years, she planned special birthday parties for her son Beck (14) and Petra (10)—inspiring her to create a business called Tiny Tent Sleepovers. She also runs the blog SUNNYSIDE SIS, which covers everything from family and fashion to design and art projects. Read more about Cara and discover some of her favorite places and things.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
My son, Beck, is 14 and headed to NCHS. My daughter, Petra age 10, is headed to Saxe Middle School.
What brought you and your family to the area?
Living in NYC for 17 years after college, I was eager to make a move to the suburbs once the kids came along. I had 3 goals for the move:
1) Our house needed to have architectural appeal
2) I needed my teaching career to advance
3) Being avid boaters, we needed to live near the water.
Once New Canaan was on our radar with its Mid-Century Modern homes, and proximity to the water, we zeroed in on the area. We found an amazing original MCM home in West Norwalk and luckily found my ideal teaching job in New Canaan.
How long have you been teaching art?
I have been teaching art for 23 years—yikes!
Where do you teach and what ages are the students?
I teach grades 5-8 at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan.
What gave you the idea for Tiny Tent Sleepovers?
I’ve always tried to celebrate my children’s birthdays in unique ways and avoid outside vendors. I became a bit obsessed with out of the box, homemade parties. I wrote about it at length on my blog, SUNNYSIDE SIS, years back, surveying all my friends about the best kid’s parties they’ve thrown. When my daughter asked for a sleepover for her 8th birthday, I knew we had to make it unique, so my husband and I built these tents and I sewed the covers. The girls thought it was magical. At pick-up the next morning, all the parents wanted to rent them for their next party. It took off from there!
What makes a Tiny Tent Sleepover so unique?
Tiny Tent Sleepovers are unique because they give the parent a one-stop-shopping experience. There is no need to worry about activities, or run around to stores for goodie bags, snacks or breakfast early the next morning. We truly give parents the gift of time. We have many unique add-ons and can customize any theme.
Was it hard to start your company?
Being a full-time teacher and busy mom, I never thought I would have the time or energy to start my own business. What I have realized is that when you are passionate about something, you make the time and it comes much easier. I have also seen how the women around me have rallied to help me in any way they can, which has been amazing.
Best part about your job?
I love that art affords a creative outlet where there is no right answer. It is a process that involves being in touch with your emotions while being a creative thinker, which is a much-needed skill in today’s technology-driven society.
Most memorable sleepover as a kid?
For my 10th birthday, I had invited close friends and a few that I wasn’t super close with. We played games, chatted about school, family and giggled until we passed out. We bonded in a way we couldn’t have at an outside party vendor. That time together brought us all so much closer.
What’s your favorite outdoor family activity?
We love sailing on the Long Island Sound, so any chance we get, we’re out there trying to instill sailing in the kids.
How do you unwind when you need some “me time?”
I really enjoy creating photobooks for my family. If I have any free time, I’m usually editing my photos and printing up books to keep currant with the hundreds I take on my phone. It relaxes me to look back and reflect.
Any words to live by?
Something I have always struggled with: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can do a head stand in seconds flat!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another mom?
Stop comparing your kid to everyone else’s. You’ll see, when they are young adults, you will want them to be unique and have personalities that stand out.
Top vacation spots?
My favorite vacation spot is Costa Rica—East Coast, which is pretty undiscovered and raw. Best summer vacations are spent on Martha’s Vineyard with my family.
Favorite band, book, TV show, podcast…
Coldplay, To Kill a Mockingbird and any Real Housewives shows to veg out to. I’ve also been listening to Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on car trips this summer. Hysterical.
Where do you like to create art?
Creating art on the beach would be dreamy, but realistically in my home studio.
We love to support our local businesses! What are some of your go-to spots in town?
Local dinner with or without kids: Mecha Noodle Bar in SoNo—best noodles and groovy music.
Grab a drink with friends: Spiga in New Canaan. I love sitting in the booths and splitting appetizers.
Date night: Bodega in Darien—great margaritas.
Spend time together as a family indoors/outdoors: Walking through Waveny during any season.
Shop for yourself and for kids: Wave is my favorite spot to shop for myself and for gifts. Groove has the best kid’s gifts and stocking stuffers!
Spa/salon (or anywhere you go to treat yourself): I’ve been going to Canaan Nails since we moved here eight years ago. They give the best gel manicures!
Grab coffee: Espresso NEAT in Darien. Coffee is great, but the vibe makes me want to set up my laptop and stay!