Nina Sky Sisters Dish on Lessons They've Learned as Moms
Every so often you hear a song that, even years later, instantly transports you back to the dance floor where the deejay first played it. A few beats and you feel just like you did then. Happy, sweaty, free. “Move Ya Body,” by Nina Sky, is one of those songs. It’s hard to believe, but it came out 15 years ago when Nicole and Natalie Albino, the New York City–based Boricua twins behind the urban pop duo, were just 19 years old.
Since then, they grew up and, like so many of us, got hitched and started families of their own. Nicole married fashion designer Erin Magee a decade ago; their daughter, Goldie, will turn 2 in September. Natalie is raising two sons—Max, 5, and Izzy, 8 months—with her husband of eight years, artist Michael Colón. Meanwhile, the twins continue to do what they do best: write songs (which they’ve been doing since the age of 7), make music, and spin records in clubs worldwide. In other words, they’re as cool as ever—even with diaper bags slung over their shoulders. “You don’t stop what you’re doing when you become a mom,” says Nicole. “You just figure it out. Parenthood is a constant adjustment.” Natalie adds, “You have to remember not to lose your sense of self.”
Easier said than done when hitting the club means first scheduling a babysitter for the night! But the twins have it down. Together (because they still do everything together), they’ve honed some practical strategies for staying true to who they are.
1. Do Your Thing
Nicole: Since “Move Ya Body,” we’ve worked really hard to continue doing what we love. Having kids pushes us more.
Natalie: Yeah, they motivate us! I want Max and Izzy to see their mom doing her thing.
Nicole: And I want to show Goldie that she should work hard toward her dreams.
Natalie: The key is time management. I schedule things now, so I have time for my kids and myself. And we just finally hired a babysitter.
Nicole: I have a music studio in my apartment where we record our songs. You can hear Goldie on some of our tracks because I’m holding her while we’re putting down vocals. She’s my coproducer.
2. Call Out Anyone Who "Mommy Tracks" You
Natalie: We’ll go to events and people will say, “Look who made it! The moms are here!” I’m, like, “Excuse me, I’m not your mom. I’m my own person. It’s Natalie to you.”
Nicole: Or they count you out before you’ve even been asked to do something! “Oh, they won’t be able to do it because they’re moms.”
Natalie: People say you change when you become a mom, but I think people’s perception of you changes more. They assume that you can’t or shouldn’t do things. But that’s on them.
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3. Be Your Genuine Self
Nicole: Because of our industry, we used to seek validation from the outside. But when you’re around your kids, you let go of all that. You have something so real and pure, and you can be your genuine self. You’ve got to be! I’ve always been a lesbian. When we were coming up in this business, though, I was told I couldn’t be myself. Having Goldie has made it even more important to lead by example. I can’t tell her to be her genuine self and then hide who I am. She’s taught me to appreciate and love things about myself that maybe I didn’t before.
Natalie: Exactly! I mean, I don’t care at all what other people think of me anymore. The world could hate us, but as long as our kids are good, all is right with me.
4. Don’t Underestimate Date Night
Natalie: Mike and I don’t have rules about going out every Friday or anything, but we do make time for each other. Once the kids go to sleep, we sit on the couch together, crack open a beer, and pour a glass of wine. We talk about our days and watch crap TV, like Love After Lockup. I also appreciate the little moments we have together—like when Mike comes up behind me and hugs me in the kitchen while the kids are playing in the living room. Even if five minutes earlier we were disagreeing, there’s always love there. You feel it.
Nicole: Erin and I have recently put more effort into going on dates. Of course, half the time, we go, “Look at this photo I took of Goldie!” But it’s nice to be romantic, reconnect, and be, like, “We love each other. We’re doing this together. You’re great, and this is great.” It feels really simple. And we’re still very sexually attracted to each other, even though it’s a lot harder to express that when there’s a baby around all the time. But, you know, we have a guest room.
Natalie: We make it work too. Our kids go to sleep at 8 p.m., they wake up at 6 a.m., and there’s a whole lot of time in between. If you can’t make it work between those hours…
5. Step Out of “Baby-Land”
Natalie: I definitely don’t go out as much. But we have a lot of daytime get-togethers at our house, like brunches, so the kids can be involved. That’s how I see my friends.
Nicole: Just like we always have, Erin and I invite our very small crew over to kick it, have a drink, and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with us. The only difference now is that Goldie is the star of the show!
Natalie: I’ve never been the most social person, so I made a rule: If I’m invited to something important, like a friend’s birthday, I have to go. It’s good for my spirit to have fun with other people. I don’t want to be in baby-land, husband-land, or even twin sister–land all the time. You need to hear other people’s voices and feel their energies.
6. Lean on Your Familia
Nicole: Not only do we work together, we’re each other’s biggest support system. We talk all the time.
Natalie: Oh yeah. We call each other at least four times a day. And I bring Izzy over to Nicole’s to play two or three days a week. When Max was little, he’d say, “I want to see my second mom—Titi Nicole!”
Nicole: When Natalie was pregnant with Izzy, I asked Max if he wanted a little brother or sister, and he told me, “I already have a little sister. Goldie!” We’re so close. The other week, he asked if I could pick him up from school.
Natalie: Because you had purple hair at the time. He was so proud when you walked into the classroom!
7. Dress for You
Nicole: I still wear the same T-shirts and Dickies pants every day. I was walking through LAX the other day, holding the baby and a big bag that says the F-word all over it. I was, like, “Hmm, maybe this isn’t a good look anymore. Maybe my style should change.” Then I thought, “Nah, maybe it shouldn’t!”
Natalie: I throw on my mama uniform—overalls, a T-shirt or sweater, and sneakers—and I roll out. I might wear the same outfit for three days. But I did that before too! And I’ve always been into thrifting. We recently opened an online vintage-clothing shop for kids, MotherVintage.com.
8. Lead With Love
Natalie: Our mom is our biggest role model. When we call her for advice, she says, “Why are you asking me? You’re already doing a great job.” She doesn’t even realize how reassuring that is for us. We look up to her.
Nicole: She is so nonjudgmental. She has no ego. And she always says, “Lead with love.”
Natalie: That’s the way we are with our own kids. Every morning before school, I tell Max, “Be kind, be respectful, know your presence, and be brave in whatever you do.”
Nicole: Our mom would tell us, growing up, “Whatever you want to do and whoever you want to be, just be the best.” To do that, you’ve got to believe in yourself and love yourself.
Natalie: And maybe that’s why we tell our kids those things. We’re reaffirming it for ourselves.
This article originally appeared in Parents Latina magazine as 'Sky's The Limit.'
Parents Latina Magazine