Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger on welcoming their daughter during a pandemic: 'We had to say no a lot; we kept our circle tight'

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Soccer stars Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger open up about their family. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Soccer stars Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger open up about their family. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child rearing.

Two-time World Cup champions soccer players Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris who play professionally in the National Women's Soccer League for Gotham FC — grew their small family in February when they adopted newborn daughter Sloane Phillips. While the now-10-month-old is not quite ready for sports just yet, the married soccer stars have recently partnered with GoGo squeeZ on the Fun Comes First campaign, which promotes fun in youth sports and encourage youngsters to stay active.

Ahead, the new moms speak to Yahoo Life about parenting, supporting young athletes and trying to find time for date night.

How would you describe your approach to parenting?

Ali Kreiger: Ultimately, we want to allow Sloane to make her own decisions and give her the tools to navigate her own life and journey. We’ll be there every step of the way to help guide her — not necessarily telling her what to do, but just encouraging her to live a happy, healthy life.

Ashlyn Harris: I’ll add that [being] a team is important. The good thing about Ali and I is we stick together and above all, having our child understand why. We're educating children why certain values (like compassion and humility) are so, so important in this day and age. It’s interesting that we always teach children from a young age to do this or be this — “I wanna be a pro soccer player” or “I wanna be a policewoman” — but I want to teach Sloane how to be a good person and to serve her community [and that goes beyond] a job.

What’s parenting been like during the pandemic?

AK: Sloane was just a baby so it was actually really enjoyable because we were able to really focus on her. Plus, we had to go to training; our protocols were pretty strict. We couldn't go anywhere or do much, but we had a newborn to take care of! We only had two weeks of maternity leave, so we [jumped] right into the season, set up our schedules and we're raising a newborn baby. It was difficult but luckily, we could spend time with her. That was our main focus, just making sure she was staying alive [laughs].

AH: I found it to be a little more difficult; I was more fearful [about] having a newborn child in a global pandemic. Everyone wants to come over to meet the baby and it was a challenging time for Ali and I. We had to say “no” a lot; we kept our circle tight. It was challenging having to COVID-test people before they came into the house. It’s such an exciting time for both of us to have a child but then COVID hits; it was a weird, fearful time — even though we were so excited to have her. We just tried to navigate the two.

Krieger and Harris with daughter Sloane. (Photo: María José Grossi)
Krieger and Harris with daughter Sloane. (Photo: María José Grossi)

What’s something that’s surprised you about becoming a parent?

AK: The amount of patience that I have and the amount of love that I can give someone is pretty incredible to feel. Even though she’s not our blood, we both have never felt so much love in our lives. It’s so incredible to feel those emotions and feelings in general; our hearts are bursting every day. She’s such a beautiful baby, so happy and healthy. We’re very grateful, but the amount of patience you have to have — on like, no sleep — and the amount of love one can make you feel, and how much you can give [is surprising].

To that point, how do you carve out time for yourself?

AH: Good question. We’re still trying to figure that out. ... We work around the clock. We’re professional athletes, we’re activists, we have to keep up with our social presence. Right now, we’re grinding hard but the baby goes down at 6:30 and that’s our time. We sit on the couch, maybe have a glass of wine and truly, we just talk about how grateful we are. We said we’d have date night once a week but we haven’t gotten there yet [laughs].

Do you have any advice when it comes to parent-shamers?

AK: We’re used to this from playing professional sports and generally, I feel that comments or criticism has little to do with us and more to do with them. ... There’s no right or wrong way to do things and because we’re public figures, there’s a different approach. Ultimately, you want your kid to be happy and safe and successful. We’re going to do whatever we can — taking little bits and pieces from our childhood and what we’ve learned in our journeys — to help her succeed. Whatever anyone says about that goal, means nothing to me. I think we're doing OK.

AH: We’re all building families in different ways but we’re all coming from a place of love and understanding and respect and there’s no right way or wrong way. My family may look different but we’re beautifully different. Building a home for a child is based on love, not based on what it looks like; I’m proud of Ali and I and Sloane. There is more love under this roof than anywhere I’ve ever been. Sloane knows how much we love her.

How did you get involved with GoGo squeeZ?

AK: I’m very happy with what they’re doing keeping kids in sports during this time. As culture and society continues to evolve, I think we have to get back to our roots of sports and having fun. Being around people who want you to succeed and GoGo squeeZ is trying to bring the love and fun back to the game. Not to mention their snacks — we just gave it to our baby this morning. It was a no-brainer for us.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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