TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Two moms in Tampa, Florida, have a very unique story about their blended family and healthy co-parenting practices, and it’s catching a lot of attention online.
Tiffany Paskas married Megan Stortz’s ex-husband. Over the years, they became best friends through co-parenting. They’re now a viral sensation known as “Moms of Tampa” with popular accounts on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and even their own podcast called “From Blended to Besties.”
Stortz is the biological mother of an 11-year-old with her ex-husband Michael, and she also has a 5-year-old with her new husband Travis. Paskas is Mike’s new wife — and she’s also a stepmom, or “bonus mom” to both children. They all co-parent together as one blended family.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the “Moms of Tampa” didn’t start out as best friends. Stortz met Paskas when she began dating her ex-husband.
“We just didn’t know it was OK to talk. We were under the impression, being children of divorce, that the ex and the new [partner] never intermingle, so it was like, best to stay away,” Paskas explained. “So that’s kind of how we dealt with the first four years.”
During those first four years, Stortz said it was just her and her ex-husband co-parenting. She said their relationship as co-parents got to the point where it wasn’t healthy, and they weren’t communicating in a good way.
“I just was at a loss. I didn’t know what to do. So I reached out to her, four or five years ago, somewhere around there … and I sent her a gift,” said Stortz. “I sent her a bottle of champagne and a card. On the inside of the card it said, ‘Thank you for being such a positive influence on my son’s life. He loves you.’ You know, just a ‘thank you.'”
Stortz said she and Paskas began to send each other gifts back and forth, with Paskas responding by taking their son to get Stortz a gift for her birthday.
“Just testing the waters. Because again, we didn’t have any sort of drama, it was just indifference and we didn’t know. So just testing the water here and there,” Stortz explained. “I would start to text her about things with school, because that’s when COVID happened too, [and] when we all had to homeschool a couple years.”
The women said the height of the pandemic is when their friendship really took off, because Michael was traveling back and forth between their homes.
“We would do stuff together with Michael because we didn’t have anyone else to hang out with. So that’s when our friendship really just went from cordial and talking to us hanging out, having wine nights,” said Stortz.
“Then realizing that we had so much in common,” Paskas added. “I mean, we started talking about makeup and we were just like, hitting it off and we were like, ‘Oh my god, we love the same brands. We love doing the same things.’ We were testing out wines together and then testing out new, different makeup products and just kind of talking to each other about it.”
Paskas started a TikTok account during the pandemic. The account was originally intended to be a beauty channel.
“I didn’t want to do it by myself because I saw so many of the other people doing it with their friends. I was like, ‘Megan, you need to do this with me.'”
“I was like, ‘I’m too old to be on TikTok!’” Stortz remembered.
Their followers soon changed the course of the channel, asking about the new person in Paskas’ videos.
Paskas responded by telling her viewers that Stortz was her husband’s ex-wife, and “it just like blew people’s minds,” she said. “We were like, ‘We could do something with this maybe.’ And we just turned it around and it just blew up out of nowhere.”
Moms of Tampa now has over 75,000 followers on Instagram and over 281,000 followers on TikTok. They’re becoming more involved in the Tampa Bay area community, finding new kid-friendly activities, and making friends with other moms in the area.
Stortz and Paskas said their husbands are completely on board with their friendship. The men have also become friends, though it took a little longer.
“They didn’t have any drama or anything, it was just more indifference,” Stortz said. “Theirs was more of, like, a slow burn, but they’re best friends now too, and it’s great.”
Most importantly, their sons are happy in their big, blended family.
“So Michael remembers — now Michael’s 11 — so he remembers his dad and I not getting along, so he kind of grew up in this transition from our blended family,” Stortz said. “He’s so much happier now. Bryce, the little one, doesn’t know any different. We started out this friendship when I was pregnant with Bryce. So as soon as he came out, he thinks that Tiffany is his stepmom. He has no idea, you know?”
Their advice for co-parenting is to take things one day at a time.
“Communication is key, and just constantly reminding yourself that it’s about the kids, so put the kids’ priorities before your own needs,” Paskas said. “Co-parenting isn’t easy, especially if you’re recently going through a divorce, it’s going to be difficult. But just remember that you’re doing it for the kids.”
“One thing that really helped up in our co-parenting is respecting the other family’s time. We have 50-50 custody,” Stortz added. “So one thing is, when I’m over here at [Paskas’] house right now, it’s technically her week, I respect her time. If Michael comes at me and he’s like, ‘Can I play video games? Can I do this?’ I’m like, ‘Ask Tiffany. I’m here, yes, I’m your mother if you need me, but it’s your dad’s time.'”
Stortz and Paskas said they have big plans for Moms of Tampa, but couldn’t reveal too many details.
“The future is looking good,” Stortz said.