Your parents guide for Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

PARENTING

IS HARD

We make it easier. 
Kidoinfo.com is your port in the storm. We offer the fullest calendar of kids events, articles by experts, giveaways, and KidoGuides that help you find the services and products your kids need. 

Upcoming Meetups (via Meetup.com, join the Boston Dads Group to learn about upcoming get togethers. Send Mike a private message when you join!)

- Weekly meetups, Friday mornings at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program
- Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy
- Wednesday, January 25th at Roger Williams Park Botanical Center

20161024_155718-e1483578349651It is my pleasure to introduce a new friend of Kidoinfo, Mike Malkoff, an educator and Downcity-dwelling, at-home dad to 22-month-old Eliana. Mike relocated to Providence with his family this past summer. Inspired by the myriad local kid-friendly community destinations and drawing from his past involvement in the Chicago Dads Group, Mike sees great potential for a network of Providence-area dads to connect with one another while exploring with their kids. We couldn't agree more! So we chatted with Mike to learn more about the inception of this idea, and while he was in the hot seat, got to know more about him with questions from our Home Work interview series.

Kidoinfo: Could you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you and your family to Providence?
Mike: I'm originally from New York City, but lived in Nashville and Chicago accompanying my wife through her medical training and then career as a neurologist.  I was an elementary school classroom teacher in all three cities, followed by training new teachers, and then running training events and sessions for cohorts of new teachers.  Now, I am focusing on training my most important student, the almost two-year-old Eliana!  My wife is an attending at Rhode Island Hospital and we live in Westminster Lofts in downtown Providence.  We moved here this past July, practically lived at the beach, and now enjoying all of the indoor and outdoor activities of winter in New England.

Kidoinfo: What do you see as the obstacles to dads building community?
Mike: There's a few here.  Though there are certainly more at-home dads than there were years ago, there's still a lot more weekday moms than dads out there.  In a smaller city like Providence, that means even fewer than a city like Chicago or New York.  However, I've actually been randomly meeting more at-home dads out at the library, music classes, and Renaissance Gymnastics than I met out in Chicago. It's a smaller and more close knit community so I see this as a huge advantage towards building a community of involved dads.  The potential is huge!  I also think that many dads don't even know how advantageous a community can be for dads and our kids.

highres_439111586Kidoinfo: What is your vision for bringing together dads spending time with their kids?
Mike: The Chicago Dads Group was an invaluable part of my start as an at-home dad.  Through first attending then organizing meetups I made lifelong friends who are highly involved dads like me.  We shared large and small victories, turned to each other for advice, or just simply vented when needed.  Our kids got to recognize and play with each other, which is a big plus for kids who don't have a regular daycare or preschool community.  We explored new parts of the city together and our wives became friends.  Each week we had events that had 6 or more dads and kids attending, in addition to dads’ nights out and big family picnics with over 60 families.  We even had sponsors for events with cool giveaways like free movies, car seats and baby carriers.  I hope to work with other dads nearby to build the same here...for me and for other new dads to have the same experiences I have.

Kidoinfo: How can dads get involved in the group and who is it for?
Mike: It's for all involved dads with kids of all ages, whether full-time at home with kids, part-time, work-from-home, or work outside of the home.  We plan weekday and weekend events.  We plan one-off events like nature hikes and meetups at play centers and weekly events like social hours and library hours.  Dads can attend events, propose events, and plan events.  We are part of the national City Dads Group, Boston Dads Group chapter.  The platform is Meetup.com.  You can go on the website and join the Boston Dads Group there.  You'll then start getting invitations for events from Boston to Providence and in between.  For example, there is a weekly meetup listing Friday morning at Providence Public Library's Cradles to Crayons program, and Wednesday, 1/18 at Renaissance Gymanastics Academy. Please also send me a private message when you join!

Kidoinfo: Let's learn more about you! Please describe a typical day.
Mike: Hmm, a typical day. I'd say I wake up, get some coffee going for me and my wife, then start making breakfast.  When Eliana wakes up, my wife usually wakes her up with a song, spends some time with her and leaves for work.  Then Elie and I have breakfast in PJs, and leave right after for our daily adventure! Depending on the day, this could be swim class, music class, library group program, gym, or park/beach/nature walk, weather permitting.  Then, we usually come home for lunch, then it's Eliana's nap time.  Naptime means laundry, other tasks, dinner prep.  Or realistically at times, just watching TV and taking a break after nine hours of go time.  Late afternoon, Eliana wakes up, my wife comes home and plays with her while I finish dinner, then dinnertime, bath, and bed.  Then, my wife and I will try to stay up a bit to read, watch a movie or just chill and have some tea...or wine or beer.   We've also been trying to give each other nights out, like to catch a movie or meet up with friends.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Mike:  Teaching Eliana to bring her plate and fork to the table, then put them in the dishwasher after the meal, teaching her how to put away her toys in the right place, teaching her how to put dinner prep scraps in a bowl...all of these little tasks not only engage her but save me time (and get things done before bedtime so that my time with my wife at night isn't all kid-related or cleaning tasks).

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past, pre-kid self any advice, what would it be?
Mike:  Movie dates!!! We enjoy bringing Eliana out for dinner, but movies are just not happening!

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Mike:  I'm on a few dad Facebook groups that provide great tips when I need them or just let me know I'm not that only one struggling at times.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Mike:  We have waaaay too many "I need it!" kiddie products in general these days, but I love the NUK no-spill sippy cups with no straw.  Easy to clean, no cap needed, doesn't leak when tossed.

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Mike:  So many here!  Any book by Mo Willems, whether in the Cat The Cat, Elephant and Piggie, Knufflebunny, or "pigeon" series is awesome.  Super engaging for kids and amusing for adults.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kid on a rainy day?
Mike:  Renaissance Gymnastics Academy open play for toddlers has been a lifesaver!  Great value for monthly membership and Eliana is almost as happy there as the beach.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Mike:  Film, Arrival with Amy Adams.  I'm not really a sci-fi guy, but this movie transcended genre. Reading Les Miserables right now.  It really is an epic masterpiece and I'm three-quarters of the way through.  It has character, scene, and plot development as well as language on a whole new level than anything I've read before.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Mike:  1990s pro wrestling on the WWE network...why does it have to be on demand 24/7!!!

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Mike:  Go to a coffee shop, order a giant mug of medium roast, and disappear into a book or magazine.

We hope to see this group continue to grow! If you are a dad or a know a dad who'd like to get involved, check out the Meetup group and drop in on an event.

 

At Kidoinfo, we love to learn about and share family traditions and seasonal rituals, weaving those carried from our past with those we initiate with our own children. Today we are honored to speak with Governor Raimondo about the Halloween.

kidoinfo-governor-raimondo-family-halloweenKIDOINFO: Governor Raimondo, as October draws to its climactic close, we are wondering what Halloween traditions you enjoy celebrating with your family?

Governor Raimondo: Halloween is one of our favorite holidays, and we enjoy all the traditions – costumes, candy and of course trick-or-treating. This year we’ll be handing out Milky Ways, Hershey bars and Kit Kats.

KIDOINFO: How are your kids planning to dress up this year?

Governor Raimondo: Tommy is going as James Bond; Ceci is going to be a cat.

KIDOINFO: What did you love about Halloween as a kid?

Governor Raimondo: I have really vivid Halloween memories growing up in Smithfield, of trick-or-treating with my friends for HOURS in what felt like a really big neighborhood. I’d come home with an obscene amount of candy.

KIDOINFO: Is there a memorable costume that comes to mind? How did you create it?

Governor Raimondo: When I was five or six I dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood, and my mother made me an awesome red cape. It was a great costume.

KIDOINFO: Finally, hungry minds want to know: what type of candy would be most likely to "disappear" first from your kids' Halloween haul? Hypothetically speaking.

Governor Raimondo: Hypothetically speaking, Kit Kats would be the first to go.

quatiaIntroducing Quatia Osorio, or simply "Q.": business owner, mother of 5, and passionate advocate for healthy families, communities and the environment. Q is the owner and one-woman powerhouse behind Mama Blu Diaper Service, swapping soiled cloth diapers with clean "fluff" at customers' doorsteps, every week, across Rhode Island and into Massachusetts. As a community doula under the name Our Journ3i, Q provides birth and postpartum support and education for "families of the vulnerable and marginalized communities." Q has also just launched the Chocolate Milk Cafe, a weekly breastfeeding support group in Providence for Black/African American/Afro Latino families.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Q: Our fourth child, Evangeline, is what they call a “rainbow baby,” a baby born after a loss. We wanted to make sure we gave her the best, from a healthy start in the womb to Earthside. Pregnancy planning begins and ends with plans, changes, and new plans, but we were lucky that our plans didn’t deviate too much from our original best-sought plans: natural delivery, breastfeeding, cloth diapering and baby led weaning. It was in 2011 that Mama Blu formed out of a babywearing group meeting in which I realized that this was something I felt was needed and wanted to share with others. At the time of the idea I had 3 children in cloth! No twins, but two of my own and my niece while my sister was in the police academy in Georgia. It was quite an experience, but I think of all the money and environmental factors that were “saved” during this time.

mama bluKidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Q: RESEARCH. PLANNING. RESEARCH. It takes a lot to grow a business, nevermind a diaper service. I am a member of the Real Diaper Industry Association (RDIA), a non-profit organization focusing on promoting cloth diapering and sustainability, and Real Diaper Association, a collective non-profit organization in which parents and small businesses take the lead in creating a cultural shift to increase the use of simple, reusable cloth diapers.

I often get asked about my business name: Mama Blu is a play off my college nickname, “Mama Q.” Blu happened to be a nickname that stuck with me in during my early cyber days and my favorite color, so it seemed serendipitous to name my business after my passion for both my love for knowledge (college) and the ever-changing digital world.

Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Q: Ummm… A lot of coffee, herbal tea (to flush out all the overdosing on coffee), and sleep - I love sleep. Also, I have a supportive family. On my sick days or when I’m out of town for business, my husband runs the deliveries and often you catch my youngest son helping me to deliver the new clean diapers. No one helps me with washing, though. Figures, right?

The balance is finding what you love and making time to enjoy the journey. Everyone has to find their own way of balancing. Sometimes I do burn out with five children, a small business, an upcoming non-profit, community work, traveling, an aspiration to become an urban farmer, 2 dogs and well...ME, but those days I just veg out watching anime, cuddling with my little ones, and resting. I really allow myself to take care during these times. Having a home business, sometimes I have to schedule “out of office” work days, which helps to streamline productivity.

diapers

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Q: PLAN your day. Even days when you don’t want to do anything. Some days nothing goes fully to schedule, but I make a priority of must-do’s for the day and get it done. And if it can wait, let it wait. Buy BASKETS to help with quick cleaning and to give children accountability and responsibility for their own property. And honestly, people with children don’t care how “clean” your house is; real friends step over toys or ask if you need any help.

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self any advice, what would it be?
Q: Take more pictures. Some memories just can’t be recalled, and it’s nice to have lots of pictures to reflect and remember.

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Q: Life is too short to just suck air and die. Do something with the little time you have to live. Make an impact. Take up a cause and make a difference. Inspire yourself to be like you when you grow up.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Q: LOTS OF PILLOWS!

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Q: Please Baby Please by Spike Lee. My children love this book and the art is beautiful. We are ordering a 2nd copy since the youngest two have literally turned it until pages ripped right off.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Q: Watch anime, play video games, play board games, build forts, have “sleep overs”, eat popcorn, sleep.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Q: YES! The chorico stuffed clams at Whole Foods are my “pick me up” food.

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Q: Umm… SLEEP!

Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother?
Q: You intend the ordinary consequences of your voluntary actions. I read this in a book when I studied paralegal studies and it always stuck with me: to make my actions worthy.

Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom prepared or changed you in business?
Q: You must plan and adapt accordingly. I didn’t give birth to the same 5 people. It’s my first time as a Mother of each of my children: I must learn from them and they must learn from me. We are teaching each other. It’s like business - each of my customers teach me and I teach them. It’s great. Often I solicit feedback, suggestions or recommendations from my customers. I am a business-matter expert in cloth diapering, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything new to learn, especially with so many new diaper styles still being created to adapt to the different lifestyles of families.

Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?
Q: We just received our Green Certification from the Department of Environmental Management. This summer we are vending at the Hope St. Farmers Market, once a month at the Armory Park/Dexter Street Park, and looking forward to building a business relationship with the new Urban Cooperative building planning to break ground this summer. Our partnership with Yummycloud, a natural parenting and cloth diaper store in Swansea, MA continues to provide cloth diaper service to Massachusetts customers. Our hope is that parents at least give cloth a try to help our environment. Maybe we will establish a cloth diaper store locally in Providence, but that requires a lot more customers than I have right now. As far as what is next, continue to work hard, spread the cloth love, and provide quality service and products to my customers and families.

13521909_10100226796210693_580829722440936106_nAs for me, currently I am starting up the Chocolate Milk Cafe, continuing my work with Our Journ3i as a Community Doula, and in the fall I will take the Certified Lactation Counselor exam.

Chocolate Milk Cafe Details: Fridays, 10am - 12 pm, at Unified Solutions at Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies on the 3rd floor until August 12th, then we switch locations to St. Joseph Hospital for Wednesday evenings from 4:30 - 6:30pm.

Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents look at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).

11039153_10205066684239121_30935655782435110_nJoin us today as we meet one of my favorite local Moms, Jamie Glowacki, an energetic, acrobatic, entrepreneur who happens to be a potty-training ninja! I first met Jamie when she opened up a kid consignment shop years ago in Hope Artiste Village before moving the shop to Hope Street and then selling the business (this amazing shop is still mom-owned, renamed Hope Returns) so Jamie could pursue new projects. She has never ceased to amaze me how she juggles parenthood and work, managing to find her own sense of balance amidst all of her creative endeavors. - Anisa


Briefly describe your business here…

Jamie: I am the author of Oh Crap! Potty Training, published by Touchstone, Simon and Schuster June 2016. I also consult with parents, run a Potty Coach business, and do a lot of public speaking about poop. A dubious honor, to be sure.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?

Jamie: Oh Crap started very organically out of need. I can honestly say I never wanted to be a potty trainer when I grew up. I was a social worker in San Francisco and taught parenting classes. Part of this was teaching potty training. Fast forward many years and I had my son, moved to RI, and potty trained him at 22 months. My mom friends were shocked and amazed! I literally started holding potty parties at my house, walking my friends through the process. Then I started classes, which sold out and were in high demand. I decided to write all the information down and realized I had a book. So I put it on-line on the WORST website known to man and it started selling. I owned a local store at the time and potty training consulting took over my time. A few pediatricians used the book in their waiting rooms and BAM. I was on the map. I had to sell my other business in order to keep up with the potty training. It’s been my full time job ever since. Earlier this year, in a whirlwind of beautiful crazy, I made an incredible book deal with Simon and Schuster and the rest is potty history.

FullSizeRender-6Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?

Jamie: I think balance isn’t an end goal. As a former acrobat and current hand-stander-doer, I know balance is, at it’s core, fleeting. So I have no illusion of maintaining it.

The best and worst part of my business is that I work mostly from home. I also homeschool. And I’m also a single mom. When I first started homeschooling, I struggled with making time to do all I needed AND all he needed. Then one day it hit me: include my son in my business! He helps make my Youtube and Facebook videos; learning how to edit and add music. He loves giving a kid opinion to clients who are struggling and he helps me with the finances, which is great for homeschool math.

Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.

Jamie: I get up at 5 to do my writing and social media planning. I’m super grateful my son is now old enough to stay home alone for a couple of hours so I can hit a 6:30am yoga class or the gym. Bad things happen if I don’t move my body. I usually have a few networking meetings in the morning via phone or skype. Then we do Pascal’s sit down work. Most of the mid-day is spent with homeschool friends at either a class, field trip, or an outing. I schedule clients and working with the other Oh Crap experts in the late afternoon. I go to bed ridiculously early. I get more done in the early morning so I have to sleep sometime.

Kidoinfo: Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?

Jamie:
My biggest one right now is no multitasking. I find that I actually expand time when I do one thing at a time with my full attention. Everything gets done so much faster with so much less frustration.

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?

Jamie:
Do it. Whatever it is in your heart, don’t make excuses, do it. Do it now. There’s endless excuses that are just fear in disguise. Make the mistakes, fix it as you go, and don’t worry at all of what anyone thinks of you.

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?

Jamie: Currently, other women who speak their full truth and do it with kindness.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?

Jamie: My cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner. How lame is that?

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book or music CD?

Jamie: Jack Johnson, Curious George soundtrack. It’s so not annoying, I can still listen to it and sing along.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?

Jamie: Play in puddles and mud.

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?

Jamie: Chef. A fun film about following your dream, the incredible power of social media, and connecting with your kid(s). All rolled up with some outstanding actors.

IMG_0088Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Jamie: When the first season of the Serial podcast came out, I got a babysitter, so I could walk for hours listening to it.

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?

Jamie: More yoga.

Kidoinfo: Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother?

Jamie: We were at Impact Skatepark for homeschool hours and my phone kept ringing. I ignored it for 3 times and then realized someone was really trying to reach me. It was the producer of a radio show that I was scheduled to give a live (and long) interview. I wrote it down wrong in the calendar. I called him back from inside the bathroom with 30 seconds to spare before going live. And I did the interview in the bathroom with my hand cupped over the mouth to eat up the bathroom sound. Yep. That’s a typical dual mom-business person story. Although, in hindsight, the bathroom stall isn’t all that odd when you’re a professional potty trainer.

Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?

Jamie: So many exciting things! We are working on a series of children’s books for potty training, each addressing some of the major problems families run into. We also working on a songs to accompany those books. There’s all different styles of learning, so we’re trying to help families with better tools for potty training. I’m also working with two therapists on a parenting program centered around grounded parenting through the noise of the internet.

Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents look at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it).

photo-5

Join us today as we meet one of my favorite local Moms, Diane Jennings of Luca Boutique. Luca has quickly become my go to place for amazing children's clothes at great prices. Diane's super friendly approach and and thoughtfully laid out store (it even has a play space with a gate!), makes shopping with my own small kids, really enjoyable. Diane lives in Somerset, MA with her husband and 7 year old son, Luke.

Kidoinfo: Tell us about your business.

Diane Jennings: Luca is a fun and fresh consignment boutique for kids located in the heart of Water Street, an eclectic shopping and dining district in Warren.  We carry premium and better brand children's apparel, baby gear and trendy maternity clothing for the stylish Mom to be! You'll also find a wide array of new accessories and gifts.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?

Diane: I was compelled to re-invent the typical consignment experience from top to bottom.  As a frequent consignment shopper, I was disheartened with the majority of stores I visited and knew there had to be better way to both shop and consign apparel.

Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?

Diane: A close friend owned a small store and was looking to sell her business.  She approached me in 2010 and within 30 days I had rented a storefront on Water Street.  With unparalleled support of family and friends we opened in January 2011 and never looked back.

Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?

Diane: My husband and I are a team and honestly I  couldn't make it work without him.  He keeps me focused and grounded.  Communication and time management are essential for me.

Kidoinfo: Please describe a typical day.

Diane: Begins at 5:45 with lots of coffee!  We are out the door by 7:40 am on our way to school drop off.  I allow a cushion from 8:15-9am to allow for scheduled and sometimes unscheduled errands and am at the store no later than 9:15 to get ready for 10am opening.  Most days I am there until closing at 5pm and arrive home for dinner, homework, and extra curricular activities depending on the day.  After picking up around the house and attacking the never-ending laundry, it's time for some reading or TV watching with my husband then lights out no later than 10pm.

057

Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (Pre-kids or Pre-business) any advice, what would it be?

Diane: Listen to your gut.  I read every parenting magazine, blog and website trying to be the best Mom I could be.  At one point we had a question about something (now deemed trivial but at the time seemed pressing) and my husband suggested calling the pediatrician.  I had an overwhelming urge to just stop searching outside myself to find answers and listen to my own thoughts and it worked.  We have an extraordinary 7 year old!

Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?

Diane: Listening to those around me provides all the inspiration I need.  My family, friends, clients, and mentors, are part of my life for a reason.

Kidoinfo: What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?

Diane: My planner.  I am a visual person and I need to write everything down.  I've tried multiple electronic devices and they just don't work for me.  Seeing it in my own writing helps me to own my commitments and not over schedule.

Kidoinfo: What is your favorite children's book?

Diane: Being a native Bostonian- Make Way for Ducklings is an all time classic.

Kidoinfo: What do you do with your family on a rainy day?

Diane: Typically a rainy day equates to a pajama day with lots of cooking!

Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved?

Diane: As an avid reader Cutting for Stone is one of my top 5 favorite books.  The story of twin brothers and how their lives twisted and turned was epic.  It stayed with me for a long time upon completion.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Diane: Red wine and a good book whether my feet are in the sand or in front of a warm fire always relaxes me.

Kidoinfo: If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?

Diane: I would love to say taking that Pilates class I've been trying to get to for the last year, but most likely it would be catching up on my sleep!

Kidoinfo: Can you share a story that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and parent?

Diane: I meet so many amazing parents at Luca and have made lasting friendships as a result.  Meeting a fellow mother who delivered her daughter on the same day at the same hospital as my son stands out.  She has been a client for 3.5 years and now has 3 children!

Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom prepared or changed you in business?

Diane: I think we all need to be more kind and compassionate with one another. The so-called Mommy Wars can really take a toll.   I make it a point to let a Mom know that she's a doing a great job.  Whether it's a temper tantrum, potty training accident, or just an overall tough day, we all need to hear someone else has been there and knows "this too shall pass."

Kidoinfo: What is next for you and your business?

Diane: We are always researching new product lines to carry and ways to streamline our intake processes.  We plan to offer some innovative new products in late 2014 and perhaps another store...you never know!

Luca Boutique is located at 193 Water Street, Warren RI 02885.  For more information check out Luca's website and Facebook page.

Today we invite you to pop on your hiking boots and load up your backpack as we introduce a wonderful local Mama.  Jeanine Silversmith is a writer, Mom of two kids and huge fan of nature, who aims to get more local families up and out into the great outdoors.  Jeanine lives in Wakefield, RI with her clan.

Kidoinfo: Tell us about your business.IMG_4657

Jeanine Silversmith: I run RI Families in Nature (RIFIN), a family hiking club with the main goals of getting people of all ages to spend more time outdoors, explore RI’s natural places, and reconnect with and reap the many benefits of nature. I send out a monthly e-newsletter, lead a monthly hike, offer numerous resources on my website, and conduct educational workshops for community groups and teachers. I work part-time for the RI Environmental Education Association (RIEEA), helping to advance environmental literacy in K-12 classrooms throughout the state. In addition, I am currently writing a book.

What inspired you to start your business?

JS: I’ve always been passionate about spending time in nature, especially hiking. I’m less tense, more in tune with my body, and motivated to take better care of it. In particular, I love a good hike. Before children came along, I was an avid hiker — not an expert or anything — but it was a regular part of my life. Finding time and motivation to hit the trails was difficult once I had children. Then, in September 2008, I saw author and child-advocate Richard Louv speak about his bestselling book, Last Child in the Woods. In this ground-breaking work, Louv connects the lack of nature in our children’s lives to obesity, attention disorders, depression, and a whole lot more. Louv offered the idea of a “family nature club” as one way to schedule in the unstructured time in nature. The name “RI Families in Nature” popped into my head and I went from there.

How did you start your business?

JS: After seeing Richard Louv speak, I drove home, bought the domain name www.rifamiliesinnature.org and spent the next couple of months researching places to hike in RI and learning how to build a website and send out email campaigns. My first hike was five years ago this month. It was scheduled a couple of hours after a snow storm ended. I was pretty sure I should cancel or at the very least, nobody would show up. My husband said simply, “We have to go.” And we did. And it was a beautiful, thoroughly enjoyable hike for my family of four. The next month, I posted my hike on Kidoinfo.com and over 40 people showed up!

IMG_2721

How do you balance work and family?

JS: I don’t know who said it, but I love the quote “There is no balance, there is only scheduling.” Everything, and I mean everything, is in my calendar. When presented with work related opportunities, I ask myself if it will first and foremost benefit my family. Leading hikes gets my children and me outside in the woods, so I’m happy to put in the time and energy to make that happen. With RIEEA, I feel like I am making a real difference in every RI child’s education and that keeps me going. In addition, my children are not involved in a tremendous number of activities — at least not at any given time — so I’m able to spend less time in the car, in a dance studio, and on a soccer field and more time at home.

Please describe a typical day.IMG_2694

JS: Waking up before the sun to exercise is a must. If I can get in a run or a trip to the gym before my kids wake up, then I feel like no matter what else happens I can handle it! After getting my kids on the bus, I make myself a cup of tea, prioritize my to-do list while my computer is booting up, and start working. I take breaks throughout the day to do small housekeeping tasks like prep dinner or run an errand. I work very hard to be done with my work and turn my computer off before my children return from school so that I can focus on their needs. If absolutely necessary, I will return to the computer when they are in bed. However, my husband owns his own orthodontic practice and puts in long days so we try to carve out an hour or so each evening just to be with each other.

Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?

JS: Laundry is the bane of my existence so I do whatever I can to stay on top of it. Usually I start a load while my kids are eating breakfast, transfer it to the dryer when I get back from the bus stop, and fold it during a conference call or while my kids are doing their homework. I also try to schedule meetings and appointments on the same day and in the same part of the state. I find spending a day or two traveling around and interacting with others makes the time I spend at home, alone, plugging away at my computer much more productive.

If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?

JS: I think it would be to take a good, long pause each and every time anyone asks me to take on a volunteer task and critically consider if it is something I am passionate about and have the time and energy for. After my second child, I spread myself out way too thin. I think it was because I was sure I didn’t want to be home full time but didn’t know what the next step in my career should be.

Where do you find inspiration?

JS: Outside. I am always amazed by how everything falls into place after I hike, go for a run, play in the snow, or just take a walk with a friend.

What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?

JS: Hands down my cell phone. I am relatively new to the smartphone world and I was surprised at how it freed me from my computer. And the calendar app is my saving grace.

What is your favorite children's book or music CD?

JS: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss still gives me goose bumps every time I read it. Unless….

What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?

JS: We love to stay in our pajamas as long as possible, blast some good tunes, and bake something. And of course, we’ve also been known to hike or play in the rain.

What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?

JS: I just finished my first David Sedaris book, Naked, and found his wit and quirkiness fabulous. I also re-read Tolkien’s The Hobbit (for like the sixth or seventh time) mostly because there was so much in the film version that was contrary to my recollection of the book and I wanted to revisit it before the third and final movie comes out next winter.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

JS: Oh, I hate to admit this, but my husband and I love watching Tosh. Because it often makes us laugh hysterically. Sometimes it’s just plain gross or offensive, but mostly it’s a welcome departure from the seriousness of life. Laughing is such a wonderful therapy.

If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?

JS: Sleep! Although I try to go to bed early, I feel like I can never get enough sleep.VisitorCenter

How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?

JS: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I am pretty intense and goal oriented. Motherhood has taught me to expect the unexpected and to embrace it. When my children were very young, there were so many times that my long list of planned errands, tasks, and/or activities were blown right out of the water because of an ear infection or a poorly fastened diaper or even just the realization that whatever it was, wasn’t working. I’ve learned not to get too far ahead of myself.

What is next for you and your business?

JS: I’m hoping to complete the first draft of my book and take on new challenges with RIEEA this spring and summer. For RIFIN, I am looking forward to the next five years and checking out some new hikes!

Further information about RI Families in Nature as well as upcoming hikes can be found at www.rifamiliesinnature.org

Photo Credits: Jeanine Silversmith

Today we introduce Susan Pascale-Frechette, owner of Pods Swimming. Pods swimming is a Providence Area swim school for children aged 2 months-9 years. Susan can often be spotted poolside with her two young children (who are amazing swimmers) in tow. She lives in Barrington, Rhode Island with her husband, Marc and two children aged 6 and 4.

Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your own business?
Susan Pascale-Frechette: Pods originated because I was a swim coach for the Ocean State Squids at Brown University. During the winter of 2006-2007, Brown University closed their pool and since I loved coaching, I felt I could better serve the Providence community by creating my own swim school. The swimmers at Pods are able to learn breath control and body position at 6 months old. It is very exciting to watch these swimmers develop.

Photo Credit: Jamie Pascale

Photo Credit: Jamie Pascale

How do you balance work and family?
Susan: I am fortunate to have a wonderful staff and family who helps me with my children. My sister Jamie is the Pods swimming program manger. She executes all jobs that I need help with every day. My husband Marc is an amazing cook. He prepares most of our family meals. I am also so fortunate to have a reliable, dedicated staff. In my absence, I can trust them. It allows me to be able to work on other aspects of the business.

Please describe a typical day?
Susan: Due to the facility availability of Pods, I do not have a typical day or routine day. Everyday of the week is a different schedule in my household. One day I may bring my children to school, then have an hour to work on the administrative end of Pods. Throughout that day, I may teach for 2 hours, pick up my children and then teach again for a few hours. Another day I may bring my children to school, teach for a few hours, have a meeting, pick them up from school and then take them to an activity and then go back to Pods to teach. I have learned flexibility is the key for myself and my family. Because we are not used to a typical routine, my children are able to adapt to whatever the day brings for us.

Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Susan: I believe organization is the key. I wake up and hit the ground running. Because every day varies for me, I make daily lists for my home and my business. I focus on the task at hand and complete it, then move onto the next one. I also make sure we have everything organized in my car for the day. Depending on what activity is going on that day and which location I am headed to, determines what I pack for the day.

Photo Credit: Pods

Photo Credit: Pods

If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Susan: I started Pods when my daughter was 1 week old. So pre- business and pre-kids is the same chapter of my life. The advice I would have is learn to be flexible and adaptable. Business life can change by the hour. You have to be ready for anything the day may bring.

Where do you find inspiration?
Susan: I find my inspiration after learning about my own great grandmother, Margaret Lonardo. She was an Italian immigrant who had 5 children and a vision. Along with my great grandfather, Emilo, she owned a cigar store named Leo's on Atwells Avenue for 60 years and also managed apartment buildings. She wanted to give her family opportunity. By building a business and working hard she provided them with great educations. She also made sure she traveled to places she wanted to see and always made sure to prioritize herself. She felt you have to take care of yourself. If you are not happy and taken care of, no one in your household or business will thrive. What I have learned from her example is life does not just happen. You have to set goals for yourself and work hard to reach them.

Photo credit: Pods

Photo credit: Pods

What is the one kid or parent product you could not live without?
Susan: I could not live without baby wipes. They have many multi-purpose uses. I still use them even though Jillian and Evan are 6 and 4.

What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Susan: Right now, my children's favorite cd's are Fireman Sam and The Little Mermaid.

What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved?  What made it so great?
Susan: My favorite book that I have read recently, is The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. I enjoyed reading how challenging children, teaching them to learn to be independent and holding them accountable, allows children to learn self awareness and become problem solvers.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Susan: I have to say that a guilty pleasure for me would be having an ice cream sundae for lunch.

Photo credit: Pods

Photo credit: Pods

If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Susan: I like to go to the beach. It is the one place I feel I can sit down and relax.

Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and parent?
Susan: There is overlap when my children have to view a facility with me, watch a movie poolside while I teach a lesson, or have to help transport equipment. It is great that they are able to witness me working. At a young age they have realized you just work hard in order to own a home and live day to day life. It is a great lesson for them to learn. They also have had to learn patience. Life does not revolve around them. Their needs are met, but not instantaneously.

Photo credit: Pods

Photo credit: Pods

How has the experience and on the job training of being a Mom/Dad prepared or changed you in business?
Susan: I think having children of my own, I am better able to relate to swim school parents. I am juggling all of the same things that they are.

What is next for you and your business?
Susan: I would love to see Pods swimming continually educate the children and parents in Rhode Island. Many parents try to do everything for their child so they can to help their child succeed in life. I hope that we can make learning to swim one of the gifts they are giving them.

For more information on Pods swimming, please check out their website.

November 2013 marked five years for Kreatelier on Hope Street and six years since incorporation. Kreatelier is more than a storefront, owned and operated by two amazing creatively savvy business women (and moms)–who live what they love–making beautiful items for the home, supporting other artists that make things by hand, teaching a new generation DIY skills, while inspiring us all to make our world a little more beautiful by the environmental choices we make to the way we style our home (no matter how small or big our budget). I first met Line and Pernilla in the early Kidoinfo days while taking business classes at The Center for Women and Enterprise. From the beginning, they have been inspiring business mentors and supporters of my own creative entrepreneurial endeavors.

To celebrate, join Line and Pernilla at Kreatelier on Hope Street this coming Thursday, December 19 from 6 to 9pm. They’ll offer appetizers, sparkling wine and 20% off on all retail items!

storefront_Kreatelier_EGold

With gratitude for this 5-year milestone, Kreatelier owners Line Deams & Pernilla Frazier share this interview.

There is a great deal written about how to be an entrepreneur, what has been most critical to making it as a small business?

Line & Pernilla: Working hard, being surrounded by positive and inspiring people, having a great business partner, having fun, and not always take things too seriously.

What has happened that you never would have anticipated?

L&P: How hard you have to work to make it work; that our initial ideas for fabric organizers could play out into an entire line and a business; and that an entrepreneurial dream could really come true. (We once worked in the fields of nursing and law and we have each raised two children during this start-up!)

At some point along the way you decided to focus only on fabric items and services. Could you talk about this?

L&P: When we started we carried items (mosaic, ceramics, etc.) from all sorts of local artists that we loved. We were had a wide range of vendors constantly approaching us. Yet we came to realize that we did not want to be a general gift store. In fact we relate much more to form and function than the notion of gifts. This led us to carry only fabric-related products, provide home decor services and offer sewing workshops. Fabric got us into this business and now that we have specialized around it, the entire concept of Kreatelier is much better understood. By being ‘all things fabric’ we feel that we stand out. [Our tagline is: Fabric creations for life and home].

sleepover kit_Kreatelier nov 2013Q: Etsy recently updated its seller policies about the use of outside manufacturing. How did you scale up your production and what are your thoughts about the notion of an item being “handmade”?

L&P: From the beginning we realized that there was no way that we could design and create products while also taking care of sales and running the business. So we found a wonderful sewing company in Massachusetts and have now worked with them for 6 years. We still believe we can call our product line ‘handmade’ since we design each item and this company’s thirty staff hand sew the products in our local region. We visit our production partner regularly and know the head seamstress personally. This close communication and our respect for how they conduct their business is essential. Maintaining control over quality is key to delegating and growth.

What is your approach to setting up your store? What have you come to understand about what and why people buy?

L&P: We like a clean and organized look in our store and the products we sell. We move items around regularly and always have a sale corner. Our store has ample space so customers feel comfortable and can move around even with strollers. Items that stand out are also important–Customers who browse don’t always spend a lot of time. We also learn from customers–People consistently ask for smaller, less expensive items. Therefore we have expanded these types of products over the years [think: headbands, dishtowels, etc.]. With an increasing number of customers being very conscious about how they spend their money our focus on unique, practical, useful and environmentally friendly products is well received.

Kreatlier decor nov2013

Does any of this carry over into your home decor services?

L&P: Absolutely. We firmly believe less is more and are not of the mindset that an entire house or room makeover is always necessary. Adding new fabric accents (i.e., window treatment, reupholstering or pillows) is a powerful, efficient way to change the entire energy and look of a space. Life can be very overwhelming. So we make sure our design approach and the Kreatelier store are simple and uplifting.

As you have grown so has The Hope Street Retail Community. What has it meant to be a part of this?

L&P: We feel tremendously connected to our neighborhood and merchants. We think Hope Street has more staying power (and less business churn) because of its authentic neighborhood fabric. Being nestled in a residential enclave means that we see the same local people walking by day after day, saying “hi”, and supporting us. The stores also have the benefit of being in the midst of organizations such as Festival Ballet, The Library and anchors such as Seven Stars and the summertime Hope Street Farmers Market. In this way Hope Street is both a neighborhood and a destination.

When it comes to our merchant mix we are also uniquely fortunate. There is an unwritten agreement to not step on each other’s toes and to give back and help the street’s greater good. Just this year we are stepping into the role of leading the Hope Street Merchant Association. We look forward to furthering the huge momentum spurred by Asher Schofield’s fabulous work [owner of Frog & Toad and the outgoing Hope Street Merchant Association president].

Your business is a partnership that grew out of a friendship. How has this bond
evolved as your business has grown?

L&P: We always have had a “stress less” partnership. We are good friends who have a way of understanding and respecting each other. Plus the way our business tasks are divided has flowed very naturally. Line is more communications, ordering, the online store and general business. Pernilla is dedicated mostly to the custom interior work. We each have our strengths and never wonder who works more. Even though we focus on different parts of the business we know that we need each other to create success. The most important thing is that we laugh a lot, especially when we are overwhelmed with work. We began this business because we enjoyed hanging out with coffee and pouring over design magazines. Thankfully we still feel that pull and are certainly having fun.

You got into this because of an interest in fabric and sewing–What have you come
to understand about fabric, design and being a “maker” of things?

L&P: We both love the beauty of fabric and colors. Fabric allows us to change and improve rooms and houses, even lift everyday life a bit. In a way we are makers of things and also the makers of change…We like to say to customers, “Make your home your own.” Fabric plays a huge role in making a home cozy and making a personal statement.

These past few years we are putting more thought into the making of the Kreatelier concept. We are thinking about all of the different angles where our approach to color, everyday inspiration, and beautiful functionality can have an impact.

Your brand, its name and look is very distinctive. How did you land on the colors of red and lime green? What type of style and personality are you interested in projecting?

L&P: We began in an old Mill Building studio and needed to brighten up the space and at the same time create the brand. We both love bright colors and came up with the red and lime green combination. Our first step was to paint our furniture in those colors and immediately we knew it had something. These colors are happy, bold, modern, non-traditional and bright. We like the contrast.

This feeling of contrast has gone on to influence lots of what we do. We have no fear of mixing colors and patterns and make this a hallmark of our products and interior design. Perhaps ‘no fear’ is a good note to wrap up these five-year thoughts. Our future goals include expanding online, expanding our retail space, possibly opening a second store and getting our products carried by like-minded retailers in different regions. We’ll need a good five, ten or twenty years more to figure all this out.

Today, we invite you to pad-up and enjoy the ride as we introduce a seriously cool local parent.

Photo Credit: K Rob Foundation

Photo Credit: K Rob Foundation

Kevin Robinson aka K-Rob is much more than a BMX riding, ice cream loving, father of three! Born and raised in East Providence, Kevin is a 10 times X-games Medallist and current high air World Record holder (55 feet!)  Now officially retired, after a hugely successful 23 year career as a Competitive BMX Pro rider, he focuses his time on his multiple businesses. They include the Non Profit Foundation, The K-Rob Foundation, his Event Planning Business/School Assembly Programs, K-Rob Events, as well as his Children’s Protective Clothing line, Grindz! Kevin is one of the most inspirational and nicest guys you’ll ever meet as well as, arguably the coolest Dad around. Kevin lives in Barrington with his wife, Robin and their 3 young children.

What inspired you to start your business?

Kevin: I knew that when I planned on retiring from X Games, I would have to replace my passion with another passion; it wasn’t just about retiring financially. So, I decided to follow my heart and move into areas of business that I love as much as I have all these years riding my bike.

How did you start your business?

Kevin: My wife, Robin, and I thankfully share the same passion and work ethic, so we started preparing for life after riding a few years ago. We started from scratch, took a lot of great advice, stumbled a bit a few times, but always stayed on the path that we set, reaching goals is some thing I do well.

Photo Credit: X Games

Photo Credit: X Games

How do you balance work and family?

Kevin: Thankfully, my work includes my family most of the time. We work from home, we travel together, and most of the opportunities I have, I can bring my family along with me. Mat Hoffman once said to me “Dream your life, then live your dream”. I have followed these words since he said them to me years ago. I have chosen a path that my children can be a big part of. I sometimes take Kevin Jr. to NYC to do media, TV appearances and radio interviews. I use him to help us promote our children’s clothing line, Grindz. Or, if we have an event for the K-Rob Foundation, my kids are always involved in every aspect of it. I want them to learn to dream big and learn that they too can follow their hearts.

Please describe a typical day.

Kevin: A typical day is anything but! Every single day is completely different than the day before in the Robinson home! A typical day starts like most families, complete chaos and the mad school rush! After that, I usually have to head to a Physical Therapist for some rehab, I just recently had a hip replacement, so I’ve been mending. After that, I usually have meetings lined up for a few hours in regards to any of our different projects. Then, like most people, it’s answer email time and get some work done before the kids get out of school. Most afternoons are spent shuttling the kids to and from activities until bedtime! If I wasn’t at home healing right now, a typical day may include travel anywhere from California, NYC, China, Brazil, etc. I travel all over the world riding my bike, doing PR for my businesses, or getting to attend fun events such as the Winter X Games.

Photo Credit: K Rob Foundation

Photo Credit: K Rob Foundation

Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?

Kevin: I wish I had time saving tricks! If anyone has some, please share them! Ha ha ha. I guess my only time saving trick is to work while I’m waiting for my kids to get done with activities. The great thing about the world being so mobile now is that I can work anywhere, anytime.

If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?

Kevin: I would tell myself that it’s ok to make mistakes, everyone does. It’s how well we learn from our mistakes that changes our lives.

Photo Credit: K-Rob Events

Photo Credit: K-Rob Events

Where do you find inspiration?

Kevin: I find inspiration in my kids and my wife. They come first, no matter what. My inspiration is to follow my passion; this has always worked for me. I have also always found inspiration in people telling me something can’t be done. When I was growing up, people made fun of me for riding my bike, they loved to tell me that it would only be a hobby. My inspiration to persevere was to prove them all wrong, and I did just that. My newest inspirations are the same, when people tell me that I can’t succeed, my objective becomes to prove them all wrong.

What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?

Kevin: The best product we have is a new one and I wish we had had this YEARS ago! It’s the “OK TO WAKE OWL”- because toddlers can’t tell time, this product uses a ‘green light’ when it’s ok for them to get out of bed. It’s terrific! We have 3 energetic kids and the party usually starts in our house at 6am on the dot. This new owl light has made it so our kids don’t get out of bed until 6:30 and it’s amazing what that extra 30 minutes of sleep will do for you!

What is your favorite children's book or music CD?

Kevin: I love the book Go Dog Go. I remember my Mom reading it to me when I was a kid and I love reading it to my kids.

What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?

Kevin: We’re really energetic at our house, so we may go to Rock Spot Indoor Climbing, or swimming at the YMCA together. We love spending time together and having fun, so as long as we’re doing that, it’s a great day.

Photo Credit: Kevin Robinson

Photo Credit: Kevin Robinson

What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?

Kevin: It’s been a while since I’ve seen a non-kid film! But, if I can remember back that far, it would have to be Superman. The great things about my kids getting a little older now is that we are starting to enjoy some movies together. My son loves Superheroes, so we saw that one together.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Kevin: SUSHI! Any opportunity that my wife and I get to have a date night, it is always to Haruki on the East Side for Sushi. Another huge guilty pleasure is ice cream. A little known fact about me is that I eat a pint of ice cream every single night before I go to bed! Mint Chocolate Chip is my weakness.

If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?

Kevin: SLEEP!

Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?

Kevin: I guess life as a dad and life as a business owner are pretty similar in a lot of ways, it’s a lot like a carousel, it has its ups and downs, but it continues to go around and around at the same time. Life keeps moving forward regardless of its ups and downs.

Photo Credit: Kevin Robinson

Photo Credit: Kevin Robinson

How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?

Kevin: I have learned to move quickly and multitask like a superhero. Parenthood has taught me that for sure! Every morning I feel like we have a military-like strategy meeting at our kitchen table. Making prepared choices and decisions have to come quickly, so communication within your family life and your business life is key!

What is next for you and your business?

Kevin: We are preparing for a lot of changes in our businesses. Grindz has some amazing opportunities around the corner that we are prepping for. K-Rob Foundation is continuing to grow and help out deserving children stay involved in sports. We have had such amazing support from our community, it’s truly incredible to see how people and communities come together to help one another. K-Rob Events has expanded over the past year going from a one man show to now representing 12 different athletes and motivational speakers on a National level. We also have another project up our sleeve that will benefit the action sports community in the regional area. I’m letting the cat out of the bag a little here, but we are building an Indoor Skatepark starting Jan. 1 in Rhode Island! We will be offering programs, open skate time, and lessons for skateboarders, BMX riders, and mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels. Keep your eye out in early Spring! I couldn’t be happier and couldn’t feel more blessed in my life. Dream your life, then live your dream sure does work.

For more information about Kevin Robinson and his exciting ventures, check out the links below. I couldn't resist also including the link to his world record breaking jump - totally bonkers!

K-Rob Foundation
K-Rob Events
Grindz: Children's Protective Clothing
World Record Jump

Photo Credit: Grindz

Photo Credit: Grindz

Home Work: Lessons from Work-at-Home Parents. This series of Kidoinfo interviews with parents, looks at how they manage to squeeze in work time at home (whether working for someone else or running their own business) along with juggling kids, home life, and childcare (or lack of it). Today we introduce Cindy Moser, a proposal writer for a healthcare company. Cindy lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island with her husband and 5 year old son.

Photo Credit: Cindy Moser

Photo Credit: Cindy Moser

How did you start working from home?
Cindy: I had a freelance writing business. The company I work for were one of my clients and I liked the team there, so when they offered a full time job writing business proposals for them that still gave me the flexibility of working from home, I jumped on it.

How do you balance work and family?
Cindy: Ha! Not always successfully! My job is deadline-oriented, so when I’m on a deadline, the family and home-care tasks fall by the wayside, or get picked up by my awesome husband. When I’m not on deadline, I have a lot of flexibility to prioritize the family aspect. It’s still really difficult though. It’s very easy to let work or family “take over” so that you neglect the other side. And when that happens, you can feel either like a bad employee or a bad parent.

Please describe a typical day.
Cindy: I made a few rules for myself when I started working from home. 1. No working in pajamas. 2. Pretend you are going to a real office, just with a short commute. So (ideally), I get up, shower, get my son ready for school and on the school bus. Then I throw in a load of laundry and do the breakfast dishes. By 8:30 or 9, I’m at my desk. Depending on whether I’m on a deadline or not, I will either work all day pretty much straight through, or do whatever administrative/background work needs doing, interspersed with errands, tidying up, the (far too) occasional workout, etc. My son gets off the bus at 3:15 and we have a babysitter watch him for the rest of the afternoon until around 5:30. Then it’s dinner, tub and bed.

Do you have any time-saving tricks that you could share?
Cindy: 1) Make a schedule for the morning and evening and stick to it as best you can. I find that it really helps my stress level to be able to follow a schedule. Also, when I’m not fully caffeinated in the morning, it helps to have it written down so I can make sure I’ve got everything under control. 2) Don’t over-schedule. My son was doing two sports at the same time for a while and it was too much for our family. I’m not really sure how families with multiple kids handle it. 3) Do a load of laundry every day. When you work from home, it’s so easy to take the time you’d use for a coffee break in the office to toss in a load of laundry.

If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Cindy: Don’t judge. Everyone’s situation is different, and everyone is doing the best they can.

Where do you find inspiration?
Cindy: Since I work from home, I am able to get outside almost every day — if only to my back yard. Maybe it’s not really inspiration, but I find being outside in fresh air to be really centering. Just 10 minutes is all it takes for me. I have to remember to do that more consistently now that the weather is getting colder.

What is the one kid or parent product that you could not live without?
Cindy: My son is an early-riser and always has been. We got a My Tot Clock for him when he was very young (still in the crib) and taught him that he can’t get up or call for us until the clock turns yellow in the morning. We use it still today. When we don’t we risk getting up at 5 am. The Tot Clock gets us an extra hour of sleep, which is essential!

What is your favorite children's book or music CD?
Cindy: Oh, wow. So many favorites. Probably Flotsam or Tuesday by David Weisner, but we also just finished Little House in the Big Woods, and my son really liked that.

What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Cindy: Since my son is in school, we’re mostly talking about raining weekend days, and while I’d love to say that we go to museums or something like that, often, we end up running errands. If we’re home, we draw, play hallway bowling with random objects, have sword-fights with our foam swords (best Five Below purchase ever) and watch movies.

What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Cindy: I really liked The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro. It wasn’t the best-written book I’ve ever read, but the story was really compelling and I find the whole Isabella Stuart Gardner heist story fascinating.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cindy: Chocolate, naturally.

If you had an extra hour each day, what would you do with it?
Cindy: Exercise. It’s the one thing I regret not having enough time for. I always feel better when I do it, but I’m so inconsistent about it.

Can you share a story or anecdote that is symbolic of your dual life as a business owner and a mother/father?
Cindy: One time I had an imminent deadline. I needed input from a subject matter expert on the software my company sells, so I was on the phone, but it was also shortly before dinner time, so I remember being on the phone, on my headset, while pounding out chicken breasts with a mallet. I pulled it off well, but you’re always doing two things at once, which is tricky.

How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom/dad prepared or changed you in business?
Cindy: It’s definitely made me more generous and understanding. I used to be pretty unforgiving when people’s lives collided with their work responsibilities. Now, having been there, I get that it’s always a juggling act to get through each day.

Kidoinfo.com is published by Gale Force Communications

Mailing address:
57 Rolfe Square, PO Box 10094
Cranston, Rhode Island 02920

401-337-9240

For Calendar: lisa@kidoinfo.com
For Editorial and Sales: susan@kidoinfo.com
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram