8 Tips for Surviving Impromptu Take Your Kid to Work Day

Along with wearing the hat of CoHatchery's Chief Learning Officer, I am also a regular adjunct assistant professor at a handful of universities in the tristate area. The majority of the time, I work from home running online classes and meeting with my students over several different digital platforms that allow me to be home with my 4-year-old on a regular basis.

However, during the summer, I part-take in a live lecture program. Every year, I make childcare arrangements well in advance. When you work from home, you become more apt at long-term planning, as you need to create specifically arranged pockets of time to achieve your work-related goals. This summer was a bit different. Nana, my primary caretaker, fell and broke her ankle during a fun day of play, rendering her immobile and given a prescription of rest from urgent care. I was charged with finding last minute care for my child. And like most of you have experienced, this just doesn't work, especially when you find out at 4 p.m. and start your commute at 5 a.m. the following day.

Thus, an impromptu "bring your child to work day," was upon me. Based on this recent unfolding of events and prior experience along the same lines, here are a few recommendations for those of us that have these "last minute" shuffling of priorities. As we all know, most young children are not able to sit next to you quietly for long periods of time. It is not their fault, they are kids and have boundless energy to burn. Questions remain: How will your child fare with you at work? What can you do to ease the transition/time present in an office environment? Here are some suggestions that may help:

1.       Ask your boss/company/supervisor. It is always polite to do so, and you should find out about any liability issues that would prevent you from bringing in your child. It also shows them, that you are doing everything in your power to keep up with your commitments. And in this day and age, more bosses/companies/supervisors are willing to work with families in these type of last minute situations.

2.       Talk about tomorrow the night before.   When your child sees you interacting with other people, they may feel neglected if they are not addressed right away. Simply tell the child how the day may unfold. Make sure they understand their priority of needs as well. "If Mommy/Daddy is talking to a work friend, and you need something - just wait to ask until I am finished. Okay? Unless it is a potty emergency!"  Children follow a parent's example in most social interactions. You can even role play or practice at home.

3.       Before the workday, prepare independent play activities. It may be as simple as bring a small blanket or mat and arranging toys, coloring books and the like around. Creating a small play area on the floor will let your child feel welcome, part of the environment and provide them a "space of their own." Creating one for my daughter looked so inviting she joking laid down and said: "Mommy this looks like a good place to rest." Below is an illustration of how this worked for my daughter that day:

4.       Arrive early. It will help your child feel more comfortable if you take your time getting ready and arrive to work early. They can explore where they will remain for the majority of the day without others milling about. A quiet work and empty work setting will give them a chance to explore, wander and you can even play around with a good game of tag or hide and seek. Try to make the day "fun" and not all about "work" as much as you can.

5.       Don't feel guilty about using technology. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has loosened their restrictions on screen time a bit on a case by case basis. If you have some favorite games on a mobile device for your child, have them play short spurts.  Don't use a mobile device the entire day as tempting as it may be. Going to work with a parent can also be a great opportunity for your child to practice patience and autonomous play without the crutch of technology.

6.       Start with small time increments then gradually increase. As with anything else, change for children can be difficult. By starting to work on small projects and then directing your attention to your child repeatedly, back and forth eventually they will realize when you are busy, you will be likely to return your attention to them when you are finished/free.

7.       Don’t expect to finish huge projects during this time. Much of these guidelines follows a “learning by doing" format — in which most of us dive in without a script. Thus, the first few times, keep your expectations low. You might simply catch up on emails, have a few casual conversations with co-workers, only get through 75% of your lecture and give your class a take-home assignment, or check off a few client phone calls. Larger projects should be done or finished at home during nap [see below], early morning or evening hours if need be. That is life, and it isn't your schedule forever.

8.       Be present and focused as best you can to both audiences: your kid vs. coworkers, clients, students, etc. Teach your child effective ways of getting your attention. Encourage "excuse me," or the classroom etiquette of raising a hand. That way, they know you heard/saw them and will get to them as soon as you can. I will say that this worked well in my classroom. And toward the end of class, when I asked my students about sensory processing (how we take information in from our environment using vision, hearing, touching, smelling or tasting and use this data to form perceptions about your environment) my daughter raised her hand and said "Mommy, I have a question. How do people learn if they can't see?" I was proud she spoke up and actually would have addressed this same subject had it come from one of my students.

Each workday is different and sometimes when you need to be in a formal working environment, last minute changes force you to bring your kid into the office.  I offer some kind and thoughtful advice as a professional, an organized worker and a parent. I will close with one of my favorite moments of the day:

Emma: "Mommy. I have another question."

Me: "Yes, Emma. What is your question?"

Emma: "Mommy, can I have a hug?"

Class: [A chorus of "Awwww...."]

A Day in the Life @ CoHatchery

As many of you may have heard, we are launching a summer program in Park Slope starting July 11th. Since the coworking with childcare concept is still quite new to many of you, we thought it might be helpful to describe a what it might be like for you and your little one to spend the day at CoHatchery this summer:

12:40pm Arrive at Kidville and park your stroller in stroller parking. Quickly greet the teachers, the other parents and their children, unpack snacks and diapers, and sit down for circle time and the morning parent-integration activity.

Today, we are doing the Name Dance: The teacher asks the group: “How do you move your body when you say “hello?” Each child and parent writes down their name and decorates a name tag. They also get to make up a short dance or a silly movement to go with their name, anytime it is said. The teacher collects the name tags, draws a tag and asks the owner to demonstrate the movement.  Everyone in the group repeats that person's name the movement until we go all the way around the circle. 

1:00pm You say goodbye to your little one and head to the coworking space across the street with the other parents, on the way you catch up on your weekend activities as well as new happenings in your business. You grab an iced coffee at The Estaminet downstairs (with a 25% discount) and continue your conversation. You exchange some sales leads and get the contact for that graphic designer you've heard great things about.

1:15pm You sit down to get some work done and answer some emails. Meanwhile your little one has begun their next activity: Placemat Snacktime. The teacher has created a place setting for each child with a place outlined for each utensil. The teacher asks the group: “What kinds of “tools” do we use to eat? Can you help "set the table"? The teacher says “I am going to match up the plate to the one on the mat.” With teacher assistance, each child places his/her own snack in their bowl and pour their water into their own glasses.

2:30pm You wrap up a client call and check the CoHatchery group chat for some picture updates. The children are playing Roll and Run Cube, where the teacher invites the children to roll a cube with different colors on all sides and identifies the color. The teacher encourages everyone to run to an object of that color in the classroom. The children take turns rolling and running. The teacher suggests a different way to move to the object each time such a jumping, crawling or walking like a robot.

4:00pm You join the children back at Kidville for your second parent-integration activity: Mirror Faces. Each parent/child duo gets a a small handheld mirror and is asked by the teacher to point to their own and each other's noses, eyes, and other facial features. The parents and children then talk about how their facial features look similar or different using shape adjectives: bigger, smaller, pointier, rounder, taller, etc. After the activity, you circle up again and sing a goodbye song. 

4:15pm You pack up your child's things and together you say bye to the other CoHatchery parents and littles. Some are staying behind for another Kidville class while some are going home. Today, since you've got that deadline coming up, a couple of other parents have kindly offered to take the kids to the PS 321 playground while you finish your work. You promise to return the favor tomorrow. You head back to the work space and get some uninterrupted work time.

6:00pm You meet the other parents and kids at PS 321 and you all head home for dinner. On your way home, you talk about all of the fun activities you did today with your child and reenact your name dance. Tomorrow is the big CoHatchery parent entrepreneurs networking event with some impressive speakers and childcare (e.g. a pajama party) provided at Kidville, so you decide to call it an early night in preparation. 

Everyday at CoHatchery will be different. However, we hope this gives you an idea of what to expect. If think you think this sounds like a good day, then sign up for our Summer Program or join our community :)

Why some successful parents say you can't "have it all"

In a recent Entrepreneur Article, entitled "You Can't Devote Yourself to Your Business and Children at the Same Time," real estate notable Barbara Corcoran told readers that women in both business and motherhood cannot have it all. And she is correct. You can't do two things at once. The notion of multitasking actually, does not exist. Yet, we believe based on our building community, more is possible if we take steps of focus our attention to a single task at a time.

Excerpt from the article:

"Corcoran said on Tuesday that while you can have it all, she believes you can’t have it all at once. More specifically, Corcoran -- who had her first child when she was in her mid-40s -- firmly believes that if she’d become a mother at a younger age, she could never have grown the Corcoran Group into a 1,000-plus person firm.

"When she had her son about 22 years ago, that all changed. For one, her schedule was less rigid -- instead of 7:30 a.m., she’d get to work around 9:30 after dropping him off at daycare. But more important, her focus was divided. “Once I had a sibling rivalry playing out in my heart, I felt I could never succeed as well again,” she said."

"She realized it was time to sell the company when her star salesperson marched into her office and accused her of caring more about her son than her employees. “She was right. I realized I couldn’t be spread one arm here and one leg here ... you can’t do that as a mom.”

While Corcoran saw parenthood and executive life as an impossible combination, what can be brought to light from her message is that attention cannot be divided to produce clear focus, in other words, multitasking. Multitasking is a common term broadly (and mistakenly) associated with any life situation whether it linked to work or home life. If we look at it through a cognitive lens, multitasking as we know it only means the whipping of attention back and forth at a fast rate.

The idea of multitasking doesn't make us more efficient, and it costs us time (Rubenstein, Meyer & Evans, 2001).  In other words, most of us operate on task ineffectually, by saying "I want to do this now instead of that," when the "that" can be the most difficult or challenging task we are putting off. By replacing it with another task or flip-flopping between multiple tasks we are tricking our brains into thinking, we are "working," when we are just exhausting our mental efforts and wasting time.

While we agree that multitasking is bad, we think that if one is disciplined about how he or she spends time between work and life, he or she CAN have it all at once (contrary to what Barbara says)…maybe not all at the same minute, but definitely within the same year, month, week, and even day. In other words, the tradeoff between career and life doesn’t have to be in chunks of multiple years, but can be hours within a day. That is what we mean by work-life integration, and it requires a tremendous amount of mental discipline and focus.

We think that it’s important to rethink multitasking by seeing multiple tasks as a single point of focus, and here are few recommendations to help:

Categorize your to-do list. By creating separate lists for work and home tasks, you can organize your responsibilities into clear areas. It's hard to quantify the importance of a weekly conference call to joining your child in art class. Ranking each two separate lists will priority the categories, not those you care. By having lists in general, you can reward yourself mentally by seeing your accomplishments and reduce your likelihood in forgetting items.

Limit distractions. Social media, returning emails, watching television, etc. while seeking to accomplish other tasks like paying attention to your kids or your colleague on a call only limits your attention to the task at hand. You aren't doing yourself any favors by doing two things simultaneously, because as researchers note, that process is impossible.

Capitalize on small increments of time. Any working person with lots to do can take advantage of 5 minutes. When spare moments materialize, use the time to accomplish a task. When you "only got five minutes," sometimes you can surprise yourself with how much you can get done. On the flip side, when you are time limited, say to yourself, "I will work on this task for "just five minutes." Mentally, you will feel better carving out a few moments to focus.

Clean up at the end of the day. Reduce clutter in your brain by reducing the clutter around you. Cleaning your workspace gives you a clear slate each morning to start your day so you can focus on one task at a time. Single attention focus will make you a more efficient worker and a better attentive parent.

Sources:Rubinstein, J. S., Meyer, D. E., & Evans, J. E. (2001). Executive control of cognitive processes in task switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 27(4), 763.

Having it All. Does it Suck?

CoHatchery is constantly listening to how parents manage work and life. We were particularly fascinated by an article by Amy Westervelt published in the Huffington Post this February about how having it all kind of "sucks". It is a relatable read for many working mothers because it takes a refreshingly cynical perspective on “having it all.” 

Since the article’s publication, the responses from our community of working moms have surprised us. Let's face it, some days it can be difficult, and it is okay to admit that to yourself and your support system. What inspired us in reading this article and talking to parents in similar situations is the radiating positivity in the face of these challenges - most find fulfillment in their work-life situations even though they admit to being able to relate oh-so-well to the vivid, daily trials described by Westervelt.

Westervelt article's pointed out how raising children and having a career can really decrease a mother’s quality of life:

“No woman (or man, for that matter) ever said, hey, you know what would be great? If I could get up at 5 a.m., make breakfast for everyone, then get dressed (with heels, natch), drop my kids off at daycare, go to work for 10 hours, pick the kids up, come home, cook dinner, clean up, put the kids to bed, work in bed ‘til midnight so I don’t get behind at work, then do it all again tomorrow on 5 hours sleep.”

She argues that society should stop glorifying the idea of “having it all” because ultimately society has changed its expectations of women without providing any of the necessary tools (which is exactly the problem we’re looking to solve!!!):

“This whole ‘having it all’ business has been grossly misinterpreted by our society at large. ... Doing all of it at the same time was never the idea. … Here’s what we tell women today: You not only can, but should have a career and children. But also, you should do it without any support…Without government-paid maternity leave…Without too much childcare or falling behind on the job…[and] Without too much help from your husband.”

However, from our growing community, we found that there is a level of real and growing support on both the home and work fronts amidst trying times to help working mothers. Many talk about the support they receive from their husbands and bosses, though a few still suffer from injustices at work. Most agree paid family leave policies aren’t enough (for both women and men!), and flexibility is the number one thing that parents crave, especially in the first year:

“I love my job, but I wish I could do it a little bit less. I wish I could work three days a week, or have flexible hours so that I could be the one to drop my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, or just BE with her a few more hours each day. I think it's fair to acknowledge that longing for something just a *little* bit different, even if I'm not saying ‘I wish I didn't have to work at all.’”

Many attribute their need for flexibility to selfless desires to be there for their kids rather than selfish needs (which would be okay too we think!!!):

“A parent's presence is needed in many ways by our kids. When they are infants, it's overwhelming and all-consuming if you work at home while they blossom. However, as they grow up, and move into their teen years, they still need to see us, even if it is to have us even just in the next room.”

Another theme around flexibility, which echoes statistics we’ve seen, is that although many employers now claim to have flexibility, most still have no idea how to properly execute it, and employees still feel overworked:

“My workplace, for instance, has begun to pride itself on it ‘flexibility’. It is quite nice to be able to work remotely and to sometimes try to work from home with a sick child… while I appreciate being able to get my work done on my ‘own schedule’ I don't particularly appreciate the notion that I can still perform by working full tilt all day and then putting a few hours in after bedtime every night. What it has really meant is very little time to connect with my husband and absolutely zero time to take care of myself.”

Many parents have felt an immense amount of pressure to perform at work and keep moving forward while feeling unrecognized for unpaid work. However, as one member of our community accurately points out:

“The operative word here is 'feel'. A lot of the insecurities are not based in fact just how we feel or rather how we're made to feel….If parents at work were supported and told more often that they're doing the best they can for their kids and also achieving everything that is expected of them professionally they might not feel like they're falling short in both camps.”

In her article, Westervelt offers a cold reality check for mothers who want it all:

“Here’s the truth: You want to have a career and kids? You totally can, but both will suffer. You will never feel like you are devoting enough time to either. You will never feel like you are good enough at either. You will never get time off (at least for the first several years). You will always be choosing between things that need your attention, and you will almost never choose yourself. You will be judged for nearly every move you make and you will never measure up to anyone else’s expectations.”

While we like her “realness”, we prefer this mom’s enabling perspective instead: “I'm a better mom because I work. My life would be so much less fulfilling without embracing all these sides of myself. We are not victims.”

The reason this article struck a chord with so many working parents is that there isn’t enough societal understanding of what it tangibly means to balance work and life. Many of us may struggle constantly with our desire to be superwoman (or superman), and when asked “how’s it going,” we may not always tell the full truth. As one community member points out:

“I kind of wish we acknowledged that it can be really hard MORE, not less. I'm not sure where that'd get us, but more flexible/part time options.”

Parents are selfless by nature and perhaps that means we don’t demand enough, especially given the workplace pressures and norms, which most can agree are in dire need of reform. We have high hopes for this movement towards work-life integration because really there is only life and how you live it. We consider forming a voice around our community of parents the first step in this movement, and the next step is to provide the tools and the space. 

(co-written by Wendy Xiao and Jamie Krenn)

 

Fighting the Separation Monster: 9 Ways to Reduce Their Tears and Fears When You Take Time to Work

Need time to work?

Yes!

Have kids?

Yes!

Do kids want to be away from you?

No!

Today, more parents are trying to find a balance in working from home while taking care of their young children. The attempt to create a “stable scale” stirs up many issues in little ones if you look to be away from them for a short time to get some things done — fear, anger, and perhaps even confusion among others can reside in their developing minds.

Most young children are not able to sit next to you quietly as you tap away on your keyboard, and a fair number of you reading this would probably relish some additional time to focus on your tasks at hand. The question remains: How will your child handle time away from you so you can work? What can you do to ease the transition? Here are some suggestions that may help with away time:

1.      Have a playdate with a potential caregiver and PAY them.  In your first meeting with your potential caregiver, suggest a play date in which you are present. When your child sees you interacting with this new person, they will feel more confident to engage with them as well. Children follow a parent's example in all social interactions. In other words, "if Daddy trusts this person, ergo I can too!" Also, pay this person for their time. Your time and their time are precious, and presenting this initial offering will instill this notion.

2.      Before this play date, create opportunities to talk to your kids about being away from home. This can also be described as working in another room for a short time with this "new friend." Let them know you love them and you will come back after you finish your work.

3.      Always say goodbye. Set expectations before you leave so your child knows what to expect. By telling them what YOU are doing, what THEY are doing and that a SITTER will be present will help alleviate suspiciousness. Add a funny goodbye too! My daughter loves when I tickle her nose with my ponytail. It is our “goodbye thing.”

4.      Be home the first time you hire care. It will help your child feel more comfortable if you remain in the home the first time (and maybe a few time following) when you have outside help arrive. Knowing you are close by for to answer questions for both the caregiver and child will make the transition process much smoother.

5.      Start with smaller time increments then gradually increase. As with anything else, change for children can be difficult. By starting small, they realize with time that when you are away, you will be likely to return.

6.      Don’t expect to finish huge projects the first few times. Much of the "work from home" + "parenting" lifestyle follows a “learning by doing" format — in which most of us simply dive in without a script of instructions or in a handbook. Thus, the first few times - keep your expectations low. You might simply catch up on emails, participate in your work-related social media, or check off a few client phone calls. Larger projects should be done after a few visits when your child is secure and happy with caregiver’s arrival and stay.

7.      Plan a few activities for the caregiver you know your child will love. Planning helps let the caregiver know your child’s preferences. You don’t want their sitting time to be composed of television viewing. Therefore, set up some crafting kits, a few favorite puzzles, playdough, or a cooking project to keep their interest peaked. Also, include a favorite snack to share. All of this preparation makes your child feel more secure as most children thrive on what I call “flexible structure” in that you transition to activities based on the child's interest at that particular time, while the activities themselves have structure.

8.      Be present and focused when you are away and working. So much of successful work-life integration relies on what goes on in your head. When your head is clear and free of mommy/daddy guilt, you accomplish immensely more in your short time away. Alternatively, when you complete a task, you will have a “lighter head” and be more focused when returning to the care of your child.

9.      Be happy and excited to see your little one when your work is complete. No doubt, you will be relieved to have some things checked off your list [insert smile here!] and this positive energy will be displayed when you see your child(ren) again. If you are overjoyed to see them, they will know you didn’t forget about them and learn that the short time you are away isn’t forever.

Each workday is different. Hiring care for the first time can be daunting for every parent. I offer some kind and thoughtful advice from a psychology expert AND work-from-home parent perspective. I am in the same boat! I have used these tips in my home, and they helped immensely. I hope my “learning by doing” helps you learn as you do!

How She Raised A $1 Million Seed Round When She Was 9 Months Pregnant

Rachel Kaplowitz, the CEO of Honey, recently published an article on TechCrunch about how she raised $1 Million in seed funding for her company in the later part of her pregnancy. 

In the heavily male-dominated tech/startup world, she describes her experience living in a unique juxtaposition of her personal & professional worlds. This, as a founder of a company intricately tied to babies and a mother of a toddler, I can actually totally relate to. 

"Reactions were all over the place. Some investors just wanted to talk about their children and grandchildren, others gave me a hard time about drinking coffee, working too hard or being out in the cold. A few told me I should really take the time to stay at home with my child and worry about work later. Others just got awkwardly quiet and stared at their notebooks for the remainder of the meeting."

In my experience, everyone relates through their own personal experiences, and some just "get it" while others "get awkwardly quiet"...

Rachel found an investor who understood per position and simply accepted her ability to integrate her personal & professional life as a norm.

"He walked in unfazed. We spoke about how wonderful building a family is and how great it is to have love for two babies — my company and my soon-to-be-daughter. The rest of the meeting was spent in product and cohort analysis. He was able to embrace the fact that I was about to become a mom and also see that my team and I were building something incredibly special. He never doubted both could happen at the same time. When he walked out, I knew we had found the perfect partner. "

She also talks about her own work-life integration experience, which sounds very familiar compared to what we've been hearing from our CoHatchery community as well as other famous work-life "integrators":

"As for my daughter and me? I’m not the ramen-eating, stay-at-the-office-until-2-am, HBO-fiction kind of CEO. My daughter is very much center stage. I watch her learn how to do new things every day, and I’m amazed by every breath she takes. I’ve learned that it is possible to leave the office at 5 p.m., spend quality time with my daughter and jump back on email and late night calls with clients in California and New Zealand after she falls asleep." 

Rachel also credits her incredible support network (consisting of her husband, team, family, and investors) for being an essential part of her journey. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village of f***ing incredible people to raise and child AND run a start-up. 

"At the end of the day, it’s not about work-life balance. It’s just life." - Rachel Kaplowitz

Amen.

Working it out... from home

I find this video incredibly inspiring, and inspiration is the first step. I hope to get a little bit more into the details of execution in this post, because that is really the hard part.

The last thing you want to do as a working parent is to add another item to your do-to list. For may of us, exercise may be considered a luxury as much as a shower is when you have a young toddler milling about while feverishly attempting to make that sooner than yesterday deadline. I understand this because I was that parent....

Like most parents who are reading this, we all barely find time to fit everything in from the wash, to the quality playtime to the conference call or project deadline. With regards to exercise and proper portion control I found by taking time away from my daily routine, I am adding some energy and positive power to my physicality and mental processing capabilities. However, driving to the gym, parking the car, and finding care for your "short buddy" disintegrate precious minutes.

I have found a program that works for me from home, and there are plenty out there that may be right for you personally. This program, called the 21-Day Fix, seeks to provide a manageable workout as well as portion guidance, which I find important. The program involves color-coded containers that are sized to the appropriate amount one should consume each day. The design is that you can change fitness lifestyle for the long term by laying this foundation of rethinking your eating and focused exercise efforts.

What can you do as a parent during exercise while your little one is present?

Watch the workout video with your children and discuss the content. There are opportunities to talk about the many facets of why a parent needs time to exercise. In these particular videos, there are 1- to 2-minute warm-up activities. Each exercise is presented by name and is repeated for about one minute.  Parents can bring up ideas about why moving our bodies every day is healthy. For example, one could say "fast movements are good for your heart because they pump the blood through your body FAST. This builds a strong heart!" There is also the idea that these videos have the potential to increase new words per utterance while watching by parents labeling objects and actions (Lavigne, Hanson & Anderson, 2015). For instance, in these, consider possible discussions using “Okay, time for jumping jacks!” or “Can we touch our toes?” or “What’s a sit-up?” when these exercises appear. Asking questions are always helpful during any screen time occurrence. While there are higher rates of interaction in this type of program versus static watching, parental co-viewing roles should not be diminished (Krenn, 2015).

Limit access your workout time to 30 to 60 minutes per day inclusive of the 2 hours per day screen time guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Working out is great and if you give your kid some television time or an iPad game while you are sweating - think about their media diet too. Most young users will want to play for hours on end. Keep in mind that device interaction is a fun privilege and not an all-day activity or replacement for reading or other supplementary educational activities (Krenn, 2015; Managing Media: We Need a Plan, 2013).

Be humorous during exercise. When adults laugh, it is because they think something is funny, but with a preschool child, this may not be the reason. Often, preschoolers are simply mimicking the laughter of adults (Krenn, 2015). Practically anything that goes against what children consider normal and predictable can tickle their sense of humor (Simons, 2013). For example, woofing like a canine during a “downward-facing dog” yoga pose might seem hilarious to your average youngster! Bonding during a workout can promote strong parental bonds and encourage positive, healthy development (Milteer et al., 2012). And it is good for a laugh. Remember, any movement is great for you even if you have trouble staying focused between push-up sessions. One suggestion is that you and your child(ren) each take turns being the "workout teacher" giving out exercises to your "students" similar to that of the game “Simon Says.”

Help a child with challenging movements - in fact, buy them their own set of weights. Within this particular videos, there are opportunities for them to use weights.  My three-year-old owns her own set of pink 1lb dumbbells and the pre-aerobic mind that she has, said “Mommy, I can lift weights too because I am tough and strong. Watch this!”

Forgive yourself when children find other ways to entertain themselves during this time. When you get your endorphins going, and they content for less than an hour, they can learn patience and delay of gratification as well as witnessing fine examples of healthy habits. Children can learn to be patient and not have you at their beckon call for a short time during the day.

When I took on this challenge last year, at 5'1" I was 122 pounds sluggish and winded by simple activities.  Let's face it I was "sad" in several ways. Some days I did the workouts before my daughter's morning wake-up, others during her two-day per week preschool time and ultimately, if the whole day was tight - I worked out after she went to bed. My food consumption before this "fix" often consisted of what I could find quickly, what she left on her plate, or even the floor (come on we have all done it!). Now, it is much more about eating my "rainbow" of fruits and veggies. Almond butter is also my new best friend. By the end of this thoughtful eating and workout journey, I lost 9 pounds and several inches off my waist and glowed with joy! Since then, I have kept the weight off for a year and a half.

I am a working-raising-my kid-at-home-workout-parent at least five days, if not more, per week. My daughter joins in at times as she likes to "jack it out," (the trainer's term for jumping jacks) or simply plays with her toys, colors or the like. She knows that Mommy needs her "exercise time" because it gives me a power snap of energy to chase her around the house, build snowmen or drag her in a sled for upwards of 90 minutes. That is what I get by healthy eating and training - more smiles, more playtime, more focused concentration time for work duties and more happy memories.

About the Author:
Jamie is CoHatchery's Chief Learning Officer. Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Cognitive Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She also holds three Masters degrees in developmental and cognitive psychologies as well as a Bachelor of Science in Art Therapy.  Jamie leads the “Children & Media: Analysis & Evaluation” area of focus at Teachers College, Columbia University, which focuses on research and theories relevant to learning and the development of educational materials for children. She is also a Media & Curriculum Consultant for Maker Studios (overseen by Walt Disney Studios). Her research interest includes cognitive media processing, creative preschool curriculum preparation and culinary cognition.

References:

Krenn, J.L. (2015) Appisode Applications | Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/screen-time/201506/appisode-applications. ;Krenn J.L. & Hachey, A. C. (Spring, 2015). How Preschool Children and Early Primary Educators Can Promote Positive Life-Long Skills in the Kitchen. Texas Childcare.; Lavigne, H. J., Hanson, K. G., & Anderson, D. R. (2015). The influence of television co-viewing on parent language directed at toddlers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 1-10.; Simons, C. (2013). Perspectives on the Development of Humor during Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence. Humor and Aging, 53.; Study: NYC's trans fat ban made people healthier - CBS News. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-nycs-trans-fat-ban-made-people-healthier/; Young, L. R., & Nestle, M. (2012). Reducing portion sizes to prevent obesity: a call to action. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(5), 565-568.

Working from Home, Parenting, and Screen Time...A Psychology Expert's Own Struggle

As a professor of media and psychology with a 3-year-old, I struggle every day with screen time issues. I know the benefits of television and what she can gain from the music, the language, and the novel stimuli... However, I know there is a side that comes with a warning. In my years of study, I believe the best thing for a work-from-home parent is providing an environment that promotes learning and exploration. Some exploration comes from television. It provides a way to see things that are not readily available. It employs the notion of vicarious experiences.

I want to give you some insight into my life - my little one LOVES music. At such a young age she dances in circles and spins with smiles when we play anything related to a melody. I, however, cannot sing to save my life (ask my husband and the DJ at a karaoke bar that once told me “Wow that was the cutest and most awful thing I have ever heard!”). So, what did I do when she just passed two years to keep her musically entertained? Well, we play the radio, she had musical toys... and I let her watch some Sesame Street song clips on my iPad. Yes, a professor is admitting something serious here - I let my child watch television before the age of two [insert your wide eyes here], contrary to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.

I want her environment to be enriched, and one of the ways is to present fun and creative songs to her - through the medium of television. When she was much younger, I would limit this to only 2-3 shortly three-minute clips twice a day. Another thought may come to mind – won’t that shorten her attention span? Well, even in play, she moves from one thing to the next well before we did this and I believe this is her energy drive.

I had made a lot of enemies in my family asking them to keep the TV off when we visited during this time, pleading my husband not to put the Sunday game on, and beg my in-laws when they watch her not to put Barney on because they think it is cute. I will tell you often they did, and that is all she wanted to do all day. She got upset when it was on; she was frustrated because she wanted to watch something but couldn’t tell them which program and then cried… Even when I said, over and over “This is my field! I know what I am doing!” To me, the real learning at this age comes from genuine social interaction, which I have provided to since her first day of life. I think in most cases, I am “preaching” what I am “teaching” but I am also a mom in the real world, with a real daughter who wants to sing and dance…and have fun.

And to be even more practical for parents who strive to work from home and raise their children - it gives me 15 minutes to 30 minutes or so to sit down. You often don't hear about that in most research circles – we only read the facts, the statistics, and the outcomes. Nonetheless, my daughter gave me another lens through which to view my years of researching children and media. Today, I do let her watch a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so I can grade papers, prepare lessons and review curriculums for CoHatchery!

As she gets older, I let her watch full-length episodes. It is my area of expertise... and I will be there with her to sing, respond and, of course, laugh as I make red marks on midterm exams, but mostly when I am free - to pay careful attention... And this, my fellow work-from-home parents, is a more enriching experience. 

What I do isn't easy, and I don't think work and life will ever be in perfect balance, but I found a way to make it better for me and my family. I am hoping to open a dialogue with other families.

 Adapted from Jamie's original blog post on Psychology Today

About the Author:
Jamie is CoHatchery's Chief Learning Officer. Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Cognitive Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She also holds three Masters degrees in developmental and cognitive psychologies as well as a Bachelor of Science in Art Therapy.  Jamie leads the “Children & Media: Analysis & Evaluation” area of focus at Teachers College, Columbia University, which focuses on research and theories relevant to learning and the development of educational materials for children. She is also a Media & Curriculum Consultant for Maker Studios (overseen by Walt Disney Studios). Her research interest includes cognitive media processing, creative preschool curriculum preparation and culinary cognition.

References:  Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1986.; Bandura, A. (1994). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp. 61-90). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.; Bandura, A. (2002). Social Cognitive Theory of Mass Communication. In Bryant, J. & Zillman, D. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

For more information on screen time visit: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx

Work-life balance is dead, and that might be a good thing

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Integration is the new balance because lines are blurred between work and life. 

Since emails and slacks now infiltrate into our evenings and weekends thanks to technology, our work environment has to make room for our family and personal lives.

Fortune surveyed 1001 days spent in the shoes of high-earning women. They found that "75 percent of time logs showed something personal during traditional work hours: exercise, school visits. On the flip-side, 77 percent showed work outside the workday norm. Women took calls after their kids went to bed. They wrote reports on weekends." This kind of flexibility allows us to stay in the workforce. 

While this is the reality of what employees ask for and increasingly expect, employers do not have plans for how to deal with it. It is all happening as we speak. The result: people do not know where to set boundaries. 

The above is summarized from an article written by Laura Vanderkam, the author of: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most Of Their Time (Portfolio, June 9, 2015).

Read the full article on Fortune here

What Successful Work-Life Integration Looks Like

Harvard Business Review published an article by Stew Friedman which studied 6 individuals who achieved success not despite of having full lives outside of work, but because they do. The list includes Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, and Bruce Springsteen among others. The author suggests that each found integration by discovering - through trial and error - ways to allow the different parts of their lives reinforce and enhance each other. 

Excerpt from the article:

"Each has identified a life’s work that is important to them, and each both draws on and gives back to their families and communities in order to make that life’s work succeed. They exemplify how one can cultivate a life in which values, actions, social contribution, and personal growth exist in harmony. It’s a life in which disparate pieces fall into place, not every single day — that’s the impossible myth of “work/life balance” — but over the course of a lifetime.

Yes, these six people are extraordinary – but they use skills that all of us can use to make ourselves a bit more extraordinary, too.

Start by considering three principles: be real, be whole, and be innovative. To be real is to act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you. To be whole is to act with integrity by recognizing how the different parts of your life (work, home, community, self) affect one another. All this examination allows you to be innovative. You act with creativity by experimenting with how things get done in ways that are good for you and for the people around you.

Doing this means thinking and talking about what truly inspires you, whatever that might be. It requires figuring out how to take incremental steps that are under your control and that move you in the direction you want to go, while bringing others along with you. It’s not easy (and I never said it was). But like these six people, you can attain significant achievement in a way that fits who you are. As these leaders show, your own way is the only way that will work for you."

Read the full article here, and get the book here.

How Children Benefit From Working Mothers

A few days ago, Fastcompany wrote an interesting article about how children benefit from having a working mother based on a recently published book by Pamela Lenehan: "My Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know". Some of these benefits she identified include a strong work ethic, higher independence, more resilience and an overall better preparation for the "real world". 

Read more here and buy the book here