“Build a sense of family.” With Beau Henderson & Ollie Swaddle

Building a sense of family cohesion and strength only comes from spending time together. Kids, even from an early age, develop socially, emotionally, and even cognitively, based on their family interactions. They are little sponges when they are little and learn a lot from observing the world around them. A world that includes love and […]

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Building a sense of family cohesion and strength only comes from spending time together. Kids, even from an early age, develop socially, emotionally, and even cognitively, based on their family interactions. They are little sponges when they are little and learn a lot from observing the world around them. A world that includes love and attention helps children feel valued and included. That translates into appropriate social behaviors down the road, as well as a general feeling of wellbeing and connectedness.

As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Hindi Zeidman.

Hindi Zeidman is the founder of The Ollie World — Ollie Swaddle. The Ollie Swaddle’s special design and patented fabric help create positive sleep cues so baby sleeps longer and better, enhances neurodevelopment, and helps baby self soothe. Ollie Swaddle’s elasticity allows for freedom of movement while the opening at the bottom makes it easy to change diapers. The custom-developed, patented moisture-wicking material reduces the risk of overheating and promotes physiological regulation. Their new Dailies Baby Bodysuits are made of the same moisture-wicking fabric. Visit Ollie Swaddle or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

Iwas born and raised in Upland, California with an incredible mom, dad, and older brother. I’ve always loved babies and also inventing things. My parents were very kind and supportive when I would make magical “potions” that I was sure would be a cure for something, and would hide them in random places around the house.

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

Throughout my schooling career, I always knew that I wanted to work in the mental health field in some capacity. But, it was one meeting in 2007 with the Director of the Children’s Network in San Bernardino County that had the greatest impact on me. We discussed the tremendous surge of methamphetamine throughout the county (it was actually the highest in the entire country) and the impact it was having on babies both in-utero and postpartum. From that very moment, I knew that was the area I wanted to be a part of making a difference in.

I started working for the Children’s Network and helped to create SART centers that worked with drug and trauma exposed infants and children from 0–5 years old. There was still more that I wanted to do, so I also became a single foster parent for a drug-exposed infant, named Oliver.

When he came to me, Oliver was 3 months old but developmentally, he was only a couple of weeks old. He struggled with the basics of eating, sleeping, and attachment. As a result, he was on the verge of being hospitalized and labeled “failure to thrive”.

With my work with the SART centers, I had the privilege of being able to connect with an amazing transdisciplinary team, including Dr. Kiti Freier Randall, a pediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist. I connected with Dr. Freier Randall to help assess Oliver and we discussed the importance of swaddling. So, I bought every single swaddle on the market and nothing worked. They did not contain him properly, he would overheat, and the fabric did not provide the right amount of pressure on his limbs.

So, I decided to create my own swaddle for Oliver to help meet all of his needs. And, that was how the Ollie swaddle was invented. Once Oliver started using the swaddle, he began to regulate his system more, which allowed him to be able to do such things as eat, sleep, and even work on bonding and attachment. A year later and after huge changes in his development, he was adopted by a loving family.

Seeing the impact the swaddle had on Oliver is what inspired me to want to share the swaddle with little ones all over the world.

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

My life changed completely about a year ago when I gave birth to my daughter. So, my schedule looks pretty different than it did a year ago. My schedule is a mixture of working from the office, working from home, and working from my phone.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Just from a neurodevelopmental perspective, it is actually quite interesting. By the time a little one is three years old, their brain is almost 85% formed. That is such a staggering amount and the reason why what happens in those first three years has such an impact.

So, that quality time you spend connecting, playing, eating, learning, loving, etc with your little one is literally helping these amazing grooves to develop and neurons to connect in their brain. At the same time, when little ones experience any type of severe neglect or abuse, it also has an impact on how their brains develop, as well.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

Building a sense of family cohesion and strength only comes from spending time together. Kids, even from an early age, develop socially, emotionally, and even cognitively, based on their family interactions. They are little sponges when they are little and learn a lot from observing the world around them. A world that includes love and attention helps children feel valued and included. That translates into appropriate social behaviors down the road, as well as a general feeling of wellbeing and connectedness.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

That’s absolutely true that quality is vastly more important than quantity. There are so many ways parents can ensure that they are connecting with their children, even very young children, in a qualitative manner.

With very little kids, touch and sound matter so much. Reading to a child, even though they don’t yet understand the words; singing to them; engaging in baby massage, to create that physical bond. These are all great ways to engage with babies.

With older kids, particularly if you have more than one, finding ways to spend time with each child can be tremendous. Having a special ritual that brings you together, even for a little while most every day is important. So is consistency. You don’t want to start a habit that you can’t follow through on, as kids will almost universally assume that they are the reason that the habit stopped. It doesn’t have to be a big ‘connect’ either. Something as simple as leaving little messages in their lunchboxes to let them know you’re thinking of them is a lovely idea.

Even teenagers can benefit from some quality time with the parents. Taking a drive, where the pressure is off from staring at one another can, for example, be the starting point for some great conversations and open communication. That’s the key, of course, as kids get older: keeping those lines of communication open.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.

I said earlier that my phone was a great gift for getting business done anywhere and anytime, but that can also be a negative. We live in a world where so much happens on our phones, so it is a struggle to learn to put it down. It is something I have to work to be cognizant of and struggle with. I know someone whose child drew a picture of them but their face was a rectangle. When the parent asked what that was about, the child said that they had included Mom’s phone in the picture. But, this is not a shaming moment… this is a moment to learn and make any changes needed.

So avoiding distractions when spending quality time with your child is important. Letting your child know that they have your undivided attention, even for just a short while, is valuable.

One excellent technique is to include your kids in other activities that you’re doing, like cooking for example. This is also a great way to help deal with picky eating, by the way! Involving kids in preparing dinner, in age appropriate ways, is a great way to spend time together, learn a little and maybe even be a bit silly.

If you are so busy that spontaneous time together is difficult to come by, schedule it. Make it clear to those you work with and others, that the time you’ve set aside to do something with your child is just that. It might seem odd to consider scheduling time, but busy people tend to take their schedules very seriously. And spending time with your kids is just as important, if not more important, than many other things we adults do everyday. So lend it that gravitas by making it a noted part of your day.

Kids need reassurance that they are valued; we all could use that once in a while, actually. But it’s especially important for children in developmental stages.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

I actually think that term is a set up. Because what I define as a “good” parent may be very different from the next person. So, when I talk about being a good parent, it is what works for me and my daughter. I would never want to define what a good parent is for someone else, just as I would never want anyone to tell me whether what I am doing or not doing makes me a good parent.

I exclusively pumped for my daughter for 13 months. I struggled with my feeding journey not looking the way I thought it would and I struggled with whether or not that made me a good or bad parent. I worked on getting to the point where I could be proud of the choices I made and doing what I felt was right for my daughter and myself.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

I tell my daughter every single day she can do anything in this world she wants to do. I say it and I mean it. I believe in her and I will always love and stand by her unconditionally. My hope is she knows that and feels that, so she feels comfortable to be able to explore the world to find out what “dreaming big” looks like for her. Because it is what “dream big” means to her that matters most, not my definition.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

First off, I would in no way consider myself someone who masterfully straddles career and family. It is a constant battle. It is a constant push and pull from both worlds. There are days when there is an imbalance and there are others when it feels more balanced. What makes a difference for me is being able to have an open dialogue about both my struggles and successes in being able to manage both worlds.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a team of amazing, knowledgeable experts we rely on at the Ollie World who advise us on a wide range of topics that impact our products such as infant development, sleep safety which have also helped me on a personal level with my parenting skills. But, honestly, we are also seeing that every day parents often have the best advice. We’re excited to see that our Ollie World social community is very active and engaged, offering advice and support to one another, helping parents not to feel alone and giving one another new strategies to try when it comes to parenting challenges.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My business, the Ollie World, has been and always will be rooted in the Foster Care Community, as it is the foundation of who we are and how we came to be. Because of Covid-19, we are seeing foster children unable to be placed because people were unwilling to open their homes. Foster children do not have access to many resources, let alone a mask which is the reason we started to make special child-size protective masks for them which we only donate to foster organizations, they are not for sale. It is our goal to do something to help these amazing kids to stay safe and protected, while, hopefully, making it an easier decision for people to open their homes. We hope through our products and initiatives to bring more attention to kids foster care.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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