Model good behavior. Whether you want them to or not, your kids copy everything you do. If you drop a curse word, three days later your kid is doing it. If you text and drive, 15 years from now… you get the picture. Don’t just TELL them “don’t text and drive” model what you say.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Jaime Chapman. Jaime is the Founder and CEO of Begin Within, where her team helps high performers get promotions, raises and find career fulfillment in the workplace. She is a keynote speaker, LinkedIn influencer, loves teaching career workshops and authored the book Find a Federal Job. She is also a Career & Employment Advocate actively working to reduce the 24% unemployment rate facing US military spouses. Jaime served in the Army for 6-years and is now an active duty military spouse, gallivanting the world with her family and 143 lb. Irish Wolfhound, Wally. You can read more about Jaime here: www.jaime-chapman.com
Thank you so much for joining us, Jaime! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I joke but it’s true “I grew up in between Blake Shelton and Duck Dynasty” in Oklahoma and it always gets a lot of laughs. My childhood was wonderful, I loved the wide-open country and have great parents who encouraged me to work hard and perform well in school. I was a good churchgoing kid, academically sound and athletic. I ended up graduating near the top of my class as an All-State athlete and obtaining vocal, academic and leadership scholarships to college my freshman year. Now it wasn’t all rosy, at 16 my parents divorced, and it wasn’t a jolly time for our family. In hindsight experiencing the difficulty of my parent’s divorce developed a sense of resiliency that has carried me throughout life.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
My career path is the result of overcoming the hardship of being a military spouse. US military spouses face a staggering 24% unemployment rate because of frequent relocations. I got promoted three times but laid of twice during my last traditional position as a government contractor before becoming an entrepreneur. After the second lay off I turned my hobby blog into a full-time business venture and was quickly met with more demand than I could handle, and we’ve been rocking and rolling ever since. My business was recently voted the #1 Military Spouse Owned Business overall, and for context, there are over a million military spouses so that means we’re doing extremely well.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Despite being a CEO, my daily schedule is not very glamorous as I work from home in athleisure attire most days. I commute 30 minutes to daycare despite working 10 feet down the hall, I work full-time hiding behind a MacBook pro daily. I cook dinner, clean and conduct my son’s bedtime routine in the evening, I sleep, wash rinse and repeat. Depending on deadlines, I often work over the weekends where I try to work during nap time, wake up early or stay up late. Currently, I live in Europe on a US military installation and my tiny apartment office doubles as a storage room as we didn’t have a choice in selecting our government furnished quarters. My family is looking forward to an upcoming relocation in 2020 and my hope is for a larger home so I can have a proper office.
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?
Looking at this issue from a micro perspective, my son misbehaves when he doesn’t have quality time with both parents. Dad travels for work trips and I sometimes work over the weekends. Our absence is always noted by my son and his behavior follows suit. I don’t know the long-term effects on childhood development, but it can’t be good.
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?
Work isn’t everything. While I believe the concept of work/life balance has a different meaning for everyone, my definition includes spending quality time with family because quality time fills my cup. The times I treasure most rarely involve work accomplishments and always involve memories with my family. My goal in parenting is to raise good citizens, if I’m not spending time with my child and living by example who will my children emulate? I fear who children idolize in society without a strong parental foundation at home. Spending quality time with children is the best way to make a positive and long-lasting impression in their lives.
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?
My son is 3 years old and we have a bedtime routine of eating dinner, taking a bath, telling bedtime stories in the dark and snuggling for a few minutes before he falls asleep. We used to read books together, but he would stockpile all the books in the house and make us read them ALL before bed. We found that turning off the lights and telling a new story every day worked better for us and stimulated his creativity. He loves to be a superhero and rescue his friends in the stories, and he gets really involved in helping drive the storylines.
We love to imagine and play pretend games together. The other day my son was a chef and we played “picnic” using some plastic dishes a lot of golf balls. He cooked chicken with noodles and a special strawberry pie. We got so involved in the game that he brought the strawberry pie to the real dinner table and shared dessert with the whole family.
My son enjoys playing outside. We’ve got into the habit where he will come outside and help walk our Irish Wolfhound, Wally. It was raining recently during one of our walks and we kept finding earth worms crawling across the sidewalk. My son would “rescue” them by picking up the worms and throwing them into the grass so the worm wouldn’t get stepped on. Now he always asks to come out on walks with the dog so he can look for worms, typical boy!
When my son is overtired in bed, tossing and turning, you will often hear him making up songs. I recorded a lovely tune about the rainbow and sun being best friends, here are the lyrics: “When the sun comes out. When the rainbow comes out and the sun, they’re both best friends. The rainbow is the sun’s best friend. The sun’s the rainbow’s best friend.” His nonsensical overtired songs will always be a cherished memory for me.
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.
1. Leave electronics out of the bedroom. My son sleeps in his own bed but often comes to our room in the middle of the night or in the morning. Snuggles are precious and rare and your phone should NEVER interrupt them.
2. Put the phone down, did I say something about electronics already? We all have a nasty habit of surfing Facebook too much when we have our phones handy. If you leave your phone in the other room during family time, you won’t be tempted to use it when you should be spending time with your family. Trust me, that text or email can wait.
3. When you are at home, be there 100%. I’m very busy plus I work at home, so the line gets blurry for me between work and home. I am guilty of working at the kitchen table on a Saturday instead of spending time with the people right in front of me. I’ve learned that my son misbehaves, I get frustrated, and the entire family is better off when I am fully present, engaged and available for quality time.
4. Listen to your kids. My son may only be three years old, but he has a lot to say and knows when I’m not paying attention. He will grab both of my cheeks, look me square in the eye and say, “You’re not listening!” Talk about a slap in the face, I always use that statement when he’s ignoring me.
5. Model good behavior. Whether you want them to or not, your kids copy everything you do. If you drop a curse word, three days later your kid is doing it. If you text and drive, 15 years from now… you get the picture. Don’t just TELL them “don’t text and drive” model what you say.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent meets emotional and physical needs and instills a moral compass in their children. You don’t have to be attend every single parent teacher conference or raise a valedictorian. I want to raise children with big hearts who want to help others and who work hard and become productive members of society. If my son wants to grow up and become a plumber, I’ll encourage him to work hard and become the best darn plumber he’s capable of.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
My child is very young and very imaginative. Although he isn’t old enough to understand achievements and careers, he loves stories of being a superhero and saving his friends. He tells stories about being Batman, rescuing a friend who is stuck on the monkey bars. He saves my purse from bandits who snatched the purse and ran away. He throws the “bad man” in jail when he bullies other children on the playground. I am going to enable his big imagination forever, even when he’s older and it translates into more tangible, real life feats of strength.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Success is having a full cup. Everyone’s cup is filled in different ways, some people need to achieve major career goals and some people simply want to feel happy. I need a little bit of both. Sure, it felt amazing to win the inaugural #1 Military Spouse Owned Business Award out of a million military spouses, my cup was very full that day! I felt MORE fulfilled when I got off the plane and hugged my family after traveling for a week to win the award. It felt even more fulfilling to discover that we’re expecting another child in 2020.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I love two specific books when it comes to parenting: “How to raise successful people” by Esther Wojcicki and “Mindset, the new psychology of success” by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dweck’s book offers a lot of insight on how to talk to children to encourage hard work rather than quitting. Wojcicki’s book brings a very American perspective about raising independent children who can fend for themselves in a tough world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My mother once told me “Only YOU can make you happy.” I always think about people I know that are never satisfied with anything, yet they have everything. I then think about those documentaries on TV where remote and isolated villagers live in tents and barely wear clothes, yet they appear to be the most happy people on the planet. We all get so caught up in our false narratives, and a cycle of negativity and it keeps us from being fulfilled.
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. 🙂
This is hard for me to answer because I care about so many things some of which are climate change, conservative water usage and being good to people. I’ll focus on the fact that US military spouses face a ridiculous 24% unemployment rate. The world’s highest unemployment rate hovers around 28%, Lesotho and the Palestinian Territories are tied for the worst unemployment in the world. The US military has immense influence worldwide, and the readiness and retention of our military should be a primary focus. Service members often leave the service when spouses can’t find jobs. Military spouses face crisis level unemployment on par with the world’s most poverty and war ridden places and it is unacceptable to have such a severe economic and national security issue happening right in our backyard.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!