Create rituals in the mornings and evenings. Having a set routine in those busy hours really helps make it all flow easier and helps parents stress less. We always get time together after dinner, whether it’s for playing a game or going for a walk. Knowing that the dedicated time is there amidst dinner, dishes, bath, etc. helps the child understand that some quiet time together is coming.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Lauren Pufpaf.
Lauren is Co-founder and COO of Feed.fm. She’s been growing startups for over 15 years and is also a vinyl junkie and house DJ. Her latest growth project is a 3 year old preschooler that brings her great joy.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in the Southwest (TX and NM) with my parents and younger brother. I’ve always been obsessed with music — I made mixtapes on my boombox in the 80s, played in concert and marching bands all through school, and eventually found my way to turntables.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I’ve been focused on growth marketing for businesses at various stages for many years. When an investor connected me to my co-founders, I was extremely excited to combine my passion for music with the opportunity to build a sustainable business solving a real problem. Feed.fm is a B2B music platform that makes it easy for apps to integrate music and stream it (legally) to their customers. When we launched 6 years ago, there was nothing similar on the market and we saw an opportunity. Making the entrepreneurial leap to start a business from scratch requires a true, deep-seated belief that you can add real value to businesses or consumers. It’s been a long road to get where we are now, but we’ve grown so much (both in terms of revenue and personally!) and are excited about the next phase of scaling the businesses.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
I’m up early! The day usually starts at 5:30 with 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of exercise. Then I shower and get ready (I still put on jeans everyday) and have time to do about 30 minutes of work before my daughter gets up. I do breakfast and books with her, then drop her off at preschool, then it’s full steam ahead. My day is a mix of strategic thinking (hiring plans, growth opportunities, partnerships) and deep-in-the-weeds tactical execution (writing blog posts, assisting the curation team, writing job descriptions, creating sales sheets). I’m plugged into every aspect of the business, so there is a lot of context switching. We do dinner as a family and try to get outside for a walk or bike ride, then it’s bedtime routine and a bit of work catchup before I collapse with a book into bed.
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?
Children grow up with insecurities, fears and lack of confidence when parents are physically or emotionally unavailable. Kids are SO thirsty for affirmation and the last thing we want is to have them internalize a low sense of self worth because they didn’t get the time they needed with us.
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?
Creating an emotional connection with your kids and spending intentional time with them is so important for both parent and child! When all your time spent together is about “ordering, correcting and directing”, it results in power struggles and drives the kids to attention-seeking behaviors. I find that when my daughter is really acting out, it’s often because I’ve been multitasking or rushing her around too much. Then again, sometimes she’s just being 3.
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?
One thing we learned from Positive Parenting Solutions courses is that it’s really important for each parent to spend intentional time with the child and call it out as such. “We have 30 minutes of Mama and Lana time and we can do whatever you want.” Making a clear marker at the start and stop of the dedicated time seems to make a difference in their recognition of the attention.
I also love going on scooter or bike rides together with my daughter. She notices EVERYTHING and when I slow down and go at her pace, I notice more of my surroundings as well.
And, finally, reading together brings us all so much joy. My husband and I are huge readers and we both love exposing her to new books and ideas. She can’t read yet, but she can recite her favorites back and “read” to us, which is so fun.
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.
- Be transparent with your work teams and encourage time off Slack and email.
This has been very helpful in the last year, as work and home life have blurred together. I have actively encouraged my team to block off the time they need for family and we all need to respect those blocks. For team members without children, I have also asked that they take breaks for walks and get outside.
2. Create rituals in the mornings and evenings.
Having a set routine in those busy hours really helps make it all flow easier and helps parents stress less. We always get time together after dinner, whether it’s for playing a game or going for a walk. Knowing that the dedicated time is there amidst dinner, dishes, bath, etc. helps the child understand that some quiet time together is coming.
3. Go for a walk and leave your phone at home.
Checking email and Slack can be addictive and this tip goes hand in hand with #1 above. Very rarely is there a 30 minute block where it’s NOT ok to be away from your phone. It’s hard to do, but very freeing to leave the house without it.
4. Eat meals together.
Even if we can’t get her to stay at the table for more than 10 minutes, the act of sitting together and taking turns talking creates some lovely moments in the day.
5. Let them choose the activity in your dedicated time and just dive right into it.
Get on the floor, play in the mud, make a mess with the blocks. I find that when I really dive in and don’t worry about the mess and avoid multitasking, we all have way more fun.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
I’m trying to learn the balance between setting limits and encouraging independence. I think our job is to help them be the absolute best version of their own unique selves. And that means we have to give them room to figure out who that unique self is. My 3 year old is still discovering this, but we do try to encourage her to sing, dance, tell stories, and be wild, while also setting limits on behavior.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
There is a lot of pretend play with a 3 year old and I make sure that we aren’t locked into any one narrative when we’re imagining. Firefighter, Astronaut, Mama, Mountain climber, and Doctor have all been in rotation lately when we play. I have no idea what she’ll be, but I know she’ll be amazing at it.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I believe learning and growth are our main objectives while we are on this planet. Not just book learning, but learning to be sincere, compassionate humans. Success to me means showing up every day for my family, my team, and myself and creating the best experience possible for all of us.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I’ve found a lot of value in the Positive Parenting Solutions course, as it breaks down cause and effect so simply, while giving very actionable solutions. I have also leaned heavily on Joyful Toddlers and Preschoolers for getting us through the day without power struggles.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You can’t control the waves, but you can learn to surf.
Change is constant in life (and in startup life) but if you can learn to ride the waves and not grasp too tightly to any single outcome, you don’t have to fear change.
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. 🙂
Equal power and equal opportunities for education, financial independence, and personal growth would change the world. Educated women have fewer, healthier, and better education children and the impact is carried on to the next generation.