“These days, a parent that can set their phone down long enough to connect with their child on a daily basis and provide the love their children need is a good parent” with Danielle Putnam and Chaya Weiner

These days, a parent that can set their phone down long enough to connect with their child on a daily basis and provide the love their children need is a good parent. Kids need so much love! We can try to make every dance recital and sports game, but sometimes we miss the ball. I […]

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These days, a parent that can set their phone down long enough to connect with their child on a daily basis and provide the love their children need is a good parent. Kids need so much love! We can try to make every dance recital and sports game, but sometimes we miss the ball. I know all kids are different, but my daughters simply want me to play tag with them in the house. They run, and they ask me to hop like a bunny. It’s a killer on the calves, but the joyous laughter that follows from them is worth the burn.

I had the pleasure to interview Danielle Putnam, recognized in the ACHR The NEWS 40 Under 40 list in 2017, is the president of The New Flat Rate. The New Flat Rate is the first and only home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors. She has a personal connection with the home service industry. Her first job was passing out flyers, door-to-door, for her father’s electrical business. She was 7 years old. In high school, she was promoted to office dispatcher and parts runner. After college, she became the marketing director for an HVAC company in Oregon. Putnam knows home service, but she is also no stranger to big business. Before co-founding TNFR, she was the director of business development for a large digital services firm, pitching to C-level executives for big-name companies. As part of her job, she also stood before multi-million-dollar investors, seeking capital for the publicly-owned company that she worked for. Dedicated to helping grow the industry she grew up in and loves, Putnam promotes careers in the home service industries as a public speaker. She is also honored to serve as the President of Women in HVACR to help promote more women in the industries. Dedicated to serving her local community, Putnam is now the executive director for Family Frameworks, a nonprofit group. She teaches weekly classes to public high school students about the importance of forming and maintaining healthy relationships and how to get out of abusive relationships. When she’s not working or volunteering, she loves spending time with her husband and two daughters. She also enjoys snowboarding, running and fine wines.

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

As the second oldest of nine children, and homeschooled, I grew up loving to play outdoors, climb trees, help care for my younger siblings, and spend personal time focused on hobbies such as sewing and scrapbooking. My siblings and I were well connected socially because the private schools allowed us to play on their sports teams, and we also had a large home school group with weekly field trips. My dad was a contractor, so I spent many summers hanging around his shop and worked in his business throughout high school. We experienced feast and famine while growing up. There were many years when dad’s business was struggling that there wasn’t money for Christmas gifts and then there were years when we could afford a family ski trip. It was very inconsistent. When money was available, we could go to Shoney’s on Sunday for lunch after church because kids ate free, but when money was tight, we always ate a lot of red beans and rice. My mother purchased beans and grains in five-gallon buckets. She would grind her own wheat, make her own flour and we always had wheat bread … so even to this day, store-bought white bread is a treat!

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

Saying yes to opportunity and taking risks. Happily-ever-after doesn’t show up on your doorstep without some grit and grind somewhere down the line.

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

In my dreams, I run a tight schedule and never get distracted. But in reality, life is chock-full of distractions from text messages to employees to meetings to lunch time … so a successful day for me, depends on my ability to remain laser-focused. On Monday mornings, I’m up at 5:15 a.m. I meet a friend for a three-mile jog starting at 5:30 a.m.

Naturally, after the run it’s a quick shower then an Americano as I catch up on emails via iPad in the kitchen. At 6:30 a.m. my two children wake up and fight over who gets to be held by mom while they drink their milk and watch cartoons. This holds their attention for 15 minutes and by now we’re in my room where they both play with toys on the bathroom floor as we chat about the day together while I get ready. The girls are dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed and ribbons placed by 7:30 a.m., as they kiss their daddy bye we load up and dash off to daycare. I arrive at my office by 7:50 a.m. and review my daily to-do list and schedule. By 8 a.m. I am hosting a team meeting with all of my onsite employees. We stand up in the main area of our building where each team member recites the top three priorities they will be working on during the day. We do not list out our entire to-do lists, we simply discuss our priorities — this helps keep everyone on track and brings some accountability before the busyness of growing a company creeps in.

After our morning stand-up, it’s off to a dev/ops meeting with my software developers, then free time for an hour where I focus on strategic partnerships, marketing and customer service. At 11 a.m. I meet with Rodney Koop, our founder/CEO, who happens to also be my dad. This is a visionary meeting. We discuss new ideas, our agenda for the year and any immediate decisions that need to be made.

By noon, an executive assistant shoots me a text asking for my lunch order and by 12:30 p.m. I’m usually standing in the common area eating lunch at the bar while reading a self-help book and taking notes. It is not uncommon to see me reading Ben Horowitz or Tim Ferris.

1:30 p.m. is a sales team meeting as we review our targets and metrics, if we are off-track we course correct. Then finally at 2 p.m. it’s free-for-all. This is where I dive into emails, catch up with team members who may be waiting on decisions and finally by 4 p.m. the busy has calmed down and my real focus time kicks in. No distractions from 4–5 p.m. as I place phone calls, write articles and tie a bow around any loose items that need polished.

By 5:30 p.m. I’m out the door in a dash, and off to pick up my sweet darlings at daycare, by this time they’re exhausted and hungry. We make it home by 6 p.m. where sippy cups and snacks are passed around as dinner is prepared. The whirlwind that follows is difficult to describe. There are usually tears and fussing until tummies are fed, then it’s play time. I fully unplug in the evenings from cell phones and laptops, after dinner it is not unusual for my husband and me to walk the neighborhood with our girls, play in the front yard or run through the house acting like dinosaurs playing tag, which is a favorite past time of our girls. Baths at 7:30 p.m. and in bed by 8 p.m., I read a children’s Bible and tell stories until lights out at 8:30 p.m. Naturally, our oldest fights sleep every night so I lay with her until she dozes off at 9:30 p.m. Then it’s back to the kitchen to finish dishes and pour a glass of wine when I’m finally I’m able to sit on the couch, snuggle next to my hubby as he watches baseball, and pop open my iPad to finish the unanswered emails from the day.

Let’s 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?

Wow, why have children if you aren’t going to spend time with them!? Are you kidding? It’s a shame this is even a question. They are the joy of my life, and I can never get enough time with them. But for starters:

Attachment disorder — this is a serious and real thing, and, sadly, statistics prove that it is an issue all orphaned children deal with. Babies must form an attachment with another human in order to have empathy for others. Serial killers, when studied, have proven to have attachment disorder, a lack of connection with other humans. This begins at birth and into childhood. Humans were created for connection, we must connect, love and be loved by others, and the natural progression and order begins with the parents and their children in the home.

Absent parents can creates entitlement. “I can get whatever I want because my parents feel guilty for not spending time with me and buy me what I want”. There must be a balance, as entitlement creates a lack of character. Character is the outcome of hard work, hard knocks. Parents need to make the time, work to make the time with their children.

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?

It all starts as a child. Who an adult becomes, stems from their childhood. Humanity depends on X amounts of successful childhoods, and these days the number is dwindling. The truth hurts. How many kids are raised around alcohol and drugs, multiple partners, instability in the home?

Q: 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?

1. I maximize my 8–5! To provide quality time with my children, I don’t multitask work and motherhood. When I’m at work, I devote 110% and work really hard on prioritizing daily. When people walk in for a meeting with me, they must first share the agenda of what they want to talk about, then I circle three items on their list of many…and say that is what they can get answered today. Limiting distractions is key, and locking my office door. Then, when I get home, I’m only mom … until the kids go to bed at night, then I open up an iPad or laptop and start plugging away again. As I’m writing this now, I’m having my hair highlighted in a new Ulta salon — I didn’t have time to respond at work and would never cut into my ‘mom’ time, so it’s slotted in my hair time 🙂

2. Go on walks. A few nights a week, after work when I pick them up from daycare, we eat a quick microwaved dinner and walk around the block, through the neighborhood. On these walks we may carry a bucket or pull a wagon so we can gather “dragon food.” Really, it’s simple acorns, leaves, sticks … anything my kids find to be interesting, but they often pretend it’s dragon food. In these moments, away from the busyness, I’m able to notice their adorable personalities, and we decompress and connect.

3. Stop planning! Life is busy for everyone and getting busier by the minute, so we plan a lot of time with nothing in it. For example, we plan several “no-plan” nights during the week, so we can simply hang with our children in whatever capacity they need. Sometimes that’s enjoying a cup of milk in a sippy cup while cuddled on the couch with their dad and me, watching Donald Duck. We bring it old school when it comes to cartoons. There are so many unhealthy options these days, so the old school cartoons have been a favorite.

4. Parks and hiking.

5. Coloring. We keep a box of crayons and coloring books in the kitchen cabinet. It’s easy to snag the coloring box and sit at the counter together to be creative. Naturally, our girls always want us to be playing with them, and this is something simple that we can do together as a family, at any time.

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?

  1. Say “no” more often. When it comes to play dates with friends, volunteering in the community or extracurricular events, there is power in saying “no.” I’m the first to jump up and volunteer when someone needs help, but during the early years, when our children are home and needing their parents to be present and involved, I practice saying “no.” Very seldom do we go out on into the community on weeknights. If it isn’t for a sporting or fun event for our kids, we say “no.”
  2. Turn housework into kid-friendly projects. My 4-year-old loves to help her mommy in the kitchen, so I try to lay out the safe ingredients on the table before any burners or ovens have been turned on, and let her put the water, noodles, salt, oil, etc. in the pot for me. This is an easy, although messy, way for us to spend quality time together while working at home.
  3. Outsource! I like to think I’m Super Mom and I can do it all, but when I do it all, I’m exhausted and not at my best for my children. Although you’re capable, find an affordable housekeeper to come in weekly to do the basics. Outsource cleaning, lawn care and grocery shopping with ClickList!
  4. Bring them with you. Whether it’s running errands, traveling, or working on a Saturday, I bring my kids with me as often as possible. Believe it or not, I had a real slide built in my office. Anytime they are with me at work, they can play in their own safe and fun area while being around mom. And also, this makes them comfortable in the workplace. I take breaks and slide with them, read books and eat snacks in between phone calls.
  5. Turn the cellphones off! Constant notifications from apps and social sites are such a distraction and detrimental to families in the long run. Let your kids see you without your phone. Be present without checking the time, the score, the updates, and remember how quickly they grow up. Enjoy the moments you have with your children now.

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

These days, a parent that can set their phone down long enough to connect with their child on a daily basis and provide the love their children need is a good parent. Kids need so much love! We can try to make every dance recital and sports game, but sometimes we miss the ball. I know all kids are different, but my daughters simply want me to play tag with them in the house. They run, and they ask me to hop like a bunny. It’s a killer on the calves, but the joyous laughter that follows from them is worth the burn.

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

My children are still young, so before the “discussions” and pep talks of “You can do anything you want and be anyone you want,” because naturally we want our children to feel empowered, before those words, it starts with my non-words. As long as it’s not life-threatening or negative character development, my children have very few rules. If they want to climb over a fence because it’s fun, I let them. Jump off the couch into a pile of pillows, I let them. Make a mess, I let them. They get to run wild and free and enjoy extremes, within the boundaries of safety. Safety means obey your mom and dad because we are here to help keep you safe, so if we say “Stop running,” you obey the first time. I don’t believe in counting to three, meaning if our children are disobeying, we don’t start counting to three to give them more opportunities to delay obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience, and they are learning to obey the first time. This helps keep them safe. Outside of the boundaries of safety, I want them to run and skip and jump and explore and play as hard as they can.

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

Does anyone ever really get there? That place in our distant future where we believe life will get easier? Success is doing what I set out to do. As an entrepreneur, I can’t help but to push the limits, dream big, and strive for excellence. It’s in my DNA as it’s in the DNA of an entrepreneur. But career-wise, there is always another rainbow, there is always more growth, more products to build, more customers to serve, new technologies to develop. It never stops. So, success goes back to the basics. When I can leave work in the middle of the day because my children need some one-on-one time or my husband wants to catch a quick happy hour downtown together, in those moments, I feel like I am being successful, when I am able to pause from the busy, to give back my quality time to my family.

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

Right now, my little girl’s children’s Bible! We read it together every night, and it’s stressing the importance of right and wrong and the importance of loving others and it’s instilling in her values and the foundation that God is real. I was that parent that, before I had kids, read every book and listened to every podcast. Then I had kids, and oh my, what happened to my free time?! Now I’m lucky to jump on a mom blog to make sure I’m not the only mom that feels like she’s failing half of the time!

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

Always say yes to opportunity. And people are more important than things, my mother ingrained this one into me. When I was young, I wanted to be a famous fashion designer, and this was back before personal cellphones were widespread, so I dreamed of the day where I had a real flip phone — a flip phone was going to be the mark of success in my life, the symbolic piece that told the world I had made it to the big leagues. And in my young ambitions, my mother was always that loving voice echoing in my head, “People are more important than things.” This has translated into my parenting. As we raise our two beautiful daughters, I often set down things and work and grown-up plans — or that glass of wine — to pick up my children. People are more important than things.

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. 🙂

Make cellphones automatically turn off at the dinner table. Isn’t it annoying to go out to a nice restaurant, whether on a date or with your family and friends, and look around, and every table has someone on their phone! The relate-ability and connectivity between people is seriously suffering, especially in the family unit. It would do the world good to bring it back to the basics where people enjoy a meal together for community.

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

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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