Category Archives: Head Of The Class Mom

Head of the Class Mom: Jacelyn Lisette

Head of the Class MOM

Meet Head of the Class Mom, Jacelyn Lisette, Founder of Midtown Movement and Dance Company  Located in Midtown East/Murray Hill, Midtown Movement and Dance Company offers Mommy & Me, many levels of Ballet/Tap, and Hip Hop dance classes. Take a Free Trial Class.

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Midtown Movement and Dance?

Before starting Midtown Movement and Dance, I made a living as a freelance performer and teaching artist. I managed to find a perfect balance between both of my passions: performing and working with children. I was living the dream and truly enjoying what I was doing. Unfortunately, this line of work offered little security, no health benefits, and wouldn’t permit me to be a mother, the last dream I hadn’t yet accomplished. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to start my own company in the community where I had developed a great following of students and parents, I knew I had to close my eyes and leap. I knew that starting my own company would enable me to continue to pursue my passions and give me the flexibility to work with other great artists and eventually stay home with my newborn.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?

There is totally a balance. Maintaining it is challenging, but I try to keep a 9-5 schedule whether I am at the studio or working from home. Once it’s dinner time, I enjoy the evening with my guys! I definitely find time to unplug and be in the moment with my family, but when you run your own business somehow you are always on the clock. Getting quality time in the evenings is really important so that your mind can settle down and you can remember the reasons why you work so hard. On the weekends, my husband and I love to get out of the house. We go for a walk with our son and grab some breakfast sandwiches on the way. We take turns going to the gym, and when my son goes down for a nap, I sit in a cafe to catch up on whatever business that needs to be tended to.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.

One thing I learned just before becoming a mom that I think has made me a better parent and better worker is: have a plan and be prepared for when the plan goes off the rails. My husband and I did everything the experts tell you to do when expecting your first child. We read all the books, attended birthing classes, and made a birth plan for the big day. Then our son came up with a plan of his own and our plans went right out the window. Now, I am always prepared if my plan to go off the rails, and I feel that it’s okay to improvise when it does. When things don’t go as planned, it’s best to keep calm, respond in the moment, and go with the flow to ultimately achieve the main goal.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?

The biggest challenge has essentially been continuing to be the head of my business while starting my journey as a mom. I never quite took a maternity leave. I thought about hiring someone to oversee operations while I took 3 months off as most women do. But then, I asked my husband if he would take a leave from his city job and manage things for the business from home while being there for me and our son. It was the best decision we made because I was able to stay connected to my clients, which was important to me, and my husband had a chance to be close to us and learn how to care for his son. With this decision, I was able to continue working in some areas of my business that I am passionate about, while my husband got a chance to fully care for and bond with his son while I was working. When my son was 3 weeks old, I had to be away from him to work for a few days and although it was emotionally difficult for me, I felt good knowing that my husband would be able to care for him. It was very rewarding to be able to support my husband while he shared in the experience of caring for our newborn from the time he was born until he was 3 months old. That experience would not have been possible had it not been for my business.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?

That childcare is like paying another rent!

If you could give other parents one piece of advice, what would it be?

Go to bed early! As much as you want to stay up after your kids go to sleep and catch up on the latest episode of your favorite show, go to sleep. I can say that I don’t feel sleep deprived even though I am waking up every 3-4 hours to nurse. I try to be in bed by 9pm every night so that I can still get about 8 hours of total sleep in between night feedings. It really helps to be rested and tackle the day or go off to work and be able to perform well.

Fun Favorites:

Favorite children’s book? From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. I love this book because it appeals to every kid. I use it in all my classes and the kids have so much fun listening to the story, calling out the animals they know, and of course moving their body like the animals. After we play and explore with moving like each animal, I encourage them to say the recurring phrase loud and proud: “I can do it.” I think this is such a positive mantra for kids to learn early in life. I approach all my classes from this place. When kids seem timid or upset because a move is difficult, my teachers and I encourage them to simply try! However the students interpret the movement is a success for us because we are giving them the opportunity to grow at their individual level. I feel like I am giving them something that is more than a movement class. I am giving them the foundation for positivity in life and a deep sense of self-worth.

Favorite kids’ class? Creative movement. I love teaching creative movement because we can really play with the students’ interests while also teaching them basic movement and dance skills, mind-body awareness, and how to participate in a social setting. This class is a give and take between the teacher, the students, and the grown-ups. We come to class loaded with activities, ideas, and dramatic themes to play with, the kids come with their own instincts, and together, with the support of their grown-ups, we create and explore movement and imagination.

Favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Right now, my son is really into strolling. He is so interested in everything going on and he is so content sitting in his stroller strolling around our neighborhood. I thought he would get upset with not seeing us but he is so happy sitting outwards facing the world! My husband and I take him out on the weekends for a long walk to our favorite breakfast spot. My son usually falls asleep and then my husband and I get some quality time to talk and catch up over breakfast.

Favorite rainy day escape? Get creative with a home improvement project. My husband and I think building IKEA furniture is so much fun! It’s like an adult puzzle! Pour me a cup of hot cocoa and I’m ready to build.

Head of the Class Mom: Natalia Huang

Natalia Huang

 

 

Meet Head of the Class Mom, Natalia Huang Founder of Natalia Huang Piano Studio.  We first met Natalia in 2014 and we wanted to share an update on how things are going now that her children have grown and her business has evolved!

 

**For a limited time, Kidz Central Station Families receive a special promotion for a Trial Piano Lesson with Natalia Huang Piano Studios. Sign up here!**

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Natalia Huang Studio?

Teaching piano is very special to me. I will be honest – I find that I can have a world of patience teaching about piano because I am so passionate about it. Just don’t ask me to teach anything else, ha! But yes, Natalia Huang Piano Studio was started when I was pregnant with my second child. As you know, the living spaces in New York City is not big at all. I very quickly realized that if I wanted to continue to teach piano, I’d have to move outside of my home. That was when I decided to rent a space and bring on additional teachers.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?

As we have grown to three locations now, I’ve gotten better at “balancing”. But I do use that word very loosely because really, is there such a thing as balancing? I think the studio is able to operate more by itself now without my daily involvement, and I’ve gotten better at time managing now that all three of my children are in school during the day. Every year, I add on something to take care of myself more. Two years ago, it was to stop working after a certain hour during the day. Last year, it was to not look at emails during the weekend (only about a 75% success rate, haha). This year, I think I will shoot for not doing anymore work once my children gets home from school.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.

This has happened very recently. I had enrolled my children in a three day Chinese speech competition. As I was teaching them how to prepare for a speech, my oldest daughter asked me, “Is this why you always talk to yourself in front of the mirror or in a corner?” I realized she was referring to whenever I have to prepare for studio recital speeches. I never thought my children were paying attention to me that way! This made me understand that it is important to have your child see what you do for a living because it may influence them in more ways than you think!

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?

Well, I can say the challenges are ongoing. I have trained myself better over the years to face challenges without thinking the whole business will collapse. I must say though, that the greatest reward for my work-life balance is freedom. The freedom to do what I love in any location of the world. The freedom to take a day off and go to my children’s school event is worth all the challenges I face.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?

That teaching your own children piano is completely impossible! I had dreams of being my children’s piano teacher. The second I attempted to teach my oldest, that dream was shattered, haha! Now, my studio teacher teaches all my children, and I stay far away from the piano room when they are practicing!

What is one piece of advice you would give to other parents?

Children are more resilient than we think. Let them learn how to fail when they are younger, instead of always worrying about if something may hurt their feelings. You’d be surprised how quickly they bounce back from something and learn to move forward!

And Favorites!

Favorite children’s book?  I picked up “Dear Girl” for my youngest daughter last year. I love the message in the book — no need to conform to how society wants you to be, just be yourself!

Favorite kids’ class?  I know I’m biased to say piano, but I really really look forward to all the life skills piano lessons will teach my children. It certainly has taught me a lot!

Favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?  We enjoy swimming when the weather permits. We love how much we can let loose and have a good time in the pool.

Favorite rainy day escape?  Puzzles! Now that my children are older, it is fun to get them to pitch in too. It is such a relaxing activity to do!

Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron

Meet Head of the Class Dad, Danny Kron—Founder of FunFit Kids—and an amazing parent!dannyfun

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start FunFit Kids?
I was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Canada but have been in NY for the last 8 years. I have a lovely wife who is my partner in all life things, including FunFit Kids. Together we have son who just turned 3 months. I originally thought up FunFit Kids and began by running weekend classes on the Upper West Side. Parents were looking for an alternative way to teach language (Hebrew) to children. At the same time, I also realized I had a passion for teaching kids the fundamentals of movement and having them explore different sports. In September, we’ll be opening a 2700 square foot gym on the Upper West Side. We have multi-sport, 2Lingo (language through sports), alternative preschool, special needs and much more.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
It’s a work in progress! Some say it’s crazy to start this venture after the recent birth of my son. But luckily my wife is my partner in the business and somehow we’re managing to get through it together.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
My wife was in labor. It was late at night (like 3am) and we grabbed a yellow cab. I had our hospital bag and birthing ball, all as planned. It was so late, and I was so tired, that I opened the door for her to get in the taxi, then proceeded to put in the hospital bag and birthing ball, all well also trying to squeeze into the back seat. I just kept pushing the birthing ball into my super pregnant wife and couldn’t, in my sleepy state, realize there was a whole empty trunk of the jeep taxi we hailed. Laughing (and also maybe crying) my wife said SLOW DOWN, put the stuff in the trunk! I did, hopped in the car and was on our way. It was a great reminder in life to slow down and take things step by step.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Starting a business with a newborn means lack of sleep and the feeling that there are not enough hours in the day. Thankfully, sleep is improving, but there will never be enough hours in the day. The greatest reward is coming home after a hard day at work and seeing my son smile. Also, seeing families enjoy our classes makes me glad that the work I’m doing is wanted and worthy.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
I really wish I knew about the feeding schedule and the fact that it sometimes takes two of us. I never knew how much effort and time it takes to making sure the baby is happy and fed.

If you could give other dads one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep your partner happy and the baby will follow. Children feel the vibe of the household. I also learned, through FunFit Kids, it is important not to put your sports dreams on your children. Let children explore and discover what sports speak to them, and that it is okay if they are not the next Lebron James.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (I had the Hebrew version growing up called Ha’Etz ha’Nadiv)
What has been your favorite kids’ class (other than your own!)?  FunFit Kids 😉
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?  We love to picnic in Central Park or walk along Riverside Park
What is your favorite rainy day escape?  We have lots of family on Long Island, and like to escape by visiting them. or by watching movie marathons.

Learn more about FunFit Kids, their great classes and amazing birthday parties in their beautiful new facility.

Head of the Class Dad, Scott Heifetz

Meet Head of the Class Dad, Scott Heifetz—Founder and Director of Launch Math + Science Centers—and an amazing parent!SH-with-Kids

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Launch Math + Science Centers?
I’m an aerospace engineer by trade, with many years of experience running small businesses. When I was growing up many of my friends did not appreciate math and science. Until they entered college and realized that math was the language of the many fields they wanted to pursue (physical therapy, architecture, etc.) did they realize they made a mistake by choosing not to pursue math and science courses throughout high school. Launch’s mission is to inspire and motivate children to love and learn math and science in the hope that kids will realize that these subjects are the key ingredient to doing “fun stuff” as an adult (like building rockets!). We accomplish this goal by providing engaging math instruction and exciting STEM enrichment classes for kids from toddlers to 8th graders.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
It’s difficult. There is no secret. I am an absolute workaholic but I also try to be the best dad I can be. I have two girls ages 5 and 2. There is nowhere else I’d rather be than with them.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I’m not sure if this story applies but… Before I got married I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted kids. Indifferent you might say. I also wasn’t sure I had the patience for kids. So what did I go and do? I started a business that requires 100% involvement with kids. I didn’t do it because I loved kids. I did it because I was extremely passionate about inspiring kids to pursue math and science. The bonus that came from the experience of starting the business was that it turns out I love kids and I do have patience for them (more for them than myself).

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
The challenge has been to accept less than perfection in my professional life so as to provide what I want for my kids (in terms of time).

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That I would enjoy them as much as I do because I might have started earlier!

If you could give other dads one piece of advice what would it be?
Expose your child to as much as you can (in terms of what the world has to offer), and let them decide what they want to do with their lives. Intrinsic motivation is more powerful than anything else.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? Iggy Peck Architect
What has been your favorite kids’ class (other than your own!)? Swim class, mainly because it’s a full morning family activity on Sundays.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Besides swim class, going to the playground.
What is your favorite rainy day escape? A princess movie with my 5 year old.

Learn more about Launch Math + Science Centers and reserve your child’s spot now for their upcoming STEM-focused winter break and summer camps.

Head of the Class Mom: Shira Lahav

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Shira Lahav—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!shira

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder and consultant at Embodied Minds. I am also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and a Psychoanalyst in training. During my time working in hospitals, I was leading communication and storytelling groups through drama. I recognized the power of expression and was helping my clients tell their stories in captivating ways, helping them connect with others. During these groups, I found myself guiding my clients therapeutically but also helping them deliver their stories in ways that engage and transmit the meaning to their audience in the most effective way. I enjoyed the process of directing and teaching my clients public speaking techniques. My business partner Leticia and I wanted to take this type of work beyond the hospital walls and so we did.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
My secret to balancing work and family life is to constantly remind myself the importance of both and how one feeds the other. If I dedicate enough time to my family, I feel more satisfied during the week, which helps me be more focused and fulfilled at work and vice versa.

I play various roles in my life: public speaking consultant, therapist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc. The key is to nurture each and every role and create equilibrium. This includes leaving room for self-care. It is necessary to take care of your own needs while taking care of others. In addition, I find that good time management helps, as well as scheduling quality time with my family between busy workdays. On a more practical note, twice per week I make time to take my daughter to her activities and on the weekends, we always find a fun activity to do together as a family. Additionally, my husband and I go out at least twice per week, whether with friends or on a date. Although babysitting is expensive, date nights are extremely important and we have to keep the romance going between stressful life responsibilities.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Not only am I a mommy to my 2-year-old daughter Lianne, but I am also a mommy to a 5-year-old Shih Tzu named Gizmo. When I first became a mom, I would walk out of the house with my brand new Uppa Baby Vista stroller and would keep getting smiles from strangers. Naïvely and faltered, I thought they were smiling at my baby, but in fact they were smiling at the fact that Gizmo was in the stroller too! Sitting below my baby, with his cute face sticking out of the basket curiously observing everyone around him, my little Shih Tzu found himself the perfect solution so he wouldn’t exert himself or his little paws.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of multi-tasking and multi-use! Whether using the stroller for my baby and dog, or using the car seat as a spot for my daughter to sit and watch her favorite cartoons, I am always trying to find unique uses for expensive baby gear to make the most of every dollar spent. After all, we must find ways to save up for those “inexpensive” preschools! We also donate a lot, if not money then clothing or baby stuff that we are no longer using. It feels good to be able to help other families.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Even though I love my job and try to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life I still at times feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my daughter. This is probably a result of the pressure of others and my missing my daughter during workdays. At the same time, I know how important it is to teach her that a woman can do both, be a mother and have a career.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That parenting is all about logistics and time management.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Take other people’s advice with a grain of salt.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “Alice in Wonderland”

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  Ballet Class at City Moves Dance Studio. [Now Midtown Movement and Dance – Ed.]

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Go to Central Park and spend time on the lawn and children’s playground.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

Head of the Class Mom: Leticia Warner

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Leticia Warner—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!leticia

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder of Embodied Minds as well as a consultant, Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, and Registered Drama Therapist. My co-founder Shira and I started Embodied Minds because we knew there was a lack of public speaking companies that focus on the reasons behind the fear of public speaking. A lot of companies emphasize the surface solutions but aren’t able to delve deeper. We, on the other hand, look at both the internal and external processes. When it comes to our Kids program, we focus on helping children and young adults increase self-esteem, improve their thought organization, interpersonal skills, build confidence, reduce their use of filler words, and more.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
I don’t know if I yet have a secret to balancing work and family. It’s something that I’m still figuring out! My son is 5 months old so I’m still getting used to balancing the demands of my business as well as his needs. My husband and I are lucky to have a reliable nanny so when I need to focus on my business, I know my son is in good hands. However, what I have learned so far is that it’s extremely important to spend quality time with my family as often as I possibly can. Time will not stand still and our children are only getting older. Therefore, if I have a break between clients or I can avoid working through lunch, I will take a quick trip to see my son wherever he is and that sustains me for the rest of the day.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I’m not sure if this made me a better parent or better at my job, but it was certainly when I first experienced the two needs clashing for the first time… we had a really important workshop taking place the week I gave birth to my son. Though I couldn’t physically be there, my co-founder Shira and I were literally working on the workshop while I was in labor (!) and once I had given birth. On top of that, I was answering work e-mails while in labor and took an emergency call from one of my private clients less than 24 hours after my son was born. Obviously, the boundaries were out of control to say the least, but this story to me is the epitome of the “working mom” story. In some ways, it helped me become a better working mom because I learned to create boundaries after experiencing it!

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
I adore what I do and I’m so lucky to own a business, as it provides me with flexibility and freedom. But, I would be lying if I said I don’t feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my son. I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing this for him, to model proper work ethic and make a living doing what I love.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That there’s no way to plan for the overwhelming feeling of being a parent; the awe-inspiring love mixed with the chaos. I also wish I knew how quickly kids grow out of clothes! I had an idea, but could never have anticipated the speed at which it happens.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we try really hard to be the “perfect mom” and do it all on our own, but there’s no such thing as a perfect mom and there’s no shame in asking for help and support. If in the end it will keep you sane and allow you to spend more quality time with your child, why not?

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name” (Personalized Book).

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  “Rockin’ Railroad” at Kidville, but I’m moving to Long Island City and bet I’ll have a ton of new favorites!

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? My son is currently 5 months old so if at home, my husband and I like to pull out the playmat and play with him. If we’re going out, we love to take walks and go to the park with him.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? Any New York Public Library or bookstore that’s nearby.

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

Head of the Class Mom: Michelle Muller

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Michelle Muller—co-founder of Little Spoon, a fresh, organic baby food company—and an amazing mom of three boys!

michelle-muller

Why did you start Little Spoon?
When my first son was born, I had a difficult time finding a baby food that I was comfortable feeding him. Everything was shelf-stable, filled with stabilizers, severely lacking in vital nutrients and most shockingly, all of the food was actually older than my son who was consuming it. I set out working on recipes and flavors that babies love using only fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. Fast forward to meeting my business partners a few years later. We joined forces and Little Spoon was born. Our mission at Little Spoon is to offer convenience without compromise, so you can be sure you’re giving your baby the best and freshest food at every meal.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
The truth is there is no secret: my work life and family life are far from balanced. Some weeks, luck is in my favor so I have more time with my boys but more often than not, I work more than I would like to. I think this is the burden that every working parent carries – we constantly feel that our children need more of our attention. One thing I have learned is that no matter if I were a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I will most likely carry guilt in some shape so it is most important to focus on being truly present when I am with my children. My phone is on silent mode when I am with them so my boys have 100% of my focus. I can always stay up late after they are in bed to work on emails or deadlines, but I will never be able to replace this time with them.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
I once participated in a friend’s study focusing on how mothers interpret the job they feel they are doing with their children. Each of the mothers was interviewed and asked questions like “How do you feel about the job you do as a mother?” “How do you think your children view the job you do as their mother?” Across the board, all the mothers’ responses were negative (including my own): “I need more patience;” “I wish I had time to prepare better lunches;” “I should spend more time focused on my kids;” “I need to stop raising my voice.”

The next part of the experiment was to interview our children. My oldest son, Pearce represented my three children. The interviewer asked my son “How would you describe your mother?”

His answer: “My mommy is my hero. She is so pretty. She makes the best apple pies and quiche in the world. I love her so much and want to be around her all the time.” I realized that I must be doing something right and need to stop being so critical of myself. Feeling a sense of success with my children gave me confidence both at work and at home. I’ve stopped second-guessing myself as much and hug my boys every chance I have.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
My biggest challenge is the constant battle for a work-life balance is accepting that I will probably never find that “perfect” balance and that it is okay. Recently my mother was in town over the holidays, and she asked me about my memories from our relationship during my childhood. I lovingly remembered waiting for her close to the mud room so I could hear the garage door click and be ready to fling my arms around her legs once she walked through the door. My mother recounted that she always felt exhausted and zapped of energy when her feet crossed the threshold, but it was my absolute favorite moment of the day – I think this really surprised my mother. My favorite moment of her every day was the time she felt the most inadequate. My daily challenge as a parent is remembering that my children value every moment they have with me whether it is 5 minutes or 17 hours. I try my best to value every second I have with my sons, because there is always another parent somewhere in the world who would give anything for just “a little more time.”

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
Don’t wish your life away – be in the moment. Clichés are clichés for a reason: life is short indeed. I think it is incredibly important to be truly present in each moment of your life as it happens. Don’t wish away your single life hoping to find a partner. Don’t wish away that beautiful courting period hoping your partner will propose to you. Don’t wish your early married life away hoping for a baby. Don’t wish your baby’s first weeks and months away hoping they sleep through the night sooner. Every hour, day and year of your life is precious and valuable. Make an effort to look around you, feel every feeling and enjoy your life because everything will eventually pass.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Involvement in charity work is very important. Working with the less fortunate holds a special place in my heart and one of my favorite quotes is from Pablo Picasso: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” I believe it is critical to communities, both large and small for the fortunate to give back. Not only do YOU gain from the act of giving but those on the receiving end are better for it as well. I was recently educated that 90% of individuals who are involved in charity work in childhood continue their involvement as adults.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree

What has been your favorite kids’ class? Karate classes for my three boys. It teaches mindfulness and presence and builds a great mind-body connection.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Between my and my boys’ schedules, we are running around all day long Monday thru Friday, so on weekends I love to curl up on the couch and watch a movie with them. Nothing beats snuggling under a blanket with them.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? If I’m solo, you will always find me squeezing in a yoga class and with my kids, we like to check out what’s new at The Whitney.

Head of the Class Mom: Erica Koffler

Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Erica Koffler—owner of Kidfections, a kiddie personalizing business—and a mom to three amazing kids!

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Kidfections?
I had recently finished working a full-time job as exective assistant to a celebrity chef and was looking for my “what’s next.” I had wanted to purchase a personalized Fisher Price Grow-to-Pro Basketball Hoop for a friend’s son’s birthday and was surprised to find that even in New York City, there was no one personalizing those types of toys—not even anyone on Etsy! I figured I’d try doing it myself and I sent my mom the picture. She said it was perfect and asked where I had it made. When I told her I did it myself, she casually said I should start a store and I thought, “You know what? Why not!”

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
For me, the secret is being able to enjoy life when I’m with my family as well as when you I’m doing things as an individual. It’s not necessarily about balancing, but being able to find happiness within so that you can be happy in every role that you play.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
My daughter has been potty trained since 22 months, and now at two and a half she almost never has accidents. One Sunday she was throwing a tantrum about not being able to have a third lollipop (it was Sunday, don’t judge me!) and she clenched her legs together in the middle of the living room and began to pee—almost out of spite. My husband, Daniel, immediately scooped her up, and as he picked her up he unknowingly held her over our nine-month-old son Lucas’, head. So then Lucas was covered in pee. Then Lily, Lucas’ twin sister (probably feeling left out) felt the need to crawl through the trail of pee that her sister left behind. So now we have three kids completely covered in pee. We headed straight to the bathtub only to see that the water was a disgusting brown because, of course, the water in our building had been turned off for some type of repair. Simply one of those ridiculous sitcom moments where you don’t know if you should laugh or cry or give up. Luckily, we have a friend who lives across the street, so we loaded up the triple stroller (yes, we have a triple stroller) a la the Beverly Hillbillies and high-tailed it across Murray Street, inflatable ducky bathtub in tow, to give all of the kids their much-needed bath. And you know what? It was the first time all three kids ever took a bath together and it made for the most incredible photo-op. The lesson? You have to take it all in stride. The best parents are adaptable. And when you have the choice between laughing and crying always choose to laugh, and then take a photo.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
When you work, you often find yourself stretching the limits of your child’s “schedule” when you’re around in order to maximize the hours in a day. For me, as a cook and someone who has worked in the restaurant business for a decade, my oldest daughter’s love of food and going out to eat are the greatest rewards. It is something that we can enjoy together as a family and has given us countless memories. Whether it be Chloe eating salmon sashimi or smothering her face with sugar donuts to be silly, going out to eat has become an escape for us to get out of the house and spend meaningful time as a family (@chloemaxmessyface follows her dining escapades). When you sit down at dinner and your two-year-old asks, “How was your day?” you definitely feel like you are doing something right.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
Enjoy sleeping in now! My husband and I are self-confessed gym rats. Before children, we’d wake up, hop out of bed, and race to the gym just to be done with it for the day—weekends included. Some days, especially after that extra glass of wine (or three), I wish I could just lounge in bed. Enjoy that leisure time before your little ones are telling you that they have to go pee-pee at 6:45am. You kinda have to take them to the potty.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
While you are a mother, you are more than just a mother. You are still the same person you were prior to becoming a mom. You are a still a daughter, a wife, a sister, and a friend, maybe an employee, and you need to be able to wear all of these hats as effectively as you wear your “mom” hat. At the end of the day, the sum of our relationships define who we are, not just our relationships with our children.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book?
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

What has been your favorite kids’ class?
Songs for Seeds.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
Brunch! We absolutely love the jazz brunch at the newly named Roxy Hotel (formerly TriBeCa Grand).

What is your favorite rainy day escape?
Playgarden.

Head of the Class Mom: Marni Sandler

Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Marni Sandler—owner of Monkey Do! Yoga—and mom to an amazing daughter!

Tell us about yourself. Why did you start Monkey Do! Yoga?
I had been dreaming of opening a yoga studio dedicated to children and families for years. My background is in children’s media, especially interactive media design. I’ve been a yoga practitioner for a good portion of my life and often thought of bringing those worlds together. My yoga training focused on children—but it wasn’t until my own daughter was born that I was driven to make it a reality. She was an inspiration to finally make the studio happen. I opened the doors to Monkey Do! Yoga exactly 12 months after she was born.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
One thing that helps me is to erase those categories as much as I can, and to be in the moment whether I’m at home, in the studio, or in my corporate advertising/media job. Each motivates and influences the other. I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that everything is not going to get done perfectly, and that’s fine. My home isn’t as neat as it used to be—it’s a constant flow of shifting priorities.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
When my daughter was about eight weeks old, we went to a parent/baby yoga class. I was surrounded by new moms and their babies—sleeping, crying, and feeding, most of us exhausted and barely able to move. That class was unlike any other I had been to in all my years of practice. It was the most impactful; among all that noise I had never been so present. Just then, my tiny daughter let out some gas with a noise disproportionate to her size, really underscoring the idea of listening to our bodies. I had to laugh to myself.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
The main challenge is feeling like there’s no “off button” or break. I’m not sure that’s ever going to change, at least until I retire! It’s rewarding to find those rare moments of peace, which are especially sweet when I can share them with my daughter.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
I wish I knew how much we’re all capable of. Once you go through childbirth, you realize you can do anything. I found it very empowering.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
I would definitely suggest moms get out and socialize as soon possible after your kids are born. It can be challenging to get out of the house. But, I’m so grateful for those days meeting up with other new Parents for lunch, Mommy & Me yoga, and walks in the park (even in the snow!). Those bonds are still really strong – it’s great to be able to talk to other women going through exactly the same thing.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book?
Guess how Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. This may sound silly, but when my daughter was brand new, I attempted to read it to her and was so overcome with emotion. To this day I still can’t get through that book.

What has been your favorite kids’ class?
Monkey Do! Yoga offers a variety of classes for kids and families, so it’s hard to pick a favorite! But, I especially love are our Spanish-infused yoga for kids—movement is such a great way to integrate language.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
My daughter is almost 17 months and loves coming to the studio for the Sing and Move class. Then, if I get my way, we sneak in some ice cream around the corner at Ample Hills.

What is your favorite rainy day escape?
I love Brooklyn—I’m very lucky to live in an apartment building with lots of kids the same age as my daughter. We get together, order in lunch, and let the kids play. We don’t even have to leave the building!

Check out the full schedule for Monkey Do! Yoga, here!

Head of the Class Mom: Dr. Jessica Loo Marn

Meet this week’s Head of the Class Mom, Jessica Loo Marn—owner of NYC’s Urban Pediatric Dental and the new Eastside Pediatric Dental—and a mom to two amazing kids!

DSC_0722Tell us about yourself. Why did you start your practices?
I have always been a very ambitious person and was given an opportunity to start my own practice in a small shared space downtown. I took out a huge loan and had no other option but to make it work.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
I think there can be a balance, but I’m still working on that myself! I’ve realized that the better I take care of myself, the more quality and productive time I can give to those around me. It is difficult to carve out “me” time because of all the roles women take on. The one thing I do know for sure is the importance of having a great support system.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
When my eight-year-old daughter tells me, “Mommy, you cannot quit your job because I’m planning to become a pediatric dentist and you need to teach me all of your tricks.” I realize that I need to set a good example and be an excellent role model for my kids— parents should be the super stars kids look up to every day. That is the responsibility we take on when we sign up to be parents.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
The biggest challenge is carving out time for myself, because sometime I feel like there are not enough hours in a day. The greatest reward is being a parent to both my 10-year-old son and to my eight-year-old daughter. I love when my kids to visit my offices and see firsthand how much I love and enjoy my job, and all of the letters written by patients that I have up on my office walls.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
The true meaning of the word responsibility when it comes to raising well-rounded, loving, and respectable kids while juggling a full-time career. I have become quite the expert at multi-tasking!

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Make time to spend with your kids. They grow up so fast and you can’t get the time back!

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book?
Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
by Dr. Suess.

What has been your favorite kids’ class?
Definitely music classes! I love watching my kids’ dance moves, the genuineness of their laughter, and how carefree they are. Priceless!

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends?
We like to take mini weekend getaways to nearby states to enjoy different types of scenery and expose our kids to life outside of the city.

What is your favorite rainy day escape?
We love board games, arts and crafts, and watching movies as a family.

FInd out more about Dr. Marn’s practices, Eastside Pediatric Dental and Urban Pediatric Dental!