Mommybites Chit-Chat: Conversations with luminaries, entrepreneurs and influencers in the parenting world
Tell us a little about you (your background, your job, what makes you tick or anything else you think our Mommybites moms will find interesting).
Prior to starting a business together, we both were in careers that we loved. Allison Schlanger was a television producer. She worked at MTV for most of her career in the News and Docs department and also volunteered as a teacher for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders teaching conflict resolution and current events.
Alison Qualter Berna had two prior careers. She worked at NBC News Dateline and then at UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund managing a global program using sports as a tool to address issues affecting children’s healthy development including child protection, education and HIV prevention.
In 2010, both of us had twins. Alison S had twin boys and Alison QB had twin girls. While we were both on maternity leave we signed our kids up for music class – and that is where we met each other…in a freight elevator because the regular elevator didn’t fit our twin strollers! We immediately connected over the fact that we had the same name, both had twins, were both from New Jersey and could not decide if we were going back to our jobs.
We started dreaming of a life where we could bring our kids to work with us, and along with our husbands, started an indoor play space for families with young children called apple seeds. A couple of years into apple seeds we launched a music program called songs for seeds. songs for seeds is a three-piece rock band for kids that teaches so much more than music hitting many aspects of early childhood development. It quickly became our most popular class and so we are now franchising so we can share the program with kids across the country.
We have 22 songs for seeds locations from Scarsdale to Seattle and are quickly growing. Starting apple seeds and songs for seeds allowed our kids to grow up coming to work with us. We are looking for other young parents across the country who are interested in a similar work life balance to partner with us and own their own songs for seeds.
Who inspires you?
AQB: Allison inspires me constantly. She’s a role model mother, an exceptional friend and the most generous person I know. How lucky am I?
AS: How do I say the same thing about Alison without sounding like a copycat???
Allison inspires me constantly. She’s a role model mother, an exceptional friend, (adding) a whip smart business partner and the most generous person I know…oh and she does handstands on the edge of a cliff on a regular basis. How lucky am I?
What inspires you?
AQB: I’d say my kids inspire me every day because I often find myself fast forwarding my life so I can look back on it as an older person. I see my kids telling the story of their lives and I see the role that I played in it – both big and small. It informs my choices and actually forces me to focus on the big things and try to cherish the little things. Yoga also inspires me constantly since even if I can’t make it to class, I’ve absorbed the general philosophy reminding myself to constantly breathe through stress and find gratitude even in the tough stuff. Plus, Allison and I handstand every day!
AS: My family inspires me to attempt to live my best life every day. I have been reminded how fleeting life can be and know how lucky we are to have each other. It sounds cliché but I have moments of clarity that remind me that I want our time together to be filled with gratitude and happiness whenever possible.
What is your best piece of parenting advice?
AQB: Our kids’ preschool director once said this to us and we find ourselves both using it and sharing it with others. Remember that when your child is throwing a tantrum or having a meltdown, they’re not giving you a hard time, they’re simply having a hard time.
AS: That is one of my favorites too. The other is not necessarily parenting advice but it is a piece of advice that I return to on a daily basis…while parenting or just living. Don’t blame. Don’t complain. Wear a bracelet. Every time you blame someone or complain about something move the bracelet to the opposite wrist. It is illuminating and cleansing (and not so easy!). It changes the way you speak and then the way you think. I love it.
What’s the worst piece of parenting advice you have heard?
AQB: That your kids don’t fully understand what’s happening- what you’ve said in the next room, your mood, the nuances of your energy. The truth is they know you as well as you know them. And they hear everything!
AS: That you should get as much sleep as you can before your baby is born (or brought home) – as if you can store up sleep and just pull it out on a whim on those nights when your infant wakes you at midnight, 1:30, 2:17, 3:45, 4:20 and is up for good by 5am. You can sleep to your hearts content until the minute your child is put in your arms — after that your nights are not your own for at least 3-5 months…if not 3-5 years.
What’s the most common question you are asked by parents?
AQB/AS: A lot of people ask us how we started a business with two year old twins. Our answer? We deeply believed in our idea and wanted to fill a need in our community. But mostly we were able to make it happen because we had each other, we were in it with our husbands, and we could take our kids to work with us every day as we wrote and evaluated curriculum and built the entire business. That precious time with them made it worth every second.
What are some of your favorite T.V. shows? Books? Foods?
AQB: TV? People watch TV when they work and have kids? When we can keep our eyes open, we both like Homeland and Curious George, which taught us almost everything we know. And of course Sesame Street which served as inspiration as we wrote the curriculum for our kids’ music program, songs for seeds. songs for seeds is now in 22 cities across the USA with many more opening in September! But let’s face it…we don’t really watch tv. As soon as we lie down on the couch, it’s zzzzzzzz
AS: Black Mirror is genius, psychologically scary and a peephole into the future. The first episode will rock your world. Then watch This is Us to cleanse…
What parenting books do you most recommend to parents?
We recommend books filled with humor like Remarkably Average Parenting and Shitty Mom since they help us take things a little less seriously. We believe that parents can get through it all with a little less worry and a lot more seizing the tiny moments. Parents are hard on themselves so our advice is often just let it go, don’t sweat the small stuff, pick your battles, laugh more. The other best book for parenting advice is any book for yourself – fiction or other. If you’re taking even a little bit time for you, chances are you’ll be a happier mom.
What are some of your favorite parenting products?
Does wine count as a parenting product?
If you could be someone else for a day who would it be and why?
We would love to be one of our kids for the day and see what it’s like to be in their skin, in school, navigating NYC and friends. Our guess is our empathy for their experience would grow even more…plus, we’d think we would have fun!
What’s up next for your professionally?
We want to grow our kids music franchise, songs for seeds, and bring the music to towns across the country. We hear from moms (parents) on a very regular basis that they want what we wanted…to find a way to bring their kids to work (without hiding them under their desk). Owning a songs for seeds franchise is made for people who want to integrate their family life into their work life, be their own boss and contribute to their community.
What makes us confident in this business is that songs for seeds is much more than music and that really resonates with parents. In one 45 minute class, kids learn shapes, colors, number, counting, animal sounds, animal movements, global music and do much more. It is the most fun your child (and you…) will have all week! We raised our kids on it and we know thousands more children will be grooving to the music very soon!
Are there any other questions you wish we asked? If so, what and how would you answer?
Business plug…we just know this is a fun business to own and operate, work from home, work with your kids AND contribute to your community.
If you are interested in songs for seeds – contact us. We would love to meet you!
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