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Hacking Parenthood Series: Starter Tips

In my career at Google, I attended thousands of presentations by industry experts and motivational speakers. Many were filled with exciting ideas and new developments. I would often leaveBlinkbuggy Parenting them feeling inspired, but also helpless, because the presenter didn’t provide any idea what to do next. Everyone needs a first step.

My favorite speakers were the ones who left the audience with at least one thing they could go back to their desks and do right away. That’s my goal for the parenting hacks series – each post should leave you with one thing (or more) you can easily do today. A lot has been written on the topic of mindfulness and mindful parenting. A key component of this approach is the idea that encouraging gratitude and giving in our children can actually help them feel happier. Kindness makes us happier and altruism is intrinsically rewarding. Therefore, the question becomes, how do we help our children learn to be thankful for what they have and develop the skill of kindness and giving to others?

I’ve enjoyed reading in this area over the last few years, and I’ve collected a number of actionable tips. Here are two small things you can do that will make a big difference.

Toddler: Create for someone else.

It’s so simple, it’s beautiful! When your toddler is coloring or making an art project, suggest that he / she create another work for someone else. Ask who he/she would like to make one for, and then write that person’s name and your child’s name on the drawing or project. Why add the names? It makes it personal and helps even small children feel that they are making a difference. My children always smile when they see their name on the paper and they almost always want to do another one from someone else.

School-age child: Change the question.

It’s so simple, it’s genius! This one is my favorite. What do we ask our kids every day when they come home from school? “How was school today?” And the response is invariably limited and vague. Then we get smarter and we ask, “What was your favorite thing you did at school today?” We get a slightly more detailed response and learn a little more.

But how about asking, “What’s something nice someone did today at school?” Wow! This one is a game changer. When I first read this suggestion, I thought it sounded so simple and smart but questioned whether my five-year-old daughter would really understand the question and be able to respond with any depth. The results were amazing and ranged from heartfelt to hilarious. Here are two responses that come to mind.

  1. She recounted a time when a child in her class had just returned after being away for some time early in the school year. When the teacher called for meeting time, the little girl could not remember or find her designated spot on the rug. Another child got up, took her hand to lead her to her spot. This was the first story she told me and I was so pleasantly surprised by the response – this was truly an act of kindness and my daughter recognized that. She went on to tell me that, while motivated by kindness, the second little girl couldn’t really help because she couldn’t remember where the spot was either!
  2. My daughter and a friend were using the computer in the classroom and gearing up to play a game on it. They both wanted to go first and were fighting over that. Then the friend stopped and let my daughter go first. Okay, not quite as heartwarming as the first example, but again, the recognition of someone else’s kind act and of the feeling of appreciation is what mattered.

This simple question has opened a window into her understanding and interpretation of kindness that I didn’t previously have. Not only is it fascinating to me as a parent and someone who is interested in brain development, but on a practical level it gives me a baseline from which to build and helps me to ask age- appropriate follow-up questions. It opens the door to conversation on this topic.

I’m grateful for the suggestion!

I hope you can make use of these two “first-step” ideas. And here are some additional resources, if you want to learn more about the benefits of gratitude:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/being_kind_makes_kids_happy

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/five_ways_to_raise_kind_children

Emma Weisberg

Founder & CEO, Blinkbuggy

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NYC Tech Talent Draft Virtual Panel

Last week I (Emma) was honored to participate in a virtual panel for NYC Tech Talent Draft program run by NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).

The goal of this valuable program is to provide computer science and engineering students from around the country with an opportunity to peek behind the scenes of NYC-based start-ups. Through this virtual panel, the students learned more about the recruitment tactics used by start-ups and received advice relevant to those thinking about starting their own companies.

I was joined by four amazing panelists and an excellent moderator. (listed below)

While I hope I provided some useful information to the participants, especially those at the idea-stage of their own business or those looking to join a very early stage NYC-based start-up, I know that the other panelists, who came from companies at various points in the lifecycle, provided practical, thoughtful advice for the next stage. I, myself, found it useful.

If you’re interested in the NYC start-up scene or considering a position with a start-up, watch this video!

 

Panelists:

Blinkbuggy: Emma Weisberg, Founder & CEO

Bow & Drape: Helen Pan, Director of Finance and Partnerships

ChatID: Dan Herman, CEO & Co-Founder

FoodToEat.com: Deepti Sharma Kapur, Founder and CEO

Preo: Robert Estelle, CTO & Co-Founder

Moderator:

Gust: Justin Cina, Marketing Director

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Remember The Most Important Moments: Part 1

Remember the most important moments: Top 3 things you want to write down in baby’s first month.

Part 1 of the Milestones series from Blinkbuggy’s founder and CEO, Emma Weisberg.

Mom_baby_feetThe first month with a newborn baby is hard! No sleep, lots of crying, diapers, feeding, burping…it can feel like a never-ending cycle. Thankfully, even though it can be hard to remember in the moment, there is also so much joy and love mixed in and a lot of stories to tell already!

While every mom experiences the first month differently, having talked to many moms (and having been through it myself!), one thing is universal: the desire to have written more things down.

So learn from our regrets. Here are 3 of the top memories you’ll want to be sure to write down in that first month. Right now it may seem as though you could never forget the details of the day your baby was born, but trust me, you will be thankful that you wrote it down. And, in twenty years, your baby will be thankful too.

  1. The story for your baby’s name.

Write a note to your little one explaining the story behind their name. How did you choose it? What does it mean? Was it easy or hard to decide upon and was everyone in agreement? How about the other ‘contenders’ – what other name(s) did your baby almost have? Looking back, it’s hard for us to even imagine calling our babies something other than their names now, but we had some doosies!

 

  1. The birth story.

No matter how it goes, there is always a story to be told about the day your baby arrived. Who was there? Where were you? Did the baby arrive early, late or just on time? How long did it take? What crazy, unanticipated events ensued?

 

  1. The stats.

Don’t forget to mark down the stats! Date and time of birth. Length and weight. Hair and eye color. The name of the doctor or midwife (or taxi driver!) who delivered your baby.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Remember The Most Important Moments” series coming soon.  Until then, Happy memories!

Emma Weisberg

Founder & CEO, Blinkbuggy

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iPhoneography: Dos and Don’ts

6 tips from our very own founder and CEO, Emma Weisberg, to ensure your iPhone is the only camera you need when baby arrives

iPhoneography. Can you believe that’s become a word? Mobile phone photography has become an artform of its own. Digital cameras are everywhere — reportedly even the Chicago Sun Times laid off their full-time photographers in place of outfitting their journalists with iPhones.

You may not aspire to be a professional-caliber photographer, but you probably want to take nice shots. Parents, in particular, frequently take thousands of smartphone photos of their kids, striving to document each milestone and joyous moment. You don’t want to look back years later and ask, what is that blurry thing in our living room? Here are the Top 3 Dos and Don’ts for basic iPhoneography.

1. DO: Find the right light!
This is the most basic rule in all photography, but it’s even more critical with camera phones. Note that ‘good’ light doesn’t necessarily mean the brightest light. For example, harsh, direct sunlight can cause unwanted shadows on your subject’s face. Bright, non-direct light, such as an overcast day or an open shaded area on a bright day, is ideal. If you are indoors, professional child photographer Julie Campell recommends north-facing windows for beautiful non-direct light!

JCampbell012. DO: Use the Volume button
Use the volume control on the iPhone, rather than the shutter button, to snap photos. This way you reduce camera shake because you push on the frame instead of the screen. To take it even further, you can do this using the volume up button on your headphones. This means you can stand your iPhone up on a table and use your headset to trigger the shutter – wobbleless!

3. DO: Apply the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a basic rule of composition in photography. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. The Rule of Thirds is also a nice reminder to get away from always centering your subject. Great news: the iPhone will show you a grid if you ask for it (aka, turn it on), so you don’t need to try to image the grid in your mind.

Now that you have the grid, here’s how to use it:
1. Put the subject of your photo in one of the four intersections between guidelines, not in the center.
2. If your subject looks in a direction or does a movement, then put the subject on the vertical line more distant from the edge in which the action ends, so as to create a movement in the picture, from one side to the other
3. If you are more interested in the sky, put the horizon line on the lower horizontal guideline (vice versa if interested in the ground).
Image Credit.

4. Don’t: Zoom
Don’t zoom with your phone, zoom with your body. The iPhone doesn’t have an optical zoom, only a digital zoom, which means that your photos will have fewer pixels as you zoom in, which results in blurry, pixelated looking photos. If you use your body as the zoom and get closer to your subjects, the iPhone will be able to absorb more detail.

5. Don’t: Over edit
We all love to use those Instagram filters but the sad truth is that filters and fun effects decrease the quality of our photos. Emil Pakarkis from iphonephotographyschool.com warns us that default filter strength is almost always too strong and the quality of your photos suffers so use post-processing if and only if it helps you enhance the feel or message of that photo. Try an app like Snapseed that gives you full control over the power of the filter and all the adjustments you make.

6. Don’t: Use Flash
It’s tempting to use flash when we can’t find good light, but don’t do it unless it’s absolutely necessary! In addition to causing red-eye, the flash can also ruin your low-light photos by adding a glare and making colors cold and unnatural.

Bonus Tip! Here’s an extra Do, specific to photographing our kids, from photographer, mom and founder of Begift, Tamara Kate: Get on their Level. As a general rule, always get down on their level vs. shooting from standing. But have fun and switch up perspectives too! Put the camera on the floor, walk outside of the room for a pan-back, shoot aerially from above.

get-level
Image credit: Leanna Lofte 

Homepage image source.