WHO SHE IS: Stef Tousignant, designer of children’s events and spaces, baby and toddler advocate and expert, Founder of The Great Baby Romp
LOCATION: San Francisco
SUCCESS STORY: My two beautiful sons prove to me everyday that it’s easy to find success if you know it’s true definition
WORK SCHEDULE: T, Th, F from 8:30 – 3:30 p.m.; 7 – 9 p.m. six nights a week at my kitchen table
KIDS: River, 5 (“and one quarter!”) and Cortland, 2
SANITY VICE: Grocery shopping alone
LATEST SMART READ: Half of 30 Lessons for Living by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.
BEST TIME-MANAGEMENT TIP: Wash everything on cold and forget sorting. Meal Plan. Make lunches the night before.
GO-TO TECH: I just started using Wave Small Business Software, it’s so easy and I can just see my accountant jumping for joy as I categorize my spending once a week
WORK-LIFE BALANCE? (scale of 1-10): 5 – It depends on the month. My big event — The Great Baby Romp — takes place March 8th in San Francisco. In February my personal life suffers, then post event my business suffers, and the remaining months are a constant tug of war.
5 Questions for Stef
1. What inspired you to launch The Great Baby Romp?
I am the oldest of five children, worked as an infant and toddler teacher for many years, and then was a professional nanny for many more. I have made a career out of taking care of multiple children, but what I totally underestimated when my second child was born was the complete uniqueness of personality he would have. When he was ready, I took him to the same baby yoga classes I had taken with my oldest and he did not like them! But I had two kids and no extra time to drive around SF to try trial class after trial class. I grew up with a mom who ran a small business and entrepreneurship is in my blood. I knew when you find a problem that certain segment of the population is having and no one is trying to fix it -that’s your chance, so I took it. And now each March I produce an expertly curated day of sample classes from across San Francisco for babies, toddlers and their parents called The Great Baby Romp and I am so excited to be expanding to NYC this year!
2. You also plan and design spaces for kids. What are the 2-3 key elements that someone should make sure to include in a kid’s room?
I love designing spaces for children whether it’s a bedroom, playroom, or childcare its always important to put aside colors and layouts at the beginning and ask your self — what do you want for your child the most? For me it’s to grow up to be the best child they can be. Everything else can fall into place once you have your true design motivations. Some ways to break this down: 1) Their name, initials, and photos of their life’s journey so far — everywhere — and tell them the stories over and over. Being surrounded by their name and photos of themselves actually gives a child a sense of belonging and ownership that are values onto which you can build confidence and self respect. 2) Ask their opinion and act on it. Even if it’s just to choose between which comforter they want or where to hang their latest art project — these things matter. After all, they will be the one staring at them all night thinking about what a great choice they made. 3) A mirror at their height (safety glass please!) — kids of all ages like to look at themselves and why not!? This is another opportunity for confidence boosting and self awareness, all part of the personal growth journey they take every day.
3. You run another business called AskaNanny.com. What is the most common question you get there?
Sleep! Parents worry a lot about sleep and that’s usually due to the mixed messages out there in books, and from experts and even family. What I try to do as the nanny from AskaNanny.com is ask each parent questions about their family, core values, and lifestyle. I find out about their child’s personality, what they do when they are awake and how they react to certain situations and then I give customized, objective advice for their situation and theirs alone. There’s so much conflicting advice out there because everyone parents differently because they are different and their child is unique — there are just too many variables. When I started the blog three years ago, I decided the world didn’t need yet another list of things to do when a toddler bites or a 6-month-old wakes in the night, but real, usable advice, ASAP.
4. I’m asking everyone how they “work smart” as a means to foster their own work & family flexibility. Are you doing anything new or interesting along these lines?
I use Asana to keep my chaos a bit in check, but when it comes down to it and I am super busy and super stressed, I write a list of the 3 most important things I need to do on a piece of paper and then I tune everything else out until they are done (or I run out of time and have to pick up my son from school!).
5. What advice do you live by as a working mom?
My mom always reminds me to let my kids eat junk food, skip their naps (every once in awhile!), and wear jammies to school, because they don’t care about the hours you spent compiling spreadsheets of summer camps, and they forget the nights you had to work late, but the silly stuff sticks.
Get your tickets to The Great Baby Romp in San Francisco on March 8!