Adventuring on with Barefoot Books

I love books. I love the stories they tell, I love the worlds they open up. And now with two littles of my own I’ve so enjoyed sharing that love with them.

Of course there are many wonderful books – ones with tall tales or silly stories, ones with beautiful illustrations or simple doodles. It’s all about the story they weave and the place they transport us to.

So when I first came across Barefoot Books I was intrigued. They told beautifully engaging stories but woven in were these little extras – either a game or activity or learning feature. I loved how they shared ideas on how to extend the story and bring the concepts to life.

That was back when my oldest was maybe a year or two. Now four years later, we’ve only added to our collection.

I was reading one of the books to my younger daughter a couple of weeks ago and I thought our Poppy community would love these books so I reached out to the CEO, Nancy Traversy. She has graciously extended our Poppy family a 25% discount for any of the books they carry – just use the code POPPY on Barefootbooks.com.

Here are some of our favs to get your own collection started…

barefoot-books

  1. I took the moon for a walk – a nighttime staple in our house that also introduces the basics of astronomy.
  2. Yoga Pretzels – we’ve also recently started doing “nighttime” yoga to wind down and these are great way to do that.
  3. World Atlas -I’m the biggest map nerd – I could stare at maps for hours on end and I love this book for how it starts to get kids interesting in this big beautiful world we live in.
  4. I could be, you could be – Such a simple book that encourages big imaginations. I love the suggestions at the back about creating masks and acting out different scenes.
  5. Big and small – a great little staple in a baby library with beautiful illustrations.

And a couple honorable mentions…

  • Spanish World of Words – with our girls getting fluent in Spanish with our nanny this book comes in handy when I don’t know what my toddler is saying and I finally realize she’s saying “ropa” (clothes).
  • Book of Children – in a world where empathy is needed more than ever, this is a beautiful book to start introducing those concepts naturally.

Happy adventuring!

True customer service ain’t pretty.

People talk about customer service like it’s this beautiful, shiny thing. Pleasant and friendly, with an accommodating smile on it’s face.

It’s not.

Real customer service – the kind that makes a difference – is ugly and hard-working and a get-er-done sort. It’s resourceful and unyielding and never stops trying. It’s not pleasant at all on the company side. It takes pulling minor miracles every single day.

Being known for customer service and really excelling at it is one of the hardest things I’ve learned to do. It’s also the thing I just assumed would be natural and easy to do because it’s one of the things I believe in most fundamentally – never stopping until the problem is solved for the customer and then keeping our promises made.

But when it’s Saturday morning and a caregiver calls in sick 30 minutes before a booking you have a couple of choices. Option 1 is that you let the parents know that unfortunately, “due to reasons beyond our control”, the sitter wont be coming.

We’ve all been bailed on by sick sitters so it’s understandable.

But not for us.

Option 2 is to let the parents know and say we’re going to try to fill it with another caregiver as best we can. But when that caregiver inevitably can’t be found to fill in, in less than 20 minutes, you let the parents know “we tried everything we could, but I’m sorry we just couldn’t get anyone”.

This one can be the reality sometimes, but it’s still not good enough.

Option 3 is to spend those 30 furious minutes with your whole team throwing their Saturday mornings aside, trying to find a suitable replacement in time. But when you find a someone who could do it but can’t make it there for 40 minutes and unless you cover an Uber there and back, you see the opening for that minor miracle.

That was this very morning. While one of our team continued to communicate with the parent, another gave the caregiver a call to prep them and yet another volunteered to head to the family’s home to fill in the 30 minute gap between when the parents need to leave the caregiver can make it.

It’s a furious 40 minutes of action but the whole team is focused on making that miracle happen. And when it comes together, everyone is exhausted but exhilarated. It wasn’t pretty by a long shot but it allowed us to live up to our standards of customer service – do everything we humanly can to uphold our promise. Having someone literally tell their family on their Saturday morning, I have to go fill in for the next hour and a half and then go and make it happen, that is no easy thing no matter how “Hollywood-esqe” that might sound. To build a team that actively volunteers to do these things, that’s also no small thing.

And I’m not going to lie – not every situation ends like this. We try desperately and frantically every single time. But sometimes we don’t have someone from HQ that can go or a caregiver than can fill in. Sometimes every effort ends in failure and disappointment and frustration.

But our one salvation is to always know we tried everything possible.

In this moment, when I am incredibly proud of our team and what we’ve built customer service to mean at Poppy, it needs to be recognized how this is not some sleek, strategic air game, but a brutal, grinding ground game.

It takes an open mind and a never say never belief.

It takes the ugly and the impossible to keep promises.

We try never to forget that.

Letter to families.

Hi –

I’m writing to let you know about some upcoming changes for Poppy. As Poppy has grown over the past year from a little Madison Park idea serving 15 families to now a thriving Seattle-wide service serving over 1,200 families, we have learned a tremendous amount about what you value and what it takes to deliver the Poppy experience every family deserves.

In order to continue to grow with the same uncompromising service, we’ll be making some important rate and membership changes that will go into effect September 13, 2016.

First, to access and schedule Poppy’s community of screened caregivers, there will be a monthly membership fee of $8/month. As we expand offerings (eg. overnights, household help etc) this will cover access to our whole range of services.

Second, rates for caregiver services will increase to start at $20/hr for 1 child and $22/hr for 2 children. Infant care specialists will be +$4/hour for children 2–12 months (eg. $24/hr for one infant), in recognition of the special skills this role requires. Finally, nanny share arrangements will also be +$4/hr to ensure high quality service for both families.

Rates will automatically be updated for all bookings Tuesday, September 13 onwards and charged using the credit card on file. Any remaining Poppy membership will convert to the new plans at the $8/month.

We’ve learned a lot over this past year – about what it takes to find best caregivers and about what it takes to deliver exceptional service. We want to make sure we can keep doing this for years to come.

If you have questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for allowing us to serve your families over the past year. It has been a true privilege and we’re looking forward to writing this next chapter of Poppy with you.

Warmly,

Avni and the whole Poppy HQ team (Richerd, Sarah, Jenna, Maggie and Nik)

Poppy’s recipes of the week

Happy Monday parents! Another week, another set of meals to plan. And if you’re like us, you could use all the help you can get.

That’s why we had Poppy caregiver and culinary school graduate, Marisa, come up with 5 easy recipes that are as delicious as they are nutritious.

Try one or try them all and hopefully it makes this week just that much easier.

  1. Apple Cookies
  2. Chia Coconut Pudding Pops
  3. Cheesy Chicken Taquitos
  4. Baked Parmesan Zucchini
  5. Quinoa Pizza Bites

Get the recipes here: PoppyRecipesJuly24th