Beet Salad: "Blues bag," Getting Kids to Eat, and Calendar Audit

A few quick-read tips, lessons, and recs across career, parenting, life, and more

Hi there! This is our second edition of a Beet Salad - a compilation of quick-read tips, lessons, and recs across the full spectrum of topics we discuss on Mind The Beet. Perfect for those who just want to skim and graze yet still soak in a few ideas on how to live your best life as a 21st century grown up!

You can always find all our longer-form, single-topic essays here: mindthebeet.com/articles

Let us know what you think of this format (you can always reply to this email - it’ll go straight to us!) If you love it, feel free to share it with a few colleagues - it’s a great intro post to the wide range of brain candy here on MTB:

Life tip: Create a “Blues” bag

One year I [Helen] was trying to find a meaningful gift for my mom for Mother’s Day. I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast where she shared a great idea of a “Blues bag” she made for her daughter when she was leaving home. From Gretchen:

We [created] a tote bag full of wrapped presents, so she could open a present when she was feeling blue and needed a little treat from home. We put in some fancy temporary tattoos, a really nice set of markers and pad of paper, a pack of Uno cards, etc.

I thought a gift like that would be fun to make and meaningful for her as she could open mini-presents over the course of a few days/weeks (since we miss each other a lot, I didn’t think the 6-10 wrapped packages would last that long). She really appreciated the thoughtfulness as well as the time and effort put into the gift. So if you are looking for a gift idea for someone you know really well, give this one a try.

Parenting advice: Food battles

When we were becoming parents, our plan was that our children would “eat what we eat” and kids menus in restaurants were for people who don’t know how to instill good eating habits in their children. Ya, right. As we like to say:

As a parent, you quickly learn that your perception of your child’s wellbeing directly impacts your own sanity. The worry that our child was not eating nutritious food in the right amounts was a stressor. And of course, all the self-judgement on what it says about us as parents mounted, setting us up for constant battles that were not resulting in our toddler eating any better or more.

After a bit of research, we found a few things that worked well for our family:

  1. Look at our child’s food intake holistically, over 7 days as opposed to worry about a single day or a meal. This helps to smooth out the Goldfish-crackers/Fruit/Protein curve.

  2. Define clear roles and responsibilities. Parents choose what goes on the kids plate. Kid chooses what they want to eat. So our approach is to make a meal plate that mostly has on it what we are eating for dinner and if we think it will be 100% struggle, we’ll add something to moderate (a piece of bread, apple sauce, a handful of Goldfish, etc.).

  3. Reduce snacks/capitalize on hungry moments. If we give our kids carb/sugar snacks an hour before a meal, they are not going to eat well at lunch/dinner. (Duh!) Additionally, if kids are walking around and saying they are really, really, really, really hungry - we offer the stuff we want them to eat (protein and vegetables). If they are really hungry, they’ll eat it. Otherwise, we wait until meal time.

The humbling result of all this is that our two kids have widely different eat habit - we have one that is really picky and one that’ll eat anything, despite the same approach for each. Like a lot of parenting, the food battle is a lot about the parents’ states of mind.

A cool resource: Kids eat in color - Jennifer is a mom and a dietician. She has great food ideas for picky eaters and a delightful Instagram that we follow for food inspirations for kids.

Career advice: Do a calendar audit

Question to ask: Where do you spend your time? If you want to get a sense, track your calendar activity as well as what you do that’s not calendared in 15 minutes increments for 2-3 weeks. Roll it up into time categories that matter to you (product, team, customers and strategy is one way to organize) and evaluate what your pie chart looks like vs. what you’d like it to be. From Adam’s post on benefits of a calendar audit:

Career progress is accelerated by the ability to focus on the important and not just the urgent.   The calendar audit forces self-reflection around the following:

  • The act of tracking encourages me to be more self-conscious about being efficient and planful

  • The act of defining the categories of my time is a great way to organize my work life.  The same categories I use in my calendar audit also drive my own written performance review.

  • It allows goal setting, especially around areas of growth and learning (e.g. spending more time hearing from customers) or emerging trends of where your profession is going (e.g. spending more time on data analysis). 

  • I often get asked about where I'm spending time, especially by those interested in growing into a product leader role.  An audit allows a deeper conversation with mentees.  In fact, you can track maturity in your career by how your time categories evolve.

Dig deeper: Where Does a Tech Product Leader Spend Their Time?

Content rec: Master Class Robin Arzon

I’ve [Helen] been enjoying MasterClass (as mentioned in my 21 for 21 post) and I have been exploring the Peloton bike. So when I heard that Robin Arzon was going to have a MasterClass, I was excited.

I love a good motivational story, and Robin’s class is insightful and inspirational. Some really good nuggets so far: reflect on how food makes you feel (tired or energized) and fine your joy (no need to live with malaise).

Content rec: Emily in Paris

We are very excited about Ted Lasso, Season 2 which drops next week. But in the meantime, we are preparing by watching another fish out of water trope - Emily in Paris. The outfits are great and the French vs. American stereotypes and banter keeps things light. Emily is also a marketer so some plot lines remind me [Helen] of business school.

Content rec: How people find love

While research content for our post on marriage, I [Adam] came across a recently published scientific journal article on how people meet and fall in love now a days. It was an interesting takeaway that two thirds of adults start out as friends before becoming romantically involved. This is how Helen and I started our journey and I was surprised to see it be so common. The paper also makes the case that this is an understudied aspects of social science (compared to studying sparks of love between strangers).

Thanks for reading! Drop us a line (reply to this email or email mindthebeet@gmail.com) with any content recs or feedback.