Episode 184 – This is a very special episode with Joshua McVey, a HiMama parent and employee. Josh shares his experience using a child care app and how having insight into his son’s activities in child care has supported his experience as a single dad. He also talks about how he’s gained an appreciation for the hard work that educators put in every day from his experience as a parent and working with child care professionals through HiMama.
- Connect with Josh at email@example.com
Don’t stop what you’re doing, please. You’re magical work and what you do for our children is so, so valuable. We owe a lot of gratitude to what you’re doing on a daily basis. And [we are] just so thankful.
Josh, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!
We are delighted today to have on the show Joshua McVey. He’s a special guest because not only is he a guest on the Preschool Podcast, not only is he a parent and also a parent who uses HiMama, he’s also an employee at HiMama. He’s an account executive and part of our family. He’s been here for over a year, one of our favorite faces and smiles around the office. Josh, let’s start off learning about how you got to be at HiMama and that story.
Yeah, thanks, Ron. It’s an absolute privilege to be here and pretty honored that you invited me. So, thank you. It gives me some job security as well. But yeah, when I first got looking for a new position – and I think you may have heard this story a few times, I could use it on the phone – but I was an actor before this. And I was doing okay. I was getting some gigs here and there, but it wasn’t enough to make a career out of it at that point.
And then I had my son. And things change after that. I had to find a career, something that I could actually support my son. And as actors do, I was in the bartending industry. And that’s what I thought a natural progression for me would be, to get into some sort of sales organization and do liquor sales or beer rep or something like that.
And I was literally on a page looking at those types of jobs. And on a side bar I saw an ad for HiMama. And I couldn’t believe it – I was already an app user, I was using this for my son. And I thought, “This can’t be real, that this is even located in Toronto where I live.” And so I did some research and I did… I don’t know if you’ve heard of Glassdoor, but I did the Glassdoor review research and I saw five star reviews everywhere. And I thought, “This is not true; this can’t be a real company.” And I went through a lot of the reviews and I was like, “Okay, there’s something here. I might as well at least try.”
So, I went onto the page and submitted an application. And I didn’t hear anything from you guys and I was a little upset. I waited about a week before I actually went back onto the webpage and I reached out to your sales line. And I got Victoria, one of our H.R. recruiters, on the phone and mentioned to her, “I submitted an application a while ago and I haven’t heard anything back. Just want to see what’s going on.”
And she interviewed me on the spot and found my resumé and interviewed me on the spot and booked me the next day for an in-person interview, which went really well. I got to meet Char and another sales manager. And I passed that test. And so I had an offer letter that same day and asked to start on the Monday. So, it was a very quick turnaround and the rest is kind of history.
That’s pretty cool. And obviously we’re not going to spend all this time talking about HiMama and your experience here. But I learned some things there. And I think it’s actually a good message to all of our listeners, even though it’s not about early-childhood education specifically. But all the ECE’s [early-childhood educators] out there know that it’s a challenging job market and there’s only so many great positions out there.
And that proactive persistence from your end when you hadn’t heard from HiMama to call in and get that interview is awesome. And obviously it all turned out well in the end. And so you are a parent and Pax [Paxton, Joshua’s son] is how old?
Pax just turned three in October.
Three in October. And so you’ve kind of had the experience of being a parent pre- being involved at HiMama and post- being involved that HiMama. Has your parenting approach changed at all? Has your views on learning and development in those early years changed at all from then to now?
Absolutely. I don’t think I was ever aware of the magnitude and the effort that went into childcare. When you’re not experienced with children and you think about having a child, you think of daycare and you think of somebody that’s just going to watch your child while you go to work. And so I had that misconception. I had no idea the efforts that were going on to take care of my child.
And we originally started Pax in a home daycare. And we had a lovely woman taking care of packs and she was amazing. And childcare, as you know, in Toronto is very hard to get, a lot of long waitlists. So, that was a way to get you kind of boosted onto the list.
And so when we got enrolled in a fulltime center and I got introduced to HiMama it completely changed the game. I had no clue what I was to expect. And then all of a sudden this information just starts coming at me. And things like fine motor skills, I was seeing these learning and development observations. And it’s been a long time since I’ve been in school and since I’ve thought of that type of thing.
So, I had no idea that even something like playing with Legos with my son was actually having an effect on his fine motor skills. So, it just made me realize that there is a lot going on within early-childhood education that I had no idea about.
Cool. And based on those learnings, are you doing anything different at home and as you spend your time with Paxton, do you think?
Absolutely, yeah. I feel like I’m learning with my educators. They’re teaching me how to be a better parent. And now I will spend more time doing something menial, like playing with Lego, with him, because I know what that’s doing for him, right?
Or we have a great communication. Like, when they’re reading a book at the center, I’ll ask them what they’re actually doing within that read so that when we read it I can understand: “So, should I follow my finger under the words? Should I over-enunciate certain things?” So, we communicate like that so that I can kind of bring it home and carry it forward.
Cool. So, you’ve learned a lot from getting more involved in early-childhood education with HiMama. But also I suspect there might be some things that our listeners can learn from you. So, you as an account executive at HiMama have had a rare opportunity to talk to, my guess is, probably thousands of people – early-childhood educators, directors, owners, you name it.
So, you’ve heard about lots of different challenges and things that people are experiencing. In your experience, what are the challenges that you find come up most frequently or the biggest challenges a lot of early-childhood education programs are dealing with?
I think the one that comes up the most frequent is I think that childcare centers find it really hard to translate the hard work that they’re doing in the classroom. These folks are working their butts off every day. And the transactional nature of the [child] pick-up and drop-off can be a bit disheartening. Not to say all parents are that way, but we’re busy and we need to get in and out sometimes – we’re double-parked; we’ve got dinner on the stove or whatever it is.
And so the efforts that sometimes go missed… and I think that’s something that I truly value about my own HiMama experiences because now I get to see that and I can give the credit where it’s deserved, right? And I thank my educators every single day. Without them I wouldn’t have a potty-trained son at this point. There’s things that without them wouldn’t be happening the way they are. And I think that is one of those challenges that they face a lot.
And of course we want to be providing our educators with lots of positive recognition because their jobs are so hard and they get so little recognition. In terms of running a childcare program and having a childcare center from the point of view of, let’s say, like a director or owner, why do you think that’s so important for them that the teachers are able to share all the amazing work that they’re doing with the children in the center?
There’s probably a few reasons for that. I think directors that have educational backgrounds or teaching backgrounds are definitely going to want their teachers to feel that same value. But it’s not the easiest job in the world and it’s not the easiest job to employ. And I think when you’re just breaking into the industry it can feel a bit like an entry-level job where you’re just wiping noses and changing butts. And that’s really hard work.
So, I think around the retention side of things, if their teachers are getting credit for the work they’re doing, they feel a lot better about coming into work every day. They love working with the kids, right? That’s why they got into it. And you don’t get into that job without having a true passion for it. But it’s nice for them to be able to get the recognition and be able to go home feeling like, “Yeah, I did good stuff today. My parents told me so.”
Yeah, totally, too. And just thinking back over your last few months at HiMama, what’s a memorable moment or experience you can share? And maybe that was part of the team at HiMama, maybe as a conversation you had with somebody that was more impactful than the average one. Any interesting story?
Yeah, so, recently, what’s interesting for me is I’m actually going through live, in-real-time parenting, right? And I have a wealth of knowledge at my disposal. So, you may or may not like what I’m about to say but I have the opportunity to be able to speak to people about being a parent.
And I had an interesting time with Pax a couple of weeks ago where I laid down a pretty severe punishment of taking something big away from him. And it left a really lasting impact on me and I felt horrible about it. And I didn’t know what to do. And so what I did was, I came into work and I started talking to my clients about it and got their advice.
And I have one specific young lady that I speak to in California. And we walked it – she has older children – and she walked me through it and she made me feel so much better about the situation. So, I get to use all of you out there as a resource and you’re helping me become a better parent. So, thank you!
That’s awesome! That’s actually a great story! I’m glad you told it because, for me, it kind of relates to what you said too, before, as well, in terms of [how] there’s not a lot of recognition for early-childhood educators. And it might feel like you’re just going in to wipe noses and make sure the kids are safe for eight hours while the parents are at work.
But the fact that you went out of your way to go talk to early-childhood educators who you knew, I think really just stresses that you saw them as experts in something that you really, really valued in your child’s growth and development. And you look to them in a time where you were challenged, personally, which, again, I think just really goes to show that when you think of other professions like a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer, when you’ve got problems that you don’t know how to solve, you go to somebody who’s an expert and they can provide that advice. So, I think that’s cool, nice.
So, looking forward as a parent – and you’ve been, again, in this unique position of being a parent and at HiMama – what advice would you have for parents out there that are using HiMama or some other similar type of communication tool? How do they get the most out of their relationship with their teacher or their childcare program that their child is in? Any advice from that side?
Yeah, I mean, there is tons of good stuff that I do with Pax in the app. So, one thing I would recommend is, when I first got the app I was very selfish about my use of HiMama. I thought this was all about me and that connection that I had with my child throughout the day. But what I’ve since come to realize is that my child is with his friends for eight hours a day and these memories are just as important to him as they are to me.
So, I always open it up and let him scroll through the photos and tell me what’s going on. It’s a much better conversation. One, I don’t have to say, “What did you do today?” “Daddy, I played.” But he really values getting to see those photos. And he’ll go motor-mouth on me and tell me all the people he’s playing with and the things that are going on. So, I think that’s something that I found really, really interesting. It’s kind of like his little mini-yearbook, right?
And then the other thing is, I think, look out for ways that you can be a part of your community at the childcare [center]. And at my center, specifically, something interesting happened where one parent reader came in. And it was a HiMama update that came out. So, it was a photo of this dad reading to the children. And I don’t know if anybody actually knew that that was possible until we saw that photo.
And then a couple of weeks later, another parent showed up. So, there was another HiMama update with another parent reading to the children. And then I got upset. I was like, “Well, nobody’s asked me! Where where’s my invite?” So, I actually used HiMama – I sent over a message to my homeroom and said, “Hey, I would love to get on that reading list.” And sure enough, I was there the next Friday. And since [then] two more other parents have come in and read stories for the children.
So, I think, be open to the opportunity to be a part of the community at your center. Now I’m booking play dates with some of these kids and stuff. So, it’s been pretty magical in that we all really truly value it and use it. And now it’s a part of our community, our center community.
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I would think most parents using the app – and I use the app myself, as well, I also usually have that view, right? It’s kind of like my experience as the parent. But to think about all the other stakeholders and how they can benefit. Like, the children and the other parents in your relationship with the teacher is a really interesting perspective.
And it’s good you used the same persistence to get on the reading list as you did to get a job at HiMama! So, tell us a little bit more about Paxton. Tell us who he is.
He is such a little beauty. He is very, very, very observant. I think that’s the thing that’s been congruent all the way since he was small to now. And so he wants to learn and know everything, what every object is. He loves vehicles and he knows the difference between a hydraulic truck and a semi. And he very much values the learning things. And so that’s something that I really kind of promote and never shy away from.
And then you see those magic moments where we’re working on a part of the language, a sound, a vowel sound. When he actually nails those things, that joy in his eyes is just so palpable. And he’s very soft and kind as well and knows when you’re having a bad day and comes over and gives you a kiss on the leg or, “Daddy, I just want to tell you, I love you.” It’s a pretty special feeling.
We were talking to him the other day and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said, “I want to be you, Daddy.” Never have I felt such an emotional, big, heartfelt… it’s just amazing what he does for me and I’m so thankful to have him in my life.
Do you think Paxton makes you more passionate about the work you do here? Because you’re so involved in early-childhood education and knowing the impact of learning and development while you have a three-year-old yourself.
For sure. I mean, that’s the whole reason I banged on the door to get my job. What this does for my family unit alone… I’m a single parent, as well, right? So, it actually connects me to my son when I’m not with him. My mom, who lives across the country from me, is a part of my HiMama family crew. She gets updates about her grandson five days a week. Those are priceless things that I could never trade in now.
And so my job here is to help centers get this into other parents’ hands. That’s where my I get my juice: I want other parents to experience this. And if I can create the ripple that it’s done for me and my family, all the better. And if I’ve done that for any families out there, I’m so glad you’re a part of our family.
Awesome. Yeah, and I think it’s a good message just in terms of… because sometimes we know at HiMama how difficult it is being an early-childhood educator, which is why the app’s been designed to be as user-friendly as possible so you’re saving time in the classroom and you can spend more time with the kids instead of less.
But that parent perspective because… the same as what we talked about from the parents’ side, you might not be thinking about all the other stakeholders and the impact, but the same goes for the teachers who use the app every day to hear stories from somebody like you, Josh, and the impact it has on you in your life hopefully is pretty cool as well to all of you out there who are very passionate about communication with parents or even being really transparent, regardless of how you’re doing it, whether that’s through the app, in person, all the things, just that community is so important.
Any parting advice for our listeners, Josh? So, we’ve got a lot of early-childhood educators out there, people running childcare programs in this space. And again, you spend a lot of time talking to a lot of these folks. What’s your parting wisdom to the Preschool Podcast listeners today?
Don’t stop what you’re doing, please. You’re doing magical work. And what you do for our children is so, so valuable. You don’t get enough credit and you deserve way more than you get. And so we’re just here to tell you, keep doing what you’re doing because without you our society is going to be messed up. We owe a lot of gratitude to what you’re doing on a daily basis and [we’re] just so thankful.
Bang on. If our listeners want to get in touch with you, Josh, do you have an email address or a place where they can get in touch with easily?
Absolutely, yeah, You can reach me at Joshua@HiMama.com. I also have to give a special shout-out: we just started working with a new client whose name is Molina. She’s a listener; she’s probably folding her laundry right now. So, I just wanted to let her know that we’re happy to welcome you to the family recently and keep listening!
Awesome! Welcome, Molina, to the HiMama family. And Josh, thank you for joining us on the Preschool Podcast today. Awesome to have one of our own as a guest!
Thanks for having me, Ron!