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  • Caron Levis

Mamas Making it Work! Back to School with mama and educator, Emily

Hello Emily, (ahem, sister Emily to me) please describe favorite pair of work shoes and tell us what sound they make?

My boots. They make a small “click click” sound but are incredibly comfortable to run home to play with my kiddos and go straight to the playground.

What's your occupation? Educator/ Learning Support Coordinator

What age children do you have? 3years and 5 year old

What does your child think you do all day? (please ask them and tell us in their own words if you can!)

“Meetings. Teaching. Check something. And go in different classrooms”

My niece dances in her mama's zip-zup shoes.

How do you and your family benefit from your being a working mama?

A bit of a balance for them and for me. In my situation, I am incredibly lucky because I get to work in the same place where our daughter goes to school. When I have the chance to see her in passing, I have the quick smile and wave to keep me going. It’s like kiddo fuel. In my position working at a school, I’m lucky to have the summers as a break from work to play with my kiddos.

(photo is of Emily's daughter wearing Mama's zip-zup shoes.)

What are some steps (pun intended!) you took that helped make the transition back to work, work for you and your family?

Deep breaths, books...(this new Mama’s Work Shoes book would have been just what I was looking for!) and conversations.

Well, thank you for that sister, and for being an early draft consult, not to mention providing me many inspirational moments of adorable children wearing your shoes.

What is one of the challenges you face as a working mama? How do you navigate this?

Balancing life. The continuous tug from many directions. How do I navigate it? Take it all day by day and creating space for family and work.

In Mama’s Work Shoes, Perry shows some of the big feelings she is having about Mama’s return to work by clinging to her, pushing food off the table, and even hiding mama’s shoes! How did/does your child reveal any big feelings about separation?

With lots of big snuggles a dash of crankiness and smushed faces against the door giving kisses when I leave for work.

In Mama’s Work Shoes, Mama and Perry establish some routines like putting each other’s shoes on in the morning, and pulling them off when they get home. Does your family have any ritual, phrases, objects, or other magic tricks that have helped your child navigate transitions or separation?

When I first went back to work with my older daughter, she would get dressed up, purses, shoes and all and walk me to the elevator every morning. While it was sad to say goodbye every morning, it was one of my favorite parts of my day to take the walk down the long hall with her.

What has your child done or said which indicates that, despite challenges, they are doing mighty fine?

They show it with their happiness, smiles, laughter, creativity, kindness and desire to explore the world.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to future working mamas? Take it day by day, adjust to what feels right to you and you’ve got this. Talk to other working parents, there’s a lot of people trying to figure it all out too.

Thank shoe so much! Happy back to school, Emily!


Mama’s Work Shoes (Abrams) text by Caron Levis, art by Vanessa Brantley Newton

All about the adjustment a toddler makes when her mother returns to work, this humorous picture book takes on a big emotional milestone with a light hand.

Perry knows all of Mama’s shoes. She knows that the zip-zup shoes are for park. She knows that the pat-put shoes are for the rain. And she knows that no-shoes are for bath time and bedtime. But, one morning Mama puts on click-clack shoes, and Perry wonders what these new shoes are for. When Mama drops Perry at Nan’s house, and the click-clack shoes take Mama away for the whole day, Perry decides she hates these shoes! Perry later hides the click-clack shoes . . . and all of Mama’s shoes, just in case. Mama then explains that the click-clack shoes bring her to work in the morning, and they will also bring her home to Perry every single evening—clickety-clack fast!


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