Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Amy Palanjian

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Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Amy Palanjian

If you have a toddler or a picky eater at home, you NEED to know Amy! I had come across several recipes of Amy Palanjian’s over the past year or so and did not realize she lived in the Des Moines area! Learn about Yummy Toddler Food (and make the applesauce muffins) and her best parenting advice for us all.

Give us a little background of your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life? 

I grew up in a small town in Southern New Jersey about halfway between Philly and the shore. If you went about ten minutes east of my town, it was all farms and forests. It’s a beautiful area!

I moved to Des Moines in 2009 after living and working in NYC in magazines. I had the chance to work at Meredith and I was ready to leave the city. I’d never been to Des Moines, but it seemed like a great opportunity—and lunch at what was then Proof (RIP their falafel!) with a group of similarly aged young women who worked at Meredith sealed the deal.

I met my husband a month after I moved and while we lived there for three years, we now live in Pella to be closer to his work. (I work from home now so my commute is simply heading upstairs to my office!)

We have three kids aged 7, 3, and 6 months. Which still surprises me a little!

What is your business, and what do you do?

I run the website Yummy Toddler Food, where I share sane feeding advice and easy, healthy recipes for little kids and their families. I have a second site called Yummy Family Food that’s all healthy and quick meals for families. I continue to work as a freelance writer and editor for magazines and websites. I co-host the Comfort Food podcast. And I’m working on my first cookbook for kids, which is due to be published in fall of 2020.

Why did you become a small business owner? 

After a few years of having a website but not really knowing what I was doing, I made a decision to take it seriously. I knew it had the potential to earn me actual income, and since I had a feeling that the magazine I was working at at the time was going to close, it made sense to invest in it. 

I worked with a designer to get it properly organized and coded. I learned as much about SEO, branding, video, social media, and more as I could. And I started to treat Yummy Toddler Food as a real part of my job. That was a little over a year ago and the site is now a full-fledged business that helps to support my family—as it helps so many families out there feed their kids without losing their minds!

Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?

The Science Center!

Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?

During the summer, we spend a lot of time at the Pella Aquatic Center. It’s such a great facility and has plenty to keep both of the older kids busy for hours.

Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.

I’d start with a massage at the East Village Spa. Have lunch at St. Kilda’s, see a movie at the Fleur, dinner at Eatery A and hit Snookies for dessert.

What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?

For me, it’s crucial that I have dedicated work time where I’m not trying to multi-task parenting and work. (I love our daycare!) So I try my best to work during work time and be with my family during the rest of the day—it helps if I keep my phone upstairs when the kids are home and to remember that just because someone emails or comments doesn’t mean I have to respond immediately. Some days I do better at that than others! 

I’m also a big believer in to-do lists and scheduling my work out with a content calendar for my websites and a color-coded Google calendar with all of my sponsored posts and deadlines. This helps me be able to see what I have to do each day, week, and month.

What is your number one parenting tip?

Pick your battles! My kids pick out their own clothes (PJs during the day? Sure!) and regularly have messy hair. I do my best to make sure they are clean, but allowing them as much autonomy as I can make everyone happier. This also applies to mealtime where my goal is happy kids, no clean plates. They get to choose what to eat from what I provide and I try not to push prod or comment on their intake. We’re all individuals with unique needs and preferences—and that approach to meal times results in much less drama for everyone.

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Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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