There are going to be times during your campaign when it may not be appropriate or timely to include your kids. (Post-bedtime council meetings anyone?) But believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to include them in what's going on in your life. Whether it's on the campaign trail or while they're tucked into their beds at night, your kids will appreciate knowing what's keeping their mom so busy. Here are a few of our tips.
1. Hand out materials.
Whether you're door-knocking or standing at an event, having a little campaign partner (aka your child) with you is good for everyone. A. It's letting your child actively help your campaign, enabling them to feel like a member of the team and hang out with their mom. B. It's letting you hang out with your child and potentially soften constituents who may not want to grill you with a child nearby. And C. It's letting your constituents see another side of you. Instead of the poised candidate you've become (we believe in you!), they'll get to see you as mom. And that will likely help voters understand exactly why you're in this race in the first place.
2. Do community service together.
As a candidate, you'll likely find yourself in the position of being invited to participate in a number of community service opportunities. These are a great chance for you to meet constituents while actually rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, whether it's scooping out soup in a soup kitchen or helping to do a litter clean up on the beach. Furthermore, these are often a great way to participate in your community with your children. Bring them along. Let them see who you're helping, how you're doing it, and why it's important. After all, you're doing this to make the world—or at least your corner of it—a better place. What better way to show your kids how to lead then to let them actively participate in helping the community?
3. Get creative.
What do prepared moms almost always have available somewhere? Crayons and paper. Consider elevating that idea for your campaign. We spoke with a candidate in Indiana who had some teenage sons and a great idea. As a general rule, candidates are prohibited from leaving campaign materials on college campuses. Instead, her sons, who were with her as she met students on campus, used sidewalk chalk to ask the question "Who is XXX?" (inserting their mother's name). Because they asked a question rather than telling students "Vote for XXX", they were staying within the legal confines of the race. Their mom was clever and bought the domain name to "Who is XXX?", which directed voters back to her campaign website. The entire idea occupied her kids, let them be creative, and actually made an impact with voters. Total win.
You're running for office. Your kids are not. They may want to participate in your campaign or they may just want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and to watch the Disney Channel. Every family is different and every child reacts differently when their mom runs for political office. One of the most tried and true ways to get your child involved in what you're doing in a passive way is simply to read to them. There is a huge selection of political books appropriate for children and sneaking them in between a Junie B. Jones book or "Good-Night, Moon" will give them glimpses of the political world that you likely never got as a child. Here are some of our favorites.