Nikki Rung has been singing and soaring her way through Chicago for years- chances are if you have children, you’ve already been lucky enough to catch one of her energetic performances. Nikki is a children’s entertainer and you can find her (usually with an instrument in hand) at birthday parties, festivals, children’s classes- and even socially distant block parties this summer! Get to know more about this talented Chicago mom beyond her gorgeous voice & infectious smile!
When did you start performing & the best part of your job?
In December of 2019, I registered my business, Nanny Nikki Music, with the state of Illinois. This is a dream realized for me! I am a children’s entertainer who plays the ukulele, sings, dances, tells stories, and so much more. I have always been involved in music and making musical fun with children is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life! The COVID-19 pandemic has truly taken a toll on my business however, I have managed to find ways to share my music virtually as well as in socially distant ways. I have done virtual musical playdates for mom’s groups, libraries, and on social media. I have also been conducting Socially Distant Block Parties- I’ve been performing in people’s front yards from Naperville, to Lake Zurich, to Antioch and everywhere in between.
What inspires your music?
CHILDREN! How wonderful it is to be a child?! Children live authentically and uninhibited- we adults can learn so much from them! I truly think that music is transformative and empowers the lives of youth, families and communities. I hope to spread my joy for life with music! I am in the process of creating my very first children’s album- I am getting so excited to share it!!!
Chicago is getting more and more family friendly every year with families choosing to stay in the city. Fill us in on a few of your favorite spots in Chicago that all parents should know about (when opened!).
I loved being a nanny (yes, I was an actual nanny!) in the city! By far, my most favorite place to go with children was the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The butterfly haven is a space that I always loved to visit because of the awestruck look that both children and adults would have when they walked in. Not only are visitors impacted by nature but they are also enveloped in it- it is such a visceral experience! I can’t wait for it to open again and to finally have a chance to take my daughter.
Favorite restaurants with kids- and without!
One of my favorite restaurants is Tango Sur- the flavors that come out of that kitchen are so amazing! Speaking of flavors, 90 Miles Cuban Cafe is such a gem and I love their stewed chicken! Chicago during the holidays is hard to beat- I love the Walnut Room in Macy’s! Taking children there is a great way to get into the holiday spirit!
What are you reading and listening to this summer?
I’m actually in the process of taking the Child Honouring Course through the Raffi Foundation. Like many other people my age, I grew up listening to Raffi’s music and it impacted me greatly and still does. The course is inspiring me to live and act more consciously and do my part to create a more compassionate world for the future; one which honors Earth and child.
When you find a way to sneak in some “me time”, what’s the number one thing you want to do?
Meeee… Timeeee… I’m sorry, what is that you speak of?! Just kidding! I think we all have had a significant decrease in the amount of “me time” we get, since the pandemic changed all our lives. Even outside this time, however, I love to be outside, gardening, playing with my daughter and enjoying the lakes nearby! I really enjoy spending time with my girlfriends more than anything, and that has proven to be very difficult! Thank goodness for all the different mediums of communication we have now to visit virtually!
Parents have had to get creative with how we’re spending time as a family through the pandemic. What are a few favorite activities or outings you’ve experienced together?
I can’t wait for theaters and music venues to reopen!!! We have done a number of forest preserve visits all over Lake County and we even played mini golf while maintaining social distance! One benefit of this time is that we have been teaching our daughter how to play so many fun and engaging games! She loves “Go Fish” and “Candyland!”
The pandemic has changed life as we knew it & child care options are possibly the biggest challenge working moms are faced with. We’ve all had to get very creative- how are you working through this?
I used to spend the hours that my daughter was in preschool getting my work done but when her school closed that all changed. I have adapted to working when she has nap/ quiet time everyday as well as letting her spend more time watching shows so I can get an hour of work in here or there. I’m not proud of that last part, but I’m willing to admit it because it is the truth we are currently living. I’ve had to remember to give myself some grace and remind myself that many of us are in the same boat.
What’s the best advice you’ve received with parenting? What is the best advice you can give?
BE PRESENT! Although this almost sounds like a contradiction to the above question, I think there is a time and place for presence too! I make a concerted effort on a daily basis to do things with my daughter that lead to quality time and the formation of pleasant memories. Occasionally, that takes place at a time when I thought I was going to get work done and she has another idea! I don’t mind dropping what I am doing and jumping down on the floor to build a Lego village or create something fun out of a cardboard box. I am committed to making room in my day to be present for her!
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