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Five Ways to Master the Mommy Track

Years ago, I gave a keynote address for NY Mom’s World in Westchester, New York entitled “Five Ways to Master the Mommy Track” to promote my book for working mothers. I thought the pointers were worth sharing as a blog post. Here are the points, edited to be applicable to 2017:

  • Don’t overstress yourself when times are tough. Many women nationwide are afraid of losing their job or struggling to find work and concerned about their family’s financial situation. Career moms should realize that millions of others are experiencing the same feelings. The events happening today – job loss or an uncertain work status — will turn around in the future.
  • Don’t be so preoccupied with work or your career that you miss out on quality time with your kids. Ditch the smart phone for an hour or two each weekday so you can play with your kids or read to them. Limit the amount of TV they watch, and strive for quality interactions. Make the weekends extra special—take them on family outings to local parks, museums or excursions. Ask them what is going on at school, and they will tell you. Evaluate their current daycare or preschool program to make sure it’s the best fit for them.
  • To avoid burnout, women can communicate their needs to others by letting their spouse or partner and family members know what they need. This could be asking that groceries be purchased and put away, dinner be started, toys picked up, laundry folded, and so forth. Instead of reacting to unmet needs, moms can be proactive by expressing their needs from the start. When their needs are met, there is less exasperation. If other family members are local, ask them if they have time to assist, perhaps via school drop-offs or pick-ups and babysitting as needed.
  • How can mothers can take their careers to the next level–even with active home lives? Flex time is paramount so moms can be part of their kids’ activities. Women can ask their current employer for a change in their schedule–whether that be the option of telecommuting, working flexible hours, working a compressed workweek, or going part-time. They can build a solid case for changing their schedule and see if their boss will allow some flexibility. If not, then perhaps it’s time to find a job that allows flexible work options.       
  • Career moms need to share family and home obligations with their partner or spouse. Women have made great strides toward equality in the workplace, but not at home. Household chores largely fall on the mothers’ shoulders–but these tasks and parenting responsibilities should be divided equally. Women will never have time for themselves until they can achieve this balance at home. Women should schedule their free time in advance otherwise it might not happen. It requires planning and cooperation with their spouse or partner. Each person’s free time can be scheduled and agreed on–and both must commit to making it happen.

Philly Women’s March Attracts 50,000 Concerned Citizens

Yesterday, I attended the Women’s March in Philadelphia. It was a historic event to witness. I did not have kids with me. It was such a friendly crowd, I worked my way up to the front line behind the gate. I watched the inspiring speakers and took some notes. #womensmarchphiladelphia

Emily Morse, one of the local organizers, is a mom of three and full time worker who is going to Villanova at night for further education. A sexual assault survivor, she thought, “We cannot accept this.” Emily read about the DC women’s march, noticed many of her local friends wanted to attend and bring their children, so she decided to launch a march in Philly.

Morse launched a Facebook page for the Philly March, which turned out to be 50,000 strong. “Women’s rights are human rights. Demand equality for womanhood. This movement won’t be stopped,” she told the crowd.

Raising the wage was mentioned by many of the speakers, including Donna Bullock, a representative for the 195th District at Pa House of Representatives.

Salima Susswell, an Advisory Board member for the Council on American Islamic Relations – Philadelphia Chapter, said God’s plan is superior to that of man. Her local chapter vows to fight vs. oppression against Muslims, who comprise 250,000 in Philly alone. Susswell spoke about standing vs. hate crimes and vicious rhetoric.  

Brenda Dunston, mother of slain Sandra Bland, spoke of her need to close a painful chapter in her life. Her daughter was a 28-year-old African American woman who died in a Waller County, Texas jail cell in 2015. Bland’s family won a settlement in a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Dunston will be going on a 40 city tour nationwide to promote her book and calling.  

Malcolm Kenyatta, political commentator and member engagement coordinator for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, was another rousing speaker. “The battle will be hard, but now is the time to endure. The value of equality will endure,” he said.

Kenyatta said they will not be silent when you could become bankrupt if you got sick without healthcare coverage.

Terri Matthews of Jaden’s Voice advised Hillary Clinton on her autism policies. Jaden’s Voice is a non-profit that offers support for autistic children and their families. “We stand here because our children mean something,” Matthews said. She added that families are dying (committing suicide) because no one cares about their concerns.

City councilwoman Helen Gym spoke about marching for those rebuilding the city public schools, fighting for higher wages and immigrant rights and defending Muslims. Gym noted that they fight against Comcast’s opposition of the city’s pay equity bill. This bill aims to curb hiring discrimination, particularly for women and minorities, and would prevent employers from asking job applicants about past salaries.

Nellie Fitzpatrick, Director of LGBT Affairs for the city, appeared with her wife, and spoke of the city’s efforts to fight discrimination against LGBT individuals. She said violence against transgender people has to stop. 

Time for New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is here, what are your resolutions?

Here are a few of mine:

  1. Obtain new clients. Every year, I assess the past year for my business—what worked and what didn’t. I value the work from repeat and long-term clients. It’s tough when a contract is not renewed, but that is the life of a consultant. It’s best to have a mix of clients, rather than rely on one or two for your income.
  2. Exercise! Last month, I cut my gym membership to the local YMCA because I just was not going. My exercise right now consists of dropping and picking up the kids from school, and running them around to different activities. That has to change.  
  3. Cut unnecessary expenses. I enjoy supporting local Moms in their business endeavors. I will buy their books at book signings and listen to their talks and discussions. I’ve purchased essential oil kits and skin regiments to help these Moms boost their businesses. I stopped using essential oil; the skin regiment might be the next one I cut. If a product is not working for you, why continue it?  
  4. Build my support network. There’s an evening event I want to attend later this month, and a neighbor is watching the kids until my husband can pick them up after work. I promised her I would return this favor. If you don’t have family in the area, you may have to ask another parent or neighbor to assist. Another mom walks one of my daughters over to CCD class every week. This saves me an amount of time that is much appreciated. When someone offers to help you, accept it! I walk a daughter’s friend over to a CCD class every week and do not expect anything in return. The saying “Give and you shall receive” is so true.    
  1. Evaluate time spent—meetings, product demos, etc. When you are a consultant, time is money. What monthly activities can you eliminate to add more time to your schedule? Are you committed to too many meet-ups? Should you scale back on the volunteer work?    

With a Barnes & Noble gift card, I recently bought “Fresh Start: The New You Begins Today” by Joel Osteen. Looking forward to some inspirational reading.    

Here’s to our success! Happy 2017!  

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Franklin Institute’s Jurassic World is the closest you will get to living dinosaurs

Last week, we explored The Franklin Institute’s JURASSIC WORLD: THE EXHIBITION. The kids were off from school one day, so they were excited to get closer to dinosaurs than they ever have before! #partner

Based on the blockbuster movie, the Exhibition immerses visitors of all ages in scenes inspired by the film. Our tour group included eighth grade students from a local school. We watched the park come to life and traveled to Isla Nublar as a VIP guest to Jurassic World.

Walking into the park, the towering Brachiosaurus was a sight to behold. We got face-to-face with a Velociraptor, and witnessed the vicious dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex (see below), which roamed North America.  

In Jurassic World, scientists were able to extract dinosaur DNA from an ancient mosquito and clone a dinosaur. How did they know they had dinosaur blood? Every person on earth has distinct genes that identify their species.

Why are dinosaurs now extinct? You will learn that dinosaurs likely went extinct 65 million years ago because of the impact of an asteroid. By hitting the earth, an asteroid would cause 60 to 70 percent of life on earth to go extinct. Most scientists believe that dust thrown up by the meteor’s impact blocked out the sun, causing plants to die and changing the global temperature for months or years.

Students can create a modern dinosaur that has evolutionary features they think a dinosaur would have needed to survive the last great extinction.

Use promo code JWMOMB* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to Jurassic World. To redeem the code, contact us 215-448-1200 or visit fi.edu.

*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to Jurassic World.  Limit 4 tickets per person.  Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online, over the phone or at the Ticketing Desk. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays.

Jurassic World runs through April 23, 2017. https://www.fi.edu/exhibit/jurassic-world-exhibition

Image: The Franklin Institute

Giveaway for a Premium Family Pass to the First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo

Did you get your tickets to @achildgrows 1st annual #PhillyBabyFamilyExpo October 16, 2016?

We are happy to be a media partner for A Child Grows’ First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo in Center City. The expo will welcome new, expectant and seasoned parents and kiddos!

Exhibitors will showcase products and services covering all phases of life, whether you’re a new or experienced parent!

The First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo℠ will connect top local and national service providers with savvy expectant, new and experienced parents. This family-friendly event will showcase invaluable resources and products in an exciting and convenient location in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia.

The expo will have seminars, demos, crafts and awesome playroom happenings throughout the day. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear the amazing details as we get closer to the event!

We are giving away a Premium Family Pass to the expo (valued at $150). Enter your contact info below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Career Wardrobe offers deals on clothing to empower people to work

Earlier this month, I attended Career Wardrobe’s annual reception and silent auction #HopeOntheMove. Last year, I enjoyed networking with other local women professionals and supporting this worthy cause. I decided to attend this event again.

Career Wardrobe is a non-profit that uses clothing and professional development to empower unemployed individuals to work. The Boutique provides professional clothing to individuals in transition. Job seekers can shop at no cost with a referral or for a small fee if they are not receiving government assistance. In Philadelphia, the Boutique is open to public where shoppers can find deals on women’s designer and modern clothing with sales supporting the non-profit.

Career Wardrobe recognizes that everyone may need help at some point in their working lives, and thus expanded their programming to meet the needs of the community. In 2015, they opened their doors to men with the Make It Work for Men program, providing dressing services to men in order to assist them in presenting a smart first impression.

The annual evening event includes a Hope Walk of community leaders and local media personalities modeling professional outfits on a fashion runway.

I realized my own wardrobe was in need of an upgrade, as I meet with clients or prospects on occasion face-to-face. So on my birthday, I left my kids with my husband and walked over to The Boutique at 1822 Spring Garden Street to do some shopping.

What a pleasant surprise. I tried on some outfits and in under 40 minutes, I left with three dresses, a pair of jeans and a dressy top. The price tag was a bargain for these five items. I was happy to find this deal on my birthday. The staff was super friendly as well.

I now feel prepared for when I have a future meeting. Yeah! I don’t have to scramble at the last minute for a suitable outfit. I encourage women seeking a wardrobe upgrade—both working and stay-at-home–to check the store out.

I’ll definitely return to The Boutique in the future!

Career Wardrobe partners with community and government agencies to reach those in need of its services throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. The social enterprise is the regional provider of the PA WORKWEAR program, giving women on public assistance access to professional clothing for job search, training, and work.

Career Wardrobe operates Boutiques in Philadelphia, Chester, and Bristol, PA. Clothing donations are accepted Monday through Saturday in Philadelphia, Fridays in Chester, PA and monthly at partner locations in East Falls and Haverford, PA.

Interview with ROC United’s National Research Director

Due to the power of the National Restaurant Association, the federal tipped minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991. As a result, tipped restaurant workers — overwhelmingly women — use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the nation’s workforce, and are three-times as likely to live in poverty.

A dismal 20 percent of restaurant jobs pay a living wage, and women, people of color, and immigrants are often excluded from these living-wage positions, as reported by Anya Sacharow (April 26, 2013), “Why Don’t More Foodies Care About Restaurant Workers?” Time.

Seventy percent of servers are women. Since a living wage is not guaranteed, and women are forced to depend on tips, they frequently have to put up with sexual harassment from customers, coworkers, and management. The EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with a rate five times higher than other industries. See more at: http://rocunited.org/one-fair-wage/#sthash.ETQZGHse.dpuf.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United’s mission is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce. Teofilo Reyes, ROC’s National Research Director, said that in general, ROC sees a very high rate of wage and hour violations for immigrant workers — individuals not being paid overtime as high as 60 percent and individuals who are forced to work off the clock without pay, and work eight hours straight without a break, each in the 40 percent range.

“For immigrants who tend to work in the back of the house (kitchen) in major cities, there really is no such thing as a break. Even more broadly in the restaurant industry, the people who take breaks are the people who smoke and there is this unwritten acceptance of smoking as a way to take a break,” said Reyes.

Reyes acknowledged that ROC sees restaurant owners accumulating wealth while their employees are not paid a living wage — either the minimum wage or slightly higher depending on the local market. Nationally, the median wage for restaurant workers is $9.20 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are times when there are overtime violations when the minimum wage goes below the hourly rate or when employees are forced to work off the clock. “A lot of work is done off the clock — when they come into work before their shift starts and then they clock out at the end of their shift and then there is work required to do before they can leave. Overtime and minimum wage violations come from that,” he said.

With tipped workers, ROC sees a lot of tip shaving, “workers needing to provide a certain percentage of their tips to management so they are not allowed to retain their tips. That is where the greater wage and hour violations come from,” said Reyes.

A small group of restaurant owners bring workers over to the U.S. themselves. Some undocumented workers qualify as victims of human trafficking.

There are places that force people to come in and live at the restaurant — “workers accumulate a certain amount of debt to the restaurant to come to the U.S. and then have to pay that debt off to the restaurant. Many of these workers will sleep in housing paid for by the restaurant, and have to work around the clock,” said Reyes.

There is a much higher percentage of undocumented workers working in the industry but that would not necessarily qualify as victims of trafficking. Trafficked workers are “a very vulnerable population, if owners themselves have been involved in bringing them in or helping them pay their way to a trafficker to get them there. The workers have a debt they are required to pay; if they are not able to pay, their families at home might be liable to pay what the owners see as their debt,” he said. This does occur, but the majority are undocumented workers who don’t have documentation and might not speak out about bad working conditions and more common forms of exploitation. This is a different exploitation than the trafficking cases.

Reyes shared these national tiplines for reporting immigrant abuse: National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 510-465-1984; an OSHA hotline: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888 3737 888; National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. Unitedwedream.org is also a good resource.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2X ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate to share her philosophy of entrepreneurship on Monday, October 19th

ENTREPRENEUR WORKS PRESENTS: REBECCA RESCATE – 2X ABC’s “SHARK TANK” ALUM REBECCA RESCATE TO SHARE HER JOURNEY AND PHILOSOPHY OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

Presented by Entrepreneur Works & International House Philadelphia (IHP), with Sponsorship from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

For those who dream of finding a better balance by becoming an entrepreneur – or of pitching their business to the right investor, and getting their name out to millions of Americans overnight – Entrepreneur Works is presenting two-time ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate speaking with aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs about her journey and philosophy of business ownership and work-life balance. A Bucks County-based mom of three, Ms. Rescate’s companies include CitiKitty and HoodiePillow – both of which she pitched to the “Sharks” – and her latest product, Top-Down Planner. The conversation will take place on Monday, October 19th, 2015 at International House Philadelphia (3701 Chestnut Street) from 7-9 PM. The event is open to the public, but advance registration is required ($20 general admission; $15 for students; free for International House members and residents).

The Entrepreneur Works Presents series features master entrepreneurs in a variety of fields speaking about their experiences starting a business and offering guidance to aspiring small business owners. After launching in July 2014 with renowned director and choreographer Debbie Allen on how to sustain a career in the arts, the Entrepreneur Works Presents series continues with serial entrepreneur Rebecca Rescate. This installment of the Entrepreneur Works Presents speaker series is sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, of which Ms. Rescate is an alumna.

Rebecca Rescate

Rebecca Rescate is a two-time alum of ABC’s “Shark Tank”, a serial entrepreneur, and a Bucks County-based mom of three. Ms. Rescate has started multiple companies since 2005, including CitiKitty, HoodiePillow, and her latest product, Top-Down Planner, a “success strategy tool that helps you painlessly organize your time and plan to reach any goal you have.” For more information on Ms. Rescate, please visit http://www.rebeccarescate.com/.

Entrepreneur Works

Entrepreneur Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating pathways of opportunity for hundreds of talented yet underserved Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs each year, with a focus on serving low-to-moderate income, minority, immigrant and women entrepreneurs. Our clients start and grow small businesses, create jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and strengthen the local economy. Since 1998 we’ve served over 4,300 clients, advanced more than 415 loans, and invested $1.4M into neighborhood businesses. Visit www.myentrepreneurworks.org to learn more.

International House Philadelphia

The Intercultural Leadership Series at International House Philadelphia is an ongoing project involving lectures, symposiums and live performances. The events aim at fostering discussion and offering insight on the competencies, behaviors and specific skills needed to be an effective leader in an intercultural environment. International House, http://ihousephilly.org/, provides a unique experience that encourages mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among all people. We house students and scholars from more than 75 countries around the world, including the U.S., at our award-winning facility in University City and we broaden the horizons of our residents and the Greater Philadelphia community by offering high-quality arts and cultural programs.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. In the Philadelphia region, the Community College of Philadelphia offers this educational experience to three cohorts of entrepreneurs each year. Rebecca Rescate is an alumna of 10,000 Small Businesses, and Goldman Sachs is a proud sponsor of Entrepreneur Works Presents: Rebecca Rescate. Learn more at www.ccp.edu/10KSB and https://www.10ksbapply.com/.

Gearing Up for Kindergarten

It was bittersweet to watch my five-year-old complete her homework packet for Kindergarten. She’s the baby and will remain so. Is she ready? You betcha! I’m preparing for the transition as well.

As we speed into August, I’m looking ahead to the school year for my two: marking teacher conferences on the calendar, reviewing what we need for the meetings and of course – uniform and school supply shopping.

It’s nice to be at this point (the kids will be at the same school in September) but it’s also a realization that our baby is growing up.

When my oldest started Kindergarten two years ago, it felt like such an accomplishment for her and myself. I’ll feel the same way when I drop the youngest off in September.

Do you have a child headed for Kindergarten? If the child is your “baby” or only child, it will be even more poignant. Just look back at how far you’ve come. You are past breast feeding, diapers, potty training—the early stages of life.

And it gets easier. What a transformation it is from five to seven years old! They learn to bathe themselves, take extra care in picking out outfits, clean up more around the house and can even make a small meal when hungry.

You’ll have to prepare your child for heading off to school—is their homework packet complete by the due date and have you reviewed sight words with them? You also may have to prepare yourself mentally for the “baby” or only child leaving for school.

This might not affect your situation but many moms will have more time during the day once they have a child in grammar school. It’s a good time to review your career stage and ponder: Should I return to work full time? Or work part time and line up after school activities for the kids? Continue the current business or start a new one?

What is best for your family’s financial situation, your career as well as your child’s growth? Talk it over with a spouse if you need to. You’re in this together, after all.

Remember to take lots of pictures and a video capturing their first day. It only happens once. Don’t forget to bring tissues because you may likely shed some tears. I know I will.

The Fight for a Higher Minimum Wage

The New York Times recently published a powerful opinion, Can We Finally Treat Food Workers Fairly? by Mark Bittman. He pointed out “how deficient our values are when it comes to the treatment of the lowest paid workers in our economy, the largest portion of whom are employed in the food chain.”

I take my kids for lunch at local fast food restaurants, on occasion – like many parents do. I’ve met or spoken with some parents who work in the industry, like you probably have. Mothers or fathers who work hard to support their families.

The Fight for $15 has become a successful labor movement in the country. Last month, the Los Angeles City Council set itself up to raise its minimum wage from its current level of $9 per hour to $15 per hour in 2020. While the bill faces a final vote, it’s expected to pass. This will be a major win for labor unions and liberal organizations.

Los Angeles followed Seattle and San Francisco in setting its minimum wage at $15 per hour. And last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would establish a “Wage Board” that allows him to determine whether workers in a set industry in New York deserve a higher minimum wage.

“Through the Wage Board, New York can set fast-food workers on a path out of poverty, ease the burden on taxpayers and create a new national standard,” Cuomo wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Many restaurant owners are accumulating wealth at the expense of their employees. Unfortunately, many employees nationwide–especially immigrants–accept horrendous working conditions in restaurants for fear of losing their jobs. So they are paid less than the minimum wage, work overtime without additional compensation and forfeit a portion of their tips to chefs and owners.

Let’s hope other cities follow suit and workers continue the Fight for $15.

As Bittman wisely noted, “But if you run a business that’s dependent on labor at the poverty level or worse, and that business doesn’t work if you pay workers something approaching a living wage, it isn’t a viable business, from either the moral or practical point of view.”

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net