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A Milestone Achieved

Today was a big day – Kindergarten orientation for my daughter Kaitlyn. While I was filling out her paperwork, I got a bit misty eyed as she colored next to me. We’ve reached another milestone!

The five years have gone by fast, and have been busy. Here’s a partial rundown of what I’ve been doing:

  • Gave birth to two daughters
  • Juggled conference calls and deadlines with breast feedings
  • Hired babysitters
  • Took the girls to doctor and dentist appointments
  • Attended networking meetings
  • Prospected for new clients
  • Was accepted into American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)
  • Wrote a book for working moms
  • Obtained certification from Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
  • Applied to local charter schools for Kaitlyn
  • Booked media interviews for authors
  • Organized playdates and birthday parties
  • Drove the girls to visit their grandparents
  • Met with prospects, submitted proposals
  • Organized month-long virtual tour for myself
  • Arranged book signings

Today, I patted myself on the back for what I’ve accomplished so far. I love a flexible work schedule and am grateful to the clients who have given me business over the years.

Career moms face tough decisions: Work full or part time? Start a business or fold an existing one? Explore an entirely new field? It’s not always easy, but we put on a brave face and do what is best for our kids.

After the orientation and out of the school building, I put my sunglasses on and shed a few tears. Then I grabbed Kaitlyn’s hand and walked out of the schoolyard.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Persistence More Vital Than Ever

Today’s job marketplace is more competitive than ever before. If you are seeking a job or new clients, you know it is fierce out there—regardless of the field you work in.

I am always looking for new clients—it is something I have been doing for almost twelve years. My business comes from word of mouth and referrals, so I have had to do a lot of networking over the years.

Two of the lessons I have learned are:

1. Don’t get discouraged. When prospecting for new clients, I send out emails or make calls. Some reply, but many do not. You have to keep going. Do not lose focus or get sidetracked.

2. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes I get repeat business from past clients—that is always gratifying. Some former clients do not reply to my emails. I have learned not to take it personally. You cannot—otherwise you might feel glum that day.

Since the Fall, I have been pitching my book Mastering the Mommy Track to media outlets and bookstores. I just learned the other day that Sears is selling my book online: http://www.sears.com/unknown-mastering-the-mommy-track/p-SPM540272114P. This is exciting as Sears is a major retailer.

When seeking endorsements for my book, I sent emails to some high–profile mommy bloggers and authors. Many did not reply—maybe they did not want to support an unknown author, maybe my book did not fit with their brand. Who knows the reason why? Eventually, I got some nice endorsements.

I believe in my book, its message and want it to sell well. I am realistic, however, and realize I am not going to be the next EL James.

Bottom line: If you are selling a book or product that you believe in, do not get discouraged. You have to throw a lot of pitches out there—Have faith that some will break through. Keep going!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Helping Those in Transition

The target market for my book Mastering the Mommy Track is working mothers with young kids, and those who are unemployed or underemployed. The national unemployment rate rose slightly in January, from 7.8 to 7.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The unemployment rate has been in that range since September 2012.

Unemployed parents face great stress because of the need to provide for their kids. If you know a Mom (or Dad) who is in a transitional stage, here are some ways you can reach out to help them:

  1. Lend an ear. Invite your friend out for a coffee, a chance to hear what they’re dealing with. They might need a shoulder to cry on or would welcome time away from the computer searching for job leads or new clients.
  2. Recommend local resources. If you know of local services they would benefit from, speak up. If their unemployment is a long length of time, they may have to find a lower cost family health insurance plan, assistance services or even go on food stamps.
  3. Offer a playdate. If your child is the same age as your friend’s, offer to watch him or her for an afternoon so your friend can have some much-needed free time to decompress.
  4. Babysit for an evening. Offer to babysit your friend’s kid(s) so she can go out on a date with her spouse. They don’t have disposable income, so a night out would be a treat for them.
  5. Cook some meals. Drop off some meals for your friend so she does not have to cook for a few nights. This will alleviate her stress level just a bit. She will appreciate it (Who can refuse a hot dinner at one’s doorstep?).

Philadelphia’s Career Wardrobe is one of 74 groups nationwide competing for $250,000 and recognition on The Huffington Post through the JobRaising Challenge. The competition runs from January 21 through March 1, and winners will be determined by how much money and awareness they can raise in that amount of time.

If Career Wardrobe wins The Job Raising Challenge, they pledge to replicate their innovative model of social enterprise and social change by expanding their services into a new community. A few years ago, I donated suits to this charity and realize the great need for their services. Philly had a staggering unemployment rate of 8.7 percent in December 2012.

Extended unemployment can wreak havoc on a family—unfortunately, some couples don’t survive the bumps when faced with drastic cuts. Financial worries are a main reason couples split up.

Reach out to those locally who need your help—consider these ways to assist your neighbor or friend in transition.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Five Things I’m Grateful for This Year

As the year winds down to a close, I’m counting my blessings. I’ve been meaning to write a blog for a while, so here it is. It’s been an exciting year, with my book published in September. As you know, I am not shy with posting media mentions.

I made a quick list of items I am thankful for. Here they are:

Health: Fortunately, everyone is healthy in the Jay and Flynn families. My parents and brothers survived Hurricane Sandy (parents had some downed trees; brothers had longer commutes in the NYC area)—but nothing catastrophic. Do you appreciate your good health? Don’t take it for granted. Appreciate your weekly activities like playing with the kids at the park or driving them to birthday parties. Your health is your greatest asset.

Family: My girls are really good kids. They are both doing well in school and adore their teachers. Kaitlyn has proven herself to be quite the artist and can draw figures better than I can. She is always asking me how to spell new words. Emma is now three—we are still working on the potty training but will get there in due time. Jason loves the company he works for.

Clients: I secured some new clients this year and look forward to winning more business in 2013. The entrepreneurial side of me won’t die, so I will continue to seek new contract work next year.

Book Reviews: I’m promoting my book to save the cost of an outside publicist. Garnered positive reviews from Small Business Trends, Huffington Post, The ASJA Monthly, Midwest Book Review, and more. Thrilled that Mastering the Mommy Track is being well received.

New Opportunities: I was accepted into the American Society of Journalists and Authors; will be moderating a panel on the book tour at their annual conference in April. Did a local book signing at Barnes & Noble in Marlton and will be scheduling some new signings in 2013. NY Mom’s World chose me as their keynote speaker for their Bonanza event in Westchester, NY last month—enjoyed connecting with other Moms there.

Last week, I got #22 on Circle of Moms Top 25 Book Author Moms – 2012; the website Circle of Moms has 6 million members. It was a fierce competition—I asked everyone to vote for me because I knew it would be close!

What are you thankful for this year? Try to slow down and enjoy the special moments as they happen. I’ll try to blog more frequently in 2013. Happy holidays!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Virtual Book Tour

My virtual book tour is shaping up. I don’t have events arranged in different cities, so a virtual tour will have to do for now. Starting on September 14, bloggers and journalists will be covering my book–posting an excerpt or Q&A, running a guest blog from me, doing a book review or hosting a giveaway.

Here’s the schedule for those of you interested in following it.

Friday, Sept.14: MetroKids MomSpeak — http://www.metrokids.com/Blogs/MomSpeak

Saturday, Sept. 15: Unconventional Librarian — http://unconventionallibrarian.com

Sunday, Sept. 16: Defeating the Squirrels — http://defeatingthesquirrels.blogspot.com

Monday, Sept. 17: Shannon Miller Lifestyle — www.shannonmillerlifestyle.com

Tuesday, Sept. 18: Whatever Works — http://whateverworks.typepad.com/

Wed., Sept. 19: Kids & Mental Health — http://kidsandmentalhealth.wordpress.com/

Thurs., Sept. 20: Girls Lunch Out — http://www.girlslunchout.com

Friday, Sept. 21: Math For Grownups —http://www.mathforgrownups.com/

Monday, Sept. 24: Say it Rah-shay — http://www.sayitrahshay.com/

Wed., Sept. 26: Mom-Blog — http://mom-blog.com/

Thurs., Sept. 27: Flexjobs.com — http://www.flexjobs.com/blog/

Friday, Sept. 28: Smart Spending Spot — http://smartspendingspot.com/

Monday, Oct. 1: Couponing 4 a Difference — http://couponing4adifference.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, Oct. 2: Homeroom At Home — http://homeroomathome.blog.com/

Wed., Oct. 3: Mridu Khullar Relph, Freelance Journalist — http://www.mridukhullar.com/journal/

Thurs., Oct. 4: Diapered Daze & Knights — http://diaperedknights.com/

Friday, Oct. 5: Living on the Cheap — http://livingonthecheap.com

Monday, Oct. 8: Land of Once Upon a Time — http://www.landofonceuponatime.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, Oct. 9: Michelle Rafter, business editor — http://michellerafter.com/

Thurs., Oct. 11: Fun Finds for Families — http://www.funfindsforfamilies.com/

Friday, Oct. 12: Yoke — http://2yoke.blogspot.com/

Wed., Oct. 17: MommaSaid.net — http://www.mommasaid.net/

Friday, Nov. 2: O’Boy Organic — http://www.oboyorganic.com

 

In addition, I’m doing a radio tour. I booked the following radio interviews for myself:

Sept. 11: WFIN-AM Toledo

Sept. 11: WAMV-AM Roanoke

Sept. 11: BEN FM In Studio Philadelphia

Sept. 14: WVNU-FM Cincinnati

Sept. 17: WSIU-FM NPR Harrisburg, IL

Sept. 18: WTBQ-AM Regional NY/NJ

Sept. 19: KJFF-AM St. Louis

Sept. 24: WDIS-AM Boston

Sept. 26: KDAZ-AM Albuquerque

Oct. 10: Cable Radio Network

Nov. 28: Baby and Toddler Instructions (http://www.toginet.com/)

More to come!

Working Moms Under Pressure

I’ve held off on blogging lately–I’m working, looking for new clients, networking, promoting my book. Getting my feet wet with media interviews.

This headline on today.com jumped out at me: “Moms are bearing the brunt of recession, study shows.” I just did an interview the other day with AdvisorOne and spoke about how working moms are feeling the pressure from their roles of breadwinner and caregiver. It’s this pressure on moms nationwide–and the economic downturn–that motivated me to write my non-fiction book.

I mentioned to AdvisorOne that many women were working with reduced salaries.

On average moms lost $175 per week more than dads, according to the new study that analyzed four sets of data from the Displaced Workers Supplement.

This 2010 survey included nearly 4,400 displaced workers who took an average of 17 weeks to find a new job. When the researchers broke down the data according to marital and parental status, they discovered that moms experienced a “motherhood penalty” while fathers got a “daddy bonus.”

Employers will choose a dad over a mom because they fear that moms won’t be as available or committed to the job, said study co-author Michelle Moroto, an assistant professor in the sociology department at the University of Alberta.

Moreto’s advice? For women who fear they might be in danger of suffering from the motherhood penalty when seeking work, don’t volunteer anything about your family in job applications and interviews.

I could not agree more with Moreto. Going forward, I will not be mentioning to prospects I have two young kids. In today’s economy, it’s a strike against you.

Do you think there is a “motherhood penalty”?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

My Book

When I started writing this book, my daughters were ages three and one–challenging ages to say the least. I set out to talk to other moms who were struggling with the work-life balance as well as national experts who could offer solutions.

Mastering the Mommy Track is not a memoir, and I don’t share overly personal information about my family. I was fortunate to have no shortage of working moms who were willing to share their challenges during this down economy. My working mom contributors honestly shared their struggles and concerns. My expert contributors offered unique advice and knowledge. They helped me make this book a reality.

Research indicated no competitive books in this area, so I delved into it. I asked myself, “What are the 12 trigger areas that cause working mothers anxiety today?” These became my chapters. This was based on my personal experience, research, and feedback from friends and acquaintances.

I slotted the chapters into four core sections: (1) Home issues. (2) Health issues. (3) Parenting issues. And finally, (4) Work-Life issues. Then I arranged them so that the most fundamental issues came first: Mental health, communication, finances, and romance. These apply both to moms in committed relationships and those who are single.

I hope career moms across the US and UK will read Mastering the Mommy Track and take away insight that will help them improve all aspects of their lives–both personal and work related. It is a juggling act to balance home and work duties, and for a lot of women in 2012, it’s a walk on a tightrope–a fear their families will never experience the rewards (vacation, travel, time off) they so rightfully deserve.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net