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Cultivating Friendships Through Your Children’s School

What does the word family mean to you? On my school drop-offs and pick-ups, I notice many grandparents doing that role. How lucky for those kids to have their grandparents present on a daily basis, and for the parents to have assistance!

The other day I was looking through pictures from a year ago and realized many of my friendships were with mothers from my neighborhood and moms of my kids’ friends from their school. I think of their school in many ways as a “family”.

When my kids first started school, I had no idea who to list as an emergency contact besides my spouse. With no extended family in the area, we were at a loss in that area.

Over the years, I’ve asked other moms, “Can I list you as an emergency contact?” They’ve said yes, fortunately.

After over ten years in Philly, I feel like there is a network of other moms who I can turn to if I needed help. If you don’t have family in your area, what do you do?

I’ve worked out carpools with other moms when logistically it made sense rather than spinning my wheels.

As I looked through my photos I realized I’m part of a school family and would feel perfectly content if my children stay at the school until 8th grade.

I am grateful for getting to know these mothers through car pools, birthday parties, class trips, etc. We all want what’s best for our children.

Do you feel you are part of a school community?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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

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!

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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.

Adjusting Kids to the Summer Schedule

Recently, I attended a blogger event in the city where I had the chance to catch up with some other Moms. One successful businesswoman and mother of three confided that it was often a challenge to get her kids out the door in the morning on time and without issues.

This seems to be a common work/life issue for Moms who drop their kids off to preschool or summer camp. The summertime can be especially challenging because kids are out of their routine of regular homework and earlier start times. Even if you are not having problems with getting the kids ready in the morning and out the door, it’s good to assess your situation.

Here are some ways you could save extra time:

  • Get them on the same bath schedule. I usually bathe my two at the same time. With the summer heat, one may want more baths than usual to cool down after a hot day. Try to get two in the tub at once.
  • Prepare lunch and snack schedules on Sunday. This is the perfect day to write out what you will need for the week. Many schools and camps offer pizza on certain days but the other days you have to pack lunches. What will you need each week for lunches, drinks and snacks? Mini store runs can eat up your time—try to do a bulk store run once a week.
  • Put them to bed at a reasonable time. During the summer, many kids want to stay up later and play outside if the weather is nice or watch TV. If the kids end up going to sleep too late, they will be overtired in the morning and you may have a tough time waking them up.
  • Know their schedule and what they need each day. Summertime means water play. How many of you have realized at 7pm that your kids need clean swimsuits and towels in the morning, so you had to do laundry immediately? Think ahead.

Everyone falls into their own routine as a parent. The above suggestions may help alleviate some bickering between siblings and your own stress over running late in the AM. Happy summer and stay cool!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Class Trips and School Involvement

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of accompanying my six-year-old on her class trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. I was excited to go – not to see the animals – but to spend time with her before her Kindergarten year comes to a close.

It’s important to be an involved parent as your child progresses through the elementary school years. I want to be there for my kids when they experience life’s ups and downs, wins and defeats.

As we walked through the zoo yesterday, I took pictures of my daughter and her friends and few shots of the animals.

If you can take time off from work, go on the class trips. You will get a chance to get to know the other parents better, and see your child interacting with his or her classmates. Capture the moments on camera – when your child is older, he or she can look back through the photos and remember their experience at the time.

Are you part of your child’s school advisory committee or board? Support and involvement with the school is important, but the timing should be right.

Evaluate what you can take on by asking yourself some questions:

  • Can I allot the amount of time needed for this volunteer role? If you have kids in difference schools, it might make more sense to wait until the kids are at the same grade school and there is less shuttling around.
  • Will my job allow me flexibility to take on this role? If you are under pressure to find a job or new clients, you may want to hold off on a volunteer role and wait until your work situation is more secure.
  • What is your spouse or partner’s schedule like? If he or she is working late every night or travels long distance frequently, now may not be a good time to take on a new volunteer role.
  • Do you have family in the area who can babysit or an adequate support system? If you have immediate family in the area who can help with drop-offs, pick-ups or after school care, count your blessings.

If you find yourself taking on too many school responsibilities, you will end up feeling exhausted and stressed. It’s better to hold off on volunteering your time than to join a board or committee and then have to back out from lack of time or stress.

Enjoy class trips with your child or children – time is fleeting and you’ll want your kids to remember you as being involved.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

WAHM Tips I Follow

I have been a work at home mom (WAHM) since 2008 when my first daughter was born. It’s really the best fit for me as I enjoy having my own roster of author and small business clients.

Across the U.S., Moms are forging their own career paths, juggling home duties with client responsibilities. There are 10.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. No statistics exist on how many are run by stay-at-home moms, but I’m sure it is growing in numbers. I’ve met many Mom bloggers and businesswomen in the Philadelphia area alone.

As I mentioned in my book Mastering the Mommy Track, both of my girls stayed home with me the first eighteen months of their lives until they went to daycare. I scheduled conference calls, deadlines and meetings around their feedings. That’s a benefit for a WAHM—you can stay home with the babies and work when they nap and are asleep.

Here are some guidelines I try to follow:

  • Work during your peak time. For me, this is the morning and early afternoon when I schedule media interviews, write and edit. I recently turned down an adjunct Communications role at a local university. I was flattered to be offered a teaching job, but the pay was not enough to give up my mornings three days a week for a semester.
  • Make sure you have signed contracts and upfront payment. I recently took on an assignment without payment upfront—the business owner wanted a release out right away, so I spent a part of my weekend writing the press release and sending it out to media. I usually don’t do this unless I receive payment first. Be careful you don’t get stiffed.
  • Be prepared to walk away. I have walked away from many assignments over the years. Time is money, so each offer should be reviewed closely. You can’t work for less than what you are worth. Long-term relationships are key. I check in with clients from time to time, which has led to more work over the years.
  • Be careful with phone calls when the kids are home. You don’t want to set calls with major clients when the kids are home. I try to set my calls in the morning and early afternoon. If I have a call before dinner, I will bring the girls over to neighbor’s house for 15 or 20 minutes so I can make the call without screaming in the background.
  • There’s always the evening to work. If can’t get it all done during the day, there’s always the evening after the kids have gone to sleep. Some of my assignments are deadline driven and I need to get edits done within a day. If I cannot get this done during the workday, it has to be done at night or on weekends. That’s how the publishing world works.

With technology today, WAHMs are able to build solid businesses, sometimes even from mobile devices at the playground. At the same time, they can manage the home front and accomplish the never-ending list of household chores that need to be done.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back to School Time

If you have a child headed to school for the first time or back to school, are you ready? Did you purchase uniform items and school supplies or are you still tracking items down?

As the mother of a soon-to-be Kindergartner, we are set but still have over a week to go. I secured school uniform, gym uniform, dark shoes, sneakers and school supplies. I did this over a few weeks to prevent a last minute rush to the stores.

This process is new to me but I did learn a few things over the summer. Here are a few areas to consider before your youngster starts school:

  • Allow a few weeks time to get all supplies. You don’t want to be in a panic a few days before school starts. If shirts need insignias, allow for ample time. If you don’t get to a uniform store in time, you could end up being late on the insignias if there is a backlog of orders.
  • Realize you might not get all items at one location. I searched several stores and could not find navy blue sweatpants. Instead of spending more time searching, I ordered them online on hanes.com.
  • If you cannot find what you need, ask friends for help or turn to social media. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she searched four stores but could not locate three subject, single spiral 9×12 notebooks, per the teacher’s request. You will likely get replies if you post on Facebook and have a network of parent friends.
  • Break homework into increments. If you receive a packet on Monday that is due on Friday, break it into sections. Don’t get stuck the night before in a crunch where your child is overloaded. My daughter had to complete a summer homework packet. I took the advice of my math professor Mom and divided total pages up by the number of weeks. Each week, Kaitlyn had to complete a set number of pages. This made the task a lot easier for her. It was a relief to have that off the table and to submit the assignment for her.

Moms, I wish you a successful school year for your kid(s)! It’s an exciting time!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

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