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Posts Tagged ‘Working parents’

How Working Moms Can Ease the Burden of Commuting

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

If you commute to work, you may not realize how much of your time is being eaten up on a daily basis. The average commute in the United States is 25 minutes, which may not seem like much, but factor in the ride home and multiply it by your 5 working days per week—and now you’re spending more than 4 hours a week getting nothing done, when you could be spending that time on your career or spending it with your kids.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to maximize the value of this time, helping you achieve your goals as a mother and as a career woman while still getting you to work on time every day.

Making the Most of Your Commute

Upgrade your commute with these important strategies:

Keep your vehicle maintained. If you’re going to be driving for several hours a week, you need to maintain a general service schedule for your vehicle. Keeping your car maintained will ensure you maximize your fuel efficiency, get better performance (especially on days with excessive rain, snow, or other hazardous conditions), and minimize the possibility of breaking down, which can ruin your day (if not your week). If you’re shuttling your kids to daycare or school on top of your commute, this is even more important.

Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Driving doesn’t have to be a waste of time; you can use this as an opportunity to listen to your favorite parenting podcasts, or listen to an audiobook that can help you in your career. Over the course of a week, you can learn new skills, improve yourself, and be far more entertained by the doldrums of your otherwise boring commute.

Take conference calls (with a hands-free device). If you have a hands-free device, you may be able to take or initiate conference calls. If you have a daily stand-up meeting to keep your coworkers informed and up-to-date, this is the perfect opportunity; you can knock out half an hour of meetings with your half-hour commute, so you can put that half-hour to good use on more productive tasks.

Bike on nice days. As long as the weather is decent, you can bike to work. If you live in a city with bike lanes, you might be able to get to work faster than you could in a car. On top of that, you’ll be getting a workout, so you don’t have to hit the gym after work, and you’ll cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. The only potential problem here is working up a sweat—but if your office has the facilities for it, you can always clean up before the workday.

Consider public transportation. If your city has a functional and accessible public transportation system, consider taking advantage of it. In the long run, it’s going to be cheaper than driving a car, though it may take you a little longer to get to work than usual. The advantage here is that you won’t have to use your hands or pay strict attention while traveling; instead, you can catch up on emails, read, or do other work while commuting.

Start a carpool. For similar benefits to public transportation, consider starting a carpool with any coworkers who live nearby. If you take turns driving to work, each of you will get regular opportunities to knock out your work while commuting. On top of that, you’ll cut back on the wear and tear of your vehicle and reduce your environmental impact.

Eliminating the Commute

Of course, if you wanted a more drastic approach, you could strive to eliminate your commute. If you own your own business, you can try working from home, or setting up a few days of the week as “remote” days. If you work for a company and your role is something that could be managed from home, talk to your supervisors about the productivity and morale benefits of making the position a remote one. Even if you only get one remote day per week, it could free up hours of time over the long run.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

7 Signs You’re Suffering from Working Mommy Burnout—and What to Do About It

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Chronic stress can lead to burnout, both in the workplace and in our homes. Here’s how to fight back.

In my psychology practice, I meet weekly with moms who work both inside and outside of the home. While their feelings are often the same—questioning their purpose in life, not sure if they should continue to do what they are doing and a constant feeling of exhaustion, the specific triggers for their burnout can differ based on their working situations.

The reality is most moms believe the other side of the “work” fence is better. If they are a stay-at-home mom they think they would feel better and less stifled if they were outside the home every day. Mothers who go to an office or a similar workspace might be overwhelmed and wonder if they should find a way to be home. When stressed, bored or frustrated, moms in either situation instantly begin looking for reasons to change their work status.

Whether you work at home or out, or even if you don’t work at all, it is a decision that is based on your particular family’s needs and values. But if you do work outside of the home, this can create a unique set of stressors that can add to your negative feelings. Chief among these stressors is guilt, and there is no guilt like mommy guilt. You feel guilty for leaving your kids in the morning, working late nights, not cooking homemade dinners more often, being on your computer even after a long day’s work, missing soccer games or play practice—the list goes on and on.

Many working moms have had their children ask them questions such as, “Are you ever going to stop working?” The feeling of being torn between two worlds, never having enough time and feeling as if we are not fully successful in either endeavor wears on us. But still we march on, trying to be in two places at once, trying to advance our careers while pretending our minds aren’t distracted by concerns for our kids and ignoring our own personal and health needs.

You may be thinking all these feelings are just part and parcel of being a mother. No one ever said it was going to be easy, right? With a little wine and some humor, you’ll be okay, right? And while stress is a part of all our daily lives, chronic stress wreaks havoc on our minds, bodies and our perception of being smart and competent mothers. Chronic stress can lead to burnout—both in the workplace and in our homes.

Read on to see if you may be suffering from working mommy burnout:

1. You constantly question why you do what you do, and no longer take joy in work you once loved.

2. You think what you do (paid work or staying home your kids) may not be worth the stress it causes or the money you earn.

3. You still wonder who you will be when you “grow up” because, even at this age, you don’t feel like you are able to achieve what you want in life—whether it is financial success, recognition, or enjoyment.

4. You feel time is running out to achieve your dreams, and you don’t know the next steps to take to accomplish them, in your profession or your personal life.

5. You feel like you should be working if you are at home with your kids and vice versa.

6. You wonder about the purpose of life in general and constantly question if doing something different will bring you closer to clarity.

7. You secretly have something you want to do in life—start a business, write a novel, go back for your graduate degree, run a marathon—but it feels too big to even attempt.

If two or more of the above symptoms sound familiar, you may be experiencing what I refer to as the working mom’s dilemma, which can lead directly to mommy burnout. The great thing is moms don’t have to accept these feelings as their normal. There are some easy-to-implement changes that can be done to cope with working mom stress.

Learn to ask for and receive help. You don’t have to do everything on your own to be a good mom, or a good employee!

Be protective and intentional about your time. Say yes to the most important things at home and work and no to the things you don’t have to or want to do.

Teach your kids independence while they are toddlers. These important life skills like clearing a plate, getting dressed or brushing teeth on their own will make a working mother’s life much better in the long run. If your child is already older, it is never too late to drill the independence lesson. Start today.

Set one achievable goal a day. Do your best to accomplish that goal, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to it. It’s a goal, not a life or death situation!

Being a working mom can be a challenge whether you love your job or have to work to make ends meet. It is also an opportunity to be a wonderful role model for our children and to do their best to achieve their dreams. Finding and making peace with our purpose as a working mom is essential to being able to enjoy life every day. It helps us to be present, to gain focus on what is most important and to integrate the challenges we all experience as part of our journey.


Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, MD, is a doctor of psychology and licensed professional counselor. She is the author of Mommy Burnout: How to Reclaim Your Life and Raise Healthier Children in the Process

 

This article was written by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Organized—and Staying that Way

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

Your home doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can be organized enough with the right gameplan.

We’re all so busy—working, taking care of kids, trying to have a life outside of work and kids—it’s no wonder that keeping our homes organized sometimes falls to the bottom of the priority list. Yet we know that having a chaotic home just makes everything harder.

I’ve been helping clients—many of them working mothers—get organized in Manhattan for nearly 20 years. I hear it all the time: “I know how to get organized. The challenge is keeping things that way.” Heck, some say, “I don’t even know where to start!”

It’s not as bad as you think. My first piece of advice: Don’t try to do it all in a day. The best strategy is to make a habit of spending small chunks of time tackling a specific area. Even 15 minutes will do.

Here are my best high-impact, low-investment strategies for getting organized, even when you are super-busy.

When you have 15 minutes:

  • Tackle the stack of paper on your kitchen counter (or where ever paper piles grow in your house). As you are sorting and purging, ask yourself why it always ends up there—and how you might avoid the same pile happening again.
  • Run things back to the rooms they belong in. Don’t worry about putting them away, just aim them get everything close to where they belong. If something doesn’t belong anywhere, ask yourself if you even need it.
  • Tackle a bowl, drawer or other catchall full of miscellaneous stuff. Put stuff where it belongs, or purge it. If there’s stuff that doesn’t have a place, make a place: What category (tool, toiletry, office supply) is it? Where you keep that category?
  • Eliminate junk mail. Go through your pile of catalogs and ask to be removed from the mailing list.

When you have 30 minutes:

  • File papers you need to keep, and create folders if you don’t have them already.
  • Arrange to pay bills online.
  • Look through your children’s books to see if you can get rid of ones they’ve outgrown.

When you have an hour:

  • Go through your child’s dresser. Do the contents of the drawers make sense? Does everything fit the child? Does everything fit in the dresser? Does your child need all those clothes?
  • Go through your pantry. Purge old stuff and items you are never going to use. Create zones: Baking, Pasta & Grains, Oils & Vinegars.
  • Go through the coat closet or mudroom. Purge single gloves, too-small boots, equipment for sports your kids no longer play.

Do a little bit a few times a week and things will quickly begin to feel less chaotic. But better than that, by beginning to think about how it gets that way, you are paving the way for the most important part: how to keep it that way. Cultivate these easy to embrace habits to maintain order and keep clutter at bay:

Do a last sweep every night.

Spend five minutes every night restoring order to your common areas: Toss your children’s socks back in their room, stack up the paperwork you were dealing with on the couch and put it on your desk. The idea is to just get your living area and kitchen reasonably tidy (not picture perfect), so when you wake up you are starting from a good place.

Don’t let the mail pile up.

Open all your mail every night. The good news, 90 percent is probably garbage. Toss all the junk, plus the envelopes and useless inserts, right away and what’s left will be much less intimidating.

Nip clutter at the bud.

Most clutter and chaos spring from having too much. We live in a culture of abundance (of stuff, not jobs or health insurance!). Work on bringing less into your home. Say “No” to your kids. Say “No” to yourself. Really justify each purchase, and practice the “something in, something out” method to maintain all that good work.

Once you get in the groove, and tackled the surfaces and the “sticky spots,” you may want to delve deeper into making your systems more coherent. It may occur to you that storing school supplies in three places, or having board games in every room, doesn’t make sense. But don’t just start moving stuff around. If you want to get all the board games into the family room, think about where you will put them. How many board games do you want to bring in, and how will you make space for them in the family room. Maybe you need to get rid of a shelf of books, and that might not take you that long at all.

Organization isn’t brain surgery (thank goodness!). It’s just a way of seeing things and developing habits. You can do this, and by inviting your children into this process you’ll help them grow up with better organizational habits, and that’s a great gift to give.

Amanda Sullivan is a professional organizer in New York City and the author of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting—and Staying—Organized. Amanda lives in Manhattan with her husband and their three children. To find out more about Amanda or read her blog check out her website, theperfectdaughter.com.

 

This article was written by Amanda Sullivan from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Bored Kids Are Distracting: Things Your Child Can Do While You Work

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Identifying activities for your kids to do while you’re busy with other things can be a daunting task. This is why work-at-home parents need all the help they can get.

A majority of kids lack knowledge of how to engage in solo play. Typically, kids appreciate having access to a daily routine of exciting things to do, but they require gentle encouragement and training. Providing your children with exciting and enjoyable activities helps them extend their attention span as well as experience in keeping themselves busy.

According to Linda Acredolo, a psychology professor at the University of California, play is an important activity during childhood. Although you might regard it as mere child’s play, childhood play involves several interrelated undertakings, ranging from problem-solving and learning new skills to mental and physical challenges.

Below are some few things you can do to foster your child’s learning.

Stretch Your Child’s Imagination

It’s been noted that kids who engage in make-believe play are often good at keeping themselves busy according to Dr. Willard. Children typically have their imagination even when participating in boring activities. You could try engaging your child’s imagination. Perhaps, you could provide your child with beads and string for making keychain animals. Doing so helps improve your child’s ability to count and make patterns.

Introduce technology

You can give your child an iPad for a few minutes and let them play with an educational app. This way, your child can play and learn at the same time.

Letting them occupy their time with mobile apps can provide tremendous benefits. Nonetheless, kids need guidance on the use of mobile applications. For this reason, you need to keep close tabs on how your kids are using or interacting with any mobile apps you choose for them.

Reward Your Kid for Playing Alone

Keep in mind that your kid has many playmates at school. But at home, they are denied this opportunity or only have access to their siblings. This is why your kid may resort to the B word. To resolve this problem, you need to create a plan that lets your kid hang out alone.

Try engaging your kid in activities such as playing Lego, puzzles, or browsing through picture books. You can improve this process by letting your kid come up with his own ideas instead of dictating what he ought to do. Jennifer Kolari the author of Connected Parenting recommends rewarding your kids every time they play alone in their bedroom. For instance, you could go out on a date with your kids.

Be Creative

Often, it seems convenient suggesting activities for your kid whenever they are bored, and they can’t seem to come up with something on their own. Note that the most common entertainment platforms teach kids to expect instant gratification. In the short term, these distractions-be it TV, movies, or mobile apps- will keep your kid temporarily occupied. However, in the long term, your kids will become intolerant of quiet moments as they induce hypertensive states. Instead, you should engage your children in summertime long projects. Perhaps, you can encourage them to tend a windowsill, flower, or vegetable garden to occupy their free time.

 

This article was written by Natalie Bracco from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Proven Ways to Fight Working-Parent Guilt

The emotional push-pull between home and the office can be painful. Here’s how successful working moms and dads keep life guilt-free.

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Lean On Your Partner

“When my first child was born, people at work would say, ‘How do you come to work and leave your beautiful baby at home?’ I actually had a lot of guilt about how I didn’t feel more guilty I was working. The guilt kicked in when my son learned to talk. He had friends who had moms who were at home, and he wanted to know why I couldn’t pick him up after school. Luckily, I have a really involved partner. At night when the kids are sleeping, we can sit on the sofa and talk about everything that happened that day.”

— Kristy Sekedat, 39, Forensic Scientist in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Say Yes Whenever You Can

“If I have a deadline for a book and my son comes over with a Star Wars figure and says, ‘Dad, will you play with me?’ the answer is always yes. I know that 15 minutes of playing with Star Wars figures will make him so happy. And that helps me with the guilt. I divide my day by the type of tasks I have to do: the ones that require everyone to leave me alone, and the ones I can do while sitting with my family. I do those menial tasks—which a lot of people do during the day—while watching TV with my family. Not wasting a single minute means I get more minutes for them.”

— Matthew Dicks, 47, Fifth-Grade Teacher and Author in Newington, Connecticut

Own Your Choices

“My daughter is almost 1, and any time I spend away from her is time I question inherently. Before I went back to work after she was born, I thought I would feel so guilty every second of the workday, but it turns out I don’t. Anything that makes me feel good about myself as a person makes me a better mom. I have a mantra: ‘I am showing her what a strong woman looks like. I am showing her what it means to have a career I made for myself and built out of nothing.’ She’s still too young to understand, but I like to think she sees it in her own little way.”

—Jamie Stelter, 36, Traffic Anchor for NY1 in New York City

Designate Family Time

“My three kids have grown up coming to work with me, knowing the people I work with and understanding the important things we do. It’s also important to me to build in family time. Every Tuesday night is our night, and that takes priority over anything else. We read a book together, we do a fun activity together, we write down what we’re grateful for, and we pray together. It starts a discussion and gives us a chance to talk about what’s coming up in our week. I enjoy having a life that’s fulfilling at home and in the world. I want to show my kids that my life is bigger than just myself.”

— Yasmin Diallo Turk, 41, Evaluation and Compliance Analyst at the Nonprofit Safe Alliance in Austin, Texas

Create Strong Bonds

“Both my kids started daycare at three months old. I’ve coped with the guilt by breast-feeding them for so long. I breast-fed my first until she was 3, and my youngest is 20 months and I still breast-feed her. Taking my full maternity leave, breast-feeding as long as I can to make sure the bond is there, and spending quality time with them are my ways of not feeling the guilt. I also decided to be a class parent—it has helped me stay involved and get to know the parents of the other kids in the class very well.”

— Ninon Marapachi, 40, Head of Hedge Fund Origination at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York City

 

This article was written by Jane Porter from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Ten Ways to Balance Work and Family

If you’re a working parent, achieving and maintaining a healthy work-family balance can be challenging. Here are ten tips to help you balance your work life with your personal one.

  1. Set limits. If you want to see every one of your child’s soccer games and have dinner with your family every night, make those your priorities, no matter what happens at work.
  2. Focus on work when you’re at work. Try to limit non-work-related activities, such as socializing or long lunches. Get your work done so you can leave the office on time.10-26-15
  3. Work from home if you can. Working remotely every now and then allows you to be there for your child and complete your job responsibilities.
  4. Keep a family calendar. Maintaining an organized record of your family’s comings and goings can help you and your family be efficient and ensure your schedules run smoothly.
  5. Adjust your hours. If your company offers flextime and you can adopt a more flexible schedule, do so. If your company doesn’t offer flextime, have a discussion with your supervisor or manager about how a more flexible schedule would help your productivity. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee.
  6. Create a support system. If you’re fortunate enough to have relatives or friends who offer to watch your child while you’re at work, accept their help.
  7. Schedule some “me time.” Taking some time for yourself can help you to refocus so you can be a better parent. Use the time to read, relax or get some exercise.
  8. Plan ahead. Pack lunches or your child’s school bag the night before so you can have some extra family time in the morning. You could also make an extra-large amount of a particular dish over the weekend and serve it for dinner throughout the week so you don’t have to cook.
  9. Stay in touch. A gesture as small as a phone call or text message to your child during the day can let him know you’re thinking about him. You could also drop a note in his backpack or lunch box.
  10. Explore childcare options. Whether you’re interested in a preschool or daycare, a quality childcare program is worth investigating. Research different childcare providers and take your child to visit a few of them to see which one is the best fit.

Survival Tips for Returning to Work

It’s the moment of truth. You are getting ready to go back to work. Maybe your maternity/paternity leave has come to an end or you took time off from your career to be a stay-at-home parent. In these economic times, you may have even been home due to unexpected circumstances. No matter the reason, juggling parenthood while reentering the workforce can be quite the challenge– just getting out the door in the morning can be a logistical nightmare! Here are some survival tips for the savvy parent.

Before You Go Back

A week before you go back to work, wake up at the new time and practice getting everybody ready. Do you need to get yourself ready before the rest of your household wakes? How long do you need? What can your children do while you are getting yourself ready? Will they play in a pack-n-play, feed themselves cereal, take care of their own potty needs or have cuddle time with your spouse? Make it a team effort and brainstorm with your spouse. Get specific about who will pack lunches, feed the children, pour the milk, give the vitamins, etc. Decide whether you will take turns or divvy up the responsibilities. Make sure you each have time to take care of your own needs, too. Hashing all of this out upfront and writing up a schedule will help you to figure out realistically how long it actually takes to get everybody ready in the morning, and then work your timeline backwards from when you’re due at work. Changing diapers, potty time, breakfast, getting dressed and tooth brushing may take a lot longer than you think! And be sure to leave plenty of extra time for traffic or the occasional extra-long good-bye with your child.

Start the Night Before

Pack up everything you and your child need for the next day before you go to bed: diaper bag, lunches, laptop bag, permission slips and bottles. Have the coffeemaker set to have that much needed java brewed and ready. If you weren’t a list maker before you had children, there is no better time than now to start! Jot down even the smallest of details and necessities that need to be packed or prepared. Sticky notes are a working parent’s best friend. Put a small bin in the fridge for each member of your family who packs breakfast, lunch or bottles and label with names.  Fill each bin with all lunch box items so in the morning you can just transfer the contents of each into a thermal bag with ice packs, etc. If something can’t be pre-packed, jot down a note and stick it in the bin so you know at a glance what is missing in the morning mayhem. Choose outfits the night before—if you are super savvy, you might even check the weather and select your children’s outfits for the whole week!

Back to the Grind

You may be shocked at how busy you will be when you go back to work. Plan time before or after work to spend with your children so you don’t feel like you are missing the details. Ease up on the idea of keeping the house clean 24/7. Your children won’t remember if the house was always sparkling clean or not, but they will remember the quality of the time they spent with you. Maximize your lunch breaks: go on a quick walk to boost your energy levels and be sure to pack healthful snacks. You may find it energizing to be back at work—you may be filled with new ideas, and be excited to spend your day with grown-ups! Don’t feel bad about leaving the office as soon as your workday officially ends–parenthood has taught you to be decidedly efficient, and to get more accomplished in less time. And, be sure to get as much sleep as possible–no matter how prepared and organized you are, going back to work and still maintaining a productive household can be exhausting!

You Deserve a Reward!

After all of the planning, organizing and hard work it takes to go back to the grind while also creating a happy and healthy work-life balance, treat yourself! Plan that rewarding lunchtime mani/pedi, a happy hour with your BFF or schedule some Saturday morning cuddle time with the little ones. You deserve it, and it will help reenergize you so you can do it all again next week.