High School Confidential
I thought I was the only mom on the planet who ever feels that motherhood is a lot like high school. Turns out I’m not alone.
My buddy Cynthia over at Sugar Mama says the only difference is that now you can’t run to your room after school on particularly bad days. “You have to live in your own mistakes, fears, bad haircuts, every second of every day and learn to love it,” she adds.
Humor definitely helps — and Sugar Mama has that in spades. And some days, you receive support from someone out of the blue that means so much. Click on the link above to hear the rest of the story.
A Few More Thoughts on “Young@Heart”
In response to some reader e-mail, I’ve been thinking about why I was so drawn to the people featured in this wonderful documentary, which I reviewed here.
In short, they inspire me, and I can think of nothing better than to be that gutsy, feisty and just plain brave when I’m 80-something. Clearly, being a part of this group adds life to their years.
A couple of years ago, I took a comedy improv class through our local adult-ed school, and I saw a similar thing going on there. We beginning improvers ranged in age from late teens to 70s. When we were performing, having a ball and living in the moment, it didn’t matter how old anyone was. In fact, some of the older members of the group were some of the least-inhibited and most-entertaining improvers.
It didn’t mean they didn’t have aches and pains, or that they were able to do everything that they physically wanted to do in an improv sketch. But it didn’t matter to them and it didn’t matter to the audience. It was just so energizing to be in that room with them.
Yes, it’s incredibly sad that the group in Young@Heart has some very tough days dealing with the loss of some close friends and fellow members. But they also have the comfort of knowing that each of those people was doing what he or she absolutely loved to do, right up until the end.
Could any of us ask for more from life?
Blog Tour Stop: The Baby Bonding Book for Dads
When I first picked up a copy of The Baby Bonding Book for Dads, by James di Properzio and Jennifer Margulis, I have to admit that I expected it to be one of those Hallmark Father’s Day gift books filled with gorgeous photos and not much substance.
Happily, I was wrong. And that makes me especially happy to be hosting a stop on di Properzio and Margulis’ blog tour today.
You have to love a book for new dads that tell it like it is: “Unless your wife had a C-section, your new baby probably looks weird. He may be all scrunched up with a cone head like Bart Simpson, odd-looking skin that’s been out of the sun and in amniotic fluid for nine months, and eyes that cross or look unfocused…” Hey, so much for the Hallmark-card text, huh?
And I love the diaper-changing advice: “It’s a good idea to talk to the baby and distract her so she doesn’t fuss,” the authors advise. “Talk about your day, the Red Sox, or tell her how much better she’ll feel once she’s clean. Or, if things get particularly funky, sing ‘She’s a very stinky girl,’ to the tune of ‘She’s a very kinky girl.”
You have to love a baby book for dads that quotes a Rick James song. And check out these amazing photos…
Go See “Young@Heart”!
What a wonderful Mother’s Day gift I received! Randy and Matt took me to see “Young@Heart,” and it felt like a full-body workout. I laughed, I cried and I was glad I wasn’t watching it at home in the den. This felt more like a community event.
The theater was packed with people ages 10 to 80, and we were all so involved in the movie, everyone was silent. (When’s the last time that happened at the movies?) OK, we were silent when we weren’t laughing or stomping our feet. But there were a lot of silent tears, too. Check out the trailer. Then grab your kids (over about age 10), grab your parents and GO!
Cast Away the Clutter!
Organization1I love my husband dearly, but I have to admit that we have certain subjects where we don’t see eye to eye. The storage room off the garage, for example. I’ve (almost) stopped nagging him about the fact that it should be condemned and I’ve (almost) resigned myself to just not opening the door.
I want to take an entire Saturday and tackle this monster. Randy takes one look and wants to immediately grab the T.V. remote. But there’s middle ground here — and hope — according to the organizing experts I consulted. Like the old advice about eating an elephant, you just have to do these things one bite at a time.
Start with small, well-defined tasks and don’t get sidetracked, suggests Kim Taylor, owner of The 25th Hour in Manhattan Beach, California. If it’s a closet, just organize the closet, not the entire room. If it’s catching up on phone calls, make them all at once — and don’t start filing recipes or rearranging furniture half-way through the task. (OK, so Randy and I can start by clearing the old paint cans out of the metal cabinet in the storage room and taking them to the hazardous-waste drop-off station. Baby steps…)
Here are some terrific resources to help us tackle that stack of mail on the dining-room table, that pile of outgrown clothes in our kids’ closets — and even a storage room filled with who-the-heck-knows-what:
° At flylady.net, professional organizer Marla Cilley knows what it’s like to suffer from CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). She’ll take you — with her own brand of homespun humor — through the process of organizing and cleaning your home. She also has some fun organizing tools, including her book, Sink Reflections (Bantam; $14.95 plus shipping), available on her site.
Organization2° Visit getorganizednow.com for great tips and to subscribe to professional organizer Maria Gracia’s free e-mail newsletter. (I save her newsletters in an e-mail folder for quick reference. Her holiday tips alone will make your life easier.) Gracia’s monthly checklists will help you stay on top of seasonal tasks around the house, such as putting up storm windows, cleaning gutters and getting the family car ready for hot- or cold-weather driving. Her book, Finally Organized, Finally Free For The Home, is available in print ($24.95 + shipping) or in a digital PDF version ($19.95) at the website.
° The National Association of Professional Organizers can help you locate an organizer in your area. Just enter your ZIP code here.
Check out these other great tips from Gracia, Cilley, Taylor and Jeannie VandeWeg, a professional organizer and owner of All Squared Away Organizing in Sebastopol, California:
° Stop keeping things “just in case.” Do you really need all those hair clips and those old issues of Newsweek? With the exception of certain seasonal or formal clothing, seasonal sports equipment, etc., if you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it.
° Double up. Double-hanging closet rods quickly expand the available space for young children’s smaller clothes — and make them more reachable. Add hanging baskets and boxes for socks, hair accessories, etc. Clear, plastic hanging shoe holders are great for holding accessories.
° Grab your label maker. Large plastic containers with multiple pull-out drawers are inexpensive and great for storing loads of small toys and doo-dads. For younger kids, attach photos of dolls, Legos, etc. to the drawers to show where items belong.
° Create a “wall-of-fame” bulletin board for kids’ artwork and stories. Every week, add new artwork and store favorite older pieces in a notebook with sheet protectors. Send the rest to family and friends. Kids can help address the envelopes. A fun added touch: Current offers kid-friendly address labels at great prices: www.currentlabels.com.
° Designate a “morning-launch-pad” spot. Here’s where everyone places backpacks, keys, cell phones, DVDs to be returned, gym bag, outgoing mail, etc. It can be a large basket by the front door, a bench with a cubbyhole for each family member, etc.
° Create an emergency station. The utility closet is a great place to store flashlights, candles, matches, batteries and a fire extinguisher. Keep the smaller supplies in a covered box and mount the fire extinguisher on the wall.
° Too many toys? At the start of each new season, rotate younger children’s toys to keep them fresh and interesting. Donate gently used clothes and toys to a donation center or children’s shelter. Let your child help choose the items and help deliver them.
° Create “kid-paper central.” Purchase a magnetic, vertical file holder with a section for each child. Attach it to the fridge and remind kids to put all school papers in their file each day. If space permits, different-colored 9-x-12-inch “in” baskets on the kitchen counter work well, too. In the summer, use the files for notices from camp, swim team or other kids’ programs.
° Make bathroom sharing easier. Assign a favorite color for each child, and use colored baskets to separate combs, brushes, etc. This system works with everything from toothbrushes to towels.
° Reduce morning bathroom traffic. Stagger wake-up and/or shower times and set up a separate area (with a small vanity table, mirror, etc.) in the bedroom for styling hair and applying make-up.
° Color-code the family calendar. Choose a calendar with big squares and place it in a busy family area, like the kitchen. Attach different-colored pens (one color for each family member) with string or dental floss. Each person can see their activities at a glance — and the family carpool organizer can see what each day’s schedule holds.
° Save the date. Stash birthday-party invitations, tickets for the school play and other date-related items in a tickler file by date or in a wall calendar containing a pocket for each month.
° Switch to online bill paying. Many banks now offer this service at no extra charge. You’ll save time, postage and headaches. And at tax time, you can print out a record of all deductible expenses. (We’ve been doing this for two years now, and I’ll never go back!)
° Purge old files. Sorting through just 10 files per day makes this task manageable. Shred and recycle unneeded items. And don’t forget computer files. Just 15 minutes spent purging old computer files frees up valuable hard-drive space.
° Invite the “house fairy” into your home. This most-welcome guest leaves little thank-you notes for kids for a job well done and leaves behind everything from stickers or small treats (for younger kids) to notes telling older kids they’ve earned a movie rental or a music download. (Spouses like to be visited by the house fairy, too…)
° Create family rewards. After spending the afternoon cleaning the garage, organizing closets or collecting toys for donation, your team deserves a reward. Take everyone for ice cream or rent a movie and snuggle on the couch. Don’t forget the popcorn!
Hey Kids, Let’s Have a Poetry Jam!
What’s the secret for firing up grade-school kids and making them eager to read and write poetry? Just ask Jill Corcoran, an award-winning poet and mother of three who runs art-music-poetry workshops at elementary schools in Southern California.
“The workshops have been amazing,” says Corcoran. “The kids go from looking at me like I am a space alien, to slowly participating in the workshop, to boldly sharing ideas, to creating poetry with confidence and pride. It’s a fantastic, dizzying writing session that culminates in a coffeehouse-like poetry jam.”
Here are Corcoran’s tips for creating a one-hour workshop that teachers (or parent volunteers) can do in their own classrooms:
Jill Corcoran’s Art-Music-Poetry-Jam Workshop
Suggested grades: 2 – 5
Time required: 1 hour
Supplies needed: Boom box with selected music, 11” x 17” white paper, crayons, pencils, Post-it notes, scotch tape
1. Briefly discuss the power of art, music and poetry to evoke emotion.
2. Give each student an 11” x 17” piece of white paper and crayons.
3. Have students listen to music for several minutes and then draw whatever the music makes them feel.
4. Give each student a pad of Post-it notes and a pencil and have the students form a line to walk around the room and look at each picture.
5. At each picture, the students write the first word that comes to their minds on the sticky paper. They leave that word with the picture. Instruct the students not to write words like “cool” or “fun,” but to write nouns, verbs or strong adjectives.
6. The students then return to their pictures to find 20+ words written by their fellow students.
7. With their words and pictures in front of them, and the music playing once again, students create a poem from the words they have been given. (Once their poems are finished, have each student tape their Post-it-notes poem to the back of their picture. Otherwise the notes tend fall off.)
8. Ask the students to read their poems aloud. At the end of the hour, each student has created a poem that reflects the music they encountered, the art this music evoked from them and the words their art evoked in others.
How Many Balls Are You Juggling?
Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!, tells a wonderful story, over on his website, Crazy Busy Life, that every parent can appreciate:
“I once interviewed a professional juggler. He told me the greatest number of balls he could juggle was six. The greatest anyone had ever juggled, as far as he knew, was eleven… I asked him if he was working to get to seven balls. He told me he was not because in order to get to seven he would have to give up several hours a day for at least six months, and he didn’t have time to spare to do that. ‘I’m very good,’ he told me. ‘I put on a great show with six. No one has ever come up to me and told me they wish I had done seven. I can work many variations with six and make people’s jaws drop. Six is enough. I don’t need more.’
Hallowell then asks us to consider: “Are you juggling more balls than you NEED to juggle? What do you give up if you are?”
That’s a tough one. I love my family. I love my job. I love volunteering at my church and my son’s school. What tends to get lost in the shuffle are things like exercise, getting my hair trimmed, shaving my legs — you know, basic physical maintenance. Not good!
So this week I plan to visit the dentist, shave those hairy legs, and get on the treadmill (an actual treadmill, not the treadmill that is sometimes my life!) for some cardio work. (Maybe I’ll work out during American Idol tonight. And if Jason Castro wins this thing in a few weeks, it will only be because every 11-year-old girl in America voted for him because of his eyes! My pick? David Cook.)
Sneaking Off For a Date…
It’s Sunday, and Randy and I needed to run to Home Depot and other exciting spots to do some shopping that would bore Matt (age 12) to tears.
So Matt volunteered to stay home and work on homework and household chores(!) while Randy and I went to buy towel bars and toilet plungers. (Yeah, marriage doesn’t get any sexier than that…)
In the middle of running errands, with my stomach growling, I spotted our favorite burger joint, In ‘N Out. I didn’t have to work too hard to convince Randy to stop for lunch. We had so much fun! (Especially since our usual at-home meals consist of healthy chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish, chicken, pasta, fish…)
Can’t remember the last time the two of us had just gone out for a burger, alone, on the spur of the moment. “Don’t tell Matt!” we laughed, knowing he’d be mighty jealous.
As marital secrets go, this isn’t a barn-burner, I know. But Randy and I must have looked pretty funny, sneaking out of the car when we got back home and tossing our In ‘N Out soda cups in the recycling bin out by the street before we entered the house.
Shhh! Don’t tell Matt.
So What’s YOUR Most Embarrassing Moment?
We parents have all had our foot-in-mouth-disease moments, right? But who’s willing to share them with the world?
Cynthia Jenkins (AKA Sugar Mama), that’s who. Over at sugarmamablog.com, Jenkins has a hoot of a post today about a particular phone call that didn’t go quite as planned. Check it out. And if you’re feeling brave, share your own embarrassing moments with us in Comments. (Hey, you can be anonymous! Go for it.)
“My Mommy’s Having a Boob Job!”
Just not sure how to explain to your child that “Mommy’s going to get breast implants”? There’s one Florida plastic surgeon who’d like to help.
Michael Salzhauer, M.D., has written a new book for kids ages four to seven: My Beautiful Mommy. He describes the book as “a must-have for any mother with young children considering plastic surgery.”
The cover alone makes quite a statement. There’s nothing like seeing a little girl, teddy bear in hand, expressing delight over her newly transformed mommy, who now resembles a sexed-up Disney princess, complete with belly top and surrounded by magical sparkles.
Now that’s something every little girl should aspire to.
As Newsweek reports: [The book] features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: “You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.” Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist… The book doesn’t explain exactly why the mother is redoing her nose post-pregnancy. Nonetheless, Mom reassures her little girl that the new nose won’t just look “different, my dear — prettier!”
What about the body issues raised here? Will our Ms. Perky Boobs’ 6-year-old daughter start worrying that her nose — or stomach, or whatever — isn’t good enough? Will she worry that her breasts — still years away from even making the scene — won’t measure up?
Here’s my alternative book suggestion: I’m Gonna Like Me — Letting Off a Little Self Esteem (HarperCollins; 2002), by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. It’s written for ages four to eight. “Self-esteem is at the core of what is wrong with us and what is right with us,” says Curtis. “It’s an absolutely universal issue. I’m Gonna Like Me allows children to explore their own feelings of self-worth.”
And you gotta love a first line like “I’m gonna like me when I jump out of bed, from my giant big toe to the braids on my head.”
After all, isn’t that the message we really want to share with our kids?
P.S. I have to say, Dr. Michael has a killer P.R. person working for him. This book seems to be on the desk of every parenting editor I’ve spoken with this week. And they all seem to think it’s pretty pathetic. Even perezhilton.com got in on the book-review act. Check it out here.
P.S. Oh, by the way… If you click on the link to Dr. Michael’s website, you’ll get a pop-up “live chat” box, where a “patient coordinator” will ask what surgical procedure you’re interested in. I used that as an opportunity to briefly share my thoughts on the book…
Children See. Children Do.
Australia’s non-profit National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect is running a powerful ad, “Children See. Children Do.” Fortunately for the rest of the world, the ad has made its way to You Tube. Check it out:
Four Top Tips for a Stronger Marriage
I just love Leo Babauta over at zenhabits.net. I never fail to learn something from his posts, and the discussions over there, in the comments section, are intelligent and thoughtful. Just hanging out there now and then makes me feel better about the world. (And there’s a reason zenhabits.net is one of the most-visited blogs in the world!) Leo has good stuff to say.
In his recent post, “The Seven Deadly Sins in a Relationship,” Leo says “While I can’t claim to be the world’s foremost expert on relationships, I do know that my wife and I have a very strong marriage, and have never been more in love.”
He’s failed at marriage before, he says, “but that’s helped me become better at it. I’ve learned the deadly sins of relationships, and how to recognize them and avoid them.”
A reader, newly married, asked Leo to share his tips on how to make a marriage work. “I wish I had a magic formula, but here’s a simple list of tips,” he says:
* spend time alone together
* appreciate each other
* be intimate often
* talk and share and give
LeomugnewSounds good to me. And it’s so simple. But it’s so easy to forget these things, or to get too busy to do them. I think as parents, it’s understandable that we focus much of our time and energy on our kids. And that’s a good thing. But that relationship between Mom and Dad needs to be the foundation that everything else is built on in the family.
I know from experience that it’s easy to get busy and assume that the foundation will just be there when you need it. But without doing what it takes to keep it strong, the walls can start to crumble. So tonight Randy and I are planning a date in the den with a good movie on DVD, a glass of wine and some popcorn — and maybe a little snuggling. (Proof that “dates” can be cheap but fun!)
Head on over to zenhabits.net to read the rest of Leo’s post. You’ll be glad you did. And thanks, Leo!
P.S. Corey over at The Simple Marriage Project also has a fun post on “How to Create a Passionate Marriage in the Shower.” Check it out. Thanks, Corey!
Knock Yourself Up (No Man? No Problem!)
As a book reviewer, I’ve had fun carrying this hot (shocking pink!) little number around town with me this week, reading a few pages during my son’s piano lesson, taking it along for a solo lunch at a favorite little Mexican restaurant — and never knowing who might see the cover and wonder…
Of course, like the just-too-funny promos for the new movie “Baby Mama” (about a woman who enlists the help of a surrogate), which opens today, the title Knock Yourself Up (Avery), by Louise Sloan, is meant to be an attention grabber.
But once I cracked the cover, I found solid information and lots of real stories about single women over 30 who are trying to make the right decision on this life-altering issue by doing a lot of research, doing a lot of soul searching and enlisting the support of family and friends. Sloan shares her (touching and often really funny) experiences and those of many others who’ve decided not to let being single stand in the2354_d007_00052rjpg_rgb way of becoming a mom.
Got questions? The book answers these and a lot more: When do I decide it’s time to go it alone? How do I choose the right sperm? Is this fair to the kid? Can I afford to do it? How do I tell my parents? How do I tell my dates? Have I gone totally crazy? Will I ever have sex — or a life — again?
For those who want to discuss these juicy questions with their book club, there’s a guide with discussion questions. For even more info, stop by knockyourselfup.com.
While I had a man involved when I got pregnant, I can’t say Randy and I exactly did it the old-fashioned way. Having gone through in vitro fertilization, I could relate quite a bit to the tales of hormone injections, blood tests and waaay too many doctor appointments involving transvaginal ultrasound and stirrups. Trust me, nobody goes through all this stuff on a lark.
Louise_sloan_photo_smallerAs “Baby Mama,” Knock Yourself Up and my own IFV experience will attest, there are lots of ways to bring a baby into the world these days. But one thing remains, and you can surely can see it in this melt-your-heart picture of Sloan and her son, Scott: Women are making these decisions based primarily on something that mothers have had in common through the ages: love.
So Your Kid Was Rejected By Her #1 College Pick? Have Her Read This
Today I’m happy to welcome Rob Gilbert, Ph.D., professor of sport psychology at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, as a guest blogger. I love his perspective on college life, and I plan to save this post to share with my own son when he gets a bit closer to college age.
Dr. Gilbert is the author of How to Have Fun Without Failing Out: 430 Tips from a College Professor. And his blog offers great motivational tips for students. (Yes, he’s a busy guy!) Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Gilbert!
REJECTED? I CAN HELP!
You got the dreaded thin letter and found that the college you desperately wanted doesn’t want you.
Of course, you’re devastated—look at all the time, effort, and money you and your parents put into the whole college application process with guidance counselors, private college consultants, tutors, test-prep courses, college visits, interviews, essays, SATs, etc.
It’s not true that all your hopes and dreams are now destroyed. Your future is not over. Once I saw a poster that read, “It’s not the end of the road; it’s just a bend in the road!”
I’m not going to give you some Pollyanna-type pep talk and tell you not to worry. What I’m going to tell you is that wallowing in your misery is not the answer. You must regroup and refocus — starting right now!
Maybe I can help. I speak from over 40 years of experience. I’ve been on a college campus since 1964 — first as a student, then as a staff member, and for the last 29 years as a professor at Montclair State University.
However there’s one big mystery about college I’ve never been able to solve.
Why are students putting so much time, effort, and energy into finding their so-called “right” college, and so little time, effort, and energy into figuring out what their personal passion is once they’re in college? I see students devoting more time to determining where they’re going to spend the next four or five years of their college lives rather than concentrating on how they’re going to spend the next 40 to 50 years of their professional lives — in their careers.
And here’s a warning if you did get into the college of your dreams: Be careful of the “Yale Syndrome.” Donald Archer, an expert in higher education and the author of “Cool Colleges,” reports that some students are so obsessively focused on receiving the “fat envelope” that getting admitted becomes an end in itself. Remember: Gaining admissions is not the end of the adventure — it’s the beginning!
The late psychiatrist and radio talk-show host Dr. David Viscott once said, “The purpose of life is to discover your gifts. The meaning of life comes from giving your gifts away.”The purpose of college is to find your gifts, to find your passion, to find your life’s work.
Right now stop regretting why you didn’t get into that school that was “perfect” for you and start refocusing on the future. Whatever college or university you’ll be attending in September, you can have a spectacular, life-changing experience there. There’s mounting research that shows that your future success is not determined by the college you attend.
However, no professor, advisor, or classmate is going to show you how to follow the yellow brick road to your passion. Sure, you’ll receive a lot of help, but it’s primarily a do-it-yourself job.
Where you attend college is not nearly as important as what you’re going to do once you get there. Here’s some advice for when you arrive on campus in September that’ll help you find your passion:
#1. Find out who the most passionate professors on campus are and enroll in their courses —regardless of what they teach or when the classes meet. I joke with my students that most of them probably would not take Religion 101 if it met at 8:00 a.m. even if it were taught by Professor J. Christ!
#2. The noted mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” What are the subjects or activities that you find endlessly interesting? What are the things you like to do that energize you? Be a detective. Listen to your heart. Find what you love.
#3. Professor Joseph Renzuli from the University of Connecticut advises students to carefully examine what they loved to do as a child because this might give some insight into what they might really want to do for a career. Did you know that when they were kids, Sesame Street’s Jim Henson loved to play with puppets and Walt Disney loved to draw?
Of all the things you can discover in college, the most important is your passion.
Look at it this way: College is a fountain of knowledge. Some students come to drink. More come to sip. But most come just to gargle. Make sure you take a big gulp!
You Create The Climate In Your Home
I stumbled across this quote the other day and it both intimidated me a little bit and also inspired me. It’s a great reminder of how much a parent’s mood and attitude have on the entire family. I think I’ll stick it on my bulletin board as a reminder.
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
Can Being a Parent Help You In Business, Too?
Today I’m happy to welcome guest blogger Adrian Miller, president of Adrian Miller Sales Training in Port Washington, New York. The proud mom of 23-year-old Eric (left) and 20-year-old Nick (in the green shirt, below), Miller has had just enough time away from the everyday parenting world to have gained a little perspective that the rest of us (who are still in the trenches) can benefit from. Here’s her post on “How Being a Mom Has Helped Me In Business.” Thanks, Adrian!
For most women, becoming a mother is a turning point in their life. It’s a time that’s rife with challenges, frustrations, and uncertainties, but it’s also when many of life’s most rewarding achievements and miraculous moments occur. What many new moms figure out rather quickly is that the skills that they use every day while taking care of children are also very applicable in succeeding in business. Nurturing a needy newborn isn’t all that different from managing a high-maintenance client, and trying to juggle chores and kids can be strikingly similar to the multi-tasking required to manage a large list of prospects. Here are just a few of the skills that are fine-tuned and mastered the minute you take that leap into motherhood:
Img_0741Patience. Colicky infants, whiny toddlers, defiant teenagers… If you didn’t have patience before you had children, you quickly developed this virtue as a parent. And, the patience required for childcare definitely helps you increase your tolerance threshold in business. Difficult clients and prospects are plentiful, and patience is the key to unlocking their buying potential.
Time Management. As any new mother knows, time can be a scarce commodity and shouldn’t be wasted frivolously. Whether you need to meet a specific deadline or only have an hour before your child wakes from a nap, time-management skills are essential to getting things done. Parenthood does wonders for enlightening women (and some men) on the need to budget time wisely, and this skill certainly gives moms a distinct competitive edge over their child-free colleagues.
Multi-tasking. If you’ve ever changed a diaper while on the phone making a doctor’s appointment, while reading an email, you understand multi-tasking. Sure, we’d all love to be able to focus on one task at a time, but in this age of technology and information, the ability to multi-task is a necessity if you want to be competitive in the market. Motherhood promotes multi-tasking skills tremendously, and these skills remain with mothers long after the diaper changes cease.
Training Skills. One of the primary jobs of a parent is to teach your child what is needed to succeed in the world. This requires you to be a dedicated, skilled trainer. The same skills are required in business. Whether you’re training a classroom of seminar attendees or guiding a client through the sales process, the training abilities you’ve acquired as a mother will certainly come in handy in the business world.
Flexibility. Children are full of surprises, and staying flexible is a necessity to maintain sanity. Every day is full of challenges and interruptions, and if there is one thing that is consistent about parenting, it’s the fact that it’s ever-changing. Inflexibility doesn’t work for parents, nor does it work in business. People can be indecisive, situations can change, and even your role can evolve. Having the flexibility to gracefully manage the unexpected is a skill that will always serve you well, whether with the kids or in the office.
Ugh – Sick Days!
Gotta love days like this: There’s no food in the house, the laundry is in piles, I have writing deadlines out the wazoo — and my hubby and I are both sick.
Happily, Matt, our son, seems to have avoided catching either my sinus infection/bronchitis or his dad’s upset stomach. So far. We’re doing a lot of hand washing!
Schlepping through the past five days makes me realize how much I normally accomplish around here. And it makes me really appreciate my usual good health. But it’s still hard not to get down in the dumps when all you want to do is go back to bed for the day…
As a busy parent, how do you handle those days and weeks when you’re under the weather, but the demands of home and family continue? I need all the tips I can get this week!
Well, I’m off to go toss a coin with Randy to see who gets to head to the grocery store…
Welcome Jen Singer! (And Yes, She’s a Good Mom)
Today we’re pleased to chat with Jen Singer, author of You’re a Good Mom…And Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either: 14 Secrets for Finding Happiness Between Super Mom and Slacker Mom.
For 21st Century mothers, there often seem to be just two choices: Super Mom or Slacker Mom. One’s bad for you; one’s bad for your kids. So what’s a mom to do? Singer offers secrets for raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and “donuts for dinner, kids!” The book is available on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.
Thanks for making Parent Talk Today a stop on your blog tour, Jen! Now on to our Q&A:
Q. How did motherhood get to be so competitive?
Jen Singer: It started with the very first Baby on Board sticker, most likely stuck on a 1985 Volvo. Since then, our society went child centric – and a little crazy, too. We’ve raised the motherhood bar so impossibly high, we can’t reach it. We drive our kids to not one, not two, but three activities and sports in a week – sometimes in a day. We use flash cards at stop lights and play music for our kids in utero. (Have you ever tried to listen to music underwater? It sounds all wrong.)
Q. That’s why we all feel like slacker moms, right? We can’t keep up.
Jen: And then we give up, and eventually, we’re serving donuts for dinner and letting our kids watch Desperate Housewives, because it’s easier than sending them to bed. But that’s bad for our kids, and trying to be a Super Mom is bad for us. There’s a sweet spot in between where you can raise good kids without losing yourself.
Q. So how can moms find that in between spot?
Jen: The first secret to finding happiness in 21st century motherhood is to realize that Super Mom is faking it and Slacker Mom isn’t as cool as she appears to be. The town über mom probably only gets to put her feet up at the gynecologist’s office. The rest of the time, she’s frantically trying to make perfect kids in her perfect house. She’s exhausted and her kids are, too.
The cool mom, on the other hand, has no idea what her kids are up to while she sucks down Diet Cokes and watches like-minded women on Moment of Truth. And now that there are web sites where kids as young as eight can build a virtual bimbo, breast implants and all, that’s pretty darn scary.
Q. But what if you want to do right by your kids? Don’t you have to sign them up for lots of activities just to keep up with everyone else?
Jen: Here’s one of my tips: Don’t be a frequent flyer. In other words, you don’t have to fill out all those flyers for karate and drama camp and math enrichment just because they come home with your kids. Pick one or two activities that your children are excited about, and sign up for those. And – I know this one is hard in the age of travel sports – let your kids play one sport per season, especially if they’re under 10. It’ll be easier on them and on the mileage of your mini-van.
Q. What if all the other moms are doing it?
Jen: Be a rebel mom. I know it’s hard to be the only mother who puts her foot down and doesn’t let her kid watch The Simpsons or play Halo. These days, it’s also much harder to shield our kids from age inappropriate media because there’s so much of it out there. But it pains me that even second graders watch CSI, which has gruesome crime scenes that even make grown-ups like me flinch. It’s more work to be your kids’ filter nowadays, but it’s also more important than ever to protect them from things they’re not ready for because there’s so much of it out there.
Q. Do you think the Internet helps or hinders today’s moms?
Jen: One of the best things for modern motherhood is the Internet. Also, one of the worst things for modern motherhood is the Internet. On the one hand, we can find blogs and web sites like this one that give us a sense of community, answer our parenting questions and even make us laugh. But we can also innocently look up the rash our kid has and wind up convincing ourselves that it’s a flesh-eating parasite from the Amazon, when we haven’t even gone hiking in a park, let alone in the jungle. Google wisely.
Q. What one tip would you give moms who are trying to find happiness?
Jen: Use triage. Pick out only those things that are truly important to you and your family, and aim for those. Take volunteering jobs that allow you to see your kids, like being a Cub Scouts den leader or escorting on the class trip. Build in playtime to your calendar – for the kids and for you. Move the computer into the family room so you can see what your kids are doing online. Then let everything that’s less important go. Really, do you have to bake cupcakes for your child’s birthday celebration at school when the bakery will do that for you?
Q. Do you think you’re a good mom?
Jen: It depends on the day! When my kids were toddlers, I used to feel guilty for folding laundry instead of entertaining them, even though I was spending upwards of 100 hours a week with them as a full-time at-home mom. I thought I had to constantly create teachable moments in order to prepare them for the future. But I really needed to teach them independence and self sufficiency. I’m not going to be there to help them pick out lunch or manage homework at college, after all. A good mom gets her kids ready for life on their own – and prepares herself for life without her kids.
Join Us Friday When The “You’re a Good Mom” Blog Tour Stops Here!
For 21st Century mothers, there seem to be just two choices: Live up to the Super Mom or give up to be the Slacker Mom. One’s bad for you; one’s bad for your kids. So what’s a momma to do?
In You’re a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either): The 14 Secrets to Finding Happiness BGoodmomtoursmallbox1etween Super Mom and Slacker Mom,” the Internet’s favorite momma, Jen Singer, tells all. Turns out you can raise perfectly good kids in that sweet spot between flash cards at breakfast and “donuts for dinner, kids!” You’ll find great tips like these:
- Don’t answer the phone when the class mom calls.
- Your kid’s birthday party isn’t your coming-out celebration.
- Don’t treat fine restaurants like a McDonald’s PlayPlace.
- You think you’re a “cool mom,” but they think you’re a pushover.
Filled with “that happened to me, too!” stories, YOU’RE A GOOD MOM offers giggles and a pat on the back for today’s moms, whether they’re deep in diapers or petrified by puberty.
Join us Friday for a great Q & A with author Jen Singer as she stops by Parent Talk Today on her blog tour!
And check out this terrific You Tube video preview:
Please Pass Down the Manners!
The three children vied for their mother’s attention and sipped from plastic juice bottles as their mom and grandmother unloaded the cart in the Target checkout line ahead of me. Of course, it was just a matter of time until the inevitable happened and someone’s juice hit the floor. No biggie, I thought. I’m a parent. I know how Mom and Grandma feel. Been there, cleaned that up.
But when the youthful-looking grandmother surveyed the mess, she simply said “pick up your bottle” to the preschooler — and continued on as if there was nothing wrong with leaving a puddle of juice for the rest of us to trudge through. When the little boy started skating through the juice, spreading it further with each glide of his tennis shoes, I thought surely Grandma would realize this was not just a sticky mess but a potential hazard for the shoppers in line behind her.
Watching the boy, Grandma continued putting items on the conveyer belt. Okay, now I was getting cranky.
Thinking I might demonstrate a more-appropriate response, I leaned close to Grandma and said to the check-out clerk, “Excuse me. Do you have a paper towel? There’s juice on the floor, and I’m afraid someone might slip.”
“Sorry, I don’t have anything,” she replied. Okay then. It was clearly time to go straight to the source. I’d simply embarrass the woman into cleaning up the mess. “Ma’am, do you have any wet wipes in your purse; anything like that so we can clean up this juice?” I asked Grandma.
She rooted around in her purse and came up with… a man’s white athletic sock. “OK, that’s a bit odd, but I guess she could use it,” I thought to myself — right before she handed the sock to me.
“Here you go!” she said brightly. “It’s clean.”
I was too stunned to reply. With visions of an unsuspecting elderly shopper breaking a hip at checkstand 9, I knelt down and mopped up the juice with the sock while the woman watched.
By then I was more than a bit cranky, not to mention a bit overdue to receive an embarrassed “Why, thank you!” at least, if Grandma and Grandson weren’t going to do the job themselves.
She said nothing. Not a peep. “You know, you could thank me for wiping up your grandson’s juice,” I finally blurted out, looking her in the eye and holding up the juice-filled sock.
“Oh, just drop that anywhere,” she said, pointing toward the sock. “That’s disgusting.” And with that, the five of them were on their way, leaving me to find a trash can for the drippy sock.
Yes, it certainly was disgusting. But unfortunately, it’s becoming less and less surprising. Life’s little niceties, like holding the door open for the person behind us, saying please and thank you and even just having basic respect for those we encounter every day, seem to be disappearing faster than we can say “It’s all about me.”
Grocery clerks will be the first to tell you how much common courtesy has vanished. Ask them how it feels to ring up $100 worth of groceries for a shopper who continues a cell-phone conversation, hands over a grocery-store club card, runs the debit card through the machine and then leaves without ever making eye contact, much less saying “thanks.”
It’s easy to encounter the “it’s all about me” folks on the road, too. As our once-wide-enough residential streets become virtual one-way passages, narrowed by parked SUVs on both sides, there’s often room for only one vehicle at a time to go by. When I pull my car to the side of the road to let someone else pass, is it too much to ask for a friendly “thank you” wave or a smile? When someone responds with that simple gesture, it brightens the rest of my day. I’m guessing it perks up their day, too. But if it happens one time out of eight, it’s a good day. Most folks just drive on by as if to say “Of course, you should pull over for me.”
Not long ago, our local parks-and-rec department offered an “Etiquette and Social Skills” class for kids ages 7 to 12. Parents ponied up 70 bucks per kid for two 3-hour classes so that someone else would teach their children why manners are important, how to behave in a restaurant and how to be polite.
The trouble is, such a class may teach a kid the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork, but it can’t create a thoughtful child. It can’t instill basic kindness or the desire to consider others’ feelings. That’s a parent’s job, and it takes years. And you can be sure our children are checking out our moves, noting how we behave.
At first I was incredulous that the mother of that preschooler, who continued to unloaded her cart and watch while the “juice incident” took place, didn’t step in to show her young son the right thing to do. But then I realized the sad truth: Her mother had never taught her the importance of common courtesy. And now Grandma and Mom were passing on that same lack of concern for others to a third generation.
Our children want so much to be like us. So they watch closely how we treat cashiers and waiters and crossing guards and fellow shoppers and fellow drivers and all the other people whose paths we cross each day. They also see whom and what we ignore — the people and things that don’t make a blip on our radar screen as we go about our business.
It doesn’t take a fancy etiquette class to teach our kids how to treat others with kindness. Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to clean up a little spilled juice.