Working Mothers and The Importance of a Real Partnership

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I am told I travel a lot for work. I travel every other week, usually for a couple of days- maybe this is a lot, I am not sure.  Either way, I’d venture to say that’s more than the average working mom. Working mother travel is predictable in the sense that at some point, either before, during or after my trip I can always plan on someone asking:

“So who is watching your kids when you are away?”

The question comes from women. It comes from men. It comes from peers. It comes from fellow working mothers. I am no longer surprised by this question, in fact, I expect it. When I answer, simply saying the kids are home with their dad, I see the look in their eyes. It is disbelief, it is surprise, it is pity, all of the above.

Every. Single. Time.

What is unfortunate about these reactions are that so many people still assume that just because I am the mother (and I am traveling) that I must be leaving my kids with my mother, or mother-in-law, or sister, or some other very capable female. Not usually considered is the possibility that my husband is not only running the show, but in a very competent way. This is truly disappointing.

The real success of my working mother life has always been about partnership. For our family, we have always “made working work” by depending upon one another and thinking about our work and parent commitments as equally important- to each other.

For example, on the mornings I travel, it is not uncommon for my departure to occur before anyone is even out of bed. This means my husband Scott has to ready our three kids, drop them at daycare and school, and still get to his job on time (which is early). Additionally, in the evenings when I am away, he has to manage multiple pickups, volleyball practices, prepare dinner, take care of homework responsibilities, and prepare everyone for the next day. By anyone’s standards, male or female, this is a ton of work!

Our partnership works because I reciprocate by taking on the majority of drop offs, pickups, practices, and play dates on days when I am working from home. Very truthfully, if Scott and I had more of a traditional marriage, whereby the majority of household AND parenting responsibilities fell upon only me, the professional roles I have enjoyed in the past and today simply would not be possible. Both my career options and development of those options would have been limited. Because I have this true partner in life whom has been helping along the way, my career has grown and blossomed. And…. because my career has grown and I feel like I have a real partner, I am a much happier individual.

A big thank you to my partner, Scott. Without you, none of this would be possible.

This is an excerpt from Jennifer Barbin’s new book: Guilt Be Gone which is available on our site and on Amazon.

Playground Safety

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Getting out with your little ones on the weekend or after work for a bit is a great time to get some fresh air, exercise, and bond with your beautiful child. Everyone thinks that the playground is a place to let loose, be carefree, and have fun. It definitely is that place, but reviewing playground safety rules is important for every PWM to avoid injuries and other pitfalls.

Playing is fun, but it can also be dangerous. It’s important to use a few rules and common sense when your child is playing to ensure he stays as safe as possible. Now that you are a mom, you know that things can happen in a split second, so pay attention!

Toys ~ Ensure that the toys your child is playing with on the playground is approved for his age range. Those age restrictions are in place to help prevent strangulation, choking and other issues. For instance, a puzzle meant for a six-year-old, might be able to be put together by a 3-year-old, but they probably shouldn’t because the pieces might be choking hazards. If a toy fits in a child’s mouth all the way, they probably shouldn’t play with it unless you’re directly supervising them. And remember, even if you didn’t bring it to the playground be on the lookout because others may have brought something that is not a good fit for your little one.

Playground Equipment ~ Toys and playground equipment can be dangerous without you even realizing it. There are safety regulations in place, but sometimes a toy or a piece of equipment is old and was made before a new regulation was put into place. Ensure that the playground equipment that your child is using is up to date and safe. No sharp edges, soft ground to fall on, and other updates that will help keep injuries to a minimum. Keep in mind that the highest any toy should be from the ground, no matter how soft the surface, is 12 feet.

Adult Supervision ~ The best protection you can offer your child is adult supervision at the playground. Both parents and children think they’re safe at a playground. This is not always the case. The best protection you have is great supervision.

Pedestrians and Strangers ~ Teach children not to talk to strangers at the playground other than a polite “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” to other children’s parents or while you are standing right there. A stranger who wants to play with or talk to your child, who has no other children or who was a random pedestrian, should be avoided.

Sharing ~ The playground is a great place to teach life skills such as the importance of sharing. But be cautious. Children can be selfish on the playground and pushing, shoving and grabbing is not uncommon. It is hard to teach children to wait their turn, or deal with bullies, but with you being right there to intervene, if necessary, you can teach important lessons without anyone getting hurt.

Finally, do a quick check of the playground each time you take your children to play. Look for broken glass, metal or other sharp objects. Check for holes that running children could fall in, or protrusions that can be tripped over. This quick inspection can also help keep your little ones safe.

 

Motivate Your Kids Without Being A NAG!

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“Please clean up your breakfast dishes!?” Nag.

“Have you started on your homework?” Nag.

“Have you cleaned your room?” Nag.

I know, I know, the title of this article is almost unbelievable. Is it possible? Let me start by saying that if nagging was an Olympic sport, I would bring home the gold. 

Yesterday morning I had to ask my 10-year old 17 times to brush his teeth before leaving to catch the bus. I still don’t even know if it happened. I also asked my 7-year old at least three times to put socks and a sweatshirt on (it was 30 degrees out at bus time and he was wearing shorts- I know, another topic for another time). These are routine things that they have both done thousands of times before. By now, they should be able to do it without me NAGGING.

I hate being a nag and it turns out that being a nag is just as aggravating as being nagged. So, in the effort to help all PWM’s, here are some other options:

Financial incentives (aka allowance)- Listen, money makes the world go round. If your kids are coin operated, think allowance. My 7- year old is completely motivated by cash. When he started losing his baby teeth we had to hide the pliers because I was afraid he was going to pull out all of his teeth for extra money from the tooth fairy. I have also just had a conversation with him where I assured him that Santa does NOT give out cash for Christmas.
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(My 7-year old and his umbrella-o-cash last year for his birthday-his favorite gift EVER!)

A few years ago, we started giving a five dollar weekly allowance (we called it ‘behavior bucks’) to both of my kids. We gave the kids fake Monopoly money on Monday and it was theirs to lose. If you were throwing a tantrum, you had to turn in a dollar. If you didn’t get ready in time for school, it would cost you a buck. At the end of the week, you converted the ‘behavior bucks’ into cash. This was a perfect fit for my youngest but my oldest could’ve cared less! I was still nagging and yelling to get him out of the door and on time.

Set rules and impose consequences-

For my oldest, we decided that this model worked better. He was not motivated by money but is definitely motivated by television. It has always been his vice. So after clearly stating rules, we also laid out the consequences. If you don’t get ready for school on time, no television after school. If you don’t do your homework, no video games. This is a more difficult model to implement. While setting rules is easy, enforcing them is sometimes hard. To make this work, your child has to know that there will be consequences! Some of the more popular consequences in my house are no television, no video games, no computer. Be careful when using this model as you will usually be punishing yourself! Two boys in my house with no screens usually means a gigantic mess and at least one of them getting an injury from wrestling.

All jokes aside, I am happy to report that this model has worked much better in motivating my oldest to do the things that he should be doing everyday (but it obviously didn’t work yesterday morning).

Work towards a family reward - This is a new one we are trying. If the kids can make it for one whole week (5 school days in a row) and do everything they need to do in the morning without mommy dropping an F-bomb, then we all get to go to the movies over the weekend with all the bells and whistles: popcorn, candy, and fully caffeinated beverages. My boys are dying to see the new Thor movie. Caveat: don’t start out offering a trip to Hawaii or a pony, the stakes are too high!

That is all I have. There are tons of articles on how to motivate young children but not many were realistic for a busy working mom. I have given you the ideas that have worked for us, now it is YOUR turn.

How do you motivate your kids?

 

 

 

 

How To Deal With Stress At Work

Unknown-4Yesterday, we talked about ways you could get fired at work. It was a good refresher for many of us ~ to remind us that if we don’t do our job well, we could be looking for another one.

In balancing all we have to do: work responsibilities, children, and responsibilities at home, there is no question that stress plays a role. How you deal with stress at work (and at home) can make or break you. Don’t give in, just remember these simple rules:

1. Show up and get organized. If you have a high stress job, or are just stressed about all the things that need to be done, you need to get organized. Whether that means staying up late to create a ‘to-do’ list for the morning or get up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to make your list with a cup of coffee, this extra time can help you get focused and stay focused. Knowing that you are prepared for the day, can help eliminate stress.

2. Take a deep breath. When you start feeling the stress overtake you, it is bad on many levels. It is bad for your health to remain in stressed out environments for long periods of time and it is also bad because you can’t focus on what needs to be done. Push back from your desk and take a walk. Take a few deep breaths and clear your head. Removing yourself from the stressful environment, even for a few minutes can help you clear your head and refocus on the task at hand.

3. Exercise will help. I know PWM, the last thing on earth you want to do after a long, stressful day at work is to lace up those running shoes. I have been there. You don’t have to be training for a triathlon ~ but when you get home, go take the dog for a walk, go walk by yourself. While you are at your child’s sporting event, get suited up and go for a walk instead of watching from your car. I promise that if you get moving, even if it is just a little bit, it will help you manage that stress!

4. Get enough sleep. It is not surprising to hear that getting 8 hours of sleep is not on any working mom’s priority list. We have too many other things that need to get done. So I am not asking for the impossible ~ 8 hours of sleep every single night. Instead, lets try to have two days during the week where get a full night’s sleep. And I am not talking about laying in bed watching television or checking Facebook. Set an alarm for when you need to have lights out and make it happen. This extra sleep will help you be better prepared to tackle the next day!

Ok PWM, it’s not that difficult, right? We can all make these small changes in our lives to keep stress at a minimum. The result is a healthier, happier you!

WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS TO STAY STRESS-FREE?

7 Ways To Get Fired

shutterstock_70617409Spring is here Proud Working Moms, what better time to discuss your job performance. A few weeks ago, we checked in to see how things were going for you at work. For some of you, things are going really well and I am so happy to hear that. Others are looking around for new and different opportunities. If you fall into that category, check out our article about finding a new job.

What about those of you who THINK you are doing a good job and aren’t?

Today, I would like to talk to those of you that think you are doing a good job and are NOT.  Both Jennifer and I have been part of the work force for longer than we care to admit. This ain’t our first rodeo. Every single day we see people in business making mistakes. BIG mistakes. Mistakes that can get them fired. We love working mothers here at Proud Working Mom so today we want to make sure you are not making a mistake at work that could get you fired. We are doing it because we love you and lets face it, no one else is going to tell you what you are doing wrong.

Here is our list of 7 Ways To Get Fired:

1. If you lie to your boss, you will get fired. It seems obvious, right? If you lie to your boss you could get fired. This pertains to anything. If you are having trouble at work and you lie to your boss, it is not going to make the situation better. If you lie to your boss about being sick and she finds out you were just hungover, this is also bad.

2. If you are not doing your work on time, you will get fired. I know it sounds harsh but in life, there are deadlines. If you are getting paid to do a job and it is not done on time, you could get fired. Especially if you get a reputation for not making deadlines. No one wants to hear excuses about why it was not done on time. Your supervisor wants to be able to rely on you and trust that it will get done.

3. If your supervisor has to babysit you, you will get fired. Listen, we all already have kids at home. Nobody wants to babysit you. If a supervisor has to watch your every step to make sure you are doing it right (because you are NOT usually doing it right), then chances are, you will get fired.

4. If you are being dishonest, you will get fired. This seems obvious to me and 90% of the population but it is on this list for a reason. There are people everyday that lie on their timesheet, use their work computer for personal use, turn in reimbursement sheets that are falsely inflated, make copies at work for personal use or use work time to get personal things done. These are all dishonest practices. Some are harmless but others are not. If you make a habit of this, someone is going to find out and yes, you could get fired.

5. If I tell you to do something and you don’t, you will get fired. As mentioned above, I have kids at home. If I ask you to do something, as your boss, you had better make it a priority. If you ignore me or don’t think it is important…say it with me…you could get fired.

6. If you act inappropriately towards a colleague, you will get fired. Yes, I am talking about sexual harassment, regular harassment, or if you take a swing at a co-worker because you don’t like what he/she said, you will get fired.

7. If you are not doing work at work, you could get fired. You are getting paid to do a job. Whether it is working a cash register, serving customers or making phone calls, make sure you are doing just that on company time. Your boss is not paying you to work on your ‘mad texting skills’. If you are spending work time ignoring your job or texting your friends, you may not be working there for long.

Ladies, the job market is a very competitive place these days. No matter what job you are looking to get or keep, there are probably 5 other people out there that would do almost anything to be in your shoes. Don’t forget it. Show up and do a great job everyday and make us proud!

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