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Working From Home: 10 Tips For Success

When I started my business 7 years ago, I had no idea that it would grow to the size it is today, allowing me to walk away from a corporate career I spent 15 years building! When I tell people I work from home and replaced my corporate salary within 2 years, I usually get one of two responses – “I don’t know how you get anything done,” or “I wish could do that.”

I feel that many of my friends who are also moms like me think the flexibility of working from home sounds amazing, but they aren’t sure they have what it takes to be productive. I’ll admit that you can become easily distracted, but here are 10 tips I’ve learned along the way.

1. Establish a Schedule

I know for many moms this can seem difficult (especially if you have young children), but it’s a critical element to successfully working from home.

If you do not have a schedule and do not set your intentions for the day, you will waste more time trying to figure out what work to do versus actually getting work done. It doesn’t have to be an hour by hour schedule, but something that becomes routine.

For example, I like to use Mondays and Wednesdays as my office days to make calls, send follow-up emails, write my social media posts for the week, and set appointments with current and potential clients – anything office related. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I usually schedule an hour of office/desk time but spend the majority of those days on appointments and networking with others. I like Fridays to be my day to tie up loose ends and tackle any of the tasks that I may have pushed off. I have a daily list – I know I have had a productive day when I see all the things crossed off of my list. Even if you only work 2 or 3 hours per day on whatever it is you do from home, it is important to have that time blocked off and know what you intend to accomplish during those hours.

You can accomplish a lot in 1 hour if it’s a focused, distraction-free hour; if you try to squeeze in 5-10 minutes here and there, you’ll likely find yourself stuck in the same spot for weeks.

2. Establish Boundaries

I truly believe this is where most moms struggle. I have a designated work-space in my home. When I am in my work-space during my work hours, I do not spend any of that time answering personal emails or personal calls (unless it’s my kids’ school or my husband, which are really the only exceptions). When I started working 100% from home, my kids were 4 and 6, so we had a conversation in terms they understood; if Mommy is at her desk on the phone, it is not the time to interrupt. I was realistic when planning my work schedule, so if my kids were home (day off of school or in the summer), I typically didn’t spend more than an hour at a time at my desk. Instead, I would break up my work day explaining “it’s Mommy’s hour to work”, I would give them 2-3 choices of things they can pick to do during that hour. You may or may not agree with this method, but I believe children need to learn to entertain themselves for short periods of time, it helps them practice self-discipline. I have even caught them playing “office,” mimicking me making my calls, etc. On the flip-side, my kids knew they would have my full attention during play-time.

Now we’ve entered the preteen years as they are almost 10 and 12 so they can most definitely manage themselves while I work. 

By setting the boundaries and schedule, you won’t have to worry about the guilt of empty promises of “just give me 10 more minutes and we’ll play then…” Your family will appreciate the boundaries. They will learn to recognize when Mom is working and when she is available, rather than constantly interrupting because they’re competing for your attention.

3. Know When You Need Childcare

Sure, I started my own business to have more time with my children, but there are times when you may have to put in more hours or attend a meeting and it simply wouldn’t be appropriate to bring your children along. If your children are not yet in school and you work from home, find a reliable form of childcare for the times it is needed, even if it means swapping playdates with a friend.

4. Get Out of Your House

This might be difficult for moms with small children, which is why I mentioned #3. I understand that one of the main reasons we choose to work from home is because we want more time with our children. But working from home can be a bit lonely. While a lot of connecting begins through social media, real relationships are still developed in person. Make attending local networking groups, trainings or events a part of your regular schedule. That’s where you can meet potential clients, colleagues and mentors to support you on your journey. I recently attended a LinkedIn class and not only did I meet great people, but I also chose an activity that would benefit me professionally.

5. Evaluate Your Activities and Priorities

I was a busy corporate mom before I started my own business and either way, when you add a new responsibility, you have to let go of something. No one is going to do this for you. You have to be the one to evaluate your current activities and obligations and decide where your time is best spent. I started by clearing out my DVR; I still like to binge-watch a Netflix series every now and again, but TV can be one of the biggest time wasters.

Be clear about your priorities/life goals and focus on them. Cut down on activities and obligations that do not serve your priorities/goals. (i.e. TV watching, magazine reading, social activities, mindless social media scrolling, etc.) Make every moment of your life count. Learn how to say no without guilt. I really wanted to serve on my daughter’s school parent teacher committee this past year but when I looked at the time and commitment, I realized between running a business and have two kids in sports, I would likely spread myself too thin. I still contribute, just not by serving as a committee member.

6. Hold Family Meetings

Make sure your spouse/support person understands your business, your goals and your priorities. My husband travels 50-70% of the time for work but he still likes to understand what I am working towards with regard not only to my schedule, but how our children will be cared for on busier days. We also involve our children at times. When I first started my business, our daughters understood that Mom had to work really hard and a lot of hours so she could quit her job and be the one to take them to and from school. My husband and I explained that we needed their help, which included doing their chores without complaining, getting ready on time in the morning and understanding that Mom would have to work late sometimes during what looked to be a very busy upcoming year. Let’s just say incentives work wonders, from younger children to teenagers! To increase their willingness to be helpful, we promised them Disneyland passes if they followed through. 

7. Get Your Rest

Remember when you had your first child and everyone said “Nap when the baby naps.” I hated hearing that! I used to think “but what about the laundry? I need a shower.” I soon realized an overly tired Mommy wasn’t good for my husband or the baby, so I napped. I am not saying to take naps, but if you are up working until midnight or 1:00 am to work on your business while the kids are sleeping – stop! Lack of sleep will catch up with you and won’t be good for anyone. Go back and read #2. It is possible to work while your kids are awake. Even powerhouse mompreneurs need their beauty rest!

8. Get and Keep Your Home Organized

An organized home will demand less time for upkeep, while a cluttered home will require constant work and suck your energy. Don’t even think of starting to work from home until your house has been decluttered and organized and your household maintenance systems are in place. I hired a professional organizer for “problem areas” of our home, she created an easy system to maintain. Set up daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly routines for house cleaning. For example, I throw in a load of laundry every morning, it goes in the dryer when kids come home from school and is folded and put away before dinner. I wipe down the bathrooms Monday morning and wash all the bedding on Thursdays; it doesn’t matter what you do or when, but create your system and stick to it.

9. Dress for Success

I know your PJs are comfy and one of the perks working from home should be that you don’t have to get dressed up BUT, you still have to get dressed, even to work from home. I’m not sitting here in my power suit and heels, but you do need to get out of your PJs and slippers. I wear something comfortable and casual that I can wear outside the house, invest in some cute joggers and tops. I even put on my basic makeup. My rule of thumb is – be presentable enough to meet a potential client. If you’re physically ready for anything, your mind will be as well. Believe it or not, this will make you more productive.

10. Let Go

Let go of the idea that you can do it all. Maybe this should have been #1. You can’t clean the house, do all the laundry, run the errands, pay attention to your husband, answer 100 emails per week, plan and prepare dinner every night, print pictures to mail to grandma, volunteer at school, bake cookies for the church bake sale and grow your business…all by yourself. Get over being perfect. If you have the luxury of doing so – hire someone to clean the house. It’s okay if you have to buy the cookies. Ask your spouse to help out a little bit around the house. Be “OK” with the fact you can’t do it all – remember why you started – to have more time with your family; they won’t mind if the cookies are store-bought. When you are 86, what will you look back and treasure the most? You’ll either look back and love the time you had with your family or wish you had made more time for family. Live in the moment so you can look back and actually remember these moments.

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How to Raise Great Kids & Leave a Legacy Through Your Children

Inspired by Inc.’s lead parenting columnist, Bill Murphy Jr.’s, collection of science-based parenting advice collected and shared.


As parents, one of our core desires for our children is for them to be happy.  As working parents, we recognize that one of the core tenants of our own happiness is the pursuit and achievement of success, however we have defined it for our careers, our families, and ourselves.  Naturally, we want to raise our children to succeed as adults, but we also want them to experience the emotional health that is supported by their encounters of success (and dare we say, failure) as children, teens and young adults.  If we invest our parenting capital in these five key areas, we can later reap the rewards of that investment in children who become successful and well-adjusted adults (and grown children who still want to come ‘home’ for the holidays).


One | Great Expectations

We all have expectations, and we all know the frustration that results when those expectations are not met (likely, because they were never communicated in the first place).  We also know the power of a boss who sets clear (and high expectations), revisits them often, and celebrates our fulfillment of those expectations.  Our children are no different.  The greater our expectations, when communicated clearly and supported intentionally, the greater our children will perform.  That performance will directly translate into confidence, and improved self-esteem.

Our expectations communicate to our children that we believe they are capable of doing hard things, that we hold them accountable, and that we want them to achieve their dreams.  Establish your expectations, communicate them clearly, re-visit and remind your children of them often, and affirm and celebrate their fulfillment of those expectations.

Two | The Power of Praise

People perform better when they receive praise routinely.  However, in order to support our children in taking risks, and pursuing academics and activities with persistence, the way we deliver that praise is imperative.  Otherwise, we may end up raising vapid egomaniacs, and the world is already full of those.

So, how should we deliver praise? First, know that there is no ideal ratio, but the more you praise your children, the better the results.  In other words, you cannot spoil a baby by holding them too much, and you cannot spoil a child by praising them too much.  Next, it is important that you praise their effort and specific application of skills or attributes, rather than their innate talents.  When you offer praise frequently and ‘correctly’ you avoid the adage of, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.

Here’s an example.  Instead of telling your child, “Wow, you are so fast!” praise them instead by saying, “I am so impressed with the way you were determined to push your body to move your legs so quickly.  You didn’t give up!”

Three | Chores, Chores, Chores

According to the longest running longitudinal study in history, there are two key factors people need to possess to be both happy and successful: love and work ethic.  How, as parents can we instill those two traits in our children simultaneously? Chores.  When children participate in chores they learn the importance of work ethic, and they feel loved knowing that they have a purpose in their family life and knowing that they are contributing to that family life.

But, we have to include them.   And that means letting go of some of our own expectations along the way.  They have to learn, and the only way for them to learn is to practice.  Give them grace, and ample amounts of praise, and then learn to live with the missed crumbs –they will get it right, with time.

Four | Be There

In a Love and Logic world, it can be hard to remember that ultimately our children need us there, and they need us to be a safe and empathetic shoulder as much as they need us to walk them through the natural consequence they were just delivered.  When something happens to our children, whether they get hurt, make a mistake, or are confronted with failure, you can (and should) rush to their side.  In numerous studies, researchers found that adults who reflect on their childhood, had a much more positive perception of their parents when they were perceived as being there, rather than modeling self-reliance by maintaining their distance.

You can be there for your children, without ‘fixing’ the situation.  And this is the Love component of Love and Logic.  We don’t sit back when our child trips and falls; instead, we lovingly acknowledge their pain, “Ouch!  That looks like it hurts; I am so sorry that happened. What would make it feel better?” and we offer them Logic when the time is right, “Do you think your shoes being untied caused you to trip? What are your ideas for preventing another trip?”

Five | Champion their ‘Weirdness’ and their Social-Butterfly Aptitude

Children are laughably weird, and it doesn’t take more than a year or two of parenting to also realize, they come to us as they are —wonderfully and wildly unique— with their own interests and passions and eccentricities.  Rather than dejecting their affinity for dinosaur trivia, champion it and channel their interest into some real life connections, like paleontologists or a trip to a dinosaur museum.  Warren Buffet attributes his success to his eccentric tendency toward entrepreneurship as a child.  So embrace their quirkiness, and help to develop it so they can later leverage it for success and happiness.

While we’re discussing comments you may anticipate hearing at Parent Teacher Conferences, if your child is often discussed as being ‘too social’, help them to curtail it…to an extent, and know that children who are perceived as prosocial, later have a significant financial lead.  And if your child struggles socially, seek out opportunities and employ strategies to help improve their social skills and their future.


While there is no handbook for parenting, employing these 5 study-proven and scientifically supported practices will help you to raise children who are both well adjusted and successful.  And, at the end of the day, if “all you need is love”, and your children are loved and secure, you have already started a beautiful legacy.  We are so looking forward to the return on our investment, of a home filled with grown children during the holidays.

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Fresh Out of Ideas to Make Spring Fresh?

Spring is a season of renewal and recharging, and this year we need that breath of fresh air more than ever.  Whether you have kids at home for Spring Break or you simply want to treat yourself to a reprieve from the ordinary, here are 6 bright spots you can add to your calendar without breaking the bank or needing to break out your passport.

 

1. NOT so Extreme Porch Makeover

Spend a morning or afternoon enjoying the crisp weather while you give your patio or porch a little love.  Meet a friend for some thrifting, shopping and a coffee and find that perfect piece to inspire your refresh.  Shop your home for the rest of the details, and get to work!  A before and after photo or a Timelapse video (try out Hyperlapse to easily sync with your Instagram account) will keep you going though the not so pleasant parts (cleaning, we’re looking at you).  Listen to a favorite podcast or an audiobook to help the time fly by, and reward your efforts with coffee in your new favorite spot the next day.

 

2.  Roll Down the Windows Down and Cruise

Make a playlist, find a new one, or listen to an old favorite and go for a drive to a state park.  Roll the windows down and take in the scenic views while you escape your own backyard to enjoy the best of what your state has to offer.  Consider checking out a new park or driving a different route and treat yourself to some good old-fashioned road trip snacking.  If it’s about the journey, and the destination, play a tourist in your own state by looking to websites like Trip Advisor and All Trails or polling friends on Facebook for tried and true favorites from the best trails to the best diners.

 

3. Escape the Mundane with a Yes Day

If you’ve found yourself sounding more and more like your mother lately (and, not in her finest hour), it may be time to give your family and yourself the day off by having a Yes Day.  Take your lead from Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s darling children’s book, Yes Day! or do some ‘research’ by watching the new Netflix release Yes Day starring Jennifer Garner, an early adopter of the Yes Day approach with her own family for years, based on Rosenthal’s book.  Find some great ideas about how to have your very own yes day, sooner than later, here. As Garner mentions in this podcast interview, you may be surprised by the simple yes’s your family has been craving & you may want to brace yourself for some adventure (eh hem, chaos) along the way.

 

4. Virtual Vacation

If your spring weather (or the pandemic) has you home and inside instead of grabbing your passport, you can still activate your wanderlust by taking a virtual field trip.  Bring out your own inner child by watching the sea otters play on the Monterey Bay Aquarium camera, rubbing shoulders with the royals at Buckingham Palace, or enjoying good weather vicariously at the Great Barrier Reef.  Whatever trip you choose to take from your own home, make it special by setting the scene with themed food, music, or an activity.

 

 5. Seize the Day with a Sunrise or a Sunset

“You know, when one is that sad, one can get to love the sunset.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Take advantage of internal clocks that have yet to catch-up to Daylight Savings Time (more coffee anyone?) by planning a date to take in the sunrise or the sunset from a favorite spot.  Make it extra special and cozy by setting up the back of the car with blankets, pillows, and even a strand of fairy lights.  Don’t forget the coffee and bagels to welcome the day, or a favorite dessert to say good night.

 

6. Brighten Up the Neighborhood

“You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.” –Maya Angelou

While you get to work on your porch or patio, keep your kids busy with some chalk art or window art to bring a little sunshine to your neighborhood.  There’s a reason chalk art like this was making a splash across the internet last spring: it’s easy, leaves your kids feeling like true artists, and is sure to bring a smile to faces of passersby.  Get creative and take it to the fence for serious staying power.  Or, if your spring weather is unpredictable and you want your art to last, consider doing some window art instead.  Grab some painter’s tape and chalk and head outside, or grab some painter’s tape, some chalk markers or window paint markers, or make your own paint following recipe, chalk and bring out your child’s inner artist.

 

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With Spring Showers Comes the ‘She-Cession’: Keeping the Plates of Working Motherhood Spinning in the Midst of a Pandemic

Inspired by Maria Shriver’s investigative report for 3rd Hour Today, The State of Women: She-Cession.

The month of March typically fills our calendars with the return of spring weather, spring-cleaning, spring training and spring break, but this year, March also marks one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic.  While we typically welcome the renewal and recharging that comes with spring, this year, many of us are instead reflecting on the insurmountable challenges and changes presented by the last year, and by the pandemic.  One of these challenges and changes has even coined a new name –the ‘She-cession’—plaguing American women, mothers, and caregivers and costing the United States an estimated “64.5 billion a year in lost wages and related economic activity” according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).  As we prepare spring break plans, however different they may look, we continue spinning our countless caregiving and career plates but to what end?  The pandemic’s effects are taking both economic and personal tolls, and they are hitting women the hardest.

In a recent report conducted by the CAP, findings show that women have lost a net of 5.4 million jobs as a result of the pandemic-induced recession, nearly 1 million more jobs than their male counterparts, and Black and Latina women have experienced a 50% higher unemployment rate than the national average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  While women are experiencing the benefits of workforce trends that have emerged in the last year like working remotely, they continue to shoulder the majority of domestic duties.  In fact, working moms are 1.5 times more likely to report an additional 3 hours a day on domestic ‘chores’ like supervising their children’s remote learning –practically another part-time job, and an unpaid one at that. As a result, the most recent Women in the Workplace report found that for the first time, 1 in 4 women are considering stepping out of the workforce or downshifting their careers.  The outcomes of the ‘She-cession’ are nothing short of disastrous—jeopardizing huge strides made toward gender equity in the workplace, lifelong effects on skills and earnings potential, and a significant impact on women’s mental and emotional health.

So what do we do? How do we solve problems as great as women living in their cars to afford care for their aging parents after losing their job? How do we pay the estimated $1 trillion bill of unpaid labor performed by women in the home? Girls Who Code CEO Reshma Saujani is proposing a “Marshall Plan for Moms” that would ask Congress and the White House to support working mothers by implementing multiple policies that would address problematic parental leave plans, stabilize the child care industry and pay $2400 monthly to mothers to for their unpaid labor.  Issues like these, according to Saujani, who has garnered the attention and support of many working moms including celebrities, are forcing the hand of working women and mothers, “We aren’t choosing to leave the workforce, we’re being pushed out”.  There is hope.  The Biden administration is already reviewing the “Marshall Plan for Moms” and has already backed several of its initiatives such as family leave and subsidized childcare.

As working mothers, we embody empathy, compassion, interpersonal skills and the ingenuity required to care for, teach, and respond to the ever-growing needs of our children and our families.  Let’s come together and take action to utilize these talents and advocate for ourselves, our families, our world and our place in the workforce.

Find valuable resources, support, and action steps toward advocacy at the California Work and Family Coalition.

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Traveling with Teens

As our teens get older, making memories with them become much more important… and much more challenging. Being able to travel abroad with your teen and experience another culture is a fantastic way to create those lifelong memories and spend quality time together. Traveling with your teenager can also be a wonderful learning experience for them – It gives them a chance to see how other cultures live and how to interact within them. It can also give them a greater appreciation for their life at home.

So, if you are thinking about embarking on an international adventure with your teen, we’ve put together a few tips to help you prepare for the experience!

1. Less is more. You might think you need a ton of clothes, shoes and everything in between, but packing a little lighter will allow you to be fluid. For example, if you fly in a smaller airplane with weight requirements to reach your destination, you’ll be happy to have only the essentials!

2. Talk about the culture and customs before you go. Spend some time researching the country you are visiting and have a few conversations about how it might be different than the US. Knowing more about the country you are visiting will help you better immerse yourself in the culture. (And it might even help you with what we mentioned about packing!)

3. Be okay if things aren’t perfect. Part of travel is about handling obstacles and being willing to readjust plans if needed. Traveling with teenagers is nerve-racking as it is, so be prepared for things to be a little different than how you planned them in the first place.

4. Learn a few words in the local language. While language barriers are common when traveling to other countries, if you know a few words, it can help ease tension when you are trying to communicate and is a sign of respect.