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Kindness Deserves a Seat at the Table, Whether in the Kitchen or the Boardroom

Inspired by the Harvard Business Review article, “Don’t Underestimate the Power of Kindness at Work”.

One of the unspoken challenges of working from home, working remotely, or working largely in isolation is the lack of authentic opportunities for social interactions with colleagues, management, and our professional tribe.  Many of us are seeing the lines of our home life and work life blur for the first time due to the pandemic, juggling the demands of childcare and Zoom meetings, and our working hours stretching late into the evening.  Our carefully established boundaries, routines and life as normal have been uprooted and our aptitude for kindness is essentially non-existent, all while our appetite for human connection becomes nearly insatiable.  We turn to social media to replace our face-to-face connections, which only furthers our inner turmoil and loneliness in a culture that seems to value division over unity with Keyboard Karen’s lurking in the shadows ready to add their vindictive two-cents to any, and every, post.  Is it any wonder that we have lost touch with one of the greatest attributes we can embody and the windfall of benefits therein?  It’s time to adapt to our new normal and to begin sprinkling kindness like confetti once again.


The Windfall of Benefits

With opportunities for ‘praise in passing’ limited by the pandemic, it is important to recognize the tangible benefits of kindness in the workplace.  A yearlong compilation of surveys conducted by Gallup found that recognition at work could help to, “reduce employee burnout and absenteeism, and improves employee well-being.”  Decades of research show that seemingly simplistic gestures like offering a compliment, words of recognition, and praise can help individuals to feel, “more fulfilled, boost their self-esteem, improve their self-evaluations, and trigger positive emotions.”  The affirmation offered by praise confirms our self-worth and contributes to our positive view of ourselves.

Next, the act of being kind contributes to our perceived sense of life’s meaningfulness.  When we are kind to others, it confirms our belief that there is more to life than ourselves.  These acts of kindness also change the way we see ourselves, as our reputation and esteem in the mind of others is improved.  We assess ourselves based on our behavior, so when we are kind to others we view ourselves as kind people, and therefore a good person.

Finally, giving to others makes us even happier than receiving from others.  In various studies, participants who complimented one another found that giving the compliment made them even happier than receiving one.  Compliments may seem trite, but the psychological steps taken to construe and offer a compliment are much deeper.  When we give a genuine compliment it requires us to,  “think about someone else—their mental state, behavior, personality, thoughts, and feelings.”  Thinking about others is a necessary step in feeling connected to them.  And this human connection, that we’ve all been desperately seeking throughout the pandemic, can lead to enhanced positivity in relationships ultimately driving our own happiness forward.

Bringing Kindness Back to the Workplace (Even If It’s Remote)

In order to create a culture of generosity and kindness within an organization, it is imperative that leadership leads by example. “By giving compliments and praising their employees, leaders are likely to motivate team members to copy their behavior and create norms of kindness in teams.”

Next, leaders can establish a time during Zoom meetings for a “kindness round”, close a call with an opportunity for employees to acknowledge each other’s work, or encourage a weekly “bright spot” submission in the weekly meeting notes.  Just a few moments taken out of the norm can have significant impacts on moral and social connection.  The key is consistency and an opportunity for peers to recognize one another publicly.

Finally, small spot bonuses, or tokens of appreciation, even if it’s ‘just’ a gift card for coffee or a thoughtful e-mail, can trigger the same psychological benefits of large acts of kindness without significant expense.


While we are busy switching loads of laundry, and prepping dinner between e-mails and Zoom calls, it can be easy to dismiss acts of kindness as frivolous.  But, if we can pencil in one small gesture of kindness a week, or a day for our colleagues, management and professional tribe, the overwhelming minutia of survival mode can begin to look a bit more like thriving for ourselves and others.  Our children are our best examples of unencumbered kindness, offering a hand picked dandelion, a smile to a stranger, or the last bite of their prized dessert.  Let’s become a bit more childlike and a lot less jaded; the world needs more kindness than Karen’s.

Career Children Family Household Life Hack Spotlight: Jennifer Becker Work at Home Work-Life Balance

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.

Career Children Corporate Family Finance Household Money Success Women Work Work at Home Work-Life Balance Working Mom

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.

Dream Big Family Goals Work at Home

There are opportunities out there that let you have it all!

We are so excited to share the interview we had with Stacy Fiske recently. Stacy has been working with Moms Making Six Figures for a total of 11 years, two years part-time and the last nine years full-time. In the time she has spent working with the team, her “why” has shifted. Stacy took the time to share what life is like for her now and how Moms Making Six Figures has played such an intricate role in her journey!

Can you tell us a little bit about why you started working with Moms Making Six Figures?

When I very first started with Moms Making Six Figures, I was a single mom working in the corporate world and I felt like my daughter was being raised by her nanny. I was working so much and felt like I just needed to do something different. I really wanted a job where I could control my schedule and have flexibility. Fast forward to now, life looks very different. I am re-married; we blended our families and had a son together, for a grand total of five amazing kids. It’s crazy to reflect and think about where my life is and all I have been able to do by making this career switch. For example, having two of our kids in private school, being able to drop them off and pick them up each day, along with pay for the schooling itself.

When our youngest, Colin, was diagnosed with dyslexia, we didn’t have to worry for a second about how much it would cost to get him the help and tools he needs. We hired a specialized tutor, along with therapy and evaluations. With these evaluations, it requires me to take him out of school and be with him about 10 hours per week to get those services done. Again, I didn’t even have to think twice about doing this for him. I didn’t have to talk to my employer and find some flexibility in my schedule – I already have that freedom being my own boss with Moms Making Six Figures. I felt such a sense of gratitude knowing that I can do what I need to do for my son without a single worry about the financial and time obligations. My business didn’t suffer, either. The amazing team we work with jumped in to help me with anything I needed. In the corporate world, this would have been a huge hit for the business.

What were your first thoughts when you found out about your son’s special need?

When you find out your child has a special need, the first thing you want to do is take it away for them. I remember thinking “I wish I had a magic wand to wave, and he would not have to deal with this…”  But that is not life or reality, our kids must go through struggles. The second thought I had was “what resources can I provide to help him be as successful as he can be, despite this special need?”

My heart breaks for others who might not have the same opportunities I do when it comes to helping my son. I constantly think about all the mothers who do not have financial stability or job flexibility to lean on in this situation.

There is a ton of worry and stress that comes along with having a child with a special need. The situation is emotional enough — I could not imagine having got the news while worrying about the financial aspects or losing my job by needing extra time off. To be able to deal with the issue without those added stressors is a true gift.

Do you ever just sit back and reflect on how different your life is because of joining Moms Making Six Figures?

Oh, absolutely. When you think about taking the leap out of the corporate world, you question “am I giving something up to get this flexible schedule? Am I giving up the career I have built and the name I have established for myself?”  The answer is no, you’re not. And in time, you realize you’ve gained so much more than you could have ever lost in the first place. With Moms Making Six Figures, you’re gaining the ability to have a profession and a business of your own… All while having the resources and time to be the parent you want to be. Honestly, I don’t really know if I could have done both as successfully had I stayed in the corporate world. I remember the days I had no control over my schedule and there was so much demand on my time from my employer. They weren’t terribly understanding about family life, either. They didn’t really care if you have a sick kid or an emergency. They want you to be clocked in and present at work.

When I talk to people about my business, I see the self-doubt turning in their heads. The thoughts of “you did it, but could I?” Or, “Is this really a profession that could provide me the financial security I need in the long-term?” I wish I could just shout “YES!” from the rooftops. Here I am, nine years of full-time into the business, I have earned 1.8 million dollars over those nine years and have always prioritized my family. I can drop off and pick up my kids at school, take them to sports activities and so much more. These are the things I never thought were doable when I worked in the corporate world. I thought my kids would have to miss out on fun things, like sports, because how would I ever get them from point A to point B with such a rigorous schedule? Now, it’s my reality.

Sometimes, I think about what life would be like if I hadn’t started working with Moms Making Six Figures. My kids would have had to be a part of the after-school programs, have nanny’s or babysitter’s, and someone else would be driving them around. Someone else would be hearing about what went on at school that day. I wouldn’t have the chance to get to know their friends or volunteer in their classroom. It’s such a different view when you get to be the involved parent.

What is your best piece of advice for anyone questioning whether they should reach out and learn about Moms Making Six Figures?

My best piece of advice: what’s the worst that could happen? You get some information and find out it’s not a good fit. Now, what’s the best that could happen? What could your life look like 10 years from now? I made a small change. I wasn’t giving up myself, I was just changing my career. I started doing things a different way, was still able to produce a significant income and have a secure life. I think a lot of people have given up hope. We have been beaten down in life and told we can’t do it all. Something always has to give… I am here to tell you, there is no need to give up hope. There are opportunities out there that let you have it all. So, why not dig in and explore all your options? Why not try?

 

Work at Home Work-Life Balance

How to Reap the Rewards of Working from Home Part 3: Lesser-Known Challenges

Over the last couple weeks, I discussed the two main challenges of working from home: Maintaining self-discipline and dealing with a lack of community. In the final article in this series, I’m taking a closer look at some of the other, often overlooked, challenges of working from home.

When you’re at a corporate job in an office building, working from home seems like the ultimate scenario: A flexible schedule, time with your kids, and the ability to work without someone breathing down your neck. What’s not to love? However, once you begin working from home, you quickly realize that it has some downsides of its own.

No job is without its challenges, and I would still choose working from home any day over a typical 9-to-5 career! Let’s look at some of the lesser-known challenges you may face as a work-from-home mom and how to overcome them.

1. Distractions

Being a mom means juggling a whole host of responsibilities. From school pickups to drop-offs, grocery store runs to cleaning the house, the old saying is true: A woman’s work is never done! It’s no surprise then that when you work from home, there are many distractions that may keep you from actually working.

You may find yourself starting the laundry before you start your work, thinking, “I’ll just do this one thing real quick and knock it off my to-do list.” But before you know it, you end up cleaning the entire house and it’s time to pick up the kids—the day is gone! Does this sound all too familiar? If so, welcome to work-from-home motherhood!

To avoid being side-tracked by chores, schedule in laundry day and other chores. Be sure to order your work around your busy mom life.

You may also want to designate a working space separate from your living space, if possible, to help you stay productive and prevent you from seeing the distractions. It will also put distance between you and the refrigerator—another go-to distraction for work-from-home moms.

2. Dealing with the (Un)Reliability of Employees

If you’ve set up a business at home and hired a remote employee, you face a whole new set of problems. What if you send them a retainer and they never do the work? Or they do the work, but it’s far below expectations? You’ll either need to find a new worker or train the existing one—both of which take valuable time.

One way to combat this is to use well-known, reliable platforms when hiring freelancers. Sites like Upwork or Freelancer may offer some protection for both parties, while giving you the peace of mind that someone else is actively vetting them. You have enough on your plate without having to chase down and hound irresponsible workers!

3. Missing Out on Employee Benefits

Your corporate job may have drained the life out of you, but it had its benefits—literally.

Medical insurance and paid sick leave are just two luxurious benefits that few of us who are working from home can afford to offer ourselves. Often, if you’re just starting out working from home, time spent not working means no income—and if you can’t afford benefits, then you definitely can’t afford to have no income!

The thing is, while no one plans to fall ill, we all inevitably get sick at some point. The best thing to do is to plan and prepare financially for times when you may be sick or simply want to take a vacation. This means making saving and planning a priority, no matter how difficult it may be.

With no company to look after you, it’s all up to you—don’t let yourself down! This article offers more helpful advice and tips on saving money as a work-from-home mom.

4. The Dreaded Question: “What do you do?”

You are going to have to explain to a lot of people what you do because, most of the time, there probably won’t be one word to describe your profession. Then there’s the assumption that usually comes after your answer, as people imagine you lounging in your pajamas all day.

There will always be someone with something to say when you go against the norm. Stay confident in your choice to work from home and don’t worry about what others think. You have your reasons for choosing this lifestyle and it’s helpful to recall those reasons when you get discouraged.

Remember what you’re doing this for—time with your kids, quality of life, dream house—and keep your eyes on that prize! Don’t let anyone make you second-guess yourself.

It may also be helpful to have a concise and well-rehearsed answer ready when you’re inevitably asked this dreaded question. Your confidence will lend you credibility, and when you sound confident, people are less likely to doubt you.

Working from Home: It’s All About Willpower

As with everything in life, your willpower is what will help you overcome challenges. For some, working from home might sound like the easy way out. But, for those of us who experience the work-at-home lifestyle, we know it involves a lot of hard work and willpower.

To fully reap the rewards of a work-from-home lifestyle, you’ll have to learn—and do—what works best for you. Trust me, you’ll find your sweet spot when it comes to work-life balance eventually.

To learn more about how to find success as a work-from-home mom, contact us at www.momsmakingsixfigures.com or (858) 837-1505.