Tag Archive | working mom

Did I just put my toe it or did I jump?

A good MBA-friend, and my financial planner, gave me a semi-gentle shove toward a networking group.  Wow.  It was really very cool!  I like networking in general, what’s not to like, a collection of people who choose to come together to help each other succeed in business; Social interaction + Capitalism = Win.  I was a bit afraid when there was another social media person but she does the other end (like there are ends… ha! more like spaghetti pie) and her preference is in the setup of a site/platform and my preference is continuing content, so, complimentary really rather than conflicting.

I walked in with just about no sleep because Niamh got sick around 3 am and kept me informed of her pain and suffering until morning.  The 30min stretches of sleep were full of anxiety dreams half based on a networking meeting, half on sick kids, and another extra half on Niamh messing up my Ingress game.  Good thing people in general give me more rather than less energy and I left with a fist full of cards, a meeting set up, and a few “I’ll call yous”.  In return, I have a few things I can immediately reach out to people I know, and, a pocket full of people I can recommend when people ask (and I get asked a lot actually).  Too bad there wasn’t a handyman there, maybe he could have done my roof…  I bet the group knows someone.  I have to talk to Lars about joining the group officially and look at the rules because I’m not sure I can actually go every single week but I highly recommend the BNI networking format since it runs quickly and smoothly.  Lucky for me at least 5 MBA classes had ‘elevator’ speech components so I’m decent at giving 30 seconds of info.

Later tonight I hope to go to my first PTA meeting.  Who knows what that will be like but I’ve got my win for the day already, it would just be extra good to find TWO cool new groups of people.

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ps.  Niamh is fine, I think she ate too much ice cream and when she finally purged herself of the evil burger king concoction at 7am she was fine and is enjoying a lazy day at home.

pps.  as I was spell checking I got the call that Zoe is sick at school.  Oh well.  cross fingers for a fast and easy virus because Niamh has been right as rain all day post puke.  Off I go!

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My free day

Wednesday, my alleged free day.  The day that I was supposed to live the dream of sleeping, reading and eating bon bons….  Well then I got a client, and now I have another -> 2 solid hours accounted for plus admin.  One of my goals for staying at home was to be an active part of my kids education so I volunteer at school monthly -> 2.5 hours.  Every time I get a pile of mail or stuff I add it to a pile that I label -> to do on Wednesday, not exactly the best plan but better than ignoring the mail.  Same goes for any project that requires more than 15 min of focused attention.  Wow, the day is pretty full since I really only have from 9am – 4pm.  As president of the MOMS club I don’t have too many duties but I do have some and they get assigned to… you guessed it…. Wednesday!  Then there are the projects that come up that need to be done like deseeding 5million tomatoes or finishing touches on 3 costumes or taxes.  On top of it all I have a diluted notion that I can clean the whole house on Wednesday (I can’t btw unless I did no other things)

 

Oddly enough on a regular day I do tend to get a solid hour of doing things time during nap and occasionally I sit and wonder what I should do.  Other days are hard though becuse it is really hard to know if you can start something involved because kids might need me at any moment.  Sometimes Fiona will actually nap for 3 hours but that 3 hours is filled with 10 or 15 activities because I just never know.  Fortunately blogging is a good 15 min activity, unfortunately I schedule my wednesday so tightly that I don’t have time for a good blog (so this is what I write!).

 

Time to go make bread, sew, clean in that order.  See you tomorrow!

 

ps.  I got studio time to do GOOD pictures of the costumes this weekend 🙂

pps. Yesterday we played in the leaves and here are some pretty fall pictures

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ppss. Niamh took all the pictures that I’m in

10 working habits that help me be a good mom

I hear about the working mom v stay at home mom ‘wars’ but I’ve personally never really seen much of it.  Maybe I’m just reading in the wrong spots.  Anyway, yesterday I was thinking about my summer plans and realized I was waiting on some mystical ‘approval’ for the plan.  Where is this from?  I thought about it for a minute and I’m weirdly stuck waiting for approval from upper management when in reality I am the end of the line for decisions.  Then I started thinking about other business habits that translate well into stay at home motherhood.

1. I’m ok waiting for things.  For years I worked with budgets and constraints and planning so flipping it onto myself was easy cheese.  At work I seldom got anything I asked for unless I went to the mat for it and jumped through the corporate hoops.  (nothing against my most recent employer, it is a business standard as far as I can tell).  This basically trained me into not wanting frivolous things.  Now that I’m home, if I come up with a project I more or less have to convince myself that it is a good thing to spend time and money on and in some odd internal corporate clock I tend to come up with a project every 6 months and 1 big one a year.  At my last birthday I realized I had not purchased a new article of clothing for myself in over 2 years and so I got 3 shirts and I think I’m good for a while.  Work brought me a greater sense of the whole rather than my individual needs and that translates well into a family.

2.  I’m cool with not spending a ton.  Budget.  I was not even in finance and the word ‘budget’ would still dominate 50% of all work conversations.  I know how to work in the corporate system right down to listing every possible pie-in-the-sky requirements because I know someone will ask me to ‘cut 20%” so you need to have some fluff to trim.   I could also hang with the best in the ‘not in the budget’ world and denying things because part of an art form, one that is still with me.  I’m no martyr, but, I also like to see savings and/or investment rather than things.   I unconsciously balance out spending, I level load my budget and I’m also lucky enough to have a household income that covers things nicely.  It is 100% easier to budget here because I don’t have to defend the money or horde the money because nobody is trying to get it!  We talk about things and usually I’m the one that needs to be convinced so we balance out well.

3. Deal hunting is in my blood.  Wow, many of these are money related, but that is what I did.  The every constant mandate to ‘do more with less’ and ‘trim 20%’ is part of my standard operating procedure.  Not worrying about constantly cutting the budget has given me a sense of freedom but a good deal is still sweet!  I don’t coupon like a champ, but, I have a cost index in my brain (and my phone) so I know what is a good deal and what is not.  Cost benefit analysis works on cereal as well as any business item.  Referring back to #1, it is nice that I don’t have to convince 12 levels of bureaucracy that this whatever is a good deal.

4. Cost and Quality balance could be it any of bullets above but I’m giving it one all by itself.  I was very convinced that poor quality costs more.  This is a life lesson!  One of the reasons I will stick with Melaleuca is that it is a very good cost v quality balance!  There are times that the less expensive thing is just as good and then there are times that it will bite you.  10 years of business has given me a good gut feel.

5. Waiting is not a problem.  I was constantly waiting for someone to do something.  There are tons of techniques to move things along, inspire, threaten, bribe, good example and they all work as well on toddlers as they do on coworkers.  However, you still need the ability to just wait sometimes and good things happen like little girls learning how to put on her own shoes because I give her the time to figure it out.

6. Sometimes I don’t like the people I’m with but I’m still with them.  You always have the choice to be miserable or not.  I had coworkers that annoyed me until I would find the best way to ‘be’ with them and the same goes with kids and mom friends.  If you are looking to surround yourself with perfection I’m not sure where you plan on going.  I learned early on to find the fun in everyone and that has helped me out all the time.

7. Confidence and attitude count almost more than actual actions.  Not saying fake it, but, things go easier if you don’t dwell on your fears or shortcomings.  Learned in business, used here daily – kids smell weakness….

8. Poop is universal.  I used to like working because I didn’t have to wipe literal bottoms.  However, I did plenty to clean up figurative poo at work.  You can’t build happiness because ‘things are worse elsewhere’ but you can realize that there are just things that stink in all situations and you deal and move on.

9. Timing is important.  Being on time is imperative in business and it really is in all parts of life.  Gaining the ability to plan the variables to get to whatever on time is a skill that I used all the time at work.  The converse is true too, you need to know when it is worth it to blow a timeline for something important.  Mom’s know about the magic nap window…  acknowledging the variables is a big part of good time management and some days I win and some days I don’t.

10. Self motivated.  This phrase is in nearly every job descriptions (as well as ‘other duties as required’) but at work you are technically motivated by a paycheck and the penalties for not doing something is slim.  Moms are the real self motivated ones.  The strength of will to clean something, prep something, organize, fit in one little thing during the moments of down time when you also want to sleep, candy crush, or stare into space is monstrous.  I was always self motivated for real and it shows now that seriously, nobody is motivating me to do anything.

I have more in my head but I’ve hit my word limit for the day.  Don’t want to use up all the words (and the baby woke up).

Any other work/life lessons?

Old work

Yesterday fate dictated that I go to Polaris so I took the drive I took thousands of times but not in the past 17 months.  Over those 17 months I have thought about work less and less as other things take front and center on by brain but certain times of year trigger the itch to do a certain ‘work thing’ (a lot like how september makes you want to buy school supplies).  If I was at work right now I would be compiling end of year ‘stuff’ like tidying up the stats on my suppliers, harassing them about pricing for next year, and setting up reviews and expectations for the year to come.  Honestly I don’t miss much of that but I do miss being good at it.  I’m sure if I was there I would be grinding my teeth about doing the same thing again for the 9th year in a row because I seriously doubt any of my issues with the company would have changed but with time comes nostalgia…

So the reason I had to go in was that 5 years ago or so I bought a trailer from a coworker there and since it never went anywhere I never registered it.  Now I have a buyer for the traier (yippie!!!) but I must legally own it to sell it.  The paperwork I have tenaciously held onto for years should have been fine BUT it was not.  The nice ladies at the DMV firmly yet politely said no to the form he had given me because of a tiny thing but you don’t argue with the DMV when the fix is relatively easy.  An email, a conversation, a meeting is set for the previous owner to sign on the line but that does bring me back to the building I left in my past.

I convinced myself that I would know practically nobody there and that I would have been forgotten.  I could not have been more wrong.  Not only did I see one of my favorite engineers in the lobby but at least 10 other people stopped to say hi or waved.  The company is big and far flung so it is conceivable that I just work in a different location and that is about how I was treated, as if I still belonged there.  That was a nice feeling even if it is not really true.  I belong here now, and somewhere else in the future.  Going back would be the equivalent of trying to wear stretched out yoga pants; they might be comfortable and easy but not going to get me anywhere.

 

I drove away far more happy and peaceful then the last time so that was a nice bonus.

**this would have been a perfect place to end, all up note and happy, HOWEVER**

 

After a nice morning of breakfast and race to the bus and a few chores and a few games and a trip to target I settle in front of the computer to do the things that require a qwerty keyboard and right on top of my inbox was an email about OLD WORK!  Specifically asking me about a set of parts I moved maybe 5 years ago.  I did know the answer and I like the person who asked so I answered but said I would bill for future e-mails.  On the bright side, I like to be needed and relevant even if it is for ancient info.

Since I am still writing and nobody is crying, I have to say that the same-but-different feeling I got there is creepy feeling.  I always get this feeling when I visit a place I used to go all the time like my old high school or my hometown or the grocery store we went to when we lived in a different town.  Anyway, this one was even stronger because people who always sat together were still sitting together, eating the same lunchbox food and following lunch with a brisk walk.  It is creepy to feel like NOTHING changed and the place is in a social bubble, but, seeing a major addition to the building (that looks exactly like the first half) and a ton of people I didn’t know.  This is not a new or unique or even very interesting thought so I am going to just wrap this up and go do something useful.

Happy ending, I sold the trailer we were not using and was killing our grass, lets just stop here.

5 steps for a (mostly) organized life with 3 kids

Isn’t that the way?  I need a weekend from my weekend and ironically my weekends are rarely well planned because of the husband factor.  I want to include him but then he still has a pretty random and sometimes demanding schedule for work on weekends.  Anyway, we got quite a bit done over the weekend including 2 birthday parties and moving our elliptical down to the office so Lars can ‘treadmill desk’* but today I get to do all the ‘normal’ things that make the house a good place to be and creates clean clothing.  Ah Ha!  are you bracing yourself for a description of my laundry method?!?

Nope, on day 18 of everyday posting I’m answering an emailed question on ‘how’ I manage to remember/do so many different things with kids.  I was very pleased that someone finds me organized and I’m happy to pass on my version of 5 steps for a (mostly) organized life with 3 kids under 6

 

1. Routine. I’ve always loved it and days go better when I have a general plan.  I also put specific things on specific days and that is when it gets done.  Laundry is Monday, I do all 5 or 6 loads from the week.  Barring massive puke, all dirty laundry just gets to wait until Monday.  I do a load here and there when I really need to and diapers are done a different day but I learned this from a workflow specialist; do things in order and do not get distracted in the middle. Her example was to not pick up the phone at work while you are in your email hour and vice versa.  I never went that far but having a time to do things does help.  Key takeaway; make a plan for when you will do a thing and it does save time from doing it daily or randomly or waiting until it is overwhelming.

 

2. Use my people resources.  Lars likes to cook so he cooks most nights and that is a major burden off me.  He also works a million hours so he does not have much time to do other things but I still tap him to do things I know he can.  For example, he has time at work that nothing is happening but he has to be right there for when something does happen.  For those breaks I have a little list of stuff for him to look up.  It helps me because he does have time to concentrate and I don’t, and, we have something to talk about.  Most recently I asked him to research what plants would winter and what won’t.  Took about a week to get an answer but hey, now we both know.  I also ask other people for advice/help that I trust because it is tons faster than starting from scratch or diving into the internet.  Finally, I have a daycare budget – I am very fortunate – 2x a week Zoe does preschool and 1x a month Fiona goes for a day and those days I really catch up.  Key takeaway; outsource  where possible – you don’t have to do it ALL alone

 

3. Writing lists.  I’ve recently taken to the bullet journal method.  I got a nice hardback blank book and I use it for all my to-do lists.  At the beginning of the week I ‘move’ all the things that didn’t get done in the previous week (and still need doing) and start a fresh list.  I also can keep track of projects and dates and ideas plus I’m writing little notes about the day that I would not put on a blog like when I notice someone starting to cough so I don’t’ have to rely on my memory.  The bullet journal is described really well here and for me I like to make a ‘master’ to do list for the week and then daily my specific to-do tasks.  I think the index is genius and so simple and now I don’t loose my post-it or envelope back lists or the undone things on those lists. Key takeaway; find a system to keep track of your to-dos

4. Use technology when it makes life easier.  I  use my google calendar and phone alerts for things that happen daily like the bus or vitamins or bedtime so I don’t have to constantly watch the clock or worry about forgetting.  My smart phone makes my day go much more smoothly since I can quick look up something or check something without disappearing down to my real computer.  I really only check my e-mail or facebook while nursing Fiona but multitasking in that time makes me feel much more in touch and in control.  Technology is a rabbit hole too, be careful not to spend a million hours on ‘time saving’ apps that don’t suit you and you either can’t use fast or you don’t look at daily because if you are like me they get forgotten quickly.  I especially look for systems that auto sync so I can depend on the info on all platforms.  For some financial peace I set up auto pay on many of my recurring payments so paying bills is something that takes 10 min of checking up rather than an hour of writing checks.  Key takeaway; use what tech works for you

 

5. Try and mix fun and work.  This is a balance to be sure…  I’ve said plenty of times I would rather do a craft then do the dishes but the dishes also do need doing.  My theory is I try and do one fun/craft/creative thing a day so I have something other than laundry, diapers, dishes, picking up the toys, vacuuming, sweeping, scrubbing (repeat repeat repeat) to look back on in my day.  Sometimes my projects take days to finish, some are fast but usually I can include the kids a bit so I don’t have to wait until they are sleeping (ha!) or otherwise engaged.  Doing things with kids, like cooking on the floor, takes some tweaking to make work, and, it won’t be as fast as doing it alone but hey, it gets done and who knows what they are picking up on.  I suggest if you are using tools to have extras on hand if you are working with the under 2 crowd.  Key takeaway; some play some work every day

coat rack for the girls. It is done and even in use now!

 

I think organization with kids is a blend of working with them and working around them.  I like to write things down so I don’t have to over think or remember what to do next.  I also like reminders and timers for the things that slip because they are everyday things.  I hope this helps the person who asked and maybe one or two other people trying to find the unicorn of an organized life with kids.  It goes without saying I hope that you need to be flexible too, too rigid a system is bound to go off the rails.  If you build in a fail safe, like auto pay and moving to-do list items, you drop the fall far less when life gets all lifey on you.

*my mom’s idea for moving the elliptical worked, thanks mom!

** the bullet journal came to me via fellow blogmom http://www.misszoot.com/2013/09/26/speaking-of-bullets-bullet-journal-ftw/ who I have read for years and years and gotten countless good and new things from.

BTW. This is how I did things when I worked full time too so it can be adapted to a working timeframe too – however – part of ‘outsourcing’ for me was to hire someone to do some of the cleaning, something I now have more time to fit into my day (technically speaking…)

cry it out Fiona and other milestones

Last night we did the cry it out thing.  I feel like saying ‘again’ with this because Fiona used to cry just a bit and fall asleep just fine earlier in her life but recently bad habits like feeding her to sleep have made her going to sleep herself undesirable.  The last few weeks with Christmas and moving to the crib etc did not make things better and I was going loco with the lack of sleeping child.  Last night Fiona wailed away for 5 cycles (10 – 10 – 15 – 15 – 20) finally falling asleep mid cycle 5.  We barley won this one, I was about to give up at the end of cycle 5.  I had to fall back on my previous mental exercise where I imagine putting money in the bed every time I started a new cycle and all would be lost if I gave in.  I know this is for her own good – she was full, clean and tired and her cry was angry not sad or pain or anything.  We checked on her when she was sleeping and she was very peaceful looking.

Tonight we do it again and then tomorrow and hopefully that is it.  3 days was it for the other two and I am fondly looking forward to that feeling of peace when I put her to bed and she goes to sleep.  I know that feeling, I’ve had it 2 other times and both other times my only regret was not doing it sooner.  I could not do it earlier this time because we didn’t have the crib up and she could have crawled out of the cosleeper so today was about the earliest I could do it.

Other milestones – teeth!  Unlike Niamh’s all night angst for her first tooth, Fiona just popped two bottom middle teeth out over the past 3 days.

She is also pulling up and trying to cruse on furniture or anything else standing still (like sisters)

She is not actually crawling like I thought she would, she planks and can schooch but won’t put her knees down.  Probably because the floor is too slippy, but, I don’t think she will actually skip crawling.

In lots of ways Fiona is like a first child here because I’ve never had a 7 month old full time.  I have an odd mental tick that I equate her being home to her being under 3 months old because that is how old the others were when I handed they over to daycare.  I look at her and think, wow, your big for a baby and really she is 2x as old as she in my head.  I don’t think I can explain it to you all but I’m writing it so I remember the feeling in the future.  I don’t think I will ever forget, I still remember exactly how each baby looked that first night they finally fell asleep by themselves, but this is my memory vault…

PS.  In re reading my cry it out posts for Zoe and Niamh I’m right on track for timing.  Fiona is actually more tenacious then either, and, like both others I had a ‘fail’ day first where I give in because I was just not ready to do it.  None of the three cry dates were actually planned, they just happen one day but oddly relatively the same