Career

How To Manage The Demands of Work and Family

howtomanageworkandfamilyschedule

Dear Tee,

What is one way you manage the scheduling demands of work and family?

Funny you should ask. A few weeks ago there was an article  that discussed how the world’s most successful women make the most of their time. Until this article, I had no idea my balancing act had a name.

It’s called the split shift.

Instead of working a straight 8-5, I have informally adapted the split. Here’s a typical day.

Before I go into the office I check my email and revise my to-do list for the day. Then I do family stuff (help the kids get ready for school, make breakfast, take them to the bus stop). When I know they are ready for their day, I am ready to move on with my day. I work until 4:30ish, then I dedicate the evening to family and working out. Once the kids are in bed (usually by 9 p.m.) I finish any work I didn’t get done during the day.

This working split shift accomplishes three important things.

First, it allows me to be fully present where I am, without worrying about the other. I’m not at work concerned about my kids, and I’m not with my family thinking about work.

Secondly, it allows me to be a happy working mom. I’m sure it’s possible, but I would struggle emotionally if there were no flexibility in my schedule. I am way more productive because I have some control over how I spend the hours of my day.

Third, I can work in a way that fits my personality. Some people do their best work at 7 in the morning. I am not one of them. My best time to be productive begins around 8:30ish. That being said, I don’t need a lunch break in the middle of the day, so I typically eat at my desk. Mini breaks throughout the day work much better for me.

I hope this helps you with your journey of family, work and life!

 

This post is part of the “Ask Tee” advice column. Have a question about managing work, family and fun? Send it my way! 

Help For Managing Kids’ Birthday Party Invitations

how to prepare for kids birthday party invite*Welcome to the “Ask Tee” advice column! I’m excited about this new feature and look forward to hearing from you. Have a question about managing work, family and fun? Send it my way! Now for the first question…

 

Dear Tee,

Managing my kids’ schedule is difficult enough, but throw in a friend’s birthday party and I’m running around at the last minute buying a gift and hunting for the invite. I’d like to not be so frazzled every time. Any advice?

Signed, My Kids’ Social Life Is Better Than Mine

 

Dear My Kids’ Social Life Is Better Than Mine,

Kids’ birthday party invites don’t have to cause panic. First, add the details to your calendar as soon as you see the invite and RSVP. Dealing with this immediately will save you time and energy later. Trust me, the “touch it once and be done” advice works.

As for gifts, be prepared. I swear by my gift closet. You don’t need an extra closet; get a medium or large plastic tote and use it as your gift bin. The gift bin is where you can store potential gifts and supplies. The key is to stock your bin as you see gift ideas, BEFORE you need them. I choose things that are general – games, kiddie cosmetic sets, Crayola items, books, etc.

I find really nice gifts on clearance racks at Target and Wal-Mart, especially after holidays. If you take 15 minutes after Christmas and Valentine’s Day you can have enough for a few parties, maybe all year.

You can do the same thing for cards and gift bags. Go to the dollar store and stock up on greeting cards for the year. Many sell them 2 for $1 and cards don’t expire. It’s best to buy gender-neutral cards, but I typically mix it up. Pick up gift bags while you’re there.

Keep all of the supplies in the bin and you won’t have to run around when the next invite comes in. You can shop at home!

As a backup I keep a few gift cards, too. You can pick up the multi-packs in most grocery stores and I have never seen a kid that didn’t like the idea of picking out their own gift. This works for adults, too, :-).

Knowing that you have a gift and the information in your calendar will encourage you to relax a little and get into the party mood. Enjoy your next party!

Towanda

#ObamaTownHall – My Experience

obamatownhallcharlottencBeing a few feet away from the President of the United States of America is both an exhilarating and humbling feeling. The charisma and comfortable nature of President Obama could be felt as soon as he entered the building, and the feeling remained as he answered questions from the moderator and crowd.

The Working Women Town Hall was moderated by Lisa Stone, SheKnows Media’s Chief Community Officer and Co-Founder of BlogHerand focused on three key issues – fair pay, childcare tax credits and education. President Obama did a great job of explaining his view on each. He used a nice mix of personal stories and statistics that came off as natural conversation (no teleprompter or notes during the Q&A).

Throughout the hour he said many things that resonated with me, but here’s one of my favorite quotes regarding fair pay.

obamaquotewomenrightsToo often the conversations about fair pay are held under the guise that women are the only ones impacted. That is not the case at all. Everyone benefits. When women are compensated fairly, they can better help in providing for their families. Not only does the woman benefit, but her children, spouse AND community benefit.

That being said, I also believe a large part of narrowing the pay gap comes through better education to change cultural norms. Let’s educate our girls and women on the benefits of knowing their worth, and then give them the tools to fight for that worth. Negotiation is not a bad word and fear should not be a reason to avoid it. And let’s make sure our boys and men understand that a woman negotiating should be the norm, not an exception that labels her angry or arrogant.

I look at it this way, every dollar I don’t ask for is one less dollar to invest in my girls’ college fund, so I must be okay asking for my dollars, :-).

On Tax Credits and Education

I appreciated hearing his views on childcare tax credits and higher education. On face value they both sound like great benefits to many American citizens. I know firsthand the costs of quality childcare and right now I can’t see the downside to offering two years of community college to students that maintain good grades. However, I also know that I don’t have enough information to make an educated decision. So, I’ve created a list of topics to research.

Full disclaimer. When I started this post, I was going to share my questions and then include answers based on unbiased reports. However, I do not have the brainpower right now to sift through the endless amount of biased/angry/crazy articles and statistics online to come up with an educated answer. It is VERY hard to find straight answers and the process reminded me why I swear by NPR.

So, instead here are the questions and when I get answers I’ll share them:

  • Exactly, who is considered the 1% in the USA? There’s a lot of talk about this group, but I don’t know the minimum income of this group. According to the NY Times, it looks like a household income of around $383,000, but I’m still verifying this.
  • Is cost the only reason the Fairness Paycheck Act continues to fail? Are there other fundamental issues?
  • Is cost the issue with offering free community college, early childhood education programs, childcare tax breaks?
  • For the Affordable Care Act, we have positive numbers for the citizens it has helped. However, do we have an idea of how many people can no longer afford insurance? I see personal stories sprinkled in various media outlets, but I wonder if this is the norm or an exception.

If you have unbiased resources for these questions, please share!

Overall, it was a great experience and I love that it was held at one of Charlotte’s most family-friendly places, Imaginon. Isn’t it cool how Imaginon had the books set up to feature family in the background? And yes, that’s his signature :-).

obamatownhallcharlotteimaginon

I am so incredibly thankful and grateful to have had this opportunity.

Plus, I get to say the POTUS shook my hand!!!

I’ll close with another of my favorite quotes of the day, “The most important office in a democracy is office of citizen.” ~Barack Obama

Tory Burch Tote Giveaway

… because I’m looking forward to Summer!

toryburchgiveawayAfter surviving this brutal winter, I have vowed to really enjoy Spring and Summer. Day trips, staycations, vacations and just enjoying my outdoor furniture more, it’s all on my list. And since this blog is all about enjoying work and life balance (or integration!), I’ll be sharing many of my adventures in hopes that you’ll be inspired to do more, too.

I will also share planning tips and ideas that you can use, inspiration for fun and much more.

I don’t want you to miss any of this, so take a minute and sign up for updates. I promise not to overwhelm your inbox, :-).

Plus, if you sign up you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win this Tory Burch tote!

Isn’t it fabulous?! It is perfect for Summer, and totes are one of the most practical and pretty ways to carry everything you need for a day out. I love this one because it’s a nice size, not too small or too big. There’s also a top zip closure!

So, sign up and good luck!

 

Disclaimer: This giveaway is open to US Residents only. Must be 18+ years or older. Giveaway ends June 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and winner will be contacted the week of July 1, 2015. Once the winner is chosen, they will have 48 hours to reply via email. If they do not reply another winner will be chosen. The tote pictured will be shipped, unless it is no longer available. If it is not available, another Tory Burch tote will be chosen as the gift.

 

Administrative Professionals Day Gift Ideas

adminprofessionalgiftideasmenwomen

Administrative Professionals Day is April 22nd this year, and gifts are a great way to show yours just how much you appreciate their hard work all year.

This list includes gift options that are gender-neutral, as well as some based on personal interests and hobbies.

A couple of things to keep in mind as you look for a gift:

  • Stay away from items that can be seen as too personal. For instance, hygiene and beauty products (body lotions, creams, perfumes, etc.) can send the wrong message and be awkward.
  • Consider their lifestyle. While one admin may love a gift card to an Italian restaurant, one counting carbs may not.

Female and Male Administrative Professionals Gift Ideas:

 

AdminProGiftCardIdeaAmerican Express Gift Card. One of the best gifts I received as an admin was a gift card. Because I wasn’t limited to one store, I was able to get exactly what I wanted. I was at Banana Republic the next day buying slacks for work, :-). This was my first real job out of college, so trust me, BR slacks were a splurge.

Plus, there was enough left for dinner and dessert.

AdminProfessionalGiftIdeaTicketmasterCardTicketmaster gift card. Gifting an experience is one of the best things you can do and a Ticketmaster gift card means you don’t have to worry about choosing the right concert or sporting event. If you choose this option, consider an amount that pays for a pair of tickets.

If you don’t want to splurge for Ticketmaster, a Fandango card for movies  or a gift card to a fabulous local restaurant works, too. If you do movie tickets, include enough for snacks.

ScandalWineGlassfromCrateBarrelScandal Wine Glasses. Okay, so their real name is Camille and you can buy them at Crate and Barrel. If your admin is a Gladiator and can’t wait for Thursday night, aka Scandal night, they will love having the same glass as Olivia Pope.

Even better, add some gourmet popcorn and they will be set for the night.

money clip flash driveFlash drive money clip. A money clip that doubles as a flash drive?! Yes, please.

Cross pen and pencil set for giftCross pen and pencil set. This pen and pencil set is fabulous, practical and definitely makes a statement. It’s perfect for anyone that loves a good writing tool.

Tea brewer gift for tea loverTea brewer. This tea brewer is perfect for a tea lover. It’ll make it easy for them to have a fabulous cup of tea at work or at home. You can also add a gift card to a local tea shop and let them pick out tea leaves.

These are just a few ideas, but there’s a lot more on my Admin Professionals Gift Pinterest  board!

Check it out and I hope this helps you choose a great gift for your admin.

 

Working Mom Tip to Manage Evenings and After School

eveningroutineforworkingmom

Three elementary school kids with homework, papers to sign and daily updates can be overwhelming.

To manage, I created an afterschool/evening routine for checking homework, getting dinner on the table and giving each of my girls a little quality time, too.

Not only does it work, my girls look forward to it!

My Working Mom Evening Routine

Once home, my kids are responsible for putting their things away (backpacks, coats, etc.), washing their hands and getting a small snack. I start dinner.

After snack, they are to either finish homework or organize their things for our one-on-one meetings.

Once dinner is cooking, meetings start. One-on-one meetings are as they sound. Each child gets my undivided attention, typically for 5-15 minutes, depending on their needs that day. The others can’t interrupt and this prevents me from mixing up their homework, agendas and permission slips… which may or may not have happened before.

During one-on-one I check homework, read and sign any teacher notes/permission slips/agendas and then they share freely about their day. It’s not a lot of time, and you’d be surprised how good they feel to have a few minutes of my attention to just chat, especially without having to talk around their siblings.

I get to hear what they loved about their day, who they played with at recess, if they had special treats because of a classmate’s birthday, and more. Bonus point, I’m hoping as they get older this habit will make it easier for them to keep talking to me about their world.

Once I’ve done this for each child, it’s typically dinner time.

I hope this helps you with your evenings!

Daily Schedule For Kids On Holiday Break

WinterBreakScheduleForKidsAtHome

With the kids out of school for Winter Holiday break soon, I’ll be splitting my work time between the office and home.

Since I’ve shared some of the ways I work from home while the kids are there, I’m following up with a sample schedule.

I hope this helps you keep your kids entertained.

Sample Schedule for Kids At Home During School’s Winter Break

Breakfast. Oatmeal is a favorite because it is healthy, quick and filling. Also, muffins and hard-boiled eggs are a hit.

Project Time. Instead of giving them a particular assignment, keep a mix of craft supplies and set the timer for 60-90 minutes. Let them decide what to make with it. You may be surprised what happens when they mix jewelry-making with scrapbooking with paper and markers.

Reading Time. We set aside 30 minutes of reading time. After reading they have to either write a brief summary or draw an illustration that goes with the text. This is shared during lunch time so they really look forward to it!

Math Time. I rely on math websites for this. Their school uses Dreambox and Sumdog, but there are plenty of sites out there to choose from based on your kid’s grade level.

Lunchtime. Some of our favorites are pizza, turkey wraps with baked chips and fruit, and chicken noodle soup with whole wheat crackers

Quiet Time/TV Time.You can decide or let your kids choose to read, nap or watch TV for an hour. I find this downtime to be imperative to a good evening, especially once you get to day three or four of winter break.

Let’s Move. After quiet time, it’s time to move! This can be anything from a dance party to an exercise video to using a video gaming system like Wii.

Hope this helps you manage during school’s winter holiday break.

Happy Holidays and enjoy the season!

Special K’s Nourish Hot Cereal

specialknourishofficebreakfastworkingmomI like to have “in case of emergency” breakfast options in my office, so when I saw Special K’s Nourish hot cereal, I picked it up. I opted for the cranberry almond flavor. It’s a multi-grain blend with quinoa, so I figured it would be a good alternative to oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.

If you’re looking for a quick breakfast option that you can make at work, that’s also tasty, pretty healthy and filling, this is a good option. I’ve moved it up from my “in case of emergency” stash to regular rotation, especially for the colder months.

Preparation

Like other hot cereals, the longer you let it stand, the softer it gets. I let it stand for five minutes, because I like my grains soft. I also drizzled a little agave nectar before stirring to make it a little sweeter. I suggest trying it first and then adding a little sweetener if you need it. Most people won’t need it, since there is sugar in it, along with a nice mix of cranberries and almonds.

Things to Know

The cranberry almond flavor has 190 calories, so if you’re a calorie counter it leaves room for a morning snack, or in my case a mid-morning cup of tea.

The container if not filled to the top; it’s about 2/3 of the container when prepared.

specialknourishhotcerealreviewcranberryalmond

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll need more to be satisfied. With the hot cereal and water I was satisfied for a few hours.

Enjoy your breakfast!