6 Ways to Clear Your Inbox and Get the Messages You Want

management-1137648_960_720Does opening your inbox make you sick and tired?  Maybe it’s time for a detox.

The average person gets 88 emails a day. Between business, mailing lists, product offers and straight up spam – if you let a weekend go by, it takes an hour of your life to sort through it, and that’s before you’ve even read anything!

It’s time for a cleanse of your account, a reckoning, if you will, so as to move through the experience with as little friction as possible. Yes, this does require a slice of time, but once you do it, you will feel like you just took a virtual bath.

  1. Ditch your outdated platform.  Take a deep breath, and know that it is time to let go of the clunky old email service you’ve hung onto for way too long. If you are on Gmail or Outlook, or any other platform recommended for its efficiency, then great, one less thing.  But if the platform is part of the problem and you are hanging onto that old, personal account because you are afraid someone you haven’t heard from in 15 years might write, just migrate your contacts, notify whomever you can and keep the other account open for a few months just to clear away the possibility of stragglers.  Then you can shut it down.
  1. Set up a High Priority box. For Gmail, utilize a feature called Priority Inbox. This feature puts new emails in two different places within your inbox.  Personal messages go in one, and the other is for “social” mail, based on the sender and subject line. This saves you time skimming for the messages that need attention, rather than getting lost in a sea of daily deal offers and pleas for non-profit donations.
  1. Set up filters. Many email providers allow you to filter for certain types of emails. You can use these filters to do lots of things: apply a certain label to an email, automatically delete it, forward it, archive it and so on. So if you feel like shopping just go to that folder, peek at your messages and delete the rest.
  1. Discover Boomerang. If you aren’t using it, this plug-in for Firefox and Chrome with Gmail allows you even more elasticity, like scheduling when you send off email, bounce an email back to the top of your list (like when you get an invitation to a party) or bring an email to your attention if you have not received a reply to it after a certain number of days. In other words, Boomerang allows you to combine scheduling and your reminders more fluidly.
  1. That said, you can also use your calendar rather than your inbox. Not to tout Gmail too fiercely, but when you get an email that requires action, you can easily migrate the appropriate info over to Google Calendar, set up a reminder and then delete the email. 
  1. We’re sorry to see you go. Here’s where it gets tedious, but going through all those emails wouldn’t be necessary if you weren’t getting them in the first place.  Sit down with a really enjoyable beverage and unsubscribe to all the stuff you know you aren’t ever going to read, buy, or participate it. 

Just imagine how relaxing it will be to open your email, if you just do a bit of healthy, self-focus and assert a little more control over your messages.  Then you can treat yourself to a massage! 

5 Reasons and Ways to Thank a Teacher

tchr500

It’s without a doubt one of the most important jobs in the world, so let’s make sure they know we parents appreciate them.

Every single one of us, no matter where we grew up, can likely look back to a ‘eureka’ moment that took place in our little minds because of a teacher. These dedicated professionals don’t do it for the glitz and glamour, no. They teach because they feel a deep connection to their students and to the gift of learning.

Their jobs are so demanding, with long hours, low pay, and tons of paperwork. The best of them are always looking for ways to improve their classroom experience, to light a fire of inquiry for their pupils and enable them to grow.

As parents, there are many things we can do to aid that hardworking person who spends hours a day instructing our kids. Here are some ideas for showing your child’s teacher just how much you value his or her efforts and how you can assist in those efforts.

  1. Volunteer. This is the single best way to help out the teacher in your child’s life. If your children’s elementary school doesn’t have a process by which you can volunteer formally, you may have to get permission from the principal, but even coming in a half hour a week to read to the class is a great enhancement for all the kids and gives the teacher a chance to regroup for her next activity. Bring your own skills to bear; if you build things, cook, play music, or speak Spanish. There is always something we can offer that any teacher will appreciate.
  1. Take home a project. We often don’t realize how much work they do when they aren’t in the classroom. Prepping for crafts, and organizing books, materials, and handouts – these things take time. You can easily scoop up a simple task and bring it home; this might seem trivial, but any teacher would deeply appreciate it.
  1. Stay in communication. She might run out of glue sticks, or he might need a whole roll of aluminum foil. Check in and ask if it’s within your purview to run a quick errand or grab something at home.
  1. Take up a collection for a gift. This is another easy one you can do online. Hopefully your have a classroom directory or a class online calendar where parents can communicate. You can put together a little campaign and get everyone to chip in for a treat like a massage or a gift certificate.
  1. Join the PTA or PTO. One great way to support, not just your child’s teacher but all teachers, is to join the Parent Teacher Organization. This is a national group that acts as a more formal conduit between parents and teachers, and it is often parents within this organization who wrangle the resources for things like field trips, special guests, and other enhancements to curriculum.

If every parent does what we can, our students will get the most out of their time with their teacher. Staying in conversation, and keeping our children engaged and on task at home are also things that help support the important work they do. For more ways to assist in and out of the classroom, visit http://www.ideas.ted.com.

7 Favorite Kid Activities: Inventive Play Date Ideas for Toddlers

playdate-500

Young children need a little guidance when they have their friends over for a visit.

Forgive the comparison, but sometimes kids are like puppies: if you don’t find them something to do, they will find something themselves, like dumping all the cereal on the kitchen floor or digging up the garden.

At this age, around 2-3, kids are moving from a stage called “parallel play” where they mostly play on their own, to group play, where interaction becomes more appealing. You can help your child move into group play with some short-duration play dates that include “free play” and some more structured activities1.

When you are in charge of someone else’s child as well as your own, finding new activities for kids can be so challenging; they have so much energy and not-so-extended attentions spans. Here are some really easy ways to get them involved that don’t cost much money, require much planning, and keep the mess to a minimum.

  1. Toy Car Wash

This one is a twofer: get a large tub or bucket, fill it with bubbly, soapy water, dump their toys in, and furnish them with some scrub brushes. This activity is obviously better suited to outside, but if you use biodegradable soap, you can just dump the water in the yard when they are done. Clean toys, happy kids!

  1. Whiteboard Film

All parents have experienced the horror of the markers on the wall. Well here is your solution: white board film comes in a roll with non-damaging adhesive on the back, so you can apply it to any surface and voila, instant whiteboard! Make sure the dry-erase markers are non-toxic, and supply the kids with some old towels so they can wipe and draw repeatedly.

  1. Picnic Tea Party

If the weather doesn’t permit, you need a drop cloth and some plastic cups and plates for inside. Kids can use blocks or other toys as pretend “food,” and they can invite their whole stuffy collection if they like. A small pitcher with water becomes the “tea” and kids love serving each other. You can also add real snacks into the mix too.

  1. Cardboard Box Puppet Show

This one is a multi-step process but if you have a large box lying around, cut out half of one side and prop it upright. Kids can make puppets by decorating socks or paper bags and then act out plays for each other.

  1. Dance Party

When their attention wanes on the more fine motor projects, let them get the giggles out by turning on some upbeat music. Choose a kid-safe room and they can bounce around and have a pillow toss, or you can blow up some balloons and they can bop those around. There are thousands of great kids’ albums or as a cheat, just find a kid’s station on Pandora. For some extra cacophony, pull out some pots and pans and let them bang on them with wooden spoons!

  1. Dinosaur Garden Hide and Seek

Gather up all the little plastic figures: barn animals, dinosaurs, people, and take them outside. Cordon off an area of the yard where there are some plants and let the kids take turns hiding their little animals and finding them. It’s like a treasure hunt!

  1. Leaf Jump

If it’s fall, rake a big pile of leaves in the yard and let them bounce around. This will evoke peels of laughter and you will be surprised how long it will keep them entertained. Hint: you might want to just strip them down and put them directly in the bath, and that will seriously round out their fun.

Some things to keep in mind: with this age, kids are just starting to learn how to interact, share, and take turns, so curb the possibility of tantrums or disputes by explaining what is going to happen in advance, emphasizing how we treat guests in our home, and making sure to redirect away from activities that invite infighting. As your toddler grows, you will see them improve at the guest/host dynamic, but to start out, maybe only invite one child at a time for your first couple of play dates. And don’t forget to join in and have some fun yourself!

References:

  1. http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/play-work-of-children/pl3/

9 Preschool and Kindergarten ABC Games You Can Do At Home

abc-500

Education is changing based on what we are learning about the brain.

The explosion of knowledge about human development has led us to a rapidly changing approach to early education. Kids between the ages of infancy to four demonstrate a quantum jump in all phases of development, and we know now just what parts of the brain emerge at different ages and how they govern specific functions.

Language acquisition is one of the most exciting periods for parents. We are just floored with that first “Mommy” or “I’m building core memories right now!” (if they have seen Inside Out recently). Infants start categorizing sounds at the age of six months, and from toddlerhood to kindergarten, children can start to assign sounds to symbols1.

We know that kids pick things up faster and more comprehensively when they play, and so there are thousands of entertaining ways to introduce beginning alphabet and spelling with some low-prep games at home. Let’s take a look at a few of these:

  1. Letter Magnets

This is so easy and fun, and as long as too many of them don’t get swept under the fridge, your kids will enjoy making words with magnet letters for years. As you are making dinner, you can spread the letters out randomly and call out simple words one letter at a time. The kids find the letters and you can help them sound it out to make words.

  1. Alphabet Hunt Traveling Game

Pick a topic while out, like foods, and everyone takes a turn starting with A, trying to come up with a thing that starts with the appropriate letter. When you get to the end, start again!

  1. I-Spy Letters

Take the classic guessing game and just make all your clues first letter clues: I Spy with my little eye, something that begins with Q.

  1. Old Typewriter

Finally, a fantastic reason not to throw your “vintage” typewriter away. If it actually works, your kids will lose their minds with the old hammer keys and the ping when it comes to the end of the line. A spare computer keyboard will also do the trick, but not nearly as charming and doesn’t produce a piece of paper with nifty old school characters on it.

  1. Alphabet Sounds Jumping Game

Take the fun outside and use sidewalk chalk to draw letters randomly on different squares of cement. Instead of calling out the letter, call out the sound it makes and kids take turns jumping on the corresponding characters.

  1. ABC Mouse for Kids

This game is an app you can download to your tablet or smart phone that has risen to the top of digital edutainment. It offers many different activities all designed around developmental science and it rewards kids with achievements as they progress. A few minutes a day can keep your little learner occupied, while absorbing information at the same time.

  1. Alphabet Maze

This game is almost as fun to prepare as it is to play: take some masking tape and make a maze on a wall or other large flat surface. Make sure you add some dead ends so it isn’t really obvious which way takes the player to the center. Then write the letters of the alphabet along the correct path that solves the maze. The letter Z should be at the center or the end.

  1. Capital and Lower Case Memory Game

Kids really love playing the original Memory®, and this is a wonderful way to start pairing the two different letter cases in their minds. Cut out 54 same size and same shape squares of construction paper (you can also use post-its) and write the alphabet out in all lower case and all upper case. Lay them all face down on the floor and take turns turning over two at a time. Two of the same letter is a pair.

  1. Photo and Letter Collage Project

Never was there a nobler use for your old magazines! Cut up pictures of easily identifiable objects like animals, vehicles, or other kid-friendly stuff, and cut out the first letter to match them. Arm your kid with a piece of paper and a glue stick and help them match up the first letter with the object.

There are some really fun printable games online that can help, so if your children get bored with one activity, keep trying until you find something they genuinely enjoy. Most importantly, remember that learning has everything to do with interaction at this age, so getting into the activity will really help them reap the value.

References:

  1. http://web.media.mit.edu/~stefanm/society/som_final.html

Home Detox: Five Eco Friendly, Great Companies and the Products They Make

EcoHouseholds_3-500

Kindness to the planet is kindness to people, and these companies have taken that connection seriously.

The evidence is undeniable that the planet is warming, and the last 100 years of heavy industry have plundered the globe, threatening to upset the delicate balance of an ecosystem that is, as far as we know, entirely unique and nothing short of miraculous.

The feelings of hopelessness and anxiety attached to this knowledge affect us all. And to say it straight, there is nothing as individuals that we can do to singlehandedly reverse the damage. However, collectively, we do have the power to face climate change as a real force, and to make small decisions with our votes and our consuming power that can move the needle, create awareness, and show our children that we care about their health and the health of the planet.

Most of us use products everyday that are detrimental to our water system, to the food chain, an ultimately, to life itself, without even realizing it. Commercial soaps are composed of harsh chemicals that do not break down in the water system, whereas biodegradable surfectants are plant-based, and designed to re-enter the ecology without harming it[1].
It follows that some of these chemical products on the market contain ingredients that are also toxic to humans and pets, which gives you even more reasons to replace them with kinder, gentler options.
Plus, the growing awareness that big corporations with lack of oversight have poisoned the environment has swung the pendulum in the opposite direction; a more holistic approach to business has emerged where small companies are not only devising more eco-friendly products, they are also creating more worker-friendly and sustainable business models. These businesses also recognize that they are competing with very effective traditional products, so the quality of these environmentally conscious household solutions is very high.

Before we get into some specific products that consistently receive praise from experts, let’s look at some quick rules of thumb when shopping for household products:
 Look for “biodegradable” on the label. “Natural” is a grey area, because technically even chemicals are natural[1]. It can be a sneaky way for manufacturers to hide unhealthy ingredients.

 Check out the packaging. Anything claiming to be eco should also be packaged in a recycled/recyclable or compostable container. Petrochemicals in conventional packaging also contribute to ecological damage, so eco companies often use alternatives to further reduce their manufacturing footprint and cut down on landfill.

 Avoid ammonia, lye, isopropanol, cresol, phenol, and pine oil. All these products when ingested, even by breathing or skin contact, are known to irritate eyes and lungs, corrode tissue, or affect the
circulatory and nervous systems[2].
 Get over the “clean” smell. Detergents and cleansers have cultivated a “fresh” smell– well, that’s chemicals you are smelling. Products that are free of dyes, fragrances, and chemicals are not going to produce that powerful odor, but it doesn’t mean your clothes or dishes are any less clean[3]. Many of these sustainable companies also use plant-based scents like lavender or eucalyptus oils so they smell lovely because it’s
the real thing.
So here are some of the new champions in terms of eco-friendly products that will effectively do the job, and a little background on the companies that create them.

1. Seventh Generation. This company based in Vermont has been refining its products for 25 years, the name drawing from a Native American saying that we must act and plan according to our responsibilities to our families seven
generations in the future.

2. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is a family of products that make your house sparkle, and smell like you live in an enchanted forest. Speaking of family, founder Monica Nassif named her company after her mother, Mrs. Thelma
Meyer.

3. The Honest Company makes bath soap, dishwasher soap, and baby care products like wipes and diapers. Plus, it has great online purchase options that get you more quantity for a very reasonable price.

4. Biokleen is a soap company that stresses no-impact, chemical-free products for a competitive price. Jim Rimer’s business goes back to the 1980s, when as a chemical salesman, he saw the light in terms of the impact of toxins in our homes and workplace. He has been fighting the good fight ever since.
5. If you were to walk by Method products on the shelves, you might mistake them for conventional cleaners. Their modern, brightly colored soaps and personal care offerings are the brainstorm of two college buddies in San Francisco, who created one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S[4].

All these products score very highly on the Environmental Working Group website, where you can also see a breakdown of each product by active ingredient. So if you or a family member has a particular sensitivity to something, you can easily find some solid recommendations through this non-profit’s site. It also offers a database of personal care products like makeup and sunscreen, so before you before you shop, check out the brands you like and make sure they are conducive to lasting health. Visit the website here: http://www.ewg.org.

Which laundry soap you buy may not save the planet, but it can reduce the risk of sickness, skin irritation, respiratory issues, or other potentially chronic health problems for your family. Anything we can do to lessen our personal impact on the world we live in is still worth doing, for our children’s sake as well as our own.

References:

1. http://www.cleaninginstitute.org/sustainability/some_facts_about_4.aspx

2. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living/hic_Steps_to_Staying_W ell/hic_Household_Chemicals_Chart_Whats_in_my_House

3. http://exploringgreentechnology.com/green-living/green-cleaning-products/

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_Products

Making the Most of Reading Time Together

susie almaneih

Reading with a child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be invaluable time spent together. The activity helps the child’s learning and social skills, language development, and listening skills. It can also be a fun way to better connect, while helping your child to acquire a love of books.

Remembering and applying simple tips will ensure that you’re making the most of this time with your child, and that he or she is getting the most benefit out of it. Include the following ideas during your reading time:

1. Ease into it.
Because children with ASD often have a very short attention span, start by reading for short periods of time, pointing out and naming objects as you progress through a book. Be sure to build up reading time as you go; your child will start looking forward to the activity as a time of both fun and learning.

2. Make it part of the routine.
If your child thrives from routine each day, try reading a favorite book as he or she goes from one task to another. For example, this usual activity can set the stage for naptime or bedtime. Find a quiet place with no distractions.

3. Read aloud.
Each time you read to your child, you are helping his or her brain to develop. Reading aloud allows your child to hear your voice and listen to spoken words, prompting questions. It’s essentially planting the seed to make reading a permanent part of life.

4. Read with expression.
Create different voices for different characters, and emphasize rhymes and consonant patterns. Use your voice to stress new and interesting words, and even share how you feel about a particular word. Continue to use the new word throughout the day to build and support your child’s growing vocabulary.

5. Engage your child.
Make comments and ask questions as you read. Direct your child’s attention to the pictures, the facial expressions of the characters, and make predictions. Make comments and ask open-ended questions, which help to build thinking and conversational skills.

6. Consider repetition.
Read the same story again and again. This will help your child to fully grasp language. Also, books that have a lot of repetitive phrases allow children to memorize some of the text and “read” the pages the next time.

7. Incorporate sound effects.
Books that have buttons your child can press for sounds makes reading more interactive and memorable. Audio cues can aid in retention so that your child takes in what is going on and holds onto it long after reading time is over.

8. Subject matter matters.
Just like all of us, your child will be more involved with a book that covers a topic of interest. Animals, sports, trains, etc. – whatever your child may be into, books of that subject matter will ignite and maintain his or her love of reading.

9. Relate the story.
Talk about the story to your child. Relate it to his or her personal experiences, or to your own. Also, make a range of books available for your child and take turns picking which one you’ll read first. This helps create flexibility and the beginnings of learning to wait your turn, which is so important in school and in life. You can choose books for different purposes, from rhyme patterns to problem solving skills.

10. Stay close.
Reading time can also serve as emotional bonding time. Share a special blanket or even build a reading fort to share in the special activity. In this way, the enjoyment of reading becomes connected to caring and love.

As a parent, getting a child with ASD to become interested in reading can at first be challenging and frustrating, but one of the best tips you can take into consideration is to just keep trying. Reading can become an activity that both you and your child will look forward to each day, and the noticeable benefits will only further motivate the effort.

Autism Speaks offers a vast list of titles for different age levels, interests, and involvement. Access the complete list here: https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/books.

 

1 http://theautismhelper.com/work-tasks-reading-spelling/

Ready…Set…Recycle! 5 Ways to Get your Kids Involved Now

Up to 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, yet we only recycle about 30% of it.[1] Those are some disappointing numbers, especially considering how simple recycling can be. And the results are real; recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod, and recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for two whole weeks!

Recycling is a crucial factor in taking care of the planet for the future generation. And members of this very generation can play a key role in helping the environment – starting now, at home. As a family, when you think of recycling, you should really think about the whole idea: reduce, reuse, and recycle. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. If you have to get it, get something that can be used again, and if you get something that needs to be recycled by the professionals, put it in the recycle bin. [2]

So how can you best promote recycling to your kids? How do you accurately convey its importance? How can you generate enthusiasm? Accomplishing this all is as easy as placing that soda can into a certain bin rather than the garbage. Get started now with these helpful family tips:

1. Set the example

The fastest way you can get your kids interested in recycling is to serve as a role model. As we know, children are extremely observant, and if you don’t take a minute to recycle the packaging and containers you use, you can’t expect that your kids will either. Children tend to copy the behaviors of their parents, and if you’re a recycler, they will more likely become one as well. Make it obvious by pointing out when you’re recycling something, and watch how quickly your kids follow suit.

2. Home Recycling Center

Select bins, boxes, or containers that your child can decorate or label for the various recyclable materials. Use paint, markers, crayons, paper, etc. – whatever sparks creativity and interest.

3. Give specific responsibility

Ensure your children feel involved by giving them a role in your family’s recycling process. One idea is to make them the “recycling monitor,” responsible for making sure items are being put in the correct bins each day.

4. At-home demonstration

Kids will feel more encouraged to recycle if they fully grasp the concept. Consider making something new out of old materials. For example, make a guitar out of an empty tissue box and paper towel tube, a desk organizer out of cola cans, or a bird feeder from plastic bottles. Your child will see “trash” in a whole new light.

5. Time for a field trip

Take the at-home demonstration one step further. A good family outing for a Saturday afternoon is visiting a recycling center, and even a landfill. This will allow your children to see first-hand what’s going on behind the scenes, and the reality of the fact trash doesn’t just disappear. Enormous trash heaps present a clear case of why recycling is so important. Meanwhile, recycling centers demonstrate the other alternative, and how the work children invest in recycling does really play a significant role in turning the materials into new items.

These recycling tips work, and the best part is you can dive into them now; when it comes to our environment, there’s no better time. Instilling the importance of recycling into your child’s daily lives now will ensure it’s a lasting effort, and more importantly, one that makes a true difference.

[1] https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-recycling

[2] http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/Importance_of_Recycling.php

Online Security Concerns Affect us All – Even our Kids

security-RCT

When we think about online security breaches, usually what comes to mind is compromised credit card and personal information, or a retailer’s database being affected by an intrusive act. Initially, this may all come across as adult speak, but recently it has hit home that this type of situation can and has already affected our children.

For example, the popular Hong Kong-based children’s electronics manufacturer VTech experienced a data breach on November 14, which affected five million customer accounts, including the user profiles of the kids connected to those accounts. The swiped data includes names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, IP addresses, and physical addresses of VTech’s Learning Lodge customers. While credit card information was not impacted, it appears that VTech left at least 190GB of kids’ photos and parent chats stored and vulnerable on its servers.[1] Like many breaches, there is very little actual information about where the stolen data has gone.[2]

Our ultra-connected world has provided to children advanced ways of learning and extraordinary communication methods that we didn’t have the opportunity to experience in our own childhoods. However, with this great luxury comes a very hard-to-swallow truth: we all have to take our online security extremely seriously as our connected world can also be a scary place. As we promote and support kids in fully using the wealth of resources a digitally-driven environment can provide, we, as adults, must do our homework and also monitor exactly what’s going on as kids navigate their own explorations.

The VTech hack serves as a troubling reminder that the more connected devices we put into the hands of our kids, the more we expose them to the very grown-up problems of a world riddled with questionable cyber-security. Cloud-connected, kid-focused products increasingly fill toy store aisles, whether from VTech or other vendors.

Some experts have said that they anticipate seeing more breaches involving information collected through digital toys and other web-connected devices, a category of products referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. They noted that manufacturers in these industries lack the security experience and expertise that the computer industry has developed over the surge in Internet use during the past two decades.[3]

It’d be ignorant to think that security hacks now, and in the future, will be limited to only more adult-oriented sites such as Ashley Madison or Sony, and expert opinion and scenarios such as the current VTech breach exemplify this. While you’d never want to discourage your children’s learning from IoT toys, as a parent armed with this current knowledge, you really have to remember to stay up on things, and to continue monitoring this type of high-tech play closely.

[1] http://www.wired.com/2015/11/vtech-childrens-gadget-maker-hack-5-million-accounts

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/30/toymaker-vtech-leaks-millions-of-parent-emails-and-child-photos-in-latest-massive-breach/#.p4niyo8:eeOF

[3] http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/12/01/us-vtech-cyberattack-idUSKBN0TJ0B620151201#qe4DhWtmS2DDqIEQ.97

Online Resources for Executive Moms on Career, Family, and Fabulousness

Get a little help from your fellow female workplace champions.  They are out there.

Sometimes you just need someone to relate to how hard you work.  Or you need some pointers on finding a good babysitter.  Whatever it is you are seeking as a busy mom, you likely don’t have time to do endless research.  And somehow, that’s not the kind of research you want to assign to your assistant.

Well, don’t despair.   We’ve cobbled together a fantastic list of blogs, directories, chat rooms, and other goodies into one convenient, mom-centered list.  You’re welcome!


1. Title: It’s Working by Forty Weeks

url: http://www.itsworkingproject.com/

What you will find there: “It’s Working Project by Forty Weeks is committed to helping the private sector successfully bring new parents back to work with ease, as a matter of course and with a sense of pride.”

Why it’s great: This site has a ton of information on why private sector companies should be more welcoming to new families.  The project is designed to help parents transition into the workplace with easily implemented practices that benefit both employees and companies. 


2. Title: Campari and Sofa

url: http://campariandsofa.com/

What you’ll find there: This is beautiful lifestyle site that covers fashion, travel love, health, and current events.   

Why it’s great: Claudia Cevenini (camparigirl) and Sue Wildish (sofagirl) are consummate New York mommies on fire.  They write witty, up-to-the-moment personal reflections that are so relatable to modern parents. 


3. Executive Moms Society

url: http://www.executivemomssociety.org/

What you’ll find there: This is a member-based support group for professional moms, focused on business development.  

Why it’s great: The organization nurtures and empowers women in business and parenting with an extensive understanding of the challenges boss moms face. 


4. Title: Excelle

url: http://excelle.monster.com/

What you’ll find there: Great opportunities for career-minded women.  This site has job listings, articles, a salary calculator, and a leaderboard.

Why it’s great: Excelle has a great reputation for real-talk, a range of voices, and great writing on many subjects that are important to professional women.  


5. Title: Power to Fly

url: powertofly.com

What you’ll find there: Cofounders Katharine Zaleski and Milena Berry join up moms with special skills and remote contracts, part-time, or full time telecommute positions.

 Why it’s great: The requests are all vetted and pay competitively, the site is easy to navigate, and you can set up notifications for when specific kinds of jobs get posted. 


6. Title: Working Mother

url: http://www.workingmother.com/

What you’ll find there: this site has a really broad range of content types: style, family, career, feature articles on moms, research, and conferences.  

Why it’s great: the organization has done a solid job of propagating best practices for executive women and has some very fun quizzes and giveaways as well. 


7. Title: NAFE (National Association for Female Executives)

url: http://www.nafe.com/

What you’ll find there: This one is the go-to spot on the web for women to network and explore career opportunities.  

Why it’s Great: Because it’s a national organization, you will find so many women around you.  Network and reboot your career by joining and attending a local meet-up. 


By taking advantage of even a few of these groups, you will be tapping into a whole community of savvy, smart, ambitious women who are committed to helping each other succeed.  This is, after all, one of the things that women do best.  

7 Dos and Don’ts for Holiday Marketing Efforts

Holiday 2_L

 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Marketing): 7 Dos and Don’ts for Holiday Marketing Efforts

Thanksgiving kicks off a sometimes-crazy holiday shopping season; the days from Black Friday through Christmas pull in up to 100% more revenue compared to shopping days throughout the rest of the year.  Additionally, according to Statista and the National Retail Federation, the season accounts for around 20% of that industry’s total annual sales.

With such staggering statistics for retail and beyond, it’s no surprise that this time of the year can do wonders for your business.  But how can you best take advantage of this golden opportunity?  What exactly should you aim to do and what should you absolutely not do?

Let’s take a look at some important points to consider, as you make your list and check it twice:

DO:

1. DO think about charities.

While gift baskets for your clients can earn you good will, also think about directing that money toward a charitable event or needy cause instead.  You can even send a card to your clients stating that you’ve made a donation in their name.  Spread word to the community about your philanthropic holiday activities via social media, a press release, or even your online blog.  Once you establish this positive reputation, don’t coast on it.  Try to remain a positive community force year-round.  This doesn’t necessarily mean constant monetary donations; it can be hosting a fundraiser or encouraging company-wide volunteer days.  The holidays serve as the perfect time to start building this type of public-facing partnership.

2. DO host a contest or give-away.

The holidays are the perfect time of year to be generous – not just to charities but also to your invaluable customers.  Running a social contest or giveaway is one way you can give gifts to your loyal followers.  Make sure to pick something that’s juicy enough to be shareable, but not so generic that you fill your social profiles with new followers who will never become customers.

3. DO have a strong campaign with a clear outcome.

The best results from holiday marketing come from brands that utilize strong campaigns across all suitable online and offline channels.  From advertising and promotions to the product itself, if you have a strong campaign, you can focus all energy accordingly.  Be mindful to not piggyback onto Christmas marketing simply because you can.  Think about what you want to achieve (Improved brand awareness and exposure?  Increased online sales?), and incorporate the right metrics to measure your results.

4. DO have a clear message.

With countless other businesses competing for customer attention over the holidays, your brand message needs to stand out.  What differentiates you and what you have to offer?  Keep your goals in mind and your messaging consistent across all channels.  This results in a greater impact, stronger trust, and higher ROI.

5. DO use remarketing.

Remarketing isn’t just a general year-round strategy; it’s a technique that’s ideally suited to holiday shopping buying behavior.  Think about how you purchased gifts last year.  Did you click on the first ad you saw to buy the first product on sale at that first website you visited?  Of course not.  Chances are you researched and shopped around for the very best deals, just like millions of other people.  This presents a crucial opportunity for marketers using remarketing, as it allows them to capture “lost” traffic by capitalizing on prospects’ reluctance to buy from the first site they visit in the hopes of finding a better deal elsewhere.

DON’T

6. DON’T forget to reconnect with your target audience.

Social media is an ideal way to build an ongoing relationship with existing and potential customers, and the holidays serve as the right timing to take full advantage of this.  As part of Christmas campaigns, factor in one or two posts a day on appropriate social networks.  This allows you to show the personality behind your business.  If you build relationships first, sales will follow.

7. DON’T let customers get away from you in the New Year

Don’t throw your holiday marketing efforts away once the New Year has begun.  Find ways to capture information and continue to engage your target well into 2016.

In summary, this holiday season provides a wonderful opportunity to increase business and brand awareness, while earning new fans and attention.  Keeping these tips in mind will allow you to succeed in your efforts now, and into the profitable New Year ahead.