7 Strategies for Raising Kids and Caring for Aging Parents

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We have so much on our plates to keep our immediate household going, and for those of us who have aging parents, we experience fierce competition for our energetic resources. Some of us are caught in the middle of trying to raise our children and manage care for our aging parents, all of which can put an enormous strain on our daily lives.

It makes sense, given that people are having children later in life and our collective life expectancy is longer. But for those in this situation, it can become overwhelming and start to affect our health and our relationships over time.

Some of these coping strategies may seem like common sense, but revisiting some of these basic tricks and exploring some new options can make all the difference in balancing the whole act.

  1. Develop a healthy self-care routine that is non-negotiable. If everyone wants the lunches to get made, the forms signed and the shopping done, they must also understand that Mom and Dad get 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to meditate, practice yoga, go for a walk, lie down for a nap, or whatever else serves them at the moment. Studies have shown that daily meditation or mindfulness practice contributes to quality of life, reduces stress and improves health.1 We are not talking about hours, either. 10-15 minutes a day is all it takes.
  2. Let go of the guilt. There is always more to be done and hindsight is 20/20.  Guilt wastes valuable energy better served somewhere else and none of us are perfect. It is easier said than done, but making the decision to let the guilt go is a healthy choice, and one that gets easier with practice.
  3. You do not have to do all this alone, nor should you. Identify some people in your community including friends, or community members that might be able to lighten the load. Outsource as much of the household stuff as you can and make sure your children have a list of tasks that are within their capabilities. It can help to write out a list of things that need to happen each week or month and designate these things. This act alone has a clearing effect.
  4. This is a huge one, and it is often the first thing that gets brushed aside. It is crucial that everyone, even the little ones understand that nana needs extra help. By giving our kids age appropriate information, and allowing them to be part of the solution, we provide a chance to learn, to contribute, to watch us navigate the difficulties. Children are resilient and we often underestimate them. When we allow them into the conversation and the plan, they get the opportunity to grow.
  5. Seek professionals. If your parent is in a facility, there maybe be resources like social workers or counselors that can help manage your particular set of circumstances. Do this as a strategic measure, rather than waiting until your situation is unmanageable.
  6. Laugh Often. Get everyone together and watch a comedy. Tell stories, or play a game, no matter where you are.
  7. Express Love. All the stresses can distract us from the big goal of loving our families. Play the long game and remember to tell the people around you that you love them. Be the bonding agent, even when you are frustrated, tired, resentful or just sad. Remember that love is the other side of all that.

There are ways to approach and organize things, even amid the chaos, that can really help maintain our quality of life in the “sandwich” generation. A good place to start is just reexamining some of the basic assumptions about how you are addressing your family’s big picture and where the opportunities to improve lie. With the right combination of elements, you and your family can help each other, bond together and overcome all of those obstacles. And there is a ton of joy in that.

References: http://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/classes-workshops-and-education/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction

You’re in Luck! Play True or False with these St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Kids

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Everything’s coming up clover with the March holiday right around the corner.

How did we come to celebrate this holiday by wearing green and making corned beef and cabbage? The Feast of Saint Patrick actually dates back several centuries, but it’s hard to tell the legend from the truth with some of the details surrounding the famous Irish celebration.

Whether you like your history well done or rare, the spirited holiday has become a national pastime with some cities like Chicago going as far as dying the river green in honor of the festivities. You don’t have to go that far, but gather up your art supplies and see if your kids (and you, of course) can tell fact from fiction while making some celebratory holiday crafts.

  1. For edible Rainbow Necklaces, string Fruit Loops together using twine or embroidery thread.

True or False: St. Patty’s Day is celebrated in Japan.

Answer: True. As of 1992, it became a thing to do in parts of Japan, starting with Tokyo. There are parades throughout the month of March to celebrate Irish heritage. It’s also commemorated in Russia, Argentina, Malaysia, and South Korea1.

  1. Make a Leprechaun Hat out of a little green construction paper and some elbow grease. Here’s a link to easy instructions: http://www.classic-play.com/craft-leprechaun-hats/.

True or False: Saint Patrick was a real person in the 5th Century.

Answer: True. The legend tells of a born-to-wealth Romano-Britain man who, at the age of 16, was said to have been kidnapped by Irish raiders, and pressed into servitude for six years when he found God. He then spent his life converting Irish pagans. That is, according to his own biography, anyway. The holiday emerged in the late 1700s according to historians, when devotees would go to mass and have a big communal meal. Around this same time, donning green became a sign of Irish nationalism.1

  1. Little squares of green tissue paper, some plain paper, glue, and a pencil are all the tools you need to make some Fuzzy Shamrock Art. Draw and cut out a shamrock shape, then wrap the tissue around the head of the pencil, dip it in the glue and stick it to the paper, removing the pencil. Repeat until the whole shape is covered and you’ve got a fuzzy shamrock.

True or False: The shamrock is not native to Ireland.

Answer: False. There are a few three-leafed varieties of clover native to Ireland, and it is the reason it became the symbol of the Irish people; St. Patrick used it to describe the Holy Trinity as “three-in-one.” It then became a general symbol of good luck that many cultures have adopted.

  1. Shamrock Rubbing. Look around for some clover in your own backyard, gather up a small clump, and spread them on a sheet of wax paper flat. Place a piece of rice paper over your shamrocks and stick to the table with tape. Then the kids can run their crayons over the paper to make pretty patterns they can hang on a window when they are done.

True or False: St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.

Answer: False. Were there ever snakes in Ireland? Not according to National Geographic. It’s too cold, so that must have been a metaphor.

Well, it all may be the stuff legends are made of, but no matter what you believe, St. Patrick’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to explore the fascinating facts of Irish history and make some festive decorations. Kids get a big kick out of this tradition so put on some green and crank up the Chieftains for a cheerful and memorable Saint Patrick’s Day ahead.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day
  2. http://english-zone.com/holidays/st-patsymbols.html
  3. http://www.techtimes.com/articles/38699/20150314/the-history-of-st-patricks-day-is-not-as-fun-as-you-think.htm

Treating the Family to a Little Weekday Fun with Taco Tuesday Game Night

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If Monday is typical, by Tuesday everyone is a little surly and ready for it to be Friday. This is the perfect time to build something into the week that everyone can look forward to. In our blog on Raising the Tech Savvy Kid (add link) we discussed the importance of time away from the devices, namely Taco Tuesday Game Night.

Let’s be clear: no one wants to go through a big production this early in the week with so much other activity going on. So keeping it simple is best. But bonding over a nutritious meal doesn’t require a ton of effort. Here are some easy ways to get everyone involved, have some fun and take care of business at the same time.

  • All devices in one place. Laptops, tablets and cell phones go in one corner not to be turned on for the rest of the evening. We even recommend leaving the TV off and just playing music.
  • Set up a taco bar. Tacos are a great choice because they don’t take much time and everyone likes them. Parents can cook ground meat and beans while kids scoop avocado or grate cheese. For soft tacos, wrap some tortillas in foil and put them in the oven at 350 for 4-5 minutes. For picky eaters, a little grated carrot or shredded lettuce can get tucked into a taco without evoking protest.
  • Everyone helps clean up. Kids can cap up condiments like salsa and sour cream, grown ups handle the sharp utensils and everyone loads their own plate into the dishwasher or steps up to the sink to wash. The clean up goes much faster when everyone chips in.
  • Once the table is clear, pull out some board games. The classic board games of our childhood like Candyland, Monopoly, Sorry and Life are all still available, and why? Because they are still awesome! Grownups take a stroll down memory lane and kids get to flex their basic skills. If you have little ones, they can team up with a grown up and move the game pieces.

Once Taco Tuesday Game Night develops into a weekly ritual, the whole process will go even smoother and everyone will enjoy their participation. The rest of the week will feel a little more manageable with that solid plan in place, and you can even implement that idea for other days of the week. Having a plan and an automated routine takes the stress out of dinner, letting everyone relax and spend some quality time. And that is what being a family is all about.

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

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 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.