Working Mom Wednesday: work hard, play harder

It’s Hump Day, which means I’m back with my second #workingmomwednesday! Check back each week for an interview with a working mom who inspires me.

This week I spoke with momtrepreneur Rebekah Johnson. We met at a Femfessionals luncheon last summer. I didn’t get to chat with her very much that day, but learned that she was the owner of a venue in downtown Kansas City and decided she was someone I would likely want to connect with in the future.

After a few months of back and forth, we’re finally throwing an event in her space tomorrow. I am so excited for our guests to get acquainted with her gorgeous space boasting high ceilings, a gorgeous fireplace and big, beautiful windows. Moreover, I’m excited for our guests to get to know Rebekah. She is an incredibly generous business owner. She leads with respect, she always has her stuff together, and isn’t afraid to try new things. On top of all of the awesomeness, she is a terrific mom and wife.


 

TFM: Let’s start with a plug. Tell me what you do.

Rebekah: I am an owner/partner of several small businesses: River Market Event Place, Airstream Lounge KC and Pop-UP Wedding KC.

TFM: I don’t know how you do it all, but I’d say you’ve found your niche! What is the best part of being a momtrepreneur?

Rebekah: The freedom. Although we easily work more than a 40 hour work week (you never really turn work off), there’s something to be said for knowing you’re working for yourself and you’re on your own time clock. I love the freedom of making my own schedule and being able to be keep our kids out of daycare. I don’t have to request off to attend their school functions or go on vacation. I do what I want, when I want.

TFM: It sounds like you’re on board with my Free Mama philosophy! Since you’re setting your own schedule, what does a typical day look like for you?

Rebekah: Every day is a hustle and every day is a little different due to the nature of our business. On a typical day, the alarm goes off early and I hit the ground running. First I wake our oldest child (age 7 and in first grade). I get him ready and to school by 8:00, then I tend to our youngest (age 3  and in preschool) and get her off to school by 9:00. Once the kids are gone it’s a scramble to get as much done as possible while they are away. My mornings are usually spent responding to emails, taking calls or in meetings with vendors/clients. If I’m working from home that day I try to throw a little housework in the mix. Our youngest gets picked up at 1:30 and our oldest at 3:30. On days I’m not in meetings I try to pick them up and do the shuffle between schools, then I either take them back to the office with me or we go home and I get back on the computer to work a little more. At least a couple nights a week I have late meetings or have industry functions, but if I’m home in the evening I cook, help with homework, get the kids ready for bed, read to them and lay with them until they fall asleep. I’ve tried to make a habit of staying unplugged once we go through our bedtime routine, but most of the time I end up jumping back on the computer and get a little more work in. I usually end the day feeling like I still have a huge list of tasks that didn’t get done, but eventually I make myself quit and save it for the next day.

TFM: I used to work in events and it is a lot of nights and weekends like you mentioned. If you weren’t in the wedding and events industry, what would you be doing?

Rebekah: I would pursue becoming a sommelier. I’ve always had a passion for wine. With our current business I get to manage our bar services, so I already get to dabble in the wine and spirits industry a little. I wouldn’t mind having that be my main gig though.

TFM: I’d let you pick out wine for me any night of the week. Speaking of passions, what one product or service do you love so much you could be a brand ambassador?

Rebekah: doTERRA Essential oils! They are a life saver for my stress management!

TFM: What else keeps you sane?

Rebekah: Lots of wine. 🙂 I also usually treat myself to a hot bath every night. That is my time to shut the door and have a few moments to myself…although often times there is a kid beating on the door screaming to get in!

TFM: Ah, the joys of motherhood. I don’t think I’ve peed by myself since my daughter was born. Other than the lack of privacy, what is your favorite part about being a mom?

Rebekah: The little moments. The milestones, the holidays, the big life events are all great. But it’s those little moments like falling asleep with their hand in mine or watching them walk to the car in the morning with their back packs on that make me stop and think about how much I love these little people more than anything else in life.

TFM: They say it takes a village. Who helps you with your kiddos?

Rebekah: Being business partners with my husband allows us to share our duties. He is one amazing dad and we tackle parenthood together. My parents also help us on a regular basis.

TFM: Have you ever missed a moment in your child’s life that you regret?

Rebekah: I think I can honestly say I really haven’t. With the freedom of making my own schedule, I am able to always be there for the important stuff. I can’t say that we haven’t missed some things though. Like one time when my husband and I both had insanely busy days and we somehow overlooked which of us was on school pick up duty that day. When the school secretary called 30 minutes after pick up time and asked if we were coming to get our son that day, I definitely felt like the worst parent ever!

TFM: I’ve definitely been the last mom in car pool line more than once. It happens….go easy on yourself! Tell me about a time you failed or really messed up in your professional life.

Rebekah: When I was working for a state rep right out of college I was in charge of putting together the legislative handbook that reps send out to their constituents each year. I was so obsessed with the content of the book that I completely overlooked a simple typo on an address that was listed. Instead of it listing her district office address, it listed her election headquarters. It was a very simple, yet very big mistake and it was totally an oversight on my part.

TFM: How did you overcome it?

Rebekah: Ultimately it was resolved, but she did have to deal with the ethics commission. New books had to be printed and mailed out, and luckily she was able to get off the hook of being in any real trouble, but to this day that  still haunts me. I do feel like an experience like that made me grow thicker skin. I think the key to making a mistake is to own it and learn from it. If I make a mistake I’ll be the first to admit it and try to remedy it.

TFM: That’s awesome. What’s the saying? “It’s not how we make mistakes but how we correct them that defines us.” I love that! If your kids take away one thing from you running a business, what do you think that would be?

Rebekah: Being able to truly focus. I feel like I am constantly trying to multi-task and am always being sidetracked. It doesn’t mean we aren’t able to run successful businesses. We’re just usually doing it in a head spinning state of mind.

TFM: What’s your best piece of advice for other working moms with spinning heads?

Rebekah: You have to find time to turn work completely off. It’s so hard to find a balance between work and motherhood, especially when you own your own business, because your business is in many ways is like another child that you are devoted to and you have to tend to non-stop. It is so important to not let work consume you. I am often times guilty of not unplugging enough or giving my kids my undivided attention.

TFM: I tell people I’m on a quest to having it all. I don’t think “it all” is the same for everyone and I don’t think we necessarily have “it all” all at once. What does having it all mean to you? Do you think you have it all?

Rebekah: I think having it all is when you truly find that balance of all aspects in your life. I kinda feel like I do have it all when I sit and really think about what I’m getting to do in my life. I’m blessed to be busy, even if life is pretty crazy most days. I’m able to spend a lot of time with my kids (even if I am do have a computer screen open most of the time) and I’m also getting to have a career and set an example to them of how to hustle and work hard. My motto this last year has become “work hard, play harder.”


 

Thanks, Rebekah! If you’re a working gal from Kansas City, join us for lunch tomorrow at River Market Event Place to meet up with other business women and entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re planning a wedding or looking for a great venue for your next function, be sure to check out River Market Event Place, Airstream Lounge KC and Pop-UP Wedding KC and see you here next Wednesday for another #workingmomwednesday.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

Why you should care what other people think

care what other people think

Today I took my kids to Story Time at the library. This was a first for us in my new part-time stay at home mom role. In my attempt to keep my kids involved in predictable, school-like activities on their days at home, we’ve assigned Tuesdays as library day. Lucky for me, Tuesdays also happen to be Pre-School Story Time day at the library.

To call my family loud would be an understatement. My voice carries. My parents’ voices carry. Growing up, for a few weeks following parent-teacher conferences my teachers would even inadvertently let up on asking me to lower my voice or be quiet out of their newfound realization that the apple does in fact not fall far from the tree. This gift of never needing a microphone was lovingly and unintentionally passed along to my children, as well.

In case you haven’t visited your local library lately, they are relatively quiet places. Even in the children’s section. Like most moms who has been to a public place with toddlers, I laid out my expectations before we got there.

#1. Listening ears.

#2. Inside voices.

#3. Walking feet.

#4. Please for the love of God do not pull all of the books off of the book shelves.

We arrived a few minutes before Story Time was going to begin and took our places in the tiny children’s chairs. As more families arrived I bumped my pre-schooler to the floor criss cross applesauce and pulled my 1 1/2 year old onto my lap so the other moms and grandmas could take a seat. The librarian entered – almost silently – and began.

About two pages into her first of three stories, my son saw a Thomas the Train made out of paper mache in the corner of the room and lost his mind. He said {or yelled to the unfamiliar ear} “train, train” over and over again.

Now, I’ve been a mom long enough to know that whenever your kids are acting undesirably, it is 10 times worse in your own head.

Still, I redirected his attention to the display of books on the table behind my tiny chair in an attempt to keep him quiet. It worked for a minute, but then he saw a book with a train on it and his gleeful reiteration continued. Train, train, train!

I lovingly whisked my son out of the small, nearly quiet room and bounced with him just outside the door so he could still see the librarian and her audience.

A few moments later I noticed my daughter looking around frantically. Apparently she had turned around to an empty chair and thought I’d left her there alone. She scanned the back of the room until we made eye contact through the glass. I gave her a little wave and a thumbs up of encouragement, but it was too late. She started crying.

I motioned for her to come out and stand in the hallway with me and her brother. We walked the aisles for a moment until they both had calmed down and then went back into the room with tiny chairs to finish up Story Time.

We made our selections for the week and were heading to the check out counter when the librarian introduced herself to Daphne. As she engaged my daughter in a series of questions so that I could scan our books  {How old are you? What’s your little brother’s name?}, Henry lost his patience and made sure we all knew it.

I awkwardly joked with the librarian, “I guess it’s time for us to run out on you again.”

The librarian smiled and said, “I thought you handled it really well. You’d be surprised what some parents let their kids do. It’s like they don’t care what anyone thinks.”

Hmm.

Hours later when my kids were played with, fed, read to {the new library books obviously} and tucked in for a nap, I was still thinking about what the librarian said. Do people really just let their children be disruptive during such a calm activity? Do I care about what people think? Is that why I left?

It’s not that I was terribly concerned with what the parents thought of me or my parenting choices {we’re all just doing our best, right?} and I’m certainly not losing sleep over the fact that my son couldn’t keep perfectly still or quiet {he’s 1, ok?}. So why was my reaction to make my kids leave the room?

It wasn’t that I cared what people thought about me personally. I did, however, care a great deal about what they thought about their experience and my family’s ability to impact it.

Suddenly, I was reminded of flying on an airplane with my daughter when she was a baby. It was awful. Awful. Even though she cried the entire flight, I never worried that the other passengers were thinking that I was a horrible mom. They may have been, but I just didn’t care what they thought about me personally. I did my best to acknowledge the disruption {verbally with the flight attendants and through a gesture or facial expression with several passengers nearby}. I was clearly trying to calm her down {a.k.a. not a horrible mom} and I apologized to those around me after the flight.

Unless you live and work alone and rarely venture outside, you’re going to encounter a lot of different people everywhere you go. Have you ever had someone not hold the elevator for you? Rude. Or been standing in line at the bank and the person behind you is yapping away on his cell phone? Come on!

Both on that plane ride and at the library, my choices were telling the people around me that I cared what they thought.

So while you don’t have to {and shouldn’t} care what people think about you {you do you, girlfriend} I do think that the librarian was correct. Many people don’t care what anyone thinks. But they should.

If we all cared a little more about what people thought, we might just make their day a little better.

How I’m cleaning up my work from home life

Friday is here which means I’ve survived my second week working from home. While I managed to stay on task and get my work complete, I cannot say that I was a role model for establishing some healthy work habits.

Earlier this week, I panicked. My sweet darlings are home with me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which means I work quite a bit in the evenings. {A trade off I welcomed in exchange for more time with my family.}

Tuesday morning went all right. We painted and built race car tracks and played school bus. We kept busy, which kept the peace.

By mid-morning; however, things took a turn for the worse. I got anxious about my looming list of things to do before the kids returned to school on Thursday morning. I constantly felt pulled to respond to emails or do just one little thing that would earn a check mark of accomplishment on my to-dos. But my obviously distracted parenting led my children into one of the hardest places to come back from in our house.

Boredom.

When my nearly four-year-old daughter gets bored, she turns into a whining, lethargic television magnet. She won’t play. She won’t read. She won’t color. {But she will repeatedly tell you that she won’t play, read or color.} My husband and I try to limit the amount of TV time she gets, but she eagerly cashed in her 30 minutes with Mickey Mouse for the day by 10 a.m.

My toddler actually plays really well by himself most of the time. He loves his cars and books and trains. But when he gets bored, he throws stuff. He punches stuff. Or breaks stuff. Sometimes all three at once. He sure knows how to liven up this bore-fest.

That is when it hit me. Literally. My son hit me with a cardboard book as if to say “hey, read this to me NOW!” Daphne looked up from the hot dog dance. Henry flashed his innocent doe-eyes at me as if he hadn’t just chucked Little Blue Truck at my head. I was so preoccupied reading through emails during what was supposed to be family time that I probably hadn’t even noticed my son’s non-violent attempts at getting me to read to him.

It was time to set some boundaries. For myself.

Email Overhaul

I decided right then and there before my new book bump had even finished forging onto my noggin that if I couldn’t be strong-willed enough to not check my emails, then I just had to get rid of them altogether.

For Christmas, my husband gifted me an old, broken iPhone of mine that he had restored so that my 1,500+ photos and videos could be salvaged. I’d been using it as an iPod the last few weeks since it still carried all my old music on it, too.

I retrieved the iPhone and got out my current Samsung Galaxy. I quickly removed all work-related email accounts from my current phone and uploaded them all into the iPhone. Ta da! Work phone, personal phone. My work phone stays tucked away on family days and {so far} has been enforced just as tightly as Daphne’s TV time.

Invest in Efficiency

Two things you should know about me if you don’t already. 1. I’m pretty frugal. 2. I’m an extremely efficient worker. With that being said, there are so many resources out there these days to streamline work flow, particularly for marketing and advertising agencies. I’ve always resisted the urge to take advantage of them, or would only utilize the services that were offered for free, because being a boutique agency I’m able to serve all of my clients in what I felt was a reasonable amount of time anyway.

But if by week two I was freaking out about getting everything done and subsequently hindering family time, it was time to loosen the purse strings to make an investment in my new business. While I may be incredibly quick and accurate at doing my work, why wouldn’t I want to couple that with a program that would continue to work for me on my days off?

First, I did a lot of research on programs that would assist me with the social media management component of my business. After a lot of comparisons – from price, to ability, to interface – I decided to sign up with Sendible. The best part? They offer a 1-month free trial, phone support, and training webinars.

Second, I signed up for QuickBooks Self-Employed. I’m already familiar with QuickBooks online from doing the books for my husband’s business a few years ago. It’s incredibly user-friendly and because it syncs directly to my bank account, I don’t have to remember to make any entries myself. Taxes are no joke and there are so many ways for small business owners to make mistakes. Investing in this online program allows me to work more closely with our CPA and track my income and expenses without being responsible for the initial recording of them.

Finally, I upgraded to Canva for Work. Canva is a great online resources for non-designers to pretend to be designers. While I’m fairly literate in InDesign and other Adobe products, I am not a trained graphic designer and have wasted quite a bit of time attempting to be one. I have used Canva for over a year to make really quality images to use for social media, signage, invitations and more. The reason I decided to up the ante from the free version is to save myself time. Canva for Work has the added benefit of saving everything you need for your brand{s}. You can save a color palettes, logos, templates, fonts and more. This investment was the hardest for me, because it seems like a luxury when it offers a great version at no cost. With that being said, I have huge plans for all of that time I intend to save not having to type in my hex colors each and every time I design an image.

I feel less stressed and less distracted already. These three investments were definitely worth it.

{Note: For print pieces and particular projects, there is absolutely NO substitute to a good graphic designer.}

Be the Teacher

I had to help oversee a work event for my former employer last week,  and while I was there someone said something that really resonated with me. She asked how winter break was and I mentioned that the dreaded ‘B’ word had sneaked its way into our house during the second week my kids were home from school. I added that they were looking forward to going back to school {mom included} because of the structure and plethora of activities coordinated by their teachers. She just looked at me and said, “you can be the teacher.”

Once I got past the idea of me standing in front of them singing songs about the weather in an attempt to replicate circle time, I realized that she probably meant that I could incorporate the things that my children respond to at school into our home. For my daughter in particular, I concluded that was the constant flow of predictable activity.

When it comes to my business, I plan. I schedule out my time for meetings, projects and emails. In order to be a teacher to my kids, I needed to apply these same principles to my household like a lesson plan.

I kept the entire family in mind as I lesson-planned. We all get stir-crazy, especially during these winter months, so I first looked for indoor activities that wouldn’t break the bank if we did them every week. My mom got us a family membership to Wonderscope Children’s Museum for Christmas, so {purely because they both start with the letter ‘W’} Wonderscope Wednesdays was born. It was easy to get both of my kids excited to pack up snacks and head out to play and learn.

Coming up with something to do on Tuesdays was a bit more challenging. While Kansas City has a ton to offer, I was determined to create some habits for our family to build some consistency in our new days-at-home schedule. After all, me being home with the kids isn’t just new and challenging for me. My daughter downsized from full-time 5 days a week pre-school, as well, and she’s had an equally difficult time adjusting to the unpredictability of each day.

This week I decided we’d go check out the Johnson County Library, something I thought was a luxury for stay-at-home parents. Well, we had a great experience and I learned a lot. {You can check out 150 books at a time. Everything is DYI with a library card. They have movies and video games. What?!} The best part? A 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning story time kicks off next week. Jackpot! We’ve read the 4 books we checked out 1 million times and both kids are already asking when we get to go back and pick out more books. While I will continue to look for other free opportunities in town, it’s safe to say that Library Tuesday will become a thing. {Catchier name ideas are welcomed.}

It’s only been a week, but everything went swimmingly. I was more engaged with my children, didn’t spend any money, and honestly didn’t even think twice about my iPhone pinging away with emails at home. The best part? No one got bored.

Working Mom Wednesday: her kind of perfect

This week I am really excited to announce that I’m launching a new campaign called Working Mom Wednesday {#workingmomwednesday}. Every week I’m going to interview a working mom who inspires me. I think women can learn so much by listening to one another. What works for her might motivate you! So let’s get started…

I first encountered Tammy McDonald on accident.

When I launched Femfessionals Kansas City last spring, I emailed a former work acquaintance of mine, the publisher of HERLIFE, and never heard back, unaware that the magazine was in the final stages of being bought out.

After a few weeks I got the sweetest reply from Tammy, the new owner, wanting to learn more about this new professional women’s group. A two hour meeting later, I left with a new board member for our community and a new friend.

Tammy is just the kind of positive, goal-oriented and honest woman I had in mind when we started Femfessionals. She is incredibly thoughtful {she surprised me with a bag of peanut butter balls when I had mentioned in passing it was the only thing that sounded good when I had morning sickness} and is a huge supported of women. {Duh. She owns HERLIFE…} Without further ado!


 

 

TFM: Self-promo time. Start by telling me about your business.

Tammy: I am the owner and publisher of HERLIFE Magazine. I purchased the Magazine in April of 2015. I run the corporate office in Overland Park and I have franchisees in California, Colorado, Idaho, New York, and Washington D.C. I am also an officer of my Dad’s company, Crystal Trenching, where I handle his day-to-day office operations on a part-time basis.

TFM: Sounds like you have a full plate! What is a typical day like for you?

Tammy: I wake up early to snuggles from my 3 and 6 year old boys. My husband and I get them ready and off to school, I head to my HERLIFE office, or my dad’s office once a week, and have meetings, conference calls, and stay super busy. Usually home around 4:30/5 and Trey and I do homework and dinner with the kids. We get the kids in bed and I usually hit the computer again!

TFM: I do the same! Sometimes it feels like the emails never stop. At least you have the morning snuggles to look forward to 🙂 If you weren’t the publisher of HERLIFE, what would you be doing?

Tammy: I would like to say I would be a full-time mom and volunteer at the kids’ school, but I like to work so I would probably start a new company.

TFM: Another business, huh? Sounds like you’re a true entrepreneur! What is the best part of being a business owner?

Tammy: I like making my own schedule and when I need or want to be home for something the kids have going on, I can. I also like having a staff that I can motivate and lead on a daily basis. Strange, but I like the stress and craziness…the busier I am, the better I am at work and at home.

TFM: It forces you to stay on top of everything! Surely you’ve dropped the ball either at work or home though. Tell me about a time you failed or really messed up.

Tammy: I can’t remember a time I failed. I am saying this because I never view anything as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn or grow. Don’t get me wrong, I make screw-ups all the time or mistakes, but they happen. You learn from them and move on.

TFM: That’s a great way to look at.

Tammy: I just look at it as everything happens for a reason, whether I know the reason when it happens or not. I use every failure and spin it into something positive. When I fall off the horse, I wipe myself off and get back on!

TFM: They say it takes a village to raise a child. Who helps you with your kiddos?

Tammy: My Village does. We use my cousin, Molly, as our Nanny for after school and any night or evening. We also use my Aunt, Molly’s mom, sometimes they work together. I also have all of my family within 15 minutes, so my parents and grandparents are always there to help. We have been so fortunate to have family close by, but also some sitters…no, I will not give you their numbers 🙂

TFM: What is your favorite part about being a mom?

Tammy: The look I get from my boys…the “I love you no matter what, even when you don’t have make-up on”. No matter what, I can always grab a hug, a kiss, or a giggle.

TFM: Speaking of no makeup, what one product or service do you love so much you could be a brand ambassador?

Tammy: The Halo Laser found at Aestheticare. It did wonders for my complexion and the overall appearance of my face.

TFM: No makeup needed! back to your boys. Have you ever missed a moment in your child’s life that you regret because of work?

Tammy: I have missed some, but I don’t regret it. That’s not to say I wasn’t sad that I missed that moment. I let my mom take Quade, our oldest, to get his first haircut. I don’t regret moments like this because I view them as getting to share them with someone else. She watched Quade so much the first 3 years of his life, that I wanted her to enjoy and cherish some of his firsts.

TFM: That’s a great outlook on it. You’re sharing these moments, not missing them! If your kids take away one thing from you running a business, what do you think that would be?

Tammy: When you own your own business, you need to be there working it with your team, or employees. Something I learned from my dad. He owns a construction company and could run it from the office and stay clean, dry and warm. Instead, he is out there digging and working as hard, if not harder, than his crews.

TFM: And hard work pays off. What’s your best piece of advice for other working moms?

Tammy: Find balance. I struggled with that for a while. I’ve learned to put down the phone and computer from the time I get home until after they go to bed, sometimes things come up. They get my undivided attention for only a short time when they’re not in school or with a sitter, that they need that and I love giving it to them.

TFM: What keeps you sane?

Tammy: My husband. He has a way of bringing me back down before I explode. My dad, he has a way of putting things in perspective. My mom, she lets me call to vent, cry, or laugh anytime I need her.

TFM: Last question…my tagline is “a working mom’s quest to having it all.” Do you think you have it all?

Tammy: I just featured Jaycee Waters on the January cover of HERLIFE and she has a blog, kindofperfect, and that is what I have…I have my kind of perfect, not yours or anyone else’s, but it is mine. I do have it all, but I think we always want more and I am finding that balance of do I really want more? I think I have it all, but not because it is all right now, but it has been something I have had, learned from, or I have within my means to reach. It is all there somewhere. It is how we use it, see it or achieve it.


 

Thanks, Tammy!

Be sure to check out HERLIFE magazine and see you here next Wednesday for another #workingmomwednesday.

Want to be interviewed for #workingmomwednesday? Contact me to find out how.

 

50 things I learned from my coworkers

Today you headed back to the office after a two week hiatus for the holidays. I’m guessing you were dragging a little and maybe even apprehensive about having to show up and be productive after such a relaxing break. One thing I am sure of is that your motivation to get out of bed this morning was that you got to reunite with one another. So while today I officially hang my virtual “open for business” sign and stamp “entrepreneur” on my LinkedIn profile, I spent most of the day thinking about how much I’m going to miss you.

I’d been at my job for nearly five years. Some of my you were there before I arrived and others started just six months ago. All of you made your marks on my life and I am incredibly grateful. And lucky. I know from previous jobs that your coworkers can make or break your work life. Not only did you give me a reason to come to work every day, but we actually wanted to hang out even more after we’d already punched the clock. It didn’t take long for you to become so much more than colleagues

It sounds like a line from a cheesy movie, but I learned a lot about who I want to be because of you. I won’t always recall every painfully useless meeting we endured together {most of them}, or every inside joke we came up with {swoop and poop, HOP, Mean Girls, and on and on and on}, but I will always remember the things you taught me about being a good coworker, friend, mother and wife. Here are my top 50:

  1. Collaborate as often as possible
  2. Brainstorming sessions will improve the quality of your work
  3. Delegate when you can
  4. Ask for help
  5. Show appreciation
  6. Don’t take credit for something you didn’t do
  7. Handwritten notes have not gone out of style
  8. Family comes before work always
  9. Take time off when you can
  10. Let the little things go
  11. Pick and choose wisely what colleagues you decide to become Facebook friends with
  12. Apologies go a long way
  13. Change happens
  14. No one has done everything
  15. Think twice before you hit “reply all”
  16. Be on time
  17. Vacations are time well spent re-energizing
  18. Don’t leave a meeting without a plan of action
  19. You’re never too old to learn something new
  20. Sometimes you need to pick up the phone
  21. You don’t have to like everyone
  22. Not everyone is going to like you
  23. Hair lice can keep coming back if the mother ship doesn’t get exterminated
  24. Always go to the funeral
  25. Be fiercely loyal to those you care about
  26. Teen boys smell really bad after dancing
  27. Know when to voice your opinion
  28. Know when to be quiet
  29. We wear pink on Wednesdays
  30. Holding a grudge is unattractive
  31. When you build a website, you will dream in code
  32. Make fake award certificates for yourself if it motivates you
  33. Random gifts can brighten someone’s day
  34. Bring food to the office for any reason or no reason at all
  35. If you have the opportunity to drink a purple cocktail made with champagne, just ask for the champagne
  36. Own up to your mistakes
  37. Win graciously
  38. Lose graciously
  39. Sometimes you just need to ugly cry and be hugged
  40. Takeout Chinese food for lunch can turn a day around
  41. Don’t keep your basement refrigerator stocked with liquor if there are teenagers in the house unless it has a lock
  42. Traditional white lights aren’t the only way to decorate for Christmas
  43. Some people are cold literally all the time
  44. Those people travel with space heaters
  45. If you say you’re going to do something, do it
  46. People mellow with age
  47. Don’t lie to your employer
  48. You get out of it what you put into it…it being work, friendship, marriage, parenthood or anything else you decide to do
  49. Mayo and sriracha sauce make a great dip
  50. Distance makes the heart grow fonder

I know there are many more {and I hope you call me out on them}.

So while today I am enjoying the peace and quiet of my new home office and the comfort of my yoga pants, I know that some days it will feel more like loneliness. So, dear coworkers, my Mean Girls, I hope you weren’t quite done teaching me lessons yet, because you can expect to see me often.

I miss you already.

5 New Year’s resolutions for a successful 2016

New Year Oprah

It’s hard to believe 2016 is a day away. When I was a kid it sounded so obnoxious to hear older people talk about how time seems to speed up each year, but now that I’m a parent I am starting to see some truth to it. With a one and three-year-old the days can seem {painfully} long at times, but I seem to have blinked and here I am at another year. With an almost four-year-old. Which can’t be right since I was practically just in college. Until I realize that it’s almost 2016 and I graduated nearly eight years ago. How did that happen?

While a new year makes me feel a bit sad that my kids are growing up so quickly, it’s also a great time to do some self reflection. My husband and I are big into setting goals, making resolutions and adding things to our bucket lists. We actually sit down once a year and write each of these into a Google Doc that we share so we can check in from time to time. This process has been a great road map for our life together. In fact, both this blog and my husband’s business were dreamed up in goal-setting sessions and become our reality!

We aren’t getting any younger, which means {if the old people are right} that time isn’t getting any slower either. With time passing so quickly, you may miss the chance to get what you want out of your life if you don’t take time to figure out {and write down} what those things are.

Here’s my list for 2016. Do you share any of the same resolutions? Tell me about yours in the comments.

1. Say yes more

When you have young kids, it is so easy to become a total home-body. A night out with friends or lunch with an old classmate seems like so much work when you have to align a baby sitter or just muster up the energy to change out of your yoga pants and take a shower. The problem with acting like a recluse is that you may actually start to lose touch with some of those friends when they stop inviting you out when you always stay in. 2016 will be a year of yes as long as you aren’t asking me to stay out too late {some of us still have to get up at 6 a.m. with the toddlers, k?}.

2. Put down the cell phone

I hope my husband adds this one to his list, but I’m not exactly proud of the hours I’ve clocked tuned into technology during family-time either. It’s so tempting to get look at your cell phone each time you hear an email arrive in your inbox. This year I hope to stay true to my time blocked working hours and save the social scrolling until after the kiddos are in bed so I never have to hear my daughter say, “mommy, please get off your phone” again.

3. Build my girl squad

As the president of our Kansas City chapter of Femfessionals, I have huge goals for our new community to flourish in 2016. Selfishly, one of these goals is to build my own power network, as well. I’m entering 2016 as a first-time, full-fledged business owner and I see the women in this group as a wealth of support and information. But like most things in life, you only get out what you put in. I can’t wait to get to know the women in this network better.

4. Quit comparing

Women spend an enormous amount of time comparing themselves to others. I have two thoughts on this. First, sometimes what you see isn’t even reality. Think about it, do you put your really embarrassing or sad or angry self on social media? Probably not. Neither does she. So when her life looks perfect, just remember everyone is going through something. Second, we aren’t all looking for the same things on this journey through life and that’s okay. Sometimes I see pictures of my stay-at-home-mom friends with their children throughout the day and I wonder what the heck I’m doing in the office. But then I remember I chose to do this work that I love and my children are thriving in their preschool. In 2016, I’m going to stop wasting my time worrying about how your life compares to mine and make sure I’m doing my personal best instead.

5. Get political

In case you’ve been living under a rock, 2016 is an election year and things are bound to be interesting. Sometimes it’s easy to sit back and coast on your political affiliations or stay out of it altogether, but as someone less than impressed with all of our presidential candidates, I really want to take the initiative to learn more on the national and local level this year and maybe even get involved. {Heck, even my husband joined our local HOA Board for 2016.} It really does matter, so I hope you’ll get inspired and join me.

Get more done by adopting this one habit

After a week at home for the holidays, my kiddos are finally out of the house. My coffee is hot. My desk is organized. The day is young. I finally sit down to work.

I know I need to write another blog post, but first I think I will open up Facebook and schedule a few social media posts I’ve planned for a few of my clients for the New Year.

Then my phone pings. Someone liked my most recent Insta post about working on my business goals and plans for 2016. It’s so exciting to see new followers {strangers even!} finding my blog and corresponding social pages.

Back to Facebook. Okay, one post scheduled.

I better check my Femfessionals email. I haven’t checked it since before Christmas and I really need to finish my plan for our community in 2016. I fire off a few emails to fellow Kansas City business owners about some event ideas.

I return to the browser with my Facebook page open. I scroll through my news feed, just once, and an article called “21 Annoying Facebook Status Updates that Need to Stop” pops up. That looks interesting, and I definitely need to find out what those things are {to make sure I’m not an annoying Facebook status poster}, so I click on it.

I skim the article and go back to my news feed, fully confident that all of my friends totally are not annoyed with my posts. Cute pictures of my friend’s baby’s first Christmases rotate with puppies and snow and more click-worthy articles from Buzzfeed and the Huff Post.

And then I glance in the upper right corner and realize an hour has gone by already. And I haven’t even started this blog post yet.

I’m not much of a gambler, but I’m willing to bet some version of this has happened to you before. Our phones and computers have become major time sucks thanks in large part to social media. But it isn’t just mindless scrolling that can cause us to lose track of time and productivity. I didn’t have a plan. I sat down to accomplish one task, but immediately moved on to other things on my to-do list and then became distracted. While my email sending and social media managing still chipped away at my overall workload, I lost valuable time and creative energy bouncing between tasks. Not carving out specific time for particular projects prevents us from packing in a fully efficient work sesh. So what should I have done differently?

Start each day with not only a list of top work priorities, but a schedule for accomplishing them. This technique is called time blocking and it is a powerful tool that can truly help you get more done if you make it a habit. So how can you {we} become better at time blocking a get stuff done? Try these 4 tips to time block like a pro.

1. Block time to time block

You shouldn’t spend your freshest moments of a new day mapping out your time blocks, so plan them in advance. Carve out time on one of your least productive day, typically a Monday or Friday or even the weekend, to evaluate what you need to get done for the upcoming week. I use Google Calendar for everything, both work and personal, because it actually looks like little colorful blocks that can be shared with others so they know when you’re time blocking a.k.a unavailable.

2. The early block catches the worm

I’m a morning person. I’d say 80% of what I get done in a day happens before 1 p.m. Be sure to schedule your time blocks when you work your hardest so they don’t fizzle into a procrastination period. Just keep in mind that you should aim to get your highest priority work accomplished before you move on to things like meetings and emails. So if you’re a rare breed who perks up after lunch time, don’t over commit in the morning or meetings may intrude on your precious time block.

3. Tune out to block in

When it’s time to time block and you’re ready to dig in to that super top priority thing to do, eliminate distractions. No social media. No emails. No phone calls. No office visits. It’s go time.

4. Don’t over block

When you schedule out your time blocks, it’s important to keep windows in your day. Projects may come up that you weren’t anticipating and certain jobs make take longer to accomplish than you originally thought. No need to fret if you’ve left some holes in your day to work on these things, as well as catching up on any outstanding emails or phone calls {although I do recommend carving out an email time block if you receive a high volume of them}. Finish that important task before your time block was over?

Do you time block to reach maximum productivity during your work day and make sure important tasks get done first? What works or doesn’t work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Happy time blocking!

 

 

Not your typical mommy-blog blog

When I had finally made up my mind that I was going to quit my job and start my own business, I knew I wanted to somehow document it. Whether I was to become a huge success or fail miserably, I knew I’d want to look back at my experiences {mostly to prove that my play-it-safe self actually did it}. So I did what so many people do when they’ve got something to say; I started this blog. And then it sat. For months.

They say the hardest part is just getting started and “they” aren’t freaking lying! It seemed impossible to begin something that I hadn’t begun myself. I started talking about quitting my job with my husband last spring. I didn’t make it a reality until September. Well, December has come and Santa’s practically hanging halfway down our chimney and I’m still struggling with exactly what I want this blog to be.

I want to support working moms. I want to help women start their own businesses. I want to encourage people to live the life they’ve always wanted and quit getting in their own way. I want to teach ways to be more efficient and squeeze maximum fulfillment out of each day. I want to share my personal and professional wins and losses {if you promise not to keep score} and maybe even help you learn something along the way.

One thing I am sure of is what this blog is not:

  • A mommy blog chock full of DYI projects and kids crafts. Don’t get me wrong, those sites are awesome! Check out my favorites here and here. I’ve spent hours dreaming of my children’s nurseries that could have been if I were capable of recreating my own Pinterest fantasies. Not my skill set. Moving on…
  • A mommy blog with tips on spending less money at the grocery store, tracking down the new “it” toy on a budget or anything related to being a better shopper. {You may find me sharing tips on how to be a quicker, more efficient shopper though!}
  • A mommy blog supplying your recipe book with tried and true favorites sure to get your kids eating their veggies and your husband asking for seconds all while you lose weight.
  • A mommy blog that speaks to all of your fears of parenting while making you feel normal {you are} for thinking you’re screwing up your kids {you aren’t}. It does exist though!

I appreciate everything these sites have to offer, and can even pull off one heck of a first birthday party with ideas borrowed from these creative geniuses. You just won’t find any of these things on this mommy blog.

So there. If the hardest part is getting started it should be smooth sailing from here, right?!

7 tips to help working moms become more efficient

Have you ever left a conversation with a friend, colleague or even someone you just met and wondered “how the heck does she do it?” As a young mom, entrepreneur, and generally energetic person, I must admit I get asked that a lot. I usually shrug it off with something like, “oh, I just like to keep busy!” But lately I’ve taken some time to think about how I should really answer the question. I think what I’m actually being asked is “how are you so efficient?” So, I’m going to let you in on my seven tips to improve your efficiency. Soon everyone will be asking you how you do it!

1. Multitask

Multitasking, in my opinion, is a bit of an art. You have to know which activities to clump together so that you don’t sacrifice quality. For example, scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed during family time or catching up on important work emails while watching last night’s Bachelor Pad is a no-no.

My favorite example is my morning routine. I am an early to bed and early to rise kind of gal, but not too early. My alarm goes off at 6 a.m., which gives me a happy balance of clocking enough Zs while successfully getting our 1 and 3 year olds out of the house by 7:15. Here’s a play by play of how we do it:

6:00AM – Alarm goes off – NO snooze! Hit the shower…most days.

6:10AM – This is where it gets good. I read the news (I prefer theSkimm), while doing my hair and makeup, while nursing or pumping. My husband is all ready for the day and heading downstairs to make breakfast for the family…smell the bacon, eggs and coffee!

6:30AM – Divide and conquer! My husband gets one child up and dressed and I tackle the other one.

6:45AM – We all sit down and eat breakfast as a family.

7:00AM – Shoes on (kept in the laundry room), teeth brushed (a set of toothbrushes in the downstairs bathroom), and an impromptu dance party in the kitchen.

7:15AM – Load up and head out.

I’m particularly proud of that 6:10 window. Feeding another human and learning about world events while primping really gets me excited to take on the day.

2. Ask for help

Notice how earlier I said, “this is how we do it.” That’s because I don’t even pretend like mornings run this smoothly when my husband is traveling for work. One way to master efficiency is to know when to ask for help. Early on in our marriage, I told my husband it would really help both of us make it to work on time if he made breakfast. We woke up at the same time each day, but I took about 20 minutes longer to get ready than he did. About the same amount of time it takes to cook the full breakfast we’re both accustomed to. He totally got it and was willing to step up in the morning, something that became even more important when we added two toddlers to the routine.

Bottom line: if someone else can do something better or quicker than you can, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

3. Plan Ahead

Let’s go back to the morning routine again. Did you notice how I didn’t mention packing lunches or getting bags together? It’s because I do it all the night before. I’ve found it’s quickest to pack lunches either while making dinner or putting away any leftovers since you’re already in and out of the fridge and handling Tupperware. I lay out my kids’ outfits before bedtime. Heck, I still lay out my clothes. By planning ahead whenever you can, you eliminate unpleasant surprises (where is that library book?) and create the illusion of more time (dance party, anyone?).

4. Get Organized

I know this looks a little bit different for everyone. I’m a bit of a self proclaimed neat freak myself, and while I won’t project my tidy ways on you, I do urge you to get organized at home and at work if you want to improve your efficiency. The reality is, if you know where things are you will get to them faster. Keep your home and your office cleared of clutter. Pick up the toys on the floor before you go to bed; I promise you’ll feel better about it when you come downstairs the next morning! If this isn’t your strong suit, please refer to tip #2 and have someone help you file those papers.

5. Prioritize

I am a list-maker. Give me a post-it, some stationary, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s clean and I can write on it. Who doesn’t like to draw a giant check mark next to a completed task? Other than that fleeting sense of achievement, lists help you visualize the things you need to get done. I suggest separating work things from family things from errands or shopping lists since prerogatives change from a Monday to a Saturday.

When it comes to your business, make a list at the end of each work day for the following day. Write each task in the order they’ll need to be accomplished and then when it comes time to work on them, do not bounce around! Tackle them one by one and watch your efficiency improve and your to-dos decrease.

For my family and home, I have a giant to-do that includes long term projects like finally painting the outside of the house or getting around to our family photo album.

Make one list or ten, either way be sure to commit to getting things done and don’t procrastinate!

6. Move

Remember how you weren’t supposed to Facebook stalk or watch your guilty pleasure television shows while working or family time? You know the perfect time to do these things? While exercising! Not only will you benefit from shutting off your responsibilities for a bit, but you’ll have the added perk of those endorphins. So sneak away from the kiddos already to get in some quality me-time and get fit while you Netflix.

7. Slow down

This is really important to remember, especially for working moms.  While I pride myself in being incredibly efficient both in my business and at running my household, I sometimes have to remind myself to stop and smell the roses. Women are so incredibly hard on themselves and parents who work outside of the home are constantly on the go. So join me after the alarm sounds at 6 a.m. tomorrow in taking a deep breath and counting your blessings before tackling that to-do list.