A Survival Guide for Work-From-Home Parents

As Seen in The Huffington Post!

 

monkeybusinessimages via Getty Images

People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

 

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

 

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family, has been a learning process like no other.

 

As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.

I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing mamas (and daddies) of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting:

 

Get ahead of the game.
Preparation is key. No one knows the needs of your child or children better than you. Create a schedule that allows for a comfortable balance without overwhelming you. Wake up before the kids, allow yourself to organize and map out your day, and answer some pressing emails. Know exactly which parts of your day will demand the most of your attention instead of winging it and hoping things fall in line. They won’t. Learning to work on a schedule and create routines that work for all of the people in your home will be a game changer that will not only increase productivity, it will keep you in control of your day.

 

Ask for help.
Any mom, business owner, or mamapreneur worth her salt knows that it truly does take a village to get ahead. For me personally, I am not in a position to hire a full time sitter or nanny, nor do I want to rely on the help of someone else. I enjoy being with my daughter as much as I can between client calls and projects, however, I know my limits. Luckily, I have family close by who are willing to help a few days a week, as well as a neighbor who is happy to watch my daughter for a few hours on some of my busiest days. The trick is to take full advantage of this time. This is when I schedule any calls (because no one enjoys hearing a screaming child who just spilled her goldfish all over the floor), engage in creating new business plans, and taking a few moments of quiet time to reinvigorate my brain and thought process. Ask for help. Don’t be shy. Help is good.

 

Know your limits.
This is the most important piece of information I can give to anyone looking to maintain a successful career with small children at home. If the first two options do not work out for you, this one will be your secret weapon. Sure, we all want to do as much as humanly possible to keep everyone, clients, children, spouses, friends, and family happy day in and day out – but let’s be real here. If you’re consistently overextending yourself, something will suffer and it will most likely be you, and the quality of your work. This happened to me quite a bit in the beginning, until I became more familiar with and accepting of my limits. Learning to say no, whether to yourself or others is an invaluable tool for success.

 

Have a sense of humor.
And be realistic. Do not expect perfection of yourself or anyone else involved in your work-from-home life. Allow a little room for error, a lot of patience, and time to learn. When in doubt – laugh (even if it’s at yourself).

The truth is, anything that results in success takes a lot of hard work, trial and error, and patience. You’ll get there, trust me.

 

Working from Home with Child: Smart or Just Plain Insane?

People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family has been a learning process like no other.
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As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.
I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing women of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting.

Becoming My Mother

Becoming My Mother
As Mother’s Day approaches, I only have one person on my brain: my mother. Even though I too, am a mother now – I know full well that I would not be half of the mother I am today if it were not for my mama – the strong, fearless, and giving woman that she is.

As women, it is often said that eventually, you’ll become your mother. It’s almost laughable that I used to consider this a bad thing. In fact, as a teenager, I couldn’t bear the thought of this. My mother kept me on a tight leash. She was strict, she didn’t let me wear eyeliner and wouldn’t let me smoke cigarettes or hang out with boys that were in college. Ridiculous, mom, thanks a lot (teenage angst voice). 

But, seriously mom, thanks. In hindsight, I’d rather my child NOT become the teenager I was. 

As a girl in my 20’s, trying to find a place in the world for myself, it’s like I was destined to make every mistake possible, just because. My mother tried her hardest to steer me in the right direction so I clearly chose to go the opposite way, each and every time. You don’t know me, mom, you don’t know what I need! Bad career choices? Check. Know-it-all attitude? Absolutely. Relationships that left me heartbroken? Yes please, the more the merrier! 

But, seriously mom, thanks for knowing what I needed, and being there to pick up the pieces after each mistake. In hindsight, I’d prefer it if my daughter doesn’t insist on defying me when I’ll only be trying to help. 

At the end of my 20’s, after a horrific car accident broke me from the neck down, my life came crashing down around me, and all of it was broken too. My first phone call was to my mother. I don’t remember making the call, and I certainly don’t remember how, but my first phone call was to my mother, who was far away in Florida, while I was laying in an ambulance somewhere on Long Island. She was on the next flight, that mother of mine – coming to pick up the pieces for what felt like the hundredth time. But seriously mom, how were you not sick of me by then? Thanks for being there.

In hindsight, it was the best call I’ve ever made.

It was like I was a baby again, and I needed my mom for everything. From bathing, to brushing my teeth, to being fed, I had to rely on my mother for my basic survival, since I didn’t have a leg to stand on (no pun intended). It was in this time that hindsight set in. Like life flashing before my eyes, every bad decision my mother had warned me about and begged me not to make replayed over and over in my mind, taunting me with that same angst-filled tone I was so good at, shouting “I told you so,” at the top of its lungs.

But if I had listened, I never would have hit bottom, and I never would have learned to appreciate the power of my mother actually knowing best. I never would have opened my eyes and figured out the changes I needed to make in my life. I never would have ended up here, now, with the life I had always dreamed of. 

Jeez, I’m a mom now, with a daughter who will likely make a whole bunch of mistakes that will transform her into a stronger and better person – and I know I’ll be there for her, every step of the way.

So, on this Mother’s Day, my second as a mom, I’ve decided I’m becoming my mother. In every sense of the word. In every loving, generous, empowering way I can be – just so I can be like her and ensure my daughter is just as lucky as I continue to be. 

There’s just no other way I can do this motherhood thing without relying on all of the forgiveness and strength my mother always seemed to be full of, even in my worst moments.
I’m becoming my mother so that my daughter will always feel supported.

I’m becoming my mother so my daughter will always have a port in the storm.

I’m becoming my mother so no matter what mess my daughter finds herself in, I can help her, show her rather, how to clean it up.

I’m becoming my mother so that ultimately, I know I’m doing something right on this adventure of raising my daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 

Ellen Degeneres, I Owe You One

As Seen in The Huffington Post:

“Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth, and everything else will come”Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 9.19.18 PM.png

 

This has taken me over four years to write. But for four years, this Ellen Degeneres quote, from a 2010 Katie Couric Interview in Glamour Magazine, has meant so much to my life and where I am in it today.

 

So, let’s go back to four years ago. January 6th, 2012, to be exact: Following many years of a very unstable life filled with pain, tragedy, and a terrible lack of self-confidence, I came very close to losing it all. That cold, New York morning, I was involved in a head-on collision that left me broken from the neck down physically, and broken all the way through, mentally.

 

I was 28 years old at the time. I had tried and tried, but life had not yet “happened” for me at that point. Having recently lost my teaching career, a mentally-abusive relationship, and a whole lot of money in that process – I thought that this accident was the worst thing that could have happened to me – the proverbial icing on a very rotten cake. I realized quickly though, that it was a blessing in disguise, the cliché, “second chance at life,” and the healing process, though grueling and painful, became the best 5 months of my life. Hell, all I had to do was lay in bed.

 

With all of this laying in bed, came a lot of looking forward to 4pm every afternoon. Literally, my existence revolved around watching the Ellen show and letting her positivity and humor lift my day. I wouldn’t take any visitors at this time, I’d set aside my kindle, my laptop, and shut down my phone – all in anticipation of the show. My beautiful mother, who had flown up from her new snowbird life in Miami just to take care of me (I was unable to walk or care for myself due to multiple casts and surgeries), would snuggle into bed with me and we’d laugh (and sometimes cry) for a full hour while Ellen filled our hearts with joy and light. This was the year that Sophia Grace and her little sidekick were a hit, and her dedication to loving children and showcasing their talents struck such a chord with my teacher-heart. I honestly mean it when I say that my life revolved around 4pm. I will never forget that and all that it did for my psyche – so for that alone, I was grateful.

But then, a February 2010 Issue of Glamour in which Ellen was interviewed by Katie Couric, somehow ended up in my lap. In that interview, she gave an answer in regard to being a role model and staying true to herself, that was the basis for how I decided to live my “second chance at life”. This quote, “Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth, and everything else will come,”became my mantra – my daily affirmation – and the reason for my now-happiness, newly-found self-confidence, and career success. And I began a whole new life that I can honestly say is the one I was destined to always live – making me so grateful for the power of positive role models in our entertainment industry – one’s who have overcome major obstacles to find acceptance, love, and success in this world.

 

How did this happen? Well, I manifested it with my newfound dedication to finding out who I am and living that truth. I knew who I was: I was someone who was deeply scarred by the pain of her childhood, desperate to find a calm, comfortable, life and use my story to inspire others. I knew I was someone who was strong enough to overcome my fears and self-doubt, take a deep look into myself and begin auditing and cleaning house. I knew I was someone with so much to say, and a passion for women’s rights, female empowerment, and equality for all. Following recovery – I made a conscious effort to live a more mindful life. I knew that in order to do that, I had to release all that had held me down and kept me stagnant in my little Long Island town for so long, and boarded a flight to Miami, Florida, one-way ticket in hand, with no desire to look back.

 

I won’t go in to all of the details that transpired once my plane touched down in sunny South Florida – but I’ll fill you in on where I am today: very happily living my life. I am married to a man who has become my partner-in-crime in this game called life. We have a beautiful little 15-month-old girl who is my muse and motivation for all that I do – and my reason for upholding a commitment to this quote: living my truth. Being who I am – and letting it nourish my soul.

 

Somehow, entering motherhood helped me tap in to my innermost female superpowers. I felt empowered, strong, beautiful – and I felt the need to write about it. In writing about it, the universe responded to my energy, honesty, and passion. I finally found out who I was – someone that can use her nurturing and committed personality in a way to connect with others and help them on their quest for happiness and success as a writer.

 

To this I say – when you find someone who makes you feel empowered, honor the fact that your intuition is telling you to act on that empowerment. And when something as simple as a quote resonates deeply enough with your soul to make you feel urge to change – thank your lucky stars.

Kids, Caffeine & Keeping It Real: From a Dad’s Perspective

I’ll be honest-  I get really wrapped in the female perspective of parenting. Accept this guest post as a gift of goodness and a double dose of daddy’ing done right. From my good friend, talented writer and designer, Ruben Cabrera of The Morning Coffee Project.

  
Breaking the Cycle 

Coming to you live, from my porch swing, hoping I finish this before I hear the Hot Dog Dance, then Mickey and ALL the homies start assaulting us with their wild dance moves! HOT DOG!

Parent or not, I know damn well that you know the Hot Dog Dance… and if for some reason you are blessed enough not to,  I pray you never do. (*prayer hands & crying face emoji*)

I think all folks who have children or who plan to can all agree on one thing: parenthood is slightly terrifying. For me, it was scary at first, and I suppose it still is, for all of the obvious reasons; everything from butt rashes to screwing them up emotionally for the rest of their lives. That second one is even scary to read (don’t re-read that sentence, I had mild anxiety typing it.)

But as a father, I suppose my next biggest fear is NOT being able to break “The Cycle.” Dads, you know what I’m talking about. Ladies, if you still don’t get it after you read this, take your sugar on a sunny afternoon date somewhere and pick his brain about it. Then hug him.

BREAKING THE CYCLE:

Some of us barely knew our fathers growing up, some of us NEVER had any. A lot of us spend almost the first 30 years of our lives being angry at those men. ​

Some guys had great dads, I’m sure of it. And for a long while there have been generations of boys (and girls) raised by men (or women) who’ve left scars (physical, mental, or emotional) on them.

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My apologies if that took a dark turn; I promise this isn’t to marsh your mallows, but the point I’m making is, I feel like WE, as parents, are learning from the “children are to be seen and not heard” generation. I look around at my peers and I see a generation of young parents, some tattooed AF with super eclectic styles & some with super conservative and traditional values, CELEBRATING their children, loving them unconditionally (that means NO MATTER WHAAAAAATTT) and it is AWESOME!

 

I wish I could tell you that by the time your kids are adults, society is going to figure it’s shit out, but we all know that’s not the case. If you can read I’m sure you’ve read a quote that says something like:

 

“BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD”

Super cliché huh? No doubt, but I look at it like this, I can’t change the world over night, I can’t stop other people who spread hate, negativity, and bigotry, and I can’t stop those same people from having kids.

The ONLY thing I can do is raise decent human beings – all three of them. I can teach my son compassion and understanding before all the machismo. I’ll try my hardest to make sure that my daughters know the immense and awe-inspiring POWER that Women hold.

I wish my children could know how much I love them. Any time we spend apart, I spend hating that I wasn’t more patient with them or wishing I would’ve smiled more around them before I had to leave again.

I find myself wondering if my mom felt that way too, or even if she STILL feels like that. My mind wanders even further into the way that she has always been. The good, the bad, the love, the moments of misunderstanding, the things that may have hurt me. Maybe she, like me, is the byproduct of society.

 

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Maybe you can’t blame anyone else, but I know she‘s a living breathing human and the same way I have faults, I’m sure she’s had hers a lot longer. Whatever demons I may have faced I’m sure she’s known hers own all my life. Who’s to say I’m not a reminder of one of those old friends?

I mean she taught me great lessons in parenting, whether it be how to or how not to parent. So if whatever I’ve felt was needed to be felt for my children to have a better father (I hope) and future, then so be it.

 Sometimes we go through things so others won’t have to. What can I do better so my children’s children will live happily into their adulthood?

Maybe she just got lost on her way. Maybe it’s too late to get her back but, HOT DIGGITY DOG, it’s my fuel to “break the cycle.”

To my sourpatch Kids, my Coconuts, my sugar cubes:

A kiss for Jupiter, one for Mars. One for the Moon and a bunch for the Stars.

 

-Daddy

Peace, Love, Morning Coffee

www.themorningcoffeeproject.com

-Rube

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What I Will Teach My Daughter About Feminsm

I’d be lying if I said that I did not become that much more of a feminist after bringing a daughter into this world.

I’d also be lying if I said that I didn’t become much more aware of the impact my woman-brain could make on the world after birthing this little powerhouse of a daughter I now call mine.

It’s because of the womanly-powers of my body that I have embraced all things “feminism” and my hopes are that my daughter will one day follow in these high-heeled, successful-lady footsteps that I’ve put forth for her, with her, and because of her.

There ARE a few things I’d teach her though – just to minimize any confusion on what it means to actually be a feminist.

You do not need to toss your bra into a burning bonfire in the middle of the street to be considered a feminist.

You do not need to trash your razor and let your lady parts grow over with hair to be considered a feminist.

You do not need to walk forth into the world screaming, “F*ck the man,” to prove a point – or be considered a feminist.

Hilariously, these are some of the misconceptions about feminism that still hold true today. That us feminists are man-hating, no-bra wearing, angry little bitches who want to be taken really, really seriously.

Ok, that’s not ALL a misconception – because we DO want to be taken seriously. Who doesn’t?

But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably of the belief that feminism is more about your actions than what you look like, what you wear, or whether or not you shave your legs. Feminism is being able to be successful in whateverthehell you’d like to do with your life, because after all, it’s YOUR life and you don’t need anyone to determine where you find your success or happiness. Feminism is so many things to so many different people – and here are the top 3 things my daughter DOES need to know about being a feminist. A good, respectful, and respectable one at that.

  1. Feminism is believing in the power of your abilities and putting them into action.

Have an idea, a plan, a goal, or a cause you’re fighting for? Hell yes, I support that, and you should too. There is no reason you cannot follow through with any of these things simply because you’re of the female gender. Mama knew, from the moment you made your loud and proud debut into this world, that you’d be capable of great things. Go for it, my girl. Be a feminist in the sense that you are confident in your capabilities, you have a cause worth fighting for, and NOTHING will stand in your way.

  1. Feminism is learning to stand up for yourself and to say no without apology.

One other major misconception about feminism (and womanhood in general)? That standing up for yourself makes you a bitch. That using the word, “no” should always be followed by an apology and long-winded explanation.

No, no, no, my dear – the opposite is true. To be taken seriously, to have your opinions and ideas hold weight, and to gain any respect at all, you MUST hold strong to all of the above. You can still be a “lady” without giving in to the expectations of others. You can still be so much of a woman without needing to please others simply for their approval. Stand up for yourself. Say no when you need to. It will all fall in line, under your terms and conditions, after you’ve learned to set guidelines and lay boundaries.

  1. Feminism is knowing that kindness always wins.

As I mentioned above, bitchiness and feminism do NOT need to go hand in hand. It is my belief that anything can be done with just the right amount of kindness – as this is exactly how your mother has chosen to live her life and achieve her dreams as well. Use your womanly intuition and tap into just how much kindness will get the job done in any situation, and you’re halfway there. Be kind to those you love, be kind to those you don’t, be kind to those who can help you on your path, and kind to those who cannot. Kindness always wins, my dear. You’ll lay your head down each night with pride if you follow this rule, and goddammit, you’ll make mama really, really proud.

 

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