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9 Things to Think About Before Going Back to Work Outside the Home

Working outside the home is never an easy decision to make when you have kids.  There is a lot to consider for your family and for yourself before making the decision to go back into the workforce, so here are some things to think about before you decide to go back into the paid workforce.

Understand what you are looking for before you start looking.  If you worked outside the home before having kids, what did and didn’t you like about your job?  Use this knowledge and experience to help focus your search on jobs and companies that have the qualities you are (or aren’t) looking for.

Expect the job search to take some time.  Even though they may not admit it, recruiters and employers are biased towards people currently in the workforce, so if you have been out of the paid workforce for a while, plan on it taking about a year to find a job.

Get comfortable with social media.  Recruiters and employers are using social media a lot to find right candidates for the job, so if you don’t already have an LinkedIn account, get one and learn how to create a good profile that will encourage employers and recruiters to call you.  Follow companies you are interested in working for on Facebook and Twitter because they will often post job openings there as well as on their website.

Understand your reasons for wanting to go back into the workforce and what you are looking for in a job.  This will help you focus your job search and eliminate certain companies and jobs from your search.

How does finding a job fit into your family mission statement, family vision, and family goals?  Is it consistent with where you want to go?  Think this through because it will help you make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and at the right time.

Accept now that things are going to be different and that you won’t be able to do it all; plan on delegating household chores to other family members (including the kids) and learning to let some things go.  The sooner you accept this, the easier it will be on you.

Talk over with your spouse how you are going to handle school drop-offs and pick-ups, sick kids, doctor appointments, and getting everyone where they need to be.  Make sure the two of you are aligned on all these things and the reasons why you are going back to work BEFORE you take a new job.

Think through how you are going to handle childcare and use resources like Sittercity.com and Care.com to help you find good care.

Ditch the guilt.  It may be a rough adjustment at first for everyone, but give it some time.  Just make sure it is the right time, you focus on finding the right job, and that you are doing it for the right reasons.  Your kids are going to be okay.

These are just some of the things that you will have to consider before going back into the paid workforce, but are by no means all of them.  What things would you add?  Leave your thoughts, additions, and suggestions in the comments below.

My Biggest Parenting Mistakes

I tend to be the type of person who does a lot of reflection on both the wins and fails in life.  My husband says I over think and over analyze everything.  Anyway, on a long car ride back from visiting family in Pennsylvania, I got to thinking about some of the parenting mistakes I have made over the years and here are what I would consider the biggest.  They are by no means all of them, just the ones that come to mind the most and the ones I worry about the most.

Mistake #1 – Thinking that I was responsible for figuring out what my children became and who they should be

When my kids were little, I used to think that it was my job as the parent to figure out who they were and what they were supposed to be and then do everything in my power to make sure that it all happened.  I was desperately afraid that something I did (or didn’t do) as a parent would screw them up for life, so I was really uptight for a few years.  And it showed in my kids.  Now my view of my role has changed a lot and I don’t view it as my responsibility to figure it out for them but rather just protect and nurture what God has already made and called them to be.  In a nutshell, I now know that God (or for some the Universe) has great plans for them and has given them everything they need to be who they are supposed to be.  And it isn’t my job to figure out what that is, but rather make sure they are free, protected, and nurtured so that they can figure it for themselves.

Mistake #2 – Not expecting enough

I used to always say, “They can’t do that” or “They are too little”, and my husband always used to be the parent that said “Let’s see what they can do”.  In the end he was right… my kids and husband have proven me wrong time after time.  In general, kids can and will rise to the challenge as long as the parents believe they can.  Now whenever I struggle with whether or not I should let them try something, I always stop and ask myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”  Or I just walk away and let my husband help them because I know he will handle it better than me.

Mistake #3 – Missing out on the small moments

I am a planner and I like to have my life under control and in order.  If you asked me what we are doing six weeks from today, I could probably tell you….  There are a lot of benefits to being this type of person, but one of the dangers is that you get so caught up in planning the next day, week, month, or year, that you lose sight of and joy in the moments of now.   Finding the right balance between being organized and enjoying the moment is a battle I fight every day.

Mistake #4 – Not taking care of myself

For me to feel healthy and fulfilled, there are some things that I really need in life and when I let them get out of whack, I end up feeling stressed and not very pleasant to be around.  Some of the things I really need are sleep, structure (see Mistake #3), alone time, and balance (yes I do believe life balance is possible).  Some of my worse meltdowns and not so stellar parenting moments have come from depriving myself of some of those things, so I try really hard to make sure I take care of myself and make sure those things are a priority.

Mistake #5 – Being in a hurry for them to grow up

I was really excited to be a parent and build a family.  So much so that I couldn’t wait for my kids (especially the two oldest) to move on to the next milestone, event, or stage in life.  And then on my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday it dawned on me that in a few short years she would be leaving for good and I couldn’t figure out why I was in such a hurry anymore.   Now I try and protect every moment I have with them and just try and enjoy them for where they are at in their journey.

Okay, these are my biggest (and certainly not all) parenting mistakes, what are yours?

Polly is Founder and President of Families with Purpose.  She is passionate about helping parents create an authentic family life for themselves and children.  You can find more about Families with Purpose here and more about Polly here.

Meals on the Go

celebrations-baked-ravioli-ay-l

Part of being organized is making the best use of your time.  And when you don’t have much time to work with you really need to plan ahead and get a bit creative.  Today’s example of this is meals on the go.

With school and extracurricular activities soon approaching, no matter where you may need to rush off to (sports practice, games, competitions, concerts, music lessons, recitals, etc.) it’s likely you’ll be driving all over town at dinner time (just like we do).  My son is a competitive gymnast, and that means intense and lengthy practices.  This also requires us to travel a good distance to his gym (there aren’t many options for a male competitive gymnast, so we go where we must).

To make the best use of our time on practice nights, I’ve decided to create some quick and healthy meals on the go.  There is no way I want to go through a drive-thru three nights a week when we’re on the road, especially when I’m trying to foster an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle!  So here are my top three fork-free (car friendly) dinner ideas:

Homemade Chicken & Broccoli Pockets:  I’ve taken this delicious Pampered Chef recipe that’s meant to be formed into a braid and turned it into individual pockets (think “Hot Pockets” but homemade)!  Instead of getting fancy with the dough and making the braid as called for, instead I make the filling (essentially cheese, meat, veggies, and mayo) and fill individual crescent rolls, wrapping them into little pockets before baking.  You can put your own spin on this by substituting other meat and veggies.  On the side, add fruit (whole or sliced), after all it is the original self-contained fast food!  Or mix things up and make a flavorful smoothie with yogurt, fresh fruit, and you can even hide some more veggies in there!

Crispy Baked Ravioli:  These raviolis are perfect for little hands, easy to make, and are a treat for your mouth.  The kids will think they taste like little pizzas!  This recipe, from MyRecipes.com calls for plain cheese ravioli, however I typically choose ones filled with chicken, spinach, and cheese (or a similar variation of that).  The kids will enjoy the crispy coating on the outside (who am I kidding, you’ll totally enjoy it too), but you’ll feel good about serving these since they’re baked not fried.  ;-)  The meal is complete with some fresh veggies, sliced fruit, and a little container of marinara sauce for dipping (that’s the only potential for mess with this recipe, but it’s no different than going through a drive-thru and having ketchup for the chicken nuggets)!

Wrap It Up:  Last year my son wanted a deli wrap EVERY DAY for lunch!  So I know he’ll love having a wrap for dinner on the go.  I’m taking it one step past deli though, and I’ll use a cooked meat, like thin steak strips, shredded pork loin, or chunked chicken breast.  You can really load up a wrap to have a whole meal in your hand!  Add diced or julienned vegetables, rice, your favorite sauce (ranch, bbq, or mayo) and roll it all up inside a whole-grain wrap.  These can be served hot or cold and really make a filling meal.

Each of these meals can be heated up before you leave the house, wrapped in foil, and put into an insulated bag.  They’ll be warm when the kids are ready for them; and in my opinion, these are WAY better alternatives to fast-food that don’t require much prep and baking time.  Enjoy and safe travels!

About the author ~ Bobbie Spera is a Professional Organizer, Home Management Consultant, and the owner of Simplified by Bobbie located in Pennsylvania. Visitwww.simplifiedbybobbie.com to learn more, view before & after photos, and read helpful organizing tips. Contact Bobbie for your FREE phone consultation, and make your space & time work for you.

The Vacation Mindset

vacation_mindset

I have to admit, it’s pretty hard to concentrate on writing at the moment.  Why?  Because I’m on vacation… in Hawaii!  It is amazing and beautiful; and organizing is probably the last thing on my mind right now.  ;-)  However, sitting here on the lanai gazing out at the ocean made me think “I wish I felt like this more often”!  Take a minute to think back to the last time you were on vacation.  Oh I bet it felt nice (and relaxing).  Life is just easier then isn’t it?

So why do we make our day to day life so hard?  Surely we don’t do it on purpose, or do we?  I’m not saying we start each day with the intentional mindset of making life difficult and stressful.  But it sure seems like that’s how the typical day goes for most people, doesn’t it?  I was going to lay out an example here of how crazy/busy your schedule can be, but I have a feeling you know exactly what I’m talking about!

It made me examine just what makes everyday life very different from vacation.  Here are my top 3 ways you can feel more of that vacation mindset while you’re at home:

Loosen Up & Let Go of Worries – naturally we have more responsibilities while we’re at home, but if we change the way we think about them, we change the way we feel about them too.  Perhaps your standards are unrealistic, loosen up and ask yourself “what’s the worst that will happen if (what’s bothering you most isn’t accomplished)…”.  Don’t dwell on what still needs to be done or what you have no control over.  Do what you can, give yourself credit for what’s done, and let the rest go!

Adjust Your Environment - a new environment can automatically change your mindset.  When your atmosphere is clean and fresh you feel better.  Think about a hotel when you’re on vacation, there’s not much there to get in the way, become visual clutter, or to clean around.  Pair down possessions in your own home to become more like that.  You may be surprised how lightening the physical load will lighten your mental load as well.

Less Stuff / Less Stress – Not only do you feel more relaxed when you have less “stuff” to maintain, but you’ll feel an incredible difference when you have less on your schedule too!  It’s time to review your priorities and remove some items that are creating an unnecessary burden without any reward.  What was once important may not be anymore (and that’s ok).  As life changes you should periodically reevaluate your goals and priorities and make sure they’re in alignment with your schedule and actions.  Just like vacation – only make time for the things that NEED to be done or are REWARDING and FUN!  You get one life, you’d better make the most of it.

I’m off to the beach now to continue my relaxation… I encourage you to create your own vacation mindset now and live with that intention each and every day.  Life is simply too short to not do what you love and love what you do.

Aloha!

About the author ~ Bobbie Spera is a Professional Organizer, Home Management Consultant, and the owner of Simplified by Bobbie located in Pennsylvania. Visit www.simplifiedbybobbie.com to learn more, view before & after photos, and read helpful organizing tips. Contact Bobbie for your FREE phone consultation, and make your space & time work for you.

Free Webinar – How to Get Your Kids to Listen without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling

Tired of the yelling? Tired of the whining? Tired of being tired?

WebinarYou’re not alone. From toddler temper-tantrums to teenage talking back, parents wonder what it takes to get kids to cooperate.  If you’re tired of nagging, reminding and yelling to get kids to listen – this session is for you!

Families With Purpose is excited to partner with Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions & TODAY Show contributor to offer a FREE LIVE training webinar on Wednesday, June 26, at 9 PM Eastern. Discover proven tools for your most frustrating discipline dilemmas including the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences. This hour-long investment will lead to a lifetime of peace in your home.

All you need is your computer. (No webcam required.)  You’ll see and hear Amy on your screen and you can even ask questions and she’ll make them part of the presentation. Parents RAVE about this session. RSVP today and then kick back and learn from the comfort of your home.

How I Am Trying to Better Manage My Energy

Super businesswoman

It took me a long time to realize (and accept) that I wasn’t Wonder Woman.    I used to think I could do it all and do it all well.  That “having it all” was only a matter of knowing how to manage it and being organized.  The reality is that this mindset left me both physically and emotionally exhausted and frankly resulted in some not so stellar parenting moments and not able to be fully engaged with life.  No one can live a balanced full life living like that, so while working through my vision, goals, and priorities this year I made the decision to get better at managing my energy.  Here are some of the things I have done:

I make it a priority to try and get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night. This takes a little bit of work and I am still struggling with it a bit, but it is definitely a priority for me.  The reason I continue to work at it is because when I do get a full night’s sleep I am full of energy and creativity the next day.  Both of these things are my reward so to speak for getting enough sleep and are really my motivation for staying consistent with it.

I have made exercise a regular part of my week.  Other than nice long walks, I have never been a fan of exercise, but I know it is important for my health and I know that it sets a good example for my girls, so I have been really making an effort to work out 3 times a week.  I have been consistent with it since the beginning of the year and I must say it really does help with my energy levels.  I am definitely more alert and just in general feel better about myself as a result.

I am trying to get much more focused in my work and life, by spending a lot of time working on my personal goals, priorities, and life plan.  When my work and personal life is scattered and not aligned with my priorities and values, I can feel the energy just drain from my body.  It is amazing how powerful clarity and focus can be in your life.  This is why I have been spending A LOT of time working on new plans (and changes) for Families With Purpose, some of which you may have already noticed, but will be formally announced in the coming weeks.

After working on these changes for the past 6 months or so, I can definitely see an improvement in my energy levels, creativity, and just overall happiness.  There are some additional things I want to get better at (i.e. eating habits), but I am now convinced that learning to manage your energy is a key component to overall happiness.

How do you manage your energy?

My Favorite iPhone Apps

When I counted today I had about 80 apps and games installed on my iPhone.  A big chunk of those are games my kids downloaded and play while we are waiting or on long car rides.  I have no clue how to play Dino Rush nor do I have any desire to learn how.  Of those 80 or so apps I use about 11 on a regular basis and would consider them my favorites.

Apps I Use on a Daily Basis

RTMRemember the Milk (RTM) – This is the system I use to keep track of my tasks and I use the premium version so that I can sync it with Microsoft Outlook.  I check it every day in the morning when I begin working through my morning routines and then at periodic times throughout the day.

loseitLose It! – I am trying to lose a few pounds that I gained since turning 40 and I find this app really helpful in keeping track of the foods I eat, the exercise I have done, and the progress I am making toward reaching my goal weight.  When I get off track though, this is the app I like the least….

calendarCalendar – I just use the standard calendar app that came installed on my iPhone and sync it with my calendar on Microsoft Outlook every week during my weekly review.  I review it every morning to help me orient me to my day and if I am heading out to a meeting use it to look up the address of where I am going (I always write the address directly into the calendar entry via the Location field).

messagesMessages – I have teenagers.  Do I need to say more?  In all honesty, texting is a lot easier in some cases to communicate with friends and my husband and I use it frequently.

podcastsPodcasts – I listen to a lot of podcasts either while working out, walking, or cleaning my house.  I love learning new things and I find podcasts a great way to do that and a good way to distract me from how much I really don’t want to be cleaning my house :).

facebookiconFacebook – I check in a couple times of day and find the app on my phone a convenient way to do that.

  Apps I Use, Just not Everyday

chaseChase Mobile Banking – I really like this app because it lets me make check deposits without ever leaving my home and keep an eye on our account balances.

dropboxDropbox – I love Dropbox and use it to store files that I may need while away from my computer or share with friends or people who I am working with on a project.

evernoteEvernote – This is my digital filing cabinet and I use it A LOT to file work related things and to some extent for home related things (primarily recipes).

waterlogged

Waterlogged – I don’t drink as much water as I should, so I am trying to get into the habit of drinking more and this app helps me do that by letting me track my water intake each day.

notesNotes – This is the standard Note app that came on my iPhone and I use it to keep notes on things I need to remember, but don’t necessarily fit in RTM.  Things like books I want to read, my kids’ student ID numbers, our Wi-Fi password, etc.

What are your favorite apps?

Maximize Your Kitchen

Are you making the most of your kitchen space?  Perhaps you feel like your kitchen is busting at the seams.  Or maybe you find yourself saying “I know I have one of those (insert kitchen gadget or food item here)… but I don’t know where in the world it is!”  An organized kitchen saves time and money, and who couldn’t use more of both?

In a previous article I talked about creating zones in your kitchen.  Now, let’s take a closer look at how to create extra usable space within those zones.

  • Vertical Victories
    • Tiered Shelves – are great for easier access to canned/jarred goods and spices (these can be made of wire, plastic, or bamboo and are sometimes expandable to further maximize cupboard space).
    • Small Shelves – will quickly double the space you have in cupboards and on pantry shelves.  They come in various sizes and shapes (ie. corner shelves).  One way I use these shelves is to place dinner plates on a cupboard shelf and insert a small wire shelf above them for dessert plates (in the space that would be otherwise wasted).
    • Adjust Shelves – it’s always funny to me when I adjust a shelf in a client’s kitchen cupboard and they say “why didn’t I think of that?!”  I always say “make your space work for you!”  Sometimes it’s those little things that make a big difference.
  • Gathered Gadgets
    • Drawer Organizers – will make dinner prep easier!  Sort cooking utensils & gadgets (like with like), assess how much room they need in a drawer, take measurements of your drawers (width, depth, and remember the height too), purchase organizers based on those needs and dimensions and put them into place to best organize and simplify your drawers.
    • Utensil Crock – A crock next to your stove makes cooking so convenient when it contains only those utensils that you use on a frequent basis.  The next few times you make dinner pay attention to the items you use most; that’s what should go into the crock.  Not only will it make cooking faster, but it also frees up space in your drawers.  You can also add a little personality to your kitchen by choosing interesting accessories.  I like to get creative with this by using a pitcher, cookie jar, heavy vase, or even a new/clean small-sized garden urn!
  • Centralized Snacks
    • Small Plastic Baskets – are a great way to sort and containerize snacks.  One of my pet peeves is to reach into a box (ie. fruit snacks) and find out there’s only one left… or worse, it’s empty!  So I take all individually wrapped snacks out of the boxes they come in and place them into open baskets… easy to see and to grab when making lunches.  Having these uniformed containers in your pantry will save space regardless of what you buy on the next shopping trip… no more cramming!  (Quick tip:  these baskets are excellent for organizing spice packs and medicines as well.)
    • Clear Storage Containers – are always a helpful item to have in the pantry.  Whether you choose Rubbermaid, Tupperware, or Lock-n-Lock you can’t go wrong by keeping open snacks (ie. chips, cookies, & crackers) in clear storage.  Choose either square or rectangle to make the best use of space and to easily stack them.  This also helps you to quickly see what you have left when you’re deciding what needs to go on your grocery list!
    • Under-Shelf Basket – Rubbermaid makes a handy little basket that slides underneath a wooden cupboard shelf (no assembly required).  The hanging basket slides in and out and is convenient for holding smaller snack items, breakfast bars, popcorn, etc.  (You could also use a few of these hanging in the cupboard to lay down spice containers… organize each basket by spice type – savory, sweet, baking, etc.)

I hope these tips help you organize, containerize, and get creative to make the most of your kitchen space!

Bobbie Friedman is a Professional Organizer, Home Management Consultant, and the owner of Simplified by Bobbie located in Pennsylvania.  She is dedicated to helping individuals and families simplify their lives!  Through personalized organizing services, hands-on help, and knowledgeable guidance she’ll help you establish effective ways to manage your schedule and home; turning CoMpLiCaTeD into Simplified.

Visit www.simplifiedbybobbie.com to learn more, view before & after photos, and read helpful organizing tips.  Contact Bobbie for your FREE phone consultation, and make your space & time work for you

We Love You When

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. ~ Robert Browning

You are worried

Migrant Mother

Migrant Mother, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936

You are working

Mujeres africanas via Nzinga

You are afraid

You are laughing

Mother and Daughter Laughing via FineArtAmerica

You love

To mothers everywhere, thank you for all you do and all you are.  Happy Mother’s Day!

How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Like Making Lists

So you’re not a list maker, huh?  I hear you.  A big piece of our world isn’t, but are unfortunately forced to find some way of coping and managing in a list making world.  Here are a couple of suggestions to help you balance your need to be organized and productive without being forced to write out long lists.

Focus on the Big Picture – Switch your attention away from creating a list of things to do to identifying just your top priorities.  For example rather than doing this at the beginning of every week or day

listmakers

Try something like this

nonlistmakers

Once you have your priorities identified, schedule time on your calendar to actually focus on getting them done.  Here are some really creative ways of scheduling them

Compliments of Katie over at Smile Like You Mean It

Or maybe something like this

Get Creative with Your Lists – Tap into the creative parts of your mind (since that is where non-list makers usually like to be) by making your lists visual, colorful, and tactile.  Try something like this

Compliments of Jill at One Good Thing by Jillee

Compliments of Jen at Jen Hewett

Good luck!

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