Activities

  • Mom, Don’t Be Ashamed! Asking For Help Isn’t So Bad!

     

     Mom, you can’t do EVERYTHING.

    It’s okay to ask for some extra help!

    I remember speaking to my cousin one day when we were in our early 20’s. We were both college graduates, starting our careers.  She was an engineer and real estate investor.  I was a nonprofit strategist and had just purchased my first home.  Neither of us had children at the time.  She was traveling all of the time for work and was rarely home.  She mentioned that she had a housekeeper who would come in and clean her home, as she didn’t have time.

    At the time, it struck me as a little odd, as I hadn’t really known anyone personally to have a housekeeper.  So, I asked her why she felt like she needed a housekeeper if she was the only one living in her home and I will never forget her reply.  She said, “I don’t have time to get to the small details like cleaning my baseboards.”  I laughed to (and at) myself, it takes me 12- 15 hours per week to clean my home and I know for certain that I miss the baseboards most of the time.  It was one of those conversations in passing that I never really thought about until years later.  In the meantime, I kept up with my weekly cleanings, mostly splitting the time over the weekend. Cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen on a Friday night with the music blasting, sometimes while indulging in a little bubbly then finishing up the rest of the house on an early Sunday morning was my usual routine.

    Fast forward to 2013 and life was very different.  My children, then 7 and 9, were busy with school, ballet and piano.  Running educational services firms in multiples states and holding a hefty real estate investment property load, my businesses were in full swing. At the same time, Working Mother Magazine was collaborating with Diane Sawyer and the World News to cover a story about busy working moms struggling to find balance. The producers at ABC learned about the things I was doing and decided to have me share my story to represent working mothers all over the world.

    I quickly realized after speaking with the producers over the phone, that life in the spotlight moves at lightning speed.  They told me that a camera crew would be coming to meet me at my home within the week and they’d be following my family and me around for three days filming our every move.

    I was honored and shocked that the world-renowned, Ms. Diane Sawyer caught wind of my regular little life and saw fit to choose me of all people to be on tv.  Can’t you just see me smiling from ear to ear while happy music is blaring in the background?  Well, cue the DJ to scratch the record because just as quickly, complete panic set in. ABC PRODUCERS ARE COMING TO MY DIRTY HOUSE. Ohh em gee!  Did they say that they’d be here in a few days? Looking at the unorganized fridge, in the cracks and crevices that I thought were pristine when it was just my family and me and around the dusty baseboards that I swore would be amplified by the network’s “good” cameras, my vision became like Instagram’s superzoom.  How was I going to scrub this house from top to bottom to prepare for the world to see my house, keep up with my weekly chores of laundry, cooking and washing dishes while working, parenting and driving my kids around from activity to activity like UberMom?  The only thing I could do was work smarter, not harder.  It was time to follow my cousin’s advice.

    I scoured the internet for a maid service in the area.  There were so many.  I had no experience in the area?  How should I choose?  I had no clue. How could I be sure that they wouldn’t take anything?  Was I going to really let a stranger into my home, my sanctuary, and give up my privacy in exchange for a quick clean? Cue in every Lifetime movie where the mom hires the crazy helper that ends up terrorizing the house.  After carefully thinking about how overwhelmed I was on a regular day and weighing it against the reality that lots of people hire help with no problems, I decided that the only sane thing to do was hire a cleaning service.

    My friend, a fellow working mompreneur, also has a stressful career and multiple children.  Her home was a decent size and was always clean.  I wasn’t sure if she was just the perfect mom or if she hired help so I did something I hadn’t done before…I simply asked.  She was more than receptive to my inquiry.  She gave me a knowing look as if she had been in my shoes and revealed that she hadn’t thoroughly cleaned her house herself in years.  She immediately texted me the number and for the first time, in a long time, I felt like I was being invited off of the island we oftentimes call parenthood.  You know, where the mommy/daddy guilt kicks in because it’s unrealistic to accomplish everything we imagined we could do before we actually became parents.  Does that sound familiar?

    When I tell you that I am completely over the mommy guilt I used to hold on to before initially hiring the service to clean my home.  I couldn’t be more serious.  What took me close to 15 hours to complete on a weekly basis took the cleaning ladies 3 hours.  Let me say that again for the folks in the back that may have missed it.  One phone call gave me back 15 hours of my week.  Everything in place, bed linens changed and the entire house smelled like the cleaning aisle at the supermarket.

    I was able to tape my segment over 3 days and I didn’t have to lift a finger, broom, mop, etc.  I looked like the “perfect mom” too.  And, I was.  Not because my house was ridiculously clean or because I was fancy enough to hire help.  I finally come to realize that asking for help was okay and that my previous assumptions that I’d previously made about other moms were based on a falsehood.

    While waiting for my daughters to arrive home from school to tape their segment, I had to opportunity to chat with supermom and ABC anchor Amy Robach about how she balances her busy life.  As we bonded over our mommy guilt moments, I realized again that most mothers found the need to have help with tasks they used to conquer before having a family.

    Prior to talking to both women, I had been working on ways to expand my existing business, a tutoring service, to include other services that parents found useful.  However, once my segment aired and so many parents expressed how overwhelmed they were by the demands of parenting, working and running a household, I realized that there were lots more working mothers in the same situation than I had imagined.  It was the reaction of those parents that gave me the permission I was looking for to close my tutoring service and create a more inclusive and comprehensive service for parents than had ever existed on the market.  Shortly after my segment aired, I formed Kid Care Concierge, a concierge service for busy parents like me who would no longer feel guilty about need to hire help.

    5 years later, we have tutors, helpers, sitters and almost every other service that one could think of helping overwhelmed parents.  Like a concierge service in a hotel, my staff does everything for parents after just one call.  My first client was myself because I was in desperate need of help. Ironically, I was scrolling through a Facebook “mom group” last week and I stumbled upon a post from a mom looking for recommendations for a cleaning service.  What I found most interesting was that she sounded like me years back, justifying why she was looking for help as if it was not okay.  I inboxed her to reassure her that perfect moms don’t exist and it was okay to need help.  We all do!

    As I sit at home after working at my office all day, I’m sitting in my kitchen with my daughters cooking dinner together as I type this post.  At the same time, my staff is upstairs taking care of the weekly cleaning.  I feel ZERO guilt.

    Would you like to learn more about Kid Care Concierge?  Visit us at http://www.KidCareConcierge.com or email us at info@kidcareconcierge.com.

     

     

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  • 4 Tips: Traveling with Children

    Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Vacationing is literally my favorite pastime. Take me to a warm beach and I’m a different kind of calm. Although I love vacationing, traveling to and from paradise can be overwhelming.  Life as a parent is stressful by nature. Traveling with babies and toddlers can be a disaster…if you don’t have a plan.

     

    The key to successful traveling with your young child lies within anticipating and planning around what might happen while en route. It’s imperative that you consider their typical schedule when booking your flight. Children need naps. Heck, some adults are cranky sans the nap.  It is really asking too much for a tired child to behave while trekking through the airport, standing in line for security checks, waiting for the adults in the party to be scanned, staying still while said adults put back on shoes, belts and collect belongs from the conveyor belt, go through customs, trek through the airport again to find the correct terminal and gate, sit there for an hour with parents who are hoping not to be delayed, stand in line to get on the plane, sit still while the adults maneuver getting their carry on luggage while ushering the kids out of the aisle before being trampled by folks rushing to the back of the plane and patiently wait for the plane to finally take off then sitting for about 4 hours to land, head to baggage claim and take a shuttle to the final destination.

     

    Does sound like a lot? Good, because it is.  Frankly, it’s a lot for everyone involved. This is especially true for a child under the age of 6.  

     

    1. If possible, book the flight around their naptime or bedtime (red-eye flights).

    I don’t care if I was traveling by plane or car, trips were scheduled to minimize bedtime disruption.  When I took my little ones from New York City to the Bahamas for the first time, we took a red-eye. They slept the entire time and my sanity was left intact.  I struggled a little with getting them and those darn rolling backpacks through the airport but considering everything else that could’ve gone wrong, that was a drop in the bucket.  Side note- Why do airports seem 1,000 times bigger when traveling with kids? You really do realize how tiny their little feet are when you’re attempting to rush and they just can’t keep up.   

     

    2. Book a window seat.  Mother nature is entertaining.

    Just trust me on this one.  Throw the shades up on a sunny day and a crying baby will be so amazed by the view that they’ll likely stop in their tracks. I still get mesmerized by the view so I get it.  If the little one isn’t as intrigued as I am, try engaging them by talking to them about what you’re seeing. “Oh Jordan, do you see that cloud? It looks like a doggie. Do you see one that looks like a fishie?”  That game can last for a long while if you’re willing to be creative.

     

     

    3. Book a seat near the front of the plane.

    Location. Location. Location. If the child is facing forward while crying in their seat, the noise will travel forward, disturbing fewer people. Remember life before kids? Looking at “those parents” wondering how on earth can they not control their crying kids at the restaurant or market? Fast forward to now and you not only wish you take back every glare you bestowed upon those poor parents but you will give the stare of death if passengers dare glance at you and your inconsolable child? It’s easy to get frazzled and unfocused if you have an entire plane staring at you.

    If passengers are annoyed, you won’t have to see them constantly looking back or shaking their heads in disbelief that a child is actually crying because his/her routine is thrown while stuck on a plane. Just focus on doing your best to comfort your child. Either they’ll likely join you in the “those parents” club one day too or they’ve forgotten how difficult traveling with small children can be for parents.  At any rate, it’s better to have annoyed passengers throw tantrums literally behind your back where you don’t have to deal with them or feel the need to constantly apologize for something beyond your control.

     

     

    4. Pack distractions.
    I’ve already exhausted you by taking you through a trip through a child’s eye. Pack their carry on bag accordingly.  Keep in mind that you will probably end up holding their carry-ons and yours. You might very well also end up carrying at least one child in addition to all of the bags if things don’t go according to plan. Be intentional about packing. Don’t just throw things into their bag.  

     

    Bring a variety of things to keep them engaged.  Pack the favorite teddy and toys that foster the use of the imagination without relying on technology.  You’ll have lots of time to play with them while in flight. 

     

    Preload your tablet or smartphone with their favorite movies. I never downloaded a movie on my iPad before I traveled with my daughters.  I found 3 very long child-friendly movies that they’ve both enjoyed in the past, 2 just as long movies that they’d never seen and splitter earphones so they could listen simultaneously. That was one of the smartest moves of my entire life! #winning

    Flying is no time to try new foods.  I don’t recall ever feeling satiated upon finishing a meal on an airplane.   Children are very cranky when they’re hungry. Do yourself a favor and pack their favorite foods. Feed them the perishable foods first, keeping in mind temperature and storage requirements.  The absolute last thing you need is a child with an upset stomach 35,000 feet in the air.

     

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that everything will be okay.  You will get through the trip to and from your destination.  You will create memories with your family.  It will be worth it.

    We’ve all been there and we’ve survived.  You will too. Happy travels!

     

     

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  • Back to High School

    September is just two weeks away! Honestly, where did this summer go? The rain just washed it away! Any who – we always hear about “back to school” tips. Usually in the first week of July when the kiddos just got out of those locker-lined halls. Instead of planning barbecues and laying out by the pool, we are bombarded with backpacks, pencils and binders flooding an entire fourth of Target. So, we decided to wait until the appropriate time to talk with you about a lesser discussed subject -“back to high school” tips! Today I am going to be writing about what you can do as a parent to help your child prepare for their first day as a high school freshman.

     

    1.    Familiarity

    Help your child get familiar with their new school. They’ve never been here before and it’s probably much larger and more intimidating then their middle school was. Some schools offer an orientation where all of the kids can come in and get familiar with the building as well as practice their locker combinations. However, if your child’s school district does not offer orientation at the end of summer, make sure to find a time where you and your kid can take a tour of the school. It is particularly helpful if you already have their school schedule, that way you can easily help them locate the classes that they will be attending and do a general run-through of their day! If possible, picking up a school map will help if your child gets confused and can’t remember where a class is located.

    1.    Organization

    Help your child prepare for their first day of high school. While many teachers don’t give out a list of supplies until the first day of school, it is best to come prepared on the first day with a folder, notebook, pen and pencil. Trust me, there are going to be a lot of handouts! When your child gets home from school, go through their lists of supplies with them and make a plan to get everything that they need. If you are looking to cut back on costs (who isn’t?), try to scavenge around the house for supplies that you may already have lying around from previous years. You can also plan a supply swap with friends and family. For example, while you might have an extra notebook you don’t need, a friend might have an extra folder that you do need. You can then swap items! If all else fails, the Dollar Store is always a great option!

    1.    Involvement

    High school offers a wide variety of clubs, sports and other opportunities. Encourage your child take advantage of these! You can help by taking a look at the school’s website and seeing what kind of extracurricular activities they have to offer. Sit down with your child and weed out the ones that they are not interested in and zero in on the ones that fascinate them. Having your child get involved in something like soccer, drama club, or student council will help them attain a sense of belonging. It will also help them expand on their circle of friends and find where they fit in. Multiple small middle schools often merge into one larger high school so there is a good chance that there are a lot of people your child does not know yet. Participating in activities will help them branch out while also discovering their interests!

    1.    Communication

    Always keep the lines of communication open. Your child is going through change and may be anxious about this new transition in their life. The work load changes from middle school to high school and your child may be under more stress than he/she once was. Your child is also experiencing bodily changes as they are now becoming an adult, which can be a very confusing time. You can help your child get through this by keeping an open dialogue about the struggles that they are going through. Monitor their feelings and let them know that you are listening and that you care. If you notice any warning signs of severe anxiety, lower self-esteem or depression, seek help. Talking with the student guidance counselor is a good place to start.

     

    These next four years are going to be exciting for your child. As parents, you’re going to be able to watch them transform from your precious babies into wonderful adults. Always remember that no one is perfect. Allow them to make mistakes, it helps them grow! Just make sure the mistakes aren’t too big. Happy high schooling!

     

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