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  • How to: Teaching Kids to Cope with Tragedy

    Unfortunately,  we’ve seen a rise in acts of terrorism over the past several years. Schools across the country now have lock down drills in addition to regularly scheduled fire drills so that students and school personnel should be prepared in case of emergency. According to cbsnews.com, the number of mass shootings, where four are more people were shot, ” so far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to a gun violence research group. This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day. As of Aug. 5, which was the 217th day of the year, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country.”

    These statistics are both alarming and nerve wracking to all of us, to say the least. Children, by nature,  are the most vulnerable physically, emotionally and mentally.  I’ll reassure you by sharing this before I cover how you can help children deal with disaster.  When asked for years to follow, what a child in my care remembered about the events on the day of a national disaster, his response was “green apples.”  So, how do we help our children cope with tragedy? (more…)

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  • 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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  • Last Minute Valentine’s Day Parfait

    It’s the day before Valentine’s Day.  Once again, we’ve waited until the last minute to prepare for the class party.  Trust me, been there, done that.

     

    Here are some guilt-free, healthful snacks that you can easily prepare for your child’s class party.

     

    I always feel guilty about bringing in sugary snacks or allergen prone treats.  My daughter developed a red dye allergy when she was in the third grade which made me extremely cautious about serving foods with potential allergens.  

     

    Yogurt Parfait

     

    This was the first treat that I made for my daughter’s class after discovering her allergy. I never loved the idea of overloading kids with candy then leaving them in school for the remainder of the day with the expectation that they would be capable of paying attention, concentrating in class and sitting still.  Sounds like a set-up for failure, right? I agree.

     

    As long as foods look and taste good, kids tend not to even think about the more traditional treats, like candy and cupcakes.  The key here is to be creative and let allow them to help if time allows. The class teacher will love you for it. I was class mom for each of my daughters classes from Kindergarten through Fifth grade. (more…)

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  • I Promise School Promises New Future for Akron

    Remember July? It seems so long ago. Well, something really big happened last month just in time for some great back-to-school news! On July 30th, LeBron James’ I Promise School opened in his hometown of Akron, Ohio to 240 students for the first time ever. For a long time, the school started out as an unattainable dream. When he was younger, LeBron missed 83 days of 4th grade. His mother, Gloria, struggled to find a steady job for her and young LeBron, which denied him the security and stability he needed to receive as a growing child. He told the Los Angeles Times that he never understood the importance of education and how it can help break already existing poverty cycles. James wants the I Promise School to guarantee resources and opportunities for the students that he didn’t have growing up. He hopes that his school will provide the kids of Akron a bright and successful future.  

     

    HOW THE I PROMISE SCHOOL WAS STARTED

    The staff of the LeBron James Family Foundation had a brainstorming session where James and executive director Michele Campbell discussed how to better involve their foundation in the community in Akron. Campbell suggested that opening a school could work, but James wondered why that wasn’t already happening. Campbell reminded him that the foundation didn’t have enough resources to start that big of a project, however, James told her to start it anyway. James told CNN “We want every kid to walk through this school to be inspired, to come away with something”.

     

    WHAT I PROMISE IS

     

    I Promise is a public school in Akron, Ohio for grades K-12. James chose it to be public rather than a charter or private because he believes that improving the public schools in inner-city Akron will help the city as a whole grow and develop. I Promise has an extended school day that goes from 9 to 5 every day, and includes an extended school year with a summer program. The extended hours ensure that the students are getting the best education they can, while also making sure that they have a safe place to play and learn during the typical “after school hours”.

     

    WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO ATTEND I PROMISE

     

    I Promise School’s first ever students are 240 randomly selected 3rd and 4th graders who are deemed at risk by the Akron board of education. On average, these kids are two reading levels below their peers. With I Promise’s unconventional hours of operation, they are giving this at-risk-youth a chance to advance and succeed with their academics. By 2022, James says that the school will be able to fully educate K-8th graders.

     

    HOW I PROMISE IS GETTING ITS FUNDING

     

    Akron District Treasurer Ryan Pendleton spoke to the Akron Beacon Journal about the funds I Promise is getting. This year, the Akron Public School system, with the LeBron James Family Foundation, is spending $2.9 million of their general fund on I Promise. Come 5 years, it is expected that $8.1 million will be invested from the school district into I Promise. And that’s exactly how Akron sees it. Pendleton suggests that I Promise will be a long-term investment for the city of Akron and its students. The LeBron James Family Foundation will also be meeting the needs for the programs and activities that the school offers to its students.

     

    WHAT I PROMISE OFFERS

     

    The school is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) based, and with the partnership of James and the University of Akron, will guarantee all graduating seniors a full ride to the institution (Time Money). That’s huge!!! I don’t think this is getting the attention it deserves. This is free tuition to a public university with lots of opportunities. College is already so expensive as it is, and not everyone is fortunate enough to afford it, but with this guarantee, the I Promise students will be getting a higher education, no ifs, ands, or buts.

     

    The school also provides free healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks to its students. James understands that healthy foods are more expensive and not as accessible in low-income areas. The school also offers free bicycles and helmets for all students. When James, was young, he used to ride his bike to get out of the not so safe areas of Akron. He wanted each of his students to have the same protection that he felt with his bike. Counseling services are provided on campus which will help the students learn different coping skills (specifically with trauma), and career services and GED classes for the parents. Principal Brandi Davis says: “We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence, […] We are letting people know that it is about true wraparound support. True family integration, true compassion.”

     

    I Promise seems like it will be a great addition to the city of Akron and will ensure that its students are prepared academically to take on the world. Congratulations, King James. You have taken an unattainable dream and turned it into a life-changing reality. I promise that your school will be everything you’ve dreamed it would be.

     

    Additional Sources on I Promise School:

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