toddler

  • 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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  • Sticks and Stones

    #affirmation #bully #bullying #verbal #emotional #abuse

    Sticks and stones will break my bones

    but words will never hurt me.  

    That is an absolute lie.  Words do hurt. They not only hurt, but they can also have a sting that forever lives in one’s inner core.  As parents, we oftentimes feel what our children feel. When they hurt, we hurt; albeit an illness or emotional harm.   If you’re a parent of a child who has low self-esteem or has been the victim of bullying, then you probably understand this better than most.  

    Children with low self-esteem are likely to internalize what is said to them which may lead to ruminating thoughts.  Rumination is when one dwells on negative thoughts, focusing on what they’ve done wrong and what they should’ve or could’ve done differently.  These circling thoughts may lead to a negative self-image.

    According to the official government website, stopbullying.gov, “The most common types of bullying are verbal and social.”  Some studies suggest as many as ⅓  of US school children report that they have been bullied.  All of these statistics are alarming but when they hit home, they hit a little differently.

    We send them out into the world and hope that they’ll be okay but sometimes we can’t be there to shield them.  Since building a fort and never letting them leave isn’t a healthy option, how do we help protect our children from harsh words?  

    As infantile as it may seem, providing your child with positive affirmations before, during and after incidents or periods of verbal abuse may in some ways, safeguard children from being as affected. Let’s be clear, positive praise isn’t a substitute for therapy. Therapy is always strategic and usually long-term. Therapists teach clients essential coping skills and techniques to unpack emotional baggage in a safe environment.  In addition to seeking professional treatment, parents and educators can pump great energy by way of positive affirmation into children which, in turn, combats some of the negativity that may be thrust upon them. Just as “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” rings in song in most of our heads as we repeat it, positive affirmations work the same way.    

     

     

    Hopefully this visual can illustrate the effectiveness of positive words.  Do you see the one phrase that doesn’t fit?  It’s enveloped amongst positivity.  It’s difficult to spot. It’s not isolated. It doesn’t really stand a chance amongst the warm insulation of what surrounds it.  

     

    When one of my daughters was in the second grade, she began to feel isolated and ultimately bullied by some of the girls in her grade.  She attended a small school with less than thirty children per grade, so it was very easy to feel isolated.  I heard her crying to herself one evening long after she was supposed to be asleep.  When I inconspicuously asked her about what was bothering her over morning breakfast, she revealed that some of the girls were saying mean things and talking in front of her as if she were invisible.  I’ll be honest, the initial wave of anger had to dissipate before I could think with a completely sound mind.  I realized I need to do something to cure her wound that was, for the first time in her young life, not physically visible.

    Since my girls were born, I made a conscientious effort to greet them every single morning with a cheerful “Good morning!”  I just believe that children should wake up knowing that someone is happy to see them and is looking forward to speaking to them.  I’ve also taught them to greet me the same way.  I don’t give much care to the whole, I’m not a morning person thing.  One of my girls is a complete morning person like me, the other is the complete opposite.  My rule is that we don’t have to have long drawn out morning conversations until you’re ready but we will acknowledge our appreciation for seeing each other wake to experience another day by greeting one another upon first glance.  It’s now a natural occurrence and unbeknownst to them, I’ve also taught them that they are worthy of acknowledgment by not only myself but by others around them.

    Once this incident happened, I began pumping them with morning affirmations.  One of my favorite things to do was crawl into bed to steal a few morning minutes with my little ones.  While there I’d whisper:

    You are kind. You are smart.  You are beautiful.  You are an amazing person.   Today is going to be a great day.  

    She resisted me at first but that too became the norm.  After she got used to me saying it daily, I had her repeat it with me.  When other instances of bullying occurred, I’d remind her of her greatness and put in perspective that what her peers said didn’t matter.   Positive thoughts and phrases are easily incorporated into the school day, administrators can share them during morning meetings or over the intercom for daily announcements.  Teachers can start off or end classes with words of encouragement.  Kids thrive when they know they have a sound support team.

    More and more, great schools are incorporating positive affirmations into their school day.  Parents and instructional leaders must be partners in the educational process every step of the way.  This partnership must include a process that eradicates bullying as something that just happens, particularly in middle schools.  Long gone are the days where we dismiss the cruel effects of verbal harassment and physical violence with “boys will be boys” or they’re just “mean girls”.  As a society, we now know better, so it’s important for adults to do better by understanding and emphasizing the importance of speaking positivity into existence.  When speaking to children, think back to the key principle that we all learned in kindergarten, use your words. Just remember to use them wisely because words do hurt and what we say matters.

     

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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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  • 15 Tips for a Better Bedtime Routine

    You’ve read as many “How to Parent” guides as you could get your hands on while waiting for your arrival of your new baby.  You felt well-read and well-prepared as you braved the first year or so of parenthood. Now that it’s time to figure out how to get your child out of your bed, and possibly their own room, you’re lost.  (more…)

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