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Fall 2012 | The Balanced Mom Magazine

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With so many women joining the workforce from home, recently I began to think about the many different ways to create an office at home and what we need when doing so. Ideally, those who work from home have a separate room available for a home office. However, many times we incorporate an office into an existing guest room, corner of a living room or even in a bedroom. And, more often than not, we aren’t the only person who uses the space! Whatever your situation, here are a few rules of thumb to follow, as well as some essential elements to incorporate, from my experience creating and working with multi-functional spaces.

The Basics

» Begin with a plan

To avoid falling victim to what I like to call the Shiny Object Syndrome, any good design begins with a plan. More often than not, and because of fantastic advertising by retailers, people first fall in love with the look of a piece in a home store or catalog, then try to make it work in the room. It’s like building an outfit from a pair of shoes, a belt or a great handbag: it’s successful at times, but it’s much more difficult than if you had an idea ahead of time of what actually worked. Of course, you still want your home office to be aesthetically pleasing, but first think about how the room is used the majority of the time and begin designing your room from there, taking into consideration the room’s other functions, as well as who will use the room and what their needs are.

» Choose comfort and functionality

Comfort and functionality are significant characteristics of any productive home office and versatile furniture is your best choice, as it adapts easily to different needs. Versatile pieces, like a beautiful armoire, eclectic sideboard or wallmounted storage and organizational pieces, are useful in almost any room and function in a multitude of ways. I love to use them to hide the necessary but not-so-pretty printers and other office equipment.

As well, you’ll likely spend the majority of your time sitting at your desk, so invest in the most comfortable chair you can find and leave as much surface area as possible for work functions, like writing, computer time and bill-paying.

» Incorporate storage

Whether you are a financial planner, teacher, skin care specialist or freelance artist, you probably need storage. Storage is usually at the top of the needs list, particularly in a multi-functional space. Built-in or wall-mounted storage not only looks better and gives a high-end look to the room, it takes up less floor space than free-standing pieces. It also works better if it has adjustable shelves to allow you to update your look and function as much as you like. If you have open shelves, give thought to backing them with mirror or even wallpaper with a sheen to it, to give the illusion of additional space and to create a custom look. If you prefer doors, consider those with a mirrored front to achieve the same effect.

If your primary area of storage is on or around your desktop, the most effective way to manage clutter is to create organizational zones for your items, within eyesight, based on function and how often you use them. For instance, if you are a sticky note fanatic like me, consider creating a note board above your desk only for these reminders. If your children are budding artists and you frequently find their items all over your desk, give them their own shelf or wall space so they feel like they are still part of the picture, and to allow you to retain your own organized space. Your storage and organizational system is only good when you use it!

» Use ample lighting

Lighting is one of the essential components of a good workspace. I once had a client who dragged the only floor lamp in the room to his desk area each evening when he would work in his home office area. When I asked him why he didn’t simply purchase a desk or wall-mounted lamp, he replied that he didn’t know which one to buy. I think this is a common issue, so when it comes to a home office or other workspace, task lighting is inherently easier on our eyes than overhead, general lighting, particularly in the evening. Choose lighting that illuminates your workspace rather than lighting that shines directly in your eyes and you will feel less eyestrain at the end of the day. If desk space is at a premium and you have a cabinet over or around your workspace, consider pendant lighting, puck lighting or other undermount lighting.

Lighting is one of the essential components of a good workspace. I once had a client who dragged the only floor lamp in the room to his desk area each evening when he would work in his home office area. When I asked him why he didn’t simply purchase a desk or wall-mounted lamp, he replied that he didn’t know which one to buy. I think this is a common issue, so when it comes to a home office or other workspace, task lighting is inherently easier on our eyes than overhead, general lighting, particularly in the evening. Choose lighting that illuminates your workspace rather than lighting that shines directly in your eyes and you will feel less eyestrain at the end of the day. If desk space is at a premium and you have a cabinet over or around your workspace, consider pendant lighting, puck lighting or other undermount lighting.

When working with windows as your main or part of your main light source, consider the amount of light control you will need. You may want to layer a pretty, heavier window covering over sheer panels, to allow versatility and light control, as well as privacy. If the room doubles as a bedroom or other living space, you may need a heavier window treatment, like a Roman shade.

The Fun Stuff

» Balance

As with any space, we want to create a room in which we truly want to spend time and the key is balancing the functionality of the room with the pretty, decorative things that make our eyes light up when we walk into it. Finishing your room with decorative elements like draperies, a rug and personal items, like family photos and your children’s artwork, help any office become personal and inviting and balance out the functional areas you’ve created.

» Using The Unexpected

You may also enjoy using the unexpected as functional accessories that are in line with your design aesthetic. For example, I design for coastal homes and small spaces and one of my aesthetics is using coastalinspired elements in design concepts. In my own office, I use a large shell as a business card or paper clip holder and I’ve incorporated a woven sisal rug for texture. So, think about balancing the functional items with fun pieces that speak to you, as well as the look and feeling you’d like to create.

» Dress Your Floor

Rugs are an anchor and can be one of the jewels to any space and they’re also a great way to add color and your own personal touch. Much of a room’s personality – as well as your own – can be conveyed with the right rug. If you have contemporary taste, try one with bold colors and geometric shapes and if you prefer something more traditional, a floral or Asianinspired rug may be more to your liking. However, when considering one for your home office, choose a low pile and opt for one of the hard plastic sheets that will allow you to roll around easily in your chair. If you prefer not to use this sheet, choose an office chair without casters, as they can be difficult to use on a pile rug.

Any time you’re choosing the fun things for your home office, keep in mind how often décor changes seasonally. Every three months or so, there will always be a new trend, so choose items that really speak to you and that can be changed out inexpensively. If you’d like, you’ll be able to create a fresh new look a few times a year and indulge that Shiny Object Syndrome from time to time as well! In the end, it’s all about beautiful, balanced space that is uniquely yours.

Nicole Cavanaugh

Mind, Body + Home
Interior Design
Nicole is the founder of Cavanaugh Interior Design Group. Her goal is to provide people with functional designs of spaces. Read more about Nicole and her mission here.

A mom of one beautiful 2 year old daughter, Kim Fuller has made it a mantra to power through difficult life experiences. After the death of her husband when their daughter was only 10 months old, Kim unexpectedly realized the gifts of accepting and asking for support from people around her. She shares some important advice for other moms who have experienced a similar situation.

Kim shares candidly about how her journey led her to create her business, Fuller Life Concepts and speaks to the challenges and rewards that come with being a mom entrepreneur.

Tell us about your business, Fuller Life Concepts.

I am a life coach and owner of Fuller Life Concepts. As a life coach, I provide assistance to women, usually between the ages of 25 and 55 who are dealing with transitions in their lives. Those transitions can be a new child entering their home and now they’re trying to balance children and work life. Or it could be that they were terminated from their job which could result in a career change. It could be marital problems and figuring out how to deal with relationship issues. I do most sessions through telephone and I also host free workshops and trainings as requested that typically address topics such as time management, stress management, procrastination and how to communicate more effectively.

What was your journey that led you to start your business.

I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. When I was an intern, I decided I really wanted to work with people who were eager to work with me. At that time, I was working in the mental health field at a non-profit organization. Most of those clients were referred by another social agency, like DCFS, probation, etc. They were not exactly excited to come see me and work for their future goals and aspirations.

I started the business back in 2007 and went full-time in March 2011. I believed with life coaching, people would be more interested in their future goals versus the past. People who are typically ready for life coaching have somewhat foggy days (instead of a foggy life) and are looking forward to having brighter days. I use the metaphor of weather to help explain the difference between someone who may have concealed mental health issues and therapies versus someone who would be a great candidate for life coaching.

What do you love about your business?

What I love about what I do is that I am a part of someone’s life during a time when they make significant changes and transformation. I help them realize that they already have the strength, power, and courage to make those changes. When people have epiphanies and awareness, that is really exciting to me and I love every moment of it. I think we all have the capacity to change ourselves and sometimes we just need somebody to encourage and support us.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your business?

Some of the challenges that I have being a life coach would be basically the credibility. Often times, when I say “life coach” to someone, you can see it in their face that they are confused because maybe, they don’t really find that to be a viable career. I think it is a big hurdle to transform people’s ideas of what a life coach is and to highlight the credentials that I have in terms of mental health.

Your husband passed away from Leukemia shortly after the birth of your daughter. How did you deal with the hardships during that period of time?

He was sick for a very long time throughout our relationship and one big challenge about that was he was a very private person. So only a few people knew of his illness and that was already a stressor [for me]. After he died, I did the normal grieving process, which I’m probably still involved with in terms of crying and the “woe is me”. I went through that like most other people. I [depended] a lot on my family and friends and I sought a grief coach for myself. Those three elements have really helped me to stay available to my child and people in general, to be an open and productive person in society without falling into the doom and gloom.

I also got a lot of strength from my mother and father who have suffered their own hardships in life and I’ve always seen them power through the challenges. That was the model I took – power through. Each day, it will get easier, it will get better, and there will be less pain, less frustration and less anger. I remember all the good things and really just enjoy my daughter every moment because it goes by so quickly.

What words of advice could you share with other mothers who are dealing with the same type of loss?

One of the things that seem most important to me was the willingness to let other people help and provide support. I have come from a place with the thought process that I can do it all. However, during this whole process of starting a new business, having a new baby, and having my husband die let me know that I don’t have to do it all. There are other people out there who are willing to help.

The really big piece of advice I’d give is to be open and accepting of other people’s assistance. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help. It is difficult to be vulnerable and to open yourself up to potential neglect and rejection. However, at the same time, it is also a wonderful thing to open yourself to people by asking for help. I think receiving and asking are two wonderful gifts that came to me during this process.

Kim Fuller on Deailing with Guilt with Jennifer Griner and Sarah Withey on Vimeo.

How do you find balance between being an entrepreneur and a mom?

One of the strategies that I use to find balance is to maintain some sense of structure and routine in our lives. I’m an early riser so I often get up around 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning and my daughter does not typically wake up until 6 or 6:30. So that gives me up to 2 hours in the morning to exercise, make breakfast, shower, do paperwork, answer e-mails. The two hours in the morning is my time and then I have a wonderful nanny who helps take care of my daughter. In the evenings, we have playtime and reading time but I’m really focused on making sure she has a regular bedtime because that also gives me some time in the evening.

Keeping a routine and structure has allowed me to have balance because it gives me time in the evening to be social with my sisters, talk on the phone, be out and about. There are also many times when I want to just go to bed early. If my daughter goes to bed by 8pm, I can go to bed by 8:30, which is wonderful. It doesn’t happen very often but it’s wonderful.

One of the things that I really love to do and where I can completely focus on me is working out. I am an avid runner. I like to do half marathons. I did my first marathon last year. I also enjoy doing triathlons and just being active and engaged in sports. I am a member of many different organizations that are social and related to activities, such as a sailing club, ski and a snowboard club, and I really enjoy doing those kinds of activities. They provide me with the kind of external nourishment as well as the mind, body, and spirit wellness.

What advice would you offer to mothers who are thinking of starting their own business?

Don’t be afraid to take the risk to do something that you can enjoy and love. When you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re a better mom, sister, wife because you are more satisfied with who you are.

One of the resources that I used in Lakewood, California was the Small Business Development Center. It is a non-profit agency that provides a lot of resources to help and develop businesses. They help with legal, creating a business plan, marketing, and online media management. If there is any legal requirements based on the business that you want, going to a resource like the development center would be my second piece of advice.

The third piece of advice would be to check into your resources of courage because we all have that within us. Also, when people don’t seem to be supportive of what your goal is, dig inside yourself and use your own resources of courage to take the risk to try it. If you don’t try it, you will always be wondering whether you could’ve been successful with it.

Share something about yourself that would surprise people who know you.

I secretly want to be a back-up dancer for Janet Jackson. My family and friends know that I enjoy dancing but they may not know that it would be a really exciting career for me. I would be a back-up dancer for just about anybody who does hip hop, R&B, and pop music.

Recently, I have been into self-reflective and predictive elements, such as, tarot cards, astrology and selfreading which is definitely something that nobody in my family is aware of. They would really look at me sideways if they find out.


Are you a busy stay-at-home mom, mompreneur or working mom who is usually on the go and doesn’t have a lot of time, but still has a desire to make healthy living a priority? Busy mom. I chuckle because the term itself is probably redundant. I mean let’s face it, what mom isn’t busy and constantly juggling a million things? We are the masters of multi-tasking. On the same token, every mom wants to get healthy, set a good example for her children and keep her family as healthy as possible. Yet we can’t seem to find the time for it. If you want to make a change in your health or your lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be hard. The key is to find new habits that will serve you better. But it does require a small amount of commitment and a huge desire to feel and look your best. The payoff will come in knowing that you are taking an important step to ensure that your family is healthy.

The good news is with a little preplanning and preparation, you and your family can maintain a healthy diet while keeping your active schedule.

Many busy families rely on the drive-thru or a takeout menu to get a meal on the table. Unfortunately, eating out often means getting too much fat, salt and calories, which puts you and your family at risk of health conditions that include heart disease and obesity. With childhood obesity – and indeed, the weight of many Americans – spiraling out of control, parents need to take extra steps to encourage healthy eating habits. Learning to eat healthy meals benefits the entire family and becomes easier with practice. Planning is the key to developing healthy eating habits. Here are a few tips for healthy living on the go:

Plan Ahead

Having a plan regarding what foods you will buy and prepare creates the opportunity to have healthy choices on hand. Don’t plan only for dinner. Decide what you will eat for breakfast and lunch too, so that you are prepared with healthy meals for the whole day. Write down each meal, and make a grocery list so that you have all the ingredients on hand. That way you won’t end up calling for pizza when you are pressed for time. Not every meal has to be cooked or prepared from scratch. Despite the fact that we live in an age where quick and easy is synonymous with greasy fast food, there are healthy convenient shortcuts available if you are shopping at the right places. Trader Joes is my favorite go-to spot when I don’t have time to cook. They have a ton of precut fruits and vegetables, pre-washed salad and easy microwaveable yet healthy options. There is no excuse not to have a salad on the table these days when all you have to do is open a bag and pour it into a bowl. When you do cook your meals, be sure to prepare enough so that you have leftovers that can be served on the nights you won’t be able to cook. Similarly, you may want to make an entire meal ahead of time and freeze it for later use. If your family members keep vastly different schedules, you can freeze individual portions that can be quickly heated in the microwave.

Snack Smart

Buy healthy snacks and portion them into individual servings so that you always have a grab-and-go snack for each member of the family. A snack between meals is important to keep hunger at bay and prevent binge eating. Students need snacks to help them concentrate and learn at school, and working adults who keep healthy snacks on hand are less likely to hit the vending machine in the afternoon. Good choices include nuts, string cheese, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, trail mix and dry cereal. Stay away from those 100-calorie packs. They may be only 100 calories but they are 100 empty calories and in most cases do nothing to fuel your body. I used to grab protein bars until I discovered that most of them have as much sugar as a can of soda. Now if I need an extra dose of protein I blend up a protein smoothie which literally takes me two minutes and is a quick and easy way to sneak in an extra serving of fruit. My kids love smoothies too. A homemade smoothie is going to be infinitely better for you than the sugar laden versions at Jamba Juice, McDonalds or Starbucks. Not everything that is seemingly healthy is. My protein powder of choice is high in fiber and low in sugar. Make sure you are reading the labels because not all protein powders are necessarily healthy and many brands can be very high in sugar. Lastly, bring healthy snacks along when you go to sports games, the mall or the playground to refuel without ending up at the nearest fast food place.

Eat From All the Food Groups

I confess. I’m a carb lover. If it were up to me, every snack would consist of something starchy. But I know my body doesn’t respond well when I eat only carbs and I am depriving myself of the natural fiber, nutrients and protein that my body needs. This can in turn lead to increased hunger and cravings and have a downward spiral effect on other food choices I make later in the day. By incorporating foods from all the food groups, you ensure that your family is getting adequate nutrition without overloading on fat, calories, salt, sugar or cholesterol. Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, low-fat dairy foods and healthy fats. Indulge in the occasional treat to keep healthy meals fun and prevent feelings of deprivation. I try not to make any one food off limits. My kids enjoy treats and juice like any other but I encourage them to drink water and eat something healthy first.

Make Smart Restaurant Choices

As hard as we try, even the best plan can go out the window. There will be times when a busy family has to eat out, but doing so doesn’t have to derail your healthy eating goals. Choose the restaurant you will go to ahead of time, and use its website to look at the nutritional information for the menu items offered. In many areas, quickserve healthy alternatives to fast-food are becoming more available. In my local market we even have a pizza place that makes a pizza with healthier whole grain crust and has a special sauce with hidden vegetables pureed into it. The kids don’t taste the difference.

Schedule in Your Exercise Time

Life is always going to be chaotic. We have to accept that. In order to fit in exercise, your workout has to be scheduled into the day. No matter how crazy my day, I make my workout a priority for myriad reasons, not the least of which are my health and sanity. I almost never let anything get in the way of exercise. You have to be that committed or it will be the first thing you let go. Even if I feel tired one day or am not into it I still force myself to do it because it makes me feel better. I really believe that physical fitness will change your life. If I have a day with extra time, I will do a longer workout. If there is absolutely no time to go to the gym or squeeze in a run, I have a few of those quick 20-minute videos I can do at home. Sometimes people think that if they can’t get in a full workout they should blow it off altogether. Not true. Even a quick 10-minute walk, or a few squats, lunges and push-ups while your kids watch TV is better than nothing.

Healthy living doesn’t have to be hard. By taking a few extra steps and planning ahead, you will slowly be able to adopt these new habits until they become second nature.

Shira Adatto

Health & Fitness
Shira is a successful Mom Entrepreneur who runs Sheer Wellness and promotes the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge. Read more about Shira here.

As a mother of three teenage girls, a wife and founder of the concierge medical practice located in Scottsdale, AZ, Dr. Susan Wilder inspires health and vitality for patients with her gentle, caring approach, admirable experience and medical knowledge. Her passion and mission continues to provide a positive and healing environment that is patientcentered and focuses on getting to the root causes of the symptoms rather than medicating them.

Dr. Wilder candidly shares the challenges she faced and overcame within the medical field, what she so passionately loves to do and how she was able to cross off an item on her bucket list when she was named Mom-e Club’s “2012 Mom Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Share with us a little bit about yourself.

I am the sixth of seven children to two very entrepreneurial parents. I am the mother of three daughters. My oldest just turned 18 and my twins are 13 years old. I have been married to my husband, Bob for almost 25 years. We’ve been together since my first day in college. We met 32 years ago at Washington University. So, it’s pretty strange to send my first daughter off to college thinking she may meet her spouse right off the bat! Since I was about 11 or 12 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a family doctor. I was in the Air Force for medical school and served 7 years of active duty and 4 years of reserved. In October 2003, after some time in the Mayo Clinic, I started my own practice called, Lifescape Medical.

Tell us about your business, Lifescape Medical.

Lifescape Medical was my dream practice. I was really becoming very disenchanted with the practice of medicine. In the insurance-based system, our costs kept on increasing and we were getting reimbursed less and less. So, it was becoming kind of a hamster wheel type of thing where we had to see more and more patients in less time while medicine was becoming more complex. There were many more diagnostic and treatment options. The knowledge and skill to practice medicine was becoming unwieldy, but at the same time we had less time to deal with any specific patient. So, it was an equation for disaster.

My husband has a JD MBA and I have a very visionary and idealistic sense of the way medicine should be practiced. So, between the two of us, we would give this new business a whirl, be financially creative and figure out a way to create a practice that’s truly patient-centered, where we spend the time it takes to really get to know the patients and get to the root causes of their symptoms rather than just medicate the surface of them.

I think where medicine has gone astray is when we just start throwing prescriptions at symptoms. We really have the ability if we have the time to get to know, work with and inspire patients to healthier lifestyles. When we can get to some of these underlying root causes, we can obliterate those symptoms and cure them. We can cure diabetes and heart disease. We can resolve insomnia and mood disorders rather than just medicate them forever.

It’s been hard financially, but it’s been really rewarding personally and professionally to have patients come back the next year and review their problem list to discover they no longer have those symptoms they were experiencing when they last saw me. To me, that’s the hole in one that keeps us playing this game.

What was your biggest challenge in starting your medical practice?

I’ve made a couple of big mistakes. The number one mistake was believing I could work with the insurance system and get paid fairly for the work we do while creating a patient-centered practice. That was just not financially feasible. The insurance system is a socialized system. It’s set up to directly profit the insurance industry and doesn’t reward quality service or a healing environment. As a physician with over 20 years of experience and board scores in the 99th percentile with great demand, I got paid the same as somebody who just spits out a residency, who paid for their degree in the Caribbean and who just barely passed their boards.
I don’t think many people understand that medicine in the insurance-based system is not a free market in any way shape or form. Also, it’s not a market that rewards what’s really important to patients. To win in this system, you have to see more patients in less time. In my opinion, you can’t successfully practice truly patient-centered medicine in an insurance-centered environment.

The other mistake I made was starting very large. I started with five brand new doctors right out of residency and supported them while they were growing their practice. It was a very large overhead. For many, many years, it was financially tough for us.

Find out how Dr. Wilder got 10 years younger.

Press Play and listen in.

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Throughout these challenges, especially in the early years, what kept you going?

I would say, number one, my husband has just been incredibly supportive. His parents have been extremely supportive of us, what we were doing and of the dream. We always kept our mission, which is to inspire health as the core central focus. I think that is critical.

My kids have been incredibly supportive. They help out with the practice. They used to come with me on home visits or to see newborns in the hospital or hospice visits. They know a lot of my patients. The practice is part of our family. I think that has been sustaining. It’s a part of us. We call it our most expensive child.

And our patients have been incredibly rewarding. When I made the very difficult decision to go off insurance a couple of years ago, I expected an angry backlash from many of my patients. Well, I was shocked. So many of my patients, even those who couldn’t afford to stay with me, told me that I deserved and needed to do this and they supported my decision. They appreciated what I did and what I created.

What really keeps me going is when my patients say, “All my other doctors monitor my deterioration. You actually inspired my health and you treasure patients.” And that’s what we do.

What is your biggest reward running your business?

Seeing patients get incrementally healthy year after year. And they may not even notice that their muscles don’t ache anymore or they’re not complaining about that knee anymore. These are subtle things. It doesn’t get big press when you steer somebody off the path of becoming a diabetic. But, to me, that’s huge.

Congrats on winning the Mom-e Club’s 2012 Mom Entrepreneur of the Year Award!

Oh yes! That was so much fun. I get to check off “wearing a tiara” off my bucket list. But I am still so shocked about it to be honest with you. There were so many incredible and inspiring moms and stories. And wow…I’m still kind of pinching myself about it. It’s a really nice honor. My mom was proud and that’s a great thing, because she’s been a terrific inspiration to me. And my kids had fun with it. After the whole weekend of wearing the tiara, they were saying, “Ok mom. Enough!” They sure keep me humble.

What top advice would you give a mom starting her journey as an entrepreneur?

Number one, take care of yourself. That means sleep, exercise, even if it’s for 10 minutes a day. Learn to use your time bites to breathe, such as when you’re stuck on hold on the phone. Use that time to do some deep breathing. Every time I tell a patient to take some deep breathes, I take some with them. Use those time bites to exercise. How many times do we drop a kid off for practice and we just sit there? Instead, walk around the field or walk with another mom and talk. You don’t have to be stuck at a desk. Do a walking meeting instead.

Number two, keep your overhead low. Start small and go slow.

What was Dr. Wilder doing as part of a “B” group?
Press Play and listen in.


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What do you do to maintain balance in your life?

I do deep breathing, meditation for at least 5 minutes a day. I start and end my day doing a gratitude meditation and think about all the things I’m grateful for. I walk everyday. I eat healthy. And, I mentioned before, I use my time bites to do some deep breathing throughout each day.

I try to compartmentalize the cell phone. I think that all of us get absorbed by being on-call 24/7 and that gets a little hard. But there are times where I will just put the cell phone away such as dinnertime.

Share something about yourself that would surprise people who know you.

It might surprise people that I used to be very shy and easily intimidated. I used to let people walk all over me. I think people would not see me that way anymore.

Favorite Mom Entrepreneur Quotes

Jeannine Torres of The Parent Tree“Well-behaved women seldom make history”.
~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Jeannine Torres, Founder of The Parent Tree


Cyndi Ting of Party Lite“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more of it I have.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
Cyndi Ting, PartyLite


Farrah Abrishami of Mary Kay“We fail forward to success.”
~ Mary Kay Ash
Farrah Abrishami, 
Mary Kay Consultant



Mollie Bennett of Hoopla Events and Mama Time“Peace is not the absence of noise, trouble or real work.
It is to be in the midst of those things and be calm in your heart.”
~ Anonymous
Mollie Bennett, Owner of Hoopla!
Events & Specialty Decor and Co-founder of MamaTime


Charyne Taylor West“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.
Excellence, I can reach 
for; perfection is God’s business.”
~ Michael J. Fox
Charyne West, Account Executive for Corporate Images



Jennifer Fontanilla“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”
~ Helen Keller
Jennifer Fontanilla, Financial Advisor


Shelby Mirrotto of Move It Momma Fitness“If you still look cute after your workout, you didn’t train hard enough.”
~ Unknown
Shelby Mirrotto, Co-founder of Move It Momma Fitness


Has this ever happened to you? You have a list of things to do and all of them get done except that one big project. Day after day, you make your list and diligently cross everything off, only to find that one item lingers -refusing to get done, still looking up at you and waiting for you to take action. As the days, weeks and months wear on, you might begin to chastise yourself. You may even use it as proof that you are a procrastinator and chronically disorganized.

Or, there is another scenario. You’ve been building your business from home. You are getting on a roll and things are beginning to click. New marketing opportunities are showing up and clients and customers are finding you. And then, summer vacation hits OR a child comes down with the flu. During these times, it can feel like the progress slows and in some cases grinds to an ear-bending screech of a halt!

In these cases, it feels like nothing is getting done, or there isn’t enough getting done. Your project or business ceases to be a logical set of things to do. Instead, it has anthropomorphized into something that talks to you, calls you names and hangs over you. It’s the proverbial monkey on your back; a weight on your shoulders and the black cloud hovering overhead. We’ve all been there.

During these times, we might feel as though we are spinning our wheels and that all that spinning is on a stationary bike – getting us nowhere, fast. When this happens, the first step is to stop and figure out where the real challenge is. It is important to get specific about the challenge that you are facing, so that you can design a strategy around it and get yourself moving forward again.

Here are some common challenges that get in the way of us being able to move forward:

  • We don’t know what the next step should be. There are too many!
  • We don’t have enough information and/or don’t know where to get it.
  • We know what the next step is, but don’t know how much time it will take. We are afraid of falling into the black hole of time consumption. This can happen with troubleshooting computer issues or doing research. Or, as I just found out, setting up a business page on Facebook!
  • We just don’t want to! We don’t want to look through those piles of files because we don’t want to be faced with our past work, letters and the other unwanted discoveries lurking there.
  • Let’s face it. We would rather do something else. We answer emails, make phone calls, re-organize our list and make a nice big cup of distraction… I mean coffee!
  • We want perfection. Sometimes our own worry about something not being perfect, can keep us from even starting.

Any of these on their own, probably won’t stop us, but if a few of these are combined, we can freeze, get stuck and dig ourselves deeper with negative self talk.

The funny part is that we have been down this road before. We know that when we do complete these items, we will feel great – as if a burden has been lifted. We may wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. And then the spin cycle continues.

Here are some Coach Me Quick™ strategies for minimizing the time we are stuck and maximizing our ability to move forward with ease:

  • I don’t want to: When you don’t want to take action, commit to spending 15 minutes on the project or task at hand. You have no obligation to spend any more time than 15 minutes, but you may find that you are inspired to do more, once you get started.
  • Where do I begin? When you don’t know what to do, break it down into REALLY tiny steps. For example: 1. Step one might be open a file. 2. Step two. Call so and so. 3. Step three. Get the answer to this question.

You will know that the steps are small enough when you begin to feel that they are silly. Don’t stop until you have very silly steps.

  • Will work for chocolate! Promise yourself a reward for a certain number of steps completed – a walk, a cappuccino, hot bath or a nap
  • Give up perfection. It will not be perfect – adopt “good enough and embrace imperfection (see my imperfect gift to you below).
  • Stop negative self talk in its tracks and replace it with a clear vision of the value you will receive from completing the project.
  • Be flexible. Not only do we need to be more flexible to accommodate family schedule changes and activities, but we would like to take the opportunity to be with our children as much as possible. If they are all sleeping in, we might like to sleep in too. And if we view the big picture, taking the opportunity to enjoy our children during the short time that we have them, is a no-brainer.
  • Give yourself permission to put certain tasks on the back burner during busy times. Focus on the important business activities – the basic tasks required to keep your business moving.
  • Choose what is happening on any given day. If you find that you are spending less time on your business in order to be with your kids; embrace that as a choice and not something that is happening to you.

Give yourself the gift of staying in action. Celebrate your past achievements. Be excited about what is coming next. Enjoy each day. Watch your business thrive!

Jamee Tenzer

Jamee Tenzer is an Executive and Life Coach, specializing in empowering women to optimize their lives at work, home and play. In 2002, she founded CMQ Coaching, a private coaching practice with a focus on professional women and working mothers. Her coaching emphasizes working with her clients to integrate their professional and personal lives in order to make their vision real in the workplace without giving up the experience they want, at home. Jamee holds a PCC Credential from the International Coach Federation and is also a trainer with the International Coach Academy. S he is a contributor to numerous magazines and websites including No Makeup Required. She writes a bi-monthly newsletter Coach Me Quick! and manages “Executive Moms,” a 1500 member group on Linked In. In 2006, she co-authored 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, and in May of 2012 she published Balance Your Work and Family with Less Stress and More Fun! A s part of her commitment to supporting working moms, she has created a number of programs including: 7 Days To Achieve Peace Through Imperfection – a FREE video series, Game Plan For Your Business – a comprehensive guide to beginning your own “kitchen table start up” and 21 Days to More Joy and Less Stress! An e-Coaching program for working moms. O ther interests include; traveling, roller-blading at the beach and spending lots of time with her husband and 3 children.

Colette Carson quote

At the end of another jampacked day, do you think about everything you’ve accomplished? Or do you find yourself tossing, turning and stressing over what didn’t get done?

Unfortunately too many of us with an entrepreneurial spirit internalize “You can do anything you put your mind to” to mean you should do everything and do everything perfectly! This mindset only leads to unrealistic expectations which lead to conflict and stress. You give yourself too much to do, run out of time and energy, and then feel guilty that you failed to do the impossible.

Stressing less is not about time management, it’s about you management.

1. Speak Your Truth.
Are you running around pleasing others, putting everyone else’s needs before yours, and agreeing to do things you don’t want to do? It’s time to get honest about what you really want and align your thoughts, words and actions to your truth. Otherwise your mind says one thing as your mouth says another and you wonder why you’re stressed! You’re never going to make everyone happy so stop trying. You’re only setting yourself up to fail. Rather than lecture your child about being honest, start practicing what you preach and match your mouth with your motions. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.

2. Make a Not To Do List.
No matter how much you delegate, organize, prioritize or simplify you’re never going to have enough time to get it all done. Ask, “Is this in alignment with my core values?” If not, it goes on the not-to-do list. Give yourself permission to take it off your list and plug the mental energy drain. My personal not to do list includes volunteering time (I’ll find another way to show my support), organizing pictures and learning a second language. Let go of the guilt and reallocate your energy towards what you want most.

3. Love is Messy.
Many moons ago I had a beautiful apartment with nothing on the countertops, the pillows fluffed, and vacuum tracks on the carpet. I was also single and alone. Now that I have a family, I realize it’s not about perfection, it’s about connection. A perfectly clean house does not define you, it confines you. You’re never going to achieve your goals if you keep reorganizing the dishwasher! Tell yourself, “everything is not perfect, but I am perfect with everything.” And go connect with those that matter.

4. Reframe/Refocus.
Change the way you look at things. For example, is this really going to matter five years from now? Of all the things you need to do, which will have the greatest impact a year from now? My personal mantra is I Am Too Blessed to Be Stressed. Repeating it reminds me that the fastest way to eliminate stress is to refocus my attitude to gratitude. While you’re at it, change your definition of Self-ISH. Balance requires boundaries. I like to say the ISH in selfish stands for I Stay Healthy and I Stay Happy. Make choices that demonstrate kindness and respect to everyone, including you.

5. Dare not to compare.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are comparing apples and oranges without even realizing it. Your selfesteem plummets when you compare yourself to super achievers or individuals who are in a different place or stage in life. You are probably not seeing the full picture and the truth behind it. No matter how put together someone seems we all have stuff we are dealing with on the inside. Give yourself credit for your efforts, do your best daily, and draw inspiration from others instead of comparisons. And in case you’ve forgotten or don’t realize it, you are an inspiration to someone, even if you don’t know it.

6. More is not better.
Studies show most parents want their children to be happy. Is adding more activities, lessons, and practices to your children’s already overloaded schedule really best for them right now? And you? Do you really need to take on another project or commitment? How many pairs of shoes, clothes in your closet, or items in your home do you really need? That means more stuff to clean, organize, store, and pay for. More usually creates more stress and less freedom.

7. Ask for what you need to succeed.
When you ask, be clear and direct. Your Mom repeatedly calls you during the day: “Mom, I’d love to talk in the evening. Daytime is my time to focus on my business.” Express to your late paying client: In order to move forward on this project, I need to receive payment on my invoice.” Tell the masseuse who won’t stop talking: “Can we talk following the massage? I really appreciate the quiet time.” Put your pride on the side and ask for help and support when you need it. Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; but a healthy way to remain strong.

You’ve probably heard some of these strategies and even gave similar advice. But what’s going to really create long-lasting improvement? The biggest, most impactful change which improved every aspect of my life was mastering speaking my truth. Dig deep, get honest, and be brave. Align your thoughts, words, and actions to what you really want. By applying these seven strategies to my truth, I was finally able to maintain a 50 lb. weight loss, create the business of my dreams, and become the best loving mom I could be. The next time you feel inner conflict, stop the stress cycle. Match your mind, mouth, and motions with love, compassion, and respect for yourself and others. Be passionate, speak your truth, and decide you deserve to live the life YOU want to live.

Colette Carlson

Colette Carlson is a funny motivational speaker who used to be an emotional coward and a big fat liar. Today, she is the founder of sharing her success strategies and heart felt humor with audiences worldwide. Read more about Colette at her website.

Supporting and inspiring others to be the best they can be is what drives Doreen Matsumoto. An ultra-successful MonaVie distributor and the founder of Women In Networking, the fast-growing women’s networking group in Southern California, Doreen’s passionate energy keeps her busy by being involved with many community fundraising events, various charities and local groups

Doreen’s positive disposition, passion for life and compassion for others spans globally as she is a strong supporter and advocate for The MORE Project, a non-profit organization that fights poverty and helps feed children in Brazil.

Doreen shares with us her journey to success, what she does with it and the lifestyle she lives to balance it all.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Long Beach, CA and I do MonaVie as my business. I used to be in the bar and restaurant business. I have 2 grown-up kids and a granddaughter who is 14 months old.

Tell us about MonaVie and what it’s all about.

On June 29, 2006, I started with MonaVie, a nutritional product line. The year prior, a friend who was working with the company approached me and asked if I was interested in being part of MonaVie. At that time, I was in the restaurant and bar business and worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I asked him how many girl scout cookies I needed to sell for this business and told him that I wasn’t really interested in selling anything or had no clue what network marketing was all about. So, my friend then asked me to just introduce people to him and he’ll talk to them for me. From there, I introduced him to quite a few people and we just kept building a business. We are now 40,000 strong. We’re international and the fastest moving network marketing company out there. It is debt free. We’ve created a millionaire every 25 days since its conception. The company has good morals and I just love it. I am continuously growing with it every day.

What do you love about the MonaVie business?

MonaVie is a 5 star opportunity. I get to share a great product with people and help with their health and nutritional needs. It’s the right time, because baby boomers are aging. MonaVie is convenient, because the products are available online and shipped directly to the consumer. I also like the binary effect in that they care about the distributors. MonaVie is led by the top leaders in this industry. So, we know we have the right people at the front of the ship.

What I’m also passionate about is MonaVie’s charity, The MORE Project, which began in 2006. They wanted to give back because that is where they harvest the Acaî berries. Initially, it was just about feeding the children in Brazil. Now we have an orphanage that house 2,500 children. My team supports the mom’s house with 60 moms and kids. The economy there is the same as the US but their welfare is $60-$80 a month. So, it’s so much different. They give their children up for drug trafficking and prostitution, because that’s how they think they can survive. Here in the US, we wouldn’t even stand for that.

MonaVie helps children in Brazil and teaches them how to use their resources, provides them education, teaches them some life-skills, shows them computers and demonstrates to them that they can have a better life. They might not reach every person but 100% of the donations go to The More Project. It’s a positive way for a company to help humanity. A lot of people look at what we’re doing and say, “Well, what about our own country?” But these are children and they don’t know what country they’re in and we need to help everybody.

I raise a lot of money for different organizations in the US and in our school district. I remember when someone asked me, “Well, what about here?” I stood up and said “I don’t have any children that go to this high school. I live in the area and I could turn my back away, but I want to help you and your school programs. If I only thought about helping my own people, I wouldn’t be here today.”

MonaVie has given me the freedom to help more people. We’ve blessed so many people’s lives. When you’re successful you have to know how to handle that success, how to give back and teach others to do that which is the most important thing for me. Giving and helping others is my passion.

I have two kids and a grandchild. It’s such a blessing to be able to spend time with them and be part of their lives.

MonaVie has given me that freedom and even my son the freedom to bring his wife home to take care of their baby and be a stay-at-home mom. In general, I think with network marketing that’s important. We need to teach people plan B so they can have a more quality life, have more time with family and pick and choose who they want to do business with. Network marketing has become something much bigger than just MonaVie to me.

In my Women In Networking (WIN) meetings, I always say MonaVie is my vehicle but I think it’s so important for us to help people along their route. It doesn’t matter the organization, or what product you’re selling or sharing, if someone needs help or ideas, we should be able to share our knowledge as leaders. If we do that, a lot more people will be great leaders in our community and change the dynamics of what’s happening in our economy.

What is Women In Networking (WIN) all about and what inspired you to create it?

A woman who was part of the MonaVie business got a bunch of us gals together one day and it was more of a Christian-based group. Everyone who attended thought it was a MonaVie leadership meeting, but it was really about faith. I sat back and thought it was a great idea to get women together. I started on Facebook, talking to women and sharing ideas. I had my first meeting at The Courtyard by Marriott and there were probably about 15 people there. Now, WIN has 450 people as part of our group. We have an Irvine, CA chapter, led by Jennifer Griner, a Long Beach, CA chapter and a men’s chapter, called Men that Win. We are an association. The money we collect is used for various charities, fundraisers and scholarships. It’s just been a blessing and people come to me about mentoring and ask opinions about generating a lead or approaching someone or how to deal with the “no’s”. That’s what’s great is we can come together to educate and inspire people. That’s how WIN got started. It was really about educating and inspiring. We have all different kinds of women, from various races and backgrounds, older, younger, moms, retirees, grandmas running different businesses. We’re sponsored by organizations, such as Chase, State Farm, and SoCal Curves. So, we’re backed by some really great businesses because they see what we’re doing. We’re about helping everyone around us – communities, children and the whole nine yards.

What challenges did you face while creating the WIN group?

It’s not about challenges. I don’t put that in my mind. It’s really power in numbers. When you get together with great people and great women, we can continuously do great things. It’s important as a networking/marketing woman, to go out and constantly network. In the WIN group, we’ve had people attend who can barely say their own name to introduce themselves in front of everyone. And now they have the confidence to say and talk about their business and feel comfortable in their own shoes. It’s just amazing to watch people grow.

What’s the top advice you would give women to help them effectively promote and network during your WIN meetings?

I always tell them to think of positive things and everything they’re grateful for. If someone comes to me and shares the trials in her life, I’ll ask her the one thing she’s grateful for. Even with these trials, what are you grateful for? You have a roof over your head. You have children. Always try to put things into perspective so you think positive all the time. Keep that good energy going. You can’t move forward if you’re carrying baggage.

What do you do to stay balanced on a regular basis?

I like to keep busy. Someone told me, give a busy person something to do and they’ll always get it done. The most wonderful things in life are my children. My daughter-in-law is very eco-friendly and she keeps me balanced by making sure I’m eating right and using the right [non-toxic] stuff around the house. She gave me a beautiful granddaughter named London. I just adore her. I didn’t have any clue that being a grandmother would fulfill me so much. My son and daughter-in-law will be married for 5 years in July 2012. As a mom, it’s really an amazing thing to watch your children grow. You always see them as these little kids with personalities and you remember when they played baseball or football or cheerleading. Then they become grownups that you’ve inspired all these years. Then they give you this sense of security that they’re okay and building a great life. I think that really balances me to think about that. I go to church and I’m very active in the evangelism team. I believe in buying in the USA and supporting our troops. I think we’re very blessed to be free in the US. We could be in another country where things are so much different. We’re so lucky to be able to do the things we do and the resources that are here in the US.

For me, to be balanced, you’ve got to have God, family and MonaVie. That’s how I live my lifestyle. God first, then family, and then business. Those are the most important things. You start mixing those things up and it could be a problem.

Do you have any advice for moms who are struggling to find balance in their lives?

God, family and business. It’s important because you need to be grounded. Everyone has his or her own needs and personalities. To find your center of what is important to you, you really need to think about how lucky you are. There’s a mom who has a son with Down Syndrome and he never ever cries. He’s so adorable and has a little smile on his face. I think that she’s so blessed to have this little one and the love they have together. A lot of people have beautiful children and they need to think about how lucky they are to have those children. They need to remind themselves. We’re in such a fastpaced world and we tend forget to stop and look around to appreciate what’s around us.

Could you share one thing about you that would surprise people who know you?

I’m pretty much an open book! Well, everyone knows I’m not a big eater. Most people know that I’m kind of a relaxed person. If I showed up in a fancy dress, people wouldn’t be used to that! It’s not my style. Most people know I took care of my in-laws until they passed away. I love dogs and I love cats. I think what surprises people is that they can call me and ask me something. And I never say that I don’t want to talk to them right now. The reason is that people are put in front of me for a reason. So, I need to stop and recognize people even if it’s asking how they are you doing, get to know them and shake their hand. They might be looking for something, not necessarily MonaVie, but a friendship, advice, or their heart hurts and they want someone to talk to. And I think everyone knows I’m a creature of habit – same church, same time, same bat channel.

As a husband and a father with three kids, including a special needs son, Hogan Hilling has been the voice and blazed a pathway for at-home dads. During a period when being an at-home dad was not a socially accepted lifestyle, Hogan was able to break the detrimental stereotypes and bring awareness to the differences between how men and women communicate within the household.

Hogan is an author of two companion books, the first of its kind, that address issues and perspectives from both sides of the equation – the mom and the dad. He shares experiences and tips to help both sides understand and communicate effectively with each other creating more of a team achieving a common goal.

Hogan spoke with us about his upbringing and how it was a turning point to his commitment of being a great father and a voice for other at-home dads.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was raised by a single working mom. I grew up without a father and my mom never really talked about him. When I was 29 years old, I had the chance to be reunited with him. He talked about the divorce with my mom and why it happened. I had the chance to hear his side of the story. I had no resentment toward him. I was just happy to meet him, because so many kids don’t get to meet their own dad. So, when I met him I decided to have a different attitude. As he was sobbing and apologizing to me, I realized at that point that he actually missed me more than I missed him. It was a huge healing process for me, because I made a pact with myself that I would never feel the way my father felt. I was not married at the time, so I told myself that I would never do this to my kids and I would never do this to myself.

I address this in my books. It’s not about healing the relationship, because you can’t control what the other person is going to do. I had to walk away knowing that I did everything I could to stay connected with my father, not be judgmental and take the relationship for what it’s worth from the time that it started. It was a real revelation for me. From this, I teach dads in similar situations that you must heal yourself in order to move on and be a father for your kids. If you haven’t done that, it will be much more difficult to really take on the responsibility of that role.

Tell us about your books.

Pacifi(Her) – What She’s Thinking When She’s Pregnant is for the dads to help them understand what their wives are going through. The other book is Rattled – What He’s Thinking When Your Pregnant is for the moms to help them understand what men go through during her pregnancy. Very little has been addressed regarding the issues that dads go through, because the focus is always on the mom and the baby and we have overlooked what dad goes through.

I believe I’m the first author to write companion books for both mom and dad that delve into how they both feel during pregnancy. I want to stress the word on “feel.” A lot of what’s going on in the parenting world and has been for generations is that there seems to be a right or wrong attitude, which creates conflict. What I explain in both books for both moms and dads is to really focus on the reason behind what they’re feeling in order to really address the issue because of how we communicate sometimes, especially men. Stupid things come out of our mouths. Sometimes we say what we don’t mean. We have a hard time communicating the feelings, because we’ve been taught not to or haven’t been taught how.

What I tell the dads is that your wife is really emotional right now. Her body is changing physically and emotionally. He needs to not take what she says personally. I share ways he can communicate better to say things in a way where he won’t offend his wife.

I don’t sugar coat the issues I address in the books. I really get down to the nuts and bolts of why both sides feel the way they do based on my own experience with my wife and also because I was a stay–at–home dad. I got a lot of information at the playgroups from the moms. They actually helped me understand my wife a little bit better.

What really motivated me to write the books was when I was doing the dad workshops. People were always telling me that guys wouldn’t show up and they wouldn’t talk. That’s just an example of how our society perceives dads. We live in a culture where we’re constantly preaching to dads. So, what I found out during the workshops is that the guys were sharing intimate details with me that they never shared with their wives. Our culture teaches boys to be submissive with their feelings. So, by the time they become husbands and fathers, they fall into that pattern thinking they’re not supposed to say anything because either mom knows it all or I’m supposed let mom be “super mom”. When I delved deeper into the reasoning behind this, there was a four letter word that always came up – Fear. They were afraid of losing their masculinity, but more importantly, they were afraid to share how they really felt because of the backlash they would get from their wives. They would get criticism, be told to suck it up, hear “how could you feel that way”or “you don’t love me anymore”. So, they shut down.

I teach moms that those are the words they shouldn’t be saying. I ask them when they want to talk to their husbands, don’t they just want a supportive arm around them and hear, “I’m sorry you feel that way. What can I do to help?” Husbands want the same thing.


Listen in on the Laundry Story – Can you relate?
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A lot more men are staying home and are seen at the grocery stores and at the park with their kids while the moms are working or building businesses. So, the roles are flipping and are acc epted more. Don’t you think?

I totally agree. The roles are flipping. Women and men need to be commended here. In the 90’s, there were plenty of at-home-dads. They were just afraid to come out of the pantry and be recognized. The media didn’t know how to handle them and didn’t know how to talk about them.

Then the movie, Mr. Mom came out. And there was always a reference about us as “Mr. Mom” as though we were a replacement for moms. We’re fathers. We’re not replacing moms. At that time, the feminine movement was making this whole thing about wanting to see the man’s feminine side. Well, I got news for you ladies. We don’t have one. We are sensitive in a masculine way. Don’t let us lose our masculinity. I’ve never heard a man say, “I would like my wife to show her masculine side.”

It’s my masculinity that will make me the best dad I can be. Now, men are more courageous about being at the park and saying that they’re not “Mr. Mom” and not “a babysitter.” They are expressing that they really enjoy what they do. A lot of men couldn’t wear that badge of honor of being an at-home and involved dad.

In the early 90’s, I started one of the first Dad’s Club at El Camino Elementary School in California. We had many at-home dads come into the PTA. And all of a sudden, the working dads started noticing that more fathers are getting involved. I always said that at-home dads were going to be a wake-up call to not only fatherhood, but also to parenthood. And that’s exactly what has happened. People are starting to really recognize that men are competent as dads.

Tell us more about The National At-Home Dads Network.

It was founded by Dr. Robert Frank and a few other dads who organized this network voluntarily. We hold annual conferences and have been for the last 16 years. We are the second longest running dad’s event in the country. What’s different about us is that we do not lecture to the dads. Most of what we do is an open discussion forum. We actually let the guys talk. There’s no steadfast curriculum to how we do this, which dispels that whole myth that men need to go through some 10-step rehabilitation-type program to be a good dad. They’re just like moms. Put the guys in a room together and let them talk. They’ll figure it out.

As seen on The Oprah Show.
A moving poem that Hogan wrote for his special needs son.

Hogan Hilling

What top advice would you give to a new at-home dad?

Leave your ego behind. Be proud and comfortable with the decision you’ve made. And that’s likewise with working dads. If you want to spend more time with the family, then maybe change professions or find a company that is more family friendly. Many guys feel they don’t have choices.

Develop a thick skin. You can get upset with how people are talking with or about you. Or, as a good friend told me, “If you want to have a fatherfriendly environment, you have to be a friendly father.” You have to change your mindset.

When I first decided to be an at-home dad and I went into the playgrounds and schools, the media was saying that we need to see more dads at the playgrounds and get involved in schools. So, when I showed up, I was rejected. Moms didn’t embrace me and I was mad at the moms. Then I realized these women have been indoctrinated to treat me as a stranger. It’s not their responsibility to make me feel comfortable about being there. It’s my responsibility.

I’m 6-foot-6 and intimidating. I don’t have a natural smile. So, I had to work on smiling more and bringing extra toys. I didn’t talk about sports with moms. I would ask where they got the nice outfit their son was wearing, because I may want to get one for my son. Or I would complement a daughter’s eyes and mention that she got them from her mother. Things that men aren’t comfortable talking about.

Another tip is to be patient with your wife. There are many issues that working moms need to deal with. I tell dads to be sympathetic with their wives and try to understand what she’s going through when she has a large workload and doesn’t seem to be doing anything at home.

Many dads ask me what they can do to help their wives feel more comfortable coming home. I ask them what the first thing their wives see when they come into the house. I tell them to make sure the first place she enters is clean. The rest of the house can be a bit messy. As she comes home, she needs transition time and when she’s happy when she enters the house, she’ll tend to overlook the other stuff.


Not Right or Wrong – Just Dressing Up the Kids – Can you relate?
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As a dad, what do you do to maintain balance in your life?

I make sure that I have me-time. And I say the same thing to my wife. She needs her own “me-time”. You can’t balance your life unless you have energy. However, both sides feel that guilt when they want to take “me-time.” That’s just ridiculous. It goes back to that oxygen mask in airplanes. Put your own oxygen mask on first before you apply your kid’s mask.

It is only 7 am on Tuesday and you are already feeling overwhelmed! Your long list of things to do include dropping the kids off at school, picking up the dry cleaning, meeting with your web designer, taking care of your customers, developing a new product, picking the kids back up from school, taking Jonny to soccer practice and Missy to ballet, and then, somehow manage to feed your family a healthy meal. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing this! Now, it’s 11 pm, you finally have some time to yourself, and you realize you have not had a decent meal all day! You picked a little off of your kid’s breakfast plate and finished up what was left of your husband’s dinner, but that’s hardly a balanced meal. The hunger pains start to kick in and the next thing you know you are raiding the cabinets and consuming anything you can find, from crackers to ice cream. This scenario is all too familiar to me. I see it all of the time with my moms who are trying to balance a family and a career. They do not have time to cook, so they end up picking up fast food on their way home. Or, they have been out all day, running around, and forgot to stop for lunch. Here are some tips to stay organized and hopefully prevent you from missing a healthy meal and becoming a slave to fast food or whatever junk food happens to be in your house at the moment.

1. Plot out your week ahead of time. I am sure you have heard this before, but it is worth repeating. You need to know ahead of time when you will have time to cook and when you will need to pick up food. Schedule meals like you would appointments, or get a meal planning calendar. My favorite comes from You can plot out your family’s activities for the week, and then plan your meals around them. This will allow you to see when you need to pick up food on your way home from soccer practice, what nights you need to reheat leftovers, and what nights you actually have time to cook.

2. Find a free day (Sunday’s work best for most people) and prep ahead of time. You can make multiple meals at once, then freeze them. Cook up some ground turkey and use it all week for pasta sauces, burgers and tacos. Bake a dozen chicken breasts and shred them into soups, stews, tacos, salads or to top a baked sweet potato. Slice up a bunch of sweet potatoes, spray them with olive oil and bake for 20 minute at 425 degrees. You can sprinkle with a little sea salt, then portion them out into individual baggies for a healthy, tasty snack on the go.

3. Wash and do most of the prep work as you unpack the groceries. I wash fruits as soon as I take them out of the bag, and put them in a fruit bowl on the counter. Then I know I always have fresh fruit that is ready to grab as I’m walking out the door. If you’re anything like me, the idea of taking the extra time in the morning to wash that apple will actually prevent me from taking it as a healthy, “on-the-go” snack. Wash and cut up veggies right away and store them in Tupperware. Portion out chicken or fish into individual freezer bags with marinade. Put nuts into snack baggies or purchase the individual portion packs. Taking these little extra steps will guarantee you have a fridge full of grab and go options, and will actually save you time in the long run.

4. Pack a cooler with food for the day to keep in the car – grab a sandwich or a snack in between meetings, errands or appointments. Some of those coolers can keep food cool for up to 12 hours! Add some ice, a large bottle of water, some fruit, a pack of nuts, a hard boiled egg or string cheese, maybe a tupperware of some leftovers, or even a salad! Just don’t eat while you’re driving! Before you hop out to pick up the dry cleaning, reach in and grab that hardboiled egg and maybe a handful of grapes. After your 12:00 meeting, scarf down half a sandwich before you drive off to meet your customer. Finish the other half and maybe a few cucumber slices when you’re done. Snack on some nuts while you’re waiting for your kids to come out of school or while you’re watching them at soccer practice. The key to being a Balanced Mom is to take advantage of stolen moments.

5. Leftovers are your friends! Make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice – have it for lunch or as a hot breakfast cereal. Add leftover salmon to a salad or chicken in a sandwich. Crumble leftover turkey meatloaf over pasta.

6. Steamer Bags! The easiest way to cook vegetables. Yes, fresh is better or steamed in a pot, but this magazine is called Balanced Mom not Super Mom! Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can. You can purchase frozen vegetables already in steamer bags, or purchase special bags to put fresh vegetables in.

7. Find grocery stores with salad bars. One of the easiest things to do for dinner is to stop in on your way home from work, make a salad and grab a roasted chicken or some cooked salmon to have as an entree.

8. Eat when your kids eat! For you moms who always skip breakfast: While you’re pouring cereal for the kids, spread some almond butter on a slice of toast, or microwave some of that oatmeal you prepared on Sunday (and froze in those individual baggies). At the very least, have a hard-boiled egg or some yogurt while you’re putting on your make-up.

9. Unpack that Crock pot your in-laws gave you as a wedding gift. Remember, “Set it and Forget it!”

10. If you must do fast food, pick places that have healthy options such as salads, turkey burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches. Even Wendy’s now serves sweet potatoes.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here