by Monick Halm
The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can do some serious damage to our finances if we are not careful! Commercials, print ads and those holiday movies and TV shows can put a lot of pressure on us mamas to make the perfect (in other words, expensive) holiday. Overspending and creating new debt is a common problem and always leads to some post-holiday hangovers.
Here are eight steps you can take to avoid that financial hangover and start the new year feeling financially fit and fabulous!
1. SET A BUDGET. Creating a comprehensive holiday time budget early in the season will be your best defense against overspending and impulse buys. Remember that financial solvency is a gift you give yourself and your family, and it’s worth more than the momentary pleasure of a gift or feeling like you have to keep up with the neighbors. To create your budget, write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Don’t forget to list the people who will receive holiday tips, such as your doorman, babysitter, and mail carrier. When you are creating your budget also add the little extras such as postage for Christmas cards, holiday favors and decorations, or the cost of boarding pets when you’re traveling.
2. DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING ON YOUR CHILDREN’S WISH LIST. Be clear with your children that you or Santa won’t be granting their every wish. You can’t buy your children’s happiness or love, so why try? If your kids still believe in Santa, help them draft real-world wish lists. In the post-Santa years, set some financial boundaries, and give them some choices.
3. SHOP AT SALES ALL YEAR FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS.Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start buying holiday gifts. Keep your eyes open all year round for items friends and family would like. It’s often when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for Mom or your best friend. Once December hits, you’ll be glad that you already have some people crossed off your list. Just make sure to keep all your advance gifts in a designated (and hidden, if necessary) spot so that you don’t forget a purchase you made months in advance, and include these gifts on the budget.
4. GET CREATIVE. Make crafts or baked goods for gifts instead of spending money on store-bought items. Do-it-yourself gifts are great for family, friends and gift exchanges with coworkers. Also, instead of a traditional gift you can offer a service (e.g., baby sitting, walking the dog, or taking an elderly relative out for an outing) or donate to a charity in someone’s name.
5. AGREE TO LIMITS. Amongst friends and family you can agree to budget friendly gift limits. For example, among some of my best friends and our growing families we have agreed that we will not exchange gifts with the adults, but will just give gifts to our children. In my family, we have agreed to a $75 Secret Santa among the adults. Each person makes a wish list of gifts they would like that fall within that $75 price range. Everyone in the Secret Santa pool picks a name and buys for one other person gifts off of their wish list. This is much more manageable than having to buy for everyone and greatly eases everyone’s stress.
6. USE CASH INSTEAD OF CREDIT WHERE POSSIBLE. You might say to yourself that you’ll pay off the credit card after the holidays, but things happen and before you know it, you’re carrying the holiday balance into April. Don’t pay for unnecessary interest and fees on credit cards on items that you’re not even keeping!
7. CONSIDER SPENDING MONEY ON EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF THINGS Studies have shown that money spent on experiences tends to create much more lasting happiness than money spent on things. Instead of buying lots of things for your family that will soon be forgotten, consider taking the family to see a show or on a vacation. One holiday we rented a cottage in Lake Arrowhead with the entire family and had a very special holiday there. Another holiday season we took the family to Las Vegas and went to see Blue Man Group. In the end, these experiences with you are almost always more meaningful than quickly-forgotten gifts. That’s money well spent!
8.REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message front and center is a good antidote to the holiday “gimmies.” Instead of spending weekends leading up to Christmas in the mall, it would be a lot better gift to spend your time with your family or bring your kids to do something charitable for others.
I remember the first time my baby smiled at me; it filled me up in a way that words cannot describe.
As my baby got older, my most important goal was to make her life happy. I soon realized that there were many things I would have to learn to be the best mom I could be.
I had to learn about nutrition, fevers, happy tears, sad tears, fears, wants, needs, when to give in, when to stay firm, but never how to love; that came easy.
The job of “mom” can be rewarding, challenging, exhausting, frustrating, surprising, and even insightful; but it’s that smile on your child’s face that makes it all worthwhile.
I heard a story about a famous research scientist who had made several very important medical breakthroughs. When interviewed by a local newspaper, he was asked why he thought he was able to succeed so much more that the average person, to be so much more creative than the average person? In other words, what set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from a lesson his mother taught him when he was 2 years old. He’d been trying to take a bottle of milk out of the refrigerator, when he lost his grip and spilled the entire contents on the kitchen floor. His mother, instead of scolding him, said, “What a wonderful mess you’ve made! I’ve rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage is already done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk before we clean it up?”
Indeed he did. And, after a few minutes, his mother continued, “You know, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you will have to clean it up. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a towel, sponge or mop. Which do you prefer?
After they were finished cleaning up the milk, she said, “What we have here is a failed experiment in how to carry a big bottle of milk with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the backyard, fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it.” And they did!
What a wonderful lesson! The scientist then remarked it was at that moment he knew he didn’t have to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new – which, after all, is what scientific experiments are all about. I am so happy I read that story while my daughters were growing up because it reminded me that no amount of spilled milk or failed experiments were worth taking a chance of damaging a child’s self-esteem.
Teaching our child a high sense of self-esteem is a gift that will take them through their lifetime AND keep that beautiful smile on their face.
My daughter is now a mother herself, and from the first time my grandson smiled at me…
by Hogan Hilling, Dad Guru
Christmas is upon us once again. One of the holiday traditions is to show gratitude to the people we cherish and love by showering them with gifts. One of those people is your husband and father of your child(ren), who I will refer to as Dad.
Several weeks before the eventful day of December 25th millions of moms will endure traffic jams on the street and shopping malls. Moms will struggle to find that one special gift to place under the Christmas tree that will light up a Dad’s face.
The choice of classic gifts for a dad vary from a coffee mug, personalized DAD t-shirt, tech device, brief case, shaving kit, gloves, pen, golf accessory, videos, alcohol, tools, sports memorabilia, gun, rifle……and all things masculine. The challenge is not only to decide which gift to purchase but also affordability.
But alas I have a suggestion for a special, unique gift dad will appreciate and every mom can afford. It is a gift that does not require you to spend any time battling street traffic and foot traffic at the mall because you can’t find it in a store. It’s a gift that doesn’t cost anything except a pen, sheet of paper and an envelope. And it is also priceless. It’s a gift that comes from the heart.
But before I tell you what the gift is I’d like to challenge you to view Christmas in a different way this year. I will begin with a story a dad shared with me.
Al is a very involved and hands on dad. One day he finally convinced his wife, Jessica, to take time off from her motherly duties and spend some alone time or with friends on a Saturday morning. Jessica left the house at 8 am and planned to return sometime after lunch.
When Jessica returned home at 1pm she arrived to find Al, and their two daughters, Madison (6) and Jackie (4), in the family room still wearing their pajamas. Al was combing Madison’s hair and Jackie was playing with her new doll and tea set. All three had smiles on their faces, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
Jessica was not happy. “Why are you and the girls still wearing pajamas? The house is a mess! Look at that kitchen! What have you three been doing all day? I’m gone for 5 hours and the place is a disaster.
Thanks a lot honey! Now I have to spend the rest of the day cleaning up!”
Here is what Al shared with me. “Hogan, I couldn’t understand why my wife got upset. Yes, I understand the house was not as clean as she would have wanted when she came home. But I didn’t do it on purpose. I was having so much fun with the girls I forgot about the time, dressing the girls and cleaning the house. Why couldn’t she have focused on the smiles on our face, and how happy the girls and I were? Why couldn’t she have invited herself to join us and spend time as a family together? What is more important a clean house or a happy family? I would have been happy to clean up the mess with her later. I work hard during the week and there isn’t much time for me to spend with our children. It would have been nice to have my wife thank me for giving her time off from being a mom and my effort to spend time with our children. I’m really confused and frustrated.”
THE SPECIAL GIFT I SUGGEST YOU PLACE UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE OR IN THE STOCKING IS THE FOLLOWING LETTER:
My Dearest Husband,
Here is my special Christmas gift to you. From this day forward I will embrace your role as a dad by following these simple “12 Days of Christmas” rules.
1. I will accept the fact that you parent differently than a mom. And that you’re priorities are also different than mine. How a dad parent’s is not wrong, just different.
2. I will focus on “what” you do and not “how” you do it. I will appreciate and respect the unique and valuable role you play as a dad to our child(ren).
3. I will not criticize or make embarrassing remarks about the way you parent in front of other people, especially the children.
4. I will accept that your number one priority while spending time with a child is different than mine. I understand that your number one priority is to have fun and build a relationship with our child…not color coordinating our child(ren) or keeping the house clean.
5. I will relinquish my role as a parent to you when necessary, find time for myself and not feel guilty. I realize that no mom or dad can be a parent 24/7 and that it is okay to take a break from the child(ren).
6. I will not allow other people to refer to you as “Mr. Mom” or the “babysitter” when you are caring for our child(ren). You are our child(ren’s) dad.
7. I will defend your role as a dad and not allow anyone, even my mother to disrespect your role as a dad.
8. I will not ask you to show your feminine side because you don’t have one. I understand that a man can be sensitive, nurturing and compassionate in a masculine way.
9. I will not listen to or associate myself with other moms who criticize or talk badly about their husband’s role as a dad.
10. I will respect your role as a dad, which means I will trust your instincts and skills as a dad and allow you to be a dad to our child(ren).
11. I will place our relationship as husband and wife before my relationship with the children. Our love for each other is the foundation of this family. I need to nurture it as often as possible and keep the romance alive in our marriage.
12. I will no longer take your role as a loving husband and involved dad for granted. I will love, honor and respect you everyday.
The letter is not only a special gift for your husband but also a great gift for the child(ren). And it is a gift that keeps on giving!
by Jill Hope
As a mom, the joy you can experience during the holidays is second only to the joy your children feel. I always watch from a place of wonder and deep appreciation as my son embraces the family traditions we’ve created, enjoys his school holiday parties, delights in decorating cookies, and sings in his school holiday performance.
But in our role of mom, we also take on all the additional errands that go along with making the holidays special. Decorating, baking, shopping for gifts, being present for all of the performances and activities… just thinking of all this can be exhausting, let along doing it. And for some, this time of year can also carry with it less desirable reminders. Family friction, extra money demands, or financial stress can be even more of a presence at this time of year.
This added pressure can add up to a whole lot of holiday stress that over- shadows the joy we’d like to feel instead. If the demands of the holiday season keep you from being fully present to the joy that surrounds this time of year, I have good news.
You DO have control of your stress levels over the holidays!
You may be thinking “how can that be?”, and I understand that response because I used to feel that way. I thought living with stress was my cross to bear, not just during the holidays, but all throughout the year.
However, the truth is that our feelings come from our interpretations of an event. In other words, we create a story about what we’re experiencing, and how we react to that story is what creates our emotions and stress levels.
So how can you take control of your thoughts and enjoy a stress-free, joyous holiday?
Here are 5 strategies that can help:
1. CREATE AN INTENTION FOR YOUR DAY Just because you have a lot to do doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. If you could create your day, how would you like it to go? How would you like to feel when you go to bed at night?
Take a moment each morning before you get out of bed and scan through your day. Visualize each task, appointment, and errand, and see yourself feeling calm, happy, and free from stress. This takes less than 5 minutes, and makes a world of difference in terms of how your day flows and how you feel going through it.
When you consciously focus on how you want things to go, what it will look like, and how you will feel, you greatly increase the chances of things happen- ing the way you envision.
2. WHEN STRESS HITS, FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOING RIGHT It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity when you start feeling overwhelmed. When something doesn’t go well, we can fall into a downward spiral that makes everything feel harder.
When things aren’t flowing smoothly, notice how you are feeling and allow those feelings to be there, without judgement. Then, shift your thoughts away from what’s going wrong, and instead, run a checklist in your head about what has gone right.
By catching yourself in the moment and noticing how many things actu- ally do go right in your life, you stop the downward spiral of negativity, and instead create a sense of wellbeing.
You may have heard the saying “What you focus on grows”. Keeping your focus on all that IS working will help you more easily get through those things that aren’t working.
3. USE A MANTRA AND DEEP BREATHING TO QUICKLY SHIFT OUT OF STRESS AND INTO CALM When you find yourself in the midst of anxiety and overwhelm, your physiology changes. You become contracted, your breathing can become shallow, your mind is less receptive to ideas, and your body tenses up.
When you notice yourself in this state of contraction, immediately take at least 3 slow, deep, conscious breaths, breathing the air all the way down to your belly. After 3 deep breaths, your mind opens up, ideas can once again be received, and the tension in your body will dissipate.
Then, have a mantra ready that you can repeat to yourself to get you back to a positive frame of mind and remind you of how you are supported. Some mantras I have used are “Everything always works out”, “I am connected to the Divine”, or “Everything happens FOR me, not TO me”.
These steps can literally be done in less than a minute, quickly taking you to a more positive state of being.
4. OWN YOUR POWER How often do you say “yes” to someone because you don’t want to let them down, but inside you really want to say “no”? When you don’t act in alignment with your desires, you are not acting from your place of authentic power.
Energetically, this means that your energy is split, which can drain your vitality and your ability to get through all those errands you have to do.
To get back into alignment with your authentic power, start noticing when you say “yes” when you really want to say “no”, and “no” when you really want to say “yes”.
Once you become aware of how often you aren’t honoring your true feelings, you can start taking back your power.
Start saying “no” when you mean no and “yes” when you mean yes and see how that feels. Acting from your place of authentic power will increase your energy and help all aspects of your life go more smoothly.
5. CREATE A DAILY PRACTICE TO EXPERIENCE MORE PEACE AND TAP INTO YOUR INTUITION One of the practices I added to my daily routine that has had the most profound effect on my life and business was adding a daily spiritual practice.
Not only have I created a deeper level of peace within, but I am more easily guided by my intuition, and I’ve even become more productive.
Creating a daily practice can include quieting your mind, meditating, doing deep, conscious breathing, or even writing in a journal.
In the practice I’ve created, I put on some deeply relaxing music, quiet my mind, allowing any stray thoughts to move through without entertaining them, and then doing some deep breathing.
If I have a question I am struggling with, I may ask it and then write down in my journal the first thing that comes to mind.
Engaging in a regular daily spiritual practice can reduce stress, increase relaxation, and help you get acquainted with the voice of your intuition so that your choices will be guided toward your highest good.
Even 10 minutes of a mindful practice in the morning before your kids get up can be highly beneficial. And what’s best is that the benefits of a spiritual practice are cumulative. The more you do it, the more peace you cre- ate to sustain you through the holidays and beyond.
You can consciously choose to minimize the feelings of stress, worry, or despair brought on by holiday activities. And in doing so, you greatly increase your chances of experiencing more of the joy your kids feel. What’s more, the healthy practices you estab- lish now can extend well beyond the holiday season.
by Erica Rood, M.Ed.
What mother does not want her daughter to feel good about herself? To feel capable, worthwhile, content with who she is, and confident in where she is going? Research has shown that mothers play a significant role in the development of their daughter’s self esteem. Mothers are the ultimate role models for their daughters. The values and attitudes they model and teach are internalized by their daughters and shape their daughters’ self-image and views of the world. While mothering a daughter can be one of the most rewarding relationships, it can also be full of intense emotional extremes, especially during the teen years, when independence beckons. During this time, a healthy and respectful relationship is the key to effective communication. You can lay a strong foundation of trust and respect by establishing open and honest lines of communication early in your daughter’s life. One way in which to do this is to share creative, inspiring experiences together.
Yoga is an excellent tool for creating a sense of openness and awareness. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers and girls who have participated in my Mother-Daughter Yoga series. In these classes, moms and daughters share so much more than yoga; we engage in inspiring conversations, lively activities, and creative projects, all of which center around important topics including self-image, friendships, stress, bullying, and more. There are so many benefits to learning and having fun in a group setting, but you can also benefit from sharing a creative yoga practice at home.
Here are a few playful and purposeful poses for you and your daughter to try. The suggested poses, conversation starters, and activities are designed to enhance communication in a natural, relaxed way. Use the yoga as an opportunity to take off your “parent hat” and get down on your daughter’s level. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest and you will see your daughter do the same.
ROCKY BOAT POSE
Off the mat: Use boat pose as a springboard into a discussion about how life will present challenges that make you feel unstable. It’s during those times, when we need to reach out for support from each other. Discuss the challenges each of you face. Share how you react to challenges. Do you ask for help? Do you work through challenges alone? Do you avoid challenges altogether?
Activity: Role-play challenging situations and explore different responses.
STABLE SIDE PLANK
Start facing each other in a plank or modified plank (like the top of a push- up, with knees up or knees down to modify.) Rock to the edge of your right foot and press into your right hand. Slide your left leg on top of right and reach for each other’s left hand. If you feel the pose is easy and you are stable, try to lift your top leg. If you are feeling unstable, take your right knee down for extra support. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Use this pose to launch a discussion about the importance of maintaining balance in life. Talk about how to determine when it’s appropriate to add an extra challenge or activity and when you should back off and reach out for support. What events or activities make you feel off-balanced and stressed? How do you balance your current activities and keep your stress level low? What can you do to create more balance in your life?
Activity: Create a “Balance Sheet” that lists actions you can take to maintain balance in your life. Schedule a “Day of Balance” when you try an activity together.
TWIST OUT TOXINS
Sit back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take a big belly- breath in and reach your arms up. As you breath out, turn and twist to the right. Reach around for each other’s knees. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Twists are great for detoxing the body and a perfect opportunity to start a discussion about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy foods? What new food or recipe can you explore together?
Activity: Go online together and research the nutritional values of some of your favorite foods. Are you surprised? Find a healthy recipe you can make together. There are delicious suggestions on sites like Pinterest.
Start standing tall with your feet together. Step your left foot back and pivot your foot slightly (about 45 degrees.) Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight. Extend your arms and reach your fingertips away from each other. Feel your amazing strength and shout out: “I am strong!”
Off the mat: Warrior poses are symbolic of strength. They challenge our bodies and in turn, challenge our minds. Use this pose to talk about inner vs. outer strength. When is it appropriate to use physical strength? When do you need to tap into your inner strength? Share your experiences of using your inner and outer strength.
Activity: Create a “Wise Warrior” collage. Cut out pictures and words that describe qualities of inner and outer strength. Include pictures of personal heroes and role models.
If you’re interested in joining a Mother- Daughter Yoga series or hosting one at your home, please contact me. It is my passion and purpose to empower moms and daughters and inspire young women to live confident, happy lives!
by Monick Halm
The most important factor for making, having, and growing money has nothing to do with techniques or know-how. Your money mindset has the biggest influence on your finances. In other words, how you think about money is the biggest determinant of how you create and treat the money you have.
The money lessons that you receive as a child often dictate your money mindset (for better or for ill). As a mom, it’s particularly important for ourselves and for our children to have the healthiest money mindset possible.
The lessons I learned from my mom around money were: “Money is very stressful to deal with.” “If you have a good job, you’ll be fine. That’s all you need to know about money” “Money is for spend- ing, and so are credit cards.” I never heard mention of saving or investing.
So I worked hard and went to great schools and got a very high-paying job as a law firm lawyer. I made lots of money, but because I believed that “money was so stressful to deal with” I avoided dealing with it. I left my mail unopened and typically would not pay a bill until I received notice of a late fee. Despite my nice six-figure salary, I managed to spend every penny and then some. I was living paycheck
to paycheck and carried debt. My financial life was a mess.
At one point I spent $600 on a financial planner to help me get organized. He made me a binder with lots of beautiful and colorful charts showing where my money was currently going and where it would go if I started saving and investing. He did nothing to work on my mindset. This binder collected dust in my office. With my mindset as it was, I could not stick to my budget or manage to pay my bills on time.
When I got engaged I decided that I didn’t want to bring my financial issues into my marriage. Money problems are one of the main killers of marriages and I knew my money habits were a problem. So, I started to study and take courses in finances. I got many skills, but still could not get myself to follow through on what I now knew I “should” be doing. It was only when I got pregnant with my daughter and studied to become a money mastery coach, that I realized that I had to deal with my mindset. The work I have done has shifted things tremendously for me.
Now I want to share with you 5 things I learned that you can do today to create a more prosperous money mindset.
Recognize and challenge your limiting beliefs about money: Take a minute and close your eyes. What phrases come to mind when you think about money. What did you learn as a child about money? Write these beliefs down in your journal. Some of the things you wrote down may have been “money is the root of all evil”, “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, “Money cannot buy happiness”, and “Time is money”. These are probably the most common. Is this how you think about money?
If so, you are limiting your ability to easily receive money and to have a more positive experience with money. Know that the beliefs you wrote down are not necessarily true. Be willing to challenge and relief beliefs that do not seem to be serving you.
Visualize yourself in a most abundant life: Your brain thinks in pictures; it doesn’t know the difference between imagined thoughts and what you are seeing. The same parts of your brain light up when you are imagining as when you are actually seeing/ experiencing something. When it sees it, it will work to make it come true. Visualize yourself with $1 billion. What will you do with it? How would it feel? Get into the feeling place of it being done. Really put yourself in the shoes of your billionaire self. How would this person look, feel and think? What advice would your billionaire self give you? If any anxieties come up when you think about this amount of money – go back to Step 1. Those are your limiting beliefs showing up.
Pay attention to your money in a pleasureable way, and make that time of interaction an honored and sacred interaction. Have a weekly money date (or more if you’re called to). Start by keeping your receipts in your wallet along with a few index cards. Once a week (or more if you are a big spender set aside 5 minutes. Find a quiet place. Light some candles and incense. Pour a cup of your favorite tea or a decadent hot chocolate. Take some deep breaths, relax, and then list out on an index card everything you spent your money on this week. Next take your bills and pay with love, joy and gratitude. Be grateful that your creditors trust you to pay. I write as I pay or receive any money “This money is but a symbol of the inexhaustible supply of the Universe. I give thanks that 10x10x that much is now on its way to me and manifests quickly in perfect ways.” Any interaction with money (receiving or spending) is an ability to grow more abundant in your mindset. Pay attention to your money in a pleasureable way, and make that time of interaction an honored and sacred space. Afford money the love and respect that it deserves, and it will love you back.
Rejoice in others’ good fortune. If you think of wealthy people as THEM or you see someone have something you want and are jealous, then you are blocking money from coming to you the way you want. If you find that someone has something you want (material or otherwise), say “Hurray! This is showing up in my experience because it’s coming for me too!” This is an abundant and limitless universe, no one can take your good. Our Universe is not a pie with limited pieces. When we receive, the pie gets bigger. There is no lack of resources, just lack of resourcefulness. When someone else receives, look at the ways in which they are being resourceful to do so. You will learn from them and open yourself up to more.
Recognize your prosperity/be grateful – we so often focus on what we lack that we fail to take note of how much we already have. What you appreciate and focus on, appreciates. I engage in a nightly gratitude list. Focus on what you have to be grateful for monetarily (from that penny you found on the street to your job to the money in your savings account). Also, be grateful for all the things you have that money can’t buy. I for one and going to write down tonight that I’m so grateful for you and that I was able to share this information with this amazing audience of moms.
Let’s explore a typical day for the mom who works outside of the home. Her “To Do” list includes: waking up, getting herself ready, wakes the family, makes sure the lunches are packed, homework is finished, paperwork is signed, gets the kids to school, puts in a full day’s work, runs errands on her lunch hour (with lunch usually on the go), picks the kids up from school, drives them to their sporting event, remembers that she is scheduled to bring the team snack, runs to the grocery store, runs back to the sporting event, gets everyone home, prepares dinner, makes sure that the kids do their homework, makes sure everyone has their bath, takes out the trash (because she is tired of reminding someone else to do it),cleans up the kitchen, does a load of laundry, puts the laundry away, cleans the house, maybe has time for her favorite TV show, falls into bed and wakes up and starts all over the next morning.
Let’s explore a typical day for the mom who works from home. This mom has her own business and is believed by everyone to have the best of both worlds! She is able to schedule time off to attend her child’s school play, dentist appointments and doctor appointments. She can help in her child’s classroom and volunteer to attend school field trips. By many, she is considered the “Have It All Woman!”
Let’s look a little more closely at the mom who works from home. Her “To Do” List includes: waking up, getting herself ready, wakes the family, makes sure the lunches are packed, homework is finished, paperwork is signed, gets the kids to school, drives to her home office, puts in a load of laundry, exercises, checks emails, responds to emails, checks with employees to see what matters need addressed, attends a networking function (a two-hour function with a half hour drive time to and from), gets back to her office, takes care of the work at hand, puts in a full day’s work, runs errands on her lunch hour (with lunch is usually on the go), picks the kids up from school, drives them to their sporting event, remembers that she is scheduled to bring the team snack, runs to the grocery store, runs back to the sporting event, gets everyone home, prepares dinner, makes sure that the kids do their homework, makes sure everyone has their bath, takes out the trash (because she is tired of reminding someone else to do it),cleans up the kitchen, does a load of laundry, puts the laundry away, cleans the house, maybe has time for her favorite TV show, falls into bed and wakes up and starts all over the next morning.
If you are a working mom, can you relate to any of this? If so, my question to you is this; “Where do YOU list yourself on your To Do list?”
When do you schedule:
• Your doctor appointment
• Your dentist appointment
• Your lunch hour
• Your break time
Or, when was the last time you:
• Had a manicure/pedicure
• Got your hair cut with an updated style
• Updated your wardrobe
• Talked on the phone (because you had time to chat)
• Had a leisurely lunch to yourself
• Had a leisurely lunch with a friend
• Had time for a date with your partner
• Saw a movie that wasn’t animated
• Went out to dinner somewhere with cloth napkins
Are you starting to get the picture? Too often, moms forget to put themselves on their own “To Do” list and then wonder why they feel tired and burnt out. From the day we become moms, we begin to put the needs of others before our own as we find ourselves doing “just one more thing”. Before we know it, gradually, over time, we have lost ourselves to the demands of others in our life. Yes, we are happy to be a mom, taking care of our babies, our children, our partners, the house, the job, the cleaning, the laundry, the grocery shopping, and the list goes on. Over time, we find a way to “Do It All” and find we have lost our “SELF” somewhere along the way.
When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant will announce that; should cabin pressure drop and the need for oxygen masks become necessary, you should place your own mask on your face before you place the mask on your children’s faces. At first, this may sound backwards because, as a mom, we always think of our children first. But if you think about it, if we pass out or become unable to care for our children, we are no good to anyone. The same thought process holds true in your everyday life. If you never take the time to put YOU on your To Do list, how can you possibly be the best YOU that YOU can be? If you are tired, run down, unhealthy, out of energy, have mood swings, don’t like your body, or sick and tired of being sick and tired, what value are you to yourself, your clients, family, or the people in your life? How can you create a successful business if you lack the energy to cope with simple day to day tasks?
All women have a fierce strength may not even realize inside of them and it. From the time we get up to the time we go to bed, we’re always doing “one more thing”. Whether it be for the kids, the boss or the brownie troop, we have a resilience inside of us that keeps us pushing on, and we don’t even know where it comes from. We don’t look at this kind of tenacity as strength, but it is! Every woman has an Inner Strength, that strength that she pulls from to be the Have It All Woman.
For some women, putting herself before others may seem selfish. Let’s begin by changing our thought pro- cess and substituting the word “selfish” with the word “self-preserving”! You can Have It All, simply consider the fol- lowing statement: “to remain the Have It All lifestyle I have created, I will be self-preserving and include “ME” at the top of my daily To Do list!
The skin is the largest organ of our body. Everyday, we spend more and more money on health and wellness products, making it a more than a trillion dollar industry. But what are we putting on our skin, or even in the most absorbent areas of our bodies, our intimate parts? The chemicals found in personal care, sexual wellness and beauty products pass through the skin, tissues and membranes and into the blood stream where they are carried throughout the body. Our magnificent bodies are on toxicity overload, storing the toxins in our tissue, especially in our fat cells. More and more cancerous tumors that are removed contain chemicals that are ingredients in topically applied products.
Toxins in personal care, sexual wellness and beauty products can be categorized into some of the following areas: neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, irritants and allergens, and kidney/liver poisons. They are linked to many types of disease, including infertility, birth defects, skin problems, and even cancer. Oncologists, doctors specializing in cancer, often advise their patients to not use products with parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives used widely throughout the beauty industry. You can find them in toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizers, shave gels, lipstick, liquid foundations, and personal lubricants, among many others. Some studies suggest that parabens, once absorbed through the skin, act like estrogen possibly increasing the chances of developing estrogen-dependent conditions. Why is this chemical in almost every single cosmetic and personal care product that we use as women, if cancer doctors are saying not to use products that contain this toxin? It is still considered a “controversy” by many… The beauty industry will say that it uses minute amounts that are harmless. Perhaps if we used only one product that contains this prominent chemical preservative, it would be harmless. But on a typical morning, a person, especially women, may use multiple products containing these low amounts, compounding the effects. We have a choice of the products that we use, but it takes knowledge of what is in the products and the time to search out only the highest quality items.
When looking at sexual wellness products, such as personal lubricants, Glycol is a common ingredient in most commercial brands. Propylene Glycol is a faintly sweet and colorless, clear, viscous liquid that’s derived from natural gas (sounds sexy, doesn’t it?) It is found in Anti-Freeze. It is what is sprayed on airplane wings to de-ice them and it’s strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers Propylene Glycol so toxic that workers are required to wear protective clothing and warns against contact to prevent abnormalities to the liver, kidney and brain. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – a carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture and can increase the appearance of aging. It is often used in oven cleaners as well as antiperspirant.
Another item on Heathkeepers Magazine’s “Dirty Dozen” is Sodium Hydroxide. This is also known as “caustic lye” and is found in drain cleaner, and things like toothpaste and commercial personal lubricants. It is important to look at sexual wellness products, because they are applied to the most absorbent parts of our bodies, our mucous membranes. Looking at a popular water-based lubricant, marketed to women, it is alarming to see the ingredients. This particular lubricant is glycerin- free, which is a plus since glycerin is a sugar and sugar feeds yeast, disrupting the PH balance of the vagina. The ingredient list is as follows: Water, HEC, PEG45, Methylparaben, proplyparaben, ployquaternium5, tetrasodium edta, germall II, sodium benzoate, aspartame, polysorbate 20, Aloe Vera extract, Ginseng extract, guarana extract, avena sativa extract, sodium hydroxide, propylene glycol, citric acid. Please note that is does state “For Topical Use Only”. However, most women use lubricant internally or sexually with their partner. Doctors are now saying that the ingredients in the most popular brands of commercial personal lubricant actually kill sperm and can this can cause issues for those trying to conceive. Another, lesser known and available lubricant company, Sliquid Organics, is made in the USA and their Natural Lubricant contains: Purified water, plant cellulose (from cotton), Organic Aloe Barbadesis, Vitamin E, Guar Conditioners, Organic Extracts of Hibiscus, Flax, Green Tea, and Sunflower Seed; Citric Acid, Rose Ether.
Another product that can be harmful to our intimate, absorbent areas of the body, are some Adult Toys. There are currently no regulations on Adult “Novelty” products, which adult toys are commonly marketed as. In fact, chemicals that have been outlawed in children’s toys, in both the US and in Europe, are still allowed in adult toys. Phthalates (pronounced THAYlates) are a chemical compound added to plastic to make it soft and flexible. They are commonly used in the production of adult toys to provide a realistic feel, both in very inexpensive jelly toys and high-end skin-identical toys. Again, when picking out products, look for high-quality items that are made out of body-safe materials, such as silicone.
Glass toys are also becoming increasingly popular, but be warned not all glass is created equal. Glass made in China can contain any material, including lead and mercury. American-made glass, such as the tempered glass from Phallix Glass is lead-free and dishwasher safe. Borosilicate glass, marketed under the name brand Pyrex, is often recommended by doctors because it is non-porous and sanitary and can withstand extreme temperatures and physical shock without compromising the beauty.
Recently, thanks to an innovative marketing campaign by Sir Richard’s Condoms, it was brought to light that the majority of latex condoms are thinned with fillers and also contain casein, derived from dairy products. With so many people avoiding dairy for dietary reasons, beliefs, or allergies, it is hard to believe that it would be found somewhere so unexpectedly. Latex allergies are real and increasingly common, but perhaps some are a dairy allergy instead of a latex allergy.
Please look the next time you grab something for your beauty routine or intimate encounter… it may not be what you are expecting to be absorbed into your body. For more information: www.safecosmetics. org, www.thegreenguide.com, www. cosmeticdatabase.com, www.ewg.org. The above body-safe products are available from www.enticeme.co.
It’s almost summer and the question is – Have you accomplished your goal of getting organized? Was this goal one of your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you still have one of those “How To” books on your table? Don’t worry. It’s not too late to get started and get going.
With today’s busy moms, life can get very hectic from balancing work and family obligations to juggling the kids’ school and outside activities. Just trying to find the time to relax is extremely challenging. The road to a more balanced life can be accomplished once your home, work and daily routines are in place and organized.
To be successful in getting and staying organized, you need to focus on three key themes: set up good habits, always follow up and stay consistent. Some of the key tips and techniques to help accomplish your goals include:
Start with Small Steps
If you find that you want to organize and declutter your home or business, don’t try to conquer everything all at once. Start with one room and a small section at a time. Maybe choose the top of your desk and once this is organized then look at your drawers. Set simple goals and work to accomplish these target areas. Believe me, this will help you eliminate the feelings of overwhelm and frustration.
Everything Should Have a Place
Remember when mom would tell us to put our things away as kids? Little did we know that she was preparing us to be organized. If you follow this concept, your life will be on the way to being organized and clutter free. How does this work? Every item you own should have a designated area or place. It should not be on the floor or on top of your desk or kitchen table. Take action and put all the items away as you go. This eliminates piles around the house.
The best way to keep your life organized is to create routines. We have routines for our children and as busy moms we need routines too. The same applies to organizing our homes and our lives. Set a routine for everything from laundry, bills, running errands, mail, household chores, cooking, work responsibilities and so on. Make sure to be consistent and to follow up with your routines. Have a daily or weekly list of things you need to get accomplished. If for some reason you can’t complete your task, make sure to follow up the next day. Don’t get behind because the more you have to do the more you feel overwhelmed and not do anything.
Put Things Away and Clean Now
Are you finished with something? Most of us will leave the item somewhere with the intention of putting it away later. But what happens in the meantime is that other items will stack on top and the pile becomes larger and too overwhelming to conquer. If you finished folding the laundry, put the clothes away now. The same applies for cleaning up. Develop a good practice of cleaning as you go. Don’t wait till the dishes pile up in the kitchen sink. Wash them right away. Trust me, it takes less time to clean as you go then to wait for things to pile up.
Simplify Your Filing System
One of the most basic ways to find papers when you need them is to retrieve the papers from an effective filing system. A good filing system will allow you to find what you are looking for with no problems. Most will utilize one or a combination of three basic filing systems: alphabetical, numerical or chronological (Jan, Feb, etc…). Use the system that works well and that you will follow to locate your documents quickly.
Share A Calendar
It doesn’t matter what type of calendar system you utilize, just as long it works for you and your family. Make sure to indicate all your activities from work, personal, kid’s school and extracurricular activities, birthdays, family obligations, and other activities to ensure follow up. Keep all of your family’s scheduling in one place. Google calendar is a great online tool that is quick and easy to use.
Tame Your Email and Mail
With today’s abundance of technology, I find that keeping a handle on email is a growing area of frustration and disorganization. Why? Most individuals will look at email and take action later. This approach turns into hundreds of emails and piles of mail. My advice… “Touch it and take action!” Read your mail and quickly sort all the bills in one place to be paid and read the rest and take action. This same theory applies to email. Reply to your emails and then create folders to put your emails that you want to save. Strive to have no old emails in your inbox. Your inbox should have the recent emails that you are following up. Don’t get behind in this area, it will get overwhelming and eventually out of control.
You can be organized by utilizing some of these essential ideas, however many individuals will have a difficult time continuing with these methods on a consistent basis. Give it a try—you have nothing to lose! You might even be surprised how easy life can be once you are organized. If you are still having a difficult time, please let me know. As a Professional Organizer, I evaluate each of my client’s needs and make suggestions to help implement effective and repeatable techniques. Whatever road you take, make sure to get organized and you will notice that your life will be more balanced and you will have additional time to enjoy the things that are most important in your life.
I discovered the best thing I can do for my family is spend some part of each day focused exclusively on me, serving my life’s purpose. Before I was clear about what my purpose was, I spent time focused on discovering it on a daily basis.
I know, at first this sounds counter intuitive. However, consider this list of benefits for your family.
Living your purpose:
1. Gives you energy
2. Has the naturally occurring by-product of inner peace
3. Sets a great example for your family
So, if you are not yet clear about your purpose, I suggest you immediately embark on a journey to find it.
I believe there are two major components to every person’s purpose.
The first is that it is creative. A word of caution here, I have found that somewhere in the identity forming process many people have rejected the idea that they are creative in any way. I want to be clear. I am not only talking about what would be traditionally referred to as the arts, music, drawing, painting, dancing, photography or even arts and crafts. Perhaps you are really good at creating relationships, beautiful spaces, organized living areas, balanced accounting, fun social experiences, cooking, writing cool stuff, or systems that make businesses run more smoothly. All that matters in being creative is that something new exists because of your focused time, effort and energy.
Still having trouble? Think about your life before kids and family. What did you do with your free time? Is there an activity that made you lose time? You know what I mean. You thought you had been working on something for about 30 minutes and suddenly you realized 5 hours had passed. I call that your God work. I believe that when you lose time while engaged in something creative, you are fulfilling your purpose.
The second aspect of identifying your purpose involves “the who.”
No, I am not talking about the band or the creatures from Whoville. Here is the thing. I have yet to meet anyone who has discovered that their purpose is selfserving. Every conversation I have had with someone who is either searching for their life’s purpose or believes they have discovered it, shares that their purpose involves serving others in some way. Although there is great personal benefit for the person serving his or her life’s purpose, the original intent is always about serving someone else.
There are many spiritual teachers who suggest that young children are more connected to spirit than adults. They say that as we grow to adulthood, we lose that connection. Try this – Is there someone who spent a significant amount of time with you when you were between the ages of 1 and 3? It could be a parent, someone else who raised you, or even an older sibling. Ask them what you liked to play when given time to indulge your imagination. If no one is available to ask, do your best to remember. That information will give you some clue about what your purpose might be. By the way, I have been a teacher since I was 3.
I get tired of hearing all the advice (probably really somebody trying to sell me something) that in just X number of minutes each day I can change my whole life and all my fantasies will come true.
So what I offer here are merely suggestions. Committing to one or many of these daily practices will put you well on your way to discovering your life’s purpose. Do what works for you and ditch what doesn’t.
1. Open yourself to new ideas – read, read, then read some more. You will be amazed at the difference in your life if you read just 10 pages, or for 10 minutes a day of a really good book. If you are not a reader – listen. You can get books in audio format, and listen while you are doing something else that doesn’t require your full attention like walking or folding laundry.
2. Spend 30 minutes of focused attention on your kids, husband or partner each day.
3. Create some quiet time in your day to be still. It is worth getting up early, or staying up just a little bit late.
4. Express gratitude as appreciation – you will find what you are looking for. If you spend your day noticing the things that bother you, that is precisely what you will find. The same is true on the flip side. So create a habit of searching for the positive, being grateful and expressing appreciation.
5. Put routines in place for the everyday stuff. Download “Routines to the Rescue” for free at www.connectedtoyourcore.com
6. Honor your intuition.
7. Let go of the busyness – focus your attention on the stuff that really matters.
8. Release the judgments that you have about others, for yourself or the ones you imagine others have about you.
* *A special note about #8 – Who cares what they think? You have no control over their opinion of you anyway. When you try to make everyone happy, no one is, least of all you. I’ll never forget when I realized I was working to make my affect match what I believed others expected of me. It was November of 2010. Earlier in the year, both my husband (in May) and my 12 year old nephew (in September) had passed away. I was getting ready to attend a family gathering, and I caught myself thinking, “I better not laugh too much today, people probably won’t think it is appropriate.” I challenged that thought and deemed it ridiculous. I decided to behave in a way that felt natural and no longer worry about what others may or may not be thinking. The craziest part, everyone was actually relieved to see I was doing okay.