As a mom of four boys, I find it hard to stay worry free. I wear many hats during the day – as a mom, my own boss, wife, friend. However, the JEM life allows me to connect with women who are going through similar issues. Here are 5 simple parenting tips for busy moms who worry about their children while they take time to run their businesses.

  1. Let go of the guilt
    Rather than dwell on how you’re not with your child, think about how your role as a working mom is benefiting the family. Perhaps you can afford certain classes or educational opportunities for your children or you’re able to put away savings for college. The most successful career moms have found ways to be efficient in both worlds—and that requires being able to come to terms with choices and focus on the priorities that are in the moment.
  2. Manage daycare and childcare issues
    If your children are small and you are looking for daycare, ask your network of JEM ladies and family for references to nannies, babysitters, and daycare centers. Create a list of criteria that are important and then schedule time to interview qualified childcare providers or tour local daycares.  With teenage kids who can stay at home by themselves, I suggest using technology to stay in touch with devices such as cell phones and smart watches. You don’t have to rely on them texting you. There are apps and devices that allow you to keep open communication with your teen without “invading” their privacy.
  3. Take a proactive approach to potential bullying situations
    Bullying has become a major issue in our world today. When our children are bullied to the point that they don’t want to attend school and it is affecting their health and well-being, it is a significant problem. When and how does a parent step in?  What can you do to protect your child?  You can’t be with them at school. But there are devices available that can help you combat bullying and help your child even when you can’t be there. These devices include watches that feature GPS locators, plus monitoring and communication capabilities.
  4. Create special activity days
    As working moms, we worry if we’re spending enough time with our kids. The old saying is true: It’s the quality of time spent, not the quantity. Making time for your kids is crucial, both during the week and on the weekends, to nurture your family dynamic and allow everyone to bond. If you’re pressed for time, have a family breakfast or a family night with board games or movies. Create activities that regularly fit into your schedule, so everyone knows what to expect and what to look forward to. When you do have family outings, avoid talking about work or checking your phone. Instead, focus on your kids’ interests such as friends, classes, and hobbies. With older children, ask for their activity suggestions and try to meet their needs. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do it together.
  5. Keep doing what you’re doing
    Your children will learn from you. Setting an example by working is not a bad thing.  Children learn by actions, not words. Keeping in close contact with your children will help you and them. Make sure to have an open dialogue any chance you get, whether it’s in the car, at the dinner table, or right before bed time. Always tell them they can come to you with anything and that they won’t be judged by it. Be a great listener. You will see that your hard work will pay off. Even when you think you have missed something, you will see that you have always been a part of their everyday activities.

– Alexandra Amato RN, BSN – STAT Medical Alert, LLC – The MX-Locare watch is both a watch, GPS locator and communication device. For more information visit statmedalert.com.

In our single days we wore whatever tickled our fancy.  During pregnancy our “style” was functional and expandable.  As we move into motherhood, we still want our style to be functional (we have to run around after kids after all), but how do we dress this new body of ours?

One year ago, I finally made the decision to get rid of all my remaining maternity and nursing wear.  My daughters were eight and six and my son was almost two.  I had just left a job that I had for the past 10 years.  Over that entire decade of the hamster wheel, pregnancies, weight going up and down, and just trying to live day-to-day while taking care of three little ones was beyond overwhelming.  Clothing wasn’t exactly at the top of my list.  When I decided to jump off that wheel and start a business with my good friend, Harmony Rose, I realized I had a “problem.” By “problem,” I mean I was doing a pretty good job of squeezing myself into Spanx and making myself presentable for work, but at home, I was still wearing all my maternity and nursing clothes.  I was the homeless-looking mom at school drop off.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to pull an outfit together. I love fashion. It was more that my new shape and size was a mystery to me.  I gained a full 60 pounds with each pregnancy and let me tell you, I was not starting at my baseline, pre-pregnancy weight the second and third time around.  And, if I’m being honest, after entering motherhood, there was a whole mental and emotional thing related to how I felt about my body going on too.

I took the cold turkey approach.  I gathered all those baggy maternity dresses, ugly nursing bras and underwear (yes, I was still wearing them), and everything else that was too big or just old and put them in bags.  I tried on everything in my closet, EVERYTHING, even bathing suits.  If it didn’t make me feel amazing, it went in a bag.

So, what is the secret to figuring out how to dress your new body?  Here are the steps I followed to begin filling up my closet again.

  1. Function
    As moms, we need our style to be functional. What function do you need your clothes to perform?  If you are nursing, you need easy access.  If you are running after a toddler, you probably want flats on.  Think through all the functions that you need in your new style.
  2. Occasion
    Are you a SAHM who can be more casual? Do you have a corporate job?  Are you doing evening events?
  3. Inspiration
    Was the last time you bought clothes a decade or more ago? You might be back on trend again (hello 90’s) but if you are not sure, find yourself some inspiration.  Instagram, magazines, window shopping, even other moms at playdates are a great source.
  4. Try on, try on, try on
    You will never know how something looks unless you try it on. So many things that I thought would not work, did.  You’re still getting used to what works on your new body, so do not be afraid of trying on!
  5. Coordinate
    I love a piece that can be worn multiple ways and with multiple pieces. Look for as many coordinating pieces as you can.  You’ll also get more bang for your buck.
  6. Feel Good
    Do you feel good in this outfit? If you do not feel good, it’s not for you.  There is no use putting something in your new wardrobe that you will never wear.  If you’re not sure, get a second opinion.

Ladies, look at yourself in the mirror and thank your body for bringing your babies into the world — for performing a miracle! Tell yourself that you are beautiful and deserve to feel beautiful on the inside and out!  And remember, the perfect fitting outfit that you love can change how you feel about yourself.  You can do this!

My life is NOTHING like I imagined it would be when I started college so MANY years ago.  My major was decided, my classes were picked and my career path was 100% determined.

Like many other women out there, my career has taken LOTS of twists and turns throughout the years and much of that can be attributed to my burning desire to not only be successful, but to also become a MOM and have a family, too.

I wanted to be a lawyer. I had the brains, I had the grades and I had the desire…UNTIL…I took my first job as a Corporate Paralegal at one of NYC’s top law firms and I learned a lot more than writing briefs and filing complaints. That job taught me…in that moment…that FAMILY was more important to me than “success.” And more importantly, it had me convinced that I couldn’t have both!

You see, at that job, like most high-powered, corporate positions, the employees (and more importantly for me), the WOMEN, gave their jobs 100% and worked long hours. In the halls, I could overhear them talking about how they all wished they had more TIME. Time for their husbands; Time to start a family; Time to be home with the kids they had. These women had the BRAINS, the MONEY, the POWER and the SUCCESS, but all they really wanted was more TIME!

As the years unfolded for me, and I started a family of my own, I took different positions with different companies and I also seemed to be chasing TIME. But what I realized was that I was really chasing BALANCE-a balance of work life and family life that left me successful, fulfilled and happy and with a purpose. And I came to understand that in order to find the BALANCE that I personally needed, I would have to work for myself!

Being self-employed is not for everyone.  It has many amazing benefits, like tons of wiggle room in terms of child-care, a flexible or alternative work schedule and the ability to take a “leave” anytime you want. But it also takes a lot of work and some soul-searching, too. It takes organization and it takes creativity.  To be a successful entrepreneur, you HAVE TO KNOW what you want to BE and DO and HAVE and you have to have the desire to put in the effort to go out and achieve those goals.

Today, I am a self-employed Holistic Wellness Coach and Family Fun Race Director (a far stretch from the lawyer I thought I wanted to be) and I have created my life AND my business around what matters MOST to me: a work-family BALANCE where I am emotionally fulfilled and financially successful.  I wake up each day and get my kids ready for school, have the freedom to get in a work out almost daily and am steadfast in my “work” hours so that I can guiltlessly put my business to rest when it’s time to shuffle the kids around to after-school activities, cook (or heat up) healthy dinners for my family, take part in PTA events, volunteer my time for a local charity, have date nights with the hubs and network with fellow moms doing the same kind of thing! I’d say that’s BALANCE!

So, if you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t make you HAPPY because you want more TIME for your family, understand that what you really crave is BALANCE…and you are not alone. That balance is out there.  Only YOU can decide what matters most in your life. Only YOU can make a change and start a new career path that gives YOU the ability to create your life around that balance.  And only YOU know if you have what it takes to be steadfast, organized, creative and determined enough to achieve your goals.  The balance is out there and I can attests that Balance is the Key to Happiness!

If you also have had the experience with making a change from Corporate-America to a Home-Based business, please comment or share with your experience here and how it has changed your life and helped you find BALANCE.

Jackie Catalano is a self-employed Certified Holistic Wellness Coach that loves to spend her time with her amazingly supportive husband of 15 years and 3 kids (ages 13, 11 and 6). She works to help busy moms create healthier lifestyles for their families with her business, The Healthier Happier Way (www.thehealthierhappierway.com), enjoys training for various fitness events, volunteers to help sick children in Monmouth and Ocean County (via the www.RainbowFoundation.org) and organizes family friendly 5k race events at the Jersey Shore as Race Director for MacTort Racing (www.mactortracing.com).

Ahh … September, at last.

I know. Many of you are lamenting the end of summer. But I have always loved the change of seasons, and September is possibly my favorite time of year– the approach of cooler days, the color burst of trees in autumn, one month till Halloween (my favorite holiday).

I also enjoy the fresh start of September. I think it’s the perfect time to reevaluate and rejuvenate your own planning and scheduling, especially when you have kids going back to school.  A new grade, new classes, maybe a new school – our kids deal with many new beginnings each September. So why not take on some of our own at the same time?

I’ve been a work-at-home mom/business owner since 1994, and I always revamped my calendar and planning when my kids were starting the new school year.  These days, my two oldest are out in the working world, but I still have one son in high school. There are already changes in his school and activities schedule, so we are all making adjustments this week.

But along with incorporating my son’s schedule changes, I find that September is also the perfect time for me to review my own activities and perhaps shift things around to better suit my goals and priorities.

This September, my personal focus will be on planning and productivity. I am working some new productivity methods into my week (one is called the 50-minute Focus Technique) to improve my writing productivity and deep-focus concentration.  I’m also making a thorough review of how I’m spending my time daily and weekly, and removing some time drainers that are not serving my purposes and goals.

From a business standpoint, I find September to be a great time to begin new marketing and prospecting efforts precisely because summer is ending. Business contacts who have been following a more relaxed summer schedule may now be ready to do business. It’s a good way to make a push and generate some new income as you head into the fourth quarter.  I’m also reviewing my current marketing and prospecting strategies to see whether some of them have run their course, or if I should add some new items to the mix.

Does the idea of a September shift appeal to you? Here are some other tips and tools to get started:

  • Avoid getting overwhelmed. Only focus on one or two areas at a time.
  • If you want to start fresh with a new written planner, you can buy an undated planner, or an academic planner than runs September to September.
  • Juggling multiple kids’ activities or sports? Try a family organizer app like Cozi that allows you to add color coded kids’ schedules and includes room for grocery lists, etc. It also syncs with your Google or Apple Calendar.
  • If you’re looking to increase your business prospecting, considering using a free CRM (customer relationship management) software platform for small business, such as Hubspot.

We’ve all been there; task list a mile long, everyone at home relaying on you for dinner, clean cloths, John needs to be picked up at soccer at the exact time Beth’s dance class is over.  Where are you going to find time to run this business?  By working smart, not hard.. Delegate!  Delegate! Delegate!

He might not know it yet, but your husband wants to be very helpful, but the poor guy has no idea what you need him to do. Don’t be afraid to speak up.  Delegate the dishes, laundry or give him dinner duty 2 nights a week.  Who doesn’t love the “make your own pizza” night?  Make your husband the rock star of that night.  If you’re a single mom, rely on your support system. Don’t be afraid to speak up and just ask for help. People are always willing to help and support someone who wants to better themselves.

Don’t forget the kids, they all get chores too, no matter how old they are, they can pitch in.  A family is very similar to a sports team, everyone pitches in and by working together, as a unit, you make it to the World Series, Super Bowl, World Cup… You get the picture.

So let the dishes pile up as your husband “forgets” that’s his job now.  No matter how much you want to just do it yourself, look away these delegated takes are no longer your duties.  In a few weeks (months) you’ll be shocked at how stuff just gets done around the house, and you have more time for your business.

Let’s face it…..it’s scary, awkward and I mean who doesn’t teach their kids “Stranger Danger” but in reality we all talk to strangers more than we think!  We say thank you to the hostess at a restaurant, we chat with the cashier at Target, and we all hope that the other people at a networking event are relatable and approachable so is it really as awkward as we make it out to be?!?  NOT AT ALL!  Here is some of my best advice on how to turn a stranger into a new friend:

  • Be approachable!  Make eye contact and smile then say something….. Be the icebreaker!! Hi, I wanted to come introduce myself! My name is Sarah.  I just moved to the area I’d love to meet some new local friends!” It can be mega simple and straight forward as long as it’s completely genuine.  Be honest, be real and be relatable.  Everyone will respect you more for it.  Talk about whatever appears to be a commonality: kids, work, neighbor, sports, etc but please, please do not talk about the weather—You’re better than that!!!
  • Give an authentic compliment! Most people love to talk about themselves so point out their killer earrings, ask about their stylish purse or their super cute leggings!  Offer the compliment but most importantly remember to ask a question as well so that you can spark a real back and forth conversation!! “Wow, your hair looks fantastic! How do you find the time to do it with your little ones?”
  • Live the 80/20 rule!  This is the golden rule of sales and can be applied in almost everything we do.  When meeting a new acquaintance or fostering a new friendship, remember to truly engage.  That means actively listening and asking lots of questions about your new friends before you talk about yourself: 8 for them 2 for you.  This is actually pretty tough to follow because we all naturally wanna talk about ourselves so every time you find yourself thinking about what you wanna say next, STOP and LISTEN, then ask another engaging open ended question.  I promise this alone will be life changing!! “Oh wow, my son’s birthday is in July too!  Where do you like to have his birthday parties?”
  • Ask for their info!  This is totally crucial and the most important step.  “Oh I’m so glad I met you. It was meant to be!! What’s your cell? I’d love to stay in touch.” or at the very least connect on social media before parting ways.

So the next time you’re getting a pedicure, at a networking event, on the school bleachers or even just grocery shopping be confident when approaching strangers knowing that you are an incredibly talented super mom and have so much to offer.  Remember these key steps: ENGAGE, LISTEN then ASK!

Please share your comments, experiences and stories of the last time you made a new friend!!

by Simplicity Expert® Katie Tracy of Simple Spaces

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of an organizing project.  The piles of mail seem too big.  The kids’ toys have taken over every room.  Or, you try to go through the clothes in your closet, but you never seem to make a dent.  It feels so complicated and it is stressful.

Here are some tips that are simple to try:

ŸWalk into each room of your house (or office) with fresh eyes – Look for the things that are out of place and taking up space.  Simply being aware of the clutter brings you one step closer to getting it under control.

Everything needs a home – Everything in your home should have a place where it belongs.  Consistency is key here.  Consider the daily mail.  How often does it end up on the kitchen counter, then the table, and then your desk, just to be moved again? Having a place for everything eliminates the “stuff shuffle.”

Ÿ One in/One out – For every new item that comes into your home, an old item goes out.  When shopping ask yourself, “What would I remove from my home to make room for this?”  At the very least this one routine stops the amount of clutter from increasing.

Ÿ Use labels – Once everything has a place, use labels so things can be easily found and, more importantly, easily put back.  For young children who don’t read yet, use pictures instead of words.

Ÿ Don’t put it down, put it away – This is the simplest organizing advice.  Taking a few extra seconds to put things back where they belong has the compounding effect of less and less clutter.

Ÿ Reframe your thinking – Instead of looking at organizing as a project, think of it as a process.  A process has times of fervent success and times of slow drudgery.  Some days you will accomplish a lot.  Other days you will accomplish a little.  What matters is that, even on the days that you accomplish a little, you are closer to your goal.  Focus on where you want to be – how you want your space to look and function.  Use that as motivation to keep going.  You can do it!

Don’t feel the need to implement all of these tips at once.  Pick one or two that resonate the most with you and focus on those.  Even small steps create big change over time.

A positive change doesn’t need to wait for the calendar.  Decide today what change you can make to simplify your life and start doing it – TODAY!

Katie Tracy is a professional organizer, Simplicity Expert®, and owner of Simple Spaces Professional Home Organizers.  She and her team help clients reclaim their spaces and bring simplicity back to their lives.  For more information about simplifying your life visit her website at www.simple-spaces.com or call 732.610.6655.

http://www.facebook.com/simplespacesllc

By: Ilsy Josefina Hoo, Founder of Accomplished Women, www.accomplishedwm.com

Find me an extremely successful person who doesn’t greatly believe in themselves. It’s definitely not going to happen. Caroline Freedman & Lauren McCollough of Nurturme, Laura Berg of Smart Hands, Liz Lange of Liz Lange Maternity, JK Rowling of Harry Potter brand are just a few highly successful mom entrepreneurs who benefited greatly from this confidence. However, it’s not their levels of success that I want to talk about. It’s their willingness to get up again and again when they failed or experienced a setback while in pursuit of creating the life of their dreams.

Like myself, they were only able to keep going and achieve success because of the level of belief in themselves despite the amount of failures they had experienced leading up to their big breakthroughs. Their belief is what created a vision so big that they didn’t care how many times they failed at something.

Especially as a mom and entrepreneur, you are most definitely going to fail and experience a loss or setback at some point. It’s even more difficult as a mom, since you have to find a work/life balance in order to satisfy the needs of your family and customers. That’s not to be pessimistic or discourage you, that’s just life. But when it does happen, and when your belief is strong, no failure or setback will have the power to completely tear you down.

Here is one helpful action that helped me and my clients shatter all self-imposed limitations.

Talk to yourself like a Bad Ass Unstoppable Champion

Before every speaking event, I stand up straight, I raise my hand into the air (known as the power stand) and say 3 positive affirmations.

  1. I believe in myself and my abilities
  2. I embrace my fears fully and calmly
  3. I can celebrate every small success today

Belief in yourself and others will believe in you. Believe in your power!

Lesson One – Beauty is Fleeting

I was a sad child growing up. I always wanted to fit in, I always wanted to be cool, but I just wasn’t. I wasn’t cool, I wasn’t hip, and mostly, I wasn’t happy. My day was spent preoccupied with thoughts about what other people were thinking about me.

Now I realize that not everyone is like me, but I do know one thing, it takes time to realize the things that truly matter in life and the things that don’t.

I know I still have a lot to learn, but I don’t fear aging, I embrace it. Many people may not relate to me but my life has only gotten better as I have gotten older. I have never been happier, never been healthier, never been more content with the way my life is going.

Beauty fades, time heals most wounds, and wisdom most definitely comes with age. Listen to your mother, cursing isn’t cool and sometimes rules should be broken.

No, I’m not ranting, I’m just laughing at myself, knowing that my fifteen year old self and my future forty-five year old self are both laughing at me for my ignorance.

So on the days you feel old, you feel ugly, and you feel like you’re failing, grab a glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream, and snuggle the heck out of your children, because unfortunately, one day they will go through all of this too.

Lesson Two – The Human Will is Amazingly Strong

Do you want to learn a new language? Do you want to change your job to something totally different? Do you want to change your life to something totally different?!

No matter what your goal is, almost anything in the world can be accomplished if you set your mind to it and commit.

When I was young, I was a hobby hopper. I went from jazz to tap to ballet to gymnastics, then to band to color guard to debate to the school paper. I LOVED starting new things. I just HATED following through. Commitment was something I couldn’t conceive.

A point in time came when making a commitment wasn’t a matter of sticking to a hobby, but rather a matter of life or death. It was only when I had found myself at my lowest – when I was desperate enough that I didn’t just want to change, I needed to change, that I could find the strength to commit.

As a recovered drug addict and a recovering anorexic, I have witnessed the human will accomplish amazing things. Not only have I seen it in myself, but in others as well – people who beat the odds again and again because they had a drive, a fiery passion burning within them pushing them forward.

Today I am not only someone who has beaten addiction and overcome a life-threatening eating disorder, but I am also the proud owner of a successful small business and the mother to the most amazing, most rambunctious, most aggravating, and most adorable little boy.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would end up here. I have my act together! Holy crap! How did that happen? I seriously wake up every day wondering how on earth I got so lucky. How did I manage to overcome so many obstacles?

Now, when something seems daunting, when something seems like its just too much of a boulder to get past, I look back at where I was, and then I realize that there is nothing, and I do mean nothing, that life can throw at me that I cannot handle.

Lesson Three – Nine Times Out of Ten I am My Own Worst Enemy

I can’t begin to tell you how many things I wished I had done but didn’t do because I feared that I would fail. Doubt and fear, two powerful emotions, are self created, self controlled. When I have allowed doubt and fear to rule my life, I put limitations on myself before ever even starting. I set myself up for failure.

Realizing I was my own worst enemy put me back in control though. Knowing that and believing that allowed me to try things that were outside my comfort zone, things that I would never imagine doing.

One of those things happens to be my career today, art. If you asked me a decade ago if I would ever consider art as a future profession for myself, I would have laughed. Yet today I own my own photography studio and get to earn a living, support my family, and spend every day doing what I love.

All I had to do was get out of my own way.

 

Lesson Four – Do What Makes You Happy

This is coming from someone who bounced around many colleges over the time span of almost eight years, majoring in practically every major available before finding my passion in life.

Yes, I began college many years ago as a pre-law major, then communications, then marketing and accounting, and journalism, and English. Not only was I switching majors, I was switching towns, switching colleges, I swear I was switching bodies!

Who I was when I graduated high school and who I am today are very different people. We all grow, change, evolve. Life goes on, even when you don’t want it to…. sorry. The key is to make every moment count by doing what makes you happy.

Sure, money needs to be made so that bills can be paid, but when push comes to shove, I work to live, I don’t live to work, and I hope that never changes.

 

Lesson Five – Keep Things in Perspective

I remember when I was younger I had a doll named Emily. Okay, she was bunny, and I still have her, but regardless… When I was younger and I got Emily, she was clean, yellow, and had pink bangs.<

One day I decided to give Emily a haircut. My mom came into the bathroom and asked me what I was doing and I told her I was giving Emily a haircut. (It was pretty self-explanatory I thought). My mom then told me about how Emily’s hair wouldn’t grow back the way my hair did naturally.

That was when I cried, for hours. I was so upset that I had cut her bangs I think I talked to Emily that week more than I ever had – apologizing for ruining her hairdo and for not having hair that can grow.

When I was five, this was the biggest problem on my plate, my doll’s lack of hair growth. By the time I turned thirteen, I realized that the world was much larger, and that the biggest problem had nothing to do with dolls, but rather pimples. When I got to 18 the biggest problem in the world was finding a way to get away from my parents.

I think you get where I was going with this. With age comes wisdom (sometimes, not always) and the more I learn through life, the more I realize how important it is to keep things in perspective. Take things in stride.

If you handle every situation you encounter like it is the most important thing in the world, you will burn out.

Remember my other lesson about the human will being strong? That is how I know that I can handle what life throws at me – by keeping things in perspective.

 

Lesson Six – No One Has It All Together

I remember when I started venturing into “adulthood” being terrified because in my mind it looked like everyone around me all had their act together. They had a family, a good job, a clear and carefully chosen course that they wanted their life to take.

Me? I knew nothing. Every day I woke up wondering who’s wise decision it was to allow me to become an adult, let alone a mother.

But then I started meeting other moms, other business owners, even just other people in general. The more people I met, the clearer it became to me that none of us know what we are doing. And anyone who tells you they do is probably more confused than you are.

Life is scary. Life is unpredictable. Life is ever changing. There are no clear cut paths. There are no 100% sure things. The only thing you can be certain of in life is uncertainty itself. The sooner you realize this, the better you will be able to tackle whatever life throws at you.