Career Focus: Work at Home as a Virtual Assistant by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

  by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


You’ve worked in an office for years.  You’re good at your job, but dread the morning commute.  You long for a flexible schedule that works with your family needs, not against them.  If this sounds like you, you could work at home as a virtual assistant.  Virtual assistants provide administrative services to their clients via the Internet.  Though not required, experience as an administrative assistant can be helpful. Buntstifte


The Technology


To work out of your home, you will need a telephone line, personal computer, printer, and Internet access.  A fax machine is also helpful.  If you would rather not invest in a fax machine, try an online fax service.  For a monthly fee, you can send and receive faxes by email.




Some virtual assistants find certification helpful in keeping their skills at peak performance.  The skills improved upon through certification include executive support, business decision-making, customer service, and project management.  Certification is also helpful in gaining credibility among your colleagues, and potential clients.  Try for more info on becoming certified.


Pump Up Your Resumé


Is your resume looking a little thin in the experience category?  If you are willing to volunteer your time, you can quickly gain the experience you need to succeed.  There are a number of websites available to connect you with a nonprofit organization in need of your skills.  Try,, or  Beneficial to your career and the charitable cause of your choosing, this match is a win-win situation.  Work hard and you will likely accumulate some professional references as well.


Choosing a Niche


Once you have established yourself as a virtual assistant, you may want to consider choosing an area of specialization.   Most virtual assistants choose to specialize in a field of interest, such as real estate or medical transcription.  Make the most of your expertise and interests when choosing a niche market.  Specializing will help you gain credibility with your clients.  Over time, you will become an expert in your field, all from the comfort of your own home. 




(2007). The Media’s Virtual Assistant Survey Results.  Retrieved March 7, 2009 from VA Networking Website:


(2004). Virtual Assistant Skill set.  Retrieved March 7, 2009 from Virtual Assistant Certification Website:


5 Ways to Keep Your Toddler Happy While You Work by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


 Do you need a few more minutes to concentrate?  Are you finding it hard to focus with a two-year-old climbing in your lap?  This is a challenge many work-at-home moms face while their children are young.  Here are five items you may already have to entertain your toddler in a pinch:swing


Empty Boxes


Most of us have seen a toddler open a gift only to find the box more interesting than the present so thoughtfully tucked inside.  Hang on to a few empty boxes of varying size, and pull them out when your child is bored.  Set up large boxes as a fort, or open the ends to make a tunnel.  Smaller boxes make a great bed for stuffed animals, target for balls or beanbags, or can be used for sorting games. 


Tissue Paper


Young children love the crisp sound of tissue paper rustling in their hands.  Set aside some gift wrapping tissue, and give it to your child when he is bored.  Let him crinkle, cover and tear, while you meet your deadlines.  Just be prepared for a bit of a mess later.


Index Cards


A little tape, some crayons, and your toddler’s imagination add up to reusable fun.  Make your own flash cards by having your child draw on index cards.  If you have some time, cut pictures she likes from old magazines or use pictures of your family.  Tape the pictures to the cards, and cover them with clear contact paper to use again and again.


Paper Bags


An assortment of paper bags can be hours of fun for your little one.  Large bags can be used to play grocery store, or as a target for tossing soft balls or bean bags.  Smaller bags come in handy for making puppets.  Have your child decorate the puppet, and then show him how to make his new toy talk using his hand.


Old Greeting Cards


The next time there is a birthday in your house, save a few of the greeting cards, along with their envelopes.  Toddlers love the brightly decorated cards and will have fun taking them in and out of their envelopes.  Pair them with a shoe “mail” box, and the two of you can open your mail together.


Motherhood, Menopause and the Time Succubus

by Shannon Penrod

Okay, I admit it, I’m crabby today.  And don’t tell me it’s hormonal, that just makes me crabbier.  Is it just me?  I know I got an extra hour handed to me over the weekend because of Daylight Savings, but does anyone else feel like it came at the cost of ten or so other hours?  It reminds of when I go to big sale at a department store, 50% off of everything, only everything was marked up 75% to begin with.  Did I mention I’m crabby?

Where does the time go?  On Friday there was the trip to the Pumpkin Patch, on Saturday the trip to the Fall Carnival100_8846 and trick or treating afterward.  Yesterday there was a birthday party.  Sure I gained an hour, but it was spent on the Halloween treadmill.  

Don’t get me wrong I love the holidays, all of them.  I love anything that interupts the monotony and gives us a reason to celebrate and create memories.  I love it, but I am always glad to get back to normalcy.  Today was supposed to be normalcy.  I scheduled it.  It’s in my plannner.  Which apparently no one else bothered to check. Noooooo.

Instead the powers that be decided to change school picture retake day to today!  Except in my planner it is clearly written that the picture retake is tomorrow.  Today is taking my son to get a haircut, to fix the hack job I did on it so he could be Spock for Halloween.  Today is the day I am going to wash and iron his blue shirt for the picture.  It’s in my planner! Today is not the day that we are taking pictures!  Except it is.  So now I am home finding another shirt, muttering, grabbing scissors and running back up to school to give my precious bug at least a trim so he doesn’t have the life long horror of a first grade picture that looks like his mother was drunk when she cut his hair. 

I get to school just in time to hear one of my son’s classmates say that his head is itching again.  This is the little boy that has had lice outbreaks twice this year already.  So far we have remained louse free, but really how long do we think my luck can hold out at this rate? Heavy sigh.  Lice is definately not in the planner for today.

I know that in the realm of things these are small problems.  I know that my frustration and inability to go with the flow has to do with the estrogen that is leaving my body like rats abandoning a sinking ship.  It all comes down to time.  Time is passing.  I’m getting older by the minute, more importantly my child is getting older by the minute.  There’s so much I want to teach him, so much I want to do with him. There is never enough time.  The time succubus marches on.  My job is to learn to release my expectations, relinquish my control issues and enjoy the moment.  Yeah…..well wish me luck with that.  Maybe if I schedule it in my planner…..

Boogie Nights with the Kids, by Susan A. Haid, Lily's Truth

  by  Susan A. Haid/ Lily’s Truth

Available at Target and other online local Retailers.

Available at Target and other online local Retailers.

A few months ago, I purchased a multi-colored, rotating disco ball lamp for my kids. My intent was to have some fun from time to time dancing with my kids. What has surprised me is this: the addition of this tacky, retro-style lamp to my family room decor has turned our TV-dominated evenings into Boogie Nights.

My kids are 4, 8 and 11 years old. When I initially plugged in the “ball”, of course, I was the only one dancing for the first ten minutes.  My kids glared at me like I was the weirdest mom on Planet Earth.  Then, one child couldn’t resist the urge to move…then the next…and the next.  Soon, we were shaking, lurching, rocking, and bopping like it was 1999.  Since then, my kids have not stopped shaking their booties. We dance every day, at least once, sometimes more.   We have fun, we laugh, we  move it, move it. Try it and see the effects of this simple, no rules approach to joyfulness.

Can you imagine dancing with your parents when you were a kid? This is a memory I am thrilled my children will have to cherish. I will cherish it too, more than words can express.

These Boogie Days and Boogie Nights provide a beautiful, healthy example of liberation to our children. Moving the body frees the spirit, not through discipline or structure but rather through free expression. Free Expression.  Let those words sink in…

I want to raise my children to be free of repression. I want to raise my children to be wildly creative. I want my children to have the the outrageous courage to think outside the box. I want my children to know that every day there is time for joy.

So, for the rest of our lives, my kids and I will be dancing like the stars in our little family room. We won’t be waiting for a party, or a wedding, or a night out to do the wild thing.

By the time you read this, I’ll be workin’ it with my kids, or maybe even by myself.  It doesn’t matter. It’s a happy thing…cut loose…try it.  Have you watched your kids dance lately?  It’s pretty entertaining.  You won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face.  I guarantee it.

For more tips and tools for parents, visit where you will find cutting edge, New Energy concepts in parenting.

Career Focus: Work at Home as a Grant Writer by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated


Are you a strong writer with a keen eye for detail?  Do you enjoy research?  Then grant writing may be the work-at-home career for you.  Grant writing doesn’t require an expensive education, though strong writing and grammar skills are a must.  Grant writers must also be comfortable with the financial aspects of business.  If you’ve got the skills, why not try out this flexible, family friendly career?Urban lifestyle in Back Bay, Boston


The Technology


Equip your home office with a telephone line, fax, and computer with Internet access, and you will be ready to work.  If you don’t want to invest in a fax machine and second phone line, consider using an online fax service.  For a nominal fee, you can send and receive faxes via email. 


Getting Started


It is easy to gain experience and familiarity with the grant writing process, if you are willing to work free of charge.  There are many nonprofit organizations looking for grant writing volunteers.  A quick search of the web will turn up plenty of opportunities. and both match willing volunteers with nonprofits organizations in need.  Developing needed career skills is even more fulfilling when you are helping out a cause you care for. 


Build a Portfolio


Keep track of the grants that you have written and record any awards gained by your hard work.  Potential employers will want to know that your work produces results, and in grant writing that adds up to more than just writing samples.  A proven record of success will keep the clients knocking on your door.


Choosing a Niche


Once you have built an impressive resume, you may find it beneficial to choose a niche or specialty.  If you have background in medicine or education, then that may be the market for you.  If you enjoy helping a worthy cause, specializing in the nonprofit sector may make for a gratifying career.  Whichever area of expertise you choose, capitalize on your strengths and interests.  Specializing will help you gain credibility with your clients.  If you are willing to put in the time and effort, you too can enjoy the flexibility of working at home as a grant writer.


Working Mum's Network by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

It was definitely harder to set up play dates with the workings Mums. It was less ‘see you at Club’ and more ‘let’s check the calendar’.  However, I found that the time pressure seemed to put the friendships on fast-forward. When I ‘clicked’ with someone, we quickly progressed to ‘come to my house on Saturday afternoon’ – rather than shyly circling around each other ‘see you same place next week, I chocoguess’.

My closest mum friend is a lady from my company. We briefly spoke when we were both pregnant with our second. She went back to work quite quickly – but her occasional phone calls were always a treat. Our kids went to the same nursery for six months – and constantly nag us to set up play dates. When we do get together, the kids go and do something destructive in the corner, while we drink strong coffee and share scandalous office gossip. She was disarmingly frank about the challenges of working motherhood – we don’t need to feel defensive of our choices around each other. 

I like to think of my working mum friends as an underground network. We don’t have clubs, schedules, groups or premises. We sometimes go for six months without speaking – but pick up seamlessly where we left off.


We’re not visible as a group.


Occasionally sighted but only in pairs. Communicating electronically with late night emails and the occasional one liner from a palm top computer. I’m sometimes amazed where my friends networks go – hierarchy gets forgotten when you have children the same age. I wouldn’t be without them. They’re an invisible net of support – feeding me crucial information when I’m out of the office, generously sharing childcare anecdotes when I’m in the office. We watch each others backs – we always hear about it if a mum gets discriminated against, or when a working mum does well. Mummy mafia? Perhaps…


What is Your Parenting Style? By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck


          Attachment parenting – just for hippies?

Attachment parenting recommends that, for maximal emotional security, the child co-sleeps, breast-feeds, is carried in a sling, and in all possible ways not forced to be separate from their family adults before they initiate it themselves. Impossible for a working mum? Nicola Horlick – the London fund manager mother of 5 – practiced co-sleeping and breast-feeding. She said that after a long day at work it helped her re-bond with her babies during the night.folwer

          Routine based

Reassuringly well planned routines can give you some predictability. You know the baby will sleep for 2 hours at a certain time, so you can plan to do some work or a business phone-call. Routines promise unbroken nights – always a boon for overstretched parents. However, it can all go out the window if your childcare does it differently to you. A little bit of flexibility can save a lot of sanity.

          Child centered parenting

Will you ever get out of the house?

          Listening to your mom

You might have turned out OK – but bear in mind that many health recommendations have changed.


          Internet parenting

You can get some great, realistic, modern advice from the internet. However, unlike a book, the internet is written by many different authors – some perhaps not so scrupulous about ensuring accuracy, others who recall what they did with their own kids, but jumble up ages and stages – so advise you to to do with you 3 month old what they did with their 8 month old.  Your kids risk becoming little guinea pigs for incompatible theories.

          A bit of everything

Your baby doesn’t sleep. You read a book with a snazzy title like ‘Sleeping through in three days’. With messianic zeal you fix the blackout blinds and massage your baby’s tootsies. Four hours later crying mummy is still going back and forth to a crying baby. The next day you buy a new book and decide that you will carry your baby everywhere in a little papoose, perhaps with some womb noises to reassure him.

          Just doing your best

It’s what it all boils down to in the end!

I find that if I have given my best, done all that I could do, no matter what the outcome – even if I did throw nappies at the dog to get him out of the kitchen, I did my best and that is – as we all need to agree – enough.