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Title: In Good Company – Finding the Time to Relax with Friends by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

I have a group of girlfriends I’ve known since high school.  We used to go out on the town together, but now that we are all busy working moms, we’ve become lunch buddies.  We gather around a picnic table with sack lunches and kids in tow every Friday afternoon.  Friday is ladies lunch out.  How I look forward to Fridays.Color caps and gerbera

 

Ladies lunch out has become a lifeline full of laughter and fun for all of us.  We enjoy the food and fresh air.  Our kids run and play together, while the mommy crowd catches up with the ins and outs of  daily life.  I always return home refreshed with my children ready for a long nap.

 

I’m fortunate to have close friends nearby and available during the week.  If that’s not the case in your situation, there are other opportunities available to help take the edge off of work-at-home isolation. If you have kids in the house, check for a local moms club.  Moms Club International has over 2,000 chapters in the US.  There is a small annual fee to join, but it is well worth the investment.  My local chapter has been a great source of support.  You can find them on the web at www.momsclub.org.

 

Book clubs are great, if you enjoy reading.  Between the trips to the library or bookstore, and the meetings themselves, you’ll have plenty of excuses to get out of the house.  I recommend finding a casual club, so you won’t feel pressured to finish the book.  The goal here is relaxation, so leave the stress in the office.

 

If you like to exercise a membership to a local gym is a fantastic way to reduce stress, stay healthy and meet new people.  The club I attend is very flexible.  I enjoy the company of the women in my classes, and there are classes available just about anytime you could imagine.  No matter what you choose to do, get out and socialize on a regular basis.  It is sure to leave you happier and more productive in the long run. 

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

Mastering the To Do List by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

  Is your To Do list cluttered or covered in dust?  Maybe your To Do list is a mess of subconscious worries prone to resurfacing at the most inconvenient times.  A To Do list is a work-at-home mom essential.  Here are a few tips to help you manage the job that never ends:flowers2

Write it down.  Give your brain a break by writing everything down.  When you are juggling a career and family your mind is bound to be distracted at various times throughout the day.  Once you have noted an action that needs your attention, your mind will be free to return to the task at hand.

Keep it all in one place.  Whether you prefer a notepad, daily planner, or PDA, be consistent with where you keep your To Do items.  A note in your purse, another on the back of your hand and a third hanging on the refrigerator only adds confusion to an already hectic day.

Use single action items.  Your To Do list should consist of specific action items, not projects or goals.  These are the steps you take to complete a project, or accomplish your goals.  When you finish a task, cross it off.  When you work at home your boss isn’t there to pat you on the back, so you may find it gratifying to assess what you have accomplished at the end of the day.

Be specific, the more details the better.  If you include all the information you need to complete the task at hand, you will be able to finish it with ease.  This is especially helpful when squeezing things in throughout the day.  A quick phone call while you are in the waiting room of your doctor’s office becomes simple when the phone number is at your finger tips.

Estimate the time you need.  Be realistic with yourself about how long it actually takes to get things done.  If you block off a half an hour to run 30 errands, you’re not likely to stay on schedule.  Your schedule is there to help you plan out your day.  Overextending yourself will only leave you feeling stressed out and let down.

Categorize your list.  Breaking your list into categories will help you become more efficient.  Use a page in your planner or notebook for errands, another for phone calls, and a third for emails.  If you are in the car, flip to the errand page and check off anything on the way to or from your destination.  You can save loads of time by accomplishing similar items while you have the resources readily available.

Set priorities.  Use priorities to keep from falling behind.  Make sure you accomplish the items at the top of your priority list, but don’t be afraid to group those items with less urgent tasks that can be done at the same time.  The goal here is efficiency. 

Reassess regularly.  One phone call can change your priorities in an instant.  Review your priorities and change them as necessary.  If your To Do list isn’t quite working for you, switch it up a bit.  A few minutes invested now can add up to hours of time saved in the long run.

www.sandrabeck.com
www.motherhoodincorporated.com

In Good Company – Finding the Time to Relax with Friends by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 I have a group of girlfriends I’ve known since high school.  We used to go out on the town together, but now that we are all busy working moms, we’ve become lunch buddies.  We gather around a picnic table with sack lunches and kids in tow every Friday afternoon.  Friday is ladies lunch out.  How I look forward to Fridays.Color caps and gerbera

Ladies lunch out has become a lifeline full of laughter and fun for all of us.  We enjoy the food and fresh air.  Our kids run and play together, while the mommy crowd catches up with the ins and outs of  daily life.  I always return home refreshed with my children ready for a long nap.

I’m fortunate to have close friends nearby and available during the week.  If that’s not the case in your situation, there are other opportunities available to help take the edge off of work-at-home isolation. If you have kids in the house, check for a local moms club.  Moms Club International has over 2,000 chapters in the US.  There is a small annual fee to join, but it is well worth the investment.  My local chapter has been a great source of support.  You can find them on the web at www.momsclub.org.

Book clubs are great, if you enjoy reading.  Between the trips to the library or bookstore, and the meetings themselves, you’ll have plenty of excuses to get out of the house.  I recommend finding a casual club, so you won’t feel pressured to finish the book.  The goal here is relaxation, so leave the stress in the office.

If you like to exercise a membership to a local gym is a fantastic way to reduce stress, stay healthy and meet new people.  The club I attend is very flexible.  I enjoy the company of the women in my classes, and there are classes available just about anytime you could imagine.  No matter what you choose to do, get out and socialize on a regular basis.  It is sure to leave you happier and more productive in the long run. 

www.sandrabeck.com
www.motherhoodincorporated.com

Not-So-New Year's Resolutions: 4 Steps to Goal Setting Success by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 June at last!  May is without a doubt my least favorite month of the year, and it’s not just the dreary weather.  Mayis the month when I usually realize that I’ve already lost sight of the goals on my resolution list.  That is until a friend of mine insisted I participate in a little goal writing exercise during our girls’ night out.  The small group of women let out more than a few groans at her suggestion, but we figured why not give it a try?  It was then that I learned a few simple steps to bring any goal within reach.planning-ahead

Make It a Priority

Before you begin setting your goals, take a few minutes to list out four or five things that matter most to you, such as family, career, health or spirituality.  Taking a look at what we truly care about will help us set attainable goals in areas of our lives worthy of the effort. 

Be Specific

Once you have a list of the most important things in your life, set specific goals to improve in those areas.  For example, don’t set a goal to spend more time with friends, instead set a goal to call a friend once a week, or invite a friend out once a month for coffee.

Write It Down

Writing goals down doesn’t just solidify them in our minds, it serves as a much needed reminder.  When my friends and I took the time to write down our goals that evening, I didn’t think too much of it.  It was only later, as I stumbled across my list while thumbing through my notebook, that I realized the advantage of such a practice.  I encountered my list of goals many times throughout the year.  When I took a look at that sheet of paper, my zest to achieve my goals was renewed.

Celebrate Success

When you have made progress on one of your goals, reward yourself.  A pat on the back, or night on the town for your hard work is incentive to keep heading in the right direction.  Personally, I find that a good piece of dark chocolate does the trick on most occasions.  Setting goals with a group of like-minded friends makes celebrating our successes that much more enjoyable.

www.sandrabeck.com
www.motherhoodincorporated.com

End the Clutter Crisis Today by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 Today’s clutter, as unassuming as it may seem, is tomorrow’s crisis waiting to happen.  Be it a misplaced phone number, unpaid bill, or botched assignment, there is little worse than a headache that could have been prevented.  Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a clutter-free workspace.  The big picture

Schedule It

Set aside time each day to take care of paperwork, such as opening incoming mail, refiling documents, and shredding items that contain personal information.  These tasks quickly fall through the cracks of a busy day, and leave behind telltale piles of paper throughout your home office.

Take Action

Taking immediate action on open items will prevent paper, and stress, from piling up on you.  If you are unable to complete a task immediately, record it in your To Do list along with a due date.  Create a Pending file for items that require further action.  Note any actions you have taken in the file, then schedule some time in the future to follow up.

Go Paperless

Store anything possible on your computer.  A scanner is handy for filing documents electronically.  Organizing data files into folders makes it easy to retrieve what you need, when you need it.  Gone are the days of the sticky note.  A PDA is a handy way to jot down any important information, not to mention schedule appointments, track your expenses, and store your To Do list.  Be sure to back up your PDA and your computer regularly.

Start Small

Set small, reasonable goals, then schedule a few minutes a day to achieve them.  Try cleaning out one file drawer at a time, or clear out your inbox.  If it’s not useful, throw it out.  If you feel uncertain about tossing something, store it in a box and label it to be thrown out at a later date.  If you still haven’t used the item by the date on the box, it’s not likely you will need it again.  Taking small incremental steps will keep things moving in the right direction, off of your desk and out of the way. 

www.sandrabeck.com
www.motherhoodincorporated.com

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…

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

www.sandrabeck.com

 

What's Cooking By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck

 

 

It’s ironic. Cooking is meant to be the ultimate domestic goddess occupation. Why is it that the aftermath makes my kitchen look like a hovel?

 

I’d lovingly plan, chop, sauté, and present the food attractively. The kids would push it around their plate. “It’s a bit spicy for me” my som would comment “and today I don’t like peppers. Can I have just bread instead?”. My effort would have earned me the sound of ‘scrape scrape scrape’ into the bin, and a kitchen full of dirty pans and chopping boards at the point of the day when I just needed to lie down.apples

 

Then I found it. The cheapest, scruffiest part of my kitchen armory, costing less that a decent saucepan. I love it so much I’d kiss it, if it wasn’t generally full of scalding hot stew. It’s my little secret shortcut – the ‘wife’ I’d love to have. “Come by for dinner tonight” I can now boldly say. These days, I’m not inviting people to watch me sweat in the kitchen, keeping toddlers away from the hot oven by pushing them back with my feet. It’s the working mother’s best friend – the slow cooker!

 

I’ve learned to plan my meals in advance. It saves money and it helps me eat healthier. Most of all it means I can cook on auto-pilot without using any of my scarce spare brain capacity. When I’m up in the morning, I know what’s meant to be for dinner. I can start the ‘Slocker’ (as we affectionately call it) straight away. I’ll put some chopped onions and celery in there with a teaspoon of oil, and leave it on ‘High’ for forty minutes while I go upstairs to dress the kids. I’ll come back, chuck in some tins of tomatoes, tins of beans and a few flavorings. I turn the dial down to Low, and leave it for the whole day. I arrive back home ten hours later to the homely smell of fresh three bean chilli. Pure comfort food.

 

It does take a bit of trial-and-error, it’s true. I wish my model had a timer, because sometimes the food can taste a bit ‘stewed’. In particular, meat needs to be sealed in a frying pan first. However, I’ve discovered something about my kids’ tastes. They just LOVE bland and mushy.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com