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Decorating Your Home for the Holidays on a Budget by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Wow, the holiday season is fast approaching! We’ve barely put away the dishes for Thanksgiving and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza.  With these tough economic times anything we can do to save money is a bonus.  It is possible to decorate your home for the holidays on a budget while keeping the kids busy and enjoying a little family togetherness. That’s what the season is all about, celebrating with family and friends.

A pack of construction paper in different colors, some ribbon, scissors, and glue can go a long way in creating decorations for your home.  Old holiday cards can be recycled into decorations by cutting out pictures on the front of the cards and pasting them on a background of colored construction paper.  These can be used as decorations for your Christmas tree or placed on your mantel or walls to create some holiday spirit.

Your children’s wallet size school pictures or even 3 X 5 photos can be mounted on a piece of construction paper or placed in a frame of popsicle sticks with a ribbon attached—you can even add a handwritten message like Christmas 2009 at the bottom.  These are great for your home or even as a gift for family, especially grandparents. 

Snowflakes, draedels, menorahs, or Kwanza candelabras can be cut out of construction paper to decorate your home or windows.

Be creative!  These are simple ways to get the whole family involved, keep your kids busy, and get your house decorated without breaking the bank.

Good luck and Happy Holidays from Motherhood Incorporated!

I hope you enjoy reading these blogs as much as I enjoy writing them! Should you have any questions about Motherhood Incorporated either as a client or as a mom looking for work, please email me directly at sandra@motherhoodincorporated.com or you can check us out at www.motherhoodincorporated.com and www.sandrabeck.com.

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Creating a Memorable Thanksgiving by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

Thanksgiving is a holiday with many family traditions ranging from Grandpa at the head of the table carving the turkey to Grandma’s famous pumpkin pie.  It is a time for family and friends to gather and give thanks for the many blessings they have had throughout the year.

You can start your own new traditions as well and involve your children in the preparations.  If you have an older child that is able to write, have them create placecards for everyone at the table.  They can decorate these as well.  Placemats can also be created for everyone as well and younger children can be involved in this craft as well. These can be simply a piece of construction paper with drawings by each of your children.  If you are feeling really creative have your children make a handprint with paint on each placemat to make the feathers of the turkey and then cut out construction paper in the shape of a bowling pin for the body of the turkey.  You can add googly eyes  etc. as you see fit.

You and your family can write down all of the things you are thankful for (little ones can dictate these to you).  Make a paper flower  for each of these things you are thankful for and attach it to wooden kabob sticks or popsicle sticks and place them in a vase for a simple yet meaningful centerpiece for the table.

By involving the whole family in creating these thanksgiving mementoes you are creating your own Thanksgiving memories as well.

We at Motherhood Incorporated wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving !

I hope you enjoy reading these blogs as much as I enjoy writing them! Should you have any questions about Motherhood Incorporated either as a client or as a mom looking for work, please email me directly at sandra@motherhoodincorporated.com or you can check us out at www.motherhoodincorporated.com and www.sandrabeck.com.

Making Time for Play as a Working Mother by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

 

Making Time for Play

Making Time for Play

As a working mother I never feel like I have enough time to just play with my kids.  There always seems to be another deadline to meet, calls to make, and a pile of work on my desk that needs my immediate attention.

 

My two sons, ages 6 and 3, are very active and would love to have my undivided attention.  However, duty calls and work must be done if the mortgage and the bills are to get paid.  Try explaining that to a 3 year old…let me tell you, it’s impossible. 

 

What is possible is to carve out time in your day to play and release your inner child at the same time…how refreshing.

 

Day planners are made for just that.  Plan out a block or blocks of time each week that you can dedicate just to the kids.  If possible, plan these around times in their schedule where other activities don’t interfere—for example, naptime for your 3 yr old or karate class for your 6 yr old. 

 

Playtime can be indoors or outdoors depending on the weather but have a variety of activities for the kids to choose from.  This gives the kids some control and allows them the independence of choosing an activity.  Playtime can be as simple as kicking a soccer ball around or getting down on the floor and playing cars or building blocks or as involved as taking a nature hike outdoors.

 

During play time, put on the answering machine and turn your cell phone off so that the kids know this is their time.  Avoid any unnecessary interruptions.  Get down at your child’s level. Encourage creativity.  You can ask the older children to write down a list of activities that they might enjoy doing with you during “play time,” this engages them and teaches them how to make the best of their time too. 

 

While not easy, scheduling quality play time with your kids while still maintaining your business is not an impossibility.  It just takes planning.

 

I hope you enjoy reading these blogs as much as I enjoy writing them! Should  you have any questions about Motherhood Incorporated either as a client or as a mom looking for work, please email me directly at sandra@motherhoodincorporated.com or you can check us out at www.motherhoodincorporated.com  and www.sandrabeck.com

Expel Sick Day Stress from Your Life by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporate

 When my youngest climbed out of bed Tuesday morning, he was all giggles.  Once I flipped on the light, I was surprised to see that his eyes were red and runny.  I immediately started running over my plans for the day, which I knew were about to be changed.  No childcare or playgroup, and I’d have to squeeze a trip to the doctor in somewhere.

 

Sick days and snow days strike us all.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, they are few and far between.  Still, the stress of a sudden change of plans can be lessened, or even disappear altogether, if we put a plan in place for the unexpected.Dog

 

Plan Ahead

 

As work-at-home moms, we have to consider the possibility that we may be called on to care for our children in a pinch.  Part of the flexibility of working from home means that our spouses may depend on us as an emergency back-up plan.  It is best to come up with a family plan for these situations ahead of time.  Does your spouse expect you to care for the kids every time an unexpected situation arises, or can you share the responsibility?

 

If you know it will be up to you to make alternate arrangements, try to plan for these situations when you are negotiating project deadlines with your boss or client.  Adding a little “fluff” to your timing will allow you to breathe easier if you have to spend an afternoon in the doctor’s office, instead of at your desk.

 

Have a Backup for Your Backup

 

Your mom usually takes the kids when they are sick, but today she has plans.  Turn to plan B.  Investigate some alternate options before hand.  Try forming a group of willing mothers in your neighborhood to share snow day responsibilities, or look for a flexible daycare program in your community.

 

When All Else Fails, Keep the Kids at Home

 

Prepare some activities for your children ahead of time.  We keep a rainy day box with some books, art supplies, and small toys.  The rainy day box becomes an exciting event when the kids only see it occasionally.  Make sure they can safely enjoy the activities on their own, and you will get some work done while they play.

 

If you know there is severe weather on the way, check out a movie and some books for the kids from your local library.  You may not be quite as productive as usual, but you can prevent yourself from falling too far behind.

 

www.sandrabeck.com

www.motherhoodincorporated.com

 

"Thursdays This Summer" The Skirball Adventure

By Shannon Penrod

100_7385Thursdays this Summer” (my plan to entertain and educate my child on a budget) began today with a trip to The Skirball Cultural Center.  What a great way to start the summer!  The two exhibits on Comic Book Super Heroes  were really fun for the kids.  They got to dress up in Super Hero costumes, draw their own comic book character and check out a lot of vintage artwork. 

The real hit of the day was the amazing Noah’s Ark exhibit!  The entire exhibit was hands on and interactive.  I love it when a docent says, “Make sure you touch everything!” 

All of the animals are sculpted from reclaimed materials in the exhibit 100_7438so there are layers to the enjoyment.  While the kids were pulling levers to create lightning, wind and rain the adults got to stare in wonder at an alligator fashioned out of a tire, a glove and a violin neck. Amazing!  The entire exhibit was ingenious, captivating and deliciously educational.  Yippee for Thursdays this summer!  And did I mention it was FREE!  Yes, Free!  Every Thursday the museum is open for free  – there wasn’t even a parking charge.  Thank you, Skirball Center for a wonderful day!

Making it Work with Economic Challenges

by Shannon Penrod

Like everyone else my family is trying to “making it work” in an economy that doesn’t make sense and simply isn’t working.  We’ve tried to apply the Suze Orman rule of “Do we need this or do we want it?” to every purchase.  Sometimes it’s not black and white.  This last week there was Little League to sign up for.  My son is 5; this is the first season he can play.  At $225 to register and about another $75 worth of equipment to get him ready for the first game – I was having chest pain.  I certainly can make the argument that Little League is not nec100_5238essary – or is it? 

My little guy is recovering from Autism.  Baseball is social, it requires standing in the sun (something my vitamin B deficient son requires) it teaches lessons of flexibility, team work and sportsmanship.  Yes, he could wait and play next year, but next year he won’t have the opportunity to play T-ball, the kids will already have skills and he won’t be in “the window” anymore. 

 “The Window” is the all important time when children with autism are capable of making strides that cannot be matched later.  Trust me the window is a powerful argument, one that has carried our family right to the doorstep of bankruptcy. 

So we paid for Little League, and I agreed to do some work that would take away some of my private time.  It’s called making it work. Ultimately, it was worth it.  We are only a week into baseball and clearly my son has found a new love.  I’m yawning but what are a few yawns when you are in the window?

In Praise of Podcasts, by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

by Sandra Beck

In Praise of Podcasts by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

In Praise of Podcasts by Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated

In praise of podcasts  A plethora of cliches often signposts a kernel of truth. Take your pick: women are good at multitasking; there aren’t enough hours in the day; I feel torn in two. Time is tight if you’re juggling motherhood and working. Add in any vague ambitions at maintaining broader interests or world awareness – and you’re stuffed, aren’t you?   I laugh at the idea of old me, feet up, reading the newspaper. I used to enjoy settling down with a good non-ficton book to really get myself informed on an issue. My friends and I debating over black coffee and pastries – we could have been in Paris.  For me, podcasts are an amazing shortcut. Simply browse, pick the ones that interest you, and subscribe to them. That ensures that I always have the latest edition on my iPod.  I always have an ear in when I commute. I’ve been known to stay listening if I’m walking with the buggy. It gives me an hour each day out of nowhere, that very nearly meets the definition of ‘me time’, At least, I feel a little more like ‘me’ if I can make informed contributions to conversations.   Being a London fan. I’m a big fan of BBC output. However, the real joy of the podcast can be in its accessibility to the amateur broadcaster. A high rated contributor on a podcast directory can often combine reasonable ‘listenable’ production values with some sharp commentary that the mainstream networks wouldn’t dare broadcast. I think that this anarchist iconoclast edge takes me back to my student days. We all know how seductive it is to feel young again.  For Christmas, we got a radio which can be connected to an MP3 player. Now the kids are getting into podcasts too. They enjoy all the songs and jokes from their favorite characters, without needing to be glued to the TV.   I thought I was being especially clever when I put a ‘tidy up song mix’ on my iPod. The kids loved it – they twirl and dance while I’m crouched on the floor picking up the toys. Never mind.  Some interesting sites to browse:   http://www.podcastblaster.com/directory/ http://www.podanza.com/podcasts/kids/

www.motherhoodincorporated.com