Self-care Tips for Busy Moms

Self-care Tips for Busy MomsHomeschool moms are a funny bunch.

The impression that many non-homeschoolers have of us is that we’re home all day, blissfully and smoothly overseeing our children’s education, and perhaps popping in a load of laundry or two while the house stays kept up (because, after all, we are home all day, right?).

Family and close friends imagine our days as a frantic whirlwind of activity, chauffeuring kids from morning to night, then burning the midnight oil to finish academic assignments (and perhaps household chores) that might not have gotten accomplished amid the hustle and bustle of the day.

Somewhere in the middle is about right – except I’d add one particular issue to the mix:

No matter how frantic or stress-free a given day is, most of us still struggle with taking care of ourselves!

Why is that?

And even more importantly – how can we do better?

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The Myth of the Perfect Mom

The Myth of the Perfect MomLately, I’ve been encountering this idea of the perfect mom.  We all seem to be striving for it, and falling miserably short. Yet, we look at other moms and think, “Wow, she’s such a good mom.”  Of course, she seems perfect.

I think in this modern culture where we’re able to connect with so many people from around the world, and yet not really know them, it’s so easy to perpetuate the myth of the perfect mom.  We read a blog or Facebook post about something one mom is doing something with her kids, and we think, “She’s a perfect mom.  I’m not doing that. I’m not perfect.”  As a result, we feel guilty, inadequate, and maybe even resentful.Inline image 1

We live in a culture where appearances are important. We like showing others our successes. We like showing our accomplishments. Our highlights. Our good days. Does anybody post a picture of their children pouting? Do we post the poop that our two year old smeared on the wall?  Do we post pictures of us arguing with our teen? Do we post our tears of frustration?  No. We post the happy moments. The proud moments.

Nothing wrong with that. (I doubt you really wanted to see our poop wall mural.)

It’s just that others are left thinking life is all good for us. And we think life is all good for them. So we leave their perfectly clean, spotlessly decorated homes feeling defeated. Their children love doing chores.  Their children love reading. Their children love serving others.  Their children get their chores done without being told. Their children love eating healthy foods.

And we leave thinking, “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get my children to ……..?”

Let me make this more personal. I often feel like such a failure as a mom. My failures and imperfections are like neon signs announcing, “You’re not a good mom! Who are you to give advice to others? You’re not accomplishing anything!”

My usual response to these accusations is to sit in a corner and have a pity party, and then with new determination and fire, I come out swinging like a boxer making a comeback. I begin barking orders, setting new rules and generally being a pain in the you-know-what because I want things to be better. My goal: fix my failures. Strengthen my weaknesses. Do it ALL right.

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Five Skills That Will Help Your Child in Life and Business

Five Skills That Will Help Your Child in Life and BusinessWe all, to some extent, want better for our kids than we’ve had. At least, that’s what I grew up with, and that’s what I’ve always wanted for our own children.

But very few of us give thought to what that exactly means, and how we can constructively help our kids reach that goal. In other words, it’s one thing to say that’s what we want, but quite another to take concrete steps in that direction.

I’ve been blessed to know quite a few entrepreneurs in my day; my husband and I have owned and run a few small businesses ourselves, and I’m currently developing yet another endeavor. Over the years, we’ve had our share of booms and busts, and watched others’ businesses both fly and fail. Having taken the time to analyze what happened in more than a few of those situations, I’ve come to understand that there are particular personal skills that are instrumental to success. Encouraging our kids to develop them now will help them in their current personal lives, and in whatever form their future business involvement takes.

Skill #1 – Being Engaged

I’m not referring to slipping a ring on anyone’s finger, nor am I suggesting that anyone become married to their job! But whatever situation we find ourselves in, an engaged person is aware. Engaged people have their eyes open and “service antennae” up, looking for ways to help, contribute, problem solve and lead. They are aware of what’s going on in their environment, and seek outlets for their own skills and talents that can benefit those around them, whether it’s friends, church family, their own customers, or an employer.

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How to Get Your Children Involved in Your Home Based Business

How to Get Your Children Involved in Your Home Based BusinessMost of the time, work-at-home moms are searching for ways to occupy our children so we can get some work done. We set up play dates, hire babysitters, sign up for summer camps and (yes!) resort to allowing strategic screen time. We teach children to use their inside voices when Mommy is on a business call. And we are amazingly productive during naptime. But what if…every once in a while…instead of banishing our children from the home office, we gave them a way to be a part of the business?

I don’t know about you, but part of the reason I chose a career as a home-based business owner is because I wanted to be near my children. I wanted the flexibility to spend time with them and work my schedule around their needs. As they’ve grown up, their needs have changed, but my motivation remains the same. But sometimes I realize I’ve been “near” them but not “with” them for a long period of time. So I’ve found a couple of creative ways to be with them – and still get some work done!

How to Involve Your Children in Your Business at Any Age

Toddlers: Even little ones like to be involved in whatever Mommy is doing. When my oldest was my only, I used to let him sit on the floor in my office and “work” on his computer during my work time. It wasn’t perfect and it was still a distraction, but I scheduled it so that whenever he was in the office I wasn’t doing something that required 100% concentration. While he wasn’t actually involved in the business, he felt like he was part of what takes place in the office. And he also learned – at an early age – that the office is for working (and for quiet time).

Elementary School: At this age, children like to be given responsibilities. And I’m always surprised by how capable they are in handling some of those responsibilities. If you have elementary school aged children, you might ask them to:

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Making Memories the Mary Way

Making Memories the Mary Way copySummer is for making memories, don’t you agree? So many of my childhood memories were created in the summertime. Beach vacations with my family…exploring the woods behind my house…riding bikes with friends…making arts and crafts at the park…swimming in the community pool…and jumping for joy at the sound of the ice cream truck! Such sweet memories.

Sometimes I wonder what my children will remember about their childhood. Will they remember the towels I folded neatly and stacked in the closet? Will they remember the balanced meals I prepared and the number of times I got in my car to drive them all over town? Probably not. But they will remember the time I spend with them – and the happiness they feel when we’re together.

I have to remind myself of this often. Because I’m so tempted to do things FOR my children rather than spend time WITH them. (It’s the whole Mary and Martha thing – I still can’t seem to get it right!).

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Parenting the Emerging Entrepreneur

By Pat Fenner

Parenting the Emerging EntrepreneurWe may be familiar with the type as an adult, but for most of us, the stereotypical entrepreneur as a child sits behind a lemonade stand.

And I don’t know about you, but that child is rarely, if ever, seen in my neck of the woods these days. Increasing food-safety regulations and child labor laws, combined with ever-growing screen time and diminishing outdoor play time has pretty much relegated that cute little kid to being a cultural cliché.

So does that mean that our children will no longer grow up to be self-employed leaders in the business world? Au contraire, my friend! As parents, we should still be on the lookout for those entrepreneurial qualities in our kids, and then follow through by helping them grow and strengthen them.

What qualities do future entrepreneurs possess?

While I don’t want to put them in a box, and of course, individuals and personalities vary, these are some obvious signs that you may have a budding business owner in your brood! They display:

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A Mompreneur’s Guide to Defining Boundaries

A Mompreneur’s Guide to Defining BoundariesI was on a conference call the other day when my iMessage app popped open with a text from my son. “Mom, practice ended early. Can you please pick me up at school now?” So, I hopped in the car – still on the conference call – and drove to school, only to discover that my son got a ride home in the seven minutes it took me to get there. Once again, I found myself trying to do two things at once – and not doing either one very effectively. It was no big deal, really… but it gave me an opportunity to fix a few things that were broken in my routine. Namely, my boundaries.

Whose fault was that little misunderstanding? What should I have done differently? Should I have told my son to find a ride because I was on a call? Or should I have ended the call because my son needed me and it was already 4 pm, which is typically the end of my workday?

It’s difficult to answer that question if I don’t have a clear understanding of my own boundaries. I’ve written before about how to set better boundaries when you work from home. But before you can set boundaries, you really need to define what those boundaries look like – for you personally. Because MY boundaries won’t work for YOU. You have to figure out what works best in your life. And then – here’s the important part – you actually have to tell people your boundaries!

“If you can’t articulate these (boundaries) to yourself and others, it may be unrealistic to expect others to respect them or even figure them out.” -Essentialism

So, what are your boundaries? Use these eight questions as a guide for defining your own personal boundaries:

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When Your Role as a Mom Clashes With Your Entrepreneurial Drive

When Your Role as a Mom Clashes With Your Entrepreneurial DriveIt bothers me that this is even an issue, but I’ve been struggling with something lately. 

It’s the battle between the mom and the mompreneur in me.

Maybe it’s because of the timing in my life right now. We homeschool, and the kids still at home are middle- and high-school aged. So in reality, they are already developing the independent learning skills that are so vital to their future plans – academic or non-academic.

We worked at the end of last summer to develop a schedule for all of us that included work/study times, sports and music lessons, and meetings or other appointments.

They’re already learning to do things quite well independently, without my constant oversight, and I feel a certain chasm growing even without having this other role tugging at my time and heart.

Work, for me, consists mostly of time at my computer, researching, writing and contacting people via email. I admit I spend too much time than is good for my eyes staring at my laptop, but what else is a writer to do?

Many of you reading this may be going through the same struggles. And you may also be asking: what can you do – if anything – to keep your entrepreneurial spirit and activities from damaging your vital, God-given role as mom?

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You are More Than Your Job or Your Role

You are More Than Your Job or Your Role

I believe that all of life begins with who we are. We have to answer this question. As I have mentored women and worked with students, it always comes down to this basic question first. When the question of “Who am I?” isn’t settled, we find ourselves trying to prove our worth or value.

When we introduce ourselves to someone, we start with who we are.  I’m a mother. A wife. A teacher. I’m a chef. A lawyer. A cheerleader. An artist. 

Most of us find our identity in what we are able to accomplish. So when we’re able to accomplish something that society deems worthy of recognition, we feel like we matter. On the flip side, when we aren’t able to accomplish something worthy of recognition, we find ourselves feeling like a failure.  Our lives don’t seem to matter. 

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How to be Mindful – Not Mind Full

How to be Mindful - Not Mind FullIf you’re like most busy moms, you could probably benefit from the art of mindfulness. I say “art” because being present is a skill multitasking addicts need to practice. Mindfulness is awareness of what is happening inside (body, mind and spirit) and outside (surroundings) at any given point in time. Mindfulness is simply awareness without judgment or criticism. 

In his Spiritual Wealth column, Alexander Green wrote about “the sandwich thief.” He made himself a sandwich, brought it into his office, and the next time he noticed, it was gone! He had, of course, eaten the sandwich; but had not thought about, tasted or enjoyed it one bit. How often do we gobble our food on the run and hardly notice that we’d eaten? This lack of awareness turns a time-honored daily ritual into just another “to do” on the list. Perhaps if we became more mindful, we’d enjoy our food more and be less inclined to make poor choices.   

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