Working Mom

Tips For Dressing Your Breastfeeding Body

Tips-For-Dressing-Your-Breastfeeding-Body.jpg

In case you didn't know, the only thing more difficult and awkward than dressing a pregnant body, is dressing a postpartum body. Especially if you are breastfeeding. There are just so many things to consider. You are likely not back at your pre-pregnancy size yet. You have to consider fit, whether it's appropriate for where you are going, can you access your boobs for feeding or pumping, etc..  You can no longer just throw something on.

Then you discover nursing clothes and you think you are saved only to discover that many nursing tops are made to serve both through pregnancy and beyond. While this may be economical, in many cases it's not flattering. If you want to discourage people from asking if you are still pregnant, this is not the way to do it.

The following are some tips for dressing that post baby, breastfeeding body.

1. Tank tops and Camisoles: These tops are generally stretchy and can be pulled down allowing you access to your boob out of the neck hole. It's appropriate for summer and, paired with a light cardigan, it can be worn to work. Whilst this doesn't conceal your belly per se, it also doesn't make it look any bigger. Another plus is they are comfortable to wear under a baby carrier.

2. Old Navy Nursing Tops: These can be hit or miss. Old Navy has some inexpensive options, but I definitely recommend going and trying them on. I found a cute tank top which you may have seen in my postpartum update on Friday. You can see it again below. I also found a dress that made me look more pregnant than when I was pregnant. I didn't get that one.... So try things on!!

3. Button Downs: Button down shirts are great while breastfeeding. You may have to go up a size though depending on how much your boobs have grown. I picked up the top below at H & M and I love it for the office. It's cute and I just have to open one or two buttons to feed the peanut.

4. Bearsland: This is a brand that I recently found following my second pregnancy. This is a brand created by a mom who wanted cute breastfeeding tops that also covered the belly that she was still working on. The tops are both comfortable and cute. They cover what they need to cover while still providing easy access. I have purchased several of their tops. You can see one below.  You can find the one I'm wearing here.

Do you have a favorite brand or type of nursing top? I really dislike having to do the whole lift up your shirt thing to feed the baby. I also still want to look cute. And I don't want to have to pump when I'm actually going to be with my daughter. Therefore, I'm always looking for new nursing options. So if you have any good ones, help a mother out. I hope I have returned the favor!

See you Friday!

Cheers,

Emily

How to Create Your Morning Routine

Last week we talked about creating an evening routine in order to have a smoother morning. You can read about that and get the free printable here. With school starting in a few weeks, many of us will be changing up our morning routine. This year T will be enrolling in an early learning program for the first time so there will be new things to add to our routine. The following are the steps to follow when transitioning to a new routine.

Steps

1. Perform a brain dump of everything that needs to get done in the morning. This should include absolutely everything including what you already do now.

2. Once you see everything listed out, dole out the tasks to who will accomplish them. Maybe mom dresses the baby and dad helps dress the toddler. Maybe mom puts lunch in the bag while dad puts the baby in the car seat. Everyone shock have jobs to do and they should know what they are. This will help mornings run much more smoothly. There will be far less confusion.

3. Put together a schedule. With more things to do in the morning it's good to put together a time table of when things should get done. This way you know if you are on time or not. Everyone should have their own schedule. You don't want to have to look through a bunch of items to figure out what you need to do. Have a toddler who can't read? Use pictures to create his or her morning routine. For example toucan have a picture of toothpaste and a toothbrush followed by a picture of clothes and then a picture of breakfast.

4. At least a week before school, have a trial run of your routine. See if anything needs to be changed or times tweaked. Practice until you think it's just right.

5.  Build an extra few minutes into your routine for the inevitable mishap. Things happen. The baby has a blowout just as you're leaving the house or the toddler spills juice on his school clothes. It's best to have a few minutes built in to accommodate these types of events.

Are you ready for back to school or are you dreading it? I just registered T yesterday and it got very real.  While I'm excited for T to make new friends and have stories to tell of what he did, I still can't believe how fast he's growing up.

In the meantime, we will enjoy whats left of summer.

Cheers,

Emily

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Evening Routines for a Better Morning

Evening Routines for a Better Morning

With the summer quickly coming to a close and the new school year started in just a few short weeks, routines have been on my mind.  This will be the first year that T will be attending an early childhood program in the morning.  This means that 2 days a week we will have to get him ready and out the door for school.  Our routines have been making a lot of adjustments lately: from one kid to two kids, from maternity leave to back to work.  This will be the last big change for a while, hopefully.

Morning Mom Makeup

OK, so for those of you who don't know me personally, I will tell you, I have spent most of my life wearing little to know makeup.  This is unusual for a dancer who when performing needs a full face.  Let me just say, I am lucky to have wonderful friends who would do my makeup for me.  Growing up I lived with my mom and brother, neither of them wore makeup.  So, I didn't really have anyone at home to show me what to do.  I vividly recall watching a girl in my freshman home room who would do her makeup each morning completely in awe.

Before my 30th birthday, I made a goal for myself to learn how to do a full face of makeup for myself.  In order to ensure I had motivation for this I signed up for a few beauty pageants for which I would do my own makeup.  I think I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  I also got 2nd runner up at my 1st national pageant and 1st runner up at my second national pageant, so that kind of backs that up.

The problem is that's all I really learned how to do, a full face of makeup.  While that is great for date night and special occasions, its not something I have the time and energy for in the mornings.  Now that I am a little older and have two little people, I think its high time I put slightly more effort into my face in the morning.  To do this, I went to the same source that I used the first time, YouTube.

There are a ton of amazing makeup tutorial and product review videos on YouTube.  The first time around I watched a ton of videos from some talented YouTubers including Casey Holmes, Kathleen Lights, Ellie Dalton, and a little Pixiewoo.  Definitely check these out if you are in need for some makeup inspiration.

For this however, I needed a quick and easy look that would make me look alive and awake on a daily basis.  I viewed a bunch of videos and I have collected a few here that I liked the best.

Beauty and the Boutique

This first video is makeup artist, Katie, doing a simple makeup look on a soon to be mom, Rebecca.  I liked this video because she breaks down each product and what it does.  She explains why a mom would want it due to lack of sleep or less than lustrous skin, etc.. She includes steps which you can do or leave out if you really are in a rush.  Plus, Katie has a British accent which makes me love hearing her talk.   If you head to her website www.beautyandtheboutique.com you can get her top 10 makeup artist secrets.

Coffee with Dani

I love this video because Dani is super real.  She shes the mom of a toddler, so she knows that we only have like 5 minutes to ourselves to get our makeup done.  In the description below the video she lists all the products she used and links on where to find them.  She also lists drugstore alternatives where appropriate.  So, if you like this video, definitely go check it out in YouTube to see her product list.  Lastly, I really love her advice at the end.  Every face is different so what works for one person may not work for another.  Dani advises that you pick out your best and worst feature. Highlight your best and conceal your worst and you will have a quick look that you can walk out the door with.

Whats Up Moms

I love this quick and easy tutorial.  Elle is the mom of two, a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old, so she is definitely feeling the lack of sleep, like me.  This tutorial by Tati, of (http://www.youtube.com/glamlifeguru) is nice quick, simple and easy.  If you only have a few minutes to actually watch the tutorial on doing your makeup in a few minutes, this is the one to pick.  I love the added bonus of showing you how to take the look into evening with just minor tweaks. Definitely check it out! And go to Tati's own YouTube channel for more makeup looks.

Here's an added bonus: When I was checking out the videos, I let the Whats Up Moms video automatically play the next video.  I found some hilarious adds that poke fun at mom life on the Whats Up Moms channel.  They have commercials for Oscar Mayer, Resolve Carpet Cleaner, Motts and more.  Definitely check them out if you need a good laugh!

I hope these videos are helpful for you, I know they have helped me. You can check out my pic later this week on Facebook to see how I put these tips into practice.  Do you have any quick and easy makeup tips? Please leave them in the comments, since I am always looking for makeup advice!!

Cheers,

Emily

Awesome List App For Busy Moms

I have written about useful apps in various blog post throughout the past year.  They range from an app for maintaining password security, apps to help you relax, apps to help you make money, and an app for printing photos for free.  Today I want to talk about an app to help you maintain your lists. The app is called Wunderlist and it really is a wonder app.

Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks - 6 Wunderkinder

Wunderlist is an app who's sole purpose is to create lists. The basic use is to create various checklists for pretty much anything for which you need a list. They offer suggestions like a to do list, a shopping list, and a wish list. You can also create your own. I created a list for my Things to do Before 32 post. I also have a list of household projects to get done, a grocery list, blog post ideas, a list for each kid of things they need, gift ideas for the hubs, etc..

For each list item there are a variety of ways to enhance it. You can star the most important items so that they are easy to find. You can also arrange your list into your preferred order. Other features include adding a due date, a reminder, add sub-tasks, add notes, and even adding a file. For example, for my blog posts list, I can add a file to create that post. For a grocery list you can add a note about whether you have a coupon for the item. Depending on the particular list some of these items may not be necessary, but they are good to have.

Another feature that I like is that when an item is checked off it is removed from your list, however there is an option to show completed items. This is great for lists like grocery lists. I am regularly buying many of the same grocery items. With this feature, I can show the completed items and uncheck the things I need to purchase again. That way I don't have to type out a new list every time. It also reminds me of things I might want to check the levels on before I go to the store.

My favorite feature however, is the ability to share lists with other people. As long as your friends and family download the app, you can share and modify lists with other people. For example, there are several grocery items which I buy for the family which I do not eat, like my husband's seltzer. Therefore I may not know when it runs out. But with this app, I can share the grocery list with my husband and he can add that item. If he's in a store he can also purchase an item and check it off the list.

You can also share different lists with different people. Therefore, I can create a list of items my husband happens to mention he wants. I can then share this list with friends and family and when a holiday or birthday comes up they can just refer to the list and know what he wants. My husband on the other hand cannot see this list. This is a great way to share lists of things for the kids with the spouse and family members. Since everyone can check items off, you can also eliminate duplication.

I use this list all the time. In fact, I just checked this post off my list of blog post ideas. As a busy mom, there are so many things I need to do, buy, and keep track of. This app helps me keep these things organized and share the responsibility with other members of the family. There is also a paid version of the app, but thus far, the free version has fulfilled my needs so I have not used it.

Do you utilize lists to keep track of your tasks? Let me know in the comments.

Cheers,

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How to Cope with Sleep Deprivation 

I will start by saying that sleep is super important. As far as your health goes, assuming you have the choice, it is far better to get enough sleep than workout. Note, it's not that you shouldn't work out, it's that sleep is even more beneficial for your health. This is coming from someone who loves to workout daily.

That said, having a newborn implies sleep deprivation. Add grad school on top of that and a rambunctious 3 year old and there is no way that you are getting a full nights sleep. Today I finally took my final for my last summer class. Considering that spring semester ended the day after Hailey was born and the summer semester started two days later, I haven't had a break from school since January. To say that I have been looking forward to a month off from classes before the fall is an understatement.

No matter what kind of schooling you do or what you major in, there are some classes that are more difficult than others. This last one was intense! Couple that with jam packing the information into a short 6 weeks of classes and well, I'm praying for a B by the skin of my teeth. In order to get even that I used a few tactics to combat my sleep deprivation.

1. Naps:

If you can't sleep at night, try to get a little shut eye during the day. Even a 30 minute power nap can recharge your battery for the rest of the day. Nothing combats sleep deprivation like, well, sleep. I can't get a nap every day, but when I can I try my darnedest to take it. Sometimes I just lay there with my eyes closed without actually  getting to sleep. But even that can help relax and restore.

2. Caffeine:

I'm a breastfeeding  mama so the amount of caffeine I can consume is limited. If your baby becomes jittery or agitated when you consume too much caffeine, it can keep your baby up. This can decrease your sleep even more. Otherwise, caffeine early in the day can help with your exhaustion. Since I sometimes have long drives for work, last time I had a newborn I would have coffee during the drive. Long monotonous drives can make you tired otherwise. I expect I will be doing this again when I start work again this time.

3. Exercise:

If you have to be up anyway, exercise is actually a good way to get energy. This may seem counterintuitive since you would think that you are expending energy. But, exercise can actually help you think more clearly and feel more energized. I like to exercise in the morning, but 5 minutes of increasing your heart rate can definitely give you a boost. Feeling drowsy mid afternoon? Go for a quick walk or jog or just dance to a few songs in your living room. You will definitely feel a lift in energy.

4. Keep busy:

Yesterday, the family took a trip to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. On a day that I would otherwise be exhausted after days with the kids and studying before they wake up and after they go to bed, I was able to keep up with them because I was busy. The monotony of day after day at home with a newborn can add to our exhaustion. The same can be said for any monotonous routine.  Take the kids to the park or zoo or grandma's house. Anything you do to change up the routine can help with your sleep deprivation.

That said I am looking foward to tomorrow morning when I can wake up and feed the baby and then relax until T gets up. Maybe even do a morning workout again! I can't wait!! As for tonight, I will be going to bed early to reclaim some of my sleep.

How do you combat sleep deprivation?

Happy weekend!!

Cheers,

Emily

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Stop Procrastinating 

Procrastinating is easy. We all do it. We even rationalize it. I can either do that one difficult thing or a bunch of easy things. We tell ourselves that getting more done is better. Often times however, it is that things that we procrastinate on that will help us move forward the most.

Eat That Frog is a fantastic book by Brian Tracy about ways to stop procrastinating. It is a quick read but really life changing. It teaches you how to get the most important things done. This saves you time and energy. I have found this book to be invaluable.

One of the biggest tips in the book is where the title of the book comes from. Essentially, it says to get the big task, the one you want to put off or avoid, done first. Often times we want to work up to the big task. We do the easy little things first. This means that the big task looms over our head all day. It may or may not even get done. Then the next day comes and we do the same thing all over again. It's a vicious cycle. The things we really need to do get delayed far too long or don't happen at all. Obviously, this is not good.

Instead, eat that frog means you get the big overwhelming task done first.  This does several things. First, it ensures that the important thing gets done in a timely manner. Second, it does wonders for your mindset and energy. Instead of spending your day weighed down by the thought of what you are putting off, you have a renewed sense of accomplishment. You know that you accomplished the really hard thing, so your other tasks appear that much more manageable.

So now that we know that we need to get out most important task done first, we need to determine what that task is. Thus we need to prioritize and assess our goals and the things we need to do. This book delves in to how to determine what exactly is the task that needs to be done first.

There are tons of great practical tips and advice in this book. I definitely recommend checking it out. You can click on the link above to get it from Amazon. Go check it out!

Happy Weekend!

Cheers,

Emily

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Part 3: Tips for Working Moms 

Here we are at the final part of the series on tips for working moms. We have talked already about mindset, prioritizing, and removing distractions in part 1 which you can find here. In part 2, we discussed practical tasks that can make family time run more smoothly. You can find that article here. In this final post, we will discuss essential things that should be included in your schedule to make you a happy healthy mom. We will also talk about why they are so important. Sometimes as working moms we feel like we need to spend 100% of our time outside of work with our kids. We can feel like time out for ourselves or with our significant other will only decrease our quality time with our kids even more. The thing is, if we don't nurture our relationship with our spouses and ourselves, we may have increased time with our kids but far less quality.

If you spend more time with your kids but don't take anytime for yourself, your kids get a crankier, more exhausted you. It's better to take some time out so you can be your best self. The following tips are things that need to be included in your monthly calendar to be your happiest self.

1. Spend Time with Your Partner

This is important for so many reasons. Firstly, it's important to let your partner know that they are still an essential part of your life even though you have kids.  They need to feel important and wanted as well.  Spending quality time with your partner can help you relax.  Take a break from talking about kids and stresses and bills and just enjoy each other's company.  This helps you promote a healthy relationship between the two of you.  This is important not only for yourselves, but it is also important to model healthy relationships for your children.

Secondly, alone time with your partner helps you get on the same page as far as the kids.  Know what their current favorite thing is, or what they are having trouble with in school.  You want to discuss how you are handling different situations with your kids so can have consistent behavior.

Lastly, you need to have intimate time with your partner.  This is essential to a healthy, happy relationship.  Sometimes you might feel exhausted from your day and just not be in the mood.  Do it anyway.  You will get in the mood.  A lot of the time, it's one of those things where you can fake it til you make it.  It brings you closer to your partner and can reduce stress, the very thing that was preventing you from getting in the mood in the first place.

Try to plan at least a couple date nights during the month, have a few evenings to chat about family stuff, and be intimate as much as possible.

2. Fit in Some "Me Time"

The unhappiest, most depressed moms are the ones who feel like they are constantly giving.  They give to their job, their children, their spouses, their family, their community.  They lose themselves by taking on the happiness and well being of everyone else.  They put themselves last.

This is an absolutely terrible idea.  In order to be the best mom you can be, you should be happy and fulfilled.  People can tell when you are faking it, especially kids.  By fitting in a little me time, you can renew your whole energy. It doesn't have to be a weekend away at the spa to be effective.  It just has to be something that makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

I love dance; it is my passion.  When I am not pregnant I rehearse and perform with a dance company.  This is my time to do something just for me.  We rehearse one day a week, a few weeks a month and perform a few times a year.  This is something I need in my life to be my happiest self. Sometimes I feel bad leaving Tyler behind with grandma when I leave to rehearse, but I always feel reinvigorated after rehearsal.  I'm excited to see him and he's excited to see me.

You might take some time out during the week for a group fitness class and enjoy the community of other women.  Maybe its a mani/pedi at the nail salon. Maybe a monthly brunch with your girlfriends.  Whatever it is that makes you happy and feel like yourself, make time for it.  It can only make you a better mom.  Your kids will thank you for it later!!

3. Plan Specific Family Time Activities

I know you love your kids.  I love mine too.  But sometimes after a long day, I cannot keep up with the sporadic switching from activity to activity and game to game.  I want to spend time with Tyler, but I'm tired.  Especially now at 38 weeks pregnant, going from puzzles to Legos to Mashems to puppets to everything else all in one evening just makes my head hurt thinking about it.

One or 2 nights a week plan specific family time activities.  Tell your kids ahead of time, so its something to look forward to.  for example you can have an Star Wars movie night.  Make popcorn and get them in their favorite Darth Vader jammies. Enjoy the movie together as a family. You get to spend time together and it feels like its an event for the kids.

You can plan a family game night.  Play Candy land and have the different candies from the game.  If you land on that area of the board you get the candy.  You can make or buy gingerbread men and decorate them together.  You might play Candy Land all the time, but this makes it a special event.

Little things you can do to make an ordinary event a little more special will be greatly appreciated by your kids.

I really hope you enjoyed this series of tips for working moms.  I know I enjoyed putting the articles together.  We can't be perfect all the time.  Some months things come up and we might miss a date night, or my me time might get short changed. We might let mom guilt slip in once in a while or we might accidentally double book a date.  But if we make an effort to work on these 9 tips, we will be happier, healthier, better, more loving moms.

In light of the upcoming birth of baby Hailey, on Friday, we will be talking about the transition from one to two kids.  Since I do not yet have experience with this, I have compiled interviews from a few bloggers and we will be hearing their advice on how to get through this change.  I will see you then.

Cheers,

Emily

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Part 2: Tips for Working Moms

It's time for part 2 of our 3 part series of tips for working moms. If you missed part one, you can find it here.  Last time we discussed tips relating to mindset. We lost the guilt, found jobs that fit our priorities, and minimized distractions. Our next three tips involve things you can do to maximize your enjoyment of your time with your family. These are not new ideas, but you may not have previously considered how these habits will help improve family time.

1. Prep for your family's day the night before

This can be a hard habit to get into. At the end of a long day of work and family time, you just want to relax. However, a little prep in the evening can make for a far more enjoyable morning.

If you are not a morning person, getting yourself ready in the morning can be a struggle. Add kids and it only gets more hectic and chaotic. You are on a time table and a lot of things need to happen before you head out the door. Many of these things can be done or at least prepped the night before.

For school aged kids, have them pack their backpack the night before immediately upon finishing their homework. There is no reason it needs to stay out and this means they can just grab and go in the morning. Have them also set out their clothes for the next day. This makes for less of a struggle the next morning when they have to get dressed. If you pack lunch for them, try to pack it the night before so again, it is something you can grab and go.

For kids in daycare, you can make sure their bag is packed and their clothes are laid out the night before. Also have your own bag packed and clothes laid out the night before. This makes mornings run far more smoothly. You can't completely avoid hiccups, but you can minimize them.

How does this maximize family time? It makes you less stressed in the morning. Your kids get to see you happier and relaxed when you start your day together. When you are away from the house for most of the day, you don't want the time you do spend  together to be rushed and stressed. This includes the morning. With all this prep work done the night before, you may even have time to sit and have breakfast together. What a great way to motivate you through your day after having already had some quality family time in the morning!

2. Create a Family Calendar

I won't go over the practical steps to actually create such a calendar as I already have a whole post about it here. Instead, I will talk about why it's so important for working moms and dads.

Having everyone on the same page is essential for busy families. Calendars should be updated immediately upon notification of new events. This helps prevent conflicts and over scheduling. Prioritize family activities, make sure your kids know that their activities are important to you.

For our family, I work days and my husband works nights and weekends. Therefore, on any evening my husband happens to be off, we try to maximize our time together. Sometimes this has to be time to get things done around the house, but we try to make sure we have family time as well. For his weekend days off, we try to ensure we do some family activity like a trip to the park or the zoo.

Try not to double book, if possible. If your kids have an event make a point of not scheduling something for yourself. One of the most important parts of being a working mom is making sure your kids know that they come first. Emergencies happen, but if you generally make it to their events, it's easier to accept the one or two times when that's not possible.

3. Stay Connected During the Day

It's hard to focus when we are preoccupied with other things.  If we are at work and thinking about what we are missing at home, we will be less efficient and less happy.  Missing the kids can be a major distraction.

Some days I can easily get through my work day and then I'm ready for family time when I get home.  Other days I miss my peanut during the day and wish I could just be home seeing what he is up to. If I dwell on that all day, I'll never get my work done. I am a big proponent of recharging your battery. One way to do it is a quick chat with the kids.

On the days where I miss the little guy, a quick FaceTime call can really turn the day around. A few minutes chat with T and hearing about his day can really fill my cup. It also helps him feel like he has seen me more during the day. If your kids are in school, get a quick update on how the school day was in the afternoon. These few minutes of break time can allow you to focus better and actually get more done during your day.

I hope you find these tips helpful. These are concrete things you can do to help ensure that family time is enjoyable. They are little practical tips that can reduce your stress when you are around your family. In the last part of the series, we will discuss ways to maintain good relationships with your family and yourself. You can look forward to seeing that post on Tuesday.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!!

Cheers,

Emily

P.S. You can find Part 3 of this series here.

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Part 1: Tips For Working Moms

Being a working mom is hard. Being a stay at home mom is hard too.  However, since I am not a stay at home mom, I don't really have as much insight into that lifestyle.  I do however, have experience as a working mom and I have learned a lot about how to stress less and enjoy both work and family.  The following will be a 3 part series of tips for working moms.  These tips are key for enjoying being a working mom and finding balance in your life.  Here are the first 3 tips to help ease the stress of being a working mom.  These 3 relate to your time at work.

1. Stop Feeling Guilty

It is so easy to feel guilty about being away from your home and your kids.  When your kids are young, you have guilt about missing out on their new discoveries and their activities each day.  As they get older you fell guilt about not being able to go on every class trip or having to send them to an after school program.  The thing is, this guilt does nothing for you, or your kids.  In order to combat this guilt, here is a quick project you can do that can help you again and again.  Take out your phone and in the notes section make a list of all the benefits to your family that you provide by being a working mom.  I'll start you out:

  1. You are helping provide for your family financially
  2. You are providing an example of a strong, hardworking woman
  3. You are able to have balance with adult time and kids time
  4. You are able to appreciate your time with your kids that much more
  5. Daughters of working moms are more likely to obtain more education and get higher paying jobs
  6. Sons of working moms are more likely to help around the house and be attentive to their children
  7. You are less likely to lose your identity due to your children

You can feel free to continue this list with the financial, practical and emotional benefits of being a working mom. Whenever you are feeling guilty about being at work and missing time with the kids, you can pull out your list and really read it.  Remind yourself of how important it is that you are a working mom and what benefits you are providing to your family.

2. Find a job/company that matches your priorities

When you first graduate and start looking for a job, you might jump at the first company willing to hire you.  You may accept longer hours or a longer commute or any other countless minor inconveniences that are simply not as important when you are young and single.  My first full time job was in NJ while I lived in the Bronx, NY.  The commute was ridiculous, but I liked the job, my co workers, and my pay.

However, as I approached getting married and starting a family I knew my priorities would be changing, so I started looking for a new job.  I found a position still in my field but much closer to home.  Instead of spending 2.5-3 hours of my day commuting, I now commute 20-30 minutes a day.  In fact, I work so close to home that I go home for lunch most days.  My current company also has more days off and summer Fridays.  They prioritize family and allow me to take time off to do things with the kids without feeling guilty about missing a day of work.

Every company and every field of work is different.  Not every job will have the benefits my job does and my job has its drawbacks as well.  There are a few occasions where I can be called out to work after hours or on weekends.  This is rare, but it does happen.  You should find a job that works best for you and your family.

3. Limit distractions at home and at work

When you are in the office, it is easy to get distracted from your work.  You want to catch up on the latest gossip or discuss the last episode of the Walking Dead.  Sometimes you might get distracted by social media.  It is important to limit these distractions as much as possible.  Now I'm not saying you need to be anti-social and never bond with your co-workers, but pick and choose when you will do it.

Say a quick good morning to everyone when you come in and then get down to business.  Chat with your co-workers at lunch or after you have completed a major task as a quick break.  Set a timer on your phone to vibrate after a few minutes to remind yourself to get back to work.  An important part of maintaining work life balance is ensuring that you can complete your work during the work day.  This allows you to maximize your time with your family at home.

My boss works on weekends and late nights a lot.  He's single and lives by himself.  While he does have a heavy workload, some of it he does to himself.  He will regularly sit and chat with people about the amount of work he has to do, or run to the store for coffee when we have a coffee maker here.  If getting your work done during the work day is a priority, then you need to limit your distractions so that you can do just that.

Limiting distractions is also important at home.  When spending time with your kids, you want to give them your undivided attention.  Checking a quick email or social media account is not the end of the world, but try to limit this as much as possible to when the kids are asleep.

I will acknowledge that this is not always possible.  For example, I generally try to do my grad school homework after bedtime, but when it's finals time, sometimes I need a little extra study time.  This might cut into family time a bit.  It happens.  Let's just try to ensure that it doesn't become a habit.

An important task for working moms is to make sure our kids know that they are our priority.  Work is for work and home is for family.  When we are at home, family is the priority and work is the distraction.  We should never allow our kids to feel like its the other way around.

I hope that you found these tips helpful.  The next set of tips will be coming on Friday and they will revolve around practical things you can do to  maximize your enjoyment of family time.  I will see you then!

Cheers,

Emily

P.S. You can find Part 2 of this Series here.

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5 Steps to Start Your Day Right

We've all had days where we wish we never got out of bed. You get dressed and then spill coffee on your shirt right as you are heading out the door. Or you leave home without the diaper bag. Or anything else that sets you up on the wrong foot. Here are 5 steps to help you start your day right and be able to overcome obstacles.

Get a good night's sleep. It may seem like I do a lot, and I do. Between work, grad school, teaching dance, blogging, my non-profit and family life, I have a lot on my plate. But I always try to get between 7-7.5 hours of sleep each night. That means going to bed by 10:30 to be up at 6.

There's no way around it. Getting a good night's sleep provides you with energy for the day, helps keep your mind clear, and even helps prevent the munchies. When you are well rested, you don't need snacks to keep you up! This is key for a productive day. A good night's sleep is never a waste of time!

Make your to do list. If you read last Friday's post, you know that I am a big proponent of to do lists and I showed you just how I make mine. Whether you do it in the morning or the night before, having a to do list ensures that you know what you need to get done that day.

It helps keep you focused and feel less stressed. You can even split the process. Do the brain dump the night before and then choose your 3 to dos in the morning when you are clear headed.

Exercise in the morning. Does that sound like torture? It shouldn't. Find an exercise you love and do it. I like a mix of weights and cardio. It makes me feel strong and helps me work up a sweat.

Exercise should make you feel energized when you are done, not exhausted. This sets you up for burning extra calories throughout your day, helps clear your mind, helps you fall asleep better at night, reduces your hunger and is great for your figure. You really can't beat that.

Even at 32 weeks pregnant, I'm working out daily. I've modified my workouts of course, but I work out and feel empowered for my day.

Eat a healthy breakfast. I’m not telling you what time your first meal of the day is, but whenever it is, it should be healthy. Some healthy proteins and fats can set you on the right track. Maybe even some oatmeal, or a green smoothie, or how about egg and avocado on whole wheat toast! There are plenty of options that taste good and are good for you.

Spend some time each morning playing with your kids. I get up at 6 am have my workout, shower and get dressed. Then it's time for breakfast with Tyler. He gets up around 7 am so we have a good 1.5 hours before I have to leave at 8:30 am.

Now part of that time is making and eating breakfast and doing my hair possibly. However, I make it a point to have some time where we just play together. Then when I head off to work, knowing that we already had some quality time together no matter what the rest of the day has in store does wonders for me.

Things may change when #2 comes and later when Tyler starts school, but for the past 3 years we have played together every morning and it's a great way to start my day.

What to you do to get yourself on the right track in the morning? Share your tips in the comments!!

Cheers,

Emily

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Relaxation Apps Perfect for Busy Moms

On days like today, I am glad that apps like these exist.  After a full weekend of freezing temperatures, an insurance adjuster dreads heading to the office.  You will be bombarded with claims of roof leaks and frozen pipes.  Today we had no less than 10 claims in all areas of the region with varying degrees of damage.  It is times like these that I am so happy that I have have found these relaxation apps perfect for busy moms.  They help me take a few minutes and relax during busy stressful days.

The first one is perfect for days like today when I'm running around like a chicken without a head.  The second, will come in hand when I have to spend long hours in the office writing up reports for all these claims.  Either way, they are perfect for busy working moms!!

OMG I Can Meditate

OMG. I Can Meditate ! - Meditation and Mindfulness Techniques Made Easy - OMG. I Can Meditate! Inc.

This app was created to help the typical busy person relax and remain calm. You don’t have to be an expert yogi with years of meditation training to take advantage of this meditation app. The app teaches some really simple relaxation techniques that you can use wherever you may be, and whenever you need them. In just 10 minutes, meditation coach Lynne Goldberg guides you through a simple meditation to help you relax and reduce stress.

If you think that spending 10 minutes a day meditating with this app is a waste of time, think again. When you are calm and relaxed you are prepared to accomplish more than you ever could when you are overburdened and stressed. That 10 minutes of meditation can actually save you time! Plus, you will be happier, more relaxed, and energized!! Meditation is used by many of the best and most successful minds out there from businessmen and women, to actors to athletes. If they can benefit from it, so can you. Best of all, this app is free for iPhone and iPad!

Office Yoga MD Lite

Office YogaMD Lite - Physical Medicine Associates This app came to my attention after it was named a Top 20 App for Working Mom's by Working Mother magazine. It is an essential app for any mom who works an office job, or just needs to reduce pain in general. Office YogaMD Lite is the ideal app for relief from computer-related pain and fatigue. The app presents various yoga moves that can be performed right in your office. These movements are presented in a clear and detailed audio-visual format.

Office Yoga teaches you easy yoga poses and practices that immediately improve your posture, breathing, and stress levels at work or at home. The application was created by Mary Schatz, M.D., a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and is certified by world-renowned yogi B.K.S. Iyengar to teach his method of yoga. Through the app, Mary provides instructions on how to reduce eye, wrist, neck and back fatigue, stretch, and relax. It also includes a built-in reminder system that you can set to encourage regular breaks. If you have any of the following pains or issues, you need this app.

Great for: back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, eye strain, fatigue, and stress relief. This app is available in the iTunes store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

Everyone has busy days now and then. These apps are perfect for helping you relax and decompress.  I hope you try them out!! What do you do to de-stress on busy days?? Let me know in the comments.

Cheers,

Emily

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Finding the Balance

It's that time again! Next week starts the next semester of grad school.  Last semester I enrolled in 2 classes completely unaware that I would become pregnant at the start of the semester.  It was rough.  Having a packed schedule during the first trimester of pregnancy is not easy.  This semester I decided to enroll in 2 more classes. Yup, I'm doing it again.  Time to see what school, work and everything else is like in the 3rd trimester.  My goal for these next few months: finding the balance.

This semester, my last day of classes is also my scheduled due date.  It is literally d-day, lol. I informed both of my professors of this situation at the time of my enrollment last October.  They promised that arrangements would be made so that I would be able to complete the semester regardless of when the princess arrives. Hopefully, that doesn't mean taking a final 2 days after delivery but I expect that the accommodations will be far more reasonable than that.  Luckily, I have prior experience with both of these professors.

So on my plate for the next few months prior to my due date May 6, we have a few things.  Obviously, keep growing baby Hailey keeping her and myself happy and healthy.  Then there's grad school where we would like to continue with A's and B's.  Next my hip hop class: I would like to have their dance completely taught by the time the baby comes.  They will have to have a sub the following few weeks and then the recital is in June so I want them to be able to be fully prepared before hand.  I am also set to choreograph a college production of Anything Goes in the next few weeks.  This is a big tap show, which I love, but I'm not sure how many actual tappers I'm getting.  So, we'll have to play that by ear.

On top of those things, there is continuing work on my non-profit, whose growth is slow but steady.  We are continuing to sell our calendars and will be bringing them to a few events.  We are also in contact with several dance schools to see if they can be sold at the studios.  If you are interested in a calendar or know someone who would love one, you can check them out here: www.ihopeyoudancecalendar.com. 100% of the profits go to support youth dance.

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Then of course, there is maintaining this blog,  helping T with his YouTube video project and work.

The best way to find balance amidst all of these obligations is to first list them all out for a specified time frame.  My time frame is the next approximately 4 months.  If you can, estimate the amount of time each item will take from your week. For example, teaching my hip hop class is 1 hour and coming up with that week's choreography is about 20 minutes.  So that's an hour and 20 minutes I put into my schedule.  Now on those days, teaching dance class is my workout, so that frees me up to do something different in the morning.  Therefore, I might schedule uploading T's videos on Friday mornings, since that's the day I teach.  I might then schedule 2 hours on the weekend where I will work on my non profit.  I also schedule 1.5-2 hours each evening for school work after T goes to bed. Once you schedule all of your obligations, the coming months seem less daunting.  You won't have to wonder how you will find the time because you already scheduled it.  This simple process can reduce stress immensely.

When things come up, as they often will, you can adjust your schedule, but its good to have a plan.  It's also good to have your tasks prioritized.  For example, if work gets super hectic, I may only be able to blog once that week. Sorry guys, but clearly keeping my job is the priority!! Lastly, schedule in some breaks and some family time.  Nothing recharges your battery better than some quality break time! It will also make you more efficient in doing what you have to do.

So, sit down, schedule your obligations and go get em tiger!!

Cheers!

Emily

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Make Dinner Fast and Easy

Make Dinner Fast and Easy

As a busy mom who works full time, sometimes its hard to motivate yourself to cook a full meal or even cook in the first place after a full day of work.  We need go to ways to make dinner fast and easy. Sometimes dads are able to pitch in. Sadly, in my house that is not the case. My husbands culinary skills are not the most robust. He can boil water and make a mean grilled cheese though...

Family Time: Mixing Work and Play

OK. So based on the title of this blog, clearly we're busy. We're parents and workers and family members and we have our own interests to pursue. We have bills to pay, houses to clean, food to make, and a laundry list of other things that we need to do in order to keep of family organized and running smoothly. All these things however, cut into the most important time we have, family time.

As I see it, we have 2 options here: do some of these things as a family, or let some of them slide. Only some. Admittedly, there are certain things that we can't let slide and aren't appropriate family time activities. Like paying bills. I have yet to find a useful way to include my toddler in that and it is definitely not something we can let slide. But a lot of our other tasks can be made into family activities.

Laundry, for example. In our house the break down is my husband loads the washer and dryer and T and do the folding and putting away. I always let T help me. Sometimes its actually helpful and sometimes its not, but we have fun either way. When I fold my husband's and T's t-shirts, T's job is to identify the characters on the shirts. Sometimes he wears special laundry time attire for this job, i.e. one of my husbands shirts. Another T job is to sort out all the socks so that we can match them and roll them up. He thinks its a game. He gets to work on his matching skills and we get to have fun together, AND the laundry gets done! Win-Win-Win!!

Another family time activity can be putting toys away. T and I play different games depending on what we have to clean up. Sometimes we have races to see who can clean up the fastest. Sometimes we put all the toys of a certain color away first and then move on to a new color. Sometimes we let some toys help us put away other toys. For example, recently Sulley assisted us in putting away our puzzles when were done playing with them.

A few other family chores include setting the table and dusting. T is excellent at bringing dishes and utensils from the kitchen to the dining room table. He also loves to dust. If he sees you with a dusting cloth, we demands a wipe so he can clean as well. We like to have dusting races and see who can clean their half of the table first. We also test each other to see if we can remember how to put things back the way they were. As long as its a game, it doesn't feel like doing chores!

Some things that slide: sweeping under furniture, sometimes the dishes, a full cleaning of the bathroom, definitely cleaning above windows and light fixtures. The thing is, I am OK with that. My house doesn't need to look like a museum, we live there and it should look like it. I would rather sit on the floor and play Legos than make sure my sink is constantly empty. Being busy means you have to prioritize, and for me, my priority is having fun with my toddler before he's not a toddler anymore.

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