Working Moms Inspiration from Oprah's O You!
“ Your attitude will determine your altitude.”
—Samantha Ettus
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  • 8 Great Reasons to Keep Working After You Have Kids

    Work and family life don’t need to conflict; they need to coexist. It is time to stop glamorizing the alternative and talk about the big bonuses of keeping up your career after you have a child.  Here are 8 great reasons to stay in the workforce after having a baby:

    1. You will Enjoy a Happier Marriage

    Studies show that couples in which both spouses work have greater marital satisfaction. Your marriage will be more likely to thrive if you have something to focus on outside of the home and your spouse will feel less financial pressure if you bring home some of the bacon.

    2. You Will Remain Financially Independent

    As Leslie Bennetts described in her book “The Feminine Mistake,” in more than half of traditional marriages, the male spouse will either die prematurely, lose his job or leave his wife. When this happens to a stay at home mom, there is no safety net and the entire family’s financial stability is jeopardized. Further, many women report losing financial power in their home when they leave the workforce. You never want to be pitching your spouse on a purchase.

    3. You Will Raise Stronger Kids

    We are now aware of the deep dangers of overparenting, also known as helicopter parenting. When you stay at home, you are far more inclined to over-parent because parenting becomes your sole focus. As expert Michele Borba explains,“If we keep hovering we will rob our kids of self-reliance.”

    4. You Will Secure Future Earnings

    A woman who leave the workforce for just three years after having kids give up 37% of her future earnings according to a study done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. This puts your family’s financial health at risk.

    5. You Will Gain Personal Fulfillment

    Getting personal satisfaction from something other than your children is critical to being a great parent and a happy one. As France’s most famous parenting authority Pamela Druckerman explains, “The reigning view in France is that if a child is a woman’s only goal, everyone suffers, including the child.”

    6. You Will Bring Worldliness to Your Home

    When you stay home, your world shrinks because you are surrounded by women like you; moms of the same age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status typically cluster together. By keeping up your career, you will be a more active participant in the world and expand the perspectives you bring into your home. As former stay at home mom Lisa Heffernan explains “In the workplace my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.”

    7. You Will Serve As A Role Model

    There are two ways you have a greater good impact as a working mom. Firstly, the future generation of young women need working mom role models for support, inspiration and mentorship. And then of course, there is the role modeling that goes on in your own home. A Harvard educated mom who returned to life as an entrepreneur after seven years at home tells this story: When she explained to her kids that she would be starting a company, they asked how that could be since, “Daddies start businesses and mommies stay home.” She sprinted to the office and hasn’t looked back.

    8. You Will be Happier

    A recent study showed that stay at home moms suffer from significantly greater levels of depression by age 40 than working moms. It is hard to raise a happy child if you are an unhappy mom. As the old adage goes, when mom isn’t happy, nobody is.


    Lifestyle List: 25 Ways to Win as a Working Mom

    All great trips require preparation. Your adventure as a working mom is no different. You can be the best parent in fewer hours per week; it isn’t about how many hours you spend at home, it is about how you use them. Here goes:

    1. Be unapologetic about your lifestyle. Making excuses for working is like wearing a short skirt and constantly pulling on it.
    2. Have a school network – two moms you can count on in each child’s grade. If you help them when you can, it will be easier to ask for help when you need it.
    3. Spend a night out each week – a date night or an evening with friends. This is your fuel; don’t let your tank run dry.
    4. Disconnect to Connect. Turn off the technology for a set time each day so that you are present when you are with your family.
    5. Do all of your errands within the Golden Triangle – home, office and school. From the dentist to the hair salon, make no exceptions.
    6. Treat your arrivals and departures like a train schedule. Predictability makes you more successful at home and at work.
    7. Beware of the “Flextime Fantasy.” If you have a flexible career, establish set daily hours so that you don’t lose time reinventing your schedule each day.
    8. As soon as the school calendar arrives, add it to yours. This way you can plan around the school play and the parent teacher conference.
    9. Sundays are big for you. Plan every detail of the week’s schedule down to the meals and who’s making them. This will reduce conflict, ease stress and save time.
    10. Don’t get so attached to your sitter that you can’t see her faults. Spot-check by arriving home unexpectedly to see what happens when you are not there.
    11. Help your spouse to be a partner. Praise more than criticize and create opportunities for him to do every task you do.
    12. Divide and conquer. Being partners means sharing the responsibilities, divided by your strengths, and pitching in on any as needed.
    13. Write it all down. From the grocery list to the lunchbox ingredients, you can’t delegate unless you get it out of your head and on paper.
    14. Nurture your marriage with daily 20-minute check-ins. Keeping in touch with your own partner is vital to a strong bond.
    15. Synchronize your sleep schedules. Going to bed at the same time together leads to a healthy sex life.
    16. You can never show your kids too much affection. Shower them in it and watch them thrive.
    17. Triathletes win or lose races based on transitions. Keep all supplies in their place (cubbies for each family member) and pick clothing the night before.
    18. Foster a strong family culture by celebrating occasions big and small – birthdays, new seasons. Create rituals e.g. Friday night family movies.
    19. Expect stress and roller coasters but remember that bad moments are not “bad days” or “bad weeks.” They are moments. Make this a family philosophy.
    20. Aim to have at least one focused meal a day with your children no matter how crazy work can get.
    21. If you can’t host play dates during the week, do it on the weekends so that you get to know your child’s friends and their families.
    22. Personal maintenance is not discretionary. Incorporate exercise into the “train schedule” and if you feel best with a weekly manicure, add it too.
    23. Keep a positive connection with your kids all week long by planning a weekend event for them to look forward to. Start talking about it on Monday; anticipation is half the fun.
    24. Identify kid-friendly errands and make a habit of bringing them along. From the supermarket to the car wash, no need to spend this time away from them.
    25. Be proactive about what you can do. If you aren’t available for weekday opportunities, volunteer to coach the soccer team on Saturdays.


    The 8 Essential Gifts to Give Your Child

    An increasing number of studies show that intensive parenting is bad for mothers and bad for children, yielding a generation of kids who lack the wings to fly. Why then do American families still have June Cleaver on a pedestal? Let’s put an end to face time parenting and instead focus on how to be the best parent possible when we are with our children. Regardless of your constraints – financial, time, or logistical – here are 8 gifts to give your children now:

    1. The Gift of Empathy

    We all want our children to grow up with the ability to have close relationships and empathy is at the cornerstone. With that in mind, let’s not be the parent who addresses their crying child with exasperation and says, “You’re fine!” Instead, think back to the last time you felt sad or angry and shared your feelings. How would you have felt if the person you opened up to said, “Buck up.” Just as you crave and need emotional validation, your child does too. Validating doesn’t say to your child, “You are right.” It says: “I have heard you. I understand your feelings.”

    2. The Gift of Unconditional Love

    I grew up in a family that said, “I love you” every day. My husband did not but it has since become important to him. Hearing and saying the words are not just an emotion – they are an activity – and integral to creating a safe, warm family culture. As Michele Borba explains, “‘I love you’ plants the most important message. Our kids need to develop those critical beliefs that say ‘I’m a worthwhile person’ and our words become their inner dialogue.”

    3. The Gift of Listening

    We feel we know what is best for our children so we tend to bring the “answer” to the conversation. Yet listening trumps solving. As life coach Martha Beck shared with me, the most important gift to a child is to show them: “I see you” for who you really are. Martha was sick in bed for much of her children’s early years but she explains that she could still see them for who they were, and now as adults, they tell her that was all that really mattered.

    4. The Gift of Happiness

    Research shows that optimistic people lead healthier and happier lives. If you don’t see the glass half full today, shift your thinking for the sake of your child. Having a negative parent makes it harder for a child to have positive expectancy – to believe that good things will happen to them. So the next time you catch yourself verbalizing your self-doubt or cynicism, turn it around for the sake of your audience.

    5. The Gift of Peace

    Children sense their parents’ stress. As much as you are worried about finances, your cat’s injury, the angry client and what you will be scraping together for dinner, take a breath and refocus on the big picture for the sake of your innocent child. Exposure to an anxious parent leads to anxiety in children.

    6. The Gift of a Strong Body Image

    If your child catches you loving your body, she will learn to love hers. A child’s healthy body image comes with work. Never let her hear you criticizing your body or anyone else’s. Shield her from spending time with families that talk about diet and weight loss. Curate your friends so that you surround her with positive body images and healthy talk. Intentionally point out beauty that comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. Give your child a head start on a healthy body image by pointing out what makes her beautiful – her strength, her mind, her heart, and her smile.

    7. The Gift of Self-Confidence

    When I interviewed successful and famous people for my internet talk show, Obsessed TV, 98% of them had one thing in common – parents who made them believe they could be anything they set out to become; that whatever their dreams, they could achieve them with hard work. Make this your mantra.

    8. The Gift of a Healthy Drive

    As a child, if I came home with a new test result, my mom would ask what grades the students sitting to my left and right had received. Yet when we are raised to compare to others, we are never fully satisfied with ourselves. By encouraging your child to achieve his personal best, you will be setting him up for a healthy attitude and a great definition of success.


    8 Ways to Add Spark (and Sex!) to Your Marriage After Kids

    February is the month for romance and the ideal excuse to turn the spotlight on your marriage. Once you implement these 8 steps, your intimacy will be the envy of the playground!

    1. Synchronize Your Schedules  

    Sure it’s tempting to send email late into the night while he falls asleep in front of the TV, but if this sounds familiar, you need to change this pattern. If you crawl into bed at the same time as your spouse each night, sex is an option. If you don’t, it is completely off the table. Your goal is warm bodies cuddling every night.

    2. Make Your Husband Your Gay Best Friend

    In the best marriages, spouses are best friends. Your husband should have the most intel on your life. Do you have good news? Tell him first. Bad news? Tell him first. Leaning on your husband leads to greater connection and intimacy.

    3. Do Bite-sized Check Ins

    Over a glass of wine or a cup of tea, make time to have a 20 minute check in each day – morning or night. Keep it to 20 minutes or your partner is less likely to want to do it tomorrow. The daily check-in results in intimacy because it literally holds your life together and insures you are on the same path.

    4. Have a Weekly Date Night

    Set up a weekly sitter so that date night becomes as much a part of your schedule as work or school. And remember that date night is not for problem solving. If you are doing your bite-size dailies, there is no need to use date nights for anything but fun. Trade off the planning responsibilities and enjoy.

    5. Create Your Dreamables

    Remember when you first met and the two of you giddily talked about your vision for the future? Just as a growing company periodically rethinks their plan, at least once a year you want to dream with your partner.  Look 3-5 years ahead, look 10 years ahead. Think about careers, kids, travel, health, and money. Dreaming together is a great reminder that you are a team. Dream achievable – set a vision that you can aim for and get to.

    6. Settle on a Sex Quota

    Every couple is different and you need to do what works for both of you. Talk to your spouse about how much you each want to be having sex, meet in the middle and aim to achieve it! Getting in touch with each other’s desires will help you meet one another’s needs.

    7. Fly Solo

    The two of you need to do a couple’s trip without kids at least once a year. Even two days at a local hotel will rejuvenate your marriage. And go guilt-free because taking some time to intensely connect will benefit the whole family upon your return. It is hard to be an unhappy kid with two happy parents.

    8. Be United

    As parents you are faced with hundreds of decisions on a weekly basis and if you don’t discuss issues as they arise, they can create wedges between you. The more you communicate about your philosophies and styles when the kids are not listening, the better a team you will be when they are. Getting on the same page will erase a lot of the natural tension that comes with parenting. Support one another and your marriage will thrive.


    7 Tricks to Transform Your Picky Eater

    Do you have a picky eater and spend hours agonizing about how to steer her away from the chicken nuggets and pasta diet? At my wit’s end with one of my own, I asked Cooking Channel host and The Next Food Network Star winner Melissa d’Arabian for some help.

    Here, in her own words, are Melissa’s favorite tricks:

    1. Let your kids pick the produce

    I turn grocery shopping into a bit of an outing and the kids all know that they are in charge of picking produce. I hand them the plastic bag and say “Ok, Margaux, you are in charge of picking the best two fennel bulbs you can find!” Amazingly, the kids never tire of “being in charge of picking.” Now, you might expect me to tell you that Margaux will go home and eat the fennel because she picked it. Ha!  Were it only so easy. But I think the fact that she had to ask me “What does fennel look like?” and she had to search over the green veggies, and spot the kale and the bok choy to get to the fennel means several veggies were a bit demystified for her. She might taste the fennel when I serve it, but even if she doesn’t, she spent 15 minutes feeling good about fennel and learning about it. Victory.

    2. Go to the farmer’s market, for entertainment

    Turn the farmer’s market trip into a relaxed, fun family outing. We amble leisurely from stall to stall, finding the craziest shaped squash, or a funny, knobby, tomato. The girls strike up conversations with the vendors, many of them farmers, who love to chat about their goods. We can easily spend a couple of hours at the farmer’s market, feeling good about fresh, unprocessed food. While the prices may be a bit higher than they are at the grocery store, I figure it’s still cheaper than taking everyone to the movie for two hours. And no one is falling in love with an oversized pumpkin at the cinema.

    3. Serve at least two vegetables at dinner

    Kids like to feel empowered. I like to serve two veggies during dinner to give my kids the option: Would you like carrots, kale, or both? They get to be involved in the decisions and I can ensure they’re eating at least one. Plus it’s a great way for us to meet our own nutritional goals and model healthy eating to the kids.

    4. Have the kids “present” dinner

    Every night one of the children presents the dinner to the rest of the family, explaining what each dish is, the main ingredients, and a very brief nutritional overview of the dish. For instance, “This is chicken cooked in a mustard sauce. Chicken is a protein which helps us build muscles.” My goal is to develop an appreciation for the different roles of healthy foods. Kids tend to group all “healthy” foods into one bucket, and I want my kids to know that just because they ate some healthy fish doesn’t mean that they don’t need to get some produce in there too.

    5. Invite Your Kids to Plan the Menu

    Every couple of weeks, I let each child plan dinner for the entire family. The rules are: Mom has to approve the menu, and mom is allowed to add a dish or two of her choosing. At first, the girls were suggesting crazy, imbalanced dinner menus, like my daughter Charlotte’s first: doughnuts and cinnamon cake. I gently told her how much I loved her creativity with the “breakfast for dinner” concept, but I wondered if perhaps we might be missing a protein?  We agreed to add an omelet to the meal, and we moved the cinnamon cake to dessert. And, she excitedly suggested having a fruit salad instead of vegetables. The girls are developing a good sense for how to build a balanced meal, but there are two additional benefits: I have an internal salesperson sitting at the table, selling “her” menu to her sisters and the girls are more accepting of my menus, knowing they will get their own turn next Tuesday.

    6. Make one meal for the whole family, and have the “no thank you” bite

    I like to serve meals that offer delicious and nutritious foods that the whole family can enjoy. Sure you can adjust spices as needed, but I still make one meal. Then, the “no thank you” bite comes into play. My kids are welcome to say they don’t care for something as long as they have one bite. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, and I move on. For me this fits our family because I wanted my kids to be willing to try things. That was more important to me than having them stomach a huge thing of broccoli.

    7. Give them “taste-tester” notebooks

    I turned my children into “official” taste-testers just by giving each one a composition book that I bought for a buck!  Anytime they try a new food, they write it down, give it a score from 1-10, and can write some comments (“yummy!” or “thought it was mushy”).  Just the act of giving them a place to voice their opinion helps validate their opinions and creates an adventurous spirit at the table.


    One Pitch at a Time: Gold Medalist Jennie Finch’s Life as a Working Mom

    Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch is a former pro softball player, a Hershey’s Good Life Guru and a married mom of two sons, Ace and Diesel, with a baby girl on the way. I chatted with Jennie about her life as a working mom; marriage, travel, fitness and those sleepless nights.

    When you first became a mom, you took  your newborn son on an 18 day Beijing tour with you. How did it work?

    JF: My husband (Former Major League Baseball player Casey Daigle) played baseball and I played softball. Baseball is more hectic so my son came with me. He had a passport and went to China and Japan. It worked out so great because he ended up getting 14 of my teammates as aunts to him. It wasn’t all easy, though. My mom, Ace and I all stayed in the same hotel room. My mom would get the bottle in middle of the night and she would either feed him or I would get up and feed him. I knew I was doing double duty but I couldn’t imagine leaving him for 18 days at that time.

    How did you perform on the field after a sleepless night with your kids?

    JF: You get over the mental block. You convince yourself that you can do anything. It is one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at my week and cried…but I think, one pitch at a time.

    What did you learn on the softball field that you apply to parenting?

    JF: You get what you put into it. The sacrifice, the discipline, the selflesslessness of being on a team. Being able to push your body beyond the boundaries of what you think you can do. My husband will say “I can’t, I am sleepless.” And I will say, “Don’t say that. Say you can do it and you will be able to.”

    When you and your husband are both at home, how do you divide responsibilities?

    JF: I am blessed to have a supportive husband. We pick up each other’s slack and it is a lot of teamwork. He does a lot of heating the bottles and I do a lot of the feeding. I travel a lot so when I am not there he does a lot himself and when I am there I do a lot of it. I couldn’t imagine doing it by myself.

    What were your own parents like when you were a kid?

    JF: They were my number one supporters. It was all about ‘If you work hard enough, you can achieve. You have to be the best that you can be. You can’t compare yourself to others.’

    How do you use your time at night once your kids are asleep?

    JF: I load the laundry, unload the dishwasher and catch up on things. I do emails and then after that it is relaxing together with my husband.

    How do you avoid mommy guilt?

    JF: If I was on the field, I knew how much I had sacrificed to be there so I gave it everything I have. When I am at home I try to give 110% to my kids.

    How do you handle youth sports with your kids?

    JF: It has been quite an experience. For Casey and I, we are discovering ourselves. At one game after listening to Casey yelling nonstop through flag football to, “Find the receiver,” I went over to him and said “I don’t think he (6yo son, Ace) knows what the receiver is.” We don’t want to be that overbearing parent but we sometimes find ourselves there. But if they are being active and having fun then we have all won. I could care less what happens on the field. If he comes off smiling, it is a victory for us all.

    What is your post baby workout routine?

    JF: With Ace I had to be back on the field six weeks after I gave birth for a tryout. With Diesel I was just retired but I had the New York City marathon three or four months after. My cardio these days is jumping on the trampoline. Anything where I can involve my kids.

    What is your breakfast of Champions?

    JF: To each their own. But for me it is Chobani Greek yogurt, granola and fresh berries.

    You have a baby girl on the way. What advice will you give her?

    JF: Do what you love. We all have a passion within us and it is a matter of finding that passion.


    5 Fixes for Your Unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions

    Chances are you have never accomplished your New Year’s resolutions. By June, 54% of people have abandoned theirs and by the end of year, just forget about it. So instead of pie-in-the-sky resolutions that require unrealistic leaps, focus on small lifestyle changes with achievable and permanent results.

    Here are the top five New Year’s Resolutions and how to replace them:

    1.  Lose Weight

    The number one New Year’s resolution is losing weight yet 95% of dieters regain the weight they lose.  So why torture yourself? As a would-be dieter, if you make small lifestyle changes instead of dramatic deprivations, you will achieve greater success. According to Dr. James Beckerman, cardiologist and author of The Flex Diet, “The two most effective behaviors are easy and free: weigh yourself daily (and write it down), and keep a food diary. It’s about making mindfulness part of your routine.  Both behaviors are proven to help people lose more weight than dieting.”

    2.  Get Organized

    If your grand plan is to get organized, you might have dreams of filing every last piece of paperwork, putting all of our online photos into albums, and more. Instead, organizational expert Julie Morgenstern recommends changing your ways for the future: “When you finish using something, place it back in it’s home immediately. Instead of thinking of it as ‘putting it away,’ think of it as ‘setting it up for it’s next use.’”

    3.  Spend Less, Save More

    To bring this grand statement back to reality, two finance experts weigh in. Farnoosh Torabi recommends that you: “Check your bank balance daily. You need to know where you stand so you can make healthier choices.” Daily Worth founder Amanda Steinberg offers this: “Make sure you’re moving your savings into an actual savings account. Money moved to a separate savings account is less likely to be spent. So much of fluidity comes from proactively saving for things like summer camp months and months in advance.”

    4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest

    Resolving to enjoy life to the fullest because it is January 1 is a little bit like waiting for a tragedy to appreciate your life. To not live a full life with what you already have is like buying a new car and only using 20% of its features. Therapist Robi Ludwig suggests you incorporate your dreams into your daily life. “First write down what your dream is. If your goal is to be in a satisfying relationship, break down your goal into small and manageable steps: i.e. Let your friends know you’re interested in being matched up and join an online dating site.”

    5. Stay Fit and Healthy

    As much as we would love to start working out tomorrow (and five times a week!), it doesn’t usually happen that way. 60% of gym memberships go unused despite the optimism resolution makers feel in January. So this year, why not take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk your child to school instead of driving him. Fitness guru Gunnar Peterson lets us in on a magic wellness tip: ”Make sleep your priority for one month, get as close to eight hours every night and see how you feel/look/perform in the gym, at work, as a parent and a spouse. You’ll be amazed.”

    So scratch those resolutions and turn to these small lifestyle changes to yield the giant 2013 results you seek.


    6 Gifts to Give Yourself This Holiday Season

    ‘Tis the season to be merry, so scratch the diet, the guilt, and the stress. Instead, indulge, reach out, and have fun.

    1. Five Pounds
    Give yourself a break on those extra pounds and let yourself enjoy good food and drink over the holidays. This is no time for dieting; just as you don’t expect to get a lot of sunlight in December, you should not expect to shed weight either. You will have fun and be more fun if you indulge a bit. Nobody wants to eat the holiday cookie or drink the eggnog without company.

    2. Online Shopping
    From this moment forward do the rest of your shopping online. From the big box stores to the mom and pops, they are all at your fingertips, so make your life easier by buying from home.

    3. A Holiday Date Night (or Two!)
    This is the time to enjoy some solo time with your partner. Book the sitter, make some plans, and dress up a bit for the occasion.

    4. Family Rituals
    Put a family baking night and a sibling gift swap on your holiday calendar. Set a budget and take your child shopping for sibling presents (set a low budget and make this the online shopping exception!). If he is old enough to unwrap a present on his own, he is old enough to give one.

    5. Friendship
    Take a few minutes to call an old friend and go local too, by planning a holiday mom’s night out. Add a gift grab bag to the night for a festive feel.

    6. Zero Guilt
    You are working as hard as you can to be a great mom and support your family. Replace the guilt with pride – you are doing your best and you are a role model. That is something to feel great about!


    Working Moms: How to Find a 25th Hour in Your Day

    Timeby Samantha Ettus

    More than 20 years ago, American Airlines saved $40,000 by removing just one olive from each salad tray in First class. This fun fact translates to your life where the smallest lifestyle changes can yield the most dramatic gains. Here are 10 ways to steal more time from your own life:

    1. Organize Masterfully

    Triathletes win and lose races in the transitions. Make sure your “supplies’ are in the right places. Every member of your family needs her own equivalent of the cubby and her backpack, lunchbox, homework, and shoes all needs to live there.

    2. Outsource – to Your Kids

    Figure out the age appropriate activities that your kids can do on their own. Get dressed? Pour cereal? Even put him in charge of managing the schedule. An added bonus is that you are helping him towards independence at the same time. More on Forbes…


    6 Ways to Get Kids to Treat Election Day Like Christmas

    PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 06:  A little girl waits i...By Samantha Ettus

    Between parenting and working, you probably feel lucky if you can even squeeze in time to vote. Yet Election Day is just the kind of moment we look for as working moms — a terrific opportunity to share a giant civics lesson with our kids while spending time together and getting something done. Here’s how:

    1.    Start Talking

    If your kid is old enough to understand the idea of racing her brother down the block, she can understand an election. Explain it to her in age appropriate terms.

    2.    Make a Festive Meal

    Try the celebratory red white and blue breakfast – blueberry pancakes with strawberries and whip cream. Nothing says “holiday” like a themed meal. More on Forbes…