Monday, March 9, 2015

Why the Debate - Working Moms vs Stay at Home Moms?

It's been nine weeks.  Nine weeks of being a stay at home mom after being in the workforce, working in finance for over 20 years.  In my job, I did a lot of analysis, understanding how things are similar or different and the impact.  I'm going to use those skills to assess the difference between working and stay at home moms, because quite honestly - I'm tired of the debate!

Based solely on my experience, there are not a lot of differences between working and stay at home moms.  The skills needed to excel at both roles are similar.  Here are my findings:

Politics:  You have to deal with politics in the workplace, as well as dealings with people involved in school activities.  Someone almost always has more power or influence.  How you navigate these situations can determine your success whether you work or not.  Having good EQ helps too!

Communication Skills - Setting Expectations:  It's important in roles at work and at home that communication is clear, concise and people (adults and children) understand what is expected of them.  Without this, chaos ensues.  When I managed a team, I would create calendars for known deliverables.  At home, I have daily discussions with my kids about their schedule for the day.  When you have these conversations, there are less surprises and people tend to be more calm.

Choosing Your Battles:  You have to chose your battles at home and at work.  Do I let my daughter go to school with her hair in disarray because she did it herself or wear clothes that don't exactly match?  Of course I do.  Do I push back on my manager when I don't agree with something?  Sometimes, but other times I need to nod and smile and execute the way I'm expected to.  It's okay to battle for something you believe in (no shorts in 30 degree weather or dealing with a poor performer), but at other times, you just have to let it slide.

Knowledge Sharing:  There are teachable moments both at work and at home.  I recently had a discussion with my older daughter about a class mate that was being made fun of.  We talked about how it made the girl feel and if my daughter wanted to stand up for her the next time it happened, then she would make her friend feel supported.  At work I would share my experiences with others on how to communicate with executives, deal with difficult people or how to approach a complicated request.  There really is no difference...

Mediate Conflict:  At work I would sometimes get caught in the middle of a disagreement (or perhaps kick one off).  I'd have to do my best to make both sides see the point the other was trying to make then help come up with a solution that everyone could live with.  It's no different at home.  My kids are 2 -1/2 years a part.  They fight.  I try to objectively understand what happened if I wasn't right there with them and then make sure they understand both sides.  Honestly, mediating conflict at home is so much easier.

Dealing with Sub Par Performance:  I've dealt with sub par performers at work, having tough conversations with them and spelling out performance improvement plans, etc..  It's no different at home.  I have to talk to my kids when they are not keeping their rooms clean, have trouble staying focused while getting ready in the morning or most any other task I request of them.  The emotions I encounter and the challenges are the same.

Time Management:  At work, there was always 80 hours of work to do each week.  At home it's no different.  I have taken over a lot of tasks that others were doing and added some new ones that were being neglected (purging closets, cleaning out the garage, doing more cooking, sending more time on homework, spend time in the classroom with my older daughter, etc).  Regardless of whether you work or not, there is never enough time in the day.

I have NEVER heard any working dad belittle or make snide remarks to a stay at home dad.  Perhaps I've been lucky enough to not be involved in those conversations, but I have known a considerable number of stay at home dads, or dads who take on a bigger role in child rearing in their families.

I would like to ask moms, regardless of their role/occupation/choices to stop being mean girls on this topic.  It defeats what really needs to happen (longer maternity leaves, more family friendly companies, better benefits - medical and sick leave, higher quality and more affordable childcare options, more flexible work schedules to accommodate people who want to be more involved in their children's lives, etc).  Let's redirect all of this energy and do something positive.  Stifle that judgmental/rude comment about the 'other' class of moms, appreciate people for their contributions whether at work or at home, be supportive and find ways to get involved in pushing the cause for all women forward.

Friday, May 2, 2014

How We Met Anna and Elsa at Disneyland

We went to Disneyland last week.  There were two top attractions that we considered investing time in to see.  One of them was the Anna and Elsa meet and greet in Disneyland.  The other was the Radiator Springs ride in California Adventure.   We didn't have the option of doing both because of timing.

Like any good strategy planning session, we evaluated our audience.   2 girls, ages 4 and 6.  We can't get them to watch the Cars movie, but we've seen Frozen at least 15 times.  The meet and greet it was going to be.

The second strategy was to determine how we minimize time away from the ride time (tea cups, Dumbo, carousel, big thunder railroad, you get the idea).  This meant we had to get there early by investing wait time before the park opened..

This is what worked for us:

The park opened at 9am that day.  There was not a Magic Morning for anyone.  This is important.  If you are up against people who get to the park an hour before you, by the time you get to the Anna and Elsa line, the wait will be over 4 hours.

Steve took a cab from the hotel to the park at 7am.  He was one of the first in line at the park entrance.

When he was let into the park, he quickly went to the next line.  This is the rope line at the end of main street.  He was one of the first in line there too.

Around 8:45am, my mom and I arrived at the park with the kids.  We were about 30 feet behind where my husband was standing.  Let me tell you, that 30 feet makes a big difference.

When the park officially opened at 9am, Steve very quickly went to the Anna and Elsa line.  He was 10 people back from the front of the line, which translated to a 20 minute wait for the meet and greet.

By the time my mom and I met up with him, about 5 minutes after 9am, the Anna and Elsa line wait time was over 4 hours.  Yes, in the matter of 5 minutes the wait went from 0 to 4 hours.

Steve wins dad of the year.  The girls were absolutely thrilled to meet Anna and Elsa.  Did those two play their charters perfectly.  Anna was spunky and quirky and Elsa was classy and proper.

A couple hours later we had lunch at Ariel's Grotto and they met even more princesses.  Abby told me is was the best day ever.

Here are a few pictures from our meet and greet:

Emily showing Elsa the braid in her hair.  We did a special Elsa braid that morning for her.

Abby talking to Anna, she was so happy.

The official picture from the meet and greet.  Look at those smiles.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mommy Guilt - A Way to Ease the Guilt

"My name is Susan and I experience mommy guilt on a daily basis."

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to diminish the importance of 12 steps programs (my dad when through one when I was in my late teens).  Mommy guilt is my daily struggle.

I've been struggling with the mommy guilt a lot recently.  Both of my kids have been sick and on some days I had to put my grown up panties on and go to work.  I left the care and nurturing of my children to someone else, someone who was not their mommy.  Ouch, it really hurts on those days when I get in the car and drive away.

This is the first time in a long time that I have felt my employer values what I do.  Being appreciated for what I do at work brings me joy and satisfaction.  Being away from my kids when they are sick brings me sadness and a heavy heart.  How can I have my cake and eat it too?

I came across this post on the Working Mom's Against Guilt blog earlier today.  It talks about A Simple Solution for Mommy Guilt.  It was perfect timing!  The post encouraged me to ask my kids "what do you like to do with Mommy?".  Here are their answers from tonight:

Emily (4 years old):
Cuddle with you
Play with my toys with you
Spend time with you

Abby (6 years old):
Spend time with you
(then went into a silly giggle fit)

Seriously, they don't put my handcrafted valentine's for they classmates at the top of the list?  They don't like the fact the kitchen counters are free of clutter (well, they are never really free of clutter) or the fact I tracked 950 boxes of girl scout cookies for their troop?  They don't value the fact I keep their clothes organized in their closets or get creative with what they eat?  Hmmm, I need to rethink my priorities!

Talk to your kids, ask them what they like best about being with you.  The answers are simple and humbling.  Time to cuddle more and worry less about a stack of mail on the counter.  


Friday, January 31, 2014

Best Guacamole Recipe Ever!

I was looking for a guacamole recipe recently.  I wanted something a little different, but that also still had some of the regular guacamole ingredients (red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, etc). 

The Grilled Corn Guacamole from The Pioneer Woman is the recipe I wanted to try.

It was super yummy!  I loved the sweetness the corn added.


Rounding Up Healthy Recipes and Snacks

I'm currently participating in a 60 day Body, Mind, Soul challenge with numerous other people.  It's a fun, competitive points based program that lasts 8 weeks.  On the last round I lost 11 pounds.  This time around my goal is lose more, 15-20 pounds.

I'm rounding up some of my favorite recipes to share with other challengers and anyone else interested in easy, healthy recipes.

Even my husband loves this one!  Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp from  We serve this one with brown rice and add red bell peppers for a little more veggie punch.

Pad Tai using brown rice pad thai noodles from Annie Chun's.  I love Pad Thai and I almost think I'm cheating eating this.

I've been looking high and low for an overnight oatmeal recipe that does not use greek yogurt.  No matter what I try, I can't eat greek yogurt.  This recipe for Overnight Oats in a Jar from calls for almond milk and is super tasty.  I feel great and energized after eating it!  I've been using walnuts for the topping and a small dose of vanilla extract instead of sweetener.

This past weekend I made a big pot of Split Pea Soup in our slow cooker.  I've used this recipe from Whole Foods several times and it never disappoints.

I just stumbled across these today and I think I'll give it a try.  A cookie with positive or neutral ingredients, who knew this existed?  Scroll down to the Interception Cookie.

We are subscribed to Nature Box monthly snack delivery service.  They have a lot of healthy options and allow you to pick what you want delivered.  I highly recommend them if you are tempted to try a subscription service (they are a very popular trend right now).  I also made their Quinoa, Kale and Chickpea Salad recently.  It's so light and fresh tasting!  They have great recipes on their blog.

I'm not a fan of mayo, so finding a tuna recipe without mayo can be difficult.  I came across this Tuna Salad Recipe from Framed Cooks that I love!  No mayo, has lot fresh herbs, capers, tuna, etc..

A lot of the recipes I come across call for panko bread crumbs.  I refuse to pay an arm and a leg for whole grain panko bread crumbs when I can actually find them in stores, so I make my own.  I find the healthiest, tastiest whole grain bread and use this recipe from How Sweet It Is and make my own whole grain panko bread crumbs.

These aren't recipes, but some of my other favorite foods that help me adhere to the challenge positive foods list and healthier eating.

--Low Sodium V8 juice when I need those extra veggie points at the end of the day
--Kind Almond Walnut Macadamia with Peanuts + Protein Snack Bar
--Roasted unsalted almonds and cashews from Trader Joe's
--Crunchmaster crackers (thanks April for the lead on this from the last challenge) with peanut or almond butter
--Lesley Stowe Gluten Free Crackers - super yummy with some burrata cheese (a neutral) drizzled with olive oil!
--And of course any fresh fruits and veggies I can get my hands on at our local year round farmers markets.

Best of luck to everyone on the challenge this round!  I'm on team In It to Thin It with a group of 3 other amazing women!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bad Mom V 2.0

For the most part, I'm pretty tuned into my kids.  I can look at them and tell they have a fever.  When they are acting out, I can usually figure out what the underlying issue is.  When they are hungry, I can tell by the way they are acting.  Most mom's have these skills.

I recently realized that I lacked the ability to push my kids away from gender stereotypes.  Swift and quick intervention is required.

The process behind deciding which camps to put Abby in this summer was drawn out, laborious and likely over thought.  This is my approach to most things (ranging from birthday party themes to searching for recipes, you name it).

Abby is attending the following camps, she has already attended 1-3:

1.) Gymnastics Camp

2.) Nueva Camp (very cool and progressive camp at a local private school, her two sessions were Art and Circus )

3.) Galileo Camp (the theme was Amusement Park and the day is broken into art, science and outdoor activities)

4.) Girl Scout Camp

Her favorite camp so far has been Galileo.  When I asked her why she told me "because we get to do science and I love learning".

My heart sank.  It sank far.

I focused her camp sessions on girly things.  Art, Circus performance and gymnastics.  I assumed the Galileo camp was going to be fun for her, but thought she might not like the science part.  It NEVER occurred to me that she would like the science twist to Camp Galileo.  Shame on me!!

I am a Director of Finance and I work in an organization that builds the eCommerce websites.  In many instances I'm one of the few, or sometimes the only woman in the room during meetings.

Why the hell would I perpetuate this trend/stereotype and not encourage my daughters to learn something other than gymnastics, art and performances?  Why would I not want them to be the only female in the room during meetings?

Abby has a week off from camp this week.  This past weekend I scoured the web to find science related projects she might enjoy.

It's going to take me a while to get over this.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oh Boy, Was She Mad!

My youngest daughter, age 3 1/2, has developed a very unpleasant night time routine.  She won't stay in bed.

No matter what we do, what we say, how we react or don't react, she won't stay in bed at bedtime.  It's like a mildly unruly boomerang that occasionally has tantrums.  And this all started as I'm entering my busy period at work.

After about a month of spending 1-2 hours each night to get her to stay in her bed, it was time for some intervention.  I thought about how she's motivated and one thing came to mind: chocolate.

I spent some time this past weekend coming up with a chart that she can use nightly.  The chart consists of 7 things she does every night at bedtime.  I used a cute font and lots of colors.  As she finishes one task, she gets to put a check in the check box.   These are the items on her checklist:

1.) Take bath or shower
2.) Get into PJ's
3.) Brush teeth
4.) Read stories
5.) Turn on nightlight
6.) Turn off bedside lamp
7.) Stay in bed

We leave the last one un-checked until morning.  She has to stay in bed all night.  If she does, she gets chocolate before breakfast (and by chocolate, she gets one M&M).  It's enough to motivate her.

The first night in, no fights at bedtime.  She was so happy to put checks in her check boxes.  She didn't go to sleep right away, but she did stay in bed.  Whoo hoo, but perhaps a bit too early to declare victory.

We also installed a child safety door knob cover on the inside of her bedroom door.  This is where it goes sideways.

She got up out of bed at 11pm for whatever reason (perhaps to go to the bathroom as she recently stopped wearing diapers at night).  I woke to crying, loud crying.

I went into her room and found her sitting next to her bedroom door and boy was she MAD.  I won't go into the gory details, but it took an hour to get her calmed down and back into bed (took me another hour after that to get calmed down and back to sleep).  She was not the least bit happy we installed the door knob cover on her door knob.  We took away some of her independence, the independence she is displaying so proudly these days.

Let's see how we do tonight..