Back to School Prep Tips

Back to School Prep Tips

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Summer draws to a close much to our chagrin. I suppose some may be overjoyed to send their tiny destroyers back to school. 

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For me, it’s bittersweet.

While the fighting drives me batty, I miss having them surrounding me, the flexibility of having the option to stop my day and go for a treat, and not having to be the chauffeur all week numerous times a day.

The oldest will be in 4th grade this year. I’m a bit in denial that the middle one starts Kindergarten next year, but was grateful to get a list of items that I could nearly count on one hand. Hooray! We knocked out his list in two shopping trips (added spontaneously to a grocery run). 

Now, everyone has their routines, special school readiness list, and maybe even traditions. This family is no different.

School Prep Tips

Here are my back to school prep tips:

Little Spurts

When I get the supply list, I look it over and see what may be cheap at the store, which may cost a bit (it seems the older they get, the more expensive every aspect of their lives gets), and which we may have leftover from the previous year. Then, I break it up a bit in the course of the weeks before school so that I budget efficiently and knock out the list without breaking the bank.

Store Together

Whenever an item is purchased for the school year, I stick them in the same bag together (or the backpack if we have that on hand). I let him pick a new backpack each year as a special start to the year with whatever his new taste is for that time. We’ve had Ninja Turtles, Skylanders, Emoji, Pug, and this year was the oh-so-favorite Fortnite. Once it arrives, all supplies and school goodies go directly in the bag so they are ready for the first day of school without worry or rushing around looking for anything missing.

School Schedule

The end of the previous school year, our daughter started preschool, which meant on those days I would be late picking up our son. To prevent tears, panic, and stress, we bought a Gizmo watch for the boy. This way, he can wear it on the days I will be late, he can contact me after school to know how late I will be, and the school doesn’t need to call me wondering if I have forgotten to pick up our child. Knowing how our schedule fits together makes this and other activities run fairly smoothly, and he can wait inside during inclement weather if necessary. 

Practice Runs

A few weeks prior to school, we have a camp that he needs to be on time to every morning. This helps us slowly ease back into the up and at ‘em days rather than the leisurely wake on your own volition times. Getting back into the routine of homework, bedtimes, earlier meals, etc. can be quite a rude awakening with an adjustment period. Starting a week or two before the first day may be a good idea. We always go to the open house to meet the new teacher and take some of the fear out of the first day jitters, too.

While these act as a starter pack (get my drift there <<—- and there? Ha) for your back to school prep, the best suggestion I have is simply to take it a day at a time and do what works for you and yours. Toss in some fun while you tackle the to-dos! 

What are your going back to school musts?

Back to School Prep Tips
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And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

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What to Look for in a Mother’s Helper

What to Look for in a Mother’s Helper

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For a long time, I fought the need for a babysitter or mother’s helper. Not because we couldn’t afford it (although, I’m definitely cheap and shelling out the cash was a block I had to overcome). But because I felt like being home with my kids and working my business was WHY I started in the first place, right?

And I COULD do both. Honestly, I can. However, I was a much better mom and businesswoman by hiring someone to come hang out with the kiddos for a day. My productivity skyrocketed, the girls had a fun day, I was here to lend a hand when needed or answer any questions, and my stress level drastically dropped.

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Seriously, it was amazing. 

mother's helper

Rather than refer to the babysitter as such, I call her a mother’s helper. Why? Because I’m still home, but she’s like a second set of hands to keep the children occupied (even cleaned up after their games and crafts and such). I think I accomplished 2-3x the amount I normally would have in the amount of time that she was here. Therefore, she paid for herself three or four-fold. 

So, what should you look for in a mother’s helper? This list will help:

Trustworthy

Seems like this characteristic should be obvious if you’re putting your children in their care, right? Maybe. Yet, it’s an important one. Sometimes we feel “desperate” and want to bypass some of our intuitive feelings because of that. Take your time, vet the candidates appropriately, and have a little faith that you will find the right person for the position. Knowing that you won’t worry about their well-being if they are out of your line of sight ranks up there in key components.

Amicable

Children are GREAT judges of character. If the person does not jive with your personality, take that into consideration. Are they friendly? Do the kids like them? Now, don’t get me wrong. That stranger danger is strong in a lot of ages, which we should be thankful for and also bear in mind when interviewing. While being shy or standoffish is normal, you certainly do not want to hire someone that your children are visibly afraid of or treat badly. This person will need to be an authority figure as well as fun to keep them occupied.

Communicative

Having been a nanny and daycare worker, communication is vital in many relationships. Looking for a mother’s helper means finding someone who will be honest and they should not be afraid to tell you any information or ask you questions. Again, this may take a little bit of time for them to open up to you and establish that line, but if they are too combative or passive-aggressive, then it may not be a good fit for your needs. You also should be aware of if you are too combative or passive-aggressive. 

Helpful

Look for in a Mother's Helper

Are they willing to clean up after themselves and help clean up after the kids? If they do an art project, are you picking up the mess or do they put supplies back? While this may be nit-picky, the last thing you want to do is start harboring resentment for hiring someone you are then cleaning up after. Perhaps this point is not a make-or-break-it objective for you. But I take this bonus as exactly what a mother’s helper gets hired to do — make my job easier. So, when lunch is made AND put away, the kids have fun and are tidied up after, I can finish my work and go about my day without having to focus on the chaos that happened while my focus was elsewhere. 

This list serves as a start of the essential elements you should look for in a mother’s helper candidate. Ultimately, you will know who the best choice will be for you and your family. What’s a characteristic you would want??

What to Look for in a Mother's Helper

Please, remember to sign up to my email list so you never miss anything flawsome around here!

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

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I Quadrupled My Clients & Income After Complacency & This Is What I’ve Learned

I Quadrupled My Clients & Income After Complacency & This Is What I’ve Learned

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As a virtual assistant of nearly 4 years, I really started as a way to bring in a little extra income and feel independent. To have something of my own outside of being a mother. My husband brings home enough bacon to cover expenses, and even though my dream as a child was to be a singer and a stay at home mom, actually allowing myself to simply stay home was a lot harder for me than it was to imagine at the age of 7 or 8.

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So, trucking along with one or two consistent clients was fine… until it wasn’t. I had become complacent in my space. But being in groups and surrounded by such astounding women accomplishing so much lit something inside. I wondered if I could reach heights I would read about. 

What began as a curiosity, became a goal, and is now a vision I want to bring to life. 

The seriousness of it all grew when I hired my first coach. Let me tell you, once you do that, you’ll never go without a coach again. Or maybe that’s just me. But, it’s like having a therapist, referee, cheerleader, and splashing in some business guidance for good measure.

I Quadrupled My Clients & Income

Now, I’ve worked with a couple of coaches since October of last year. From February until June, I quadrupled the clients I work with and the consistent income that previously had me content. Seeing what possibilities were out there, and the fact that I had the ability to bring them to fruition astounds me still. Some days, it doesn’t seem real. 

Pinch me. Not only am I capable of reaching that vision, but I realize I am worthy of making it come true. 

And so are you.

If you need someone in your corner to help your business catapult to the next level, I’m ready to elevate you. When you work with me, your business IS my business and witnessing each success fills my heart with joy.

Let’s connect to make it happen.

I Quadrupled My Income & Clients
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Please, remember to sign up to my email list so you never miss anything flawsome around here!

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

If you’d like to work with me, find out how! To see your words in my blog, contact me today for a guest spot!

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Work-Life Balance: I Wear Puke with Pride

Work-Life Balance: I Wear Puke with Pride

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Today, I’m happy to feature my first dad perspective! Andrew Tan takes on the elusive work-life balance we all seek. Not only does he reminisce a bit, but discusses how to handle a little one, newborn twins, a spouse, work, and his hobbyist pastime.

Walk on his side of life for a moment…

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As I write this, my shirt is festooned with baby spit-up. The air around me is rancid and sweet. I haven’t decided if I like the smell; maybe it’s endearing.

Dad-Hood

I’m a Dad now. More than that, I’m a father to a 2-year old daughter and twin newborn boys—three children in less than 3 years.

Life is different. Not better, not worse.

Different, as in the grass is greener over there, but I’m not looking over the fence to check. I used to be an avid hobbyist, in the sense that I used to spend all my time with miniatures and scale models. What exactly do I mean? Check out my site and you’ll see immediately from the photos. As an art form, I created and made miniature worlds.

Work-Life: Puke With Pride

This is my hobby desk (hours spent here).

Now, the “miniature me” has taken over—and as I cradle him in my arms I wonder how I’ll regain my work-life balance again.

The World Before Kids

Quiet.

I remember the quietness of nights. I could listen to a podcast, audiobook, watch television, or simply gone out an visited a friend. My wife and I would have long dinners on weekdays no-less!

If my phone rang, or I got a text, there would be no juggling act. You just whizzed away a few words or held onto a conversation for minutes…hours with nigh a second thought. Time was time, and I had a lot of it!

But, life had a simplicity to it. By my age, my wife and I had worked out a good routine. Without kids, a single day went from A to B. Alas, my job (work) and life fell into a dynamic balance. You worked to live.

Now that we have newborn twin boys (!), our life-bearings all point to two words: “survival mode”.

Survival Mode

My favorite movies are about the castaways who survive on remote islands after a shipwreck. With limited supplies, these protagonists learn to live without the luxuries of normal life.

Here I am. A Dad without the time to enjoy the luxuries of normal life—things like going to the bathroom for more than 10 minutes or being able to sit at my work desk to punch out a work e-mail.

Indeed, I used to work quite a lot from home. I’m an academic scientist, a fast-moving job which is itself mentally demanding, and quite logistically challenging. Scientific progress doesn’t wait for Dads. Or, does it?

Hobbyists Know How to Get Things Done

As a miniature hobbyist (and a career scientist), I’ve learned how to accomplish hard things efficiently.

A painted miniature figure for tabletop games.

For example, I’m great at analytical puzzles: if “Baby A” needs to drink 3oz of milk, and takes 15 minutes to finish the bottle, do I have time to take a 20-minute shower and check my emails before “Baby B” wakes up from his 90-minute nap?

The answer is “no” of course.

My 2-year old is a wildcard. A veritable jack-in-box ready to poop on my logical plans. This is fine though because I’ve also learned how to survive abject failure, like a bench experiment that doesn’t go right or spilling a pot of modeling paint all over your lap.

Well, here I am wondering how I’ll write my next blog post and get it ready for publication.

Win Small to Win Big

It’s a miracle I’ve learned how to manage my time. Staying organized is the best way you can make solid progress in any creative endeavor. Before kids, I planned projects ahead of time and included margins to buffer against distractions.

Paintbrush on red acrylic paint.

If I’m writing a paper or working on a freelance painting with a tight deadline for delivery, I’d plan ahead. I’d schedule my daily routines to make the best of my time. But importantly, I’ve honed how I compartmentalize and think about projects (i.e., see how I’ve thought about speed painting miniatures).

To work efficiently, you need to think efficiently. It takes practice. The mind-space it takes to work quickly under challenging conditions is enormous!

I’ve read somewhere that to maintain mental endurance for a specific task over extended periods of time the best thing to do is break a large task down into small pieces. Focus on the small pieces. Enter the flow. And, by accomplishing the small bits as quickly and as confidently as you can, you eventually wake up to find your huge mountain… conquered.

Now caring for two newborn babies at the same time, who barely sleep longer than my favorite movie, “Titanic” starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio, is hard work. Of course, while my mental acuity drains with every lost minute of sleep, My Heart Will Go On.

The Art of Surrender

I’m exhausted.

I’ve got a backlog of projects I want to complete; unfinished blog posts, unpainted models and scale miniatures. They all sit on the virtual shelf in my head, begging me to revisit them. Finish me, they say.

Well, despite my lamentations of parenthood, I’m the happiest Dad ever. Never in my imagination did I think I would have family quite like this. Busier than a swarm of bees, buried under a pile of stinky diapers—wearing the aroma of milk-vomit. The wet-stains on my shirt are shaped like Barney the Dinosaur.

But, I’m content—The purest form of satisfied.

And, more.

I’m filled with a sense of accomplishment. I’m actually doing the Dad-thing.

The puke I wear, I wear with pride.

(Though, maybe I shouldn’t have gotten a dog.)

Work-Life Balance: I Wear Puke with Pride

Andrew Tan Bio Headshot Guest Blogger

Andrew is a loving father (of three), a neuroscientist, freelance writer, and miniature hobbyist. He enjoys the discovery of a good book, a movie (preferably science fiction), and watching his children grow.

He is an avid writer and blogs regularly about his experience as a miniature hobbyist. His site is a daily journal, a lab notebook, and a sketch pad. It is a collection of ruminations written in the quiet margins of life (much noisier with kids!).

If the miniature hobby has taught Andrew anything, it’s that anything worth doing is best done with other people. Miniatures and scale models are mediums that allow him to see things from a different perspective. Through unique miniature pieces and places, he shares how he views and thinks about the World—a place where his kids will live.

If you’re looking for a Lifestyle Blog for Dads with hobbies, or simply want to check out some fun articles about parenthood, visit his site.

And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

Please, remember to sign up to my email list so you never miss anything flawsome around here!

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If you’d like to work with me, find out how! To see your words in my blog, contact me today for a guest spot!

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3 Tips for More Ease at Home and Productivity in Your Biz

3 Tips for More Ease at Home and Productivity in Your Biz

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With three children, schedules are like a religious practice in our home. 

Let me tell you something, once in a while I throw caution to the wind and try to wing it or fly by the seat of my pants. I’d say I’m only successful at this about 60% of the time. Not really that great of odds when I have so much to stay on top of and bits start falling through the cracks.

That leads to stress and scrambling to catch back up with the never-ending list.

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To avoid that mess, here are my 3 tips for maintaining your schedule for more ease at home and productivity in your biz:

Calendar/Planner

More Ease and Productivity

Use one. Or many. It’ll make a world of difference. Whether you choose to go the digital route or old school pen and paper, each time I try to rely on my memory, I’m reminded that there’s only so much space in there before it pushes out information deemed not important (even if it IS important). The need for a planner or calendar to hold your to-dos in one place will be something you hear from me often.

Priorities

If you have designated work time (which you should), reduce your distractions and do your best to stick to your list. My dad tends to call me frequently and at random times. A choice must be made whether to answer knowing he’ll talk for at least a half an hour, or let it go to voicemail and answer the next time he calls or give him a call back later (most of the time, he calls again before I get the chance to return the first). Yes, I would rather go have coffee with a friend, but duties must be tended to prior to the fun. BUT schedule those lunch dates in, too. They’re just as critical.

Musts VS Wants

3 Tips for More Ease and Productivity

Similar to the previous tip, when I write down my list of tasks, I include and separate into what I must complete and what I want to get done if time allows. What this does is sets me up a failsafe. If I am running behind, or an item takes longer than expected, I have a list I can then push back a day or two and not be upset. As long as I get the list of musts done (this often even means breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the kids), then I can pat myself on the back once. Or two or three times.

Trust me, there are plenty more ways to maintain a schedule. However, if you employ these 3 tips, you’re well on your way to a much more productive week. I invite you to give it a go and report back with your results. Also, some days will be better than others, so bear that in mind. 

If this speaks to you, you’ll want to sign up for my email list HERE and hear more on topics related to this every week.

3 Tips for More Ease at Home and Productivity in Your Biz

If you’d like to work with me, find out how! To see your words in my blog, contact me today for a guest spot!

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And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

Please, remember to sign up to my email list so you never miss anything flawsome around here!

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Take a Leap of Faith

Take a Leap of Faith

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This year has brought so many exciting, scary changes. It’s a bit cliche when I say, stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary. But that doesn’t make it any less true. A leap or two are worth the results.

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I couldn’t have done any of it without the amazing support system I have around me. 

Remember, above all, the reason you do what you do. I get caught up sometimes, but then I am reminded and pushed by my why. Of course, my family is my why, but being able to take some of the burdens from my husband, be proud of myself, and confident in an area of my life I sometimes receive thanks and a pat on the back certainly rank up there. 

Stress gets the best of me time and again because the balancing act is never at an exact point. But, I do my best, keep my eye on the prize, and try to laugh a couple of times each day. 

What do you do to de-stress?

Without four important factors, I feel like continuing to take a leap of faith throughout my business would be so much harder.

Family & Friends 

The bulk of my support system consists of my amazing family and friends. During those slumps and moments of doubt, they lift and encourage me more than I could ever have expected. Surround yourself with positivity, and keep that in your corner. You’ll need to draw on it now and then. Trust me.

Coach 

Honestly, I was not on the coaching bandwagon. I thought it was a bunch of bologna. Then, I followed someone who made me curious. Investing and clicking that button changed my thought process, business, and attitude. Seriously think I would not be where I am without having paid that first coach. That decision led me down this path. 

Belief

Knowing that you have a skill set and knowledge that others will find to be an asset is half the battle. Proving that you will follow through on that value is the other half. I have come across a few people whose words could easily cause doubt or try to lessen my worth. Fully believing in myself, I am able to stand my ground and be okay letting them cross my path and continue on. I am not a good fit for everyone and vice versa.

Forgiveness 

Guilt can eat you up. I chose to forgive myself when I don’t live up to the perception of perfection that I have in my mind. Maybe I let my kids watch TV or play video games all day or pushed a project timeline back that  I thought I would have finished by a certain time. Feel that, own it, and then let it go. It’s okay. We hold our expectations a bit high sometimes. As long as I do the best I can, I try very hard to put that in perspective. The first two factors listed help a lot in this area. 

When I keep all of these items in check, I am able to take a leap of faith when my business or life requires it of me. They all provide the drive and push that are needed for those blind jumps. With that, I can grow, test, fail, learn, and succeed. And so can you!

Take a Leap of Faith

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And grab your freebie on how to Get Lost in Your Child and really engage with them even on busy days. (I’m off to spend the day with the girls before brother gets out for the long weekend.)

If you have a little in diapers but aren’t sure which brand may fit the best for their little tush, feel free to try a mixed selection with the Diaper Dabbler!

If you’d like to work with me, find out how! To see your words in my blog, contact me today for a guest spot!

Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class