Work & Family Balance

10 Things for Kids to do While Mom is Working at Home

kids-playingBalancing working at home and keeping the kids entertained can be a full time job in itself, especially when you have young children at home.   When I first started working at home, my kids were two and five and it was stressful to say the least.  Mommy needed to work and the kids wanted and needed mommy.  But like any other obstacle in life, there is a way around it.  Sometimes we have to outsmart the situation and get down right creative.  My first few months working at home, we worked on polishing the well oiled machine of keeping the kids entertained and stimulated while I worked.  And even though the kids have entered many new phases and had little moments over the past five years, WE are loving and enjoying mommy working at home!

I have always incorporated and included my kids in my business.  After all, this is a family mission, not just mine.  I let them know what OUR goals are and what WE need to do to reach them.  And my daughter loves to help me with anything creative I work on.  As I type this, she is sharing her ideas of what I should include in this article.  I love to encourage her to participate in our family business, so I will proudly include her ideas!

1. Arts and Crafts – Arts and crafts can keep some kids busy for hours. Keep the activity simple so the kids can do the projects on their own.  I have a play room setup for my children that includes an art station.  It is fully equipped with art project kits (that I buy on sale at the art store), scrapbooking supplies, coloring books, painting and drawing paper, crayons, markers and paint (washable of course), color pencils, the whole nine yards!  I get them setup and it gives me quite a bit of quiet time to devote to my business.  They have fun and mommy ends up with A LOT of refrigerator art!!

2. Educational Online and Computer Games – If you have an extra computer, this is an awesome activity for your children.  There are an enormous number of computer and online games to entertain and most importantly, educate your children.  With computers being such a large part of our daily lives these days, it’s great to teach them the basics while they’re young and give them a nice head start.  Brittani just walked in here with a list of her and my son, Landon’s favorite sites: (many of these sites are recommended by our local school system)

http://www.edheads.org/I just watched her perform a knee surgery on this site, totally cool! http://www.playhousedisney.com/ http://www.nickjr.com/ http://www.pbskids.org/ http://www.scholastic.com/ http://www.jumpstart.com/ http://www.coolmath.com/ http://www.mathfactcafe.com/ http://www.starfall.com/ http://www.thekidzpage.com/ http://www.funbrain.com/ http://www.clubpenguin.com/ http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/

I set time limits for them, they each get an hour at a time.  This solves the fighting with each other over who gets to play and when and also helps them understand that it’s time to get off the computer.  Kids can easily get addicted to computers just like us adults!

3. Reading/Audio Books – Though many kids younger than eight can read, for reading to be an independent activity children have to get to a certain level of proficiency. Let kids choose several library books. I encourage my older daughter to read chapter books to my youngest, who is not quite an independent reader. However, it takes an effort to find books that interest both.  Also there are many wordless or nearly wordless picture books that will engage kids of all ages.  For those who are not ready to read independently or don’t have an older sibling to read to them, listening to kids’ audio book is a great alternative!!  Most importantly, the kids LOVE this activity!  All while, it improves their reading skills and keeps children mentally engaged. Kids can learn to appreciate the art of storytelling before they can read. And kids who can read can expand their horizons. Those who are not strong readers can enjoy a good book. They still should do actual reading at another time. But if a child struggles with reading, then while you are working is not the time for independent reading.  Audio books are expensive, so I check them out of the local library.

4. Chores – This may not sounds like a whole lot of fun BUT my kids think it is so cool when I write each of them a list of chores to do.  It helps them to feel independent. While preschoolers are capable of simple chores, often they can’t do them independently. However, kids kindergarten age and up should be able to complete regular household tasks without your help. Teach them how to do the chores when you’re not working, then make a daily list. And some jobs can be fun. And it will be one less job for mom.  After all, a family is supposed to be a team and everyone is supposed to contribute.  Teach that early in age and your family will run much smoother.

5.  Creative Play – This is not something you can plan or completely depend on, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing. Younger kids are naturals at this, creating elaborate fantasies with stuffed animals or action figures. With older kids, you can encourage imagination by suggesting they produce a play or write a story.  My daughter loves to write stories and songs while my son would much rather pull out all the linens from the closet and build a fort.  It’s even more incredible when they team up and get creative together.  I love the sound of my kids laughing, getting along and being creative together while I’m in my office working.  It’s such an amazing example of why I am working from home in the first place!

6.  Naps – Some work-at-home moms work during nap time and get a lot done. But keep in mind that napping habits change frequently. Don’t schedule important phone calls or figure on meeting a deadline during the nap time.  When I first started my home business, my son was two and my daughter was about to start Kindergarten.  Those three hour naps were a blessing to my business.  That’s when I would make my calls and any other things that required either full silence or my complete concentration.  The nap times got shorter and shorter through the years but this still remained a great time for mommy to work.

7.  Play Dates – Believe it or not, hosting a play date can actually be an opportunity to work. School-age kids can, and should, play together without a lot of adult intervention. If you plan to work while they play, remind your child of the ground rules in advance and invite a friend that they get along with well. If you’re hosting a toddler or preschooler, you have to stay pretty close, so working is not an option. But this is a good opportunity for a kid swap. You host one day, and the child’s parents reciprocate another.

8.  Play Outside – The feasibility of this depends on your home and yard’s set up and children’s ages, but it’s something to think about when the kids are home, especially on summer break. I personally take my laptop outside with me or ask them to play in front of my office window. But you absolutely must keep a close watch.  This is a great option for those with fenced in back yards especially.

9.  Play with Toys – Sounds obvious, but any parent who’s sifted through the toy box just after the holidays knows how quickly kids lose interest in their toys. Put away some toys for a period of time. When they come back into rotation, they seem like new. I have been doing this every year since my kids were toddlers and it has worked brilliantly even at their ages now.  Board games, cards, construction toys, trains, play sets and puzzles can keep kids engaged for hours. But sometimes they have to be reminded of these toys.  My kids are notorious for saying “There’s nothing to do!!” until I go in to their playroom and pull out something they haven’t done in a while.  Then they become instantly engaged and happy and mommy can work.

10.  TV and Video Games – I know there are major mixed reviews on these two activities.  I get both sides, I do!  I am right in the middle, I find myself very balanced in this issue.  I feel that everything in moderation is okay.  My kids don’t watch TV and play video games everyday.  But if mommy has a special project or a deadline to meet, sure, I will absolutely pop in a movie for them.  Or ask them to go play Mario Kart on the Wii for a little while.  Of course you don’t want those things to be your electronic babysitter but it is a good option every now and then. I truly hope this helps you find some balance with working at home with the kiddos home.  Create special memories with them, you won’t get these years back!

What your Home Business is Teaching your Kids… Proud Mommy Moment Here!

010When I started my AmeriPlan home business in 2006, my biggest reason WHY I wanted to reach success from home was to provide a life for my kids that they deserved.  I was about to become a single mom and didn’t want to have the typical single parent home with the struggling financially and mom working two plus jobs just to make ends meet.  I wanted so much more for them.  I wanted to be a mom that was front and center in their lives, attending every field trip, class party, helping with their activities and sports, the whole nine yards.  I wanted them to live in a nice home in a nice neighborhood with top notch schools.  I knew that if I worked my home business hard and made sacrifices the first year that I could absolutely make that happen for them….and I have.  And I am blessed beyond belief.
What I didn’t know were the other effects my home business would have on my kids…..what they would pick up from me along my journey. My daughter, recently started doing Girl Scouts.  And it’s that time of year when it’s time to start selling Girl Scout cookies!! Wooohoo!!  The second she got that order form in her hand, I could see her wheels start turning.  Her eyes got big and it was like I could see and feel her dreaming big.  She instantly shouted “Mommy, I am going to sell 1,000 boxes!!!”  I told her that was such an ambitious goal but that the top seller last year only sold 350 and that maybe we should go by that as an example.  She thought for a moment and said “Ok, let’s sell 400 mommy!!”  I said “Are you sure baby, that’s going to be hard work?”  And she said with her chest out and her head held high “I can do anything mommy if I just believe I can” and she continued on with a mini speech that if I would have gotten on video, she could have been the next YouTube inspirational video sensation.  I felt tears start to well up in my eyes and I just hugged her tight.  I’m shaking a little as I write this.  I am one PROUD momma with an amazing little girl!!

And earlier this afternoon, I heard her chatting with a friend about a mini obstacle and she said “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, we can make it happen.”  I’ve noticed these little instances in my children over the past few years, I could go on and on with things her and my son have said and done that make me realize that I am teaching them so much by just being home with them and building my home business. Having a home business is so much more than just making an income.  As mompreneurs, we go through so much personal development and really refine ourselves as successful, positive people inside and out and that rubs off on our kids.  They see us everyday working at home to build something for ourselves!  We are teaching them to set goals, to aim high, to think outside the box and to dream big!  We are teaching them that with a positive attitude and hard work, they can do anything!  We are setting amazing examples for them and that is something to really be proud of!

So if you are a mompreneur, give yourself a pat on the back.  You are doing a FANTASTIC job mom!!

Should you Work your Home Business During the Summer?

summer_insand_oceanshoreSchool is out, the kids are home, moms are busy! But that doesn’t mean that our home business stops. People still need what we’re offering and people still need to earn an income, including ourselves. So the show must go on. It may be a challenge but it is absolutely NOT impossible!I have a seven and a ten year old and they just started summer break last week. It’s been exciting to say the least. But I’m still working and getting them back into the swing of “Mommy works from home.” Although things are hectic and not as quiet as it is when they are in school, I still always excel in my business during the summers. Actually when I go back and look at each summer of my business since 2006, they have been my most productive and successful months!In the summer of 2006, I was fairly new, I started in May 2006. I was a SAHM mom at the time and I worked my business around the kids, they were two and five. I would make my calls when my two year old was napping and my five year old was watching a movie. It really doesn’t take THAT much time to get those 3-5 presentations in. If you work this business smart and focus on the work that gets results, which is talking to new prospects, you CAN be successful on part time hours around the kids. It’s all about working it smart. Then before and after nap time, I would answer emails or post ads just around my life whenever I had time throughout the day. Doing those things consistently day after day helped me to have a very successful summer. I hit my first promotion that June and ended the summer with over 40 new team members.

In the summer of 2007, my summer was actually very different than the previous one. In early 2007, I went through a divorce and had to get a full time job outside of the home. When I filed for divorce, I had already reached some success with my business. I had hit my second promotion and had built over $1,000 a month in residual income. But it just wasn’t enough yet to support my kids and I on my own. I knew it eventually would be but in the meantime I needed a job while I was building. So I found myself back in the cubicle. But instead of letting that discourage me and slow me down, it fueled me and I went FULL FORCE. So that summer, my kids were in daycare. I didn’t have to worry about making calls at nap times, I made my calls on my lunch break. What I realized during that time of making calls in the Florida heat in my car is that I really missed being at home dealing with making calls around my kids. So I learned to be grateful for that time with them instead of stressing about it. All those calls from my car paid off, by the end of that summer, I hit my third promotion and built an incredible foundation toward firing my boss.

In the summer of 2008, my summer went back to normal. All that hard work I did in 2007, paid off. I fired my boss and was home full time again with my kids. We had our our life back and we loved it. But I was still on a mission to reach 50k in annual residual income. So the kids and I made a plan, we set a schedule and stuck to it. They knew that WE were working on a goal together and that goal was 50k. That 50k was not only going to allow me to STAY home with them, it was going to allow us to get back to the lifestyle we were used to. It was going to give us more freedom. So that summer, we went on a mission. By the end of the summer, I did hit 50k!

In the summer of 2009, our life turned upside down. Earlier that year, we found out that my little sister, Dawn, only 28 years old, had terminal cancer. That summer, we spent most of our time at hospice spending her final days with her. I still worked my business part time around all of it and continued to enroll people weekly. But I did cut my hours drastically. These were days and hours I was not going to get back. I can remember a few times when Dawn was sleeping, that I went outside and made a few presentations here and there. I worked my business around my family. The beautiful thing about this is that even though I did go part time, my 50k income was still there. My check still came every month, my check still grew. What I had worked so hard for in the previous years allowed me complete flexibility to spend time with my sister. My sister passed at the end of that summer. Although it was THE most heartbreaking experience I have ever endured, I’m grateful I could be there for her. Grateful that I didn’t have to miss those days with her because I had a boss and was stuck in a cubicle.

In the summer of 2010, since the previous summer was so hard on my family, we set a goal to have FUN that summer. We had lots of waterpark and beach days, we did all kinds of fun stuff. And that’s the plan for this summer too! If you notice, summer of 2006 compared to today is a lot different. I worked hard my first two summers, made sacrifices, but look where you get with those temporary sacrifices, you get to freedom. That’s what we’re working for here. And while I do have freedom now, I still LOVE my business and still will continue delivering on MY promise to help each and everyone of our team members that work with us, be successful and reach the same level of freedom. So I WILL be working this summer around my fun time with my kids. I will still touch my business for a few hours everyday.

It would be very easy to just sit back and say “Oh the summer months are slow” and just stop working and pick back up in the fall, but it wouldn’t be smart! I’ve enrolled some of my top leaders during the summer months. If I took off and didn’t work those months, I would have missed out on them. We’ve also had SO much success on our team during the summer months, tons of promotions.

Now I know that when you have kids at home with you during the summer that it can be challenging. But if you start your day with the right attitude that you are just going to go with it and make it happen, you can get it done without stress, without having to yell at your kids all day. I personally try to wake up before them, get my coffee, answer some emails and then I start my to-do list. That to-do list saves me every time. It’s SO easy to get distracted with all the “Mommy, I’m thirsty”, “Mommy, Brittani looked at me.” But each time I walk away from my desk and come back to it after I’m done taking care of them, I can look back at my list and get back on track very easily.

Moral of my story, the summer months can still be incredible months. I know in this industry you will hear people say that the summer months are slow. But the fact is, it will be as slow or as fast as you make it!  Make a choice to continue to work it hard and consistently everyday! You will be so happy that you did!

SUPER Quick Dinners… They’ll Think You’re Super Mom!

super momSince I’ve been a full time work at home mom, I have welcomed all the challenges that come along with merging my inner domestic diva with my career at home.  It’s not always the easiest job, but it is right where I want to be and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  When I first decided to become a full time work at home mom, I knew it was going to be a balancing act and I would have to get a little savvy so I could make it all happen…and have fun in the process. Cooking has always been a big part of my life.  Not only is it a huge hobby of mine but I love yummy, home cooked food!  However, spending an hour plus cooking everyday doesn’t fit in with my busy schedule.  So I improvise and am always on the lookout for recipes that I can throw together in a flash! Here are the latest super quick recipes I have added to the rotation:

 

1. Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas with Guacamole-Salsa Salad -

http://www.publix.com/aprons/meals/AllRecipes/SimpleMeal.do?mealId=2468&mealGroupId=1000

If you are a fan of Mexican food, you will love this!  I put the toppings on the side since my seven year old is not too fond of lettuce, tomato and olives.

2. Ground Beef Chili – http://www.publix.com/aprons/meals/AllRecipes/SimpleMeal.do?mealId=3469&mealGroupId=1000

I serve this over elbow macaroni for the kids and top with colby jack cheese.

 

3. Homestyle Chicken Tender Bake with Apple Streusel Pizza – http://www.publix.com/aprons/meals/AllRecipes/SimpleMeal.do?mealId=6468&mealGroupId=1000

This recipe is so delicious that my kids beg me to make it again the next night!

 

4. Roast Pork and Black Beans on Rice with Zesty Herb Salad -http://www.publix.com/aprons/meals/AllRecipes/SimpleMeal.do?mealId=133&mealGroupId=1000

 

 

All four recipes are delicious and my whole family and any guests we have over eat every bite. And they all think I am super mom!!  Little do they know, it really doesn’t take much time to make these meals happen. Looking forward to sharing more recipes with you in the future!  If you have any quick recipes that help you pull off your super, savvy mom gig, feel free to share.  My daughter and I are always looking for new recipes to try together….which is also spending quality time with her at the same time.  Multi-tasking at it’s best!!

Blessings,


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