Archives for March 2014

One Mom’s Work At Home Schedule

Ok so the title is misleading: I’m not technically a Work At Home Mom.

I’m a Work Out of the Home, Work in the Home, Work in the Car, Work Work Work Mom.

I’m a high school teacher and writer.

For nine months of the year, my teaching job structures my working day, but during the summer (and on other breaks) I have to schedule writing and mothering my two boys, Eddie (4.5) and Charlie (2). I found very quickly that it’s not just the boys that need routine, but I do too. I need to know when I’ll be able to write and work. It helps me focus better on my work and on my “momming”.

Knowing I will have certain times guaranteed for working lowers my anxiety and helps me know how to schedule my freelance work. It also helps me plan activities and maximize my time with my boys.

This is the routine we follow when I am working from home:

One Working Mom's Daily Schedule

Anytime between 6:30 and 8:00 am: The boys get up, I drink coffee, we snuggle on the couch.

9:00: breakfast

9:30-noon: Play time/daily adventure. Unless the boys are in daycare (which happens once a week in the summer), I expect my mornings to be work-free. If we are going to go to the park, library, out with friends, or to visit daddy at work, this is when it happens. Some days all we do is go outside at our house, but we always shut off the TV and DO SOMETHING.

Sometimes during this time, the boys will play nicely outside without wanting or needing me to be involved, and I can do some work from our deck or patio. I don’t ever plan on it though…just in case it doesn’t happen.

12:00-12:30: Lunch

12:30-1:30: Some TV time/toys/daddy home for lunch. Sometimes I catch a shower during this time. Sometimes.

1:30-4:00: Nap/Quiet time. Charlie will nap anywhere from 2-3 hours if I let him, and Eddie knows he may do a craft, play outside, play the Wii (if it’s  yucky out), have Tablet Time, etc as long as he can do it quietly on his own. This is when I work.  I write my buns off during this time. Or, if nothing is pressing, I read.  Sometimes (the best days), Eddie plays outside while I read/write on the patio.

4:00-5:00: The “witching hour”. Charlie gets up from nap, the boys have a quick snack, and most days we head to the front yard to play or chalk the driveway until daddy gets home from work.

5:00-6:00: Making and eating dinner

6:00-8:00: Family time

8:00-11:00: Boys in bed, time to write. Also time to snuggle with the husband and/or a good book.

Once a week my boys both go to daycare from 7:00am-4:30pm. Those days are cram days for work and errands and “me time”.

I probably devote an average of five hours a day to work (which ranges from my blog to freelance to academic/teacher stuff).  This is the schedule that works for me and my family.  Since I am working so much during the school year, it’s important for me to devote parts of my day during breaks to just my boys and not to work.

What does your Work Day look like?

Weekend Tip: Teach Your Child To Interrupt Politely

Deborah Gilboa is a working family physician with four kids. She spends her days helping her patients with their medical needs AND her community with their parenting questions. She has a YouTube video series and a blog with dozens and dozens of practical parenting solutions, and a book coming out soon. (affiliate link) Today, she’s sharing how to teach your child to interrupt politely while you’re working at home so you can get work done and they can get what they need.

As a work at home mom, it’s so hard to be professional while the kids are around and always needing you. Doctor G has a short video with a priceless tip on how to teach your kids when and how it’s okay to interrupt you. Whether you’re on the phone, a meeting at your house, a lunch date with a business partner or part of your downline, this skill will become invaluable as you juggle the challenges of working at home and parenting.

Work At Home Moms Spotlight: Angela of Grocery Shrink

Coffman Family 2013a

Hi! It’s Angela here from Grocery Shrink. I’m so excited to be a guest blogger for Today’s Work at Home Mom. I’m a mom to 6, ages 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, & 2. When my career started, I was a public school teacher. I married halfway through my first year of teaching, and just 3 months later, I was expecting our first child. I wanted to be home with my baby, but with my husband in grad school full time, we relied on my job to put food on the table. I spent 4 months as a working mother before DH took over as provider, and every day that I left my baby to go to work I left my heart behind.

Heidi and  Grant

My First and Latest Babies

From the moment I quit my job, I started thinking about work at home opportunities. I added to our income with teaching music and sewing lessons, taking in custom sewing, and designing and publishing sewing patterns. I threw a paper route, and joined a direct sales company. Then I added a blog and ebooks and finally our family menu subscription service. I homeschooled during this time (about 7 years) and now my school age children attend a private school where I teach part time to help with tuition expenses. We are busy.

Heidi Violin

You knew it without my telling you that the kids play violin, piano and soccer, my oldest is a pointe ballerina, and 3 of the kids have visual processing challenges that require extra Dr visits and therapy.

Kitchen During

This will be my kitchen some day.

As if we didn’t have enough to do, we are completely gutting a fixer-upper while living it.

We need my income to give the kids the opportunities we want them to have, but there’s a catch to working from home. It is still work. It requires time to make a decent living, and being a stay at home mom is already a full time job. So how do you carve out time to work without parking the kids in front of a video or letting them color with markers all over the wall or waking up one morning and noticing the house looks like the next filming location for Hoarders? (Not that that has happened here at all….or anything…ahem.)

Oops Kitchen

Aaak! Don’t let this happen to you! But if it does, you aren’t the only one.

1. Be realistic: If you just had a brand new baby or are expecting, you will need to slow down a little. You can’t compare your business growth to another person who is living a different stage in life than you are. It took me over a year to feel normal again after Grant (now 2) was born.

2. Choose a job that can run on autopilot sometimes. For example, blog posts can be written in advance and scheduled to post. Guest bloggers can help with the writing. An ebook, sewing pattern, or video sales page is always there to handle things and sends the download links automatically. On the other hand, my sewing business is worthless if I’m not available to do the work.

3. Use Videos/TV with boundaries. It’s okay to use videos to get through the crazy part of the day, but have in mind how much time you are comfortable letting your children watch and then stick to it.

Grant is helping me stage a Valentine photo shoot for my blog. I try to “work together” as much as possible.

4. Get up early. I couldn’t do this when I was still nursing a baby, but now that Grant is 2, I can get up at 5am and put in 3 hours of work before I take the kids to school. This frees up my day to get housework done and play with Grant. Then I put in another hour after the kids go to bed—usually while I lay in bed and watch a Netflix movie with DH on his laptop before we lock it down for “Daddy Time.”

5. When you carve out time to work, know exactly what you will do during that time. Have a checklist and make sure only necessary tabs are open on your browser. No distractions. I have to close my email account, facebook tabs, pinterest, and turn off notifications on my phone…or I will get completely sidetracked and wonder where the time went. I also have to tell myself to not start spontaneously organizing my desk. Some of the stuff I do as part of my job is scary for me—like writing sales emails or making a video, and I’d do anything to avoid it—even clean.

He’s working behind me improving his fine motor skills with clothespins while I sit at the table and write blog posts. Our house is under re-construction right now–another good reason to keep him close.

6. If you need to work when the kids are awake, have a plan for what they should do during that time. My favorite thing is to have activities planned that they can do right beside me. I have a Toddler Bucket o’ Fun that I curated from a busy bag swap that we can easily carry to whatever area I will be working in. Here are some of the things in the bucket.

a. Playdough and Gak

b. A clothesline to tie between chairs, felt clothes and clothespins

c. A paper towel tube to tape to the wall, a bowl and pom poms to drop through

d. A colander and pipe cleaners to poke through the holes

e. Fat Tweezers, egg carton and small objects to pick up and put in the egg spaces

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f. File Folder matching games with sticky tack on the back of the pieces so they don’t slide around

If I pull the camera out a bit you can see that I’m packing MK orders to his left, and writing a guest post to his right. He’s more content when we are near each other.

g. Felt pizza kit with all the toppings

h. Felt ice cream cones and scoops with pattern cards

i. Large wooden beads and a shoelace to string them on.

Since I am with him, I can guide him through putting an activity away before he gets out another one, and try to instill some good habits in the process. I’m also one to get engrossed and may not notice right away if he sneaks away….so all markers are now locked up at my house. I only put some of the activities in the bucket at once and trade them out every so often. That keeps it from getting boring. (I didn’t make all these things myself–I made 10 pizza kits then took them to a swap where I traded with other mom’s handmade activities.)

7. Every month schedule one or two Work-A-Thon days. These are the days you finally film the entire video class you’ve been dreaming about. Or the day you research, purchase software for, and then launch your affiliate program. Or the day you write the complete line up of auto-responder emails that will go to your new subscribers. Or the day you write and schedule a month’s worth of posts for your blog. Get a babysitter for the day (Hi Grandma ) or let DH handle things while you head to the library or coffee shop and make major strides.

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Snack baskets make lunch packing faster in the morning. Each child has his own basket and I put Mom approved items in there, such as cuties or veggie straws that I divided into snack sized baggies from the Huge bag.

8. Use your children to help with chores. It is so good for them to learn how to do basic household tasks. The older ones might grumble but if you show your appreciation for any effort, it helps build their confidence. This includes packing lunches. Even my kindergartener packs his own lunch every day. That said, sometimes there’s a need to hire help. When it’s time to pay for help I weigh the expense with how much money I could make using my time for business instead. Then make sure I use that time like I planned (and not reading Facebook updates….guilty.)

Heidi Cleaning Chores

9. Use your appliances to help keep meals coming. Mom’s who work outside the home often rely on their slow cookers to start dinner in the morning and have it ready to eat in the evening. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t do the same. I also use my bread machine to time delay homemade pizza crust so it’s ready to roll out at night. Breakfast can also be done overnight in the slow cooker or bread machine. A rice cooker is another appliance that saves me a lot of time. This is all made easier if you have a good menu plan. When I create my menus every week for subscribers, I also include an action plan at a glance guide that reminds them at the right time of the day to fill their slow cooker or bread machine.

Bread machine dough into Rolls

If you think a menu plan like that might be helpful (and yes there are dairy free and gluten free options for every recipe) come check it out here.

 

The Direct Sales Customer Rewards Program

Amanda Austin is a Jamberry nail wrap consultant, and she’s managed to grow her personal business through the use of a direct sales customer rewards program. She’s here to explain how and why she did it, and how it has helped her grow her business.

Building customer loyalty through a rewards program

I’ve been tempted over the years with quite a few direct sales opportunities, but I finally made the plunge in July by becoming a Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant. My decision was part of a bigger dream of mine to open a fashion or beauty boutique; considering I work full time and am a mom and haven’t won the lotto yet, this was the perfect opportunity for me.

Coming into this new venture, I had two main concerns: first, I didn’t have time (or a wide variety of contacts) to do many in-home parties and second, I didn’t want my business to be a “one-and-done” kind of thing – I envisioned my customers coming back to me again and again to help sustain my business. I wanted to be a true consultant, not just a party planner.

I struggled for a few months trying to find a business model that worked for me, but after some research and consideration of how my customers were purchasing products, I decided to develop my own customer loyalty program. Many of my customers were purchasing one or two wraps at a time during parties or flash sales, which meant they weren’t able to take advantage of the company’s Buy 3 Get 1 free discount, but in return, they got the benefit of a small discount or free shipping from me. I based my customer rewards program around the Buy 3 Get 1 free discount, providing three levels of rewards after each four purchased. Anyone who buys from me is enrolled and added to my Insiders exclusive customer group. If she buys four from a party, she’s already met the first level and her next purchase will include a discount. The program cumulates in a free sheet of wraps after she buys 13 wraps. I launched my customer rewards in January and have had amazing results in the past two months.

Customer rewards aren’t for every business, but the concept circles back to taking care of your customers – which is especially important when you’re in the direct sales business. There are lots of reasons to create your own customer rewards; here is my list!

Thanks your customers: Let’s face it – your customers have a choice for where he or she will do business. Customer rewards are a great way to thank your customers for their purchase, especially when the purchase was made through a direct sales party to help a hostess gain more rewards. I use my rewards as a way to show the customers I appreciate that they spent their hard-earned money to help the hostess and to support my business.

Creates a buzz: Customer rewards can help boost a sagging business and help get leads in your funnel for future parties, events or sales. I launched my rewards program as part of a Mystery Hostess party and introduced it during a live Facebook party. My Insiders were able to take advantage of their rewards right away and be entered to win the hostess rewards. The program created excitement for my customers and past hostesses, and lead to one of my biggest parties ever.

Encourages frequent purchases: It has always been important to me that my customers are buying the product because they love it and not because they feel obligated to buy it.  Although buying more gives you a great deal, not everyone has that kind of cash in their fun budget, so I want to reward the customers for any purchase, whether it’s one sheet during a party or seven sheets on a whim. This way, she feels like she can still get a great price from me without having to break the bank.

Increases customer loyalty: Again, your customers have a choice, and can easily hop to another independent consultant! The majority of the time, your customers appreciate that you’re giving them additional discounts for sticking with you, and will reward you back with their loyalty.

Gives opportunity for an incentive: With a customer rewards program, you can provide added incentives without lowering your prices or undercutting your bottom line. Occasionally, I will offer double rewards for a purchase. This gives them an incentive to buy, and I will still make the same profit from the sale.

Keeps you in touch with your customers: A customer rewards program gives you a reason to keep in contact with past customers, or customers who may normally be a one-time sale. This can be especially helpful if you’re hosting your own party or fundraiser, or offering a sale.

The best part about having a customer rewards program is the appreciation you get from your customers. In fact, after redeeming some of her rewards, one of my customers told me she loves that I look out for my customers and help them get the best deals. Plant those seeds, and your business will grow!  

Do you utilize a rewards program for your customers?

Find Amanda at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Organize 365 eBook Bundle: 23 eBooks for $20

Welcome to the eBundle that will have you organizing and spring cleaning your home, schedule and home based business! In these 23 eBooks, you’ll find tips, support and know-how about working from home, cleaning, organizing and mom support along with printables!

Update as of April 8, 2014: The bundle is no longer available, but the individual eBooks are. Click on the links to purchase.

Organize365 All Organized Ebundle 23 ebooks to organize your home and home based business for $20

The All Organized – Organization eBook Bundle is available March 24th until April 7th for only $20. That’s a savings of $133! So hop over and buy it now!

Organizing your home

Organize your home and home based business with the organizing mini bundle from Organize365.com

This 6 eBook mini eBundle will have you breathing a sigh of relief as you move through getting your pictures organized, know what paper you need to keep, help for homemaking and getting to less stuff & living more!

Working from home

Organize your home and home based business with the work at home mom mini bundle from Organize365.com

The ‘Working from Home’ mini eBundle will help you stay sane and productive when the kids are home and you need to work. It will also help you organize your direct sales business, and, along with an eClass, to learn about establishing office hours and a schedule that will help you run a family and a business. And, if you’re looking into starting a home business, or already run one, there’s an eBook about how to be a work at home mom.

Moms

Organize your home and home based business with the mom support mini bundle from Organize365.com

This mini eBundle will help all of us with meal planning and involving the kids in cleaning so we can work and live more efficiently. There’s also support here for the mothers of special needs children and those in the military to organize their homes even more efficiently than their military service.

Cleaning

Organize your home and home based business with the cleaning mini bundle from Organize365.com

This mini eBundle of 2 cleaning books is mighty! They’ll help you schedule your cleaning and know what’s clean enough so you’re not embarrassed when clients, friends or your mother-in-law stops by unexpectedly.

Schedule

Organize your home and home based business with the scheduling mini bundle from Organize365.com

This ‘Scheduling’ mini eBundle of 6 will help you create a schedule, arrive on time and provide simple strategies that work for your entire life. With the planner printables included, you will be able to make a plan that works for YOU!

This eBundle will be available March 24th until April 7th for only $20. That’s a savings of $133! So hop over and buy it now!

The Fine Print: We have all the nitty gritty details over on the Frequently Asked Questions Page, but here are a few highlights:

  • Download and back up your eBundle right away! We all know how busy life can be, so don’t wait! We can renew download links until May 9, 2014.
  • Can’t find your eBundle? Check the spam folder in your PAYPAL email.
  • All sales are final. There are no refunds and the deadline for purchasing will not be extended.
  • If you have any questions or issues with any of the e-Books included in this bundle, please contact that author directly.
  • YES! This eBundle CAN be read on Kindles, iPads and more!
  • Have questions about the eBundle? Check out the FAQ page for support!

EXTRA fun!

Want to become an author or affiliate of our next eBundle? Head over and submit your eBook information!

This eBook bundle link is an affiliate so it will help your family AND mine!

Coming Soon: 23 Ways to Improve Your Home/Work Life!

I’ve something I want to share with you and it’s coming Monday (March 24).

 

It will help you organize, freshen the house and your life and with Spring we’re all looking for fresh starts.

Want a hint?

 Come back 3/24 to find out!

There’s information over

  • Organizing

  • Working from Home

  • Schedules

  • Cleaning and

  • Moms

So come back Monday, March 24th at 8am.

See you back here!

 

Best YouTube Channels for Babies and Toddlers

Working from home means entertaining my children while balancing a student request or co-worker email. Sometimes, I do depend on the iPad for some great videos to help my children actually learn while watching something on a screen. I try to limit their screen time, and I definitely don’t use the iPad as a babysitter. That doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate times when my almost-3 year old spends a few minutes catching up on some of his favorites.

If you’re going to allow your child to watch some videos, it’s obviously worth it to make sure that the video is quality and provides some educational information. It’s through YouTube that my son learned about the solar system and can now recite for you the planets — in order — with some facts about each.

bestyoutube_edited-1

Here are a few channels that we have subscribed to that I both trust and enjoy for and with my children:

Pancake Manor

Zach and Reggie head up the great videos that you can find on this channel. Our family most especially loves this video teaching kids about dinosaur bones and where we can go to see them ourselves:

pancakemanor

Click on the image to watch!

 

StoryBots

These cute little robots teach kids everything from the alphabet to numbers to seasons and more. Because we’re partial to the solar system in this house, we’re kind of addicted to their solar system series. Check out “I’m So Hot,” about the sun:

GiggleBellies

With fun cartoon characters (featuring an elephant named, “Peanut”) and fun renditions of some of our favorite classics, the GiggleBellies channel keeps both our toddler and our baby entertained.

KidsTV123

This is the first channel we ever really discovered. My oldest son was mesmerized first by this video called, “Animal Sounds.” We weren’t surprised when his baby brother took the same liking to the song:

kidsTV123

Click on the image to watch!

What are some of your favorite YouTube channels that both teach and entertain your children?

Baked Pizza Tortilla Cups

I’m always looking for easy, new, kid-friendly lunch and snack ideas, especially the kind that can be customized to everyone’s different tastes. These little baked pizza tortilla cups are simple to make, perfect for little fingers to pick up, fulfill the pizza craving for lunch or a snack, and are the perfect little bites for appetizers, too.

Faster than you can cook a frozen pizza, you can have these bite-sized cups done, with simple, wholesome ingredients and way less expensive for what you get.

twahm baked tortilla pizza cups

Use a glass or round cookie cutter to cut circles out of flour tortillas.

pizza cup 1

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, and stuff a tortilla round into each section.

Fill with your preferred toppings and bake for about 12 minutes at 425 degrees.

For the kids, I just used sauce and cheese. For the adults, I used cooked ground beef, sauce and cheese. But you could add anything to them, and you can fill a few with one flavor combination, a few with another.

Baked pizza tortilla cups

baked pizza tortilla cups

 

Experiment with your favorite pizza toppings...the beauty of this recipe is that you can make a few with spinach, chicken, and feta cheese, even if you’re the only one that will eat it, and you won’t waste three-quarters of a pizza! Or bbq chicken and onions, spicy pepperoni and green peppers….use your imagination.

You can even make this for dinner and get the kids in on the action…set out a “pizza topping bar” and have them add their own topping combinations before you bake them! Wouldn’t that be perfect for a slumber party, too?

Easy peasy!

This recipe originally appeared on Gfunkified and is reprinted with permission.

The Top Ten Advantages of Starting a Home Based Business

My name is Elizabeth Messerly and I have been selling Premier Designs Jewelry for the last 11 ½ years.  The first two years, I worked a full-time job and did the jewelry gig on a part-time basis.  My husband, Jeremy, and I had our daughter, Kenzie, 9 ½ years ago and decided that being at home would be the best thing for the family.  The great thing about my jewelry business is that I could work it with a little one at home.  Since then we have had a son, Aidan, who is 6, gone on multiple vacations and moved into our dream home.  Without my business these things would not have been possible and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at home as my children grow.  There are so many advantages of starting a home based business, and below are the top ten reasons to think about becoming your own boss and seeing the potential of working from home.

The Top Ten Advantages of Starting a Home Based Business:

 Top Ten Advantages to Starting a Home Based Business

  1. Flexibility – Setting your work schedule around your family’s activities is what makes the job so much fun!  You get to pick the times that you work vs. being told when you must work.
  2. Tax deductions for expenses you already incur – You already have a phone bill and internet that you were using prior.  Since you are using these items with your home based business, you can deduct a percentage of your bills.
  3. Part-time or Full-time you decide – A quote that you should always think about is, “You can work this business part-time or full-time, but not in your spare time.”
  4. Tax deductions for traveling – Sell your product while visiting friends and family and now a portion of your trip becomes a deduction!  Book a party and go see your family!
  5. Home Office deduction – Get your home office set up so you can take the deduction!
  6. You are the boss – You get to determine exactly how your business is run!
  7. Mileage log – With all the trips to the post office, office supply store and to home parties (if that is part of your business), this deduction can really add up!  Grab an inexpensive pocket calendar and leave it in your car.  Every time you leave your house for a business errand, make sure to get it on your calendar and include your mileage, where you went and why.
  8. Put your family to work for you – Have your children help out in your office, filing papers, getting mailings together, entering expenses, etc. When you pay them less than $500/year, they do not have to submit a tax form.  Plus, you could also use this as a way to help supplement their 529 plan to get the best use out of your money!
  9. Great Income Potential – You can determine how much you are worth!  The harder you work, the more income you will generate.
  10. Anyone can start a business – There are so many different home based businesses out there to choose from with so much training to get you started and keep you going for as long as you would like to work out of the home.

 

I hope this has helped you in making your decision or helped you see what you truly have with the home based business you have started.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Elizabeth Messerly

elizabethmesserly@yahoo.com

www.jewelryliz.com

DC Comics and Big G Present #Superheroing with the JUSTICE LEAGUE

My toddler is NUTS about superheroes right now, especially Batman. And I’ve always loved Wonder Woman, the way she kicks butt, takes names, and looks fantastic doing it. My oldest is into the storylines in comic books and the dynamics between the villains and the superheroes.

Did you have a favorite superhero growing up? Which ones do your kids identify with?

I think what I love most about comic books and the Justice League in particular is that the good guys are almost always saving someone from the bad guys. They’ve changed over the years, but there are always heroes for kids to look up to….someone to protect an underdog, a city, or all of humanity from evil forces at work.

justice league 4 wm

And in the case of the Justice League, these superheroes work as a team, each using a special skill to combat the villains. I love that kids can get this from the awesome characters…that everyone is unique, and special, and that there is good in the world.

Fans of the Justice League can look for a set of four collectible DC comics in specially marked Big G cereals starting now and until supplies last (end of April 2014). Participating Big G cereals include Cinnamon Toast Crunch™ (12.2 oz. and 21.25 oz.), Lucky Charms™ (20.5 oz.), Honey Nut Cheerios™ (12.25 oz. and 21.6 oz.), Trix™ (10.7 oz.), Cookie Crisp™ (11.25 oz.), and Reese’s® Puffs® (13 oz.). Big G cereals can be found at all mass grocery retailers across the country. A bonus fifth issue is available in Cheerios at Target.

justice league 1 wm

On the back of every specially marked box are pieces of superhero swag that you or your kids can cut out and wear, to become members of the Justice League.

Collect them all for your little super heroes!

Thanks to Big G for sponsoring today’s discussion and helping us find our inner super heroes.