Back to School- Back to “Better” Balance

It’s back to school time again. Like every summer, as soon as you blink it’s over and here we are getting our kids in gear once again. Back to homework, making lunches, bedtime schedules and everything that goes along with structure that school requires. I can’t help but think about what I will do differently this fall. The truth is, I feel like I could do everything a little better. More time with homework, better planning my calendar, healthier meals and staying more engaged with the kids on everything that happened that day.

Over time, I have learned that striving for perfect is a losing battle and does nothing for my self esteem. So I subscribe to “better” and doing my best at “better” everyday. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but if I am working towards this goal, progress is made.

I have a little more time to do a reset and figure out what I can do “better” to balance working and parenting. Here are my top three that I’ll be focusing on:

Setting expectations for structure: My kids do better with structure, and so do I. It’s no fun to be a drill sergeant, spouting out orders in the morning and evenings to keep things on track in the household. Sending the message to my kids about the structure we need before it’s time to get down to business sets the expectation and they get into gear quicker when it’s time.

No Iphone Zone: I, like many, find it difficult to disconnect from my iphone, emails and texts, but taking a break at certain times of the day is good for my kids and I. It helps me to stay more engaged, to dedicate important time to them and to free my mind of the constant flurry of activity from work and friends. This takes discipline and finesse, but its well worth it and sets a good example for the kids.

The family calendar: I use Outlook all day with ease and success to keep my work life organized, but somehow this doesn’t always trickle down to my family calendar. Planning kids homework and activities using a calendar is the key to staying on top of it all. Simple answer right? Sure, but it’s the discipline using it when I am on the go with work constantly.

Working Mother Magazine featured the top 20 best new apps with a family organizer one topping the chart. Here is the link- it is #6 on their list: http://www.workingmother.com/digital-life/20-best-iphone-apps. In an effort to up my techie game this fall, I am giving it a whirl.

Like many Moms, I look forward to back to school time after the summer. I also love learning from other Moms who have already figured it out. Share your top ideas for better balance and I will feature them on my blog at http://chicagoworkingwomen.wordpress.com

Is it the Journey or the Destination?

On vacation this week, we went on a boat ride in the northern woods of Wisconsin. It was a beautiful night. The water was placid and the chain that we were passing through was without the normal traffic of speed boats and jet skis. About 30 minutes in, I took the place of my kids and asked my husband if we were almost there yet. He was clearly relaxing and gave me the look as if to say “What’s the rush? We’re on a boat ride?” I wasn’t cold or hungry and I didn’t have to go to the bathroom. I just like getting there.

Like many women, I tend to be very goal oriented. At home, I like to use lists of my “to dos” and cross my tasks off when they are done. At work, I have specific goals I want to accomplish each year and eventually in my career. With both, I focus with the end in mind. Finishing that project, reading that book, hitting that plan. For some reason, I think I’ll have this euphoric feeling when I get there or I’ll be able to finally relax when it’s all done.

Every once in awhile, I realize I need to slow down a bit. It’s not always necessary to operate with herculean speed, to get it done this week or even to accomplish that self-imposed goal. In fact, it’s the journey along the way that’s a lot more impactful and interesting. Figuring out how to tackle the challenge, taking a break along the way to stop and smell the roses and ditching the lists for a weekend or two isn’t such a bad thing. I’ll get to the destination eventually or maybe it will even be a different destination I didn’t expect that will be a lot more interesting.

On the way back from the boat ride, holding my sleeping daughter and looking at the beautiful scenery, for the first time, I was the one who spotted the eagle flying in the sky. A beautiful sight and a beautiful reminder. I vote for the journey.

“SUPERWOMAN”

As posted on http://www.cathycassaniadams.com blog March 5, 2014

SUPERWOMAN. We’ve all seen her. She resides in many of our towns. Sometimes she is in magazines or even on TV. From afar, she looks perfect. She has this confidence about her, her outfits are put together and her hair and makeup always look good. At work, she is a rainmaker. She has a successful career and seems to have it all. Somehow she manages to keep it all together with the kids and make it look easy.

Many of us compare ourselves to SUPERWOMAN and wonder why we haven’t achieved “SUPERWOMAN” status yet. If we only worked harder, were more organized, had the confidence or the patience to be that ultimate Mom or career woman.
When you get to know her, you finally realize, she’s just like us, and she has challenges like we do, but she’s figured a few things out. She knows what she wants and she’s willing to work hard to have it. She surrounds herself with the best resources she can to be the woman she wants to be.

The SUPERWOMEN I know, have a few important things in common, even though they are each unique in their own way.

• They are confident, but humble enough to ask for help because they realize, they can’t do it all without the right support in place.

• They think creatively to find their strengths and build their success around them.

• They are resilient. They have experienced life’s ups and downs, problems and setbacks, but they find a way to pick up the pieces, get stronger as a result, and march on.

• They are resourceful. They tap into people who have tackled the same challenges or problems and come up with solutions. Then, they put those solutions into action.

• Most importantly, they don’t give up. They are passionate about being the best they can be for themselves and for their families.

The SUPERWOMEN we see out there really are SUPER WOMEN. Ones that we can learn from, network with, and maybe even help someday. So the next time you see her, invite her over for a cup of coffee or send her an email and ask her for her best tips. You never know what she will share.