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Kindergarten PREP

Last year my oldest started Kindergarten. It was a big change and I think I wasn’t really ready with what to expect. I’m betting that others out there might experience the same and wanted to try and help with this big change for you, your little one, and your family.

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The Hours

It doesn’t matter how early or late your school starts it is going to be a struggle getting out the door. Remember newborn days when it took forever to get out of the house and the baby would have a blowout right before you opened the door to leave? Well, this time it is remembering to bring X, don’t forget Y for whatever the special event or activity that is going on. At this point, you are just trying to keep track of what day the kids get out at 1:10 versus the other days when it is 2:43 or some other random time. Keeping track of the ever-changing times will make you miss the days you rushed home at the same time every day to get your little ones from the nanny or preschool.

Then, just when you think you have the new schedule down there will be ‘crazy hair day’ or some other fun event you forgot about and your child is all upset.

My tip would be to do as much as you can the night before. That includes filling water bottles and chilling them in the fridge.

Below are some links for all types of back to school parents.

The Bag

I was really happy I ended up getting my son the big backpack. They don’t have books to bring home, but they do have the monthly parties and school events that will make a larger bag super helpful to carry all their stuff.

In my kid’s bag, I also include a large ziplock bag with an extra set of clothes. He never ended up using them the whole year but you just never know if they have an accident, get dirty, or the day turns out to be really hot.

I also include a few other odds and ends in his bag;

  • Some small tissue
  • A tag with my son’s name and his parent’s phone numbers
  • Small hand sanitizer
  • Travel-sized hand wipes
  • Extra water bottle for class (with his name on it)

 

Food Time

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So I am all about the cute and fun bento box lunches, but I wasn’t prepared for doing class snack. You think “no biggie”, but when you look at it you signed up for a week of snacks and there are 24 students and they eat a snack two times a day so that is like 240 items. I wanted to give then variety but also wanted to it to be easy for the teacher to serve.

Here are a few options if you also have a class snack responsibility:

  • String Cheese Sticks
  • Yogurt Sticks
  • GoldFish crackers
  • Apple Slices
  • Muffins
  • Oranges
  • Pretzels

I often went to Costco and got the family pack of pre-packaged snacks when I needed inspiration. Also if you are looking for vegetarian bento box lunches I often share mine in my IG Stories for and on my Instagram Two Working Moms page.

Lunch Box

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Every school does it differently but after volunteering at lunch I saw how much these lunch boxes got tossed around. One reason why I have been very happy with the metal style lunch boxes we are using. They held up all year long and other than some external scratches they look good (the all-metal ones with no paint look best).

I love making bento box lunches. In a way, it is a fun creative outlet for me and my kids love them too. I make them while my hubby cooks dinner so I incorporate a lot of what we already have. The truth is, the lunch comes home hardly touched on most days and my son says he runs out of time. I think it is still a balancing act of socializing and eating at this age.

New Friends

No matter if you are going to a private school or the Kindergarten class down the street from home your kid will meet new friends. Some kids might be nervous, others are super excited and ready to talk. Whatever the feelings I thought it was helpful to talk to your little one about the diversity of kids. Great time to talk about kids who might have a disability, different kinds of families, and to try and be kind.

My son is very outgoing so I talked to him about being a helper and trying help other kids who might be nervous on their first day.

There are a lot of great books out there to help your little one prep for the first day at a new school. Maybe you can make the night before school extra special with a fun bath and a new book.

Lots of Good Stuff 

Kindergarten is a big milestone and it’s not all bad. In fact, I can’t wait for my youngest to go and have a more organized schedule for our family. We love the neighborhood school and it has some amazing teachers and staff. We have also met some really nice families and made new friends that live close to us. It has been a fun year building out our community and seeing how much my son has grown. He loves art now, learned to rollerblade in PE, gained confidence, made new friends, and learned how to read.

Here are some additional links to help with back to school:

How to Tackle Tough Drop Offs – NY Times

Healthy School Lunches & Snacks – Parents.com 

10 Questions to Ask Your Kids About Their Day – Scholastics

8 Tips for Managing Your Kids Back to School Stress – Real Simple

5 Back to School Tips for Working Parents – Entrepreneur

Hope this post helps and you all have a great start to the new school year.  * L


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Equality Needs to Start with us Ladies!

Women’s Equality Day is coming up on August 26th. It also happens to be my daughter’s 4th birthday and as I think about the day I, too, think about the world my daughter lives in and the kind of woman I hope she will be.

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Yes we need allies and we are moving in the right direction but things aren’t moving fast enough. What we need to do is be as accountable as possible for acting and living the life we deserve. Saying no when we are not treated as equals in the world both in the office and at home in the world of parenting. If you cannot get gender equality at home then how can we expect people in the workplace to do that?

Type “working mom” in Google and then type in “working dad” and see what comes up. You will find a lot about schedules, balancing life with moms and not much or anything like that for dads. The truth is we can have it all in the office and with our career but if we don’t have equality at home then working moms will never have work-life harmony.

OK, if you are not both working parents then stuff isn’t so 50-50, but if you are then you betcha they need to be.

Here are some ways I see working moms can help working dads with equality parenting:

  1. When the kids are sick the hubby stays home with them the first day.
  2. Use hubby’s email for all school forms so they get notified and can help with academic schedules (because they are always changing).
  3. Mom time. Find a time in the week that is your time. Mine is every Saturday morning and I do a long run and get coffee with my running friends after.
  4. Incorporate hubby in the evening routine. We have two kids so we each take one kid to put to bed and rotate what kid we have each night.
  5. Let hubby take the kids to birthday parties. Personally, I love birthday parties so often we all go but if I can’t then hubby goes with the littles.
  6. School drop-offs or pick-ups. You learn a lot when you take your kids to school in the morning or once you pick them up. You see who their friends are, talk to the teacher, meet the other parents. It is a huge part of their lives so have one parent do the drop-off and the other does pick-up if scheduled allow.
  7. Find hobbies together. My son loves soccer and hubby was the coach one season. He goes to all the games and it is their thing. My daughter is a foodie and hubby loves to cook so the two enjoy fun treats at home and out and about together.
  8. When you travel with kids you have to do everything for them. I’m a fashion lady so I like to know what my kids are wearing and pack for them, but I give a lot of the logistics to hubby like getting the rental car, tickets, and hotel accommodations.
  9. Leaving the house always takes longer with kids. Give hubby a task he can do each time to help get everyone out. I kind of became the snack lady so I usually make sure the kids have a backpack with the things they need and a water bottle. Hubby is the car seat guy. I send the kids outside once they have shoes on and their bag and he buckles them in. Hubby also manages the car seats if I need them in and out of the car. Mostly for our nanny car but he is the guy. I had to do it a few times when traveling with kids and no hubby but he gave me a lesson.
  10. Kids go to the doctors a lot. Vaccines, accidents, and whatnot. Often we both go but there are times when one of is busy and cannot go and we trade-off. It is important from a safety perspective but also good for both parents to be involved in their kids’ health.

If we can’t have these conversations with our partners about equality parenting then we should consider the impact it will have on our children and the world we are building for them to live in. If you can’t do it for yourself consider the other women and girls out there who will not invent the next life-saving drug, wifi technology, or machinery to make everyday life easier or yummier.

If you are as passionate as I am about this topic follow along with me and Two Working Moms as I explore this more in a month-long focus.

Also, let me know if you have other ways to support #equalityparenting. * L


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Micro Habits

I read this book Atomic Habits by James Clear and just LOVED it. There are so many micro-lessons and things anyone can do to make a behavior change in their life. For my career I do just that, make material to change someone’s behavior. Often by teaching them something in order to be successful at their job.

Not everyone is going to read this book but if you are that is great and you will get a lot out of it. If you are like many who won’t read the book, I think this post will give you the highlights so you too can make some positive changes in your life.

The great thing about habits is they can be the catalyst for you and your goal. If you want to write a book… read more, hang out with other writers, find a place to write, dedicate time to write, do what writers do. What you do is who you are.

I thought a lot about this recently when someone asked me if I am a runner. I never really thought of myself as one, but instead, maybe someone who does it every now and then. The truth is I have done several half marathons, have another one in two weeks and it will be my 2nd race pacing for others. So yes, I am a runner and I run 3 times a week.

What type of person do you want to be? Start being that person with small micro habits. Want to be a runner, then start by getting running shoes, go for a walk, join a running group, run 1 mile.

The science behind habits is there is a cue, a craving, your respond, and then there needs to be a reward for it to be something you will do again. The issue with long-term goals is you don’t get that reward right away. It takes time to see results and so people stop running, stop writing, stop trying.

There are some simple things you can do around these 4 areas of habits to help create new ones and to break the bad ones. book.jpg

 

How to Create Good Habits

Cue = Make it obvious

Craving = Make it attractive

Response = Make it easy

Reward = Make it satisfying

How to Break a Bad Habit

Cue = Make it invisible

Craving = Make it unattractive

Response = Make it difficult

Reward = Make it unsatisfying

So what are ways to support the cue? You can leave your running stuff out so you see it when you wake-up. Or put your junk food in the back of the pantry so you don’t see it.

I run with friends and I look forward to listening to my music and playlists I only listen to while running. It is my time and I look forward to the pretty places I run in. I have my TV in the basement of my house, it is a dark part of my home, the sofa isn’t that comfortable, and is my least favorite room.

Running is attractive to me since it is a goal of mine to live a healthy life. Fitting into my clothes is a goal, keeping my mind happy is a goal, and I enjoy running. Buying new clothes since I gained weight is not attractive to me.

I make it easy by having a running bag with all my accessories like gloves, lights, hydration packs. I lay out my clothes the night before and I have friends who are waiting for me. I keep junk food out of sight, I put the veggies and fruit in the fridge in view and junk food in drawers. I keep healthy snacks with me and pack a healthy lunch when I have time. My response is tailored so I make better choices based on my environment.

The reward should be the process, not the goal. I enjoy my music, friends, the view while running. My goal is to be healthy and get faster, but my reward is how I get there. The goal is almost unsatisfying as the journey is over once I get there.

If you are looking to change a habit, start out small. Find one little thing you can do today to move in that direction. James, the author, suggests something that only takes 2 minutes. Build that around the 4 steps: Cue, Craving, Response, Reward and see how you change over time. Take a look at his book “Atomic Habits” if you are a reader and follow me on Instagram as I will be sharing tips around micro habits each day in August.

Here’s to being the best version of you. * L


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Kid Glamping

If you asked me about car camping 10 years ago I would say no way. Why would I go into the forest to sleep next to my car? Why go into the woods so I have to be quiet and not disturb other campers? The reason is these two little faces.

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Now as a mom with two little kids car camping is the only way to do it if you want to have a good vacation and actually look forward to it year after year. I might go back to backpacking and minimalism one day but for now, I am 100% on-board with kid glamping and every year I look forward to our camping trips.

The Location 

If you live in the PNW you need to book your spot at least 6 months ahead. Yes, that is right, if  you want that sweet spot, the one group site near the bathrooms, the one with a water faucet, the one that has an outlet, the one that you to go every year then you need to book it on the first day you can so you don’t have to worry about getting something that is going to stress you out. We have that site, the one we go to every year with a water faucet, outlet, and picnic tables with a shelter. It’s a group site with good access and it’s been our 4th of July home for a few years now.

Pre-Camping

I love planning and taking notes. So last year after doing this a few times we really honed in on our pregame. It made a huge difference making the time to get some stuff organized and starting our trip on the right foot that I felt so ready I even got in an AM run before we hit the road.

Make a few premade dishes. We made some food ahead of time like couscous salad and chocolate-chip cookies. If you don’t have anything made I would at least consider having a lunch bag of food for each person so you have a quick meal ready when you get there. It takes time to set up camp and no one wants to be hangry. This is also a great way to keep the kids occupied while the adults set up camp.

Campsite Setup

In the morning your kids are going to get up at the crack of dawn. Be ready to roll out of that tent and have your lounge area set up. This is the area with the rug or large blanket. We have a few inflatable chairs and toys to entertain the kids. If they are really little you’ll have a playpen for them to chill in while you warm up the water for your instant coffee.

There will be bugs so make sure to bring net tabletop covers to keep them off your food. I also like to keep a basket out with utensils, napkins, and maybe a citronella candle to keep the tablecloth from blowing away. I keep this under the net tabletop cover to keep things clean while we are away from the site and all the critters get up on our table.

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For our picnic tables, we use the table cloths that are reusable and have a cleanable surface top and a cotton fabric bottom. They hold better to wood picnic tables and they are easy to wipe off and sanitize each time since at our location there was always chipmunk poop when we return to the campsite.

If you haven’t camped while and want to get one thing to make this camping trip a success get a new air mattress. Sleep is going to be hard in a new place, with new sounds, and you all might be in the same bed for the first time. To help get some sleep make sure you have a good bed and lots of pillows. If it is cold make sure to bring more blankets then you think you’ll actually need. Sometimes with kids, things get wet or dirty and better to have extra and not need them. I would also recommend having larger than needed blankets. So if you have a queen mattress bring king size blankets so everyone is covered.

Some things I do at our campsite and in our tent to make it feel more like home:

  • Large rug (or blanket) for the getting ready and play area in the tent.
  • Basket for shoes in the tent near the door.
  • “Doormat” outside the tent so there is a clean place to step or sit to put on shoes.
  • Solar lights to help see important areas.
  • Bathroom bag with a headlamp and all the stuff your kids want or need when you go no matter the time of day.
  • Air pump and a long extension cord. If you have kids they are going to jump on that air mattress and you are going to want to touch it up and fill it up a little more without getting it out of the tent. Trust me, bring an extension cord.
  • Furniture, and the cozier and more comfortable the better. We have found our favorite are the inflatables chairs and such. I bring some extra blankets and pillows to make it extra cozy.
  • I also like to bring some fun seasonal decorations.

The Food

Breakfast for the kids is that boxed cereal they never get to eat and while they are busy someone can make the adults some real breakfast. We do easy lunches and make sandwiches and let the kids snack all day. Then for dinner, we go big and make sure to sit at the table and eat family style like we do at home.

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There are a ton of tips online about what to make while camping but it is really up to your style. My hubby loves to cook fun stuff but he is also nostalgic about things and wants to have special types of classic dishes, especially for the 4th of July camping we do every year.

Here are a few of my tips around food:

  • Freeze large bottles of water for ice packs. This way you have water once it melts and when it does melt it won’t get everything soggy.
  • Bring a few reusable containers. They can hold lunch stuff to the beach or on a hike, they can be in the cooler for that half-eaten apple or the dinner someone didn’t eat.
  • If you can get dry ice that stuff is the best to keep everything cold.
  • Have a snack bag or box. This is all the dry snack items you have so you can have your kids help themselves. You can even have one in the cooler for perishables.
  • We use a travel bottle cleaner container that has a small dry area and comes with a brush. It is perfect for washing dishes.
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  • Bring something ready to eat like muffins, wraps, or comfort food.
  • Water bottles for the kids with their name on it. One trip… one cup!!!
  • We love making nachos. You can warm up the cheese over a campfire and then add all the sides to bowls so people and kids can build their own. Always a big hit with the groups and super easy to make.
  • This year the smores got an uplift with chocolate cookies.

The Clean and Dirty

We camp near the beach and by the end of the day, the kids need a bath, especially if we are there several days. We bring a large bucket/bin that holds our camping gear and use that as a bathtub. We warm up water with our sunshower and our immersion circulator if we need a little extra.

Once our kids are ready to go to bed we have them put their shoes inside the tent in a basket near the door. My kids are already used to taking off shoes in the house so this was easy for them to adopt. By keeping shoes inside we didn’t have to worry about bugs crawling in overnight outside the tent. This really helps limit the amount of dirt in our tent.

A few more things I add to my checklist:

  • Small dustpan and little broom to clean up dirt in the tent.
  • Disinfectant wipes (trust me you will need them).
  • Collapsible sink bucket to wash pots or dishes.
  • Paper plates for easy clean ups when you don’t want to wash dishes.
  • Large hand sanitizer for the table and a small one to take with you in your backpack for day adventures.
  • Bathroom bag or shower caddy with everything you need for the bathroom including a flashlight to get there.
  • Yoga matt for the inside of the tent to put shoes on or step inside the tent with shoes.
  • Large ziplock bag for the inside trash.

Bedtime Adventures

Bedtime for little kids is hard, even at home sometimes so we go the super easy route. I put my kid in our bed and give them their tablets with headphones. They watch a movie while I sit at the campfire only a few feet away and they pass out before the movie ends. I then transfer them when I go to bed. The great thing about the headphones is they don’t hear us talking and they get to stay up a little later than normal so hopefully, they sleep in a little.

I also suggest lots of blankets, extra pillows, stuffies, and kid lanterns.

Odds and Ends

We love camping and want to make the most of it for our kids. They thrive being outside and having everyone so close to them for days. It is a great family experience we get to share with close friends and do my best to make it fun and enjoyable for everyone.

Here are a few more odds and ends to make camping and exploring fun:

  • Scavenger hunt and exploring tools for the kids.
  • Smore’s caddy or station and stuff ready to go, including sticks with handles.
  • Glow in the dark toys and glow sticks for everything!!!
  • Toys like sidewalk chalk, buckets, shovels, and binoculars.
  • Stuff to do inside if it is bad weather like coloring books, crafts, and movies on tablets.
  • Warm robe for the kids. They are perfect for putting over PJs and keeping them warm all night long.
  • Backpack for day trips out and about to hold all the snacks.

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Hope this list and suggestions help to make your next family camping trip that much more enjoyable for everyone.

Of course, all this said, camping with kids is just like being at home with kids. It is crazy and you never know what could happen. You can plan for the worst and hope for the best and if you keep your bar low you will be happy with your vacation.

Happy Kid Glamping * L


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The REAL Working Moms Equal Pay Day

Last year on May 30th, was Working Moms Equal Pay Day.  It is a symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness of the working mom pay gap. In the United States, this date symbolizes how far into the year working moms must work in order to earn what men earned in the previous year.

This date is based on the % of the dollar earned by working moms. Current women in America with no children earn $.80 for every dollar men earned and celebrated equal pay day on April 2nd.

I didn’t think much about the date or data until I noticed this year it wasn’t the same date as before, and the official date looks to now be sometime in June. I should have dug into this data before, but now I was really curious as to how they got that date and what data was driving this outcome.

I’m a math girl and I love data. I love how black and white it is and often use it to leverage and base decisions on. That said, data can be manipulated based on how you show it. I’m going to share a lot of math with you but I want to be transparent.

In America here is what Wikipedia says are the different equal pay days based on the dollar earned:

  • Asian American women make $.85 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is March 5, 2019.
  • African American women earn $.61 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is August 22, 2019.
  • Native American women earn $.58 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is September 23, 2019.
  • Latinas earn $.53 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is November 20, 2019.
  • Mothers earn $.69 compared to fathers, and in 2019, their equal pay day is June 10, 2019.

The issue I have with this mother data is the lack of information on how they got it. Asian American women make more money than White American women. Same is true for mothers. So is June 10th the date Asian American Moms earn their full dollar or is it for White Mothers? I wasn’t happy with this answer so I did the math to find out.

Research around the Mother Penalty shows that hourly wages of mothers are approximately 5% lower (per child) than the wages of non-mothers. The research by Sigle-Rushton and Waldfogel found that 81% of mothers with children under the age of 18 made less than $40,000 per year compared to only 44% of fathers. Wage penalty incurred by women for motherhood varies significantly across nations as do work-family policies. What makes this data hit even harder is that women in lower-wage jobs suffer a greater percentage of loss in hourly wages as a result of motherhood than women in more highly paid professions.

A recent study found that the pay gap for mothers with one child rose from 9% in the period between 1986 and 1995 to 15% between 2006 and 2014. For mothers with two kids, the gap held steady at 13% and stayed at 20% for mothers with three or more children.

What is also interesting is Asian women face the smallest wage gap and they earn 97% of what white men earn, resulting in a pay gap of just 3%. White women earn 79% of what white men do, while black women earn 67% and Hispanic women earn 58%.

Using this math and the data we have, here are the true equal pay day for women in America. I also used data I found here on Business Insider and came up with this list. They didn’t have data for Native American so I deferred to the data above given in Wikipedia. The two had close data but it wasn’t exactly the same so makes you again wonder how accurate any of this data is.

Mother’s with 1 kid earn 15% less and it goes up to 20% with 2 kids. So using the data I have, here are Working Mothers in America, equal pay day by ethnicity and by 1 or 2 kids:

  • March 15, 2019 – Asian American moms with 1 kid earn $.82 for every dollar
  • July 15, 2019 – Asian American moms with 2 kids earn $.79 for every dollar
  • August 2, 2019 – White American moms with 1 kid earn $.67 for every dollar
  • August 29, 2019 – White American moms with 2 kids earn $.63 for every dollar
  • September 30, 2019 – African American moms with 1 kid earn $.57 for every dollar
  • October 10, 2019 – African American moms with2 kids earn $.55 for every dollar
  • November 10, 2019 – Native Americans & Hispanic American moms with 1 kid earn $.49 for every dollar
  • November 29, 2019 – Native Americans & Hispanic American moms with 2 kids earn $.46 for every dollar

I know it is super confusing but when we water down these dates to one, we don’t highlight the real complexity of the issue. We are also not able to reverse how they got that number or date without real raw data.

This is a good lesson to not just believe everything you read and dive into the data yourself to see the truth.  May 30, 2018 we celebrated Working Moms Equal Pay Day and now it looks like the official day might be June 10th.  Not sure how they got that date and for who? And what kind of mom is this the date for? Is it for the highest paid working moms, Asian American’s with 1 kid?

If I had a choice I think we should celebrate it on November 29th when the last working mom with 2 kids gets her full pay, but then again, maybe I am a bit biased since I am a working mom with 2 kids who’s 24% Native American with Mexican Citizenship.

Here I am pregnant with my firstborn. I started a new job at Amazon and moved to a different state, away from family, for my job. They didn’t know I was pregnant and part of me wonders if I would have gotten the job or the pay I did if they had known.

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What day do you think we should call Equal Pay Day for Working Moms in America? Have you seen new or more reliable data on the $ earned for 2019 based on ethnicity and number of kids? If so please share and thanks for reading. * L

 


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Thanks Mom for the Invention

Did you know that a long time ago women could not file for a patent in America? They had to file under their husband’s name or a use a first initial to avoid the gender question, thus many women never got the recognition. Even today there is a huge gender gap in women filing for patents. Women inventors made up only 12% of all inventors on patents granted in 2016. The good news is for the first time in a long time, if not forever we are seeing a change and more women than ever are inventing and getting credit for it.

I dug in a little deeper to find out who of these women inventors are mothers, working moms who made a difference. Working moms whom you’d have to thank if you’ve used Wi-Fi, windshield wipers, or a dishwasher.

Women in the workplace make it better for everyone! Diversity matters and moms in the workplace make a huge difference in our everyday lives and in the workplace.

Did you know a working mom invented the dishwasher? How about a Mother-Daughter invention of personality type indicator called Myers Briggs? Have you heard about the working mom Elizabeth Blackburn who won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine? What about Ingrid Daubechies who is one of the world’s most cited mathematicians? Maybe you heard about the actress working mom Hedy Lamarr who invented what was to later become Bluetooth technology. What about Ruby Violet Payne-Scott who was the first female radio astronomer?

 

 

If you are interested take a look at my Instagram page to learn more about the other 24 working moms and their inventions. I highlighted one each day in April and have loved learning about all 30 women who have each made a big difference in the world.

Diversity matters, and we are all better together for it. 

Happy Mother’s Day to you, your Mom, and to all the working Moms out there who are making a difference. * L

 


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HELP

Even looking at the title “Help” makes me a little uncomfortable. Does it do that for you? Are you good at asking for help? Do you often help others? How does the word help show up for you?

For me, it is both my strength and weakness. I have never been good at asking for help. In fact, I might be the worst at it and am still working on it today. That said, it has made me strong, agile, and able to have grit, grow and be a strong person who is always pushing herself to do more, be better.

I didn’t realize I was bad at asking for help until I was listening to my mom tell me a story about when I was little. I was selling girl scout cookies with my friends and I was complaining about my stomach hurting. It was Saturday and my mom was working so my dad picked me up. We went home and I went to bed complaining about my stomach. My dad didn’t know what to do so he called my mom who owned her own hair salon in town. She asked, “did she eat breakfast, has she eaten?” Well, that was it. I was hungry and the adult in me hearing this story made me realize how bad I was at asking for help as a child.

I was so bad at asking for help that as a child I wouldn’t even ask my parents for food when I was hungry. 

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As a result of not asking for help, I pushed myself. If I struggled I tried harder. I found a way to make it work. I got lucky that some people saw me struggling, saw me looking out the window at school too long, and asked me if I needed help. Even when I said I didn’t, even when the whole town knew my Dad had cancer I said no. When I think back I got a lot of help and people really cared about me. I wonder if they helped since they knew I wouldn’t ask, or they appreciated how hard I was trying. As a result, I have so much respect for people who are trying, people who are hanging on, do it on their own and be accountable!

I also love to help and feel thankful I have found a profession that allows me to help others achieve success. I also feel very lucky that I have a husband who is a helper. He is my best friend and knows me even when I am not paying attention to myself. He even got morning sickness when I first got pregnant (and I didn’t). We are very connected and having someone like him, has been a lifesaver for me. He also loves to help and it’s been a learning process to let go of the control and accept that help.

Many times a story of one’s life doesn’t look the same from the outside. That strong woman who has it all together needs help too and I write this not to highlight this in me but to highlight this need for all the others who are too strong, too scared, too conditioned to ask for help.

We all have our dark moments, our struggle, and when you see this in a friend, a loved one, don’t ask how you can help, ask them “what do you need” so you can do that for them. A true gift is one that is not asked for, one that is given from the heart, one that doesn’t need recognition or even acknowledgment for the true gift is the ability to give.

Life is hard and we all need a little help sometimes. Make sure you don’t miss the quiet ones, the strong ones, the ones who aren’t asking for help… as they are often the ones who need it the most. * L