Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tips for single working mums

Single parent families are now the single fastest growing family type in Australia. It has been predicted that over the next 20 years, the numbers of one-parent families will soar by up to 70%. Single parents face different (not necessarily more) challenges to coupled parents. Their needs are unique. One of our working parents recently asked for some support in this area.

Here are some resources and tools offered by one of the single parents on our team…

Talk to other solo parents

These conversations can be a treasure trove for what works and what doesn’t but mostly it offers some solace when we feel overwhelmed or like we’re not managing well. This Australian website for single mothers has a community forum you can interact with other mums on Single Mum. This list of solo parent bloggers may also offer some support.

Employ help

How much help you seek will be dependant on your financial situation however you can make this work whatever your budget. For example, I get a cleaner in once a month. My place needs cleaning more often than that but I really need to only do a top up/wipe over every week rather than a full on scrub and glisten. You could also get a baby sister for a couple of hours every so often or once a week to hold the fort while you run around and get errands done (say on a Saturday morning if you work full time). That way you don’t have to drag the kids around and it will probably take 1/4 of the time which leaves more quality time with your kids.

Reduce extra-curricular and social activities

With 3 children - if each of them are doing an activity outside of school/childcare it’s going to be a full time job in itself. If the kids are upset about reducing their activities you could talk through some alternatives with them - would they be willing to go with a friend’s parents? Would they be open to taking turns i.e. one child does ballet one term, the other does soccer the next? This can be a tricky one to negotiate but ultimately remember your stress levels are a priority and will effect their wellbeing as well. If we are fully present and stress-free your kids will reap the benefits of that - more than any sport or activity could provide.

Utilise your network

Exchange pick-up and drop of responsibilities with another parent or ask for favours from friends. It has surprised me how open and willing child-less friends have been to this. Obviously not everyone is up for the challenge (I have had a no… but this was because they didn’t feel confident in their abilities to care for a small child) however generally my experience is that most relish in the idea that you entrust them with your offspring. I like to remind myself that it takes a village to raise a child - which isn’t relinquishing responsibility - our kids really do learn from each adult they spend time with. Allowing this support has helped me see the real value in in this.

Prepare your manager

Prepare your manager for how life is going to change for you so he/she has some insight and understanding when issues arise.

Discuss flexible work options with them also. These could be anything from starting later and finishing earlier, working from home for some of the day (perhaps in the evening when the kids are in bed). Let yourself imagine the best possible work-life balance scenario – it may just be possible but you won’t know unless you ask. As they say, shy bears get no sweets. Have a few ideas up your sleeve about how you will manage emergency situations i.e. supports you can call in or a ‘making up time’ arrangement with your manager.

Simplify your routine

The small things like prepping and freezing meals on weekends ready for the week ahead, getting the kids to lay out their clothes and packing school bags the night before etc all help. With any challenge you face ask yourself: what is the simplest way to do this? (as apposed to easiest or best as these imply there is a right way to do things when really we’re after what feels most supportive).

Be consistent and open with your child/ren

Your kids may push you at times (not always consciously) especially when the other parent is absent. If what they are presenting doesn’t feel good to you stand your ground but keep it consistent and keep communication open. Explain to them the real reason why or why not you made that decision. Yes, a tantrum or argument may ensue still but if we discuss it afterwards there’s a foundation of understanding for the next round the disagreement or reaction comes up. The outcome can be significantly different.

Accept the To-Do list will never be done

And some days the house doesn’t look and feel as harmonious as you’d like. Letting go of being it all and doing it all can give you the space to really enjoy this time as a sole parent. You and the kids have a great opportunity to work (and play) together which - amongst any sacrifice or chaos - can lead to a time of great growth for you all.

Make self care a priority

This should really be at the top because if we don’t look after ourselves how can we truly look after another. How do you find the time with 3 kids and a job? It’s a combination of utilising the above points, making the small moments count (like when you’re applying make up - really being present with yourself) and scheduling in some me-time. Me-time gives you a chance to steady yourself amongst the busyness of life. Even 5 minutes can do wonders if it is solely focused on reconnecting to yourself. The Unimed Living website is excellent for self care tips. Here is a link to ten free 5-15 minute meditations you can do before bed.

Appreciate all that you are

Take moments regularly to appreciate all that you are able to do to support yourself and your family. Despite what you think at time it's highly likely you are doing an amazing job… you’re not perfect and things aren’t always smooth sailing but you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve got most of the time. The power in appreciating yourself can, in itself, alleviate a lot of stress, guilt and worry.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Working Smarter in 2016

Almost everything in society is telling us to work harder, be better and strive for more. What if this actually creates the opposite effect of what we truly want – to feel great about ourselves and to feel purpose in our lives? If we feel good it makes sense that our work will reflect that – whatever job we do. But what if we don’t feel vital and alive most of the time? How does that affect our work and which comes first the chicken or the egg - work hard, feel bad or feel bad, work hard?

Consider this: “77% of workers have a chronic health condition: depression, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and heart attack, that is costing business $84 billion in lost productivity.” Gallup, 2013. And this: “There is a significant cost of work-related stress, depression and anxiety which is over 13 million days a year.” Annual surveys of sickness absence CBI (CIPD/AXA 2012)

Working hard is clearly taking its toll on us but it needn’t be.

Being busy and working hard aren’t the same as being effective yet most of us subscribe to these notions. But, why? And what works if ‘hard’ and ‘busy’ don’t?

Monday, March 7, 2016

How To Decide How Connected You Want To Be On Maternity Leave

You might want to check in, or maybe you're looking forward to completely unplugging, but you'll probably end up somewhere in the middle.

The two ends of the spectrum on maternity leave are what I like to call "full blackout" (whereby you’re completely offline and unreachable except in case of true, dire emergency) and staying 100% online (plugged in to your office via the various devices you rely on).

As for the plugged-in approach: One woman told me matter-of-factly that she worked during her entire maternity leave(s), albeit remotely. "I wanted to stay on top of the projects I cared about," she said. She was also reluctant to completely turn over her work to junior team members because she wanted to be able to seamlessly ramp up again—even though her company and managers would have been fine with her disengaging for a few months. She never even put up an out-of-office message.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Going on Parental Leave? 6 Tips To Make It a Success for You—and Your Boss

Parental leave is one of the hottest topics of late among certain cutting-edge employers racing to offer more and more weeks of fully paid leave. But time and pay aren’t the only factors at play when it comes to a successful maternity leave.

Here are six key issues employees and their employers should consider when creating a successful parental paid leave policy.

Hire a freelancer to fill in while you’re away. With replacement help (if you and/or your company can swing it), your colleagues will be less likely (even subconsciously) to resent your leave and more likely to celebrate your expanding family. Too often, a new parent’s job responsibilities are divvied up among colleagues, resulting in multiple points of contact for your turnover and return. This can make the transition period disjointed.

Monday, January 4, 2016

3 Resolutions You're Going to Break—and What You Should Resolve to Do Instead

The first day of the new year is always the same. You start off strong, a long list of resolutions planned, ready to conquer your career goals. And you do—for a week, maybe two, or even a few months if you’re on a roll.

Then, something throws you off track. The culprit may just be a seemingly insignificant workplace annoyance, but it has the power to affect your motivation in a big way.

It’s easy to become discouraged and frustrated when resolutions don’t go as planned. If, for example, you made it a goal to organize your desk every morning, but are called into an unscheduled, impromptu meeting first thing one day, it’s natural to think, “Well, I missed today,” letting yourself off the hook. The problem is you forget the next day and for weeks after that. Soon enough, you abandon your goal to get more organized altogether. And such begins the cycle of self-doubt and frustration that ultimately leads to you dropping your resolutions completely.

There are a few basic reasons these ambitious goals flop, including overcommitting and attempting to change too much too quickly. Bad habits are hard to break, but it’s even harder to establish new ones. Trying to undo behaviors that have become second-nature is like trying to rewire your brain.

In order to help you avoid the usual pitfalls and see your goals to fruition this year, here are three career-related new year’s resolutions you should avoid—and three better goals to aim for instead.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

5 wise tips to build a successful career

We’ve all had the thought “If I’d only known what I know now when I was in my 20’s”. It’s now an old cliché. Given the wisdom we accumulate with age is not new and was certainly available when I was in my 20’s (see quotes below), I think a more apt statement is “If only I’d listened”. I know that in my 20’s I thought I knew better than everyone else and consequently, didn’t search out the wisdom available to me and didn’t listen to it when others tried to contribute their wisdom. So it’s taken me 56 years to accumulate what I know now, some of which required that amount of time, and a lot that didn’t.

So having forewarned you, here are 5 lessons I’ve learnt along the way that work for me and are foundational in the work that I do with my clients.

1. Take on the journey of self-awareness

Find a mentor, not someone who will tell you what to do, but someone who will help you ask the right questions about yourself. The more you know and understand yourself, the more you can create beyond your boundaries.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

2. Determine what is important to you (your values)

Now live consistent with those values. To begin with, it will require some evolution as you sort out what is, and what is not important, but you will sort it out. Values are the signposts that guide you and provide the pathway required to fulfil on your purpose in life. 

“Your values become your destiny” – Mahatma Gandhi

3. Walk the talk

Do what you say you are going to do, keep your promises and commitments, turn up on time! Nothing builds trust and credibility more effectively and without these attributes, you will never achieve what you are capable of achieving. 

“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall” - Proverbs 28:18

4. Don’t be a victim 

I.e. don't blame something other than yourself for your circumstances. It robs you of the power to deal powerfully with what life dishes out. Always start with how you have contributed to why it is the way it is before you start to point the finger. This is a responsible perspective and will have you be proactive, not reactive. 

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” Winston S. Churchill

5. Value your relationships 

And manage the quality of your relationships over time. Your career will be a function of the relationships you create and manage over time. Ensure that you provide value as well as receive value and don’t be afraid to ask people “What’s important to you in this relationship?’ because you will then know how to provide value for them.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” African Proverb

Reading the above 5 points will make no difference in your career unless you act on them in some way. So my parting piece of wisdom is to translate your thoughts into actions, any action to start with will make a bigger difference than no action. 

What actions can you take based on the 5 points outlined above?

By: Joe Watkins
Source: HR Daily

Monday, November 2, 2015

How to Be a Career-Loving Parent: Know Your Work-Life Options

The first installment of this series introduced the idea that "working parent" is a phrase of resignation. With that choice of words, we give up the idea that we can be passionate about both work and family. We resign ourselves to a life in which we can only really be good at one thing. Instead, if we choose to think of ourselves as "career-loving parents," we open up whole new worlds of possibilities for our families, for our careers, and for ourselves. In this installment, we'll look at the many work-life options available to today's career-loving parents.

Before we jump into work options, let's have a quick review of what it takes to be a career-loving parent -- a term I stole from Sheryl Sandberg, who stole it from Caroline O'Connor. While simply changing the words we use makes a big difference in the possibilities we perceive, it also helps to take some concrete steps to integrate our lives as parents with our lives as workers. Here are those steps:
  • Know your work-life style. Do you like to integrate work with the rest of your life, separate work from the rest of your life, or do you like to switch focus back and forth as needed? We covered this in the second article, so jump over to that one if you haven't read it yet.
  • Know your work-life options. In today's world of work, there are more choices than just working outside the home or staying home with the family.
  • Get smart. Regardless of your work-life style and your particular work arrangement, you can make the most of your circumstances with a few simple tricks.

Know your options for when, where, and how you work

Today's world of work is filled with more options than ever before. Thanks to evolving technology, shifting expectations, and research that proves great work can be done in a host of times, places, and styles, anyone with reliable access to a computer, the internet, and a strong work ethic (don't forget that one) can design a career to fit his life -- and a life to fit his career.

Of course, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. You might trade stability of income for flexibility of schedule, or time with family for benefits that take care of them. Whichever option you choose, make it consciously. Consult with both your family and your coworkers. Weigh the tradeoffs mindfully. If you're having trouble figuring out which option is best, though, see if you can arrange some controlled experiments.

If you're having trouble figuring out which option is best, though, see if you can arrange some controlled experiments. Maybe your current full-time, out-of-the-house job is willing to try one work-from-home day weekly. Or maybe you can try working on your home-based business from a co-working space while the kids are at school. Don't fall into the trap of believing that these are your only options -- or that you can only choose one. Instead, think of the table below as a palette from which you can choose one, two, or many colors for your portrait of the ideal career-loving parent.
Huffington Post Image

Are there more options than you thought? Are you already thinking of ways you can creatively combine or experiment with these options to design a meaningful, fun, and fulfilling life? Share your story of being -- or aspiring to be -- a career-loving parent in the comments below. Other readers would love to hear from you!

Oh, and come on back next week when we'll dive into the "get smart" step of becoming a career-loving parent, in which we refine what we've learned from the first two steps for the difference that makes a difference.

Dig new ideas about how to integrate your work into a meaningful, fun, and fulfilling life? Trying to keep your head and your heart while keeping your job? You might enjoy my weekly updates.

By: Eryc Eyl