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Why yes, it really is that simple.  Not only do most US corporations effectively send some of their brightest and most motivated employees packing with a baby shower, but the US economy is the big loser.  You know, the US economy that we’ve been hearing so much about in recent years, with stagnated growth and recessionary tendencies? 

According to Sallie Krawcheck, a former corporate president, “Fully engaging women in the economy can increase GDP by as much as 9%.” 

Let’s be clear on one thing.  Women who leave the corporate life in favor of raising their families aren’t generally sitting home eating bonbons.  They are the women volunteering all around us and taking low-paying but indispensable jobs in what is known as the “shadow economy.”  These women make our schools run, keep our churches growing, mobilize others for political agendas, and lend their influence to their communities as bloggers and small business owners.  They volunteer in the health care systems.  They run back offices for their family business.  They take care of the aging.  They mentor others.  They teach our children.  And they are penalized in corporations for it.

Read more in this compelling article. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121211003923-174077701-big-idea-2013-flexibility-without-shame.

While a lot has improved in the work world in past decades, we still have far to go.  It is amazing how far behind the curve the US is, compared to many European countries.  If you can’t wait for changes, then entrepreneurship is probably for you.

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The title pretty much sums it up.  I read Every Single Article that comes across my desk with the words “balance” and “motherhood”.  I have it about as good as it gets, really.  Honestly, I write my own hours, I have a husband who shares the load, and I don’t have any crazy extenuating circumstances like a high-needs child or a high-maintenance parent.  But still I look for the magic bullet to creating a more successful day, often bolstered by coffee and/or chocolate. 

Today, I’ll share a good one from a friend with a wicked sense of humor, Kelly Brown.  She normally writes over at her blog, The Turnip Farmer.  She tells it like it is from her situation as a person working for an employer.  But really, she could be any mom, with any permutation of work/stay-at-homedness.  Do you recognize yourself in this article at all? 

Finding the Balance as a Working Mom

 

Girl Power

This last week or so, I keep seeing things that
make me all weepy. Yeah, I’m a girl, and girls do that.
But there’s power in these images, these stories, and these
tears. This is for your girls, you, and even your boys.
Prepare to be awed.

Last night, a friend sent me
the post titled, “I am Malala.” This is the story
of the young girl shot point blank in the head by the Taliban for
advocating for the rights of girls to go to school. Here’s
the video of Malala’s family’s situation
well before this took place. Trust me, it is worth the 9
minutes, even if it shocks you or makes you cry. Her father thought
he was offering himself up to danger to stand up to the forces of
evil, but his daughter took the bullet. What this man and his
daughter teach the world, for her sake, for her friends’ sake, and
for the betterment of his whole country, is really
awe-inspiring.

;

Hours before
that, I was sitting in the ballroom of the Baldwin School taking a professional
development class. The class, by the way, was organized by
and for moms in social media who help
each other grow their networks and their businesses, which alone is
a testament to the creativity and power of thinking women. I
entered the building a bit put off by the wealth and entitlement of
the expensive private school education that the Baldwin girls
receive. But after taking a tour led by some of the senior
class, I can’t help but admit what a great world it would be if
all girls were
nurtured in the way that these bright, motivated girls clearly were
within their school. I actually came home thinking, now how
could I create that same environment of a close-knit community that
encourages the kids to become “thinking girls”… but without the
tuition? In fact, nearly all of the children that I
personally know here in America receive an entitled education,
compared to what the girls in Malala’s class- and girls in much of
the world- have access to.

Today, Daily Worth highlighted a new project,
being funded through Kickstarter, that offers the first engineering
toy specifically for girls. You have to go watch this video
for GoldiBlox, The Engineering Toy for
Girls
. Yep, I got weepy while watching. You
see, my girls love to read, and they are super smart (of course
they are). But I’m still afraid that they won’t even consider a
lifetime in the science and engineering fields. Why would
they? I didn’t even know what an engineer was until I was in
college. Despite my label of gifted as a youngster, despite
my involvement in problem solving clubs, despite my curiosity about
the world, no one ever mentioned a career where I might engineer my
world. Ever. I ended up in the language arts,
because I was a good reader. I would
gladly pony up $30 today to give my girls that option, covered in
pink and ribbon and accompanied by a book, but over 5,500 other
people beat me to it, and now I’ll have to wait to buy mine when it
hits the stores next year.

;

Just last week,
I was overjoyed (more tears) to hear that the practically medieval
law disproportionately affecting stay at home moms that
incredibly got passed and put into effect last
year is going to be revised. The CARD Act of 2009 included a
provision that kicked in last year disallowing stay-at-home parents the right to
their own credit
without the approval of their spouse if
they could not document their own income.
GRRRRR. What bull!!! But thanks largely to one woman,
Holly McCall, and www.MomsRising.org,
it looks like the CARD Act will be revised to make sense
for families. Even when society falls back to bad choices for
women and their families, we persevere, pull together, and make
things better for our daughters.

Having been
decimated by divorce, having been shaken by layoffs, having seen
friends who lost their whole self when their world was financially
devastated because of some man, I’m grateful to have this business,
started before my kids and carried on through two pregnancies, to
carve out my professional self. I am not an engineer, I am
not a politian, I am not an international activist, but I am a mom
who is modeling success in this world to my daughters through my
business. I have that right. I have that
privilege. And so do you.

You go,
girl.

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Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

When ya coming home Dad?  I don’t know when,

But we’ll get together then, son.  You know we’ll have a good time then.

 

This little refrain dances through my head with a folksy little tune quite a bit these days.  I’m sure I was a strange child, because Cats in the Cradle has been one of my favorite songs since I was about eight years old. Yes, I was cat-crazy from an early age, but I’ve always understood the story that the song tells. http://www.lyricsdepot.com/harry-chapin/cats-in-the-cradle.html

Cats in the cradle…

It seems like recently has been a particularly tough “cats in the cradle” time for my family.  My mom just retired after working 44 years with the same company.  She called me on the last week of her job, also my birthday week, and I was working on deadlines, stressing about sitter arrangements, and a dozen other things that day.  It was hard for me to stop the whirlwind of my day to settle down long enough to ask her how she was feeling about her next big life change.   Recently, I forgot my Dad’s birthday, but randomly called home just to say hi on his big day.  Luckily, it wasn’t a birthday ending in a zero. Both of these incidents shone the light on me, constantly in motion, compared to their process of slowing their lives to a “smell the roses” pace.  My workaholic mom and I have officially switched places.

And the silver spoon…

My two preschoolers keep me busy with the usual stuff, like running to school and playdates. We have a lovely home that takes time to maintain and update. We are blessed with friends, church, and family.  My husband sometimes travels for his job, which strains our schedule.  And, of course, we joke that I work for the most demanding boss ever, myself.  It’s not quite a silver spoon life, but we, like most Americans, have it relatively good, as long as we are working and paying our dues.

Little boy blue…

Discipline, sibling rivalry, and reminders about manners take up a lot of my day.  Most days feel like one step forward, two steps back.  I thought two little girls wouldn’t wrestle, for heaven’s sake.  Sometimes I am blue- no-worn out- by day’s end. Where are all the well-meaning lookers-on from the malls and the stores when I’m refereeing my 99th wrestling match of the day?

And the man in the moon…

When Cats in the Cradle was a hit for Harry Chapin in 1974, I was just a baby.  Moms all over the country were still busting out of the household, scratching and clawing to make it into the working world.  My girls don’t realize that women have, indeed, reached the moon, but only recently.  They don’t yet realize how happy it makes Mommy to be able to keep one foot firmly in my professional life, while also working a second shift at home rather than sending them off to daycare.  The song croons about a boy and his father, working too hard to fully experience his growing son’s life.  The young child wants to be just like his daddy and by the end of the song, the workaholic dad realizes that, “He’d grown up just like me.  My boy was just like me.”

In this day and age, the song would be written for mother and daughter.  I really believe there is no absolute balance, no way to fully appreciate every single moment, no way to keep the kids small at their cutest stages.  If it’s hard to decide whether this is an article with more “up” sentiments or more “down,” that reflects reality.  Our lives are Cats in the Cradle moments strung together. Many women today take big risks to fashion a life that allows for professional pursuit, flexible scheduling, and time enough with their mini-me’s.  I wonder who will write the next Cats in the Cradle song for this generation.  I won’t be surprised if it will be all about a mom and her daughters this time around.

 

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Thanks to a respondent on the www.DailyWorth.com website.  On May 9, 2012, they had a great post about one of the Daily Worth staffers getting pregnant, and thinking through her concerns as an employee of a small company.  Read it here.  http://dailyworth.com/posts/1259-What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Getting-Pregnant-on-the-Job

 

A Canadian reader shared this resource, which allows Quebec residents to claim benefits to stay home with their new baby even if they are self-employed.  Wish we had something like this in the good ol’ USA. Read more here.

http://www.rqap.gouv.qc.ca/index_en.asp

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Mommies-to-be, isn’t it great when you get sound advice from sage moms?  Mom bloggers are loving The Pregnant Entrepreneur, and they are willing to take up their blog space to talk about it.  Check out what they are saying, and click on their links to enter to win a copy they may be giving away:

In my opinion, this book is really one of a kind. Owning a business is a dream for many woman, but they may think it’s impossible to do this while expecting or already raising a family. Not anymore!

-Kecia at  http://southerngirlramblings.com/the-pregnant-entrepreneur-book-review/

Although there are some great business related tips, the book does not read like a textbook.  If you are trying to balance work and family, then you will most likely find this book extremely helpful and informative. 

-Cake Mom at http://jamielz.blogspot.com/2012/05/pregnant-entrpreneur-review-and.html

Whether you have a small starter business or a larger established company this book will help you navigate through pregnancy while owning your own business.  I wish I had this book 2 years ago while I was pregnant with Jace.  I had been working my jewelry business but stopped because I was so overwhelmed.  This book would have helped me to put things in perspective and keep the business going. 

-Lisa at http://www.astheygrowup.com/2012/05/mamas-ultimate-giveaway-bash-pregnant.html

 

Two aspects of the book that I especially enjoyed were critical questions and case studies. The critical questions at the end of each chapter help motivate and inspire the reader. The real examples of mom success stories are also inspirational and educational.

-Scarlett at  http://momswearyourtees.com/management-tips/pregnant-entrepreneur-book-review/ and https://www.facebook.com/Moms.Wear.Your.Tees.SMM

 

I kid you not – this is one of the most impressive non-fiction, how-to books that I have read in quite a long time.  Targeted to pregnant women who either have their own businesses or are considering starting their own business, it is also an invaluable resource for any self-employed, stay-at-home, working, or student mom.  I suspect that it is a terrific resource for all moms, at every level of working. This book has the potential of being life-changing!

– Cluadine Wolk, Author of It Gets Easier! And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, Help4NewMoms.com

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You don’t know what you don’t know when you become a parent.  Here are a few doozies that still catch me off guard.

Table manners matter.  I’m not sure when this happened, but I became a stickler for table manners.  Of course, toddlers don’t have table manners.  More accurately, my toddlers actually own manners, they are just constantly misplacing theirs.  My oldest is five, and she absolutely loves being loud, making funny noises, hiding under the table, and getting her younger sister to misbehave along with her.  I wish I could be the carefree mom that laughs and sings at the table savoring every moment with my young children, but after getting everyone to a hot meal, I just want to enjoy it in relative peace.  Not complete silence, just peace.  Call me crazy.

No respect.  It amazes me that Rodney Dangerfield, who is absolutely a man, made a career of the phrase, “I get no respect.”  In fact, it is mothers who get no respect.  It’s become a running joke in my family, and it happens all the time.  I shop for dinner, plan dinner, and prepare dinner, but hand it off to my husband to grill, and the girls say, “Thank you for a great dinner, Daddy.”  For our recent trip to Hershey Park, I clear the dates, book the hotel, and buy the tickets, but my husband drives the car, and the girls say, “Thanks for taking us to Hershey, Daddy.”  I shop for clothes, launder them, and get the girls dressed, and the girls run to daddy to hear his obligatory praises of, “Oh, how pretty!”  I knew this would happen, of course, because I under-appreciated my own mom.  Serves me right.

Guilt.  I am sometimes ashamed and terrified of my perfect children.  As I befriend mothers who are raising children who are allergic, fragile, disabled, or tragically taken too soon, I am struck by guilt that I don’t actually worship my perfectly healthy children.  When they have a meltdown in the store or smack each other, I admit to sometimes losing my cool.  No, I’ve been too busy rearing them and setting boundaries to smother them in kisses several times a day, which is exactly what I should be doing. Which is exactly what my friends would do if their child were suddenly cured, restored, returned to them.  In the same breath, I am terrified that something terrible will happen in the next moment to my perfect children.  Would I be as graceful as these women I have come to admire?  There’s no way of knowing until I am tested, which I pray I won’t be. More guilt.

I love working.  Not that this one is a complete surprise.  I’m just grateful to be able to design a life where I can enjoy my kids and enjoy a fulfilling creative outlet that produces and income.  Especially when my kids drive me crazy, I still have this professional side of me up and running, and it is worth all of the energy that it takes to keep both sides of my life running at the same time.  Frankly, some days I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my awesome business.  Yes, I love working, and I love working for myself even more.  udge me if you want, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this one.

I’m sure there are more. But they’ll have to wait for a refill on chocolate and coffee, which I swore I would never use as crutches to get through my day.  Never say never.

 

 

 

 

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My bank account just tipped over into “significant money” territory.  I tell you this because it is, well, significant in my mind.  And I want to give you a benchmark for your own business.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to disclose the amount, but I decided not to because every business has a different “significant” number.  Yours might be a steady $25 per week or six-figures a year or a certain dollar figure in your checking account.  It makes no difference, really, except that you track it, watch for it, and celebrate it when it happens. 

My business has been profitable since day one.  Profitable just means that that the income completely pays for all the expenses in the business, including all the indirect expenses like my home office space, business lunches, and office supplies, and of course all the direct expenses like advertising and supplies for my clients. Profitability is good, because no one else, including my spouse, needs to be involved in how my business decides to spend it’s money.

Especially service businesses, like mine, may take a while to get off the ground and produce significant money, but it is a great feeling when you are able to point to a healthy bank balance, something that is large enough to pay for a family vacation, a car, or even a home, and see that your efforts are paying off in the same way they did when you were back working in cubicle-land.

If you are still struggling this year to make your business pay, and you aren’t already working with a CPA, you owe it to yourself to get some qualified advice on your taxes to keep more of your business earnings and get to your “significant money” threshold sooner.  Here are a couple of places to go and look for your next CPA:

http://www.daveramsey.com/elp/home/ictid/tp.nav

http://www.cpadirectory.com/

Best wishes for a healthy business and a healthy baby.

 

 

 

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If all of this year’s financial news from the Fed, congress and White House
seems too big and uncontrollable for a lot of us, here’s something that hits a
little closer to home.  New financial regulations
of the CARD Act of 2009, Regulation Z, will go into place in October 2011, and
one of them prohibits financial institutions from giving credit cards to people
who do not have documented individual sources of income.  Although it
was originally proposed to ensure students weren’t saddled with consumer debt
through aggressive marketing, the wording was expanded to include any individual without documented
income.  Sounds like a good idea,
right?  Not so fast.  The fallout is that non-employed spouses will
no longer be able to use their household income to qualify for
credit.   

Who cares?  Stay-at-home moms and mister-moms
should.  The National
Retail Federation
said the rule “undermines more than a generation of
progress” since passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Because of
this rule alone, a woman should consider starting up her own business,
whether it is a primary or side pursuit.

 

There are many reasons to own a business in this country,
including tax advantages, continued professional development, schedule flexibility,
and income potential.  This new rule is one more reason for a mom to
have a business, even a teeny-tiny one, that documents profitable income. The
rule does not specify a minimum required income, but not having any documented
income is a show stopper when it comes to securing credit.  For all types of small businesses, including
home-party consultants, part-time blogger moms, retail store owners,
professional consultants, and more, a Schedule C or corporate tax return is the
documentation the credit issuers require.

 

“We’re not sure at all how this is going to work in
practice,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory
Duncan
said. “Since most stay-at-home spouses are women, this could put
women back more than 20 years in terms of their access to credit.” 

 

I was married and divorced nearly twenty years ago, I went
through a rocky time personally that nearly ruined my credit. I believe
that this provision takes us back even further than twenty years.  We
forget that stay-at-home spouses have economic value in our society, even
though they don’t receive a paycheck.  A non-employed spouse should have
access to credit throughout their marriage so they don’t incur financial
hardship should death, illness, abuse or divorce markedly change their
status after years, sometimes decades, of partnership.  Family tragedies
are difficult enough without removing access to credit, an undeniable necessity
of modern life in America. 
Even those who live debt-free have a credit score.  Having a favorable credit history is as
important as having a job.  Credit doesn’t just mean credit cards, but is
required for basic social functions such as the ability to rent property, buy a
car, or establish phone service.  

 

Many women make major changes to their employment status
when they are pregnant or shortly after having a baby.  Many educated and
talented women step off a professional cliff when they start a family,
potentially creating unintended financial consequences for themselves and their
families.  But starting a family can also be a great time to start
something new professionally.  A business
that a mom runs during naptime or school hours can be rewarding and more economically
beneficial than just a positive profit and loss statement. A business also can
be a woman’s ticket to financial independence. 
With her own income, she no longer depends on her spouse to include her
on a credit account. 

 

Moms put others first in so many ways, but when staying
at home to raise children means you give up your own financial identity,
that’s just wrong.  

 

Since last March when this rule was finalized, there appears
to have been little progress on correcting this language to mitigate the impact
on families and women.  The best thing we
can do is be aware of our options, and owning a business is certainly one of
them. Add this new law to the list of reasons for a woman to have and maintain
a business before, during, and after baby. 

 

 

 

More sources:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/20110318b.htm    

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/stay-at-home-parent-credit-cards-household-income-1282.php

http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=Newsletter&op=viewlive&sp_id=324&id=51

 

Originally published in Kalamazoo Parent magazine, October 2011

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Kelly McBride of Belly Pilates in Philadelphia has hit on a great idea…a series of free workshops covering a huge range of topics important to pregnant women, new moms, and their families.  Check it out here.  Even if you miss the series, looking at the list of topics covered might give you ideas on how to find resources for the issues you are noodling through.

Click here to see the video of Resources for New Moms , highlighting www.bellypilates.com.

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