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TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Life Hacks From Startup Co-Founder Vlada

Guest Post: If you are a parent and are thinking of starting a company, I have good news – you already have the world’s best entrepreneurial experience: you are running a family without any previous experience or a manual! Do you remember the endless questions you had when you (or your partner) were pregnant? Do you remember the anxiety you felt at your baby’s first doctor visit? Do you remember the pride you felt when your baby walked for the first time? Running a start up, in many ways, is very similar to running a family.  The hardest part is to figure out how to make time for both. The answer (unlike execution) is surprisingly simple, prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize.

 

 

Your first step was deciding to start a company, hopefully something that makes you leap out of bed every morning.  Your next step is to figure out your top few priorities, and deprioritize and potentially cut out almost everything else.

 

 

For example, one of my top priorities is to create a meaningful relationship between my kids and their family. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time or the budget to plan many vacations.  My tricks for staying close to the family is to leverage technology.

  • I’m lucky that my car has Bluetooth so I make most of the calls on my way to dropping kids off at school. My daughters love being part of the conversation and my family adores hearing from them. I love that I get to feel close without it taking up additional time in the day. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, try putting your phone on speaker, it works surprisingly well.
  • In addition to regular calls, we use Joya (www.getjoya.com) to easily send videos of our kids to our closest family and friends.  Thanks to the power of video, our family can feel like they are there when my daughter is learning to ride a bike. Or when my little one is eagerly “eating” yogurt by spreading it all over her face J. My kids also LOVE getting videos from their cousins and friends.
  • I use kids’ art projects for packages to send to family. I typically have 1-2 hours every morning with my girls. During that time we will usually do some sort of creative project. I love www.tinkerlab.com for really simple art ideas.  On project days I ask the kids who they are creating it for. Then, when they are done, I put it in an envelope and send it off. My kids love thinking of various family members, putting the stamp on the envelope, and “writing” a special note (i.e. combination of letters and scribbles J). The best part is then getting a video back of the family opening up their special letter.

 

 

In my experience, running a company and a family require a deep commitment and attention to how I’m living my life, almost on a moment-by-moment basis.  To be clear, I don’t believe that living a balanced life is a goal. To me it’s about living a consciously unbalanced life, being careful that nothing gets dropped for too long. Much like when a baby is first born, when you first start a company, it needs extra care.  So, that means you have to find ways to simplify, cut or get help for other parts of your life, and then over time everything gets adjusted.

 

 

When I think back to when I was pregnant and talking to my Mommy friends, I felt so scared, so unsure of how I’ll manage being a working Mom. I was truly in awe of my friends who were doing it. And then I became a Mom and then I had my second kid. It was hard but life adjusted and now I can’t imagine it any other way. I think it’s same when making a decision to start a company. Yes, it is scary, and yes, it’s hard. And it’s also worth every precious minute.

 

Guest post by @vladab :

 

Vlada co-founded Joya (www.getjoya.com), a mobile app that makes it delightful and easy to share mobile videos. Previously, she co-founded and sold AdNectar, a VC-backed ad tech company.

Vlada majored in computer engineering and art at Northwestern University. She has 10+ years of professional experience as product manager, designer and entrepreneur, building mass-impact products including MSN Messenger and Hotmail.

Vlada is also a proud Mom of two little girls who are the inspiration behind Joya. They pushed Vlada to dream about making staying in touch with family feel magically effortless, and so Joya was born.

Connect with Vlada: @GetJoya and @vladab and https://www.facebook.com/getjoya. Photo Credit: DharmaComics .

 

 

 

Sponsored: Tips For Teaching Kids Not To Text and Drive

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for a campaign with AT&T.

 

 For today’s teens, texting is their natural and persistent form of communication. I realized just how deeply integrated texting is to my older son’s communication when he went to a friend’s birthday party at age 12. The kid’s mom had pre-arranged a great scavenger hunt in the back yard, the excited boys searched for hidden toys in silence, texting each other as they discovered treasure.
I soon realized that I needed to not only teach my teen texting etiquette and safety rules but also role model appropriate technology use. As my son approaches the age of driving I decided that one of the most important places to demonstrate texting safety is in the car. Especially when recent studies show that 75% of teens say texting and driving is “common” among their friends.  Here are some of my tips for texting safety, please share yours!

1. Create A Routine: I create a routine for what I do with my phone in the car and I share it with my teen. For example, there are some days where I hand my phone to my teen and he places it somewhere out of my reach.. I always say “look where my phone is – out of my reach while driving!”. Or there are some days where I turn on the AT&T Drive Mode and show my teen that I have it set so I can’t text until I turn drive mode off. ”When the app is enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts*, letting your friends know you’re behind the wheel and will reply when it’s safe.”

2. Show Them The Dangers of Texting And Driving:  My son not only watches YouTube videos but also films and edit videos. So I decided that another step in his education would be to watch some of the videos from the “It Can Wait” Campaign that show the dangers of texting and driving. Seeing those stories on video really helped him visualize why texting while driving is 100% not acceptable.

3. Simulate The Dangers of Texting and Driving: The “It Can Wait” campaign has a game simulator that allows you to experience the dangers and consequences of texting and driving.  I had my son try the simulator at home and he was surprised because he thought (like many other teens) that he could text while also concentrating on all the various visual cues required to successfully drive.

How do you teach your kids not to text and drive? I am looking for new creative ways to add to my list!

 

Next Phase of Womens Movement: #Womensday #FamilyFriendlyWork

This has been a busy time for the Women’s Movement. Today happens to be International Women’s Day 2013  which has “thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements“. The documentary “Makers: Women Who Make America” debuted February 26.  The blog All Things D broke the story about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Now Requiring Remote Employees to Not Be (Remote)  and the commentary has been all over the map. Lastly, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, continues to be a hot topic.

 

Many of my friends and social media colleagues expected me to come down hard one way or the other on Mayer’s requirement calling employee’s back to the office. However, from my perspective, what should be the topic of conversation are policies including family leave, job training, childcare and other economic issues that are holding back women from reaching their full potential. Taking on these categories of public policy is the next phase of the women’s movement.

 

In the “Makers” documentary, Karen Nussbaum highlights that “despite the gains, the failure to win childcare options was a major failing of the women’s movement…“.  For companies, developing appropriate family leave policies and flexible work arrangements (i.e. telecommuting) for “relevant” jobs will enable primary caregivers of children to care for them and still work. Other options include companies that either have their own childcare center or have agreements with local childcare centers.  What about women who work for small businesses or have their own business? What if public and private resources could be pulled together to offer more options for health insurance, job training and childcare? This would allow women more flexible job options while supporting the environment of entrepreneurship.

 

Technology has enabled the flexibility to not only work at home but also work from anywhere (mobile) – so businesses should incorporate telecommuting for relevant jobs. At the same time, some jobs require being in the office for collaboration.  A safety net would give women the options to choose jobs that fit with their flexibility needs or even work for themselves. Better yet, why not use the power of online networking to help communities find and hire their local resources? What if every community had the match-making resources to really place businesses with women who have specialized skills, as contractors or employees?

 

 

Currently there are numerous email groups, websites and online social networks that list jobs and those looking for jobs. But sifting through all of the information is overwhelming. What if a localized system of matching jobs with those looking for work not only allowed them to pick jobs to fit with their “flexibility” needs but also showed information on what type of job skills are needed and what job training is available?

 

Now that there are so many educational resources online, job seekers could even find economical ways to get training if they need to revamp their skills. If I had my wish (and a magic philanthropy wand to wave) I would use the power of local communities to support women helping each other. Local community centers could be used for job training in addition to sports and hobbies. Those with technical skills (like me) could be part of a volunteer effort to help train women in need of technical skills. In my fantasy, local communities could recycle older technology to those in need and get donations for new technology.

 

My personal story is an example of the tough decisions women need to make. I worked hard to earn my role as Senior Manager at one of the top consulting firms in the world and was on Partner track. This firm was so supportive of my work/life balance that they gave me a flexible work arrangement after I came back to my job with my first son and then moved me into a job where I worked mostly at home when I was on bedrest at the end of my pregnancy with my twins. I had a company that not only had family friendly policies – but also wanted to work with me to find the right job for me as my family situation changed.

 

 

But after I delivered my twins (yes – the picture above is the view I had from my hospital bed), I realized I needed to step down from my job because the amount of money I would need for childcare of three kids would be either equal or less then my salary. I tried to find a economical sitter that worked into my family schedule but could not. I talked to other working moms who interviewed 50 or more childcare resources, and with three kids (2 of them being twin newborns) – I did not have time.. or the energy. I also realized that my job required travel and I was not able to do that anymore.

 

It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. But my precious little boys were worth it! I even had (luckily still have) a husband that is a 50/50 partner in raising our kids and a company willing to work with me on job flexibility.  I grew up with a single mother so I also knew first hand that childcare is an even greater challenge for single moms (parents). But I left my “company” job over 14 years ago when the online network of women was not as powerful or prolific as it is now. Over the years I have met other women who shared their childcare solutions with me to similar problems.. If only I had that information years ago!! I adapted by creating my career 2.0 online, so now I want to use that power for social good.

 

There is already an amazing revolution of social good that exists online for moms with sites such as Mom Bloggers For Social Good, The Motherhood, One Mom BloggersGo MightyThe Mission List, BlogHer coverage of social good and BlogHer’s Mission of creating creating greater exposure and economic empowerment (and their powerful network of women) . There are women’s centers and organization looking into ways to develop solutions to fix the women’s leadership gap such as the Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business. And of course businesses like Clever Girls Collective that are women owned and have a network of women. On International Women’s Day I am announcing my social good project. I will be on a mission to help connect women (and working mothers) to the resources and networks they need for their careers by sharing this information online. I have some fun ideas which I will be announcing soon…  This will support the next phase of the women’s movement by having women HELP other women to find the resources they need to work.

 

If each woman can help just one other women find work resources the “pay it forward” will be exponential. Of course,  this includes moms supporting other moms who are trying to do that elusive work/life balance that in reality does not exist. In a perfect world this model could also translate to women helping other women worldwide, such as the organization Global Good partners that was profiled on Katie Couric show.  Global Good Partners is a “a nonprofit organization that sells handmade, fair trade products in order to improve the economic status of women in marginalized communities around the world.”

 

So instead of marching, this new phase of the women’s movement would be for women to help train other women with job skills, help them find work related resources, share information about women owned businesses/marketplaces and enable women to get the technology they need not only for job skills but to help manage their families.

 

Women, it is time to power up our network to a new level! If you have any ideas, please do share! If you have favorite sites that support women’s work efforts, please also share.

 

 

 

CES2013: Whirlpool Kitchen of the Future Concepts


On my last post I discussed how our family kitchen is the activity hub of our house. So of course one of the top tech categories I planned to look into at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show) was new kitchen concepts. Now that I am here are CES, I was excited to find some fantastic new kitchen concepts that will not only simplify, add more style, save energy, add new options to listen to music but also change the process of buying and storing food in the home.

 

While at the Whirlpool CES Booth, I had the opportunity to learn about exciting new concepts. The first is something I would call “Fireplace 2.0! The Whirlpool website explained that “The Fireplace concept which seeks to center people around a new central heart of the home with a common area for relaxing and sharing real experiences around food and fire“. I find this concept the most fascinating of all because it takes the experience of socializing around a fireplace or campfire to the kitchen table. The surface could keep food warm or cold, as well as an air circulation system in the hood. Because the kitchen table is the one place many families gather each day, adding new features to it adds value to home design and enhances family time. The new technology would also enable new social eating experiences, such as fondue to smores, right from your kitchen table.

 

Here is a picture of the Whirlpool “Fireplace” Concept.

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Kimberley Clayton Blaine  (TheGoToMom) and I could already see how the fun it would be to socialize around the Fireplace concept table.

 

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I had the opportunity to join in Fireside chats in the Fireplace concept area of the Whirlpool booth with other social media moms and Tanu Grewal, Senior Brand Manager from Whirlpool. We were all so comfortable, we did not want to leave even after the chat was over!

 

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When I saw the Fresh Connect from Whirlpool section of the CES2013 Whirlpool booth, I realized it could not only help families keep food fresher but also change food storage as a whole. What if you could have separate units to store food, each paired with other food that requires the same temperatures (no more frozen lettuce)? We can already order food from our mobile devices, but what if we had a system at home that let us order food that would be delivered in bags that would keep it fresh until we got home? The Fresh Connect concept would help create “a seamless shopping experience from the palm of your hand to the foot of your door.. and streamlined access to a select network of food suppliers“.
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Here is picture of the Whirlpool Fresh Connect concept flow:

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Food is not only organized by the temperature needs, but also in a modern style that could take food storage out of the kitchen into any room in the house. My sons would love to have food storage of their snacks in the family room!

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This concept could also create spaces to grow herbs from inside the house. This would enable us to finally grow herbs without the little critters that live outside from eating it!

 

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Containers would store fruit in a temperature that would let it ripen but keep it fresh. This concept would enable me to buy more fruit without worrying about it going bad (and my boys eat lots of fruit!).

 

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Apps could be used from any mobile device to order and manage the food in your house. This would enable a process for me to schedule food delivery and plan meals.

 

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Another concept that enables families to manage their home from anywhere is the Whirlpool® Appliances with 6th Sense Live™ technology. Families can manage things such as “refrigerator temperature, locking your dishwasher control console, knowing when your cycle is done and managing energy costs“. When my kids leave the refrigerator door open (like they do daily), I will get an alert even if I am not at home. This would enable a future where I don’t have to worry about coming into my kitchen and noticing that the freezer door is open and ice cream is now in liquid form!  And  I would be able to save energy costs by using the mobile app to run the appliances during off peak times even if I was not at home. The Whirlpool CES press info explained “by connecting to the Smart Grid used by select utility companies, these appliances optimize energy usage and track how much energy is being used.”

 

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Anyone looking to create add beautiful art and modern, streamlined style to their kitchen will want to take a look at the Whirlpool Art Gallery Collection (stove) Hoods. There is a selection of 12 hood panels with original graphics themes that are easy to install. I especially appreciate incorporating art into appliances because I have a small kitchen.

 

 

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My favorite design:

 

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Another new concept that helps streamline kitchens by adding new features to appliances is the CoolVox refrigerator concept. Now, families can stream music or podcasts through the refrigerator directly from a Bluetooth-enabled device, so this means I could even listen to recipe podcasts while cooking.  Or my 10 year old son who loves to cook can rock out to his favorite tunes. When we are entertaining and everyone ends up in the kitchen as usual, at least we can play some music to enhance the event.

 

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What do you see in the kitchen of the future? I see new features and appliances that will help me save time, simplify household processes and have more flexibility around how I manage my home. I can also see a future where mufti-function appliances allow me to save space,  add style to my kitchen and create new social environments to enjoy my family time.

 

Learn more about Whirlpool #2020 at their Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook  and Pinterest pages.

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. My words are my own.

 

 

 

Activity Hub of My House: Kitchen

 
 

With three boys and frequent teen visitors, our family spends more time together in our kitchen area then any part of the house. Whether it’s meal time, snack time, or just “grazing time”, kids are visiting our kitchen multiple times each day to eat and adults are frequently there to prepare meals. Because the kitchen is such a hub of activity, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to make this part of the house more efficient and welcoming.

 

 

The year is young, and as a first step to satisfy this resolution I am exploring how to better organize the kitchen and incorporate helpful appliances and gadgets. A well organized kitchen just makes cooking easier, which makes my life easier. I plan to incorporate some of the new kitchen technology trends including Bluetooth (wireless) and personalization. This will allow me to use my other important mom tools (smart phone and computer) to interact with the kitchen and seamlessly plan my day. I want to create recipes that can seamlessly translate into shopping lists. Once the food is purchased and stored in the refrigerator, I would like an automatically generated food inventory list which also details how long the food will last before spoiling. If I know vegetables will soon go bad – time to cook some vegetable soup! I’m also considering adding some color to my predominately white kitchen.

 

 

 

 

The second step will be to reorganize my kitchen and make it a more comfortable central “hang out” location. The kitchen is small, with a breakfast area separate from our dining room. Even on special holidays when we use the dining room, guests always seem to spill over into the kitchen. To accommodate the crowd, I want the flexibility to change our regular family meal space into a space for entertaining as well. For example, it would be great to have a simple way to stream music into various parts of the house, including the kitchen, while we are cooking and entertaining. We can play music on some of the family room’s gadgets, but they are frequently in use (games, videos, etc…) when we would like to share music with our guests. It would also be good to find some multi-device chargers so my kids can put all of their phone in the kitchen to charge at night without lots of wires hanging around. Another idea for re-organizing the kitchen would be incorporation of a dining table that converts to a comfortable lounging area when we have guests. This example of built in seating near the kitchen counter in Houzz looks like a good example of creating extra seating in a small space:

 

 

 

Do you have any new years resolutions to reorganize or retool your kitchen or tips for others who are starting their planning? If so – please share.

 

I am excited to be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and will be stopping by the Whirpool booth to see their new kitchen concepts and get some fun ideas for my kitchen redesign and re-organization. They will be sharing updates on their Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest. So check it out! I will also be sharing my fun CES updates.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

Tips To Tell Your Kids About SandyHook And How To Help

*PLEASE check the bottom of this post to see how you can help. UPDATE: A Noah’s Ark of Hope Trust has been created by the family of Noah Pozner.

It was a heavy heart that I write this post about the terrible tragedy (shooting) that happened yesterday at a Connecticut school.  Words just can’t describe the pain that anyone who knows about this is feeling. Our sympathies go out to the families of the victims, as a community we are mourning for their losses. Yesterday I started off my sharing the important resources parents can use to help find the words to explain this tragedy to this kids including Common Sense Media’s “Explaining the news to your kids” and NASP’s guide with tips for parents and teachers to help children cope with a national tragedy (that Jessica Seinfeld shared on Twitter).  Fellow parent blogs such as Cool Mom Picks ” How to talk to your kids about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting” and  TechSavvyMama’s “Sandy Hook School Tragedy: Helpful Tips for Talking to Your Kids“.

UPDATED: Here is a good perspective on “How Not To Talk To Your Kids About Sandy Hook Shooting

 

Parents of tweens/teens need to also understand that older kids with smartphones need extra tips because they will be flooded with information. My tween first saw the news about the shooting on the news app from his phone. But when he kept reading about it, he found some platforms that had inappropriate information about the shooting. So I told him what many social media parents are sharing with each other: read the facts only – then turn it off. Don’t go to the forums or curation sites for extra facts. I simply told my tween son that in this case it is best to talk to Mom and Dad about the situation so we can all heal as a family. We also talked about it to our 9 year old twins, also just explaining the facts and then the great safety procedures set up at their school. But we also had to explain that sometimes tragedies just happen.

 

This next piece of information is something that I share with an even heavier heart. One of my dear social media (VDog) friends lost a nephew who was in one of the classrooms at SandyHook. There is a Facebook page created to share the information about how to help:

 

Please click on the FACEBOOK PAGE: “How to Help VDog and Noah’s Family” to find out more information on how you can help.

 

 

The Facebook page also has addresses on where to send cards including:

 

  • If you would like to send a card, letter, expression of love, to Victoria or Noah’s family in CT – please send them here: Friends of Maddie, 1534 North Moorpark Road Suite 284, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Paypal donations instructions to the family are on the “How to Help VDog and Noah’s Family” Facebook page.
  • Toy donations can be made to Toys for Tots or your local children’s hospital. Other Monetary donations are to be sent to: Sandy Hook School Support Fund C/O Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470

 

 

Photo credit: Il Volo Facebook Page

The  “How to Help VDog and Noah’s Family” page also has comforting prayers. I was comforted today by a song my 9 year old son decided to write that included lyrics he heard on another song: “light inside you and me”.  We can all honor the lights of the beautiful souls lost in the shooting by lighting a candle in remembrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Things That Cause Thanksgiving Anxiety and How To Deal With Them

Like many parents, as Thanksgiving nears (it is November 22 this year -2012) so does the anxiety of work life balance. If you are entertaining, how do you have time to shop, cook and prepare food along with all of your other parental and work tasks? If you are going to someone else’s house, how do you prepare your kids to make sure they will pleasantly sit through the dinner (cellphones away – for everyone including parents). For those that have anxiety around being with large family events, how do you prepare for that.  My “go to” person when it comes to figuring out how to rid my anxiety is my favorite emotion coach (and national parenting expert) Kimberly Clayton Blaine whose website “TheGoToMom” and book “The Go-To Mom’s Parents Guide: Emotion Coaching Young Children” provide essential tips to parents.

 

Kimberley also hosts a weekly Google + Live Video broadcast each Wed. 11am pst to talk about parenting topics. Today’s topic is on Top 10 Things That Cause Thanksgiving Anxiety and How To Deal With Them, and I will be a co-host. Join us or watch the YouTube video as we share our Thanksgiving anxiety and tips we will be trying. Please also share your tips! I know I could use as many tips as possible!

 

 

Thanksgiving Google + Live show with Kimberley Blaine and Beth Blecherman: Top 10 Things That Cause Thanksgiving Anxiety and How To Deal With Them

 

 

 

 

1.  Use your good china. Life is too short not share your fancy dishes.

 

2.  Be sure you have your Happy Place ready Or a xanax around or bottle of wine popped open if your family is getting too demanding or annoying. You deserve a peaceful or at least a tolerable holiday! But don’t push the limits, you still need to be able to carry on a conversation.

 

3.  Keep it low key, if you want to reach out to  others to invite them – do it. Keeping it small is dandy too. Or make it easy and take a quick trip to restaurant!  Enjoy whoever and wherever you celebrate it with.

 

4.  Outsource your meal. Ask each guest to bring a dish. Who said you have to be chef extraordinaire every year? Or have a gourmet store prepare your whole meal and tell every one you made it. That way you WILL BE chef extraordinaire this year.

 

5.  Capture the moment – Make sure the capture Thanksgiving moments with pictures or video.. That is – as long as it is not in middle of dinner (cellphones at the table = not a good idea).

 

6.  Be Creative – if sitting together for a family dinner is not a good fit – find another way to celebrate thanksgiving. If your kids like to move, either engage in outdoor sports or find an indoor sports facility that is open. Who says you can’t celebrate thanksgiving with your family jumping together in a Trampoline facility.

**Beth added – Or if it is on a sofa together watching the Thanksgiving sports games – so be it! But she and her boys are big Baseball fans (SF Giants rock), so she wishes there were baseball games to watch Thanksgiving weekend!

 

7.  For those still dealing with Hurricane Sandy – just being together with friends or family should be the goal.

 

8.  For those that have holiday anxiety – remember it is just one night. Live in the moment – they go by fast!

 

9.  Get you activity stations ready! Have games, crafts or activities ready the day before, so you can redirect rambunctious kids to keep busy. Yelling and screaming for them to get out of you way all day, isn’t an ideal holiday and you look ridiculous in front of everyone!

 

10.   If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it. If your mother in law makes gravy that tastes like leather, just “Smile and wave.”

 

Please share your Thanksgiving stories and tips!

 

Here is the video from our show!

 

Special thanks to Kim Tracey Prince and Jacqueline Cromwell for joining in our Google + Hangout.

 

 

 

Beth Blecherman just published her book “My Parent Plan” about project planning for families. She will be adding these tips to hers section on planning for Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Is Out: My Parent Plan – How to Create a Family Project Plan

“My Parent Plan” is available on Amazon (CLICK HERE to buy).

 

About “My Parent Plan”:

 

“Implementing a family plan is a very interesting premise, and Beth’s book provides a very excellent way to do it.” Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment and former chief evangelist of Apple.

 

“My Parent Plan has impeccable advice on every page. It covers topics from communication, date night, finances, and health to the art of delegation and managing the rocky waters of the teenage world. A must read for any mom who wants to organize her family’s world!”  Kimberley Clayton Blaine, author, spokesperson, social media personality and executive producer of www.TheGoToMom.TV.

 

 

As parents, it’s a daunting task to effectively coordinate your family’s daily schedule between work, home, school, childcare, sports, hobbies, community projects, friends, family and everything else in your busy lives. Blecherman offers a step-by-step guide to organize your family’s schedule, taking a practical approach to coordinate priorities and activities inside and outside your home. With a “Parent Plan,” you’ll no longer say to yourself, “I could have done THAT… if I had just been more prepared.” My Parent Plan will give you confidence to respond in a way that’s best for you and your family, resulting in happier parents, happier children and a calmer household!

 

Beth is now applying her years of consulting, technology and family management to help other families use project management and priority setting to create their own “Parent Plans.”

Online Resources:  In my book, I explained that because of how fast technology changes – creating an online resource page will allow me to try to keep as up to date as possible with the online resources available to parents related to creating their plan. Here is a link to the category that will have posts and links to MY PARENT PLAN RESOURCES.

 

I will also be reaching out to my community (yes, that is you) to address your questions, share your family project planning tips and generate the online knowledge and support to complement your own IRL (In Real Life) support system.

 

The BACK STORY:

 

While I’m known today as “TechMama“, discussing family technology across social media platforms, I started my career (before kids and blogging) in Corporate Finance, Computer Auditing, Computer Programming and then Technical Project Management at a top consulting firm. After marrying TechDad and having my first child, I quickly realized that while I had mastered the art of managing technology projects, managing a family was the toughest – yet best – challenge of all.

 

Four years later, my son was joined by twin brothers. Years of parental trial and error mixed with sleep deprivation brought the realization that when I applied professional project planning concepts to parenting – the process worked. While there are always surprises with parenting, using professional project planning concepts helped me lay out a path I could use to understand my family’s needs in advance and create a flexible plan.

 

My parent “project” plan helped keep the family on track and, just as important, helped me, the mama, enjoy motherhood without getting too bogged down in the logistics. For example, instead of just buying the coolest or latest technology gadget, I first documented what features our family needed and how the technology would be used – then purchased the technology that fit with our needs and budget. This helped me make educated buying decisions that would benefit the boys instead of spontaneous purchases that would not hold up over the long haul.

 

Through my experiences, I hope to help parents and families create their own parent plan based on their individual family’s needs and personalities. My book, called “My Parent Plan” , will help you learn to apply project management concepts for parenting, the toughest but best project you will ever have!

 

 

My Parent Plan by Beth Blecherman is available now!  Do you have any parent “project plan” tips or challenges to share? What online sites do you use as resources for information? Please share so I can add them to the online resource section I am developing.

 

 

 

 

9/11 Tribute And Apps For Emergencies

Today is 9/11, a day to pay tribute and to make sure we are prepared for emergencies. I started my day by showing my kids the news filled with touching remembrances and then also showing them the 9/11 Memorial website. The 9/11 Memorial website has a guide that not only shows the memorial but also provides a section that lists the names on the memorial.

 

 

A dear friend who is bravely fighting a medical condition shared an app on Facebook that is a good reminder that we all need to be prepared for emergencies that may come up. The app is called ICE Standard (In Case of Emergency Standard). Their is an ICE Standard iPhone and also the ICE Standard Android app on Google Play.

 

The In Case of Emergency standard also has a website that explains the goal for everyone to prepare by having : “Easily accessible medical data in critical care circumstances”.  The apps offer a way to gather that information and then have it available in an emergency. Of course, it is also good to carry a printed emergency form in your bag, briefcase, child’s backpack and car just in case of another familiar not so emergency (that feels like an emergency): low Battery on your phone! To be fully prepared in the modern world, it is always best to also have a mobile charger (there are even models with batteries so they can be kept separate until needed).

 

 

Another app that is in the emergency category is the Lots Kidz app, which helps you gather important information about your child then share to others in an emergency.

 

What emergency apps or procedures do you use?