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Oct
10

My Singapore “Vacation”

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There is a silver lining to business trips, even those you don’t want to go on – especially for working moms.  Having just arrived in Singapore, I’ve been working on switching my mindset from “I really wish I was home” to “how do I enjoy every moment of this trip”.  Here’s how my “vacation” is going so far:

The flight was very long, but with absolutely no hiccups.  Thank you, Bose headphones and aisle seats!

The hotel is stunning.  My view is spectacular and the service is optimal.  The room service person today saw that I have a cold and came back, completely on her own accord, with a tea service for me.  Now, if I could only figure out how to drink it!  I’ve made a real mess of it, I must admit.  There was loose tea in the tea pot, and another tea pot with hot water, and a strainer do-hickey.  So I put the hot water in the teapot with the loose tea, then tried to pour that mixture through the strainer and into my tea cup.  Apparently, that’s not how it’s done!  Instead, the loose tea blocked up the tea pot’s spout and I got water all over the place. 

Enjoyed a lunch of mushroom soup and a salad full of veggies, did a little yoga (www.exercisetv.tv is a great resource!) and am now I’m off to the Singapore zoo.  Not bad for a first day.  Tomorrow, the meetings begin.

 

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I usually really like business trips.  I like to go to new places, I love it when a trip allows me to meet an old friend or a family member that I don’t usually get to see, and I enjoy the time alone.  While I know all too well the difficulties a trip can pose – both at home and at the office – I’ve always had a positive attitude about them.  This helps not only me, but also my family.

 

But I have a trip coming up that I must admit, I’m not looking forward to.  There’s a lot going on with my family right now and I don’t want to be far away from them, yet this trip is to Singapore and Indonesia.  The thought of being more than a day away if I have to get back in a hurry is stabbing me in the heart – constantly.   

 

So how do I wrap my head around this and leave my kids and officemates blissfully unaware of any emotional struggle I may be facing?  It’s not easy.  Here’s what I’ve done so far – any suggestion are more than welcome!

1.      Establishing my support system – I’m flying my parents in from out of town to help my husband take care of the kids.  My trip is a 10 day trip and we’re in a new town as of August and don’t have the babysitters lined up that I could confidently rely on.  Most importantly, as one of my kids needs special care at the moment, I felt it was just too much to put all this on hubbie’s shoulders, even if he could handle it.

2.      Researching activities that will be fun for the family to do while I’m gone.  I’m also going ahead and purchasing the tickets, getting it on the Outlook calendar, even printing out directions so that getting to these activities will be easy, and more likely to happen.  I know it’s a bit overboard, but it makes me feel good to do so. 

3.      Setting the expectation with the office that I will have limited availability.  I’m not planning on working all day, having late night evenings with the team I’m visiting, and then getting back online at 11 PM or Midnight to answer emails.  I’ve done that before, and it’s not pretty!  Instead, I plan to use this time to work hard, but also rest as much as I can so I don’t get run down.

4.      Shortly before the trip, I’ll share with my 7 yr old where I’m going and a little about the cultures of each place.  My 3 year old will be confused, but I’ll do my best to stay connected to him while I’m gone.  Here are some tips I’ll be utilizing to keep that connection close.

 

What else am I missing?  While I think I’ve got most of my bases covered, if you have any additional ideas for how to prepare, or on how to get my head/heart in the game and not worry so much, please share!

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Jun
12

Working Moms – Friends or Foes?

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Some of you may have read by now the article on the Motherhood Penalty on Business Week’s working parent’s blog.  The article is about a research study that found working mothers were 100% less likely to get a job interview than women who did not present themselves as mothers on a resume.  While the statistic is quite shocking, what’s really interesting are the sentiments expressed in the comments following the article.

Really, are the mommy wars still going strong?  I am now in an enviroment full of momprenuers, so I rarely run across the non-mom these days.  However, my life at a Fortune 50 company is not that far behind me, and I must admit, I never felt the mommy wars there, either.  So the venom, and defensiveness, of some of the post really surprised me.

I found that once I was a parent, managing an employee became a piece of cake.  Convincing a toddler to eat veggies or go to bed is just as challenging as motivating an employee or managing a crisis at work, and the two worlds – work and home – end up supporting each other very well.  I also know that the year I had my first child was the year I received my highest performance rating at work and I continued to receive high ratings and big bonuses from then on – more than when I wasn’t a mom.

I also know that EVERYONE at my old company was working online after 9:00 PM, kiddos or not.  There just wasn’t time for backstabbing and gossiping or the overall waste of energy that it takes to complain about a co-working leaving to take care of a sick kid.  I attribute this to my former manager who created a very supportive culture.  Frankly, one would look like a real jerk if he or she started griping about someone not pulling their weight.  If you have a problem with someone in your office: First, look at yourself in the mirror – what bothers you about someone else is something that bothers you about yourself.  Second – talk to them directly about it instead of feeding the rumor mill. 

It’s that easy!  I left my last employer to write a series of children’s books dedicated to explaining the world of work to kids (www.mommytrip.com). The intent is to help not only children understand what mom and dad do every day and why they can’t always be around, but also help the parents really ROCK their lives. If mom and dad can build a rich life at home and at the office, then our children are raised in happy homes and the world becomes a better place for everyone. It’s that simple.

I would love to hear if you think the mommy wars are alive and well in your world or not, and if they are, what are you doing to put a stop to them?

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Jun
03

Summer by Design

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I got a big wakeup call today when I read Renee Trudeau’s post on creating an intentional summer on her blog, The Journey.  She asks a simple question – what do you want your summer to be like? 

That’s when it hit me.  The summer?  Is it summer already?  Good grief!  I am a business owner, master of my own destiny and manager of my own calendar… right?  So what’s with all these hectic days and crammed schedules?  Do I even have time to figure out what I want?

Luckily, for me, my kids, and my hubby, Renee’s post really hit me.  I CAN decided what I want and create a summer of intent.  I will be working on my list of things I want from this summer – not a to-do list, mind you, but what I want to create – this evening.  It’s going to be filled with SLOW times with my kids, reconnecting with friends, and enjoying this wonderful place where I live.  It will also consciously plan out what I need to do these next couple of months to make the rest of the year truly successful for my book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip, and it’s soon-to-be-released partner, My Daddy’s on a Business Trip.  What can I do in the next week to kick-start this summer of intention?  I’ll let you know.  What about you?  How are you going to design your summer?

Mar
17

Recessions = Opportunities

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With all the bad news about, it’s easy to get down about the state of the world today.  Don’t!  This is THE time to look for silver linings, and ripe opportunities.  My husband lost his job last Thursday.  Though he was our family’s source of income until my book (www.mommytrip.com) takes off, we are totally OK with situation.  Why?  Getting laid off was the kick in the butt he needed to figure out what he really wants to do with his life.  He’s not alone, either.  More and more people I know are stepping back, reflecting, and asking themselves “what in the world am I doing with the rest of my life?”  What things, titles, and lifestyle do they really WANT or NEED?  I know that it’s a scary time for all of us, and facing foreclosure on your family home, or going without health insurance, is no joke.  I also absolutely believe that we will rise from these ashes stronger, more aware, more grateful for our loved ones, and more appreciative of a picnic in the park on a warm, sunny day.

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As a new author and working mom, I was so thrilled to get the call from my best friend from high school, who lives in Chicago, that she saw a write-up on me and the book in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune!  I just wanted to share some success as we continue to get innundated by bad news on the economy, etc. Times are tough, but I would like to encourage everyone here to share their successes as well.  We can all learn from what’s working for one another and lend each other support!

Here’s a link to the Tribune article: www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-0308-wire-mom-business-trip-mar08,0,6514744.story

Have a great day,
Phaedra

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Feb
19

Mommy Guilt is self-inflicted – pt.1

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I had a conversation today with a girlfriend who is one of the most conscientious moms I know.  We were talking about one of her kids who is showing some signs of a slight developmental delay – nothing serious and nothing that can’t easily be addressed.  While this woman is a proud corporate warrior as well as a proud mom, she asked me a question that strikes at the heart of every working mother I know.  She asked me if I knew of any research that correlated developmental delays with the type of care children receive – from a stay-at-home-mommy, nanny, or daycare center.  It was a chilling question, ripe with guilt.  What I told her was that when my kids have had to have therapy for minor delays, the other moms waiting in the lobby with me were stay-at-home-moms, so I didn’t think it made one ounce of difference.

Why do working mothers do this to themselves?  I am guilty of it as well.  Guilt over work, guilt over not spending enough time with my kids, guilt from wanting some alone time every once in awhile.  Meanwhile, my kids are happy, healthy, well adjusted kids who are thriving in their daycare centers!

What do you feel most guilty about?  Do you think it’s a bit self-inflicted or really worthy of some genuine angst?

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Our Mom Story of the Week is from Christie Arseneau, recent winner of our Road Warrior contest and a copy of our new book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip.  Here’s an update on Christie’s latest adventure:

From Christie:

So, here is the conclusion of my trip to Michigan last week. I was in Muskegon, thinking that I could catch the earlier flight but ended up staying as the work with the client went just a little too long to catch that flight.  That was OK, I figured I still had a seat on my normal flight.  When all was done, and I was at my “bingo-fuel” time (pilot speak – the point at which a pilot either has to continue on to their destination or turn around and go back to where the nearest airport – either you “go” on or you “no go” and turn around to go back) and I had to go.  Read More→

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I’m evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology.  Lord knows this blog could use some help with formatting!  The limited functionality is driving me CRAZY, while I see all those pretty blogs out there.  How do they do it?  For a while, Simpleology is letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I’ll let you know what I think once I’ve had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it’s still free.

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I got a great response to my last post asking for road warrior stories and tips for staying connected with young kids while on the road.  I’ve compiled some of the most interesting responses below.  I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was at the lengths parents go to stay in touch with their kids, and the positive attitudes all of them have about the whole situation.  Why be blue when there is work to do?  Just get it done and get home!  One of the most endearing stories comes from Christie Arseneau, who tells me she has more to share!  I knew when I read her post that she should receive the free copy of my children’s book, My Mommy’s on a Business Trip.   Congrats, Christie, and keep up the good fight!  Lea Nesbit’s story is fantastic as well.

All of the posts were great and I thank all of you who took the time to share your stories.  What do you think is the best tip from what’s posted below?

Warrior Responses (some are lengthy, but worth reading.  You’ll find great tips and if nothing else, know that you’re not alone in dealing with this issue.  I’ve bolded the tips so they’re easier for you to find.)

From Josh Teweles:

My wife and I both work and occassionally take trips for our respective jobs.

1.   When either of us leaves, we make a calendar and put it on the fridge so the girls can cross off the days. We also include other fun events on the calendar so it’s not just about one person being gone.

2.   For the person who remains, the girls get to be your “sleep partner” and crash in our King bed.

3.   For the person who leaves, always call in during dinner time.

4.    The person who leaves also makes notes with cute pictures and messages like “Be nice to Mommy” and “Have a good sleep” and “I miss you so much.”

 

From Lea Nesbit:

In 2006 I was the CEO of a dental technology company and was headed to Germany on a business trip. My husband and I had recently separated and were going through a divorce. He was out of town also so my mother came to stay with my eight year old son, Will. Will was not happy that I was leaving; as I packed my suitcase he started to cry and asked me to please stay. When the limo pulled up to take me to the airport, Will ran out of the house and threw himself on the hood of the limo. He was crying and begging me not to go. My mother had to come out, pull him off the the car and hold on to him so we could leave. I can still see the accusing, anguished look on his tear-streaked face and my mother standing in the yard with her arms wrapped around him.

A few minutes later my cell phone rang. It was my estranged spouse calling to berate me for leaving our son in the middle of an emotional meltdown. He screamed at me for caring more about my work than my family all of these years and told me that I was directly to blame for my son’s emotional crisis. I listened to his rant for longer than I should have; I finally hung up when it occurred to me that he wasn’t eight years old and I was not responsible for his emotional well-being.

I have never felt as bad about being a working mother as I did that day. I sobbed all the way to the airport. I can’t imagine what the driver thought; probably made a good story for the guys in the garage that night.

It was a long trip to Frankfurt.

I called the next morning from Germany to check and see how my mother was holding up. She told me that Will was fine; after I left they made some hot chocolate and walked over the park across the street where Will met up with some school friends.

We have never had a repeat; when I got home it was if nothing had happened. All I can tell working, traveling moms and dads is to do your best. There will always be conflicts but you can manage through them. Don’t forget what is most important, a loving, nurturing, safe environment for your children.

I’m not the mom who will be a room mother, bake the best desert for the Cub Scout party or volunteer to drive for a field trip. But I am showing my son what it means to be capable, competent and self sufficient. He proudly comes to my office and every now and then I hear him tell his friends that his mom started her own company and is a CEO. He likes it when I bring him back a really unusual toy or gift from Brazil or Germany and great chocolates from Switzerland.

Some tips for making your child feel included in your business/travel life: talk to them about what you do, let them meet the people you work with, bring them to the office, call at a set time in the morning and at night when you are traveling, if visiting a foreign county teach them a few words of the local language, like “hello”, “good morning” and “good night”, talk to them about mundane things like what you ate that day and what the weather is like where you are, etc. I take pictures on my cell phone and send them to my son so he can see what I am looking at in that moment.

These small things add up over time and children appreciate the consistency.

 

From Andy Freeman:

Unfortunately, the best method I found was to treat the every other week ‘business trip’ as normal or commonplace. Minimizing the statements “i’m sorry i’m going away” or “i’ll miss you so much” can help make this more of a normal routine. But after 8 years of doing it, I finally said enough is enough. I stopped. Made a lifestyle change and helped my wife start a business that involved our family. It’s a fun, easy to use website for local communities to find family fun activities and events. Called FindandGoSeek.net , now we can spend more time with our kids doing fun things together.

  Read More→

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