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4 steps to get the work flexibility you want and deserve

Flexibility in the workplace exists, but you may have to create it for yourself. The experts at Maybrooks put together some tips that can help you get there.


1. Ask for a reduced workload or work-from-home options.

Be clear about what you want. Take some time to think through why you are asking for this new schedule and what it is you really need or want. Is it the ability to work a day or two from home? Are you seeking a reduced workload, e.g. three days per week instead of five? What are some things you are willing to give up in exchange for this setup? Money? Promotions? These opportunities don’t necessarily have to go, but it’s good to think about what you’re willing to offer in your negotiations.

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Research what others in your company have done and how they did it. Do you know anyone who negotiated a flexible schedule internally? Talk to them and learn what worked or didn’t work for them. Talk to peers or friends outside your company, too. Finally, ask for tips and advice from a career coach.

2. Build the business case for yourself.

Remember that it’s all about them, not you. Answer these questions:

—What contributions have you made so far? How will those contributions be affected if you go part-time or work from home?

—What goals and milestones will you continue to work toward, and how can they be measured?

—How will you stay in communication with your manager and team on the days you’re not physically present?

—How can you be flexible with the company in return? What are the benefits to the company for allowing you to go part time?

Think this through like a business presentation: problem, solution, results. (Read how one mom did exactly this!)

3. Go solo.

Go freelance.

It’s a great time to work for yourself. Technology innovations and policies like the Affordable Care Act have significantly reduced the barriers to working for yourself. In fact, it’s estimated that 60 million people will be freelancers by 2020.

If you go this route, consider the initial steps and put the building blocks in place:

1. What can you do that will keep you in the mix should you want or need full-time work again? What skills should you keep sharp that may help you down the road?

2. Float the idea of what you want to do with advisors and champions. You can overlap by setting up your business and landing your first client before leaving your current job.

3. Edit your online presence, from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond (time for your own website?), and polish your resume.

4. Set goals and deadlines for what you want to accomplish personally and financially.

Sell products or services online.

Do you have a passion, hobby or skill that could make you money? Websites like Etsy, RedBubble, eBay and Zaarly make it easy to earn for everything from designs to yard work. Even Whole Foods takes online submissions for new products to put on its shelves. As one wise career advisor told us recently, “Nurse your passion while you toil. Then switch it up.” In other words, keep your day job while starting to sell, and then make a change. Here’s a good summary from Forbes on turning hobbies into jobs.

4. Change jobs or careers.

Seek out companies that have good flex policies already in place. There are many. Our job board is a great place to start.

“Work it” into a flexible job. Some industries and careers offer a higher degree of flexibility than others. See, for example, this list of 25 flexible jobs.

There are many ways to find the right fit when it comes to flexibility. Figuring out what works for you requires some research and a willingness to keep trying. But as my mom likes to say, “If you don’t have yourself, you have nothing at all.” You owe it to yourself to ask for what you want or go find it. Be confident. Raise your hand. Be assertive. “Sit at the table,” as Sheryl Sandberg says (definitely read her chapter on negotiation in Lean In if you haven’t already). Recognize your value in the workplace. Go after what you want and get people to listen to you. And believe in yourself.

Maybrooks is a career resource for moms. Search jobs, research family-friendly companies and find tools to navigate your career.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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