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You can do this: How to get work-life balance on your terms

Putting the Mom + Boss together isn’t always easy—but you’ve got this.

You can do this: How to get work-life balance on your terms

“I am so sorry to do this, Colleen,” the text began. “But I am flying to California tonight to move in with my sister. I can no longer be your nanny.”


It was 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. My husband and I had been deliberating on the state of our careers. He had recently started a new job that would involve 50 to 60 percent travel. I had been working as a manager at a digital marketing agency, but shoehorning a full-time workload into four days a week. We had a three-year old, a two-year old, and one more baby on the way. And our nanny, who wasn’t the right fit for us anyway, dropped us flat on a Sunday night. Our discussion ended and we had decided together that I would go in tomorrow morning and quit my job.

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I had grappled for years with how to keep my career progressing and meet the needs of my young children. I negotiated reduced hours or remote work into my employment arrangements to be at home for a few more naptimes and a few more mealtimes. I was always a strong producer, so my employers complied.

As a former manager, I relate to their position. They were trying to be understanding, retain my value to their company and avoid looking heartless. Perhaps it wasn’t the best scenario for them, but they wanted to reward my service to their company.

The problem was that even though I took major hits to salary, most teams booked my workload at full-time capacity and resented the fact that I spent less time in the office. My employers weren’t doing this to be unfair. They sought balance, too. They were trying to meet their goals to remain competitive.

The result was I ended up working around the clock, even on my off days, and so my home life suffered. It was never enough. I was desperate for a new paradigm.

With equal parts fear and fervor, I took a leap of faith into the on demand economy. The sudden loss of any childcare gave me the push I needed to go into business for myself as a consultant, leveraging the tools of the digital economy to work remotely on a schedule that made sense for the needs of our growing family. I was fortunate that my husband was in a place to provide stability for us while I ramped up my operation.

For my first gig, I was heartened to communicate openly about the hourly work commitment. I was empowered when I wrote back with a weekly schedule that was based both on weekly status calls and preschool pick-ups. My employer was clear that this could be a short or long-term commitment, because ultimately they might need someone full time. I took a breath of relief. All cards were on the table.

My new role in our gig economy hasn’t been without its challenges. I’m an independent contractor, but I still need help. Here are my five essentials for success...

1. Redefine your network

You will no longer have the training resources of a company at your disposal, the most important of which is fellow team members. Join online communities of freelancers and consultants for solidarity and support. Your on-demand colleagues are your biggest source of feedback, support and opportunities for new business.

2. Keep learning

You are only as marketable as your skills. In today’s global and increasingly automated economy, skills are rapidly changing. Leverage online training and education services, such as Skill Share, Coursera and General Assembly, to keep your skill set competitive.

3. Brand yourself online

Tools like KickResume help you create your resume, cover letters and a personal career website. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Leverage the work that’s already been done to launch your own personal brand.

4. Leave the house

Even though you are “working from home,” you still need to leave the house. My children are all preschoolers and younger. If they see me, they need me to be in mom mode. There’s always a trusty local coffee house with free wifi, or even better, shared work spaces from vendors like Liquid Space.

5. Plan for taxes

Leverage tax support for independent contractors from outfits such as Painless 1099, an automated tax savings service for independent contractors. Be sure to incorporate. Adding “inc” or “llc” to your business protects your personal assets and creates tax advantages. Check out services such as the aptly named, Inc., to file your paperwork.

Above all, remember that you aren’t just the boss—you’re the Mom Boss. And that’s pretty incredible. ?

Article by Colleen Keilers, the Digital Marketing Manager at The Mom Project, as well as Mom to three boys.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

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Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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