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Ask the EP Experts

Jodie Lynn
Have an everyday parenting concern and looking to connect with fellow parents for some solutions? Ask Jodie, Parent to Parent columnist and author of Mommy - CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules, for some advice.

 EP Parenting Q&As

 Q. Hello Jodi,

I am trying to keep my home business thriving while preparing my house to be sold, taking care of two kids, three dogs, etc. etc.... Can I be everything to everyone -- and a good parent on top of it all? My husband is out of town three days a week now so I have lost a huge amount of help. What's the best way of making sure the kids don't feel the frustration and stress of this dilemma? Please answer soon... I want off this roller coaster!


A. Hello K.B.,

It appears you have your hands full. For the time being, it might be in the best interest of the family to "reach out and touch someone." Call your friends and neighbors (including any relatives) to come over and help watch the children or take them out -- while you roll up your sleeves and get some "stuff" done. Here are a few other helpful pointers:

1. For emotional, mental and physical health reasons, begin an exercise program today. Get up early and get it done the very first thing each morning. If you have not been in a fitness program up to this point, begin with stretching and flexing your muscles and going for a walk. This will not only help you cope better -- but will help other family members as well. When your body is in shape -- your mind is in shape thus creating more energy AND it makes you feel better about yourself! This can only lead to a more positive attitude for everyone.

2. Plan your time. Plan your time to do the most focused tasks while the kids are being entertained by someone else or are asleep. For example, don't try to complete thought provoking writing assignments or business calls when you know the kids could come in at any moment and break your train of thought. Concentration is of utmost importance in accomplishing goals while presenting a professional image.

3. Make a to do list and prioritize topics. People are so busy in today's society, we all feel overwhelmed in general. By adding moving to the picture of surprises, it can really get sticky. For this reason, I tell individuals to write down every little thing. "Little" things still take time and earn the right to be written down so they too can be marked through. Looking at such a long list will compel you to feel weary -- but it's the mark-outs on the piece of paper that will help you to feel better. Prioritize topics by what is important to you as a parent and as a business owner. For example: if you have been putting in long hours at work, plan to take an extra few minutes the next day to stop and smell the flowers with your kids.

4. Get away from the computer and take mini breaks. Just for a five minute stretch or walk outside. I tell people this all the time and they say, "Oh, I do. I pick up a magazine and just skim through it every two hours or so." NO! This is not what I am suggesting. Get up and physically walk out of the work area. In my book, a break means: break away. The word mini means: shortened. Even though the break will be short -- it will provide a much needed change of scenery to basically clear your mind.

5. Don't feel guilty about asking for help. Sometimes we get so caught up in the "I can do everything by myself" mode, we feel guilty about having to ask for help from others. There's no reason we should have to add this burden to our already growing moving pains. Moving is tough and we all need help -- so ask for it.

Think this job is tough? Wait until you get to where you're going. It's a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few golden rules I've put together (as I know for sure I'm the world's most moved Mommy)! And, they really work.

New Communities

First of all -- you will have to take a few days off from your job. It's a vacation no one really enjoys -- but it must be planned ahead of time. Don't whine or fret -- just suck it up and go with the flow.

You may be thrilled to be moving, or you could be scared to death! Moving can leave you sad, glad, or a mixture of all. Don't fret -- I have done this too many times not to be able to help out. Here are some ways to help make moving into a new community easier.

First of all remember that moving is very time consuming and your patience will be tested. Everything will be new, and for many it's exhausting! Don't try to do everything at once! I once lost my mind trying this stunt -- I later found it behind the diapers in row 6 at Walmart!

  • First on your list should be to go and meet your closest neighbors. Don't wait for them to come over. Ask if there's a neighborhood phone directory and find out where you can get one. Look for children's birth dates -- call the homes where the children's ages are close to your own kids'. Ask for recommendations on babysitters. Ask how their children like the sitters. This will lead to many a good relationship. Most families are very willing to help. (They were once a new family in a new area.)
  • Call local paper for information on parenting organizations. Go visit all that are of interest to you -- and some that are not. If you stick to those that are only in your area of most interest, you could be missing out on some wonderful relationships.
  • Contact the local Welcome Wagon. There's one in almost every town. They will lead to The Newcomers Club, which has more hobbies and mommy groups than you will know what to do with.
  • Visit churches. Many churches now offer parenting and play groups that are embraced by the whole community, not just members.
  • Go for a family walk. In the evening after dinner is a good time. This is usually when the Dads are available to chat as well. Keep a pen and paper ready in the stroller or in your pocket to write down your new phone number and names of your family -- and get their names and numbers, too!
  • If you children are old enough, send them out to play and let them find families to play with (it works)! Sooner or later, someone will want to spend the night or your cutie will ask someone over. Perfect situation for making new friends with other parents.
  • Find out where the parks are. Get going -- even in the winter. There will be kids and moms there.
  • Take a trip to the zoo. Enroll your children in an activity at the zoo and meet new faces and have fun with the NURSERY of baby animals at the same time.
  • Look at the grocery store for a free local parenting newspaper and/or magazine. These will usually have places to see and things to do for family outings.
  • Check out the Libraries and local YMCA/YWCA for activities for kids. Many places now have free storytime and introductory offers for new folks just moving to the area.
  • Call the athletic association in your area to find out about soccer, baseball, basketball, etc., registration and sign your kids up! Begin to take pictures right away.
  • Volunteer at the new preschool and/or school. You will meet many other moms there. Take pictures of the new house, yard, new friends, school, classmates, teams, etc. It will help the children see how easy the transition of moving can be. Keep a positive attitude and so will your family!
  • Last but far from least, don't forget to do some things for yourself. Ask other moms where they go for exercise, hair salon, clothes, books, make-up, restaurant, doctors, resale shops, house goods, etc.

Good luck and smile. It'll all work out!

 Q. My three year old daughter often bursts into tears and whines quite a bit, especially when she is with other children. They often tease her in order to make her whine and cry. Her day care provider and I keep asking her to use her words and stand up for herself, but to no avail. What else can we do?
A. If the children are taunting her enough to make her whine and cry, your childcare provider is not making a good judgment call in this situation. Put yourself in your daughter's shoes. Would you stand up for yourself at this age, or get so frustrated and bent out of shape you'd most likely begin to lose belief in adults? She is looking for a safety net and ending up finding a big hole. Don't take the adult's word in this scenario -- look out for a peaceful environment for your reserved little girl.
Respect your daughter's individuality and get her into another environment where children aren't allowed to poke fun and agitate each other. This is so totally unacceptable and unfair I can't even begin to stress it in strong enough words. Your daughter's self-esteem is being slaughtered on a daily basis. She will not learn to speak up and communicate in this type of destructive onslaught until others respect her along with allowing her personality to slowly take shape. What are you waiting for? Love her for who she is and refer to my latest book Mommy - CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules, for further tips.

Q. Hello!

I'm so happy to be able to get some advice...I have three beautiful children. two boys, ages four and six, and a girl, almost three. They are wonderful, but a handful.
It's getting harder and harder to make them each feel special. They all want to be equal. The same toys, books, amount of milk and cookies (they measure)...the list goes on. I try to enforce that
they are each special, and not to compare so much (everything works out in the wash is my attitude), but they are starting to drive me crazy with fighting over every little thing they feel is not equal. I don't feel everything has to be the same for each, but this is hard to teach...
Any suggestions would be sincerely appreciated.
Thank You!!
Jeanny Cunningham
A. Dear Jeanny:
Congratulations, you have just entered the wild world upon which every parent eventually faces: "It's not fair!" Don't despair. some common rules are listed in my latest book, Mommy - CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules. Get it and read it -- and your parenting challenges will become much easier.
You're right -- everything doesn't have to be fair, but try to tell that to the children! LOL. For now, keep situations flowing as smoothly as possible by following some of these suggestions:
  • Speak up yourself: "The 6-year-old gets to do this or that because he's the oldest. This is how all parents try to keep things fair. When you get to be his age, you'll get to do a little more -- just like your 'big' brother." However, along with this he has to accept responsibility for being treated a little more grown up. If he messes up, follow through on natural consequences. For example: For meals, say, "His tummy holds more because he's older," -- "I get more French fries because I'm older." But if the 6-year-old doesn't eat them, then next time he will get the same as the others. (If you're going to make a point, try to stick with it.)
  • Assign chores. In reality -- except for the 3-year-old picking up her toys and a few other simple but very important chores -- they should all be helping with various things. Make a list and let them check or mark the chore as it is finished. If children can hear and see the difference, it's better received as a whole. Don't ever make any one child seem more special than the others. While older children might have more privileges, it doesn't mean they're more special, smarter or better than the others. Try to make sure they realize "more-of-whatever" is due to age and responsibilities. If the others see that he does get more privileges due to his "up keep," they're more likely to try to be a little more "grown up" themselves. There's nothing wrong with telling them they're special in different ways -- this is actually very good for their self-esteem.
  • Put their names on various toys and objects. Try to get them in the habit of asking the other before they play with a sibling's toy, etc. This will also help in recognizing each other's names and encourage respect of the sibling and the property. Write the names using different colors. Teach colors as you go along (especially for the younger ones).
  • For the younger children, or any of them -- if it gets too hairy -- distract, distract, distract! Herd them all over to another area or at least the two who are arguing and complaining. Get them into something else and maybe sneak back into the "war zone" and put away the previous items. If they ask for them, say "You can play only if you will do so without arguing." If you know it's not going to work -- this is a bad idea -- then don't allow play interaction with these items, toys, or objects until the next day.
  • Don't become too involved in the "blame game." Listen to their ideas one at a time. Set examples of how a sticky situation can be handled. Eventually wean yourself from the conflict. Unless physical or emotional abuse is at hand, try to allow them to solve their own challenges as much as possible.
  • Send them to their rooms for a "settle down time" if they won't be quiet. Daily changes and frustrations will happen every day. Make up some of your own personal rules and guidelines. Moms usually always know what to do -- it's just sometimes we are too close to the situation.
I hope I've been of some help. For more ideas on parenting, please visit my web site: - and best of luck. :-)
Q. Dear Jodie,
I have two boys, Eric will be seven in October and Joe just turned two May 30th. Eric has always "picked" on Joey, but he also will jump at any opportunity to love on his brother, which, frankly doesn't come very often because Joe doesn't trust Eric's motives and lashes out whenever Eric tries to put his arms around him or kiss him.
I have tried to talk to Eric about this, because he is genuinely hurt when Joey rejects him, but recently things have gotten worse. Now I catch Eric just plain being mean to his little brother at any opportunity he gets, i.e.; whenever we're not looking. He will snatch his pacifier out of his mouth and throw it across the yard, or throw a ball right in his face.
I am so troubled by this behavior of Eric's, because he is normally a very sweet, easy-going kid. I have scolded him time and time again, made him sit on time out or sent him to his room, but all to no avail. If they are alone in the same space together it's not long before I hear a wail go up and Eric will not give me a straight answer, so I've started spying on them so I KNOW what has happened, and Eric lies about it.
What effect is this going to have on Joey? What can my husband and I do to help them? Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been searching for information on sibling rivalry, but none seems to cover this particular age gap.
Thank you!
Vickie Chivington
A. Your older child appears to be jealous and is trying to get your attention. Nine times out of ten, this type of behavior is being done to him in either child care, school, and/or just in the neighborhood. Kids are doing a variety of things to him to "get his goat." He then retaliates on 2-year-old. :(
1. Role play with older sibling. Maybe you can figure out why he is acting this way. Get him to talk about his day and pretend he's someone he doesn't like too terribly much. When does this take place? Who is doing it to him?
2. If this behavior is a display of carried over feelings from somewhere else -- you can nip it in the bud by getting information from that child's parents, teacher, etc., on how best to handle the situation. (Maybe change of classes, play groups, sites, etc.)
3. He may be jealous because you come to the youngest sibling's aid. When mean things are being done to him -- no one either knows about it or is looking the other way; i.e., teacher, other children, and yes, even us as parents.
4. You are describing a type of bullying -- so this is why I think it may be happening to him. He wants to be a "bully" too. Sometimes, children think bullies are "cool" because everyone tries to be nice to them so they won't get hit! So, he may be trying to be "cool" in the wrong sense of the word.
5. Other options are: don't ask the oldest to do to many things for the younger sibling. Kids resist this. Try to make it his idea if you are trying to get him to help out. For example: "Do you think Joey should wear the blue shirt or the red one? Pick one out and let's let him choose his shorts. What a good choice! You did a good job! Can you bring it to me?" :)
6. Remember, don't label Eric. "Your mean!" Try to compliment him on times when he is nice to his baby brother. If he does something you don't like - simply say: "That is unacceptable and it must stop now. Do you like it when people are mean to you? No, I didn't think so. Well, Joey doesn't like it either."
7. Joey will survive. But, he may also become dependent on you coming to his rescue and scream before anything really happens. If you're sure Eric is the trouble maker, it could be mimicked from a favorite TV show, video or Nintendo. Supervise what he is watching. Make sure there's not too much rough play between him and you, dad, friends, etc.
8. Not knowing everything that goes on and when, take what you can from this and come up with your own plan. I've started taping my responses. As soon as I hear an argument, I turn on the tape player and listen to it later. This provides me with an earful of stuff that I may could have reacted to a little better. I do come to the smallest ones aid first. They know this and in your case, the 2-year-old may know just how far to push his big brother. They're a lot smarter than we give them credit! LOL It will also help if you try to stay calm (yeah right) -- I know -- it's hard -- but our response will help to create a monster or a negotiate a compromise.
9. Find ways to give Eric positive attention. Set him up for several successes each day. Give him some responsibilities around the house that you know he will succeed at and reward him by words, points towards a new legos set, etc. Don't forget: basic bragging to another mom, relative, friend, etc., lets him see himself in a new role: "I can be proud of me, myself and I."
10. Don't use Joey's tiredness, sickness, size, etc., or anything else for an excuse for not allowing your oldest son to be able to do something. "Joey's too tired to go to the park today - maybe we can go tomorrow." Always emphasize to Eric, "We may get to go to the park, zoo, movie, etc. we'll see how things go with our day."
11. You may find further parenting tips in my book, Mommy-CEO. These are the five golden rules for families to implement at home and even in our own personal relationships as an adult. It gives tips from real parents about real challenges. After teaching over 15 years of parenting classes, these are the ones that came up over and over again. If you'd rather not buy one -- ask your library to order a few copies. Good luck!
12. BTW: The age difference is not the barrier -- it happens to any and all kids. :)

Q. I think it was Jodie Lynn who gave a talk to our women's business association a year or so ago about parenting and exercise. Please have her tell us how to find time to exercise while working and caring for small children. What
can we do at home to keep up with our health and work when we have three children under the age of seven? Any helpful tips would be greatly appreciated for my husband and myself. He runs -- I don't.

Thank you!
--Tired and worn out in the summer!
A. Dear Tired and Worn Out for the Summer:
I almost always try to include exercising tips into my parenting talks to parents. They just go together and give us so much more energy! I've taught aerobics to adults and kids for the past 16 years.......believe me -- I hear ya!
Mini breaks are a good basic plan for this frequently mentioned dilemma. As long as you can spend up to 18 minutes on a set of movements -- you're doing your body good. REMEMBER: Always stretch before and after exercise and try to increase durability on time every fourth workout. :)
1. Make it a fun time for everyone. Set up a music video for the kids. Let them exercise with you. Give everyone their own space.
2. Let each child take a turn at being the leader. Even the smallest can think of something to do -- keep your feet moving at all times. Even if it's only marching in place until they decide something to do. Make gentle recommendations and let them implement their own version.
3. Exercise with a tape. There are tapes out for kids to exercise, and you can pick up the pace (they might too). :)
4. Don't get too serious about exercise while doing it with the children. If you keep it fun and just keep moving -- everyone will enjoy it and burn calories as well.
5. Go for a family walk. Take along the stroller for anyone who gets tired (better safe than sorry). Take along water and/or depending on the time of day, juice. Remember, juice fills children up. If it's too close to dinner, you might want to stick with water.
6. Go for a swim. It's worth its weight in gold. Kids taking lessons? Usually parents can go to the other end of the pool and take a few laps. If not -- ask if they'll consider it.
7. Got a practice to go to? Unless your child specifically asks you to stick around -- walk out the door, etc., and keep right on walking or running. Come back and pick up kids after practice. I notice many times parents sit and wait on their kids. Use this time as your personal time to get in a few minutes of exercise at an adult's speed.
8. Watching a TV program? Lift weights while watching TV. Have them in a handy spot and put them back in the same spot. (Tell the kids they are "off limits" to them.) You can sit or stand to lift hand or free weights. Ask your doctor before adding leg weights to any work out. Never lock out knees or arms. Try to always keep slightly bent. Begin with light weights and a few repetitions and then build up.
9. Stretch your legs and arms while sitting at your desk. Rotate your head from front and side to side (avoid titling back).
10. Stand up and place hands on hips and lean back. Hold this position until the count of ten. Build up as time allows.
11. Make time for yourself to exercise. Ask husband, relative, neighbor or friend to trade off certain days to watch each other's kids.
12. Can't find a "trade off deal?" Hire a neighborhood middle school aged baby-sitter to watch kids while you run and/or walk around the block a few times and/or simply go into another room and turn up the music and dance away. This will only enhance your attitude during work hours and your self-esteem will blossom. Don't feel guilty. Just do it and you'll be glad you did. Stick with the golden rule: If momma's happy -- usually everyone else will be too! :)

Q. Hello! I am a "Stay Home" mom during the day and I work in the evening. I have a 2 1/2 yr old daughter and a 1 yr old daughter.

Could you please send me some type of schedule or daily activity lists so I may get a routine down for myself and my girls? Most of the time I let them entertain each other as I do laundry, clean the house, breakfast lunch etc.... but then I feel so guilty because I am not interacting with them but through my children I was not taught or had that relationship with my own mom so tell me how I can gain the bond and closeness of everyday actitivies so I may enjoy every precious moment with them.
Often I sit and think what is there today?? Please Help!! Thank you so much.

 A.Dear Sherry,

Letting your children play with each other is really nothing to feel guilty about. They will learn a lot from each other. But, as usual, guilt rules! Here are a few thoughts, and please let me know if they help:
1. Try to get a copy of my latest book, Mommy-CEO at your very earliest convenience. My entire book is based on running your household smoothly and the five golden rules can assure you family success -- and much deserved happiness.
2. Try to do most of your chores at night when they are asleep.
3. Their attention span isn't very long at this young age. Play a game for a while and move on to something else.
4. Change their toys every three months. Pack up the ones they seem to be tired of and bring out new ones. Don't fret over money. Buy quality toys at garage and yard sales. Wash them up and let them play with them. At the end of three months, bring out the old ones and pack these away. Children get so excited to see the "packed away" toys and often times feel like they're new all over again.
5. Pay attention to age appropriate toys, books, etc. This will eliminate many frustrating and overwhelming feelings for children...and parents.
6. Make a daily calendar with activities repeated on certain days. Children love structure at this age -- but not too much. If something isn't working out for that day, have a back up plan.
7. Check out my web site: and click on the childcare provider link. This is why I like it so much...all parents and care givers are childcare providers and this site give loads of tips on many activities.
8. Sing with your children. This is a type of play, and you may even be able to get them to let you do a few chores while singing. :)
9. March. March in place and to where you need to do a chore! They love to march and sing -- my book says so! LOL
10. As they get a little older, things will change and so will their attention span and need for constant care. This is the main reason to give them your love and attention now: to build a foundation for their self-confidence to bloom. In other words, they will be less whiny and clingy later if you interact with them now. :)
Good luck, and remember -- parenting is tough -- but don't forget the humor. Smile -- it burns up a few more calories than frowning and makes you look and feel really good! Don't feel like smiling? Then put on some music and dance with the kids! I guarantee you'll feel like smiling and so will they!
Best of luck,

 Q. Hi! I am a new mom (I have a 14 month old son) and am working full time as a secretary. I know other moms who do the same type of work I do from their homes! How do I find out information on starting a home secretarial service and even more important, how do I make connections with other moms that have done it and will provide support to me as I make the transition?

Thank you for your time,
Julie Doney
A. Dear Julie:
In starting up any business, things take time. Unless you can survive without your salary for up to six months or so, don't quit your present job.
The good news is that making professional connections for your home business is easier today than ever before because so many more people are working at home. The first thing to do is to have some business cards printed up with your name and title (i.e., "Professional Typist," "Executive Assistant," etc. should be sufficient for now -- later on you can get more creative with your title). You will want to include your home phone as well as your e-mail address on the card, plus a tag line about your business and/or select services you plan to offer.
Next, begin the networking process by joining a professional secretarial club and/or organization. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and tell them you are looking for such a club or association. Visit several to see which one you like the best. For each one you attend there will be as many as 20 or more women -- or as few as 6 to 8. Hand out your cards to everyone you meet!
Another option is to ask around for your friend's recommendations. Even if they don't belong, someone they know may have a listing of local associations. Be brave and ask questions during meetings. This is the only way you will learn about what other women are doing. You will most likely find out there will be several who have started a similar business. After talking with people about your idea, and if you decide to go ahead and pursue it, keep in close contact with them.
Personal and professional contacts are very much needed when you work at home. It can get lonely and you will need to get out. The support you will receive from others who are engaging in similar careers will not only be helpful to you from a business standpoint, but will also prove helpful in keeping your sanity. All of a sudden you are now home -- all the time. You will become aware of everything that goes on in your home. The laundry, dustmites, dogs, children and dishes will constantly be calling your name! Keep those contacts as your friends and your "escape" to sanity. :)
In addition, this is where some of your best networking will come from. Talk about what it is you do with everyone you meet. Your marketing strategies will make or break the success of your business. By telling others what you do, it gives them the opportunity to say, "My boss is looking for someone to help him re-type his entire 'House Repair' file system," or "I have a friend who could really use someone like you -- here's his number." You will never know where you can connect with a new client unless you tell folks what you do!
Finally, feel free to use the discussion board right here at The Entrepreneurial Parent. Use it to hook up with other parents of small children and share tips and resources with them on your own.
Good luck!
Q. I'm about to become a father in 4 weeks. Until now I've been so worried about my job that I've missed out on learning about fatherhood...Can you send me / refer me to books etc.. where I can 'catch-up' on the basics regarding what I need to be careful of in the first year of a baby's life? Your help is appreciated.
Sunil Patel
A. Dear Sunil:
Run, don't walk, to the bookstore and buy these books: The First Twelve Months Of Life, by Frank and Theresa Caplan, (they have plenty that follow as well), Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five, by Dr. Penelope Leach, and last but not least, as the baby gets growing towards age two, my personal book, Mommy - CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules by Jodie Lynn. Although the title has the word "Mommy," many men have piped up their two-cents worth throughout the book as well. In fact, a male doctor and male professor both wrote book reviews on Mommy - CEO in Please feel free to read them.
Since you will soon be a "newborn Dad," I just one to point out one important safety tip you should know about. Support the baby's head when holding him/her well up into the fourth month. Many babies will have strong neck muscles by the time they are 3 months old and many parents take this as a sign to stop supporting their neck. This has proven to be an almost fatal catastrophe in some cases. As they are holding the baby in an upright position, the baby's head will jerk and fall backwards causing the baby to tilt his entire body. This can harm the baby's neck, back and scare the both of you. The head is the heaviest part of the human body and it's extremely heavy for small infants. Just be careful and watch this when holding your 3-4 month old in an upright position.
And also remember this: As you read books with charts, and as you compare your baby with them, don't take them word for word. Some children are a little behind and some are a little ahead. If there are no medical or health problems, most children will catch up. Even if there are any complications, many will catch up anyway. My last child was born almost six weeks early and had to have a blood transfusion! He was a very long baby but his lungs were severely underdeveloped. He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for several weeks. We were told he may have all kinds of handicaps. Today, he is a very bright and skillful kid without any lasting effects. :-) What's this prove? Children can overcome almost any adversity and still come out a winner as long as parents never give up hope and treat them the way you want to be treated. :-)
Good luck and congratulations -- everything will turn out well!
Q. I just found out I'm pregnant with twins and yes, basically alone. I work as a bartender and manager of a bar/restaurant and I know with the special needs of this pregnancy, I'm doomed to bed rest sooner or later.
I need to know where I can possibly start to look for a job working at home either on phone but I prefer on the computer (it's bound to get noisy here). This is my only concern and I don't care if I work for myself or for a company. Do you know where I could look for help?
I am petrified.
I live in Arizona but thought I could find work with a company for research or anything. Is there anything out there?
A. There's a nationwide organization called "Displaced Homemakers" that you should know about. They specialize in helping homemakers who are suddenly forced into the workforce by divorce, widowhood, or spousal disability to develop skills that will help them find employment. While it's not clear whether you are presently a "displaced homemaker," it's certainly worth your contacting them to see if they can be of help.
The contact we have is a chapter in N.Y.S, but you can write to them to find one closer to you. Send a letter to: Displaced Homemaker Program, PO Box 1319, Smithtown, NY 11787-0895; or fax it to (516) 853-6510.
Furthermore, in today's world good workers are hard to find. And there's nothing like the responsibility of children to make an urgent wake-up call to reality.
Depending on your situation, you probably already have many skills you can utilize. Your "people skills" will be a very positive trait in whatever you do. There are many telemarketing companies who probably would be very interested in you. Although your house will get noisy on occasions, a separate room for a couple of hours stretch at a time would probably allow you to get plenty of work done on the phone. Check the local papers for these types of positions and always mention your managerial skills as they are always in need of good managers. Also, call the bigger companies in your area. Ask if they have any "hire to work at home" programs available. Don't forget to ask for the length of the assignments and if you could stay on as a regular. Tell everyone you meet what you are thinking of doing.
Begin to network now by trying to find and join a moms of twins club. Who knows, some of them probably are doing exactly what you want to do and could be a big help. Believe me, you will need these moms not only for their friendships, but for lots of hands on "tried and true" remedies for parenting tips as well. Everything will work out -- just try to have patience.
Good luck to you.
Q. I am a mother of three children, 2 boys and a little girl. They are very hungry for attention. My youngest is 3 1/2 and has been in day care since
September 8, this year. My boys are in 2nd and 7th grades.
I have been at home for the past three years, and while I am doing the best I can, I do not feel like a very successful at home mom. I put my daughter in day care so that I could get myself ready to go back to work. I feel that I really need it, but
at the same time I'm not so sure that it will work. Daycare costs $552.00 a month just for my daughter, and I cannot give the responsibility to my 12 year old to watch his 7 year old brother, he would kill him. They fight a lot. It seems like every week either one of them is sick and needs to stay home or I have to take one to the doctors, dentist, orthodontist, optometrist. There is always a reason that I am needed at home. My father is retired, but he does not want to be tied down so he is not able to be help that I can count on, and my husband is not free to help much either. I am very frustrated. I not only need a job to make myself feel better, we desperately need the money. I have looked into some homework opportunities but most seem to be scams.
Please, if you have any helpful advice on what I can do to become a happier, more productive mom, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you so much,
A. Dear Debbie:

More and more parents are trying to work out of their home. I will be the first to admit, it isn't easy, especially with children. You're a lot smarter and a much more productive mom than you think. For starters, you have the ability to understand that the fights between your sons are very real and unhealthy. It not only upsets them, especially the younger one, but will eat away at the whole family. Also, you have already stated why it is important for you to at least stay at home if possible -- for the well-being of your children. Another reason you mentioned is the rising cost of child care. It is staggering to most household budgets -- and by the time you add the cost of doctor visits and prescriptions -- it's out of reach for most people. It seems as though every time you feel as if you are getting ahead, someone gets sick and zaps the old pocket book and you get behind again.

There are many opportunities for you to work at home. One of the best resources is the book,
Finding Your Perfect Work: The New Career Guide to Making a Living, Creating a Life by Paul and Sarah Edwards. Read it and keep an open mind about your abilities.
As you get your home career off the ground, here are some guidelines to think about:

1. While the kids are in school, begin your work as soon as everyone is out of the house. You might try to find a sitter for less money than you are currently paying to come to your house during the day to watch your daughter. College students are usually willing to do this at least 3 to 4 times a week as well as some retired people. Check their backgrounds carefully and call references.

2. Post "Help Wanted" cards at Churches, Christian Colleges and at the YMCA or YWCA. For the college students, specifically ask for the early childhood developmental Majors. These will be the students who will have the most knowledge of your younger children and will be learning new material all the time.

3. Don't answer the phone -- let it take a message. Have a specific time you check them. Unless it is an emergency, return only those pertaining to your work. You might want to get an answering machine where you can screen the caller by listening to the beginning of the message to hear who it is -- and then decide to pick up.

4. When the kids come home, you must stop working. It is almost impossible to continue to work when the children are first getting home. They usually want to see you and let off some steam. Some days it will be good steam and some days it will be bad. Don't worry about it. Once you begin to work at home -- it will take adjustment periods on everyone's part (including yours).

5. Change is hard on almost everyone. Many times you will feel lost. Don't let anyone kid you. Don't look at the time spent calming your home and kids as missed work! It will drive you nuts! This time is just as importan a step to your success as anything else -- and time spent very wisely. As you become more comfortable in what you are doing, so will the children. If your mind is wandering, they will do anything to get your attention. With your new-found confidence and spending more time with them, they will soon grow to learn they don't have to have your attention every second. Try to focus as much as possible on your career while they are not home. After everyone is asleep, you might be able to do a little work on the computer or paper work.

6. Get organized -- let the kids help. Don't be afraid to delegate. Just because you're home doesn't mean others can't help. Don't let them make you feel guilty. We recently moved and my office looks like a tornado hit it! It's driving me bananas! I told my family, "Look, this is my space so please stay out. If you come in, you must have at least one suggestion on how I can get it organized." It's worked pretty well. My 7th grader has had suggestions and the others have put in their two-cents worth as well. Have your oldest come in by himself. Ask his opinion on something -- anything -- and then use it. As soon as he sees you value his suggestions, he will have a little lift in self-esteem ("What, an adult asking me for help?") This won't happen over night, but you will see a change sooner than you think. Then ask the seconded grader to come in by himself and give a suggestion. Believe it or not, he will eventually have some good tips. Second grade teachers are constantly teaching their students how to get organized. You can set up a question with a successful plot already in mind for him. For example, "Do you think it would be a good idea for me to put all my pencils and pens in a cup? This may help me to keep up with them better. How about you choosing one for me?" Go with him to the kitchen and let him select one -- or set out two or three for him to make his choice from. Tell him he made a good selection (don't be afraid to use big words) and it was a great suggestion. Even the three-year-old could do something similar. Just make sure they come in "alone" and have your entire attention during the suggestion period.

7. Never underestimate your personal goals. Not everyone starts out big! Success comes slow for many of us, especially with children. Just look at it this way, do you value a better home life with more settled children, or a get rich scheme that never works? Set small personal goals instead of looking at the whole picture. Write them down. As you get to each one, cross it off with a big smile on your face. Good luck and don't forget to take mini breaks throughout life (even if it's only whistling while you work!) Hey, I know it sounds silly -- but it works!
: )
Q. Do you feel that it is valuable to teens if their mother stays at home? I strongly believe in preschooler moms staying home...but what about older children?
A. Dear Mary:
I wish I had the correct answer every time a parent asked me this very question. Again, in a dilemma like this, you have to take a look at your own individual child and situation. Without knowing too much about your child, I will give you the message I usually get from most parents and teens who have gone through this.
Many teenagers need parents -- or at least one parent -- to be home when they get there. Although they have big bodies and think they know it all, they are still very much in need of parental supervision. In fact, by being home when they arrive, you not only can supervise kids who come into your house, but who and what they are involved in. Teens have a tendency to migrate to the house without parents after school and other activities. This will leave your door open for any and all friends of your teen (and some who may not be their friends but just want a place to hang out).
When a group of teens begin to hang out for the sake of not going home themselves, without adults around, it can sometimes turn ugly. One of them may smoke or eventually introduce other drugs and you may not find out until it's too late. Your teen may not want to take part in this, but feel it's a must due to peer pressure. This is pretty much in the middle -- it's a scenario that's not too far to the left or right. Keep in mind, with teenagers, it could go either way. Teens have told me before that it's nice to have someone at home so they don't have to be pressured to go with the flow and do things that may be uncomfortable for them. They may not admit it, but the presence of an adult allows them a way out of any uncomfortable situation, i.e., "Oh, I can't -- my mom is home."
With all of today's easy access to so many threatening environments for our teens, I personally think you should try to at least be at home not too much after they get there. There's plenty of jobs which will offer you this flexibility and if not, look for one at least six months before your teen hits the 7th or 8th grade. This is usually the time when they are really trying to fit into the "click" or at least establish a group of their own.
Good luck and remember, you can say NO! to your teen.
Q.  Dear Jodie:

I was reading through your profile on the
EP Showcase and was extremely impressed with the comments under the phrase "degree." I feel that I have the hardest, most rewarding job in the world, being a full-time mom to my 2 month old son. Through my current search to find my niche in the career world, I have come to the realization that the two degrees I hold, an A.S. in Early Childhood Ed., and a B.S. in Psychology, have only provided me with a broad range of abilities. The skills and knowledge I am receiving as a mommy are far more educational. My struggle now is on how to help my family grow financially, without disrupting the foundation we are building. My interests and talents are only as limited as I allow them to be. If you have any suggestions for a work at home business, please take a moment to respond. I greatly appreciate your time.
Thank You,
A. Hi - Thanks for the belief in children. You are providing a wonderful opportunity to your family by giving your personal time and concern to them. I really think many readers will appreciate your question and SOLID beliefs. We all want to be successful and make worthwhile contributions to our family as well. Many times we feel staying at home isn't enough. BELIEVE ME - it is!
With your son being so young you may be limited for a while -- or if you're lucky and he is a good sleeper -- you might get a lot done. Here are some home business ideas for new moms:
1. Tutoring: parents pay good money for this. I did it several years ago (maybe around 9) and it was $8.00 an hour then. Reading and math are still the best areas to go with. You set the age limit you'll accept -- but many adults pay to increase their skills as well. This is a very lucrative career and the sky is truly the limit! :)
2. Clipping pets. Yes, it can get messy but people are prepared to pay as much as $35.00 each pet to get them clipped and bathed by a caring individual. You can set up guidelines as to which breeds you will accept, price and time.
3. Pet sitting. For some reason, folks just seem to be more at ease if they can leave their pets at someone's house as opposed to a kennel. If you kept one or two pets for a week at a time -- you could charge as much as $20.00 each day.
4. Child care. If you are a caring individual who loves kids, it's usually easy to get a license for an in-home facility. You can set the time and number of children. With your degrees, parents would love you to take care of their children. If you set up an arrangement for only two or three, this could be income up to $100.00 per child. They could be great help with entertaining the baby. Children love babies and vice versa.
5. Nanny position. I have a friend who is a nanny for a family of four and she takes her two children along. She doesn't live at their house but is there from 7:00 till 7:00 and she loves it!!!!!! She is paid an awesome salary (including benefits).
6. In home typing service. Lots of professionals need extra hands in the typing end of their business. You can pick up the work and/or have it sent to your home. Going prices for your expertise are quite high. You may have to do a little cold calling -- so what! Ask family and friends of reputable companies and give them a call. Ask for the office supervisor. Many times friends will be able to provide a name of someone who works there. Call them first and ask what's going on and if they are in need of an in-home typist.
7. Create a need. The next time you're at a doctor's office -- or anywhere -- and you see something that could become better (and you can do it at home -- or take the baby with you) to help their business -- talk to them about it. For example: one time my dentist couldn't find my chart, I asked how they kept the folders filed -- he said just by the alphabet. I asked if he would like for me to take the folders home on the weekend and color code them by applying color labels to each folder by zip code. He liked the idea and asked for other suggestions as well. Create a need! :)
Good luck and remember, don't be afraid to ask for what you want -- they can only say "No" -- but who knows -- they may say "Yes!" :)
Q. My problem is potty training a 3-year-old who doesn't want to. It's hard because he apparently doesn't want me to do my work and will decide to go to the potty when I'm on the phone. I feel very isolated and need immediate help!
Why can't my husband help? William doesn't want him to? Why is this? Can only mommies do this?
A. Dear mom of 3-year-old who has you over a barrel:
It's true my friend, I think this young man has your number. All kids, not just little William, will demand attention when parents are on the phone, and in this case, he's found out how to pull your strings even more during conversations. Let me suggest a few things, and please remember, these are only guidelines:
1. Try to take off of work for at least one week to potty train your child. This should be the only thing you focus on. If your mind is somewhere else -- he will know it. Children are very smart. It's maddening to take off one week from work and spend it on "potty training," but, if time is spent on this now, the end result will save more time and much frustration for everyone.
2. If you are getting no where, it's time to accept that it's just not going to happen right now, and/or the one last attempt is to get Dad to try his hand at it.
3. Sometimes, summer is a little easier for potty training. Many parents let their children run around in a swimsuit and/or training pants. A potty is kept outside. If an accident happens, they can be easily sprayed off with the hose.
4. Regardless if it's summer or whenever, try to make it fun. Don't get upset and please don't stick labels on children: "slow," "goofy," "stupid," "baby," "dumb," etc. This can set them up for a lifetime of low self esteem resulting in repeated failures.
5. Try rewards. Make an at home calendar just for him. Keep the spaces large enough for him to place a sticker each time he attempts a potty trip. Keep special stickers put away just for successful potty trips. Put photographs on the calendar of him with his "big boy" pants on. Let him help decorate it as well.
6. Clap, holler and yell with delight each time he goes to the potty. Some parents have even made up little songs. Even when you feel like screaming - keep a smile on your face and your tone of voice pleasant :)
7. Always look at what's gong in his life and use this as a guideline towards potty training. Things that may throw you a curve ball (which could prevent him from being totally potty trained) could be: death in the family, a recent move, a new baby, new job for mom or dad, a change in preschools and/or teachers, death of a pet, etc.
8. If all else fails, give it up for now and try again later. I know, I know -- you've heard this before -- but this too shall pass.
Take care and don't go bonkers over this. :)

Q. I have a new part-time Home Business. I have 2 small children and I'm having a hard time making the phone calls I need uninterupted. Any Ideas?


 A. Dear Wendy:

Because I have a national parenting column, (Parent to Parent), I hear this almost as many times a day as the question, "What's the best way to get my baby off of the bottle?" :-) But, I also know it's a common problem for all parents. Try to get a hold of a copy of my book, Mommy - CEO (Constantly Evaluating Others), Five Golden Rules to help with all kinds of parenting challenges. (Sounds like an advertisement -- but - I really believe in this book because I know it's helped thousands of parents just like yourself.) :)
Here's some tips from other parents (and me) that you might find helpful (Note: this is one of my Parent to Parent columns currently running in newspapers across the country!):
Q. My office is in my home, and I can't seem to get anything done with my kids always asking questions. How do other parents handle this situation?
It worked for me:
-- I have become much more organized, which includes working feverishly late at night and early in the morning when my 2-year-old is asleep. As you've found out, when children are awake, your time is their time. - Will Nowell of Nashville, Tenn.
-- Get organized and set a timer. Try to get them to not bother you while it is their "play" time and your "work" time. Give them a "Fun Box" containing spray can tops, tissue, paper towel rolls, Scotch tape, plastic bottles, ribbon and other things, and let them make you a surprise. Promise not to look until the timer goes off. Give lots of praise for sticking to the schedule. Reset timer, change play toys and go back to work. -- Carmel Redmon of Louisville, Ky.
Here are a few backup remedies:
From Lisa Roberts, author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business:
-- If your children are 5 years old and up, hold a meeting about the dilemma. If your children are under 5, they probably will need a baby sitter when you're working in your office.
At the meeting, state the problem. For example, "It feels like whenever I start getting some work done in the office, one of you comes in with a question. This interrupts my thoughts and makes me stay longer in the office to get my work done." Vote on solutions.
-- Set up clear business hours. Be realistic about how much time your children really can stay on their own while you're in the office.
-- Get your children to create a sign for your office door. On one side, the sign says, "Mommy/Daddy at work." On the other side, it says, "Mommy/Daddy at play." When you have work that won't get done if you're interrupted, make sure the "at work" side is showing; when you're attending to some light business tasks, flip to the "at play" side. Make sure you're "at play" at least some of the time, or this won't work!
-- Propose a reward-consequence system. Every half-hour you get in your office that's uninterrupted, the kids get a smiley face. Every time they come in and ask a question (that's not an emergency), they get a frown. After 10 smileys, they get some kind of treat. After 10 frowns, they get an extra house chore.
From Jodie: To keep the cost of baby-sitting down, think about hiring a college student to watch your children at least three to four hours every other day. Call a local college and ask the child-development professor to recommend students.
Maybe you can develop a baby sitter co-op between you and a friend. Set up the rules in the beginning so no misunderstandings develop. Make sure you are available to baby-sit your co-op partner's children when needed.


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