Category Archives: Family

Taking technology breaks

It is very important for a technology geek like me to take scheduled technology breaks. I know we all talk a good game but how often do you put down your gadgets? Not just for an hour, but for a whole 24-hour period? I’m about to take a really nice technology break. I have planned for it. We are taking a break with our girls. We will spend 24 hours offline and just have fun. I like to do this when we camp in the summer, but I have to be mindful of how Winter hibernation leaves us glued to our computers for recreation. Last Friday I was in the living room on my laptop. My husband was on Facebook on his iPhone. The four-year-old was on the iPad playing a game and the 8-year old was playing hangman on my iPhone. Amongst the dull blue hazy screen glow hypnotizing everyone  in the room, I realized it was time to disconnect for a bit. I navigated to our favorite local water park’s website and checked out the schedule. Thurs-Sunday are the winter hours. I bought tickets for Thursday.

You see  it is my job as the Mom to make sure I limit screen time for the family.  Don’t get me wrong technology is efficient for communication and business, but logging off, is just as important! I can’t teach my children social skills if sitting in a room glued to technology is how we spend our family time. So on Thursday you won’t be able find me for 24 whole hours!  I will be swimming with my girls and reading an actual book and enjoying conversation with my husband. A quick break to recharge our batteries in a world filled with digital stimuli. The best part is I know that my virtual world will be here when I get back, and it won’t have missed me much!

Check out Raisin in Minnesota!

I just started a new venture today with my dear friend Rene Syler AKA Good Enough Mother we call her GEM! Because she’s a Gem of a woman who has a wonderful story of reinventing herself after leaving the CBS Early show. We love reinvention in the business world so it’s all relevant.   I will be writing for her twice a month on Thursdays. Today was the debut of my new column Raisin in Minnesota, yes it’s a pun and I like it! My column will focus on interracial marriage, parenthood and stepmommery in Minnesota. If you are looking for a keeping it real take on Motherhood I suggest you frequent you can always find the link in my blogroll!

A new year, a new list

As I sat wondering what to write about today, I decided to offer a little encouragement for those, like myself, who lost their jobs this year. Being laid off is not a judgment on your professional abilities. It is not an indication of your value in the marketplace it really is “Just Business.” Your ability to understand that is what makes you valuable to another company. I know it is stressful and worrying. It makes you anxious and self-conscious but this too shall pass. For me it clouded my other achievements throughout the year. To finish my MBA yet be unemployed is nerve-wracking. I had hoped to transition from one industry to the other seamlessly.

God had other plans for me. I was able to spend the summer with my children, finish school and take many camping trips. If you know me, you know I love camping! I was able to share this joy with my children who actually cried when we packed up the pop-up for the winter. I had plenty of time to think and focus on what was important to me for my next job and focus my strength on making these contacts. I really believe that we have not because we ask not. Partly because we don’t know what to ask for or what we truly want. I spent the last six months making a list for 2012.

Here’s my list:

1.       To stay in Minnesota

I want to raise my children here. We are close to extended family and all the activities we enjoy are here. My husband grew up here.

2.       Transition to business but stay creative

While I possess business acumen, I am an artist first.  I am a visually stimulated human.

3.       Share my knowledge and learn from others

I have always enjoyed working with people and helping them achieve their goals. I always wanted to be the type of boss I wanted to have.

4.       Problem solving is key to my success

I love a good puzzle it keeps my mind sharp and I actually get a little giddy inside when I figure out a stumper!

5.       Keep my schedule family friendly

My days of waiting until the FULL LID goes on at the White House are over!

Seems simple doesn’t it? But it was a lot longer in June and a lot more confused. I needed the time to sift through the basics. Sure compensation is important but remarkably, it was not in my top five. It is a negotiating point to get to the top five.  So now, I know what I want and in 2012 and I intend to get it!

What do you really want? What are your negotiable points? What are your top five “must haves?” I assure you that when you were laid off there were at least five goals the business wanted to meet by laying you off. So don’t be bitter this new year, be prepared and know what you want.  I wish you your list in 2012.

The ever-elusive Alpha Mom

A lot of time is spent in conference rooms trying to figure out how to capture our attention. We are usually college educated yet family minded. We work in and out of the home and always get things done in spectacular fashion. Trendsetters yes! leaders of the mom pack, yes and no. The truth is we lead in our element. So how do you engage us? Well I can tell you it is not easy. Our time is precious and almost every minute is accounted for with work, home, school schedules and extracurricular activities. Did I also mention we have our own interest book clubs, professional associations and online groups? It’s a full day and week, so how do we manage it? We cut out the BS! Pardon my French but we have no time to be pitched or wooed. All that we want are the quick solutions to our problems and we usually rely on the advice of a trusted few moms who know us, know what we like and the kind of lives we strive to make for our families.

So how do you get our attention? Make our lives easier. We don’t want to keep up with the Jones’ we are the Jones’. As with all things, there is more than one type of Alpha Mom. I am the techy Alpha Mom. I wanted an iPhone because I saw how it simplified my gadget life. I went from five devices to one. No longer did I need a cell phone, iPod, calendar, laptop and address book all in my purse. I have everything I needed in one device that allows me to schedule the family, keep up with work, workout at the gym and send Christmas cards. I can even keep up with my stepchildren with text messaging while scheduling their flights to visit us. This brilliant invention even amuses my children in the waiting room at the pediatricians.

Looking for how your product will take the pain out of all the things that we need to get done in a day is only part of it, but it’s a great beginning. Keeping it simple and get it into the hands of the technology mom, or the baking mom, or the crafty mom, or the fashion chic mom is another key component. It’s like finding the right apps for your device. As the techy Alpha Mom, I am able to explain to another Alpha Mom why your product is great just by using it. When another mom sees my child calmed by the pain of a shot while watching Dora the Explorer, she’s sold. If my app buzz’s and I send my husband a text to pick up his prescriptions all while watching the 4 year-olds practice their dance to “rubber ducky,” she’s all but put it on her Christmas list. When I snap a little video while they practice, upload and share with family, if she can she’s stopping at the AT&T store on the way home.

So I probably, haven’t told you anything you don’t know already. We are not that hard to understand, but we know each other best and the real way to get our attention is to understand the roles of Alpha Moms. That’s why the crafty Alpha mom, who I know is laughing as she reads this, calls me to set up her 13 year old’s Facebook account. We don’t do it all ourselves, in our world “There’s a Mom for that!”

The woman that built me…

If you know me, you’ve met her. You either have eaten her recipes, or received her wisdom when you asked my advice.  Mom loved Christmas. Even more she loved being with her family and friends for holidays. Losing her has taught me so much about what is important in life. She was an excellent communicator and, like her daughter connected with people for life. She opened her heart and her home to everyone she knew. She is responsible for all the best parts of me.  I invite you to learn a little more about her life and the importance of life planning in a documentary that airs on TPT and Minnesota public television, tonight at 7PM CST.   If you’re not in Minnesota, you can watch it here.

As we gather with family and friends, this season.  I ask you to make an appointment with each other to talk about your wishes for end of life care. Don’t do it now and spoil the mood, but make the appointment. It is so important. I wish you all a peaceful and wonderful holiday season. –Your friend, Hillery