Let it go!

I am not going to try to make this sound easy, but I am going to try to make it seem necessary. I believe if there is anything that makes you feel like you’re living in limbo, you should let it go. I think this is a very common feeling for single moms. Often, after divorce, you feel like your family’s in limbo, waiting to see if there’s someone who will come along and step into that father role. As a woman, you’re in limbo wondering if there will ever be another man in your life. For some, you’re waiting to get your finances back in order so you can buy a house with a yard. For others, you’re waiting on a better or different job, considering relocating or changing careers.

It’s a lot of wondering, a lot of worrying and a lot of waiting. But what are you really waiting for and what if it never happens?

A radio DJ in Dallas, Kidd Kraddick*, died yesterday at 53. I didn’t know him personally, but his death had a real impact on me. He was a very caring, generous and seemingly genuine person. He was on the air in the morning for the past 20 years. It’s hard to imagine what Dallas morning radio will be like without him tomorrow.

What struck me the most was how sudden it was and how unprepared we all are for that potential reality. We’re always waiting to start that diet, make that apology, write that book and sudden death usually makes us say, live each moment to its fullest. But what I’m saying, is to do that we have to let some things go.

Some of the things we are hoping for and waiting for may never happen. I may never get married again. You may never buy a house. We may never write that book. But none of that makes today any less valuable, any less worth living to the fullest. Stop letting your wishes or worries about tomorrow eliminate your appreciation of today. Let the worries go. Enjoy today.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

*Kidd Kraddick was also syndicated on 75 stations across the country and featured on Dish Nation. May he rest in peace.

Inspiration

The best thing about inspiration is it can come from anywhere at anytime. It also can be just what you needed even though you didn’t know you needed anything.

I went to an event tonight where I was inspired. I was inspired by art, by the artist and his passion to do more than just art, by the people surrounding the project who want to get outside of themselves and make a difference, by a young single mom just trying to do her very best. It struck me as odd that this eclectic gathering could make me feel so much, but that’s what I think we can learn from.

It is likely, that you are an inspiration. It’s also likely that you don’t even know it. But I would challenge you to be more conscious of it.

Encouragement and inspiration are like cousins. We often recognize when we are encouraging someone because it is something we are engaging in. But many people inspire someone without trying or knowing that’s what they’re doing. How do the two differ? I think we inspire one another by sharing ourselves. When we open a window into our lives and let others see into our private world, they can walk away believing they can do it too, whatever it is. It’s showing, not saying, that gives us all hope. That is the root of inspiration, the seed of what you can do or be.

So show people how to live a full, balanced, leaning in kind of life. Watching you face and overcome challenges may make a difference in their life and the lives of those around them. Being a single mom, you know how much you need that inspiration, sometimes just to face the next day. So why not be that for someone else?

That’s how single mom’s leaning in!

Cut Yourself Some Slack!

I’ve slacked off! Not at some point, last week! It’s officially been a week since my last post which is the longest I’ve gone since I started The Single Mom’s Guide to Leaning In.

But the truth is, I was busy! I was at a conference, took the kids to Disney, got one ready to send off to overnight camp all in the midst of my floors being redone and my house being in complete shambles!

There were things I should have done, needed to do and wanted to do, but sometimes you have to understand, you can’t do everything. And frankly, most of it was still sitting there waiting for me this morning.

So how do I get myself comfortable with letting a ball drop here or there? I cut myself some slack! That’s the single mom’s lean in! Tip of the day!

We are our own worst enemy. We keep the ‘to do’ list running in our head. We taunt ourselves if we don’t think we can finish something. We fret over what others will say or do if we don’t respond or deliver when they want us to.

So much of what we do or don’t do is not life threatening, at home and work. We hold ourselves at times to unrealistic standards, which means we’ll never be happy with ourselves. This feeling can lead us down a very negative path. So how do you learn to cut yourself some slack?

1. Surround yourself with people who applaud you for what you do.
2. Prioritize what needs to get done so you can feel comfortable with not checking off some of the things on the bottom of the list.
3. Keep things in perspective. (In most cases, the world will not come to an end if you don’t complete the task.)
4. Change the voices in your head. (Instead of beating yourself up about what you haven’t done. Congratulate yourself for what you have accomplished.)
5. Lean In! What you do get done, knock it out of the park!

That’s right. Lean In! Last week, I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to but I leaned in. I came back with great new ideas for my team and I to pursue for the company. I created great memories with my kids. I prepared my daughter for an incredible experience and I got one step closer to having a livable house again. I did a lot, but there’s still much to be done. There always will be. So, cut yourself some slack.

In the Wild

First of all, I’ve trademarked the phrase. But I want to talk to you a little bit about this concept that I think we are losing. ‘In the Wild’ is exactly what it sounds like but used to describe the state of humans instead of animals, which is the original use. For our purposes, let’s use it to describe the state of children and employees.

When I was growing up in the 70’s, I remember riding my big wheel down the sidewalk to the house of a school mate to ask her mom if she could come out and play. There are a lot of skills and decisions I had to use/make to accomplish this.

1. Decide who I was going to ask to play

2. Decide my mode of transportation

3. Knock on a door and talk to an adult

4. Accept rejection or acceptance with grace

Now as I mentioned, I was on a big wheel and I was not a small child growing up, so I had to be about 4-5 years old max when I was doing this. My mom didn’t come with me. Heck, I don’t even know if I asked her if I could leave or if I was in the backyard and came upon this idea all on my own. What I do know is that I was often in control of my own destiny as a child.

In Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, she takes the idea of helicopter parenting one step further to what she calls an ‘intensive mothering approach’. Basically this style of parenting is based on the idea that we are never doing enough for our kids or with our kids. Personally, I think we do way too much. And, I think what it is making nearly extinct is our children’s ability to develop skills they can only learn ‘In the Wild’!

Recently a friend of mine told me that her three school aged children got lost in their own subdivision. Do not judge! The truth is most of us drive our kids around everywhere and if they ended up a few streets over on foot in an area we drive them around in less, would they be able to find their way home? I’m the first to admit, I don’t think so! ‘In the Wild’ you find your way around. You investigate routes of getting places your parents don’t even know. You learn your surroundings. You figure out how to survive! All of these skills will be extremely helpful when our children grow up. We cannot allow them to miss this opportunity. Because one day they will be adults, working in an office, which leads me to our second group – employees.

If you are the manager or leader in some way in your office, I challenge you to leave the office for a while, for real. The best way to develop your team is to allow them to make decisions and use their skills ‘in the wild’. That means you are not overseeing. They are not checking in with you before making a decision, big or small. They are using what they know. They are:

1. Deciding which companies to work with.

2. Deciding which tactics to use.  

3. They are doing the negotiations.

4. Accepting their failures, learning from them and celebrating their successes – even if it’s just them patting themselves on the back.

Hopefully, they learned how to do this ‘in the wild’. But we’ve taken the wild away from them which actually means they are now learning less, growing less, becoming less. And we don’t want that for our kids or for the people we work with.

So this week, force your kids and your employees into the wild. Let your kids ride their bike somewhere nearby and be gone for 10 minutes. (Track them however you see fit.) Delegate a project to an employee that they will start and finish before you return from vacation. We owe this to them. Because we know how much living ‘in the wild’ has done for us.

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Toot your own horn!

I believe humility is an important characteristic. I also believe you can over do it and that you must know when you need to be a little less humble.

How do you over do it?
It’s the definition of a martyr. Telling everyone all the time that all the things you do are no big deal, that nothing is a problem.

When do you need to be less humble?
When there’s a risk of people taking advantage of you or under-appreciating you. I know how hard you work and I know you probably make it look easy. This is why you have to learn to toot your own horn.

So, how do you do it and remain likable?
1. Say it jokingly. Example: Your boss says, “I don’t know what we would have done with out you.” You say, “I was just thinking the same thing, just kidding. It really was a team effort.” You probably mean the last part, but you reiterate the first part in your joke.

2. Point out facts of accomplishments that have had a positive impact. Example: I’m glad to see the new communication plan we implemented is working. We’ve received 50% more requests this month, which is a new record.

If you really are doing a good job, people are probably noticing. You may just need to remind them. Hopefully these techniques will work!

That’s how single mom’s lean in!

Have a Strong Foundation!

My 8-year old daughter loves music and when the movie Pitch Perfect came out, she was dying to see it. However, it was PG-13. Now she’s a pretty mature 8, so there are some PG-13 movies I let her see. But this one, I knew when I saw the preview for it, was questionable. So how did I decide through her begging and her tears to firmly say no? I have a strong foundation and for us, it’s based in Christianity. But I realize that’s not the only foundation and I’m not here to judge your foundation or tell you what yours should be, but I am here to tell you that you must have one. Because it is true, those who stand for nothing fall for anything.

So based on my foundation, there are certain things I don’t want my daughter exposed to. I know she’s heard bad words and luckily she realizes she shouldn’t use them. I know she’s seen shooting or killing at least of aliens or monsters. But there were concepts and ideas I don’t think an 8 year old should take in, things like using derogatory names to refer to girls, implying sexual activity, watching underage drinking, etc. That list was too long. So it was an easy choice for me. However, I had to find the information. So here are a couple of websites to help you make informed decisions about what your kids should or should not watch when it comes to movies.

http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews
http://www.kids-in-mind.com
http://www.nickjr.com/parenting/flicks_for_kids

But, movies are just one thing. We make judgement calls everyday about what we will and will not allow our kids to do. Having a foundation helps you not have to make that decision in the moment. With it, many of your choices are predetermined. Therefore easier to make and easier to stick to!

Frankly, the same does hold true at work. You must lead at work with integrity, holding to the ground rules you have set. But they must be set. Have an established set of precepts or guidelines to help you make decisions at work whether it be in regards to how you handle a disciplinary action, allowing someone to take last minute vacation or leaving the office early. Having a foundation, communicating that foundation and living by it will ensure a healthier,happier environment at home and at the office.

It’s not always easy, but being consistent develops the necessary practice. That’s how single mom’s lean in!

When Life Gets Harder, Play Harder

So I don’t want anyone to think I support partying or activities that are illegal or harmful. That is not what I’m talking about. What I am talking about is the idea that we work and do life at a high performance level and you should reward yourself at an equal level. 

 
If you’re following my blog, then you know last week went into the record books for hard knock life happenings. 6 days with no air conditioning, including 4 days of no power at all. By the time the electrician left on Friday, I just decided to stop adding up the financial damage caused by this situation. A single mom and two kids, living in Texas in July can’t survive without a/c. So, there was no choice.
 
But then Saturday came. An already planned girls night out became the inspiration for the motto and today’s Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!
 
When Life Gets Harder, Play Harder
 
We went to a concert, had dinner and did a little dancing afterwards. We went all out and hung out til our feet hurt, but our worries of life were gone. At least momentarily. I think we all need that escape every once in a while. And I mean escape…take your enjoyment to the next level cause that’s when you really can come back to reality and lean in harder. 
 
I can’t tell you a list of things I think should be included in these moments cause I think the key is doing something that truly makes you feel lighter. So it’s your unique Life is Harder, Play Harder survival list. I’ve shared things that are on that list for me below. Make one of your own. So when life gets harder, you’ll know how you’re going to play harder. Then, you’ll be ready to face the next obstacle with a smile created by great memories and a rejuvenated spirit.
 
Noelle’s Life is Harder, Play Harder Survival List (in no particular order)
1. Staycation
2. Girls trip
3. Girls night out on another level
4. Quality time with my sister 
5. Gut busting laughter with friends or family
6. A bottle of wine, my best friend, laughing and crying all in one night
7. A great date, the kind that gives you butterflies
 
It’s been a long time on that last one, but a girl can dream!
 
As a single, working mom trying hard to lean in, you have to learn to reward yourself. You deserve it!
 
Make your list today. Just thinking about the fun you’ll have next time you’re recovering from a rough patch will likely put a smile on your face.

Make a double scoop sundae out of spoiled milk!

imageOk, I know that’s a bit much but this week has been full of spoiled milk for me and my girls. What could go wrong has gone terribly wrong and what should have gone right went left! So I did something I rarely do, I called in a favor.

And that’s the Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!
Know when to ask for a favor!

Remember the guy that said how do you do it? He also said if you ever need anything, call me.

People say this all the time. Several of my friends offered extra rooms during the A/C debacle and my neighbor checks in often with this offer. It means so much to me and I know it does to you too, but I rarely take people up on it.

When should you take people up on this?

1. When you really need help.
2. When it will make them really feel good.
3. When it’s for your kids.

So, today I asked for a favor. Sydney has been a real trooper through the whole A/C, no power, hot house craziness. She’s listened to me, took a half baked lunch to camp and comforted me when I nearly lost it on the Oncor lady. And tonight, we’re at the Justin Bieber concert, enjoying ourselves cause she deserved it and I called in a favor. Oh, and I just got a call… the power and A/C are back on!

Never Let Them See You Sweat!

So, here’s your Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Don’t let on when things are really starting to stress you out!

This goes for home and work. So, last night, we were still struggling with the no air thing! On top of that, there were some very strange half power issues going on and certain lights kept tripping the system. It wasn’t good. Sydney, my 8-year old, was starting to get really worried and concerned and frankly so was I! I made an executive decision to shut down all the power to the house and reset the whole fuse box.

Now, I understand how to reset a tripped fuse. I can even do it in the dark, just by sliding my finger down all of the fuses and feeling the one that’s just slightly out of whack. Then push over to one side and push hard all the way back over. So, why would this be any different for the main power??

I don’t know, but it was. I tried and tried and couldn’t get the power to switch back over. Sydney is now holding my phone with flashlight app glowing as I struggle with the switch. She starts to panic. “It’s going to be just fine. Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.” I lied. I was totally freaking out inside. But there was no way I was going to let her know that. Why?

1. Freaking out when you are the one in charge, could cause a complete meltdown for those that depend on you.

2. It shows you have the ability to be weak. Although it is okay to feel it, showing it can impact future situations when you need to convince others you can handle anything.

3. You cannot think straight when you are having a meltdown. No matter what is going on, you’ve proven that you are the one that has the brain power to get through things. Those around you are depending on you.

So I kept working that main power switch and with our anxiety held somewhat at bay, it finally kicked over! “You did it!” Sydney was overjoyed and relieved, as was I.

So here’s a bonus tip – be perseverant. We had to have power. I wasn’t giving up. I kept trying and trying and trying and eventually – I was able to say, “See. I told you we’d be ok.”

Someone to call!

Here’s your Single Mom’s Lean In! Tip of the Day!

Get AAA!

One of the worst places to be is on the side of the road, with or without your kids. Whether it’s a flat tire or you ran out of gas, this is a very vulnerable and potentially  dangerous situation to be in.

What’s worse? Not knowing who you’re going to call to come help you. The ex-husband, ex-boyfriend, co-worker??? Any of those people may come get you, if they take your call. But there may also be strings attached.

In many cases a Good Samaritan may stop to assist you, but this can be frightening and it may not be safe. You cannot take these kinds of risks.

AAA always takes my calls. AAA doesn’t complain or lecture me.  AAA always knows what to do. AAA always shows up.

For less than 2 dimes a day, you can always have someone to call when you need help!

That’s how Single Mom’s Lean In!