Articles for Featured Busy Mom

Another busy mom shares her tips for keeping her family’s schedule and home together. . Today’s featured busy mom is Isabel Isidro Mom of three balancing parenting and co running a business.

Isabel Isidro is a mother of three boys, ages 7, 4 and 2. She is also the co-founder of PowerHomeBiz.com, a 10-year old site for home business owners and solo entrepreneurs, and runs WomenHomeBusiness.com and LearningfromBigBoys.com. She just tries to live and learn each day – not always succeeding, but always trying.

How do you keep your children’s schedules together ?
My kids are 7, 5 and 2 — and they all go to school. The two youngest are home by lunchtime while the eldest spends the full day in school.

We have a strict schedule in the house, and the kids know it. The younger boys take a nap in the afternoon. They play or relax in the afternoon after school, and one of their favorite activities is playing Wii with their father. The kids then eat dinner, and take a bath. Then from 7:00-8:30 pm, it’s their study and reading time.

I give them the materials they need to work on and practice with, and they choose the books they want to read. By 8:30 pm, they’re on bed and ready to sleep. They’re early risers, and wake up anywhere from 5:30-6:30 am – even on weekends! None in the family are late sleepers.

To the extent possible, we don’t do any extracurricular activities during the weekdays, only weekends. School is tough already for the kids, and we’d like them to have time to rest, have fun, play with each other and just be kids.

Saturdays, though, are when things go crazy with their schedules. They have various lessons, and by lunchtime, I am tired from driving around the area going from one lesson to the next. However, in the afternoon, we always make it a point to go to the library to pick up the books that they’ll read for the week.

Do you use a particular day planner ?
No. I used various dayplanners – from the cheapest to the most expensive leather bound planners. I even attended a daylong seminar by one of the big businesses in dayplanning business on how to organize and plan your day using their dayplanning system.

But none really worked for me. I will be “good” and use the planner judiciously for a few weeks, or even a month. And then nada — blank pages after that.

For one, I need something that I can carry with me all the time, not some bulky planner that sits nicely on a desk but impractical to be carried in my purse around. My purse is heavy enough as it is with all the kids’ stuff, and having a bulky planner does not work.

Do you own a blackberry?
Not a Blackberry, but I use an iPhone with an app for my to-do lists for the day. It’s been very effective for me. I carry my phone all the time, and having my things to do and scheduler on the same small device allowed me to keep track of what I need to do for the day. I just love it!

What is you most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house?
You need to be a goddess of multi tasking and organization. Find the best strategy that works for you and your family.

For me, I need to spend a little time the night before thinking what the family needs to do for the day – e.g. making sure the kids have put their assignments in their bags. Otherwise, I’d forget it! I spend a little time putting my list in my iPhone’s to-do app. Read More→

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This week’s featured busy mom Nicole Budleski shares her secrets for keeping it all together as a busy mom and business owner!

How do you keep your children’s schedules together?
My husband and I use Outlook quite a bit between the two of us to maintain everyone’s schedules. Our daughter’s elementary school web site also has a great Outlook calendar download feature that tells us everything for the year such as parent-teacher conferences, field trips, early-release days, etc. It works pretty slick!

Do you use a particular day planner ?
No, I don’t. However, I do use some of the Steven Covey principles of prioritizing tasks and not over-scheduling my day. I used to feel so defeated at the end of the day when only five of the 10 things on my list were crossed off. Now, I’m happy crossing-off the five I scheduled for myself. (Well, most of the time!)

Do you own a blackberry?
Yes, I just purchased one a few weeks ago. I set it so it only rings for phone calls. Email notifications can usually wait until I have a block of time to read them.

What is your most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house?
I enjoy cooking, therefore I like to prepare large meals on the weekends to either freeze or reheat later in the week. I also discovered how to cut my grocery shopping time in half. I organize my grocery list in the order of the store layout, tear it in half and pass it to my husband. We each take a cart and then meet in the middle of the store to checkout. I realize this sounds a bit silly, but if your husband offers to help and you’re willing to accept selections that aren’t exactly what you would have picked out yourself then try it! It also helps keep your spouse and/or kids involved in your grocery budget and realize how much food really costs.

Do you have a favourite quick meal for your family?
Breakfast for dinner. We raise a dozen laying hens here on our property and it’s pretty easy to walk out to the coop, grab a few eggs and pull together a quick meal.

Tell us the truth ? What would we find in your car right now ?
A pair of snow shoes, a container of trail mix, partially nude Barbies, assorted Crayola markers and a couple of empty coffee cups.

What advice would you give to other moms who feel the pressure of trying to be ‘super mom’?
Expand your definition of what is acceptable and cut yourself some slack.

What is your number one goal for the year ? How do you plan to reach it ?
My goal is to expand TicklerTags into the school fund raising market this year. I will be launching a marketing campaign in a few short weeks to elementary schools and parent-teacher organizations.

Nicole Budleski is a 35-year-old, married mother of two girls, ages 7 and 2. Nicole’s marketing background and knack for organizing lead to the development of TicklerTags for her daughter’s after school activities and transportation arrangements. You can visit her site, www.TicklerTags.com to see her full line of backpack reminder tags.

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OrganizedmomJenfHow do you keep your children’s schedules together ?

It’s a constant juggling act! My main tool is a calendar. As soon as the kids bring home any kind of schedule (baseball, show choir, etc.), I transcribe the dates and times onto my family calendar. I also then tack the schedules on the bulletin board near the calendar, just in case I need to go back and double check the location of an event or need to call a coach.

Do you use a particular day planner ?

Nope. My “day planner” is my big Lang calendar, which hangs in the kitchen. Every family event — and my work deadlines — are transcribed on to the calendar. If I need a babysitter, I’ll list the name of the sitter once she’s lined up under the event; that way, I know I’ve got that handled. I also include such things as “return library books” and “schedule eye appts.”

When we’re headed to a 4-H meeting or some other meeting that will include discussion of future events, I’ll literally take the calendar off the wall and bring it along.

Do you own a blackberry?

Nope. I just got a cell phone again a few months ago!

What is you most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house?
Prioritize. A lot of the things that we think “have” to be done really don’t need to be done at all — or if they do, they don’t need to be done nearly as often as we think. The more things you take off your to-do list, the more time you have for the things that remain.

Do you have a favourite quick meal for your family?
Frozen pizza. It might not be the most nutritious meal in the whole world, but it’s quick, easy and requires virtually no clean-up! Plus, the boys love it.

Tell us the truth ? What would we find in your car right now ?

The better question — what wouldn’t you find in my car right now? Off the top of my head, there are 3 jackets, numerous books, a random garbage bag (I have good intentions!), a travel mug that needs to come into the house, one Field and Stream magazine, an empty McDonal’ds fry container, a first aid kit and a handful of tiny plastic ninjas. Also pens, random change and lots and lots of dirt. Read More→

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Organized MomThis week’s featured almost always organized mom is Tara Reed. Mom, artist, and designer. She recently launched a new website as well !

Here are Tara’s interview answers and tips for moms to get organized:

How do you keep your children’s schedules together ?
My household is a family of 2 – me and my son. I’ve been divorced for 5 1/2 years now, run my own business out of the house and my son just got his driver’s license… some days it’s a tad busy!

I have a combination of schedule managers but use a write-on-wipe off calendar on the side of the refrigerator for anything that is on my son’s schedule or that will affect my son.

For example, it doesn’t really matter to him if I have meetings, appointments or conference calls while he is at school – those don’t make the fridge. But if I’m speaking or have a teleseminar that is in the evening, it is there so he could see it.

Of course, he is a 16 year old boy so verbal repetition and texting seems work a little better than my calendar system. :) At the beginning of the week I’ll do a litte, “Here’s what I have going on, here’s what you have going on… anything you haven’t told me about?” (There often is.)

Then each morning while he’s getting ready for school I’ll remind him of anything that day. Then when he doesn’t remember after school, he texts, fesses up that he didn’t really listen, I tell him for the 5th or 6th time and it sinks in. (They say people need to hear things 7 times to really hear them, in my experiencethat is extra true for teenagers!)

Do you use a particular day planner or mom planner?
I have a Mac and recently discovered this wonderful system called “Daylite”. It may be more than an average mom needs but if you are a mom that is also working from home in any way – check it out!

It has a calendar, contact list management, connects emails to people automatically, politely reminds you of upcoming events… it does everything but clean the bathroom! I have it on both my iPhone and Mac and they sync very nicely – so if I make an appointment away from home I just hit “sync” and don’t have to retype everything.

Daylite has helped me save time, find communication threads and remember when to call people back, send in art for consideration and more. I truly can’t say enough good things about this software!

Do you own a blackberry?
No. As an artist and avid Mac lover, I went from a basic phone to an iPhone. Now I couldn’t live without it!

What is you most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house?
Don’t obsess over dust. If you have a choice between dusting and relaxing with your kids, spouse, significant other or a good book – choose the latter. (Do dust sometimes of course!) I often feel like I’m ‘falling down on the job’ if my house wouldn’t be ready for a white glove test or photo shoot with a home interiors magazine but the truth of the matter is, we live here. I work here. Kids hang out and play guitar here. It can’t be 100% clean all the time. So save time by dusting 1/2 as much as you are compelled to and spend a little more time having fun! Read More→

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It’s more tips from another Almost Always Organized  Mom. Cleo blogs about Consumer advocacy at Consumer Mom. She is a 40 something full time mom, a freelance consultant, and part time consumer advocate, serving on the board of directors of two consumer organizations.

consumermomHow do you keep your children’s schedules together ?
Some days, I don’t. When I do keep it together, it’s usually thanks to the Gmail calendar program! I have set it up w/ different colors for my work, the kids, my favorite classes at the gym, etc.

Do you use a particular day planner ?
I use Gmail calendar …. and just got an iPhone over the summer. The iPhone calendar synchs w/ Google; but I haven’t done it yet!

Do you own a blackberry?
Nope. … but some would say the iPhone is “just as bad”…

What is you most used ‘time saving tip’ when it comes to running your house? Time saving vs. sanity-saving? Sanity saving I fold laundry while I watch TV, so I don’t feel guilty watching “the Mentalist” or “The Closer”. Saves time too :). My most successful time saver has been my crockpot. I like to eat at home. I use the crockpot at least once a week, especially in the fall and winter. I’m psyched for stew and soup weather! My kids help me put items in and mix them up, too. They can even cut some veggies; it’s fun, saves money and means we eat healthier food (instead of going out to dinner).

Do you have a favourite quick meal for your family?
It would have to be quesadillas — just take a Trader Joe’s whole wheat tortillas, add fillings w/ cheese or ham, cooks fast on the stove. Add a salad, another side and you are done. Another favorite is pasta. I keep all the “fixings” separate — sauce in one bowl, cheese in another, sausages in one, peas in one — so people can add what they like (or not). I find keeping sausage in the freezer a quick go-to protein (we prefer low fat chicken or turkey Italian sausage)…

Tell us the truth ? What would we find in your car right now ?
Right now — empty tea cups, clothing to take to a friend (my son’s outgrown; they are her son’s size), library books to be returned, 2 booster seats, a yoga mat and tons of stickers on the doors. And probably on the floor you would find an empty juice box (or 2) and kettle corn kernels from the Sunday farmers market!

What advice would you give to other moms who feel the pressure of trying to be ‘super mom’?
Don’t try to be supermom. Be yourself — be your best self — as best you can, as often as you can. Tell your kids you love them — and have fun being a mom! A supermom enjoys her kids! When I’m stressed about the house or my bank account or my last stressful trip to Target w/ screaming kids, I think, hey, they will be gone soon enough, and then I will miss them and then…I will have plenty of time for all that other stuff (clean house, nice furniture, perfect hair and make up, whatever…!)!

What is your number one goal for the year ? How do you plan to reach it ?
My number one goal? Hmm. I have a lot of goals. To stay healthy, to take good care of my family and to be more organized! I plan to reach it by taking it one day at a time. And rewarding myself with dark chocolate whenever necessary….

You can read some of Cleo’s posts on her Consumer Mom Blog or follow Consumer Mom on Twitter.

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