Making Vacations

Each weekend a new “Brunch” post will feature thoughts about balancing family and self care with working in an always-on Internet environment. This edition is by Elizabeth Able, owner of AbleReach.

Elizabeth AbleWhat can you do after your Broadband goes on the fritz, hosting is wonky, a hard drive takes a final bow and the neighborhood’s electricity goes out just before saving a nice, long article? Playing catch-up is a given, but what about the headaches, the sleepless nights and that quicksand dread when the next set of hassles hits?

For one thing, I’ve been more purposeful lately about planting good things where I will naturally experience them on a regular basis. Relief is sometimes active, sometimes passive, and I can help with both.

Beauty can Bring Peace

I have fuchsia baskets hanging outside my bathroom window, by which I inevitably need to sit, and where I will inevitably look. Humming birds like the fuchsias – aren’t humming birds magical?

Bird Watching with Otter

My cat has figured out that a trip to the bathroom is an opportunity to bird-watch with Mom. Now he chases me into the bathroom and perches on the window ledge, having his cat fantasies about the birds. A happy cat is fun to watch. I like that I don’t need to make my little birdwatching moments happen. I stacked the cards in my favor and now I just need to remember to be happy.

Stretching is Healthy

The Mayo Clinic has an illustrated series of sensible stretches you can do in your office. I like to get up and turn around before stretching – a little odd, but it seems to make my muscles be more willing to stretch.

Walking Time is Good Thinking Time

I like to go for walks in between tasks. Tip: tuck a small notebook in your pocket, because a change of pace can help turn problems into a flow of ideas.

Dance Makes You Breathe and Feel

Do you work alone at home? What a great opportunity for dancing like a fool! Disclaimer – these examples look more foolish when I do them.

Sometimes I unwind the stress by sort of vogue-ing while I stretch, or by flat out pretending I can dance up a storm. (And my daughter thought that living with my singing was a challenge!)

Singing is Good Medicine

Breathing deeply changes your chemistry by getting more oxygen in the blood… and there’s nothing like a sing-along with dangerous Nan McGrew to change one’s perspective.

Why, I pull a train right off the tracks
And for perfume, I use shellac
When mad dogs bite, I bite ’em back
Grrrr! ‘Cause I’m dangerous Nan McGrew!

Mini Vacations Freshen Outlook

Everything I’ve described above can be a mini-vacation, but to get some of the same benefits you don’t need to stretch, dance, sing, garden or take the time for a walk. Relaxing takes the edge off, and doesn’t have to take long.

Have you ever had one of those days where “a moment’s peace” seems to be too much to ask, and the logical truth is that problems won’t be resolved quickly or easily? A mini vacation may hit the spot. Close your eyes and relax, breathing slowly and deeply, and visualize… nothing. Or visualize a meadow or a beach, whatever will give you a moment’s peace. A few moments of peace can change your outlook, maybe not 100%, but certainly enough to sidestep a head-on collision with full-on frustration.

A few minutes later, take another mini-vacation. Practice will shorten your inner commute to a delicious pocket of no-strings calm.

Wait Just a Minute!

Don’t even tell me you skimmed to the end without checking out the song and dance links. Back up and click on some joi de vie. Verve is good for you.

When I’m not writing or experimenting with WordPress I like to help to moderate at Cre8asite Forums, admire my plants and Stumble like a fiend.

Drive, Balance and Business at Home

Each weekend a new “Brunch” post will feature thoughts about balancing family and self care with working in an always-on Internet environment. This edition is by Rachel Goldstein.

Rachel's StumbleUpon AvatarAs a parent who runs a successful Internet business, you probably assume that I have no free time to spend quality moments with my 4 young children. I have to admit that sometimes it is a struggle to place my priorities with my children, as I really enjoy the work that I do. As the bread-winner and the caretaker of my family, I am being pulled in both directions. When my priorities are out of place, I snap out of it by simply reminding myself that I started this business 10 years ago so that I could stay home with my kids. My solution to balancing my career-life with my family-life is a bit unorthodox, but it works very well for me and my family.

Four Happy Kids

In order to be able to work full time for my business and be there emotionally and physically for my kids, I changed my schedule drastically to fit my family’s demands. Two of my kids are in school and two of my kids are still at home with me during the day. Every morning, after I get my older kids off to school and my younger kids dressed and fed, then I set 30 minutes to an hour aside for myself to answer morning emails (sometimes there are 100s). I put off writing back to emails that don’t seem urgent. After that beginning block of time, I dedicate 45 minutes out of every hour to spend time with my kids (for every hour they are awake). The other 15 minutes of every hour is put towards answering emails or getting smaller business tasks completed.

When I spend time with my kids, I make the most of this special time together. We sing songs, read books, tell stories, and play games with each other. During the kids’ afternoon nap and after bedtime at night, I get the bulk of my work done. I normally don’t get to sleep until 2 or 3 AM, depending on how much work I need to get completed. And if I can’t get what I want done, I have to just relax and try to get it done tomorrow. I have to remember that there isn’t a boss breathing down my throat to get the work done, it is only my inner drive that is pushing me so hard. I know that I need more sleep than I am currently getting, but this is my way of balancing work and motherhood at the same time.

My kids know that they are much more important than my work and that they will always come before the business. However, the older kids are also starting to understand that I have to work in order to pay the bills. I try to make every bit of time with my children special, and every chance I get I try to turn every day trivialities into a silly joke to make them laugh. People are always mentioning to me that they have never seen kids who smile as much as mine, and even though this is partly genetics to blame (I smile a lot too), I would like to think that it is also because I am doing something right.

Thank you, Rachel!

Rachel Goldstein is a graphic designer, web designer and muralist whose hard work created a business that allows her to stay home with her kids. After a few years, her husband Josh was able to quit his full-time job and work on the family business from home as well. Together, they run more sites than you can shake a stick at, including these familiar resources:

Working at home takes ‘Team’ to a new meaning

Each weekend a new “Brunch” post will feature thoughts about balancing family and self care with working in an always-on Internet environment. This “Brunch” post is by Paul Steven.

Paul StevensThey say an Englishman’s home is his castle. We’ll, here’s a Scotsman whose home is his office. My water cooler is the kitchen sink where half the time you’ll find me sticking my head out the kitchen window sucking on a cigarette (I’m not allowed to smoke in the house) and drinking black coffee while thinking about world domination and what to make the kids for their supper. Yep, working from home sure has its benefits.

I mind once when I was chatting on the phone to a big jewelers from London. The on-line marketing contract was going to be huge and the person on the other side of the phone was warming to what I was offering as a service. Then the voices started. Muffled at first because I have my own room set aside for my business. But the voices began to disturb my train of thought. Lapses in concentration were affecting my business mode as my fatherly ear trained in on the argument happening right outside my domain.

Skye (1), Robyn (15), Jay (5), and Brooke (5) my wee niece who is never far away
Skye (1), Robyn (15), Jay (5), and Brooke (5) my wee niece who is never far away

My thoughts of bling bling marketing were soon overwhelmed by cries of “its mine” which were rebuffed by “no, its mine.” Then, the yank of a handle and the cry of “Dad, tell her!” as my 5 year old son appeared before me with a look of devastation on his face only a 5 year old can muster. I never called them back after I hurriedly made my apologies and hung up. A door latch now bridges my office space and domestic bliss.

However, working from home has been the best move I have ever made. Witnessing for the first time my youngest daughter take her first steps in life was heaven-sent. I make time to take and pick-up my son from school no matter what me schedule says. I could never dream of doing that before.

My thoughts are that you take the rough with the smooth when working from home. Sure they’ll be moments when you wish you were tucked up in some office environment and they’ll happen frequently, daily. However, most business related memories I have shared over these last few months have been instantaneous with the ones I love most, my family. Its a feeling that takes the term ‘Team’ to a whole new meaning.

Thank you, Paul!

Paul owns NorthSouthMedia, an independent Online Marketing company specialising in Search Marketing and organic SEO.

He would like me to say that he is contactable there, except on Sundays when he sleeps a lot, but I happen to know that he has slept during the week at least twice.

Brunch: Family Time

Each weekend a new “Brunch” post will feature thoughts about balancing family and self care with working in an always-on Internet environment. This “Brunch” post is by Donna D. Fontenot.

Working from home, as a solo web entrepreneur, often means working much longer hours than the typical 9-5 job. The work is usually more more enjoyable, so the longer hours don’t really bother us, but the problem is that they do bother our families.

Family Time

In fact, family relationships can suffer tremendously unless compromises are made all round. I learned years ago (through threat of great bodily and emotional harm) that I needed to set aside “family time”, and that I needed to adhere to that commitment religiously. I do adhere to it faithfully, and everyone is happier because of it. Key lesson learned: Set aside a block of time (evenings usually work best) to spend totally with the family if you want to have a harmonious balance between the home/office and the home/hearth.

Thank you, Donna!

Dazzlin Donna D. Fontenot balances family time with:

Mother’s Day Brunch

This is a tribute to all my “moms” and all my “kids,” and an encouragement to be the drop in a bucket that tipped the scales that helped someone know they’re good, good, good just as they are.

Sometimes kids are like visiting deer. Certain telltale signs show how connected we are, no matter how different our lives may be.

  • While maintaining their independence, they still keep an eye on you.
  • They’re indescribably beautiful, giving us pause just by being there.
  • Sometimes they eat the good stuff without remembering to share, and life goes on.

Deer Mom and Twins

These three deer visited my yard last year. Though somebody has nibbled on my fuchsias, I haven’t actually seen any deer yet this Spring. Sometimes I wonder:

  • Did they live?
  • Are they happy?
  • Will they eat my lily buds again this year?

Bread on the Waters

Some of my favorite mom years have been rich in honorary sons and daughters. I loved the years when small people stopped by to show off an owie or cool new shoes, or to share some kid-level meaning-of-life revelation. Or, there was the year I brought Mother’s Day flowers to a friend who’d been like a big sister during stressful times.

Though we’ve moved to different towns and regions and lost track of each other, at times I ache to know what their lives are like now.

  • Did they live?
  • Are they happy?
  • Who is in college? Who became a teen parent?
  • Is anyone bringing them flowers this Mother’s Day?

Memories of day-in, day-out work fade and the smiles and cares remain. The impact of knowing those people remains in my heart and in the way I live today. Hopefully, some of the good of interacting with me has remained with them.

Let the cares go and give thanks. Love the flow. Love being a drop in a bucket that tipped the scales that helped someone know they’re good, good, good just as they are.

Next weekend I’m starting a series of “Brunch” posts that will feature thoughts about balancing family and self care with working in an always-on Internet environment. Please join me! Subscribe to my RSS feed.