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Archive for June, 2013
5 Free Tech Tools to Keep Work-at-Home Moms Organized

Working from home allows you to control your schedule, play with your creativity, pick your team and develop new skills. However, the position is fraught with pitfalls, and it can be especially challenging for a mom who is trying to balance a toddler or two in the mix. Free tech tools can be a lifesaver for the work-at-home mom:

1. Cloud storage

Cords are a hazard around young children, and young children are a hazard around hard drives. Cloud storage minimizes the threat of cords for your children while cutting down on the amount of equipment you have around the home. When you use inexpensive online storage, you never have to worry about losing all of your data if your child knocks over a glass of juice on the hard drive.

Cloud storage doesn’t just give you free space for business, it offers space for storing photos of your children. There are so many cloud storage apps and services, your biggest hurdle may be narrowing your search down to the right one with a little research. According to a Zip Cloud review, cloud storage can be accessed from PCs, Macs, Androids and other mobile devices, iPads and iPhones.

2. Skype

The kids are bored and crying, but a looming deadline is staring you in the face. Now would be the perfect time to call Grandma in for help, but she lives three states away. That’s no longer a problem, thanks to Skype.

Skype allows people to have face-to-face conversations over their computers. Skype is compatible with most devices, ranging from desktop computers and mobile phones to TVs and XBoxes. All you have to do is arm grandma with your children’s favorite books, set up the call, and let them bond while you meet your deadline.

3. Trello

When it’s time to get serious about a project, Trello allows you to organize and track everything from one spot. It can be used for any type of project. Whether you are creating a to-do list for your household, a list of learning goals for your children or trying to organize a work project, Trello keeps you on track.

4. Google Calendar

If you are never sure whether you should be sitting in front of a spreadsheet or driving your child to music class, Google Calendar is a must-have. It syncs among all of your devices and can send you event reminders so that you never miss another appointment.

5. Join.me

Use Join.me, and you can see exactly what your colleagues are doing on their computer screens, and they can see what you are doing on yours. It’s perfect for remote collaboration or training. It makes explaining complicated processes simple, and the chat feature means you do not have to tie up your phone to use it, according to Rainstorm Media Group.

What free tech tools do you love as a work-at-home mom? Share in the comments.

 
Build Family Bonds at Mealtime

In our hurry-up, time-pressured world, it’s challenging for families to eat dinner together, much less have meaningful conversation around the dinner table.  Between parents’ schedules – business travel, dinner meetings, networking events, etc. – and kids’ schedules – soccer practice, dance class, and piano lessons – it takes a Master Scheduler to line up family members’ schedules to share a meal together.  Oftentimes dinners are on the run (via the drive-thru at McDonalds) between activities.

Despite the challenge, working moms would be wise to make family meals a priority.  Research shows positive effects on children when the family shares at least three family meals together per week.  In fact, it’s the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems for school-age children.  Also, children are more likely to be in a normal weight range.

Given the importance of family meals, how can you make mealtime more meaningful?  Here are four tips to build stronger family bonds at the dinner table.

Turn off electronics. In our techie world, it’s easy to succumb to digital distractions.  Instead, turn off the TV and put cell phones and gaming devices away.

Play background music. Background music helps create a convivial dining atmosphere.  Let family members take turns making music selections, which helps kids feel involved.  The only rule: The music should be calm for dining.

Discuss your day. Have everyone share how their day went – the good, the bad, and the daunting – and offer encouragement and support.  Save big problem-solving or disciplinary issues for later.

Make a topic list. A mental list of talking points aids conversation and helps break through silences.  Shoot for specific topics.  When asked, “How was school today?” you’re likely to get the same one-word answer – “boring”.  Instead, ask, “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?”

By making dinnertime conversation the norm early on, you’ll create a habit of table talk that may help even sullen teens speak up later.