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Hangovers, Weekends and Daylight Savings

Written by Chris Loprete

I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are gearing up for a safe and happy holiday season. We parents really are very lucky because seeing the joy and excitement in our children at this time of year makes us feel like kids again. It’s so much fun to be a part of isn’t it? There is one little warning I’d like to give to all of the new parents out there however. While you’re dolling yourself up to head to the office holiday party or the gift and cookie exchange party down the block or the New Year’s Eve extravaganza you’ve been waiting for all year; while you’re leaving instructions for the sitter and kissing your kids goodnight and saying, “Be good for (insert sitter’s name here), go to bed when she tells you and we’ll see you in the morning”; while you’re doing all of that remember one thing: KIDS DON’T KNOW WHAT A HANGOVER IS.
Date nights and adult gatherings are a rarity now for us ‘rents aren’t they? When one comes around and we actually envision an evening of adult conversation that doesn’t involve our child’s bathroom habits we jump at the chance faster than lions jump on a gazelle that tweaks a hamstring. Even though babysitter quotes have become outrageous (what are they, unionizing?) we’re willing to spare the extra sheckels to get an evening away. We may even have a drink or two. Even for those parents who don’t drink, that doesn’t stop you from taking full advantage of the night off and staying out a little longer than usual, right? And then after “making rather merry” we come home in the early morning hours, stumble into bed and sleep the sleep of the dead knowing that the hours we lost in the beginning of the night, we’ll make up for by sleeping all morning. And then (seemingly 5 minutes later) at 7 AM we feel a tap on our forehead and a small voice pierces our throbbing skulls saying, ”I want cereal and cartoons!” What the…? Now? Why? Don’t they know that mommy and daddy had several spirits last night and have only been asleep for 5 hours? Don’t they feel those jackhammers pounding into our cerebral cortex? Answer: no they don’t. And if they did…they probably wouldn’t care. And if you think you can just croak, “later” and turn and go back to sleep, I got news for you. Those jackhammers will increase by one. And it will get louder and louder and more and more powerful. And this one doesn’t have an off switch.
It’s not just hangovers either. You could be sober as a judge and go to bed Friday night thinking the weekend has started which means sleeping in for the next two days. And you’d be right…if “sleeping in” means getting up even earlier than your alarm usually goes off. My alarm clock is smarter than my 3 year old son. It realizes that Saturday and Sunday are non working days for me so it automatically shuts off and lets me sleep. My son saves the day though and makes sure I’m up at the EXACT time my alarm usually goes off during the week. My alarm almost shrugs and says, “Sorry, guy. I tried” My 3 year old knows the days of the week.: ”Monday, Toosday, Wenday, Fursday,…”,and he knows Daddy doesn’t work on “Satday” and “Sunday”…but hasn’t quite learned the concept of “sleeping in”. Or else he has and chooses to ignore it.

Another concept they don’t get is the two times a year when most of the country changes their clock forward or back an hour. For those in Arizona and parts of Indiana you can stop reading because you don’t change your clocks and therefore don’t have to deal with this phenomenon (freaks). The rest of the country just recently “fell back”. Now that gives us cause to rejoice because it’s an extra hour of sleep, right? Right…if you don’t have small children. Our little ones have not fallen back one minute and continue their clockwork ritual of waking us up bright and early. The difference? Instead of 7 AM it’s now 6 AM! Somehow they get themselves on track eventually, but just know that ”fall back” now refers to sleep time as in “Tonight we fall back on an hour of sleep.”

So take heed new parents. Enjoy the holidays as much as you can. Go out, see friends, and party like the old days. Just know that there will be a price to pay. Eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow you’re up early.

Increase Your Productivity As a Self-Employed Parent

Written by Ally Loprete

Working at home: it seemed like such a good idea at the time. You believed that it would give you more time with your children, the freedom to work in your pajamas, a limitless income possibility, and the ability to create your own schedule, own rules, own pace. For many, this is a dream that turns into reality.

It is said that once you work for yourself, you will never be able to go back to working for someone else. For many, working at home is freedom, but still for some, it is easy to let the work consume you every moment you are awake, and probably while you sleep as well.

It is important to remember that you are still in control, and that you need to enjoy all of the perks that come with being self-employed, as long as you remember to grant yourself those perks, just as you promised yourself you would when you “accepted the job” to work for you. If you are not given the perks that were originially promised, it’s only natural that you will lackluster your productivity, and eventually grow weary and lose inspiration.

Here are some tips to help you increase your work-at-home productivity:

1. Create atypical work hours. As parents who are self-employed, we have 2 jobs, and getting up from the computer to pour your 2 year old more milk will always be more important than responding to an email, or posting a blog. You may have grown more patient as a parent, but interruptions like these can be daunting. Save your most crucial, concentrated work for the evening when your spouse is home from work, and has agreed to let you lock yourself into a quiet room without interruptions. For me, this time is from 7:30pm-10pm during the week. You’d be surprised how much you can get done in 2 ½ hours.

2. Create an end time to each day, and “clock out.” It may be difficult to cease working when the house is exceptionally quiet for once, and you are finally feeling productive, but don’t get lost in the moment. Find a good stopping point, pat yourself on the back for a job well done and step away from the computer. My clock out time is 10:00pm

3. Schedule in some rest and relaxation time each night before going to sleep. For me, I give myself an hour to do anything I want, but work. You may choose to watch TV, read a book, or do a crossword puzzle.

4. Invest in some kind of technology. Depending on the way you look at it, this could be the greatest thing toward making you more productive, or it could cause you to become confused between work time and family time. It may be an iphone, blackberry or another PDA, but in a world where productive mothers love to multi-task, the technology that has presented itself in the last decade has made it possible for us to do it all- within reason. If your iphone allows you to quickly answer an email while attending your son’s little league game, it’s worth it. But if it keeps you out of the moment and you’ve missed your son hitting the ball on more than one occasion, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, create a more productive schedule, and turn off the PDA during family time.

5. Trade your services. I don’t mean your business services. Create a co-op babysitting group with another parent. Self-employed parents are no longer a rarity, and chances are there are atleast 4 or 5 on your street who would be willing to watch your kid for a few hours one day in exchange for you watching theirs.