Check out my Multimedia Portfolio for a webinar series of three on-demand workshops I did for student parents. In addition to these presentations I compiled some awesome resources. While mostly for college students, a lot of these resources were also helpful to me as a new working mother. i hope you enjoy!
Articles and Websites:
Planning Tools for Busy Parents
Fun Things to do with Your Kids
I'm an active member of my town's mom group on Facebook. I was pleased to see that one of our board of education's elected officials knows that this is a great place to get feedback. If you want to know something, ask the moms, am I right ladies?
She was curious why no one is attending their monthly meetings, which are held roughly at dinner time, and wanted to know how to better engage parents. It doesn't take an expert to tell you that no parent wants to go to a public meeting and watch bureaucrats talk at 7:00 at night. Parents commute, they have to worry about homework, baths, dinner, and hopefully getting to The Walking Dead before passing out at 10:00 PM.
We are hyper connected and over scheduled. We have a million obligations and often both parents work or one parent is holding it together on their own. Kids are involved in a plethora of scheduled activities and the days of running around the neighborhood unsupervised until the street lights come on are a thing of the past.
We also live in a "maybe" culture. Being able to RSVP via Facebook and other online means has made us less accountable. How many times have you respond "maybe" with no intention of actually going to an event?
As an online engagement professional who's worked in both corporate and education settings, I can tell you. It doesn't matter if you're an 18 year old student or a 50 year old doctor - no one wants to come to your meeting. Unless there is free food or they are getting paid -- and sometimes not even then.
It can be frustrating but there are solutions! Here are my tips for when no one wants to come to your meeting:
I could be the poster child for burnout. Every 3-6 months at my job (which is conveniently on a quarter system much like my mood swings) I feel completely and utterly burnt to a crisp.
I think how nice it would be to have a job where you don't have to care about stuff. The receptionist at the Nissan dealership looks so peaceful. The cashier at Target who just does not give a crap. I find myself becoming increasingly jealous of those that simply punch a clock and leave it all behind. Surely I am oversimplifying what these folks do for a living and surely they feel stress or get fed up or envy those that do something that requires passion and not just customer service. But I digress.
Unless you're living under a rock you've probably seen about 15-20 iterations of lists detailing "Things not to say to <moms/teachers/pregnant women/etc>."
You may have also seen many hilarious videos featuring "Shit <White People/Girls> say to <Black People/Latinx/Asians/Gay guys>"
Essentially these lists and parodies boil to the well-intentioned but actually quite ignorant and harmful microagressions faced by groups of people who are discriminated against, or otherwise put upon by society in one way or another. Those in the privileged majority can take advantage of the fact that they don't have to question or even consider that they are being treated a certain way because of a characteristic they may possess that is completely beyond their control to change. Such a privileged person, free from the scourge of constant self-analysis, may indeed be genuinely curious about someone's "otherness" and in an attempt to satisfy said curiosity, can often cause harm to that someone. Let's return to this thought shortly.
I eagerly consume these blog lists and videos in an attempt to both assuage my white/middle-class/privileged guilt, but also to make sure I'm not unknowingly saying any stupid crap to anyone. Surely, in my 31 years on the planet I surely have said things to offend others purely due to my own ignorance. I don't pretend to be an expert on every culture, religion, sexual preference, mental illness, disability, you name it. I have a lot to learn and imagine I always will. In fact, some of my most eye-opening experiences have resulted from being made painfully aware of my own ignorance. As one of my grad school professors assured me, however, there is no need to beat myself up about this - nobody is perfect. Yet, it is important to learn from these experiences and simply do better next time.
During my usual Facebook feed skimming that I seem to do about 20 times a day, I came across an article:
17 Signs You're An Overachiever on HuffingtonPost.com.
It has some valid points, many that I associate with, but I also think it's kind of a bummer. So, in a very un-overachiever like way, I will write a lazy blog post in which I respond directly to these 17 points made by author Amanda L. Chan. Disclaimer: I speak only for myself. I don't think the author's intention was to encompass the entirety of human complexity.
1. It's all about the outcome. "Overachievers view failure more as a personal reflection on themselves, whereas a high performer is more likely to embrace failure as "part of the process," says John Eliot, Ph.D., a clinical professor in human performance at Texas A&M University and author of Overachievement."
I struggled with this before I participated in my leadership program. I realized that I was so focused on results/outcomes that I was ignoring the process, and more importantly the relationships. You can't GSD if you don't pay attention to your team, how they are feeling, how they are reacting to you. Also, as an educator, something I learned from my counseling training is that the process, the subtext, what is happening in our minds and hearts during a task or conversation is where the real learning and change happens. You are having a conversation with me, but you are really having a conversation with your mother who never listens to you, or your girlfriend who doesn't appreciate you. You're taking your stuff out on me, I'm taking my stuff out on you. If we stopped to really listen and understand what the other person's emotional or learning needs are, we could really be productive. I give my student workers tasks to do, and yes it is important that a program happens, but what is more important is that they learned something while they are doing it. The outcome is the obvious: a program happened. But the other outcomes are that they learned teamwork, interpersonal skills, time management, and so on. And that is more important than the type of sandwiches we ordered or where we hung the pinata.
For those of you that don't know me very well (or at all) I set out to be a high school English teacher upon graduating from my beloved alma mater of Emmanuel College. When I did my student teaching practicum at a small charter school in Brighton, I had several eye-opening experiences with students. For one, there were students that just DNGAF. For another, there were students that gave many F's but had to struggle immensely just to get to school everyday, like the one who took 2 trains and a bus just to get to school and was getting straight As. In a lot of ways, they remind me of the college students I work with now.
When graduation loomed near, I had a choice - use my hard-earned teacher's license in Secondary Education and English Literature (summa cum laude, Distinction in the Field what what!), or pursue a graduate degree in School Counseling. I felt very strongly that I would prefer to work with students on-on-one, so I did what every naive 22 year old with no concept of debt (free ride what what) would do. I applied to graduate school!
I got into UMass and NYU. Mind you, NYU had always been my dream school. I often balked at my high school's upperclassmen's decisions to choose Rutgers over NYU. I thought they were nuts, I mean, why wouldn't you go there?
Oh yeah, Money. So, fool that I am, I chose my absolute dream school and prepared for life in the much bigger city of NYC after living in Boston for four years. At the cool price of $47k per year, I got set up with on-campus housing and tuition!
I moved into my NYU-provided studio apartment on West 3rd street in the Village with my awesome new roommate who was studying journalism. I transferred all of my amazing dorm room furniture (tiny collapsible coffee table, check. Hippie tapestries, check. Bjork poster, check) into my new digs.
I must say, grad school was AWESOME! It felt less like school and more like, reading all this awesome info and feeling amazing all the time about wanting to change the world and help others. My internship at a small charter school on the Lower East Side introduced me to one of the best supervisors ever and helped me solidify my love for working with students. I was killin' it!
After realizing that my dorm was a ridiculous amount of money, I moved with my best friend to Williamsburg and led the hipster high life for a while. I even worked at the Chocolate Cafe at Saks Fifth Avenue (in addition to coat checking at Rififi and Underbar)! I could still stay up until 4 am on Thursdays. I barely had any commitments. The world was my oyster.
Then, I graduated.
And there were....
By virtue of my career as a student affairs professional, I speak in public. A lot. As in, every single quarter in front of anywhere from 50-200 students, welcoming them to campus at Orientation. Also, as in every single quarter in front of classes of Career Management Seminar students, urging them to get involved in campus life.
I felt nervous the first couple of times, but as they became second nature, these redundant speeches ceased to strike fear in my heart. On one interesting occasion, I was lucky enough to rap the "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" Theme song in front of 400 students on their first day of school. I became "that lady who did that thing, oh yeah." It won me a lot of points, I must say.
For our Leadership program, we were charged with the dreaded Public Speaking as an assignment. We had to make a PowerPoint/Prezi about our ideal job (not necessarily at our employer) and convince an imaginary hiring committee (everyone else in the program) as to why they should hire us. A special guest professor gave us on-the-spot feedback. Somehow, some way, this made me incredibly nervous. "I speak in public ALL the time!" I thought. Sure, I get nervous in a group setting when I feel like chiming in and am scared of the outcome, but come on, this is my job. I GOT this.
Hello blog reader(s). It's been a while since my last missive and with good reason. I haven't felt the need to express my progress because I feel like I've just been living it.
I've come along way in my journey but still feel like I have a long way to go. I would say the mode I am in now is Extreme Self Awareness peppered with baby step accomplishments toward the goals so painstakingly formulated on my Action Plan with my coach.
Something he continually points out to me is how emotionally-laden all my exchanges with colleagues tend to be (at least as perceived by me). I need to look at the fact that I am overwhelmed and in way over my head with my numerous and rapidly advancing job responsibilities as a Business Need, not an Emotional Crisis. I need to be solution-oriented, and strategic versus reactive and panicky. I realize whenever I talk about where I am in my work situation, I want to cry. I am sooooo emotional about it. But it doesn't have to be that way. It's a job, it's business, we are all on the same team and we all have the same goal. Just because it's not ideal is not a reason to cry about it. This can be solved, without any tears.
I'm fresh off another round of Leadership Training and feeling pretty good about life! There is something about taking the day away from the daily grind to enlighten yourself, vent with colleagues, and talk about the big picture, your hopes and dreams, strategic plans, and where you see yourself in 5 years.
Today was a Super Easy Brain Day, one of my favorite kinds of days. We listened to interesting people speak, got a campus tour and listened to more people speak and got to ask questions. I did not have to delve deep into my soul to find my inner confidence. I did not have to think critically about my conflict resolution style. I did not have to come up with a fully developed program proposal PowerPoint presentation with 12 diverse colleagues in 90 minutes. Easy. Brain. Day.
I did notice something today, however, something that relates to my fear of small talk-laden, awkward, networking events.
I am afraid of important people.
I don't know what to say to them.
They are just so. Important.
So this week brings not a work-related confidence battle, but one we are all familiar with.
If your fridge is anything like mine, it's plastered with no less than 8 invitations to weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, graduation and engagement parties. At least a few of these are for friends or distant family members which you only see during major milestones. Showers are mostly single gender affairs meaning one must go it alone, and not with one's put-upon husband.
I had the good fortune to do this recently. My brother's best friend is getting married. Though she and I aren't super close, we I have a kinship that revolves mostly around our ridiculously good dance moves. Rare is the time that we have hung out sans-frère, but he wasn't invited to the shower, a ladies-only luncheon.
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!