Creating Clout: Learning to Use Your Mom Power to Advocate

There are many times where the daily grind of keeping up with my three busy kids, my own volunteer activities and a professional work schedule can start to feel a bit overwhelming.

(I’m sure many other mothers out there feel the same!)

Toss in the added responsibility of keeping up with today’s political issues, and my limits really begin to feel stretched.

The NAMC knows that mothers want to advocate and have their voices heard, but often struggle to find the time to research the policy issues that personally impact them—which is why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to find the information for you! We believe that today’s policies for women and children need some cleaning up and…

Who understands “organizing messes”
more than moms?!

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Our NAMC Advocacy Coordinator, Valerie Young is out there daily communicating through Facebook, Twitter, the Your (Wo)Man in Washington policy blog and (more recently) as a contributor to The Shriver Report. She is finding the facts, sharing the stories and researching policy on behalf of all mothers so that we can more easily connect the dots between our lives as mothers and women and governmental action.

Not long ago Valerie began to take her “show on the road” in hopes to further spread the Advocacy momentum among mothers. Her first stop was our 2014 NAMC Leadership Council Retreat in Manhasset, New York.

Afternoon Advocacy

Power To Mothers

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Then, just a couple weeks ago, we held a more intimate conversation at the Rockville Centre Public Library (Long Island, New York)  in conjunction with Every Child Matters.

Creating Clout Workshop

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As mothers, it should be a priority for us to advocate for ourselves, our children and the policies that impact us. If we don’t do it, who will?

Yet, finding the courage to use our voice can be hard.

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To many of us, advocating for ourselves and our children can be both intimidating and scary. During Valerie’s presentations, she aims to demystifying the political process and encourage personal activism using real statistics, true stories and her knowledge as a trained attorney to discuss:

  • WHY mothers need to be more involved as policy advocates
  • HOW they can get more involved

Sometimes it is the personal touch and presence that fully empowers us to take that next step towards advocacy and finding our own voices.

Who can help clean up a policy mess?
Well mom of course! So let’s start cleaning.

Leave a Comment: How educated do you feel about the policies that impact mothers? Have you ever used your voice to help advocate for policies effecting you and your child(ren)?

Your Woman In Washington

Helps us spread the advocacy momentum!

Are you interested in bringing Valerie to your area to speak?
Let us know via email by contacting our NAMC Events Coordinator
Traci Caines at: tracic@motherscenter.org

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We inadvertently become researchers of life and motherhood when we study our own as well as other mothers’ experiences and journeys.

This is the concept behind our monthly Faces of Mothers’ Center series featuring interviews with different Mothers’ Center members across the nation.

Today we are introducing you to Idania Murga, a mother of two and a member and leader of the Unity Circle Mothers’ Center of New Cassel in New York. Idania found the NAMC through her profession as a social worker at the McCoy Center Family and Youth Services in Westbury where (through her job) she began facilitating a Mothers’ Center group.

“The mothers in our group are mainly Hispanic,” says Idania of the Unity Circle of New Cassel Mothers’ Center group. “When the group members found out they were getting a fellow Latina mother as a leader, they were ecstatic. I sort of fell into this group, and I am so glad I did!”

In addition to motherhood and her work as a social worker, Idania likes to sing, enjoys any time she can find to surround herself with nature and loves writing. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Idania even more through her own words and life experiences.

Idania MurgaIdania with her husband Felix, daughter Angelina (age 9) and son Elias (13 months)

Q: What three words best describe you and why?
A: Independent. Optimistic. Strong.

On my 15th birthday, I got my working papers and my first job at a nursing home. On my 16th birthday, I remember making my own appointment with a driving instructor to get driving lessons. At 17, I went out and added myself to my own cell phone plan. I have always been an independent little lady, and I think being positive and strong-willed go hand in hand with getting what you want and/or need when you want and/or need it. Like Sebastian said in the movie The Little Mermaid: “When you want something done, you have to do it yourself!”

Q: What is one of your favorite memories as a parent?
A: Watching my older daughter holding her baby brother at the hospital after he was born, and my husband taking a picture of them as I watched. That was a beautiful day.

Murga Family

Q: What is one of your biggest challenges as a parent?
A: I was a young, single mom. I had my daughter when I was 19 and in college. At the time my boyfriend  was quite immature and, needless to say, I found myself and my daughter being supported by my parents. From the time my daughter was born until she was 5, we all chipped in and raised her. Those years were so, so difficult. I was working full-time and going to college full-time—all the while growing up myself alongside my daughter. I accomplished everything I set out to, but it was a bittersweet roller coaster ride which I will never forget.

Q: How has having children changed you?
A: For me, because I was so young, I had no unrealistic views of motherhood since motherhood hadn’t even once crossed my mind prior to my pregnancy. But when I became a mother, it was a miraculous experience. I had to grow up fast, a lot faster than any of my friends. I had to learn to worry about another life other than myself. I am still extremely independent, but I live for them now. Motherhood has also greatly impacted me professionally.

“Having children has given me a skill I apply everyday
in my professional life: Empathy.

~
Q: How do you navigate taking care of both your needs and the needs of your family?

A: Often I hear other moms say they don’t have any time for themselves, it feels good to know that this comment is not reflective of my own life. I work hard to give myself time every week. I squeeze in at least an hour a day for myself, even if it’s on my lunch break at work to go get a pedicure or do some shopping. After work, instead of leaving my own household chores for after the kids are asleep, I maneuver them in between cooking so that after 9, it’s me time. I also utilize the grandmothers!

In college I took a course on Marriage and Family Therapy and I will never forget the words of that class’ professor:

“If mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

~

Thank you Idania for your honest responses and for allowing us to share your personal experiences on life as a mother on Mothers Central.

Leave a Comment: Please help us give a warm welcome to Idania. Do you relate with any of her struggles and successes in motherhood? Let us know in the comments section below!

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In 2010 Ellen Galinsky (president and cofounder of the Families and Work Institute) released a book and video series Mind in the Making. The information addressed was meant of provide research and offer concrete skills which parents could use to better produce environments that our children would thrive in. In 2013 the NAMC was chosen as a grant recipient to help translate Ellen Galinsky’s book and video series into discussion guides for our membership. The resulting discussion guides have now been utilized in multiple Mothers’ Center groups across the nation.

Below is the sixth in a series of 7 posts exploring the Mind-in-the Making Curriculum.
Be sure to also read Part 1: Focus and Self Control, Part 2: Perspective Taking, Part 3: Communicating,
Part 4: Making Connections and Part 5: Critical Thinking.

Mind In The Making, Part 6: Taking on Challenges

Essential Life Skill 6: Taking on Challenges

I could hear the distant sound of little fingers playing not-quite-perfected piano notes as I turned my hair dryer off. I glanced up at the clock. Don’t-panic-don’t-panic-don’t-panic I said to myself again and again.*

*Sometimes, if I repeat something enough, I actually begin to believe it.

School mornings in our home are action-packed. A successful morning relies on good timing, and there is not much room for error. When carried out correctly—they are a beautiful, poetic dance… BUT, one miss-step could throw the whole morning off.

Three kids equals:

  • 3 breakfasts to make. 3 book bags to prepare. 3 beds to be made.
  • Lots and lots of teeth to be brushed. Hair to be combed. And arguments to be diverted.
  • There’s spelling and piano practice and teacher notes and reading.

And that’s just the kids, let’s not forget about getting yourself ready.

It can be (to say the very least) challenging.

On this particular Monday morning I was starting to panic because I was NO WHERE near ready myself. At the very moment I thought nothing else could make my manic Monday morning harder, I remembered:

OH. MY. GOSH. We have to be to school early for safety guards.

In my anxiety, I turned to race towards my closet to finish dressing and was met by a mirror image of anxiety. Not my own image reflected on the bathroom mirror, the image of my daughter.

“MOM. I LOST MY CONTACT.” My daughter said, trembling and upset.

The sixth skill that Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making book discusses is taking on challenges. Part of this skill’s description focuses on being resilient in the face of stress…

Resilient in the face of stress? Me? Not so much!

Picture this: Me, frantically scouring the bathroom floor, sink and mirror inch-by-inch in search of a tiny, clear, chameleon-like spectacle with my arm blocking the door shouting “Don’t step anywhere” as the minutes quickly ticked closer to our must-leave departure time.

The anxiety and stressful look in my face said it all.

MindInTheMakingSM

LIFE SKILL 6: TAKING ON CHALLENGES

Skill Description: Being resilient in the face of stress, trying new experiences, being proactive in standing up to difficulties.

Research Says: Stress caused by everyday challenges are a positive and an essential feature of healthy development in children. Even the impact of more severe stress is not necessarily negative and often depends on: how long a severe stress lasts and weather there are supportive adults to help the child cope and recover. Other people’s nonverbal communication (i.e., facial expressions) can play a big part in how children respond to fearful situations.

What Parents Can Do To Improve This Skill:

  • Be aware of how you are communicating stressful experiences to children, as they will “read” and respond to your anxiety
  • Get support. Parents without people to turn to for help when facing challenges are less able to help their children with challenges
  • Praise children’s efforts not their personality (Example: “You are working hard!” vs. “You are so smart!”). By doing this your children are more likely to take on challenges

Bottom Line: If we dwell on what the child can’t do—the child‟s inadequacies will likely proliferate. If we focus on what the child can do—the child‟s strengths will likely be fortified.

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Yes. The look in my anxiety-ridden face said it all—reflecting my apparent stress of our not-so-beautiful, not-so-poetic morning rush dance. Again, I saw my own anxiety mimicked through my daughter’s emotions, a mirror image of myself.

In the end, disaster was diverted just in the nick of time. (Quite humorously, my daughter’s contact was found tangled in her hair.)

I grabbed a hairbrush for myself (avoiding my own un-groomed reflection in the mirror), reached for my coat, began herding everyone into the van, secured seat belts, made two extra trips back into the house to gather missing items and finally slumped my sweaty self in the driver side of the van before backing out of the driveway to get my daughter to her safety guard responsibility.

Suddenly, I couldn’t help it… all the anxiety, panic, craziness and rushing made me…

Burst out with laughter.
Suddenly everything seemed so comical.

“Stress caused by everyday challenges
are a positive and an essential feature of
healthy development in children.”

I am saved by this research statement above. Life skill #6: Taking on Challenges—Check! I’ve got that one covered. (And then some!)

Leave a Comment: What does your “morning dance” look like? In what ways do you address the life skill of Taking on Challenges with your children?

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Did you Know…

The NAMC provides Mothers’ Center group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. The previous post was inspired by the Mind in the Making Discussion Guide and Curriculum. To download this guide and others, visit the members only section of the NAMC website. Not a member? Learn more about the Mothers’ Center and it’s unique culture by downloading our New Group Start-up Guide here!

 

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Every family, every parent, every mother has different experiences, different career aspirations and different ways in which they prioritize their time.

To help better recognize and commend these differences, we are highlighting the lives of mothers in the workforce by asking our members questions exploring:

  • What led them to stay active in their careers
  • What support they utilize to help them navigate their way
  • How this has impacted their mothering experiences

To see our past Work/Life interviews to date click here.

Today we are highlighting Jennifer B. Cona, Esq. a Managing Partner at Genser Dubow Genser & Cona, LLP and a member of our NAMC Corporate Committee—a group who advises, guides and takes a lead role in planning the NAMC’s work / life initiatives.

Jennifer ConaJennifer and her husband Jack with their two children currently ages 13 and 11.

Q: Give us a quick timeline of your career path.
A: After a judicial clerkship and various jobs in New York City government as well as a private law firm practice, I started my own Elder Law firm in downtown Manhattan. My practice grew very quickly and, about a year later, I moved the practice to Long Island to better serve my core clients. My Elder Law firm is now one of the largest on Long Island and we have received many awards and honors in the business community. I am one of only 3 female managing partners of law firms on Long Island.

Q: What is the key component of your support system?  
A: The key component of my support system is my husband, Jack.  He is also an attorney and works full-time but we have a “division of labor” that lets me focus on work while he is in charge of the home-front. He is primarily responsible for our 2 children (ages 13 and 11). He handles everything from helping with homework to handling the after school sports and music. My husband even single-handedly gets them off to school in the morning so I can exercise (which helps me with stress management). I would not be nearly as successful in my career if it weren’t for his support.

Q: Looking back at your motherhood and career path, describe both your hardest and best moments.
A: My hardest moment happened one day when my son was about 7 years old. I messed up his after school schedule and there was no one at the house to get him off the bus. My son had to stay on the bus for the whole route and was then taken back to the school, from where I got that horrible “bad parent” phone call. It was a breaking point. I realized I was totally overwhelmed and I remember saying: “I just can’t do both jobs anymore”.

One of my best moments happened when my daughter was about 5 and was playing dress-up. She was “going to work” and so she put on a suit and heels. I laughed out loud yet was also so proud. It may sound silly, but I think it is great that her reality is that women work, have professional careers and run businesses—and that is just the way it is.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier? What “life lessons” can you share with us?
A: The biggest life lesson I’ve learned is that you have to give up being a perfectionist. It is truly OK to let some things slide and to not be so hard on yourself. I have to maintain a “don’t sweat the small stuff” attitude or the stress will run me down. I also pick my battles and understand that not everything is worth fighting about (whether at the office or with my kids).

Additionally, one has to learn how to give 100% to where you are at that moment. If I am at work, that is my focus. If I am home with the kids, they get 100% of my attention. I do have to work at “leaving the office at the office”, but when I am able to do this, it allows me to be engaged and relaxed with my kids and to really enjoy their company no matter what we are doing—even if it’s just running errands!

~

Each woman steps through their life differently. We thank Jennifer for fearlessly sharing her own experiences and work/life journey with us at Mothers Central.

Leave a Comment: Please help me welcome Jennifer Cona to Mothers Central by leaving her a comment and sharing her experiences with others.

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A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.Image Source via Pinterest

Before I was a mom I was: a wife, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter and a friend. I worked as a graphic artist in the advertising industry. It felt so easy to define who I was, what I did and where I stood. After I became a mom everything changed.

To say motherhood enormously impacted my life would be an understatement. Marriage became more complicated. Work became a series of transitions. And friendships… well my friendships seemed to suffer the most.

More than eleven years after beginning my life changing role as a mother, I am still making adjustments both personally and professionally. Yet through the support, encouragement and training I’ve received as a member of my local Mothers’ Center Group and the NAMC, I’ve managed to find and grow my voice as both a woman and a mother.

My Mothers’ Center experience has shaped me, and in turn has also helped to shape my children (who often shadow my life’s actions).

QUESTION: How did motherhood change you? If you are a Mothers’ Center Member, how has your Mothers’ Center helped you through these changes? We reached out to a few of our group leaders to share their experiences. Do you relate to any of their stories?

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Rosie’s Story: Mothers’ Center of Central New Jersey

RosieAndFamilySQ“Nothing challenged my patience as much as becoming a parent…”

Before becoming a mom I thought I was already an incredibly patient person. After having my first child, I realized there was not much in my life before that challenged my patience as much as becoming a parent. And now I’m challenged every single day…Some days I rise to the occasion and others not so much. The Mothers’ Center has given me a much needed sense of camaraderie. It is invaluable for me to hear firsthand from others that you are not the only one facing these challenges and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Monica’s Story: Mothers’ Center of Southwest Nassau

Monica SQ“I was a full-time stay-at-home mom and now I’m 4 months away from graduating law school.”

After I became a mother I wasted a lot time trying to become someone different, the someone I thought others expected me to be. The truth is, I am essentially the same person (with less time of course). If more mothers were told they were fine just the way we are, then we would all struggle less. Finding the warm, loving environment of my Mothers’ Center Group was literally life changing to me as a mom who thought she couldn’t do anything right. It helped me understand there is no one right way to be a mother. When I started at my MC, I was a full-time stay at home mom and now I’m 4 months away from graduating law school. The changes in my life have been enormous and I credit my Mothers’ Center Group for helping me be brave enough to embrace them.

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Julie’s Story: Mothers’ Center of Fort Collins

JulieAndFamily-FortCollinsSQ“I suffered a stroke and other major health problems during our son’s first year of life…”

A difficult post-child birth and long recovery meant I unexpectedly needed to stay home with our son for five years. The Mothers’ Center of Fort Collins was a lifeline for our family. Because of my major health problems, I had numerous appointments with doctors and follow-up care. Our babysitting co-op, babysitting trades and Dads’ Nights Out were the biggest help. (My husband took on a lot in the early years). Additionally, most of our close friendships have developed through the Mothers’ Center.

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Marianne’s Story: Athens Mothers’ Center

MarianneAthensMC-SQ“I went from working 50 hours a week outside the home, to staying at home…”

After I became a mother, I went from 50 hour workweeks to staying at home with my daughter—a huge and difficult adjustment for me. My husband and I moved across two states to Athens, Georgia when my daughter was 6 months old, and I didn’t know a soul in our new town. I happened to see a flyer for the Athens Mothers’ Center’s Fall Open House and I decided to go (alone). Everyone there was so welcoming and understanding of my feelings and struggles with being a new mom. It was a wonderful way to transition into my new community.

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Julie’s Story: Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo

JulieSQ“After adopting our son I went through an identity crisis…”

My husband and I decided to adopt later in life and after working for 20 some years, I went through a complete identity crisis when we brought our son home from South Korea. The members of Mothers’ Center helped me understand that what I was going through was a shared experience and totally “normal” and not just an adoption thing. For that I will be eternally grateful.

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Christine’s Story: Northport-East Northport Public Library Mothers’ Center Circle

Christine-SQ“I found new friendships as well as exciting leadership opportunities…”

My children are now 4, 6, 8 and 10. I joined a Mothers’ Center Group when my youngest child was a toddler with the intention of finding little friends for her. Little did I know that by seeking friendships for her in a Mothers’ Center Group, I would also be blessed with new, wonderful friendships for myself, as well as exciting leadership opportunities and a place in an incredible group of women.

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What’s Your Story?

All of us have a motherhood story, and all of us should have the support of a Mothers’ Center.

Help us continue to encourage positive change and the support of mothers. Join us May 3rd for our 5th Annual Mile for Mothers 5k Run, Walk and Kid’s Fun Run on the beautiful, new Long Beach Boardwalk. Don’t live close by? Consider contributing virtually by making a donation. Get more info and donate here.

Miles for Mothers Logo

Leave a Comment and Share Your Story! How did motherhood change you? If you are a Mothers’ Center Member, how has your Mothers’ Center helped you through these changes?

Interested in learning more about starting a Mothers’ Center Group? Download our New Group Start-up Guide. here!

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In 2010 Ellen Galinsky (president and cofounder of the Families and Work Institute) released a book and video series Mind in the Making. The information addressed was meant of provide research and offer concrete skills which parents could use to better produce environments that our children would thrive in. In 2013 the NAMC was chosen as a grant recipient to help translate Ellen Galinsky’s book and video series into discussion guides for our membership. The resulting discussion guides have now been utilized in multiple Mothers’ Center groups across the nation.

Below is the fifth in a series of 7 posts exploring the Mind-in-the Making Curriculum.
Be sure to also read Part 1: Focus and Self Control, Part 2: Perspective Taking, Part 3: Communicating,
and Part 4: Making Connections.

Mind In The Making Part5: Critical Thinking

Essential Life Skill 5: Critical Thinking

“Mom, how do you spell Fahrenheit?” My 11-year-old asked me this past weekend while working on homework.

My first instinct was to immediately respond with the answer and I started spelling:

“F – e – i – r …”

Until I realized (about midway through my spelling attempt)… I didn’t have a CLUE how spell Fahrenheit. “Honestly honey,” I concluded. “I really don’t know. I think you’re gonna have to Google it.”

It used to be rather hard for me to admit that I didn’t know something. That is (most definitely!) no longer true.

When I was child, if I didn’t know something my solution was always: Go ask dad! (duh!) However, even though I may have many of my father’s mannerism and skills, the “all-knowing-parent” is not (unfortunately?) listed among them.

There is SO much I don’t know about SO many things.

Amide the many lessons becoming a parent taught me, one I learned early on was the understanding that without a doubt I DID NOT know everything (and additionally that every answer wasn’t as black and white as the spelling of fahrenheit).

What’s more, after further parenting experiences I’ve concluded that not having every answer for every question my children ask me is actually okay. Why? Because not knowing something challenges my kids to find their own solutions.

The fifth skill Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making book discusses is critical thinking—a skill my own “lack of knowledge” has (undoubtedly) allowed me to encourage.

MindInTheMakingSM

LIFE SKILL 5: CRITICAL THINKING

Skill Description: The ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions and actions.

Research Says: By encouraging curiosity and independent problem solving parents can build their child’s critical thinking process.

What Parents Can Do To Improve This Skill:

  • Talk to children about everyday science in their lives
  • Have children create experiments to test cause and effect
  • Promote children’s curiosity. Don’t jump too quickly to fix something they are struggling with. When possible, help them figure out how to resolve struggles themselves
  • Model critical thinking by encouraging children to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, consider looking it up together
  • Think of your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues as “experts” who can share their experiences, knowledge and passions with your kids
  • Encourage children to evaluate the reliability of information they receive from others. (Example: You can ask: “How can you find out if the is information is true?”)

Bottom Line: Children are often willing to believe that all sorts of impossible transformations can happen. By encouraging children to dig deeper when answering questions can we can help them better separate fact from fiction and better understand cause and effect.

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“F – a – h – r – e – n – h – e – i – t. That’s how you spell it Mom.” States my daughter proudly after looking up the spelling herself.

Thank goodness for Google.

Sometimes I wonder how I survived with out it… oh, yeah. I had Dad! :)

Leave a Comment: In what ways might you encourage critical thinking in your children? And on a lighter note, am I the only parent who apparently had NO IDEA how to spell Fahrenheit?

~

Did you Know…

The NAMC provides Mothers’ Center group members with access to Group Discussion Guides meant to encourage reflection and conversation. The previous post was inspired by the Mind in the Making Discussion Guide and Curriculum. To download this guide and others, visit the members only section of the NAMC website. Not a member? Learn more about the Mothers’ Center and it’s unique culture by downloading our New Group Start-up Guide here!

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I was out of town a couple weekends ago and although I managed to type out my todo list during my return flight home, I never took the next step to add my todo list to my calendar (something I typically do every week).

Suffice to say, a couple things slipped over the course of the week. There was:

  • An unintentional skip of a soccer practice (aka: Mom forgot),
  • A scheduling snafu for a SaturDAY activity that turned out to be a Saturday NIGHT activity  
  • A missed morning meeting (that in all reality… I just couldn’t. Fit. In.)

How do you “balance your busy”? Myself, sometimes I don’t do it too well, however I am constantly reevaluating and prioritizing my time to adjust. For me, what helps the most is spending Sunday afternoon as a “catch-up” day gathering my todo list and ALSO scheduling that list in my calendar.

Turns out, adding in a “catch-up” day, is exactly what some recommend, including today’s Mothers’ Central guest and upcoming NAMC Webinar presenter—professional organizer Nancy Borg of Move the Mess.

Today she is sharing her personal experience on managing her own busy…

NancyBorgNew

Seizing the “Catch-up” Day to Keep up with the Busy

Guest Post by Nancy Borg

We all lead very different lives, we all have our own kind of “busy” to manage.

Whether it’s accumulated e-mails, phone calls to return, filing, bill-paying, or scheduling, these are all things which require our eventual attention.

So, what’s your “catch-up” day? (Or, do you even have one?)

From time to time, we all get back-logged with life in general. How we choose to “catch up” is clearly personal. You may have loose ends to tie up at the close of a week, or you may be managing what I refer to as “weekend residue” (that kind of leftover “clean-up” after a busy and hectic weekend that you avoid tackling). And of course there is everything else in between…

The actual day you prefer to “catch up” with yourself is really irrelevant. The key is to “schedule” it to happen or it likely—won’t happen at all.

“For me, I tend to “catch up”
with myself on Sunday nights.”

~
Starting a new week with a clean slate feels great. At an early age, my own parents programmed me to organize and prepare for school on Sundays. (No surprise how I inherited the organizing gene, lol!) Sunday punctuated the end of the weekend and a start of a new week ahead, and I used it as a time to gather, clean up, and shift my focus. I raised my children in the same way and (although it was an unpopular job) I chose to be the enforcer of these dreaded practices.

My children are grown now and although I no longer have to micro-manage their routines, I’m still a creature of habit. Sunday nights can sometimes still feel like “school nights,” and admittedly, they can trigger some adolescent anxiety of the “Sunday Night Stress” of years ago. To help with this anxiety, I’ve tried to change it up a little and “catch up” during the daytime, opting instead to take Sunday evenings to go out to dinner or even catch a movie.* I’ve noticed when I do this I am able to unwind more. It seems to stretch my weekend and relaxes me before the pending week.

*However, I have to be honest here, while the idea is great, Sunday evenings “out” are few and far between on a cold winter’s night. I’m just as happy to declare Sunday a snuggle and catch-up day and never the leave the house at all!

“Catch-up” day flexibility is also key.

For example, as routine-oriented as I am, summertime brings on a whole new energy and my “catch up” days are not as fixed. With the longer days, I often schedule and break down the “catch-ups” differently. Since I love to be outside, I prefer the “catch-ups” that can be mobile.

“The opportunity to “catch-up” outside by poolside
is way more enticing than a mandatory lock down inside.”

~
This summer flexibility allows me to be less stressful but equally productive! And (of course!) I nearly always opt to save the paperwork and housekeeping for a rainy day or evening.

What seems to be abundantly clear is that we all need a day or two to “catch up” in order to “keep up” sometimes with our busy lives. If we fail to do so, things will surely pile up and then we are in danger of chasing our tails allowing overwhelm to easily ensue.

The bottom-line reality is: “keeping up” is really about maintaining a healthy life-balance that ultimately will help us keep our own stress level down.

Leave a Comment: Which day do you use as your catch-up day? Do you have a “catch-up” strategy to share? Leave a comment forNancy and consider connecting with her through her blog, on Facebook or via Twitter!

~

Are you interested in learning how to “balance your busy?”

Join professional organizer Nancy Borg on Tuesday, April 8th from 8-9 p.m. ET for our upcoming NAMC webinar entitled: Don’t Agonize, Organize: Learning How to Reclaim Control and Balance Your Busy. NAMC Webinars are free to members and open to non-members for a minimal fee. Find out more and register for the webinar here.

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What would be the most important wisdom you would pass down to your child(ren)?

This month we are joined by Mothers’ Center member Jen Silacci as she shares what she hopes to pass down in the form of a letter to her children.

Jen and her husband John have two children Nicholas (age 4) and Paige (age 1). Born and raised in New Jersey, Jen recently returned to her home state after living in Ohio — where she was first introduced to the Mothers’ Center and its tremendous support via the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo. Upon returning to New Jersey, she decided she missed her Mothers’ Center experience so much that she set out to start her own group — the Mothers’ Center of Monmouth County.

Prior to motherhood, Jen was a kindergarten teacher for 7 years then changed direction to be a Program Manager for Parks and Recreation. Currently she stays at home with her young children and—although admittedly outside her comfort zone—courageously crafted the following letter…

Jen Silacci and Family

Jen, her husband John and their children Nicholas and Paige.

To My Children,

You will truly never know how much I love you until you have children of your own someday. It’s a kind of unconditional love that’s hard to explain—a love so deep and so strong that no matter what you do or say I KNOW that I will always love you and be by your side.

Regardless of what you go through and feel, I too will go through it and feel it.

If you feel happiness, I feel greater happiness.
If you feel pain, I feel deeper pain.

I want the best for you and hope that you always follow your dreams. Here are a few words of wisdom that I’ve learned in life and would like to share with you:
 
Trust your intuition to do the right thing. There will always be a little voice inside you rooted in the values and life lessons you learn to help guide you, but the key is to listen to that voice and trust it. There will be good decisions and bad decisions, each will help shape you. Know that I will always be there to protect and guide you no matter what decisions you make and whether or not I agree with them.
 
Patience is important. Never give up even when keeping your patience becomes very hard. I know there are days when I, myself have lost it—when everything has felt like the end of the world. I find it’s important to remember that the next day can feel like the best day, the key is to stay on course. As long as you ultimately prevail and don’t let anything or anyone else get the best of you, you will be great. On that same note, if you can apologize for mistakes or moments of weakness, it makes you that much stronger of a person. We all make mistakes, but own your mistakes and learn from them! Over time everything will be ok.
 
Love from your heart. There will be times when your heart will soar. And there will be times when something feels off (because it probably is) and your heart will break (and that’s okay). It will definitely make you appreciate true love.

“It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

I love you so much and only want the best for you always! May all your dreams come true.
Keep trusting in yourself, being patient, and loving from your heart.
 
Love Always,
Your Mother
 
Leave a Comment: Do any of Jen’s words ring true with you? Please help me give a warm welcome to Mothers Central guest Jen Silacci by leaving her a comment and sharing her letter with others!

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Are you interested in submitting a guest post letter?

We’ve been asking our members across the nation to respond to the question:
What would you tell your child in a letter?
Get more details and read other guest post letters here.

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A couple months ago I watched the Documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America. If you want to briefly get the gist of the documentary, watch this 2 minute preview.

I can’t even begin to explain how much this documentary series personally impacted me. For the first time I was able to learn more about women in our country (many of whose stories had been lost to me) and all the incredible ways they have changed the world today as we know it—courageous, dare-to-be-different women who truly inspired me.

History is an amazing teacher. But, what happens when history is lost? Well, the lessons learned from experience don’t necessarily get passed down.

Today, in celebration of Women’s History Month, Valerie Young is joining us to explore other great ways a women’s voice in history can be celebrated and NOT lost…

Womens History Month

Where are the Voices from Our Past?

Guest Post by Valerie Young

Have you ever been to the National Women’s History Museum? You haven’t?
HA! That was a trick question. Of course you haven’t, because there isn’t one!!  

Although efforts have been underway for twenty (count ‘em, twenty) years, we still have yet to secure a place to highlight the remarkable and varied contributions of women to public and private life in the US. Legislation has been introduced, and you can certainly tell your members of Congress that you want them to support this cause.

While you wait, check out the NWHM website and take an online tour of some of their digital exhibitions. I especially recommend watching their short video, “Historical Glimpses of Motherhood”, as we are still smack dab in Women’s History Month. Who knew that mothers invented the collapsible crib, disposable diapers, and alphabet blocks, among other cool things?

Here are some more great resources to help us celebrate Women’s History Month.

National Women’s History Museum Facebook Page

National  Women's History Museum LogoIf you spend some time online, you can observe Women’s History Month and win prizes too. The NWHM Facebook page is asking women’s history questions and giving out prizes. This question was posted when I wrote this: Welcome to Round 4 of #WomensHistoryMonth trivia! The question worth a $10 iTunes gift card is: which woman has served in Congress longer than any other?” 

The answer is Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, (where I live) who has been fighting the good fight up on The Hill since 1977. (How does she stand it?) So skip over to Facebook, learn a little of what women have been doing, and reflect on how women’s history wasn’t included in what you learned in school. Feel free to be seriously annoyed.

MSNBC: Melissa Harris-Perry’s Nerdland Challenge

Nerdland Scholar ChallengeMSNBC has been the home for Melissa Harris-Perry’s Nerdland Challenge, a Women’s History Month special feature.  I’m loving it, especially the quiz that showed up on the first day earlier this week.  It’s all about the interplay between motherhood and women’s social status, now and through history.  Sign up and you’ll get an email each day with a new tidbit.

MAKERS: Woman Who Make America

Makers LogoAnother easy-to-follow- source is the internet site MAKERS: Women Who Make America (which Kate spoke of in her introduction). Maybe watching the original 6 hour documentary will be your personal Women’s History Month celebration – it is truly mind blowing how much has changed for women and how recently.

There are also many much shorter videos to pique your curiosity and a great 8 slide series about recent women’s history, like when women were first able to get credit cards in their own names, or could be legally fired from a job for being pregnant. (It’s helpful to remember that the first rape crisis center only came into being in the 1970’s, and that marital rape was not even a concept until about the same time. In fact, it still doesn’t exist in many countries.)

New York Times: Celebrate Women’s History Month

New York Times Online LogoFinally, the New York Times has the motherlode (pun intended) of information on women’s history in a variety of formats, even crossword puzzles and other games.  You can look at a series of relevant NYT front pages through the decades, consider discussion questions for all ages, (Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for their Sons and their Daughters?) with lots of links to other information.

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So, if you can’t make a family field trip to the National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, or visit the home of the suffrage movement at the Sewell-Belmont House in Washington DC, there are plenty of other ways to pay tribute to the women of this country and continue educating yourself on the many great women’s voices of our past.

Leave a Comment: Were you aware of the National Women’s History Museum? Have you watched Makers: Women Who Make America? What women from history have inspired you?
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WIWAdThis is an original post contributed by NAMC Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young.

Learn more about Valerie and keep up-to-date on important policies that promote family economic security and the well-being of family caregivers by visiting and subscribing via email to the (Wo)man in Washington blog, liking her on Facebook, and following her on Twitter.

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2014 Leadership Council

Imagine if as a mother you could remove yourself from the everyday stresses of life for just a couple of days to regroup.

If you were given time to:

  • Finish a sentence, complete your thoughts and surround yourself with support
  • Connect with other women who share similar parenting challenges as you
  • Validate the importance of mothering and your role as a mother

That (and more!) is exactly what happened this past weekend at our 2014 NAMC Leadership Council Retreat. Mothers’ Center Group leaders from across the country came to share, learn and connect with each other, our NAMC staff and our NAMC board members—all while working to make their Mothers’ Center Group stronger.

The 2014 NAMC Leadership Council Retreat began on Friday evening March 14th and ended around lunchtime on Sunday the 16th and, if there is one phrase that could wrap up the weekend, it would definitely be:

“Power to the Mother!”
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Power To MothersLeft: Our “power to mother” salute during Sunday’s wrap-up session
Right: The photo that inspired the “fist lift” during our NAMC Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young’s presentation 

It was an empowering experience (to say the least). Whether you joined us or not, we managed to capture the experience through images (thanks to Mothers’ Center of Southwest Nassau member Melanie Denzer). Summing up the weekend in just a few photos was hard. What wasn’t hard was finding photos highlighting the weekend’s power, connections and growth.

The Venue

The Retreat House Located in Manhasset, New York our retreat took place at the beautiful Our Lady of Grace Retreat Center.

A Weekend of Sharing and Learning

Learning SaturdayLeft: Getting to know each other via ice breakers and discussion on the needs of mothers today.
Right: NAMC Staff Member Lisa Kaplan-Miller began the conversation on What Mothers’ Center Groups Need to Trive and Grow
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Learning1Left: NAMC Staff Member Kate Fineske (me!) continuing the conversation on group growth using our NAMC Core Concepts
Right: Retreat participants listen in on ideas and tools to support mothers center group growth.
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Learning3Mid-afternoon small group discussion meant to train, model and encourage better facilitated conversations.
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Afternoon AdvocacyThe afternoon was wrapped up with an engaging presentation by NAMC Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young
 (a.k.a. Your (Wo)man in Washington) discussing why and how mothers can be more involved as policy advocates.

Making Connections, Finding Friendship and Fun!

Connections3

Connections2

Making Connections

Just imagine a weekend filled with all that AND more.
Yes, it WAS powerful!

And we can’t wait to do again next year!
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Leave a Comment: As a mother, how do you make time time for yourself and your own personal growth? If you were able to attend the retreat, what was your most memorable moment?
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Mothers Center National Logo-NoTagThe National Association of Mothers’ Centers strives to create a community of women who through mutual support and public advocacy, explore, enrich and value the maternal experience. Our Mothers’ Center Groups are meant to be communities across the nation for parents which create a safe, comfortable space in which to talk openly about the joys, the frustrations and the challenges of motherhood.

Are you interested in finding the type of support a

Mothers’ Center offers but don’t have a Mothers’ Center nearby?

Learn more about the Mothers’ Center culture by downloading 

and reading our New Group Start-up Guide here!

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