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    Travel

    Holiday Planning Tips For Busy Moms

    Jun 21, 2022 |
    Ahhh, the Holidays…… The Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven golden brown, with an enticing aroma that fills the entire house. All the china is in pristine condition and not a single piece in the set is missing. The family is gathered for holiday pictures, the children are poised perfectly; hands to themselves, not a hair out of place and their smiles are shining brightly for the camera. Then just as the photographer is about to capture the shot… you wake up! Let's be realistic ladies. Without proper planning, the holidays are anything but a holiday. Just look at the list of things that need to be done: Shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, sending holiday mail, the list goes on and on. Let me clue you all in on a few key questions that you should ask yourself in order to have a holiday season free of stress and worry, and instead filled with fun and laughter: What types of holiday celebrations do you want? For example: Do you want to have an immediate family only holiday affair or an extravaganza including immediate and extended family plus a few friends? Once you've thought everything through and decided on the type of holiday gathering you would like, you can then start making your plans. If you are ready to get a head start on organizing yourself, your family and your holiday check lists, then keep reading: Holiday Cards: Start early! I use a holiday card list that I derive from saving names and addresses from holiday cards my family has received in past years. I created a simple, computerized list that is easy to edit and print onto address labels. Be sure to stock up on stamps so that when you have your cards signed, stuffed and addressed you can affix a stamp to them and make one, simple trip to the Post Office. Holiday Gifts: There's nothing like getting a HUGE credit card bill in the mail at the start of the New Year. Many of us tend to want to be generous when shopping for holiday gifts. While your generosity will be appreciated at gift giving time, keep in mind that it is very easy to succumb to "impulse buying" and go all out on your holiday shopping. While your intentions may be good, your pocketbook may be singing a different song. Set a budget and stick to it – your bank account will thank you for it after the start of the New Year. Wrap it up: Wrap your gifts and place nametags on them immediately after you bring them home, then store the gifts in a secure spot. This will cut down on those late night wrapping sessions that I am sure we ALL have experienced a few times, if not every year. Baking & cooking: If you will be cooking during the holidays, it is important to plan your meals ahead of time. Be sure to stock up ahead of time on all the necessary non-perishable baking ingredients such as flour, sugar and spices. Create a list of your holiday menus and a list of the ingredients you will need to prepare each of those meals. Also, try to think of a few dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and then frozen as an extra timesaving measure Delegate: This is one of my favorite tips. Be sure to enlist the help of your family or friends. Sit down and discuss what needs to be done then ask for volunteers. If no hands are raised, simply assign small tasks to each of them. Whether it is arranging for a babysitter so that you can escape for a child free day of shopping, passing the shopping list onto another family member or friend so that they can pick up the items for you, or letting the children decorate your home. Be sure to get the whole family involved in the holiday preparations so that you will not be overwhelmed. Enjoy: Whatever you decide to do, remember to relax and enjoy yourself. You and your family will have much fonder memories of this holiday season if you are not spending it pulling your hair out. ...

    Yes, You Too Can Take A Vacation

    Jun 21, 2022 |
    Surveys are interesting. I took note of this one done recently by American Express because it backed up some data I learned at the (National Association of Female Executives) NAFE National Conference in May. According to the survey, 40% of the smallest business owners - those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues - are planning no vacation whatsoever this summer. But even business owners with higher revenues aren't doing much better - only 75% of them expect to get away from the business this summer. As we were told at the NAFE Conference, even those business owners who do get away from the office, won't truly get away. Rather, one in three will link their vacation time to a business trip and 50% will still check in with the office at least once a day. Why can't business owners let go? What are the concerns that keep them tied to the business? According to the survey: * An important client or customer will not receive appropriate service * The business will miss out on a new opportunity * There is no other competent person to leave in charge * The individuals left in charge will make the wrong decisions * An operational or equipment breakdown will occur without anyone to solve the problem Such concerns are not surprising. It is hard for a business owner to take any type of vacation worry-free. But with planning, preparation and good leadership you can boost the enjoyment level of your time off to come back refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges and opportunities. Here are 8 steps to prevent vacation angst. 1. Make a plan - To avoid surprises, create a list of scenarios on your current projects and brief your staff on the possibilities and your major concerns about each client. Assign specific staff to each client/account so there is someone that clients can speak to who understands their concerns when you aren't there. 2. Brief your key clients or customers - Offer them advance notice of any extended absence you are planning. There's no reason to keep your vacation schedule a secret. Introduce them to your deputy and convey your confidence in their ability to handle any issues that may arise. If appropriate, consider letting them know how to reach you should a true emergency arise - not that one will because of all your pre-planning. 3. Leadership is being a delegator not a dictator - If you never delegate important tasks to others, you can't expect them to be ready to fill your shoes when you want to take time off. To create a saner situation and build confidence that good things will happen when you aren't there, learn to delegate responsibilities - divvy up those pieces that must still happen in your absence and postpone those that can wait for your return. 4. Strategically schedule your vacation time - Most businesses have a slow season or times of the year when the pace is slower, or at least a bit less crazy. Plan your vacations to coincide with those lulls. 5. Mini-Vacations - If you just can't let go of the business for a whole week or two, or you can't bear to be too far away from the office, try taking a few days out of town, or extend a weekend somewhere else. Even a brief escape from routine with a change of scenery can do wonders for your perspective and re-energize you. 6. Disconnect entirely - When you do take a vacation: turn off your cell phone, don't bring the laptop, don't check your email, don't bring work with you and avoid the temptation to call or visit the office to "check up" on what's happening. If there's an emergency they can't handle, they will find you. 7. Take time off to sharpen skills - If you just can't justify taking time off to kick back and relax, then take time off to learn something new - business or personal. Taking continuing education courses at a local college or business school is a low-cost and effective way to break from your office routine, be with new people and try new things. Some programs are 3-5 days off-site if that fits your schedule better. 8. Keep your priorities straight - When you go through the exercise of listing the things you really care about, is your business really #1, 2, and 3? Outside of work, your priorities might be connecting with family and friends, spending time with kids, cultivating personal interests, staying healthy or pursuing an avocation. To regain balance in your life, you need to keep work, family and personal time in perspective. Those other priorities help you find more enjoyment in your time away from the business. Let me know if these tips help you take a well-deserved vacation (or two) this summer. ...