Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SOS Mommy Style!

As mothers, we don't have time to thumb through the latest issue of In Style magazine, much less check out this season's offerings at Nordstroms. In my own closet, I have sizes that range from twin and singleton pregnancy maternity clothes, size 2 - 8 and everything in between.

For a little mommy style SOS, I've turned to our local style expert, Wendy Pilch at Spendalla.com. Wendy offers affordable personal shopping services (as low as $20!!) and closet consultations. Her speciality is making moms look fun and fashionable within a budget.

Wendy says, "This fall’s trends are easy to wear for the office. Some of Spendalla’s favorite styles this season are: jewel-tone shoes, silk blouses, patent leather pumps, fitted blazers, wool-blended trousers and dresses."

"For the office, try wearing a silk-tied blouse with a pair of wool trousers. Add a fitted blazer, a pair of patent leather pumps and a bracelet and you have a complete outfit. Take a shift dress and wear a long gold necklace and some jewel-toned pumps for another great fall look."

For more information on current Fall styles at the best prices or to get information about Spendalla’s personal shopping services, see http://www.spendalla.com/. They are offering 15% off of personal shopping services for Mom-entum women.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting Dinner on the Table

As Moms, we know how hard it is to get dinner on the table. Work schedules, complicated school schedules, and extra-curricular activities can make the time before dinner chaotic, to say the least. Eating together as family, however, is a terrific way for families to stay connected and share their day with one another.

However, there is absolutely nothing worse than coming home from a long, stressful day at work with one or more children whining and melting down about how hungry they are while you stare at the fridge, waiting for something magical to pop out at you.

We here at Momentum Resources are huge fans of Susan and Michelle at You've Got Supper. Their free website gives you a weekly menu with matching grocery list; what could be easier? Check out their tried-and-true tips for getting dinner on the table.

1. Plan Ahead – The biggest challenge is planning out your meals and getting the food in the fridge. Once you have your plan for the week, you can just come home from work or kids’ activities, get out the ingredients, and throw together supper. Keep your weekly menu posted somewhere – on a chalkboard, in a day planner, or even taped to the inside of a cupboard.
If something requires some time, such as cooking some chicken breasts or chopping up some veggies, you should try to get done the night before (even if that means on a Sunday). Don’t forget to defrost any meat a day or two before you want to cook it.

2. Keep It Simple – Keep your meals simple and fresh and know what you can handle. Some weeks we are overly ambitious and food gets wasted because we never have the time to cook it. We love the weeks when we plan out 3 or 4 “simple” meals, make them all, and the fridge is empty at the end of the week.

3. Make Enough for Leftovers – Always try to make double when the leftovers will heat up or freeze nicely. You can change up the meal with different sides or a different presentation (i.e. meatballs and spaghetti can turn into meatball subs the next night). Soup is great to freeze in small containers and enjoy any time. Make sure to date and label everything you freeze so you know what you have in your freezer!

4. The Sure Thing – Write down a list of easy meals that you usually have the ingredients on hand for and the whole family likes. Some of our favorites are:
· Scrambled eggs or omelets – Pack ‘em with whatever veggies, cheese, salsa you have in the fridge, bacon / sausage (even the fake kind), toast with yummy jams, fruit
· Quesadillas – Sprinkle in cheese, black beans, and leftover chicken.
· Pasta - Tossed with sauce or just olive oil, parmesan / mozzarella, any leftover veggies such as broccoli, tomato, asparagus
· Fish - Stop at the fish market on the way home and then sauté or bake some fish with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, and lemon juice (you can usually get a lemon at the fish market). Fish takes just a few minutes to cook and you can have a great meal at home (we like to serve it with couscous which takes just 5 minutes).
· Baked potato bar – Baked potatoes take a good hour in the oven, but there’s no mess and no hands involved.
· Taco night – Keep a taco kit in your pantry and some turkey meat in the freezer.
· Sammies – The pre-packaged meats last a long time and taste pretty good. It’s all about the bread so keep a back up loaf in your freezer. It can defrost in minutes. Any type of grilled Sammie with some soup is a great meal for the whole family.
· Pizza, Pizza! – Keep pizza sauce and cheese on hand. Use bagels, English muffins, French bread, or an extra pizza dough (which you have waiting in the freezer) to whip up the ultimate kid “sure thing.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting It All Done

Five years ago, back when the twins were just one and I'd been back to work full-time, my closest mommy friend (with twins a day younger than mine, who also went back to work the same day I did) headed off to her folks' Bay House for a weekend retreat. We were emotionally and physically spent and in need of two nights to re-charge. As I lay in bed that Saturday morning to the guilty hour of 10 AM, I began reading Alison Pearson's I Don't Know How She Does It. When my friend walked in to bring me a pan of brownies for a sinful breakfast in bed, she glanced at the title and said, "Don't read that. You'll quit your job Monday."

Well, I didn't quit my job immediately but it did get me thinking about the insanity that is working and mothering at the same time. Now that I'm nearly 7 years into this adventure, I've learned a few things along the way. Some of this was through trial and error (lots of trials and even more errors) but most of what I've learned I gained from the wisdom of others. Some of these folks are my "mommy mentors" with older children, some are subject matter experts in their given fields, such as Michelle and Susan at You've Got Supper.

This week begins a multi-part series on how we get it all done: dinner on the table, laundry folded (if not put away), regular communication with our children's teachers and daycare providers and the constant love-hate relationship with home organization.

Stay tuned for tried and true tips from the experts in "the field." I encourage you to share your own tips via Comments on the blog. We can all use a little help from our friends!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MBA Moms: Why We Opt Out

My first foray into the wild, wonderful wonderful world of work-life balance came during my second year of business school at Georgetown University, a rigorous Top 25 Program. Then the day after 9/11 I found out I was expecting twins.

That infamous day, I was sitting in Professor Homa's Advanced Marketing Strategy lecture, smack dab between the White House and the Pentagon, and had to "evacuate" to my home in Arlington. The next day I find out that I'm bringing not one, but two, babies into this now insanely scary world. Those two events led me to believe that despite my career ambitions, I was, in no uncertain terms, heading back to the 80-hour week lifestyle of corporate finance. The next question: then what, exactly, was I going to do with my $60K Top 25 MBA?

I spent that year on and off bedrest, struggling to finish on time. I got by with the help of some creative and supportive professors and some incredibly helpful classmates. I actually conducted team meetings at my home, as I lay (left side, feet elevated) on the couch with laptops everywhere. One classmate delivered Big Macs and KFC to satisfy my cravings while dropping off assignments. Another ferried me to and fro the NICU after I was discharged from the hospital without my premies but could not yet drive.

After nearly being booted from the Program due to my inability to travel internationally (Buenos Aires at 28 weeks with twins? I think not!) I graduated on time, two six-week old boys in tow, my Mom having made custom cap and gowns for them as well. I learned two valuable lessons that year: I wasn't going to be able to do this alone and this next phase of my career was going to HAVE to include children.

After taking six months "off" with the twins I began to look for the right career-family fit. I surveyed contacts at local firms that made the Working Mother Magazine's Top Companies List, conducted informational interviews with anyone and everyone I could find, and finally landed at Top 5 Consulting Firm but in their Federal Practice, an area known for better (less!) hours than the commercial side. I took a pay cut and it wasn't exactly what I wanted to be doing professionally, but for the next four years, that was the right fit for me and my family.

Which is why I read with interest Business Week's article MBA Moms Most Likely to Opt Out, forwarded to me by a fellow Georgetown MBA Alum who also just happens to have twins and a singleton. This article follows the research of UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business Professors Catherine Wolfram and Jane Leber Herr who followed the career paths of 1,000 women who graduated from Harvard between 1988 and 1991 in a study titled "Opt-out Patterns Across Careers: Labor Force Participation Rates Among Educated Mothers."

The study found that by the time these women were 15 years out of college, 28% of those that went on to get MBAs had "opted out," compared with only 21% who pursued JDs and 6% who pursued medical degrees. The study points to the fact that the medical profession, and increasingly the legal world, are accommodating part-time and flexible work schedules. These professions also have a well-established career path, with very precise steps on how to get from point A to point B, from resident to sole practioner, from first year attorney to partner.

The business world at large has more winding paths and in certain sectors (and I can speak personally of corporate finance), there is no part-time. It's 80-100 hours per week of face time or nothing at all. Looking at the talent that I know first-hand, the women I worked with, the candidates I interview every day, all I can say is: how incredibly short-sighted.

Smart firms are reaching out to these women, creating or finding positions for them while their children are young so that when they're ready to "be back" they are with the same firm. Many firms are beginning to realize that, dollar for dollar, they can get the best value out of a seasoned veteran who just might have children for 30 hours per week.

The pay-to-productivity ratio speaks for itself. For about the same cost, a firm can get a 24 year old with two years of experience who will likely leave to go to business school anyway, or a 34 year old with an MBA, ten years of experience, who might have a couple of kids and work a 30 hour work week. Who does more, better, faster? Come on smart firms, you know the answer.