Blog

3 Tips for Starting New Year’s Resolutions with Your Kids

new years

Parents: Put the champagne away, and get out the pen and paper. It’s time to put your thinking cap on, take a deep breath, and start working on those New Year’s resolutions.   It may feel overwhelming to set goals, and as a parent — busy with your kids, work, and household tasks — it can feel especially hard to keep your resolutions; still, it’s worth it to go through the exercising of making them.

No matter what the age of your kids, the new year is a truly great opportunity to reach for the sky together, teach your kids about goal setting, and help them think about self-improvement. Talk about phasing out bad habits, focus on objectives together, and most importantly — make the entire process fun.

Here are just a few tips to get you started:

1. Do It Together

Even when you don’t think your kids are paying attention, they are. Trust us. Little eyes and ears are constantly soaking in information, and gathering impressions about the world. Set a good example, and allow your kids to witness your New Year’s resolution list take shape — better yet, get them involved in creating it. Explain to them what you are doing and why, since this may be their first exposure to such a concept.  Consider concentrating on high-level categories, that could easily turn into a teaching moment for your children; things like health, academics, hobby, and the special H.O.P.E. category (help one person every day).   

Give your kids examples of resolutions you’ve made in the past, and what you did to keep them. Tell them what you are planning for this year, and how you expect to make it successful. See if they want to make a resolution of their own, and have them think of ideas for how they can keep it throughout the year.

2. Make It Age Appropriate

Children of every age group — other than infants — are fully capable of working on their New Year’s resolutions; some will require more help from their parent. If your kids are still quite young, you may encourage them to work on their potty training goals; to use more words (rather than whines or grunts) to communicate; to work on mastering shapes, colors, numbers, or the alphabet; and to practice taking turns when playing with peers.

Resolutions can help elementary aged kids continue developing their independence; encourage them to self-groom, make (or help make) their own meals, and contribute with home chores. Depending on their age, you may challenge your kids to write or draw in a daily journal — to start honing their methods of self-expression. They can also nurture their hobbies or academic interests, via after-school clubs, extracurricular classes, and even free apps you can download.

In the area of H.O.P.E., seek out a non-profit that is highly interactive and provides some sort of portal between the donor and the sponsored. Giving back is especially significant during the holiday season, and a great way to get your kids thinking about being generous to others. You’ll likely find abundant opportunities through your local churches and community centers. National and international organizations also provide opportunities for the traditional pen pal connection, in which you can correspond and send care packages.

If you have teenagers, you likely already know they’re a little more vocal about their goals — since they have officially come into their own. Give them the same areas of suggestions, and make a point to sit back and listen to them. Your job as the parent of adolescents will be more of a guide than a director or dictator, and your own awesome resolutions will come in quite handy as good examples. Remember to make suggestions, but always let your kids decide on their own resolution. It’s also fun to make some family resolutions like traveling more, spending quality time together, or planning dinners on a weekly basis.

3. Choose the Right Medium

What good is a New Year’s resolution if you can’t hold yourselves accountable, right? When it comes to measuring your goals, it’s essential to choose the right medium. For tracking our steps, we have pedometers; and for tracking our goals, we should have a similarly effective system to keep us on the path to success. Try to choose something that caters to the type of resolutions you choose, and also fits your kids’ personalities and what motivates them.

There’s the tried and true charting system, in which you list your goals on a chart, and place stickers next to each one once it’s accomplished. For recurring actions, your chart may be set up to represent the months, or weeks — for each week that you successfully remember to clean your room, you place a sticker. The charting system is easy to make, and straightforward enough for even young toddlers to understand.

If you want to go the artsy route, try vision boards — collages made up of magazine or computer printed cutouts that represent your goals. If your child wishes to try more new foods in the new year, help them envision this goal, by pasting photos of delicious looking meals and different cultural cuisine on your poster board. The idea of the vision board is to help you stay motivated, every time you look at it hanging on your wall. Vision boards are less formal, but tend to have just as strong an effect (or stronger, for visually creative children) in crystallizing goals.

Remember, as you embark on this wonderful New Year’s tradition with your kids, try to emphasize the effort you put into making and keeping these goals, as much as the end results — this is a great chance to show your children that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Leave a comment

3 Great New Year’s Resolutions for a Single Parent

single dad

The decisions you make and things you prioritize as a parent will always affect your kids in some way or another. As a single parent, it can sometimes feel like there’s even more pressure to be the best role model you can for your kids — in some cases, you may be the only one they have. That’s not to say you can’t make any mistakes; it’s how you react to your mistakes, and the attitude you choose to embrace in your everyday life, that will impact your children’s perceptions.

The start of the new year is the perfect time to take stock of the decisions you’ve made up to this point (How have your past goals panned out so far? Is there anything you’d like to change?), and plan some goals for the coming year.

Consider starting with these three great New Year’s resolution ideas, to benefit yourself and your whole family — as well as set a wonderful example for your kids (they may even be inspired to model their own resolutions after yours!).

Improve Your Health

As a single parent, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself, especially when you’re focusing all your attention on your kids. Neglecting your physical and emotional health doesn’t help your kids (even if you feel you’re neglecting your own nutritious meal to ensure your kids eat well). The truth is, you are constantly setting an example to your children for how to live a good and healthy life. If you tell your kids it’s important to sit down each night and eat a nutritious dinner, make sure they see you doing it, too. As you work to improve your own health, you’ll find yourself with more energy and stamina to take on the daily challenges your kids — and life — throw at you.

The new year is a great time to reevaluate your health, consider where you’d like to be, and plan how to get there. Start by listing any health concerns you have for yourself. Prioritize them, and put together an actionable plan to help you improve. Don’t just focus on diet and fitness (although these are both important). Consider also your mental health and well-being — what steps can you take to help yourself feel calmer, more productive, or more energetic on a daily basis?

Remember, changing your health is about changing your lifestyle. It can help to get your kids involved — such as by playing sports together, or cooking a healthy dinner together. Doing so will improve not only your health, but your whole family’s well-being (and can make for some great bonding time!).

Set Aside Quality Family Time

In 2010, fathers spent an average of 7.2 hours with their kids per week. Historically, parents are spending much more time with their kids nowadays than they were 50 years ago — and while the increase in time spent is a good sign, keep in mind that the quality is what counts, not the quantity. If you’re spending those 7.2 hours a week plugged into your own devices, you’re not truly building strong relationships, and teaching each other valuable life lessons.

Set aside time each week — even if it’s just an hour or two on the weekends — to unplug (yes, all the way), and do something fun with your kids. You may want to incorporate this into your health challenge, such as by going to the pool or the park. Consider playing games, reading stories, playing music, or building something together.

Choose an activity you’ll all have fun doing. What matters is that you’re taking the time to connect one-on-one — even if it’s just a few minutes here and there. Use this time to talk to your children; listen to what’s going on in their lives, and how they’re feeling. You may be surprised at how much your kids open up when they’re focused on another activity. Your children will cherish these moments as they grow up, and you’ll learn a lot about each other.

Organize Your Finances

Money is the leading cause of stress for Americans; and while you may think is just an adult stressor, unfortunately, that stress can damage your relationships with your kids. Even if you don’t realize it, financial stress can affect how you act around your children, and they can feel that tension, even if you don’t mention where it’s coming from. If you worry often about money, this year, work on getting your finances in order. Consider specific, tangible goals — such as paying off one certain loan by the end of the year, or trying to save up a set amount of money. Take a look at where you can cut expenses, and put together a budget.

It’s okay to talk to your kids about this, and get them involved on a small level (appropriate for their age, of course). Talking about money helps teach them about finances. For example, you can teach them to turn off lights and game consoles when they’re not using them — to help save energy and reduce utility costs. You may ask your kids to help you keep an eye out for deals and coupons in the store, and assist with recycling.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t easy to keep, but the trick is to break them down into manageable steps that you can realistically maintain long term. If you start out small and set specific goals, you can reach them by the end of the year — especially with your kids’ help. Getting them involved can be a fun way to share aspirations together, teach them about goal setting, and set a fabulous example.

Leave a comment

How to Co-Parent Your Holiday Celebrations

co-parent

When you’re raising children with an ex-partner, you quickly realize that for your kids, a lot of things end up doubled. The logistics of having two separate holiday gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year and more comes with plenty of added stress. Scheduling, and shuttling children back and forth between homes, takes away from actual family time. It’s a necessity in some cases (when parents are not seeing eye-to-eye) – but not every divorced pair has to plan separate holiday gatherings.

Before you reject the idea, take a moment to consider it.

It may seem slightly unconventional, but for some divorced couples, doing the holidays together makes the most sense — for their children’s well-being. Rather than two separate gatherings, divorced parents find a way to put the past aside, and celebrate all together. It takes some mental preparation and some compromise from both sides, but it’s possible to pull it off.

If you think you and your ex can amicably make a co-parented holiday gathering happen, here are some tips to set it in motion:

Make It About the Kids

This seems obvious enough, but sometimes the best intentions get in the way. In the process of planning (and potentially over-planning), parents can forget that the simplest of holiday celebrations are often the most memorable. Don’t plan doubles of every single activity just because there are two parents, or try to one-up your co-parent. Work together to come up with an uncomplicated, simple holiday celebration. Let each other make decisions, and keep the end results focused on what the kids will enjoy and remember.

“Divorce” Your Old Traditions

It doesn’t do anyone good to act like nothing has changed in the family dynamic. Your family unit is different than it was in the past, so don’t pretend otherwise. If there are a few traditions that your kids really love, stick with them, or decide which parent gets to do each one. Aside from choosing a couple of favorites, institute some new traditions that aren’t associated with memories of the past. Go to a new holiday event, or open a gift early on a brand new day. Cook a new meal, or find a way to volunteer all together. Don’t get stuck in a past rut; start new traditions that reflect your new family outlook and lifestyle.

Act Like an Adult

If any tension should arise during the holiday celebration, make a point to choose to take the high road. Ignore the situation, or find a way to discreetly handle it so the kids aren’t bothered. Prepare yourself mentally for speed bumps that could occur — and try to make a rule for yourself that during the holiday season, you will not sweat the small stuff (or, even some of the medium stuff). If there are issues that need addressing, wait until later to bring them up. Even the happiest family gatherings can hit a snag; roll with it, and keep your kids’ happiness and experience at the forefront of your mind.

Avoid Alcohol

The sight of your ex may make you want to reach for that beer (or something stiffer), but it’s better to do your drinking on your non-family time. Alcohol impairs judgment – that’s a fact, not a theory. It’s not worth risking an argument, or saying things you don’t mean, in front of your kids. Even if you trust yourself to drink a reasonable amount, for this particular event, you can be a calmer and more mature role model for your children if you abstain. Make a point to plan an adult outing soon after your holiday celebration, with some of your close friends or family members — there you can kick back, and release any of your holiday-related (or ex-related) stress away from your children’s eyes and ears.

Keep It Small

If either you or your ex has remarried, of course that spouse (and any other children) should participate — but beyond that, keep the co-parented portion of the holidays tight-knit. The more people and personalities involved, the greater the chance of arguments and tension. It’s also harder to concentrate on your kids when you’re busy entertaining other people. There is a time and place for larger family gatherings, but if you want to try a co-parented, combined activity, leave out the extra people. Allow yourself to focus on your immediate family only, and watching your kids’ happiness as they celebrate with both parents nearby.

The holiday season is a time for reflection, appreciation, and connection with your family. If you think you can make a co-parented gathering happen, reach out to your ex and ask. It’s not for everyone — but if you can make it work, your kids will love that you are all together, and neither parent will miss any precious holiday memories.

Leave a comment

Single Dads: How to Have a Great Holiday Season with Your Kids

holiday

The holiday season as a newly single parent brings a range of emotions, and you may find yourself flip-flopping between uneasiness, relief, and loneliness at times. The good news? You have your kids to spend time with and enjoy — and going through these new and unfamiliar feelings together can be a great source of comfort, both for you and them.

It can feel overwhelming to figure out how to give your kids the holiday celebration they deserve, particularly if your ex was traditionally in charge of holiday planning. Remember, what matters most to your kids is spending quality time with you during the holidays; not the number of presents, cookies, or holiday parties involved. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can have a wonderful family holiday — and make it one your kids will always remember.

Here are a few tips for making the holiday season really ring as a single dad:

Break — and Make — Traditions

This tip is important, especially if your separation from your ex was recent, and is still fresh for your whole family. Don’t try to replicate the exact same traditions you had before the divorce, or separation. Your kids likely have great memories associated with those past experiences — so leave those alone, and allow them to live on as wonderful memories.

Choose instead to start new traditions together. Attend a new holiday event, or buy new lights to hang. Get a few new Christmas tree ornaments, or Hanukkah decorations. Learn to prepare an unusual seasonal food together. Choose to do things that fit the personality of your new family unit — activities both you and your kids will enjoy, that will begin to form great memories of this new chapter in your lives.

Focus on Experiences

Most of us have enough “stuff” in our homes, and the truth is that many of the items and toys kids want one year are forgotten by the next. Instead of investing in more toys and electronics, which won’t truly soothe your family’s uncomfortable feelings this season, look for experiences instead. Take the kids on an unexpected trip, or visit a fun holiday attraction you’ve never been to. Make sure you iron out all the details with your co-parent ahead of time, so there aren’t any conflicts. Your kids will cherish the moments you spend as a family for much longer than any material gifts.

Ask Your Kids for Suggestions

Save yourself a few steps, and ask your kids what they would like to do (and receive) for the holiday. Perhaps there are activities you haven’t heard of, or special things they have in mind that you can do as a family. Coming up with new traditions can be a fun family activity — sit down and brain storm new ideas together. Perhaps take a trip to the nearest holiday or craft store, and let each kid pick out a few new decorations. Try to give each child an opportunity to choose an activity, either at home or in the community (within reason, of course). It’s possible that all they really want is to make cookies at home with you.

Stay Busy

You’re bound to feel a range of difficult emotions as the holiday season progresses, particularly when your kids aren’t with you. Plan ahead for these times, and surround yourself with pleasant or comforting distractions. Make plans with friends and loved ones, or just head out and enjoy a hobby or activity that you really love. Go to the gym, the movies, your favorite restaurant, or that new hobby shop you’ve been meaning to check out. Try not to dwell on the past. Get out and enjoy the best of the current season – both when you’re with the kids, and when you’re on your own.

Give Back

Bonding over shared community service is a great way to spend holiday time with your kids – and it will help remind them of all they have. Find volunteer opportunities that apply best to your family, whether it’s with local hunger groups, holiday toy collections, or even the animal shelter. Try to make a lasting tradition — maybe you can continue volunteering even after the holiday season has ended. Volunteering gives everyone (no matter what age) a good dose of perspective; and it truly feels good to help others, which can make some of your icky holiday feelings fade away.

Remember, your kids are the main reason you celebrate the holidays. Find ways to make them feel special, without going overboard with material items. When you aren’t with your kids, look for smart ways to take care of yourself, too — because when you take good care of you, you’ll be able to give your best to them.

Leave a comment

6 Family Vacations to Plan

As a parent, planning a family vacation requires some extra consideration. It’s not easy to blend fun and education, balance relaxing time with exciting activities for the kids, and throw in at least a few things that you want to do, too. If your kids are at different ages with varying interests, it can be quite overwhelming to try to plan vacation activities that all will enjoy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of destination spots that offer just the right mixture of kid-friendly attractions and grown-up fun. When you find the right location, full of opportunities for fun, learning, relaxing, and sightseeing, the trip practically plans itself.

We’ve put together a list of family-friendly vacation spots for your next trip. Now it’s just a matter of choosing one, packing your suitcases and travel essentials, and hitting the road for a fun family experience.

1. Florida’s Space Coast

If you’re looking for a fun-filled Florida vacation, without the hefty price tag of theme-park destinations, book some time on the Space Coast. This area on the east coast of the state is named for its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center, which families can visit and explore together.

When you’re not spending time marveling at the Space Center, you can build castles and soak up the sun at any one of the gorgeous shores — either in famous places like Cocoa Beach, or the lesser known spots like Satellite Beach. A trip to the Space Coast gives your family the opportunity to balance relaxing beach time with learning and exploration of outer space; a vacation that kids and parents of all ages can enjoy.

2. Chicago

For a big city experience that also feels down to earth, head to the Windy City. There’s a plethora of attractions and activities in Chicago (many of them free!), making the city a prime vacation spot for families with children young and old.

Visit the Magnificent Mile, and take your kids for a walk through the always-free Field Museum. The free Crown Fountains at downtown Millennium Park can provide hours of entertainment — make a full day of it, by pairing this with a free summer concert at Hyde Park.

Hop on the red line L and head to Lincoln Park to visit the renowned (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo — open 365 days a year. The city offers sports fans something for each season. Depending on the time of year, check out a Chicago Cubs/White Sox game, a Chicago Bears game, or a Chicago Blackhawks hockey match.

3. Yellowstone National Park

The National Parks Service celebrated its 100th birthday this year, and they are still providing memorable family experiences year-round. Yellowstone National Park is one of the best to visit with children, thanks to the many kid-friendly hikes and scenery. From hiking to canoeing to camping and more — a family can spend a day (or two, or seven) exploring the natural wonders of this relatively untouched area of American heritage.

Sights you can’t miss include the famous geyser Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic hot springs, and Upper Falls. Keep your eyes peeled for bison, bears, wolves, and sheep as you journey the park. If you plan to stay the night in the park, under the vast star-filled skies, make your reservations at least 6 months in advance.

4. New Orleans

Most people associate NOLA with some pretty adult activities, but the city is actually very family-friendly if you go in the off-Mardi Gras season. In Jackson Square, jazz sets the background music for street performers like mimes and jugglers. You’ll be surrounded by entertainment as you stroll through the enjoyable southern city air. Your kids will love taking a ride in one of the charming streetcars — many of the drivers share pieces of New Orleans’ history as you ride along.

For some educational fun, take the kids to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Zoo, and the Audubon Butterfly Gardens and Insectarium (you can even taste a bug if you want!). Be sure to stop in at the local restaurants to taste some of the rich Cajun food, and don’t miss the chance to grab a warm beignet.

5. Niagara Falls

These breathtaking waterfalls are just the starting point of a unique American-Canadian vacation. The Falls themselves boast 6 million cubic feet of water per minute – enough to silence even the feistiest of tiny travelers. Take a ferry ride to get up close and personal with Niagara’s misty spray!

Make sure your family has current passports on hand so you can experience Niagara Falls from the Rainbow Bridge – crossing from the American side to the Canadian, and back. During the day, expect to see rainbows shimmering as the sunshine hits the sprays of water. Then, walk back down at night to see the waterfalls lit up.

Whether you opt to stay on the Canadian or American side, there’s plenty to do on each side of the border – from children’s museums to miniature golfing. The natural beauty and magnificence of this renowned landmark make it a vacation your children will remember forever.

6. St. Louis

This Midwestern urban city offers plenty of small-town feel opportunities. There are many free activities for families in St. Louis, including the world-famous St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you’ve got young kids, opt for some hands-on fun at The Magic House, a children’s museum where your little ones can dabble in art, music, math, construction, and more. Take your little sports lovers to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, to soak in the atmosphere of one of the nation’s most-loved MLB teams. You can even tour the Anheuser-Busch brewery for free (kids may not care much for that one, though). Whatever your agenda, St. Louis has affordable options to fit the bill.

Leave a comment

5 Tips for Flying with Your Baby

baby's first flight

Babies on airplanes get a pretty bad rap, especially in the age of social media. You’ve probably read a Tweet or two about adults who had a rough flying experience due to a crying little one. It happens – but you don’t see Tweets about the many babies who sleep soundly through flights, or play happily with their toys.

At its best, flying with a baby is actually a fun opportunity to experience adventure with your child. You can’t guarantee your baby won’t make a sound, but there are things you can do to improve your chances of a smooth flight with your baby. Here are some ways to make that experience the best possible for you, your little one, and all the other people on the airplane.

1. Get to the Airport Early

Here’s a parenting truth all new parents learn right away: Everything takes longer with a baby. You’ll want to stop and change her diaper before getting on the airplane. Then, there’s getting your stroller and other baby gear through security, and a whole plethora of other things that simply take longer with a child along (everything from taking a bathroom break, to stopping to tie your shoe).

So, how early should you arrive for your baby’s first flight? At least an hour earlier than you usually do when traveling alone. If all goes well, and you make it to your gate early, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a few extra minutes of having leg room.

2. Pick a Family-Friendly Airline

When researching to book your flight, find out if the airline allows pre-boarding for families with small children. Check out baggage fees (some airlines charge for carry-on bags), and see if you have the ability to pick out your seat in advance. Knowing your seats ahead of time, pre-boarding with your baby, and having free carry-on items are all things that will make your trip much smoother. Airlines will not charge you to check items like strollers, or car seats.

You can see how some major airlines compare when it comes to kid-friendly features by looking at this chart created by Fatherly. If you book with an airline that understands and accommodates the challenges of traveling with little ones, you increase your odds of a pleasant and successful trip.

3. Fly with Your Car Seat

Many airlines allow “lap children” to fly with parents up until the age of 2 — meaning you don’t have to pay for a separate seat for your baby. While this is allowed, it isn’t ideal. For one thing, safety is at stake. If the airplane experiences unexpected turbulence, your child’s safety is at risk when he is on your lap without a proper way to be buckled in.

Aside from it being the safest option, a car seat also makes it easier for your baby to sleep, and ensure that he arrives happy and rested – not grumpy and tired. Yes, this means paying for your child to have his own seat; search for affordable flights during off-peak times, to help absorb the cost of the extra ticket.

4. Bring Plenty of Food

Sitting with a hungry baby, and no nourishment, in a cramped airplane cabin sounds like a parent’s worst nightmare. When traveling with kids, you can never pack too much food to-go (within reason for your carry-on bag, of course).

The type of food you bring along will depend on the age of your baby. If she is old enough to eat small finger foods, definitely pack them. Not only will these little snacks keep your baby occupied, but the process of self-feeding improves her motor skills.

If your child is not old enough for real food yet, have several bottles of milk or formula at the ready. Your child’s hunger won’t increase while flying, but having the comfort of food could soothe him. Don’t forget to pack some nutritious snacks for yourself, as well. When you’re famished, you’re more likely to be irritable and impatient — take good care of yourself, so you’re better able to take care of your child.

5. Try to Relax

There’s such a stigma surrounding flying with babies that parents may feel anxiety in advance, just imagining the things that could go wrong during the trip. The truth is that every baby reacts differently to flying – and if you are prepared, it may actually end up an enjoyable experience.

Get to know the passengers around you, be friendly and patient, and they will have a warmer attitude towards you and your baby. Allow yourself some relaxation, not only for your own wellbeing, but because your child will feed off that calm energy as well. When you give off a relaxed and contented air, your baby will feel less anxious and more relaxed.

Understandably, your first flight with your baby comes with some apprehension. It’s not easy to fly with a little one, especially if you’re doing it alone. You can’t predict what will happen when that plane hits the sky, but with the right attitude and preparation you can certainly improve your chances of a smooth flight.

Leave a comment

When Is it Time to Move on from a Job?

leave job

If you love the work you do, it doesn’t necessarily always feel like work. But if your career has you feeling burned out, overwhelmed, or perhaps even unsettled, you may be experiencing the telltale signs that it’s time to move on. When you believe that you have nothing left to gain in your position – or nothing left to offer – it can feel like you are stuck, going through the motions just to receive a paycheck.

Of course, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of malcontent or frustration in the workplace. Everyone has difficult days, and sometimes a challenge can be just what you need to kick your problem-solving skills into high gear to tackle an obstacle from a new perspective. But if your gut is telling you that something just isn’t right anymore, you may need to slow down and listen. Leaving a job can feel similar to the breakdown of a marriage or other relationship – when it’s over, you just know.

Listen to Yourself

If you were once excelling in the workplace and your performance has recently started to suffer, consider taking a step back to assess the situation. Have you merely become complacent in what you do, or have you truly outgrown your job? How do you know how to distinguish between the two?

For starters, listen to yourself. Were you once passionate about your job, eager to start your day and get to work? If you’ve since lost that passion, you may have also lost your motivation. If you dread going into the office and doing your day-to-day tasks, it can be difficult to change your mindset. When you’re experiencing feelings of burnout, it’s crucial to listen to your inner voice that’s telling you something isn’t right. Similarly, if your work no longer challenges you, you may find your mind wandering, wondering if your current position still fits your needs. In order to clearly assess the situation for what it is, be open to thinking it through and hearing yourself out.

Workplace Problems

There are many reasons you may be feeling uneasy about your current position or workplace. Do you work for a difficult boss who is eager to micromanage or undermine you? Or maybe your work environment fosters an unhealthy competition with your colleagues, where instead of focusing on collaboration, you believe they are out to sabotage you? If you don’t enjoy the work environment or office culture, you may feel like you don’t fit in. While there are steps you can take to remedy this, feeling like an outsider can become a problem when it affects your work and your performance. If you are unable to work collaboratively with those around you, you may be right – the environment just isn’t right for you, and you would be better suited someplace that values your contributions and insights.

If you enjoy your work, but you feel that you’ve hit a peak, you’ll need to determine if there is any possible room for growth. When there isn’t room for growth, start thinking about next steps and how a change in job – or company – better aligns with your career goals. If the only possible area of growth is a lateral career move – or perhaps in a direction that you don’t envision for yourself – you may also want to consider a change.

There are many reasons directly related to the workplace that can signify a reason to leave. When a company’s organizational structure begins to shift in ways that impact the employees in negative ways, you may begin to wonder if the change is in your best interest. If those around you are making a mass exodus for greener pastures, you too might be tempted to join the cause.

During difficult times in the workplace, it can feel natural to want to discuss the tension with your colleagues. Be wary of this – while it can be helpful to hear if your team members are feeling similarly, it can also be a double-edged sword. You don’t want your feelings to end up misconstrued or trailing back to your superiors.

In this scenario, it may be best to get an outside perspective from someone you trust and respect.

Your Health Is Suffering

You do your best work when you are feeling your best, but if you’ve been noticing the wear and tear of work-related stress, your body could be trying to tell you that something is not right. When we’re stressed, our bodies release hormones that send our nervous system into a state of emergency, causing our hearts to beat faster, our muscles to tighten, and our blood pressure to rise. While these changes are a natural response and can actually improve our strength and focus, they can also be detrimental to health if recurring over a long period of time.

Stress can also exacerbate existing conditions, which can include the following health problems:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Skin conditions

If your work life is impacting your health – whether it is physical, mental, or emotional – it may be time to move on and fit something that better suits your needs.

The job hunt isn’t always an easy path to go down, but if you find yourself spread too thin, frustrated by your surroundings, or just plain unhappy in your work, you owe it to yourself to begin the search. When you no longer feel satisfaction or a sense of achievement in your career, you could be on the verge of burnout, and it’s important to take action before it derails you. It’s critical to be proactive, listen to your inner voice, and take care of yourself. Keep in mind that work is what propels us forward to achieve our goals. If you aren’t moving in the direction of your dreams, then where are you headed?

How did you know you were ready to move on from a job? What advice do you have for others who may be feeling the same? Share your feedback in the comments section below!   

Leave a comment

What Does Divorce Do to Your Career?

divorce

People don’t get married with the intention of getting divorced, though according to recent statistics, about one-third of current marriages will end in one. While this is up from the popular myth that posits nearly half of all married couples divorce, it does not change the reality that divorce is a major life event, with frequently emotionally devastating results.

While it may be common knowledge that divorce can affect relationships with friends and family, the professional toll that divorce wreaks often goes unsaid. If divorce impacts all aspects of life, why should one’s professional life be any different?

If you have recently gone through a divorce or are wading through one currently, is crucial that you don’t let the negativity trickle into your work life.

Time Management

Divorce can have unfortunate consequences when it comes to time management. In addition to time-consuming meetings with lawyers and mandated court appearances, there are other constraints to consider. If you shared living quarters your spouse, for the sake of your own wellbeing, you will you need to find somewhere else to stay, whether crashing with friends and family, or finding a completely new residence. Regardless of where you end up, you must carve out the necessary time to make these arrangements.

If you need to tour a new home or apartment, you may be unable to relegate that to weekend time, so it is important to talk with your boss about this beforehand. Depending on your relationship with your boss, you do not need to be explicit about your circumstances, but make sure to explain how you plan to make up any missed work if you are not taking a temporary leave of absence or using paid time off. In either scenario, use your down time wisely so that you can return to work prepared to handle your job with a clear and focused mind.

Workplace Professionalism

Divorce is similar to bereavement in that it is a significant loss, and it will affect you in your day-to-day life, often in unexpected ways. It is critical that you are open to processing your thoughts and feelings, whether that means seeing a therapist, confiding in loved ones, or taking some time much-needed time for yourself. In this time of turmoil, you may find yourself seeking comfort from those close to you, which can include your coworkers. Regardless of your personal relationship with your coworkers, keep it professional at work and don’t divulge any confidential information. While your colleagues are likely to be sympathetic to your circumstances, the workplace is not the ideal place to let your emotions get the best of you. Do not take advantage of your colleagues’ condolences by making them uncomfortable with details of your marriage or your former spouse. Though you may request flexibility from your coworkers during this tumultuous time, consider keeping your private life just that – private.  

Health and Wellbeing

Though the emotional toll of divorce is quite taxing, it can take a physical toll as well. It is not uncommon for depression and anxiety levels to increase, which can cause a painful mixture of lethargy, hopelessness, and constant worrying. Men can also be at risk for developing heart disease following a divorce, as well as significant fluctuations in weight. Though the last thing you may feel like doing is exercising and eating well, taking care of your health is crucial during this difficult time.

Similarly, if you find your sleep suffering, consider visiting a doctor or therapist specializing in sleep disorders to set you back on track. With a lack of sleep, many men find themselves feeling out of sorts in the morning, appearing disheveled or poorly groomed in the workplace. If you’re trying to keep your divorce under wraps, the last thing you’ll want is your co-workers to grow suspicious about your appearance and behavior. Take time for yourself, and don’t neglect your health or wellbeing.

Going through a divorce can have many negative side effects, but the demise of your career shouldn’t become one of them. Maintain stability by keeping your work life constant and professional. Though divorce is unquestionably painful, you can get through it by taking care yourself and seeking the comfort of close friends and family.

Did your divorce affect your career? What did you learn from it? Share your advice in the comments section below!

Leave a comment

Navigating the Online World of Job Hunting for the First Time

job hunt

Being a single father certainly isn’t an easy job, especially when you’re on the  job hunt. The balancing act of providing for your children and getting in quality time with them is a delicate one, and when you add something as time consuming as a search for a new job into the mix, you may find yourself feeling overextended. Fortunately, you can optimize the time you spend job searching by understanding the ways the job hunt has changed.  

If it’s been a long time since you’ve looked for a job, there are a few things that you will need to know before you start looking. These days, a vast majority of companies seek new hires by recruiting online. While there are both pros and cons to this method, it is an unmistakable reality and should be taken into consideration before you’re ready to roll your sleeves up and get to work.

Going Digital

Because the recruitment and hiring process for a single job can be quite lengthy, even spanning over months at a time, employers have found ways to expedite their search by going digital.  This benefits employers several ways, chiefly in that allows them to cast a wider, yet more targeted net. They are also more likely to reach stronger candidates, as today’s job seekers can take advantage of searching online by creating job alerts and signing up for company newsletters that may feature job postings.  

Employers also benefit from an online recruitment through the use of applicant tracking systems. Applicant tracking systems are an online database, storing applicant information for employers to screen. Hiring managers can also use applicant tracking systems to update candidates on their status in the hiring process, notifying them if they are selected for an interview. Applicant tracking systems are a helpful tool for both employers and candidates, though they often require a fastidious amount of detail from job seekers.

Online Applications

For many employers, a resume and/or cover letter just simply isn’t enough. Today’s job applications are deeply thorough, often requesting a candidate’s full employment history, including an explanation for any gaps over the years, in addition to both personal and professional references with phone numbers, email addresses, physical address, as well as their previous and current job titles.  

Some employers will also ask for salary requirements, to be listed in the job application or stated outright in a cover letter. While this may be helpful to employers for screening purposes, it can backfire against applicants. Ask too much, you may be overlooked. Ask too little, and you may have sealed your fate by resigning yourself to low pay.  Furthermore, employers may even ask for candidate’s social security numbers outright, to facilitate background checks before a selection has been determined. Regardless of your level of comfort and notions of privacy, many employers will not even consider applications with any missing information that has been requested.

Social Networking Sites and Job Boards

Beyond online job postings, many companies today post about their open positions on their social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and predominantly, LinkedIn. While it may have been perfectly acceptable in the 1990s to inquire in person if companies were hiring, it is much more uncommon now, as companies today seek tech savvy professionals that engage with their companies online, expressing an interest in their social media channels by “following” or “liking” them.

Many companies also outsource their job postings, working with industry-specific job boards to recruit candidates from a specific field. Candidates may also have luck on job board aggregator sites, like Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com, which are often easy to navigate and allow users to search for jobs by a combination of keyword, salary, and location. You can also post your resume to these sites in hopes that a company may reach out to you first, but it is always better to be proactive as a job seeker.

Ultimately, the modern job seeker is thorough, sharp, and leaves no stone unturned. If there is a particular company that you desire to work for, always check their website first to see if they directly post their job listings. Whether you’re looking to change careers completely or advance in your specific field, do your research, know your competition, and have confidence that the right match will be made in time.  

What advice do you have for fellow single fathers on the job hunt? Share your feedback in the comments section below!

Leave a comment

Why You Should Consider Dating a Single Dad

single dad

Today, your chances of dating a man with children at some point in your life is quite high — according to a Pew Research Center study, there are about 2.6 million of them out there. While dating a man with kids comes with its own set of unique challenges, that doesn’t mean you can’t find love in the arms of a single dad.

In fact, many people who have tested the waters suggest that if you’ve removed single dads from your search for romance, you’re doing it wrong. After all, you’re unlikely to stumble across a more caring or selfless guy than one who’s spent years raising children on his own. There are many great reasons to consider dating a single dad over your traditional childless guy.

Single Dads Are Mature (Children Force us to Grow Up)

No matter your age, whether you’re in your 20’s or your 50’s, you’ve likely run into a few “man-children” in the dating world. You know the type: the single guy who goes out every weekend to the bars, who barely has a savings account, and whose fridge contains just a gallon of milk, a jar of pickles, and seven beers.

Not all single guys fit this bill, but you will encounter those who haven’t quite matured yet, and are still focused entirely on having fun. Single dads simply don’t have this luxury. As any parent will tell you, kids instantly put the world into perspective. When you meet a man who’s also a father, rest assured that any self-centered or reckless habits he had started dropping the moment he saw his first born’s face. A single dad has a specific set of priorities, and this means:

  • He won’t shirk responsibility. While other men might begrudge requests to pick up extra groceries, a single dad steps up to the plate — he truly knows the meaning of responsibility. He has little lives depending on him, and there’s nothing that teaches a person to to be responsible more than that.
  • He won’t shy away from serious conversations. Single dads don’t run a mile when important topics come up (“Do you ever want more kids?” or “Are we ready to move in together?”). They talk, listen, and make tough decisions every day. They know how important it is to discuss the difficult stuff.
  • He doesn’t invent drama. When there’s a child to take care of, people simply don’t have the physical or emotional energy to come up with pointless hang-ups. Nothing is a big deal unless it really is important — single dads have usually gained the wisdom to differentiate between the two.

Single Dads Can Look After Themselves (and You)

A single dad is handy, self-sufficient, and equipped to handle any problem that might arise. As a lone parent, he’s had to learn to be quick on his feet, and adapt to various situations. These are the guys that are ready to listen, fix things, and offer a helping hand whenever you need it.

Listening skills come in handy in romantic relationships — and single dads have them to spare. As the only parent available, he’s likely developed practically superhuman skills for listening, understanding, and supporting; when you talk, he’s going to hear you.

At the same time, he’s not afraid of embarrassment and he won’t get freaked out easily. If a single dad has little girls (or even boys, in some cases), you can bet he’s spent time getting his nails or makeup done. Raising kids teaches people about the strength it takes to let your sensitive side show. A single father is prepared to be goofy and humble at times, to put others first, and to take all of life’s “icky” moments in stride.

Single Dads and Single Moms Are On the Same Page

If you’re a single mom, then single dads should probably be at the front of your dating search; these are the only people who truly understand the effort required to raise children. Single fathers have been through a lot of the things you’ve been through, and they’re likely experiencing the very same heartaches and anxieties you struggle with every day. In other words, they’re the perfect person to talk to about your parenting concerns, stresses, and more.

You may be able to connect and laugh over stories of spilled milk, embarrassing restaurant outings, or tantrums in the mall. You’re better prepared to support and comfort each other in times of self-doubt, or in the challenge to juggle all of life’s tasks. Best of all, although dating a single dad requires the understanding that his kids will come first, he’ll also understand that your kids come first for you. Single moms in the dating scene know that not everyone is compassionate when you have to cancel a dinner date because your child is sick; or you’re late to the movie theater because the babysitter didn’t show up on time. A single dad gets it — more likely than not, he’s been there himself a few times.  

Parenthood changes everyone, and dating another parent puts you in a great position to find someone that you can connect with on a deeper, profound level.

Single Dads Are Looking for Serious Relationships

Single fathers aren’t trying to play the field, or add notches to their bedpost. They’re seeking mature, serious partners who are interested in a long term commitment. When you date a single dad, the reality is, you’re also dating his children; and introducing a new person to the kids is a huge and important step. The last thing any parent wants is to let their child meet a new romantic interest, only to have that person disappear next week. In other words, single dads are in it for the long haul.

A father is only going to bring you into his life — and his kids lives — if he really likes you, and sees a potential future with you. That does mean he may take the relationship at a slower pace than you’re used to, as he wants to get to know you closely before he’s ready to introduce you to the kids. Waiting a little longer before meeting the family or having a real sleepover is worth it, because you’re taking the time to get to know each other and determine if you’re truly compatible.

When you date a single dad, you’re making an investment into a life with this person. It’s about having fun, sure, but ultimately, you’re both looking to make love work — and in the dating world, that’s really as good as it gets.

Leave a comment