How to Level Up Your Childcare/Personal Help (When Money is No Object)

how to level up your childcare | extended options for very busy momsIf you’re a busy working mom, good childcare is a must — but what happens when a nanny doesn’t even begin to cut it? How can you level up your childcare and household management? (Warning: this post is not terribly budget-friendly.)

I’ve wanted to talk about this ever since I read this post from Penelope Trunk (written in 2008 but I first read it more recently than that) about hiring a house manager — an entire position I never knew existed but would love to have if money and time allowed. So if you need more than a nanny, let’s review the “additional childcare options for very busy moms” that I know of (beyond, obviously, getting your husband to be an equal partner and sharing parenting duties)…

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The Best Gifts for Kids with Too Many Toys

The Best Gifts for Kids with Too Many Toys

Does it feel like your kids have too many toys? What have you done about it, if anything? Do you rotate toys so that everything’s not out at once? Yes, it’s a First World Problem, to be sure (too many toys! oh, the humanity!), but if you’ve got kids with too many toys, you know the drill: Stuff often ends up all over the house, many toys sit unused in storage bins for months (or years), and, maddeningly, new toys that are begged for are often played with for a couple weeks and then abandoned.

Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less wrote an essay in 2012 called “Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away (& Why They Won’t Get Them Back)” that went viral, and it’s worth a read. She explains why she took away her kids’ toys after getting tired of them not cleaning up their room and noticing that they kept wanting more and more “stuff” without being satisfied with what they had. She donated more than half, kept some, and put a few toys on high shelves in her daughters’ bedroom — and she started taking out one at the time for her girls to play with. A year later, Soukup wrote an update and answered some common questions from readers, like “What are your guidelines for the toys that you keep?” and “What do you do about birthdays & holidays?”

This season is a great time to talk about this issue! Here are some ideas of gifts to give kids who have too many toys, focusing on experiences rather than physical things:

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Do, Delegate, NOPE: Holiday Edition

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on holiday delegating ideas, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Let’s brainstorm, ladies: what are some of your best ideas for holiday delegating (or ignoring altogether)? I was thinking about that old game “F–, Marry, Kill” the other day (maybe it had something to do with our celebrity crush open thread over at Corporette) and thought we should start a new series here on CorporetteMoms that’s kind of in the same vein, but about work/life balance instead. For the moment we’re calling it “Do, Delegate, or NOPE.” Here’s the idea: as working moms we all have a ton of things on our calendars and to-do lists at any given time — some can be delegated, some ignored, but some you have to do yourself (or want to do yourself). We’ve talked about being overwhelmed at the holidays, picking the best gifts for your child’s teacher, etc., etc. — but let’s talk about the holiday to-do list in general. These are your options:

  • do — do it yourself, either because you enjoy it or want to make sure it gets done right
  • delegate — outsource/assign the task to someone else (partner, caregiver, third party) because you can
  • NOPE — just ignore the task completely because there’s no room for it in your life

I drew up a list of holiday-related tasks for moms, and you can comment below. For each category (do, delegate, nope), choose at least one of the tasks in the list. (It has Christmas-related things on there just because it takes a lot of bandwidth for me personally, but if you follow another religion please use those to-dos and traditions as well!)

I’m hoping this will be kind of fun — but maybe also we can learn a little from each other, recognize that some things can be delegated, and so forth. It can also be a helpful list to sit down with your partner at the beginning of next year’s season and say “OK, these are the things on my radar — what can you do, what can someone else do, what can we ignore?”

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Seasonal Decor — and Working Moms

Seasonal Decor and Working Moms | CorporetteMoms2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on seasonal decors and working moms, but you may also want to check out all of our posts on holiday business etiquette.

Ladies, how much do you get into seasonal decor around the house? Do you feel like seasonal decor is harder in some ways for working moms? I’m starting to get into it — when we visited relatives in Texas, my husband’s cousin had the entire house decorated for Halloween, and my older son really liked it. I’m just starting to collect stuff, and it feels like this IS the season — you’ve got Halloween decor, followed by fall harvest/Thanksgiving decor — and, if you celebrate, Christmas decor. (Pictured.)

I like the idea of making our home look nice for the various holidays, and I like the tradition aspect of things, but I will admit, it does seem kind of onerous from a few different angles:

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Three Companies That Rent Baby Gear for Travel

Three Companies That Rent Baby Gear for TravelParents learn very quickly that going anywhere with a baby requires a lot of “stuff.” If you’re talking about going out to dinner and bringing a diaper bag packed with supplies, that’s not so bad, but family vacations are another story. If you’re traveling somewhere (say, an Airbnb) rather than visiting friends or relatives who already have baby gear you can share or borrow, you’re likely to find yourself with a long list of things to bring: carseat, Pack ‘n Play, stroller, baby carrier, etc. — and that’s a huge hassle, especially if you’re flying with kids. Have you ever used a service that rents baby gear for travel? What did you rent? (Do you have any other strategies for dealing with a need for baby gear on a trip?) As the holidays approach, we thought we would round up three companies that rent baby gear for traveling families:

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Vacation Planning: How Early is Too Early?

vacation-planning-a-year-in-advanceI’ve mentioned before that I’m not great at planning family vacations. Now that J is in kindergarten, though, the school year feels a lot more constraining on our schedule… and I realize it’s only going to get worse from here on out. In order to try to force myself to plan vacations, my husband and I just picked a few things we know we want to do, are divvying up the planning work, and we’re trying to block the year out ahead of time so we know what’s what, with school schedules and other major dates in there.

I’ve heard a bit about “year planning,” as well as about planning way in advance for some trips (I’ve read articles that suggest you plan Disney 9-12 months in advance!) — so I thought it might make an interesting discussion here.  So: Do YOU plan your year in advance, including visits with far-flung relatives, vacations, mini-trips, date nights, etc? Do you go by the school year, calendar year, or something else? If you have grandparents far away do you try to visit them, have them visit you, or explore a new place together? Does this help you stalk ticket prices/hotel prices and the like, help you with planning (or outsourcing planning), or otherwise mentally help you plan? (For those of you who’ve been doing this a while, are there major pitfalls to watch out for?) I had found a summer planner earlier this year that really saved me this summer (I can’t find it now, of course), and we just had a nice discussion about the best planners and planning tools over on Corporette, so I thought we’d discuss here.

(A blogger’s blogger who I follow, Michael Hyatt, has a single Excel spreadsheet that looks awesome for planning your year — it’s from 2013 but you just have to update one cell to the correct date and it automatically changes the dates to the current year.)

Ladies, what say you — are you this ahead of the game? Does it make division of labor easier or harder for vacation planning, as well as for requesting work vacations and more? 

(Pictured: Private collection; all rights reserved.)