Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Recovering From the Indulgence of the Holiday Season

contributed post

Christmas can often be a time of indulgence. We all know this. We’ve all felt the after-dinner food coma, sleeping on the couch with a drink in our hand. We’ve all looked in the mirror and at the scales afterwards and wondered how so much weight came on so quickly. Celebrating with family we don’t see often except during the holidays can make us feel this way, so don’t worry about having a good time and indulging. Of course, we all need to get back on track after the holidays.

Here are some of the best tips  you can use to get back on track for the new year:

Diet

After eating all the turkey, goose, duck, or ham, plus other holiday dinner sides and desserts, you can put on some serious pounds. Drinking beers or cocktails can do the same. You might eat more than you usually do in a week because of special Christmas get-togethers and parties; sugary foods or other such calorific items can make you feel a little bloated. For this reason, going on a diet or making a commitment to eat healthy in the new year is your best bet. Which diet should you go on? Well, there are many things you can try. We’d argue sticking to some basics.

First of all, no fad diet will ever help you as much as watching the calories in/calories out method. Calculating the caloric maintenance you need to stay at the same weight, and subtracting 500 from that a day, on top of a little exercise will always help you lose weight and be healthy, unless you have a health condition. This is as complicated as you need to get.

You can also try intermittent fasting. After all, leftovers from the winter feasts might last a long time, and you might desire them more than anything. Try only eating within an eight-hour window, and fast for sixteen. This sounds quite intense, but remember you sleep eight hours a day on average. That means an eating schedule of 12pm to 8pm is all you need to keep to. There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting, including losing weight and reducing the risk of disease.

It also helps you burn more fat because of the period of time that your body goes without digesting a meal. The process is more complicated than that, but that’s it in a nutshell. Better yet? Intermittent fasting is easier to adapt to out of all the diets you could do, because with many diets, eating a limited amount of food can be dreadfully challenging in the first few weeks.

Detox

Many people consume plenty of alcohol during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, and of course, this is not healthy. Reducing the damage from an over-indulgent Christmas means limiting your drinking or completely ending it for a time. Think of going on a full body detox because it can truly help your body gain good ground in your pursuits of health.

A detox means preventing any intoxicants from entering your body. No booze, no smoking, no caffeine. Just water, healthy meals and maybe dietary supplements. This, coupled with getting plenty of sleep, walking in nature a few times a week, and exercising can help you skyrocket back to your old self and rewind the damage caused through indulgence.

Pets

That’s right, pets can indulge during Christmas too. You might not have realized how many little strips of meat you might have fed them under the table, or how many extra treats you have given them. Your lack of exercise outside might have resulted in fewer walks per week for them as well, meaning that assessing their health is important.

Consider giving them a different type of food that is more healthy for them. If you have been giving them too much for the size of the animal, consider lessening it a little. You can also try giving them fresh veggies for treats instead of the store bought kind. Check out topdogvitamins.com for some of the best supplements you can provide your dog with, in order to make sure their nutritional needs are being taken care of. Sure, your pet loves the holiday leftovers, too, but an overweight dog can have way too many health problems.

Get Active

Getting active helps to lose weight and feel more energetic. You’ve probably spent many days watching Christmas films and playing on your new electronics over the Christmas period, and now is the time to get outside. Consider going on long walks with your family around your surrounding town or village, and walk your pets more frequently, too. Some people will have to bundle up, but once you start walking, the weather won’t bother you so much.

Connect with family you haven’t spoken to in a while, and plan active outings instead of sitting in their homes to visit. Consider picking up a new habit in the new year. Starting martial arts, yoga or simply heading to the gym more often can do you all the good in the world and are all great ways to get out outside the house.

Catch Up On Professional Responsibilities

Your career has likely been on hold for some time over the Christmas period. This break can be well needed, and it might have completely refreshed your outlook. If you can, however, stay in touch with your business using your home office and catch up with your responsibilities one or two times during the holiday break. Maybe, you have some professional development you’ve been putting off. You might need to catch up with a few old clients or rectify a troubling situation. You might simply need to resolve your taxes before the new year. Make sure you schedule some professional time, too, and take care of anything you most need to. This can give you the best start to the new year, happy that you have nothing left pending or threatening to turn into a bigger issue. This can also refocus your mind in a much more positive way than working on a cold Monday morning when you return to work.

With these tips, your Christmas period should be bookended with positivity to make the entire indulgent period vindicated. We hope you had a blast and an even happier New Year.

Do you have any tips for recovering from the holiday season? 

 

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Doing Christmas At My Pace (By Amy Harke-Moore)

I am excited to share  this guest post from my good writing friend, Amy Harke-Moore. If you know Amy, then you know what a treat awaits you below. If you don’t know her or you do, but haven’t checked out her new site yet, then you should go here and soon! And what she says below is so spot on–I feel the same way…

Doing Christmas at my Pace

By Amy Harke-Moore

I have a confession to make. Although I often write about living the simple life, when it comes to Christmas, I’m like a starving woman at the buffet table. My inclination is to load up my plate with seasonal activities until it fairly overflows. Several helpings of shopping and lunch with family. A few spoonfuls of festivals, church plays, and recitals. A nibble or two of craft shows and fashioning my own ornaments. Cooking, baking, and making piled high on top. Parties tucked in around the sides. And if I carefully balance the plate just so, I might squeeze in that DIY Christmas tree project from Pinterest. . .

My December calendar can quickly spiral out of control. But here’s the unvarnished truth—I don’t have time for everything I want to do. Not even close. And even if I did, the result wouldn’t be pretty. I’d find myself overwhelmed, frustrated, and frazzled, complaining and enjoying very little of the season. I know this about myself: I need my downtime.

So how do I balance what I’d like to do, what I have to do, and what I can reasonably do with the time and energy available? I use the following tips.

Make a list of what’s most important. What do I want to do? What brings me and my family the most joy? Which traditions, events, foods, and activities do I want to include? Who do I want to spend my time with? These questions help me prioritize.

Of those parties and gift exchanges that didn’t make the main list, I decide which ones are obligations and which ones I can politely decline.

Embrace convenience. I buy frozen meals or make large batches of a family favorite for busy days when I have little time to cook. I’ve also been known to purchase the pre-made break-apart cookie dough when I need to bring something to a gathering. While I appreciate the time and effort it takes to make something from scratch—I do this often myself—I’m also equally delighted with those savvy shoppers who have a knack for finding just the right festive foods to bring to a party.

Do tasks incrementally. Often I’ll keep the wrapping paper, tape, and bows handy to wrap one or two gifts at a time. I also stretch out my baking over several days. My pickles and jams were made back in the summer, so they only need to be packaged for gift baskets. Breaking tasks into smaller parts keeps me from getting overwhelmed and frustrated.

Practice wellness. In the busyness of the season, it’s easy to let those daily good habits slide. To remind myself, I’ve come up with an acronym: REV—rest, eat healthy, vitamins. If I want to keep up with the extra activities I have planned, plus maintain a good attitude, I need to get enough sleep, make good food choices (mostly), and take my supplements. I’m also mindful to get plenty of water and some exercise. Being on the go this time of year usually takes care of the latter. If I feel the start of a sore throat or sniffles, I’ve got a tube of Airborne handy to keep me from getting sick.

Keep up the daily routine. Morning coffee and checking my emails. Reading. Unwinding in front of the television before bed—these are a part of my everyday life. They help me relax and stay sane, which goes a long way in keeping my stress level in check. My routine balances out the hectic times.

Remember the reason for the season. Spending time with the people I love and care about, giving to those less fortunate, attending church to celebrate Christ’s birth—these give my life meaning and put the “why” in the choices I make every December.

While I’m still tempted to load up my plate with the annual Christmas “goodies” of celebrations, crafts, parties, food, and fun, being mindful of what truly matters and prioritizing accordingly results in a less stressful more joyful Christmas not only for me, but for those I love the most.

Thank you, Amy, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Amy Harke-Moore is a writer and editor, living in rural Missouri. To find out more about Amy, please see her great About Me page on  her blog. It’s one of the best I’ve seen!

If you are desperate for some great holiday gift ideas, you need to check out her holiday gift ideas page! 

 

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Make Sure You’re Not Overspending This Christmas

(contributed post)

The festive period is many people’s favorite time of year; the family get-togethers, thoughtful gift giving, and the chance to unwind a little and enjoy delicious food, fun movies, and everything that Christmas brings. However big or small your family is, if you celebrate the holiday season, you’ll end up spending more around this month than you normally would. It can be challenging to cut back on expenses, especially when you see all those special presents that you can’t resist buying for the kids, your partner, or the rest of your loved ones.

Many people have enough other things to save for throughout the year, and the holidays will creep up and take you by surprise. Therefore, it’s worth having some ideas in mind about how you can cut back a little over Christmas and make smart financial decisions for your household, so that you don’t enter the new year worrying about cash. It’s never too late to start making better money choices and switching up the way you go about doing things. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and tips for those who want to be more mindful of their money this festive season, so that 2018 is something to look forward to.

How You Spend

Obviously, the best thing you can do regarding your festive spending is to plan as many months in advance as possible and begin saving in the new year. However, it’s already December, so you can put those plans into motion come January, and focus on the changes to make now. For large expenses, like specific gifts or the food shop, it might be worth popping them on a no or low-interest card. You can utilize a website to validate your card quickly and efficiently, and work out your weekly or monthly repayments before you’ve spent anything on interest. Make sure that you can afford your repayments and will be able to clear what you’ve paid for early on next year, so that you can better prepare for next Christmas. Paying for more expensive items in installments, before the no-interest period is up, is the best way to stop them impacting your bank balance.

How You Save

There are a variety of areas and ways to save at Christmas; you just need a little imagination and creativity. Think about the areas you could improve your festive period and save in the meantime. Home-baking and cooking from scratch are always a great way to show people that you care and are willing to put the effort in. Utilizing your own kitchen space might take a little more time; however, it’ll be far more affordable than buying everything ready-made from the store.

Handmade gifts and decorations are other ways to give your Christmas festive and unique touches without breaking the bank, so spend a festive afternoon crafting. Get the whole family involved, and see what they’d like to make for one another; you’ll end up spending less than you would heading out for Christmas shopping, so it’s well worth the effort.

Being wise with your money and time will ensure that you’re not worrying as you head into 2018 and can still have a fun and fulfilling festive period ahead.

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The Three Cs of Being Pregnant

The pregnancy process is one which demands much from you, both emotionally and physically. Your body will go through changes, which are both hard and easy to predict. We all know the cliches. You will be hungry for foods you never have or will never want to eat again; you will find it more difficult to get comfortable at night; and you’ll be greeted pleasantly by everyone you meet. Being pregnant is a wonderful time, but it does come with some challenges. In order to give your beautiful child the most healthy and strong start in life, it’s important to be diligent in looking after yourself.

There are so many different things to remember during pregnancy that it can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to look after your body, but prepare your home for the new child, emotionally and financially prepare, and organize your working schedules to best fit the expected day. We’ve crafted the following‘three Cs of pregnancy, which should help you keep everything memorable and streamlined enough to actually pull off easily. Here they are:

Care

Of course, you must take care of yourself. It’s easy to think this, but not actually plan for it. First, you need to focus on your diet. You are now eating for two, so be careful what you put in your body. Fast foods and high sugars are to be avoided, and well fibrous, vegetable and protein dense foods should be a component. If you can, switch to complex carbs, such as brown rice or whole grain pasta and bread. You should also supplement your diet with folic acid, and the right combination of prenatal vitamins – click here to learn more.

Caution

You must also be mindful of the way your body is now reacting to your day-to-day movement. Or course, it will be different, and you should note any changes and discuss them at your appointments with your obgyn. But there is no reason why you should not regularly exercise, unless your doctor says so. Cut any bad habits, such as smoking and drinking, as soon as you discover you are pregnant. If you are having trouble, then discuss this with your doctor also. Your doctor is your best resource for all your physical changes, and there is nothing that is “too silly” to bring up. Give your baby the best start in life by starting your loving care during your pregnancy.

Coordinate

Planning is one of the most important parts of pregnancy, and you have 9 months to plan for the new addition to your family. Discuss with your doctor your birthing plans and sign up to take a tour of the hospital, where you will deliver your child. Hospitals and obgyn offices often offer classes at a low fee for first-time parents and for moms who want to breastfeed. Coordinating could also mean learning about the duties of being a parent. Knowing how to burp, feed, change, and bathe a baby are all things, which take care to get right. Learn how much milk they need at different stages. Register with a preferred pediatric nurse in case any health occurrences should arise.

At home, decorate and detail the room for your baby. Think about ways you will need to baby proof the home because your infant will be growing and crawling before you know it. You might not need to cover up sharp corners or add baby gates to your staircases yet, but you may need to separate your pets, replace any toxic cleaners, and make sure the house is the correct temperature for your baby. Become focused in your planning. Your child will be here much sooner than you think.

With these three Cs, your child will be born to a loving, compassionate, safe, clean, warm and most importantly of all, prepared home.

What is a practical parenting tip you can give to expectant mothers that you wish you would have known when you were expecting? 

(contributed article)

Check out my holiday book sale here for personalized and autographed children’s books: http://margoldill.com/my-books/

 

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Having a Home You Can Really Write In

If you consider yourself a writer, whether professionally or not, you will probably be keen on having a home, where you can practice your craft. It is especially important if it is your living, of course, and that goes for you bloggers, too. The eternal question of what makes the ideal writing space is something all writers have considered at some point. As it happens, there do seem to be a few key characteristics which most writers would agree are essential. Let’s take a look at how you might be able to find a home that you can actually write in for hours on end or create this environment in your own home.

A Quiet Area

If there is anything that many writers adore, it is peace and quiet. Being able to work in a quiet, uninterrupted space is often golden, and it’s one of the first things you should look into at your home. This will usually mean that you need to try and find a room with a door away from a busy street, as being overly distracted can really detract from your craft. If you are lucky enough to be starting fresh and looking for a home or a condo, then you might benefit from using the help of professionals. Find a real estate agent and tell them what you are looking for. They should be able to inform you of a few key areas, which are likely to have what you are looking for.

Comfort

What do you need to be comfortable when you write? Make a list and see what you can easily fulfill. When you are uncomfortable, it can make it incredibly hard to keep writing, and certainly to produce anything of real value. We have all probably had experiences of writing in cramped little rooms in small homes or even in dorm rooms. While there might sometimes be a certain charm to such places, they are much less likely to be good for your productivity levels. What is usually much more beneficial is somewhere that is able to provide a good level of comfort with a desk, proper lighting, and a comfortable chair. The more comfortable you are as you write, the less distracted you are. This will enable you to not only get more work done on the whole, but also make it more likely to produce good work, too. After all, quality is everything.

Space

It’s possible that you will feel a need for some space as well, or at the very least, a space that you can call your own. This is not just in terms of being able to stretch out or walk around while brainstorming, although that can be useful! It’s also about having room for the many tools that often go hand-in-hand with the writer’s life.. As a writer, you will almost certainly build up a cornucopia of relevant (and not so relevant) paraphernalia. Having the room to store all of your books, papers, brainstorming tools, pens, and so on will mean that you can feel much more at home in the space. That, in turn, can most likely lead to more writing, which is something that everyone can truly appreciate.

It’s a great feeling when you feel you can genuinely write in your home without any worries – and for the professional, it can even be essential. In your home, what is your writing space like? Have you changed it over the years? 

(contributed article)

If you are in need of editing services, I am having a sale. Check out my other site, http://www.editor-911.com here. Prices are good through 1/31/2018. 

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Turning a Mean-Spirited Comment Into a Glass-Half Full Moment

Recently, someone said to me, “You’ve got it made. What are you complaining about?” I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of why that comment was made or what I was “complaining about”; but I’m sure just from reading that dialogue, you can understand this person was not being kind. This person was trying to say that I was selfish, self-absorbed, and ungrateful.

It’s stuck with me. I take things people say to me to heart; I’ve been accused more than once of being over-sensitive. For a while now, I looked inside myself to see if I was truly being selfish. So, with all this introspection and being a writer, I’ve been wanting to blog about this topic for some time; but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say about it or how I wanted to approach a blog post based on this particular mean-spirited comment.

And then today in the shower, it hit me. (Many writers and artists can attest to the fact that great ideas come in the shower!) I can turn this comment, which was meant to be an insult, into something positive. I can look at my life and see all the ways I am lucky and all the ways that I truly do have it made. I can control my reaction to this comment and what I want other people to read about it. And so that’s what I am doing.

I do have it made because

  • I am lucky enough to have an amazing 7-year-old daughter who brings joy, love, and energy into my home every single day. My life would be boring and meaningless without her.
  • Both of my parents are still alive and involved in my daughter’s life on a daily basis.
  • I have a full-time job with benefits, using my college degree, which is paid off; and I work from home, which is a huge benefit as a single parent.
  • I am able to run 2 to 3 times a week because I am able-bodied.
  • I can shelter, feed, and clothe myself and my daughter.
  • I have enough money to do fun things, like go on small trips or go to Six Flags with Katie.
  • I am a writer–I am lucky enough to get to write and people read it. (This is a true blessing.)
  • I have friends and family who love me, care about me, want to be in my life, and invite me to do fun things.
  • I have a dog to keep me company and to keep me walking, even on days when I don’t feel like getting outside.
  • I live in a country, where I have many freedoms and opportunities.

So that’s right, I do have it made.

Yes, of course,  I have struggles. Who doesn’t? But I’m not going to allow myself to be weighed down by them or by negative comments because life is too short and too precious to not see the glass as half full.

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Stay at Home Writer? How Not To Become a Hermit

When you’re asked by a new acquaintance what it is that you do for a living, and you say that you’re a writer, you can almost hear the cogs turning in their brain and you can visualize the images that flicker into their mind. Immediately, they picture you at a desk in a dimly lit room, sitting behind a laptop. There’s something slightly sinister about the scene of the reclusive writer, a la The Shining. While all work and no play doesn’t send you quite as cuckoo as Jack Nicholson, the life of a writer can be solitary; and finding the time to venture outside of your four walls can be tricky. However, you must resist the urge to become a hermit. Take a look at these ideal activities that will see you up and out of the house and enhance your writing.

Book Clubs

It may sound a little cliche, but it’s true that the more you read, the better the writer you become. As you read reams of novels from umpteen different genres, writing styles, vocabulary and literary devices flood into your subconscious. If you’re able to link up with a local book club, you can network with fellow book enthusiasts. This new network of friends can be a great support if you ever suffer a bout of writer’s block or if you just fancy popping for a coffee after a hard slog on your penultimate chapter.

Courses

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you can’t undertake professional qualifications related to your field of work. Research local creative writing courses in your area. You may find that there’s an evening class at a local college; or if you fancy something a little more formal, you could even enroll in a literature degree. If you feel that your English credentials are already top notch, you may want to branch out and take a look at studying something else that is wholly unrelated to writing but will keep your CV looking relevant. The latest top of the range VBA training classes or SEO introductory courses will keep your IT skills up to date, just in case you ever want to enter the world of full-time employment again.

Visit Schools

If you’ve been lucky enough to have had some of your work published, try and make links with some local schools. It doesn’t matter whether you write for children or adults, local education establishments will relish the opportunity of having a published author to engage and enthuse their students. You could take samples of your work, run a workshop, or create a school text in conjunction with the children. Sometimes, you are paid for these school visits. Make a name for yourself in this field, and you could effectively supplement your income from writing.

Becoming a writer is very much a vocation. The hours are long, you need supreme self-motivation, and the rewards aren’t instant. However, if you stay committed and break up some of your long spells at the laptop, you won’t ever run the risk of becoming the stereotypical writing recluse.

contributed article

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10 Ways to Prepare for Going on Maternity Leave

contributed article

Going on maternity leave is one of the most daunting and exciting stages of your pregnancy. You know that the end is near, your life is about to change forever, and you have months ahead of you to care for your little one. If you are passionate about your career as well, it is important that you start taking steps to prepare your company for your departure and pave the way for your return. Of course, you may find that your plans change somewhere down the line, but it will still give you peace of mind when you know that you have made all the necessary preparations.

Achieving a work-life balance is the ultimate goal when you return to your job again, which is something that more and more women intend to do. So, let’s look at some ways that you can prepare your company and yourself for your impending departure.

Learn More About Your Maternity Leave Rights

Maternity leave law is always being updated, so you need to know about your current rights with regards to how much time you are allowed to take off and how much you will be paid during this time. This maternity and paternity guide gives you more information on both counts, so it is certainly worth reading in detail. Once you have all the key details, you are in a much better position to move onto the next stage.

Inform Your Boss and Clients

Though you will be very excited to tell your friends at work about your big news, it is also a good idea to inform your boss at the earliest possible opportunity–preferably before your bump starts showing! Speak to them in person at first, and then you can draft up a maternity leave letter that details your intentions regarding maternity leave. Of course, these are just preliminary plans, which may adapt and change over time. You will also want to inform your clients about your big news, preferably with plenty of time to spare and when the plans about covering your absence are firmly in place. This way, you will be in the best position to talk them through how things will work while you are away.

Plan Your Leave

Once you know the date that you will be going on maternity leave, you can start preparing for your departure. Make a list of all your tasks at the company and who is going to take them over. If it is a current member of the team, you can start getting them up to speed as soon as possible. If someone is going to be covering for you on a short-term basis, you can make a document that helps them to transition into the role.

Crunch the Numbers

Making a detailed budget is always a good idea no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, but it is especially important if you are about to have a child. It may be quite challenging to calculate all your expenses in detail, but it is a good idea to make a rough estimate. You can then weigh this up against the amount of money that you receive from your maternity leave and any other sources of income. If you are able to accumulate some savings as well, it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in case your expenses turn out to be much higher than expected.

Plan Your Childcare

Though this may seem like a very early time to start planning your childcare, you can never be over-prepared. It is worth paying a visit to some different places to look at their facilities, as well as seeing how they operate on a day-to-day basis. You can also find out about their availability and how far in advance you need to apply. The other potential option is hiring a nanny, so it is also worth checking out the pros and cons of this particular approach. A nanny gives your child individual attention and care. On the other hand, a daycare center allows them to interact with other kids. A big influencer in your decision will be the standard of care available in your local area, and how yours and your partner’s jobs will fit around what is available.

Stay in the Loop at Work

In most workplaces, things tend to change at a fairly rapid rate, and it is worth keeping track of what is going on – even if it is just the occasional update from a close work friend. Even better, if you have a colleague who is just returning from maternity leave, you can find out the inside scoop about how easy or challenging it has been. Of course, when your baby arrives, you will find your attentions very much pulled in another direction. But if you are passionate about returning to work, it helps to keep up with what is going on. When it gets closer to the time to return to work, you could start coming in to have meetings with your boss about how you are going to manage the transitional phase together.

Create a Resources List

The balancing act of your family and your job is such a difficult one to get right. So, to give you a helping hand in this early stage, you can start pulling together a list of resources of people who can help you out in all eventualities. For example, someone who can clean the house, look after the dog, take care of the baby in an emergency. You are entering a daunting new world and you never know exactly which direction it is going to take you. Creating this list will help you to feel better about the challenges ahead of you. You will probably find that organizing your life becomes much more difficult when the baby arrives!

Wrap Up Any Outstanding Work

In the last weeks and days before your maternity leave begins, you should be wrapping up any projects that are still ongoing. Since babies are often known to arrive ahead of schedule, it is a good idea to deal with the top priority items first in case your little bundle of joy decides to make an early appearance! One of your final tasks will be to draft up an out of office email explaining who people need to contact in your absence. You can help out whoever is monitoring your emails by unsubscribing from any newsletters or email lists. Keep a note of them and you can subscribe again once you are back at work.

Make Arrangements for Your Return

Though nothing will be set in stone at this stage, you can let your boss and HR department know of your intention to return to the company. You can even create a rough outline of the transitional approach that you intend to take back into your job. Of course, nothing will be fixed as you never know the challenges that having a baby brings until you experience them first-hand.

Now is a good time to find out where your employer stands with regards to flexible working. More and more workplaces are embracing less rigid work patterns, so you may well be in a better position to fit your family life around your working life. Perhaps you could even arrange to telecommute on one or two days of the week. Rapid technological advances mean that this is becoming an option for an increasing number of workers. Of course, you should examine the pros and cons of this approach in more detail. For example, it can be very difficult to draw the line between your work life and your home life.

Be prepared that your mindset before the baby is born may be entirely different to your mindset afterwards. And after your return to work, be prepared that you may be treated differently in your workplace, so this could significantly impact your viewpoint towards your current employers. It is always worth thinking about the different pathways that could be available to you in a wide variety of situations.

Relax Before the Baby Arrives

Once you have done everything else on the list, the time has come to give yourself some much-needed relaxation time before the baby arrives. You may only have a matter of days or you may have several weeks ahead of you, but it is important that you give yourself the maximum time to rest before the baby arrives, as well as buying any last items you may need. Things will certainly change significantly afterwards.

Remember that all the plans you put in place should all have a degree of flexibility built into them. After all, you never know how they are going to shift and adapt over time. Draw as much support as you can from your partner, friends and family, and prepare yourself for what is bound to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life.

 

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying A (nother) Baby Product

If there’s one thing that women do while pregnant, it’s shopping. Shopping and expecting a baby seem to go hand-in-hand, and admittedly, most of those purchases are necessary. You’re going to have to fill your home with equipment and supplies you have never needed before so that you’re ready to welcome your new baby.

However, if you read enough guides, you will find yourself with a shopping list so long that it feels you will never complete it. How can a baby need so much stuff? The demands are endless, and naturally, every product manufacturer absolutely insists that their product is completely necessary. Of course, you want the best for your baby, so you buy… and then find yourself joining the ranks of parents who don’t use half of those so-called “essential” items.

Before your next purchase, it’s worth running a few questions through your mind to see if a product truly is needed, or if it’s one you can skip.

“Can I Envisage A Scenario Where I Will Use This?”

Many products will pass this question with ease; it’s simple to imagine when you’re going to use a breast pump or a toy that can also monitor your baby’s breathing while they sleep. More esoteric products, however, will fail this test, helping to shorten your shopping list in one fell swoop.

“Does This Product Fix A Problem?”

The majority of products will pass this test as well. Concerned about your baby rolling over while sleeping? There are plenty of baby pillows that can help fix that issue. Worried your baby is going to struggle to adapt to their new environment? Then you can look for the best baby sound machines to help meet that need. A huge number of baby products are expressly designed to meet the needs of parents, so this test is relatively easy to pass.

What won’t pass is decorative and novelty items. These items are nice, of course, and there’s no harm in having a few, but you don’t want to go overboard and stretch your budget as a result.

“Is This Something That Will Be Used Frequently?”

The most important products to buy are those that will be in constant use, such as baby monitors, strollers, highchairs, and car seats. These are the items that should command the majority of your budget.

However, if an item is only designed to be used in certain, infrequent situations — such as when your baby has a cold — then it’s wise to leave these products on the shelf for now. You can always purchase them in the future, when you’re experiencing the problem that these products are designed to ease.

In Conclusion

There’s enough shopping to do to meet the essential needs of your baby, so it’s important to avoid making life even more difficult by buying additional items that may not be necessary. If a product can pass the three questions above, chances are it’s a good purchase; if a product fails, then you might want to leave its purchase until a later date or not at all. With less shopping to do, you can focus on enjoying being pregnant, and look forward to greeting your bundle of joy!

 

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Writing and Editing Packages from Editor 911

Besides blogging on here about parenting, writing, and whatever else comes up, I also run my Editor 911 business. I have a site for Editor 911 right here. In honor of Cyber Monday, the holiday season, and designing my new site, I am presenting a few packages and sale items–the prices are good through January 31, 2018. Here they are: 

These sales and packages are good through January 31, 2018. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to request your package and receive an invoice. Payments can be made through Paypal or with a check/money order.

20 percent off any editing/proofreading service

Check out the regular editing prices by clicking here to visit the Services page. Through the end of January, you will receive 20 percent off these prices. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to receive a quote for your project and find out how much you can save.

 NaNoWriMo Package

Did you spend November writing a 50,000-word manuscript, which may be the beginning of a novel? Did you get halfway done and think–this is a mess–what am I going to do with it? Are you lost on how to turn your draft into a novel? Are you too close to it? Margo can help! In this package, she will

  • Read through your draft (up to 55,000 words). (Printed pages snail-mailed are preferred.) (Value $200)
  • Create a bullet point list of what works in the draft and what doesn’t. (Value $25.00)
  • Write a one-page letter on suggestions for revision and what to do next. (Value $25.00)
  • Schedule a 30-min Skype, in-person (depending on your location), or phone call meeting to discuss suggestions and answer questions. (Value $30.00)
  • 25 percent off on future services on this manuscript only (no expiration date). (Value= hundreds of dollars in savings depending on your future needs)
Cost: $199.00

Writing Coach Package

Writing coach sessions can be used to discuss writing career goals, hold yourself to a specific deadline, figure out where (and how) to submit your work, talk about your brand and marketing platform, create a marketing plan, or brainstorm plot ideas. For example, writers have used writing coach sessions to discuss a novel and stay on track with word count, to figure out how to market a book and follow through on these ideas, to discuss where to go next in a writing career, and more. These sessions currently cost $30 for a 30-min phone or Skype conversation and $50 for 60 minutes. If you purchase a writing-coach package, you receive a discount on the regular rate, and you can use the sessions at any time, where Margo’s schedule and yours coordinate. Margo will meet people in person if you live within 25-miles of her and are purchasing at least an hour at a time, and you would prefer in-person sessions. (She lives in St. Louis, MO). Sessions DO NOT have to be used before January 31, 2018, only purchased before that date–packages do not expire.

Package 1: THREE 30-minute (90 min total) sessions  for $75.00  (Value $90.00)
Package 2: THREE 60-minute (180 min total) sessions for $125 (Value $150.00)
Package 3: FIVE 60-min (300 min total) sessions for  $200 (Value $250.00)

Blogging/Website Help Package

If you need help setting up or maintaining a website, Margo can help with this! She uses WordPress and GoDaddy for this site and margoldill.com. She also uses Blogger to blog for WOW! At one time, she was the MO-SCBWI webmaster, and she also updates some pages on the Missouri Writers Guild website, as a member of the board. Websites are a necessity for today’s writer. She can also help you come up with content for your blog/website and write it. She is NOT a website designer, so these would be websites/blogs using the tools provided by WordPress or Blogger.

Regular cost is $50 an hour. Through 1/31/2018, you can save 20 percent–cost is $40 an hour. You can purchase hours ahead of time to save and use later at the sale rate.
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