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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Your living room is one of the more important rooms in your home. It is where you and your family gather to watch a movie or just hang out and spend time together. It is also where your guests gather when you have friends or family over for an evening. With all of the traffic and wear and tear that your living room and its furniture see on a regular basis, you might be thinking that it could use an update.

Flooring, sofas, and chairs can all begin to look worn after a few years, particularly if your living room sees a great deal of use. Ultimately, though, the thought of changing things up and making changes might make you worried about how much such a project would cost to complete. However, if you are ready to freshen up your living room, you don’t have to break the bank.

Start by setting out a reasonable budget for yourself that you are comfortable with. Once you know what you can spend, you would be surprised to find just how big of a difference you can make with just a few simple changes. 

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your living room upgrade budget.

 

Be a Savvy Shopper

Some people are naturally savvy shoppers who can find a deal no matter what they are shopping for. Most people, though, have to put a bit of effort into finding those deals and making the most of a budget. The process requires some research and patience waiting for sales at times, but when it comes to a project like a living room upgrade, you will benefit the most by adopting some savvy shopping practices.

Start by comparison shopping for the items that you need. If you want to change out your sofa, take your time to compare costs at a variety of stores. Just because you have to make a bit of an investment into a new sofa doesn’t mean you need to overpay. If your vision simply includes some new throw pillows and art for your walls, you don’t need to go overboard on these surprisingly pricey items either. Make use of some Macys coupons to find great deals on the décor items that you want.

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Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Jul
09

How to Successfully Work from Home

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Working from home can be either a blissful or a frustrating experience. Depending on the type of job you have — or if you’re unaccustomed to making your home your office — working from home comes with its fair share of challenges. 

Below we outline a few ways you can successfully work from home without losing your sanity.

Design a Space Just for Work

Despite how obvious it may sound, some people overlook this point entirely. If you’re someone who has suddenly been forced to work remotely rather than head to the office, working from home might simply mean taking your laptop and stationing yourself on the bed or sofa. The problem with this is that the environment is likely not conducive to boosting productivity. Whether it’s distractions from other members of your household or a poor seating arrangement, a bad environment will not help your creativity. 

If you have space to do it, carve out an area of your home that is designated just for work. Do whatever you can to set up a comfortable desk situation and surround yourself with objects that increase your contentment. If you don’t have a table or desk to sit at, consider investing in one, as well as a comfortable chair. You can find relatively cheap desks available at department stores such as Kohls. Complete the look by investing in some Kohls coupons to furnish your workspace even more with lighting, essentials for work, stationery, or other objects.

Create Boundaries

If you live with pets, children, or multiple people, creating boundaries is a must. The last thing you need when you’re working from home is for people to be coming and going, creating an unwelcome distraction. Where possible, try to set limits with your kids in terms of your workspace and find ways to ensure that you aren’t disrupted by noise, movement, or people talking at you. Read More→

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Jun
15

Earth Manager

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerI’m writing this during the Corona Virus Pandemic, also known as the Global Covid-19 Crisis or other great names that combine those terms.  I’m sure future generations will read this blog and race to their holographic encyclopedias and see recreated images of people stuck in their homes using social media on handheld phones.

Oh, yeah, and view holographic images of people reading this blog. — How meta.

I’m not sure how much the prevalence of memes will make it into the future holographic history curriculum.  If you get on social media much during this quarantine, then you are aware that people have nothing better to do than to make funny pandemic memes, and to eat snacks.

Many of the memes I’ve seen reference one of the pleasant repercussions of a majority of the populace being confined to their homes:  Nature is flourishing.

If I can believe what I see on social media (note to future generations, you actually can’t believe MOST of what you see on social media), then dolphins have been seen swimming in the canals of Venice, Italy – an area with water pollution so bad that hardly any marine life would visit the area.  I saw a picture today of a swan also in Venice.  Someone posted a picture of deer in a different city, and baby ducks crossing the road in another metropolis.  Nature is abounding everywhere in the absence of people and pollution.

The pictures might be fake, but I hope they aren’t.  Because . . .  and here is the tie-in to Dads . . . it’s our job to take care of the planet.

You probably think I’m talking about that one time that your daughter found a baby bird that fell out of the nest and you spent all night making a wooden nesting box for it and helping her feed it with an eye dropper.

Or the time that your son came to you with a moth crawling on his arm and wanted you to help find a box to keep it in.

But actually I’m talking about the Bible.  Yes, again.

Genesis 1:28 — God blessed humans and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

This verse is a command from God at the very beginning.  “increase in number” – that part is pretty easy and humans have done that well.  We’ve ‘filled the Earth.’  Check.

The other part of this directive is a little more subtle.  “Subdue it.”

I live in West Virginia currently and like to poke fun at the general populous.  I’m not worried about teasing West Virginians in this blog.  You know why?  Most of them can’t read.

See what I mean?

There are probably a group of ‘good ol’ boys’ that populate the hills that would read the Bible verse above and think that “subdue” means to dominate, kill, trap, pen up, and subjugate.  No, scratch that; they wouldn’t know what subjugate means. . .  (yes, I did it again).

The word subdue in this verse actually translates better to “manage.”  As dads we are managers of the kids.  My blog talks about that a lot.  We manage their activities and resources.  We wisely guide them into success.

No good manager wastes resources, abuses their employees, and purposefully demoralizes them.

The command to ‘rule’ over the animals is in the same spirit.  God wants us to be a benevolent king over the animals.  We should be the kind of ruler that we wish we were if we were ruling over us.  –How very very meta.

Any time is a good time to emphasize this with your kids.  If it’s a moth or a baby bird, it’s our job to be a good manager or kind ruler to the environment God gave us.

Let me emphasize this with an analogy:

Zucchini.  You mulch and till and fertilize some soil, then you plant zucchini.  If you then plant zucchini in your garden it grows, and fruits, and pretty soon you are swamped with zucchini.  After you’ve eaten it, and frozen it, . . . and given it away to your neighbors . . . and secretly put baskets on your neighbors doorsteps . . .  then, it’s time to throw some out in the garden and let it become nutrients for the wild animals and till it into the soil next year.

Yes this is an analogy about being a ruler.   West Virginians would probably miss it, but you didn’t.

You can eliminate some zucchini and it helps the rest of the zucchini grow.  You can share zucchini and use zucchini.   You can appreciate, grow, and cultivate zucchini.  – all of these things are part of being a king or ruler of the zucchini garden of our Earth.

How can you, as a dad, help your kids be benevolent dictators to our environment?

Kid:  Hey dad, I’m roasting ants with a magnifying glass.  Isn’t it cool?

Dad:  Actually, if I was an ant, I’d hate to be roasted.  Maybe we could see if the magnifying glass will start a fire with this dead wood?

___

Kid:  Hey dad, look I caught a whole jar of fireflies!  I’m going to keep it by my bed tonight as a nightlight.

Dad:  That’s cool, but I bet those lightening bugs won’t be able to breathe in that jar and will miss their families.  Let’s show everyone your light jar for a moment and then let them go out in the woods.

___

Wife:  There is a spider the size of a small dog in the bathroom.  Go kill it.

Dad:  Are you kidding, I’m not going in there with a scary spider.

___

As much as I like to make fun of people in West Virginia, there are a lot of great people here.  One guy that came into my office and was talking about hunting, fishing, and trapping.  He expressed how much he loved being in God’s creation.  On his outings, he took his kids to have the experience with him.  Sometimes he shared that hunting and fishing were helping new baby animals survive and have enough food to eat.  He emphasized that you had to be responsible and maintain your traps every day, and was very stern about his role of being an outdoorsman that cared about the environment.

You may not agree with hunting, fishing, or trapping, but I definitely agree with the way he emphasized sharing the importance of managing the environment with his kids.

This command God gives us to ‘fill the earth and manage it’ is the first instruction he gave to humans on our planet.  It’s our job as dads to pass on this first instruction to our kids:  be a kind king to the biology and environment of our planet.

That way, we won’t need a global virus to remind us to manage nature well.

After you’re done reading this article, brainstorm with your kids on how to manage your personal environment well.  You might live with acres and acres of yard, or you might be in an apartment limited to a potted plant on a shelf.  We all have ways in which we rule over earth, and parents have the responsibility to model being a good earth manager.

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Jun
10

How to Choose a Business to Run From Home

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Working from home is ideal for a lot of people, with managing a successful home business becoming more and more achievable every day. There are multiple business opportunities that you can choose from to kickstart a new career for yourself with just a few simple ideas. Whether you start up a business offering something you are already passionate about or put a brand new idea you have to work, choosing a business to run from home is easily done with some brainstorming and planning. 

Find Your Passion

Creating, selling, or offering a service that you genuinely love will benefit your whole lifestyle in the long run. Determine what you are passionate about, maybe you have a hobby like photography or maybe you have a fantastic eye for clothing design and textiles. The advantages of offering services for something you truly enjoy are many, as making sales and advertising is more likely to come naturally and easily. Don’t be afraid of exploring new ideas and topics if you can’t think of something you have a strong interest in right away. 

Choose a Business Idea that will Sell

Coming up with a business idea is the step that should require a decent amount of thinking and planning. Picking something that is highly sought after will make it easier for your business to grow and develop a target market. This could be something like a childminding business, tutoring in one of your skills, or caring for people’s pets. 

Develop a Plan

Having a business plan is a crucial part of setting up your own business. Take into consideration your finances, how much it will cost to start the brand, what equipment you will need to get started, how you will create and manage your website, the best advertising platforms to use, and your overall goals for the business. You may need to think about how you will fit running a business from home into your daily life, for example, if you are a stay at home mom (or dad) it is still absolutely possible with a structured plan in place.

Buy an Existing Business

Buying an existing business rather than starting up an entirely new one all by yourself has a lot of benefits and can overall make the whole process of starting and running your business much more straightforward. An established brand usually comes with a website, loyal customers, suppliers, networking contacts, and all the resources that are needed already in place. You can find a number of businesses to purchase right away, making it much less complicated to pick your brand. Using a website like Exchange Marketplace will create a very limited amount of work when it comes to setting up, advertising, and growing the company, which will save you a great deal of time. 

Overall, choosing a business to run from home is easily done even if you do not have a specific skill or idea to start with. All it takes is efficient organizing, planning, and outlining what your goals are, what you will need, and what kind of market you want to attract.

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May
27

3 Ways In Which You Can Boost Your Childs College Application

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College application season can be nerve-wracking for parents. You want your kid to get into the best school, but you may be wondering “Did I do everything I could?” That’s why you may want to consider talking to your child early on about how to boost their college application and find ways in which to maximize their chances of getting into a good school. Here are some ways that you can help your child get ready to apply to college. 

 

  • Consider private tutoring to improve their grades

 

Grades are important if your child wants to get into the best colleges. While it’s true that college admissions teams don’t just look at GPA, they will usually have a particular range that they are looking for, so if your child’s application is amazing but they fall short, then they have little chance of getting in. Even for schools with a high acceptance rate, a 3.0 GPA will be expected.

Most kids have subjects in which they struggle, so consider getting them some tutoring. The earlier you can do this, the better their chances of bringing up their average grade.

 

  • See if they are talented enough for a scholarship

 

If your child has a particular talent, such as being an amazing musician or athlete, then they may be able to get into a good college based mostly on their skill level. While they will still have to meet certain requirements, such as a decent GPA, colleges are often more flexible when it comes to talented individuals such as student athletes, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about the cost of your child’s education. Visit asmscholarships.com and you’ll see that there are a huge range of potential scholarships for student athletes, from basketball, to baseball, to lesser-known sports.

 

  • Ensure they have some good extracurricular skills

 

Extracurricular activities can turn an average application into an amazing one, but there are some points to bear in mind:

  • Try to encourage your child to choose at least one of the extracurricular activities that colleges like. This includes any sort of academic team, student government, debate and the arts
  • Get them started early—many seniors try to cram in extracurriculars at the last minute. This leaves them stressed and it doesn’t look good on their application
  • Encourage them to take on a position of responsibility—if they can become treasurer, secretary, president or captain of a team, this can impress admissions teams

Ideally, kids should do activities that they are interested in, otherwise they may not stick with them. However, they should also think about the kind of major they are interested in and also try to choose some relevant activities if possible, in order to make the most of their extracurriculars.

College applications are tough, and it’s important that your child is well-rounded and can show they have a lot to offer to an admissions team. While grades are important, what they do in their spare time is too, and if they can show they have a genuine love of the subject, then they have a better chance of impressing the top colleges.

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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May
11

Science Fair Push-Back

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerTeaching our kids to be assertive is one of the most challenging tasks of being a dad.

 Having an assertive adult as an end result is great!  Raising an assertive kid . . . is not so great.

 First I probably need to clarify this word “assertive.”  I’ll do it, using the 3 Little Bears analogy (which is, one of the great analogies of all time):

 . . . And Goldilocks tried being Aggressive, means being hostile, exploitive, and coercive to get what you want – but that was too much and she drove people away.

Then Goldilocks tried being Passive, which means deferring to other people, even when you have strong opinions or desires, but that made her have low self-worth and low self-esteem.

She even tried being Passive/Aggressive, a technique that involves deferring to people (giving in) . . . but then finding some other way to get what you want. — usually through means that include being quietly hostile and exploitive.

But then she tried being Assertive.  It’s speaking directly and honestly about what you want and trying to get it by collaborating with people and communicating clearly.

And it was juuuust right.

 After that, the three bears came home and wondered why this blond girl was in their house debating active ego communicative strategies . . .

The point is that we’d obviously all love to have our kids grow up and be assertive.  We want them to strive to achieve without achievement being their identity, and to tell the truth they believe boldly, and to work toward solutions that include others.  Learning that process throughout childhood is rough on parents for several reasons:

Kids go to each extreme while they are trying to find the sweet spot of ‘assertive’

How do kids achieve the ‘balance’ of assertive?  They try out being aggressive.  Then they evaluate the effectiveness.  Then, they try being passive and evaluate the effectiveness.  Each one of their ‘tries’ results in a swing of both mood and communication.

Kids want to practice with you . . . at home

As a dad, you’re safe.  So, kids want to use your relationship as a ‘sandbox’ to try out different kinds of communication strategies.  If they work on you, then they try them on their friends.

Parents are not assertive themselves

Some parents never really adapted the ‘just right’ of being assertive.  So, knowing how to respond to a kid that is being aggressive, forthright, or passive creates an internal struggle.  Many parents that grew up in an abusive household react with anger or let their kids become the dominant force in the home.

Parents get offended by kid assertiveness

Some people, and I’m calling out ‘Boomers definitely,’ were raised with the idea that anything less than quiet docile obedience was wrong.  “Why in my day, I’d be slapped across the room if I said that I didn’t like castor oil.”

There are positive strategies to help your kids develop positive self-esteem and self-worth through practicing and learning assertiveness:

Reward their assertiveness

When your son/daughter hits that ‘just right’ area of assertiveness, point it out and praise them.   “Hey, I noticed that you told your friend that you didn’t like gummy worms even though all your other friends were saying they were good.  That’s good to speak up directly for what you like and don’t like.”

Model assertiveness

As a parent, do a self-check on how you interact with others, especially when they are demanding.  Practice being assertive with others and your kids will see you.

Have them practice assertiveness at school

This point is where the title of this article has been generated.  It involves a story . . .

One summer in Florida a turtle crawled out of the swamp and laid eggs in our front yard.  Right place/right time – we filmed it.  Then, to our horror, when we were taking the dog out in the evening, we caught a raccoon in the process of digging all the eggs up and eating them.  We chased the ‘coon’ off and rescued 4 eggs.

I came up with the idea, “Why don’t you incubate these eggs, two inside and two outside, and document it for this next year’s science fair?”

So that started the process of carefully incubating, measuring, and checking two sets of turtle eggs . . . for months.  Seriously, turtle eggs take 3 ½ months to hatch.  When fall came, my youngest son had an incredible biology-focused science fair project.

. . . . then, someone complained to someone, and someone went to the bureaucracy, then . . . someone from the School District called me.  The concern was that, in the future, kids might try to do experiments with animals and accidently hurt them.  So, my son would have to do a whole new Science Fair project because turtle hatch was not allowed.

My feelings were not assertive at that point.  Nor were they ‘passive.’  I immediately defaulted internally to Incredible Hulk mode.  However, I needed to model how to maintain composure, and thank God (thank you God) that He gave me the strength to clearly outline how punishing my son currently for a policy they were making for the future was inappropriate.  I had to ask to speak to the District Superintendent, and went through the whole thing again.  The Superintendent deferred to the local elementary school for how they would ‘enact this new policy.”

That’s when my son was suddenly on the front lines with having to be clear and forthright to his teacher.  He had to stick to the work that he did.  He had to clearly say that he wasn’t doing a ‘whole new’ experiment, and he had to boldly, but kindly, defer any teachers to talk to me.

Then we both had to go and meet with the Principal.

Two points to this:  Never do a science fair with turtles!  And the other point:  I’m SO GLAD that he practiced being firm and forthright with someone else rather than me.  I was with my kid almost every day telling me “I don’t want” and trying to negotiate a change in my decisions, and giving up on speaking up with kids and his brother.  I was elated that he was doing all this practicing with someone else for a change.

I’d rather the school personnel, that I pay, deal with my kids learning assertiveness – that way I can

  • Back my kids up
  • Advise them from the sidelines

Advising from the sidelines could be another whole topic in itself.  This is going to need at least a follow-up article.  I can see many of the dads that read this column plunging into the realm of Assertiveness totally unprepared.  Which, is actually the main idea with ‘practicing’ assertiveness.   Once again, let me know how it goes with your kids.  The comments are open; assertiveness is a project just like a science fair.

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Apr
27

Opposite Logic

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerToday’s article is up for you, the reading audience, to ratify.  It’s all based on logic I learned from the 90’s sitcom, Seinfeld.

Jerry Seinfeld : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George Costanza : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

 

I thought of this when I was switching roles with one of my counseling clients.  Dads do certain things.  Moms do certain things.  If a mom comes in and has a hard time getting a grasp on the dad perspective, I ask us to pretend and switch roles.

It’s a helpful technique if a mom is singly raising kids, because she has to routinely act in the role as both dad AND mom.

. . . I even have a ladies’ wig I put on during session to do the play acting.  — Yes, I’m a riot.

Anyway, I hear a lot of women say that their instinct and role is to be “the caregiver” — the one that keeps the kids safe and protects them.

So, using the Seinfeld logic, the Dad role would most likely be the opposite of the caregiver:  letting kids be independent and having them experience dangerous and unsafe situations.

It’s just a working theory at this point.  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments or e-mail me.  But let’s look at how such logic would flesh out for Dads (or dad-figures) . . .

 

Kid:  Wants to learn to skateboard

Motherly instinct:  Protect child at all cost!  Skateboards = death.  Child should instead pursue quilting.

Dad:  Do it!  Bones heal and chicks dig scars.

___

Kid:  gets a role in the school play

Motherly instinct:  Help them rehearse their lines and help them make a costume

Dad:  “Break a leg.”   I will come to the play and film the whole thing.

____

 

Kid:  another kid is teasing them on the bus.

Motherly instinct:  Let’s call the school and arrange a meeting to work on a strategy to keep you safe.  Better yet, I’ll drive you to school the rest of the year.

Dad:  Stand up to them!  If you fight and get suspended, I’ll let you play Xbox all week . . .

 

. . .  I’m so far noticing that this might be a workable theory.  I’m also thinking that good Dad role responses probably fall into three categories:

 

  • Give a sense of autonomy (which will help build self-esteem)
  • Figure things out

One thing that combines both of the roles of Dad and Mom is to share the emotions.  Guys sometimes instinctively do this different than ladies, but the idea is still good.  If you look at kids like a cup filled with emotion, many kids have emotion running over and spilling out everywhere.  If Dads or Moms . . . or moms/dads acting as both mom and dad, can prompt kids to share their emotional experience, then the cup doesn’t spill everywhere; instead it ‘pours’ where you want it.

Kid:  Wants to learn how to skateboard

Mother:  Oh, tell me about that, how does skateboarding make you feel?

Dad:  Let’s go look at skateboarding videos and you can tell me all about it.

 

Dads and Moms have different methods, and that’s ok.  When it comes to opposite logic, both protectful caregivers and dangerous risk takers can agree on hearing and understanding the emotions of our kids.

What we do after we hear those emotions? . . .  Well, that might be a topic for another day with a better sitcom analogy.  Hmmm, were there any words of wisdom in The Office . . .?

 

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