MGTS’s Best & Worst Gifts For Moms

Each year I struggle with my Christmas gift list because like most moms – my priorities have shifted. I find more joy in seeing my kid’s faces light up on Christmas morning verses my own, plus I never know what to ask for. My requests of Santa use to consist of jewels, handbags, the latest and greatest tech devices or awesome cookware, but now it’s more along the lines of just asking the husband to take the kids out so I can get in some ‘me’ time. Don’t get me wrong I still love a good surprise and virtually anything shiny, but with small kids I try to remain practical. Wearing anything shiny near a baby just results in them attacking it and breaking it. Same goes for clothes; why buy new ones when your kids vomit on you and wipe their snotty noses on you endlessly? But because my husband keeps asking me for my wish list, I thought I would enlist the help of friends to compile a list of the best and worst gifts to give your wife. Our partners can’t read our minds so let’s help them out:

Best gifts to give:

  • Anything Sentimental –  Mom’s eat this sh*t up. Giving a calendar or a photo book with pictures of our babies melts our hearts. OR schedule a family photo session.
  • Activities / Experience Gifts – Aquarium or museum memberships or lessons. Why? These things provide activities she can do either by herself or with the kids.  Nothing is worse than being stuck inside with nothing to do, especially during winter. For just her, you can do cooking lessons, piano lessons, language lessons, anything fun she would like to learn more about and do for herself.
  • Pampering Gifts – I don’t know any woman who doesn’t like a good massage, manicure or pedicure. If you get a spa day include one of her friends too. Experiences are much better when you can share them with a friend or loved one. My favorite Spa in Chicago: Urban Oasis.
  • Girls’ Nights or Trip – Put a few dates on the calendar so she can plan a girls night or a weekend trip and hold her to it.
  • Services – Hire a cleaning service to come clean the house. Bonus if it can be recurring. Hire a Chef to come and make meals for a week to freeze them so she won’t have to cook.
  • Donations – make a donation in her name to a great cause that is close to her heart.
  • Practical Gift – Something that will make her life easier. (i.e. new washer/dryer, a good vacuumhint hint Santa)

Worst gifts to give:

  • Gifts You’re Secretly Getting For Yourself – Don’t give tickets to a sporting event when your lady doesn’t know the difference between football and tennis. Same goes for concerts, if she’s a top 20 girl she probably doesn’t care to see Rage Against The Machine.
  • Chach Keys –  If it doesn’t have sentimental value don’t waste your time. The last thing we need are little knick knacks taking up space we don’t have to give.

NO

  • Cleaning Supplies – Unless we specifically ask for things like this, don’t buy them. I don’t need a reminder that my house is a mess all the time.
  • Gift Cards – Nothing says, I didn’t put any thought into this more than a gift card.
  • Gym Memberships / Fitness Items – Unless she’s into this and asks for it, don’t get it. It can come across as an insult. Thanks for pointing out my muffin top.
  • A “Family” Pet – Let’s be honest here, the family pet usually becomes the responsibility of mom. We have enough responsibilities so leave the “surprise” family pets off the list.

puppy

 

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

 

 

Heartbreak Hotel: Party of One

Over the past few weeks my son has developed a major crush on a fellow student. He can’t stop talking about her and he lights up when you say her name. He also draws her countless pictures. The very first picture he made for her he nonchalantly called me over to him and asked, “Momma how do I draw a heart?” Oh what a sweetheart he wants to put hearts on a picture for me, he sure does love his mommy. I was shocked when I finally looked at the picture because I noticed he wrote in big letters, E-L-L-L-I-E  right above his own name. In between the names he left the perfect space – for a heart.

“Who’s this?”

“Who?”

“This,” pointing at the letters.

“My girlfriend.”

“Your GIRLFRIEND?”

“Yes, I llloooovee her.”

What? Is he kidding? What about me? Who is this chick?

“Um, okay.”

“Can show me how to draw a heart now, please?”

Immediately I felt a punch to the heart. My husband looked on with a boyish grin because he knew I would be festering with jealousy. I did help my son draw a heart though; I just drew it next to my name instead that I had strategically added to the portrait.  What should’ve my response been? Invite her over for dinner? Call her mom and tell her I’m jealous of her daughter? Encourage my son to love other women besides me? Maybe when he’s older fine, however right now I want to be his number one girl. After all I went through having him he owes me, right? Yes, I’m being dramatic but I can’t help it – he’s my heart.

One of the MANY pictures he made for her this week.

One of the MANY pictures he made for her this week.

Apparently a son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for all her life. I would like to remind you my son is still a toddler, four to be exact, which means he is still a baby to me.  I’m pretty sure he isn’t “taking a wife” anytime soon, but why only four years in have I lost him already?  This is not his first crush either, (her name was Gabby)  and I know it won’t be his last.

At least it’s comforting to know I have my other son who’s still a baby.  I haven’t seen him trying to sneak a kiss during tummy time on his playdates, so I think I’ve got some more time with him.  As much as I would love to sabotage their future crushes, I know it’s part of life and I just need to get over it.  Deep inside I know I will always be their first love, but how am I, or better yet my heart, going to make it through their teenaged years and adulthood? I guess I’ll go ahead and cancel my original plans of accompanying them to prom.  I may need to start taking sedatives now in preparation.

In the end, I would want nothing more than for both of my boys to experience love and have a partner in life, but I was hoping that person would be me – at least for a little while.

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My Angel Pies

Post originally featured on Dot Complicated – by Randi Zuckerberg

Last week while on a trip home from the grocery store, I hit a curb and blew a tire. Upon pulling over, I immediately felt panic starting to set in. Not only did I have two small kids with me, but also hundreds of dollars worth of groceries in my trunk that needed refrigeration.

After running through “what to do next” strategies in my head, it suddenly occurred to me: Wait! I can just press the call button on my rearview mirror and roadside assistance will be here in no time. Next, I accessed the Über App on my iPhone to call a cab and had him take my kids, my husband and the groceries home. Fifteen minutes later a nice gentleman showed up, changed my tire and sent me on my way.

Fifteen years ago this situation would’ve played out very differently. In fact, during my teenaged years I had a blow out on an Interstate Highway on my way to my summer lifeguard job. This, of course, was before cell phones were readily available or affordable, so my plan of action was somewhat different. After I pulled over, I had to walk, over a mile, to the next exit wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and some shorts! True story. I was humiliated to say the least. Once I got to the exit, I then begged a vendor at a flea market to use his phone. He watched me closely as each minute used was very costly back then. Luckily, my brother answered our landline phone and told me he would come help. I gave the vendor $5 and hitched a ride with an elderly couple, who I made promise they wouldn’t kidnap me, back to my car. Several hours later I arrived at work and was greeted by a very angry boss. As a mom now, this story makes me cringe at all the things that could’ve happened to me.

Zack-Morris

Each day, I read countless articles about how technology is ruining our youth, creating an “I want every thing yesterday” mentality, taking away from real human connections, and making life more difficult. However, I find these accusations to be the furthest from the truth. I believe technology has given us hope with medical advancements, it’s provided opportunities for businesses to grow exponentially, it’s connected us to long lost relatives, friends and strangers, but most importantly it’s given us back time. The last thing I want to do is waste hours of my day on life’s little inconveniences, like flat tires, when I’d much rather be spending that time with my family.

I feel my kids’ generation is quite lucky to be growing up in this age of technological advancement. I love that they’ll never know what it’s like to dial a number on a rotary phone, or have to wait up all night just to record their favorite song off the radio – only to have several seconds of it ruined by a DJ talking. They won’t have to drive to a store to rent a movie and then worry about racking up hundreds of dollars of late fees. They won’t have to carry their entire music collection around in a big heavy case so they can listen to one song at a time on their Walkman’s. They’ll never get lost because everyone has a GPS on their phone. Finally, they’ll have all the knowledge in the world available at their fingertips, rather then spending hours in a library searching through card catalogs or having to utilize the Dewy Decimal System.

Raise your hand if you had the "sport" one!

Raise your hand if you had the “sport” one!

I, for one, chose to embrace change and advancement, and take solace in knowing my kids will never have to walk down a highway to get help – in their bathing suits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I appreciate the bottle of truth serum my toddler seems to over dose on each day, sometimes I wish he knew how to put down the bottle and step away. As someone who gets easily embarrassed in public, having a toddler is pure torture. I’ve definitely toughened up over the past two years, but still struggle to find explanations when he spews out the most inappropriate sh*t (excuse my language) at the most inappropriate times.

Why can’t they have an off switch? Or understand that when I look at them with wide eyes and am turning beet red, that’s code for: shut your mouth immediately.

In hindsight, all of these mishaps are actually quite hilarious – just not so much as they’re happening. On the bright side, at least they make for some good story telling.

Here are all the recent things my toddler said / did to embarrass the hell out of me in public over the past week. Enjoy.

  • At a recent dinner party while everyone was enjoying pasta and meatballs, my toddler exits the bathroom, goes up to the host who is sitting at the dinner table and exclaims, “Hey, I just pooped in your potty!” Awesome.
  • Same dinner party: I exited the room to nurse my baby and my toddler said, “Everyone be quiet brother has to eat mommy’s boobies!”
  • Same dinner party: My toddler turned into a wet noodle and slide out of his seat onto the floor because the host poured sauce on his pasta. Apparently that warranted a super dramatic response.
  • We attended a “Meet the Teacher” event at my toddler’s new school and another mom commented on how cute his shoes were. He looked at her and told her they were broken because a charm fell off. Next, without realizing the connection he said, “They were made in China.” I knew he said that because a few minutes earlier he asked me what the bottom of the shoe said – not because he thinks all items made in China fall apart. The mom just looked at me and rather than launching into a ten-minute explanation – I just let her judge me. Whatever.
  • Last week our water heater broke so I had to boil water to give my kids a bath. I kept telling my son we had to do that so he didn’t have a stinky booty. My mistake! The next morning at school he walked into class and told his teacher, “My mommy made water so I won’t have a stinky booty.” Again, no time for explanations. It is what it is.
  • My son has a newfound admiration for the word Not sure why. Whenever my son asks where he came from I tell him, “Momma’s belly.” I not even going there until he’s older. Recently while at Starbucks he told someone he was from Chicago. Then the person repeated, “Oh is that where you’re from.” My son’s reply, “No I came from mommy’s poopie.” Insert look of horror. Um, I assure you kid – you did not come from there.
  • Lastly, he told a stranger at the park that they were drinking poison because they had a soda in their hand. Yes, I may have said that in the grocery store one time because I didn’t want him drinking soda. However, I never thought that he would go up to random people and repeat what I said! Lesson learned.

While I agree that honesty is a virtue and something we should instill in our children at a young age, but come on, can’t I catch a break? My next plan of action is just to send him out in public with his father more often – or at least until he develops a filter.

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Want To Grow Your Business? Here’s How…

Almost two years ago I left the corporate world to start my own business as a writer and consultant. I loved the company I worked for but knew in order to grow both personally and professionally; it was time for a change. It was going to be a challenge going from a well-respected, globally known brand to a virtually unknown brand – me, Holly Rust. I definitely had my work cut out for me.

The first six months were rough and I questioned my decision daily. Luckily, I scored my first few accounts from leveraging my own local network. To grow my network further I tried to fill my schedule with coffee and cocktail dates and I attended local networking events. These activities were beneficial to growing my business, but unfortunately they took up a lot of time. With two small children and a traveling spouse, time was not a luxury I had. I needed to work smarter – not harder. I starting utilizing what little time I did have to build my network online, from my couch, and it usually involved ice cream. The Internet was always available and I was going to take advantage.

Almost two years in, I have a large network that now expands globally. My business is booming and has even opened doors to new ventures – all because I turned to the Internet to expand my network.

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Helpful tips to build your brand or business online:

Stay Active! If you can’t make it out locally, be active online. Potential clients need to be reminded you’re out there and you’re ready to work. Every day you need to reach out to people personally – even if it’s just to let them know about your new venture or to keep the connection alive. Consistency is key.

Use Social Media. Using free tools that expand your network ten folds – no brainer! Sign up on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., for your business. Use your personal accounts to promote your brand as well. Update your profile on LinkedIn often. Let people know what you’re doing. Be proud and passionate; this will translate to your audience.

If your friends don’t want to support you or get annoyed by your posts, they can easily hide your notifications. Furthermore, if they can subject you to their life drama and political rants – then they can surely support you in your entrepreneurial aspirations. My rule: If my current friends will not support me, I’ll just find new ones who will!

Proudly display your accomplishments on social media for everyone to see! An old boss always told me, “No one will ever toot your own horn louder than you.” So toot away because this let’s people know your succeeding in your business and will want to follow you more.

Make New Friends. Connect with 5-10 new people a day from any outlet. Post daily if possible about what you’re doing and the services or products you’re providing. Don’t forget to continue with your regular lifestyle posts too if you’re using your personal accounts to promote; otherwise your audience will become desensitized to your business.

Ask Or You Shall Not Receive.  Ask for partnerships. Ask for business. Ask for referrals. Ask for advice. What’s the worst that can happen? They say, “No”? You cannot wait for people to notice you; you have to make them notice you. In my experience most people are willing to share their best practices and love to partner with others. You also must remember that to have a friend, you have to be a friend. Enter each conversation asking how you can help them first. Your good will always comes back to you in one shape or form.

Use Hash Tags. When posting on social media – make your posts work for you. Use hash tags! Hash tags, used correctly, make your posts easily searchable. Also, if you incorporate whatever topics are trending at the time of your post you will broaden your audience.

Become ‘Besties’ with Bloggers. Bloggers are great resources to help spread awareness for your brand or business. Businesses and individuals reach out to me on a daily basis to partner with them or to sponsor a post. Many bloggers also do reviews, referrals and cross promotions. I rarely turn down a chance to be exposed to another individual’s or business’s network.

Join Online Networking Groups. Even if the group has nothing to do with your business, you may uncover some business opportunities. These groups usually have rules about promoting yourself, so be sure to check with the admins before posting. You can, however, reply to other group member’s posts soliciting your business if the post applies to what you offer.

When building your brand or business online you first need to manage your expectations. Rome was not built in a day! Like with any investment, these things take time. Stay consistent and present in the online world, but above all – don’t give up.

Here's to your continued success!

Here’s to your continued success!

20 Parenting Tasks That Truly Suck

Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences life can offer. As a mom each day is an new adventure; some are filled with laughter, some are filled with chaos, but most are filled with both. The majority of the chaos stems from daily tasks that come along with the job of being a parent. These tasks test our patience, drive us crazy, and make the simplest action feel like you’re trying to figure out an algorithm without any mathematical training.

These obligations I could definitely do without and after surveying dozens of parents; apparently I’m not alone. Here are some tasks that parents say they would be happy to never have to do again:

  • Washing Bottles- What’s with all the parts? And those brushes that spray you in the face when you pull them from inside the bottle? I will never take my dishwasher for granted again.  This was the number one complaint of most parents.
  • Changing Diapers – Changing diapers sucks at all stages. Period.
  • Putting Their Shoes On.  How are you supposed to fit marshmallow man feet into those tiny shoes?  I use the twist and shove method.
  • Cutting Finger / Toe Nails - With paper thin nails and ninja reflexes, cutting their nails can be terrifying.
  • Dressing Them –  Once again, having to shove body parts into tiny pieces of clothing isn’t fun.
  • Feeding Them – Food ends up everywhere else but their mouth.
  • Bath Time – One question: Is bath time more for them or for you because I always end up soaked as well.
  • Putting Them In Car Seats – Between planking, screaming and wiggling, sometimes I’d just rather stay home.
My son the angel.

Late again, thanks to the plank.

  • Cleaning Baby Gear – How does a baby manage to fill every square inch of their high chair with something disgusting.
  • Cleaning a Baby’s Neck – You never know what’s lurking in those fat rolls. Beware.
  • Giving Medicine via Syringes – At least half of the liquid drips down their face and becomes a sticky hot mess.
  • Doing Laundry – Every day. 24 /7.
  • Leaving The House – Might as well pack a suitcase with all the stuff you need to take and don’t plan on being on time. Ever. But you know what sucks worse? Leaving the house in winter.
  • Bedtime Routines – Bath, jammies, water, pee, story, water, pee, water, another story, more water, sleep.
Bedtime excuses

Bedtime excuses

  • Cutting Food Into a Thousand Pieces – Most pieces end up on the floor, in your dog’s stomach, or wedged into a crevice in the high chair.
  • Doctors Appointments – Their fever or symptoms seemed to miraculously disappear once you arrived, or your kid has to get shots and hates you the rest of the day.
  • Helping With Homework - This only tends to make me feel stupid.
  • Brushing Teeth - They usually swallow the toothpaste before a single tooth gets brushed.
  • Wiping Their Nose – The snot usually ends up all over their face.
  • Teaching Them To Aim – This applies to boys. Constantly wiping urine up off the floor, wall, and toilet seat is not my idea of a good time.

One or two of these tasks would be manageable, however all of these are usually a daily occurrence for most parents. At the end of each day when the kids are finally asleep, give yourself a pat on the back because you, my friend, made it through another day. Kudos.

“Momnesia” Is Real – And I Have It

If you’re a mom you’ve heard of the term “baby brain” and have most likely even experienced it yourself. Lately I’ve been living in a constant state of Momnesia, so I can say without a doubt, “baby brain” exists. Ironically this brain fog commonly associated with pregnancy and new motherhood was something my friends forgot to share with me before I had kids. They were clearly suffering from Momnesia too.

momnesia

photo credit: Adrienne Hedger

Before kids I took pride in my ability to never miss a detail. I was that friend who actually remembered to send birthday messages before we had Facebook sending us reminder notifications. Now I can’t seem to remember anything. Recently I forgot it was Superhero day at my son’s school and he was the only one sans costume at drop off. I’ll just nominate myself for Mom of the Year. The sad thing is the forgetfulness and fogginess didn’t stop there. In the past two weeks I’ve worn two different shoes to drop my son off at school, I’ve showed up for a client appointment on the wrong day, I’ve frantically searched for my cell phone only to realize I was speaking on it, and yesterday I forgot how to order my coffee at Starbucks when I’ve been drinking it every morning for the past three years.

Doctors blame hormones for Momnesia, but I blame the pressures of everyday life as a mom. Motherhood requires you to be in 3 different places at once, all the while maintaining that other life you had before kids. Since I love my kids and they’re here to stay I figured it’s time to enlist the help of some great Apps and new procedures to get and stay organized – at least, of course, until I can hire a life assistant.

  • Visual Work / Chore Calendar – I hung a large whiteboard in my kitchen and on it scheduled my business hours because I work from home. I also schedule laundry, cleaning and workouts. This helps me focus on the task at hand without getting overwhelmed.
  • Cozi App – A great App where you can effortlessly manage your family calendar, shopping lists, to-do lists, and family journals while you’re on the go.
  • aCal Lite App – Another great calendar organizer which automatically syncs with all iPhone calendars. You can write your to-do list, create notes with photos, and even get your weather updates.
  • Square Hub – SquareHub is a social network that keeps your family connected, organized and happy. You can send private group messages and photos with each other, share calendars, share to-do lists, share child location information, and create those spontaneous moments of joy with the people who matter most to you – your family.
  • BillMinder – This App simplifies your life by bringing all your bills into one manageable place. You will know at a glance, which need your attention. The nerd in me loves that you can also track your expenses with comprehensive charts and graphs.
  • Moms Daily Planner – This is the ultimate universal family planner. It has all the same features as the ones mentioned above, but this App allows you to assign chores and share them with your family.

 

Now armed with all these great resources, I just hope my brain fog clears enough to remember to use them.

I say this to myself at least 12 times a day.

I say this to myself at least 12 times a day.

 

 

 

 

 

Things I WON’T Miss From The Baby Stage

Now that my little guy is about to turn one I find myself relieved to close the door on the baby phase. Not only do I look like a cast member from the Walking Dead, but I act like one too.  I’m exhausted – mentally and physically. At this point I would have to be insane to consider adding a third to the clan; but because I’m obsessed with babies I change my mind on a daily basis.  Since there are a million things I do love about the baby stage, I figured I would document all the things I loathe about the first year.  In doing so, I’m hoping it will motivate me to keep taking my birth control – every day.

Things I will definitely NOT miss from the baby phase:

Pumping – I hate pumping. I’m that freak of nature who produces enough milk to feed an army.  I’ve actually calculated how many hours of my life have been dedicated to pumping this last year – the total was 6 weeks.  That’s a lot of time.

Blowouts – Always at the most inopportune moments, right? Like right when you put them in their carseat and are already late. Who knew those little bodies could produce so much waste?

No Privacy – I’m looking forward to the day when I can go to the bathroom without little hands on my knees or a baby in my arms.

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Every day in my house…

Mimicking A Prisoner When Eating - Not only do you have to shovel every meal in your mouth because of time limitations, but you also have to guard your plate because they want whatever’s on it. Sometimes you just don’t feel like sharing or having your dinner thrown on the floor.

Playing Baby -Charades – Baby-charades is not fun and can be very frustrating. Just tell me what you want, kid!

Carrying Baggage - My diaper bag could double as a small carry-on. I hate carrying around extra clothes, diapers, bottles, snacks, toys, wipes, hand sanitizer, pacifiers and everything else those little minions need every where I go.

Everything Goes In Their Mouth - Dog bone.. sure why not. Dirt..why not? Every germ-infested item other than the toys I bought you to actually chew on.. sure why not.

Baby Gear - My entire house has been taken over by swings, jumpers, bouncy seats, high chairs and a pack-in-play.  I forgot I used to have an adult space.

And finally the worst of all…..

Sleep Deprivation – Babies don’t care if you have to work in the morning. I pretty much haven’t slept a full night in the past year, hence my acceptance onto the Walking Dead series.

I.m

I’m Holly, nice to meet you!

Now why would I want to go through this all over again?  It’s the smell, that damn newborn smell. It gets you every time.  Note to self: Stay away from newborns.

Tips For Road Trippin’ With Small Kids

Recently I embarked on a 15-hour road trip with my husband, my four-year-old and my eight-month-old. Before leaving I asked all of you if I was crazy or just stupid to think this could be done while still maintaining my sanity. Most of you answered “crazy” but I have to admit it turned out to be a little bit of both. I am happy to announce that we did survive, but to call it a “vacation” would be somewhat of a stretch.  Unfortunately road trips just aren’t the same with little ones – or at least with my little ones.  In my younger days I used to love road trips. I once drove from San Antonio to Tampa non-stop. I could stay up around the clock and compete with the truckers as to who could last longer. Not so much any more.  Now I get muscle cramps, nausea and spend most of my time counting down the seconds until we arrive at our destination.

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“Are we there yet?” – me every second…

This trip we did run into a few National Lampoons moments. Our hotel had a blackout and we had to entertain our toddler in pitch dark for hours. I also had to hand-express my milk because I forgot my battery charger for my pump. After about 30 minutes of pumping my hand felt paralyzed, so I had to enlist my husband to fulfill the remaining pumping shifts. My little guy had four diaper blowouts  explosions, which in turn ruined his infant car seat.  The disaster he created could only be cleaned up by The Ghostbusters, but unfortunately they no longer exist.  Let’s just say – the reminder of the trip our car did NOT smell of roses and we had to replace the carseat as soon as we got home.

Overall, the trip was worth it because we were able to spend time with family and make some wonderful memories, however until my baby gets a little older – home is where we’ll stay.

Here’s some tips to help keep your sanity on road trips with little ones.

  • Don’t do it. Just kidding, I know they can be fun and are much more affordable than flying.
  • Plan pit stops.  Check out fun stops along your route to break up the trip and let your kids stretch your legs.
  • Add a couple hours to your agenda. Your trip will take longer than you think, so just plan on it. You’ll have to make a lot of stops with kids to use the restroom, eat, stretch, etc.
  • Research your route. Look up major highways for any construction notices. This can shave hours off of your drive if you’re able to go around all the traffic delay’s.
  • Hot Spot. Having a hot spot in the car for our iPad was a life-saver for my toddler.  We played a lot of games, but when all else failed we handed him the iPad. We also downloaded some Apps that didn’t require an internet connection in case our hot spot went out.
  • Know when to stop. Six hours seemed to be the breaking point for my little guy. After six hours he became a ticking time bomb and it was difficult to console him. Next time this will be our stopping point for the night.
  • Take lots of food. Not only does this save money – but time as well. I took a cooler with several sandwiches and fruit along with a grocery bag of dry snacks. I hate eating fast food on road trips so this was our lunch and dinner.  My digestive system thanked me later.
  • Invest in baby gadgets. Buy one of these immediately for the car if your baby can’t hold his bottle that well yet. This little contraption prevented me from having to sit lodged between two car seats for an hour. Podee Hands Free Bottle

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If you have any tips to add please share in the comments section!

Two years ago I read an article in a prominent business magazine discussing the importance of having a blog for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. The article expressed how blogging not only builds brand awareness, whatever that may be, but it also broadens your network ten-fold. We all know it’s not so much about what you do – it’s who you know. Equipped with this new knowledge, my passion for writing and storytelling, and my desire to do something “more” with my life, I started Mother’s Guide to Sanity.  At the time I was still working around the clock and barely making my day-to-day obligations, but I knew if I made time for this new venture it would lead to amazing opportunities – and it has.  Not only has my blog given me a voice in the online world, but it has also renewed my faith and confidence in myself from a business perspective.

These last two years have been a roller coaster and opened doors for me I never thought possible. My continued success in the blogging world coupled with my extensive experience in the corporate world has allowed me to start my own freelance business where I write any business-to-business or business-to-consumer materials, as well as consult small businesses on how to grow their brand and network through blogging and social media. I’ve also been invited to host speaking engagements where I discuss topics ranging from budgeting and forecasting to marketing and product launch and establishing your brand in today’s market. Lastly, I landed gigs as a contributing writer for Dot Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg and Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler, both of which are NYT Bestselling Author’s.  As if this wasn’t enough, I launched a second business with Rodan + Fields Dermatologists.  This is all in just two short years.

bgsd If you are thinking of starting a blog (or a business) here are some helpful tips I’ve learned over the last two years.

  • Believe in yourself. The question you need to ask yourself right now is, “Why NOT me?” All you need is confidence, the Internet and a voice. Don’t depend on others to believe in you. At first many won’t understand what you’re doing or look at you like you’re crazy, but remember it’s not their job to believe in you – it’s yours. They’ll come around eventually.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure. Failing is relative. Make goals for yourself, which are attainable, and when you do meet some – it’s a win!  When you’re realistic with yourself and your timeline for success you’ll find it easier to meet your goals.  If you don’t meet a certain goal, pick yourself up and keep going. Your next big break just may be lurking around the corner.
  • Don’t take things personal.  Everyone has an opinion and that’s just what they are – opinions. When you put yourself out there, there’s always someone who will try to discourage or discredit you. Sometimes feedback can be a gift but it can also be a curse. Try to surround yourself with positive, likeminded, and supportive people.
  • Use the Buddy System. Work is always more fun when you partner with someone. I encourage you to buddy up with a person you admire and make them your accountability partner. My success would not have happened as quickly or have been as sweet if it wasn’t for my new friends and business partners encouraging me each and every day.
  • Network. Go out. Meet people. Join groups. Attend conventions. Every city has Associations, Fundraisers, Networking groups, etc. Spend a few hours a week connecting, whether that be in person or online. Be social and your business will grow. Also, always ask how you can help someone else, even if you’re unsure if they can help you. Karma is real – and helping others grow their business will only ensure the growth of yours.
  •  Talk – A lot. Always speak about your new ventures to anyone who will listen. Use social media to connect and inform. Even if no one responds with a “like”, don’t worry because they are watching.
  • Step outside your comfort zone.  I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Once you have the confidence to do this, you’ll soon find new talents you never knew you had. At first I was afraid to put myself out there because of how judgmental people can be, but for every negative comment there have been ten positive ones.
  • DON’T GIVE UP. This is MOST IMPORTANT! Rome was not built in a day. Those who only strive for instant success and gratification will not succeed. Look at everything as an investment. Do research on people you admire and I guarantee most of them were not an overnight success. You want to build a business with a strong foundation, not build a house of cards.  If you give up to soon or try to take short cuts, you’re just setting yourself up to fail.

give up Treat any new venture like a business and it will reward you like a business. Mother’s Guide to Sanity is far from being a profound pool of knowledge and it doesn’t dramatically change other people’s lives, however it does spread joy and has opened many doors for me. No, I haven’t found a cure for cancer (yet!), but I’ve met amazing people, sharpened my skills, started a business, and made a lot of parents laugh along the way. What more could I ask for?

Here’s to the dreamers!

XO, Holly