Blogs > Media Moms

We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Personal day turned sick day

A week ago Monday, I had planned to take a much needed personal day to decompress and get things done. The most important item on my to-do list? A 90 minute massage.

The Saturday morning prior, my son woke up with a fever. Not just your ordinary 'throw a dose of Tylenol at it' fever, this was of the full on chills-body aches-crying variety. Scary. He hadn't had a fever like this since he was a baby. With a big night ahead of me, I called my parents in as reinforcement and headed to the Children's Museum at Saratoga fundraiser at Saratoga National [I'm on the Board, otherwise I would have put on my PJ's and stayed put]. I made it through most of the evening before my folks alerted me to yet another fever spike. Poor guy. I went home to do what moms do. I cuddled, snuggled, and wiped tears and tried my hardest not to breathe in the germs. My personal day was right around the corner and it was my very first day off since the year began.

Sunday arrived with a repeat of Saturday's fever with the added pleasure of my own scratchy throat and headache. No biggie, I told myself. We'd both feel better in the morning.


We both felt WORSE in the morning. My dad came over so that I could go to the doctor first thing. It was official: my personal day was now a sick day. When the doctor said "you have bronchitis", I thought I'd heard him wrong. My first case ever.

My son's diagnosis came on the fourth day of fever Tuesday afternoon. By the time we made it to clinic hours at the pediatrician, they'd seen more than a dozen cases of flu. My son had it too.

The planned personal day was not to be (I didn't get my massage...wah wah), so I let it go and got back to work on Wednesday and proceeded to play a serious game of catch up that would last through the weekend.

Annoyed? Nah. If there's one thing you learn as a working mom, it's that the kids come first, then work, then massages. Even on my worst day, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm turning my "fail" to focus and planning our first ever family international trip. The Roses are going to Ireland this summer! More on that later... I'm also sure I'll get that massage at some point and it will be just what I need in that moment.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

In need of a home makeover

Perhaps it's that totally blase time of year when I get totally sick of my indoor surroundings. Or maybe everything in my house really is ugly.

Whatever it is, a couple weeks ago it was as if I had been walking around in my house blind for several years and all of a sudden had the haze lifted. With my new-found sight, I discovered something -- I hate just about everything in there!

Yep, after living in this house for eight years, I suddenly realized that I've hardly invested any time, effort or money in to decorating our home. My wall decor pretty much consists of scraggly items that likely were given to me by someone who was trying to unload their old stuff or they were in the clearance bin at the Christmas Tree Shop.

Well, not everything falls into those categories. I do have a few things that are lovely. Every time I come down the stairs, I encounter the mirror with the words "live simply" painted on it from my mother. That's her daily message to me, and she looked long and hard for something with those words on it. Yeah, my mother has witnessed the insanity that I call my life.

And then there are the framed photos of our kids, me with my sisters, etc. Those only exist because of rare moments of focus in which I really wanted a particular photo framed -- or they were given to me already in the frames. I guess it just seems like such a chore -- and a commitment — to shop for and buy things for the house. I mean clearly anything that makes it onto our walls is going to stay there for a realllly long time with these decorating habits.

Don't get me wrong, I would really enjoy spending some time decorating a room. And I don't think a small budget would be a major hindrance. What is, however, a major hindrance is my severe lack of time to invest in this part of my life. Whenever I have time to even think about decorating (in the shower), I come up with some fun ideas. It's finding time for the execution I'm no good at.

This morning I was in the shower and started shouting to my husband about what we should do to remodel the spare bedroom. It wouldn't take much to transform those icky pink walls with flowery wallpaper and border into something that won't make my sister puke when she comes to visit. Seriously, my sister, the finish painter, has been encouraging (aka harassing) me ever since we moved in to please redo that room. It's just coming up with the time to do it. Our weekends get eaten up so quickly.

Here's something that I will commit to doing sooner rather than later: I've been saving a few pieces of artwork -- really cool stuff -- that my kids have made in school. They are odd shapes, so I would really have to get them professionally framed. But they would be meaningful and colorful decor for the living room. Then I can pitch that ratty eucalyptus wreath that's been hanging in there for nearly a decade and stop sweeping up the pieces of it that keep falling off.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Working moms: Making family time count

On a good day, I spend on average 1 1/2 hours with my son in the morning before I drop him off at full day pre school and another 3 1/2 hours at night. Yes, you're adding that up correctly. As a full time working mom, I typically spend 5 hours a day with my child during the week. Breaking it down this way did initially create some anxiety for me and it took time (and more than a few deep breaths) to get used to the numbers. As a family, we've worked with this math for nearly five years now. Here's how we make every moment we spend together count:
  1. Start every day with hugs, kisses and kind words.
  2. Breakfast (even if it happens to be in front of the TV watching a favorite show like Oswald or Little Bear) is shared with mom and/or dad.
  3. Engage in one small project or learning activity before we leave for school.
  4. Make car travel time count for learning and sharing. On the way home from school we review the day, share feelings and often a lot of laughter.
  5. Dinners are simple during the week, but everyone is involved in the preparation.
  6. Reading books and learning are at the forefront of our evening time. We have a Junior talking globe, anatomy books and children's classics and encyclopedias and we keep them where we can use them - not tucked away neatly on a bookshelf.
  7. TV time is limited in favor of talking time or outside play time (weather permitting).
  8. Bath time and bed time doubles as quality time.
  9. Structure in our household is negotiable when it means squeezing in a little more kid/parent/family time. It just works for us. Even if it means bedtime gets pushed to 9:00 pm.
That pretty much covers the way it's supposed to go anyway. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, here's a challenge we face as a working family:

Although we've attempted to institute technology "black outs", it simply hasn't worked. My husband's job is Global, so he needs to be accessible after hours and my job is connected with a daily newspaper that prints nightly. It's just not possible to turn them off. Our commitment is to "control the controllables". We choose when to check our mail and try to set aside designated times to work in the evenings and on weekends. That way, we don't feel constantly tethered to our smart phones and laptops and don't have to deal with interruptions from an active preschooler. It's important to be honest as a working parent. Pretending that it's perfect doesn't serve anyone in the family - least of all your child.

Embracing where we are at this moment makes it possible for us to be just that. In the moment.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

School lunches are getting healthier for kids

I'm a mom who's fortunate enough to have a kid who actually likes to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain pasta and other healthy foods. Each morning since my son graduated from baby food, I've been sending him off to daycare with fresh fruit. Sure it takes extra time, but I enjoy choosing which two fruits to combine for his daily "fruit cup" and feel really good about the fact that at least I know he's getting some fruit in his diet. I say this only because when I've asked my son why he doesn't eat the fruit at school he says "it's not actually fruit, mom". Well it is, but he's used to freshly cut fruit - not fruit in water, juice or syrup.

So when we received a notice from my son's pre school a week ago that the school's menu was changing (getting healthier!), I was thrilled. Today's Saratogian talks about the national Chefs Move to Schools initiative and what we're doing right here in Saratoga County to encourage new ideas and recipes, like sourcing from local farmers and producers and expanding menu options. A local daycare provider in Saratoga shared that their menu is now offering "healthier choices including yogurt, whole wheat wraps, fresh fruit and a brand new item: a turkey & rice bake". She added that the former "hamburger sliders are now chicken sliders."

I'd like to think that my son, who will be entering Kindergarten in the Fall, will make healthy choices as he navigates his new school cafeteria. There's so much about him going to Kindergarten that has me feeling like a bundle of nerves. Thankfully his school lunch is no longer one of them.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

When Valentine's Day is Deadline Day

I've meaning to write about this since Valentine's Day, and I figured this blip of chaos was still worth telling.

So, Valentine's Day was also Magazine Deadline Day for me, fumigating the love in the air with intense pressure. I didn't see how I could possibly focus on the attention my kids and my sweetie deserved on a day they all saw as special.

Had I planned ahead a little better (ha, ha) I would have already had in my possession little tokens of my affection for them. But, as many readers know, that would be out of character -- not because I'm not thoughtful, of course, but because I'm constantly on crisis time management.

Coupled with my lack of preparedness for Valentine's Day was the fact that I had no room in my day to think about or feel very loving feelings. There were so many loose ends to tie to get the March edition of Spirit of Saratoga magazine to the printer by the end of the day, I was coming completely unraveled.

I had been up and working at home since about 5 a.m., when everyone else got about 7. My daughter excitedly brought a basket of valentines around the house, delivering several to each of us.

"I'll have mine for you later today," I told her, a twinge of guilt in my gut.

Upon seeing his sister's valentines, my 11-year-old son said, "Oh, it's Valentine's Day? I guess I should get some cards soon."

My eyes widened. As it turned out, though I thought my husband took both kids to get cards one afternoon, only she got cards that day. I apparently was the only one who saw my son's class list for Valentine's Day in the bottom of his backpack, and my husband assumed our son didn't need them.

I immediately Googled "free kids Valentine's cards," found something decent and hit print -- only I realized when nothing came out that I had accidentally printed it to the computer in the newsroom. Oops. My husband and I laughed at the reaction people in the office would have when they saw Spongebob Squarepants rolling off the printer.

After getting the kids out the door, I got back to work, electing to work from home free of the distractions at the office. But things were not coming together as well or as quickly as I'd hoped, and I just grew more freaked out in the quiet of the house as the hours wore on.

By the time the kids were coming home from school, I was packing up to go finish the magazine at the office -- and I was at a breaking point in my stress level. The kids were buzzing about their days as they barreled through the door, one of them carrying a vase overflowing with red roses. "Here, Mom. We all got these for you!"

I busted out in tears. "Oh, thank you" I blubbered. I read the confusion on their faces. "But Mom, it's supposed to be a happy day."

"I'm sorry guys. It's just that the magazine work isn't going well today, and I have to finish it by the end of the day."

They were so sweet trying to console me. And I took off to the office ready to conquer what remained to be done and determined to get home with Valentine's treats in hand.

Several hours later, I was hitting the final button to send the magazine to the printer. It was nearly 9 p.m., and I was exhausted. One of the guys working in the sports department asked if anyone wanted a couple heart-shaped Reeses peanut butter cups because he had consumed too many already. "Ooh! My kids love those," I told him.

I still didn't have a card for my husband, though. Then I saw -- still sitting on the printer — two sheets of Spongebob Valentine's cards. I giggled as I cut them up and stuck them in an envelope.

Grabbing my coat and running out the door, I noticed a nice array of treats someone in the Advertising and Classified departments had left out (thanks, Meg!). I took two heart-shaped lollipops and shoved them in my purse with the other treats.

I made one stop for a bottle of wine to go with my Spongebob cards, and headed for home.

The end of the story: my kids were happy to get a treat, my husband got a good laugh out of his cards, and we both enjoyed a lovely glass of wine -- celebrating a quiet moment at the end of a crazy day.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Habits of successful salespeople

As the advertising director at The Saratogian, I manage a team of 9 outside sales reps and managers in addition to an inside sales staff. Although it's not always the case, this particular group of sales professionals has incredible synergy as a team with several at or approaching "rock star" status.

Every sales manager knows that creating and managing a successful team takes skill, experience, timing and, in my opinion - a little bit of luck. Recruiting talent is commonly an agenda item on management conference calls these days because it's both challenging to pull off and at the same time critical to a company's bottom line. So, what does it take to build a successful team?

I thought I'd take a look at my current team for information and inspiration. As it turns out, they have some things in common:

- 77% played competitive sports in high school and/or college.
- More than half hold degrees in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing, Communications and Economics.
- 2 hold degrees in Fashion Marketing/Merchandising.

So are sales people hard wired for the profession? Partly, I think. Sure it's about maximizing natural talent, but it's also about developing the right habits.

This week's sales meeting/training I held focused on time management and other habits that successful sales people have in common. Let's face it, just about everyone I know is being asked to do more, do it better, and do it FAST. Patricia Drain, author of Sell the Sizzle, had the opportunity to interview 177 top sales producers, both male and female, from all backgrounds. She discovered several main points in common. Here's what she had to say:

"...I discovered that each individual followed certain daily habits that took them to the level of Top Producer in their profession,” says Patricia.

7 Habits That Top Sales Producers Have in Common Are:

Habit #1: Develop a PLAN. Sizzling salespeople plan their days, weeks and months. They set goals in place and work their plan to exceed those goals.

Habit #2: They Create a Clear FOCUS. Sizzling salespeople ALWAYS stay focused on their specialty and their plan. They stay focused by prioritizing each day.

Habit #3: They Ask QUESTIONS. Sizzling salespeople understand and utilize the art of asking the right questions. They list the RIGHT questions to ask when sizzle selling.

Habit #4: They SHARPEN Their Skills. Sizzling salespeople understand the importance of sharpening their saws. They invest in the resources needed to assure ongoing training.

Habit #5: They Understand the Power of NUMBERS. They understand that to increase their sales, they must increase their prospects, customer base and sales volume.

Habit #6: They Know How to Stay in CONTROL. Sizzling salespeople stay in control of themselves to stay on track. They use this control to keep a personal balance in their lives.

Habit #7: They Have a Strong BELIEF SYSTEM. Sizzling salespeople believe they are worthy of the highest earnings, commissions or salary, and that their time is extremely valuable.

I'd like to add a few more I've observed during my 20 years in sales:

Habit #8: They know that INNOVATIVE thinking keeps them one step ahead of their colleagues and competition.

Habit #9: They know how to answer what's in it FOR THE CLIENT when developing pitches, RFP responses and presentations.

Habit #10: They possess INTEGRITY and know that at the end of the day, doing it right trumps selling out.

Source: Patricia Noel Drain is an international author and speaker living in Arizona. Visit her online at and

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