Table of Contents Cover.........................................................................................................1 Understanding the Working Parent’s Needs ...............................3 The Family and Medical Leave Act: Managing Family Leave ..4 Understanding the Sandwich Generation....................................5 Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Employees......6 Recognize the Warning Signs of Stress ..........................................7 Watch Out for Employee Burnout....................................................8 Create a Win-Win Situation ................................................................9 What is Balance?................................................................................. 10 Ways to Achieve Balance ................................................................. 11 How Well Are You Balancing Work & Family? ............................ 12 How Do You Spend Your Time Each Week?................................ 13 Tips for Managing Your Time.......................................................... 14 Combining Work and Family: How to Make It Work ............... 15 Plan For Success.................................................................................. 16 Daily Planning Chart ......................................................................... 17 Daily Time Log .................................................................................... 18 The Importance of Setting Priorities............................................ 19 Personal Goal-Setting Work Sheet................................................20 Get Organized at Home ................................................................... 21 Forget Perfection................................................................................ 22 Take Care of Yourself ......................................................................... 23 Steps to Mental Fitness .................................................................... 24 Watch Out for Stress.......................................................................... 25 How Well Do You Manage Stress?................................................. 26 Ten Tips for Combating Stress........................................................ 27 How To Beat Fatigue.......................................................................... 28 Dealing with Guilt .............................................................................. 29 Build and Use Support Systems ....................................................30 Make Time for Fun and Relaxation ............................................... 31 Superparents Don’t Exist ................................................................. 32 Communicating Effectively with Your Spouse.......................... 33 Tips for Communicating Effectively with Your Children ....... 34 Ways to Build Better Relationships............................................... 35 Establish Routines.............................................................................. 36 The Family Meeting: A Great Communication Tool ................ 37 Develop a Master Calendar for You Family ................................ 38 Tips to Help You Prioritize Tasks..................................................... 39 Monthly Planning Chart and To-Do List......................................40 Tips to Tame Housework.................................................................. 41 Take Time to Be Together................................................................. 42 Ten Time-Saving Tips ........................................................................ 43 Put Your Children to Work ............................................................... 44 How to Give Your Children a Positive Attitude About Work. 45 Parent Child Contracts...................................................................... 46 Discipline and the Working Parent............................................... 47 Menu Planning Made Simple......................................................... 48 Fast and Fabulous Meals.................................................................. 49 Staying Connected to Your Family................................................50 Choosing Child Care.......................................................................... 51
Checklist for Selecting Child Care................................................. 52 Communicating With Your Child Care Provider ....................... 53 How To Find and Train the Right Baby Sitter ............................. 54 Child Care Provider Checklist ......................................................... 55 Child Care Emergency Form........................................................... 56 Ways to Help Your Children Cope With Change....................... 57 New Parents: Tips to Help You Cope ............................................ 58 The Toughest Transition: Leaving Your Child to Return to Work.......................................... 59 Survival Strategies for Single Parents ..........................................60 Coping Skills for Parents With Disabled Children .................... 61 The Sandwich Generation............................................................... 62 Caring for a Spouse or Partner....................................................... 63 Elder Care: Know Your Options...................................................... 64 Caring for the Caregiver................................................................... 65 Tips for Communicating Effectively With an Elder.................. 66 Extending the Family: When Elder Moves Into Your Home .. 67 Divorce: Tips to Help You and Your Children Cope.................. 68 Remarriage: Ways to Ease the Adjustment for You Children 69 Blending Families: Hints for a Successful Transition................70 Business Travel Planning for Your Absence From Home........ 71 Guidelines for Parents of Latch Key Children ............................ 72 Plan for the Unexpected.................................................................. 73 How to Talk to You Children About Work ................................... 74 Get Fit With Your Kids........................................................................ 75 Make Plans for Summer................................................................... 76 The Importance of Vacations.......................................................... 77 Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Boss................ 78 Develop a Career Action Plan......................................................... 79 Some Common Time-Wasters .......................................................80 Five Ways to Improve Your Productivity...................................... 81 Planning for Success at Work.......................................................... 82 Make Good Use of Commute and Break Times........................ 83 Tips for Time Management ............................................................. 84 Learn How to Set Short - and Long-Term Goals ....................... 85 Eight Tips to Help You Get Organized at Work.......................... 86 Learn to Delegate............................................................................... 87 Ways to Stop Procrastinating ......................................................... 88 How to Handle Calls From You Children While You’re At Work ......................................................................... 89 Beware of Burnout.............................................................................90 Alternative Work Options ................................................................91 Strategies for Proposing Alternative Work Options ................ 92 Employee Assistance Proposing Programs................................ 93 Know Your Rights The Family and Medical Leave Act ............ 94 Working During Pregnancy............................................................ 95 Negotiating and Planning for Family Leave ............................ 96 Returning to Work After Family Leave ....................................... 97 Breast-feeding and Work ................................................................ 98
Understanding the Working Parent’s Needs It’s 9:30 a.m. when Mike Perkins calls you from his car on his cell phone. He promised to review some sales figures with you before an important meeting that’s half an hour away. “It’s been one of those mornings, Bob,” he says apologetically. “Melissa is out of town on business, so I have to drop Jennifer at preschool, and we’re stuck in traffic. I’ll be there in about 20 minutes and we’ll go over those numbers quickly before the meeting.”
It’s a safe bet that your workplace includes dozens of men and women just like Mike Perkins who are struggling to balance work and parenting responsibilities. Today’s families are different from those in the past. In more than half of families with children under age 6, both parents are working. Women are returning to work after the birth of a baby sooner than ever before, and men are assuming more child care responsibilities than ever before. And, it’s estimated that 20 million children live in a home with a single parent. Your company’s success depends, in large part, on how effectively it recognizes and addresses the wide variety of challenges facing working parents. More and more employers are using generous work/family benefit packages to attract and retain top workers. Companies and managers who don’t accommodate the needs of working parents may encounter serious problems relating to employee loyalty, turnover, absenteeism and stress.
What Do Working Parents Need? Respect, Understanding, Acknowledgment and Acceptance Get to know your employees and the wide range of challenges they face. Hundreds of thousands of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s now find themselves squeezed between caring for their children and their elderly parents. As these members of the “Sandwich Generation” attempt to balance work and caretaking responsibilities, they frequently give up much-needed personal time in the process. These employees are likely to feel stressed out and lose productivity until they find new ways to manage their busy lives.
Flexibility and Alternative Work Options Working parents can thrive with flexible scheduling options that allow them to work part-time, telecommute, share jobs or take leaves of absence. For example, employees who need more personal time around holidays may appreciate the option to make up the work on another day. Be flexible and creative in assisting workers who need to rearrange their schedules.
Resources to Help Them Cope Employers use a variety of strategies and services to help working parents cope with multiple demands. Some organizations may have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can provide employees with lists of child care and senior services and offer referrals to a wide variety of other resources, including stress management workshops, books on parenting and personal counselors. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your organization’s EAP program and other services designed to help your employees manage their work and family obligations. By supporting your employees’ lives outside work, you may help them be more productive on the job.
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The Family and Medical Leave Act:
Managing Family Leave What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act? Passed in 1993 by U. S. Congress, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family or medical leave and return to their jobs. Employees may use the leave to care for:
o a newborn or newly adopted child. o their spouse. o a child or parent with a serious health condition. In addition, FMLA covers employees who are absent because of their own serious health conditions, including incapacitating illnesses, injuries, impairments or physical or mental conditions that require treatment for more than three calendar days. Employees with prenatal complications or other conditions that would result in incapacity for more than three calendar days are also covered.
Who Must Comply? Private sector employers with 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius of the company must comply with FMLA. Public employers are also mandated to comply, regardless
of the number of employees. Employers are not required to provide FMLA leave to key employees, such as those who are among the top 10 percent of the highest-paid employees within a 75-mile radius.
Who’s Eligible for FMLA Leave? To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive) and at least 1,250 hours during that period.
Leave Without Pay Generally, FMLA leave is without pay. However, an employee may be able to use sick leave or accrued vacation time with approval during an FMLA leave. The employer is required to continue to pay its share of health insurance premiums during an FMLA leave and to keep the employee’s group health insurance in force, even if it requires advancing money for coverage.
Returning to Work When an employee returns to work from an FMLA leave, he or she is entitled to the same position or a substantially similar position. The employee can’t lose any status, including pay,
benefits, seniority or other employment rights, as a result of taking an FMLA leave. If the employee returns to work with a condition that’s a recognized disability, the employer may need to make a reasonable accommodation as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Employer’s Responsibilities The burden falls on the employer to notify an employee of his or her right to take FMLA leave. Employers are responsible for determining whether an absence is covered by FMLA, regardless of whether an employee claims the absence as such. The employer may ask the employee to provide enough information, including confirmation from a doctor, to verify that the leave request qualifies under FMLA. However, information about an individual’s medical condition is considered confidential. Human resources departments generally handle the administrative details of FMLA leave, including leave request forms. If an employee is unable to report to human resources, the employer has an obligation to take or mail the necessary information to the employee.
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Understanding the Sandwich Generation Alice Robinson, one of your most competent employees, is exhausted and distracted. Two weeks ago, her 82-year-old father was found wandering miles from home. Alice is also concerned about her adolescent daughter. Since her grandfather started acting strangely, the 13-year-old has been skipping school and hanging out with kids who seem to be “trouble.” In the past 10 days, Alice has missed four afternoons of work while she checked out adult day care centers for her father and visited her daughter’s school to talk about the girl’s absences. Alice asks if you know where she can turn for help. Alice is a typical member of the “Sandwich Generation,” working adults, often in their 30s, 40s and 50s, who are caught between the demands of caring for aging parents and raising their children. The ranks of the Sandwich Generation are growing. About 85% of American workers have family responsibilities at home—for children, aging parents and other relatives, or an ailing spouse or partner. Working adults with conflicting caregiving demands live in every state in the nation and work in just about every imaginable occupation. Members of the Sandwich Generation share many of these concerns:
o the need for information and referrals to child care providers and elder care services o a need for alternative work options that allow them to work outside the traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday week o strained relationships with elderly parents caused by caretaking responsibilities o concerns about finding good quality child care o a need to learn better parenting and communication skills o stressed relationships with spouses o health problems caused by stress and burnout o the need to incorporate exercise and relaxation into their lives
How Can Employers Help? In order to remain productive members of the workforce, members of the Sandwich Generation and other working parents need practical help balancing their work and family obligations. Organizations that recognize this need now offer services to help employees, including referrals to child and elder care providers, crisis management services, workshops, family-friendly policies and information on other community resources. Some organizations also offer support groups and alternative work options, such as part-time job-sharing, compressed work week and flextime, which allow employees to adjust their work schedules to accommodate family and caregiving responsibilities. These services are often provided through an organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or the human resources department. Get to know your employees so you can understand the demands they face. Then learn about the EAP program and related benefits at your organization. Manager training is important for learning to be sensitive and more creative with problem-solving solutions for work-family conflicts. You’ll be a more effective manager when you know how you can help your employees deal with the often delicate balance of work and family responsibilities.
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Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Employees An essential part of your job as a manager is to encourage a climate of open communication in the workplace. Use the tips below to help develop good communication skills.
Remember the Value of Diversity
Take Time to Build Relationships In addition to reviewing job responsibilities, giving employees feedback and discussing attendance issues, an important element of your role is to get to know your employees. When you understand your employees’ individual work styles, preferences and needs, you can gain their trust. You can motivate them to achieve greater productivity, more effective teamwork and higher morale. When someone joins your work team, learn about their special skills and talents. Find out about their learning style and the type of feedback they appreciate. Ask them about their previous successes and how they work best with others.
Learn to Be an Active Listener Good communication is a two-way street, a process of give and take between individuals. When you initiate conversations with employees, greet them personally and be an active listener. Ask friendly questions, such as “How’s the family?” and “What’s going on with you?” Listen for hidden messages in words and actions. The speaker may not want to say certain things out of fear of a negative reaction. Be aware of the other person’s body language and tone of voice. Don’t pry or ask questions that are too invasive or personal. And don’t ask about sensitive issues or situations in front of other employees.
Your workplace is composed of people from widely diverse backgrounds who come together to accomplish common goals. Remember that everyone wants to be treated as an individual and judged on their own merits. When evaluating a worker’s performance, make sure that you focus on what they do and not who they are.
Give Effective Feedback Employees need to know how well they’re doing at work and it’s your job to tell them. The most effective feedback is… ✓ specific: “You wrote a thorough analysis on the Anderson project,” rather than “You’ve been doing a good job lately.” ✓ timely: Give feedback as soon as possible. ✓ descriptive: Give facts. Talk about your observations, rather than what you’ve concluded from your observations. ✓ sensitive: When emotions run high, allow a cooling-off period before talking. ✓ helpful: When feedback is negative, explore alternatives for improvement so the employee has goals to aim for. Use the “sandwich technique” by saying one positive statement followed by the negative feedback and then another compliment.
Be Understanding About Personal Issues At some point, you may be faced with an employee’s family, financial, legal or health crisis. Learn all you can about your organization’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and policies on time-off to handle personal problems. Stay in touch with the employee as he or she resolves a crisis. Determine and discuss your expectations about your employee’s return to productivity.
Learn When It’s Better to Keep Quiet Some subjects should not be matters of public discussion in the workplace. These include an employee’s work performance, your feelings about company policy and difficulties you have with your boss. It’s also important to keep confidential any personal problems employees bring to you and anything anyone tells you in confidence. The only exception to this practice would be when keeping quiet involves breaking the law or company policy.
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Recognize the Warning Signs of Stress When you experience situations you can’t control, your “fight or flight” response pumps extra adrenaline into your system. This jolt of powerful hormones readies your body for action. This physical response helped prehistoric humans survive by enabling them to run away from their enemies faster or to fight harder. By the time they won the battle or escaped, their bodies had discharged the tension of the moment and their stress response was followed by relaxation. However, many of the stressful situations people experience today don’t offer this outlet for release. In the workplace, stress often results from feeling a lack of control or from failing to get adequate recognition or feedback. Employees who are uncertain about their job future or are overqualified for their positions may also experience work-related stress. It’s important for managers to understand and recognize the warning signs of stress. Workers under stress may be emotionally unstable and exhibit depression, irritability, anxiety, apathy or impatience. They may be tardy and absent more than usual. Further problems could include difficulties with supervisors and coworkers, and overuse of drugs and alcohol.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress o insomnia and other sleep problems o appetite changes o fidgeting or nervousness o forgetfulness o eating disorders o sexual problems o skin problems, such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne o back pain o cold sores o digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and ulcers o tension headaches and migraines o high blood pressure o nervous tics o trembling o shortness of breath o inability to concentrate
How You Can Help an Employee Who’s Under Stress If you notice an employee who’s under a lot of stress, try to help determine what’s causing the problem. The employee may benefit from clarification about a specific project or deadline. Perhaps the employee’s stress is related to concerns about leaving an infant with a child care provider or the availability of services for an elderly parent. If on-the-job stress seems to come from interpersonal conflicts, be supportive. Refer employees to counselors and conflict management services. Your organization’s human resources department and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are good sources of information on stress reduction, time management, child and elder care services and other issues of interest to employees managing multiple demands in their lives.
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Watch Out for Employee Burnout It happens in every workplace. Employees who were once enthusiastic, confident workers start to come in late and call in sick more often. Their productivity drops and their attitudes become negative. They complain about their health and may even show signs of abusing alcohol or drugs. These workers may be showing signs of employee burnout. As an employer or manager, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout, understand its causes and take action to help an employee recover, if possible.
Symptoms of Employee Burnout
What Is Burnout?
What Can You Do to Help?
Burnout is a state of physical and/or emotional exhaustion that results from unrelenting stress. Burnout occurs when a person has been involved in a frustrating or intensely demanding situation for a long time without adequate rest and recreation. Although often discussed in relation to the workplace, burnout also hits those who shoulder demanding caregiving responsibilities for small children or sick and elderly individuals.
What Causes Job Burnout? A person who has been passed over for a promotion may lose his or her motivation at work. Reorganization, continual change and overwork without recognition or sufficient payback also contribute to employee burnout. Individuals who work in downsizing companies may burn out because they’re expected to do more work in less time. Employees who anticipate leaving a job may also exhibit burnout behavior because they no longer feel an investment in the workplace. Employees can bring on their own burnout by overworking and not setting appropriate boundaries.
o changes in work habits and attitude o loss of motivation o absenteeism/tardiness o negativity and emotional outbursts o health problems o increased use of drugs or alcohol
✓ Readjust workloads creatively when your department loses employees due to downsizing. ✓ Whenever possible, give advance notice about changes in positions and assignments. ✓ Firm up schedules to provide a sense of continuity during uncertain times. ✓ Redistribute workloads or break larger projects into smaller ones to help overworked employees. ✓ Be an active listener. Give employees a chance to vent their frustrations. ✓ Schedule a team event outside the organization to promote loyalty. ✓ Refer employees to resources available in your community or through your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
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Create a Win-Win Situation Be Receptive to Alternative Work Options
The workplace has undergone dramatic demographic changes in recent years. Today, only 4 percent of families fit the traditional model of a married couple, where the father works outside the home and the mother stays home to care for the children. At least 10 million children under the age of 5 need child care while their parents work. In addition, at least 16 percent of workers have elder care responsibilities. The traditional 9-to-5 work week no longer meets the needs of a large proportion of today’s workers. Given these workplace realities, many employers have begun to offer their employees a range of alternative work options. Their flexibility has paid off. Research shows that employees who have more control over their work schedules are more loyal, committed, innovative and satisfied on the job. It’s likely that the benefits of alternative work options will outweigh any disadvantages at your company. If, for example, an experienced, valued employee wants to scale back her hours during the last six weeks of her pregnancy, you could shift some of her job tasks to another worker or hire a part-time employee. The benefits of retaining a seasoned worker while training others to increase their skills will outweigh any inconveniences and additional costs.
Develop a Plan If your organization doesn’t already have a policy on flexible work schedules and other alternative work options, it may take some effort to develop a plan.
o Investigate plans at other organizations similar to yours. o Do a survey of the needs at your organization. o Test a pilot program.
Some Alternative Work Options FLEXTIME—work schedules that permit flexible starting and quitting times within limits set by management
COMPRESSED WORK WEEK—a 40-hour work week compressed into less than five days TELECOMMUTING—working off-site while linked to the office electronically
ALTERNATIVE STAFFING—working on a short-term assignment while employed either by an agency or directly by the employer
REGULAR PART-TIME—part-time employment that includes job security and all other rights and prorated benefits available to an organization’s full-time workers
JOB SHARING—regular part-time work in which two people voluntarily share the responsibilities of one full-time salaried position with benefits
PHASED RETIREMENT—gradual retirement brought about by the reduction of full-time employment commitments over a period of years V-TIME PROGRAMS—time/income tradeoffs that allow full-time employees to reduce work hours for a specified period of time with a corresponding reduction in pay LEAVE OF ABSENCE/SABBATICAL—an authorized period of time away from work—paid or unpaid—without loss of employment rights
o Train managers in creative scheduling. o Contact work/family consultants to help you develop options that will work best for your organization and your employees.
WORK SHARING—an alternative to layoff, in which all or part of an organization’s workforce temporarily reduces hours and salary, sometimes with short-time compensation from unemployment insurance
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What Is Balance? If you look around, you’ll probably notice that the happiest, most productive people you know are those who have learned to combine work, family relationships and leisure time into a satisfying whole. These “balance experts” know that each of these elements of their lives is needed to support the other two. People with balanced lives:
✓ learn to evaluate priorities and focus on the “big picture.” ✓ know how to use long-range planning, prioritizing and organizational skills to make sense out of conflicting demands. ✓ see a warning light go off when the demands of work intrude on family time, or when family responsibilities distract them on the job. ✓ know that leisure time—including private time away from spouses and family members—is essential to rejuvenate their spirits. ✓ approach their commitments with well-defined goals and a positive attitude. ✓ value open communication with their employers and family members. ✓ learn how to communicate more effectively with their coworkers and their children. ✓ learn how to shift gears when it’s time to refocus their priorities.
How’s Your Balancing Act? □ Yes □ No Does your family complain about the long hours you spend at work? □ Yes □ No Do you spend hours on the job dealing with family matters? □ Yes □ No Do you frequently bring work home from the office? □ Yes □ No Do you feel guilty about taking vacations? □ Yes □ No Do you put off getting regular exercise? □ Yes □ No Do you feel dissatisfied with your current job responsibilities? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may benefit from learning how to balance work, career and leisure time to create a more satisfying life. You might want to talk to a professional counselor or therapist about how to create boundaries in your life, and communicate your needs more effectively to your family and coworkers. With a better sense of balance, you’ll reap the rewards of good physical and mental health, higher productivity and strengthened family ties.
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Ways to Achieve Balance Life can be a juggling act. Work, family and personal needs compete for your time and attention, but a sense of “balance” can help you create a rich and varied life free from conflicting demands. Your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you find child care and refer you to social services, community resources, educational opportunities and seminars that can help you learn how to balance work and family demands. Here are some other ways to help you achieve balance: At Home
• Take breaks.
• Spend time with your children.
• Use your lunch hour.
Breaks help you concentrate. Get up and stretch, have a refreshing glass of water or take a short walk, if possible.
Strengthen your youngsters’ self-esteem and build a positive relationship that will last a lifetime by spending as much time with them as you can.
Write a letter, pick up some groceries or make personal phone calls. Schedule a doctor appointment, read a book or think of ways to improve your work-family balance while you rest.
• Sharpen your communication skills.
• Make meal times special. Dine together as a family several times a week. Make the dinner table a place for family members to share news and excitement. Serve healthy meals that everyone enjoys.
• Hold family meetings. Use regular meetings to discuss goals, problems, family events, plan free time together and to assign household chores.
• Maintain a calendar of family activities. Use colorful markers to note all appointments, meetings and special family occasions. Post the calendar where everyone can see and use it.
• Have fun with your family. Plan fun family activities. Exercise together; go on bike rides, hikes or day trips to relaxing places. Join fundraising walks and fun runs.
At Work • Plan, prioritize and organize your work life. Make long- and shortrange plans for individual projects. Prioritize each day’s tasks, listing the most important jobs first. Set a deadline for each task so you can complete the project on time.
You’ll have fewer problems at work—and at home— if you can express yourself clearly and understand others. Talk with your supervisor if you’re having any problems at work.
Leisure Time • Cultivate personal interests. Take time for gardening, golf or crafts activities. Sign up for art classes. Join a bowling league. Learn to play the guitar.
• Build regular exercise into your routine. Join a health center or explore other options for regular exercise. Put on the calendar the time you’ve committed to exercise. Make “exercise dates” with a friend to help build commitment and fun into your workout.
• Take mini-vacations. A day trip to the country or a recreational area can add variety and relaxation to your life at little or no cost.
• Get involved in your community. Coach your child’s soccer team. Give a crafts demonstration for the local scouting group. Volunteer for a special project at your place of worship.
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Some people compare their busy lives to a giant jigsaw puzzle. The whole picture is complete when all the parts fit smoothly together. How well do the pieces of your life fit together? This quiz will help you assess whether you need to fine-tune your work-family balancing skills. Yes
How Well Are You Balancing Work and Family?
At Home Is your family satisfied with the amount of time you spend with them each week?
Does your family have regular meetings to discuss chores, errands and other family topics?
Do you communicate your expectations about household responsibilities in a positive way?
Do you plan and prepare meals in advance?
At Work Do you have long-term career goals?
Do you understand and agree with your employer’s expectations of you?
Is the number of hours you spend at work sufficient to complete your job?
Is your income sufficient to support you and your family?
Do you follow a regular exercise program?
Have you taken a vacation in the last year?
Do you take time to develop your personal interests, such as gardening, crafts and education?
Do you feel comfortable taking time for □ yourself, without your spouse or children?
If you answered “no” to more than three of these questions, you may need to fine-tune your balancing act. Take some time to organize your home life and set long-term goals at work.
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How Do You Spend Your Time Each Week? No matter how you look at it, there are only 24 hours in each day. If you spend seven or eight hours sleeping each night, that leaves approximately 120 waking hours per week. Are you spending your time the way you want to? The first step in achieving better control of your time is to understand how you use it. ACTIVITY
HOURS SPENT EACH WEEK DOING ACTIVITY
I WANT TO SPEND MORE/LESS TIME ON THIS ACTIVITY (+/-)
AT HOME CARING FOR CHILDREN AND OTHER DEPENDENT FAMILY MEMBERS PRIVATE TIME WITH SPOUSE OR PARTNER EATING MEALS HOUSEWORK LAUNDRY SHOPPING PREPARING MEALS COMMUTING TO AND FROM WORK SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE READING HOBBIES RECREATION VISITING FRIENDS AND RELATIVES COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT WATCHING TV OTHER LEISURE TIME SLEEPING
AT WORK MEETINGS WITH COLLEAGUES LONG- AND SHORT-TERM PLANNING DELEGATING AND MANAGING PROJECTS JOB TASKS TELEPHONE CALLS BREAKS CONTINUING EDUCATION
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Tips for Managing Your Time There never seem to be enough hours in the day to manage both work and family obligations. But time management at home and at work can give you a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind. Here are some simple time management tips for home and work:
" Plan, shop and prepare meals in advance. " Keep a family calendar to schedule holidays, sporting events, school projects and field trips, doctor appointments and other important times.
" Hold family meetings to discuss goals,
problems and family events and to assign household chores.
" Get help when you need it for chores and dependent care.
" Eliminate unnecessary chores. " Schedule time to relax. " Handle every piece of mail only once; reserve one place to put important school notices, mail, etc.
" Help your children learn good study habits and to use their time effectively. Teach them to take responsibility for their schoolwork.
! Establish long- and short-range goals and objectives.
! Do your most difficult tasks when your energy is at its peak.
! Make a list of weekly objectives and prioritize it.
! Make a daily “to-do” list and prioritize it. ! Break large jobs into smaller parts. ! Do one job at a time. ! Postpone when necessary. ! Ask for feedback. ! Plan “quiet time” during the day when you can get your work done.
! Handle each piece of paper only once. ! Delegate responsibility; assign tasks to other people.
" Keep outside commitments to a manageable number. Learn to say no when necessary.
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Combining Work and Family How to Make It Work If you’re like most working parents, you juggle child care arrangements and concerns about your aging parents’ capabilities with job worries and the evening’s dinner menu. Your employer depends on you to be organized and efficient. Your family needs you to be nurturing and compassionate. You wear many different hats each day and you need every available resource to help you succeed. What’s available to help you manage these multiple roles? Your primary resources are within you. Most important is the value you place on family communication and the care you take to nurture your relationships with your spouse and children. Also important is your ability to make plans and prioritize your time. But most working adults need outside help to balance work and family obligations. Fortunately, many employers realize that their workforce is composed of people just like you. Most companies have special resources to connect you with services to assist you in managing your responsibilities. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you try to fit work and family responsibilities into a busy, but satisfying life:
CONNECT WITH YOUR FAMILY. Make time for togetherness. Make sure your spouse and children know that their needs are important despite your busy schedule. Take time to enhance your parenting skills and learn how to communicate with your children. Private time with your spouse should take high priority when you plan your time.
ORGANIZE AND PRIORITIZE YOUR LIFE. Learn and use long-range planning techniques at home and at work. Organize your household so it can function smoothly without you. Use effective time management techniques at work that streamline your job and reduce stress.
USE FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES. You can find out about child care and elder care services in your community through local agencies and resource centers. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) frequently has information about these services. Your EAP also may be a good resource for books and videos about parenting and referrals to a wide variety of counseling services.
INVESTIGATE EMPLOYER-SPONSORED BENEFITS AND PROGRAMS. Your organization may offer the option of working a schedule other than the traditional 9-to-5 work week. Some common alternative work options include flextime, job sharing and telecommuting.
Some employers offer benefit programs that give an employee a way to ease the financial stress of caring for an elderly relative. For instance, some programs are set up to deduct pretax dollars from an employee’s paycheck and earmark the fund for dependent care expenses. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of medical leave and return to their jobs. Employees may use FMLA leave to care for a child, a spouse or a parent or to tend to their own health conditions.
ENJOY YOUR LEISURE TIME. Plan and enjoy relaxing activities with your spouse and family. Try to save some time for yourself. Establish a regular exercise routine (at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week) and find other ways to enjoy personal time.
LET GO OF PERFECTION. Realize that it’s impossible to be a perfect parent, whether you work away from home all day or stay at home. Your ability to provide love, constructive discipline and guidance is the most important gift you can give your children. Talk to your children about their day instead of rushing to bake cookies for the Valentine’s Day party. Have easy dinners every night instead of one gourmet meal a week. With good planning, organization and knowledge of how to balance work and family responsibilities, you can make it all work for you and your family.
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Plan for Success Planning pays off, both at home and at work. Here are some tips to help you take care of family responsibilities at home, and work responsibilities on the job.
Establish Long- and Short-Range Goals
What’s most important? Private time with family members? Meal preparation? Quiet time? List 10 household responsibilities in order of importance. 1. _______________________ 6. ________________________ 2. _______________________ 7. ________________________ 3. _______________________ 8. ________________________ 4. _______________________ 9. ________________________ 5. _______________________ 10. _______________________
Goals are your road maps for success. They tell you where you are and where you want to go.
Using your list of priorities, clarify what you expect of your family members and what they may expect of you. You’ll be happier with the results when others know what’s expected of them.
Yearly, monthly, weekly and daily charts help you break a big job into smaller parts.
Spend Time With Family Members
Make sure every member of your family understands that their needs are important, despite your busy schedule. Try to spend time with everyone one on one as well as togther as a whole family. Use a Family Calendar
Note birthdays, appointments, school events, holidays and special occasions. Post the calendar where everyone can see and use it.
Keep on top of grocery shopping and laundry so that a day’s delay won’t leave your family without food or clean clothes. Plan, shop for and prepare meals in advance. Be Smart About Kids’ Clothing
Keep a notebook with the clothing sizes for every family member. Include your kids’ favorite colors and styles. Encourage children to shop for clothing when they’re old enough. Select garments that are durable, simple in design, easy to care for, that your children like and will wear. Plan for Emergencies
Identify friends and family members who can help in an emergency. Give a spare set of house keys to a neighbor. Make arrangements with someone who can provide child care at a moment’s notice.
Define tasks needed to complete your project. Set deadlines and follow-up mechanisms. Use Calendars and Planners
Clarify & Communicate Your Expectations
Organize Your Household
Plan to Reach Your Goals
Plan for Your Absence
Keep a supply of favorite staple foods on hand so your family can prepare easy meals in your absence. When appropriate, show your children how to use the dishwasher and other household appliances.
Consult your weekly planning chart to make daily to-do lists. Use the ABC method to determine your priorities. Put each item in one of the following categories: Priority A—“Must-Do” These are critical items that must be accomplished right away.
Priority B—“Should-Do” These are items that are less urgent. B items can be postponed temporarily, if necessary. Priority C—“Nice-to-Do” These items could be eliminated, postponed or scheduled for another time. Delegate When Appropriate
Cross-train coworkers. Balance the workload. Give credit when others do the work. Work With Colleagues
Plan contact with colleagues and staff to minimize the disruption to their schedules. Use a conference planner worksheet. Enter the names of people you frequently call. As you think of an item to discuss with someone, note it under the person’s name.
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Daily Planning Chart THINGS TO DO TODAY TASKS TO COMPLETE
APPOINTMENTS TO KEEP 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:00
PHONE CALLS TO MAKE
DONE 1:00 2:00 3:00
PEOPLE TO SEE
4:00 5:00 6:00 7:00
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Daily Time Log ✓ Record your activities and their duration every half hour. ✓ Comment on each activity. (Did something take longer than usual? Why?) ✓ At the end of the day note whether it was typical, busy or less busy than usual. ✓ Add up the time spent on various major activities and show the totals along with any other comments at the bottom.
DAILY TIME LOG Day of Week: TIME
7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30 11:00 11:30 12:00 12:30 1:00 1:30 2:00 2:30 3:00 3:30 4:00 4:30 5:00 5:30 Was this day:
□ Typical? □ More busy? □ Less busy?
Time spent: _______________________________________________ __________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________
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The Importance of Setting Priorities As a working adult, you have to juggle multiple responsibilities, including meeting deadlines, arranging child care, strengthening your relationship with your spouse and taking care of your personal need for leisure and relaxation. Some people breeze through busy days as if they had a strong, steady wind in their sails. Others feel hopelessly caught in swirling eddies of confusion. To be successful managing multiple work and family demands, you must identify your long-term goals and objectives; then you can set daily priorities. Make a “to-do” list of the five most important tasks for the next day. Consider your most pressing work, family and personal time commitments. On busy days, you may need to compromise. If your sales report is due the next day, you may have to send your daughter to her scout meeting with store-
bought instead of homemade cookies. Don’t forget to schedule leisure time for yourself and private time with your spouse and children.
Setting Priorities First: List everything you need to do. Next: Prioritize the items on your list. After you’ve listed your tasks, use the ABC method to determine your priorities. As you assign a priority to each item, ask yourself: ■ Why am I doing this? ■ How does this relate to my goals and objectives? ■ How urgent is this task? ■ Can anyone else do it?
These essential items include crucial deadlines, commitments you’ve made to others and management directives. Include on this list things that are important to you to do. For example, if it is important to you to volunteer in your child’s classroom, put that on the list.
These are items of medium value that don’t have critical deadlines, or involve commitments to others, or they are important, but can be put off until you have more time.
These items have no deadline, and could be eliminated, postponed or scheduled for slower periods.
Items on your A, B and C lists may shift positions over time. Deadlines come and go and important new projects land on your desk. It’s important to review your priority list weekly to reflect the changing demands on your time. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.017 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
PERSONAL GOAL-SETTING WORKSHEET
Goal-setting is a powerful exercise. When you write down your plans, they have a way of becoming reality. This goal-setting worksheet will help you define what’s important to you.
Long-Term Goals (10 years): ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
Short-Term Goals (five years): ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________
Immediate Goals (six months to one year): ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ What’s Most Important? List your three most important goals: 1. __________________________________________________ 2. __________________________________________________ 3. __________________________________________________ What Could Get in My Way? List some obstacles to accomplishing your goals: _______ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ What Actions Do I Take to Meet My Goals? What resources will you need? ________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ How can you overcome obstacles?_____________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Who Can Help Me? List family members, friends and coworkers who can help you meet your goals: ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ When Do I Start? Write down a kickoff date for taking action. Indicate when you hope to accomplish the goal: Start Date End Date _______________________ __________________________ _______________________ __________________________ _______________________ __________________________ _______________________ __________________________ _______________________ __________________________
Career Goals • get a promotion • learn a new job skill • reach a certain • complete a project in a professional level specified amount of time My Career Goals: ____________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Financial Goals • earn a certain amount of • set up an investment money in a specified time program • get rid of debt My Financial Goals:__________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Educational Goals • earn credits toward a degree • take adult education classes My Educational Goals: _______________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Health and Fitness Goals • work out three or • have an annual checkup four times a week • quit smoking • join a health club • eat nutritious food My Health and Fitness Goals: _________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Community Involvement • volunteer with a scouting group, at a hospital or a similar organization My Community Goals: _______________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Aim for Greater Self-Understanding • work to become less anxious, jealous or insecure • meet new people; make new friends My Personal Goals: __________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Spiritual Growth • set aside time to think about spiritual matters • join a house of worship My Spiritual Goals: __________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Leisure Time • relax more • make time for a hobby • plan a trip • go to a baseball game My Leisure Goals: ___________________________________
After you complete this exercise, keep it in a safe place. Spend at least 10 minutes each morning planning how to translate your long-range goals into action steps. When you make a regular habit of reviewing your goals, you’ll be better able to achieve them. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.018 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
MANAGE YOUR TIME • Schedule quiet time at home to refresh your mind. • Say “no” to friends and family members when you need to. • Consolidate errands. • Make constructive use of slow time. STAY FOCUSED ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT • Remind yourself of your long-term goals daily. Revise them when necessary. • Set daily priorities and make plans to achieve your goals. If you tend to procrastinate, focus on the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when the job is done.
Get Organized at Home Success at home is a combination of long-term planning and daily action. Good organization helps you see what’s important. It also helps you gain control of your time so you can plan and complete the tasks needed to achieve your goals. This list offers some tips for daily organization that will help you reach your long-term goals.
USE CALENDARS • Post a family calendar to schedule holiday celebrations, doctor appointments, birthday parties and recreational activities. • Check your calendar daily. • Write down all firm commitments in pencil rather than trusting your memory. • Review your activities in advance. MAKE LISTS • Use checklists to simplify shopping, traveling and entertainment. • Make to-do lists each day. • Keep a household bulletin board where family members can note “wish-list” items. DELEGATE TASKS • Assign work tasks to appropriate family members. • Get your kids involved in housework. • Post chores on a bulletin board everyone can see. CUT THROUGH CLUTTER • Donate unneeded household items to charity. • Establish family agreements about putting away toys and clothes. • Sort incoming mail into categories by priority or action. SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE • Buy low-maintenance clothing for yourself and your family. • Remove kitchen appliances you rarely use. • Consolidate weekly errands and shopping into one trip. STAY ORGANIZED • Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day cleaning up. • Write notes in the appropriate places. • Let go of the need to make everything perfect.
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Forget Perfection What’s so great about being perfect? The truth is: absolutely nothing. While it’s admirable to put your best efforts into your work and parenting responsibilities, it’s simply impossible to be perfect at everything you do. Perfectionism makes people set unrealistically high standards for themselves. People who get caught in this way of thinking may feel that their self-worth or job security depends on turning in a consistently spotless performance. For some people, perfectionism is simply a way of coping that they learned as children, a behavior they’ve never questioned. There’s a great irony to perfectionism. Instead of increasing your sense of competency and self-esteem, perfectionist thinking can actually prevent you from succeeding. For example, administrative assistant Tony Bly frequently procrastinates about starting projects because he fears making mistakes. His procrastination often leads to missed deadlines and results in blows to his self-esteem. Perfectionism also can increase your stress levels and take its toll on your physical and emotional health. Sales manager Martha Sanchez has very high standards about work and parenting. She won’t let a report leave her desk without reviewing it a dozen times. Lately, she’s been spending hours on the job trying to find new child care for her daughter. Her concentration is faltering and she’s given up her lunch-time walks in order to catch up on her work. Martha is ready to explode. Her children and
coworkers have noticed that she’s extremely irritable lately. When you feel like you’re in the grip of perfectionism, take stock of the things that you value most in life. Whose standards are you trying to meet? Are they your employer’s? Your spouse’s? Your parents’? Yours? Once you realize that your perfectionist standards are the product of an unrealistic way of thinking, you’ll be on the road to becoming a more productive employee, a more effective parent and a happier person.
Here are some ideas to help you fight perfectionist thinking… ✓ Some tasks deserve meticulous preparation and execution, but most projects can be completed on time with a more realistic amount of effort. ✓ You’ll have more satisfying relationships with others when you let yourself make mistakes. People tend to resent others who behave as if they always have to be perfect. ✓ Things always take longer than planned. Having quality work completed on time is usually better than striving for perfection and completing the project behind schedule. ✓ Your knowledge and skills increase more rapidly if you view your mistakes as a learning experience. ✓ There’s no such thing as a perfect world.
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Take Care of Yourself It’s easy to focus on your responsibilities to your partner, children and employer and forget about taking care of yourself. You can improve your self-care habits if you:
Cultivate a Positive Attitude
Eat a Balanced Diet
Focus on the good things you see in yourself and act on your strengths. Recognize that you have the capacity to turn unsatisfying situations into more rewarding experiences. Believe in your ability to influence people and circumstances. Learn to enjoy—rather than fear—change.
Relax There are a number of effective relaxation techniques you can use to quiet your mind. Try deep breathing, meditation or visualization. One simple visualization technique is to imagine you’re in a peaceful spot in a forest, by a river or near the ocean. Hear the waves crashing on the beach or the wind rustling through the trees. Smell the crisp, cool air and see the beautiful vistas. To learn more relaxation techniques, purchase books and audio tapes or join classes at community and recreation centers.
Establish an Exercise Routine A regular exercise routine—whether it includes jogging, walking, swimming or bicycling—helps keep you physically and emotionally hardy. Exercise builds the heart, burns pent-up energy and gets endorphins—those “feel-good” hormones— circulating through your body. Try to get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. Try swimming, running, biking or dancing. Nonaerobic exercises, such as yoga, can also improve your health by stretching and relaxing the muscles and inducing deep relaxation and a state of mental wellbeing.
Eat a variety of foods to get the nutrients you need while limiting your calories to maintain a healthy weight. Take your cues from the USDA Food Guide Pyramid. Eat: ✓ six to 11 servings of whole grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta per day. ✓ three to five servings of vegetables per day. ✓ two to four servings of fruits per day. ✓ two to three servings of calcium, from milk, yogurt and cheese per day. ✓ two to three servings of protein, which can come from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts, per day. ✓ fats, oils and sweets sparingly.
Get Plenty of Rest Are you getting enough sleep? Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep a night. If you have trouble sleeping: ✓ increase duration or frequency of exercise. ✓ take a warm shower before bed. ✓ avoid bringing work-related materials into the bedroom.
Develop a Solid Support System A sense of belonging is good for the body and spirit. People with strong support systems tend to be healthier, happier and better able to tolerate stress. Our friends, family members and coworkers provide valuable feedback, help us confront difficult situations and encourage us to meet our goals.
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Steps to Mental Fitness How’s your mental fitness? Much as you can build your cardiovascular or muscle strength by exercising, you can build mental fitness by embracing new ideas and behaviors. Here’s your training guide: 1. ACCEPT YOURSELF. Learn to understand and accept your preferences, passions and needs. Remember: No one knows you like you do. Spend quiet time writing in a journal or meditating. Talk to a friend about what matters most to you. Don’t blame others for your problems. If your life is boring—or if you feel put upon or neglected—admit it and do something about it. 2. MAKE YOUR NEEDS KNOWN. Express yourself and present your feelings without attacking others. If you have trouble expressing your feelings to others, learn new communication skills. Don’t expect other people to read your mind. 3. DEMONSTRATE BEHAVIOR THAT REFLECTS HIGH SELF-ESTEEM. Relate to yourself and others in ways that reveal that you care for yourself. Use positive body language and project a positive attitude. Look alert and interested and keep a cheerful smile. Practice good grooming habits and dress appropriately for the occasion. 4. DEVELOP YOUR POTENTIAL. Make full use of your abilities and cultivate your personal interests. Learn through reading or taking adult education classes. Try new and interesting things you have never done before. Commit yourself to improving your nutrition, getting adequate rest and starting a regular exercise program. Seek out optimistic people. 5. LET GO OF NEGATIVE JUDGMENTS. People often “push your buttons” when they reflect parts of your own feelings or behavior that you don’t like. Instead of judging others, learn to appreciate their unique strengths. 6. PLAN FOR SUCCESS. Emphasize what you do well. Learn to value and build on your strengths. Take disappointments in stride. Everyone experiences failure at times. The most successful people learn from their disappointments, rather than allowing themselves to be defeated by them. Be aware of when your expectations of yourself are unrealistically high. 7. THINK POSITIVELY. Embrace your good qualities and look ahead to a positive future. Believe that you have the power and ability to transform negative situations into more satisfying experiences. 8. LEARN TO ESCAPE WHEN APPROPRIATE. It’s good to confront people and problems head-on, but sometimes, taking the path of least resistance is the best solution. Add variety to your life by planning some new activities. Don’t depend solely on others to add excitement to your life. 9. FIND WAYS TO HELP OTHERS. Refocus some of your attention away from your own concerns and toward the needs of others. Volunteer for a community project or help a person who is in need of companionship. Listen with all your attention when involved in a conversation. 10. BE WILLING TO SEEK HELP WHEN NEEDED. Find people you can talk to when you have problems. If your cares seem overwhelming, seek professional help. Counseling may be helpful if the intensity of your feelings doesn’t go away after sharing them with friends or family or if you experience persistent feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.022 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Watch Out for Stress Many people think of stress as something that comes from the outside. But, stress is actually defined as how you respond—physically and emotionally—to change and to challenging situations. There are positive and negative aspects of stress. Stress can be experienced as the sense of excitement you feel when you get a promotion, or the feeling of tension that creeps up on you during an argument with your spouse. Some stress helps you concentrate, focus and perform. Many people do their best work when under pressure. But you run into trouble when you can’t relax after meeting a challenge. When stress becomes a constant way of life, your health and well-being can suffer.
Physical Symptoms and Consequences of Stress
Learning to Handle Stress
✓ insomnia ✓ sexual dysfunction ✓ muscle aches ✓ high blood pressure ✓ hormonal imbalances
Many people try to resist or avoid stress. But the best way to manage stress is to develop a sense of control over the important aspects of your life and your responses to challenging situations.
✓ indigestion ✓ headaches ✓ heart attacks ✓ stroke ✓ compromised immune system
Behavioral Symptoms of Stress ✓ isolation from family and friends ✓ increase in smoking ✓ drug and alcohol abuse ✓ depression and anxiety ✓ irritability and rapid mood swings ✓ compulsive eating or dieting ✓ child, spousal or elder abuse
Learn the power of priorities.
One of the most valuable tools you have for managing stress is your ability to establish priorities in your work and family life. Your priorities are based on what’s fundamentally important to your life at home and at work. Most people think of personal priorities in terms of relationships, obligations to meet their own needs and their commitments to work and family. If you feel too much stress in response to challenging situations, it may be time to review your values and priorities. Use time as a tool.
Time management can help you manage stress. Use long-range planning, calendars and to-do lists to organize your time. Ask yourself: “Is this the best use of my time right now?”
Sources of Stress at Work
Learn to communicate.
✓ lack of control caused by unclear job responsibilities or inadequate resources to do the job ✓ lack of recognition or feedback ✓ uncertainty about one’s future ✓ boredom ✓ inadequate compensation ✓ conflicts with managers or coworkers
Express your concerns and needs to those who may be able to help, including your supervisor, Employment Assistance Program (EAP) professional or your spouse. Learn to negotiate and communicate regularly so that stressors don’t build up.
Sources of Stress at Home ✓ child discipline problems ✓ relationships with family members ✓ balancing career and family obligations ✓ coping with financial problems ✓ illness or death in the family ✓ school issues ✓ being overextended
Check your expectations.
Be frank about your expectations of others. Let go of unrealistic expectations of yourself. Expecting perfection from yourself or trying to live up to a role or image that’s not compatible with your skills, personality or values can cause considerable stress. Allow for change.
Remember that change is inevitable. We may work hard to establish priorities only to find that they’re not flexible enough to be realistic. If you’re prepared to accept changes in your plans and adapt to minor setbacks, you’ll be better able to roll with the punches.
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How Well Do You Manage Stress? Stress is what you experience internally in response to new or difficult situations. It’s impossible to avoid stress entirely. But you can build up your resistance to the harmful effects of stress through a combination of exercise, good communication, time management and relaxation. This quiz will help you evaluate your ability to manage the unavoidable stressors in your life.
Always (5 points)
Usually (3 points)
Occasionally (1 point)
1. I exercise three times a week. 2. I eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals. 3. I share my feelings with a partner or friend on a regular basis. 4. I avoid perfectionism and set realistic goals for myself at home and at work. 5. I practice relaxation or meditation techniques each week. 6. I avoid using alcohol and other drugs to deal with pressure. 7. I’m good at giving and receiving positive strokes. 8. I plan regular recreational activities that provide a complete change of scenery. 9. I avoid emotional “overload.” I’ve learned to say “no” when I need to. 10. I feel satisfied with my work commitments and my employer’s expectations of me.
If you scored:
• 10-23, there are several important stress management skills that will help you. Start a regular exercise schedule if you don’t already have one. Improve your communication skills and make more time for relaxation. • 24-35, you have a variety of ways to deal with stress. Take a look at those you need to improve and develop new strategies in these areas. • 36 and above, congratulations, you have some effective ways to deal with the complexities of life. Continue to develop and protect those skills. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.024 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Ten Tips for Combating Stress 1. BELIEVE IN YOUR ABILITY TO COPE. Embrace your strengths. Remind yourself that you can influence the outcome of events in your life. Create action plans to address problems at work and at home. 2. LEARN RELAXATION EXERCISES. Try deep breathing, visualization and meditation. A hot bath, a walk in the park and stretching exercises are also good stress relievers. 3. GET A GRIP ON GUILT. Guilt robs you of your energy and motivation. Be realistic about your expectations of yourself at home and on the job. It’s neither possible nor desirable to try to be a perfect parent, employee or child of an aging parent. 4. TALK TO A FRIEND. Talking about problems can help you blow off steam and give you the perspective you need to solve problems more easily. 5. DEVELOP LEISURE ACTIVITIES. Practice a craft, learn to play a musical instrument, join a community choir or a weekly bridge game. 6. ESTABLISH A REGULAR EXERCISE ROUTINE. Stress produces chemicals that make you feel tense. Exercise helps move these chemicals through your body. Try to get at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. Choose a fun exercise you’ll enjoy and stick with. 7. GET PLENTY OF REST. Most people need seven or eight hours of sleep a night to feel renewed and refreshed. If you have trouble sleeping, increase the duration or frequency of your exercise sessions. Take a warm shower before bed. 8. EAT A BALANCED DIET. Stock up on whole grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Add calcium, in the form of milk, yogurt and cheese, and two to three servings per day of protein from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts. Use fats, oils and sweets sparingly. 9. IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Learn to ask for help when you need it. Defuse misunderstandings before they occur by talking things over with your coworkers, spouse and children. 10. LEARN TO ACCEPT AND ADAPT TO CHANGE. Change is a fact of life. Major work and life changes are common. Whether you welcome or dread these changes, they can all be extremely stressful unless you learn to adjust to them. Take time to recover, refocus and regenerate during a major change such as promotion, relocation, parenthood or divorce. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.025 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
How to Beat Fatigue Feeling tired? Worn out? Has the zip gone out of your step? You may be suffering from fatigue. Fatigue is a condition of weariness or exhaustion that can be caused by a wide variety of physical and emotional conditions. It’s often a by-product of extreme stress. How can you beat fatigue? Take a close look at these important areas of your life: How’s Your Diet?
Are you too busy to prepare decent meals? Do you eat a lot of junk food on the run? A diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals gives you energy and helps cleanse your digestive system. And it’s not a bad idea to use vitamins to supplement your diet. Establish Priorities at Home and at Work.
Prioritizing is the act of choosing from many conflicting demands. Clarify your values and long-term goals. Learn to prioritize job and household tasks so you can work more effectively and enjoy time with your family. Are You Getting Enough Rest?
Sleep needs vary, but most people feel rested after seven or eight hours of shut-eye. If you get enough rest, but still feel ready to call it a day in the middle of the afternoon, you may need more exercise to boost your metabolism. Do You Have a Regular Exercise Routine?
People who run, swim, play tennis or walk vigorously at least three times a week are better equipped to handle stress than stationary folks. If you don’t have a regular exercise program, start one soon. How’s Your Mental Health?
If you feel depressed, lonely or anxious, you’re also likely to feel fatigued. These feelings are signs that you need to make changes in your life. Talk with a trusted friend or a professional counselor. Try to pinpoint the areas of your life that feel out of balance. Be honest about your feelings. You’ll probably find a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. Act, Don’t Worry.
Worry is a waste of time and energy. Take action to address a concern or fix a problem. Your worries will recede into the background once you act. Is Your Life Well Balanced?
Are you working long hours with little time for fun and relaxation? If you’re fatigued, it’s easy to feel too tired for friends or family. But isolation can lead to greater feelings of anxiety and depression. Even though you feel like retreating, reach out to others and enjoy their company. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.026 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Dealing With Guilt What working parent hasn’t felt guilty on occasion? It’s hard to leave a sick child with a baby sitter when you go to the office. And spending too much time handling family emergencies on the job can make you feel sheepish around your boss and coworkers. Guilt is a feeling of not measuring up to your own expectations of yourself. Each of us feels guilt in different degrees. Too much guilt is counterproductive because it creates stress and may prevent you from taking positive action. When you feel overcome with guilt, ask yourself about the source of your expectations. Whose standards are you trying to meet? You may be placing impossible demands on yourself.
Here are some ideas and suggestions that can help you combat guilty feelings: ■ How you relate to your children is more important than what you do for them. It’s OK for them to bring storebought brownies instead of homemade gingerbread cookies to the class holiday party.
■ Everyone defines “quality time” differently. Resist the urge to pack too many activities into a Saturday afternoon in order to make up for being at work all week. Use the time with your child to relax, talk or do household chores.
■ If you must take care of a family emergency during work hours, don’t apologize to your coworkers. Excessive apologies reinforce the idea that you’re doing something wrong.
■ Plan for unexpected family crises. Identify friends and family members who can help in an emergency. Keep a spare set of house keys with a neighbor. ■ Be consistent about your expectations of your children. Don’t let guilt interfere with discipline. All children need limits and boundaries in order to develop independence.
■ If you must go to work when your child is sick, leave a photo of yourself or a tape recording of your voice. Ask the child’s caregiver to reassure the child of your concern. ■ Let go of guilt when you lose your temper or forget to kiss your children goodbye. Kids forget little mistakes. What’s important is that you provide a consistent, warm and loving environment and that you’re available to listen to your kids’ feelings and concerns. ■ Most parents’ guilty feelings stem from a fear that their children may not turn out all right. If you feel guilty too often, get some perspective. Talk about your feelings with other parents and friends. You’ll probably realize that your worries are unrealistic. When you can’t shake lingering guilt, consider talking to a professional counselor. ■ Avoid trying to buy your way out of your guilt by giving your children expensive gifts. ■ Trust that you’re doing the best you can with the demands placed on you and that your best is good enough.
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Build and Use Support Systems A sense of belonging is good for the body and spirit. People with strong support systems tend to be healthier, happier and better able to tolerate stress. Your friends, family members and coworkers can provide valuable feedback, help you confront difficult situations and encourage you to meet your goals. Support systems come in many shapes and sizes. Here are some common ones:
CAREER SUPPORT NETWORK • coworkers • supervisors • Employee Assistance Program professionals • mentors
C SU AREE PP R OR T
FRIENDS AND FAMILY • immediate and extended family members • personal friends • parents of your children’s friends • members of your house of worship • people who share PE SU RSON your interests, such PP AL OR T as bridge, music or crafts • exercise partners • neighbors • fellow community volunteers • members of special interest L IONA S groups, such as outdoor clubs, S T FE PRO UPPOR drama groups or political S organizations
PROFESSIONAL • therapists • career advisors COUNSELORS • clergy members • support groups
H OW TO B U I L D A S U P P O RT S Y S T E M Support systems are second nature for some people. Others work hard to develop them. One thing to remember is that all relationships are a matter of give and take. • Give your attention. People love to have others take an interest in them. Find out what makes your friends tick. Ask questions about their goals, hobbies, families and backgrounds. • Ask for advice. People are flattered when you ask their advice. It makes them feel important. And it makes them more committed to you and your success.
• Give kudos. It’s easy to make people feel positive about themselves. All you have to do is notice what a person is doing well and comment on it. • Seek out people with similar interests. Take a class, join a club or volunteer in the community. It’s often easier to build relationships with people if you have something in common.
• Take the initiative with new friends. Make the first call. Invite a friend to join you for a concert. Ask a coworker to join you at a special seminar. Invite the families of your children’s friends or classmates over for a casual dinner. • Give help when needed. Say “yes” to a friend’s request for company or assistance when appropriate. You’ll be rewarded with a feeling of giving and belonging.
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Make Time for Fun and Relaxation A sense of play and the ability to relax are second nature to some people. These folks don’t need to be reminded of how good it feels to whack a tennis ball over a net or help their kids build a model railroad. For others, it helps to be reminded that play and relaxation have a purpose.
Why You Need Leisure ✓ In addition to providing satisfaction in itself, as little as an hour a day of leisure time helps you stay in balance. ✓ Physical fun in the form of aerobic activity helps dissolve the tension that accumulates in your body during stressful times. ✓ When you add more leisure to your life, you’ll become a healthier and more effective employee and parent.
How to Have Fun Have you forgotten how to have fun? If so, don’t lose hope. Play is serious business for kids, so take some cues from your children. Healthy, happy kids invest their entire heart and soul into their play activities. They approach their physical games and flights of imagination with a kind of abandon most adults have forgotten is possible. ✓ When it’s your turn to play, choose some activities that are just for you. You can do other activities as a family. ✓ If you need to schedule leisure time activities into your busy day, do so. ✓ Pick sports, hobbies and outings that give you and your family a sense of enrichment or simply make everyone feel good. ✓ Remember to allow time for unexpected pleasures. ✓ Reserve quiet times at the beginning or end of the day to meditate or relax with a favorite quiet activity, such as reading or crafts.
Devote Yourself to Fun Once you’ve chosen an activity, put your whole heart and mind into it. If you have trouble letting go of worries and responsibilities, imagine that you’ve
sealed your cares in a carton and stashed it under your desk for a few hours. The box will be there whenever you need to retrieve it. Here are some ideas for having fun:
Personal Recreation ✓ Pursue a new hobby or revive a former one. ✓ Establish and maintain a regular exercise program. ✓ Learn a new sport. Consider racquetball, cycling, jogging, boating or dancing. ✓ Join a book discussion group. ✓ Seek a creative outlet in crafts, music or art. ✓ Join a community group. ✓ Enroll in a class. ✓ Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. ✓ Go for a walk in a new part of town. ✓ Visit an antique shop.
Family Fun ✓ Attend a sports or entertainment event together. ✓ Take your children to a special movie or amusement center. ✓ Go on cycling trips. ✓ Visit the zoo. ✓ Fly a kite. ✓ Take day trips to the country. ✓ Take walks around the neighborhood or to the park or library. ✓ Play charades and board games instead of watching television. ✓ Visit science and art museums. ✓ Make planning your vacation a family activity. Encourage your children to read travel brochures and library books about your destination. Discuss your trip and some of the sights you’ll see. ✓ Participate in bike-a-thons, walk-a-thons and other fund-raisers. ✓ Try family folk dancing and square dancing.
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Superparents Don’t Exist Have you ever met a superparent? This mythical person holds down a demanding job, cooks elaborate meals every night, maintains a spotless house and never loses his or her temper. Chances are you’ve never seen one of these people, even when you look in the mirror. That’s because superparents exist only in your imagination. Is the mythical superparent your secret role model? If so, you’re probably placing unrealistic demands on yourself and your family. Here are some things to keep in mind when you find the specter of the superparent lurking on your shoulder:
Review your values. The most important aspect of parenting is nurturing your child. Your ability to provide love, constructive discipline and guidance to your child is far more important than your attendance at every school event or your recipe for double chocolate chip brownies.
Plan ahead. Learn to apply to the homefront some of the long-range planning skills you use at work. Hold weekly family meetings to discuss chores and expectations and to clear the air. Use a master calendar to post weekly menus and to schedule appointments and special occasions. Plan menus and shop in advance.
Keep housework in perspective. You don’t have to be a perfect housekeeper to be a loving parent. If you’re overwhelmed by the endless cycle of laundry, cleaning and shopping, take time to prioritize and organize your chores. Delegate tasks to older children. Reevaluate your standards. Is it really necessary to have a matching tablecloth and napkins for your 5-year-old’s birthday party?
Choose care providers you trust. Ask friends, relatives, employers and schools for referrals. Visit prospective providers and notice how much attention is given to each child. Evaluate safety precautions, food quality and physical space. Use the time you spent worrying about child care to strengthen your parenting and communication skills.
Make time for yourself and your spouse. In order to be a confident parent, you must first tend to your own personal needs. Make time for exercise and quiet relaxation. Your relationship with your partner or spouse is part of the glue that keeps your family together. When you feel overwhelmed with family and work demands, make a date to take your spouse to a romantic restaurant or a movie.
Forget perfectionism. Remind yourself that children can thrive with less than perfect parents. If you think you’re expecting too much of yourself, ask yourself whose standards you’re trying to meet. Don’t despair. You can learn how to relax and enjoy the scenery. You’ll be a more effective parent and a happier person.
Don’t expect perfect children, either. Remember that your children can’t be perfect either. Expecting them to be straight-A students, star athletes and gifted artists can lead to stress for the entire family. Let them know you expect them to do their best, but they don’t always have to be the best. Keep their commitments outside school to a reasonable number; too many classes and sports can drain the family of time, money and energy. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.030 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Communicating Effectively With Your Spouse While romance might get a relationship started, good communication keeps it going. These healthy communication habits can help you strengthen your bonds with your spouse:
Make intimacy a priority. With busy schedules and multiple demands, it’s easy to let your need for intimate contact with your spouse slide; but intimacy strengthens a relationship like nothing else can. No matter how busy you are with work and family obligations, spend some of private time with your spouse every day. Even if you don’t have time for romance, use the time to talk about the successes and frustrations of your day. Try to schedule regular dates to go to dinner, take a walk or play tennis.
Find a good time to talk about difficult subjects. When you have something difficult to talk about, check with your mate for a specific time to discuss it. Resist the temptation to talk when he or she walks in the door after a hard day at work. Try choosing a subject you want to discuss, and both of you write about it for 10 minutes; then talk about it for 10 minutes. Make sure you stick to the time frame. If you need more time, agree on when you can talk about it again.
Focus your concerns.
Let both sides be heard.
Think about what you want to say before you begin to talk. With sensitive topics, it might be tempting to avoid talking about what’s on your mind. Get right to the point and after you’ve stated your request, listen closely to your spouse’s reply. Stay focused on finding solutions to problems rather than on emphasizing differences.
When you have a disagreement, remember that both of your needs are important. Use a firm and gentle tone of voice in stating what you need, why you need it and what you want your mate to do. However, try not to elevate your needs above your spouse’s. Listen and show that you see things from your spouse’s perspective.
Be honest but not accusatory.
Value your differences.
It’s easy to blame the other person when you’re angry or hurt, but blaming only invites retaliation. Talk about your feelings instead. For instance, avoid saying “You ruined the plans again. You’re always late.” Instead, using “I” statements, say: “I’m very disappointed that you were late. I was counting on you to be home in time.” This approach is less likely to provoke a defensive response and more likely to encourage an open discussion.
Sometimes the differences in your temperaments and communication styles will be more evident than your similarities. When you feel this way, how and what you communicate to your spouse will determine how effectively you solve your problems. Appreciate your differences and you’ll learn to work together better.
Get help if you need it. Couples sometimes need help with their communication skills. Meeting with a therapist can help you set aside time to work on these skills together and give you both a time to share and listen to each other’s needs.
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Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Children Communication is a two-way bridge that connects you to your child’s feelings. Healthy communication between parents and their children helps youngsters develop positive personalities and good relationships with other people. Healthy communication builds your children’s self-esteem because it makes them feel cared for and loved. With caring parents to listen to their concerns, children feel safe and able to express their feelings and needs directly in words. Children who are nurtured with their parents’ attention learn how to manage their feelings without overreacting. A strong bond with your children also helps you feel close to them and understand their needs. Understanding your children in this way gives you the tools to help them grow and manage the inevitable frustrations of being a parent.
Build the Bridge of Communication ✓ Be available. Children need to feel that their parents are available to them. Even spending 10 minutes a day with each child makes the bridge of communication stronger. Get yourself into a quiet, attentive mood before you start listening to your child or talking about something important.
✓ Be an active listener. Children believe they’re important when they feel their parents understand them. Being a good listener helps children feel loved, even when they’re upset and you can’t do anything to fix the problem. Ask your child to tell you his ideas and feelings. Try to understand exactly what your child is saying. What your child is trying to tell you is important to him, even when it may not be to you.
✓ Show empathy. You can show empathy even if you disagree with your child. Let your child know you’ve heard and appreciate her feelings. Showing empathy means making sure you understand what your child is feeling. Restate what your child has expressed and ask if your understanding of her feelings is correct. Don’t belittle or disagree with those feelings.
✓ Be clear and specific. Your child will be in a better mood to listen to you if he feels heard and cared for. Make sure that what you say, your tone of voice and what you do send a consistent message. For instance, if you laugh when you say “no,” your child will be confused about what you really want. Be very specific about what you want your child to do. Use words to send messages, even with toddlers. When your child puts his clothes in the hamper, say “I appreciate it when you help out without having to be reminded.” Don’t save praise just for a good result, praise the effort involved: “I know you worked very hard on cleaning your room” or “I’m glad to see how much you enjoy doing that science project.” Giving encouragement like this helps a child learn internal motivation. Also, use “I” statements to tell your child what makes you unhappy about her behavior. It’s better to say: “I was worried when you came home late from Jessica’s house” than to yell “Why were you late for dinner again?” Tell your child what you feel and think, not what she should think or feel.
✓ Be a good role model. Young children learn by copying their parents’ behavior. If you use a lot of feeling words, it will help your child learn to do the same. Verbalizing feelings also helps children learn to control their behavior.
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Ways to Build Better Relationships With busy schedules and multiple demands at home and work, it’s easy to take your relationships for granted. But the quality of your relationships with your spouse and children is the foundation on which your family is built. Good communication takes time and teamwork. It’s a process in which the whole family should become involved. Spend Time Together The most important relationships in your life deserve your time and attention. If you feel that you’re spending too much time on work and not enough with your family, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities. ✓ After you hang up your coat and put away your briefcase, dedicate your first 15 minutes at home to your children. ✓ Mark on the calendar part of each weekend to spend some private time with each child. ✓ Make a point to spend at least an hour alone with your spouse each day, no matter how busy you are with work and parenting responsibilities.
Make Time to Discuss Problems One of the first strategies to build and strengthen your family communication is to avoid letting aggravations accumulate. When frustrations are not vented, they can lead to unpleasant explosions that do no one any good. Try setting up family meetings, perhaps once a week, as a time for open dialog. Each member of the family can use this time to get little annoyances off their chests. If someone feels resentful that they always do a particular household chore without any help, for example, this is a time to bring up their feelings.
Have Fun Together Strong family relationships are based on sharing all kinds of experiences. Make a point of planning fun activities your family can enjoy together, such as camping, bicycling and taking trips to the movies, museums and libraries.
When You Argue, Do So Constructively Arguments all too often turn into mudslinging events. Stick to the point and avoid dragging out old quarrels. Try to maintain a positive approach. If you have a legitimate concern, focus on it. Resist the temptation to bicker about things that have no bearing on the issue at hand. Also, be willing to give a little and compromise.
Put Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes Don’t lose sight of the other person’s perspective; learn to value it. Listen and acknowledge the other person’s concerns, then discuss why you perceive the situation differently. Encourage that person to explain his or her feelings and make assurances that you want to understand his or her perspective. Then make an honest attempt to really listen.
Accept Feelings; Avoid Judgment Even if something seems ridiculous to you, it may be of genuine concern to the other party. Feelings are real, so take them seriously. In the areas where you have conflicts, work together to pinpoint the trouble spots and implement changes to correct them.
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Establish Routines Although no one enjoys monotony, both children and adults thrive with a certain amount of structure in their lives. Family routines, such as meals, meetings, exercise, outings, holiday observances and vacations, have dual purposes. In a practical way, routines help us schedule and complete the daily chores of living. They also help us forge stronger family bonds because they give us predictable, dependable times we can count on to be together. A family routine can be as simple as walking the dog with your child or mowing the lawn together. Here are some other family routines that can make life easier and make being together more pleasant:
Routines for Kids Children need routines to develop self-discipline, independence and self-esteem. Smaller children enjoy the nurturing routine of a bedtime story. Learning self-care routines, such as bathing and brushing their teeth, teaches children to be independent. Routine chores and errands, such as taking out the garbage, help children develop responsibility and a sense of contributing to the welfare of the family.
Make Mornings Routine Mornings are a struggle in many homes as parents try to get themselves and their children out the door on time. You can make mornings easier by making sure everyone gets enough sleep and rises early enough to avoid rushing. Do things the night before. After dinner, prepare lunch boxes and leave them in the refrigerator overnight, and set the breakfast table for the next morning. Encourage children to prepare backpacks and bathe the night before. Help your children select their clothes for the next day before going to bed.
Dinner Routines Dinners are one of the few times families are together during the day. Teach your children to help by clearing and setting the table. Older children can help with meal preparation one night a week. When itâ€™s time to sit down and eat, turn off the radio or TV, put aside the newspaper and enjoy each otherâ€™s company.
Family Meetings The predictable routine of a weekly family meeting can help knit your family into a more cooperative team. Make the meeting fun. Order pizza or prepare special snacks. Use the meeting to discuss goals, problems and family events and to assign household chores. Plan errands, shopping expeditions and special excursions with your children.
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The Family Meeting A Great Communication Tool
A regular family meeting can help transform a chaotic household into a more cooperative team. Schedule a meeting once a week to discuss goals, problems and family events. Use the meeting as a time to talk about menus and assign household errands. Try to make the meeting fun. Order your favorite take-out meal or serve a special dessert. Family meetings serve another function besides providing a way to assign household chores. They teach children that members of a family can work together to make decisions and create thoughtful solutions to problems. While they don’t substitute for intimate time with each other, family meetings help create a climate of cooperation while smoothing the way for busy families with too much to do.
Involve the Kids As soon as children are old enough, include them in family decisions, such as whose turn it is to help with the shopping. Discuss how you can share responsibilities and improve weekly routines, such as meal preparation, laundry and bathing. Children who participate in these discussions will develop a sense of teamwork.
Use the Time to Organize Discuss household chores and schedules. Ask your spouse and your kids if there are any particular tasks they like, then let them have responsibility for those jobs. Plan weekly menus and post them on a master calendar. Also post doctor appointments and
school events. Discuss changes in parents’ and kids’ work and school schedules.
Clear the Air Use this time to review family goals. Discuss annoyances and problems that have cropped up during the busy week. For example, this is the perfect time for a family member to complain if they feel they’ve taken out the garbage too many weeks in a row.
Make Plans for Fun Use family meetings to make long-range vacation plans and schedule weekend excursions. Plan picnics and parties; decide what your family would like to buy a grandparent as a birthday gift; talk about holiday celebrations and plans to entertain family friends of all ages.
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Develop a Master Calendar for Your Family A master calendar is a great way to organize your family’s chores and activities. Posted in the kitchen or dining room, your family can use the calendar to note a wide variety of appointments, events and occasions. A master calendar helps guard against surprises and missed appointments because everyone knows where everyone else is and what needs to be done. Encourage young children to start using the calendar as soon as they’re old enough to read and write.
USE THE CALENDAR TO NOTE: • weekly menus. • family projects. • doctor appointments. • school holidays. • parent-teacher conferences. • birthdays. • anniversaries. • parties. • athletic events. • community meetings. • school plays. • vacations. • times when a parent must work overtime or travel on business. Use a large, erasable white board and brightly colored markers for your calendar. Make it attractive and fun to use. You can also buy large paper calendars at office supply or stationery stores. There should be enough space on the calendar for each person to note appointments and activities. Leave space for important phone numbers of friends, neighbors and doctors. Review the previous month’s calendar before discarding it. What can you eliminate? Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.036 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Tips to Help You Prioritize Tasks Chances are that you prioritize most daily household tasks without even stopping to think about it. No one has to tell you that it’s time to change the baby’s diaper, take out the garbage or cook dinner. It’s the less urgent but equally demanding tasks that need to be prioritized. You’ll save time and feel more relaxed if you:
✓ spend five minutes a day prioritizing your household tasks. ✓ keep a daily to-do list posted on a family bulletin board. ✓ make long-range plans that reduce the time you spend on household tasks, such as scheduling weekly shopping trips and cooking larger quantities.
Establishing priorities consists of two steps: Make a list of things that need to be done. Prioritize the items on the list. Use the ABC method to rank your priorities. Assign each item on your list to one of the following categories:
Priority A—“Must-Do” Crucial tasks and commitments that should be completed today to keep your family healthy and your household running smoothly may include: • private time with your children and spouse. • shopping for groceries. • walking the dog. • preparing family lunches and dinners.
Priority B—“Should-Do” Things that are important, but not critical to complete today, may include: • scheduling doctor appointments. • updating your family calendar. • buying a new toaster. • cleaning the refrigerator.
Your household priorities will shift each day, based on your family’s needs and your weekly schedule for errands and shopping. Make copies of this form to help you prioritize your household tasks.
Priority A—“Must-Do” These crucial tasks and commitments must be completed today. _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________
Priority B—“Should-Do” These items are important but don’t have to be completed today. _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________
Priority C—“Nice-to-Do” These items can wait until I have more free time. _____________________________________________
This category of least urgent priorities may include: • reupholstering a chair. • holding a barbecue. • cleaning out a closet. • putting your CD collection in alphabetical order.
_____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________
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Monthly Planning Chart and To-Do List To successfully manage your family responsibilities, use this monthly planner for appointments, meetings, children’s activities and important objectives. Write your priorities in the “to-do” list and then schedule them on the calendar when you can.
THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH:
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Tips to Tame Housework Cooking, shopping and cleaning are activities you can’t live without. But there are ways to manage these essential tasks so you can spend more time with your spouse and children. Here are some tips to help you tame housework:
Use Grocery Lists Make a grocery list of standard items. Leave room for special write-in requests. Post it on the refrigerator for a week. Your spouse and older children can help fill in missing items during the week.
Schedule Your Time Make weekly schedules for laundry, shopping and cleaning. Divide chores among family members. Use a daily to-do list to prioritize tasks and family commitments. Keep track of the time you spend on various household tasks. When you understand where your time is going, you may be able to exercise better control over it.
Shop Smart Do your grocery shopping once a week. Shop at one supermarket to eliminate time-consuming stops. Buy nonperishable items in large quantities. Shop for furniture and large items at stores that deliver.
Rethink Your Appliances Use a microwave, cordless phone, answering machine, frost-free refrigerator/freezer, self-cleaning oven and a food processor to help you save time.
Tame Clutter Use a common clutter basket at the foot of the stairs or in each room. Then make a family rule to stash away all the clutter before leaving a room.
Slash Cooking Time Keep food simple, easy and nutritious. When cooking a main dish, make enough to freeze in meal-sized portions for heat-andserve dinners another time. Prepare dinners with leftovers for lunches in mind. Even pasta and
soup can be safely carried to work or school in airtight containers. Make and freeze a week’s worth of sandwiches to pop into lunch bags in the morning.
Laborless Laundry Ask younger children to help you sort and fold laundry. Ask older children to assume laundry duty once a week. To save sorting time and avoid mismatched socks, buy children’s socks in only one style and color.
Take Your Family Out Eat out once a week. Don’t force yourself to cook if you don’t feel like it. Order a take-out dinner or have it delivered occasionally.
Conquer Cleaning Chaos Organize and store your cleaning supplies so you don’t have to hunt for them when you need them. Buy more than one set, so there is one in each bathroom and the kitchen. Avoid cleaning something unless it really needs it. Use a cleaning service once in a while when you can afford it.
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Take Time to Be Together It’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough time in a busy week to spend relaxing with your partner and children. But the most important relationships in your life deserve your time and attention. If work and other responsibilities are slicing into the time you spend with your family, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities and put more balance into your life. You can reclaim “lost” bits of time by re-examining your values, prioritizing work obligations and using time management techniques for work and household chores. Make a point of using the time you’ve “saved” to strengthen your bonds with your spouse and kids. Time has a funny way of expanding when you’re with someone you care about. The clock seems to stop because you’re so involved in the moment. Small blocks of time together can make a big difference in the quality of your relationships. So, even if you have to schedule your time together in tiny parcels, make the most of it.
Time With Your Partner You’d be surprised how a little private time together in a new environment can enrich your relationship and give you both a new perspective on your busy lives. Get out your calendar and make a date with your spouse for the first free evening you can find. Plan to do something you haven’t done in a long time. Make dates each month so you have something special to look forward to. Add a bit of spontaneity by surprising your partner with reservations at a favorite restaurant. And the next time you hire a baby sitter for a school conference, ask the sitter to stay a bit longer while you and your spouse go out for a walk or for dessert and coffee.
Time With Your Kids No matter how busy you are, your kids need your undivided time and attention on a regular basis. Spend your first 15 minutes at home listening to your children. Mark on the calendar part of each
weekend for some private time with each child. Do something you both enjoy. Take each child to breakfast or lunch once a month to allow for solid one-to-one communication. Although you may feel too tired to toss a football around the backyard at the end of the day, you can connect with your kids by playing quiet games or asking them to tell you about their day. Enjoy the intimacy of your kids’ nighttime rituals. Use bedtime to cuddle up and share a favorite book.
Enrich Family Routines You can make family errands more fun by bringing along the kids and topping off your expeditions with a stop for ice cream. Older children can help cut shopping time by taking part of the shopping list and meeting you at the cash register. Make meal times more pleasurable by turning off the television and focusing on conversation. Use the time to catch up on the day’s events and reconnect with each family member.
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Ten Time-Saving Tips Delegate household chores to your children. Pick chores that are appropriate for each
1. 2. Plan ahead.
childâ€™s age and ability. Ask children which chores they prefer.
Do things the night before. Encourage children to prepare their backpacks and make their lunches for school before they go to bed. Collect everything you need for the next day and put it in the car or by the door before going to bed.
3. Simplify meal planning.
Make double portions of your favorite dishes and freeze the extra. Use leftover chicken or turkey for casseroles, soups, tacos or stirfries. Keep staples like pasta, tomato sauce, chicken broth and frozen vegetables on hand for meals that can be made in a hurry.
4. Enlist outside help for yardwork.
If your kids are too young to rake leaves or water the lawn, hire an older neighborhood child to do the job. Be sure to clearly explain whatâ€™s expected.
5. Create a neighborhood car pool Ask a teenager or older family member to and prepare the evening meal one night a 6. plan week.
for carting kids to games,
school events and lessons.
Encourage them to use imaginative menus to make the job more fun and add variety to your diet.
Use work breaks to review your daily to-do list. Crossing off completed or
7. 8. Plan ahead for at-home emergencies.
unnecessary items will help you feel more relaxed. Keep an extra key with the neighbors. Post a list of essential phone numbers, such as those for relatives, doctors and neighbors, next to the phone. Compile phone numbers of backup baby sitters and child care providers.
9. Teach your children to be responsible for their own schoolwork.
Tell them they are expected to do their homework without being reminded. Ask them to tell you in advance about upcoming field trips, special projects or needed supplies. Buy plenty of paper, pencils, glue sticks and other materials during the back-to-school sales in the fall.
10. Manage the mail and consolidate bill paying.
Go through the mail and recycle all you can immediately. Stash bills in one place when they arrive. Pick a time once a month to pay bills that are due. Distributed under license. ÂŠ Parlay International (v.3) 1960.041 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Put Your Children to Work Doing a good job gives adults a sense of competency and independence. The same holds true for children. Youngsters who learn to clean up their spills at an early age are also learning to take pride in their achievements. As you teach your children to take care of themselves, remind them of how their efforts contribute to the welfare of the entire family.
Train Your Children
Remember that as you put your kids to work, you’re teaching them responsibility, independence and competency. When you’re ready to teach children new jobs, follow these steps: ■ Be sure your child is able to succeed at the job you assign. Younger children need jobs with simple, straightforward steps. Older children can tackle more complex assignments. ■ Explain the steps involved in the task and why it has to be done. ■ Divide the job into manageable parts your child can understand and is capable of completing. ■ Describe each component of the job in detail. ■ Demonstrate the task yourself. Be sure to repeat the more difficult aspects of the job. ■ If your child is confused about the task, have him or her write down the instructions. Your child may want to add his or her own illustrations to the instructions. ■ Be patient with a child who is forgetful or lazy. If your child tries hard, but doesn’t do the work exactly right, let it go until next time. You don’t want your child to think that the instructions never end. ■ Supervise your child at first. Always emphasize what he or she accomplished correctly. Then offer gentle, helpful hints on what could be done better.
As youngsters grow older, you can assign them specific household chores and errands. Be sure to choose tasks that are appropriate for the age level and abilities of your child. Ask your children to: ■ keep food and ■ put toys in the toy box. drinks in appropriate ■ return books to shelves. areas of the house. ■ fold laundry. ■ put dirty clothes ■ help prepare and pack in a hamper. lunches. ■ help load the ■ help with dusting. dishwasher. ■ vacuum. ■ rake leaves. ■ mow the lawn. ■ walk the dog. ■ clean the tub. ■ take out the garbage. ■ fetch items in the ■ help prepare the grocery store. evening meal.
Work Together Although it may not seem like the most exciting way to spend time together, sharing household tasks can be enjoyable if everyone approaches their jobs with a sense of fun and teamwork. ■ Create an allowance system with a written agreement outlining each child’s responsibilities. ■ Use a family bulletin board or calendar to keep track of whose turn it is to do specific chores. ■ Make up games to decide who will do each chore. ■ Pick tasks out of a hat or ask children to pick a color or number that refers to a specific chore. ■ Rotate jobs and have some easy ones, so family members don’t dread doing recurring chores.
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How to Give Your Children a Positive Attitude About Work You are your children’s first professional role model. The attitudes and ideas you communicate about work will influence them for the rest of their lives. Children who understand and respect their parents’ work will be more supportive of their parents’ efforts. They also may have an easier time translating their own interests, skills and education into a career when they grow up.
✓ Introduce your child to coworkers and eat lunch in the cafeteria. ✓ Give your child a small job, such as finding all the loose paper clips in your desk, opening mail, alphabetizing folders, stapling papers or folding letters. ✓ Point out your child’s picture on your desk, or any gift—such as a paperweight—he or she gave you.
Teach Your Children About Your Work ✓ Take time to describe your job, your work environment and the tools you use. ✓ If you work for an organization, explain how your job is part of a larger effort to produce a product or help other people. ✓ Let your children know that you enjoy using your skills at work and that you’re proud of your contributions to the workplace. ✓ Explain the many ways your job contributes to your family life.
Understanding Work Starts at Home ✓ Teach your children the value of work around the house. ✓ As soon as they’re old enough to help, give your children their own jobs to do at home. ✓ Remind your children that their efforts contribute to the family, much the way your job does.
Take a Field Trip ✓ If your supervisor approves, bring your child to work for a couple of hours.
Share Your Experiences ✓ If you travel for work, bring your children mementos from places you visit. ✓ Tell stories about people, accomplishments and events at your work.
Stand By Your Work ✓ When you have to miss an important event, such as a dance recital or a school play, be straightforward about your feelings. ✓ Avoid letting guilt lead you into the trap of bringing home treats or apologizing to your family for your absence. ✓ Remind yourself and your kids that working helps foster independence in family members and enlarges one’s exposure to the world.
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Parent/Child Contracts Teaching children to be responsible individuals and family members is one of the primary tasks and challenges of parenting. Whether you’re trying to teach a younger child to put away her toys or asking an older one to participate in household chores, the way you communicate your expectations will determine the results. The parent/child contract is one way you can encourage positive behavior and discourage bad habits. These contracts outline your expectations of your children’s behavior and the consequences of their actions.
Verbal/Visual Contracts You can demonstrate to younger children verbally and visually that you have limits and expectations for their behavior. ✓ Tell your child, for example, that you would like him to put his toys away every evening after dinner. ✓ Ask your child to suggest an appropriate reward for positive behavior and a consequence for negative behavior. ✓ Use a calendar with stickers posted on the days your child completes his or her responsibilities. ✓ Reward your child when his or her calendar has five stickers in a row. ✓ Draw simple illustrations to remind your child of her responsibilities and the rewards and consequences.
✓ Post the drawing on a bulletin board in your child’s room. ✓ Be consistent about enforcing consequences and giving rewards.
Written Contracts With an older child, create a written contract that spells out the rules, rewards and punishments for certain behaviors. ✓ Outline your child’s commitments—for example, to take out the garbage and recycling each week. ✓ Specify the times your child is to do the chores. ✓ Define the rewards and consequences. ✓ Write a handsomely lettered contract, signed by parents and child, and post it on the refrigerator.
Contract Guidelines ✓ Ask for your child’s input. ✓ Outline obligations, time frameworks and consequences if tasks are ignored. ✓ Parents and child should sign the contract. ✓ Post the contract where everyone can see it. ✓ Be consistent, reasonable and fair in giving rewards and enforcing consequences. ✓ Renegotiate agreements as other skills and abilities develop. ✓ Make the contract appropriate to your child’s age and abilities.
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Discipline and the Working Parent All children depend on their parents to set reasonable limits for their behavior. Testing these limits is a child’s way of becoming independent. Your job is to set clear, consistent standards that keep your children safe while allowing them to grow. Working parents face special challenges in disciplining their children. At the end of a long day, it may seem easier to let your child do whatever she wants than to insist that she help set the dinner table. But it’s just as important for working parents to set reasonable standards for their children. Consistent limits will lead to better behavior on the part of your children and will help them feel more secure.
Give Them Your Attention When most people get home from work, they want to unwind a little, go through their mail, maybe start preparing dinner. If you are a parent, however, take one step first: spend some time with your children. Give your children 15 minutes of your undivided attention when you first get home. Let them tell you about their day, their library book, whatever they want. This is a good chance for you to re-connect with your children, and it will make them feel cared for and loved.
Discipline and the Caregiver When it comes to consistency, working parents with young children have one more hurdle to cross: that their youngsters probably spend a good part of their day with a professional caregiver. Your job will be easier if you choose a caregiver whose disciplinary ideas and methods are similar to yours. Have a frank discussion about discipline when you’re interviewing prospective caregivers. If the caregiver says that all children need a good spanking once in a while, or that anything goes as long as they don’t break the furniture, you may want to keep looking. Discuss with the caregiver your house rules and methods of discipline.
Values and Fairness ✓ Take time to consider your values about parenting and priorities about discipline. ✓ Ask yourself which of your child’s behaviors bother you and why. If the behavior doesn’t violate your values, maybe it shouldn’t be an issue at home or with a caregiver. ✓ Try to keep your expectations about behavior
appropriate for your child’s age and development. For example, it’s hard for toddlers to remember to “not touch” breakable objects; you should probably put them out of reach until your children are older. ✓ Keep in touch with the caregiver about your goals for your child.
Disciplining Your Child ✓ When your child breaks a rule, the consequences should be consistent, prompt and related to the rule. If a three-year-old draws on the wall with crayons, the crayons should be taken away, and he should have to help clean the wall. If an eight-yearold makes a mess in the living room, he should have to clean it up before he gets to play video games. ✓ Discuss the consequences of your child’s out-oflimits behavior rationally so you can act fairly and consistently. ✓ Tell your child that while you don’t approve of his behavior, you still love and respect him.
Encouragement and Praise ✓ Don’t save praise just for a good result, praise the effort involved. “I know you worked very hard on cleaning your room” or “I’m glad to see how much you enjoy doing that science project.” Giving encouragement like this helps a child learn internal motivation. ✓ Tell your child how proud you are of him. ✓ Be realistic and positive in your assessments. ✓ Find caregivers who are positive and you’ll feel more assured that the discipline your child receives during the day is consistent with your values and expectations.
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Menu Planning Made Simple You’ll save time and provide more nutritious meals for your family when you plan meals a week in advance. Use this guide to help plan for your weekly shopping and menus.
A healthy diet should include: • 5–6 servings of wholegrain bread, cereal, pasta or rice • at least 5 servings of fruits or vegetables • 2–3 servings of highprotein foods • 2–3 servings of dairy products What’s a Serving? 1 slice of bread, a cup of milk, 1 medium orange, 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, 2–3 oz. of meat, chicken or fish.
TRY THESE CONDIMENTS FOR VARIETY: ✓ jam ✓ mustard ✓ horseradish sauce ✓ relish ✓ ketchup ✓ cranberry sauce ✓ barbecue sauce ✓ sour cream ✓ teriyaki sauce ✓ chutney
Dinner in Advance
Salads With a Shelf Life
These freezable dinners will meet adult daily requirements for protein. Cook double quantities to allow for lunch-time leftovers: ✓ spaghetti ✓ chili ✓ vegetarian casseroles ✓ stew without potatoes (Potatoes don’t freeze well unless they’re mashed or blended with other ingredients.) ✓ hamburger dishes ✓ legumes ✓ soups
Serve salads to meet your family’s daily needs for vegetables. Lettuce may wilt, but these salads can last in your refrigerator for up to four days: ✓ tomato, cooked green beans and onions in dressing ✓ cooked corn, peas, onion, celery and dressing ✓ cole slaw ✓ raw zucchini, onion, cooked pasta, red cabbage and dressing ✓ cooked chicken, celery, pineapple chunks, nuts and sour cream
A Week of Sandwiches
Vegetables in the Bag
You can save time by fixing and freezing sandwiches for an entire week. Remove the sandwiches from the freezer each morning, and they’ll be defrosted by lunch time. You’ll need a variety of whole grain breads, including pita bread, onion or french rolls and hamburger buns, and freezable fillings, such as: ✓ peanut butter. ✓ lunch meats (low-fat ham, chicken and turkey breast and lean roast beef). ✓ leftover chicken or turkey. ✓ tuna made with low-fat or nonfat sour cream or salad dressing (mayonnaise doesn’t freeze well).
It’s easier than ever to get your vegetables every day. Buy bagged lettuce for a quick tossed salad. Add bagged, cut-up vegetables to a salad, soup or a stir-fry for a fast, nutritious meal. And don’t forget frozen vegetables; they’re a great way to add taste and nutrition to soups, stews and casseroles. ✓ use frozen Italian vegetables, canned broth and canned beans for a quick minestrone soup ✓ add frozen peas to a tuna casserole, or frozen corn to chili ✓ stir-fry pre-cut broccoli and cauliflower with some chicken or beef ✓ put baby carrots and cherry tomatoes in lunches and snacks
✓ Store each sandwich in its own plastic bag. ✓ Label and date each sandwich. ✓ Put all of the wrapped sandwiches in one large airtight bag to preserve them longer. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.046 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Fast and Fabulous Meals Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you come home from work on a busy day is to make dinner. But it’s still possible to prepare delicious, nutritious, one-dish meals with ingredients you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. Stock up on healthy nonperishable and frozen foods for days when you want an easy-to-prepare meal.
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Staying Connected to Your Family Most people agree that their relationships with their spouses and children are what make life satisfying and meaningful. But it’s easy to let the demands of a job interfere with these important connections. How can you nurture your connections to your family when you’re up to your elbows in reports and household chores? Here are some simple guidelines for strengthening the bonds between you and your family members:
Spend Time With Your Spouse In a two-parent family, your relationship with your spouse is the framework for the family structure. Intimacy is what makes this framework strong. Spend at least an hour of private time with your spouse every day, no matter how busy you are with work and parenting responsibilities. Even if you don’t have time for romance, this is a good time to talk about feelings and share news of the day. If you have something difficult to talk about, approach your mate when you’re both relaxed. Avoid bringing up challenging situations right when you or your spouse walk in the door after a hard day at work. Respect your spouse’s need for personal time, as well as togetherness.
Learn to Nurture Your Children Children derive their sense of self-esteem from their relationship with their parents. They depend on their parents to set limits for their behavior and to provide good role models for expressing their feelings and behaving in a responsible manner. Healthy communication builds self-esteem. A child who can depend on the consistent, loving attention of a parent feels cared for, important and safe. One of the great joys of parenting is discovering and nurturing your child’s personality and passions. Plan time together to find out what makes your child happy. This will also give your child an opportunity to know you better. When you’re together, make simple listening and talking a priority. Try to forget about goals—the point of togetherness
is to discover and appreciate each other, not necessarily to create the perfect craft project or to skate around the block.
Do Things Together as a Family Make the most of family time. Schedule regular family meetings to assign chores and discuss family goals and problems. This is an excellent way to involve children in problem-solving, such as deciding how to spend a summer vacation, figuring out how to keep the living room neater or choosing a weekly dinner menu. Family fun and leisure activities also keep you connected. Take advantage of leisure time to get to know your children outside the normal time pressures of school and work schedules. Plan family vacations, weekend outings and other recreational activities that everyone can enjoy together. The fun of having a good time together or the thrill of a shared adventure will create family memories you can all enjoy for many years to come.
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What Are Your Options?
Choosing Child Care There are several child care options available to you, depending on your preferences, budget and schedule. Parents of infants and young toddlers frequently choose in-home child care providers. Older preschoolers may enjoy the added stimulation of child care centers and nursery schools. Here are some options to explore when pursuing your child care needs: advantage of using nannies is that they give their full attention to your child. A disadvantage is that they can be expensive. And sometimes parents become jealous of the bond between their child and a nanny. Au Pairs Au pairs are usually young people—sometimes foreign—who do light housekeeping chores and care for kids in exchange for room and board. Some au pairs also receive a salary. College students are often interested in this type of work. Au pairs require their own room in your home. If they’re not U.S. citizens, they must have proper visas and work permits. The major disadvantage of using young people as live-in caregivers is that they tend to be short-term employees.
In-Home Child Care Baby Sitters Baby sitters usually care for your child in your own home. The advantage of a baby sitter is that your child is in a familiar environment. Many baby sitters charge by the hour, rather than per child as child care centers usually do. Housekeeper/Caregivers Housekeeper/caregivers are usually available to care for your child full- or part-time and can live in or out of your house. They provide the advantage of taking care of your home and your children at the same time. However, if your children are younger and require a great deal of care, a housekeeper may not be able to effectively maintain both responsibilities. Live-in housekeepers also require their own room in your home. Nannies Nannies are hired specifically to care for children and tend to their needs. They typically don’t do housework. Some nannies have extensive practical experience, while others have been professionally trained. Full-time nannies can assume full responsibility for child rearing, while part-time nannies usually assume a secondary role. An
Cooperative or Shared Care In the shared care setting, several families hire a caregiver who rotates between the families’ homes. This alternative provides personalized care at a lower cost.
Child Care Outside the Home Child Care Centers Child care centers are the most common child care alternative outside the home. Take great care in choosing a child care center. Some centers offer excellent, personalized services; others don’t. Some things to consider are staff qualifications, safety, space, range of activities, access to outdoor activities, proper licensing and the caregiver-to-child ratio. Family Child Care Providers Some parents prefer family care homes—usually a mother caring for several children in her own home—over child care centers for very young children because of the attention and continuity provided by a single caregiver. A disadvantage of family care homes is that they tend to be less structured and have fewer resources than child care centers. Some things to check for include safety of the environment, proper licensing and the number and ages of the other children in the home.
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Checklist for Selecting Child Care Make sure your caregiver meets all of your expectations while providing a happy, safe environment for your child. Make multiple copies and use this checklist as you interview potential child care providers. QUESTIONS
Evaluate the Policies Does the center have a license that meets state regulations? Does the care provider have liability insurance? Are fire extinguishers inspected regularly and have smoke detectors been installed and tested? Does the caregiver have emergency procedures in place? Is the center safe (covered outlets, no sharp corners, chemicals out of reach, etc.)? Is the center clean? Do staff and children wash their hands regularly and always after diaper changes and before food preparation?
Evaluate the Care Providers How long have the care providers been employed? Do the care providers have adequate education, training and proper credentials? Do you feel you can trust the care providers? Does the staff treat the children as individuals? Is the staff involved with the children, or do they just provide basic needs? Does the staff show patience with the children? Does the care provider have a sense of humor and seem warm and affectionate? Is the staff in good physical condition and able to play with the children? Do you approve of toilet training procedures and other child-rearing methods? Are philosophical or religious beliefs compatible with yours? Does the care provider have references from past employers or other parents? Does the staff seem open to communication with you? Are the staff members friendly and helpful?
Evaluate the Environment and Program Is the atmosphere cheerful and pleasant? Are there adequate indoor and outdoor play areas? Are toys clean and well maintained? Are there enough toys for the number of children? Are activities and rest periods scheduled or flexible? Are activities creative and interesting? Is there a drop-in policy for parents? Are there mechanisms for the home/day-care transition and vice versa? Can this provider and setting allow personal attention for your child? Are there developmentally appropriate activities for your child? Are there opportunities for parents to interact with the staff or other parents? Distributed under license. ÂŠ Parlay International (v.3) 1960.050 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Communicating With Your Child Care Provider Close, trusting relationships with your child’s care providers will help you feel more relaxed and assured while you’re on the job. If you’ve recently hired an in-home provider, arrange for the person to spend time with you and your child before you return to work. Take some time to get to know each other and discuss how you’ll keep in touch during the day. Many parents pick a time when they call from work to check in with the caregiver or to receive a call from their child. If your children attend a day care center, find out if the staff has special routines or schedules for checking in with parents. While it’s important to respect the routines of your day care center, never enroll your child in a day care center where you’re not welcome to drop in unannounced. Many professional caregivers look forward to a brief chat when a parent drops off or picks up their
child. This is a good time to explain that your child had a difficult time sleeping the night before or to learn what kind of day your child had. If one parent is responsible for dropping off and picking up the child, the other parent should occasionally do so in order to get to know the caregiver. During these talks, avoid making negative statements about your child in front of him or her. Day care staff members have many obligations. If you repeatedly stay for extended periods of time when you pick up or drop off your child, you may be preventing the caregiver from watching the other children. Instead, for longer discussions, arrange in advance for a time when you can talk away from your child and be uninterrupted by distractions. Set up a meeting with the day care teacher or suggest having dinner out with the caregiver. This will allow you to discuss issues, such as behavior problems, or to resolve conflicts as they arise.
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How to Find and Train the Right Baby Sitter It’s important to take time to find an experienced and competent baby sitter.
Where to Look ✓ Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers. ✓ Ask other parents and the staff at your children’s day care center. ✓ Check with community centers, church groups or agencies that specialize in child care. ✓ Try bulletin boards and local newspapers.
Interview When you have a list of potential sitters, interview them to determine their experience, skills, attitudes and availability and to let them meet your children. Ask for references. Listen to your children. If they don’t want to stay with a particular sitter, find out why.
Get Acquainted Acquaint your sitter with your children and your home. It’s important to give clear directions regarding your children’s routine, safety precautions and your own expectations while you’re away. Checklists are a handy way to organize your thoughts and instructions.
About Your Children
About Your Household
□ Explain any behavioral problems your children may have, such as fear of the dark. □ Tell the sitter how to comfort your children when they’re scared. □ Explain what your children will eat while you’re gone and give menu instructions. □ Inform the sitter about your children’s favorite rituals, such as bedtime stories and favorite stuffed animals.
□ Discuss or write a list of house rules. □ List appropriate play activities during your absence. For example, tell the sitter if you don’t want your children to play with messy art supplies while you’re gone. □ Give guidelines about watching TV. □ Tell the sitter where your children may go with friends or which friends may come over to play. □ Tell the sitter your children should never be left unattended. □ Note the location of burglar alarms, thermostats, flashlights, candles, extra keys and bottled water. □ Show your sitter how to answer the phone and take messages. Make sure there’s plenty of paper and a pen near the phone. □ Discuss when it’s OK to answer your door and how you feel about the sitter inviting friends over. □ Note which areas are off-limits to children and/or the sitter. □ Explain how to operate appliances. □ Provide instructions for any chores you expect the sitter to handle, such as cleaning the dinner table and putting dishes in the dishwasher. □ Quiz the sitter on your instructions for clarity and understanding.
Health and Safety □ Clearly write your name, address and an emergency phone number on a piece of paper and leave it by the phone. In an emergency, the sitter may forget your last name or address. □ Include basic directions on how to reach your home from major intersections. □ Leave a list of phone numbers for police, poison control, neighbors and your children’s doctor. □ Tell your sitter where you’ll be and if you’ll be reachable. □ Give your sitter the name of a relative to call in case you can’t be reached. This person should have a signed medical consent form in case of emergency. □ Explain your children’s allergies and any medications they take. Include instructions on how to give medications. □ Point out hazardous areas in your home, such as stairs if the baby is learning to crawl. □ Show the sitter where poisons are stored. □ Indicate emergency exit routes.
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Child Care Provider Checklist Give the following outline to your child’s caregiver. It will help you chart your child’s habits and help detect any behavior problems. The form also can be compiled into a notebook and used as a daily diary of your child’s activities. SUNDAY
Time awake Breakfast (time) What How much Activities Nap time (from/to) Snack (time) What How much Activities AFTERNOON
Lunch (time) What How much Nap time (from/to) Snack (time) What How much Activities EVENING
Dinner (time) What How much Nap time (from/to) Activities Time to bed SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
Time/amount of medicine Special feedings New developments, growth, etc. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.053 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Child Care Emergency Form Complete this form for your child care provider. Parentsâ€™ names
Home address Nearest cross street:
Home phone number Cell phone(s):
Work phone numbers
Cell phone numbers
Name: Phone number:
Name: Phone number:
Police: Fire: Poison Control:
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Ways to Help Your Children Cope With Change
Unlike adults, children lack control over many aspects of their lives. That’s why they feel more comfortable with routines and familiar faces. Children can feel confused, afraid and even hostile when they find themselves in the midst of a change brought about by a family move, the addition of a new family member or other transitions. The good news is that children are adaptable to change, especially when they’re prepared well in advance. Once a child learns that a change is about to occur, he or she will begin to make emotional adjustments to accommodate the new situation. When a child begins to accept the change, the entire family will be better equipped to make a smoother transition. Parents can use diplomacy and negotiation skills to introduce minor changes into a schedule. For example, if you’re unable to go to the library on your regularly scheduled day, try to give your child an alternative, so expectations are still met. Perhaps your sitter could go with your child to the library instead. Your child may even welcome this new adventure. For more substantial changes, try to give a child as much advance notice as possible. Introduce changes gradually. For example, if your child will be going to a new child care provider, take her to the site for a preliminary visit. Let her bring a favorite stuffed animal or prized blanket. This will give her something tangible to identify with and will help take the uncertainty and fear out of the new situation. Children need more preparation to get used to major changes, such as the addition of a new sibling. Expect some rough spots in times of major transition.
✓ Allow plenty of time to discuss how your child’s life will be different with a younger brother or sister. ✓ Encourage your child to ask questions and express fears. ✓ Look for children’s books and videos that deal with major life changes for kids. Use the situations and characters depicted to help your children talk about their own feelings. When big changes occur in your child’s life, try to keep some routines the same. Consistent morning, dinner and bedtime rituals can comfort children when major changes are afoot. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.055 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
New Parents: Tips to Help You Cope Nothing can be compared to the feelings of outright joy and love that fill your heart when you first see your new child. But once you bring the baby home from the hospital, reality sinks in. Suddenly you’re responsible for a new being who depends on you for everything, but whom you don’t entirely understand.
✓ How do you cope with these new demands? ✓ How do you make sense of your emotions? ✓ How do you know if you need help?
Nurture Your Baby By the time you arrive home with your child, you have probably discovered that baby care is not an inborn natural instinct. Each child differs in temperament, energy and sensitivity and will require different types of attention. There are many baby care manuals available to offer helpful tips for dealing with infants.
Nurture Yourself Happy, healthy babies can be the products of happy, healthy parents. New parents—and new mothers especially—should not underestimate their own need for tender loving care.
Understand the Transition to Parenthood The postpartum months are a time of tremendous emotional transition. Along with the joy you feel as you watch your infant’s changing facial expressions, you may feel exhausted, frightened, angry and depressed. It’s also common for new parents to feel overwhelmed by their awesome responsibilities and to resent their loss of freedom. It’s not unusual to worry about your baby’s development or feel awkward about changing diapers. Remember that you’re forging new identities as parents. Your feelings are common and are nothing to hide from yourself or your spouse.
✓ Mothers can expect to be tired and sore for several weeks and should get as much rest as possible. ✓ Eat and exercise sensibly. ✓ When you can afford it, use conveniences, such as diaper services and cleaning services, to make life easier. ✓ Delegate chores to others, or just let some tasks slide. ✓ Ask for help from friends and relatives before your baby is born so you will have a prearranged support network.
Nurture Yourselves as a Couple You and your spouse may now have little privacy and scarce energy when you do have time alone.
✓ Tell your spouse about your feelings and needs at this time. ✓ If you’re exhausted, ask your spouse for more help. ✓ Enjoy the pleasure of simple cuddling with your spouse. ✓ Use baby sitters and treat yourselves to dates on a regular basis. Although it may be hard to leave your baby, you’ll be happier, healthier parents if you do.
Build Relationships With Others Reassurance and practical help from other adults can help you adjust to parenthood.
✓ If friends and relatives are unavailable, develop your own support network. ✓ Introduce yourself to other parents in your neighborhood. ✓ Ask couples from your childbirth class if they’d like to form a parents’ group. ✓ Community centers, hospitals and houses of worship frequently sponsor support groups for parents. ✓ Join a babysitting co-op.
Above all, try to keep a sense of humor and perspective during this trying but exhilarating time of adjustment. Remember that this is probably the most chaotic time in your life, but it won’t last forever. Babies have a way of turning into toddlers in no time. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.056 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
The Toughest Transition
Leaving Your Child to Return to Work Your parental leave is drawing to a close. As you get ready to trade your infant’s coos for the steady hum of the workplace, you’ll probably notice lots of questions, fears and emotions starting to surface. You can make your transition from home to work much easier if you consider the changes that lie ahead. during which you demonstrate your method of feeding, diapering and putting your baby to sleep. Next, have the caregiver come for half a day while you leave the house for part of that time. When you finally do return to work, try to ease yourself back into a schedule by working half-days or at home part of the day. If you’ve chosen a day care center, spend time with your infant at the location, getting to know the people and routines.
Be Prepared for Strong Feelings Before you pack your briefcase and prepare your work wardrobe, ready yourself for the emotional impact of leaving your baby. Most parents experience doubt, guilt and grief as they re-enter the workplace. Admit these feelings to yourself and talk them over with your spouse. Seek out people who understand you and your situation, such as other parents and family members.
Understand the Psychology of Separation Separation is easier for babies younger than 6 months. That’s the age an infant becomes more firmly attached to the parents and will protest being left with anyone else. Your child will protest when you leave—this is necessary and healthy. But it’s also important that she develop a strong, caring relationship with a trusted caregiver. When you come into view, your baby may turn away, as if to gather her emotions. These intense reactions are necessary precursors to a passionate reunion with you.
Shift Gears Gradually If you’ve hired an in-home caregiver, arrange for the person to spend time with you and your baby before you return to work. Begin with one or two hours
Time to Say Goodbye Always say goodbye before you go. Sneaking out teaches your child that you can’t be trusted. Comfort your baby for a few minutes if she begins to fuss, but don’t linger. Chances are the tears will stop shortly after you leave. If you need reassurance, call the caregiver from work.
Adjustment Happens Over Time A few other ideas can make leaving easier. It helps to remember that in the hands of a trusted, competent child care provider, your child may have positive experiences with other children she might not have had staying home alone with you. Also, as a working parent, you’re helping your child learn to adapt to change and develop the confidence that she can overcome her fears and frustrations.
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Survival Strategies for Single Parents Like all working parents, single parents must juggle many family and work responsibilities. The difference is, they do it alone. Here are some strategies to help parents who are juggling their family obligations single-handedly.
Recognize the Benefits Raising children on your own may be incredibly trying, but there are ways to see your situation in a more positive light. As a single parent, you’ll be challenged to develop your strengths to their fullest potential. By necessity, many single parents learn to be stronger, more resourceful and adaptable than they ever thought possible. Children in single-parent families also have special opportunities to develop independence and confidence. For example, if your children travel to another city to visit an absent parent, they’ll become acquainted with a wider variety of other adults and children than they would if they lived in only one location. They’ll also have the opportunity to discover new sights and expand their horizons.
Developing networks takes time and energy. But the relationships you’ll form will add richness to your life and help you cope with your responsibilities.
Organize Your Time Single parents must operate on a higher level of organization than dual-parent families. You can simplify your life when you streamline systems for doing laundry, shopping, preparing meals and cleanup. Teach your children how to do simple jobs around the house. Hire someone to help with the yard and cleaning if your budget allows it.
Plan for the Future When you do everything by yourself, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with daily responsibilities and to forget the big picture. Take time to dream and plan for the future. Do you want to take your kids on a vacation to another part of the country? Would you like to go back to school someday to learn a new skill? Take your dreams seriously by putting them in writing. Then plan how you can make your goals a reality.
Investigate Financial Counseling Many single parents feel the burden of heavy financial pressures. It pays to examine your financial status with the help of a counselor and establish a realistic budget and financial plan for your family.
Take Care of Yourself
Build Your Support Network Neighbors, friends, relatives and other parents are the keys to surviving the stress of being solely responsible for your children. Your support network can give you feedback about how you’re doing as a parent and help you put things into perspective. Investigate community and church groups or local classes on parenting. But don’t limit yourself to other single parents or you’ll miss the outlooks offered by dualparent families and older adults.
Make sure there’s someone whose ear you can bend when you need to talk about your emotional concerns. Confide in a best friend or join a support group for single parents. Let yourself have fun without the kids. Trade baby-sitting with other single parents to get an evening out or a weekend away. Single parents may feel they “owe” all their nonworking hours to their children, but they’ll be better parents if they take breaks.
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Coping Skills for Parents With Disabled Children Parenting is a challenge under any circumstances, but when a child is born with or diagnosed with special needs, parents have a much bigger job. They must manage the physical demands of their child’s condition, understand the child’s emotional needs and deal with their own feelings of frustration, loss, guilt and anger.
Become an Expert on Your Child’s Condition First and foremost, parents need to learn as much as they can about their child’s needs and locate helpful resources. ✓ Find a parents’ support group. Other parents can save you many hours of research. They’ll also understand your emotional and financial problems better than anyone else. ✓ Talk to your pediatrician or seek help from specialists. A local college or university may have a specialist on staff or may be able to direct you elsewhere. ✓ Collect information from your library. ✓ Check with your county or state government for information on financial resources for special education. ✓ Ask for help from the public school district office, even if your child attends a private school or is not yet in school. Most school districts have psychologists, social workers and other specialized professionals on staff and are usually required to make their services available to all children who live in the district.
Build Support Among Family and Friends Parents are often tempted to hide their child’s problems from family or friends at a time when support could be most helpful. ✓ Be honest with your child’s siblings and other family members. ✓ Insist on cooperation from your spouse in seeking solutions. A team effort is required to successfully meet the needs of a special child. ✓ Be frank when explaining the situation to your employer or coworkers. You may need to accompany your child to doctor appointments or attend meetings with specialists during working hours. ✓ Inquire into insurance benefits which might cover the costs of your child’s care. By thoroughly investigating resources and gathering information, you can help your child succeed despite challenging physical or mental conditions.
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The Sandwich Generation Do you feel squeezed between the demands of caring for young children and tending to your aging parents? Are you neglecting your own needs for personal time because too many people place demands on you? If so, you can consider yourself a member of the “Sandwich Generation,” a term used to describe working adults who bear caretaking responsibilities for both young and old family members. Employers have
recognized that many of their workers feel overloaded by their caregiving responsibilities. Most large companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to point employees toward community resources that can help them cope. Start at your company’s EAP if you’re searching for help with your caregiving responsibilities or if you need guidance on how to be a more effective parent. Here are some of the services and options that have helped members of the Sandwich Generation balance multiple demands:
Child Care and Parenting Resources
Alternative Work Options
Most communities and some large employers offer a variety of child care services, ranging from homebased day care to larger day care centers. Child care centers are the most common alternatives outside the home. Family care homes are another option. Parents of older children and teens may benefit from learning more about child development and parenting skills. Your EAP representative may have books and videotapes on these subjects or referrals to community services that can help.
Find out if your company promotes flextime and other alternative work options that allow you to arrange your work schedule around family obligations. Ask if part-time work, telecommuting or a compressed work week (40 hours in less than five days) are possibilities.
Elder Care Information If you’re caring for a parent or another elderly relative, your community probably offers a variety of resources. Home health services, including nursing care, housecleaning and home-delivered meals, allow seniors to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Elders who need supervision during the day may benefit from adult day care centers, while those with chronic medical problems may need residential nursing care. Start your research with your EAP or contact your local commission on aging for more information.
Financial Benefit Plans and Family Leave Some employers offer workplace financial benefit plans that allow employees to deduct pretax dollars from an employee’s paycheck and earmark the funds for dependent care expenses. Most employers are mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who need time off to take care of a family member or to tend to their own health problems.
Self-Care Resources Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your EAP representative can direct you to stress management workshops and resources on relationships and communication skills. Your EAP program is also a good source of information about recreational activities and events for families in your community.
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Caring for a Spouse or Partner Giving care to a disabled or ill spouse or partner is one of the most difficult challenges a person may face. Besides providing practical care in the case of chronic illness, you may have to face the fact that your loved one will never be the same again.
Get Things Off Your Chest
Join Support Groups You can gain a lot of support and practical tips from others who are caring for their spouses or partners. If friends or family members offer to help, graciously accept.
When your spouse is chronically ill, you may find yourself overwhelmed with anger and grief at the loss of an intimate relationship. At the same time, you may feel guilty or ashamed for having these feelings, but your responses are quite normal. It may help to explore your feelings with a friend or counselor. Once you get things off your chest, you’ll be better able to get on with the work of caregiving.
Investigate Flextime Ask your employer about alternative scheduling options that can help you meet both your caregiving and work responsibilities.
Use Professional Caregiving Services
Understand Your Partner’s Abilities While your partner may have mental or physical limitations, he or she also may have many abilities intact after an illness or accident. Learn what your partner can do and encourage full use of his or her abilities.
Get Help With Practical Matters There are many practical aspects to caregiving, including financial and legal matters. Your healthcare provider, community agencies and support groups can refer you to resources and individuals who can help you with these issues.
Take time out from the emotional demands of caregiving to take care of yourself.
Investigate respite care and adult day care programs, which often include therapy, activities, meals and health care. Use in-home care services, including skilled nursing, personal care and housekeeping services. Most communities have meals-on-wheels programs for older adults. Call social service agencies, home health agencies, home care agencies and transportation systems for referrals. Home maintenance and repair services also can take some of the load off your shoulders.
Nourish Yourself Take time out from the emotional demands of caregiving to take care of yourself. See a movie or visit friends. If you feel overwhelmed by the emotional concerns of caregiving, a professional counselor may help you cope.
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Elder Care: Know Your Options Where to Find Information ✓ Your elder’s healthcare provider may be able to refer you to appropriate services. ✓ Your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be able to connect you to elder care resources anywhere in the country. ✓ Call national, state and local councils on aging. ✓ Social service agencies, hospitals and religious, community and senior advocacy organizations can put you in touch with the resources you need.
Elder Care Services Home-Based Services Home health services allow seniors to remain in their own homes or in your home. Often coordinated through a home health agency, these services may include household help, physical therapists, social workers and skilled nursing. Community organizations also provide many free or reduced-cost home health services, including a friendly visitor program, emergency telephone response systems, meals-on-wheels and transportation.
Adult Day Care
You’ll need to consider many factors when you shop for elder care, including: ✓ your elder’s needs. ✓ costs. ✓ your elder’s willingness ✓ safety. to participate. ✓ the quality of care offered. ✓ the professional experience of the caregiver.
Adult day care centers care for adults who are unable to remain at home alone during the day. For working people with frail parents, adult day care can be a compassionate alternative to 24-hour nursing home care. There are adult social day care centers that focus on the social and emotional needs of the elder but are more structured than a senior center. Social day care provides structured day supervision that includes enjoyable activities for the elder.
Adult Foster Care These are programs that provide elders with a room, board and personal care.
Nursing Homes Nursing homes provide 24-hour skilled nursing services to individuals who need extended care but not hospitalization. Nursing homes generally offer different levels of care, ranging from custodial care for those who need help with personal care, to skilled nursing care for those who require intensive care and supervision by a registered nurse.
Residential complexes for seniors provide housing in a noninstitutionalized setting, with supportive services and skilled nursing.
Respite Care These programs provide occasional, temporary assistance to you or your elder’s caregiver.
Evaluating Your Options
Workplace Options If you care for an older relative, you may be able to adjust your work schedule to accommodate your responsibilities. In addition, many employers offer workplace benefit programs that allow employees to deduct pretax dollars from their paycheck and earmark the funds for dependent care expenses. Most employers are mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who need time off to take care of a family member or to tend to their own health problems. Investigate these and other options through your company’s human resources department or Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
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Caring for the Caregiver Caring for an ailing spouse or elder can be satisfying but difficult work. It involves not only the task of doing, but the task of coping, figuring out creative solutions and working to keep your head above water. The needs of the caregiver often get neglected. But the more neglected the caregiver feels, the less effective he or she may be.
How Can You Help Yourself? ✓ Recognize your feelings. At some point, most caregivers feel helpless, angry, resentful and then guilty for having these negative feelings. Caregivers may feel angry that other members of the family don’t help out enough, don’t visit or are critical. While it’s natural to have these feelings, it’s also important not to keep them bottled up inside. Talk about these feelings with others in your family and support network.
✓ Use support services. Start looking into support services before you need help. If you can develop a plan before your situation becomes a crisis, you’ll have a clearer head to evaluate your options. Investigate adult day care programs, which often include therapy, activities, meals and health care. Use in-home help services, including nursing care and personal care services. Most communities have meals-on-wheels programs for older and ill individuals. Call social service agencies, home health agencies, home care agencies and transportation systems for referrals.
✓ Accept help from others. Considering the time commitment involved in taking care of an ailing partner, parent or relative, it’s easy to see why many caregivers feel isolated. Not only is it difficult to carve out time to continue pursuing hobbies and activities, but friends and families tend to shy away, either out of fear of being asked to help or simply from a lack of understanding about the disease. Take the time to explain your situation and needs to those close to you. They will be more receptive to helping, if they can. If friends or family members want to help, accept their offers. Join a support group where you can share experiences with other caregivers.
✓ Nourish yourself. You don’t have to leave your house to do something for yourself. Read a book or watch a favorite video or DVD. Ask a friend or neighbor to come to your house so you can get out for a while, not just to do errands but to go window shopping or to take a walk in the park. Ask yourself what you need in order to take care of yourself. Do you need a support group? In-home help? Respite care? A counselor to help you sort out and understand your situation? Remember, one of the best things you can do for the person you care for is to take good care of yourself. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.063 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Tips for Communicating Effectively With an Elder The normal physical changes of aging affect sight and hearing. Cognitive impairments, such as those caused by a stroke, dementia or other neurological conditions, also can alter a person’s ability to communicate. It’s important for caregivers to understand how to help when these changes take place.
Hearing Loss You may have noticed an older person who has trouble hearing your conversations. Many older adults experience a gradual hearing loss that affects their knowledge of what’s going on around them, as well as their safety. ✓ Help your elder get a professional hearing test. ✓ Help your elder get a properly fitted hearing aid from a professional, if necessary. ✓ Choose a quiet place to speak directly to your elder. Ask if speaking louder or slower helps him or her understand you better.
Reduced Sight Changes in eyesight can be gradual or rapid. Since people use their eyes to gather information, the loss of sight can also change behavior. If you’re caring for an elder with vision problems: ✓ Make sure eyeglass prescriptions are up-to-date. ✓ Get large-print reading materials. ✓ Try books on tape or other recorded materials. ✓ Give him or her a magnifying glass. ✓ Make sure rooms have adequate light.
✓ Learn all you can about the person’s condition from a healthcare provider.
Older people with vision and hearing problems may avoid other people. ✓ Encourage them to socialize with others. ✓ Let your elder know how much you care about his or her ideas, advice and company. ✓ Reassure your elder that others care about him or her. ✓ Explain the person’s hearing and sight limitations to friends and family members.
People who have had strokes or those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia may have trouble responding to normal conversation. If you take care of someone with such an impairment:
✓ Be patient. ✓ Try to understand and accept the person’s abilities. ✓ Be direct and use simple words. ✓ Comfort and reassure the person. They appreciate your company, even if they can’t tell you so.
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Extending the Family
When an Elder Moves Into Your Home Many working adults are faced with the question of whether to include an aging parent or another older relative in their household. If your relationship has been strained in the past, living together may not be the best plan. For people who have had a strong, loving connection with their parent or relative, the decision may be easier. Even if you invite an elder to join your household, there are many practical and emotional issues to consider before making the change.
Sharing Your Home ✓ Talk about your expectations, wishes and fears ahead of time. ✓ Will the older adult have trouble adjusting to your rules? ✓ How will the older person be included in family activities? ✓ Will you be able to find other living arrangements for your elder if the situation is no longer working?
Communication Styles ✓ Do you and your elder have a way of sorting out differences? ✓ Does your elder’s communication style mesh with the way your family resolves differences?
Care Requirements ✓ How much care does your elder need? ✓ Does he or she need help with bathing, medicine and other types of personal care? ✓ Can other family members help? ✓ Does your community have home health services that provide transportation, nursing or personal care for older adults? ✓ Have you discussed long-term care arrangements? ✓ Does your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or your local commission on aging provide information?
Physical Space ✓ Can your elder walk up stairs or will a room on the main floor be needed?
✓ What arrangements can be made for added privacy? ✓ Will someone have to give up their room? ✓ Will you need to modify bathrooms, stairways or laundry areas for your elder’s safety? ✓ Does the older person prefer a very cool or very warm environment?
Making It Work ✓ Your elder will benefit from the warmth of family care while your children will enjoy the perspective offered by an older adult. ✓ You’ll reap the satisfaction of caring for an elder in his or her later years.
Financial Considerations ✓ What household expenses will increase? ✓ Can the older person contribute? ✓ Will a family member need to cut back on work hours, thereby decreasing income? ✓ Will there be financial advantages when the older person and family share expenses?
Social Activity ✓ Once an elder moves in, plan time together and time apart. ✓ Encourage the older adult to see friends and participate in activities at an adult day care or senior center. ✓ Allow your elder to maintain a sense of dignity and privacy with a life of his or her own for as long as possible.
With good communication, planning and use of community resources, inviting a parent or elder to join your household can be a positive experience for all. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.065 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Divorce Tips to Help You and Your Children Cope Grief, anger and disappointment can color every aspect of your life during a divorce. But divorce is also a time of rebuilding for you and your children. Here are some ideas to help you cope with this challenging time: Let yourself grieve. Expect to experience a period of mourning during a divorce. Regardless of your feelings of anger toward your former spouse, you must take time to grieve the loss of a mate and the parent of your children. It may seem impossible at first, but you’ll emerge from a period of healthy mourning with a new center of emotional balance as a single person.
Cooperate on parenting. As painful as it may be to maintain contact with your former spouse, it’s essential to create mutually acceptable coparenting agreements. Work out the specifics of custody and visitation before the divorce. Mediation services and mental health professionals can be more helpful than lawyers in this regard. Custodial parents need to share their children and let the other parent play a real role in raising them. Noncustodial parents must resist the temptation to manipulate their children’s loyalties. Let your children know that the other parent has strengths and limitations, just like you.
their feelings. Look for children’s books about divorce. Ask questions about the story, such as: “How do you think this boy feels?” or “Do her mom and dad still love her?” Recognize that divorce may be very unsettling to grown children, too.
Take time to adjust. You may be facing some very practical changes in your life, such as moving, finding a new job and making new child care arrangements. Go easy on yourself and your kids while you make these transitions. Don’t rush into any decisions, particularly those with long-term consequences. Most importantly, don’t try to solve your practical or emotional problems by jumping into a new marriage.
Build support networks. It’s common after a divorce for mutual friends to take sides with one partner. This is a perfect time to make new friends. Seek out others who enjoy living and growing in the present. You and your children also may benefit from professional counseling at this time.
Communicate with your children. Children often believe that they’re to blame for a divorce. Whether they express this worry, tell them they’re not responsible for the separation. They may have to hear this message a number of times before their guilt subsides. When a parent leaves, young children may feel abandoned and unloved. Tell your children that you and your spouse still love them and will continue to do so. Phone calls and a photograph of the absent parent may help your children to remember and feel close. Encourage your children to talk about or act out
Nurture yourself and your children. When you’re in the midst of emotional trauma, it’s easy for everything to seem out of balance. Start a regular exercise routine if you don’t have one. Enjoy quiet times as well as active play with your children. Also schedule leisure time just for you— to relax and enjoy some solitude. Most of all, try to remember that healing takes time. When you begin to accept the challenge of new beginnings, you’ll come to a deeper understanding of yourself and be able to build a better future for your children.
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Remarriage Ways to Ease the Adjustment for Your Children It’s not uncommon for children to feel scared, uncertain and jealous when a parent decides to remarry. But you can make it easier on them. If you have remarried or plan to, your children can have a meaningful and healthy relationship with your new spouse. But children don’t always readily understand the changing family dynamics. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to foster healthy family relationships: ■ Clearly defining the new stepparent’s role in parenting is an important first step. Make sure all family members—children, natural parents and your new spouse—know and are comfortable with each other’s roles in the family. ■ Stepparents should establish relationships with children slowly, emphasizing friendship first. They should always try to take the stepchild’s perspective into account and show a genuine interest in learning family routines before trying to change them. If the other natural parent is completely out of the picture, perhaps the new spouse will be the “new” mommy or daddy, with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that role. ■ If your former spouse is still actively involved with your child’s upbringing, acknowledge his or her role as well as the new spouse’s role. A child can easily become confused with two mommies or two daddies, and hostilities can develop if family members’ roles are not clearly communicated. ■ Sometimes kids will exhibit extreme emotional swings and behave badly when a parent
remarries. Having a new “parent” around can create feelings of jealousy and even pose a threat, in the child’s mind, to the security of his position within the family. With the increased attention new spouses show each other, a child may feel left out and want more attention. It’s common for children to assume a divisive role in a new adult partnership, particularly if they’re still grieving the loss of the preexisting family. This doesn’t mean that you should excuse bad behavior, but be sensitive to the underlying causes of the behavior. Children need to know they’re safe and that the family foundation is secure. ■ Children may have unstated expectations of their new roles in the new family. To help children make adjustments to family structure, give them ageappropriate roles in family decisions, such as when to walk the dog, what to have for dinner and which movies to rent. ■ Kids whose parents have remarried may compare their family to other families and find theirs wanting. Try to explain to them that families are never the same; some have a lot of kids; some have none; some include grandparents or cousins; some have two parents; and some have three. Encourage your children to see every family as a special group. Tell them the important thing is not how many people a family has or who lives in the house, but that each person loves and cares for the others. ■ Get some age-appropriate children’s books and videos about divorce and different kinds of families and family issues to help introduce sensitive topics to children who feel vulnerable.
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Blending Families Hints for a Successful Transition With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce and the majority of divorced individuals finding new partners, the number of blended families is growing. Blended families encounter a whole range of challenging practical and emotional issues. The process of combining two households and two sets of children can be less confusing if parents take time to deal with sensitive feelings and build new family relationships. Here are some suggestions for minimizing the confusion and stress that can accompany the formation of new families:
Set ground rules. Discuss your concerns and feelings when you consider living with someone who also has children. Talk about practical issues such as who has authority over which kids and when and how visitation provisions will be accommodated. Encourage open communication and cooperation between all the adults involved, including former spouses. New partners may bring to the marriage different ideas about disciplining children. One strategy that works for many blended families is for the new mate to refrain from disciplining the other’s children until they can agree on a common set of expectations and a discipline style.
Pay attention to feelings. A stepparent-stepchild relationship can foster all sorts of emotions, some wonderful, some not. Sometimes parents and children can subconsciously compete for the attention of the
other parent or vice versa. These feelings should be recognized but minimized. Competitive feelings may also emerge if one parent seems to favor his or her biological children. A situation like this can generate great hostility and should be confronted early on. Stepparents should avoid making negative statements about the absent biological parent in the presence of the children.
Be friends first. Some stepparents who join a family are ecstatic to be the “instant” parents of children they adore. Their joy may quickly turn into frustration, however, when they find that their stepchildren are boiling over with anger, resentment and other challenging emotions. Other stepparents are disappointed when they don’t feel instant pangs of love for their new stepchildren. If you’re a new stepparent, don’t expect to love the stepchild right away or expect love in return. Instead, focus on building a
friendship based on mutual appreciation and respect. Although you’ll be coparenting, don’t expect to replace the missing parent in the child’s heart. Get to know the child’s likes and dislikes, hobbies and friends.
Emphasize the positive aspects. A blended family offers many benefits that a traditional nuclear family does not. Members of a combined family can share new skills and interests with each other, learn new customs and rituals and have more diverse companionship within the household. Despite the challenges involved in blending two families, when all family members can be honest about their feelings and work together, blended families offer opportunities to share a unique and special joy. It sometimes helps to emphasize these positive aspects of stepfamily relationships and to minimize or dispel the negative ones.
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Business Travel Planning for Your Absence From Home Business travel is inevitable for many working parents. But there are many ways to make job-related absences less traumatic for your family.
Prepare Your Children
Communicate With Your Caregiver
✓ Help your children prepare for your absence well in advance.
✓ Leave all phone numbers where you can be reached. ✓ Make sure your child’s daily routine is clear, including snack time, nap time, chores and household rules.
✓ Explain why you’re leaving and emphasize when you will return. ✓ Look at a calendar together and write down where you’ll be on each day.
✓ Be specific about any medications your child may need.
✓ Tell your children when you will call and mark it down on their calendar and yours. ✓ Describe the new experiences your children may have during your leave, and emphasize the fun aspect of these experiences. ✓ Ask your children to keep a journal or draw pictures about what they do each day while you’re gone.
Prepare the Household ✓ Keep a supply of favorite convenience foods on hand so your family can prepare easy meals in your absence. ✓ If they’re old enough, show your children how to use the dishwasher and other appliances. ✓ Make sure your children understand what their chores are while you’re away.
✓ Highlight your child’s favorite foods and how they might fit into a meal. ✓ Make an audio tape or video of yourself telling or reading a story so your caregiver can play it for your children at bedtime. ✓ List your child’s favorite games, books, activities and outings, such as the zoo, library or park. Familiar activities will be comforting to your child when you’re away. ✓ Leave a notebook so your caregiver can record your child’s activities and meals or any problems and concerns that arise. ✓ If you’re divorced, explain any visitation arrangements.
When You Return ✓ Review the notebook with your caregiver and ask for any suggestions about how to make things smoother. ✓ Ask your children about any anxieties and feelings that came up while you were gone. ✓ Assess the trip yourself and make mental notes on how you’ll plan for your family the next time you take a business trip away from home.
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Guidelines for Parents of Latchkey Children No one knows exactly how many latchkey children there are in the United States, but estimates range from 2.5 million to 7 million. If you have latchkey children—youngsters who stay home without adult supervision —there are ways to ensure that they stay safe and happy.
Prepare your children.
Are your children mature enough? There is no certain age when children are automatically ready to be home by themselves for long periods of time. Some 11-year-olds are more responsible than some 15-year-olds. Most people would probably agree that no child younger than 10 should be left on their own for several hours, but even a 13-year-old might have trouble, if it involves supervising a younger sibling. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if your children are ready to be “latchkey kids.” ✓ Are they physically able to lock and unlock doors and windows, and make a snack? ✓ Are they able to decide what is an emergency situation and can they remember what to do in an emergency? ✓ Can they recognize an unsafe situation when it arises? ✓ Can you trust them to understand and follow your instructions and obey the house rules? ✓ Is your neighborhood safe? Will there be at least one adult nearby who they can go to if needed? ✓ Are you ready to leave them at home unsupervised? Will you be too worried and anxious to concentrate on your work? ✓ Do your children welcome this opportunity to display their maturity and responsibility or have they expressed doubts or fears about it? If you have doubts about any of these questions, perhaps you should consider finding other after-school care options, at least until they are a little older.
Once you and your children have decided on a latchkey arrangement, set some ground rules and train them to look after themselves. ✓ Arrange a time for your children to check in with you by phone after they return home. ✓ With your children’s input, make a simple schedule for homework, chores and play time. ✓ Teach your children how to prepare snacks and clean up after themselves. ✓ Have your children memorize family names, addresses and phone numbers. ✓ Discuss what constitutes a real emergency and how to get help in the event of an emergency. ✓ Keep emergency phone numbers by the phone. ✓ Encourage problem-solving by asking your children to propose solutions to situations that may arise. ✓ Prepare a household emergency kit that includes a working flashlight and a battery-operated, transistor radio your children can use in case of a power failure. ✓ Show your children how to lock doors and windows. ✓ Teach your children to never enter the house if the door is open, or if it looks like there has been a break-in. They should get the nearest adult for help. ✓ Tell them to not answer the door to strangers, and teach them how to answer the phone and take messages without revealing they are home by themselves. ✓ Have a strict no-visitor policy—no friends or playmates should come over without an adult in the house. After a period of time, sit down with your children and ask them how it is going. If they have concerns or seem apprehensive, listen carefully and see if there are any adjustments that could make them more comfortable. But if they are uncomfortable with the arrangement or fearful of being alone, consider other after-school options.
Who else can help? While your children may feel comfortable taking care of themselves, it’s always important to know that there are other adults who can help. ✓ Your community may have hot lines, classes and a neighborhood “safe house” program for latchkey children. ✓ Hired household help, neighbors or older adults may lend a hand on occasion.
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Plan for the Unexpected Brainstorm Potential Problems Train older children to solve problems without you. Give them alternatives to calling you at work. For example, discuss what they should do if the dog runs away and they’re not supposed to leave the house. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to act as a backup in emergencies. Leave an extra key with the neighbor.
Handle Emergencies Calmly
Even the most organized families and parents encounter surprises and emergencies that throw a monkey wrench into their plans. Baby sitters get sick, keys get lost and you run out of peanut butter just when your 8-year-old agreed to prepare sandwiches for the next day’s lunches. The key to dealing with unexpected events is to plan ahead.
• Know who you can rely on. • Create backup systems. • Train your children to solve problems on their own. • Organize your household so that needed resources and supplies are available and easy to find. Keep a Home Information List
which ones are available during different times of the day and which have cars. Show children, other adults and baby sitters where the list is posted and ask that they always return it to the same place. The list should include names, addresses and phone numbers for:
• parents’ places of employment. • grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and other relatives who can help. • friends and neighbors. • doctors. • veterinarians. • the fire department. • the police department. • poison control. Baby Sitter Backups
Your household should have a list of important names and numbers near the phone. The list should be in large clear print so it’s legible for young children and older adults. Make notes about which friends, neighbors and relatives live nearby. Indicate
Make a separate list of backup baby sitters and child care providers. Exchange phone numbers with other parents who have children the same age as yours. Keep the list handy so you don’t have to search for it at the last minute.
Real emergencies do occur. If your child calls with a critical situation, stay calm. Get as much information as you can. Then help the child figure out who else to call and what to do.
Keep Essentials on Hand It may be impossible to keep enough peanut butter in the house at all times. However, you can keep a petty cash fund in a kitchen drawer for your children to use when they run out of essential items. Keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked with quickie meals and easy-toprepare snacks in case you get caught in traffic and can’t make it home in time to make dinner. Make sure your medicine chest or first aid kit includes:
• cotton • bandages • a thermometer • hydrogen peroxide • burn ointment • antibacterial ointment
• adhesive tape • sunscreen • syrup of ipecac • pain relievers for children • a heating pad
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How to Talk to Your Children About Work The first place children learn about the work world is from their parents. Younger children may feel angry or sad that their parents spend the whole day at the job instead of with them. Talking to your children about your job helps them understand what you do during the day and how your efforts contribute to the family’s well-being.
Explain What Work Is
✓ Describe your job to younger children with simple words they can understand. ✓ Get one of the many children’s books that describe what adults do on the job. ✓ Encourage your children’s questions and comments. ✓ Make the idea of work more tangible by showing them some tools of your trade. Bring home a sample of what your company does or produces. ✓ If you use a computer at work and have one at home, show your child how you use it.
Your children can answer these questions about your work and then discuss them with you.
Show Your Children Where You Work ✓ Take advantage of special family days to introduce your children to your workplace. ✓ Show your children your desk and the equipment you use. ✓ Have lunch in the company cafeteria and introduce your children to your coworkers and supervisors.
Explain Why You Work Both paid and unpaid work is an important part of our lives, but most of us work for a paycheck. Tell preschoolers that the money you earn helps buy clothing and groceries. An older child may appreciate the fact that your paycheck will help finance his or her college education. It’s also important for children to understand that money is not the only reason people work. Satisfying work enhances feelings of competency and a sense of purpose in life. Let older children know that you’re proud to use your skills and talents to provide for your family.
1. My mom/dad works as a _____________________ ___________________________________________. 2. The place my mom/dad works is called ___________________________________________. It’s in _____________________________________. 3. My mom/dad goes to work by ________________ ___________________________________________ (driving, walking, subway, bus, etc.). 4. While my mom/dad is at work, she/he ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________. 5. When my mom/dad goes to work, I feel ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________. 6. When my mom/dad goes to work, she/he feels ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________. 7. We use the money mom/dad earns on the job to ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________. Your kids can use the back of this paper to draw a picture of you at work. Encourage them to show how you’re dressed, where you stand or sit and which tools you use.
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Get Fit With Your Kids Parents and kids alike need regular aerobic exercise to stay healthy. Mix weekly exercise activities with your kids and you have a recipe for health-enhancing fun that strengthens family ties. Adults need at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week to stay healthy and combat stress. Kids’ capacities for aerobic activity vary according to age, although many youngsters have enough energy to run circles around their parents. When you plan family fitness outings with your kids, choose activities that match their aerobic capacities, coordination and skill levels. Always keep safety considerations in mind. Here are some exercises you can do with your kids. For all outdoor activities, wear hats with visors, sunscreen and sunglasses with straps.
Wheels and Blades Roller and ice skating are activities adults and children can enjoy together. Many cities have special areas meant just for skaters. Knee and elbow pads will help cushion the blow if skin meets the pavement. Wrist guards can help prevent injuries from falls.
Walking A walk around town, through the woods, in the mountains or on the beach is a great way for kids and their parents to stretch their muscles, burn calories and discover new sights together. For city treks, pack snacks and beverages in your backpacks. On hikes, add binoculars, nature books, compasses, maps and insect repellent. Be sure to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes for your expeditions. Try strapping your little ones into three-wheeled strollers meant for jogging.
Water sports are great opportunities for family fun, but extra safety precautions are required. Never leave young children unattended in or near a pool, lake, river or any body of water. Younger children should always wear certified life preservers. Avoid inner tubes and “water wings.” They don’t provide adequate protection for young children. Adults who swim with their children should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other water safety procedures.
Dancing Most adults don’t consider dancing an activity to do with their kids. But some forms of social dancing, including folk dancing and square dancing, are easy and fun for kids to learn. Investigate dancing opportunities at schools and community centers. Ask if children are invited to attend.
Parties and Other Activities
Even toddlers on tricycles and youngsters on bikes with training wheels can participate in family rides around town and on back roads. Make sure everyone’s cycle is the correct size for their height. Bring water bottles, high-energy snacks and fruit. Wear approved helmets, use bicycle safety flags and carry a repair kit with patches, tubes, wrenches and an air pump.
Birthday parties at bowling alleys, skating rinks, miniature golf courses or parks are good ways to add physical activity to family gatherings. Think like a kid and you’ll come up with other great ideas for family fitness. Kite flying, dog walking, skiing, treasure hunts, batting cages and walk-a-thons are just a few more ways you can mix fitness with family fun.
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Make Plans for Summer Summer is a special time for family fun. Warm summer evenings seem custom-made for after-work family barbecues and neighborhood softball games. As soon as you know the dates of your children’s summer holiday, start planning. For the Whole Family
Whether you have vacation from work or not, there are many ways to enjoy the summer with your family. ✓ If your summer plans include a trip out of town, get your kids involved in the excitement by talking about the places you’ll visit, reading about your destination, looking at maps and buying travel gear. ✓ If you plan a road trip, establish a base in one location. Take day trips from the base to surrounding sites so your children will have a familiar place to come “home” to at the end of each day. ✓ Consider weekend family getaways to state parks and beaches. Many places offer camp sites and cabins. If one parent’s vacation time is limited, you may be able to find a cabin within commuting distance from that parent’s job. ✓ During the summer, kids love amusement parks, boat rides, visits to the zoo and just about any excuse to be outside.
Chances are your children will have more free time on their hands than you do during the summer. How can you keep them occupied while you’re at work? ✓ Day camps sponsored by community organizations can include a wide variety of activities, such as swimming, arts and crafts, horseback riding, dance classes and other sports. Some have transportation arrangements, such as a bus that picks up children at specific locations. ✓ Neighbors and other parents may be happy to watch your children while you’re at work. If you have time during the week, offer to trade off watching yours and a neighbor’s child for a day or two each week. Consider hiring a college student to prepare meals and drive children to sporting events. Grandparents and relatives who live in other locations may enjoy spending time with your children during part of the summer. ✓ Overnight camps give older children a chance to develop independence while enjoying the pleasures of the great outdoors. Some camps are sponsored by scouting organizations, others by religious groups. Many focus on a particular kind of activity, such as horseback riding, the arts, drama or music.
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The Importance of Vacations
A change of pace is essential to help you relax and balance the multiple demands in your life. Vacations with or without the kids let you recharge your batteries so you can put your best energies into your job as a parent and an employee. Sometimes a vacation alone with your spouse is just what you need. This is especially true for families experiencing crises or major changes. For example, if you and your spouse are the parents of a rebellious teenager, you may not want to leave home unless trusted friends or relatives are available as caregivers. But a weekend away from teen turmoil may be just what you need to put your child’s behavior into perspective and gain some peace of mind. Family vacations also offer many rewards and a wide variety of ways to have fun. Independent family trips, by car, boat, train or plane, allow your family to discover new sights, landscapes and cultures together. The excitement of exploring an unknown place can create a special feeling of family pride and adventure.
Before you travel, gauge your children’s stamina and need for meals. On car and train trips, plan activities that involve kids in the sights and sounds along the way. Play games and bring coloring and story books that describe the places you plan to visit. Camping is another fun option for families. Kids love the adventure of setting up housekeeping outdoors and sleeping under the stars. You can experience the great outdoors in a variety of ways, from car camping to backpacking. If you prefer the comfort of a bed and four walls, many state and national parks rent cabins, with and without kitchen facilities. For parents who want a structured vacation, many resorts now have accommodations for children, including special activities, such as arts and crafts, sports and drama and music groups. Wherever you go and however you choose to travel, have a great time. The sense of relaxation and rejuvenation you’ll gain from your vacation will strengthen family relationships for years to come.
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Tips for Communicating Effectively With Your Boss Just the thought of communicating with your boss can be enough to produce stress and anxiety. However, with a little preparation and practice, you can be on your way to confident and effective communication.
1. Before you speak to your boss, write down all the topics you want to discuss and what you hope to communicate. 2. Make sure you’re clear about what you want or need from your boss. 3. In private, rehearse what you want to say to your boss. 4. When speaking to your boss, use qualifying words, such as “perhaps” and “maybe,” rather than absolute words, such as “always,” “every,” “all the time” and “never.” Speaking in absolutes can raise a person’s defenses and cause resistance. 5. Make “I” statements, such as “I need guidance,” instead of “you” statements, such as “You haven’t given me guidance.” 6. Avoid going to your boss when you’re emotional. Give yourself a cooling-off period to collect your thoughts and composure. 7. If at all possible, talk to your boss before issues become heated and you become emotionally involved. 8. Be an active listener. Learn to really listen and understand what your boss says. If you missed or weren’t clear about a point, ask your boss to repeat or clarify it. 9. Try to repeat and rephrase the points your boss makes during a conversation to show that you’re listening and understanding him or her. 10. Practice good body language. Look at your boss, lean into the conversation and avoid fidgeting. 11. Be assertive, not aggressive. 12. Keep an open mind and be open to compromise. 13. Avoid gossiping or spreading rumors to your boss. 14. Have a positive attitude. 15. Be sure to give your boss praise and recognition when it’s due. 16. Communicate regularly with your boss to develop and maintain a comfortable relationship. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.076 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Develop a Career Action Plan Change is a fact of life in the workplace. Many traditional standards of security are disappearing. The best insurance you can have is trust in yourself, knowledge of your talents and the ability to tackle new situations with a positive attitude.
Make a Plan ✓ Do you know where your career is headed? ✓ Do you know where you want to be in your professional life one year from now? In five years? ✓ Do you have plans to get there? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you may benefit from developing a career action plan—a long-range vision of how you want to spend your professional life. A career action plan is a picture of how and where you want to work. In it, you define your career goals and map ways to meet them.
Define Your Career Goals Career goals are different for everyone. Yours may include: ✓ reaching a certain job level. ✓ getting promoted. ✓ having greater responsibility. ✓ learning a new job skill. ✓ completing a project in a specific length of time.
Develop a Leadership Attitude ✓ Learn how to learn. ✓ Develop new technical and social skills. ✓ Associate with people who are learning new things. ✓ Challenge yourself to act in new ways. ✓ Learn to act before you have all the information. ✓ Develop new competencies. ✓ Be flexible.
Here is an exercise to help you define your career goals: • DEFINE YOUR SKILLS. Everyone brings different skills to the workplace. List the 10 skills you enjoy using most at work. 1._____________________________________ 2._____________________________________ 3._____________________________________ 4._____________________________________ 5._____________________________________ 6._____________________________________ 7._____________________________________ 8._____________________________________ 9._____________________________________ 10. ___________________________________
• CLARIFY YOUR VALUES. Most of us work for a paycheck. But we also have personal values that determine the kind of work we choose. List the five occupational values that mean the most to you. Your values may include: creativity, challenge, variety, travel or security. 1._____________________________________ 2._____________________________________ 3._____________________________________ 4._____________________________________ 5._____________________________________
• EVALUATE YOUR PRESENT POSITION.
Take Action Once you’ve defined your career goals, you can begin to put them into action. Write down the steps you need to take to achieve them in the next year. As you determine your career action steps, define them in specific terms and set deadlines for taking action.
Does your current job utilize your talents and support your professional values? Is there opportunity for growth in your present position?
• MAKE PLANS FOR FUTURE GROWTH. Assuming your current occupation is a good fit, where would you like to be five years from now? How can you learn about other positions that will use your talents and fit your values?
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Some Common Time-Wasters Everyone wastes time. Some wasted time can be constructive because it helps you relax or reduce tension. Other wasted time can be frustrating. This is especially true when you’re doing something less important or less fun than what you prefer to be doing. Time thieves come from both the outside world and yourself. Here are some ways to recognize and manage your most frequent time-wasters.
Self-Generated Lack of Priorities & Planning
Without a clear sense of goals and objectives, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Take time to write down your goals and objectives. Discuss priorities with your coworkers and boss. Keep a list of your daily, weekly and monthly goals in front of you.
Do you spend too much time looking for misplaced papers or tools? Is your work area organized for maximum efficiency? Rearrange your work area to make it less cluttered. Keep separate files for works in progress and particular projects. Check this file daily to see what needs to be done.
Many people postpone important things they know they should be doing, sometimes because they don’t know where to begin. Set a deadline for your project. Plan to reward yourself when you meet your goal. Ask an associate to follow up with you about progress on tasks you hate to do. Do undesirable tasks early in the day so you can get them out of the way. Break the job into small pieces so you can see progress.
Do you get too many unexpected visitors on the job? If possible, move your work area so your back is to the door. When someone drops in unexpectedly, stand up to talk. Your visitor will get the message that you don’t have time to talk. If this doesn’t work, be honest and say something like “Thanks for dropping in. You’ll have to excuse me now because I need to get back to work.”
While you can’t eliminate all calls, you can limit the amount of time they take. Screen your calls if your workplace allows it. Use voice mail during periods when you don’t want to be interrupted. Schedule times to take and return calls. Let your callers know your schedule. Limit social conversation during business hours. Provide short answers to questions. End the conversation in a polite way when it has achieved its purpose.
Unsolicited mail can flood your desk, making it difficult to work. If someone else sorts your mail, give them guidelines on what you want to see. Separate mail into stacks: • what you want to see (separated into two stacks: “information only” and “action”) • what should be routed to others • what should be tossed Handle each piece of mail only once. As you read it, decide what action you will take. “Information only” mail can be saved and read at a more convenient time. You can respond to some mail by telephone. Another idea is to write a brief response in longhand on the original letter and mail it back.
Check your e-mail every day so it doesn’t pile up. Delete junk mail without opening it. Don’t use your work account for personal e-mail. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.078 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Five Ways to Improve Your Productivity Personal productivity results from setting goals, learning to work effectively and knowing how to relax. Here are five ways to improve your productivity:
1. USE LONG-TERM AND SHORT-TERM PLANNING. Long-term plans describe what you want to accomplish in the next three months. Short-term plans cover what you plan to do today or this week. Short-term plans can also be steps toward longer-term objectives.
2. PRIORITIZE YOUR TASKS. Before you start any job, evaluate how it relates to your long- and short-term goals. Divide tasks into three categories: A—Essential; B—Important; C—Nice-toDo. When prioritizing work, ask yourself why you’re doing a particular task. How urgent is it? Can it be delegated to someone else?
3. GET ORGANIZED. Make monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists. Stay focused on what’s important. Reduce clutter on your desk and shelves. Check your calendar daily and weekly.
4. MANAGE YOUR TIME. Complete your most difficult tasks when your energy is at its peak. Break large jobs into smaller ones. Plan private time each day when you can work without interruptions. Screen phone calls and learn to handle unexpected visitors. Practice saying “no” to activities that don’t support your long-term goals. Use your commute time wisely.
5. ENJOY YOUR LEISURE TIME. Have fun along the way. Make time to exercise and have fun with your family. Keep some time for yourself. Develop your own personal interests and activities.
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Planning for Success at Work Your long-term success at work is based on a number of building blocks.
Make long- and short-term plans.
We all need long- and short-term plans to help us decide where we’re going and to figure out how to get there. Long-term plans describe what you expect to accomplish in the next three months, as well as any project longer than a week. Short-term plans cover what you expect to accomplish the same day or in one week. Short-term plans can also be steps toward long-term objectives. Yearly, monthly, weekly and daily charts can help you plan how you’ll achieve your goals and measure your progress.
Prioritize your tasks.
Consult your weekly planning chart to make daily to-do lists. Use the ABC method to determine your priorities:
• An “A” priority is something you must do. • A “B” priority is something you should do. • A “C” priority is something that’s nice to do. As you prioritize tasks, ask yourself:
• Why am I doing this? • How does it relate to my goals? • How urgent is this task? • Is it really important? • Can anyone else do it?
Good organization skills help you see what’s most important at home and at work. Remind yourself of your longterm goals and revise your priorities daily. Spend 15 minutes a day clearing out your in-box. Break the habit of writing things down on small scraps of paper. Write notes in the appropriate place the first time.
Manage your time.
Use calendars and planners to avoid time conflicts. Do your most difficult tasks when your energy is at its peak and schedule quiet time to work on projects that demand your full concentration. Break large jobs into smaller parts. Complete one task at a time. Be realistic about the amount of information you can read and retain.
ication skills. Sharpen your communa give and take
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Delegate tasks when appropriate.
Delegate jobs when you’re extremely busy and someone else has extra time or when someone else has greater expertise to handle the project. Make sure the person you choose has the knowledge and training to do the job. Praise and give rewards after you’ve delegated. Give specific feedback about the results. Point out the good qualities of the employee’s performance. Thank him or her for a job well done.
Build a career support network.
Coworkers, supervisors and mentors can give you valuable feedback, help you confront difficult situations and encourage you to meet your goals. Invest in people you trust. Take the initiative in suggesting social gettogethers with new friends and associates. Give praise to others. Ask for and give help when needed. Learn to accept constructive criticism with gratitude and grace.
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Make Good Use of Commute and Break Times Expert planners use travel and break times to their best advantage. Instead of grumbling about the hours they spend getting to and from work, they find ways to make the most of their commutes. They learn how to shift gears quickly and to take care of personal business during work breaks. No time is wasted if you put it to good use. Here are some ways to make commute and break times more pleasant and productive.
If you use public transit to get to work: ✓ Compose or review your daily to-do list. ✓ Outline business letters, notes and memos. ✓ Silently rehearse speeches, presentations and interviews. ✓ Catch up on your personal correspondence. ✓ Balance your checkbook and work on the family budget. ✓ Read business or recreational materials.
If you drive to work: ✓ Listen to music, books on tape or motivational tapes. ✓ Mentally plan meetings and projects. Some people carry small cassette tape recorders in the car to dictate notes and messages. ✓ It’s possible to conduct business and talk to family members while you’re in transit if you have a cellular phone. Hands-free headset devices allow you to remain focused on the road and traffic.
Use break times to:
✓ Consider sharing rides. Many employers and regional transit authorities sponsor ride-sharing services that match you with other commuters and distribute information about other transit options.
✓ make appointments with doctors, dentists and hairdressers.
✓ Find out if your company has a flextime policy in place. If so, you may be able to adjust your schedule to avoid congested commute hours.
✓ take a walk around the block and get a breath of fresh air.
✓ Allow extra time to get to your destination and relax.
✓ read travel brochures for your family vacation.
✓ Call to confirm appointments and meetings before you leave your home or office so you can avoid disappointments and unnecessary waiting.
✓ check in with your children and child care provider.
✓ catch up on news with your coworkers. ✓ relax; find a quiet spot, put up your feet and read your favorite magazine.
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Tips for Time Management It’s helpful to think of time management as two layers that interact with each other:
✓ Big-picture time management involves reviewing your long-term goals, setting priorities and making plans to meet your goals. When you organize the big picture, you’ll find that you use your time more effectively day by day. ✓ Daily time management activities include those that help you organize your time and resources so you can meet your big-picture goals. Big-Picture Time Management ✓ Review your career goals. ✓ Establish long- and short-range objectives to help you meet your career goals. ✓ Make a list of yearly, monthly and weekly objectives and prioritize them. ✓ Delegate responsibility when appropriate. ✓ Build a support network and ask for feedback.
Daily Time Management ✓ Make daily “to-do” lists and prioritize them. Review lists periodically to make sure everything is necessary. ✓ Do your most difficult tasks when your energy is at its peak. ✓ Break large jobs into smaller parts. ✓ Do one job at a time. ✓ Plan quiet time during the day when you can get your work done. ✓ Handle each piece of paper only once. ✓ Find ways to eliminate or streamline procedures. ✓ Manage your mail and phone calls. ✓ Learn to say “no” to demands that don’t benefit you. ✓ Reduce clutter. ✓ Organize your workspace. ✓ Use calendars. ✓ Forget about perfection. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.082 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Learn How to Set Short- and Long-Term Goals
Planning is the foundation for success.
Schedule Action Steps With your action steps in hand, schedule tasks to meet your goals within a defined timeline. Use yearly, monthly and weekly calendars to help schedule your time. How many widgets must you produce each month to meet your goal?
■ Long-term plans describe what you expect to accomplish in the next three months, as well as any project that will take longer than a week. ■ Short-term plans cover what you want to accomplish today or this week. Short-term plans also can be steps toward longer-term objectives.
Select Start Dates
Provide Ways to Measure Progress
How many widgets have been pressed, boxed and shipped after one month, two months or the first quarter?
Do you want to manufacture 6 million widgets in four months? Reconcile accounts for all past due receipts by the end of the year? The first step in long-term planning is establishing objectives.
Set a date that will allow completion by your target date. When does the manufacturing process start?
Short-Term Planning Weekly Plans
What materials and machinery do you need to produce those widgets? How many accountants are on hand to reconcile the books? If you don’t have enough supplies, where can you find more? The second step is to make sure you have what you need to reach your goals.
A weekly plan should describe what you want to accomplish by the end of the week and the activities needed to get you there. Weekly plans can be developed on Friday for the following week, over the weekend or on Monday morning. Many people use commute time for this activity.
Determine What You Need to Meet Your Goals
Decide who will operate the widget press and supervise the operators. Appoint a chief accountant. Make sure the department is staffed to meet the needs of the project.
Define Action Steps What are the steps in manufacturing widgets? What resources do you need to reconcile the books? Outline the process for each project. Action steps become part of your short-term plans.
If you make a habit of using a daily calendar, many of your activities will already be recorded. This is the best way to develop your “things to do today” list. A daily prioritized list is the best way to focus your attention on your most important objectives. Work from the top of your list. When unexpected demands arise, assess their priority and handle them accordingly. At the end of each day, carry forward any items that need completing. Reprioritize these with tomorrow’s new items.
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Eight Tips to Help You Get Organized at Work Success is a result of long-term planning and daily action. Good organization helps you gain control of your time so you can plan and complete the tasks needed to achieve your goals. Here are eight organizational tips that will help you reach your long-term goals at work:
1. FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT. Remind yourself of your long-term goals and revise them when necessary. Set daily priorities to meet your goals. Keep photos of your family or inspirational pictures nearby.
2. MAKE LISTS. Make daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists of important tasks. Review your daily priorities at the beginning of each day.
3. MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL. Schedule quiet time at work to accomplish tasks that need extra concentration. Do your most challenging work when your energy is at its highest; save less demanding work for other times. If you tend to procrastinate, focus on the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when the job is done. Use commute time to plan your day’s activities.
4. USE CALENDARS AND PLANNERS. Check your work calendar daily to review your activities and avoid conflicts. Write down all commitments in pencil rather than trusting your memory. Use planning and scheduling forms and software to help you map out long-term projects.
5. DELEGATE TASKS. Assign tasks to others when the task is not on your level of expertise. Provide adequate training and feedback on assigned projects.
6. MANAGE YOUR MAIL AND PHONE CALLS. Sort incoming mail into categories by priority or action. Use voice mail to screen phone calls.
7. REDUCE CLUTTER. Clear your workspace. Keep only the most critical items and information you need daily on the top of your desk. Archive resource materials you rarely use. Toss out duplicate information and materials that will soon be outdated. Leave blank space on bookshelves for growth.
8. STAY ORGANIZED. Organize files by priority and keep the most important ones within arm’s reach. Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day clearing your desk and 15 minutes the next morning planning for your day’s activities. Review items one through seven on this list.
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Learn to Delegate By thoughtfully delegating tasks instead of attempting to do everything yourself, you can stay organized and keep your work flow moving. Delegating adds to your project new perspectives and the expertise of others. Most people who are in a position to delegate welcome the opportunity to do so. But others resist it. Why? Some avoid delegating because they don’t want to burden other people with their work. Others are afraid that if someone else does the work, it won’t be done correctly. You may be unaccustomed to delegating and reluctant to assert your authority, or you may feel too disorganized to delegate. Here are some ideas to help:
When Should I Delegate? ✓ when someone else is available to handle routine tasks ✓ when you’re extremely busy and someone else has extra time ✓ when someone else has greater expertise to handle the project
1. List five projects you can delegate right now.
To Whom Should I Delegate? ✓ someone with the knowledge and expertise to do the job ✓ someone who can be trained or can get help from a more experienced team member ✓ someone who has the time to do the job ✓ someone who will find the task interesting and rewarding ✓ a consultant or outside agency when everyone on staff is too busy
What Can I Delegate?
2. Match these tasks to appropriate staff members. Staff Member’s Name
____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Why He/She Is Best Choice
_____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
✓ specific tasks ✓ projects that need completion
3. List back-up staff members for these tasks. ____________________ _____________________ ____________________ _____________________
4. What kind of training will each person need for these projects?
✓ Ask employees to handle recurring tasks or projects. ✓ Make sure the person has received adequate instruction, guidance or training to perform the task. ✓ Be available to give feedback until the employee has mastered the task. ✓ Be clear about your expectations. ✓ Provide useful information to help the person tackle the project, but avoid too much detail. ✓ After they’ve received adequate training, make sure you give the employees the authority to complete the job on their own.
Staff Member’s Name
Long-Range Objectives You can challenge self-motivated employees to help reach an objective. For example, you might ask members of your technical support staff to work toward decreasing the number of customer complaints over the next three months.
____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
_____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
5. Do any of these tasks require follow-up from me? Project
____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________ ____________________
Date for Follow-Up
_____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
6. Check when you have given each staff member feedback for their work. Employee/Project
What Kind of Feedback Is Important? ✓ Praise and give rewards after you’ve delegated. ✓ Give specific feedback about the results. ✓ Point out the good qualities of the employee’s performance. ✓ Thank the employee for a job well done.
□ □ □ □ □
________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________ ________________________________________
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Ways to Stop Procrastinating People procrastinate for many reasons. Regardless of why you put off important tasks, there are ways to get moving. Here are the reasons for procrastination and ways to avoid them. PROBLEM Confusion
PROBLEM Fear of Risk-Taking
PROBLEM Lack of Priorities
PROBLEM Perfectionism Paralysis
You’re about to tackle a huge, complex task and you don’t know where to begin. You spend hours shuffling the pile of papers on your desk, but you can’t seem to find a starting point. Days pass, and you get more and more anxious about completing the project on time.
Your manager asks you to take on new responsibilities in the marketing department. You’ve never created a marketing plan and you don’t know how to develop new clients. While you’re flattered by your manager’s confidence in you, you’re afraid to make mistakes. The marketing file sits on your desk while you decide what to do next.
Your in-box is stuffed with memos on five different projects—each one marked “urgent.” You dart from task to task, but never seem to accomplish anything. Your motivation starts going down the drain when you miss another deadline.
You have some great ideas for a new project. You start writing an outline but rewrite the proposal a dozen times until you get it “just right.” Your high standards are keeping you from completing the project.
ACTION Make Molehills from Mountains At the beginning of an enormous project, break the job into smaller pieces. Set a long-range goal for completing the project and divide the job into manageable sections.
ACTION Learn to Relish Risk There’s no way to learn without taking risks. Most successful people face new opportunities knowing they’ll make mistakes. But they also know that they’ll gain valuable information along the way. Take a close look at your fear of failure. The negative consequences of stagnation are far greater than the dangers of making mistakes.
ACTION Learn How to Prioritize Make a list of all the things that need to be done. Use the ABC method to determine your priorities. Place each item on the list in one of the following categories: Priority A: Must-Do Priority B: Should-Do Priority C: Nice-to-Do When you’re prioritizing your tasks, ask yourself why you’re doing this work and how it relates to your goals and objectives. Assess the urgency of the project. Ask yourself if you can delegate some of the work to another staff member.
ACTION Focus on Completion While it’s good to have high standards, perfectionism can stop you in your tracks. Assess the importance of your project. Let the purpose of the job determine how much time to spend. Focus on completing the work. If you finish early, you can go back and fine-tune.
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How to Handle Calls From Your Children While You’re at Work Personal calls are unavoidable at work, but employees should be considerate of their employer’s demands and work needs. You can keep your employer happy and help your children limit calls by making sure your children understand which calls are appropriate. Encourage your children to learn to take charge; explain why it’s important that you not be bothered with unnecessary interruptions. Your children may even enjoy their freedom and feel empowered because you trust them with responsibility. Check-in Calls
Give your children a convenient time of day to call for a brief checkin. Schedule a daily call with your child care provider. These calls are important for your peace of mind and for your children’s safety. When you know precisely when the calls will come, you’ll be better able to concentrate.
The wrong kind of call can put a crimp in your work. Be clear about the types of calls you will not permit from your children. A discussion of dinner plans and clothing selections, for example, or attempts to resolve disputes should not be handled over the phone.
Emergency Calls No one can schedule an emergency, but beware of false crises. Make sure your children know what a real emergency is and discuss ways to handle nonemergency situations. For example, talk about what your child could do if he gets locked out of the house when no one is there. Give him some alternatives to calling you at work. Perhaps a trusted neighbor or friend close by will agree to keep a key and help when your child encounters difficulties. List important telephone numbers where children can easily find them. If it is a true emergency, let them know they made a good choice in calling you.
Weekly household planning will help prevent unnecessary calls at work. Plan menus and shop once a week so there’s enough food in the house and everyone knows what to expect for dinner. If you want several chores accomplished after school but anticipate a fuss, negotiate those problems ahead of time. When you get home, ask about minor and major disputes. Listening to your children may tip you off to other potential disputes. Settle them ahead of time so you don’t have to hear about them at work.
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Beware of Burnout What is job burnout? Burnout is a state of physical and/or emotional exhaustion that results from a long period of unrelenting stress. Employees experience burnout when they find themselves in “nowin” situations that dissolve their feelings of competency and motivation. Positive motivation comes from feeling that you have the power to succeed. Motivation disappears when you feel you have no influence over your work, your working conditions or the future of your career.
What Causes Job Burnout? ✓ a critical boss A supervisor who constantly criticizes your work can leave you feeling frustrated and angry. ✓ an incurable patient or client Social workers and others in the helping professions frequently encounter clients who never seem to change. Working repeatedly in these situations can cause burnout.
✓ lack of recognition If you work hard but are inadequately compensated, you may lose motivation. Similarly, it’s nearly impossible to be motivated when your job is far below your skill level and education.
✓ value conflicts If you work for a company whose values you don’t embrace, your motivation may dissolve.
✓ lack of information and goals It’s hard to do a good job when you don’t have enough information or when the objectives of your project are unclear.
✓ lack of flexibility If your employer doesn’t allow you to take the personal and family time you need, it can cause frustration with your job.
✓ overwork Exhaustion from too many work hours over a long stretch can cause you to throw up your hands.
Change Burnout Into Satisfaction Know Yourself The first step is to recognize that you can undo the negative effects of burnout and experience growth and satisfaction in your career.
• Identify the reasons for burnout and then try to change the situation. • Set small goals and objectives that are easy to achieve. • Make contracts with yourself to start working on your goals at a specific time. • Determine rewards for yourself when you accomplish your goals.
Tailor the Job Everyone brings different strengths to the workplace.
• Change the job to fit your talents, skills and work style. • Expand your job by identifying other problems you can solve. • Suggest more efficient ways to get the job done. Build Support Networks Establish and rely on support teams at work and in your personal life.
Manage Stress It’s impossible to escape stress, even in a positive work situation.
• Keep track of what causes stress in your life. • Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization to take the edge off stressful situations.
• Coworkers can help you get your job done. • Strong support networks build your confidence and help you solve problems. • Find a mentor who will work with you. Build Your Skills The demands of the workplace are constantly changing. Instead of thinking of yourself as a person to fit a job category, think of yourself as having a set of skills to
offer to the workplace. Evaluate how you can transfer your skills to different jobs in your company and other organizations. Negotiate for More Flexibility Work with your supervisor to find ways to change your schedule, such as working from home on occasion. Take a sabbatical from your job. Change Jobs Sometimes the best way to prevent job burnout is to change jobs. You’re more likely to find a new job that’s a better fit if you understand what’s causing burnout in your present job. Practice Detached Concern If your job is distressing and you can’t change or leave it immediately, strive for an attitude of detached concern until you find another solution. Learn to focus on the present. View problems as opportunities to be creative and apply your skills, knowledge and ingenuity.
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Alternative Work Options Most employers realize that today’s workers need flexible schedules to balance work, family and personal obligations. Many offer alternatives to the traditional 9-to-5 work week. Here are a few alternative work options in place in companies across the nation.
Flextime • work schedules that permit flexible starting and quitting times within limits set by management
Compressed Work Week • a 40-hour work week compressed into less than five days
Telecommuting • working off-site while linked to the office via fax, phone and e-mail
Alternative Staffing • working on a short-term assignment while employed either by an agency or by the company
Regular, Part-Time Work • part-time employment that includes job security and all other rights and prorated benefits available to an organization’s fulltime workers
Job Sharing • regular, part-time work in which two people voluntarily share the responsibilities of one full-time, salaried position with benefits
Phased Retirement • gradual retirement brought about by the reduction of full-time employment commitments over a period of years
V-Time Programs • voluntary reduced work time where full-time employees reduce their work hours for a specified period of time with a corresponding reduction in pay
Leave of Absence/Sabbatical • an authorized period of paid or unpaid time away from work without loss of employment
Work Sharing • an alternative to layoff, in which all or part of an organization’s workforce temporarily reduces hours and salary, sometimes with short-time compensation from unemployment insurance Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.089 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Strategies for Proposing Alternative Work Options Perhaps you want more time at home with your kids or need a flexible work schedule to care for an elderly relative. Maybe you want to avoid congested commute hours or return to school part-time. Whatever your reasons for proposing an alternative work schedule, be prepared with a solid plan and a willingness to negotiate with your employer. First, examine your company’s existing personnel policies regarding flexible scheduling. What options are currently offered? What has been tried in the past?
Common schedule alternatives include: • flextime—working a schedule other than the traditional 9-to-5 work day • telecommuting—working at home and communicating with the office via phone, fax or e-mail • regular part-time work • sharing a full-time job with another employee
When it’s time to talk to your supervisor, stress the benefits of your plan to the company. Remind your employer that, in most cases, the benefits of alternative work arrangements outweigh the disadvantages. ✓ If you’re proposing job sharing, explain how your job partner’s skills will add to the position. ✓ If you’re taking time off for studies, explain how you’ll return to the job with skills that will be of value to the company. ✓ If you plan to switch from full-time to part-time work, offer to train a new employee and devote your attention to special projects or regular reports. Be sure to ask how administrative issues, such as accounting procedures or benefits, will need to be changed to accommodate your altered responsibilities. ✓ Suggest a schedule and contingency plans for vacations, illnesses and other likely occurrences. ✓ Ask if insurance benefits can be prorated for parttime hours. ✓ If the work option is new to your company, seek examples of other companies who use it. Libraries and on-line data bases have magazine articles about what other organizations have done successfully. ✓ If your company lacks policies for alternative work options, take an active role in developing such policies.
Once you’ve come to an agreement, write up a proposal outlining duties and schedules. Make sure to outline the different responsibilities and accountabilities in your plan. List backup systems. Address any inconveniences the new schedule might create, but be sure to emphasize the benefits to the company. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.090 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Employee Assistance Programs They’re There for You Sometimes balancing work and family responsibilities may seem like far more than you can handle on your own. At these times, it’s good to know that employers have resources to help employees cope. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer a wide variety of services to help you manage the conflicting demands and stress of being a working parent and caregiver. Most large employers have an EAP program to help you. All services are confidential and informal. A simple phone call can start you on the road to getting help.
What kinds of people ask for help?
Typical EAP services include:
All types of sensible, healthy people who are concerned about themselves, their jobs and their children and who want to learn better problemsolving skills go to their EAPs.
✓ referrals to child care programs and providers. ✓ information on adoption. ✓ books, tapes and other resources on parenting— from infant care to parenting teens. ✓ information on education and tutoring. ✓ information on summer activities for children, including camps and summer school. ✓ referrals to elder care services, such as adult day programs, meals-on-wheels programs, skilled nursing and other in-home help services. ✓ resources on relationships and communication skills. ✓ referrals to personal counselors and therapists. ✓ information about drug and substance abuse programs. ✓ information about alternative work options, such as flextime, compressed work week and telecommuting. ✓ information about workplace financial benefit plans that allow employees to deduct pretax dollars from their paychecks and earmark the funds for dependent care expenses. ✓ stress management workshops. ✓ referrals to legal and conflict resolution services. ✓ crisis management services. ✓ information about other community resources, such as community centers, parenting groups and recreational activities.
Who will you talk to? EAP representatives are specially trained individuals who listen to your concerns without judging or criticizing. They understand the challenges facing working parents and are familiar with a wide range of community and employersponsored resources that can help you balance and manage your life in a more satisfying, healthy manner.
Remember, there are resources to help you handle your responsibilities. When juggling work, family and personal concerns seems too challenging and overwhelming, your EAP program can be of assistance. Call your human resources department for more information. Distributed under license. © Parlay International (v.3) 1960.091 Only Licensees may copy or distribute this page, electronically or otherwise. For license information call 800-457-2752 or visit www.parlay.com
Know Your Rights
The Family and Medical Leave Act What’s the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Return to Work
Every employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius is bound to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Passed by U.S. Congress in 1993, FMLA guarantees you up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for:
When you return to work from an FMLA leave, you’re entitled to the same position or a substantially similar position. You can’t lose any status, including pay, benefits, seniority or other employment rights, as a result of taking an FMLA leave. If you return to work with a condition that’s a recognized disability, your employer may need to make a reasonable accommodation, as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
• a newborn or newly adopted child. • your spouse. • a child or parent with a serious health condition. FMLA also covers you if you are absent because of your own serious health conditions. These may include incapacitating illnesses, injuries, impairments or physical or mental conditions that require treatment for more than three calendar days. Also covered are chronic or long-term conditions, including prenatal complications that would incapacitate you for more than three calendar days if untreated.
Are You Eligible? To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months for 1,250 hours during that period. The months of employment need not be consecutive. If you’re among the top 10 percent of the highest paid employees in your company, you may not be eligible for FMLA leave.
Leave Without Pay Generally, FMLA leave is without pay. However, you also may use sick leave or accrued vacation time during an FMLA leave. Your employer is required to continue to pay its share of health insurance premiums during an FMLA leave and to keep your group health insurance up-to-date, even if this requires advancing money for coverage.
Employer’s Responsibilities The burden falls on your employer to notify you of your right to take FMLA leave. Your employer is responsible for determining whether your absence is covered by FMLA, regardless of whether you claim the absence as such. Your employer may ask you to provide enough information, including confirmation from your doctor, to verify that your leave request qualifies under FMLA. However, information about an individual’s medical condition is considered confidential. If you’re unable to report to your human resources department, your employer is obligated to take or mail necessary information to you. For more information about FMLA leave, contact your human resources department or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) representative.
The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for family members.
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Working During Pregnancy Many women who have normal pregnancies and low-risk jobs go straight from the workplace to the delivery room. The Americans With Disabilities Act protects their right to do so as long as they can perform their full range of duties. Other mothers-to-be start their maternity leaves a few weeks before their due date in order to rest and prepare for the baby’s arrival. If you’re healthy and comfortable, the choice is yours. However, all pregnant women should pay special attention to their health and safety while they’re on the job.
Investigate Options If your doctor thinks that your usual job may jeopardize your pregnancy or if your present position includes tasks which are difficult or uncomfortable for you to perform, your employer may be able to accommodate you with other work arrangements. Some options include:
Staying on the Safe Side If you have a complicated pregnancy, including infections, premature labor or other conditions, your healthcare provider may advise you to stop working. In addition, women who work at certain types of jobs may be subject to limitations during pregnancy. Jobs that involve standing, lifting, climbing or bending below waist level can be dangerous for pregnant women. Tasks that expose a pregnant woman to hazardous chemicals or radiation also should be avoided. Be sure to call your doctor if you experience complications during pregnancy or have questions about job safety.
Stay Healthy and Comfortable If you continue to work during pregnancy, follow these common-sense guidelines to stay healthy and reduce stress:
• Keep your legs elevated when seated, if possible. This is especially important in late pregnancy. • flextime and part-time Investigate shorter work days and • Change your position often or take variable schedules. Flexible hours will frequent breaks in order to move allow you to schedule medical care and around. longer rest periods. • Empty your bladder frequently. • job sharing and task • Try to rest and relax during your breaks reassignment and at lunch time. Take breaks when Pregnant employees whose jobs you’re fatigued. In your third trimester, include difficult or unsafe tasks can try to lie down on your side for a few share responsibilities with other workers. For example, if your job is moments, if possible. sealing boxes and lifting them onto a • Eat well-balanced meals with a variety loading area, another worker could do of foods. Resist the temptation to eat the heavy lifting while you double up fast foods with high fat and calories. on the sealing activities. • Bring nutritious snacks to eat during • task rotation your breaks. If your normal workday includes long • Drink plenty of fluids, beginning early stretches of repetitive activities or standing, more frequent task in the day. Drink at least eight 8-ounce rotation—say every 20 or 30 minutes— glasses by the end of the workday. may reduce stress and minimize Remember to avoid excessive use of discomfort. coffee, tea, colas and other drinks containing caffeine. • extreme heat and other hazards • Get a lot of rest when you’re not Temperatures above 102.2° F could working. Share household pose a danger to the fetus during the responsibilities with your family. first trimester. If you work in high heat, • Let people around you help when ask your employer for another assignment immediately. they can.
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Negotiating and Planning for Family Leave There are a number of important issues for you to consider when you’re planning and negotiating a family leave. It’s important that you have an action plan in mind before you discuss your leave with your supervisor. Effective negotiating strategies are also important to you at this time. The more desirable you can make your plan, from the company’s perspective, the more likely it is that your plan will be accepted. Research your company’s administrative policies regarding flexible work options before you make a proposal. Once you’ve come up with a plan, be prepared to sell its benefits to your supervisor. Remember, you don’t have to discuss everything you want; just propose a strategy. Choose a time for the discussion when your supervisor is most likely to be responsive to your suggestions. Be prepared to discuss: ✓ the starting date and length of your leave. ✓ whether you want to use personal or vacation time to extend your leave. ✓ the possibility of working a flexible work schedule or using alternative work options when you return to the job. ✓ whether you want to restrict your travel when you return to work. Create a strong bargaining position by highlighting your strengths and reassuring your supervisor of your commitment to the company. Identify the issues where you’re prepared to compromise, and approach the discussion with a give-and-take attitude. If your company’s policy doesn’t provide benefits you feel are necessary, don’t feel helpless. Your best bet is to create a strong argument for benefits and, at the same time, meet your employer’s needs. If the first meeting doesn’t produce a satisfactory result, let
These tips can help you prepare to meet with your supervisor to propose a family leave.
your supervisor know you need a few days to think things over. Make careful note of your supervisor’s reactions to your proposal and come back with alternative suggestions. If your supervisor is skeptical about part-time or flexible hours, suggest a trial period. Tell your boss you will use this trial period to demonstrate how problems will be resolved. Remind your supervisor that the advantages of keeping an experienced staff member usually outweigh the inconveniences created by a new schedule. Once you and your supervisor agree on what’s acceptable for you and your company, present your proposal in writing for your supervisor to consider. Make sure your plan stresses advantages to the company and clearly describes the responsibilities, schedule and flexible work arrangements you have agreed upon. Make an appointment to discuss or negotiate your proposal after your supervisor has reviewed it.
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Returning to Work After Family Leave A fast-paced work environment may be a bit of a shock to new parents. There’s no baby around to coo at and cherish. The fact that life goes on at work much as it did before, independent of your child’s birth, may seem incomprehensible. For these reasons, it makes sense to plan in advance for your return to work after family leave.
Prepare for Re-Entry
Back at the Job
✓ Keep on top of what’s happening at work while you’re away. Start preparing yourself mentally several weeks before you return. Drop by the office or have lunch with a colleague to reacquaint yourself with the people and the environment. Visualize the changes that will occur in your life and your child’s life when you go back to work.
While your baby is the most marvelous creature in the world in your eyes, he or she is slightly less miraculous to your coworkers. Your colleagues may occasionally want to see pictures and meet your little one, but resist the temptation to talk about your baby too much. Be prepared for the fact that your coworkers may treat you differently if you’re a new parent. If you’re a new mother recovering from your baby’s birth, your boss may be cautious about overloading you with work assignments. Gently reassure him or her that you’re capable and eager to work. Your re-entry will be smoother if you meet separately with your subordinates and supervisors to catch up on business. The information you gain from these meetings will help you create new work strategies. Keep in mind that your replacement may feel angry and threatened by your return. If you sense this is happening, confront these feelings and make sure the channels of communication stay open. Minimize work-related problems that occurred in your absence or during your transition. Good luck with your transition to the workplace. The ease with which you rejoin the workplace will contribute to a positive atmosphere for employees who take family leaves in the future.
✓ Think about your work goals, intentions and strategies before you return to work. Be realistic about your time requirements. Estimate how long your day’s activities will take, then add an hour. Stick to your agreement to return on the day to which you agreed. ✓ Enlist your spouse’s involvement in your transition from home to work. You may need more than occasional help with housework. This is a good time to delegate household responsibilities, such as a week’s food shopping and meal planning. Plan who you will call for different types of emergencies. ✓ Select and start child care before you return to work so you can observe your child’s reactions and your own feelings about the arrangement.
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Breast-Feeding and Work It’s common for new mothers to go Feeding Schedules back to work while they’re still Breast-feed before you leave home. If possible, go to your baby on your lunch hour to breast-feed, or breast-feeding. Choosing a have your caregiver bring your baby to you. Feed your baby as soon as you get home and in the supportive caregiver and the right evening. You may want to talk to a lactation breast pump are essential. Breastconsultant to plan for your return to work. feeding can be a satisfying experience Breast Pumps and you can continue to be efficient Choose a fully automatic double-pumping breast pump in order to continue to build and maintain and productive in your job. your milk supply. Consider portability and ease of cleaning when you choose a breast pump. Some women find that pumps with intermittent pressure are more comfortable. Start using your breast pump one to two weeks before returning to work. You can begin to freeze this milk for later use. At work, pump two to three times a day in order to maintain milk supply. Always carry plenty of nursing pads and breast shields with you. Bring disposable wipes and paper towels for easier cleanup. Use tape or labels to mark milk containers. If you don’t have a refrigerator at work, bring a small cooler with a plastic, refreezable ice pack.
Your Wardrobe Comfortable, easy-to-clean clothes work best. Wear shirts or blouses that button in the front or pull up easily. Avoid solid colors and whites. Bright, patterned blouses and dark colors can help mask leaking and hide breast pads. Wear a nursing bra and keep a spare shirt or blouse at work as a backup in case of leakage.
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Published on Jan 16, 2012