I've been a stepparent for about a decade now, and so much of what you read in books, articles, and online highlights the negative aspects to what really can be a very difficult life choice. Last month, for National Stepfamily Day, I wanted to talk about the positives aspects of stepparenthood, and reached out to three experts for advice.
But while doing my research and talking to these knowledgeable people, I was surprised to discover that many of the ways one can find happiness as a stepparent also apply to finding happiness -- or at least peace -- with your job.
Dr. Rachelle Katz, author of "The Happy Stepmother" and founder of an online forum called Steps for Stepmothers, offered up four great tips for celebrating your stepfamily: Enjoy your time with your stepchildren, keep a gratitude journal, disengage when necessary, and reach out to other stepparents for support. You can read more about her take on stepparenting in my article at Work It, Mom!; here's how that same advice
Blog Posts by Lylah M. Alphonse
- Lylah M. Alphonse | Work + Money – Tue, Oct 26, 2010 6:16 PM EDT
I've been a stepparent for about a decade now, and so much of what you read in books, articles, and online highlights the negative aspects to what really can be a very difficult life choice. Last month, for National Stepfamily Day, I wanted to talk about the positives aspects of stepparenthood, and reached out to three experts for advice.Read More »from 4 ways to enjoy what you already have, at work and at home
- Lylah M. Alphonse | Work + Money – Tue, Oct 5, 2010 9:51 PM EDT
Hard work always pays off, as the saying goes, but sometimes it seems to pay a lot less than it used to. And the more you're willing to do for less, the more you're expected to do for less -- and, in some industries, that can affect everyone else who works in that field.Read More »from How much is your work worth? Is it ever OK to work for free?
So, the question is: Is it ever OK to work for free?
The answer: As usual, it depends. Ask yourself these questions:
How long will you be expected to work without compensation? If your industry is facing an economic crisis and everyone has been asked to do more for less in order to keep the company afloat, then yes, it may be important to consider continuing to work, for a while, without pay. But there comes a point where the work you're doing for free impacts your ability to do other work for pay, and -- especially if you're the breadwinner and your mortgage is on the line -- that's when you have to readjust the scale. Beware of setting a bad precedent -- for yourself, and for others.
What else can you get out of
When I started working at my main job, I was younger than some of the interns, and perpetually worried about being taken seriously. So I made sure to dress a little more formally than I had to, kept my long hair up in a severe-looking bun, and was extra-careful about my work. But still, if I had a dollar for every time an older coworker asked me to copy, collate, or fetch something for them that first year, my 401(k) would be a whole lot bigger than it is now.Read More »from How not to treat your coworkers
I remember a coworker, back in the mid-1990s, who told me that I reminded him of all the women who wouldn't date him when he was in college and treated me accordingly. Others asked me how I'd managed to get hired so young (no, nepotism was not involved, though hard work and luck and good advice were). I'd cringe a bit whenever someone asked me how old I was, not because it was an inappropriate question (though it is) but because I hated the way anything I suggested, said, or did after that would be judged and downgraded.
- Lylah M. Alphonse | Work + Money – Thu, Sep 23, 2010 4:33 AM EDT
I work full time outside of the home. (Staying home is a career choice, not a moral imperative; please don't criticize my choice to bring home the bacon, and I won't criticize your choice to fry it up in pan, so to speak.) It works well for our family, except during the rare times when my husband is out of town and my kids are also out of school. That happened a few weeks ago, at a point when I couldn't get time off from work. The solution: request permission to work part of the week from home. With my kids there. On deadline.Read More »from Working from home, with kids and (most of) your sanity
It seems like a good time to revisit the whole "working from home with your kids but without losing your mind" idea. Here's are a few ways to manage without adversely affecting a.) your liver or b.) your reputation.
1. Give them some work of their own. My 5-year-old, a newly-minted kindergartener, is thrilled with the idea of homework. Hahahaha! That'll change. But for now, I'm going with it. I've downloaded a ton of stuff from some of my favorite educational
- Lylah M. Alphonse | Financially Fit – Tue, Sep 14, 2010 10:24 PM EDT
I carefully organized my coupons and remembered to bring them with me when I went grocery shopping this week. My reward was about a 10 percent savings off my total bill, and I was pleased with that. A couple of years ago, I would have taken that savings and treated myself to a little something -- a gourmet coffee, lunch out at work. But now? That bit of savings translated to a few more groceries in the cart -- and, apparently, that's the new norm for a lot of people.Read More »from More people use savings from coupons to buy necessities, survey finds
A survey released last week by coupon company RedPlum found that more than half of those who used coupons put their savings toward buying basic necessities. Another 26 percent of respondents said that they use the money they save to pay down debt.
They're not just saving chump change, either: Sixty-five percent said they save as much as $50 a week. Not a bad payback on an hour or so worth of time.
RedPlum's "Mom Saver-in-Chief" Lisa Reynolds, host of radio show "Viva La Value," says she saves about $30 per shopping trip
- Lylah M. Alphonse | Work + Money – Tue, Aug 31, 2010 5:40 PM EDT
I was reading a story about eco-friendly finishes for new homes when I was suddenly struck by the ridiculousness of it all. How is gold-gilded bamboo flooring still eco-friendly? What's environmentally conscious about spending $125 for a single roll of wall paper made from old newspapers? (Really. I'm not kidding.)Read More »from Is "going green" for people with more money than sense?
There's a huge difference between going green and, well, going "green." As I've mentioned before, I'm not so much crunchy as I am crispy when it comes to healthy, eco-friendly living. But even to my not-at-all-trained green sensibilities, isn't it better to go green by using as few resources as possible, rather than by spending bundles for something uber-processed that claims to be eco-friendly? It's like investing in special, BPA-free bottles and then using them to feed your baby Coke.
I brought the question -- OK, vented the idea -- to my friends on Facebook, and this is what some of them said:
"Going green is usually cheaper than not, because you're using less energy
When I was nearing the end of my first maternity leave, my husband happened to mention to a neighbor from a few blocks away that I would be going back to work soon. She gasped, and asked, "So, who is going to raise your child?"Read More »from Staying home with your kids is a career choice
A new friend of mine recalls how, when she first mentioned returning to work, other new moms she met told her how sorry they were for her. And after story time at the library during my second maternity leave, someone I barely knew kept saying it was such a shame I couldn't "find a way" to "do what's best" for my children. (News flash! If your paycheck covers the mortgage, continuing to earn the income with which to pay it is, in fact, "what's best" for your children!)
We're quick to say that all moms are working moms, but if that's really the case -- and I believe that it is -- let's take things one step further: Staying home with your kids is a career choice, not a moral imperative.
And yet, instead of recognizing that we're all trying to do what's best for
ThinkstockI finally got around to watching Iron Man (crazy schedules + expensive babysitters = two working parents who don't get to the movies all that often). And I loved it. I have a thing for superheroes in general -- my childhood idol was Mighty Mouse, in fact, and I've passed my love of The X-Men on to my kids. But Iron Man appealed to me even more than super hero movies usually do, not because some otherworldly avenger/defender swoops in to save the day, but because Tony Stark creates his own superpower.Read More »from We're all Super Mom. What's your superpower?
We know that there's no such thing as Super Mom, even as we try to be her when we're struggling to juggle work and life. But you know what? I still think we're superheros. With superpowers.
But like Tony Stark, we have to create ours ourselves -- no strange reactions to Earth's yellow sun, no bizarre experiment gone awry, no radioactive spiders. And we don't have a multi-billion dollar fortune to throw at it -- or even a fancy costume (apparently, yoga pants do not count).
A poll at
ThinkstockWe're not supposed to be fed up at the office. Not with our coworkers, not with our workloads, not with our bosses, not with our companies. Especially not in this day and age of the disposible work force and downsizing and unemployment and shrinking budgets.Read More »from Fed up with your job? 5 ways to cope
But guess what? It happens. We all have days straight out of "Office Space," days when we want to chuck the TPS reports in the trash and tell Lumbergh to his face that he represents all that is soulless and wrong. Here's how to cope -- or, at least, how to minimize the damage:
If you're fed up with a person: Negative criticism can be devestating, but remember, you are being paid to do a job -- criticism of your performance is not personal. Separate the personal from the professional, and if you're going to attack anything, attack the problem, not the person causing it. Stay calm and rational, arm yourself with the facts, and if all else fails, walk away and deal with it later.
If you're fed up with your workload: Divide it up
Getty ImagesWhen I went back to work after my first baby was born, I felt guilty and excited at the same time. Guilty because I'd fallen in love with my baby and wanted to spend more time with her. Excited because I'd be able to have conversations with actual adults again, and be productive in a pre-parenthood way. And guilty, of course, about feeling excited about being back in the office.Read More »from Bring my baby to work? No, thanks
Being able to leave my 6-month-old at home with my husband made me feel better (no Parenting Drive-Byes, please, this isn't a post about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms), but if my company had offered to allow me to bring her in to the office with me for those first few months, I would have turned them down. As far as I'm concerned, bringing baby to work is not a good option -- not for me, not for my kids, and not for my company.
Every company is different, and allowing a new mom to keep her baby with her at the office may work in very small, family-oriented companies (or if the new mom is also the CEO).