Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Hottest Hire: Moms!

How staying at home to raise my kids lead to more work opportunities and the confidence to take them on.


It's one of the biggest issues facing new Moms - the question of whether to put off a career in order to stay home raising our babies full-time, or whether to go back to work and focus on advancing our careers while we can. Historically, there's always been this perception that leaving the workforce during our prime earning years will severely hamstring our earning potential and career options later on. It's one of the most intensely difficult decisions women make - and is based on an outdated premise that one cannot start a robust, exciting, fulfilling and high-earning career at any stage in our lives.
I remember feeling the intense scrutiny and judgment of working Moms when I opted to be a stay-at-home parent in those early years of my kids lives (I have three boys). There was an underlying assumption that I had chosen cookie baking, daytime television watching, play-dates, crafting and diaper changes over being a valued contributor to the economy - because let's face it, nobody truly values at-home Moms anymore (other than at-home Moms). To many, I had chosen to be a reproductive member of society versus a productive member of society. 
But I always felt a confident belief that I could have it both ways if I wanted to. So I entered the freelance economy instead of the nine-to-five economy and found fulfilling jobs in the television industry that worked around my schedule and my kids' schedule. It wasn't luck, it was choice. I worked from 6-9pm, twice a week for 6 years doing an on-demand broadcast in English and French back when on-demand was cutting edge - it paid very well and was structured around my home-life - no babysitting needed. Along the way, opportunity found me precisely because I was an "at-home" Mom. Turns out, the best way to appeal to the coveted target market of "at-home" Moms is to be one! Who better to appeal to women 35-55, with disposal income, that watch daytime television and are the primary shoppers in the family, than to be in that exact demographic. There were many, many times that I was favoured for a job because I wasn't a man, wasn't 25, wasn't a full-time career woman.
On TV, my credibility as a product spokesperson was tied to the fact that I was a Mom - "Here she is, she's a busy Mom, she's cooking meals for her family, she loves this stand-mixer because she uses it and so you'll love it for your family too!" It made me relatable. There was one product in particular that was represented by a well-known celebrity chef, but sales were slagging. Great product, great chef, great demonstrations, but something was missing. Turns out the women who were watching at home on TV just could not relate to a man deglazing a sauce for a 5-star restaurant recipe...but they could relate to a Mom who was trying to fit six grilled-cheese sandwiches in a pan at once to feed a frenzy of kids on a Saturday at lunch. I was brought in to tag-team the sell and it worked - the chef did his thing and then the Mom made it relatable. 
Being an at-home Mom teaches you incredible time management skills (you have kids nap time to cram an entire day of projects into 2 hours), efficiency (how can I do a full order of groceries with three kids in a cart in less than 8-minutes?) and the ability to adapt quickly to challenging situations (kid just barfed and we're stuck in traffic and other kid is screaming and I have dentist appointment in 7 minutes...deal with it). Not only do you gain the confidence to manage anything that comes your way, but you gain the fortitude of character to just flat out say "no" to situations that don't satisfy your needs. 
When my youngest son was in grade one, I was offered an incredible full-time opportunity at a company that I had long worked for as a freelancer. As a Mom, knowing my priorities were at home, I was able to say "yes - but only on my terms" - that meant the flexibility to start and end work when I needed to, and the ability to work from home when I wanted to. I was offered a very generous salary that full-time working peers had spent years working towards. Never once did I doubt that my decade-long lack of nine-to-five experience would hinder my ability to tackle that job. I was actually amazed at how much easier full-time work was over being at-home with the kids all day!! A lunch break?! Adult conversation!? No negotiating with someone on their back in tears?! It was great. But it didn't last - a major corporate restructuring affected dozens of my colleagues and I. Almost as soon as it began it was over and I wasn't overly distraught about it. My home-life had suffered.
So once again, I entered the freelance economy and to this day, 13 years after giving birth to my eldest, it has proven to be the best choice for me and my family. I work part-time, on my terms, earning what many consider to be a full-time salary. Opportunities abound as "Moms" are still in high demand. As a spokesperson, media trainer and writer, I am always busy earning a living doing what I love, and I truly believe that the opportunities that I have are because I am a Mom, not despite being a Mom. If you're an at-home Mom, never sell yourself short, keep a foot in the door on a part-time or freelance basis and never let the negative stigma of "at-home Mom" limit your ability to earn an income. You are marketable, you are in-demand and you have a lot more power than you think you do! Almost all consumer goods companies want a piece of you and opportunities abound in the world of marketing, media and sales and more. All you need to do is put yourself out there and go after it...if you want it!
If you would like guidance or assistance in building your own personal brand, marketing yourself, or selling yourself in the workforce, let me know! Happy to help.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Toy heaven is here - Samko Toy Warehouse is now open!!! Week 4

Hey all!!!  As part of an on-going blogging and vlogging (video logging) series, between September and December, I have been asked to test and review some awesome toys (read: mega hot deals) for the Samko Toy Warehouse.  As a mom of three boys and Auntie to many, this was not hard to do.  We all want great quality toys and books for our kids, but we also want to save some cash too (mostly to support my PSL addiction at Starbucks!).  The task was simple - visit a toy warehouse and go crazy having fun.  Yes please!!  The sale starts September 17th and runs right through until December 24th.    All the big brand names, minus the big price tags.  The toys that I've picked are all on mega discount for one week only!!  So don't miss out.

This week.....

Paw Patrol 2-in-1 Convertible Easel, $29.99 compare at $64.99
My fav coffee table – I remember buying it from a wood furniture showroom and the main selling feature was that it was “rustic”.  All Moms know that rustic is just a nice way of saying, “looks like it’s been beat up by a band of angry beavers and termites, but in this store we’ll charge you more for it and call it rustic”.  With three little boys in the height of craft and colouring mania, I knew that a polished mahogany was an unwise choice, so I opted instead for practical – my life’s story!  Today, it bears the faint traces of crayon and marker war wounds of craft time gone awry, circa 2008.  As parents of young kids, we’ve all yelled the words, “not on my nice table!!!” as a toddler armed with a fist full of crayons, lunges towards our finest furnishings.  That’s exactly why EVERY parent of young kids should own a 2-in-1 dry erase easel like Samko’s Paw Patrol feature this week.  In just a click and flip, it converts from an easel (with 3-pack dry erase markers) into a table-top.  Perfect for playing “school”, or even eating a snack, it wipes clean in seconds and is a safe and happy place where kids can scribble the day away without having to deal with inevitable accidents on grown-up furniture.  
My nephew Carter, who just turned four, had this up in his bedroom, where believe me, his Dad (my brother) would never allow anything that could lead to a mess – he’s a little bit of a major clean freak.  It’s also great for working on those fine motor skills and even better for parent lead fun, drawing games, printing letters and more!  Plus it’s Paw Patrol – which kids are going nutty for!  Best of all - the price!!
Kid rated: A+ for independence and imagination
Mom rated: A+ for keeping your grubs off my nice coffee table!

Mom’s wallet: A+ for savings!  29.99 two weeks only at Samko Toy Warehouse (compare at $64.99).

Toy heaven is here - Samko Toy Warehouse is now open!!! Week 3

Hey all!!!  As part of an on-going blogging and vlogging (video logging) series, between September and December, I have been asked to test and review some awesome toys (read: mega hot deals) for the Samko Toy Warehouse.  As a mom of three boys and Auntie to many, this was not hard to do.  We all want great quality toys and books for our kids, but we also want to save some cash too (mostly to support my PSL addiction at Starbucks!).  The task was simple - visit a toy warehouse and go crazy having fun.  Yes please!!  The sale starts September 17th and runs right through until December 24th.    All the big brand names, minus the big price tags.  The toys that I've picked are all on mega discount for one week only!!  So don't miss out.  Click here for this week's deal!

This week.....

Portable Future Stars Basketball Net, $49, compare at $99.99
My three boys are crazy obsessed with basketball right now.  The star players, the hats, the brand-name sponsors and even the shoes!  In fact, my middle son Noah (age 10) just emptied out six months of paper route earnings to buy some sort of futuristic looking pair of high-tops because they were emblazoned with his favourite player’s initials.  The shoes were $149.00.  Ridiculous.  Hence why I did not chip in a penny for them.  He’s convinced that they’ll help him to make this year’s school basketball team.  Looking the look is only part of the equation when it comes to sports – you sort of have to be able to play well too!  That’s why this Portable Future Stars Basketball Net was literally descended upon by my boys like a rabid pack of NBA loving wolves.  Clearly it’s easy to assemble because I was still locking up the car while they had already put it together in the basement using a couple of screwdrivers, racing to get it up and ready to play in record time.  This puppy is adjustable too – from four feet to six feet high.  Because my guys put it in the basement, we settled on five feet to ensure ceilings remain intact and unharmed.  When my four-year old nephew Carter visits, the boys will lower it to accommodate little dribblers.  What kid does not love a basketball net?  The base can be filled with water or sand to keep it solidly grounded (in case some show-off tries to dunk the ball Michael Jordan style), but I left it empty so that we can move it inside and outside in a jiffy.  All-in-all, it’s an incredible value given that you can buy three of these nets for the same price as one single pair of Steph Curry Under Armour running shoes.  What’s up with that?  Hey kids – if you’re going to dress like a pro you had better have some serious skills in your back pocket.  And let’s be honest Moms, you’ll probably end up refining those old b-ball skills you showed off at the local park in the 90’s – playing 21 against the boys you were crushing on.  Needless to say, I had some serious fun using this net too!  All net baby – crushed it!!
Kid rated: A+ for building up some NBA star moves.
Mom rated: A+ for re-learning to shoot hoops like I did, back in the day!
Mom’s wallet: A+ for savings!  $49.99 this week only at Samko Toy Warehouse (compare at $99.99).





Toy heaven is here - Samko Toy Warehouse is now open!!! Week 2

Hey all!!!  As part of an on-going blogging and vlogging (video logging) series, between September and December, I have been asked to test and review some awesome toys (read: mega hot deals) for the Samko Toy Warehouse.  As a mom of three boys and Auntie to many, this was not hard to do.  We all want great quality toys and books for our kids, but we also want to save some cash too (mostly to support my PSL addiction at Starbucks!).  The task was simple - visit a toy warehouse and go crazy having fun.  Yes please!!  The sale starts September 17th and runs right through until December 24th.    All the big brand names, minus the big price tags.  The toys that I've picked are all on mega discount for one week only!!  So don't miss out.

This week.....

Project Runway 4-in-1 Fashion Design Challenge, ages 8+
When I was a little girl, I loved nothing more than pretending to read quietly in my room, while I instead stole the kitchen shears and chopped up every Barbie doll outfit I had, while my Mom, unaware, watched Days Of Our Lives.  After all, a red velvet and lace gown is fun for only so long until it needs a little freshening up, am I right?  And who didn’t at one point in time stare mischievously at those shears while eyeballing Barbie’s waist-long hair and think, “this lady needs a chin-length bob with bangs!”  Isn’t that what being a kid was all about?  Imagination!!  Well, this toy is so much more than a toy – it’s a gateway to a future career on the runways of Milan – without having to hack up any of those pricey American Girl outfits!  With over 450 pieces, this incredibly creative kit, based on the success of the TV series, Project Runway, allows older kids to become their very own fashion designer-in-training.  Sketch, draw and design the most amazing outfits using kiddie versions of the tools pros use.  Complete with a fashion Judy, measuring tape, pencils and markers, thread, needles, tons of templates and the accessories needed to help turn fashion ideas into actual wearable creations at home.  
Maddy and Aria - designing duo!
Where was this idea back when I was slashing and hacking up Wedding Barbie’s only gown so that I could feed my need to create?  Although the box recommends ages 8+, my friend Sara who tried this out with her 10-year old daughter Aria (who btw will be the next Coco Chanel) said it really would be best suited to 10+ because even she found it challenging at times!  If you’ve got a kid that  l-o-v-e-s dressing up and rockin’ their own unique style, this would make a fabulous gift!!  Best of all, instead of being a one-and-done toy, this box full of fun will last and last and last - keeping anyone busy for hours on end!  Who doesn’t love that!!!  You might even sneak in a few creations yourself when nobody’s looking – it’s that great!
Kid rated: A+ for fun factor
Mom rated: A+ for creativity

Mom’s wallet: A+ for savings!  $15 at Samko Toy Warehouse (compare at $49.99)

Toy heaven is here - Samko Toy Warehouse is now open!!!

Hey all!!!  As part of an on-going blogging and vlogging (video logging) series, between September and December, I have been asked to test and review some awesome toys (read: mega hot deals) for the Samko Toy Warehouse.  As a mom of three boys and Auntie to many, this was not hard to do.  We all want great quality toys and books for our kids, but we also want to save some cash too (mostly to support my PSL addiction at Starbucks!).  The task was simple - visit a toy warehouse and go crazy having fun.  Yes please!!  The sale starts September 17th and runs right through until December 24th.    All the big brand names, minus the big price tags.  The toys that I've picked are all on mega discount for one week only!!  So don't miss out.

First up.....

Turtles Big Wheel, $20, compare at $49.99
My parents and I still laugh about the inseparable relationship that my brother Trevor had with his Dukes of Hazard, orange and blue Big Wheel in the 80’s.  As an avid reader of car magazines today, I’m pretty confident that his love of cars came from peddling that bad-boy over to Grandma’s house each day after school.  He rode it like an Indy 500 driver, pulling the hand-break and doughnuting his way into any driveway, leaving a black plastic skid-mark behind.  Ask any man today in their thirties and forties about their childhood Big Wheel and they will well up with tears of nostalgia.  So obviously, a Big Wheel makes an amazing gift for any kid aged between 3 and 8 – so long as those legs can reach the pedals!  My neighbour Josh, age 3 1/2, aka Speedster, hopped onto his new Turtles Big Wheel like he belonged on it – total confidence and determination.  The Dads who were gathered around had that all-knowing glimmer in their eyes that said, “welcome to the club little guy”.  Add to that the fact that it had a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles design and it was pretty much love at first site.  It’s funny how I grew up with the Ninja Turtles and now a whole new generation of kid has fallen in love with them too, thanks to the recent movies.  Just like the ol’ classic from the 80’s, this version has most of the same features – most notably the huge front wheel, small back wheels and wide handles.  Missing is the hand-break on the side – which let’s face it, was mostly used for dangerous spinouts in front of jealous onlookers at the park.  Consider this is the more gentlemanly version of the ones we grew up with (and safer).  What’s great is now there are Big Wheel designs for all drivers – whether boy or girl.  As for Speedster – it took him all of five minutes to figure out how to pedal and pick up speed.  What’s childhood without a Big Wheel?  Such a great toy!
Kid rated: A+ for feeling like a race-car driver
Mom rated: A+ for exercise and childhood nostalgia

Mom’s wallet: A+ for savings!  $20 this week only at Samko Toy Warehouse (compare at $49.99)

Watch me take one for a spin!!!

Toy heaven is here - Samko Toy Warehouse is now open!!!

Hey all!!!  As part of an on-going blogging and vlogging (video logging) series, between September and December, I have been asked to test and review some awesome toys (read: mega got deals) for the Samko Toy Warehouse.  As a mom of three boys and Auntie to many, this was not hard to do.  We all want great quality toys and books for our kids, but we also want to save some cash too (mostly to support my PSL addiction at Starbucks!).  The task was simple - visit a toy warehouse and go crazy having fun.  Yes please!!  The sale starts September 17th and runs right through until December 24th.    All the big brand names, minus the big price tags.  The toys that I've picked are all on mega discount for one week only!!  So don't miss out.

First up.....

Turtles Big Wheel, $20, compare at $49.99
My parents and I still laugh about the inseparable relationship that my brother Trevor had with his Dukes of Hazard, orange and blue Big Wheel in the 80’s.  As an avid reader of car magazines today, I’m pretty confident that his love of cars came from peddling that bad-boy over to Grandma’s house each day after school.  He rode it like an Indy 500 driver, pulling the hand-break and doughnuting his way into any driveway, leaving a black plastic skid-mark behind.  Ask any man today in their thirties and forties about their childhood Big Wheel and they will well up with tears of nostalgia.  So obviously, a Big Wheel makes an amazing gift for any kid aged between 3 and 8 – so long as those legs can reach the pedals!  My nephew Tate, age 3 1/2, aka Tater-tot, hopped onto his new Turtles Big Wheel like he belonged on it – total confidence and determination.  The Dads who were gathered around had that all-knowing glimmer in their eyes that said, “welcome to the club little guy”.  Add to that the fact that it had a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles design and it was pretty much love at first site.  It’s funny how I grew up with the Ninja Turtles and now a whole new generation of kid has fallen in love with them too, thanks to the recent movies.  Just like the ol’ classic from the 80’s, this version has most of the same features – most notably the huge front wheel, small back wheels and wide handles.  Missing is the hand-break on the side – which let’s face it, was mostly used for dangerous spinouts in front of jealous onlookers at the park.  Consider this is the more gentlemanly version of the ones we grew up with (and safer).  What’s great is now there are Big Wheel designs for all drivers – whether boy or girl.  As for Tater-tot – it took him all of five minutes to figure out how to pedal and pick up speed.  What’s childhood without a Big Wheel?  Such a great toy!
Kid rated: A+ for feeling like a race-car driver
Mom rated: A+ for exercise and childhood nostalgia

Mom’s wallet: A+ for savings!  $20 this week only at Samko Toy Warehouse (compare at $49.99)

Watch me take one for a spin!!!