Making parenting peachy

Linda Perry has been featured in the New York Times. She’s been on the Today Show. Nintendo has recruited her to hawk its Wiis. She’s basically big time.

But within about 20 seconds of meeting her, she’ll most likely invite you out for Happy Hour with her, her two kiddos Amber and Jasmine, and her husband Michael.

Linda has social butterfly in her DNA, and it’s a trait she’s passed on to her kids without question. But it’s also a trait she’s used to bring almost 10,000 moms in the sometimes-isolating city of Los Angeles together.

In 1997, using the power of email, Linda started reaching out to moms from Amber’s Mommy & Me group and rallying them socially.

“I’d send an email out saying that I’m going to be at this park, who wants to come and everybody would come out,” she said. “Everyone wants to get out, they’re just not motivated to do it on their own. I always say, get one person to plan something and everybody else will follow.”

Linda quickly became known as Peachhead because that was the email address she borrowed from her husband, a die-hard Allman Brothers Band fan, when making her early contacts. When the network of moms got bigger and bigger, they all assumed the title of Peachheader to signify membership in this very intimate yet very open community.

Linda said that from the very beginning she took solace in the support she got from the women she met through Peachhead.

“I had never changed a diaper before having Amber, so these moms were my buds,” she said. “You call them up and you say, ‘I can’t put her down, she cries all the time.’ They’d say, ‘Me too!’ You had that connection of going through everything together.”

The spirit of that conversation and the good-natured support is one of Peachhead’s best assets. Linda moderates the group and keeps the messages tempered and friendly, and when things do flare up, she’s moves the discussion to a debate forum rather than censor it altogether. More than anything, she wants Peachhead to be helpful — to help other moms feel a sense of support and to help them maintain a sense of themselves.

Being able to harness thousands of friends and their children is no small undertaking, especially when you’re a working mom with two high-energy girls of your own. But for Linda it’s worth the extra investment.

Not only does she catch the attention of the country’s most esteemed newspaper and the absolute coolest video gaming console ever made (seriously, try the boxing! [and Nintendo didn’t give us a penny to write that]), she also gets a sense of satisfaction knowing that she is making life easier for other moms.

“When I go out and meet moms and they find out I’m ‘Peachhead,’ they can’t stop telling me about how the group has changed their lives and helped them out,” said Linda. “We had a mom who had leukemia and needed platelets and blood donated. When one was sick, another mom started a food chain for bringing food. No matter what you need there is always a solution, there is always somebody there willing to help and give advice.”

For a glimpse at the “momraderie” at work on Peachhead, visit its website or reach out to Linda to have her set up a subgroup for your community. Sure, you may have to send out the initial emails to rally other mothers, but once you do, you’ll finally have that village it takes.

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Wife, Mother, Career Woman… HELP!

Antonella had it all-a successful career, two beautiful children, a loving husband-and it was wearing her out.

One of the biggest concerns for Antonella and her family was, of course, if they could financially afford for her to stay at home. She had been the main source of income for the family, and even though her husband was working, he had just started his job and lacked the same security she had.

Antonella and her husband decided to enlist the help of a financial planner in their decision making process. They decided how much money they wanted to save every month and talked to a lot of people to figure out how to make the transition as smoothly as possible.

“Now we are watchful,” she said. “We don’t stay in the best room in the hotel, and we don’t just go out and buy a new car because we feel like it. We look at our goals and stay on track. You can really save money this way.”

Antonella’s a full time mother and wife; still, that doesn’t mean she abandoned her career. Even after she left her job Antonella would call coworkers and visit the office, where she found that many people were surprised but supportive.

Until she re-enters the workforce, Antonella is enjoying doing the things that were impossible before.

“I’m there to clap for my kids. I’m there for the Christmas show. I taught my son how to ride his bike,” she said. “Some days, it is so beautiful I can no longer even imagine being in an office working.”

If you’re finding it tough to be all things to all people, find solace and support through these resources:

Dishing it Out
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BlueSuitMom and Career Journal help you have your kid’s cake and pay for it too.

Work-at-home know how from 5 Minutes for Mom

Sit down with Janice and Susan, the twin sisters who run 5minutesformom.com, and it won’t take long for their devotion to efficiency to well up.

They are energetic, they are busy, they are time-strapped, and with four kids and three businesses between the two of them, they get about 5 minutes to themselves everyday.

That’s part of the reason they created 5 Minutes for Mom.

“When I’m online, I personally am so busy that when I’m looking for a product or looking for a site, I want something fast, and I want to get it all in one place, and I want to have an intimate relationship with the store directory that I’m looking at,” Susan said. “That’s what we’ve tried to create.”

Susan and Janice invested endless hours in the beginning scouring the web themselves and building what is probably the most extensive directory ever devoted to mom-owned e-commerce sites, blogs authored by women and mom-run websites.

“We were work at home moms running two e-commerce stores with the help of our mom,” said Janice. “We knew how hard it was to build an online business, and we knew that there are tons of other moms out there trying to make their businesses successful.”

Wanting to showcase other mom-owned businesses was a big motivation for the sisters.

Susan and Janice are quick to admit that while they’re pleased with the success of their online stores and 5 Minutes for Mom, being a working mother is still an incredible challenge – and it makes no difference that they work at home.

Since they had their babies two weeks apart, the sisters decided to share babysitting and work responsibilities. Eventually they hired nannies that could free them up to devote more time to work – from a nearby room.

Running a business… or three… comes from the sisters’ commitment to one another.

“We’re identical twins once, we shared an egg,” said Janice. “We fight – we fight a lot – but we are so committed to each other, as is our mom, there’s nothing that would ever break our loyalty to each other. We have the ultimate commitment.”

Susan and Janice warn that partnering with family has worked for them, but it can be complicated and ruin relationships if you’re not clear about expectations. Some things they considered before partnering were:

  • How committed is this person? Are you equally committed or is one person’s commitment stronger?
  • What is the shared level of trust? Do you feel comfortable sharing concerns, opportunities and disappointments with this person?
  • Do you share financial expectations? Are you both in it to make a lot of money immediately or are you motivated to grow a little at a time? Are you aligned on those expectations?

Susan said she’s seen businesses listed in their directories fall apart over poor partnering.

“Working together is like a marriage, but even harder because there’s all this stuff going into it,” said Janice. “Because Susan and I have such a strong relationship, working together can’t damage it. Nothing can actually end our relationship.”

Building on their strong union, the sisters have been able to extend the joy of working at home to other moms, many of them readers of 5 Minutes for Mom.

“One thing that we’ve loved about creating a business, is that we have now been able to hire other moms, so they have a wonderful experience because they get paid by the hour,” Janice said.

“We were able to hire a virtual assistant who was one of our readers from our site and give her the opportunity to be able to stay home with her baby,” said Susan. “She had a three-month old baby, and now she can work from home.”

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The gals at Mamazine make parenting a work of art with heart stirring columns and gut wrenching poetry. Curl up with them.

6 Bonding Tips for Busy Parents

Lara, owner of Nurture and Nanny, has been a professional nanny for more than 15 years. As she’s spent time in a variety of different households she discovered that most kids want the same thing – love and attention.

“Everything I’ve learned about children, I’ve learned through experience,” Lara said.

Because she understands parents are often busy and that life’s distractions can interfere with the connection they feel with their children, she wants to share some of her time-tested tricks for building bonds.

1. To learn more about your kids, just observe them!

If you take a step back, you can figure out what type of kid you have and what he or she is into. For example, if they don’t respond well when being told exactly what to do, you’ll know that making chores and activities into games will work better.

2. Be fair about setting boundaries.

Setting boundaries is mainly about communication. And it’s also about knowing that you’re the grownup, and realizing that saying ‘no’ time and time again won’t be effective. Depending on the age of the child, you need to explain why you’re setting particular boundaries. They’ll be less likely to test you if you’ve explained why you said no.

3. Give timeouts a purpose.

Lara is a fan of timeouts-as long as they’re given for the right reasons. A timeout shouldn’t be given when mommy needs to make an important phone call, she says. The timeout is the time when the child needs to reflect on what he or she has done.

For older kids, a great tool to have in the timeout area is paper and writing utensils. That way, kids can communicate about why they’re in a timeout and what they can do to not be put there again.

4. Give rewards-the free kind!

The best types of rewards are things that don’t cost any money. Praise is a fantastic reward. So are stickers.

What you want to do, Lara explains, is make sure the kids understand the point of the action, the reason why they’re getting the reward, and small rewards are the best way to do that. If you promise them something big, like a video game, chances are they’re going to focus on that and forget what it was that got them there.

5. Spend mealtime together.

Mealtime is great for building bonds and communicating with your kids. Even if you might have dinner after your children go to sleep, try to share a small meal with them anyway. It’s also a good opportunity to teach them habits and responsibilities, like how to use their silverware or napkin, and where to put their plate when the meal is over.

6. Be present.

Lara encourages parents to turn the radio off in the car on the way to school in the morning so you can talk to them about their upcoming day and what they are excited about. When they get home and before soccer practice or naptime, Lara says you should sit down with your kids and ask them how their day went.

    “It takes five minutes to check in with your kids,” Lara said. “It will make them feel validated and make the whole rest of the afternoon run smoothly.”

    To see more of Lara’s nanny philosophy, take a look at her agency, Nurture and Nanny.

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    The best parenting advice I ever got

    When Kate started her family seven years ago, she was as nervous and insecure as any new mom would be.

    She wasn’t sure about feedings or playtime or discipline or keeping her job, but finally, a friend stepped in with some advice that stopped her panic spiral dead in its tracks.

    Kate settled into that way of thinking, and she and her husband decided to live their lives as parents accordingly.

    “We have lived by that, and we have happy, well adjusted children because of that,” she said. “We didn’t tiptoe around the baby or readjust our life terribly.

    “You can freak out when you have a new baby at home and all of a sudden shut down. We have had friends who do that, and then they get themselves caught in a trap and never get to leave the house. They live around this being, and the being gets frustrated because the parents are frustrated, and then it snowballs. By adapting our children to our lives, we’re all happier and better adjusted. Madeleine travels the world — she can go anywhere — and our 10-month-old son is the same way.”

    Instead of giving up the things she loved, Kate brought her children into her life. Now, as the mother of two beautiful kids, she’s committed to rolling with the punches.

    If you’ve got some self-doubt symptoms, get some friendly advice from Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris, two friends who have been in various stages of pregnancy or new momdom for 5 years running. Their site, the New Mom, offers decent, open-minded and agenda-free advice so you can find what works for you.

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