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6 Habits of Successful Working Parents

6 Habits of Successful Working Parents
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All parents work. But for those of us who work outside the home as well, it can be like working two or more full-time jobs. It’s easy to get overwhelmed…and no one wants to admit that they are barely hanging on. By putting some habits into place, though, you can get yourself on track and become successful. Here are six habits of successful working parents to get you started.

Have backup systems in place

Murphy said, “Anything that can go wrong, will.” That means the day of the big presentation, the kids are going to have the stomach flu. Or your car will break down when it’s your turn to drive for soccer practice. Or you’ll walk into the office not realizing that the baby spit up down your back.

Successful parents can’t plan for every possible contingency. But they can have backup systems in place. What does that mean?

  • Have back-up caregivers in place or the ability to work from home when the kids are sick. (Do not, under any circumstances, bring sick children to work. Not only will you distract your co-workers, but you could cause them to get sick as well.)
  • Set up the carpool rotation so there is an alternate ready to go, if necessary, each day.
  • Keep baby wipes stashed in your car, desk, and at home to handle spills and what not. Baby wipes remove everything–they can even get melted chocolate out of car seats.

Murphy was a rocket scientist (really!). He knew that redundancy and backup systems are essential to success. Follow his lead.

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Know what is on the calendar

Schedules can overwhelm us. Johnny has to be at karate right after school, but your spouse assumed you would be taking him, and now Johnny’s stuck at school. Or you make your way halfway across the city to pick up your 8-year-old, just to find out she has taken the bus home (yes, that happened to me).

One of the fastest ways to lose control is to be blind-sided. You can limit your risk by making sure you are on track every day. What does that mean?

  • Put school calendars into your calendar. Most school districts even have electronic calendars you can pull in. Check it every day for events.
  • Know who is taking whom where. Check with your partner or other drivers the day of the event to confirm.
  • Make sure your children know where they are supposed to be when, and who is taking them. And make sure your children know to speak up!

Keep on top of your calendar, and you will not be blind-sided often.

Focus on kids during family time

Go into any fast food restaurant, and you will see a family with the parents on their phones, while the kids eat or run in the play yard. Or you have probably seen the parent walking in the parking lot, talking on the phone, while his child is playing softball.

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Family time is time spent with family. It’s important for your kids to know that you pay attention to them in positive ways. What does this look like?

  • Put the phone down. Not checking Twitter or Facebook during dinner won’t kill you.
  • Don’t try to work during the game. Be fully present. See little Sally make her first base hit.
  • Make meaningful conversation with your kids. Your kids will know if you are half-listening or giving generic answers.

Family time should mean your focus is on your family. Don’t let other things get in the way of this quality time.

Know that balance is not rigid

We all know that sometimes work takes more. And sometimes (like with a sick child), family takes more. Don’t wear yourself out trying to make sure you spend equal amounts of time with both.

Balance doesn’t mean splitting the pie the same way every day. Balance means that you are flexible enough to know that sometimes work takes more, and sometimes your family takes more. What does this look like?

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  • During weeks you have big projects, let your family know you will be working longer.
  • During weeks when your workload is light, interact more with your family and knock those pesky things off your honey-do list.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Although balance is flexible, taking care of yourself is mandatory.

(If you are consistently working too much, here are a couple great articles to help: 8 Ways to Stop Working Long Hours and 10 Reasons You Should Stop Working Long Hours Today).

Balance isn’t about rigidity. Find the flow.

Let kids learn from their mistakes

You get a frantic call at the office from your daughter. She’s left her art project at home. Could you please bring it? You can hear the panic in her voice. At the same time, your boss is waiting for you to start a meeting.

As working-outside-the-home parents, it is easy to feel guilty and try to make our children’s paths smooth. But kids build resiliency when they learn from their mistakes. Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

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It’s hard to watch them make mistakes. But we need to let them suffer some consequences, too, or they will not grow into responsibility. What does that look like?

  • You help your child prepare for the day, the night before. You show them how to check schedules, and get things ready.
  • You don’t rush to fix things. Let them figure out what went wrong, and what they could do differently the next time.
  • You don’t bail them out. If a project is forgotten at home, let them take the lower grade. Knowing you won’t bail them out makes them more aware of their own responsibilities.

Children can learn from their mistakes. Think about what you are teaching them if you consistently bail them out. Let them learn to be responsible.

Think outside the box

Parents are creative beings out of necessity. It is one of our strengths, and we should use it whenever we can, including with our jobs and family. Bringing our parental creativity to work can actually give us an edge. Bringing our work skills home, too, can give us an advantage. What sort of things transfer?

  • Delegate. You do it at work, do it at home. Use machines to make your life easier (crockpot, microwave, etc). Have other people do your tasks (housecleaning, shopping service). Get your kids involved with chores. Everyone should contribute, and even the smallest child can help.
  • Use people’s strengths. Ask a friend who bakes to do the bake sale cookies while you hook up her new computer.
  • Apply time management to home. You know how to batch tasks and keep a meeting on track. Do the same at home.

Apply what you have learned at work to home to keep things running smoothly.

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Working parents don’t have to be at a disadvantage. By adding these six simple habits to your day you can set the stage for being a successful working parent.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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