Millennium Mom

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Handling transitions as a family

As many of you know we have been dealing with some major transitions in the Zucker household. Our family has been touched by the passing of loved ones over the past few months. On top of this we have changed caregivers in our house, which has been a very big change for the children after having Amber for over two and a half years.

We have all been struggling through these so I decided to do my montly Fox 19 segment on handling transitions. I researched on the internet and found some helpful tips. Here are my talking points for my segment on Wednesday, I hope you find them helpful, I know I did.


Whether it's having toast and coffee every morning, soccer games on Saturdays or putting in ten-hour workdays, everyone gets used to routines and personal rituals. But when change -good or bad -occurs, the stable situation you relied on becomes new and unknown. This uncertainty can leave you stressed and uneasy.

When you're in the middle of a large transition -such as a move, new caregiver, a death, divorce, or a new baby -it's easy to forget that the winds of change may also affect those around you. Children, partners and even your extended family can have trouble adjusting to the new situation. Though these changes can be challenging, they can also strengthen family ties if they're handled well. Below are some suggestions to help your family settle in when times are changing.

· Keep the lines of communication open. Tell your kids that they can talk to you about anything, anytime. Listen and empathize with their concerns. Explain changes in detail and assure your children that not everything will change (e.g. different school but same friends). By knowing what lies ahead, your kids will be better able to cope with the transition.

· Give yourself time to grieve. It takes time to adjust to a change and you may mourn the loss of someone or something familiar in your life. Grieving is a natural way of coping when a big change occurs. Importantly let your children know it is okay to be sad and grieve as well. Explain that they may feel sad more than usual and that is okay.

· Stay flexible. Be prepared to ride the wave, or at least test the waters of change. Try to look at change in a positive light and avoid the "my way or the highway" mentality. Change brings stress and the best way to deal with stress is to be as flexible as possible and just go with it

· Build or maintain a healthy lifestyle. When change is causing you stress, you may try to comfort yourself with fatty foods, alcohol or tobacco. While these may seem to relieve stress, over time they’ll make things worse. Eat well and get active: regular exercise helps release tension and gives you more energy. Kids may not feel like eating when they are going through change so it is important to keep family meals together, this is also a great time to talk to them about how they are feeling.

· Allow children time and space to be unhappy. Children can have trouble adapting to change so allow them to grieve for a while -it's a natural way of coping. Just be sure to keep talking to them through this period.

· Remind children of similar challenges they faced and handled successfully in past. Explain that, over time, every new experience will be easier to cope with.

· Maintain routines. Routines help kids feel in control of their environment because they know what to expect. When things change drastically, daily habits or rituals are comforting.

TWO MAJOR FAMILY TRANSITIONS that occur very often to think about:

BIRTH OF A CHILD OR BLENDING OF FAMILIES -Reassure each child they have an important place within the family, both before and after the new sibling or stepparent arrive on the scene. Keep your kids involved. Let them help with the new baby or, when step-siblings and parents move in, plan fun activities that the whole new family can participate in.

SEPARATION AND DIVORCE - Reassure children that they are not to blame. Many kids feel that they somehow caused the break-up so it's important to emphasize that this is not the case. Make sure that each parent has one-on-one time with each child. It tells children that they are still loved and gives them the chance to share feelings, thoughts and ideas. Both parents need to communicate regularly with their children and support them through the transition.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stressed out in Cincinnati

UGHHHH - that is all I have to say about today. From beginning to end I have been a stress case, not sure why, but it has not been pretty. I guess it started when my 9 old old bust through our bedroom door a bit before 8am with his sheets in hand. He had an accident and was on his way to the laundry room (which you cut through our bedroom and closet to get to to. Part of me was happy he was doing his own laundry, then the rationale part of me took over when I heard the washer going...asking my husband to check to see if he put detergent in...he hadn't.

At that point I am up and about. We had a friend of our daugther's over and I promised her mom I would have her showered an ready by 9:15, in the case they were going to church. So I announced showers would take place between 8:30-9 and asked my husband to have breakfast ready at nine. I thought that was a good plan, but Arnie told me I was nuts. I guess that was the start of my stressful day.

It ended up I had two loads of laundry folded and put away, the bed made and 4 children showered and dressed by 8:45. I could have stuck with my plan but instead my husband made me feel like it was the wrong plan and I started earlier. The stress came when I arrived downstairs at 9, after starting some more laundry and getting myself dressed and breakfast was not where to be found. We had cereal and oatmeal as a result and I got to read the paper, some stress released.

We headed to church at 9:40 and dropped Kennedy off at home on the way. Church was somewhat peaceful, the kids actually behaved. I needed prayer, I have never prayed so much in my life over the past 3 months. It seems like we have had a black cloud following us since the end of June. It continued this week with our neighbors only child, who had a terrible accident in Denver where he lives and passed away after a week long battle. We held prayer vigils and I prayed as much as I could, to and from work in the car, each night, had the kids pray with me, but he lost his batle. 24 very young years old and gone, such a loss. So church helped a bit. We went to the hospitality day after it to get a donut.

I guess that is where stress #2 came in. Because I thought it would be nice to go to the hospitality after church, we didn't get home until 11:25 which is later than normal. And Claire had a noon soccer game at the farthest field from us in Anderson. Sarah also had a game at 2 so we needed to get them both ready. I am running around like crazy and it seemed with no one listening to me. We arrived 5 minutes before the game and I am not happy, as I hate to be late and it feels like we are late all the time these days. Thankfully there was a water bottle in the van becuase we forgot ours yet again.

Claire's team got creamed...shouldn't stress me out but it does. Then we ran to get lunch, ate faster than we should and made it to Sarah's on time. They got crushed too. So we are home around 3:30 and I have to do my normal Sunday routine in half the time. On top of this the kids want to go ask for donations for their walk-a-thon. So i am trying to explain to them what they need to do, and put calls into all our family to see if they will help. When I called my grandmother, she was all upset about things happening at home so that turned into a very stressful 30 minutes, worrying about her and her safety.

Then everything went downhill. Arnie broke the lawnmower and came in to tell me. I didn't think it was a big deal and didn't think I over-reacted. But our next conversation was not good. He was asking me about medical bills from Claire's broken arm, I thought he was taking care of them and said that and he lost it. Becuase i was stressed all day and likely being snippy with him, this was the last straw. So he left on a bike ride and I continued my frenzy to put clothes away, lay clothes out, pack for my business trip (as I am out of town for 3 days, I guess stress point #3), make dinner menu for Arnie and Pat while I am gone, get that food together, make the shopping list for grocery store, clean the guinea pigs cage, organize the donations the kids got (becuase they didn't follow instructions and write down who gave them what).

So that is the cause of my UGGHHHH day.
Importantly when my husband returns from what I hope is his de-stressing bike ride we will chat and get on the same page again and go to bed happy with one another. And did I say I am SO HAPPY this is the last weekend of double-header soccer games, far too much for me to handle.

Monday, September 5, 2011

14 years and finally starstruck...Oprah is coming

It is hard to believe, but this month marked my 14th anniversary at P&G. Wow what a ride it has been. Many people ask me all the time, why have you stayed. In today's day and age it is so uncommon to stay with one company for that long, forget about a career. We all know this is not our parents, or grandparents world any more.

Truth be told, I could probably be making more money if I had hopped around. I while P&G is great, there are certainly some "hotter" companies out there - Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook to name a few. But I stay, each why?

First let me give you a little background on me and P&G. On me, I grew up in a family business, one that took care of family and friends. Best friends of uncles, cousins and so forth were often brought in to try to make their life a bit easier. It was about taking care of others more than anything. I also grew up very middle class. Our business paid cash for years and my parents didn't have a credit card by choice. So when the money ran out, it ran out...until next Thursday when we paid again. This taught me to be very disciplined with my money and to not take for granted what you have.

The principle to take from this is money does not mean a lot to me. I had the most wonderful childhood and upbringing that anyone could have asked for. My family was very close knit and we spent every birthday, holiday, Sunday, Anniversary and so forth with family, playing any sport a ball could make....and we loved it. So my life is not about making money, it is about making memories for my children.

The second thing you need to know about me is I'm a learner. Whether you take the strengths finder test (and it tells me this) or simply the fact that I loved school, I just love to learn. I cried when I graduated from business school, because I knew after 19 years of formal education I was done...the end to my formal learning. Hopefully some of you who are around me often are giggling, knowing one of my favorite statements is "you learn a new thing everyday" and I truly believe least one.

Now about P&G. P&G is not your average company. There are a few things that make it very unique. First, it is promote from within. This means my boss will NEVER come from the outside. You rise through the ranks and the next CEO is sitting amongst you. This means they train and develop their people, because they have to. If we don't grow our people, we don't' develop the leadership traits we need from our future leaders.

This suits me perfectly, because I love to learn as I said. So everyday when i sit down as an employee with P&G I learn something. Truly every day. From a colleague, boss, supplier, agency or an article I am reading. So that is why I stay. I love what I do and it brings me fulfillment. It also feeds my craving to learn.

The "day of learning" each year in my job is our annual North American Marketers training. We have about 1,000 marketers in N. America including our Administrators, Marketing specialists and then all management (Assistant Brand Managers, Brand Managers, Associate marketing Directors and Marketing Directors). Each year we have a wonderful day of amazing speakers - in the past I have heard Lou Holtz on leadership, the general manager of Barbie, Chief Marketing officers of General Mills, WalMart, McDonald's and others. Truly amazing day. But this year they have outdone themselves and after 14 years I think i will be starstruck for the first time (at work at least)....Oprah is speaking.

Yes, in the flesh Ms. Winfrey. I am a fan, not a tape it everyday fan, but I do enjoy her and have such respect for her and the empire she has built. As a brand person she has built one of the strongest brands in the world, herself, and that says a lot. So on Wednesday I will sit back and soak it all in, and try to learn from Oprah herself. I can't wait.