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How To Work Smarter Right Now

Discover How To Boost Your Outcomes With a Side Hustle

Ten years ago, my finances were a mess. Due to dumb mistakes, divorce, unpaid taxes, and a down economy, my balance sheet was a disaster. As a parent, this weighed even heavier, as it’s my job to provide for their future too.

While I had a great job in technology that paid well, I had over-extended myself.

Per Bankrate, I wasn’t alone, as my fellow Americans are “carrying an average personal debt of $90,460.” While personal lines of credit have decreased, auto loans, student debt, and retail card balances are increasing with double-digit percentage rates. We all need some help here.

In addition to being smarter with money, following the guidance of Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, I started a side hustle.

What’s a side hustle? It’s a part-time job you do, working for yourself. Instead of delivering pizzas, driving for Uber or delivering for Amazon, you do your own thing.

But, as a busy parent, how can one accomplish this? We have so many responsibilities.

Here are five steps to get you there.

Get over yourself (a little)

The first step is to realize that thousands do this successfully, and you can find a way to make it happen. Overcoming the “I can’t” or “I’m too tired” or “it’s too hard” is the first and most important step. Do get out of this mess, you are going to have to do something different.

Beware of pirates 

There are many “get rich” schemes that appear enticing at first. It’s a modern-day gold rush here – so be careful.  Many of these courses will you that you can make $100k your first month if you just buy their $3000 course (along with another $2000 in other tools and courses). Be very careful with these and see if the course maker is getting rich off of your class tuition or has been truly successful at what they do. Sadly, it’s usually that they are very good at taking your money - and very few of their students have real results.

Focus 

Start with what you are good at or would love to learn. We recommend considering something you already know or do, that ideally is not a conflict of interest with your current employer. However small, brainstorm ideas you can start with little or no capital and test them out. For the ones that attract buyers, refine your product or services and keep going. Remember this needs to be profitable and not just a fun hobby.

Be Humble

This isn’t a time to let pride win. Sometimes a side hustle is cleaning a peers’ house, car, or other “grunt” work. Focus on your result – financial freedom – and not if this is “beneath” you. You can also use this if you are tempted to increase your debt load again as a reason not to do it.

Research and Learn

Stay with free sources as much as you can when starting. There’s a lot of great content on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram – among other sites (remember to beware of pirates and their upsells here). Your local library as a great resource in the business section. You can even consider interviewing someone who does this full-time in your area or another (noncompetitive). Search on Google and Yelp for what may exist locally. If someone is already doing it – keep going with your idea – that means there is a market for your idea!

Yes, there’s a happy ending to my story. My side hustle of choice was car detailing. Even with a busy family schedule, I was able to do this a few weekends a month, along with evenings and weekends.

For me, this was an ideal hustle as it pays immediately, provides instant gratification for customers, and was even a little fun. My self-esteem rose tremendously knowing I was taking action and not being a victim of my own bad choices.

My kid’s college funds are now solid and my debts are paid. For some of the years, this side income was considerable, and I considered making it my full-time gig.

Mistakes and difficult life circumstances will happen – it’s how we respond that defines who we are in life. Along with learning from these, look at a side hustle to help get you through!

Want to try your own detail side hustle? We're starting a class soon.

Celebrate Earth – Do One of These 50 Things Today

With a busy schedule, we can miss the blooms of spring and the birds singing. We often forget how fortunate we are to have this amazing planet to live on.

On the fiftieth earth day, here are 50 ideas to celebrate. We encourage you to try at least one of them.

Thank you for being on the planet with us!

  1. Stare at the clouds moving around in the sky, and wonder where they have been.
  2. Go to water.org and learn about clean water efforts
  3. Visit your local zoo’s website and read the last three articles.
  4. Think about something you can reuse, instead of recycling.
  5. Take a walk (safely) and admire at least two trees, bushes or plants.
  6. If you can, plant something, or order something you can plant.
  7. Watch the sunrise or sunset.
  8. Teach your kids, nieces, nephews – younger people in your life – about why ecology matters.
  9. Donate to a favorite charity.
  10. Put your hands in soil. Thank it. Yes, then you can wash your hands.
  11. Learn about an animal you love – research online and find a YouTube video.
  12. Encourage your co-workers to think about one thing they love about the planet.
  13. Remember a favorite outdoor spot – beach, mountain or forest – and why you love it.
  14. Find a new read (digital or audible) about our earth and enjoy it.
  15. Identify one thing you can reduce your consumption of to benefit the planet.
  16. Go to your favorite earth website (or find a new one) and read three articles.
  17. Think of one thing you like about every season.
  18. Draw or write one page about what you love about our planet.
  19. Review your recycling and see if there’s something else you can include.
  20. Take five deep breaths and think about what you can do to keep our air clean.
  21. Find a diagram of our solar system and appreciate how awesome planet three is.
  22. Make a plan to grow one vegetable to eat this year.
  23. Offer to help, safely, an older neighbor clean up their yard.
  24. Write a letter to the official of your choice about why the planet matters to you.
  25. Write an email to the CEOs of your favorite companies, thanking them for the good things they do for the planet.
  26. Buy one share of stock of a green company.
  27. Read about what was happening the year of the first earth day (1970).
  28. Listen to your favorite songs that talk about the planet.
  29. Make a plant, tree, or globe out of clay, Legos, or whatever else you have around.
  30. Be thankful for the amazing resources on our planet.
  31. Consider how fast the planet is spinning, and yet how we don’t feel it. Read about the science behind why that works.
  32. Hug someone in your household and thank them for being around on the planet with you.
  33. Try to identify the birds singing in the morning where you live.
  34. Consider where on your commute (once shelter at home is over) you could walk, bike, or take public transportation.
  35. Think about how you can help those without a home.
  36. Be thankful for your home.
  37. Look at your utility bills and see if you can opt-in for green energy programs.
  38. Learn about renewable energy – wind, solar, geothermal and others.
  39. Consider volunteering at a local organization – lending your skills to help their cause.
  40. Tell your friends on social media why the earth matters to you.
  41. Watch a documentary about an animal or wild area you don’t yet know about.
  42. Imagine if trees could see and talk, what stories they would tell us.
  43. Plan a hike, kayak or something in nature for after shelter at home is over.
  44. Use google maps to fly over a favorite spot or a new one. Zoom way out to look at earth.
  45. Learn about composting.
  46. Research what other countries are doing to curb impacts humans sometimes create.
  47. Think about taking shorter showers to conserve water.
  48. Review your household cleaners to see if they are eco-friendly.
  49. Look at your personal hygiene products and use earth-friendly ones where possible.
  50. Post this on your social media and encourage friends to do at least one of these!

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Three Ideas to Make You Soar Now

How to Overcome Life's Turbulence


Overwhelmed right now and not sure how you’ll make it through?

Maybe this story will help a little.

Years ago, I was flying from Hong Kong to San Francisco, returning home from a work trip.

Four hours into the nine-hour flight, the captain came on the PA system, and told us we were in for some bumps. He then ordered the flight crew to go to their seats for the remainder of the flight.

Queue the heart racing and sweaty palms!

We were then in the middle of the Pacific - no land in sight. 

All of a sudden, the plane began violently bashing about in turbulence. You could hear babies crying - and some adults crying out too. Bags bounced around the overhead bins. Every so often the plane dropped altitude as it bounced around. This went on for almost two hours.

After we landed, we heard from the flight crew that this was a “9 out of 10” and that some veteran flight staff have never experienced anything like it before.

In this sort of situation, none of us (even the pilots) have complete control of the situation. Our own mortality and fragility then become painfully evident. We can either get caught up in panic and stuck in fight/flight, or do something else to respond. Either way, we will still be in the turbulence.

While I was certainly panicked, I did my best to focus on breathing slowly and saying a little mantra. This was between white knuckle grabs of my seat. Looking back, grabbing a seat at 38,000 feet for assurance is actually fairly funny.  Somehow, I thought my seat would keep me safe. Of course, it was bouncing around too.

So why bring this up? This flight mirrors a lot of what we are going through in the world with coronavirus. None of us are in control and our frailty is exposed. We are all in this turbulent time together. We have to shelter at home (stay in our seats).

We can also take steps to avoid panic and stay calm.

While this pandemic will sadly take too many lives, the majority of us will make it through this  (and other trials in our life).

Here are three suggestions to help you cope through this tough time:

  1. Remember a time you made it through something particularly difficult. Use whatever is true to you – pick something in school, work or your personal life that you made it through. It may have not been ideal, but you made it through. You are probably stronger than you give yourself credit for.
  2. Translate what worked in that time to today. This could be as simple as remembering you made it through that, and you’ll make it through this. Or, it could be more detailed with the specific coping mechanisms and supports you used in the last adversity you overcame.
  3. Remember life is often about how we respond. We will all face adversities in our lives. We cannot often control these, even with our best efforts. However, we can control our response, including interrupting patterns that lead to fight or flight.

While this current pandemic may seem like the largest thing civilization had ever faced – we have come through larger ones. To name a few – the Bubonic Plague had a 75+ million death toll, the 1889 Flu took over 1 million lives, and HIV/AIDS resulted in 36 million lives lost at its peak.

That said, it will be turbulent for sure. Many will feel fear. Many will get sick, and some will sadly lose their lives. And, all of us have to take action to shape how we respond and react.

After you have found your calm – brainstorm how you can help your loved ones and others. Now is a time to give. Just like my troubled flight many years ago, you can make it through and maybe even land better than ever before!

If you are looking for a boost to feel more vibrant, our free course may help.

Five Sensational Ways to Easily Tame Your Man Mane Now

Practical Tips for Men's Hair

Today, as we shelter at home, our hair continues to grow, past what we are used to.

Yes, it may seem vain at first. However, looking our best and grooming ourselves can help us feel a bit more normal and less cave man.

We interviewed an elite stylist – Adriana Fournier – to get the answers. She’s the co-founder of Hair Method Studio, and on the elite shave team for American Crew. She especially enjoys the positive psychological effect of a fitting haircut.

Here are the five expert tips to manage your mane during socially distancing times:

Style and Condition Tips

Adriana recommends changing your style every three weeks, and making sure to condition. “Conditioner is a must always, but even more so as your hair gets longer. When people grow their hair out, they tend to use more hair products - which can cause dryness or irritation to the scalp. Using a conditioner brings your scalp and hair back to its normal pH, making your hair easier to style and manage.”

Cutting Hair at Home

Be careful here gents and don’t do the flow-bee cut. Says Fournier, “Do not do anything drastic. Just clean up around the edges - mainly ear and neckline. Then, you can follow with a razor below the natural neckline.”

Neck Trims

Adriana recommends doing the neck trim after a shower “Trim after a shower when the hair follicle and skin are warmed up (helping to get the closest shave possible). You may also use a wet towel warmed up in the microwave for 1 min (then apply to the neckline).” She recommends a small amount of shave gel and a smooth razor glide.  Cleanliness matters too, says Adrian. “Be sure to clean skin and tools before and after use. Bacteria can build up and cause ingrown hairs (especially in the neck line). Use a post shave cooling lotion or a toner after, to help close the pores and clean any bacteria from getting into the hair follicle.”

Thinning Hair Tips

Our style pro recommends exfoliating our scalp and using products to help hair thicken. “There are a lot of products that I recommend - Nioxin, ACTiiv Hair Science, Groh, and even thickening products that can help give a fuller look for people who have lower density. “

Beard Grooming

Fournier shares she knows many guys are growing our beards out during this time. She recommends getting a beard oil to get past the itchy part as well as keeping it soft.” Adriana suggests “getting a large hard plastic thick comb for trimming once it's past the stage for a beard trimmer.” For proper beard care, she coaches us to “ get your hands-on proper beard products - Argan oil, Moroccan oil and even a very small amount of coconut oil as a last resort will help soften the beard.”

Take care, be safe, and you’ve got this!


We thank Adriana for her expert advice! ​

You can find her studio here.

Make It Happen – Three Microhabits to Boost Your Day

Fun Little Tweaks to Feel Great Right Now


Life is often about what we do with our circumstances.

How we interpret and respond to events can make all the difference in living a life full of possibilities, and one locked in anxiety.

Lately, we have all been given a big test here with shelter at home orders. With the onslaught of information, change, and this confinement, many are finding this a rough go.

“Your present circumstances may seem limited, but you are never limited by your present circumstances.” -Mishi McCoy

There is also awesome opportunity here to get creative and rise above. Sometimes, it just takes a few small tweaks to get there.

Here are just those tweaks - three microhabits to give you a quick boost in this challenging time. Just a few minutes with each of these can create an entirely different day for you.

Thankfulness

Every day, at least once a day, name three things you are thankful for. You can do this by talking to yourself, writing it down, meditating on it, praying – whatever works for you.

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." -Oprah Winfrey

Do your best to name three different things every time. These can be big or small – thankful that I have friends, thankful for food, thankful for sunrises. There is always something to be thankful for, even in the darkest times.

Hydration

Simply making sure to drink enough water makes a huge difference in our resiliency and even builds our immune system.

“Hydration is the key to fighting viral infections.” – Dr. Blanca Lizaola-Mayo, Mayo Clinic

Make a simple chart, or a calendar reminder, to drink at least 64 oz of water a day. Once better, take half your weight in pounds, and drink that in ounces daily. So, if you are 200 pounds, that’s 100 oz of water to intake.

Ideally, do this when you first wake up, and before every meal. You will enjoy consistent energy as your body can more easily move around nutrients and get rid of waste.

You can bolster this positive health habit with water-rich foods too.

Video Conference with Friends

It’s a pretty cool time right now with free video conference options, and people hungry to connect.

You can sign-up for Google Hangouts, Zoom and others for free and have multiple friends together live on your video conference. It works with phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

We’re hearing of really creative ideas like spelling bees, playing charades, dance-offs and virtual happy hour. And yes, you can certainly do online karaoke!

It’s a great time to show virtual love, and you can use these creative and fun ways to do it more easily.

Try each of these out for a few days, and let us know what you think.

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What You Need To Know – Strategies To Work and School From Home

Nine Practical Steps to Avoid Chaos

Do you know how you will you work from home - and keep your kids engaged during coronavirus?

Many states are closing their schools, along with workplaces encouraging employees who can to work from home. With coronavirus affecting older people at a higher rate, you may not have as many extended family choices as you would normally with kids out of school.

Will there be pandemonium in your home? Will you all survive this challenge (queue your favorite superhero theme music)?

You've got this.

While more than you would normally handle, you can do this, and even have fun with your kids. We asked teachers, educational experts and workplace leaders for their top tips to make this easy on you and productive for your kids. These tips are based on elementary and junior high aged children. Younger children will need some modifications.

SPECIAL UPDATE: We also created a FREE class based on this article and all the positive feedback. It's our gift to you to help you through this difficult time. Click here to gain instant access!

Nine Strategies

1. Know your school’s plan

Many schools have capability for remote learning. Your school may also send home materials or a curriculum to follow. Connect with your children’s teachers and make sure you have their email addresses. In that case, these may be complementary, so adjust as needed. Do test any links they send to make sure you can get them to work and login, as needed.

2. Create a Structure

 While it may feel awkward in some cases, this step may bring you the most sanity. Remember that your kids have a set structure at school. There’s a time they are in class, recess, and lunch, as well as other activities like PE and Computers. 


You can create a similar structure for your kid. The teachers we talked with recommended a list with checkboxes for each activity, including breaks. They also recommended a set start and end time. This can help you plan any work meetings you have around this, which is good for both you and your kids. We provide a sample one at the end of this article. 


As a rough guideline, go with an 8am start time and 2p stop time – adjust as appropriate for your child. You’ll want to do this planning before your first school day, and have a printed schedule to start their day with.


3. Breaks

 It’s important to have frequent breaks. Generally speaking, plan on 30-40 minute work sessions with 10-15 minute breaks. You can provide some activities for break like Legos, drawing – whatever works for your child.


Do pick something they can transition to and from easily. We recommend staying away from screen time here, as it can be difficult to start and stop so quickly. Where it makes sense, join your child on break.


This situation is stressful for you too! If you can be goofy and/or active with them during this time, that can be helpful. Anything from a tossing a Frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, a quick game of tag, or even a dance off can help add a little fun to both of your days.

4. Know Your Child’s Learning Modality

Everyone has a primary way they prefer to learn. While there are over 71 different formal classifications for how we learn (Coffield, Mosely, Hall & Ecclestone, 2004), let’s keep it easy.


In general, we all have a preferred way we like to learn – visual, auditory or hands-on. While we have a primary preference that we are born with, we are all also a mix of these modalities. That said, if you only use auditory instruction and notice your child struggling to follow directions – consider visual or hands-on instruction as part of your mix.


Actually, according to Dr. Dylan William (University College London, Dean of Education) “As long as teachers are varying their teaching style, then it is likely that all students will get some experience of being in their comfort zone and some experience of being pushed beyond it.”

5. Mix of Topics

For your short-term home schooling, we recommend a mix of topics and activities to keep your child engaged. A good mix will include age-appropriate math, reading, writing, and science. In the next step, we’ll give you a list of places to find this content.


In some cases you can print it out, and in others, it will be online. Encourage your kids to think about projects to demonstrate their new knowledge – this can be a short play you capture on your phone’s video camera, a short book they create, or other creative ideas you come up with. Our sample schedule at the end of this article can offer a starting point.

6. Sources to Use for Content and Materials

Modern parents, you are all in luck, as there’s a long list of great online sources for your child. Your school may already have some of these. Our recommendations came from specifically from the teachers we interviewed. You may also find other ones you add into this mix.


Math

Prodigy Game is used by over 50 million students in grades 1-8, and has a free starter program for parents.


Reading and Writing

Storyline Online reads along with your child. Books are a variety of levels and times from a few minutes to longer (free)


Art

Bomomo – fun drawing tool for kids of all ages (free)

Toy Theatre – kids can build all sorts of toys and drawings (free)


PE

Cosmic Kids Yoga has a variety of fun yoga for kids with stories (free)

Moe Jones has a fun 15 minute workout you can do with your kids (free)


Science

Mystery Science has K-5 science for remote learning (free)


General Teaching

Teachers Pay Teachers – for fee, all sorts of lesson plans, worksheets and topics


Sites With Multiple Subjects

Khan Academy has online tools for science, history, math, computing and more (free)


Education.com has worksheets you can print out for a variety of topics for K-5. There’s a daily limit at the free tier and you can buy a subscription.


IXL has K-8 online tools for math, language, science, social studies, Spanish and more ($19.95/month)


Entertainment

For screen time, PBS Kids has a lot of kid friendly games (free)


Nickelodeon also has kid friendly games, although some have ads (free)


Youtube Kids – kid safe and friendly videos (free)



Library

Remember your local library. Often you can browse and reserve books online, saving you time to pick books up. Many libraries include digital books and movies.

7. Connect With Friends

 If you cannot safely have your child connect with friends after “school” time, plan time for them to use Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom (all free) to visit with their friends. This can be during lunch, another break, or after your school time. And yes, parents too, plan on connecting with your friends this way a bit as well. This will help you feel less isolated if you have to quarantine for a bit, and give you something to look forward to.

8. Have Choices for After School Time Other Than Screen Time

The easiest thing to do here is let your child spend hours on their devices or watching TV. We get it. You’re tired and want to take a break. Your kids may be used to hours of screen time. In addition to these activities, consider adding a few things.


Have your child earn screen time by doing a few simple chores around the house. You can use the added help right now and they can dust, put away the dishes, or other appropriate tasks to contribute to your family. You can offer playing with neighborhood kids (as appropriate), crafts, toys, books, drawing and other activities as choices.


One expert suggested using a timer (Alexa, phone or conventional) so the child manages their own time. For example, 20 minutes of a chore then 20 minutes of screen time.

 9. Plan Time For Yourself

While being at home allows you some flexibility in what you wear and relieves you of your school and work commutes – it will rob you of some of your down time. Normally, you listen to whatever you want to on your non kid commutes, and your brain has some downtime. Make sure to put a few 15 minute times on your schedule to escape work and kids. Do a different activity - breathe, write, read some humor, pushups, squats – just do something different.

Make sure to congratulate yourself, and your kids, for doing the best you can in this situation. Whenever possible, go to empathy with your kids right now. They don’t yet have a fully-developed brain and critical thinking skills.  This can be scarier for them then it may seem on the surface. Even if it seems silly to you, make sure you kids feel heard. You don’t have to agree – just hear them out. Actually, many brain science studies at Harvard (Ablon, Pollastri, 2018) have validated that empathy can move your child from anxiety, fight/flight type responses to be able to problem-solve and reason.


Here’s a sample schedule you can start with. Feel free to literally start with a blank sheet of paper – and go with what works for you and your kiddo.


The first few days of this schedule may seem a little awkward, then you will all settle into it. This structure of activities will keep you all productive and appropriately challenged. You may even find your relationships grow because of this.


Be kind to yourself.

 

You’ve got this!

Four Smart Ways to Avoid Coronavirus

Be Prepared - Four Smart Ways to Avoid Coronavirus
Your top questions answered by an MD

One of our local elementary schools was closed, due to a staff member testing positive for coronavirus. Local events were postponed, and a small community in the Pacific Northwest became more vigilant. When it’s local, it often becomes more real for us than just reading a statistic on the news.

It’s likely much of your social and news feeds are filled with stories about how coronavirus may impact you – and probably plenty of opinions and drama to go with that. We’d like to help you get to the facts, and some practical advice, quickly.

In addition to reading our article on how to talk to kids about Coronavirus, we wanted to offer you advice from an experienced medical doctor.

We give great thanks to Dr. Todd Kelly, to answer the top four questions you have asked us. Dr. Kelly is a critical care doctor who assisted a community hospital system prepare potential Ebola patients.

Q: As an MD, what top three things do you tell your patients worried about Coronavirus?

A: “At this time the probability of contracting the coronavirus for any individual is low. Over 80% of people who do catch the coronavirus are either asymptomatic or develop a few mild symptoms. If you believe that you have been exposed to the virus and develop symptoms, seek the advice of your physician.”

Q: Based on your experience with other outbreaks, do you think Coronavirus will have large impact in the US?

A: “The United States healthcare system is extremely well positioned to manage any significant infectious outbreaks. That being said, there is a distinct possibility that a large number of people in this country will at some point contract the virus. There may be some areas that will need to restrict social contacts by suspending school, restricting mass gatherings, or encouraging people to work from home. There will also be supply disruptions due to manufacturing disruptions in other parts of the world. This might include medications so you should have an extra month or two of all your prescriptions. In other words, you need to be prepared to self-quarantine at home by ensuring that you have at least a two-week supply of food and other essential items.”

Q: Other than hand washing, what recommendations do you have for prevention?

A: “Handwashing is definitely a major component to preventing disease transmission. This needs to go hand-in-hand with learning to not touch your head, face, or genitals without first washing your hands. Take hand sanitizer with you when you leave your home and use it often. Practice social distancing.”

 “Social distancing is keeping about 6 feet of distance between you and other people in public, especially if either you or they exhibit symptoms of being ill such as coughing or sneezing. At this time there is no need for anyone not ill to wear a mask. However, if you are ill with a cough or sneezing, you can benefit others by preventing the spread of your illness by wearing a mask. If you are ill try to remain at home to prevent spreading your illness to others. Also, you don’t have a mask, cough or sneeze into the sleeve of your shirt and avoid coughing into your hands to minimize the risk of spreading your illness to others.

Q: What else should we be doing?

“If you have not yet received your flu vaccine go get it immediately. The mortality rate for patients infected with Covid-19 with other comorbid infections or conditions is significantly higher than in those without.

Stay up to date with the recommendations of the CDC and other state or local health authorities. All of these organizations have websites that you should check regularly for updates and recommendations during the coronavirus outbreak. Additionally, these websites provide a wealth of information to help protect you and your family.”

We thank Dr. Kelly for his expertise, and encourage you to stay informed. The following links can help. You can also subscribe to our blog, below.


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Avoid Panic – How to Talk to Kids about Coronavirus

Help Your Kids With a 5-Step, Science-Backed Approach

“I’m afraid I may die” my ten-year old son quietly tells me last night, when I asked him about the Coronavirus. He went on to say, “I’m also afraid others might be hurt.”

Your kids may be more scared about the Coronavirus than you know. Along with calming them down and assuring them, you can use this approach to build resilience and problem-solving skills.

This five step approach is science-backed and evidence-based, leveraging work by experts at Harvard and elsewhere.

  1. Stop yourself (parent) and actively listen. Our first instinct as parents is often to go to assurance mode. While this is important, don’t do this yet. Actively listen to your kids. Even if their concerns seem silly to your adult self, really listen. Imagine you were their age for a moment if you can.
  2. Confirm to your kiddo that you heard them (and potentially repeat #1). As you listen, validate your child’s emotion (empathy, not sympathy) – “honey, I can understand how that is scary to you” or “it makes sense that you would feel this way.” You aren’t agreeing with them, you are just meeting them were they are at. Studies have proven this can stop the fight/flight response in times of trauma. You may repeat the first two steps a few times.
  3. Confirm that you will protect them and keep them safe. First ask your kids if they feel like they heard you. If not, keep repeating the first two steps. After this, confirm that you will keep them safe and make sure they are okay. After the empathy step, they can take this in and feel safer.
  4. Ask your kiddos for ideas to prepare reasonably. During this step, your kids will have lots of ideas. Your job is to say “ok” or “that’s an idea” – you aren’t grading them yet. If they are stuck, you can offer ideas as a question “what about if we got another can of soup?” Having your kids suggest ideas supports them resolving future issues on their own.
  5. Act on their ideas (and yours). Write a list with your kids and do the items you agree to. This may even turn what was fear and panic to fun and pride. In this step, you are demonstrating how they can rise above issues and act – a great life skill.

While subtle, this approach builds more life skills for your child. They are learning how to calm themselves, express concerns, hear others, brainstorm, and take action to resolve. Great job parents!

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News stories and rumors are rampant right now about this virus. It’s one of those times when everyone has an opinion. You may end-up going through these five steps a few times because of this, or just the first two empathy ones.

To gain facts as a parent, we recommend your trusted medical professional or the CDC. If you catch yourself feeling panicked, do your best to identify your concerns. Giving them a name, color and texture can help. When you define it, it doesn’t have the same power. Call a friend or seek out mental health support as you need, so you can be there for your kids.

Remember, as parents, we often jump to protector mode before empathy mode. It’s a natural reaction but isn’t always the most useful in teaching skills to your kids. Do your best and remember to hear them first and then confirm that you understand them.  In doing so, you will help build a lifelong coping skill pattern for them.

As my son and I finished our conversation, he was very excited about going shopping and getting a few extra cans of his favorite chicken noodle soup, making sure he knew where our board games were located, and was no longer afraid.

As a bonus - enjoy the recording of my son and I talking below!

Hill Of Beans

Have you ever heard the saying "he's not worth a hill of beans?" Or maybe you have heard "it's not worth a hill of beans."

Just how much is a hill of beans worth in 2020?
Let's find out!

First, let's go over our methodology (for you science, math and geology fans).  

For hill size, we went with 20.3 feet tall and 40.6 feet wide. How did we arrive here? According to Wikipedia, the top 13 worldwide man-made hills average 203 feet. We went for 10% of this because it seemed reasonable (not scientific but friendly nonetheless).

And yes, for fun we considered the largest hill size. For the US this is 99 feet (before it's a mountain), while that is 659 feet for our Soviet friends and 1959 feet in the UK. Later we do show the average of these (1205.7 feet tall and 2411.4 feet wide), just for fun. Let's just say you can retire on those hills pretty easily.

Next, we went to find out the cubic feet of our hill (8760) and the weights for this volume of beans - for Navy Beans, Cocoa Beans and Coffee Beans.

We also found the retail prices for each of our bean friends - Navy banes at $0.89/pound, Cocoa Beans at $1.07/pound and Coffee Beans at $8.50/pound. Yes, we can argue these prices and other points, but please remember this is for fun too.

So, where does that leave us and just what is a hill of beans (20.3 foot) worth in 2020?

Cocoa Beans

  • $15,837
  • median 401k balance at age 35
  • Used 2007 Porsche Cayman 

Navy Beans

  • $391,134
  • seven times the average US salary in 2020
  • 2019 Ferrari 812 Superfast (new)

Coffee Beans

  • $2.6 million
  • median house price in Menlo Park, CA (home of Facebook)
  • 2020 Bugatti Chiron (new, well almost, it's $3M - you need a few more beans)

So, maybe we should aspire to be worth a hill of beans - depending on the beans and hill, of course.

Ready to have some fun? Let's look at what the big hills are worth.

  • Cocoa Beans: $3.2B  - valuation of Canva
  • Navy Beans: $82.2B - how much the world bank gave to the poorest countries in 2019 (population totaling 500 million)
  • Coffee Beans: $547.4B - how much total merchandise Chinese e-commerce company Alibab sold, in 2017

There's a bean-counter joke here somewhere... have a great day!

Seven Ways Dads Can Deal With Their Exes Boyfriend Being Around Their Kids

Knowing that your ex’s new love interest is with your kids (and your ex) can easily release a wave of emotions – anger, upset, jealousy, fear, and even rage. Even if you think you are over her, there’s lots of emotion of another adult being around our kids. Those are normal reactions to have.

Depending on your parenting time situation, this new person may have more time around your kids than you do, which can be especially aggravating. Generally, though, there’s a natural concern about a step parent, and even some subtle competition.

Do keep in mind, that the reverse situation may also be true for your ex in time, as you have a love interest. This is all something you may not have thought about, so it’s normal to feel overwhelmed for a time. Here are seven ways you can get past the overwhelm and best support yourself and your kiddos.

This article will help put all of that in a bit of check and provide seven guidelines to help you out.

“Don't waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind.”

Mary Schmich

1

The Best Revenge is a Life Well Lived

While it’s very easy to get sucked into the drama, don’t. Avoid comparing yourself to this person or your circumstances. Your job is to better yourself and be the best Dad you can for your kids.


Your only concern is if your kids will be treated well by this new person, which they probably are. If you feel your ex-spouse is a good parent (read: you don’t have to like her, just know that she is a good parent) then you shouldn’t have too much fear.


It is extremely unlikely that they will be with another adult who isn’t going to treat the children well. If you do have serious concerns, however, involve professionals and do not take things into your own hands.

2

Avoid Hatred and Animosity

It’s simply not worth the energy, and you have other more important things to do. Life is way too short. Your children may pick up on this energy and feel like they must defend you (or your ex). Please don’t put them in the middle – that hurts them and you.

3

Listen to Your Kids

While you don’t want to put them in the middle, listen you your kids and make sure they know they are heard.


Cranking up the empathy is a good idea.


 Your kids may still believe that somehow you will get back together with your ex, and this new person is a threat to that dream. They may have fun with this person and feel guilty about it. There can be a lot of complexity that just listening to them can help. Remember though, it’s not your kid’s job to give you a report on the ex and what they do.

4

Respect

For both yourself and your kids, it’s important to be respectful. You want this person to be great around your kiddos for their sake, no matter how annoying it is to you.


While they will never replace your role, it’s normal to feel challenged a bit. If an issue comes up, it’s best to discuss directly, without kids present, as soon as possible. Remember, the focus is on the well-being of your kids. Anything else is noise, and your own issue to resolve.


While you may not be aware of it, you are modeling life-long behaviors for your kiddos, and how they will handle conflict in the future. Keep your primary job as being a Rad Dad in mind. Be such a classy, unflappable, strong, positive Dad that nobody knows what to do.


You can, however, do things in private like write an upset letter or draw a picture, then rip it up, to get your emotions out.

5

Be Ready For Kid Events

Yes, at some point this new person will probably be there at your kiddo's events. You are likely to see them at sporting events, concerts and the like.


If you can take the time to say hello and be civil on some level it is going to help your kids. At the same time, being overly friendly can be a mistake. For example, avoid telling this new person about issues you had with your ex.


It may be a good idea to plan a vent session before or after, in private, with a friend, to help you cope. At the same time, if this person wasn’t with your ex, and was being encouraging to your kids, you would see them as an ally. As weird as this may be, do attempt to be open to this perspective.

6

Let it Go

Sometimes this is easier said than done. It may take some time to fully do this, or you may have to do it in layers.


At some point though, you do want your ex to be happy, if nothing else for your children’s sake. If your split was contentious, this can be very difficult. However, the hate and anger eventually only eat you up, not them.


"The cold never bothered me anyway." - Let it Go Soundtrack

7

Use Humor

When awkward situations like this arrive, a good dose of humor can take the edge off. Make sure you aren’t being passive-aggressive and attacking anyone, of course. Even just laughing inside at the irony of the situation can help you cope.


"My wife's jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was." Rodney Dangerfield

​As weird as this may feel, and as upset as you are, these seven ideas can help you cope more easily. Do know that you may have some feelings you aren’t proud of as you experience this. These are normal. Just acknowledge these feelings and let them go (don’t act on them).


You may also want to check-out our LEAP 3+8 program to more easily focus on your life goals and ignore noise that can get in the way.
Keep going for the best for your kids and yourself!

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