I never intended The Professional Family Manager to be a “how-to” blog for managing your time, household, finances, relationships, or any other aspect of your life for two reasons: one, every person is different, so there cannot possibly be one way of doing anything that can be “right” for everyone; and, two, there are already plenty of those types of resources on the market.

The mission of my blog is to consider, explore, and discuss the significance and importance of the work for which mothers are responsible, and to promote respect–both from ourselves and from society as a whole–for that which we do. Motherhood is a career, and should be treated like one; however, how you treat and manage your career is up to you.

That being said…I do believe that there are some resources that are better than others at supporting and promoting the career of motherhood. I offer these as suggestions for you to consider when looking for new ideas on how to improve things in your life.

Having dealt with addiction to online gambling within my household I am a keen advocate for Gamble Aware. What started as a few harmless bets at an online casino turned into a full on addiction and nearly drove my family apart. These issues can be overcome with hard work and dedication, head over to the Gamble Aware website as they have a number of resources. If you are going to bet online then make sure that the online casino website you are dealing with is an advocate of Gamble Aware too.

Planners

  • ListPlanIt. I have two favorite planners: one is my iPhone, and the other is ListPlanIt. While technological tools are great, no gadget has all the apps that a household needs. ListPlanIt fills that gap perfectly. From planning vacations to spring cleaning to financial planning, ListPlanIt has thought of everything. Really. You can read my review here.
  • iPhone and Microsoft Outlook. This is how I manage my life–my household, my business, my contacts, my email, my blog stuff, and so much more. It handles about seventy percent of my daily life management; ListPlanIt is my other thirty percent for the daily stuff, and eighty percent of the big projects. Unfortunately, I haven’t found one plan to “do it all;” however, the iPhone/Outlook?ListPlanIt combination is fabulous in my opinion.
  • Franklin Covey. I used Franklin Covey in the days before iPhones and ListPlanIt. These are great professional tools for managing your life. While some items will work for mothers, Franklin Covey is truly geared toward the business professional. You could couple some of Franklin Covey’s items in conjunction with ListPlanIt pages, but I still feel that ListPlanIt is a more complete system.
  • The Living Cookbook. I use this software for meal planning and organizing my recipes. I copy all of my favorite recipes (or bribe a child to do it for me) into this program, so that, when I use their meal planning calendar, it will automatically generate a grocery list with all the ingredients I need to make it. When I am ready to shop, I can go through the list, eliminate that which I already have, and shop just for those items I need.
  • The Homeschool Tracker. If you are a homeschooler, then you need this software. It makes lesson planning, grading, and record keeping incredibly simple. They have a FREE basic edition, which is anything but basic, and a Plus Edition, which offers features such as transcripts and other advanced tracking. It is an impressive and easy record-keeping tool.

Personal Development

  • Make a Name for Yourself: Eight Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success. This book came out long before the advent of social media, so it is dated in that respect. However, it is a great resource for the other areas in your life: how you dress, how you present yourself, how to be treated with professionalism and respect.
  • Alexandra Stoddard. Alexandra Stoddard is an interior designer by trade, but in recent years has promoted herself as a “philosopher of life.” Indeed, she writes positively about focusing on the beauty and joy of living, turning everyday tasks into small celebrations. I prefer her earlier books–Living Beautifully TogetherLiving a Beautiful Life, and Creating a Beautiful Home. I found that, in later years, her material became repetitive. While I recommend all of her books, if you cannot read them all, then go for her earlier works.
  • Total Mom Makeover. Simplistic, basic, but gets to the point about transforming your appearance from frumpy to fabulous.
  • The Creative Habit. I love Twyla Tharp’s book. Why? Because she reminds us that, even more than talent, hard work and perseverance is the key to obtaining anything you want. Her most famous example is Mozart: while he was indeed talented and gifted, he still had to work tirelessly every single day to become the great musician he was. All the talent in the world will get you nowhere unless you are willing to work for what you want. This is a great book to help you develop your own creative habits.
  • The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece. For people, like me, who are style-challenged. I like the simple layout, the clear explanations, and essential pictures.

Health and Fitness

  • The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged!: Lasting Fat Loss That’s Better than Ever!. The Eat Clean “diet” is not a diet, but a lifestyle, which is why I like it. (I think the author is doing a disservice calling this a “diet,” personally.) Basically, the information is “eat good food and exercise.” What makes this a fantastic resource is the sound medical information on how to balance your food choices, along with healthy recipes that do not taste like cardboard.
  • The Daily Plate. This resource can be easily misused if you become obsessive about tracking your statistics on food, exercise, measurements, etc. However, as a general tool, I absolutely love it. Want to know your fat-to-carb-to-protein ratios? Then enter what you ate for the day, and it will calculate it for you. Just about every food’s nutritional information–either whole, prepackaged, or from a restaurant–is on this site, so it’s easy to calculate how many calories (and how much fat, protein, fiber, etc.) is in each meal. I used this when I lost thirty pounds; it was great for tweaking my eating habits for optimal nutrition and weight loss.

Practical Financial Advice

  • The Tightwad Gazette. Does The Tightwad Gazette need an explanation? These books got me through college and on sound financial footing for the rest of my life. This is what I should have learned from my parents, but didn’t. It’s also great for sparking your mind to think outside-the-box. It is a little radical in its money-saving ideas, but, if you don’t like one, just don’t do it.

Other Great Tools

  • Business Cards. I am a firm believer that everyone–including “stay-at-home-mothers,” need business cards. One of my favorite sources for business cards is UPrinting. While I have hosted giveaways for UPrinting on this blog, I primarily use UPrinting for my business clients with excellent results.
  • BabyGanics. I am a huge advocate of making your own cleaning products; it does not take long to do, and it saves you a ton of money. However, not everyone has the time or inclination to do so. If that’s the case for you, then I highly recommend the BabyGanics cleaning line. They are incredibly powerful cleaners, yet they are completely non-toxic and do not leave your house smelling like a chemical factory. When the non-profit groups I work with have Chinese autions or raffles, I always make up a cleaning basket with BabyGanics products; everyone who gets the basket always raves about how great the cleaners are later. My favorite product is Scrub-a-Tub; I have no idea what is in this stuff, but it cuts through my hard water and soap scum like nothing else, and with very little scrubbing. You can order the products online, but you can also find them for less money at WalMart (limited selection) in the baby section and at Toys ‘R Us.
  • Dot Girl’s First Period Kit. Periods, hormones…it’s a tough thing to face when you are a kid. I think it is brilliant what two mothers have put together as a “kit” for when your daughter gets her first period. If you have girls, you need to have one of these on hand before she gets her period.
  • Mary Kay Travel Roll-Up Cosmetic Bag / Hanger. I don’t sell Mary Kay, nor do I know anyone else who does. Three years ago my friend had a Mary Kay party at her house, and these bags were one of the items being sold. These bags are so fantastic for organizing your cosmetics, hair accessories, and other toiletries, I have two of them and keep all of my things in them. We have a 145-year-old fixer-upper farmhouse with no closets, so having a bag that hangs for use and rolls up for storage has been wonderful. They are great for traveling. The pouches attach to the bag with velcro, so you can literally peel a pouch off and toss it in your gym bag or suitcase. If you can get your hands on one or two or three of them, you will not be sorry.

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