I am a fun-loving dedicated wife and hardworking mama of two. Not only do I work full time, but I do it from home. Lord, help me!
I like to write about my experiences of being a working mom, as well as sharing some of my trials and triumphs. It may not always be pretty, but I promise my stories will be light-hearted, make you laugh, and possibly even teach you something.
Thank you for stopping by!
|Posted by Angela Caban on June 18, 2020 at 1:05 PM||comments (2)|
A quarantine silver lining... we got new family photos! <3
Before you settle into reading this, this is not a post giving advice. I am not going to give some amazing tips about working from home and homeschooling during a pandemic. I am still trying to figure this all out myself and if you ask my kids, mommy gets a C as her final grade. This is still a passing grade, right?
Working from home with kids has always been challenging, but I was finally at that stage in life where my kids were old enough to understand mommy is working, please don't interrupt her unless someone is bleeding. But like a lot of families, we were faced with balancing work and school under the same roof, and with a husband in the medical field - I was left to fend for myself. At the beginning of all of this, I tried hard to establish a routine and stick to it. Being positive and organized is usually how I thrive in all that I do. I illustrated what our days would look like on a large calendar and taped it on the wall in my office. The poster kept falling off the wall — no doubt, a foreshadowing of its imminent demise.
I researched for days what I should be doing to ensure both children stayed on track with their assignments, as well as what parents needed to be doing to support a healthy mental state for them. Most experts say kids need routine. But it turns out, sticking to one in the midst of a pandemic is not so easy. My son, who I have spoken openly before about, has ADHD - an intelligent child who has trouble staying focused and organized was in his last year of middle school and the pressure of ensuring I was going to be the reason he suffered in the last 3 months of school was on. My daughter, only in second grade and completely new to Google classroom and Chrome books needed all the guidance and help she could get. Ever see the typing speed of a second grader? We navigated life, school and work through a perpetual cloud of uncertainty for far too long — 78 days to be exact.
We had our good days and bad days, there was no in between. The good days were the days the kids completed their daily tasks without attitude or tears, and I got in at least 4 hours of work in <---- these days were unusual. The bad days were a norm for us, these always ended in tears with the second grader stating, "I was confusing her" and "that's not the way we learn this in school", or my eighth grader missing assignments because he forgot to check his Google Classroom. So as the days went on, and more bad days passed us, the more I said, “screw it!” The entire day and routine went right out the window and what became a day off for the kids, became just a normal working day for me. There was now a new kind of balance of what I was able to give my kids. On the days I got all my work done I felt as if I was failing them, even though we were all taking on new roles and doing things that we haven't necessarily done before.
Every single weekday I woke up was dreadful, feeling the anxiety that I also paired with “Okay, I guess this is just the way things are now.” Every day felt like a juggling act, wondering what wasn’t going to make it on the to-do list. Sometimes that meant my sanity. But as the days went on and we neared the end of the school year, it started to feel normal. The kids started to get excited about our end of month beach house vacation and life almost felt less heavy. While I would not want to EVER experience this again and pray daily for the return of the school year in September, this experience has left me with a new outlook on my personal and professional life. As if I have broken down the silos of work, home and school lives — and that could be a good thing.
Here we are today, the first week of summer vacation and guess what? My son graduated passing all his classes and my daughter not only survived completing all assignments digitally, her typing speed improved! I didn’t screw my kids up, they are doing well, are excited about vacation and will have one heck of an experience to remember.
But in all seriousness, if there was something I could say to myself back in March, is chill out and don’t beat yourself up. These kids are stronger than you.
I would love to hear your experience, share it with me, together we are stronger and can learn so much by our stories!
|Posted by Angela Caban on February 19, 2020 at 1:40 PM||comments (2)|
Going back to school as an adult is hard enough on your own but what happens when you throw in a toddler, full time job and deployed husband? It could be the perfect recipe for a disaster if you don’t have a good plan. Most importantly when you put too much pressure on yourself you will start to notice a pattern of “Keep Calm and Carry On” motivational quote clichés. This won’t work in your favor, trust me. We are all unique individuals with different situations in which why we decided to go back to school. You need to be able to find the motivators that speak directly to you. If not, it’s more like a leaf in the wind and not something that will keep you motivated and focused.
In my personal experience, as a military spouse with A LOT on her plate while going back to school, motivation comes from what matters most to you in life. Personal experience and ideas. Consider these options before covering your bulletin board with pictures of cute kitty cats saying “Hang in There”. These ideas may be a bit more helpful and keep you focused accomplishing your major goal, graduation day.
My Top 5 Personal Motivators:
1. Keep your family in mind. For me, going back to school was all about keeping busy and making my family proud. I printed a picture of my family and placed it on my bulletin board directly over my desk. When things got tough and I wanted to give up, I looked up and remembered who I was doing this for.
2. Every now and then I came up with a great saying or advice that I gave a friend. To make sure I followed through with this great advice, I took notes. Keep a notebook of these sayings and advice you give others. Sometimes the best advice is your own.
3. If you come across any quotes or discussion board comments that speak to you – write them down! A good motivator is seeing what other students in your class are saying – perhaps they are having the same struggles, we can all learn from each other.
4. One thing I enjoyed was taking bits and pieces of my own work from papers turned in and turning them into quotes I could hang up. There was no better motivator than seeing my work up on my bulletin board, I remembered the hard work that went into it and immediately felt proud of what I had accomplished.
5. Keep a personal journal of your struggles and how you overcame them. I didn’t stop at my undergraduate degree; I wanted to make sure I pushed myself to continue on in attaining my graduate degree. I struggled, sure I did. But looking back at that journal helped me to see that no matter how big that problem was at the time, there was always a solution.
It isn't easy, but anything worth obtaining usually isn't.
|Posted by Angela Caban on January 9, 2019 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
This post was originally published on the USAA Community: https://communities.usaa.com/t5/Going-Civilian/4-Hacks-to-Network-Like-a-Pro/ba-p/188727 ;
From left to right: Angela Caban, Krystel Spell, Lakesha Cole, Brittany Boccher, Bianca Strzalkowski, Tiye Young
I love conferences, and I absolutely love networking. When you work from home, you jump at the opportunity to meet with others in your same niche that you may already know or may want to meet. It is part of doing business and also part of the social world we live in today.
This past week, I had the tremendous opportunity to attend the Military Influencer Conference, presented by USAA in Orlando Florida, and network until I lost my voice – literally!
In it’s second year, the Military Influencer Conference brings together spouses, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers that have one thing in common - passion for the military. I found this conference beneficial and is an event in my opinion all should attend. If you are attending a conference for the first time or new to your field, you might not know where to start when networking. I thought I would share how I’ve learned to play to my strengths and network successfully in unexpected ways.
Here are 4 Hacks to Network Like a Pro…
Networking isn’t just something you do during the event.
It’s true; networking is a process that you must take part in before, during, and after. Networking fatigue does exist, but it will be beneficial and something you must see through the end in order for your efforts to truly count. Before an event do your research on the speakers and attendees. During the event connect with them in person, and after the event – follow-up. I always take 3 days after the conference to settle back into my home routine, then start sending out follow-up emails and connect online.
Breaking the ice is way easier and less awkward than doing so online.
No matter what, you will have one thing in common with the attendees - the conference! This means you already have one thing to instantly chat about with the person you want to connect to. Some great ways to get the conversation started are… “Where are you traveling from?” or “Is this your first time at this event?” - no one will give you strange looks, and you may end up in a productive conversation.
The real networking happens in the hallway.
I have been to quite a few conferences to know that you simply can’t connect with others by only sitting in the sessions. These impromptu discussions that occur between sessions or as you move from session to session in the hallway are key and should be taken advantage of. One of the greatest benefits of attending a conference is that it brings people together for a short, intense period of time, yet it is one of the greatest forms of networking opportunities that spark and nurture current and future relationships.
It’s not rude to be on your phone, it’s encouraged.
Networking needs to continue online as you are attending sessions throughout the day. You will be amazed at how your social following grows during a two-day event by using the event hashtag. Twitter and Instagram are great for this kind of networking and will offer some great examples of what you can use as direct quotes from speakers, but don’t forget to tag them and use the event hashtag when sharing on your social channels!
|Posted by Angela Caban on December 4, 2018 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
The holiday season has and will always be my favorite time of year. I do know that for many, the holidays can be full of stress and I get it, trust me. Weeks of non-stop events, shopping, family gatherings and trying to squeeze in every ounce of holiday cheer leaves working moms without one minute to spare. It’s a miracle we make it to January in one piece, right?
My stress levels have been compounded by very hectic work schedules for both my husband and myself. Knowing that there is a never-ending list of things that need to happen before December 24th, but then also trying to remember to slow down and enjoy the season.
The holidays can still be a time to reflect and make the things we do count for us and our family. So I urge you to take a look at that holiday to-do list and make some tweaks. I know I did, and I also added a few other things…
Here are 5 things I am ensuring to make time for this holiday season…
1. Shop online.
My holiday shopping is officially DONE!
I love walking around stores and browsing, but when it comes to doing my actual holiday shopping, give me the internet! I work until 5 pm and I don’t want to be shopping until late hours or spend all weekend in long lines. I won’t torture myself like that.
2. Work out.
I work out 7 days a week. Yes, you heard that right. 7 DAYS A WEEK.
On the rare occasion I need a recovery day, I normally do some type of light exercise or maybe take the entire day off, but my body CRAVES a good workout.
When you suffer from anxiety, the endorphins are a great way to heal. So I will ensure that the madness of the holiday season will not take over my much needed “me time”.
3. No activity weekend.
All of our weekends in December are already filled up – with the exception of one weekend. I ensured we scheduled nothing this weekend so that we can take the time to sit back and enjoy not doing anything. This weekend will be a time for us to choose what we want to do; whether it is a night in watching movies or driving around town looking at lights.
4. Get a sitter during the week.
Don’t typically do date nights on a school/work night, but once never hurt anyone – if anything, it is completely worth it! We love our date nights, and this time of year we definitely need to make sure we take the time to slow down and re-connect with one another.
5. Girls night.
I have never done this during the holiday season but what better time to check in with friends and colleagues than the busiest time of year?! We love our family, but eventually you’ll need a break from your kids, your husband, and your dog – just everyday life! Scheduling some much needed girl time during the holidays is something I have needed yet missed out on for the last 10 years!
|Posted by Angela Caban on August 4, 2018 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
I love that picture. It was taken right after I asked my husband to please take the kids to the water so I could relax. After a blissful hour of them playing in the sand, while my husband sat with them, I got to read and work on my tan.
That would have never happened if I didn't open my mouth and ask. Not that my husband doesn't help out, but it is just one of those things that as moms we need to get better at. I can't tell you how many times my husband tells me, "let me know if you need help.", and I defensively respond, "why do I have to ask, just jump in?!". As the control freak that I am, I know half the time I turn down the help and just do it myself anyway. No one’s fault but my own, and I am getting better at asking for help and time to myself and guess what? No guilt.
Why are we living in a world where moms feel guilty for taking the time for themselves?
I am a working mom who puts in a good 50 hours a week, sometimes 60, so relaxing isn't always easy given the fact that once I am off the work clock, I am then on the mommy and wife clock. It’s not like moms purposely plan for no time, we just have a very limited amount of it. Unfortunately, none of us can add magic extra time in the day out of thin air. So what can we do to ensure we are squeezing in that me time?
Put it into your calendar…
If you’ve been wanting to go to the gym on a particular day, or meet friends for coffee or drinks, open your calendar and put it in! I find it harder to cancel once it is already time accounted for, it is sort of a trick for my mind and let’s my family know mommy is busy. You’re then forced to find childcare as a matter of urgency, you have an incentive to get organized and find a way to make it happen once the date has been arranged.
Rise and grind…
I am sure you’ve heard the old saying “early bird gets the worm”, and in a busy moms life – this speaks so much truth. Getting your day started off early, and ensuring all tasks are completed ahead of time is helpful – at least it is for me when planning out my day.
Wouldn’t you love a little extra free time? Especially while everyone is still in bed!
As I said above, when there doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day, maybe waking up an hour earlier can help. See what you can get done before your family is up and you have to get on with the normal rush and push of a work day and doing the school run. This should free up some of your evenings so that you can spend some free time” doing what you want.
Make the most out of your free time…
Has anyone ever used their free time by catching up on housework? I get it – but if you know you’ve got a day off from work, or your kids are going to be out of the house for a few hours, ensure that you’ve made solid plans to enjoy yourself. If your idea of relaxation is to enjoy some blissful time immersing yourself in a warm bath, then do it! The laundry can wait.
Making time for you isn't imppossible – remember that in order to care for others, you must care for yourself.
When was the last time you made time for YOU? What did you do?
|Posted by Angela Caban on June 28, 2018 at 2:40 PM||comments (0)|
Summer break is here and while many of the moms I know are planning out their summer activities of places to go, things to see, days lounging by the pool and spending quality time with their children – for me, these next 11 weeks will look the same as all other weeks of the year.
I am still up by 5:30 am, my morning routine will not change and I will be rushing to get my kids out of bed, fed and off to summer camp so that I can rush back home and get back to work.
My kids LOVE summer camp and by the time they get home, they are done. A typical afternoon involves, television, slime, coloring books, video games, and tablets because after a full day of playing and activities they want to come home, cool off and unwind. I am fine with that.
However, summer camp only runs until 2 pm, so I will then proceed to have guilt for the rest of the time I work from 2-5 pm. Why do I have guilt? The guilt comes because while my kids do very well playing alone, I run upstairs for my third cup of tea and see my kids glued to video games or tablets. I won’t sit there and argue about the time they spend on video games because I need to work, but I will put pressure on myself to make it a great summer for them – even if our fun doesn’t start until after 5 pm.
I have guilt because I think to myself, “are my kids having an awesome summer?” I then think that perhaps I am not doing enough. But how can I? There are only so many hours in a day and I have to work. Deep down, I feel as if the summer days don’t feel any different for my kids, and I feel awful about that. So that’s when more guilt kicks into high-gear.
When the summer weeks look just like the school year, it’s easy for me to feel guilty…
Read more here.
|Posted by Angela Caban on April 27, 2017 at 2:25 PM||comments (0)|
As I am typing this both of my kids are home. I can hear them yelling at each other right above me just one floor away. I wonder if I can write one more paragraph before I have to step away and play referee.
Hold that thought, be right back…
This is the life of a work-from-home mom. This lifestyle isn’t always about convenience or freedom, there is a lot of hard work involved, not to mention some of the craziest over the top work environment scenarios not seen in the average office.
While we are still in the school year, I take advantage of their schedule and do the bulk of my work during that time. Today, however, is a bit different. Conference calls, meetings and deadlines looming, everything is piled on top and the work must get done. Any mom out there who works and parents at the same time knows that many times, no amount of planning or scheduling is enough. And while the kids may be older and understand that mommy is working, do they really get it? What do they think I am doing locked in this office for hours on end?
Today is Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and this leaves a very interesting question on the minds of those who work from home. What would happen if work from home moms really did bring their kids to work with them?
Read More Here.
|Posted by Angela Caban on October 5, 2016 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
This post was originally published for Military One Click.
I could tell that my hand gestures were making her feel nervous.
I was always one who could easily make a joke to lighten the moment. Not this time. Not even my good manners could save me from my rambling conversation. My sentences weren’t making sense, I was incoherently speaking, and I started feeling like Dr. Jekyll transforming into Mrs. Hyde.
I apologized to the school mom for my rambling and blamed it on the fact that I work from home, and that the only in-person conversation I have during the day is with my four-year-old daughter about how Doc McStuffins is now a big sister.
Luckily for me, she understood as she also worked from home and knew how rough it could be to have adult conversation face-to-face after spending your days behind a computer screen.
What happens when working from home makes you an introvert? How do you reclaim your identity?
I was unnerved: what was happening to me? I am a smart individual. How could I not handle a simple conversation without immediately starting to sweat and throwing my hands like a wild animal? I was becoming a feral animal, not domesticated to live outside my small office space.
I have always been an extrovert, never dealt with social anxiety and as a child, and loved talking and making others laugh.
How was I losing my lifelong cultivated social skills?
My work-from-home career began in 2009 as my husband was returning from a 15-month deployment. My out-of-home job at the time was a one-hour commute each way, and by the time I got home in the evenings, I was beat. I thought working from home would be a great fit since I was going back to school, this way I could work and spend time with my 3-year-old-son.
It was the perfect solution.
Fast-forward to 2016…
…six years, 2 deployments, countless separations, 2 degrees, various business trips yearly, and an addition to our family: my beautiful daughter.
I didn’t start to see that I wasn’t the same until about this time last year. I was asked to speak at an event, one that I have done previously in the past. As I stood there ready to present, I froze. I stared at the audience wondering, Why am I here? I drove home that night thinking it was just my nerves from not getting enough sleep the night before. I would be good the next time around.
As I sat in the coffee shop, apologizing for being such a spaz, I knew I was lost. I, Angela Caban, was indeed an introvert. I said it to myself, my husband, and my best friend. It was my reality and now I had to work on getting myself back.
The solitude of my office, despite the interaction weekly via conference calls and productivity of my work, was eroding my social skills. As I sit in my office daily, I am forgetting was it is like to have an actual conversation that goes beyond my keyboard.
It also doesn’t help that my poor husband, who also comes home drained, is my only outlet to real-life adult conversation. I am lucky to have many friends, but most live out of state. How could I reclaim my social identity if differences in time zones and social media were all that surrounded me?
It’s not surprising that I was making that poor school mom feel uncomfortable. I think feeling like you have to make small talk is one of the worst things with someone who has social anxiety.
What happens when working from home makes you an introvert? How do you reclaim your identity?
Reclaiming my social identity…
With everything I do in my life, business or personal, I have a game plan and a list. I was determined to turn myself back into the person I once was and stay that way. I knew it was going to take some work, since it is hard to stop working when deadlines are piling up. Isn’t the reason I started working from home so that I could have a flexible schedule?
I made the parents at school my water-cooler moment
What I have learned is that unlike others who work outside the home, I don’t have the “water cooler” moments anymore. I stopped making excuses and took small steps each day to connect with other human beings. No more forced small talk– a simple hello and how-is-everything-going before being on my merry way. I was a bit awkward at first, but once I explained what I was doing and why, other parents at the school drop-off were interested to see how my “socializing project” was going. They really called it that.
Because I work from home, I don’t have water cooler moments anymore…
I found extracurricular activities
I became the friend who was in charge of planning everything. From concerts to coffee shop dates to Zumba… yes, it’s exhausting, but the socializing is totally worth it. I had a least one social gathering a week on my calendar. The difference it made? I felt like more than just someone who lives and works at home. On the weekends, I am out and when I am home, the office door is shut.What happens when working from home makes you an introvert? How do you reclaim your identity?
I didn’t discount my online friends
I didn’t need to ignore my online community of friends. I still pick up the phone daily and talk to my best friend who is 500 miles away. Even if it is just a quick chat online, this part of my life is still important to me and for my work.
I plan a minimum of 2 business trips a year
My goal is to not only socialize but to network in-person about my business matters as well. My trips are focused on either my job or professional development. I miss the office spirit at times, but am also happy to come home and know I have the flexibility to work.
So, am I an extrovert again? I am not back to my normal self, I may not ever be unless I start working outside the home, but I will say that I am happier now and realizing that I am not the only socially awkward work-from-home person out there.
|Posted by Angela Caban on March 28, 2016 at 9:35 PM||comments (2)|
INSERT STOCK PHOTO OF STRESSED WORKING MOM HERE.
(p.s. all the work from home stock pictures looked happier than what I feel today.)
How defeated do I feel? As I sit in my writing nook typing this, it is the end of spring break day 2. I am worn out, with absolutely no desire of even typing this. I figured that tomorrow this day will just fizz out and either get worse as the week goes on, or get better. That is however based on just how clever I am at convincing my kids that if they let me work without interrupting me, they will get a surprise. A surprise I have yet to invent.
My 10 year old is quite sufficient. He can keep himself occupied for the amount of time I need to work. The 4 year old girl, yeah, not so much. She is at a current stage where she wants to do everything her brother does. So you can only imagine what that means. A lot of arguing, whining and unpleasant moments for us all.
God, please help me.
I never said I was a master of working from home, I do have some techniques under my belt that I find helpful. But I am at a point where I know that spring break is just a small glimpse into what awaits me during the summer. So this has sent me into a panic. I am now researching summer camps and programs that could keep them both busy during the day, enjoying the summer without me and my work in the way. The summer break was meant to enjoy outside, and although my schedule can be quite flexible, I can't possible take 3 hours off every day to take them to the park and burn off some steam.
So for now, I will take this spring break as a learning experience. It is my warning that summer is right around the corner, and I must plan wisely.
More to come soon…
|Posted by Angela Caban on April 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM||comments (1)|
Did you know that 80 percent of workers feel stressed during the workday? Where does this leave us that work from home? Here’s the thing, we aren’t exempt. If anything, I would say the stress level goes up just a tad higher then working out of the home. Why? At least for me, because I work for myself and have various clients and projects – I can never leave my work at the office. My office is in my home, and sometimes my bed, kitchen, laundry room and car. Yes car! Because deadlines don’t care that your kid has karate, and you have to work at any possible moment that you get, even if it means writing in the parking lot of your sons dojo.
A few years ago if I would have taken a glimpse into what my work life has become, I probably would have stayed in Corporate America. I didn’t have the balance back then, I didn’t need it. Now the balancing act goes a little bit like this… Be realistic, flexible, use your time wisely and give it a rest. I am realistic that everything I have planned for the day will most likely not happen with a 3 year old. I am flexible with my time, family comes first – but they also need to respect the working hours. When given the time to work, I use it wisely and don’t let anything distract me. I know when to stop and give it a rest, unless there is a deadline looming, I unplug and know how to balance the time between family and work. This last one took some time to get the hang of, and it has been the most important one of all. If I didn’t balance my time, I probably would have called it quits 5 years ago.
I didn’t start working from home because I wanted to start a successful consulting business and make millions, I wanted to be here. Living and working at home, the purpose is for me to live. To embrace, notice and enjoy the everyday moments.
This is my reality, my everyday work-from-home moments…