This clothing line is helping veterans

Our veterans are some of the strongest people in our country, ready to drop everything and fight for our freedom. Around patriotic holidays like the 4th of July, many Americans take the time to thank military service members or learn more about helping military families. Would you like to know an easy way to help veterans, while getting a great deal on some cool workout gear? Then read on.

I don’t typically promote the sale of specific items on this blog, but because these sales support a non-profit that helps veterans, I have decided to feature their company. I am not being paid for this post. I just want to highlight a good company that is helping the military community.

How two Army vets started the “Got Your Six” clothing line

Inspiration.Fit is all about empowerment and following your passions – whatever they may be. They also love connecting with people and creating a relationship with their customers. So it’s no surprise that when Reinalyn, an Army vet and full time working mom, gave them a call about T-shirt sizes, the conversation changed into one about shared passions. Reinalyn shared Inspiration.Fit’s passion for empowering and supporting women. The team encouraged her to follow that passion and grow it into something she could be proud of! Not too long after, they heard from her again…

These Army Veterans started a clothing line that supports military vets

Reinalyn met up with her friend Angela, also an Army vet and full time working mom, to brainstorm ways to make a difference. The two developed their vision for “Got Your Six” and brought their idea to Inspiration.Fit. That one phone call turned into a whole movement centered around empowering women and supporting our country’s veterans.

Your purchase will help homeless veterans

“Got Your Six” is a phrase used on and off the battlefield to tell your battle buddy “I have your back.” This simple expression means so much to veterans who have seen battle and know the true meaning. Currently, the “Got Your Six” line is running a campaign between now and the 4th of July. This campaign is focused on showing support and thanks to our military community for all that they have done for us. The net profit from this project will go directly to a charity passionate about supporting American veterans. After serving for our country, veterans can have a tough time getting back to a normal lifestyle. A portion of all “Got Your Six” sales will be donated to a Virginia-based non-profit serving homeless veterans. By purchasing a shirt from the “Got Your Six” project, buyers are not only helping raise money to help struggling veterans, but they’re also supporting and empowering any military members that might see you wearing it!

From now until July 4th, Inspiration.Fit is offering a “Got Your Six” bundle including a tank top, headband, and tote bag (a $76 value) for $49, all available at www.inspiration.fit! The goal of this campaign is to spread support and love as far as possible. By purchasing the bundle, you can do your part to show love to military veterans in your community.

Got Your Six clothing helps homeless veterans

Got Your Six clothing donates to help homeless vets! Get your patriotic bundle here. Click To Tweet

Reinalyn and Angela supported Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom so they know what it’s like to serve their country. It can be a thankless job, but these amazing women know that it’s an important one. Reinalyn and Angela want to give back to the military community that helped shape them into the strong successful women they are today. We support these incredible veterans and are excited about the work they are doing. Let’s help these women to make a difference!

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7 tips for a work from home summer

When you have kids, a work from home summer is a huge challenge. Work from home parents often get their work done while the kids are in school. When summer hits, they face an interesting challenge: how to continue working without spending all their income on childcare?

I have four kids, so even part-time camps or regular childcare are not possible. Older kids may be able to entertain themselves by playing with friends or using TV and video games. However, since my kids are ages 3, 5, 7, and 9, I still try to limit screen time to about one hour per day, and typically that is when I am making dinner. So what do they do while I am working? I have found some ways to balance my work time with their summer fun. I should caveat this by explaining that I have a part-time flexible job. I am a writer, so I have deadlines every day, but can turn in the work on my schedule, and don’t have to make many phone calls or conferences. This may not work for every work from home job, but it’s a good place to start. Here’s how we are surviving this work from home summer.

7 tips for surviving a work from home summer with kids

How to manage a work from home summer with kids

Get up early. During the school year, I get up with the kids at 6:30, then start working after they are at school. In summer, I decided to keep my alarm set early. I established a rule that even if they wake up earlier, they play quietly in their rooms until 8 AM. This doesn’t quite work for the three year old, but it does allow some kids to sleep later, and gives me at least an hour of uninterrupted work time. This is when I do content creation (writing).

Tips for a work from home summer with kids: get up early, schedule social media, use the YMCA. Click To Tweet

Schedule your social media. Before summer, I could do most of my social media manually. I didn’t want to pay for programs when my blog was starting up, so I did it myself until it no longer made sense to do it that way. Social media management became a huge time-suck, so it was a big thing I needed to change when the kids were with me all day. I now use the following programs, which are working well so far:

  • Post Planner for Twitter and Facebook. This allows you to automatically recycle your own content to these platforms. It costs about $10 per month, and is definitely worth it. You can plan out photos, posts, memes, and questions for your audience, set it up for a month, then walk away and do nothing. You can opt for things to be shared only once, or to be recycled at the end of the queue. I still manually share posts from other websites on my blog Facebook page using Facebook’s scheduler, but I only need a few each week to fill in around my other scheduled content.
  • Lists and Content Re-Sharer for Twitter. The problem with Twitter is all the time wasted looking for relevant content. I created a Twitter list of fellow milspouse bloggers, so I can scroll through that and easily find relevant articles to share. The Content Resharer plug-in on my site automatically selects four posts a day to share on Twitter, so the account will never be inactive. These services are both free.
  • Board Booster for Pinterest. I used to spend at least an hour a week trying to schedule pins for different group boards. For $5 per month, Board Booster will not only recycle your pins on huge boards on your page, but will also automatically share your material to group boards without breaking daily limits. It is easy to set up, and I have seen an increase in traffic.
  • Tailwind for Pinterest and Instagram. Tailwind makes it easy to share and schedule your own pins, or anyone else’s you find online. Their new Instagram extension is really handy. You can plan an Instagram post with the photo, caption, and hashtags. Since Instagram only allows you to post from your phone, Tailwind will send you a text at the right time. You click three buttons to share your post. I like to use this for my afternoon posts when I am out at the park with the kids. Tailwind plans start at $10 per month.

So yes, I now pay $25 per month for social media management. But it is saving me hours of time with my family, and I am fine with that.

This is how you can schedule ALL your social media! #blogger Click To Tweet

Use affordable child care at the gym. One of the best places to get childcare is at the gym! Some private gyms include it with membership. Gyms on a military base may have a childcare option or family room, but it is inconsistent. The YMCA allows two hours of free childcare per day. I love this, since I can work from anywhere. I can get an hour of writing and an hour to work out while the kids play. Sometimes, we go to the YMCA pool afterwards to make a whole day of it.

Plan structured activities for the kids. I try to plan something specific in the morning, so that we can enjoy some time together. We start with about an hour of ‘school time,’ where they do their summer activity workbooks, draw a picture, and do some writing. Then, it’s time to get out of the house. Sometimes we meet friends at a park or the beach. We may go to the YMCA. Or they do swim lessons. We either pack lunch or eat at home, before transitioning to quiet time.

Do quiet time in the afternoon. We are almost done with naps here, which kills me. But we still do at least an hour of quiet time in the bedrooms each afternoon. The younger two kids generally fall asleep or read/play. The older two kids either read, draw, listen to music, or play a board game. Since my kids are surrounded by the siblings all day, this is a good opportunity for them to have their own space, be creative, and entertain themselves. That’s when I get another hour to either write or respond to emails/follow up with leads. (Today I chose to write this post!)

Don’t do work the kids can do. During the school year, I used to spend at least an hour a day cleaning, doing dishes, laundry, or general household chores. I liked having things picked up and presentable by the time they came home from school. But once summer hit, we changed the chores around. Now each afternoon after quiet time, they rush around unloading the dishwasher, starting laundry, setting the table, and sweeping the floor. It saves me time while I finish up a project, and teaches them a lot more responsibility. Win-win.

Outline your work the night before. In the evenings, I only get work done when my husband is gone. Since he is military, that is far too often. But when he’s home, we will hang out and talk or watch a movie together, so I don’t do much writing then. What I can do is look at my article topics for the next day and start to outline them. I see how much research they will require, and either write down main ideas or look up relevant websites. That way, I am ready to go full steam ahead and finish them the next morning. Dividing your work into smaller sections prevents writer’s block, and is a good management strategy for any work load.

What are your strategies for surviving a work from home summer?

 

When Dad is deployed on Father’s Day

How do you celebrate a deployed Father’s Day?

How to celebrate a deployed Father's Day

This Sunday is Father’s Day. Around the country, as many families treat Dad to a backyard BBQ or a grilled steak dinner, thousands of Dads will spend the day deployed overseas. The military doesn’t arrange their schedule around holidays, so it is common for people to have a deployed Father’s Day. (Sure, I realize that women and moms deploy too! I wrote about them on Mother’s Day. So today is about the dads.)

When your husband is deployed for any holiday, there is a lonely ache that won’t go away, no matter how you spend the day or who you spend it with. It’s especially hard on holidays that are supposed to be all about them–like their birthday, your anniversary, or Father’s Day.

Since my husband became a father nine years ago, he has missed a few Father’s Days. Including last year. And he will miss it again next year. It’s just part of military life. Here are some of the ways we celebrate, even when we are apart.

When Dad is deployed on Father's Day... #milspouse Click To Tweet

When your husband is deployed on Father’s Day

Send a care package. Try to mail something ahead of time to honor the occasion. Even if it is just his favorite snacks, some drawings from the kids, and a store-bought card, it lets him know he is remembered and honored. You have to plan a few weeks ahead of time to allow for overseas delivery times! There are more care package tips here.

You don’t have to celebrate on the calendar day. After one deployment, where my husband seemed to miss every major holiday, we spent a week catching up on celebrations. We covered Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day. Each holiday got its own special meal and card. There’s no rule that you must celebrate dads in June. In fact, some Catholic countries celebrate Father’s Day on March 19 because it is the feast of St. Joseph (foster-father of Jesus.) So grab a card and a funny gift, even if you have to wait a few more months to share them.

Try to connect. I know technology isn’t always available, and you may not get a phone call for a few weeks. But know your communication options. If there’s a chance he might be able to call, email, text, Facetime, or Skype, try to make yourself available. I’m not saying you have to sit at your house and stare at the phone, but at keep it on you and make sure it is charged!

Take time to honor your OWN Father

Since we have been stationed far from family for most of my husband’s military career, visiting either one of our dads on Father’s Day has never been a realistic possibility. However, I was lucky last year to have my dad visiting me. My husband was deployed, so we made the day all about Grandpa. We took him to visit the U.S.S. Iowa, a retired battleship open to visitors in the port of Los Angeles. We enjoyed a beer and BBQ festival happening there, then made one of his favorite dinners at home. It was a wonderful day, and we made some great memories of my dad with my kids. I haven’t been able to visit him since then, so those memories have to last a while!

During one deployment, my husband missed Father's Day, but I celebrated with my own dad.

My dad and mom with my kids during a deployed Father’s Day

Whether or not you live near family, definitely make the effort to connect with your dad and father-in-law. Send a card or some handmade pictures from the kids. Order their favorite food or drink to be delivered to their house. Call them, send an email, or write a Facebook message. Let them Skype with the grandkids. Do whatever it takes to connect with your dad or father-in-law, no matter what your relationship is with them. You never know when you will get to see them again, or where the military might send you next year.

How will you celebrate Father’s Day this year?

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5 ways milspouses can encourage and motivate each other

I occasionally feature the voices of other military spouses on this blog. Today, it is my pleasure to bring you the words of Evie King, from InDependent. This is an online community, non-profit, and blog which encourages military spouses to be healthy in mind and body. Their website motto is: Military spouses who are everything to everyone, trying to find balance before burnout. Together we inspire each other to show up as the best version of ourselves, today. So today, Evie will share how military spouses can be the best version of themselves.

Military spouses can encourage and uplift each other... if they listen.

By Evie King

The military spouse community is built upon shared joys, struggles, and dreams. We have so much in common but we each bring something unique to the group, too. As a community we can cultivate an atmosphere that encourages and motivates each other to be the best version of ourselves. Here are five ways to do that.

  1. Welcome a spouse and connect them to resources.

When a military spouse moves to your area invite them to a get-together, a workout class, or a coffee shop! Ask them what they enjoy doing, if they’re looking for work, if they have any questions about the area, etc. Then, connect them with people or resources that will help them succeed. Let them know which Facebook groups or blogs to join, too, so they can ask questions and meet more people. InDependent, In Gear Career and The Milspo Project are three great resources for military spouses to connect with at their new duty station. If you are going to attend an event, invite that spouse along! Even if you have not been at your duty station for long, you most likely know more about it than they do. You might not end up being BFFs afterward but you will always be someone they can turn to. We can all do our part to make sure everyone feels welcome.

Always welcome a new military spouse and listen to their story! Click To Tweet
  1. Listen to their story.

I am the first person to admit that sometimes I need to talk something out before I can solve the problem. That also means that I am not always the best listener. I frequently want to give advice rather than wait for the person to have their own “aha!” moment. Yes, sometimes a fellow military spouse is coming to you for advice, but most of the time they just need someone to listen to them. At almost every leadership or team building course the 80/20 rule is brought up. Listen 80 percent of the time and speak for 20. Usually that entails asking probing questions or giving words of encouragement instead of advice. Allowing someone to come to an “aha!” moment builds confidence because they realize the answer was within them from the start. After they reach the moment of enlightenment, dip into your resource pool and direct them to a resource that can help them accomplish their “aha!”

  1. Share your story.

We read or listen to stories for many reasons, but when we hear a story we develop empathy with the storyteller and experience the story for ourselves. For our upcoming Military Spouse Wellness Summit, InDependent recently crowdsourced members to seek common causes of burnout. One spouse shared that she felt burned out by the pressure of “appearing to have it all together.” She explained that having an accepting and nurturing environment that allowed for honest sharing of our struggles would be helpful, not just for the individual but for the group. There is power in a story. Stories of every day struggles and how you overcome them are relatable and have the potential to empower. Stories inspire us to grow, to ask for help, or to accomplish a goal.

  1. We are stronger together.

I recently attended a MilitaryOneClick MilSpouseFest 2017 in DC. One of the exercises in the event involved coming together to assist a spouse advocate on their family’s behalf. We gained strength by sharing our knowledge and created a plan of action. In the digital age, coming together is even easier than before. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all tools you can use to get a group together to make your voice louder or to get you in front of the right person or organization. Do you have an idea you want to become reality or have a solution to a problem you want to share? The online community is a great place to mobilize a support group.

I saved the hardest for last.

  1. Accept when someone says ‘no.’

I hear over and over that military spouses feel overwhelmed by the commitments of military life. In leadership meetings, I have witnessed spouses say they are burnt out by over-commitment.  However, those same spouses hold it against others who do not volunteer for personal reasons or previous obligations. This creates an environment where many are afraid to say ‘no’ to a volunteer requests. When we truly give military spouses in our community the freedom to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, we allow them to bring their best selves forward and assist in a way that brings mutual satisfaction. A ‘Yes’ that is given freely is much more powerful than a ‘Yes’ said out of obligation or fear.

What would you add to this list?

 

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Is it time to change the chore chart?

Congratulations kids, you finished another year of school! I will expect more from you now. It’s time to change the chore chart.

Yes, I know it’s summer vacation, but in our house that doesn’t mean lazy, boring days. Instead, it means a chance to reset our routines, do different things, and cross off activities from our bucket lists.

It also means we upgrade the chore chart. I have written before about our chore chart here. In the past, each kid had to do three basic chores each day before they could ask for TV or computer time. The tasks were simple–things like unload the dishwasher, clean up your room, recycle something, or read a book.

But they are older now. My big kids are going into 4th grade, 2nd grade, and 1st grade next year. It’s time to step up the chore game a little bit.

Are you ready to upgrade your kids' chore chart? Try this approach! Click To Tweet

I almost threw away our chore chart

I had a love/hate relationship with our chore chart. Of course it was useful to teach my children some responsibility. But they would also fight about who did which chores. Since they each had to do three a day, they all wanted the quick and easy ones. They could blow through their chores in ten minutes most days. That didn’t feel right to me, especially after I started working as a freelance writer this year. I need more help around the house, and they need to learn how to do things like laundry and cleaning.

I wanted to spend the summer re-training them to do more chores and cleaning around the house. But instead of doing it a little bit at a time and dealing with a lot of whining and arguments along the way, I decided to do it all at once. It was a little sudden and painful, like ripping off a Band-Aid, but just one week into summer I am seeing a huge difference.

When your kids are old enough for bigger chores

Parenting means constantly changing your routines to adapt to your child’s abilities. Just when you get used to nap time, bam! They stop taking naps. Once you have taught them how to put on a shirt by themselves, then they learn how to zip a jacket. Chores are the same way. You teach a three-year-old to clear their own things from the table. Then when they are five, they can learn how to wipe off the table or dry it. By the time they are seven, they can sweep the floor underneath of it.

My challenge was that with kids of different ages, it is hard to make them all ‘fair.’ The oldest, who just turned nine, is capable of cleaning many things around the house. But if I expect her to do that without giving her younger brothers a similar cleaning task, she will quickly feel punished and discouraged. So I have been waiting for this year, when my older three kids are finally at the same level and ability and can handle bigger chores. Here is what is on their chart now:

  • Start a load of laundry, or switch clothes from the washer to the dryer
  • Unload the dishwasher and put the dishes away
  • Clear the table
  • Wipe and dry the table
  • Sweep the floor
  • Take out the trash and recycling
  • Set the table
  • Clean your room or put toys away
  • Put clothes away
  • Make your bed
  • Dust or vacuum one room
  • Practice piano
  • Do homework

These are the tasks that need to happen every day in our house. For years, I have been doing almost all of them myself. Now, it is the kids’ responsibility to make sure all these jobs are completed before they ask for TV or computer time.

How do you keep kids from fighting over chores?

Here’s the beauty of this plan and why I like the new way we are using our chore chart. Instead of fighting over who does which chores, they are now working together as a team. They realize that no one will get to enjoy TV time until the entire list is done. So they are all motivated to do whatever they can, to the best of their ability. Some days, the oldest does most of the work. But she volunteers to do it because she knows it will go faster that way. Other days, she is occupied and the younger brothers step up to get the job done. Instead of arguing over whose job is easier, they are volunteering to help each other. It’s beautiful and amazing to watch.

I’m so glad I took the step to move our chores to the next level. It has made a huge difference in my house. Not only are the kids helping me out by pulling their own weight around the house, but I see them becoming proud of their efforts and more confident, too. After all, they just finished a whole grade at school. Their teachers will expect more from them next year, and I will too.

Are you ready to increase the kids’ chores at your house? What will you change?