Tag Archives: advice

I Had A Post About Working Mom Guilt

I’ve written about working mother guilt countless times.  And I like reading and commenting on posts and articles on that issue, too.  I feel it’s important for women to stop beating themselves over choosing or having to work, as their contributions to the family are just as invaluable as staying home in my not-so-humble opinion.  Finally if you have to work or want to work,  guilt is just a waste of time and people who try to make you feel bad about it are a waste of time.

So in my typical fashion, I felt the urge to dole out advice.  Since my concrete tips for not being bitter at work seems most useful to people, I thought it would be helpful to offer real suggestions for reducing motherhood guilt as well.

After re-reading my own post, I trashed it.  I realized it seemed a bit sanctimonious, as if my way for guilt-free motherhood was the best way.  I also realized that my concrete tips may not work for different personalities, nor should I dictate the best way to spend “quality time” with your kids (and kids all have different preferences and personalities anyway!).

So for now I am giving my best tip, which is not concrete nor necessarily easy to follow, it’s all really mental. If you create a mental image of perfect motherhood or set up some unattainable ideal, or compare yourself to a mom who seems to be doing it “right”, then you’ll feel guilt.  If you truly believe you’re doing your best and your kid is fed, sheltered, loved and happy, then you’ll stop wasting precious time on feeling unnecessary guilt.

Has A Comment Ever Changed Your Final Decision?

When you blog regularly, it’s common to ask readers for advice for everything from financial to purchases to travel decisions.  Is crowdsourcing the term? I’m too lazy to look it up.

The reason I’m asking is that I am tempted to ask for advice  from time to time.  I hesitate only because I wonder if I or anyone ever follows advice from their readers.  Oftentimes it seems like the person receives a lot of good advice but makes the opposite decision, or actually has their mind made up anyway.  I believe there’s science behind this, too, called “confirmation bias” (scholars, correct me if I’m wrong!). From my understanding, this means in general people simply pay more attention to views that confirm their own beliefs.  Example: If you think all Asians are good at math, you will notice if an Asian person wins a Nobel prize for mathematics.  If you have an Asian friend who is bad at math, you’ll assume that’s an exception to the rule.  I’m sure there are many more and better examples of this in the political arena, of which I stay far away from!

I still remember a debt-blogger who asked readers if she and her husband should join her family on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to Europe.  They did not have ailing relatives. Everyone else in her family was financially stable but did not have enough to subsidize her tickets/travel expenses.  They would probably have to spend on higher-end hotels than if they had gone on their own. I would say that the answers were sort of split.  Many people said “go for it” which in my mind is very easy to do when it’s not your money! A lot of people also advised her not to do it until you’re out of debt.  I felt that those who were against it made better arguments.  After all she had racked up debt due to lifestyle choices, not education loans or medical debt.  To me, they had spent to enjoy their early 20s and should pay for it before going into debt for another fun adventure.   This is tough for me to say because I love traveling and I also believe travel is worth the money; however, paying off a trip for years didn’t make sense even to me.  Of course you could say that she followed the advice since most people said to “go”; however it was pretty clear that she had made up her mind before even asking the question.

As for me, my question would have been about whether moving to another rental house that is out of our real budget range but closer to my work is worth the trade-off (the classic time vs. money).  I haven’t written about the move yet because I’m tired and a bit embarrassed by my/our bad financial decision-making skills.    If I had asked, I’m sure I would have gotten good advice and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have listened either.   Maybe someone would have suggested a compromise that would save time and also reduce the hit on our budget.   However,  we made the decision based on “wants”.  We wanted to save time, but also wanted a larger house with a yard.  We didn’t want to share walls.   In other words, I didn’t think that the best arguments in the world probably would have swayed me.  Of course two years down the line I might regret this move!  Once I’m recovered from moving, I may write more about it.

Have you ever asked readers for advice and actually read a comment or comments that truly affected your final decision? I’m especially interested if you changed your mind on BIG decisions, like a job choice, moving, finance etc…

Random Bits Of Good Advice

By the time you’re 40ish, or been around long enough, you’ve been on the receiving end of tons of advice — some good, some not so good or at least not applicable to your life.  I thought that I would compile some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.  Maybe you’ll gain something from these “words of wisdom” too.

  • Never get into credit card debt” – My Mom, delivered in such a severe and foreboding tone that I didn’t even ask her why and I never racked up any debt)
  • “If your kids fall or bump into something and you know they’re not hurt, just distract them.  ” – Male co-worker.  This tactic also works if they’re fighting over toys or cry for no reason.  You can distract them with funny faces, loud noises or other shiny toys.
  • “You can only change your reaction to people.”  – A friend, after hearing me complain one too many times about the same people.
  • Money buys freedom.” – I can’t remember who said this but I think it was a rock musician.
  • Don’t lean back ahead of time – Wandering Scientist, who has written a million good posts about balancing work and motherhood.  Lots of practical tips as well as thoughful posts.  I’ve written about this too and the most important thing is to not feel guilty.
  • “Forget balance. Choose Flexibility” – The Happiest Mom blog. This is good advice for anyone with interests outside of work.
  • “If someone tries to abduct you, fight back and don’t let them take you away to an isolated place.” – High school teacher, to the whole class.  This stuck with me because it had no context in terms of the school subject.  This teacher was also male and he was so sincere and heartfelt that it made me take more notice for some reason.  I now wonder if he experienced any personal tragedy.
  • If you only have a few minutes to clean before guests arrive, clean the bathroom (clean toilet, wipe sink, quick sweep of the floors).  Drop an Alka Seltzer in the toilet bowl.” – Probably a Martha Stewart or Real Simple magazine tip, i.e. clean what people will notice most.
  • “To find a good, affordable restaurant in a foreign country, take a peek inside and see if most of the customers are local.  If yes, it’s a good bet the food is authentic and reasonably priced.”Rick Steves, of the PBS travel series.  That’s not an exact quote but I followed this advice in Europe and it really made a difference in my travel experiences.
  • “Focus on your strengths.” I forget where I read this but as someone who tend to focus on improving my weaknesses, this was a bit of a revelation.  While I do continually try to improve myself, I do my best work when I take on projects that play to my strengths.
  • “Rock your baby up and down with energy, like this.” – A Nurse, who showed us that many babies prefer a vigorous up-and-down rocking motion rather than the gentle back-and-forth motion.  It sounds strange and sometimes it felt like our babies were hanging on for dear life, but it worked!

Advice is a funny thing. After I wrote down the above list, I realized that most of the advice I take to heart come from strangers or acquaintances (blogs, books, famous people), not people I’m close to in real life.  I don’t know if that’s common or if I’m more dismissive of advice I hear from family and friends, or if most advice given are nothing more than well-meaning clichés.

Another thing about advice is that timing comes into play.  Sometimes two people can give you the exact same advice, phrased differently, and you just don’t pay attention until you’re ready to hear it.

What are some unforgettable, and good, advice you’ve received or read somewhere?

November 23: Follow Your Own Advice?

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

It’s obvious that I like to give advice, hence this series of simple living tips.  However, do I ever follow my own advice? Rarely.  I do try to limit technology on weekends… I don’t read blogs at all, don’t browse websites, rarely shop online and only check emails a few times, and I don’t login first thing in the morning…but other than that I often forget my own advice for simple living

That’s why I’ve been pleasantly surprised that one of my advice to limit choice is helping me keep my resolution/goal.  The only reason I even thought of doing this was because I wrote out the post about choice right before writing down my goals which included eating more fish.  So I decided that when I go out to eat, I should order fish by default unless it’s fried or seems too unhealthy.  That’s easy to do at Japanese restaurants but it’s not my habit to order fish when tastier meat dishes are on the menu. 

This is still a new habit and I tend to forget on weekends.  However, now if I go out for lunch during the work week, I immediately scan the menu for fish items, ignoring other choices.  This has made it much easier to order and I’m actually eating fish more often.  Simpler and healthier!

Advice From Writers And Celebs

If you blog long enough, you probably start a section for rants. It’s evitable. You get more comfortable with your voice and you realize that you have an outlet, finally, to vent to the world no matter how small your readership is…  This isn’t my first real rant. I think I railed enough about our healthcare system and glossy magazines, but this could qualify as my first “pure” rant. 

On msn.com, I came across a section titled “Spring Cleaning Tips from Celebs” including the likes of Martha Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow of Goop.com fame.  While I wouldn’t be surprised if Martha actually did clean just for the thrill of it, I think celebs advice can be summed up with: Ask the Maid(s) to do a deeper cleaner of my 10-bedroom mansion.  Please don’t pretend you’re like the rest of us in this category.

On the same note, I recently read 1 or 2 articles in Real Simple magazine about work-life balance.  I believe one wrote books while the other freelanced for magazines and newspapers.  Both had children but worked from home most days.  While they did have some good tips, I could not take their advice seriously.    If you work from home, you are not in a position to give work-life advice.  You have a lot more flexiblity than many people out in the work world.   Maybe I’m being a bit harsh but I want real-world advice from worker bees who don’t have that much flexibility or control over their schedules.  I guess that’s what blogs are for?