June 06, 2017

Good news employees: Summer Fridays are coming!

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My son completely unpacked his school backpack today and tossed out his notebooks and all the loose papers. That's a sure sign the school year is over and summer is here! But for employees who work hard all year round, summer usually isn't much of a break.  This summer though, things may be different. 

Here's the great news: More companies are planning to offer Summer Fridays!!!!

You're probably wondering exactly what Summer Friday is and whether your company is going to offer the perk. According to CEB, now Gartner , 43% of organizations will offer their employees Summer Fridays this year – a more than 20% increase in the number of organizations that extended similar benefits in 2015. Brian Kropp, HR Practice Leader at CEB, says Summer Fridays are defined as closing the office early (around lunchtime) every Friday or some Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Kropp thinks the reason its new survey shows more companies are offering this perk in 2017 is because work-life balance is one of the top factors employees consider when choosing to take or leave a job. "A significant percentage of employees take the time off anyway ( on Fridays). By telling them it’s okay, employees feel their employer cares and wants to give them flexibility to balance their work and life better. In lot of ways it’s a win win. It sends a positive message and for the employer, it doesn’t’ cost much."

For the remaining 56 percent of employers that aren't planning to offer Summer Fridays, Kropp encourages employees to request it. "Managers are on average are more flexible over the summer than other points of year."

We know that Americans are letting vacation days go unused and that stress levels are higher than ever. So, if more of us have access to Summer Fridays, maybe we will at least take a weekend getaway. While a long weekend is not as relaxing as a full week vacation, a short getaway can be a stress reliever, too, and help rebalance work and life.

Here is something else to consider if you're a manager. You may want to have a career conversation with your employee soon. 

Kropp, who has a wealth of knowledge regarding workforce trends, said his organization has learned that when people go on summer vacation, they use that time to contemplate how their career is progressing.They may even compare it to a friend with whom they are traveling.  Having a career progression conversation with an employee before he goes on vacation could encourage him or her to stay -- rather than leave -- your organization. "As a manager, you want to participate at moments when decision making is occurring," Kropp said. "Summer is when it often is occurring." 

If you are a reluctant manager, consider this: Flexibility is more doable these days with video capability. As Kropp points out, video check-ins can give managers the comfort they need to allow more remote or work at home arrangements over the summer. Flexibility means you can require people to come into the office and collaborate, but let them work remotely on occasion. It means you can ask employees to work late during the year as needed, but give them Summer Fridays as desired, or even let them work one day from home.

Employers should be aware of how they can help their workers with work life balance this summer and what the payoff could be. 

 "We believe companies that create flex employee desire will have employees that will stay and be higher performing," Kropp said. That's a worthy goal for most businesses.Here's to Summer Fridays!

 

June 05, 2017

A Working Parent's End-of-School-Year Survival Guide

We're in the final stretch of the school year and by now, many working parents are exhausted. We've been to recitals, class parties, banquets, awards nights and we're squeezing it all in with our work schedules. In our heads, we hear the Gloria Gaynor song "I will survive" and we want to scream it LOUD.  We want to celebrate the end of homework, the end of stressful school day routines and the end of school stress, at least for a few months, but we're just SO tired. If you're almost at the finish line, here is my guide for making it all the way through the end of the school year with your sanity.

1.Don't beat yourself up. If you made it to your kid's end of year class party, great. If not, he or she will forgive you because of all the other ways you show love.

2.  Have your child bring a small notebook to school. He can use it collect phone numbers. Over the summer, if you kid is bored, he is ready reach out.

 3. Express appreciation. If there is a key person at the school who makes your life easier, send in a gift card. It will make all the difference for you in the future.

 4. Find out about summer reading. Most kids wait until a few days before school starts to do their summer reading assignments. Nudge your child to find out about the assignments before school ends. That way, you can at least plan ahead and avoid panic.

5. Throw stuff out.  Have your kid clean out his or her backpack and organize your child's best tests, papers and projects into one folder. Make those tough decisions. You really don't need to save EVERYTHING. Do it now before you decide to keep it all to avoid having to go through it.

6. Talk to other parents. If you're stuck for hours at a banquet or awards night, use your time wisely. Talk to other parents about what their children are doing this summer and look for opportunities to carpool, share child care or land your teen a summer job. No harm in using the parents' network!

7. Refuse to panic. If you haven't made your child's summer plans, stay calm. There are plenty of camps that have openings, babysitters that need jobs, stores that are hiring teens and schools that are offering summer programs. If possible, have your child help with the research.

It's going to be a great summer. We all just need a little prep to make it even better!

 

June 01, 2017

High School Graduation Hits Parents Hard

It's been two years since I attended a high school graduation. Yet, as I listen to my friends talk about their emotional experiences and I see the graduation photos on Facebook, it's as if it was yesterday I was sitting in the bleachers watching my son get his diploma. Now, my son is half way through college and my work life balance continues to shift because I have become a graduate student. Life is an emotional journey and high school graduation is tough on parents because of all it represents.

With graduation season upon us, I wanted to revisit a timely piece that I am sure others parents can relate to this time of year.

 

Originally posted on 6/4/2015

 

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The day you become a parent your life changes. Everyone warns you this will happen and it's true. This experience is emotional in a way that feels odd and exciting at the same time.

Eighteen years later, a parent feel as emotional on high school graduation day as we do the day our first child came into our life -- maybe even more emotional. Regardless of how much we know it is coming, graduation day catches us off guard. Tonight, my oldest son, Jake, will walk across the stage and get his high school diploma and while he prepares for the pomp and circumstance with excitement, I face it with a strange, difficult to explain feeling.

I wonder if other parents feel as I do. I think part of it is bewilderment, the feeling that 18 years went by and I can't account for every day of those years. Part of it is fear, the feeling that I am getting older and entering a new phase in my life as my son is entering one in his and I don't know how it will play out. Part of it is excitement, the feeling that there is so much opportunity ahead for him, which I have learned from benefit of hindsight. Of course, part of it is pride, the feeling that I have shaped another human being and guided him to this day of accomplishment.

From having an older daughter, I know this life event is pivotal. Regardless of whether your son or daughter goes to college, high school graduation marks a change in the parent/child relationship. From this day on, you treat your teen differently,  You give him or her a little more independence and engage in conversations on a different level.

As a parent, there are so many adjustments as your children mature into adults and leaves home. It's not easy but you come to accept that you may not know where or how they are much of the time. They are out there living their own lives, and as a parent you can only hope for the best.

As I head into the auditorium tonight, I will look around the room and see the faces of little boys who played dodgeball in my backyard, now young men who shave, and drive, and like my son are leaving home to go make their way in the world.

Somehow, I feel as if watching them graduate will be happening in slow motion. I  honestly can't see the road ahead for any of us. But as strange as that is, it is also freeing. The responsibility for making sure my son's homework is done, he gets to his activities on time and he gets to bed at a decent hour is behind me. Tonight my son graduates, and in many ways, so do I. There's an interesting path ahead for both of us, and tonight we are one step closer to taking it.

 

May 24, 2017

Will Billy Bush teach us how to recover from a career setback?

 

This morning, I watched Good Morning America as former Today Show co-host Billy Bush spoke with Robin Roberts about his vulgar exchange with Donald Trump from years ago that was caught on video and released during the Presidential election. While Trump went on to become President, the viral video of the incident cost Bush his job.

Bush is the latest public personality to be embarrassed by previous behavior and an illustration how easily one incident can harm a career. While most of us strive to live our work and home lives ethically, we can appreciate Bush’s attempt to bounce back from a huge career setback.

Clearly, in my career I have made mistakes. I have found the more that lands on my plate, the easier it becomes to make mistakes – big and small. 

So, what happens when your mistake is big, maybe even a career setback like Bush experienced in this visual and digital age...How do you recover? The steps are clearer than you might think. Here’s what we can all learn from Billy Bush.

  • Admit your mistake and apologize. In my workplace, and I’m sure in yours, you have had people who make mistakes and try to cover them up. Almost always that makes the situation worse. Bush will continue to have critics but coming out on camera and explaining his actions and stating there is no excuse for his actions was a start.
  • Lean on experts. Billy Bush admitted to Robin Roberts that he has spent the last seven months doing a lot of soul searching. He now meditates, practices mindfulness and yoga. "He knows it's a process which led him to be ready and able to do the interview, Robin Roberts told the audience after the interview.  DUring the seven months, Bush went to Tony Robbins workshops to better himself. He said Tony pointed at him and said: "One bad moment does not define who you are."
  • Redefine yourself. How will the mistake make you better at your job going forward? Bush said at the time of the video, he was "insecure and a pleaser." He says he is ready to get back to work because there is purpose, clarity and acceptance of his mistake. "I feel like a better man." Bush says he has redefined himself and wants to do purposeful reporting going forward.
  • Share your lessons. Everybody has made a mistake, but what have you learned from yours? Sharing what you have learned is a path toward moving forward. Bush said his advice for young men entering his profession is "believe in yourself. Be confident. Stay true to who you are. I think I sacrificed my own dignity in that moment," he said of the Trump incident.

Whether or not you are a Billy Bush fan, or believe in the sincerity of his apology, recovering from a career setback isn't easy and watching how Bush fares offers lessons for all.

April 04, 2017

What Equal Pay Day Means for Our Daughters

Today is Equal Pay Day. It's the day to bring attention to the pay disparity between men and women.

The reality is that most workplaces won't acknowledge it. Regardless, it is the most important day of the year for women. Today is the day when real change happens because of small actions and big resolve. It's the day when we focus attention on making the workplace better for our daughters, our nieces, our granddaughters. 

By now, women have been in the workplace for decades, holding high level jobs, becoming bosses and running large agencies. In many workplaces, they are the human resources directors who do the hiring. Why then, do women still earn on average 20 percent less than men for the same jobs? (Click here to see how your state stacks up against the pay gap)

Yesterday, I heard actress Gina Rodriguez speak on television about her partnership with LUNA nutrition bars to drive awareness for the pay gap. Listening to Gina, what I liked most about what she said was her plan. Instead of just urging employers to do something about the pay gap or pushing for legislation -- two strategies that haven't been enough --Gina talked about how LUNA is sponsoring AAUW Work Smart salary negotiation workshops for women across the country.

LUNA and AAUW are working to close the pay gap one workshop at a time by empowering women to negotiate their salary and benefits packages. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) empowers women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

“We know that salary negotiation is not the only variable in the gender pay gap, but it is true that women tend not to negotiate, and that affects their earnings all the way through to retirement," AAUW Board Chair Patricia Fae Ho said. “We are so grateful to have LUNA’s support spreading our negotiation workshops, because we know how well they work. We hear from women every day that they used what they learned in AAUW Work Smart immediately – and that it worked!”

I look around me and I see many women working the same long hours as men, and putting their passion into their jobs. We all know it's not acceptable that they earn less for men, particularly as they struggle with trying to raise families and serve as role models, too. Working women first need to pay more attention to who gets hired and at what salary and speak up for change. More important, we need to put the power to eliminate the pay gap it in the hands of our daughters by showing them how to ask for what they deserve at the beginning of their careers. We can rally for brands like LUNA to bring attention to champion women's equality. We can have conversations with the young women in our lives about how and why to go after any job they want, research what the men in the job are paid, and have the confidence to negotiate salary and benefits. We can even take those young women with us to a workshop. Here's the link to free workshops across the U.S.

The AAUW website offers some other actions: Bring a workshop to a campus or community. Sign up to become an AAUW salary negotiation ambassador to help spread the word, or train to become an AAUW salary negotiation facilitator so that you can take the reins in empowering women.

Today is a day in which small actions count. Take them for the young women in your lives. You can help close the pay gap and this is the time to do it.

 

 

 

February 28, 2017

Tim Tebow Follows His Passion and You Can Too

 

 

Former Florida Gators Quarterback Tim Tebow has lots of fans. He also has lots of haters. 

But Tebow doesn't let the haters get in the way of following his passion. Tebow, who didn't really find the success he wanted in the NFL, has now turned to baseball.

Tebow's detractors say he will never make it as a professional athlete. But Tebow doesn't listen. He continues on.

This morning, Tim Tebow  did an interview on Good Morning America and said the start of his spring training debut at the New York Mets training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida, “feels great.” 

Here's what he told Good Morning America:

“Honestly it’s kind of a dream come true being out here with the Mets organization, a bunch of awesome guys, getting the chance to play a game I love,” Tebow, 29, said on “Good Morning America.” “It was just so fun putting on a uniform yesterday, going to warmups, in the stretch line, getting back into the routine, being part of the team and competing -- it was a blast. I’m having a lot of fun.”

Tebow's passion for following his dreams is admirable. Whether or not he makes it as a professional baseball player, he knows he gave his dream his all. Wow, what a role model for the rest of us who cower from "going for it" because we're afraid what people might say or because we are afraid to fail!

On Good Morning America, Tebow acknowledged that critics are still skeptical of his football-turned-baseball player path, but he said he’s “focusing on the love and not the doubt” that lies ahead.

“Obviously you have people on both sides,” said Tebow. “You’ll have people that are out here supporting that are great, and then you’ll also have people that want to bring you down. For me, this is something that I’m doing for the love of it. The love of the game, the love of pursuing passions, the love of being able to live a dream every single day."

So, what if you were able to live your dream every single day? What if you were able to turn something you love doing into a job that pays? Would you be able to get past the haters and doubters?

If you want more fulfillment from your job, or have a passion you want to follow, here are 5 steps to move you forward:

  1. Start the discovery process (research)
  2. Talk to people who have successfully taken risks
  3. Don't make money your primary consideration (any job can pay off with creativity)
  4. Network to learn who can help you
  5. Make a plan

 

Personally, I'm rooting for Tebow. While the haters hate, he's happier than most of them.

 

 

 

February 21, 2017

Don't let it end with Valentine's Day! How to fit romance into your work life balance

 

 

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As we look back at Valentine's Day through our rearview mirror,  I feel a little glum. The roses are now on sale. The chocolate filled hearts are half price. And the tips on how to add romance into my life are no longer flowing into my inbox.

Yet, I want romance all year long. That’s not an easy task when most American workers find their work and home lives are blending together and work life balance is harder than ever to achieve.  Even after putting in a full day of work, the typical chaos is underway at my home. I am scrambling to come up with an easy dinner, my husband’s cell phone is buzzing with work emergencies and our son needs to be shuttled to and from school for his team practices every night.

That doesn’t exactly set the tone for romance.

I look to Kathryn Sansone for inspiration. Kathryn, a mother of 10, wrote a book called Woman First, Family Always: Real-life Wisdom from a Mother of Ten.

Years ago, I met Kathryn in person and she told me: ``Jim and I always carve out time for just the two of us. It's not always easy, but we don't waste time trying to figure out if we deserve it.''  Kathryn told me she and her husband make coffee breaks their ''alone time.'' At least once a week, after the younger kids go to bed, they slip out for coffee and give each other their undivided attention.

Late night coffee breaks? That actually sounds kinds of romantic.

If Kathryn can make alone time with ten kids in her home, I can too. And, so can you.

Recently, my husband and I went to a Friday night happy hour. We hadn’t been to happy hour in a long time. We drank fruity cocktails, and laughed about all the silly things that happened that week. Spending time together in a fun setting without interruptions felt so wonderful.

Lately, my husband and I have been taking walks together after dinner for about 10 to 15 minutes. We leave our phones at home. Those 10 minutes have become my favorite time of the day. 

Years ago, a love coach told me that everyone should make five to 10 minutes a day to give their spouse or significant other their undivided attention. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but most of us don’t do it.

Making time for intimacy requires turning off the TV or putting down your iPad, facing your partner and saying, "What would you like to talk about?" or “Tell me something good about your day.” Giving your partner your 100 percent attention will make him or her feel loved and important to you. That usually is how romance starts -- and how it lasts.

February 20, 2017

The New Ways Working Women Are Defining Success

What is success? 

If you asked a room of 100 people, it's likely each would have a different answer. And, they should.

For most of us, success is living our life with purpose, knowing what are dreams are, and figuring out how to break through the inevitable inner and outer resistance we will hit along our path to achieve them, says Mina Shah, who considers her success speaking on stage and motivating others.

Over the weekend, Mina, and a dozen other speakers at the 2017 Office Depot Foundation Women's Symposium, motivated more than 1,000 women to define success in new ways. 

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There is nothing more energizing than being in a large ballroom, filled with energetic women who want to build awesome businesses, reach bigger heights at the companies they work for, or find new career paths that excite them. When I walked into the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on Friday for the Office Depot Foundation Women Symposium that' what greeted me.

One of the most important messages Mina offered was not to be hindered by our fears or by naysayers, and stop short of our personal definition of success. "Most people work hard enough to feel the pain, but not enough to get the benefit of the reward," she said. 

A new definition of success...someone who breaks through doubt.

"No matter how accomplished you are or how much personal work you have done, you'll experience occasional doubt...and that doubt could mean the difference between success and failure," said Karen Pfeffer, co-founder of Fire Power Seminars. Pfeffer said success is pushing past doubt, busting through barriers and moving forward with determination, focused on what you want. She entered the male-dominated field of banking and became the first woman president of the Florida Bank Marketing Association. She now has a successful company that puts on empowerment seminars and does breakthrough coaching. 

However, if you think success is only about making money in the for profit business world, think again. Almost any business idea you come up with can be turned into a non profit, and there is a lot of start up capital available for non profits such as grants and foundation money and charitable giving of real estate. Speaker Sherry Watson, CEO of The Power of Purpose, a nonprofit consulting firm, gave an inspirational look into how women are earning good incomes while building nonprofits that better the world. "It's about taking our entrepreneur ways and bringing that forward, bringing solutions." Watson said with a nonprofit you can start a company, and change the world. The steps to building a non profit are on Waston's website: The Power of Purpose. She also suggested www.NonprofitWebclass.com.

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How else are women redefining success?

There are making the right connections, not in the old way, but in a new way.

Kavita Sahai of BIGplans, said early in her career, she saw the power of networking in action when she befriended an administrative assistant, who later persuaded management to give her a job at a private equity firm. "You are one conversation away from achieving your dreams," she said. "Have more conversations."

To achieve the success most of us want, when we have those conversations, we need to be able to fill in the blank: "I'm your go-to girl for ______ " Once we know what we need and what we can offer, success is in our grasp, Kavita said.

                                                   Kavita

Now, if there's a woman who has defined success in an intriguing way, it's Vernice Armour, America's first African American female combat pilot, who calls herself "FlyGirl"

Armour went from beat comp in her city, to a combat pilot who served two tours overseas in Iraq. She now is a motivational speaker, pulling in a six-figure salary through her keynotes, group coaching, seminars and executive retreats. Her big message: Who needs a runway? Take off from where you are."

Often, women wait waiting for the right moment, the right circumstances to make their move. Instead, "just move into action from wherever you are," she advises. "In order to be successful, you gotta get gutsy." When Armour realized she had a voice and something to say, she took a workshop on public speaking, and moved into action. Clearly, she is good at what she does. She had the whole room of women cheering, laughing and interacting. 

 

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One of the most impressive women who has defined success her way, despite obstacles, is Mary Wong, president of the Office Depot Foundation. Mary suffers from health issues, but pushes forward to accomplish amazing things for the foundation, which gives children tools to succeed in school, among other contributions. Wong sent a clear message at this year's Women's Symposium that today's working women are defining success in new ways and she encourages women everywhere to be A Difference Maker (#diffmkrwomen).

 

 

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Honored to be in the company of Mary Wong (and her dog) at the 2017 Office Depot Women's Symposium

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 25, 2017

Inspiring Scenes from the Women's March

Like thousands of other women, men and children, I attended a Women's March on Saturday. The one I attended was in Miami. I went because I believe in democracy and because I write about work and family. I went because I believe in paid leave and sick days so all parents can keep their jobs and have families.

I have watched as many women's organization have worked tirelessly to advance the causes that will make the lives better of working mothers and their families. I want to see that continue. I want us to march forward as a nation toward improving the lives of the people who are working hard to support their families.

According to Time Magazine, millions of people participated in the women's marches that took place across the country and around the world on Saturday. Exactly how many millions is difficult to pin down since large crowds are notoriously tough to count, but a pair of researchers place the figure at at least 3.3 million just in the U.S., based on hundreds of news reports and Facebook data.

Regardless of how many people attended women's marches, by far, what inspired me most was young girls who marched and the signs they carried. I am completely convinced our nation is in good hands in the future after seeing the passion and purpose that young people expressed through their presence, their signs and their positive energy. 

Here are a very reasons I am inspired by the next generation: (These photos are from the Miami Women's March and Rally)

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These photos are from the D.C. March via Working Mother Magazine. Click here for more of Working Mother's photos.

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So, are you inspired too? Do you agree that the future of women and families is in good hands?

 

January 13, 2017

Why working mothers need to pay attention to what's going on in D.C.

                                                Mom

 

As a mother, I'm concerned. As a women, I'm concerned. As someone who writes about work and family issues, I'm concerned.

There's a lot at stake in the next four years. I need to pay attention. So do you.

In recent years, we have seen progress in benefits offered to working mothers: More companies began offering paid maternity (and paternity) leave or extended the time off. More cities and states passed paid leave and paid sick days laws.  More women and families gained access to healthcare. The issue of equal pay became front of mind. Lastly, minimum wage increased in 21 states, a crucial boost for families living paycheck to paycheck.

Yes, we've seen progress. But don't get too excited yet. Changes are afoot that threaten some of the advances that make a difference in the lives of working mothers. We need to ensure all working mothers receive crucial workplace protections and medical benefits.

Here's what we need to watch and weigh in on:

1. Repeal of Obamacare and its replacement. Republicans in Congress want to take away healthcare from tens of millions of people without offering a comprehensive, transparent or vetted replacement plan.

Debra Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families, made this statement: Senate Republicans demonstrated blatant disregard for women’s health and economic security by voting against amendments designed to prevent insurance companies from charging women higher premiums than men and denying coverage to women simply because of their gender; ensure access to affordable birth control; and preserve Medicaid expansion and the Medicare program as we know it.  As the budget moves on to the U.S. House of Representatives, on behalf of the millions who stand to lose health care, we demand that House leadership stop playing politics with our health care, especially women’s health, including reproductive health, and instead make it a priority." 

It's tempting to think our voices don't matter on this issue that affects millions of people. Working mothers can't afford to ignore access to medical coverage that saves lives and prevents bankruptcies. 

2. Paid sick leave.  People are more likely to go to work sick or send a sick child to school if they don’t have access to paid sick days. Ivanka Trump appears to be a proponent of some type of legislation around this issue.  The Healthy Families Act, floating around Capitol Hill,  is an important piece of legislation that could make a difference for many families by putting a national paid sick days standard in place; The National Partnership for Women & Families wants us to show our support with a message: "Pass a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It's the right thing to do." Here's the link to get your voice heard. 

3. Equal pay. There won’t be a female commander-in-chief this year, but women made big gains in other areas of government and business. Eleven of the top nation’s courts will have a majority of justices who are women in 2017. As Working Mother notes: Women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, but several executive actions signed by President Barack Obama will help increase transparency in pay—a crucial step toward eliminating the wage gap. Now, all of Obama's executive actions are at risk. We need to keep a close eye on this important step in the right direction for working women and working moms, and fight in our own workplaces for more transparency, too. Here's the link to encourage members of Congress to support fair pay.

4. Workplace Fairness. You should not get fired or lose a promotion because you’re pregnant. And you should never have to experience sexual harassment at work. It’s not right, but discrimination is common in the 21st century workplace. There are efforts going on to quash the nomination of Trump appointees who have a disregard for equality. I urge you to support those efforts.

5. Women's March on Washington. On January 21, millions of women plan to march on Washington to protect our rights, our safety, our families, and our democracy, and to say NO to hate. You can keep up with developments @womensmarch or #womensmarch. Also, MomsRising does a great job of keeping the public up on key issues of importance to moms.

 

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What else we need to watch:

  • Millennials today earn 20 percent less than their boomer parents at the same age. With student loan debt and high childcare costs, young families are moving in with parents. Great article in USA today about this trend. 

 

This is an important year to keep up with the news and let your voice be heard! We can all play a part in keeping the momentum going in a positive direction!