6 ways getting a mentor will boost your career

getting a mentor will boos your career - read on to learn how

You can take the next step in your career by getting a professional mentor. Read on to learn how!

I became a better employee and more employable once I got a mentor.

When I was in college, I had a phone interview with a company for an HR Intern position. I received a call a couple of days later stating that I didn’t get the job, but something interesting happened. Katie, my would-be boss, told me she thought I had strong potential (but not the right experience) and offered to mentor me instead.

Looking back now, I realize that was like a gold bar falling into my lap. I accepted the offer and we met for coffee the next week. That was the beginning of a seven year mentoring relationship.

We parted ways in the last year due to our hectic personal lives (we both became moms!) and our careers moving in separate directions.

But, I can say that I would not be where I am today without having a mentor.

Here are 6 ways getting a mentor has changed my life (and I know it will change yours, too!)

1. Your network instantly grows

I honestly hate networking. Network might as well be a four letter word in my book. Meeting strangers in a forced interaction format? No thanks.

But…that’s not the only way to grow your network. Having a mentor is basically an instant extension of your network. Your mentor’s network is just an ask away, so utilize it.

Years ago, I mentioned to my mentor that I was ready for a career change. Before I could even ask her for ideas, she had the contact info of her fellow recruiter friend on a piece of paper for me. Three weeks later, I was starting my new job.

Yes, it was that easy. And as you see, all she had to do was write a name and phone number on a piece of paper for me. It’s not like I had asked her to do anything out of her way.

My mentor got me in the door with someone in her network and then it was my job to make everything else happen. Without her network, I wouldn’t have even known about that open position and who knows where I’d be in my career today.

2. You can tell your mentor things you can’t tell your manager

At one point in my professional career, I had a manager that I thought would drive me out of my role. She was pushy and threw all of my coworkers under the bus whenever she got the chance. It was a very hostile environment.

Because of this, my meetings with my mentor that year were entirely focused on how to “deal” with my manager at the time. She provided me with so much guidance that it really made my situation manageable. By the time my manager moved to a different company, I felt like I had finally won my manager over.

In another role, I had a situation where there were ethical concerns with my manager. I talked to my mentor and she encouraged me to report them. Because of that, my manager was moved to a different role in the company and one of my much deserving coworkers got promoted.

I obviously couldn’t talk to my manager about my ethical concerns with her behavior, so it was awesome to have a mentor to share this with. Plus, my manager was moved to another role that was more clear on ethical standards and less hours for her. It was a win-win.

3. You get an outsider’s perspective

Sometimes you are too close to the situation to know what is truly going on. Having issues with a coworker? Unsure how to consult with someone from a different department? Your mentor can provide unbiased feedback on these situations because she doesn’t know them personally.

Maybe you are working on a project that you’re struggling with what to do next. Since your mentor is at a different company, she can maybe offer guidance to how she handled a similar project at her company. (Sidenote: I strongly recommend you seek a mentor outside of your company and even outside of your job function if you can).

I had trouble making a personal decision that would have affected my work life, as well. I felt the tug of being a wife, and wanting to put my family first, but I also wanted to make my career a priority. My mentor recommended Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg to help me with this decision. It was something I toyed with for months over many sleepless nights and lots of prayer, and I was able to figure out a solution with a single recommendation from an outsider.

4. You have someone who has your best interests in mind

When I left my previous company to come to my new company, it was completely my mentor’s suggestion. Although I didn’t hate my old job, I wasn’t challenged and wasn’t happy. She suggested looking at other companies for positions because my issues with my job also stemmed from the company I worked at.

Since my mentor didn’t have to worry about losing me on her time like a manager would be, she was able to offer me an honest viewpoint. She wanted the best for me regardless of where I worked. (If you have a manager like this, that’s awesome!)

Aside from the job search, your mentor also focuses on improving you. She might challenge you to do that one thing you have avoided for months. Your mentor might encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and ask for that raise.

Whatever it might be, your mentor is focusing on mentoring you, not managing you. Trust me, there’s a difference.

Even the best managers cannot mentor you to your fullest potential. Your manager likely manages other people who are just as important as you. Your manager probably has his or her own job to make the company succeed as well. By juggling all other priorities, you cannot get the attention you need from your manager.

Mentors, on the other hand, specifically work on improving you, in whatever capacity that may mean. Plus, you likely both work, so your time together is likely outside of work where you can really focus on one another.

5. There is always something you can learn

No matter where you are in your career, there is always going to be someone more successful than you are. There is always going to be someone who knows more than you about something.

You will always have an opportunity to learn something from someone. I leave every mentor meeting with something new to add to my toolbox.

Whatever it is we talk about, I always soak it up. She is taking time out of her day to share her knowledge and experiences with me so the least I can do is take it and use it.

If she recommends a book, I read it. If she mentions an article, I find it. If you take a mentoring relationship seriously, you should constantly learn from it.

6. You’ll be able to move through your career quicker

I once mentioned that I have a mentor when I was answering a job interview question (I’ve slept since then so I don’t remember what the question was) and the interviewer was impressed. She said it showed her that I have the drive to move forward in my career and that’s what she was looking for.

I actually received a job offer from that interview. Was it entirely because I mentioned I have a mentor? I’d hope not. Did it help me get a job offer? You betcha.

Aside from “looking good”, having a mentor has allowed me to work on things I struggle with to move up in my career.

I’ve always struggled with confidence. My mentor knows this and constantly offered things I could do (sometimes out of my comfort zone) to help me gain confidence. I’d venture a guess that becoming more confident has helped me move up into my current role.

If you don’t have a mentor in your life, find someone you admire professionally and ask him or her to become your mentor. Trust me, it will push your career to a whole new level!

What experience have you had with a mentor? Share your experiences below!

 

Kaila
Kaila is a working mom, blogger, and self-help enthusiast. In her free time, you will find her crafting or playing board games with friends. She loves spending time with her hubby, Matt, and baby boy, Cooper.

8 Weird Things that Happen When You Work From Home

When I graduated college, my life changed drastically. I continued working at the same company where I had been interning, except now in a full-time capacity. I got married just 17 days after graduation (boy was that stressful – that’s a story for another time). Then, everything took an even more unexpected change when my husband entered grad school, causing me to work from home.

Although it as a long, prayerful decision, we packed our bags and moved 300 miles for his classes. Luckily, I work at a flexible company that allows employees to work from home as needed. I went from commuting half an hour to the office 5 days a week, to walking just a few steps to the next room everyday for work.

It didn’t take long before I noticed some definite changes in both myself and my perspective. Here are 8 of the unexpected things that happened to me when I worked from home.

1) You Become Weird

I already had many odd qualities (as I’m sure you do, too), but working from home truly shed a new light on them. I began the habit of narrating my life aloud to break up the silence of being alone all day. When my husband came home for the day, the narrations didn’t stop. To this day, a few years later, I still narrate much of my life, even now that I’m working in the office again. I’m sure my coworkers really enjoy it (sigh).

I also realized I truly lived my life as if nobody was watching. I’d jam out to my music while in front of my computer, belting the lyrics and dancing along. I’d do squats in the kitchen while the microwave heated up my lunch, or I’d do burpees in the living room when I was in need of a break.

My husband (who had actual contact with humans and ventured outside the home) informed me many times that I was getting weirder and weirder. Without me even noticing, it had happened.

You’ll learn those odd quirks become exponentially more apparent the longer you work from home, too.

2) You Live in Pajama Pants

At first, you dress up. You make the promise to yourself that you need to take working from home seriously, so you decide that your attire will remain the same. It doesn’t take long before you realize you’ll only ever be seen from the waist up (if at all), so you no longer bother with dress pants, or even jeans.

You eventually move toward pajama pants and a decently-nice top. It might become so second-nature to you that you find yourself forgetting your strange attire and venturing out in public with your confusing outfit.

3) You Crave Social Interaction

Seemingly minor encounters at the grocery store or the McDonald’s drive thru become opportunities for you to carry on full-blown conversations. You find yourself talking to anyone for longer than the poor stranger would ever want.

Your phone conversations get a bit longer, sometimes filled with complete nonsense or questions you already know the answer to, in an attempt to keep the other person talking to you. You become this inquisitive person in a way you never thought possible.

4) You Learn to Prioritize Interactions

Most people in an office setting think that when someone reaches out to them, they must respond immediately. This is especially true with walk-up questions and other in-person interactions. The dings of your instant messages, the emails loading in your peripheral, and the calendar invites appearing on your screen – all fighting for your attention. It feels like such a balancing act trying to manage it all.

When you work from home, however, you learn what constitutes an immediate response, and what can actually wait. Because you don’t have the in-person immediate interactions, you’re not distracted by those. You assess the dings and other issues based on who they are from and any context around them. My coworkers knew which exact methods to use if they absolutely needed a response from me, so I became good at filtering out the other noise. Oftentimes, I found myself so in the zone that I didn’t notice any of those distractions for hours.

You might find you begin to do this with your friends and family, as well. What was once an I-must-give-my-answer-right-away to your mom’s text message about casseroles becomes when-I-get-around-to-it.

5) You Google Everything and Sidetrack Often

You’re in the middle of a meeting when someone mentions a news story you hadn’t heard yet. You hadn’t heard it in part because of your limited world you’re in, but also because you don’t hear any of the workplace gossip. Instead of being captive in the meeting like the others, you do a quick search to find out more so that you can be in-the-know.
Because piquing your interest takes only a few seconds, you welcome the minor distraction. In fact, you find that you often side-step in order to find a quick answer to even the most trivial of questions.

6) You Learn More About Your Neighbors Than You Ever Wanted to Know

You know exactly what time your next door neighbor comes home each day for lunch, and that the woman across the street checks her mail four times each day. You know that Mr. James a few houses down always talks on the phone in his car in the driveway, and that dog you hate will always bark when kids ride by on their bikes.

As much as you don’t want to be nosy, it just happens. Sometimes, to entertain yourself, you imagine what Mr. James talks about on his phone. Or you wonder why the woman across the street hasn’t yet figured out the mail arrives at 11:20 each morning.

7) You Learn Patience

Working from home often comes with challenges, like not having the direct one-on-one interaction you’re used to in life. Because of that, you can’t always get a quick answer to a seemingly quick question. What’s more, some things take significantly longer to explain digitally than they would face-to-face. Because of this, you become creative in tracking down people when urgent matters arise.

For example, you tried to contact your manager but it appeared he was offline. You put on your sleuthing hat and try to figure out why. You check his calendar to see if he has anything going on. Then, you ask others who might know where he is. You chat, email, and possibly even text, hoping for a response. However, you know you’re at the mercy of the response.

Nothing made me realize how few truly urgent things I encountered at work than being helpless to responses. It was frustrating in some ways, but it eventually became liberating.

8) You Become More Productive Than You Would Have Thought

Without all the distractions of the office, you find you are more productive than ever before. Not only do you complete more than you did in the office, but your files are all organized, and you can actually see your desktop.

While some people believe those who work from home are less productive because of all the distractions at home, you’ll find nothing kills productivity more than an office setting. Likewise, if you ever visit an office after working from home, don’t plan to get anything done. I remember visiting the office for the first time after working from home to realize that I couldn’t get even a quarter of the work done in a day I once did.

 

Do you work from home? What have you learned while working from home?

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
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10 Resume Tips to Land A Job in 2017

10 awesome tips to beef up your resume and land the jobWhether you are looking for a new role or you’re content with the one you have, keeping an updated resume is critical in identifying what you do and how you do it well. This also goes for LinkedIn. Keep this puppy updated as best as you are able. LinkedIn is one of the top websites Recruiters use to source candidates for a role – even if that person isn’t looking to leave their job.

To stay competitive in the job market today, here are 10 tips to land that job this year. Once you make sure your resume is ready to go, learn how to land that dream job.

1. Keep your Resume Simple, Very Simple

Recruiters review thousands of resumes a year. Although we have all heard that recruiters use keyword searches to qualify resumes, that is simply not true. I’ve worked in recruiting for two very different companies (a large financial services company and a tech start-up) and neither performed this practice. I’m not saying it’s not out there, but it’s probably not as prevalent as people make it seem.

Since many recruiters are reading EVERY resume, the simpler your resume is, the better.

Get to the point. Don’t overexplain or use fancy words to try to impress someone. Just tell what you did in the role.

Limit your resume to your 3 most-recent jobs (if you have had more). Including fewer roles in more detail is better than a ton of roles at high-level.

Make your resume fit on ONE PAGE. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you have 20 years of experience, there is a way to craft a careful resume to highlight your experience but keep in on a page.

2. Since Every Job is Different, So Should your Resume Be

This point is specifically for those applying to several different roles. You are going to need different skills and abilities for a Financial Analyst and a Tax Accountant, so make sure you highlight that on your resume. Maybe you need to highlight the duties of your Jr. Financial Analyst role right out of college for the Financial Analyst role, but for the Tax Accountant role you might want to highlight your experience from your Accounting internship in college.

Likewise, if you are applying for graphic designer roles at two very different companies, your resume should still be different. Each company will list the skills they require, along with experiences they are looking for. Most likely you’ll need to change a bullet point or two (I’ll get into that later) for even similar roles to give your resume the best chance of getting reviewed.

Another note on differences in roles is that some roles have specific unspoken “rules”. To further explain, in sales, you have to quantify past performance. You need to indicate to what degree you met quotas and goals. Or, using the graphic designer example above, hiring managers for a graphic designer role are going to put emphasis on the design and overall quality of your resume. If you don’t have high quality ink and high quality paper, you’re probably going to be perceived as not knowing your field. (As a side note, whether you are in graphic design or not, I recommend that you print your resume on thicker paper than plain computer paper. As recruiters sift through resumes, they’ll physically stop on yours. We recommend Southworth Exceptional Resume Paper as an inexpensive solid option for resumes.) Whatever that unspoken “rule” is in your field, be sure you follow it.

I personally have a very lengthy resume saved in the cloud that contains every minute detail of every job I’ve had. It’s much lengthier than anything I would ever submit, but that’s the point. When it comes time to apply for a new role, I refer to this resume to pull ideas from and make sure I didn’t miss anything. I highly recommend this practice for everyone.

3. Adequately Toot your own Horn

Did you really lead that project start-to-finish? If so, make sure a recruiter can tell that from reading your resume. On the other end, if you were a contributor on a project that didn’t lead it from start-to-finish, don’t say you did. Adequately toot your own horn for everything you did.

The worst possible thing you can do on your resume is lie. If you say you have extensive experience with PHP, HTML5, CSS, and Python, but you can barely write a line of code, you are lying. What you can say, though, is that you used HTML5 to code a personal website in college if that’s the truth.

Let’s say you get hired for an Admin Assistant role and your manager asks you to make sure the company website is redone, she is going to have a very different perspective on what you can contribute to this project from the two examples.

4. Decide Whether a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities Section is Needed

For certain roles, a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities section is very important. Super technical roles (like Software Engineers) that require a lot of specific knowledge might warrant this section no matter what.

However, most roles don’t need this. If you have skills that you’d like to share and have the room to share them, by all means do. But this section is typically less important than your experiences, so make sure you include this only if you have room. Likely, you can acknowledge that you are an expert in Adobe Photoshop in your Experience section in a more specific way than just “Strong in Adobe Photoshop.”

If you feel like you must include this section, some old school must-haves have now become pretty outdated. For MOST roles, don’t include the following (or any similar variation):

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Experience in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Strong computer skills

Many times, these are given if you are in the workforce today, so including these might make you seem out-of-touch.

5. Keep your Education at the Bottom

In my experience and research in recruiting, I’ve learned that including your education on your resume is pivotal, but not the #1 thing a majority of the time. With that said, many suggest (and I agree) that putting your education at the bottom of your resume is best. Many jobs may prefer a degree, but they ultimately rule you out based on work experience.

Some roles absolutely require a degree in a certain field and you can get eliminated from contention if you don’t have the education. Even in these situations, keep your education at the bottom of your resume. If you recall from earlier, this just means at the bottom of the single page. Recruiters can find that right away, check the box that you are qualified based on resume, then get to the meat of your resume (which is everything else).

6. Brief Intros/Objectives can be Great

I’m about 50/50 on whether you HAVE TO include an objective statement or intro on your resume. For certain roles, it’s basically vital in order for a recruiter to read the rest of your resume. Maybe you are completely underqualified on one major skill and your saving grace is that you are currently going for a higher degree than the role requires, speak to that.

Or maybe you’ve been a stay at home mom for 6 years and are ready to get back into the working world. Talk about what you’ll do to get up-to-speed in the objective statement (you’re a quick learner and you volunteered with your kids to help keep these skills alive, etc.)

Some roles don’t require an objective statement because you are qualified for the role, it’s the next step in your career, you don’t care to write one, etc. This is up to you.

If you do write one, keep it under two sentences (one sentence is best).

7. Bullet Points are your Best Friend

Use bullet points wherever you can. Instead of writing everything in paragraph format, include bullet points in your text.

Describe each task in your previous roles with a new bullet point.

Start bullet points for your current role with a verb in present tense “Create, Lead, Initiate, Execute…” An exception would be if you highlight a project you completed in the past “Led 2014 volunteer campaign” for example.

Start bullet points for your previous role(s) with a verb in past tense “Created, Led, Initiated, Executed…”

Organize bullet points with the most applicable to the job you are applying for to least critical (but still important). If you aren’t applying for a job, list the most critical point at top to the least critical point at the bottom of that job’s description.

8. Add Something Special to your Resume

Maybe you speak Mandarin Chinese or you are on your way to running a marathon in all 50 states. Whatever the case may be, feel free to list something special on your resume that makes you unique. Since your resume is your first impression, you want it to stand out.

You may ask where to locate this on your resume. Well – it’s up to you. If you have a Skills section (see above), then it might make sense to go there. Maybe you can include it in your experience section if you are lacking job experience (depending on what it is.)

9. Cover Letters are a Thing of the Past (For Most Companies)

Cover letters are not required by most companies now. Occasionally I find a company’s application that requires this, but more and more companies are going away from this. So review the application as best as you can before editing your cover letter. You don’t want to spend all of that time editing your cover letter to find there isn’t even a spot to upload one.

Instead, you might see that you can connect your LinkedIn, Github, or other social networking account. If you don’t have your LinkedIn or Github built out fully, don’t connect them. However, if you do, feel free to connect them. As much as a Recruiter can learn about you, the better.

10. Triple-Check Grammar, Style, and Sentence Structure

There are some Recruiters that will throw out a qualified resume due to major spelling or grammar errors. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to get the job of your dreams because of a typo. So make sure you triple-check EVERYTHING on your resume (and application, for that matter) before submitting.

One tool we absolutely love is Grammarly, Instant Spelling And Grammar Checker. It is this great add-on that checks your spelling and grammar on nearly every web platform, email client, or website you’re on. It clearly shows you when you’ve misspelled something or written incorrectly, so you can forget about those embarrassing typos before they even happen. You can sign up for a free account and be on your way to better grammar in minutes.

If it makes sense, also ask your mentor or someone you trust to review your resume before submitting. Ask him or her to even check that fonts and style are consistent. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you list on your resume that you are “detail-oriented” and have 6 unintentional font sizes, that will send the wrong message.

Kaila
Kaila is a working mom, blogger, and self-help enthusiast. In her free time, you will find her crafting or playing board games with friends. She loves spending time with her hubby, Matt, and baby boy, Cooper.

Land Your Dream Job with These 10 Tips

I’m truly blessed that I landed my dream job right out of college. I already knew I would get a full-time offer before starting my senior year of college, lifting so much weight off my shoulders that last year. I work for an amazing company that puts family first and values all employees.

You might be thinking, All the cards must have been in her favor. Not everyone gets that lucky. I’m not going to lie – I’m sure there was a little luck in there. But more than that, it was my planning during (and before) college, my dedication, and faith that got me where I am. 

Here are 10 tips to help you land the job of your dreams right out of college (or at any point).

1. Stay Open-Minded to Options

I was actually contacted through LinkedIn for an internship at my current company while interning at a magazine company. I had no intentions of leaving the previous company, but since someone decided to reach out to me personally, I thought I’d at least interview.

Reading up on the company beforehand, I had no clue what I was getting into. They developed financial reporting software, something I knew nothing about. I was sure the job would be boring and unfulfilling, but something kept telling me to give the interview a chance.

Had I judged the company by its website (that I later helped redesign), I would have missed out on the chance of a lifetime. Give every opportunity a chance. An interview never hurts. If something pulls you toward an opportunity, at least give it a shot.

2. Be Okay with Less than Perfect

Let’s say you’re in search of a job and found that perfect company. It has the perfect company culture, the benefits are great, and it’s at a convenient location to your home. The only catch – the position open isn’t what you want to do, but you are qualified to do it.

Apply. 100%. No questions asked.

If you do get the job and there is ever an opening in the area you want, you’ll most likely be on the shortlist by already working there. Many companies hire within first, then look externally if there isn’t a qualified internal candidate. So if you can tolerate a position that puts you in the correct company, it’s worth it. Plus, who knows, you might really enjoy the job.

3. Turn to Prayer and Guidance

I remember speaking with my mentor dozens of times while on the job hunt. He had so many great pieces of wisdom I would have missed without his guidance. He looked over my resume, gave me names of contacts within desired companies, and helped me determine what I look for in a role. He was the driving force in me giving up my internship at the magazine company for the one at the software company.

Also, never forget the guidance you can get from the Lord in this time. Prayer was the driving force in my job search, especially when it came time to make decisions. Even though looking for a job can be stressful, He will provide. Just give it some time, be steadfast, and you’ll learn whatever is in His will for you.

4. Beef up your Resume

I was blessed to go to an amazing university with a stellar business program, so I was heavily prepared in this realm, but you might not be so lucky. A few tips on resumes:

  • Always be sure it’s up to date
  • Tailor the wording and focus to each individual position you apply for
  • SPELL CHECK that sucker so you don’t get tossed in the trash right away (side note: we highly recommend Grammarly, an Instant Spelling And Grammar Checker to help you out with this. It’s an extension you install and it automatically notifies you of any misspellings.)
  • Keep it plain, simple (one page tops), and professional (unless you are in a design-centered field)

Read our blog about 10 resume tips for more details on beefing up your resume to land that job.

5. Nail the Interview

Research the company and its products/services before the interview. Bring in extra copies of your resume, your portfolio, and your business cards, even if you think you won’t use them. Let your personality show and feel free to joke around if there is a time for small talk.

Always ask a question or two at the end of the interview, showing your interest to learn more. Make these thoughtful and insightful, though, or asking questions will do nothing for your chances.

Lastly, always send a handwritten thank you note to your interviewers within the first 48 hours after the interview. Trust me, this isn’t archaic; it makes you stand out among all the other candidates’ thank you emails.

6. Be the Employee Employers Want

If your dream job is at your current workplace, be sure you are the employee they want to hire for the position. Even as an intern, I made sure I was one of the first people to arrive at the office each day, and the last to leave. Trust me, others notice your dedication.

Consider every task asked of you, and think hard before turning anything down. Even if it’s challenging, think about the benefits the task can have on you, but do be sure to let others know if it turns out to be too much to handle.

Do your best to stay away from office gossip. When gossip surfaces, put in some headphones to avoid the talk or take it a step further and politely ask to cease the discussion. If you’d like more tips, check out our blog about tips to earn a promotion without asking.

7. Make the Grade

This should go without saying, but getting good grades in college is important. I think a large part of the reason I received an interview for every job I’ve ever applied for is because my GPA stands out. A good GPA is the sign of a hard worker. Employers want that. They don’t want someone barely scraping by and partying every night.

Even before college, make sure you get good grades so you can get into a great college, and do well in that college. It’s only 4 years of your life (for most) but makes a huge impact on the rest of your life. Be mature enough to see the partying and slacking isn’t worth it if you want to get a decent job after college.

8. Stay Involved

I don’t feel like I can say this enough, but organizational involvement will definitely put you above the rest. Far too many people think a good GPA is enough, but in a world of hyper-competitive applicants, it’s not. If there are 100 applicants for a position, there’s a good chance half of them have a similar GPA to you.

How are you going to make the employer call you for an interview instead of one of the others? Show through involvement how dedicated you can be to a cause. I don’t mean fraternities and sororities here (sorry). I mean organizations based on a cause, an interest, or a passion. And not just because it looks good on paper, but because you truly want to be a valuable member of the organization.

9. Humility Goes a Long Way

Sure, there’s something to be said about a confident candidate. Exuding expertise and charisma is great because it shows you know your stuff. What isn’t great is being an arrogant interviewee. Interviewers can usually see right through the bluff, and they know arrogant people are often difficult to work with. Did you really single-handedly plan an event for 5,000 people? Or do you actually have a mastery of an email automation platform after working in it only 6 months? There is nothing wrong with explaining you have the skills to succeed and shedding yourself in a good light.

Showing you can be a team player that is teachable looks better than a know-it-all.

10. Be Realistic

If you’re finding you aren’t getting interviews for the positions you are applying for, take a step back and think about why. Are you applying for positions you’re not qualified for? Are you not selling yourself enough in your resume? Are you turning down perfectly good jobs because you are too picky? Are you just having a rough spot?

Maybe try a lower-level position and see if you get some bites there. Or, try changing the tone in your resume to see if that helps. If all else fails, don’t give up. Keep applying. The supply of graduates far outweighs the demand right now, so it might take some time before you get that job, but please don’t give up. Your patience will pay off.

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
Eryn on Instagram

5 Things New College Grads Learn the Hard Way

You graduate from college high on life and ready to take on the workforce. You believe you leave with everything you need for your career, and you’re ready to share all your knowledge with your new coworkers. However, you soon learn your textbooks didn’t have all the wisdom necessary to succeed.

This culture shock takes you aback. You go from being one of the most educated and experienced people on campus to one of the least.

You aren’t alone. Below are five lessons all post-grads learn during their first year in the workforce.

1. Sometimes, the Best Answer is “I Don’t Know”

In college, you think you always need the right answers. “I don’t know” was never a good enough response for a professor, so you did whatever it took to provide what the professor was looking for. Yet, when you get into the workforce, you learn at times “I don’t know” is the best response. It took me a while to learn that if I don’t have the answer and I am unable to find one, I am better off admitting the truth. Not having all the answers shows you are human and it shows you are better than making one up. This shows a stronger sense of character than if you were to try to make up an answer.

How to do even better: If you do say you don’t know an answer, turn right around and offer to find the solution yourself. Showing this drive and willingness proves to your team you want to see the issue to resolution.

2. Don’t Oversell Your Skills More Than you can Prove or Learn

Over the past few years, I have met a few people who were overconfident in their skills. It seems this is most common with recent grads, especially upon landing a new job. Interestingly enough, their peers buy into this confidence, which allows this person to succeed quicker. This article explains why this happens.

But, one hurdle employees who oversell themselves must cross is that of skills they cannot seem to backup when put to the test. If you have basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, don’t tell your manager you are a master coder. Your coworkers will find out, and your lack of honesty will harm your reputation.

It is okay to exude confidence (something I am working to show daily), but be sure to reel it in. Don’t be the person who lets others down when you don’t perform as promised.

How to do even better: You are always better off underselling and over-performing. Every. Single. Time. It is better to surprise your manager with better performance than to let your team down. Take every effort to learn from others and gain skills while on the job.

3. What you did in College Matters Little Outside of College

Talking all about your college glory days is going to do less of showing how great you are and do more of annoying your coworkers. That big shot on campus is nothing in the working world until he proves himself.

You may feel like college accomplishments are the only experiences you can bring to your career. I challenge you to take a step back and think about these awards and titles in more general terms. Bring something useful and actionable to the table as a result of that position or title you held that you’re so eager to brag about. Talk about a template you created or a program you used while in a leadership role that might help your coworkers today.

How to do even better: Take the time to learn about your coworkers and connect with them. You will be surprised how much you have in common with them, and how much you have to offer each other. This leads me to my next point…

4. This World is Full of Amazing, Talented People

The more you get to know your coworkers, the more you realize how many great people there are in this world. You get to know people on a more professional level than you did in college. These people have accomplished so much from such varying backgrounds. It’s unlikely you’ve ever experienced anything like this up until your first full time job.

You find these people want to bond with one another and help each other in a way entirely different than in college. A camaraderie forms between coworkers, since you are all working toward a common goal. There is often a lot less competition and a lot more genuine bonding. Be sure to soak all this in.

How to do even better: Make it a point to ask about the things your coworkers like. If someone in your cubicle talked on Friday about a marathon he would run that weekend, take a few minutes to ask him about the run on Monday. It shows you care and you are interested in forming a strong working relationship with your coworker.

One thing we do at my workplace is celebrate others’ birthdays. We print off funny sayings and decorate the birthday person’s desk. Even if your workplace doesn’t allow something to that caliber, passing around a birthday card that everyone signs shows you care enough to remember this person’s special day. If you want to stock up for all the birthdays in the office, we recommend getting this colorful set of 24 birthday cards or this 48 pack of birthday cards so you have some ready whenever a birthday happens.

5. Recent Grads Have Some Negative Stereotypes – Don’t Fulfill Them

There are thousands of articles discussing Millennials and their many negative stereotypes. We’re known for being lazy, entitled, and narcissistic, just to name a few. As you can imagine, this doesn’t fare well in the workforce and doesn’t shed a good light on the future. Every generation had to fight against negative stereotypes, so this isn’t anything new. Those who prove the greatness in a generation in spite of stereotypes are going to make it to the top.

Be the person who volunteers when your boss asks. Be the person who strives to earn everything she receives, and remain humble in the process. Be the person to shatter negative stereotypes.

How to do even better: If you are going to be a stereotypical millennial, be the person who wants to change the world and cares about making a difference. Employers seek this drive and creativity from Millennials.

 

While it seems you are starting out behind as you join the workforce, know many people are rooting for you. If you got the job, that means someone saw something great in you. Strive to live up to this and be the best employee you can be.

 

What do you have to add to this list? Is there anything you learned in your first year out of college that came as a shock?

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
Eryn on Instagram

Why I Choose my Husband over my Baby

I’m just going to come right out and say it – I will always choose my husband over my baby. If push comes to shove, my husband will come first every time. I know this view will not be popular and some may stop reading right here, but let me explain.

I met one of my husband’s childhood friends after church last month. Like us, he too recently had his first baby. One thing he said bothered both my husband and me and is still stuck with me.

He said, “The love I have for my fiance will never match my love for my son. I will always love my son more than I love her and she will always love him more than she loves me. That’s just how it always is.”

Although he meant this in an endearing way, hearing it made me really sad for him. What’s even more sad is he is not alone in this thinking. Many couples put their children before their spouses. Oftentimes this isn’t intentional – it’s probably something that happens out of habit and survival. But that is why it is even more important than ever to make an effort to put your husband before your child.

Here are 5 reasons why my love/relationship/attention toward my husband must come before my baby.

1. God calls us to put God first, spouse second, children third

Remember the last time you flew on an airplane? As you may recall, there was probably a pamphlet in the seat back in front of you with details on how to use the oxygen mask if there is a sudden change in air pressure. If you scan the procedures on properly using the mask, you might have seen a statement that said something to the effect of: “Put your oxygen mask on first, then assist others.” When I think of God’s design for families, I often think of this example.

God is with us every step of the way. He is kind of like the oxygen mask that drops from the upper compartment. Whenever we need Him, He is right there ready to assist if we are willing to accept the help. I then think of us putting on our masks as us putting our spouses second. Just like if we were to put on the mask, our spouses are often our line of defense in times of need and we often provide that same comfort for our spouses. Thirdly, once our mask is secure, we can then help others – our children. We have utilized the mask (connected with God) and secured it tightly (connected with our spouse), so now we can focus on loving, caring, and connecting with our kids.

If we don’t ever take the oxygen mask, just like pushing away God from our lives, we will likely struggle with the rest of the pieces. But, if done in the correct order, we can strengthen our relationship with our Creator, with our spouse, and ultimately, with our kids.

2. Our marriage reflects Christ’s relationship with the church

When my husband and I were in pre-marital counseling, my eyes opened to a whole new perspective on marriage. My parents divorced when I was 9, so I few memories of their marriage. At the beginning of one session, our pastor started off by telling us to read Ephesians 5:22-33 with him. In this passage, Paul provides a side-by-side comparison of how wives should love their husbands like the church loves Christ, and how husbands should love their wives like Christ loves the church.

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Loving one another in this way is incredibly difficult, but the few times I’ve gotten it right are very rewarding. My husband and I strive to love one another in our marriage as God designed it, but we fail daily. As Christians, we ask God for His guidance in hopes that each day we get a step closer to loving one another like Paul depicts.

One way we stay close in our marriage is by reading a devotional together. As much as I’d like to say we read one every night, some weeks it might be once a week. One devotional book I’d recommend is called Moments with You by Dennis and Barbara Rainey (click to view it on Amazon). This book has been great for us because the devotionals are short so we can squeeze them in before bed!

If you aren’t currently doing a couple’s devotional, make time to do it together once in the first week, two nights the second week, etc. until you get in the habit. Starting off easy and increasing to every night a week will make the small wins easier at first. No couple is perfect and you’ll surely miss days as you go along. But trust me, I have grown so much closer to my husband by spending time in devotion with him.

3. Our baby benefits from parents with a strong marriage

We hope that our son learns to love his future spouse by mimicking the love he sees between my husband and me. The stronger our marriage, the better example we can set for our son. When my son sees me respecting my husband, he will hopefully grow to want someone to do the same thing one day. Likewise, when he sees my husband care for me and love me unconditionally, he will hopefully grow into that same man one day.

Research also shows that children raised in families with parents in a strong marriage become more successful adults than children of divorce*. As a child of divorce, I can say that dating in high school became tricky when I really didn’t have a firm grasp on what a healthy relationship looked like. It obviously turned out okay for me, as with many other children of divorce, but providing your children with the “head start” of a household with a healthy marriage is a great foundation for their future.

4. My love for my husband is just different

My husband and I are best friends. Truly. We never tire of spending time together, laughing together, and showing love for each other. We fell in love long before our son was in the picture, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love our son just as much. In fact, we do love him just as much. We just love him differently. We want to protect him, care for him, and mold him into a God-fearing person. Very similar to how God loves and cares for us.

My love toward my husband only grows deeper as I see how great of a dad he is. He was meant to be a dad and I feel lucky that I get to experience him in this way. By showing my husband that I love him as a father doesn’t make me love my son any less. In fact, I love my son more when I see so much of my husband in him. They are just different kinds of love, both equally rewarding and equally important.

5. Loving my husband first makes me a better mom…and wife

When my son goes to bed for the evening, my husband and I try to be intentional about spending that quiet time together. We don’t get the time to spend alone when our son is awake, so it’s a perfect time to focus on us. We have to be intentional because when our son is awake, it’s all about him. As a baby, he requires our full attention most of the time and we love it. In fact, by caring for our son, we are showing love toward one another as well.

After the peek-a-boo giggles and bath time snuggles are done and I have put our son down for the night, I often feel a fullness that I cannot get from anyone or anything else. Although I often instantly miss my son, I also feel ready to focus solely on my husband. I am able to give my husband my full attention like he needs and he is able to reciprocate that.

Having that dedicated time with one another at night leaves fewer opportunities for us to fight for each other’s attention when our son is awake. (Let’s face it, our son is pretty cute, so he usually wins that attention-seeking game!)

Since I have started putting my “wife hat” on first, then my “mom hat” on second, I can honestly say I’ve become a better mom and a better wife. I also want to mention that I fail at this daily so I’m thankful for a forgiving husband and a baby that doesn’t know any better yet!

What about your relationship with your husband makes you a better mom? Share with us in the comments below!

*There are numerous articles on this topic, but one I found particularly interesting from The Heritage Foundation can be found here

How Putting My Husband First Makes Me a Better Mom | Successfullysimplesisters.com

Kaila
Kaila is a working mom, blogger, and self-help enthusiast. In her free time, you will find her crafting or playing board games with friends. She loves spending time with her hubby, Matt, and baby boy, Cooper.

How to Get a Promotion (Without Outwardly Asking)

How to get that promotion you deserve, without even having to ask your bossSo, you’ve been in your role for a while and you feel it’s time for you to move up in the company. You hit the point where your current role is becoming routine and you feel unfulfilled. You’re being a rockstar at your job, hitting all your numbers, and you want others to notice. You know it’s time for that promotion you rightfully deserve.

However, you don’t feel right asking for one. Either you are too shy (we’ve been there!), too scared, or don’t feel close enough to ask your manager for the promotion.

Don’t you wish your hard work and dedication could speak for itself and you could magically be awarded that promotion? Well, it might not be magical, but you can earn that promotion you deserve, and you won’t have to ask anyone for it.

Work Hard

This one is a no-brainer, but it matters. And it needs to be said. Millennials have this stigma as people who don’t work hard in the workplace, and oftentimes, it’s for good reason. Maybe hard work is a lost art, but it doesn’t take that much more energy to put everything you have into something rather than 50% of what you have into something.

Why would you show up to work everyday if you don’t want to put everything you have into it? For one, that makes for really long and boring days. Two, oftentimes your work reputation is the only reputation others may know of you. If you’re not seen positively at work, you may never be seen positively outside the workplace again.

So, take pride in your work. Don’t show up late. Don’t wear sloppy clothes. Tie up all the loose edges of your reports. Be the person who others notice (in a good way!)

Be Indispensable

This might not come as a shock to you, but it helps if you make yourself so needed and so ingrained in work that your coworkers can’t imagine working without you there. This isn’t to say that you need to be overbearing and get your nose into too many areas.

Essentially, find the areas that you can make yours. If not entirely yours, make it so you’re the best and most versed in a certain process that it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to turn somewhere else for answers.

Don’t Take on Too Much

This might sound counter-intuitive, but don’t say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. If your boss is asking for someone to take on a project, think hard about your workload first. Think about if this is something you can challenge yourself with or if it’s just going to cause headache. Don’t be afraid to shy away from a project that you couldn’t juggle with your current workload or a project that wouldn’t work for you.

There is nothing wrong with taking on new projects – please do! – but don’t ever overextend yourself to the extent that you can’t get everything done. Find something challenging enough, but make sure you can perform it with the quality you would perform the rest of your workload.

Don’t be the person who is going to take on “one more thing” because you have the time now, unless you know it’s sustainable for you. If you constantly find yourself working more hours than those around you, it’s not a problem if it’s not affecting your personal life or health. However, don’t burn yourself out. Eventually you will begin to resent your work if you’re taking on too much, and the passion and motivation needed to excel will be gone.

Find Flaws in Current Systems – or Create an Entirely New One

I’m sure whatever field you’re in is using either an outdated process or a flawed one. Maybe you realize something is taking significantly longer than it should. Or you realize that you’re doing the same thing as someone else and your efforts can be consolidated. Think about how you can improve that process. Even if it’s something small and seemingly insignificant. A good manager will take your improvements as initiative and maybe bring more processes your way.

You might work in a highly-regulated field where processes are tight and change isn’t allowed. Think about how to do something your own way. Think about the most effective way to organize your file folders. Optimize whatever process you do often and be proud of it. Whatever you can do to result in a time or money savings for your company, and you’re on the right track.

Pray

If you pray in nearly all aspects of your life, then why wouldn’t you bring God into your career, too? You’d be surprised at God’s timing.

My husband was in grad school and we were both living on my entry level salary. We lived (and still live) rather frugally, and we were paying all the bills and making ends meet. We knew, however, that we didn’t have much wiggle room for any emergencies. So of course, my car broke down. It wasn’t just one time, but several. Each time more expensive than the last. The amount we were paying each month in repairs just to keep it running was significantly more than a car payment would be, and over the course of just a few months, we had paid more in repairs than we paid for the car itself.

So I prayed. I needed something to happen so that we had a reliable vehicle, but we had used up the last of our savings. We didn’t have the money for one, and we definitely didn’t have the money to keep fixing the money pit. A few days before my I-have-to-ask-for-a-promotion-today-or-we’ll-be-living-on-the-streets day, my boss told me I was being promoted. It was 100% perfect timing. None of it would have been possible without God, and I’m so thankful I brought Him into my work life.

And that’s how it should always be. That situation was an excellent reminder to me that I oftentimes leave God at home. But if you’re going through a rough time at work or you’re looking for something positive to happen, seek guidance in Him. Pray. He’ll help you in ways you never imagine. His timing is always perfect.

Improve Your Knowledge

You can’t expect to get a promotion if you are still the exact same person who was hired in the first place. You have to keep on expanding your knowledge. Some easy ways to stay on top of your field include:

  • Find blogs and thought leaders in your industry, and subscribe to them. Take a few minutes each day to scan through the daily posts to make sure you’re staying atop industry trends. If you have more time, dive deep into the posts that interest you. Turn a few of those topics into areas you’d like to master, and run with them.
  • Sign up for free education courses. Webinars can be the best form of education for you in whatever skills you’d like to acquire. They cover a multitude of topics. Or, you can search places like lynda.com, codeacademy.com, etc. that have more specific training in certain areas.
  • Search Google. You’d be surprised what you can find about topics just by digging through Google. Take some time to search Google for terms or processes you’d like to know more about. Know that all sources might not be reputable or helpful, but they could also help you round out your knowledge.

Some Final Notes on Promotions

If it takes a while, don’t lose heart. It may take several months to receive a promotion after you feel you are ready for one.

Sometimes, there just isn’t a promotion to give. Don’t give up. Don’t decide you’re suddenly going to slack off because you can’t move up.

If you really feel like it’s a promotion or nothing, it might be time to move on. Think seriously about if you want to make that move.

If All Else Fails, Ask

Sometimes, you really do have to ask. Sometimes your manager doesn’t notice your hard work or that you want to move up. If you don’t feel okay asking outwardly for a promotion, ask for something smaller first. Ask to be the lead on a project, or to take over the next presentation. Make it very known you want to be in charge of more and want to take on more work. Sometimes, it takes that kind of questioning for your manager to realize you are promotion material.

 

What have you done that helped you get promoted?

Follow These Genius Tips to Get a Promotion Without Ever Having to Ask Your Boss! | successfullysimplesisters.com

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
Eryn on Instagram

Breastfeeding Guilt – Why you Should Stop Feeling bad About Formula Feeding, Part 2

This is part two of a two part series on the guilt moms often experience to breastfeed. Eryn and Kaila each explain their perspectives on the matter in this series.

Kaila

I’ve always been the type of person who enjoys saving money (I mean, who doesn’t?!) Whenever I can find a way to cut costs on something or save some cash, you better bet I’m going to take advantage of it.

You may be wondering what this has to do with breastfeeding. Well, this how my breastfeeding story begins. I honestly entertained the thought of breastfeeding initially because of the cost savings. Virtually free milk for my child versus the expensive cost of formula? Sign me up for the free boobie milk!

Imagine the excitement I felt when I realized I could produce milk. Although it started slow, I was excited to see that amount increase each day after my son was born. In my mind, I kept thinking dollar signs without the slightest understanding of how my milk was feeding my son. I mean, what a miracle. Milk that my body produced was FEEDING and nourishing my son. Women definitely win the “our bodies are stinking awesome” contest.

Admittedly, and selfishly, I didn’t even consider the natural benefits of breastmilk for my son until I had to stop feeding it to him. In fact, the whole act of pumping was very selfish for me all around. I pumped when it was convenient for me (roughly every 3 hours, but sometimes longer if I just wanted to hold my son or take a nap). I ate whatever I wanted (within reason) and never gave it a thought on how what I ate also affected my son. I even decided I would never pump overnight because I wanted to get some sleep.

In summary, I was a selfish first-time mom.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe moms generally are the least selfish people on the planet. We gave up our bodies for nine months to house one of God’s creations. We go through oftentimes painful labor and recovery for our miracle children. We sacrifice sleep and warm meals and our sanity to raise these tiny humans the best we know how.

And yet, considering all of this, I still felt very selfish.

Turning Point

On my son’s ninth day on this planet, he suddenly had diarrhea in all of his diapers and projectile vomited every ounce of milk. For fear of dehydration (and possibly something more serious) we took him to the ER late that night. Test after test came back normal and his diarrhea slowly diminished after a full bag of fluids. We were sent home with a “sometimes that’s just how newborns are” diagnosis and instructions to continue to closely monitor everything for a couple more days.

That answer wasn’t good enough for me, so the next day, I began googling his symptoms to find some answers. Turns out, it could have been just about anything.

However, due to our extended time in the ER and my exhaustion, I hadn’t pumped enough for him to drink my milk the following day. His symptoms were completely gone by lunchtime and we assumed everything was back to normal. However, his final bottle that evening was my milk and the symptoms completely returned suddenly.

After putting two and two together, we realized it was possibly my milk giving him these symptoms. I again began googling possible answers, only to find that an elimination diet would be best to determine what my son wasn’t tolerating from my diet. I began tracking my food intake for the next few days while monitoring his symptoms. I supplemented with formula to help normalize his poops and vomiting.

After several day of eliminating cow’s milk, I saw no change in his symptoms. I decided that was long enough to “try” the elimination diet and that we’d never find out what was wrong. I was tired of pumping and freezing my milk. I was tired of tracking every single thing I ate. But mostly, I was tired of seeing my son miserable after each breastmilk bottle he ate. At that moment, I decided I was done feeding him my milk. He was going to be a formula-fed baby.

Now, I realize many will say I didn’t try hard enough. I completely agree with you. After finding out weeks later he actually had reflux and cow’s milk was just making it worse, I began to regret my decision to stop pumping. In fact, I tried re-lactating twice before I snubbed the guilt I felt from not feeding my child in the way God designed.

Mixed Emotions

To this day, I continue to feel guilty for not trying hard enough. I feel shameful for resorting to formula so quickly. I feel sad that my son isn’t being fed by me. And I definitely feel anger that what I initially began to “save money” turned into something that hurt my son.

If I were to do it all over again, I would have stuck with the elimination diet longer until we found the solution for my son. Or would I?

I cannot describe the freedom I felt from no longer being tied to pumping. I felt tied down to a chair for 20-30 minute sessions, 6-8 times a day. Once I had set up pumping, actually pumped, and cleaned the parts, it felt like that’s all I did. I hardly felt the bond with my son because I was rushing or planning for my next pumping session.

I also cannot describe the joyful feeling of seeing my son truly healthy and happy again. There were no more diarrhea diapers and very little projectile vomiting. He was sleeping so much better during the day because he no longer felt miserable. And I felt better knowing that I wasn’t hurting my son with something I ate.

To say I am completely free of the guilt of deciding to stop pumping would be a lie. I often get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about the “failure” I have become as a mom.

There is Hope

If I could say one thing to other moms who cannot or choose not to breastfeed their babies, I’d say you’re doing a great job. As a mom of a formula-fed baby, I don’t hear this very often. I hear my fair share of judgments about our (my husband and my) decision from friends and family alike. To be honest, I cannot remember the last time someone other than my husband encouraged me as a mom.

So from one mom to another, you are doing a GREAT job. Keep feeding, loving, cuddling, nurturing, tickling, and snuggling your little one.

Kaila
Kaila is a working mom, blogger, and self-help enthusiast. In her free time, you will find her crafting or playing board games with friends. She loves spending time with her hubby, Matt, and baby boy, Cooper.

What to do When you Feel Like the Only Parent Whose Baby Won’t Sleep

What to do when you feel like the only parent whose baby will not sleep at nightI have a confession to make: my baby doesn’t sleep well. I know, I know, most people have bouts of sleeplessness from their babies. But most don’t have a consistently poor-sleeping baby for months on end. My almost four month old is still sleeping horribly, even though everyone kept telling me it would get better by now.

“If you’re feeding him formula, he’ll be sleeping through the night by two months, tops.” Laughable.

“Just wait until he hits 11 pounds. He’ll sleep much better by then. There is something magical about that weight.” Nope.

“Oh that 12-week mark was the golden age for me. Mine suddenly started sleeping through the night then.” Not even close.

“Once he’s eating 5 or 6 ounces at a time, he’ll be full enough to sleep through the night.” Not us.

It can be so disheartening and lonely dealing with an especially horrible sleeper. I went into motherhood assuming the rough nights would gone before I knew it. Every source I read keeps confirming this for me.

I find that every time someone asks about my little one, it’s related to sleep. And every time, my heart sinks when I have to answer. Common statements include:

“How is your baby sleeping?”

Not well. I don’t know how else to explain it. Drew still wakes up at least twice a night (on really good nights) and it’s usually more like four or five times. A night. Yes, he’s on formula. And oftentimes, he completely finishes his overnight bottles. We’ve tried stretching out the time between feedings with his pacifier, but at most can buy ourselves half an hour longer. After several visits to his room to put the pacifier back that he’s spit out, he becomes angry until he receives his bottle.

“Hasn’t he slept through the night at least once by now?”

Sigh. No. Not even close. I don’t care how you classify “sleeping through the night” – whether it’s a 6-hour stretch or getting up once a night or sleeping 10 hours straight. The best we’ve had was a 4 hour stretch. Two times, I think.

“Have you tried…?”

Sometimes, I’m all about the parenting advice. And for a while, I wanted to know everything there was to know about getting him to sleep better. None of this advice has even made a dent in his sleeping.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

This is by far the most common thing I hear others say once they find out my situation. To be honest, I don’t know, either. I know my days consist of a scary amount of caffeine, and I usually feel like a zombie. My memory is shot, my emotions are all over the place, and my weight keeps creeping upwards.

I went back to work at 8 weeks, when he was still sleeping in only 1.5 hour stretches, and I was certain I would die of sleep deprivation. Those first few weeks of being a working mom were horrible.

It’s getting better. Slowly. But in the meantime, I feel lonely. And tired. And angry. I hear of these parents whose babies “accidentally” sleep through the night. The parents wake up at 6am, confused, and rush into the nursery to find out their sweet little one slept all night long.

Why am I working so hard, setting up a routine, following all the advice, asking all the questions, and yet, he’s no closer to sleeping through the night than before these tactics?

How do I cope?

To be entirely raw here, I don’t cope well. I really don’t. I find that I oftentimes ask God why He would give me a child who doesn’t sleep well. Or, why I can’t figure out how to get him to sleep through the night. Why I can’t even take care of myself enough to do my hair when I see these other mothers who have lost all the baby weight in the first few months postpartum and look like movie stars. Why do I hear of these parents who have babies sleeping through the night at a month? Or even two months? Or three? At this rate, we’re looking at a year.

I’m not allowed to take care of myself, to workout, or even to do much more than survive. And I have a 4 month old. I’m failing as a parent, as a friend, and as a wife. I can’t be me. I haven’t been me since my little one arrived a few months ago.

Why is this happening? Why do I have to go through this? Why me?

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

 

All things. Even those nights where I have to go to work on less than 2 hours of sleep. All situations are happening as they are meant to.

For some reason, that doesn’t make me feel any better, though. I still find myself sitting in my own self pity, hoping that I’m not the only one dealing with this.

Then I remember the verse I had taped to my mirror in high school:

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

This one. This is the verse I have to remember. Sure, this is more than I can handle. Trust me, it’s more than I can handle. That’s why I’m always breaking down, sobbing, on my drive to work. Or lashing out in anger in the middle of the night with my little one. Because this is too much for me. 

But it’s not too much for God. And when I have God, I can endure it.

Turn to God

Turn to God. Easier said than done, right? It’s so easy for me to get in my own little hole and think about how unfair things are for me. How it’s not right that God is making me deal with this situation. How I have to suffer, and put myself last, and how my marriage is more strained than it’s ever been because we’re so sleep deprived.

But in fact, it’s exactly how it needs to be right now. I’m not always going to know what God has in mind for my family. Honestly, I sure wish I did. I sure wish I knew the date he’d finally sleep through the night for the first time. (or maybe I don’t…it could still be a while out).

What I need to do more than anything is turn to God. I need to keep praying and be in my Bible every single day. It’s tough. More than ever, I want nothing to do with my Bible. If I can’t find time to get a 10 minute workout in, how on Earth can I open up my Bible?

That’ exactly what God wants from me, though. He wants me to feel the strain of being a parent. I’m supposed to come out of this situation a stronger person who is closer to Him than ever before. It’s not all about me. It’s not about me being the same person I was before I became a mom. What would be the point in God providing this little miracle into my life? So I could stick with my selfish ways?

You’re not Alone

If you are in the same boat as me, please remember that you’re not alone. You’re never alone in this. Other parents are going through the same thing you’re going through, even if you feel like you’re in the vast minority. What’s worse, many parents forget the struggles they went through with infants once their children get older. Something about the love and joy you have for your child makes you repress the bad memories. So, even if it feels like others can’t relate, some can.

Trust me, others have been there, too. And guess what? They made it through.

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
Eryn on Instagram

8 Phrases Every New Parent Says

Eight things every new parent says

 

Sometimes, you find yourself saying the strangest phrases after you become a parent. Whether you’re saying it to yourself or your child, you find yourself saying things non-parent you never would have expected.

“Don’t chew on that.”

This begins from your baby’s first day in this world. Whether he is chewing on the straps of the car seat, the bib, his hand – it’s always something. Once your little one begins to crawl and walk, it goes to an entirely new and gross level. Because he’s now mobile, it’s something he found on the ground and you don’t even want to take the chance to identify it.

“Please don’t poop on me.”

All parents know what this is like, but non-parents may never think twice about it. Let me assure you, you’ll probably be pooped on. It will likely be while you are in public, running late, and unable to change clothes. Baby poop has a smell like you’ve never smelled before, and it’s nearly impossible to clean all the way up without giving your child (and you) a bath.

“I was looking for that!”

This goes for nearly everything you own. Somehow, your children find a way to get into the very things you need and hide them from you. Or, in your sleep-deprived state with a newborn, you find yourself putting things in strange places. You find baby clothes everywhere – from socks in the pocket of your jacket, to jeans in your purse.

I once found a used burp cloth deep within the sheets of my bed. It had been missing for weeks. I don’t have a clue how it got there, but I assumed it was gone forever. It was quite the find when I discovered it again.

“Is that normal?”

Suddenly, your little one makes a strange sound you’ve never heard before. Or, baby begins producing bodily fluids that are strange colors and consistencies. You find yourself Googling questions multiple times each day once you become a parent, many along the lines of “Is … normal?”. You search for resource after resource, hoping to find some other desperate parent who is in a similar situation or a peer-reviewed article confirming that other babies have done the same thing as yours.

Once you find enough sources confirming you aren’t off your rocker, you begin to relax a little. Until the next unexpected thing happens just moments later.

“Please. Just. Sleep.”

You probably find yourself saying this around 2 am when you walk into the nursery for the 27th time that evening to a wide-awake baby. Obviously, baby doesn’t understand your desperate pleas, but you find yourself on hands and knees begging your child to sleep. You might even try negotiating, asking baby for a little sleep now in exchange for less sleep another night. Whatever the case, you become desperate, and somehow hope that your begging will provide the solution to your baby’s sleeping woes.

“Lord, please give me…”

I don’t think I ever prayed as diligently and honestly as I did right after my child was born. I often find myself asking God to give me the strength to make it through another sleepless night, or the patience to make it through a newborn’s crying fit. Most often, rather, I’m asking for the wisdom to be the mom I need to be, and to make the right decisions for my son. It becomes a natural discussion with God and a normal part of your daily prayers.

“Eh, It’s Not That Bad.”

As I was putting my son into the car for his first doctor’s appointment, he spat up all over himself in the car seat. I grabbed a bib and wiped up what I could, knowing that he would still be covered in spit up. I reasoned it wasn’t that bad, so I kept him in wet clothes, milky white stains and all.

As a new parent, you develop your own threshold of what amount of spit up and other stains warrant an outfit change for you and your child. I’ve gone to Target in 3-day-old spit up jeans and went to dinner in a zip up with a fresh unidentified brown stain. It becomes your new way of life because sometimes changing clothes is just more work than it’s worth.

“Yeah, I’ll have to look into that.”

“Oh your three-month-old still isn’t sleeping through the night? Have you tried positioning him facing Northeast in the crib with his room at exactly 71 degrees, playing this specific lullaby that my grandpa wrote, while you gently rub his head and sing to him?”

Sometimes you receive really good advice. Sometimes, not so much. I find myself telling people multiple times a day, “Yeah, I’ll have to look into that.” It’s my way of saying, “Probably not gonna happen.”

It’s funny how people always seem to have a solution for your particular case, even though you know your child best. Even though you have your own instincts telling you what you’re doing is right. So you’re polite to them, and consider what they are telling you, but sometimes, you just know.

 

What phrases did you find yourself saying often once you became a parent?

Eryn
Eryn is a digital marketer by trade who gets to play around with websites both for a living and for fun. She loves making things and curling up with a good book. She enjoys spending time with her husband, Kody, and her baby boy.
Eryn on Instagram
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