5 Ways to Support Rest & Renewal This Holiday

Rest and Re-Charge! Getting ready to take charge in the New Year!

Pause and reflect before you leap.

Yesterday I spent an hour with my November/December calendar–not penciling things in, but cancelling pending events and making choices that supported a more open, spacious, restorative winter schedule.

Does the thought of hanging lights and attending holiday parties make you want to grab your sleeping bag and run for the nearest cave?

It would be an understatement to say this year has been intense. In addition to the chaos we’ve all been experiencing on a macro-level, most of us have felt over-scheduled, overworked and unable to unplug. Many of us have navigated big career and life challenges—and we’ve had little time to integrate these changes. Frankly, we’re exhausted. We’re ready for rest. Not a relaxed evening by the fire, but a serious stretch of lazy days, long naps, walks in the woods, deep nourishing slumber and joyful, easy, simple connections with friends and family that feed us emotionally and spiritually. What we most need in the coming weeks is not the latest iPhone or one last trip to the mall, but permission to rest, relax, unplug and do nothing.

But with all the expectations, activity and invitations that come with this season knocking on our door—what are we to do? I challenge you to take the road less traveled and take a radical stand for what you most need this year. Consider the following five ideas to help you do less:

  • Schedule down time now. Block out periods on your calendar during the holiday season for “dedicated relaxation,” where your only job is to unplug from electronics and rest. Schedule half-days, full days, weekends or an entire week if you can swing it. Maybe you’ll feel like a nature hike when your period for renewal rolls around or maybe you’re better served by staying in your pajamas, turning off your phone, sipping on hot tea and watching the leaves fall from the trees. Make downtime a priority and schedule this now so you can honor your commitment to deep to-the-bones self-renewal.

  • Just say no. Decide what’s most important to you and let everything else go. If it’s not an “absolute yes,” then it’s a no. Don’t want to miss Aunt Tracy’s special Christmas Eve dinner but feel exhausted at the thought of attending your neighbor’s cookie exchange? Just say no and let it go. You’ll be glad you did. The opportunity will come back around next year. Our quality of life is always enhanced when we let go of things-not when we add them.

  • Ask for help. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive help whether it’s cooking, gift giving, socializing or hosting family. Do it different. Be willing to let go of tradition for the sake of enhanced emotional well-being. Step out of your comfort zone, reach out to friends, neighbors and coworkers and ask for their help during the holidays so you can create more space for yourself and your family to just “be.” What are three things on your plate right now that you could delegate, outsource or ask for support around?

  • Do less to experience more. Positive psychology researchers say we’re happiest when we keep things simple and have fewer choices. We create stress when we try and cram too much into our schedules and then try to control everything we’re juggling. My friend, author Joan Borysenko says, “Your to-do list is immortal; it will live on long after you’re dead.” How can you simplify your plans (do you really need to go chop down your own Christmas tree, make your mom’s famous Cathedral stained glass cookies and host your husband’s department dinner)? Popcorn, hot cider and an evening of great conversation with people who let you show up “warts and all,” is hard to beat. Do less, so you can experience more.

  • Unplug and spend time in nature. My friend Richard Louv author of the Nature Principle says, “Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day.” I call nature the ultimate antidepressant and re-set button. If anyone in my family is exhausted or out of sorts, off to the greenbelt we go. Typically during the holidays, my family unplugs completely and heads to the Davis Mountains in West Texas to enjoy some of the darkest night skies in the world. Being in nature offers us nourishment and renewal on all levels-physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. It is a powerful, restorative and healing force. Tap it!

There is an innate push and pull that many of us feel during the winter season. As the Dec. 21 winter solstice approaches–the longest night of the year–our natural rhythms are calling us to slow down, reflect, go inward and contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go. (Think of our friends the bears, they’ve got it right!) Counter this with the world around us that is swirling madly with activity and constantly telling us to do, eat, buy and be more. It can feel quite confusing, exhausting and overwhelming.

I challenge you: do it differently this season. Pause and enter the holiday season mindfully and with a clear intention. If the call to making rest and renewal a priority resonates with you this holiday, make this #1 for yourself and for your family. Then, you can bound—instead of crawl–into the new year fully present, refreshed and clear on how you want to use your energy in the days ahead.

Written by Renee Peterson Trudeau for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother

Dads Three Times as Likely as Moms to Receive a Promotion While Working From Home During COVID

While the COVID-19 crisis has ushered in an array of unsettling changes, one outcome has been touted as overwhelmingly positive and long overdue: the shift to remote work.

Freed from the burden of commuting to an office, employees are more productive and have more time to manage family obligations, or so the thinking goes. But in a world where domestic duties typically fall to moms—as the pandemic has made painfully obvious—does working from home really leave mothers and fathers on equal footing? Not even close, according to the results of a new survey from theBoardlist and Qualtrics.

Men and women have vastly different takes on how working from home has impacted their careers. The poll surveyed 1,051 US adults between the ages of 18 and 65, including 685 respondents with children. Almost half of men (42 percent) believed that working from home for an extended period of time would have a positive affect on their career progression, but only 15 percent of women said the same. Nearly half (49 percent) of female respondents believed it wouldn’t have an impact either way, versus 20 percent for men. Twice as many women as men believed it could have a somewhat or extremely negative impact on their careers (19 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively).

A deeper dive into the data proves that women are right to be wary of remote work: Over one-third of men with children at home (34 percent) say they’ve received a promotion while working remotely, while only 9 percent of women with children at home say the same. On a similar note, 26 percent of men with children at home say they’ve received a pay raise while working remotely, while only 13 percent of similarly situated women say the same. Dads were also far more likely than moms to have taken on additional leadership, been given responsibility for important projects, to have received praise or recognition inside the company and to have received a positive formal review while working remotely.

“Because women often earn less than their male partners, women more often choose to leave their careers at the height of their advancement and earning power in order to raise children and keep their households running. The hardest part of that equation is that employers often judge female employees as less dedicated to their jobs as a result when often it is the farthest thing from the truth,” said Shannon Gordon, CEO of theBoardlist.

Other recent studies confirm that moms have scaled back their working hours lately. A study published in the academic journal Gender, Work & Organization revealed that mothers have reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers in heterosexual couples where both the mother and father were continuously employed and have children under 13, reports The New York Times.

Even when we are working, it’s not always easy to focus. Dads are also far more likely to say they’ve been more productive working from home (77 percent) compared to 46 of moms who say the same, according to the survey from theBoardlist and Qualtrics. Similarly, an English study found that dads get twice as much uninterrupted work time during the day (5.1 hours) compared to moms (at 2.6). Nearly half (47 percent) of moms’ paid work hours are split between work and other distractions.

You can probably guess just what those “distractions” are: making lunch, dispensing snacks, helping with school assignments, putting away dishes… the list is infinite. And while research shows men are pitching in more around the house during the pandemic, there’s simply too much work to be done without the army of caretakers and teachers parents typically rely on. Working moms simply don’t have time for it all. Something has to give, and too often the answer is paid work. A recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, analyzing data collected in the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, found that three times as many out-of-work Millennial moms (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) cited school or childcare closures as the main reason they weren’t working right now, compared to only 11 percent of Millennial dads who said it was why they weren’t working.

Experts have long hoped that remote work would lead to a more diverse workforce, and there are good reasons to believe they’re right. “If someone can work remotely for their position, that removes one financial barrier to entry by eliminating relocation fees and paying for housing in a more expensive city. It also creates geographic diversity by opening up an entirely new pool of talent because the candidate can be located anywhere,” said Manon DeFelice, the founder and CEO of Inkwell, in an op-ed for Working Mother.

But this most recent survey seems to confirm what economists have feared: that the pandemic could have a long-lasting negative impact on women’s advancement in the workforce, and working from home might not be a panacea for our problems, after all. “Our study findings would indicate that women are cognizant that their careers could be impacted more than men if they were to work from home often,” Gordon says. “This discrepancy should be a red flag for employers.”

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

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How to Talk to Your Customers about the Coronavirus and Build Brand Trust

Doing business in a post pandemic world

Coronavirus: An opportunity to build customer trust, not to push sales.

With COVID-19’s rapid spread, the bull market constantly bucking up and down, and the recent declaration of national emergency from the President, consumers are becoming increasingly anxious about the reality that is about to face them. Panic buying is rampant, schools and universities are closing, and offices are asking workers to work from home.

Certainly both online and offline businesses are feeling anxious as well. For some businesses, sales may be surging because of supply hoarding, until the bull-whip effect sets in and no supply remains on the shelves. For other businesses, sales have dipped significantly as consumers guard their wallets and spend on essentials first, as they nervously watch the unpredictable market rise and fall.

So: what’s a brand to do?

Over the next few weeks, things will more likely than not continue to get worse before they get better. While sales may be down for your business, there is still a huge opportunity to win with your customers by building their trust in your brand, especially if you are an online retailer with an email list or any business with an engaged online community.

7 Ways to Build Customer Trust During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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1. Send an email to your list or a post to your online community with a statement on your business’s approach to coronavirus.

Sending a thoughtful email to your list outlining what your brand is doing in the wake of the coronavirus is a great way to build trust with your customers. You should avoid being promotional in this email. Its purpose should instead be to establish expectations for your base for any orders placed in the coming weeks and to quell any anxieties your customers may have about deliveries, supply chain, or your production process. Another best practice is to address your customer by name directly or to address your brand’s community as if in a formal letter and to end your message with a warm sign off from a member of your team. We love the email sent by DTC brand GEM below.

Dear GEM Family
GEM

2. Keep customers updated on how you are handling any potentially unstable supply chains.

After your initial email to your base with your plan for handling supply and demand, keep your list updated if anything changes in your supply chain. If stock on a popular product runs out, try and give a reasonable estimate of when it will be available next. If you don’t know, be honest about that too, and recommend any alternative in-stock products to your customers. Put honesty and transparency above all else, and the consumer will trust that you are doing everything you can to resolve their issues. When you are honest and transparent, they will also understand when certain things are out of your control.

3. Give them your brand's promise, whatever it may be.

If you refuse to price gouge even when demand is high in the market (see: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes), let your customers know. If you foresee any issues with delivery, assure your customers that they will be fully refunded if the product does not arrive to them within a certain time window in the event of supply or delivery issues caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Finally, remind customers of any existing promises your brand has made in the past that you plan to stick to, like abiding by certain regulations, practicing a sustainable supply chain, giving back X% of proceeds to your chosen charity, etc. Just make sure the promise you make is a promise you can 100% keep.

4. Share with them what your business is doing to combat coronavirus.

If you feel comfortable doing so, share with your customers the practices and precautions your own brand is taking in order to care for your employees and their loved ones. It is an excellent “we’re all in this together” approach. If you have introduced a new work-from-home policy or guaranteed sick leave for employees, share with your customers that your brand is doing its part in containing the virus as well.

5. Assure them that they will be taken care of.

Customers want to know that they can rely on your brand. Remind them that they remain a top priority, and that your brand will do everything they can to make sure orders are met. If supply or delivery circumstances change, have a plan to address customers that may not receive their order when expected, including refunding an order or providing store credit for future purchases.

6. Offer an outlet to voice any concerns they may have.

Along those lines, inform customers about how they can best reach a member of your team to voice any concerns or ask any questions. If you have multiple channels of outreach (phone, social media, email, etc.), let them know which channels will get their questions answered the fastest. Additionally, give them realistic expectations of wait time given the changing circumstances, as well as a promise that your team will get back to them as soon as they can.

7. Provide educational content to help them in this time.

Thanks to the coronavirus, the lives of many Americans will be changing drastically over the next few weeks to next few months. No matter what business you are in, there are a number of ways you can address the coronavirus in a way that provides extra value to your audience and puts them more at ease.

Blog content is a powerful tool because it can be flexibly used both to nurture your existing audience and to draw a new audience to your brand. At a time when most consumers are not buying as much, you can focus on filling the top of your funnel with new email leads for your list by promoting gated content.

Need ideas for content, or content itself? We've got you covered.

Because the coronavirus on everyone’s minds today, it’s a topic that any industry or brand can find a way to relate to. However, coming up with content ideas may be difficult. That’s why we’ve broken down some content ideas for you below!

We’ve listed a few examples below, but you can find a comprehensive list of 30+ content ideas for coronavirus communications here.

  • Content on reducing stress and mental health best practices
  • Ideas for staying connected even when practicing social distancing
  • At-home workout routines or tips for working at home
  • Positive round-ups of some more uplifting stories from the past week
  • Tips on keeping healthy & hydrated to ward off illness
  • Discover even more great ideas here.

Written by Celia Quillian for Matcha and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Let us help you pivot your brand message and bring it into the post pandemic world. Call today! 702-722-4598

Featured image provided by Annie Spratt

How 12 Working Parents Plan to Handle Summer Childcare During a Pandemic

How 12 Working Parents Plan to Handle Summer Childcare During a Pandemic

Whether you’re working from home this summer or have returned to a “covid -19 pandemic” version of your workplace these parents have some great tips on surviving the summer.

Finding the right camp or sitter for the summer has never been easy for working parents, but this year the COVID-19 crisis has made those decisions downright daunting.

Do working parents send our kids to camp or daycare and risk exposing them to the virus? Do we ask Grandma to watch the kids, knowing she’s especially at risk if she catches COVID-19? Or do we continue to watch them while working from home, feeling guilty about all the screentime they’re getting? Not to mention, it’s not exactly the best time to be perceived as distracted at work, in an era of mass layoffs. Or do you (gulp) quit your job or take a furlough just to get through this challenging time?

There are no easy answers, and each family will have to weigh the risks and benefits of each option and make the decision that works best for them. As for my family, we’ve decided to cancel summer camp for our son, because it would have required a commute on the subway here in New York City, and instead we will send him to daycare with his baby sister when it reopens. We aren’t great (read: really bad) at working from home while taking care of a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old.

Here’s what other working parents plan on doing, and why:

Going back to daycare/preschool.

“My kids start preschool on June 1, with lots of extra protocols and smaller class sizes. We are looking forward to some normalcy and them having friends to play with. And I’ve read a lot about kids not likely being good spreaders of the virus. It’s a risk we feel we have to take for our jobs to remain stable.” —Samantha Walsh, mom of two, officer of advancement and development at a Jewish day school, Denver, Colorado

Working from home without childcare

“Our daughter was going to go to camp before starting kindergarten in the fall, but it has been canceled. For now, our plan is to keep her home this summer. My husband is a firefighter/paramedic so he is off enough that I can get work done—as a freelancer, I can be flexible with my work hours. Plus, we just don't feel safe sending her, and we wouldn't have sent her to camp if the decision wasn't made for us. There's still so much unknown about the virus, and we'd much rather make do this summer, create "camp" experiences in our backyard, carve out some time for kindergarten readiness activities and hope that things will feel better/safer come fall so Mila can start kindergarten.” —Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal, mom of one, freelance writer, Fairfield, Connecticut

“I’m working the summer without childcare. I already paid for a spot in summer camp—as of now, they are planning on opening, but I’m not optimistic. Honestly my summer plan is not to have a nervous breakdown.” —Italia Granshaw, mom of one, chief of staff at Office of New York State Assembly, North Bellmore, New York

“We are still undecided, but leaning toward not sending the kids to camp. Our daughter's June dance camp has canceled, and we're still waiting to see what the sports and dance camps do for July and August. My kids are older, 8 and 13, and my husband is also working from home. We can easily keep up our current arrangements. I just feel badly for the kids—while we have a big backyard, they miss their activities and hanging out with friends.” —Jacqueline LaBrocca, mom of two, senior director of conference operations and logistics, Salisbury Mills, New York

“Most of the camps near us are now canceling. Some have canceled only for June right now and plan to do virtual camps. That just seems like more work for us, and I don't think my daughters would appreciate it or find it interesting. Some camps have said they will be open for my older daughter but not my younger daughter, a 6-year-old. This also is not helpful. We've come up with a system that works for us while we are working from home, so we'll just continue that. With the new data coming out about how this virus impacts kids, it just doesn't feel safe.” —Marianne Drexler, mom of two, university program coordinator, Durham, North Carolina

“I'm going to keep working from home with the kids, even though it's bad for our mental health. Our daycare for Zach, 2, so far, is taking more children as of June 1 (they've been open this whole time for essential workers with up to 10 kids at a time), and I haven't gotten word about camp for Jeremy, 6, but I'm not comfortable sending them into any group situations yet. We all had some sort of virus in mid-March, but we couldn't get tested when we tried. Because there are reports of reinfections, and experts say it could take as many as six weeks to know whether cases are truly going up or down because of reopenings, I'm going to continue on as we have these past nine weeks. I already wish I had kept the kids out of daycare and school those first couple of weeks of March. I don't want to regret sending them in again. And maybe by keeping my kids home, I'm keeping other families healthy.” —Meredith Bodgas, mom of two, Working Mother editor-in-chief, Bellmore, New York

Hiring a sitter

"Still no word on camp. Some are opening, some aren’t. We have a nanny starting today. That does freak me out, but the daycare/camp suggested reopening instructions were far freakier: Temperature checks twice a day. Kids in groups of five max. Everyone masked all day, including kids 3 and over. How can I ask my 3-year-old to be masked ALL day? He’d flip out." —Rachel Stuhler, mom of two, screenwriter, Los Angeles

Relying on grandparents

“I’m hoping summer camp/daycare opens. If not, Grandma will come to babysit some of the days. I can’t have the kids inside on an iPad all summer long.” —Nicole Beniamini, mom of two, vice president at Edison Research, Hillsborough, NJ

“I’ll be honest. Up until now, we quarantined. My in-laws also quarantined. Since we know no one in the two households has seen anyone, and we tested negative, they will help us once summer break hits. Without that, I don’t know what we would have done. Camp is canceled and our daycare is closed until at least July 7.” —Larry Collica, dad of two, senior manager of retail planning, Northridge, California

Relocating

“We live in Brooklyn, but we’ve been renting a house in the Catskill Mountains with another family in our neighborhood who we knew had been self-isolating as well. We have a 2-year-old son and they have two boys, a 3-year-old and 20-month-old. The seven of us have formed a parenting co-op. Each of us takes a two-hour childcare shift during the day. This allows each of us to put in almost a full day's work. It's been a truly ideal scenario, and I think all of the kids have really thrived from the social interaction they're getting with each other. But my husband was recently laid off from his advertising job. So, as sad as we are to leave the mountain house, it’s more important to us to keep our regular nanny employed and make other arrangements. We're taking a road trip to St. Louis, Missouri, to stay with my in-laws until at least August. They have a yard, a pool and ample space, which we think will be best for our son. We know none of these solutions is perfect and all carry their own risks, and we're very much aware of how lucky we are to even have these options, but it's what is working for us for now.” —Lindsey Perlstein, mom of one and content director, Brooklyn, New York

For many parents across the country, like Daniela Egan, a fundraising director in Boston, there are still too many unknowns, even this close to the summer. "Massachusetts has closed all daycares (except for some open for essential workers) through June 29. We use our work's daycare, and I'm not sure if they will want to delay beyond what the state advises or if reduced capacity will mean reduced days for us. Plus, I don't think our campus will be bringing back employees like us anytime soon. My husband and I split our days so we each get about five hours of working time during the day, plus evenings and weekends as we need it. (Spoiler, we do). I guess the plan is to continue in this status quo through the summer if we need to…"

No matter what you decide—or when you decide it—rest assured that there are plenty of parents agonizing about the best way protect their kids, their job and their sanity this summer.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother

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From Idea to Reality: Developing a Website You Can Be Proud Of

In today’s digital age, having a website is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or a creative professional, a well-designed website can be a powerful tool for showcasing your brand, reaching your target audience, and achieving your goals.

But how do you turn your creative idea into a visually stunning and functional website? At Vegas Visual Design, we believe that the key to success is to focus on the transformative power of the design process.

Crafting Your Online Identity

Your website is more than just a digital presence – it’s an extension of your brand and a reflection of your unique identity. When you embark on the journey of developing your website, it’s essential to start with a clear vision of your site’s purpose and target audience.

Ask yourself: What do you want to achieve with your website? Who are you designing it for? Understanding your goals and your audience is the foundation of creating a website that resonates with your visitors and achieves your objectives.

Prioritizing User Experience

One of the most critical aspects of website development is user experience (UX). Your site should be intuitive, easy to navigate, and visually appealing. Visitors should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly and effortlessly, without frustration or confusion.

To prioritize UX, consider the layout, organization, and flow of your site. Use clear and consistent visual cues, such as color schemes and typography, to guide users through your content. Ensure that your site is responsive and optimized for different devices, including mobile phones and tablets.

Designing with Purpose

Your website’s design should reflect your brand and communicate your message effectively. Every element – from the color palette to the imagery and typography – should be carefully chosen to create a cohesive and compelling visual narrative.

But design isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s also about functionality. Your site should be easy to use, with clear calls-to-action and intuitive navigation. Consider the technical aspects of your site, such as page loading speed and search engine optimization (SEO), to ensure that your site performs well and is visible to your target audience.

Investing in Quality Content

While design and functionality are critical, the content of your website is equally important. Your site should feature high-quality, engaging content that informs, educates, and inspires your visitors.

Whether you’re writing blog posts, creating videos, or showcasing your portfolio, your content should be well-organized, easy to read, and visually appealing. Regularly updating your site with fresh, relevant content can help keep visitors coming back and establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry.

Seeking Professional Support

Developing a website that you can be proud of is not always easy, especially if you don’t have a technical background. That’s where professional support can make all the difference.

At Vegas Visual Design, we specialize in helping entrepreneurs, small business owners, and creative professionals bring their website visions to life. Our team of expert designers, developers, and strategists work closely with you to understand your goals, develop a custom solution, and provide ongoing support to ensure your site’s success.

From initial concept to final launch and beyond, we’re here to help you create a website that not only looks great but also achieves your business objectives.

Transform Your Idea into a Reality

Developing a website is a journey of transformation – from a spark of an idea to a fully realized digital presence. By focusing on your online identity, prioritizing user experience, designing with purpose, and investing in quality content, you can create a website that you can be proud of.

Ready to turn your vision into a reality? Contact us today for a free consultation and let’s discuss how we can help you create a website that exceeds your expectations.