New Launch of Theta Mom®: A Professional Mom Blog

Several years ago I bid farewell to my graphic girl, the stroller chick who was pushing a baby carriage that was closely tied to my blog. But the problem surfaced when I no longer had babies at home to write about anymore, so the graphic of the woman pushing the baby stroller no longer fit me or my personal blog. My children were growing up and I was growing up, too.

As I mentioned recently, I am once again evolving alongside of this blog.

ThetaMomScreen

Welcome to the new and improved Theta Mom® where you’ll find everything from parenting tips, educational expertise, lifestyle and tech trends, blog advice and support for women in business – all packaged up in one professional mom blog.

That’s right – one professional mom blog.

Blogging is a business and I’m determined to continue to grow Theta Mom® into a lifestyle brand. This will be your one-stop-shop for everything relevant to your life as a Theta Mom® as we continue to redefine motherhood.

WineSo grab your favorite a cocktail and stick around for awhile. Take a peek at all of the exciting new things in this space!

With this new redesign there are a few things that did not change all that much; I still stand firmly behind this (newly updated) Mission, and what I am Aboutbut this time I share my whole story about how I fell into blogging. Just think of this update like Theta Mom® 2.0 – the kind of blog you expect to see in the year 2014. And have you tested my site on your tablet or mobile device? Yes, Theta Mom® looks absolutely fabulous there, too!

You’ll notice many new pages in the navigation bar including Parenting, Lifestyle, Education and Technology where I’ll be providing the latest and greatest information in those content areas. I also have an amazing new series lined up that you will not want to miss!!

I cleaned up the sidebar and added in some fancy new widgets. You’ll also soon come to know that I am recently obsessed with Google+. I’m finding that it’s the best way to connect with experts in your field and learn important information to continue to grow your own brand and blog. If we’re not following one another, let’s change that. Connect with me on Google+ 

Since this blog launched in 2009, it has evolved – and so have I. Theta Mom® has become more than just a space for women to connect – it has turned into a lifestyle brand, offering women and mothers the tips, tools, products and resources that are redefining motherhood. This blog will continue to give you the very best in consumer products, parenting advice, digital trends, and of course all things small business and education. Theta Mom® will provide you and your evolving role as a mother with exactly what you need.

I welcome you back to Theta Mom®, a place that enriches the lives of all mothers to help us understand the ups and downs of motherhood; a place for women and mothers to connect; a space to promote and support women-owned brands and offer the very best in lifestyle, education, business and tech.

Thanks again to the extremely talented Lauren who continues to inspire me and make all things possible – she always knows how to make my blog vision come to fruition.

Sooooooooooooooo…….what do you think of Theta Mom®  2.0???

Competitive Youth Sports: Our New Reality

YouthSports

Your fifth grader comes home and announces she wants to play soccer. As you speak the words, “Wow, that’s great honey,” your heart sinks because you know exactly what she’s about to be up against – since your daughter never played a day of soccer in her life.

For the last ten years, a swarm of girls have played soccer since they were three; they were on travel teams together and coached by private instructors. Their skills were accelerated through parental coaching both on and off the field. They attended expensive and exclusive summer camps and can run circles around other kids.

So when your daughter comes home from school and shares that she wants to play a sport for the very first time in her entire life? Yes, you know this is going to be a real challenge.

What happened to the days of playing a sport for F-U-N?

What happened to the days of playing a sport for social interaction, to build relationships and foster a child’s self-esteem?

Instead, parents feel pressured to place kids at the age of five directly into a youth sport. Then they pray to the sports-Gods that their children have the kind of skill set required to take them to the next level and if they don’t, parents quickly throw their kids into another sport and pray to the Gods again.

It’s a vicious cycle.

As a parent, you think you’re doing the right thing by getting your child involved in something they show an interest in. But the pressure mounts the moment your child shows doubt or sadness. Slowly, they begin to lose interest in the very sport or activity they were once so excited about because they feel as though they are not good enough. They sit more and more on the sidelines and their self-esteem diminishes as each game passes.

Suddenly, other kids are light years ahead of your child and now, she knows it. And this is the very moment when your heart breaks.

You want to do anything in your power to stop this hurt. You want to immediately try another sport or activity and once you do, you quickly see the cycle has started again. In this day and age, it’s a never-ending battle.

Why?

Because unless your child starts to play a sport at an early age, the odds are stacked against your child to feel accomplished in that sport. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but the reality is that it’s very tough to break into a sport late in the game, especially when other kids have years upon years of training over your kid.

SOCCER

Don’t get me wrong – if a child loves a sport and is passionate about it, I absolutely encourage the idea of supporting your child to foster a deep interest and skill for the game. However, the problem begins when it’s just not fun for the kid anymore – it feels more like a job with grueling practice schedules, intense games, long tournaments and endless hours of private coaching.

Youth sports shouldn’t feel like a job.

When I was a child, I cheered for Pop Warner from an early age – but guess what? We didn’t compete. We didn’t attend fancy summer camps. We didn’t have a grueling practice schedule because I was only in elementary school and it was fun. I made some of the best friendships from that team and we didn’t contend with one another, we were a team. We had fun and it was AWESOME.

Unfortunately, I don’t think our kids have fun anymore – they’re too busy trying to keep up with the rest of the team without feeling lost in the process. Or, they’re playing a sport because their parents pushed them into it and everyone is just hoping for the best.

It’s a sad reality for kids in America and I wish I had the magic answer that would make things reverse to a different time; a time such as 1985 when kids had the chance to play a sport, meet some new friends, and just have fun without all of this pressure and competition.

So when your fifth grader comes home and asks to play soccer for the very first time in her life, take a deep breath and encourage her – and then be there to lift her up if she falls.

Blogging in 2014: I’m Still Doing it My Way

Well hello January. Nice to see you – a brand New Year with a new beginning. As I enter into my fifth year of blogging here at Theta Mom® I took a lot of time to reflect on when I started out, where I have been, and where I want this to go.

Five years ago, my life was vastly different; I had an infant baby and a little toddler boy. Now, that boy is on the urge of “pre-tweenness” and that infant girl? Well, she’s five going on fifteen. I no longer have hours of endless feedings and late night diaper changes. Instead, my life is consumed on the sidelines at the pool and soccer fields. It consists of coordinating play dates and helping with homework.

My blog used to be about my kids – about going through this thing called motherhood. Whether I complained about the sleepless nights or wondering why my baby wouldn’t feed, I used this blog as a way to connect with other moms.

But now, my life has changed. And so has social media – and so has my blog.

I can’t really write about the things I am experiencing because my son is old enough to read my blog and I would never want to write about something that is not my story to write anymore.

I’ve blogged about this transition before. It is obvious by the date of that post I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time. The storytelling is not really about me anymore and that’s where I need to draw the line. Will I continue to write personal posts? Of course I will. But not at the expense of my kids.

Having said that, where do I go from here?

Well, after tons of reflection {see this post} I’ve decided that it was time for a bit of a rebranding at Theta Mom®. Many bloggers rebrand when they find a niche that fits them best and since I walked out of the gate in 2009, I’ve always known what I wanted this blog to be. But, like all things in life, it’s evolving. And as parent, I am growing up alongside of it.

Many other successful “mom bloggers” have found continued success by blogging though an offshoot of the “mom blog” niche – whether that is technology, food, home décor, crafts, homeschooling, or developing lifestyle brands supporting beauty, fashion, photography, etc. So I thought long and hard over the last six months about what I really want out of this blog and where I can take it to the next level.

I realized that in order to be continuously successful in this space, you have to write about what is important to you. You have to be passionate about what you write about. If that passion goes away, there would not be much to blog about, so another key to remaining successful is finding that special quality that makes you stand out among a sea of millions. What is the unique quality that only YOU can offer your readers?

What is your gift?

GIFT

For me, that gift is teaching. Over the last five years I’ve been inadvertently still teaching through this blog; I assisted other bloggers with advice and information, sparked conversation through important topics, engaged readers and got them to think. I taught.

In my former career, I was an elementary school teacher in the traditional classroom and also worked as an Adjunct Professor. I have a graduate degree and so much experience to offer. My passion for education has never gone away and this is a great platform to explore all of it.

So what does this mean for Theta Mom®?

It means I will be blogging about parenting like I always have, but I’ll be mixing in some fluid posts on education. But it won’t stop there. My rebranding will include a huge spark for supporting women in business so I will continue to highlight and support products, services or companies that are a great fit. I’ve also enjoyed being actively involved in the important dialogue about women, motherhood, career, and the issues we face – so I will continue to use this platform to share my voice. I will also serve up some fabulous posts on organization including tips and tricks along the way to get you and your home up and ready for a smashing new year.

Finally, I want Theta Mom® to be more about me; who I am as a person, a mother, a business woman and continue to share my experiences – not so much about my kids because the storytelling should remain my story, not theirs.

There are so many exciting changes and new developments in store and I am confident this is the right direction for me in this space and I can’t wait to get started.

Nearly five years in this industry and I can absolutely say with pride that “I’m still doing it my way.”

Finally, thank you for being here and exploring this uncharted territory with me.

xoxo

What’s in a Title Anyway?

I have been doing so much soul searching the last few months about my life, my kids, this blog, all of it. My kids are getting older and the real questions about blogging have recently been, “Do I want more from this – do I need more?”

Friends working together, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

And my answer is a resounding yes. I want more from this.

I need more.

But, what? What is this need I speak of?

It almost feels like I am experiencing an identity crisis, like who am I? And what do I want to be when I grow up?

Like many other “mom bloggers” I fell into this industry almost by accident. I didn’t wake up one day saying, “Hey, when I grow up, I want to start a mom blog.” At the time, this whole blogging thing was not even on my radar and the truth is we all know this job takes endless hours of blood, sweat, and tears – and I am far from rich off of this thing.

But, where do I go from here? I no longer have babies at home that need me every second of every day. I no longer have that insane juggling act of working from home and raising babies because my kids are in school full-time.

And then, I have that fancy graduate degree from Columbia University hanging in my office staring at me each day along with an impressive resume and over a decade of experience – so now what?

Well, let me digress for a moment…because of this little ol’ blog, I managed to attend every single event at school for my children and I literally watched my babies grow up. Unfortunately, many full-time working women cannot say that and I know firsthand because I used to be one of those women.

You see, before I started this new career online I went back to work full-time when my son was ten-months old as he was placed in the hands of day care. I have been on both sides of the fence and one of my absolute favorite posts I ever wrote is called You are Not Alone where I address many of these issues. To date, it’s one of my proudest moments here at Theta Mom®.

Then, in 2011, I announced to the world that blogging IS a real job. I am still so damn proud of that fact because I managed to turn a blog into a business.

Yet now, I stand at another crossroad.

At this time in my life, do I attempt to re-enter the workforce, to the very career I left behind? Or do I continue to foster what I have spent every single day of my life building right here these last five years?

To help me sort out some of these questions, I read a few books to help clear my head and provide me with some guidance and insight. I soaked up every word of Maria Shriver’s Just Who Will You Be which answered several questions that have been keeping me up at night.

Books

Shriver talked a lot about how many women at some point in their lives experience an identity crisis; she described her own personal experience being born into a famous political family which forced her to work even harder to make a name for herself. Through years of hard work moving up the ranks in television, she married a famous movie star and was immediately seen as “Mrs. Famous Movie Star’s Wife” and later, “The First Lady of the State of California” which truly blurred the lines for her on what SHE really wanted to be on her own terms.

I find myself in a similar spot in my life right now.

No, I am not married to a famous actor or a man in politics, but I have been asking myself the question – just who will I be? For so many years when I had a steadfast career, I defined myself by THAT title. Ivy League Graduate. Educator. School Administrator. Instructional Designer. Adjunct Professor. I even defined my worth as I proudly displayed each badge of honor and now, I am not quite sure of what my title is anymore…

So, who am I?

Perhaps I should be asking, “WHY do I define my value as a professional and on my personal happiness solely on a title?” If I were to return to the traditional workforce to attain a fancy new title again, although I would be earning much more money, the REAL question is, would I truly be happy?

My short answer? No.

So what’s in a title, anyway?  

As housewives, mothers, caregivers, caretakers, business owners, and women working numerous jobs around the clock in the midst of trying to juggle it all, that definition of “just who we will be” will come in time and mean different things to every single one of us. It’s up to us to discover our authentic selves, the one that makes us truly happy.

“May you always remember to trust your own heart, listen to your own voice, and have the courage to discover…Just Who You Will Be.” –Maria Shriver

Maybe, just maybe, all of those previous failed attempts at re-entering a former career are simply God’s way of leading me toward a different path…the path I was always meant to travel. For me, this means being personally and professionally fulfilled on my own terms. 

Theta Mom® 2013: A Year in Review

Another year has come and gone. Having said that, this is the perfect time to reflect on the previous year and look forward to beginning anew.

Here are some of my favorite posts (one from each month) from Theta Mom® in 2013. As I get ready to ring in the New Year, enjoy reading some posts you may have missed!

JANUARY: Bring Blogging Back

FEBRUARY: The Digital Lunch, or Not

MARCH: Chasing a Dream

APRIL: My Wish

MAY: With Clear Eyes and a Full Heart

JUNE: Mom Blogging and Our Digital Footprint

JULY: How I Got My Spark Back

AUGUST: Back to Basics

SEPTEMBER: End of Summer Sabbatical

OCTOBER: My 1980’s Childhood  

NOVEMBER: When Life Hands You a Bowl of Lemons  

DECEMBER: 500 and Counting  

And as always, pass me some bread, salt, and wine in 2014!! Taken from one of my favorite movies It’s a Wonderful Life, here’s why:

Bread–so that this house may never know hunger.

Bread

Salt–that life may always have flavor.

Salt

Wine–that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

Wine

Along with good health, please pass me the bread, salt, and wine in 2014.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERY THETA MOM®!!!