Tips for Easing the Transition Back-to-School Online

Role Mommy Guest post by Jennifer ZIegenmier
As a working mom, I know the daily pressures we face — whether it’s meeting deadlines at the office or meeting the demands of home life.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,800 working and stay-at-home moms by American InterContinental University found that 90 percent of those surveyed feel increased pressure these days to contribute more to their household income. As a result, many are considering a return to school to hone their skills in order to better compete in the workforce and improve their income opportunities.
For me, the hardest thing about going back-to-school was juggling a demanding role at work that was already leaving me hard pressed for time at home in addition to pursuing my degree at the University where I was employed, which added an extra layer of pressure to succeed.
In the end, I realized that the opportunities created by furthering my education far outweighed the short-term challenges. Understanding the flexibility and convenience of an online degree program made the decision to pursue my MBA online a little bit easier, too.
If you’re considering a return to school, here are some tips to ease the transition:
Establish short and long-term goals: Whether it’s the goal of completing your coursework by end of week or completing your degree in a year, you need to set realistic goals for yourself. This way, you’ll be less inclined to throw in the towel when you face a hectic day.
Participate fully and regularly: Online courses may be convenient, but they aren’t a shortcut to education. Use the online tools available to you – chats, an online library, office hours with instructors – to get the most from your online coursework.
Set aside a study area: Since you will be attending school in a virtual classroom, stake out a study space at home, work or favorite coffee house. My favorite place to study was at the kitchen table, before anyone else was up – with a cup — or three — of coffee, of course.
Expect the unexpected: It’s inevitable: your computer crashes the night your final paper is due. You daughter comes down with the flu the day before a homework assignment must be submitted. Life as a mom and online student requires setting reasonable deadlines for yourself so you’re not scrambling at the eleventh hour and creating extra anxiety.
400_pixel_Ziegenmier.jpgCommunicate with your university and network with other students: Reach out to instructors when you have questions just as you would in a live classroom environment. Check to see if the school you’re considering offers a virtual commons, which can provide ways for those with similar interests to connect.
For more information, visit www.womenachieve.org, where you can also apply for the AIU WomenAchieve Scholarship, which provides qualifying women financial assistance to earn a master’s degree online.
Jennifer ZIegenmier is vice president of student management at American InterContinental University. She lives in Schaumburg, Ill. with her husband and 10-month-old daughter.

The Toy Industry’s Holiday Gift Guide

The Holidays are fast approaching, believe it or not. Hanukkah is right after Thanksgiving this year and Christmas will be here in a blink of an eye! Oh oh time to go shopping!!! Here is what the Toy Industry Association is recommending that every girl and boy will be sure to love…
Spy Net Rearview Spy Glasses Jakks Pacific
Eyes on the back of your head! Mirror coated lenses let you see what’s going on… behind you. These glasses are stylish and anonymous, they’ll never know you’re on their trail! (Ages 8+) To purchase go to:

Bakutriad Spinmaster
Bakugan: Gundalian Invaders, the third season has become one of the most watched animation series in the country. Adding to the excitement Spin Master has launched the most dynamic new Bakugan characters yet. (Ages 5+) To purchase go to:

Wheel Pals Animal Tracks Playset by Hasbro
Whether going on jungle explorations through JUNGLE JOURNEY playset, sliding a wheeled friend down a haystack at the ROLLING ACRES farm or meeting a friendly whale at the POLAR PARTY track, toddlers are sure to have a rolling good time! All three lively track sets, each sold separately, can connect to form a silly, winding path for favorite WHEEL PALS friends. (Ages 18 months +) To purchase go to:

Fancy Nancy Ballerina Madame Alexander
Fancy Nancy Ballerina, who is accompanied by her plush white dog Frenchy, is the fanciest ballerina ever to do a pirouette. She wears a gold metallic lame crown, a violet lycra leotard and a tulle tutu, legwarmers with orange, green, white, turquoise and hot pink stripes, and stitched-on hot pink ballet slippers. (Ages 3+) To purchase go to:

Discover Garden Game by I Can Do That! Games
Search the garden for hidden treasures. Flip over a card to reveal what colorful bug, lost tool, or buried heirloom needs to be found. Then spin the spinner and peek below one of five secret locations! Do you see a match? You’ll shake the box and the treasures will slide and hide in new locations. Find the most treasures to win! (Ages 3+) To purchase go to:

My Natural Dr. Seuss Eco-Plush by Hosung
My Natural Dr. Seuss Eco-Plush toys are made with all natural (untreated, unprocessed and unbleached) cotton and colored with Purewaterwash process that uses plants and minerals in soy water for the dye bath. Sold in two sizes: 8-inch and 15-inch. (All ages) To purchase go to:

Scene It? 80’s by Screenlife
Are you ready to flashback to Flashdance? Relive the rad fads of Punk Rock, Fraggle Rock, Pop Rocks and more. Bursting with trivia and filled with 80’s-themed on-screen challenges, this game packs in more movie and music clips than a Betamax library! (Ages 13+) To purchase go to:

Mix Pups Double Pack by Jazwares
Girls can start mixing and matching right from the start with the Mix Pups double pack that features two poseable puppies. Each dog is adorned with three accessories and the pack includes four more accessories. Each dog is numbered and comes with a personalized dog bed featuring the puppy’s name on it. (Ages 4+) To purchase go to:

Karito Kids Doll and Book by KidsGive, LLC
Inspired by real girls from around the world, the multiple award-winning Karito Kids characters start the new decade with a completely new look. Every Karito Kid purchase helps a child in the developing world with health, home, school or food. (Ages 3+)
To purchase go to:

Bezzerwizzer by Mattel
This you know it all? Bezzerwizzer is a new twist on trivia with 20 categories of questions, plus stealing and tile-swapping for fast-paced game play. As players make their way around the board, they must rely on both strategy and knowing all the answers, s opponents can steal points or categories away from them! For up to four players. (Adults) To purchase go to:

Rubik’s Slide by Techno Source
Rubik’s Slide is a new electronic puzzle game from Techno Source that combines the simplicity and fun of casual games with fast-paced brain-busting cubing. Rubik’s includes multiple levels of difficulty with easy, medium and hard puzzles built-in, so anyone can play. (Ages 8+) To purchase go to:

Phone of My Own by Sassy
This little blue flip phone features lights, sounds, words in English and Spanish, textures and moving parts to amuse baby. Baby will love opening and closing the little phone and pretending to talk, just like grown-ups! (Ages 6 months +) To purchase go to:

iXL by Fisher-Price
XL is a child’s portable window to a whole new world of learning and entertainment, with 6 great applications: Story Book, Game Player, Note Book, Art Studio, Music Player and Photo Album. iXL can store multiple software titles, songs and pictures – no cartridges needed – with additional licensed software available.(Ages 3- 6) To purchase go to:

Perplexus by PlaSmart
Perplexus is a maze game where players must maneuver a small marble around challenging barriers inside a transparent sphere. In addition to it’s vast entertainment value, Perplexus is a great tool for child development, encouraging children to exercise their motor and dexterity skills, as well as improving their hand-eye coordination. Perplexus is available at Toys “R” Us, Target, specialty stores and online. (Ages 6+) To purchase go to:

Happy shopping!

The List Makers

Lately, I have noticed that a lot of lists have been flooding the blogosphere. First it was Klout – a website that as of about a month ago, I had no idea even existed and now suddenly, everyone with a blog is proudly shouting from the rooftops how great their score is. I of course, have a lousy score – which boggles my mind because I know a lot of people with a lot of klout…I mean CLOUT. In fact, some of my friends who are incredibly influential IRL have the crappiest Klout scores too. At least I’m not alone.
And then there’s Babble. I don’t know about you, but every couple of months those editors at that popular upscale parenting blog really irk me. Why do you ask? Because without fail, whenever they do any kind of list, I am never ever on it. Don’t get me wrong – there are incredibly amazing people who are on that list year after year (Liz at Mom101) and others who just made their coveted list (congrats to Love that Max and Mommas Gone City). Unfortunately, I will never, ever be featured on a Babble list. And you know what? I’m really okay with that (sniff, sniff).
So rather than wallow in a pity party about how I never make lists, I’ve decided that maybe I don’t belong on lists anyway. Instead, I will be a list maker! The lists you will get to enjoy over the coming weeks and months will be filled with people I adore, I admire, deserve a major shout out and who generally are hard working really great individuals who may not make every list, but they certainly top ours.
So without further ado, we present The Role Mommy List Makers and our very first top 10..

Top 10 List of Inspiring Women:


1. Lee Woodruff – By far, one of the greatest writers I’ve ever met and one of the most inspiring as well. Lee also has an incredible sense of humor as evidenced by her most recent mom-oir, Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress. She and her husband Bob Woodruff, who suffered massive brain injuries while covering the Iraq war for ABC news, recently spearheaded the 2nd annual Stand Up for Heroes star studded charity event to benefit Remind.org, an organization the couple founded to support U.S. soldiers who have suffered brain injuries during the line of duty. What I also love about Lee is that she truly takes time of our work schedule to take quality vacations with her family. When I grow up, I want to be just like Lee Woodruff.
2. Jennie Baird – Jennie Baird is a pioneer. No she is not the Pioneer Woman (who makes every list under the sun) but she is a dreamer and a do-er and a great ice skater too. She launched AOL Coaches and knew the value of optimizing web traffic before the blogosphere even existed. She was the editor in chief of iVillage. And now, she’s a successful web start up consultant and entrepreneur, who along with her business partner (Baby Name Wizard author Laura Wattenberg), created Baby Name Wizard – the ultimate site for all things relating to naming your baby which receives nearly 500,000 visits per month. Recently, Baby Name Wizard announced a cool subscription feature with tons of great baby naming tools and resources for parents and parents to be. I adore Jennie because she’s also a wonderful sounding board, having offered me invaluable advice as I’ve built my own brand from the ground up without knowing anything whatsoever about SEO. I love women who support other women and Jennie tops that list any day of the week.
3. Nina Restieri – The creator of Mom Agenda was one of the first mom-trepreneurs to create a beautiful planner that outlines your work and family schedule so that you don’t forget about things like orthodontist appointments and conference calls (guilty as charged). Since its inception in 2005, momAgenda has grown annually to include a diversified range of products that help organize the lives of mothers and others, including day planners (myAgenda, mom Agenda and Personal Portfolio) home organizers (Kitchen Folio, School Years, Wall Calendar) and helpful pads (Weekly Menu/Grocery Pad, Permission Slip, Honey Do List and Babysitter Info). The collection is sold at leading national retailers and regional boutiques throughout the US. Nina is also incredibly supportive of the blogging community and even blogs herself. Oh and did I mention she’s been looking absolutely fabulous these days?
4. Kim Orlando – My friend Kim, the creator of Traveling Mom and TMOM network (over 50 writers and counting) amazes me because she managed to turn her passion for travel into a life-long career. I first met Kim at a brunch spearheaded by the amazing Joy Rose at Mammapalooza where she first told me about her vision for Traveling Mom. Over the years, I’ve seen Kim turn her vision into reality and have enjoyed her reality TV style videos (loved her family adventure at Amelia Island) and have been having quite a blast on her travel Twitter parties – so much so that I think we may be devoting a week to luxury hotel bathrooms (actually, that’s just a suggestion from me). Kim celebrates women who travel by sharing their stories with the world and she also reminds me of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego since every time I talk to her, she’s somewhere else – this week it was Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nonetheless, I feel lucky to call her one of my really good friends.
5. Sharon Osbourne – After meeting @MrsSOsbourne (that’s her Twitter handle if you’re wondering) in New York City at a luncheon for the new CBS show “The Talk,” I became an instant fan. I love a woman who tells it like it is (with a little profanity thrown in for good measure), is fiercely protective of her kids and is incredibly supportive of other moms. And she’s a hugger! (She hugged me twice).
6. Julie Maloney – I met Julie several years back when I discovered she had lost more than 75 pounds with the Wii Fit. Julie started an online support group called Wii Mommies that now boasts thousands of members who have shed incredible amounts of weight using video gaming devices. Incidentally, Julie has now lost more than 100 pounds and is one sexy mama. She’s also had a tough couple of years medically and I hope for her sake, that after her most recent visit to have her tonsils removed, that she won’t be seeing the inside of a hospital for a very long time! One more thing – Julie has a wonderful sense of humor and biting wit, is incredibly supportive of others and has created another successful blog called Momspective where she offers advice to moms with her take no prisoners attitude. Julie, you rock. Nuff said.
7. Jeanne Muchnick – There are not enough words to say how much I adore Jeanne Muchnick – one of the best writers and editors I know. Jeanne is the author of Dinner for Busy Moms, works full time in PR and is a freelance magazine writer and mom of two teenage girls. Muchnick’s work has appeared in countless newspapers and magazines including Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Woman’s Health & Fitness, Bride’s, Modern Bride, Endless Vacation, The Daily News, The New York Times, The Journal News, InTown Westchester, Sprout.com, momcentral.com, familyfun.com, and Westchester Magazine. And she’s quite the pole dancer – but we’re saving that story for our next issue of Project You.
8. Tamsen Fadal – Tamsen is a gifted broadcast journalist (she’s currently an anchor on WPIX in New York), she hosts a weekly relationship segment on Better TV along with her husband Matt, the couple are the authors of two best-selling relationship books, Why Hasn’t He Called? and Why Hasn’t He Proposed? and they’re the founders of The Love Consultants where they offer advice to singles and couples on how to navigate the oftentimes treacherous waters of dating and relationships. Tamsen’s pay it forward approach to life and important causes (she’s an avid supporter of breast cancer awareness charities, having lost her mother to the disease), her sense of humor and style comes across in everything she touches.
9. Ross Ellis – The founder of Love Our Children USA has been at the forefront of bullying prevention, having created StompOutBullying.org more than five years ago. I am proud to be a member of Love Our Children’s advisory board and am always inspired by her dedication and support to those in need. Plus, Ross is the ultimate connector – turning the dreams of others into reality. In my eyes, Ross Ellis is a living angel.
10. Lauren Ruotolo – The author of Unstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl’s Guide to Living Tall in a Small World is currently the director of entertainment partnerships for Hearst magazines. Standing only 4 feet 2 inches tall in flats (which she never wears of course) Lauren was born with McCune Albright syndrome – a rare genetic disorder that affects anywhere between one in 100,000 and one in one million individuals. Despite her condition, Lauren is a super achiever and has never let her physical limitations stand in her way. Spend a few minutes with Lauren and get ready to be inspired.
Stay tuned for more fun lists from Role Mommy because honestly, why should Babble and Klout have all the fun?