Dear Boss Moms, Earthy Moms, Helicopter Moms and Pinterest Moms: Free Business Grade Security Software from Sophos

“Sophos provided me with compensation in exchange for this sponsored blog post. However, all the opinions expressed here are my own.” 

“I’m not a perfect mom.”  There I said it.  I rely heavily on others to help me get through the day.  What I mean by that is I rely on my friends like ‘Bucks (as in Starbucks), Annie (as in Annie’s Organic), and others who truly make life easier for a busy work-at-home mom.

When it comes to my business, I’m a master in the art most days. When it comes to parenting, that’s another story.  I let a few bad words slip now and then (okay, every day).  I feed my kids processed foods (in moderation, of course).  I let my two and five year olds play with the iPad unsupervised.

What?  You don’t?

Many stay-at-home moms excel in their own line of work but fail to understand how to keep their business and entire household safe from hackers, spammers and every other scary internet creeps.

Here are some of the ways to keep yourself, your business and your kids safe online.

Emails & Phishing

Email is a great resource for work-from-home moms, making work quick and convenient.  However, emails can be a major source of risk.  One of the biggest risks is something called “phishing.” Phishing is where criminals try to get hold of sensitive data by pretending to be somebody legitimate. For instance, they pretend to be your bank sending you an email saying your account will be shut down unless you “verify your account.”

But don’t worry; there are precautions that you can take to protect yourself.  Often, phishing emails are designed to deliberately scare you. The idea is to get your account information as quickly as possible before you figure out what’s going on.  But there are tell-tale signs that the phishing email is a scam.  For instance, any email that asks for sensitive account information is unlikely to be legitimate.  This applies even if the wording is particularly clever, such as “verify your account.” Also, make sure to check that the email address and any hyperlinks are valid. Be suspicious of any emails that have no other personal information, or look as if they have been churned out en masse.

Secure Wi-Fi

Weaknesses in your home Wi-Fi can put your business at risk.  Inadequate security doesn’t just mean your neighbors can use your router. It means that anybody passing by can steal your information.

Here’s what to do.  First, change your router’s username and password.  Some routers come with default passwords, making it easy for other people to access and change your settings. Next, set up a new Wi-Fi password that contains both numbers and letters. These are the hardest to guess. Finally, change your security to WPA or WPA2 as this is the only viable encryption technology available today.

Free Online Security… 

…That Actually Works

Sophos Home is a free business grade security software that Sophos is making available to individuals and families as their gift to the world to help make the internet as a whole a more secure place.  Whether you’re a work-at-home mom or not, internet security is a great tool to have.

Passwords

Work-from-home moms need to recognize that passwords are not always enough to keep them protected on the internet. While it’s true that passwords are rarely hacked, they are frequently stolen by other methods. For instance, we’ve already discussed the issue of phishing. But people also have their credentials stolen when they are stolen from a company with which they do business. Passwords, therefore, aren’t a failsafe way to protect your sensitive information online.

One of the biggest mistakes that moms make is using the same password for multiple accounts. Given that the average person has to remember 19 passwords, it’s not surprising that they do this. But it means that once one of your accounts is compromised, they all are. You should, therefore, use different passwords for each account you create.

Parental Controls

Work-at-home moms want to keep their kids safe online. But what can they actually do? The first line of defense is to use web filters. These block all websites and content that has been deemed inappropriate for children. Don’t worry, you can still create exceptions if a site gets accidentally blocked. Just cut and paste the URL for the site into the web filter’s exceptions list.

If your child has their own smartphone, you’ll have to disable adult content separately. Both Apple and Android devices have a parental filter setting in their settings panel. Go into the settings panel and turn the parental filter on.

Social Media Safety

Social media used to be about what you had for breakfast or your views on politics. But for many businesswomen, it’s become far more important. Social media is a central pillar of their marketing and customer outreach. But unfortunately, it is also a soft target for hackers.

There is, however, a solution. It’s called “two-factor identification.” Here, when you log into your social media account from a new location, a code is sent to your phone. You can only access your account from the new location if you type in this code. Thus, even if hackers do get hold of your password, they still can’t access your account.

I communicate with a lot of other bloggers and many have recently said that this two-factor identification has saved their Instagram account numerous times.

Sweepstakes

Register on or before November 3, 2016 to be eligible to win a gift card for a MacBook Pro or Apple Watch. No purchase necessary.  This is just Sophos’ way to say thanks for making your home and the internet a safer place.

Click the banner above to enter or simply click here.

Boss Moms: How to Balance Study and Family Life

woman in field holding books

Are you a parent who wants to start a new course to help better your business? If so, you need to think about this situation carefully. Combining your studies with parenting will be time consuming, exhausting and can quickly get out of control. Below are some of the ways you can effectively balance your studies and your family life.


Study Online

The internet makes it much easier for parents to study at home. For instance, if you want to further your business career, you can enroll in an online business administration degree course from reputable colleges and universities like Arizona State University. Completing an online business degree program in this way is a much more flexible way to obtain a high quality qualification because it can be done from any location and at times that suit you.
Use the Latest Technologies

The latest mobile and online technologies give you even more options. As well as being able to study online, you can use a huge range of devices, which means you don’t always have to be in the same location to study. This is perfect for busy parents, who may want to study in short bursts when they get some free time or when they are traveling and have a few minutes to spare. Smart phones in particular make it possible to do this and should be one of the tools you use to learn new things.

Talk to Your Partner

It’s vital to get the support of those closest to you. Talk to your partner and explain to them why you want to return to your studies. It may be difficult to adapt to the changes in the beginning, but the opportunities you will have later could greatly improve the living standards in your home.

Explain to your partner that there will be times when you need them to look after the kids and carry out other duties around the home while you spend time studying. Once your partner understands that you’re studying for the benefit of the whole family, they should be more cooperative and willing to help you.

Get Help from Other Family Members and Friends

Your partner is not the only person who can help you while you study and try to raise a family. Other family members and friends can also be extremely important in this situation. For instance, older children in your family or close relatives who live nearby, could look after your kids at times when you need to be able to concentrate on your academic work.

Study in a Place Where You Won’t Be Disturbed

Modern homes are not the ideal locations for studying in because there are a lot of distractions. This is why it’s crucial to find a quiet place where you can lock yourself away from the hustle and bustle of family life. The room you choose should also be comfortable and include all the equipment you need to be able to study effectively, without kids banging on the door.

It can be difficult to balance study or work life with family life. However, if you have the right approach and follow the tips above, you have a much better chance of succeeding.

Unproductive Days as a Work-at-Home-Mom

Hey, Boss Moms!

Do you ever have really unproductive days?  Today I’ve done a lot of social media browsing, following, commenting, liking, sharing – which is great for my social media strategy, but I haven’t done much in the way of blog work.  I have a list of photography projects I need to get done today, but I need better lighting outside.  I should be writing new blog posts for future projects, writing back to the hundreds of people that email me each week, cleaning my desk and office up, or something more productive than writing a post about being unproductive…

…but I just don’t want to work today!  You could call it a case of the Mondays!

My husband and kids are all napping which is a great time to tackle a ton of work.  I just can’t get it together today and would rather hang out on Pinterest looking for Fall outfits, blogging inspiration, gift ideas, bucket list-worthy vacation destinations, and all the other randomness I find.

I’ve found that in order to keep my sanity and keep myself from getting burnt out, it’s okay to have unproductive days.  We need time to gather our thoughts sometimes.  We need time to not have any thoughts, too.

Instead of putting so much pressure on myself to get a blog post up every day, I’m learning to just let it go (but not too much).  I’ve started about 10 things today – laundry, a meal plan for the week, a blog post, a to-do list, etc., but I have yet to finish any of it.  Sticky notes cover my desk, but I’ll probably never take a second look at them.

Today, I’ve chatted quite a bit in my blog engagement groups on Facebook, boosted some social media posts, figured out engagement rates for old social media posts and have written back to some commenters on the blog.  Maybe my day wasn’t as unproductive as I thought?

Do you allow yourself to have unproductive days?

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say – From a Mommy Blogger’s Perspective

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say - From a Mommy Blogger's Perspective
I first began blogging in 2012 when my first daughter was one year old.  By that time, we had a pretty solid nap schedule down – two two-hour naps each day – I could do anything I wanted (as long as it was at home).  I thought blogging would be a really fun way to try new products and meet new friends, but I mostly just wanted to feel important in a “business” type of way.  
I went from working a full time desk job to becoming a stay-at-home-mom in a matter of just a few months.  This was almost like a culture shock in a sense because I now had all this free time on my hands and not a clue what to do with it.
When I worked my desk job I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to get home so I could do “X, Y and Z.”  Once I was home permanently, I felt the need to fill my time up with other things while the baby napped.

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say - From a Mommy Blogger's Perspective
My daughter wears headbands and hair bows every day.  “I can totally make those!”Etsy Shop Owner
With our new family budget, I can’t afford to buy that fancy Restoration Hardware furniture.  “I can totally copy that antiqued look.”Furniture Restorer
I do love trying new products and I do love freebies.  “I’m going to start a review blog.” Mommy Blogger
My husband just bought me this awesome new expensive DSLR camera for Christmas.  I can’t wait to take daily photos of my baby.  “These photos look great.  I should start a photography business.”Photographer
I absolutely love this drink; and this makeup; and these clothes; and this jewelry.  “I’m going to start a sales team – and all of my friends can join me!” – Direct Sales Rep
I’m already on the computer anyways.  “Sure, I’ll take a survey for $5.” Survey Taker
Most of my friends went back to work.  “I can totally watch their kids all day.”Daycare Provider
“I want to work from home so I can spend more time with my baby.”

“I want to be able to contribute monetarily to the household.”

“I want to feel more adult in a world full of goo-goos and gagas.”

“I want to be able to support my shopping habits without dipping into our normal funds.”

“I need a project that I can do at my leisure.”

“I don’t want someone else raising my kids.”
Sound familiar to any of you?  Is this why you became a mommy blogger?  Or a photographer?  Or a daycare provider; Etsy shop owner; furniture restorer; survey taker; personal shopper; secret shopper?

Ironic Struggles of a Work-At-Home-Mom

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say - From a Mommy Blogger's Perspective
If you want to be successful at anything in life you’ve got to put in the work.  You can’t do anything halfway or nobody will purchase your recovered sofas, read your reviews, buy your photos, order your headbands, etc.
The problem with doing work is that it takes time.  Yes, time!  Remember that thing that you thought you had a ton of?
I often find myself thinking…

“I wish I had more time to spend with my kids.”

“My house is always a mess.  I wish I had time to clean it.”

“I wish I had more time to actually cook those recipes that I found on Pinterest.”

“I would love to go on a work-free vacation for once.”

“I wish I had more time to exercise.”


… and then it starts all over again.

“I want to be the best.”

“I need to step up my marketing game.”

“I want to go on that blogger trip.”

“I wish I had more money so I could go to an exercise class.”

“I need to make more money so I can hire a housekeeper.”

“Maybe I need a nanny?”



Balance – Is there such a thing?

Things That Work-At-Home-Moms Say - From a Mommy Blogger's Perspective
Most of us work-at-home-moms talk about finding a balance between home life and work life.  We have to balance a job, our husbands, our kids (because by this point we usually have more than the one kid we started out with), our house (which has been severely neglected), and still have to find time to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been blogging for four years and have NEVER found a way to balance working and real life.  It’s nearly impossible to split it 50/50 and I have just learned to take life day by day.  If today, my house needs cleaning, blogging can be put on hold.  If tomorrow, clients need their articles posted, the kids can play on the iPad and we can order a pizza.  If the next day, my kids are really acting out for my attention or my mom-guilt sets in, I can take a day off for a family outing or craft day.
Though I have yet to find a true balance in life, I still hold onto the hope that the day will come where it will all run smoothly.
Until then…
Continue to be the best version of you that you can be.

10½ Things I’ve Learned About Myself from Blogging

Blogging resources for beginning bloggers.

1.  I’m disorganized

Prior to blogging, I had a desk job for five years.  I had a daily routine, a schedule to follow and my days were very repetitive.  And then I became a stay-at-home-mom which eventually led to blogging in 2012.  People always ask me how or why I started blogging.  My answer to this is:

Going from a full time desk job to a SAHM had me craving paperwork, emails and adult time.  I created my blog, initially, for a way for me to feel “important” in other ways besides being a wife and mother.  I had no idea what I wanted to blog about except for the fact that I wanted to review things.
So, I started reviewing products that I already had.  Then, I began reaching out to brands introducing myself as a product review and travel blogger.  Now, three years later I know my niche(s) and can focus on what I really want to focus on which is family, travel, style and fun.

I rely heavily on Post-It notes to jot down ideas for articles and reminders.  I put sticky notes on my computer monitor, my desk calendar, my actual desk, my notebooks and even on the products themselves.  The reason I stick with the actual Post-It brand of sticky notes is because they actually stick.  The dollar store brand is horrible and ends up curling up and falling off of the surfaces.  You can find coupons for Post-It notes here.

2.  I eat horribly

I never thought in a million years that my eating routine would take a turn for the worst becoming a work-at-home-mom.  The truth is, having that full time desk job outside of the home kept me on a good eating routine because I was taking regular breaks.  My body got used to consistent mealtimes and my tummy growled every few hours.  Now, I’m lucky if I drink a glass of water during the work day.  Between taking care of two kids, working, paying bills, cleaning house (ha!), etc. I don’t ever take time to just eat a good meal.  I’ve tried services like Freshly, which are great, but I can’t always afford that.

I love grab-and-go food but find that a lot of it has not-so-great ingredients and I wind up hungry soon after.  Foods like Mamma Chia squeeze pouches, granola or chia drinks fill me up more than those 100 calorie pack snacks and they taste way better, too.  Chia seeds are super filling and can be tossed in just about any recipe.  One of my go-to make-ahead snack recipes is vanilla Chia pudding.

3.  I actually enjoy writing

Who knew?  The girl who can’t finish a book to save her life actually enjoys writing!  Maybe it’s because I have a lot to say?  Or maybe it’s because writing is my daily dose of adult “talk” after being with kids 24/7?  I’ll admit that while I love writing, I hate proof reading.

4.  I love taking photos

If you watch a blogger from a distance, you’ll notice them taking pictures of just about everything.  Food.  Drinks.  Products.  Selfies.  Kids…

I love taking pictures with my Canon DSLR camera to get better quality photos, but sometimes it’s just easier to use my iPhone 6.  The only problem with using my phone is that now I have 3,000 + pictures on my phone and can’t bring myself to part with any of them.

Since I post most of my pictures to Instagram, I decided to enroll in a service called BooksTo.Me.  BooksTo.Me delivers a month’s worth of pictures to me in a photo book format for $24/month.  You just sign into the BooksTo.Me site with your IG info and fill our your payment information.  It’s super easy and takes one less task off of my plate.

5.  I hate editing photos

There.  I said it.

 (affiliate banner)

I enrolled in the PicMonkey.com’s Royale package for $33/year to help with the photo editing process, but I still hate taking the time to make the edits.

6.  I’m a Google-a-holic

I Google (search) everything from popular keywords to the definitions of words I’m not very familiar with.  It’s my go-to search engine for just about everything.

7.  I have a hard time sticking to a schedule

In my mind, I’ve created the perfect organizational system for home life and blog stuff.  I’ve pinned lots of organizational methods as recommended by other bloggers, but I truly do have a hard time actually sticking to the schedules I’ve created.  I’m not exactly sure what the cure for this is, but it could have to do with reducing my workload (not overbooking) and will power.

8.  There’s no such thing as balance when it comes to blogging and home life

When I attended the Social Media on the Sand conference in Turks and Caicos, I heard from so many other bloggers that they, too, have a hard time finding a balance.  This made me feel so much better and less of a failure.

It’s hard to set aside certain times during the day to only check emails or only write articles when you work from home.  The kids are demanding, the husband is demanding, the pets are demanding, etc.

9.  I prefer hand-written to-do lists

Since I was in high school (eh-hem years ago), I learned that if I write something down with a pen and paper, I’m more likely to remember to do it – even if I never look at the paper again.
Earlier this year I discovered a brand called Gotcha Covered Notebooks to design personalized notebooks to take with me to blogging conferences.  For some reason having a pretty notebook means I’m more likely to write my to-do lists down.  I feel proud of that notebook every time I whip it out because I’m reminded of how blessed I am to even have a to-do list to write down.
The reason I prefer a notebook like this versus a cheap $1 notebook from Target is because these ones are bound so much better.  I never have issues with the papers tearing out because they are thicker than typical notebook paper.

10.  I’ve spent the last three years blogging on others’ terms rather than my own

It never fails.  I get a pitch emailed to me and I agree to it, rather than express my ideas of how my skills can benefit the brand.  I have a passion for creative marketing but I like to do so without making my readers feel “influenced.”  I also hate the term “influencer.”  Nobody wants to feel influenced – am I right?

10½.  I want to make a difference!  

So, as you can see blogging has taught me a lot about myself.  I’d love to hear some of your experiences with blogging.  Leave me a comment!

Blogs to follow for 2015/2016

How to Earn Extra Money from Home | Stitch Fix Referral Program

earn money from home, clothing
I love sharing easy ways for you to earn extra money from home.  Today’s earning opportunity doesn’t necessarily put cash in your hand but you end up earning $25 credits towards clothes – which is pretty much the same thing, right?  Basically, you sign up for Stitch Fix and start referring your friends and family to get their fix and you earn $25 for each successful sign-up.
Pretty cool, right?  You can visit StitchFix.com to learn more.  I also love the blog.stitchfix.com for styling tips.

How to Use Your Business to Promote a Charity on Facebook

How to Use Your Business to Promote a Charity on Facebook
Palmco childhood cancer banner
Social media can do wonders for any business provided you put effort into maintaining the account. It can help drive sales and turn occasional visitors into ardent fans. Using your business Facebook page, you can help virtually any charity you support even if you don’t have a lot of people following the account. It can be used to promote charities both local and abroad.
Imagery in Messages
It’s been found that messages in social media have a greater impact when they include images as opposed to plain text. It catches the eye and people are more likely to read them. When you’re promoting a charity, use an appropriate image that can capture the attention of potential readers.
Videos in Messages
Facebook is capable of including video from YouTube or directly from your recording devices such as smartphones. Videos have become incredibly popular on the social media site and are used for a wide range of purposes. Uploading your video has potential to increase awareness of the charity especially if you integrate YouTube to share your content. As YouTube has it’s own community, a single video could impact two separate social sites in one upload.
Hashtags
Although Twitter is the social hub that is renown for using hashtags to include messages in conversations, Facebook also supports the technology. When writing the material for your message, include the appropriate hashtags in order to encourage more people to join in the conversation regarding your cause. By clicking on the hashtag itself, people are capable of seeing all messages that have been marked in similar fashion.
Boosting
Facebook allows you to “boost” the messages from your business account. This is a form of advertising that allows you to fine-tune who you want to see the message. Using local demographics such as city, age and gender, you can market the charity event to specific individuals who may be more likely to help raise awareness or assist in the cause.
Call to Action Button
On the Facebook business page, you can set up a “Call to Action” button that can link directly to your website or charity event. A call-to-action is a method in which inspires people to act on the information that is provided. It’s free to use and easy to set up on your business profile page near the background image.
Facebook can be a powerful tool to generate marketing for a wide range of purposes. Most organizations such as Palmco do what they can to help those in need through a variety of processes. Involve your business today and help bring a brighter future to someone who needs help.

Gotcha Covered Notebooks | Personalized Notebooks for Teachers or Bloggers

I’ve seen so many of my teacher and blogger friends pinning personalized notebook ideas on Pinterest recently.  I’ve seen everything from florals to text and beyond but I’m really loving what Gotcha Covered Notebooks has to offer right now.
Gotcha Covered Notebooks allows you to fully (and I mean fully) customize your notebooks.  You can choose everything from the paper style, to the notebook size, to the spiral color and covers.  It’s super easy to get just about any look you’re after with their CREATE YOUR OWN feature.
I’m really impressed with the thickness of the paper and covers of the notebooks I received.  I love that the pages aren’t perforated which will help to prevent them from ripping out.  They’re so much better than those other “back to school” notebooks sold at the local stores.
I plan on taking my personalized notebooks to the Social Media on the Sand conference in October to use for notes and collecting other bloggers’ info.  I can’t wait to show them off!
This post was sponsored by Gotcha Covered Notebooks.  Thanks for checking out our sponsors and their products.

How to Create a Website App Button

Did you know you can save TheNapTimeReviewer.com to your home screen if you have an iPhone?  When you’re on a website, click the button at the very bottom center of your screen (the square with an arrow pointing up).  

Once you click that square some options will come up.  Click “ADD TO HOME SCREEN.”
You can see a preview of what the ICON will look like, along with the link you will be directed to when you click on it.  You can also rename your tab here.

After you click ADD you will have created your own TAB!