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MidAge Mom is for women who are parenting in midlife rather than celebrating the empty nest on a beach in Bali . . .

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Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

The Almost Empty Nest

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The empty nest can come early when your kid is involved in an activity.

At least it’s starting to feel pretty quiet around here.

My older daughter, Isabelle, is in her first year of college. My younger one, Jessica, is at ballet. Jessica is at the dance studio six days a week. It’s her home away from home; many nights she doesn’t finish until 9 p.m. She spends some weekends away at competitions.

All of which is leaving this house a little quieter than I would like, giving me a real sense of what the empty nest will feel like.

So much for complaining about lack of time alone with my husband. Now I have plenty of it, as well as lots of time to myself. In some ways it’s a nice change. I always did like thinking my own thoughts. But I miss the hubbub of my early parenting years, which I chronicled in Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life. And the quiet has also brought some soul-searching.

Who am I without kids? What do I do with my time? How do I keep life interesting?

These are big midlife questions that can drive you crazy, and I think they’ve been partly responsible for the anxiety and depression I’ve experienced the last three years. There’s nothing like a quiet house to make you wonder who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing. It can be hard to find a purpose as grand and meaningful as parenting.

But when I’ve tried to explain these feelings to my psychiatrists words have failed me.

So I’m grappling with the almost empty nest alone and probably not very well. About all I’ve figured out is that the quieter things get around here the more I need to be writing. Nothing has made me feel better lately than posting to this blog again.

It turns out that Twinkletoes isn’t the only one in the family who is blessed with a gift.

Writing is something I can always come back to.

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What activities are you pursuing as the kids grow up? Share by commenting below!

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Photo © Mark Hryciw/Dreamstime.com

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Ladies, Rise Up! Loving My Sit-Stand Desk

Electric Light Duty Adjustable Height Desk from Ergo DepotMany of us midlife moms spend too much time on our butts. Sitting at the computer, driving kids, watching the game – we’re far too sedentary.

Studies find people who sit a lot at greater risk for heart disease, various cancers, obesity and other problems. They also have a higher death risk – even if they exercise often. And if you have hip or leg issues like me, prolonged sitting is terrible.

To address those problems, I recently bought a sit-stand desk. Talk about a great lifestyle change! Few purchases have been more beneficial.

Getting Off My Butt

I considered buying a standing desk for years. However, standing for long periods wasn’t appealing either. (Ask your hairdresser about her feet.) Some people log miles on treadmill desks. I couldn’t imagine walking, typing and sipping coffee.

Then a hip injury forced me off my butt.

First I tried a homemade setup, and this may work for you. My daughter had a lap desk 13 inches tall. Placed on my regular desk, it was the perfect height to support my laptop and allow me to work standing.

Normally, though, I work sitting at a computer table with my laptop plugged into an ergonomic keyboard and a 30-inch display. Standing to work on the laptop meant unplugging the keyboard and monitor and resizing windows, a tedious process. And working on the laptop keyboard hurt my arms. (Using the Kinesis Advantage Keyboard eliminated my tendonitis years ago.)

The experiment did make clear, though, that an ideal setup would encourage switching from sitting to standing often. We’re so used to working in one position. What we really need is to keep moving.

That meant looking for a desk that would go up and down easily and support my laptop, monitor and keyboard, allowing me to change position without rejiggering devices.

Shopping for an Adjustable-Height Desk

Sit-stand desks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. At 39 by 31 inches, the desk I bought supports all my equipment but is small enough to fit in the corner between my two regular desks. Electric, it goes from sitting to standing or stops at any height in between with the push of a button.

Presto! I just changed position again while writing this. Interested?

Here are tips for buying a sit-stand desk:

Buy One that Rises Easily: You’re not going to stand if it takes two people to adjust the desk or involves laborious cranking. Consider an electric desk that rises with the push of a button.

• Research on YouTube: Videos show how these desks are constructed and how easily they adjust. YouTube is also a good source for information on building your own desk.

• Beware Return Charges: Some companies sock it to you on returns. Check the fine print and look for a reasonable policy.

• Check Durability: You don’t want to put expensive computer equipment on something that’s going to collapse. My desk is called “light duty” but it’s incredibly solid with a lifting capacity of 154 pounds.

• Consider the Vendor: Some sellers seem to be targeting large corporate buyers; their websites were Greek to me. In other cases, it wasn’t clear how the desk worked. Keep looking. There are better sources out there.

Getting Set Up

I bought my desk from Ergo Depot and was really happy. The desk cost $677 with the pricier veneer and shipped for free, making it less expensive than many other electric desks. The company has a good return policy, clear website and helpful customer service. It was one of the few vendors that offered a small electric desk.

But beware of assembling this piece of furniture yourself. Some guy on the Internet said he assembled my model in 45 minutes. Ha! It took me the whole day, partly because the base is heavy. I also got stuck in one part of the instructions.

My husband isn’t handy, and I have a stubborn do-it-yourself streak. I assembled my daughter’s entire loft bed by myself. (Five boxes. One near nervous breakdown. Such pride on completion!) However, this may be my last such project. For get this – I put the wooden top of the desk on upside down! No wonder it was so hard to screw in.

“You always mess up something. But it works out,” said the man who stepped over Ikea bookshelf parts on our first date. Gee, thanks honey!

Ah, well. The desk still works beautifully, is solid as a rock and has allowed me to write despite hip problems. Standing has been far more enjoyable than expected. And switching between sitting and standing is energizing.

Next Up: A Funky Chair

Stay tuned. Soon I’ll have even more positions to work in. The HAG Capisco chair I ordered from Ergo Depot is strange looking but amazingly versatile. With straight arms and a saddle seat, it allows you to sit, stand, perch semi-standing or turn the whole thing around and sit leaning forward. I’ll let you know whether it’s a boon or a bust.

Do you use a standing or adjustable-height desk? Any brands or home setups you’d recommend? Please comment below!

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P.S. The orchid by the desk is from my mother-in-law. Thanks Elaine!

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Hey Smart Mom, What’s On Your Smartphone? 4 Apps You’ll Love

A good smartphone application can make a midlife mom’s life easier, more productive and even more fun.

So, what’s on your smartphone? Which applications, or apps, help you as a busy mother?

Below are a few favorites on my iPhone. All have free versions and are easy to use:

Evernote

Use Evernote to save and organize notes from text, web pages, photos and screenshots. The app lets you access them from your phone.

The notes are stored in the cloud on Evernote’s servers. They’re indexed and searchable.

Snap a picture of a business card with your phone. Then find it by searching the contact’s information. You can also email the notes. Can your tween do this?

Gone are the days of scrounging in my purse for a tattered shopping list that includes last month’s class cupcakes. My shopping lists are now on Evernote. I update them easily from my phone or computer.

Instapaper

So much information. Never enough computer time. What’s a mom to do?

Save articles on the web for later reading with Instapaper.

This application installs a “read later” button on your computer’s browser. Click the button when you find something interesting on the web and Instapaper stores a copy of the article in your account.

The app lets you access the articles later on your phone in a clean, easy-to-read format. You can also forward links or long emails to your Instapaper account.

With Instapaper, you can set up a library of material to read on the go. It’s especially useful for long articles. Some of us still read long articles, right?

Never be bored waiting at the orthodontist’s office again!

Dictionary.com

Yikes – some 5th grade vocabulary words leave me stumped! Do you know the meaning of “emend?”

Download Dictionary.com, hand your child the phone and make dinner in peace rather then be drilled on vocabulary you don’t know or have forgotten.

Or access it on the sly and preserve your status as an intelligent mom.

Alas, It is too late for me.

Lose It!

Studies show that people who write down what they eat lose weight.

But who can carry a notebook and calorie counter around – especially when you’re toting small fry’s stuff?

With Lose It you can set weight-loss goals and a calorie budget and meet them by tracking food and exercise on your phone.

Lose It’s database is comprehensive and includes meals from popular restaurants. You can also create foods and exercises and add recipes. Entering info is easy and fast.

If you set up a LoseIt.com account on the web, you can view reports on your progress and have them regularly emailed to you.

The only problem: you have to use it to lose it.

It’s best to log food right after eating. By the time you’re preparing the next meal the last one is ancient history. Did you eat it? Did they eat it? Did you give it to the dog? Who knows?

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So that’s my list. Please share what’s on yours!

Any cooking apps you love? Any phone camera apps you’d recommend? Any you use to track your children or amuse them?

Any that do dishes or laundry?

Midlife moms need to stay tech savvy, if for no other reason than to keep up with the kids. So I’ll be sharing more technology tips here.

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This post has been brought to you by a woman who learned to type on a manual typewriter. . .

Photo Credit © Anna Khomulo/Dreamstime.com

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