Tag Archives: holiday stress

Tech Gifts for Busy Moms 

The words “mom” and “busy” are synonymous, and that’s never more true than around the holidays. School programs, holiday parties, decorating – don’t get me started on shopping. Not all heroes wear capes – some wear yoga pants. So what’s the perfect gift for the woman who does it all, then does it all again? 

These gift suggestions should help you find the perfect present for the wonder woman in your life. 

Phone accessories – Whether she’s a Pop Socket, a wallet case, or the reason we can’t have nice things, there’s a phone accessory for that. If you’re looking for a bigger splurge, Everpurse (iPhone only) is a self-charging handbag specifically designed for the woman on the go. Users simply slide their iPhone into the charging pocket and le voila – your phone begins charging immediately. The bag itself recharges on its own customized mat in 6-8 hours or overnight. 

Tile Bluetooth Tracker – Are you even a mom if you don’t lose track of your phone or keys at least once a day? Simply attach a Tile to whatever you tend to lose often and its Bluetooth-enabled tracker and companion app will allow you to quickly locate the item. Even if your phone is on silent, your Tile will make the phone ring. One of its more popular features is its massive “lost and found” network. When a user loses an item and it’s not where the Tile app last saw it, you can ask the Tile community for help. Tile uses a “passive network”, so any phone running the Tile app is anonymously looking for other “lost” Tiles all the time. So, if you happen to leave your keys with an attached Tile at a restaurant and another Tile user walks by within the next hour, they can notify you through a passive text message. Then, once youʼre back within Bluetooth range, that user can “ring” the object through the app to locate it by sound.

35mm Film Scanner – Many moms have heaps of albums or shoeboxes tucked up on a shelf filled with photos, slides, and even old negatives. Help her digitize her it all with a film scanner that makes it easy to bring those old 35mm images into the digital age. Simply by using her phone’s camera and an app, she can capture the images stored on negatives and slides and get them onto her phone as normal digital images. At the higher end is the Plustek OpticFilm 8100 or go for a simpler, less expensive version in the Kodak Mobile Film Scanner

Not every mom or grandma on your list has a smartphone and not everyone is tech-savvy, so sometimes keeping in touch can be a challenge. Say hello to the answer to the “I don’t know how to FaceTime/Skype/WhatsApp/Messenger problem. The Amazon Echo Show 5 smart display offers a video calling function, making it easy to video chat with nana.

How many times in the run of a day do you think the average mom re-heats her morning coffee? Never mind – it’s a lot, trust me. Enter the Ember mug. This pretty as well as functional ceramic mug syncs with its app to show how much you’ve drink drank drunk from the mug, plus it also allows you to set your preferred temperature. It comes with a coaster that can reheat your drink and then keep it at your optimal temperature. 

Apple’s AirPods get all the hype, but they don’t even make TechRadar’s list of the Best Wireless Earbuds. Though wireless earbuds are battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they still have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too. True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. You can spend a lot or a little, put up with a cord or get rid of it altogether, but wherever you land, there’s definitely a quality option in your price range.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Stress Free Holiday Shopping

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – unless you’re Secret Santa for someone you don’t know well, you’re buying for your mother in law who already has everything and asks for nothing or a child whose list is longer than a Harry Potter book.

According to research by Chase Card Services, 80% of Americans say the holidays stressed them out and nearly a third admit shopping for gifts is the primary reason. In a survey conducted by VitalSmarts, 47% said shopping for gifts stressed them out, and 50% said financial pressures we’re at the top of their Christmas list. And a third survey, this one by McKinsey & Company, reported that not knowing what to buy is the number one worry for shoppers entering the holiday season. 

If you nodded your head to any or all of those statistics, these tips and tricks can help put the happy back in your Hannukah, the merry back in your Christmas, and bring light, happiness, and peace back to your Kwanza. 

Make your list and check it twice. And three times. Maybe four…you get the picture. Unless your list is really short, don’t try to keep track of gifts in your head. Make a note on your phone, in an old school marble notebook, or use an app like Santa’s Bag, an app that allows you to organize your shopping and spending for each gift recipient. It’s password-protected so neither your partner nor your kids can sneak a peek. 

If you’re struggling with gift ideas, do a little social media stalking – the good kind, like Santa does, not the kind that will get you arrested. A quick scroll through someone’s Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter may inspire you as you can easily see their hobbies, interests, and what they like to do for fun. Instead of a physical present, give an experience like museum or concert tickets, or donate to a charity they support in their name. 

Be strategic. The key to surviving holiday shopping is to have a plan. Kevin Gallegos, Senior Vice President of Client Enrollment at Freedom Debt Relief says, “Map out what stores you plan to visit, what you plan on purchasing at each store, and in what order you plan to stop at each location.” Avoid marketing traps like grabbing the first thing you see when you walk in the door. Those are designed to catch your eye, cause impulse shopping, and make sure the retailer gets the better end of whatever deal they’re advertising. 

The old adage, “You have to spend money to make money,” wasn’t meant for Christmas shopping, but it kind of works in this situation. install browser extensions like Honey and RetailMeNot Genie before you even start shopping. Both automatically apply any applicable coupons and discounts at checkout, no more scouring the internet for coupon codes and deals. 

If Amazon Prime has spoiled you and the thought of paying for shipping makes you cringe, hang on to your cart until December 14th for Free Shipping Day. Both big-box stores and smaller retailers will offer free shipping and guarantee your gifts will arrive by Christmas Eve. So, if you can wait, sit tight.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

How To Manage Holiday Stress

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless spending time with family means days filled with conflict and tension. Or, your children have wish lists that read more like a ransom note. Or, you’re already well over-budget, and it’s not even December yet.

There are as many reasons the holidays can be stressful as there are reasons your great-aunt Esther needs to be reminded you can’t believe everything you read on Facebook. An American Psychological Association study found women experience more holiday stress than men. Just 25% of women say they get a chance to relax during the holidays, and 44 percent report higher stress levels between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And according to an online survey of 1000 adults by Pure Profile, men spend 53 hours preparing for the holidays, while women spend even more at a whopping 83 hours. “Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.”

Janet Hibbs, therapist and coauthor of  “Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage” puts it this way, “Women’s holiday stress often represents the pressure of creating holiday magic for their children, partners, and the real and imagined audiences of their own parents,” says B.. “Childhood memories of gingerbread houses, decorations, wrapped presents, special foods, as well as familial and religious traditions pose unconscious expectations.”

So how do we avoid falling into this trap? Well, Dr. John A Call, psychologist and president of Crisis Management Consultants recommends that you start by determining what stresses you out. “Is it a certain situation, a particular person, or that long list of things to do? Realizing what gives you stress is the first step to managing it.”

The next step is to think about how you manage your stress. Be careful of unhealthy behaviors like turning to alcohol or stress-related eating and instead find healthier responses like exercise or talking with your partner or friends.

Should you determine that your coping mechanisms are unhealthy, don’t beat yourself up – you’re trying to reduce stress, remember? Instead, give yourself grace and make a better choice next time. One of the best things you can do for yourself is simply put yourself to bed. According to the American Psychological Association, “Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Many are willing to help but don’t know how to ask or what to offer. Conversely, many of us want help but don’t know how to delegate. Be honest, be humble, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, learn to say “No.” There’ll be a thousand demands placed on you in the coming weeks. Many of them will be good things, but learn to separate the good from the great. Determining where your priorities lie and determining to keep them first allows you the freedom to say no, even to family and friends. Whenever possible, use these magic words, “Let me get back to you,” if asked to take on another project, volunteer opportunity or accept an invitation. It’s like hitting the pause button – it gives you time to check your calendar, talk to your partner, and may prompt the person asking to look for alternatives in case you decline the request.

If you say no, you’re of course under no obligation to offer a reason, but having an honest answer as simple as, “It doesn’t work with my schedule this year,” softens your response. It’s also a softer answer than a hard, “No,” and like the proverb says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.