Category Archives: career

Sorry Working Moms, You’re Getting Bashed Again

I’m popping out of my blog-break to rant. Today I (stupidly) read an opinion piece that flat-out stated daycare is bad for kids. And that studies claiming “the kids are alright” are actually carefully crafted so as not to hurt working women’s feelings with the truth.

Naturally, working fathers were not mentioned in the post.

I’m not linking to the piece because a) I think it’s BS and b) it turns out to be an old post making the rounds a second time and you probably already read it. But allow me to rage for a moment. Or longer.

This blogger’s argument makes the following (wrong) assumptions:

That all children at home are automatically receiving higher-quality care than those in daycare.

That all women have a choice between staying home with their children, and going out to work.

That there was some golden point in history where no mother worked outside the home, and the children were all perfect as a result.

That mothers who did stay at home were always focused solely on caring for their children.

That wealthy mothers who stayed home never hired other women to care for their children. (See: Downton Abbey.)

That mothers who work outside the home today are doing so to afford “luxuries” like [insert things other families are supposed to learn to live without if only they made sacrifices].

That mothers who could afford to live comfortably off their partner’s income but choose to work to afford said luxuries are automatically bad mothers.

That mothers who do have financial choice and still opt to work outside the home because [insert any other reason] are automatically bad mothers.

That men are more ambitious than women and wouldn’t choose to stay home with their children anyway.

That fathers who work outside the home never have anything to do with the raising of their children.

That fathers who work outside the home are never doing so for selfish reasons, or even if they are, that’s ok, because men!

That women are always the better caregivers and should therefore always be the ones to stay home with the children.

That marriages never break up.

That there are no single parents.

That there are no same-sex parents.

That all women who stay home with their children want to do so.

That women can just pick up where they left off career-wise after staying home for X years to care for children.

That mothers who do stay home never have all or some of their children in daycare or preschool.

That sending a child 3.5 and up to school full-time is fine, expected even, but daycare is “letting others raise your children for you”.

I could go on. But bear with me a little longer…

Let’s just say, it’s true: children in daycare are at higher risk of x, y or z. I don’t believe it, but for the sake of argument, let’s go there. So, what now? Many if not most mothers work! Have to, want to, whatever. This is not changing! So maybe something else needs to. Maybe…

We could be a more family-friendly society over all, one that actually cares about the well-being of all children, and supports all parents in caring for theirs? Where women—and men—didn’t have to fear career-suicide for putting their families first when necessary?

There could be better parental leave for both mothers and fathers (we’re pretty fortunate here in Canada, but not everyone can take advantage of it, for financial or other reasons)?

There could be more flex-time, telecommuting, or job-sharing options?

We could value child care workers, and pay them a decent wage?

Or, what if there were more on-site daycares, so families could reduce the number of hours their children are in care and maximize the time they spend together?

What if we had universal child care, so those opting or needing to put their children in care could be assured it is of high quality, and not just what they could afford to cobble together?

What if instead of offering working mothers criticism (because let’s be honest, the articles are never about “working fathers”), we offered solutions and support?

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Filed under babies, career, child care, education, gender issues, in the news, parenting, pet peeves, Uncategorized, work, working parents

Things I Don’t Regret

Before I had kids, there were lots of things I was never going to do. And there were lots of things I was told never to do, or I’d regret it. Ten years into this parenting gig though, the kids seem to be doing all right, so I can tell you there are a number of choices that I don’t regret. Not at all. Here are some of them:

Breastfeeding my infants on demand around the clock. Breastfeeding past infancy. Not forcing them to wean when they weren’t ready. “Encouraging” them to wean when we both were.

Co-sleeping. “They” said we’d never get them out of our bed. “They” were wrong. If anything I regret not doing it sooner.

Rocking them to sleep. Nursing them to sleep. Staying with them until they fell asleep. Letting them nap in my arms, in the swing, in the car. Those years seem so long ago.


Picking my babies up when they cried. Carrying my kids as long as I could.

Not potty training. Amazingly, they have been out of diapers for a long, long time, despite the lack of candy or sticker rewards!

Encouraging my kids to take part in different activities. Not pushing them into activities.

Having a child in daycare. Working full time. Having a nanny. Staying home. Being a student-mom. Working part time. Working from home. It’s all good. Honest.

Taking a year of maternity leave. Having my kids three years apart. Taking my preschooler out of daycare while I was on mat leave with BB#2.

Putting my kids in French Immersion.

Not forcing them to do homework in Grade One.

Taking a stroller to Disneyland for my almost-5-year-old. Judge away, at least we had fun!

Spending money on books. Reading to my kids after they could read to themselves.

Letting my kids watch TV and play video games. Not letting my kids watch or play everything their friends are watching or playing.

Giving them choice over their hairstyles.

Staying with them on playdates when they were younger. Letting them walk around the block alone together now that they’re older.

Telling them the proper names for body parts and being honest about where babies come from.

Not being Pinterest-perfect.

Letting them believe in Santa Claus. Not getting into Elf on the Shelf.

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Filed under babies, birth, breastfeeding, career, child care, education, midwives, night-time parenting, parenting, reading, schools, sleep, technology, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, work, working parents

April IS the Cruelest Month

Last year about this time, we spent three weekends in a row playing pass the stomach bug. So when BB#2 started vomiting a couple weeks back, I braced myself for a repeat of awful April. I left detailed lesson plans on my desk each night lest I wake up unable to drag myself into school without a barf bag.

Sure enough, BB#1 got it the following week. My husband and I washed our hands obsessively, though we didn’t really believe it would help.

So we breathed sighs of relief when it passed and we managed to avoid getting it ourselves.

But relief was short-lived when BB#1 missed school yet again last week, this time thanks to PFAPA. Well, at least we knew we’d have another couple months before the next episode; with spring kinda sorta here, surely this was the end of winter viruses!

I must have spoken this out loud and tempted the fates, because poor BB#1 immediately caught a cold, and then “lost his lunch” yesterday (his words; and his dinner too). Can it be long before his brother takes his turn? And it’s really too much to ask that my husband and I be spared this round too, right?

With all the other work, life and school (I rather stupidly decided to sign up for a course in my “spare time”) stuff going on right now, all I can think is, April can’t be over soon enough.

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Filed under career, health, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, the beautiful boys, work, working parents

Things I am SO Over this Winter

I know I am not alone in wanting to see an end to the longest.winter.ever. Here are a few things I will not miss when spring finally arrives:

Endless sweeping of snow-melter salt in the front hall.

Not being able to see over the mountain of snow on my lawn as I back out of my driveway.

The other mountain of snow that used to be my assigned parking spot at work. (Currently taking bets on when it will finally melt. Leaning towards May…)

My winter wardrobe.

Indoor recesses.*

Hands so dry my skin is cracking.

Obsessively checking the forecast for a sign the temperature is starting to rise.

Playing pass the cold germs with my family.

Static cling.

Worrying about what to do with the boys in the perfect storm of husband away on business+buses cancelled+schools still open (read: I have to work but have no way to get my kids to and from school).

Complaining about the cold.

Other people complaining about the cold.

People complaining about people complaining about the cold.

Not being able to complain about the heat.

*These I suspect will continue on as the snow turns to slush, and then the April showers begin. Fun times!

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Filed under career, child care, in the news, random, schools, Uncategorized, working parents

Happy New Year! Even If It’s Almost March…

So, looks like I haven’t posted yet in 2014. Whoops. That whole life getting in the way thing again. I’ve started composing a few posts here and there in my head but never seem to have the time to actually put them down on screen and hit publish.

It’s been the longest winter ever, with no real end in sight. Really wish we’d booked that March Break trip we were thinking about last summer…Beautiful boys are well though, knock wood still no mystery fevers for BB#2 since the tonsillectomy. Just honest-to-goodness cold and coughs. BB#1 may or may not have had an episode, but it was pretty mild. So this is good.

For myself, I’m learning that teaching is a bit like parenting. Even if you go into it knowing it will be hard, it is harder than that when you are actually doing it. And part-time? Really isn’t. I sometimes even dream about being in the classroom, if I’m not lying awake thinking about how to teach a particular lesson. Hence the lack of posting this year

But spring has to come sometime! Hopefully I’ll have time to write again before next winter arrives…

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Filed under career, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, teaching, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, working parents

Long Time, No Post

Or at least, it feels that way. So, what’s up with me? Work! I managed to get a long-term occasional (LTO) teaching post that is perfect in a lot of ways, but not surprisingly, has meant a steep learning curve and many hours outside the classroom getting up to speed. Which doesn’t leave me a lot of time for blogging or much else (a lot of people will be getting cash or gift cards this holiday season)! I am looking forward to the winter break to spend time with my beautiful boys (and also to do some major planning for my class for the New Year! “My class”. Wow.)

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Filed under career, education, random, schools, teaching, work, working parents

Life is What Happens

It’s been a while since I’ve written—well, at least it feels that way. John Lennon was right: Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Hence the tagline of this blog!

April has been kind of brutal for us. This weekend I’m recovering from some kind of tummy bug, which I NEVER get. As in, I can count on one hand the episodes in my lifetime. Blerg. BB#1 and his dad suffered through it last weekend. Really unfair since the weekend before that, BB#1 was out with a fever and sore throat. And the weekend before that, it was BB#2 with one of his periodic fevers (long, long story).

In between all this, I did a week of temporary work “outside the home”, which meant commuting, taking a lunch (ew!), and leaving my husband to handle the drop-offs/pick ups and dinner etc. Should have been fine; it was a week where BB#2 had three whole days of school (rare!), and on the days he wasn’t in school, we had arranged a playdate one day and a grandma visit the other. Then there were the usual weekly activities: Beavers, Cubs, swimming. Also a dentist appointment and after-hours meeting for my husband. Then add in BB#1 home recovering on the Monday, and BB#2 needing to be picked up early from school on the Friday…

All of this was a good reminder of how much more flexibility we have with a parent at home full-time (picking up occasional freelance work), and another parent who works from home (when he’s not travelling) than we would if we were both working full-time outside the home. Now, this is not feasible long term for a variety of reasons, but the experience did make us ask “how do other people do this?”, “how the heck did we do this before?” and “how are we going to do this again?”

When I returned to work after my first maternity leave ended, BB#1 was in daycare, and my husband and I staggered our hours. He dropped off while I picked up. It wasn’t too difficult, with just one child and one location to get to. After BB#2 came along, having one in school and daycare on alternate days (plus before and after care on school days), and the other in a different daycare (there was no option for them to attend the same centre based on their ages) was not going to work for us, especially when my husband was frequently away on business. I was not okay with them being in care from 7 am to 6 pm. So we had a nanny, something we never thought we’d consider. But it worked for us at that time. It gave us the flexibility we needed the days BB#1 didn’t go to kindergarten, or when one child was sick, or when I had to shovel out my car to be at my office for 8 am. We continued this arrangement when I left my job to return to school, but I’ve been home with the boys myself since I finished.

In September, BB#2 will be in school full-time. And I hope to be working outside the home again. Before and after care is lined up for the boys, just in case (if I’m fortunate enough to get work as a supply teacher, my start and end and commute times will vary). And while I know we are by no means unique, and even have it easier than many families (I bow down to all you single parents!), I still can’t help but worry about scrambling for care when someone is ill, or losing money when someone can’t work.

So you tell me, how DO you do it?


Filed under career, child care, education, parenting, random, schools, teaching, the beautiful boys, work, working parents

In Our Classroom

This “Philosophy of Education” was originally written as an assignment during my BEd studies. I still believe it and hope to implement it someday.

In Our Classroom

A classroom does not belong to the teacher alone, it belongs to the students as well. This is the my vision of what teaching and learning will look like in “our” classroom:

Our classroom will be an inclusive environment. Students must feel safe before they can learn.

Our classroom will be a place where diversity is not just accepted, it’s expected. We are not all the same, but we are not all that different either. Let’s learn from one another.

In our classroom, expectations of behavior will be agreed upon and modeled. Respect goes both ways.  Children are people too.

In our classroom, learning goals will be explicitly stated, and learners will know the criteria for success.

In our classroom, learning skills will be as important as academic goals. How we learn is as important as what we learn.

In our classroom, student work will be the primary decoration, building our community and celebrating our achievements.

In our classroom, learners will be given detailed feedback on an on-going basis and not just grades at the end, so they will know what they are doing well, and how they can improve.

In our classroom, discussion will be welcomed. People learn through sharing ideas and interacting with one another, and discussion fosters critical thinking. Differing opinions and questions are welcome; judgments and put downs are not.

In our classroom, we will strive to respect the balance between school and home life. Children should have time to explore other activities and interests, to play, and to be with friends and family. Though it is important to work hard while at school, the classroom is just one place where learning can take place.

In our classroom, education is not one-size-fits-all. What works for one learner may not work for another; what worked for last year’s class may not work for this year’s class.

In our classroom, the teacher is also a learner, dedicated to professional development and further training.


Filed under career, education, random, schools, teaching, Uncategorized, work

Enough With the Teacher-Bashing

Even though I’m both a certified teacher (currently not employed in that capacity) and a parent, I have kept pretty silent on the current strife between teachers and the Ministry of Education in this province. In part, that’s because I don’t completely know what to believe or where I stand.

There just seems to be so much spin. The same newspaper article will quote the Minister saying the unions wouldn’t negotiate, and the union reps saying the Ministry wouldn’t negotiate. The Ministry claims it is all about money (and the media certainly focuses on that); the teachers say they agreed to a wage freeze long ago. And underneath the online articles are comments by teacher-bashers harping on about how teachers are “overpaid”, “get summers off” and “have cushy jobs”. Which apparently means they shouldn’t have the right to negotiate their contracts. Or something. And which also begs the question: why didn’t all these people go in to teaching if it’s such easy money and anyone can do it? But I digress.

No matter what you think led to the current situation, these kinds of comments make no sense and have little to do with the actual issue. Some people claim they “don’t feel sorry for teachers” because they could bank sick days, and “no one else gets to do that”. Regardless of my opinion on banking sick days, the fact is, this was a benefit that was agreed upon in the past. And I don’t care who you are: no one likes to have something that was promised to them taken away. Teachers work with kids, who are sick all the time and often have to be sent to school that way because their parents have limited sick days of their own. So perhaps instead of criticizing teachers for having lucked out in the paid sick day department, we should be asking ourselves if other industries can be doing better by their employees.

In my private sector job I often went in sick, exposing my co-workers to germs, so that I could reserve my days for when my children needed to stay home or to go to the doctor. As did my husband—and we still used all of our paid sick days, and went on to use vacation days for illness. And we had a nanny for some of that time! I can’t imagine what it’s like for a single parent with no back-up daycare, having maybe five days out of the year (if he’s lucky) to take for illness and doctor’s appointments between himself and his kids. Yeah, there’s a problem here, but I don’t think it’s with the number of sick days teachers have (or had).

I’ve also heard gripes of “I’m self-employed, I don’t get paid if I’m sick.” So, perhaps get a salaried job? Oh wait, being self-employed is probably a choice you’ve made for a variety of reasons. And no, there is no sick pay or employment insurance. Because if you are not paying into those benefits, naturally, you can’t draw on them. Perhaps set up your own savings that you can use when you are ill or out of work or wanting to take parental leave? But don’t blame it on teachers that your income and benefit structure is different. I had access to those kinds of benefits when I worked in a salaried position too. As a freelancer, I no longer expect them. But I can also drop off and pick up my children from school, do laundry while I work, set my own hours, work in my PJs, save time and money on commuting, attend my children’s school functions if I like…And looked at another way, because I’m a freelancer, no one is taking money off my pay cheque at the source. Like most things in life, it’s a trade-off. I’m pretty sure there are many, many, many things about teaching that non-teachers , both salaried and self-employed, would not want to take on in exchange for ten paid sick days, or even twenty, banked or not (otherwise, they’d be teachers, I suppose?)

Another good one is “in the real world, if you don’t like your job, you quit.” Really? I guess I don’t live in the real world, because for many if not most people, it’s not that simple. Many people dislike aspects of their jobs, and yet they stay because they have mouths to feed and bills to pay. Or maybe they’re just not quitters and don’t expect every moment of their professional lives to be unicorns and rainbows? Maybe the good outweighs the bad? Perhaps they hope to change whatever it is they dislike or disagree with, so they can get back to enjoying the actual work they do? Even if they want to leave and move on to something else, most people can’t just up and quit before another position comes along, especially if they would need to return to school or retrain first. Never mind the point of the contract talks has nothing to do with whether or not teachers like their jobs! Yes, I hope teachers that actually don’t like teaching will leave the profession, and yes, I know there are teachers currently in schools that probably shouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean most of those unhappy with the current situation don’t love and excel at their jobs.

My favourite is people complaining that teachers get summers off. Well, our kids get summers off so it makes sense teachers would too. There are definitely arguments for changing the school year, but I don’t think many include having kids go to school like so many of us work: 9-5 every day, year round, with only two weeks off for vacation. I, for one, don’t want that for my kids.

But maybe those commenters do think our kids should be going to school all summer long just so we can stop being jealous of their teachers? Or maybe only the teachers should have to go in during the summer, so we can all complain about “what do they do all summer that we have to pay them when our kids aren’t even there?!” (Psst, since teachers are only paid for the ten months of the current school year, if they worked summers, they’d get paid more.) Yes, summers off is one of the nice things about being a teacher—that said, many teachers I know work during the summer, sometimes paid (teaching a course, marking tests), sometimes not (planning their lessons for the upcoming year). Many go to school and pay out of pocket to upgrade their skills. I’m still not sure why they should be punished for a school calendar that’s been in place for probably over a hundred years by having their right to collective bargaining taken away?

Which brings us to teacher salaries. Frankly, I don’t think the starting wage is that outrageous, especially considering teachers must hold at least two degrees. Other professions requiring more than a Bachelor’s degree generally have decent compensation. Isn’t that sort of fair? Don’t you expect to be paid for your skills, education and experience?

I left my previous career knowing that my first teaching job would pay less than what I was making. After I spent money putting myself through school earning an additional degree. Clearly I didn’t do it for the money. Yes, there is a pay grid, which means teachers can eventually make an attractive salary, but they need experience and further education to get to the top of that grid. But what drives me crazy about this form of teacher-bashing is, why would we want poorly-paid teachers? Don’t we want professional, educated people drawn to teaching? Doesn’t the job they do–educating our children–deserve a decent salary? If you think not, if you have no respect for teaching, why on earth would you trust your beloved children to teachers all day?

Do I like that extracurriculars have been paused? No. Do I look forward to the disruption of walk-outs by my kids’ teachers? No. Do I have any idea what else teachers and school support staff could be doing to protest besides rolling over and letting their agreed-upon rights be eroded? No, I honestly don’t. Do you?

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Filed under career, education, in the news, parenting, schools, teaching, Uncategorized, work

Random Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had Children (Part 2)

The boys will soon have a new cousin (yay!), so I guess I have babies on the brain these days. As a result, this edition of Random Things is brought to you by all things nursing! Here are just a few things I wish I had known about before my first baby was born.

1. Lanolin

If you are breastfeeding, you must have lanolin in the house. I used Lansinoh brand but there are others, and it’s easily found in the baby section of drug and discount stores. It’s great stuff. And in a pinch, a teeny tiny bit can be used on other dry skin—baby’s or yours. I have even used it on lips (since it’s safe to ingest).

2. Dr. Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment

I didn’t use this when nursing my first, and afterwards heard another mom refer to it as gold. With my second, I feared nipple trauma in the early days might make me susceptible to thrush, so I asked my midwife to prescribe APNO. A.Maz.Ing. You may have to find someone willing to prescribe it, and you may have to find a pharmacy that can mix it, but it will be so worth it.

3. Nursing Tank Tops

Again, I only discovered these while nursing my second baby. I wore Bravado brand, but I’m sure there are others. The great thing about them is if you are nursing while out and about, a tank will leave your back and tummy areas covered (and warm!) They can also be worn alone in the heat of summer. Plus, they are comfy and available in a lot of colours. I may or may not still wear mine as layering tanks…

Related: While you’ll need a couple to get you through, I suggest waiting about six weeks before investing heavily in nursing bras. Some women will need a bigger size as long as they are breastfeeding, but some of us actually lose a lot of weight and end up needing a smaller size once nursing is established! Oh the irony.

4. LilyPadz

Another second-time-around discovery. These are great, reusable breast pads. With my first, I wore washable cotton pads around the house, but they were rather bunchy looking. So out and about I used disposable pads. I quite liked the Gerber and Lansinoh brands (Playtex stuck and left fuzz behind!) but, really, they are wasteful and expensive. LilyPadz aren’t cheap, but one pair lasts a long time. And they create a smooth line. They may not be the right choice in the very early days if you leak a lot, but for every day use once nursing is established, I highly recommend them.

5. Teeth are Not a Deal-Breaker

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that back in the day (i.e. when I was pregnant with my first), I swore I would wean my baby as soon as he got a tooth. And then after we had spent two months learning to nurse, BB#1 got his first teeth at four months old. He was much too young to wean, and I certainly wasn’t going to stop after all the work I’d put in. But I quickly learned teeth do not mean the end of nursing by a long shot—if baby is actively drinking, he cannot bite you. And if it is ever an issue (it never was for me), there are ways to deal with it.

6. Not All Professionals That Work with Moms and Infants Are Trained in Lactation

Yes, I’ve gone off on this before but it can’t be overstated. Beware doctors and nurses that are not certified lactation consultants, and seem reluctant to refer you to actual experts if you experience problems. The advice I got from the nurses in the hospital where BB#1 was born was inconsistent and unhelpful; the advice I overheard being given to other mothers in a different hospital with BB#2 was worse.

7. Be Prepared to Find Expert Help On Your Own

May you never need to seek out help. But if you do, and you experience #6, real help is out there. I think it’s best to be armed with contact information ahead of time rather than trying to find it in a moment of crisis. Here are some links to bookmark:

International Breastfeeding Centre (The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic)

Kellymom (If you have a question, I guarantee you’ll find the answer here!)

Best For Babes (Awesome info on beating “Booby Traps”!)

Motherisk (What’s safe during pregnancy/breastfeeding. There is a hotline as well.)

Infantrisk Center (Similar to above, but American. There is even an iPhone app!

8. Working Full-time and Breastfeeding Are Not Mutually Exclusive

While I can’t speak personally about going back to work before baby is a year old, I know from many other mamas that it can be done. But if like me, you live in Canada and are taking a year of maternity leave, continuing to breastfeed once you go back to work is incredibly easy. In fact, I found it easier than weaning (because my baby wasn’t ready and I had no idea how to go about it). I stressed about it at first—did I have to cut out daytime feedings in preparation? How would my daycare providers get him to sleep? But in the end, I did pretty much nothing to prepare. Older babies can be very adaptable, and they know they can’t nurse when mom is not there. So, in the day he ate solids and drank water or cow’s milk from a cup (while you could pump and leave your own milk, or introduce a bottle, I chose not to at this stage). He nursed when we were together. His caregivers had other ways to get him to sleep. That was it. It was really great to have that way to reconnect after being apart each day. And the best part: he got sick a LOT less than other kids at daycare. Which meant I missed a lot less work. Win-win.

Is there anything breastfeeding-related you wish you had known about before your baby was born?


Filed under birth, breastfeeding, career, midwives, parenting, random, the beautiful boys, work