Category Archives: work

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.

Vaccinating.

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

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

The Back to School Post

It’s the last day of summer vacation, and the feeling is bittersweet. I confess: despite the commercials, I’m not excited about sending the boys off every day. I’m already looking forward to Christmas vacation with them (now, when we are stuck indoors together for two weeks in the winter, I may be singing a different tune!)

This is going to be a big year for us. BB#1 is no longer a primary student: he starts grade four tomorrow, and turns nine the next day. Nine! And BB#2 is off to grade one, all day, every day, all French every day. This is likely going to be a tough adjustment for him. It won’t help that he’s on a waiting list for a tonsillectomy, and will miss up to a week or two of school early on in the year.

And it’s also back to school for me: I already have a couple days of occasional teaching lined up. I’m excited to finally be getting my teaching career off the ground, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious, just like my kids. I know it will be great experience, and I am very grateful to have been hired as an OT in these tough times, though I admit I’m also still fantasizing about the day I have my own classroom. But with my husband’s travel schedule and BB#2’s illness, supply teaching and freelancing writing and editing are probably for the best for us right now.

It’s been an amazing summer, though also not quite what I had planned in a lot of ways (life is what happens, right?) Back to routine tomorrow. Wish us luck…

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Filed under education, parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, schools, teaching, the beautiful boys, work, working parents

My Kid Just Said (Part 19)

“We had a lot of free time today. Because we had a supply teacher. And supply teachers are clue–oh yeah. Well, the ones without kids are clueless. And the ones that are new.” BB#1, 8.5 years old, when asked what his favourite part of the school day was.

What have I gotten myself into?

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Filed under education, my kid just said, schools, teaching, the beautiful boys, work

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?

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