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.


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?


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

These Are a Few of My Favourite Links – Education

As a parent, a certified teacher, and a lifelong learner, I obviously feel strongly about education. As a reader, writer, and editor, I have a particular passion for reading: the process, the instruction, and the act itself (not to mention, books!) Here are some articles and blogs that have informed and inspired me recently.


“Boy Crisis” in Education a Microcosm of Women’s Lives

Do Unto Students

Parental Involvement in Education: What Kind? To What Ends?

Why Inclusion in the Classroom Benefits ALL Kids

Too High a Price: Why I Don’t Do Behavior Charts

In This Classroom

Creating the Conditions: A Love of Reading

12 Myths About Education in Finland Debunked

How Do Parent Labels Help?

Lessons from Kindergarten

Join the Chorus Against Reading Logs

8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids From Reading

More of my Favourite Links: Homework, Parenting, Sleep, Breastfeeding, Birth


Filed under education, favourites, gender issues, in the news, parenting, publishing, reading, schools, teaching, work

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