Category Archives: working parents

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

There’s More Than One Way to be a Family

There are 1,000 ways to be a family an I’m excited to be guest-posting as “family 162” on thenewfamily.com! Thanks to @bweikle for the opportunity to share our story.

http://thenewfamily.com/2015/10/1000-families-project-andrea-and-family/

You can also listen and subscribe to the just-launced The New Family Podcast, the show all about families like yours and mine!

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Filed under parenting, periodic fever syndrome, PFAPA, random, the beautiful boys, Uncategorized, 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

Free Helicopter Range Parenting

Yesterday I cemented my identity as “uncool mom” when I refused to leave my 9.5-year-old at a friend’s house for an unsupervised playdate. In hindsight, I should have asked if a grown up would be there when the invite was extended, but to be perfectly honest, it did not even occur to me that BB#1’s friends were being left home alone. (Actually, he wasn’t alone: he already had another friend over, also 10 years old, and his sister was there too. His younger sister.)

I don’t live under a rock, so I’ve been reading and thinking a lot lately about the “McDonald’s mom”, who was arrested after letting her own 9-year-old play in the park while she was at work. Parents across the blogosphere are waving “free range” or “helicopter” parenting flags—though some, like me, question why we need to have these silly labels at all. But of course, as one blogger so eloquently explains, this particular case is not even about parenting style.

I don’t live in a low income area, but I know from experience that doesn’t mean people here don’t struggle with astronomical housing and child care costs. So I am not even going to begin to guess whether my son’s friend and his sister were home alone due to financial reasons–or because “parenting style”. I can’t judge, particularly without all the facts, and I’m certainly not making any phone calls. But that doesn’t mean I am down with leaving my child there. We are not yet comfortable leaving him on his own in our home. And even when we do decide he’s old enough, we probably won’t ask him to be responsible for his younger brother, at least not right away. Nor will he be allowed to have guests.

The irony of this is we’ve recently started giving BB#1 what we thought was some “free range”: going ahead of us to the park, or returning on his own to retrieve a forgotten item; getting the mail; going to the corner store. We give both boys lots of space to play at the park; let them push their physical limits despite the stink eye we sometimes get from other parents; wait for them to come to us if they fall; rarely interfere in their interactions with other kids. While we are perfectly comfortable with what we’re doing—we’re the parents here, and we know our sons and what they can handle pretty well, thanks—there’s still that fear of being judged. Or worse, reported!

So imagine my surprise to learn we’re still on the helicopter after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under child care, in the news, parenting, the beautiful boys, 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

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

Beautiful Boy’s Day Off

I had to go pick BB#2 up from camp early today after he complained he was sick. And as I watched him watch TV this evening while standing on his head, I had a pretty good idea that I’d been had.

He didn’t want to go to camp in the first place. When I originally signed him up months ago, he said he’d “try it for one day”. Then he seemed to at least be, if not excited, used to the idea that he’d be going. Though he’d been offered the choice of several day camps, none seemed to appeal to him so we opted to send him to the same one his brother had chosen so they could be on the bus together, even though they’d be in different age groups.

When they got off the bus after the first day, BB#2 immediately told me he hated it and was never going back. The kids were mean, and he just wanted to be home with me. (Cue mommy guilt.) But he’d barely eaten anything, his water bottle was still full, and the bus had been almost an hour late. Once he got home, fed and rested, he seemed willing to try again—especially when he learned they’d be having freezies later in the week.

And honestly, we weren’t prepared to pull him after just one day. He’s not much of a joiner, not one for organized activities of any kind (including school, to be honest). We know this. He takes swimming lessons, but this is not optional as far as we’re concerned. And I’ve been known to take money from my boys to pay for lessons missed as a result of tantrums or stubbornness (oh yes I have.) However, his interest in taking gymnastics faded after one class, and though we insisted he complete his Beavers session, he’s opted not to go back in the fall. And it’s not like his entire summer is structured. We’re currently fortunate enough not to have to put our boys in camps the entire summer because we need the childcare. Or, depending on how you look at it, we’re not fortunate enough to be able to send our kids to programs the whole summer (though even if we were, we would not choose to do so for a variety of reasons.) This camp is total nine days. Nine days didn’t seem like too much to ask—and it’s supposed to be nine days of fun!

Because we’ve pulled him from programs in the past, we wanted him to see this one through—in no small part because we were using the time to paint the house, and work! Yes, he’s only five; it’s not like he’s not destined to be a slacker who can’t commit to anything just because we haven’t found an activity he loves just yet. His brother (who was also slow to enjoy most organized activities) is enjoying camp very much. But there has to be a line at some point—doesn’t there? And a single day is not that line. So back he went. And while he wasn’t throwing fits at getting in the car each morning (once we gave up on the bus–long story), he also told us he spent a lot of time lying around on the ground instead of participating in the games.

Generally, we don’t mess around when we’re asked to pick the boys up due to illness, because, well, PFAPA. I half-expect BB#2 to have an episode any day now. But he was not running a fever today, and was well enough to eat brownies after dinner despite his earlier “sore stomach”, so I feel certain he was suffering from something else: homesickness.

The question is, do I make him finish out the week to learn the value of stick-to-it-iveness? Or am I the one who needs to learn a lesson here?

ETA: He woke up with a low-grade fever this morning, and is currently passed out on the couch, so…It’s sometimes hard to know when behaviour is signaling an episode, or when he’s just being five!

ETA: And now we’ve gotten an earlier appointment with the ENT–this week. Which is better than waiting until September, but, even once he’s feeling better, there goes another day of camp. So clearly, mommy is the one learning something from this experience after all…

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Filed under child care, parenting, PFAPA, the beautiful boys, working parents