Category Archives: Children

Purchase #5 to 10 of 25

Kids are really expensive…(or can be if you want them to dress better than you do!) Note: Burberry red barn jacket is shown as an example only. I’m not crazy enough to spend $165 for a toddler’s jacket.

barn_jacket

boden

janie_lot

hanna2

536553653_o

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Purchase #3 or 25

You can never have too many sweaters.

Kid_Cardigan

Undercover Working Mom

Many years ago, a childless friend and I were discussing another friend’s kids.  As childless people are prone to delusions about the realities of parenthood, she said that this friend’s kids were unruly because they didn’t get enough attention from their working mom.  No mention of dad.   My response was a very lame “Really?”  My mom worked and she is great but I didn’t have a strong opinion on the subject at the time; parenthood seemed so far away.  I had no idea that the so-called “Mommy Wars” was a-brewing!

Another time, my husband’s colleague said that his wife had quit her job to stay home and that this was best for all kids.  We were still pre-kids but I’m proud to say that my husband responded by saying that you can’t generalize working mothers.  He had a working mom and also knew I planned to keep working  once we had kids.

Now that I’m a working mom, I think back to those two conversations and have a stronger reaction.  I still believe the “Mommy Wars” (working vs. stay-at-home moms) are more hype than reality.  People just have time or energy to judge others that often.   At the same time, I was curious to find out if working moms are really judged or pitied by those who stay home.

Recently, I took some vacation time to attend a Toddler/Parenting class with my younger one.  He’s shy and needs the social interaction.  It was a weekday morning so I only needed to take a partial work day off.  I enjoyed having that extra bonding time and shortened work week!

A part of me had this crazy idea: I could pretend to be a Stay-at-home mom and find out what other SAH-moms really think of working mothers.  Are you ready to find out…..?

Drumroll please….

Can you handle the truth?

Find out next Wednesday….

This isn't me, just a random picture of a working mom with baby!

This isn’t me, just a random picture of a working mom with baby!

No, seriously. I didn’t pretend to be a SAH-mom and I didn’t try to set up attacks by denigrating working moms first to get a reaction.   There were at least 2 other women who were planning to return to work after some years off.  All the other people I spoke with were either full-time stay-at-home moms or grandparents.  Note: I live in a middle-class neighborhood so there weren’t any nannies at the class.

Some observations:

A few of the moms were a bit incredulous that I, a working mom, had taken my vacation time to do this toddler play class.  This probably took me out of the line of fire IF any of them were prone to attacks on working moms.

I was sort of the stereotypical working mom when it came to scrapbooking. It’s not that I don’t cherish memories of my kid(s) but I am not crafty or creative.  I  shamelessly copied other’s mom’s scrapbooking ideas.

I did spend a little more time playing or watching my kid than some other moms. However,  I wanted him to play with other kids so I made sure not to hover too much.  I didn’t judge the other moms at all for using this time for adult conversation. After all they’re home with their kids all day so they didn’t really need this extra time.

I panicked when it was my turn to bring snacks…

My kid was a bit unruly and grabbed food off other kids’ plates.  I wonder if his behavior reflected badly on me.  If it did, I was oblivious to any mean stares.

The good news is that I had an easy time talking with these women.  Many were very nice, smart and interesting.  I didn’t really feel a division at all.

I plan to sign up for more classes in the fall!

By the way, I would love to read a real undercover piece from a journalist who pretends to be a SAH-mom (and vice versa).  Would socio-economic levels make a difference? Would they find out the “Mommy Wars” is merely hype. Or would they discover a big divide?

Can Someone Who Hasn’t Taken A Real Vacation In Years Not Have ANY Vacation Time?

I apologize for the long title for this post but I’m really puzzled how come I have zero vacation time left when I haven’t gone on a “real” out-of-town vacation in years? I’m not panicking since I will continue to accumulate hours and should accrue enough for some time off during the summer.

I know that I took a day off here and there last summer and around the holidays. Sad to say, except for one beach excursion, I don’t remember what I did on those vacation days.  I guess this is a reminder that rather than picking a random Friday and then see what’s happening around town, I should find a fun activity first and then schedule my vacation time around that event.  Otherwise, I’ll end up staying home and only taking the kids to the park if I’m extra motivated.  Apparently staycations don’t work that well for me, unless I plan in advance.

The good news is that I did plan my upcoming time off so at least I’ll remember what I did with those vacation days!

Are you planning your summer vacation already?  Anyone going on big trips?

I Had A Post About Working Mom Guilt

I’ve written about working mother guilt countless times.  And I like reading and commenting on posts and articles on that issue, too.  I feel it’s important for women to stop beating themselves over choosing or having to work, as their contributions to the family are just as invaluable as staying home in my not-so-humble opinion.  Finally if you have to work or want to work,  guilt is just a waste of time and people who try to make you feel bad about it are a waste of time.

So in my typical fashion, I felt the urge to dole out advice.  Since my concrete tips for not being bitter at work seems most useful to people, I thought it would be helpful to offer real suggestions for reducing motherhood guilt as well.

After re-reading my own post, I trashed it.  I realized it seemed a bit sanctimonious, as if my way for guilt-free motherhood was the best way.  I also realized that my concrete tips may not work for different personalities, nor should I dictate the best way to spend “quality time” with your kids (and kids all have different preferences and personalities anyway!).

So for now I am giving my best tip, which is not concrete nor necessarily easy to follow, it’s all really mental. If you create a mental image of perfect motherhood or set up some unattainable ideal, or compare yourself to a mom who seems to be doing it “right”, then you’ll feel guilt.  If you truly believe you’re doing your best and your kid is fed, sheltered, loved and happy, then you’ll stop wasting precious time on feeling unnecessary guilt.

Alone Time

The other day, a casual acquaintance asked me about alone time, and when I said exercise or my lunch break, she gave me this ‘look’ which clearly meant that those 2 activities didn’t count.

To me, getting some exercise is a great feat in and of itself.  Getting to read a book, even if it’s in the middle of a work day, is also a great stress relief.  After work, it’s family time and if I’m lucky, I get in some couple time and see old friends.  My goal is to focus more on career this year so any other extra time will probably be taken up with chores, cooking or career-related activities/reading. There’s just zero time for “me” time, as in hobbies or whatever “counts” as quality me time.  This brings me to the question. What does count as “me” time? Is it shopping by myself, rather than with friends? Reading on the weekends?  Taking a walk by myself? Going to a spa by myself?? I could take a class I suppose. I guess I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do and if I should schedule “me” time?  

I’m not saying that my acquaintance is 100% correct; after all, the early parenting years are extremely busy. However, I wonder if I’m shortchanging myself and asking for burn-out because I don’t take time for myself.

How I’m Doing On Goals and Pseudo-Resolutions

I resolved to focus on my career, bought an interview suit, and am now on the fence about even looking.  My reason for this change of heart is that I want to enjoy my shorter commute and low-stress job. It’s not that my job is without its stresses and deadlines;  it’s just that I’m a seasoned pro here who knows my job well, including short cuts and knowing the right people to ask for help in most situations. Any new job entails a learning curve and possibly longer work hours and the main reason for our move was to increase my time with the kids.

What I have done:

  • I sort of updated my Linked In skills/profile.
  • I read one or two articles related to my field.  It’s a struggle as I’m constantly tempted by other reading materials.  Now if I can apply what I read to my work, that would be a bonus.
  • I emailed my boss about upping the game in terms of building my skills at my current job. I figure that if I’m too lame to make a serious move and check outside options or go for higher titles, then I should make the most of my current situation.

Still, it feels like the new suit hanging in my closet is a constant reminder of my backpedaling ways!

In other areas:

I ate french fries two days in a row.  I didn’t make a resolution to eat healthier but eating worse is never a goal of mine!

I have not stepped into my gym in months.

I have prepped dinner a few nights but still find it a challenge to make the most of my extra half hour per night.

I am trying to not let the house fall into utter disorder/mess before cleaning.  I sweep up almost daily and try not to let things pile up.  This is good in a way as I’m learning that big cleanings are a bigger chore and headache.  The not so good part is that I end up doing more cleaning overall.

I have snapped at my husband (and others) much too often.  Not doing well in terms of appreciating loved ones.

I’m still a stressful basket case at times (though no longer due to traffic and commute!)

I have done some armchair activism but nothing more.

I signed up for a class — nothing related to work, just fun time with the kids.   I can’t wait…

I’m taking a photo a day. It’s not about being creative or artistic, although I try my best. It’s about documenting the small things in life from a messy sink to messy desk to a messy family life.  A mess is what I got…

So even though I didn’t officially make resolutions, in the back of my mind, I still have some goals that I’m trying to achieve..or not.  How are you doing on your goals and resolutions?