Tag Archives: kids

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

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?

Mother of the Year

True story/confession. I went to CVS to buy 2 medications for my kids.  As I was making my way to check-out, I got distracted by the make-up section. After much deliberation, I picked up 2 items.  I had a beauty discount coupon so I thought I would calculate if it was really saving me money or not. Anyway, after taking out the coupon and my CVS card from my wallet, I started walking to the cashier with only 2 of the 4 items in my hands. Guess which two?

Answer: Beauty items, not the medications. Luckily I remembered and hurried back to the shelf before I was actually in line!

Surprisingly, I’m one of the moms who feels the least guilt for working.  I miss them like crazy and I feel all kinds of emotion for not always being available, but guilt, not so much.

Accidental Happiness?

Years ago, if you would have asked me about my ideal version of parenthood, I would have answered, “working part-time or staying home”.  As much as I admire working parents, especially moms, I could not envision pulling off working full-time and raising kids.  Of course life rarely works out as planned and I’m a full-time working mom.  My husband has a very flexible schedule and we have help from family.

While on a day-to-day basis, my life can be quite exhausting, I have to admit that staying in the work force probably makes me happier.   This is not an easy thing for me to admit either!  

This recent epiphany is why I am intrigued by a recent report stating that full-time working moms enjoy better health both mentally and physically than stay-at-home moms.  As with any research report, you have to be careful about the details and conclusions drawn.  However, I am beginning to realize that this report rings true for me, especially when I focus on the long-term benefits.   I draw mental strength from retaining my independence and contributing financially to my household.  This strength and independence is something I’m very proud of and hope my kids will appreciate someday. 

I also have a strong feeling that I would have a very difficult time getting back into the work force.  Yes, many women change careers or dive back in and excel.  However, many women I know are very lost after their hiatus from paid work.  Truth be told, knowing my personality and priorities, it would not take me long to lose my network, lose touch with my skills and be out-of-date in my field. 

This is not to say that I love office politics or always enjoy my work.  This past weekend, my youngest kept climbing up on me just to lay his head on my chest; he was so content to just be with me and I love these little moments.  Contrast that with my current mindset at work — sort of uninspired and deflated.  I spent weeks polishing up a report and developing a business strategy for future projects that will hopefully counter this blah feeling.  That has kept me engaged and reminded me I have so much more to learn!   

I think the big lesson is:Sometimes what you think makes you happy isn’t what really makes you happy.  This can apply to many areas in life, not just work/life/parenthood.  Maybe not getting into your first-choice college turned out to be the best for you.  Maybe not achieving your dreams of stardom led you to a more fulfilling career path.  Have you experienced happiness in spite of your plans?

While Your Family Was Out Picking Strawberries or Whale Watching….

As you may have guessed, my summer “vacation” was less than spectacular.  I had to include doing laundry as one of my vacation accomplishments.  Anyway, I was thinking that if my kids kept a tally of their fun summer, it would be a major fail.  Luckily of course they don’t keep a tally…

However if they did, this is what I imagine they would include on their list, plus commentary:

  1. 1 concert in the park  (music was ok but loved water toys and tables)
  2. 1 aquarium visit (not as exciting as Nemo)
  3. 1 Kid Museum day (love the colorful balls and slides)
  4. 2 Mall Visits (loud music, lots of people and toys)
  5. 3 Library Visits (books…bleh..)
  6. 1 Coffee Shop Visit (it’s fun to topple other people’s cups!)
  7. 1 Beach Trip (let’s run into the ocean! I hate sand on my feet…)
  8. 1 Birthday Party (balloons…)

If you consider that I read several local parenting websites and regularly check out their family event calendars, this list is pretty pathetic.  We have good reasons for missing out on activities and events, but still… I do  hope to squeeze in a few family outings before month’s end.  We’ll see…

What fun things did you do this summer? Oh wait, don’t tell me…

Vacation “Rules”

My Summer Vacation Rules:

1) Limit Technology: Check Emails once or twice a day and not first thing in the morning.  Make it a low priority to always be “connected”.

…BUT make time for TV and movies. I rarely get time to watch TV so it’s nice to just relax and watch old favorite shows or movies.  I associate internet, emails and smartphones with work/adulthood while TV is a thing from childhood and thus, more relaxing.

3) Don’t keep up on blog reading: I’m sure I’ll miss some interesting conversations but I associate blog reading with my usual routine and need a break.

…And Read Lots of Books Instead! One of the joys of summer. I remember many days spent at the local library.  I may even revisit books from young adulthood.  Since my vacation is just one week,  I actually don’t think I’ll go through that many books but I’ll be happy to just get through one or two.

I started reading “A Separate Peace” a classic coming-of-age story that takes place one summer but decided to put this reading on hold til my actual vacation.  It’s so beautifully written that I feel like I was once a teenage boy at a New England boarding school during a long, lazy summer.  If anyone has recommendations for books that place in the summertime, let me know!

3) Enjoy Unscheduled Moments: I like to plan some fun things or else we’ll end up in our PJs at home all vacation.  At the same time, it’s nice to have unscheduled free time… The key word is to enjoy it and not stress about “not doing anything”

…But Plan At Least 2 Fun Activities: If we don’t plan anything, we’ll end up doing nothing. I may end up settling for some playdates and library storytimes but I am determined to do some fun and new things with the kids!

Do you have any “rules” or must-dos for your vacation?

Random Bits Of Good Advice

By the time you’re 40ish, or been around long enough, you’ve been on the receiving end of tons of advice — some good, some not so good or at least not applicable to your life.  I thought that I would compile some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.  Maybe you’ll gain something from these “words of wisdom” too.

  • Never get into credit card debt” – My Mom, delivered in such a severe and foreboding tone that I didn’t even ask her why and I never racked up any debt)
  • “If your kids fall or bump into something and you know they’re not hurt, just distract them.  ” – Male co-worker.  This tactic also works if they’re fighting over toys or cry for no reason.  You can distract them with funny faces, loud noises or other shiny toys.
  • “You can only change your reaction to people.”  – A friend, after hearing me complain one too many times about the same people.
  • Money buys freedom.” – I can’t remember who said this but I think it was a rock musician.
  • Don’t lean back ahead of time – Wandering Scientist, who has written a million good posts about balancing work and motherhood.  Lots of practical tips as well as thoughful posts.  I’ve written about this too and the most important thing is to not feel guilty.
  • “Forget balance. Choose Flexibility” – The Happiest Mom blog. This is good advice for anyone with interests outside of work.
  • “If someone tries to abduct you, fight back and don’t let them take you away to an isolated place.” – High school teacher, to the whole class.  This stuck with me because it had no context in terms of the school subject.  This teacher was also male and he was so sincere and heartfelt that it made me take more notice for some reason.  I now wonder if he experienced any personal tragedy.
  • If you only have a few minutes to clean before guests arrive, clean the bathroom (clean toilet, wipe sink, quick sweep of the floors).  Drop an Alka Seltzer in the toilet bowl.” – Probably a Martha Stewart or Real Simple magazine tip, i.e. clean what people will notice most.
  • “To find a good, affordable restaurant in a foreign country, take a peek inside and see if most of the customers are local.  If yes, it’s a good bet the food is authentic and reasonably priced.”Rick Steves, of the PBS travel series.  That’s not an exact quote but I followed this advice in Europe and it really made a difference in my travel experiences.
  • “Focus on your strengths.” I forget where I read this but as someone who tend to focus on improving my weaknesses, this was a bit of a revelation.  While I do continually try to improve myself, I do my best work when I take on projects that play to my strengths.
  • “Rock your baby up and down with energy, like this.” – A Nurse, who showed us that many babies prefer a vigorous up-and-down rocking motion rather than the gentle back-and-forth motion.  It sounds strange and sometimes it felt like our babies were hanging on for dear life, but it worked!

Advice is a funny thing. After I wrote down the above list, I realized that most of the advice I take to heart come from strangers or acquaintances (blogs, books, famous people), not people I’m close to in real life.  I don’t know if that’s common or if I’m more dismissive of advice I hear from family and friends, or if most advice given are nothing more than well-meaning clichés.

Another thing about advice is that timing comes into play.  Sometimes two people can give you the exact same advice, phrased differently, and you just don’t pay attention until you’re ready to hear it.

What are some unforgettable, and good, advice you’ve received or read somewhere?