Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tips for Working Moms

As a mother who works outside the home full-time, there are many lessons I've learned when it comes to trying to juggle the many, many balls that are always in the air. There is also a lot of wisdom that's been imparted on me by friends and colleagues. In hopes of paying it forward, here are ten tips that I've found helpful.

At the Office:

  • Do NOT use being a parent as an excuse at work/don't play the parent card at the office. If you're late to work because of something kid related, apologize for being late, but don't make being a parent the excuse. Don't say, "I'm sorry I'm late. Things were just crazy at home today." because anyone without kids can have a crazy morning. It's just life. If you need to vent about the morning, go find a colleague who has kids.
  • Communicate with your team. If your hours will vary compared to the schedules of other team members, talk to those people and let them know your hours and how you're going to make it work that your different schedule will not create more work for them. Maybe you need to be available from home early in the morning and after you put your kids to bed. If that's the price of always being home to put your children to bed, it's worth it.
  • Remind yourself regularly that you don't have anything to prove, you just need to do your job and do your best to do it well. No one is rooting against you. No one assumes you can't be a mom and do your job. It's in your head, but I know it feels real. 
  • Don't shy away from projects and assignments because the more you are engaged at work, the more satisfied you will likely feel. And that translates to a little less mommy guilt about not being at home.
  • When you're first returning to work from  maternity leave, remember that your baby probably is asleep for half the time you're away at work. So while you may feel like you're missing a full day with your baby, you're probably only missing four awake hours and instead of doing laundry and chores around the house, you're actually eating lunch. With utensils. While sitting down.


In General:

  • Be kind to yourself. Doing the best you can doesn't translate to feeling good about everything you do everyday. One day you're doing the best you can at getting your house in order before heading to work. One day you're doing the best you can at being on time for every call and meeting. One day you're doing your best at just not falling apart. Be kind to yourself.
  • Do as much shopping as you possibly can online. And I mean as MUCH as you can. Take advantage of being able to order anything you need without having to sacrifice precious mommy time running errands. Whether it's diapers, clothing, gifts, groceries or takeout, find it online. Many companies now offer free returns and all you need to do is download a pre-paid return shipping label for anything you don't want to keep which removes some added costs of online shopping. Seasonally I will order several styles of pants in two sizes each to try on my son at home. If I took him to a store to try on clothes, not only would it take forever, there would be a lot of negotiating and bargaining. No fun. Shipping fees are worth it. And you'll probably find that many companies - diapers.com in particular - seem designed for the absent minded parent who needs diapers/products in a hurry as they deliver on a regular 1-2 day schedule. So when you're wondering how you ran out of diapers without knowing, you're not alone. There wouldn't be an entire online company that ships immediately if there weren't a lot of us ordering at the last minute.
  • Find shortcuts to things. Along the lines of online shopping, batch cook meals on Sundays to make meal time less stressful. Designate a night for takeout so you don't feel guilty for not making dinner or like a failure because you didn't get around to shopping to be able to make dinner. Instead, make it part of the "be kind to yourself" routine.
  • Find a sitter and book weekends even if you don't have plans. Friday and Saturday night sitters are hard to find so lock in the nights when they are available and build plans around those dates. And don't forget that having a sitter come in the middle of your day on a weekend might also feel heavenly. While kids take a mid-day nap or have chill time, you can run to the movies, brunch with friends, or a lunch date.
  • Buddy up with another couple for "Monitor sitting." Simple and genius and a lot less expensive than a sitter. If you have friends with kids, plan nights when you put your own kids to sleep and have a friend just come "monitor sit" while you go out. This way you're not paying a sitter to just hangout in your home while kids are asleep and there's nothing to do. Alternate weekends with your friends and you just scored yourself free babysitting.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ode to Daylight Savings

There once was a time of year, to which I looked forward to and held dear.

A time when I would roll the clocks back an hour, the bar would stay open longer and from this night of drinking I would not cower.

I would wake up and have an extra hour in the day. A longer snooze, longer brunch, so many great options I would say.

Night would arrive sooner than I would like, but curling up to TV and takeout sure was nice.

So I welcomed this daylight savings, this gift of extra time. But then realized once I had kids, that extra hour was no longer mine.

Daylight savings I hate you, you wrecked my Sunday. My kids were up before six and wanted to play. They giggle and laugh after a full night of sleep, while I feel drunk with exhaustion and dreams of counting sheep.

Daylight savings today you're the evil twin of when we spring forward. I can't wait to lose an hour and make one day shorter.

Respectfully,
Me

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best. Hardest. Job. Ever.: Parenting is the new wedding.

Best. Hardest. Job. Ever.: Parenting is the new wedding.: Here is what I have decided. Parenting is like planning your wedding. While you're convinced others see the flaws and notice the things ...

Parenting is the new wedding.

Here is what I have decided. Parenting is like planning your wedding. While you're convinced others see the flaws and notice the things that aren't perfect, when it comes down to it no one is looking for mistakes or flaws. People just assume that it is what it is.

Parenting is like spending hours deliberating over white, off white, cream and ecru. It's all white-ish to the unknowing/uncaring eye. So whether your two year old is a hot mess or what you perceive to be perfect, don't sweat it because chances are to everyone else your child is just acting like a two year old.

So here's to all the parents who worry about what other people may think....It really only matters when traveling on a plane. #keepingitreal


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Who's on First? The truth about parent dynamics.

I over share. I know this is a shocking surprise as you read a blog about my life.

During a conversation with a male colleague who also has two young children, we got to talking about how things operate in each of our respective homes and we realized that we share a similar set-up. In both of our homes, one parent is the MVP while the other is the backstop.

For team Rich, I play the role of coach, team manager, equipment manager, referee, orange slice provider, water boy, chauffeur and cheerleader, thereby earning my MVP title. If I go down, we all go down.

My husband, on the other hand, plays backstop. His one job is to prevent someone or something from getting past both of us.

This realization of the dynamics in my home got me thinking about how being MVP of the household is not a job I actually want. Sure, there's a lot of pressure that comes with backstop, but there's also a lot of work that comes with MVP.

Backstop doesn't require constant attention so long as you have excellent reflexes. (This is where my husband would tell me it's "ninja-like" reflexes, not just excellent reflexes). MVP requires all senses to be operating in high gear at all times.

Backstop doesn't have to bring anything to the game. MVP is the game. MVP gave life to the players (ah...that giver of life thing never gets old).

So, as I settle into the third day that my backstop is on a boys golf trip, is it so surprising that I'm pondering how I can just be a spectator one of these days?






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ad Age

Here are some ads that I view differently as a parent than I did when just a consumer.

Nike, "Just do it"
This used to be an inspiring statement that would actually motivate me to workout. I would see a Nike ad and want to go for a run. Since becoming the person who plays the parent card as an excuse for not exercising, the Nike slogan is now how I refer to everything I think my kids should inherently know how to do but don't. Examples? Sleeping. Just , as the book says, Go the Fuck to Sleep. Just do it .You're tired and can barely keep your eyes open but somehow don't know how to get from zombie to asleep?  Pee in the toilet and not next to it. Just do it. I can't be more specific about where to aim.

Coca-Cola, "Have a Coke and a smile"
Fuck you, Coke. You can't fix my day. How about Have a rum and a Coke and a smile? That's speaking the language of parents.

AIG, "We know money"
No you don't. Pampers does.

Allegra, "The relief goes on "
That's not Allegra, that's what I call nap time.

"Got milk?"
Not as funny as you might think when said to a breastfeeding mother.

Chevy Trucks, "Like a rock"
Try a toddler throwing a tantrum who is dead weight while face down in (insert name of whatever store you no longer visit).

Disneyland, "The happiest place on earth"
Wrong. Happiest place on earth is a restaurant that doesn't allow children.

Energizer, "It keeps going, and going, and going..."
There's not a parent out there who hasn't looked at an over tired child who is behaving as if having a manic episode and thought "Holy shit. He/she keeps going, and going, and going...." When is this going to end?!

Wrigley's Doublemint Gum, "Double your pleasure, double your fun"
I dare you to say this to parents of twins.

Oscar Mayer, "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener"
Because three year old boys need another reason to walk around saying "wiener."

Kit-Kat Bar, "Give me a break! Give me a break!"
No comment.

Burger King, "Have it your way"
Spoken to the child who wants to wear a tutu on top of a bathing suit on top of a dress with pants underneath, dress-up plastic Cinderella shoes and three headbands.

Nissan, "Enjoy the ride."
I'm trying.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Don't Ask. Don't Tell.

Let me tell you, be better than me. Don't ever ask your three year old what they know about what you do/provide. They have no clue and they don't care. Selfish little fuckers!

Having just come off a week of family vacation - and as the person responsible for packing everyone's shit and therefore being responsible for unpacking - in the throws of frustration of putting so much stuff away, I asked my son, "Reece, do you know who brought all of your favorite things to be the beach?" I held my breath, hoping to hear him reply with a loud and grateful "Mommy!" but instead all I got was "The car." Technically, he's right that the car brought his stuff to the beach and perhaps I should be proud, but I was furious.  Determined to make a point, I entered a conversation that I can't now forget. And it's ruined me.

"Reece, it was mommy who packed all of your favorite things for the beach. Wasn't that nice?"
"Mommy, want to go outside?"
He has no interest in this conversation.

"Reece, do you know who packs your lunch for camp?"
"No."
Dagger to the heart as I think about how stressed I get each morning as I try to create lunches that will make him so happy that he'll exclaim at the lunch table "I love this! Mommy packed all my favorite things!"  I now realize that the lunch table conversation probably sounds more like, "I saw a trash truck today."

It;s a humbling reminder that what a three year old cares about is exactly what my son asked me about when I tried talking to him. He wants to play. He wants to spend time with me and do things with me. There's no concept of why and how, just who and where. Something I need to learn and value. My measure of myself as a mother is all about how I care for my kids; that they always feel safe and loved. But I realize that what Reece measures is time spent together.

So next time, the question I ask will be "Who played with you today?" For that, surely he'll say "Mommy!" right? Or he'll say, "Let's go watch a show." So I've got that going for me.

Humph!