Child Care


My blog has changed, the new url is: http://selfmademom.net.  

Check out The Juggle, a new blog by Wall Street Journal columnist Sara Schaefer Munoz.  (I’m not 100% sold on the name, but it might grow on me.) “The Juggle” aims to discuss all the issues that pertain to the modern family- stress of finding the right caregiver, trying to finish your neverending “to do” list, and managing to do your actual day job – all at the same time.

I liked what I read at first, especially about fake workplace productivity problems  (for those who care, I suffer from PCAST with a small case of my own diagnosis,”Nannyitis“).  And I’m totally glad to see another mainstream paper getting on the blogosphere bandwagon.  Guess I’ll add it to my Feeds… how will I ever “Juggle” all the stuff I have to read!?

My blog has changed. Visit me at: http://selfmademom.net!  

My days of being a fashionable working mom may be over soon.  Why, you ask? I can only answer it with one word: mobility.  Yes, my son’s days of being immobile are coming to a screeching halt.  To some, this may be a welcome sign that your baby is moving up in the world.  To me, it raises the dreaded question: NOW, how am I going to get dressed for work in the morning?

Back when I started working, my morning routine was a breeze.  I’d stick my son in the bouncy seat (can’t describe my love for that invention), shower, dry my hair, put on my makeup, get dressed, and he’d still be sitting there, smiling, in his chair, watching the starfish turn and turn.  This morning though, I realized that my steady routine was slowly slipping through my newly-moisturized hands.  

It went something like this: Son sits in bouncy seat for 5 minutes while I shower (I confess, I didn’t wash my hair, but wore a cute headband), and towel dry.  Son needs to get out of seat, now! Take son out of seat and scurry to my closet for anything that matches.  Run back to bathroom where son has managed to hit head on cold tile floor when rolling over (ouch!).  I sit him up and prop his back with a Boppy pillow (another one of my favorite inventions).  I’m good for another 10 minutes. Brush my teeth, put on my mom makeup (love the foundation stick!) but I’m not finished.  I have not accessorized yet.  But son cannot wait for me to pick out the perfect matching earrings.  He needs to be picked up, now!  Pick up son and walk to closet where I find something to doll up my droll outfit.  Now son wants to get down, now!  But I don’t have shoes on.  Prop son up in closet while trying on various shoes that will not kill my feet all day.  Son wants to play, now! How do I have time to play when I need to pack up my purse and wolf down a banana before I get in the car? 

But just then my answer to how I will get dressed in the morning is at the door.  Nanny arrives, and I can assume my fashionable working mom position once again.  If only I can get to work on time.

Sometimes you just can’t make it out the door to get to work.  Your nanny just got in a car accident and can’t make it to your house (true story), you’ve wasted half your day at the doctor’s office waiting for an appointment for your child (true story), or your kid is too sick and needs the TLC only a mother can provide (yes, true story).  Something unplanned comes up and your child care plans for the day are thrown out the window.  There’s nothing you can do but try to “WAH” (if you dare).  We’ve all been there and know how hard it is.

That’s why I’m going to start advocating for “kid” days.  I think employers should consider providing working parents with a couple of days a year (they can be accrued over time, if necessary) to deal with the inevitable kid-related issue that prevents you from getting out of your house in the morning.  If you’re like me, and have used up all of your sick days on maternity leave, you dread the day that you can’t come into work because of an ill-timed child emergency. 

Why should we have to use a “vacation” day for these emergencies?  Staying at home with a sick child does not sound like a vacation to me.  Why should I use an “optional” day either?  If I had the “option,” I’d be at work! 

I’m not trying to whine… I know that as parents, we are supposed to build up reserves to deal with the unplanned.  But stuff happens that is out of our control, and I think a lot of parents (at least ones that I know) would be very relieved to know that they had a couple of “kid” days saved up in the time off bank. 

I could be persuaded to advocate for “pet” days too… if only my husband would let me get that dog…

I’m intrigued by a comment a reader made on my blog post regarding Katie Couric’s mom “struggles.”  She said how she believes that motherhood (working motherhood specifically) is the big fat equalizer – rich or poor, celebrity or not- of all women. 

I can’t stop thinking about it ever since.  Actually, it really hit home yesterday when I spent the morning working at home while my nanny was taking care of my son.  As I blogged before, my nanny is pregnant, and about to become a working mom of her own. 

She is very excited to have her baby, but she will face a whole different set of challenges that I did when I had my son.  First and foremost, she will be leaving her child in day care so that she can take care of MY child.  This alone near kills me.  She’s spending her days helping to raise someone else’s kid instead of her own.  Also, she is not married, and while her boyfriend seems supportive, he lives in a different city and they have no plans to live in Chicago together at the moment.  So while her family will play a huge role in raising her child, she’s entering motherhood virtually alone.

This does not seem equal to me.  My biggest worries are whether or not my son is napping well, whether or not I have to take a conference call on my days off, and if can I somehow get to the gym on an odd hour off.  Not, how will I pay for my child’s well-being? Or, will the child’s father play an active role?  I work because I like to work and need the adult stimulation, not because my child’s survival depends on it.  Not the same for my nanny.

So sure, put me in a room with Gwenyth Paltrow and I’m sure we can discuss at length the trivial things our children do.  But, put me in a room with my nanny when she becomes a mom – and I can bet it’s not the same conversation.  It just doesn’t seem equal anymore, does it? 

I’ve changed my site. Visit me at: http://selfmademom.net!  

Apparently Gerber is not alone in writing silly gender specific copy for their baby products.  Second in my series of companies who don’t know who their target audience is is Britax, maker of world-class baby car seats.  As my husband (yes, he gets involved in baby related tasks, shocker!) was installing our new Britax Decathalon (Onyx fabric) car seat, I walked out to check in on his progress.  It was then that of course, I read the outside of the car seat package (written in what had to be 80 pt. font) where Britax explains the benefits of their car seat (Safety! Fashion! Convenience!). But it was the “Convenience” category copy that really caught my eye. Here’s what it said:

“Moms around the world love Britax seats because they’re easy to install correctly (it took 30 minutes find the LATCH cords), and they have great features like one-hand adjustment (?) belt holders (??), built in lockoffs (??!!!??), belly pads (this one made me laugh) and more.”

For starters is the obvious- “MOMS” around the world love Britax? Britax, do dads not drive baby around? But second, and probably more important, is the notion that they actually believe that a mom reads and understands what a “lockoff” is and that is the main reason we bought the seat.  Copywriters: want to know the reason I bought this particular model seat? A few of my NMFs have it and love it.  It was all about the word of mouth.  I didn’t read the copy on the package (who has time?) to know that this was a good and safe seat. I talked to the most important marketer- another mom.
Lesson for Britax- maybe it’s time to find new copywriters.
 

Ok, it’s about time I get on this bandwagon. Lots of discussion recently about a recent Washington Post article regarding the amazing childcare provisions and maternity leave policies the French currently offer.  You can’t imagine it if you tried- childcare subsidies, tax deductions, ridiculously cheap childcare options – all to promote mothers to continue working while helping to increase France’s population.
Now, Leslie Morgan Steiner of the Washington Post blogged about it, and suggests lightly that the US start supporting better working moms and dads.
Generally, I agree with this position. But what if it made our health insurance costs go up? or even our taxes? Is it worth it? Is France really the gold standard here?

I’m not sure, but hell, we could all use a few more weeks off with le bebe.

Lots of thoughts coming out of this past weekend, which I spent with my friends from grad school.  My friend’s dilemma- one of her employees is a part-time WAHM.  Apparently, she doesn’t have help when she works from home, so while her performance is good, when you call her for work-related items, you can hear her kids in the background. My friend wants to be supportive, but gets annoyed and thinks this WAHM should get some help when she’s WAH. 

It’s a tough call- what if my friend marries and has kids one day? I know she wants to be supportive, but also wants to control her employees.  My vote- if her work is still good, so be it.

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