Viewing category ‘Parenting & Family’

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No, your kiddo won’t like your nanny more than you

Categories: Parenting & Family

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In the last few days I’ve been catching up with a few of my girlfriends who are either thinking about having kids or have just recently had a little one. All work and plan on continuing with their careers and so at some point our conversations turned to childcare. I have to admit that I was really surprised when all of them asked me a version of the same question:

Do you think if I get a nanny my kiddo will like her more than me?

We had a nanny for our daughter until she was three years old. Actually, we ended up having three nannies, each for about a year. We were pretty damn lucky, for the most part, because we had wonderful nannies who took great care of her and whom we treated as members of our family. Our last nanny in particular was so special that we literally considered not moving from New York City so that we could keep her. (We decided to move in the end, but it was a really tough separation - for our daughter as well as for us!) And the reason that my friends’ question surprised me so much is that I never thought about it myself.

Don’t get me wrong: Leaving my little three-month old daughter in the care of another person was excruciatingly hard.
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Do you think you had your kids at the right age?

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family

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I realize this is one of those questions which is almost impossible to answer.

As soon as our kids become part of our lives we love and adore them and can’t imagine how we lived before we had them. (Well, that’s not entirely true — I still have some memories of getting a full night of sleep, deciding to meet a friend for dinner after work at a moment’s notice, and not worrying all the time, but you know what I mean.) We also don’t get to do our lives over so you can’t really know how things would have been if you’d had kids earlier or later.

Still, I’ve recently had this conversation with a few friends, so the topic is on my mind. One of my friends is in her mid 40s and she had her daughter at 38, which would probably be considered on the later side. She felt that having kids later in life was the right thing for her — she got established in her career, which made it easier for her to take a few years off and go back to work — and her husband — they got to travel and do all sorts of things that are harder to do with kids. Another friend, a guy actually, said that he felt he could have used a few more years of “maturing” (his word) before having kids.

I don’t quite know what my own answer would be.
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Advice for new (working) moms: What would you say?

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Your life

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Our very good friends just had a baby, four weeks ago, to be precise. She is precious and amazing and they are tired and excited and overwhelmed. All par for the course. As we sat there, the little one napping on me an causing all sorts of nostalgia, my-friend-the-new-mom and I got into a bit of mom talk. Lack of sleep (sleep when the baby sleeps makes total sense), the reality of breastfeeding (much more painful and idyllic than she imagined), and trying to figure out how work and her other creative projects fit in now that she is a MOM and is completely in love with being one.

Boy, did that last one sound familiar. I didn’t want to be all grim about it, but what I told her is that even though my daughter is seven (OMG!) I don’t think I’ve got the winning formula down or even close to it. It’s something I juggle on a daily basis and sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m doing it very successfully. (I’m crossing my fingers that she appreciated an honest answer.)

I did want to be constructive so I shared some advice with my friend. I’d love to know what advice you’d give to a new working mom so please sound off in the comments.

  • Don’t be a martyr. I did this, it’s stupid and it is not good for anyone in the family. I didn’t leave my kiddo’s side for 3 months until I went to work, save for a few doctor’s appointments or late night walks after she was asleep. My husband and I didn’t go out without her until she was nine months old. After I went back to work I pumped for 45 minutes at a time, 4 times a day, because my milk was running out but I was determined that I needed to keep my kiddo breast milk-only for a certain number of months. I can keep going for pages.
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Working mom guilt, weekend edition

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family

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A few years ago we moved to live closer to my and my husband’s parents. We wanted to be closer to family and I wanted my daughter to grow up around her grandparents — something I had a chance to do and truly cherish. (In fact, my mom’s parents are still alive and it’s pretty awesome to have them nearby.) Our parents work and stay pretty busy, but they do carve out some time to spend with our kiddo. One of those times is Saturday mornings, when my dad comes to pick her up around 9am, takes her to their house for breakfast, then brings her to dance class and hangs out with her a bit after.

Which means that on most Saturdays my husband and I get a few hours to take a walk, get some breakfast, run a few errands and generally de-compress. We’ve had this routine for a few years now and I’ve felt really lucky about it; our daughter enjoys some fun time with her grandparents and we get to catch our breath, even if just a bit.
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Overbooked kids, happiness, and economics

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Your life

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Earlier today I was spending some quality time with my organizer (it’s a new Filofax Flex organizer, if you must know, and yes, we’re becoming quite friendly), and realized that in just a few more week we’re back to a more hectic routine of school and after school activities. And then I see this article in the New York Times, titled Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something?

The article is worth a read. It’s main point is that many parents are driven by the idea that they must expose their kids to all types of activities early on in order to set them up for success later in life… and that it may not be the right thing to do. According to some economists who’ve done research in this area, there is no indication that parental choices can be positively or negatively correlated with academic success. But what touched a nerve more than academic success is thinking about how overbooking our kids might be affecting their and our, as parents and as families, happiness. If rushing kids around from one activity to another and spending tons of money that puts a strain on finances to do so causes stress and anxiety for everyone involved, then what’s the true benefit?
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Being a working mom gets harder as kids get older

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family

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Or, at least, that’s what I’m currently feeling.

My daughter turned 7 years old recently. I’ve worked full time — which for me has meant a minimum of 50-60 hours a week at a series of fairly intense jobs — since she was 3 months old. (I stayed home on maternity leave for the first 3 months.) It’s never been easy (ha!) and as with anything, some times have been more challenging than others. But I can honestly say that working full time with a 7 year-old is harder for me than working full-time when she was a baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I remember how hard it was back then. She had a tough first year — lots of crying, not sleeping and not eating well — and I remember not being able to focus on anything at work because I was waiting for a call from a nanny to tell me how many spoons of mashed banana she had eaten for lunch or whether she managed to at least take a 20-minute nap. I remember standing outside the door of our apartment in the morning, after I’d left, feeling the tears well up in my throat, and having to literally peel myself away from the door and get in the elevator to go to work. I remember surviving on just a few hours of sleep for days and feeling like a total zombie.

It was not easy, by any means.

But, on the flip side, we had wonderful nannies and I was confident that our kiddo was getting great care. What she needed when she was little was someone to care for her, to feed her, change her, put her down for naps, take her outside and to fun kiddo classes. Our nanny did that wonderfully — in fact, she was much better at getting our daughter to eat or sleep than we were — and when I left I felt like our daughter was getting what she needed.
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Trying to make your kids happy might send them to a shrink

Categories: Parenting & Family

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It’s not often that I read an article about parenting that really touches a nerve. “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” published in the Atlantic, is the most recent exception. I’ve read it a few times now and it’s causing all sorts of thoughts to swirl in my head.

It’s a long article but I hope you do find a few minutes to read it. Because in a way, I think it speaks to so much of what we talk about and worry about as parents: Our kids’ happiness and well-being. In the most oversimplified form, here’s the point the article makes:

By trying so hard to make our kids happy and remove any stress and discomfort from their lives, parents might actually be contributing to the kids’ anxiety and frustration when they get older.

The argument — supported, as written in the article, by many leading pediatricians, researchers and psychiatrists — is fairly straight forward:

Trying to be the very best parents we can be and do the very best for our kids we insulate them from as much discomfort, difficult situations, anxiety and stress as possible. We give them unconditional support, drive them to every activity they are interested in, rush home every night to help them with homework or to cheer them as they play soccer/tennis/insert your kids’ activities here. But then they grow up and go off to college and we can’t be there to do all that, which means they face real life. Real life is filled with discomfort, difficult situations, anxiety and stress — completely normal — but because we’ve shielded our kids from all that when they were growing up, they are less able to deal with it and it causes them greater anxiety than it should.

Trying to do everything you can to make your kids happy = risking making it very difficult for them to be happy when they grow up.
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Why bringing your kids to work is good for… them

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Working Women Issues

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A few weeks ago I wrote about worrying that I’m giving my daughter the wrong impression of what it means for her mom to work. I come home tired, I complain (too often) about having too much work, that kind of stuff. Well, I think I discovered one solution to making sure that my kiddo doesn’t think that my work is all about making me tired or that all it involves is my sitting in front of a computer:

Bring her to work with me.

OK, this isn’t a brilliant revelation — I’ve brought her to work with me many times before and she loves coming to the office (scooters, treats, playing with the iPad.. it’s a pretty fun place to be). But today when she was with me at the office I did something I hadn’t done before: I actually brought her with me to meetings where she saw me work. I also showed her some of the Power Points I was working on and we looked at my calendar together when I had to figure out my next business trip.
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Am I giving my daughter the wrong impression of “work”?

Categories: Career Talk, Parenting & Family, Your life

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We were sitting down for a Friday dinner together and as I yawned, my daughter asked me: “You’re tired, right mommy?” I told her yep, I was pretty tired from a crazy day and a pretty crazy week. She gave me a sweet smile that melted me and said: “Your work makes you tired. You’re always tired after you come home.”

Can’t argue with that. It’s not just work, of course, although if my job gets any more nutty I might need a visit to the nuthouse. (OK, I am joking, so my dear colleagues reading this, you’ll have to deal with me for a while yet.) It’s everything combined, the full juggling act that you’re all very familiar with. Most days, it leaves me exhausted and while I try to be as peppy and energized when I get home from work, I can’t hide it from my fairly perceptive kiddo most of the time.

I’ve always been a proponent of being as honest as possible with kids and not trying to color everything in positive colors. But lately I’m worried that the impression my daughter has about my working is mostly negative. I come home exhausted. I complain about having to do work late at night after she is asleep. Sometimes I work on weekends while she plays near me or in her room and tell her that I’d much rather be playing with her. If I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I told her something about my work that was positive.
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Tutoring programs for 3 year-olds? Yes, for real.

Categories: Parenting & Family

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Earlier today I read an article in the New York Times about the growing popularity of tutoring and development programs for little kids — we’re talking 2-5 year-olds. Here’s a description of one of these programs, from the article:

Children spend up to an hour twice weekly being tutored at a Junior Kumon center — 20 to 30 minutes each on reading and math. Children are then expected to do 20 minutes of homework on each subject every day, with their parents guiding and grading them.

Am I completely out of touch to think that really little kids should be playing rather than doing reading and math tutoring and homework?
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