Archive | October, 2011

Judgment and Parenting

25 Oct

I judge other parents.  Frequently.

Now that I have that confession out of the way, I want to discuss judging and parenting.  There was a recent post on Babble titled “Stop Judging Other Mothers“.

The author states:

I do care that you feel that you can reach out to your fellow mothers without judgment or shame.

I do care that you feel supported.

As a mother TO a mother, I SUPPORT you 100%.

Seriously, because anything less just sucks.

Kick judgment in the ass.

Just support each other.

While the sentiment is lovely, the reality is that, no matter what we say, we ALL judge.  Where I differ in opinion from the author (I think) and from other people who are against judging, is that I think that being judged, or even the perception that you are being judged, actually makes you a better parent.

I am going to break this down.  Often for some people simply saying “I breastfeed” leads someone who does not breastfeed to feed judged.  On the other hand, “my kid sleeps all night in a crib with no night wakings” may lead to a cosleeping mother with a child who wakes several times, to feel judged.  I cannot say for sure what the intention of the speaker is, but sometimes, often innocuous statements, make us think – “hmmm, she seems to really like breastfeeding, maybe I’ll look into it with my second”, or, “why do I feel bad when people talk about breastfeeding and what can I do about it”?, or “I am happy with my decision to formula feed and I’m happy that she has a good breastfeeding relationship”.

My kids often watch too much TV or eat too much junk and when I hear “my kids only play with organic wooden toys and eat raw food grown from our garden”, I have a tendency to cringe, but when I examine my feelings, often, it’s because I don’t want my kids to watch too much TV or eat too much junk.  In fact, due to things I’ve read and people I have spoken to, things that could be perceived as judgments, my kids do not watch TV during the week, and junk food is limited to special treats.

I would hope that if I am doing something not so good, that my friends can point it out to me.  I may accept what they say and look into it, and I may continue what I am doing because I believe in what I am doing.  Conversely, I hope my friends know that any judgment they may perceive from me comes from a place of concern.

Life happens and I get that we all make different decisions and we can’t always go back, but we can go forward, armed with new information and new research and new perspectives.  I used a stroller with my first and not with my second.  I don’t care if people use a stroller, but if asked or if in discussion, I will share my experiences.  Same goes with other things.

I have no doubt that there are people out there who love to say “you are a bad parent because”, but I like to believe that those people are few and far between.  Often we are on the receiving end of some judgement from someone who is likely well meaning but perhaps ignorant to our situation.  If we are strong in our beliefs, then the judgement will roll off of us.  If we are not strong, maybe it will cause us to think.

For me, the simple fact remains that I do not support people 100%, “as a mother to a mother”.  Abuse, etc, aside, I don’t agree with many things like CIO, or spanking, and while I may not overtly tell someone, I will not support, and will attempt to gently suggest that they try something else.

Judging and being judged isn’t always a bad thing.  It keeps us on our toes, makes us think and research and often reminds us of why we made our decisions in the first place.

Can SAHMs and WOHMs be friends?

25 Oct

This post has been a long time in the making.  It has sat in the queue and I kept pushing the publish date back and back.  I am finally ready to talk about this issue now.  In no way am I intending to offend any person, whether they work at home, stay at home with their kids, or work outside of the home.  I am simply writing from my own perspective about challenges that I have faced.

The short answer to the question “can stay at home moms (SAHM) and work outside the home moms (WOHM) be friends” is a resounding YES.  I have a lot of friends who are different from me and we still maintain close friendships – friends who are older, friends who have no kids, friends who live far away.

The long answer is much more complex.

I have had the fortune of being a SAHM and a WOHM (for a time, I was even a work at home mom or WAHM).

I was a SAHM for the first 18 months of my daughter’s life and for 12 months (15 if you count that I was part time for three months) of my son’s life.  I was a WAHM for a few months prior to the birth of my son due to pregnancy complications.  I am currently a WOHM.  I feel, to an extent, that I can speak for all three “types” of moms.

I find the term “stay at home mom” funny, because I did not stay at home when I was on maternity leave.  I made it a point to go out each and every day even if it was just to chapters or starbucks.  With my daughter, I belonged to playgroups, and with my son, I went out regularly with the parents from my daughter’s school.  I was BUSY.  I also maintained my home and kept up friendships with people who did not have children.  One thing that’s great about being a SAHM is that, to an extent, your time is flexible, particularly during the day.  As a rule, most of my socializing time was done during business hours.  After that, I either needed to pick up my daughter and/or get home to my husband.  I was usually guaranteed a few precious minutes to read or relax while my husband took the kids to the park or spent some time with them.

As a work from home mom (disclaimer – I really only did this part time for a short time), my time was still flexible.  I was with my daughter when she was at home and I worked when she slept or was in school.

I currently work outside of the home in a career that I love and find fulfilling.  I have flexible hours and generally go in an 7AM and am at the school to do a pick up by 3:15.  I have a generous vacation package which I use for volunteering in the school or staying home with sick little ones and for some actual vacations! ;) I will take days as needed to take my kids to something special if I can.  When I get home from work, I want to spend every waking minute with my kids.  I pick them up, prepare snacks, do homework, play with them, carpool to activities, make dinner and lunches, read, do baths, etc.

Now – here’s where my question comes in – when are SAHMs and WOHMs supposed to get together?  I ask this question due to something that came up with me.  I was really looking forward to attending a tweetup for moms in York Region.  It was taking place on a Friday at an indoor playground.  I planned to go and was quite excited.  Unfortunately, I would not be able to get there until after 11, then after 12, and then not at all.  Since the majority of people seemed to be going between 10 and 1:30, this wasn’t going to work for me.  I had to take the previous Friday off with a sick kid, and the following week, I had a conference to attend.

I understand where all sides come in – a SAHM doesn’t want to get together for a playdate at 4PM and a WOHM can’t get together for the playdate during the day.

Obviously, compromise can be found – the WOHM can take a day off if possible, and the SAHM can go out later once in a while.  Weekends can work, because most people are available, although it may cut into family time.

Additionally, there is the issue of just the moms going out, without the little ones.  Personally, when I work all day and am away from my kids, the last thing I want to do is go out with other people when they are awake.  Once in a while is fine, but on a regular basis – no.  For a SAHM who is home with their kids all day, a few nighttime outings is perhaps not as big a deal because they had all that daytime contact with their kids.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Disney and Similac Team Up to Undermine Breastfeeding for Moms

4 Oct

I was alerted to a press release on Twitter discussing a partnership between Disney and Similac.  The release states:

We are very excited to introduce a brand new Similac partner opportunity — Pediatric Kits! It’s just announced but we’ve already brought in Blairex and Olan Mills as new partners. Similac will be delivering over 2 million Ped Kits to OB/GYN offices all over the country this year. That’s a great way for the right brands to meet new moms and their little bundles of joy! It’s been an amazing few years working with Abbot Nutrition. We’ve seen the Similac program double in terms of new partners and we’ve been a part of helping monitize the initiative with over a million dollars in new revenue.

Also, this just in: we’re pleased to announce the recent signing of Disney as one of our newest Similac Co-op partners. Look for exclusive Disney offerings in our Similac Discharge kits beginning this Fall.

Reading this, I am absolutely horrified.  First of all, the so called “Pediatric Kits” are nothing more than items designed to undermine breastfeeding.  These kits are given out with coupons and formula and bottles so that mothers have them within ready access.  If something is difficult with breastfeeding and the mom does not have the help they need to breastfeed, these “kits” come in handy.   The middle of the night desperation is exactly what the formula companies are banking on.

The partnership idea is particularly gross to me because these companies add something else to the kit – something that is appealing to an even wider group. Breastfeeding mothers who would otherwise refuse the kit, may take it because of cereal, clothing, or Disney coupons or samples (things that have nothing to do with breastfeeding).  Once that kit is in the house, the undermining of breastfeeding happens.

Finally, it is clear that this is all revenue driven because the release discusses the money that they are making!  These kits are not about helping out new moms, they are about selling a product.  The only way to sell formula is if people are not breastfeeding.  A way to stop people from breastfeeding is to market formula in sneaky and underhanded ways like giving out “pediatric kits” in hospitals full of formula and coupons to Disney.

I wish companies like Disney would support breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding lounges in hospitals sponsored by Disney or other companies could be an interesting thing.  The company could promote their brand, while giving much needed funds to help breastfeeding mothers.

Food for thought.

 

My kid has more money than me

3 Oct

My 8 year old daughter carries a nice little (adult) purse.  In that purse, she carries a few standard “lady”  items such as lip gloss, gum, a small pack of tissues, a (fake) cell phone.  She also has three wallets.  That’s right.  THREE wallets.  3 wallets. One wallet is solely for change.  It’s made out of old kool aid wrappers and she bought it for one dollar at an art show that we went to this past summer.  My daughter often has a lot of change in this particular wallet, to the point that her purse is heavy for me to carry.

She soon realized that this small wallet was not cutting it for her so she started using another wallet she had, this one from Claires, something she received as a gift for her 6th birthday.  This particular wallet is black and has silver sparkly stars on it and is quite cute.  It’s a sturdy wallet but pretty.  This wallet contains the bills.

The third wallet came into the mix when my daughter’s cards did not all fit into the second wallet.  I know what you’re thinking – what 8 year old has cards?  The answer is – mine.  She keeps her gift cards in her main black wallet, but her chuck e cheese cheerleader card is in the card wallet, as is a dave and busters card, and several hotel keys.  This purple “pleather” wallet was a stocking gift from a neighbouring Santa last Christmas.

The other day, my daughter was counting her money, and she had a wad of bills like no other I have seen, short of a casino.  My husband and I pay my daughter an allowance of 8 dollars a week and she earns it – emptying the dishwasher, setting and clearing the table, keeping an eye on her little brother, and maintaining her room.  She also earns money from well meaning grandparents who pay her for singing songs to them.

Last weekend, I was a Chapters with my kids and I was exchanging a book that my daughter had bought with one of her gift cards.  The difference from the new book was $1.15 and when I looked in my wallet, I had nothing.  I didn’t want to debit or credit such a low amount so I turned to my daughter and borrowed money from her.  That’s right, I borrowed $20 from my 8 year old.  I paid her back promptly!

I am proud that my little girl manages her money.  She saves money, and spends some on carefully thought out purchases.  My three year old son (turning 4 in a few weeks) started his allowance a few weeks ago ($3/week until he’s 4).  Adding that to $5 from my father in law, my 3 year old now has $14 dollars in his piggy bank.

Soon enough, my kids really will have more money than me!

How to support breastfeeding mothers

1 Oct

From my “retired” blog!

Plenty of people want to support their breastfeeding friends and family, they simply aren’t sure how. It is surprisingly easy to support and help out a nursing mother, even if you have limited, or no, experience nursing.

First things first.

Stop offering to take the baby, babysit the baby, give the mom time to herself. I know that it comes from a good place, and all moms do need to shower and use the bathroom, but particularly in those first few months, they need, and likely want, time with their baby. I am hugely guilty of this, despite hating when people do this to me. Babies are cute! We all want to hang out and cuddle with a cute baby while mom naps, but more than likely, mom isn’t napping, she’s fretting, or cleaning, or doing something else entirely.

If you can’t babysit the baby, what can you do? All moms have things that need to get done that they will never ask other people to do – loads of laundry, vacuuming, washing floors, changing beds, wiping down bathrooms, cooking, etc. Absolutely nothing is more helpful to a new mother than actual help with what needs to get done around the house.

With my second child, my friends were amazing. They swept, vacuumed, and cooked. The best part? They didn’t even ask. They just brought food, picked up a broom or took out garbage. My mother and mother in law did laundry, picked up my daughter from school, and made meals. I was so appreciative of the help I received, because I could spend MORE time with my baby, bonding, nursing, resting, playing, and LESS time, worrying about housework, cooking, and laundry.

I returned to work at 12 months on a part time basis and then full time at 15 months. At around 11 months, I was needed in court to give testimony, something that I could not delegate to a colleague. Rather than leave my baby with her, my mother in law came with me. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be, so I nursed my son before going in, on a break, and then after. My mother in law watched my son in the car, took him to a nearby park and played with him. THAT help was invaluable, because I was able to do the work I needed to, but I had right kind of help so that I could nurse my child without having to give formula or a bottle.

Obviously, as babies age, moms will need time to themselves more and be able to take time for themselves. While they are nursing, it is so important to support moms in whatever way you can.

How do YOU support breastfeeding mothers?

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