Archive for the ‘career’ Category

It’s been a while and now I am sandwiched.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

I have hand written blog entries, thought about blog entries, wanted to list a few things and say a few things but, alas, it has take a few months to do it.

I, actually, had to relearn how to post.

Well, it’s a snow day and boy oh boy am I happy about that. I’ll still run my new mom’s groups but NOT HAVING to get the kids up, ready for school, dog walked  and everyone out the door (let’s add a parent-teacher meeting this morning) before 8 is a huge relief. I will also add that life has taken a way too busy turn.

You know when the baby boom media talks about the sandwiched generation? Well, here I am.  Sandwiched between my parent’s declining well-being and my kids struggling preadolescence. And this is where it sits, let alone what it feels like when i project into the future and start predicting stuff.

I asked my kids, “How do you define being a grown up”?  Their answers were “when you can tell someone else what to do”, “when you can do what you want” , “when you can drive”.  Their answers are very reminicent.  The feeling of freedom, of choice, of independence.  I think as a kid I  had those feelings, too;  “when I can wear makeup, when I can go to bed when I want”.  However as an adult,  a defining moment of being “grown up” has been caring for my aging parents. Some might say that’s strange since I became a mom years befoe that happened.  I had been in the work place and on my own even fruther back.  The  first, concrete,  glimpse at being gown up, or maybe an adult in a new way, was when my mom had open heart surgery about 8 years ago.  I remember bathing her and her allowing me to help.  Her revealing her vulnerability and letting me assist. WOW! She let me take care of her.  It was profound, sad, sweet, and moving.

Fast forward to today. My parent’s wellness is on an obvious decline. While they balance the tightrope of being able to be independent (sort of) and could easily be completely dependent on the other side.  A moment, and hour a day makes the difference. As the adult child, I am needing to shift constantly.  What my parent’s don’t realize is how much I do for them and how much more they need done. I have found a big part of  my role with them is to care with respect.  I don’t want them to think they are burdening me, I don’t want them to give up ALL aspects of independence, but there are times that they need to know this is either too much for me, or too much for them.

A great challenge to me is balancing this and the emotional (and logistical) tug  of my kid’s growing needs (school, behavioral, relationships, food/shelter etc) with my parents growing needs (0versight, safety nets, backup plans etc).While my kids are entering their middle school years, academics have taken on a new look and behavioral changes or exaggerations are precarious. If you are partnered, the relationship can be strained during this time or can be a strong piece to holding it all together.

Oh, have I forgot to mention my New Mom’s Groups, my private practice, my sleep consultations work? I have really cut down on promoting my practice.  I am fortunate I am partnered with some wonderful places that do the administrative pieces: the outreach etc (Prenatal Yoga Center, Discovery Programs, Wiggles and Giggles Playhouse and Bread and Yoga), but my involvement with pulling in people has had to give.  I have whittled my practice down to the essence, lending support, assisting new moms and parents in identifying and building on their strengths as women, moms, dads and parents.  Sometimes we just need to know we are on the right course or need some support in steering the ship from an outside perspective. well, that’s no different for moms and dads of school aged and adolescent kids, or of adults taking care of their aging parents.

Whatever adult stage of development one is  in there are challenges and joyful moments. Each needing to be acknowledged for what it is (emotional, logistic, financial, pure, muddled, whatever). I need to remember that I am not in control of all things around me and that my daily life with my kids have all these components  (sometimes in the moment and sometimes with some perspective) and even my relationship with my folks at this point still hold all of these components.  This is what life looks like for me right now.  Much I am overwhelmed by, some of which is me, some of which is the situation.

So, how do I take care of myself during all of this. It’s is very easy to disconnect, to retreat.  I feel a bit flat, socially, sometimes. Like, when you are a new mom- you’re home with the baby and it’s like WHOA! How’d this happen? Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? But as you reach out to others, talk, connect, take in the support, care, love (where you can) those feeling of self appreciation and care build. So, while you still might have struggles with nursing or your baby still might not be sleeping, the support around you helps  hold up and build your own self confidence.

I do believe reaching out for support and finding the right people to surround yourself with can give the journey perspective and insight.  Can help build one’s own confidence and to help feel cared for (while caring for all these other people and situations). Life is messy much of the time, can be uncomfortable and can require more from you that you think is possible. I need to remember I do have my limits, I will do nothing perfectly but I can do things to the best of my ability (which has its variables).

So, perhaps if I am part of the sandwiched generation, the supports and  friendships are the condiment.

Babysitters…….even tweens can do it!?

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Received this on a local yahoo group I moderate. Liked it and want to pass it on! Enjoy.

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Freerangekids

Lessons from The Baby-sitters Club
Posted: 24 Mar 2010 09:56 PM PDT
Hi Folks! Here’s a lovely essay by The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Vanderkam
about, well, the cultural significance of The Baby-sitters Club.

Yes, I know how ridiculous (or at least American Studies for Dummies) that
sounds. And yet — you don’t sell 176 million copies of any series without making
some kind of impression on society. And the impression young readers got from
the girls in the Club was that kids their age could actually be responsible and
make money. Like adults! As Ms. Vanderkam puts it:

Hidden in the plots that show that friendship is good and that teasing, racism
and bossy boyfriends are bad, [author Ann M.] Martin imparts two more important
messages that modern readers need to hear: Teen girls are capable of handling
far more responsibility than we give them credit for, and they, like the rest of
us, can choose to make their own way in the world.

Right on! One of the Free-Range notions is that kids long to be adults, and
that’s a good thing. The human desire to grow up motivates kids to learn and
strive and get a paper route. (Remember paper routes? Remember papers?) It is
our job to help them along that path, rather than putting up a big, “CAUTION!”
sign and marching them back to the ExerSaucer.

About a year ago I posted a query on this site https://makemeupmandy.com/best-diaper-pail asking, “What age did you babysit? And what
age babysitter would you hire now?” The discrepancies amazed me. Grown women who
had cared for kids, even infants, at age 10 or 11 now wouldn’t let their
13-year-old stay home for an hour alone at night. And they sure wouldn’t trust
their toddlers to a 12-year-old.

Scholastic’s Baby-sitters Club, about to be re-issued (with a new prequel,
too!), reminds us that not very long ago at all, we trusted “tweens” to do more
than just text. God, maybe we didn’t even call them tweens. — Lenore

Childcare

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Childcare, it’s one of the biggest issues personally and professionally. I will say, once the childcare piece is in place you can concentrate on the here and now, which is your baby.

Giving yourself enough time to find someone and hire them before you actually have to return to work , should leave you feeling much more confident in your decision.
For all parents,  the overwhelming question of  “how do I begin this search” is often coupled with a fear of leaving their baby with a “stranger”. Good and affordable childcare is an emotional and financial issue for all parents.

A part time babysitter can run $12-15 an hour.  A nanny (full time sitter) can range in price from $400-700.  Referrals come from all sorts of places; neighbors,  friend’s babysitters, the playground, a bulletin board,  your friends. If you are looking for a part time or occasional sitter, you might try calling Cabrini High School at 212 923-3540, talk to the dean of students.  They have identified good candidates for babysitting and will help match a student with a family.  Barnard Babysitting Service is another option.  Their telephone number is 212-854-2035.  For a low fee they will try to match a student with your family’s part-time needs. You also might try posting in the lobby of Columbia’s School of Nursing student service board.  Fax over your job description (212-305-3680) .

Before you interview the perspective nanny/babysitter you might want to find out their past experience and describe what you’ll need. Check references first then have a face to face.  When talking to past employers ask if they’d hire them again.  Find out how they found her and when and why she left.  When interviewing the candidate clearly state what your expectations are and find out how flexible she is. Discuss safety issues and setting limits. Try to figure out what your views on TV or phone use would be, you expectation around nap schedules or housekeeping.  Legally, you can ask anything you might feel is pertinent, from their health or medications they take to their own childcare needs. You can also ask to see an ID or driver’s license. You’ll  want to be up front about vacations, sick days, travel expenses and general expectations. Some families write up agreements that all parties sign.

If a full time sitter is not affordable, Family Daycare, tends to be a less expensive option. Word of mouth and resources such as the Day Care Council of NY (www.dccnyinc.org) can provide licensed listings.  Licensing requires 1 adult per 6 children (2 of which can be infants). Group Family Day Care requires 2 adults (1 provider and 1 assistant) for up to 12 kids, 4 of which can be infants.

Family day care can be a lovely option. Find out if they are licensed, what the ratio is, how the space accommodates both toddlers and infants, ask around and observe. The Department of Health can provide information on reported violations.  For local listings of childcare resources you can look up www.washington-heights.us/  and click on resources and then click on childcare and you will find centers in the area.

Remember, who you hire now might not be the person you have in 6 months, 1 year or 3 . Your needs might change and your child’s needs might change. Factor in a trial period. From my experience there are more good childcare providers than bad. The more time you can have with this person or place before returning to work, the more comfortable you’ll feel leaving your baby.  The relationship, ultimately, can be an enriching and loving experience for your baby and an asset to your family.

Returning to Work

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I always thought I would return to work after my maternity leave.  Why wouldn’t I?  It was a no brainer. (I also thought I could “throw” the kid in the back pack and hike the Himalayas….not so much!)

After a  fearful start to motherhood which included  lactation issues, heightened anxiety and sleeplessness (duh)- 3 months came around and I was gearing up to return to work and low an behold, I was beginning to feel more comfortable in this foreign role as mom.  While trying to wrap my head around leaving my baby for a full time job (i did not love) was daunting and I was given the opportunity (family support) not to return to work and that became the “no brainer”.

This isn’t always possible. Moms return to (outside of the house) work in all sorts of ways;  Full time, part time, staying at home, daycare,  babysitter etc. As I often tell the women in my New Mom’s Groups: “No camp is perfect”. There are often challenges and positive parts to whatever we end up doing. For example, if you are at work all day and come home at the end of the day- you have a different freshness for being home with your little one.  You are able to be in that moment with your baby that  perhaps staying home all day and trying to get anything else done at home can actually keep you out of all those “baby moments”.  While working all day and missing the details of your baby’s day can be painful, some people use skype, a communication log and phone call updates to get them through the day.  My friend, who returned to work after her 3+ months off, told her babysitter “please don’t tell me when my baby does something new.  I want to discover it for myself. “  I also will add, after a year, back at work, she quit her job and stayed home full time (she had a second baby and gave birth to a second career, since).

There is  a lot of new that comes out of being a new mom, of course I haven’t even brought up work/career/identity/identity integration (that’s another blog entry).  I also have not mentioned the logistics, including  pumping and introducing bottles for breast feeding moms.  Often thinking outside the box, can be helpful (think flexible hours and schedules or  job sharing, babysitter shares).

No matter what, when deciding to return to work childcare is one of the main issues. I will say that once this is in place (and hopefully somewhat in advance of your first day) the focus then can turn to enjoying your baby, processing your torn feelings of sadness about leaving  her or perhaps  guilt about feeling excited about returning to your work environment (one you hopefully enjoy). It takes a lot of advance thought to figure out when you’ll pump, how your day is going to look and will your baby be happy that cannot be predicted it has to be experienced.

The New York Times recently had an article about returning to work (and even being pregnant at work) that addresses some of these issues  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/jobs/22career.html.  Also a book that I recommend is Nursing Mother Working Mother by Gale Pryor.

Whatever you decide to do, whatever you have to do, you’ll make it work out.  It might not be what you had originally in mind, but it might be what evolves as your are paying attention to the details of your decisions. Oh, and by the way- it actually is not a no brainer