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Tic-Tac-Toe Date

Parents' Version of a Romantic Date: Tic-Tac-Toe in the Park

Parents’ Version of a Romantic Date: Tic-Tac-Toe in the Park

Before we became parents, my husband and I enjoyed every free moment of time we had together. The crazy thing about life before kids is that the only real responsibility we had was to go to work and pay the bills. Other than that, we did anything and everything we wanted. We enjoyed cocktails after work and meeting friends for dinner on a regular basis. On the weekends, we went out every single Friday and Saturday night. Bonfires, happy hours, trips to the lake. I even tagged along with my husband when he traveled for work at least once or twice a year. It was an awesome, care free time of our marriage and I’m so glad we lived it up.

I think it’s pretty obvious that bringing a baby into a family changes things exponentially – for the better, of course, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a totally insane, challenging time of life. Caring for a newborn is intense and exhausting, especially on top of working full time while maintaining a marriage. We don’t have family nearby and didn’t find a good sitter until a few months into things. However, I’m almost positive that if we DID have a sitter in the beginning, the idea of a perfect night out would have been driving to a nearby parking lot and sleeping in the backseat for several hours until it was almost guaranteed that the baby was in bed. The thought of going downtown for a late night dinner and meeting up with friends for drinks was almost laughable.

I’m always confused when new parents say that they can’t even remember life without children. Does that mean that parenting comes so naturally and easily that it seems like they’ve always been doing it? Or does is mean that they are so tired and strung out from the mayhem that they can’t even recall what it feels like to not have such insane responsibilities? I don’t know. I DO know that I definitely remember every moment of marriage before kids. And it was good. I love my son more than life itself and I am the luckiest mother in the world to have such an amazing child. I can’t stress that enough. But I definitely miss the amount of care-free time that my husband and I used to enjoy together.

As time goes on, it gets easier you get better at managing your new found responsibilities. You figure out how to make the most of the little bit of free time you do have available, which is pretty much after baby goes to bed. We make a valid effort to get a sitter once or twice a month to get out and connect as a couple rather than as parents. We definitely don’t take our time alone for granted since it comes so few and far between.

This past weekend, my in-laws came from out of town to visit us for the weekend. Me, my husband, and my in-laws took Greyson to the park to play. It’s not often that we have other people available to entertain our son, so my husband and I took the opportunity to sit on the bench and watch someone else push him on the swing and chase him around the playground. After chatting for a bit and enjoying the sunshine, my husband challenged me to a game of Jumbo Tic Tac Toe. I’m sure we looked ridiculous, but we had a blast. (And I kicked his ass, too, just for the record).

So while we aren’t always available to meet our friends on the weekends and we don’t have weekly romantic dates, I’d say we’re doing a damn good job of maximizing the little moments. And we’re loving every minute of it. Not to mention, my Tic Tac Toe skills are totally improving, which is just a little added bonus.

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Curious George’s Town App Review and Giveaway

Curious George App 1
Curious George’s Town App

This summer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the release of the new Curious George’s Town App for iPad and iPhone. As a certified early childhood/elementary education teacher and a mother to a toddler, I am always looking for exciting new ways to incorporate educational technology into learning. After trying it out, I am thrilled to share some of the great features this app as well as to provide an awesome Curious George Prize Pack giveaway for my readers.

The Curious George’s Town App, designed for children ranging in age from preschool through Kindergarten, offers children the opportunity to explore various places in a neighborhood, including a pet store, a library, and a bakery. Each place in George’s town features an educational game for children to play, focusing on various math and literacy skills.

Features I love

The app includes five different places in George’s town for children to visit. Each place introduces a new game for children to explore. I love that every game offered enhances a variety of math and literacy skills. For instance, when children enter the bakery, they are asked to help a customer choose the correct number of candles and colored icing for a cake. Then, children use their creativity to design a cake by coloring with their fingers and choosing toppings. While visiting the market, children help George collect food by moving his basket around to “catch” a specific number of items. In the library, children help George return books back to the shelf that all begin with the same letter. For me, the best part of the app is that each game offers an educational, age appropriate, yet exiting activity.

Choose a place in town to play!

Choose a place in town to play!

Another wonderful feature included in this app is an incentive system. For each activity completed, children collect and save coins which they can use to purchase things to add to their town, such as houses, camping grounds, and circus tents. Children are encouraged to save their coins to buy higher costing things and then use these items to design their very own town. And the best part? There is a “Parent” section in which parents can enter real-life chores as well and reward their children with coins to use in George’s store when tasks are completed.

Collect and save coins to use in the store!

Collect and save coins to use in the store!

Why I Recommend This App

As a teacher and a mother, it’s important to me that the time my child spends engaging in technology is both fun AND educational. I only download apps that will enhance educational skills and offer a safe place for children to play. I try to avoid internet sites that often require children to create accounts, share personal information, and that are littered with advertisements. Curious George’s Town App provides exciting games for children enjoy while motivating them to collect and save coins to use in the store. In my opinion, it’s a perfect combination of entertainment and learning for preschool to early elementary aged children.

The app can be purchased for iPad or iPhone for $3.99. Check out a preview of the app here!

While you’re here, you can enter to win a FREE download of the Curious George’s Town App included in the Curious George Prize Pack Giveaway!

Curious George Prize Pack offers a free app download and Curious George gift pack containing: Curious George Builds A Home and the Curious George Travel Activity Kit containing: A classic book, 3 stories on CD, an activity book, a card game, stickers and double-sided crayons.

Enter to Win this awesome prize pack!

Enter to Win this Awesome Prize Pack!

Did you know: everything is cancer-causing?

If I had to describe myself as a mother, I’d say that I am protective, but not overprotective. I worry, but I don’t agonize over every tiny decision. I call my pediatrician occasionally when I have questions, but I’m not that mom that has to make an appointment for every little sniffle. Lately, I’ve fallen into the trap of listening to other’s opinions and reading ridiculous articles warning parents about the harmful effects of just about everything related to parenting. Let me explain.

When I was pregnant, I stocked up on groceries and baby supplies so that we wouldn’t have to make any unnecessary trips to the store after returning home from the hospital. Many of the baby products that I had purchased were Johnson and Johnson, since it’s the “most trusted brand for over one hundred years.” It seemed like the most popular and most relevant choice, but still reasonably priced. Low and behold, I soon learned that Johnson and Johnson’s baby products that are sold in the US contain carcinogenic chemicals. Are you kidding me? The brand trusted for over 100 years knowingly includes carcinogenic chemicals in their products? Great. So my baby will be clean and moisturized, but he might get cancer.

When my son was around twelve months old, we realized that he was lactose intolerant. We had tried baby yogurt a few months earlier with some negative effects (I won’t get into the gruesome details…). At one year, we tried giving him a little whole milk with similar results. At this point, we accepted that dairy won’t be a part of his diet at this time. We decided to try soy milk instead which he tolerated much better. Perfect. Problem solved. Or was it? A few months later, I started hearing rumors about the negative effects of drinking soy milk. Soy milk contains photoestrogen which is a plant hormone which may raise the risk of breast cancer or cause a decrease in male’s sperm count. I searched tons of articles. Studies show this…. Studies show that…. There’s no conclusive scientific evidence of any harmful effects…. Blah blah blah. I don’t buy it, but just to be safe, I switched the kid to almond milk.

We also realized that my son with the sensitive tummy also has sensitive skin. When he had his first really terrible diaper rash, we tried Desitin, again because it seemed to be the most common brand. Unfortunately, my son screamed every time I applied it and I realized that I had to find another option. We tried something more like an ointment, which made him more comfortable but didn’t clear his rash. Finally, we decided on old fashioned baby powder. It kept him dry, cleared his rash, and made him so much more comfortable. Now, we use baby powder regularly. Yesterday I learned that baby powder is apparently harmful to babies. WHAT? What the fuck is baby powder for if it is harmful to babies??? Apparently, inhaling powder (especially talc-based powders) can cause serious breathing problems and lung damage. My son’s diaper rash is cleared, thank god, but he might have permanent breathing problems. What a trade off.

The list goes on and on. Supposedly letting your children eat anything with food dyes in it can cause hyperactivity. Eating non organic fruits and vegetables will expose your child to toxic pesticides. And don’t even get my started on vaccines. It’s ridiculous! How are parents supposed to raise children in a healthy way if literally EVERY product, food, and medication possibly causes some other life threatening result?? But the scientific evidence is always inconclusive, you can’t believe anything you read, and every pediatrician will tell you something different. It’s exhausting.

I’ve decided from here on out that I am totally over listening to anyone’s opinions on the cancer causing shit that I let my child eat. There’s just way too much conflicting information. I am done Googling any medical concerns I might have because there is always at least two articles that will tell me that I’m killing my kid by using baby shampoo. When I was little, I’m pretty sure organic food didn’t even exist, I ate tons of desserts and juices loaded with food dyes, and I played in dirt that was probably filled with fertilizer. And I turned out just fine, right?

I totally get that when scientific evidence is available to let consumers know about something harmful (like when our parents learned they probably shouldn’t be smoking packs and packs of cigarettes), it’s important to pay attention. But listening to speculation over something that isn’t even conclusive is way too overwhelming.

So today, I’m going to spend the afternoon outside eating dye-filled Popsicles with my son while enjoying the cancer-causing sunshine. And you know? I’m not even worried about it.

 

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are purely my own and it’s totally OK if you disagree and prefer not to let your child eat dye-filled Popsicles.

Heard other crazy allegations about things that are harmful for children??? Let me know about them in the comments so I have something new to worry about. 🙂

References:

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/pros-and-cons-of-drinking-soy-milk.html#b

http://www.babycenter.com/404_ive-heard-that-soy-milk-contains-hormones-are-they-safe-for_1200462.bc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytoestrogens

http://www.babycenter.com/406_is-it-safe-to-use-baby-powder-on-my-baby_1519559.bc

http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/food-dye-adhd

Child Alert Center Review and Giveaway

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Missing Children

Did you know that a child goes missing in the United States every 42 seconds?

If you are like me, then you probably haven’t put any thought or consideration into planning your course of action in the event that your child goes missing. I think it’s very easy for parents to feel as though something so horrific would never happen to their child, but unfortunately, 2100 children go missing every day.

Child Alert Center

While it’s not easy, it’s important for parents to consider this scary situation. How will you react? What will you do first? As a parent, I know that I would want my child’s information and photo circulated to the public as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there is a service called the Child Alert Center that will handle fast dissemination of your child’s updated information in the event that your child goes missing.

Child Alert Center is a safe and secure, member based company that will immediately create and distribute children’s information and photos in the form of a poster to the right resources that will aid in search efforts. (See below for registration information, a DISCOUNT code, and a chance to win a free membership).

Many parents might assume that the police are responsible for publicizing your missing child’s information. When a child goes missing, the police are focusing their efforts on finding the child as quickly as possible.  In addition, the average time for law enforcement to distribute information on a missing child is seven hours. Child Alert Center can relieve the police of this responsibility and distribute children’s information in as little as seven minutes.

How it Works

By registering with Child Alert Center, parents can upload and store current photos, statistics, and descriptions about their children. If your child does go missing, call the police. Then, call Child Alert Center to being circulating your child’s information.

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Child Alert Center will send a poster with photos to your list of family and friends, social media avenues, law enforcement agencies. They will contact organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Association of Missing and Exploited Children’s Organizations (AMECO), and the Missing Children’s Clearinghouse for the necessary states and get information about your child to television, radio stations and newspapers.

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So far, Child Alert Center has a 100% recovery rate for all children who went missing that were pre-registered with the service.

Why I Recommend Child Alert Center

As a mother, I know that I spend every day protecting my child from danger. I’ve baby proofed my house, I’ve bought the safest car seats on the market, and I became certified in Infant and Child CPR. Before learning about Child Alert Center, I had never considered what I might do in the event that my son went missing. I know that in a state of panic, I wouldn’t want to worry about finding updated photos, or trying to create posters, or relying on the police to give out information, which could take seven hours. For as little as $15 per year, I can register with Child Alert Center and let help protect my child. What’s even better, Child Alert Center is now offering a 20% discount to my readers. Just visit their site at www.childalertcenter.com and use the discount code MYCHILD2.

You can also find Child Alert Center on:

And while you are here, don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY below!! FIVE lucky readers will win a FREE One Year Membership to register your child with Child Alert Center. 
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“Vacationing” with Children

At least one of us is relaxing during this "vacation."

At least one of us is relaxing during this “vacation.”

I was talking to a (single, childless) acquaintance the other day and she mentioned how badly she needed a vacation. I stood there, shaking my head and sipping my wine. Honey, you have no idea. 

So here we are, two days into our first little family vacation. It’s 6:45pm and I’m in my pajamas due to pure exhaustion, so that should probably give you an idea of how much relaxing we’ve done so far. 

Vacationing with children is really just parenting in a different place. No matter how far you drive or how long of a flight you take, the responsibilities somehow find a way to hide inside your carry on and tag along for the trip (or scream their way through the entire flight, if you’re unlucky). Just because you’ve decided to “vacation” doesn’t mean that there will be any shortage of the usual chores, like washing bottles or changing diapers. It’s just that they will be three times more challenging because hotel rooms don’t provide dish soap, changing tables, or diaper genies. 

In our childless life, I would have most enjoyed evenings at happy hour and nights spent drinking cocktails on the beach, depending where we were vacationing. But traveling with a child is a completely different experience. I was a little disappointed that because we were sharing a standard hotel room with our toddler, we’d have to sit in the room and do something quiet until bedtime so that we wouldn’t wake him. Needless to say, after waking up at the crack of dawn and chasing a toddler through Washington DC, including two Smithsonian museums, at least five monuments, and a walk to The White House, I could barely stay awake to put him to bed, much less to do anything else exciting afterwards. 

 For the most part, I’ve learned that vacation with children takes flexibility and planning – two things that are not my strong suit. For instance, my son, who is lactose intolerant, drinks only vanilla almond milk. After walking around the city, tearing through several stores, and shedding some serious sweat, I realized that I probably should have make some phone calls before dragging my husband and son around on a two mile almond milk mission. I also had to accept that my son’s nap times would most likely all take place while he sat in his stroller, rather than getting the usual two sold strait hours in his crib like I had hoped. 

But guess what? Between almond milk missions and short naps on-the-go, we survived. Not only did we survive, actually, we had a blast. While this vacation might not have included romantic walks on the beach or late night cocktails in the city, it sure was fun – and probably more memorable than anything we ever did before having kids. That being said, next year, my husband and I are totally planning a childless getaway featuring spa treatments, happy hours, and a hell of a lot of sleeping in. 

Why Every Parent Should Have a Therapist

If you are anything like me, you probably spent a lot of your free time as an expecting mother reading as much information as possible about how to prepare yourself for parenthood. I actually read my older sisters’ copy of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” several years ago before I was even married or even engaged for that matter. During my own pregnancy, I subscribed to parenting magazines and read them religiously. I borrowed books about breastfeeding from friends. I scrolled the internet reading reviews and recommendations for every possible infant product, from car seats to cribs. I even made my husband attend a class at the hospital to help us prepare for labor and delivery. Honestly, I felt ready. I knew how to care for an infant. I was ready to meet my baby. But as I’m sure every parent will tell you, there is no possible way to prepare for what to actually expect when it comes to parenthood.

For the most part, I think expectant parents understand that things will change once that baby arrives. There are quite a few sacrifices to be made – like the freedom to come and go as you please, the ability to go out every weekend with friends, the opportunity to sleep as much or as late as you like. Obviously, caring for children is a full time responsibility and doesn’t come easily. For someone like me, who has always dealt with some level of anxiety in normal life even before having children, being a parent was far more overwhelming than I had originally expected. Trying to balance my extremely demanding full time job while caring for a newborn when my husband was traveling for work without any family nearby to help quickly took a toll on my sanity. Even the smaller details of parenthood were stressful. Leaving the house with a child felt like a full marathon – packing the diaper bag, getting the kid in clean clothes, changing the diapers, getting myself somewhat presentable, strapping the car seat, packing the stroller, and so on. It gets easier, they tell you. And in some ways, it does. However, for every minor detail that gets a little bit easier as your child gets older, something else becomes more challenging. For instance, I no longer need to pack a stroller because he’s big enough to sit in the cart. The problem now is that he’s also old enough to throw a tantrum because he wants to walk in the store and pull items off the shelf instead of sitting in the cart. You get my drift? It’s exhausting.

One of the things that I struggled with the most was the lack of time alone. Time to sit by myself and catch my breath for a few short minutes without anyone hanging on my legs or a list of chores hanging over my head. After leaving my job last summer, I had a difficult time adjusting to caring for my child (and two other children, to supplement our income) around the clock.  It wouldn’t be abnormal for me to have two weeks pass without ever having left the house by myself. I started to feel as though the responsibilities of motherhood were closing in on me, slowly stripping away the things that I used to enjoy as a childless adult.

Around this time, someone suggested that I try seeing a therapist as a way to manage the stress and anxiety I was dealing with as a new parent. And so I did. On the way to my first appointment, I sat in the car alone thinking about what I was going to say to this lady. Was it going to be awkward? Would she think I was crazy? Do I really need to see a therapist?? A moment passed and I sat there, in the driver’s seat, and realized how quiet it was in the car without my son in the backseat. By the time I reached the doctor’s office, I was already 50% less stressed after the 15 minutes of alone time that I had just enjoyed on the drive over. Maybe therapy wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.

I walked in to the therapist’s office and it was totally cliché. She invited me to sit on her comfy couch while she pulled out her notebook and pen. I was sure that I wasn’t going to be able to fill an entire hour of talking about my problems to this lady. But low and behold, the minute I sat down, it was like 18 months of pent up parenting anxiety just spewed from my mouth. My therapist, Marguerite, was an older woman. She was totally understanding and very conversational. She just listened, commenting here and there with some objective thoughts on what I was saying. She didn’t ask me about my feelings and didn’t make me feel weird. I swear, if I had been holding a glass of wine, I would have thought I was having cocktails with an unbiased, super supportive girlfriend.

By the time I got home, I felt refreshed. I made another appointment for a few weeks later, and therapy became a part of my regular routine. At the very least, therapy forces me to schedule one hour (albeit an expensive hour) every few weeks to spend without my son, without my husband, just working on myself. Some women get a massage to relax. I go see my therapist (although a massage sounds pretty awesome, too). My advice is this – if you are like me and the day to day details of parenting are starting to feel like they are interfering with your ability to be yourself, find a way to schedule some “me” time. Whether it’s going to therapy, getting dinner with friends, or just a trip to the grocery store alone, it’s important not to lose your identity as a person just because you became a parent.

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Vote for my blog by clicking this link!

Why All Moms Should Watch “What Not To Wear”

Clinton-Kelly-What-Not-to-Wear

While I don’t get a ton of time to watch adult television, my son typically naps from 12:00 – 2:00 and I take advantage of this time by airing something other than Sesame Street in the background while I clean, fold laundry, wash dishes, and check e-mails, etc. Day time TV is typically crap for the most part, but the TLC channel is one of my motherly guilty pleasures (excluding Honey Boo Boo – that’s just way too much for me).  Anyways, there’s a show called “What Not To Wear” featuring two stylists named Clinton and Stacy. These brutally honest fashion bad asses spend the hour telling someone how horrible their wardrobe is and then help them buy $5000 worth of brand new clothing. I’d say that airing my terrible attempt at trendiness on national television would be totally worth five grand of free, designer shit. Right?

Most of the time, the people who end up on this show dress in a way that’s either completely inappropriate for their age, totally unprofessional for being at work, or just downright ugly. The majority are pretty extreme. While I am definitely no fashion guru, watching the show actually makes me feel better about my very average attire. I mean – take a look at these ladies, for example.

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

At least I’m not walking around in a skin tight, leopard print dress or a weird pink apron and sweats. That being said, I’ve definitely engaged in a few of my own little fashion faux pas since becoming a mother. I usually have a total of 48 seconds to get myself showered, dressed and ready in the morning, so you really can’t blame me for occasionally stepping out wearing something slightly less than fashionable. Even when I do have the opportunity to wear step into something trendy, the possibility of it staying clean and unwrinkled for more than 12 minutes is nearly impossible.

A few weeks back, I went to the store (ALONE!) to pick up a few new things to wear for summer. It’s not often that I am out of the house doing anything by myself these days and my time is always limited. I had about 45 minutes until I needed to be home. I knew this was only going to be enough time to hit one store and I needed to stock up on enough things to make myself look presentable for the (infrequent) times that my husband and I actually have a sitter and are going out. I picked out four tops, two dresses, a few pairs of shorts, and some cute flats. On a side note, flats are a must in every mother’s wardrobe in my opinion. I wasn’t entirely confident in my ability to walk in heels pre-baby, so trying to carry/chase a 30lb toddler in four inch peep toe pumps probably isn’t the most practical option if I don’t want to fracture an ankle. But I digress. I got to the register and the cute, 20-something college girl cashing me out said something like this – “Wow! You found a lot of stuff!! Going on vacation or something?” HA! I wish. I have a child. I never have time to shop. Nor do I ever get a vacation. I have 45 minutes to find a (somewhat) respectable wardrobe. So basically I’m buying enough clothing to get me through until the next time that I have the opportunity to shop alone.

Since I don’t think Clinton and Stacy are readily available to pick apart my closet, I figured I’d try to do a little critique of my own and pinpoint some of the areas that need improvement. This way, I can attempt to eliminate my mommy fashion crimes once and for all. Here’s what I think they’d have to say:

Yoga Pants – Yoga pants are for doing yoga. Stop wearing them at all times around the house. Or in public for that matter. Just because you are a mother doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed once in a while.

Clothes That Don’t Fit – Clothing (including pants, jeans, shirts, bras, etc.) from before pregnancy probably doesn’t fit exactly like it did in your childless life. Suck it up, spend some cash, and get some clothes that fit your changing shape.

Clothes that are Stained – If something is stained or has holes, the only place it should be making an appearance is in the trash. Period.

Your Husband’s Clothing – I get it. At 39 weeks pregnant, the only thing that fit comfortably over your massive, pregnant, 9lb baby-belly was your husband’s T-shirt. If you are no longer 39 weeks pregnant, you need to stop wearing your husband’s clothing. Even if it is super comfy. Find some cute, sexy, comfortable pajamas. You’ll feel a hell of a lot better about yourself than you do in those oversized sweats and I’m sure your husband won’t mind either.

Maternity Clothing – Again, if you are no longer pregnant, there’s no reason to be wearing maternity clothing. Even though you think it could pass for a purposely loose fitting top, it really just looks like a maternity top. Pack that shit in bags and pass it on to your pregnant girl friends.

I can’t believe I’m going to admit it, but even as I’m typing this, I’m sitting in a pair of pregnancy sweat pants and one of my husband’s long sleeved T-shits (a shirt that has bleach stains, nonetheless).

So Stacy and Clinton, whenever you can fit me in, I’m ready and willing to toss my attire for a sexy mama makeover. In the mean time, I’m just going to toast to the fact that I’ve avoided something more horrible like that tight-skinned, leopard print dress. And that hideous pink apron, for that matter. In fact, maybe my maternity sweats aren’t so bad after all…

But seriously, check out these “after” photos. Every diaper changing-carpooling-PTA attending- mommy deserves this kind of wardrobe upgrade. Am I right???

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/what-not-to-wear/season-10.htm

Are you a fashion crime committing mommy??? Leave me a comment about your WORST fashion faux pas to make me feel a little bit better about my own 🙂

Click here to send a vote once daily!

Click here to send a vote once daily!

To Work or Not to Work?

photo via http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2011/10/22/working-mother-magazine-salutes-2011-working-mothers-of-the-year/

photo via http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2011/10/22/working-mother-magazine-salutes-2011-working-mothers-of-the-year/

To work or not to work. Every new mother’s never-ending dilemma.

After my nine week maternity leave, I returned to my demanding, stressful, but fulfilling career that I had always loved before having a baby. I quickly realized how challenging it was going to be to balance work and home life. I was distracted and sad when I was at work. I was exhausted and impatient when I was home with the baby at night. I felt like I was doing everything half-assed. At some point, something’s gotta give, right? With a full-time (and then some) job, a traveling husband, and a newborn, I knew I had to reduce my responsibilities. And so, the only logical solution at the moment was to put my career temporarily on hold.

I decided I’d give myself one year at home. One year, spent enjoying every moment with my baby, while taking care of two other children part-time to supplement a little income. It sounded like the perfect happy medium. As it turns out, stay at home mommyhood wasn’t much easier than the mayhem of being a working mother. I missed the fulfillment I felt from having a career and the social interaction that I had enjoyed at work. I was still exhausted and impatient at night after long days of chasing children. And now, I find it frustrating that after a year and a half of motherhood, I still feel as though I haven’t fully adjusted. I haven’t figured out how to balance my responsibilities as a mother while trying to seek satisfaction as a professional woman. Apparently, in this situation, it seems like the grass will always be greener.

As my one year at home comes to an end, I’m debating that same simple question. To work or not to work? I’m finding it equally as difficult to make a decision as it was 18 months ago after my son was born.

I decided to put together a pros and cons list to help me try to work out the answer to the age old question… To work or not to work?

Pros Cons
Co-Workers! Other adults with similar interests readily available to speak to at any time. I might actually get to say more than 2-3 word phrases for the majority of the day. Co-Workers… My social skills are probably limited at this point, since I spend the majority of my time babbling with a baby. I will definitely need to gain some confidence in the social department before trying to make some friends at work.
Simply GOING to work. I will get to leave the house every single day, enjoy some alone time in the car listening to loud music, and then will spend eight hours without a child attached to my hip. Actually Going to Work. If I decide to take a job, I will be forced to be somewhere, dressed and showered, every day. I will need to be out of house and at work on time. I will need to pack for my son, get him to day care, and then actually leave him without crying or having a ridiculous, guilty mother break down every morning.
Lunch Hour. If I’m lucky enough to find a job that will enforces a lunch hour (I know I hardly ever took a lunch in my last position…. But one can dream), I will get to sit at a table with other adults and actually eat an entire meal without singing nursery rhymes to try to distract my toddler enough to force feed him some vegetables. Lots of hours away from baby. Of course, I might enjoy a lunch hour sans baby, but will I like being away from him all day? I mean, he drives me insane for a decent part of the day simply because he’s a toddler, but I do love the kid to death. I know I totally complain about his dependence on me,  but am I similarly (secretly) dependent on him?? Am I ready to leave him all day?
Bathroom Breaks. I will get to go to the bathroom at least once or twice a day without anyone else in the stall with me. Ah, it’s the little things in life. Bathroom Breaks. Yeah, no cons to this one. I miss peeing alone.
Daycare. My son will attend day care. He will learn to enjoy time away from me. He won’t be so desperately attached to me at all times. He will make some baby friends. And the best part, I can run an errand or get a quick workout in before I pick him up. Daycare. Having managed a daycare center for several years, will I be that crazy, overbearing mother who has insane expectations? Probably. I can tell you that I will definitely be secretly jealous of whatever teacher is caring for my son, no matter how amazing she is, just because she is getting to spend a significant amount of time with my precious baby.
Finances. It would definitely be nice to be contributing a little bit more to the financial status of our household. Finances. While I definitely want to contribute to our household income, after considering the cost of day care, I may actually be losing money if I decide to accept a position over nannying part time and getting paid under the table.
Kickstarting my Career. I’ve worked hard as hell to graduate from college, pursue my Master’s degree, and obtain four professional teaching certifications. For the amount of student loans I still need to pay off, I sure as hell better use that shit at some time in my life. Having a Career. The issue with having a job as a mother is the constant amount of guilt that I feel for pursuing my dreams over staying home and spending valuable time with my child that I know I can’t get back. Is it worth it to give that up in pursuit of a career?

 

So there it is. A pros and cons list, nice and neat, in table format. Now, if only making the final decision felt so precise and organized. The only thing I can do is what feels right for our family at this exact moment and hope for the best. And avoid second guessing myself and my decisions as a mother and a career-oriented woman. Oh yeah, and as always, have a glass or wine (or two) to make it all a little bit easier.

Have some pros or cons to add to my list? Or some awesome motherly advice??? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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