Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sick kids, Sorry Moms?

Ladies: Your child is sick and you have a very important presentation at work scheduled for the same day. 

What do you do?

Chances are, if you don't have a trusted friend or family member to step in, you will call in sick. Although you are not sick. Your child is. Therein lies the problem.

According to this article in the Globe and Mail, women overwhelmingly are the ones to step in and take the day off.

Image courtesy of www.y98radio.com

I found this article particularly interesting, not only as a mother who also has a full-time job outside the home, but from the perspective of one who has dealt with numerous "sick child" scenarios.

While I am fortunate to have a very flexible and understanding employer, this is often not the case for many women who find themselves situations where they either have to lie and call in sick on behalf of their children, or take the day off in order to tend to their child.

Interestingly, the article states that for the most part, it is women are primarily the ones who take the day off to tend to little Johnny or Julie. The article goes on to say that a possible reason for this trend could be attributed to the fact that women take a larger responsibility for children and family, presumably more so than men.

Is this really the case? 

Are we taking the time off because we feel it is our responsibility, or are we doing so because we have no other choice?

For those of us who have partners/spouses, how do you determine who takes the day off with your child, when it is required? Do you alternate and is it equitable, or is it more one person or the other?

I'm really interested in your feedback.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is "Having it All" Still Possible?

Hi Everyone!

"Two's a crowd, three's a party," a wise sage once mused. 

Said sage clearly did not have three children under the age of eight in his or her ranks. And there is no way that this philosopher had ever dealt with the cacophony that is part and parcel of the everyday (and night) life of a working parent, especially when the parent at hand is juggling two very energetic identical twin toddler boys and a precocious girl of seven. Add to this mix an adult daughter who still relies on the advice of Mom and a husband who is equally frazzled in his own right. 

Welcome to my world.

Perhaps we should discuss the "Three 'P's' of the Working Parent": patience, permissiveness and pizza, because let's face it - all three of these items are mandatory if one wants to maintain any semblance of clarity in their already busy world. This holy trinity of sorts is what I live my daily life by - because if I didn't, who knows - I may have to stop for a moment and actually plan a meal that extends beyond the realm of cheese and pepperoni. And chicken fingers for that matter.

Image courtesy of www.firehow.com
Permissiveness and patience, well, those attributes are part and parcel if one has any hope of having a realistic shot at the proverbial "having it all" lifestyle that was glamourized in the women's magazines of my younger days. I'm not sure about one's ability to "have it all"  - that is unless they meant having it ALL - warts, no, let's revise that to chicken pox, ear infections and head lice - ALL the things that one's children might bring home. I guess in that regard, I've had it all - in more ways than one (and no, I didn't have lice...managed to dodge that bullet, thankfully).

So I guess in my first post, I shall pose the question: 

Can women really "have it all?" 

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kids 3.0, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the iPod"

Image courtesy of www.artoftheiphone.com
My daughter Miranda is a tech-savvy son of a gun.

The kid is good - really good.

She can wield an iPod like no one else.

"Daddy, can I play on your iPod?," she often says to her father. He almost always says "yes."

I then hear "YES!," "DARN IT!," and other exclamations in rising intensity from this very busy seven-year-old.

"What are you doing, Sweetie?," I say.

"Playing on Daddy's iPod and trying to beat it!"

Kids and technology.

These days, the two go hand-in-hand. Never has there been a time where children were more technologically-inclined or comfortable, for that matter. As our world has changed over the past twenty years, so have the everyday items that we take for granted. Many of these have a technological bent. From operating the PVR to the DVD player to the various household appliances and gadget, we are raising generation that not only is comfortable with technology, but one that wholeheartedly embraces it as well.

Our kids are well-versed in the multitudes of technology that have become commonplace. It's not unheard of for the young - the very young - to show the digital ropes to the older generation. Oftentimes, kids are more savvy than their grandparents.

Yet I find myself questioning whether we have really advanced because of technology. Of course it has made our lives a lot easier than earlier times, but there is something to be said for "kickin' it old school" - that is - entertaining your children the old-fashioned way.

Some of my best childhood memories include playing Monopoly or Crazy Eights around the table with my family. I find myself reminiscing the days when it was a thrill to learn that The Wizard of Oz was going to be on TV in a week. With great anticipation, I would wait for the day with baited breath, planning the evening with my mother, down to the last snack detail. There was something magical about the wait, knowing that in a few days, the "event" would occur. The waiting added to the thrill.

With DVRs the standard now, there is no longer any need to plan anything, at least as far as watching movies on TV goes. Movies and television on demand are how we do things now,  and with these conveniences, the thrill and anticipation is gone.

Which brings us back to the point of this post: technology and children.  I embrace technology and what it has afforded my life in the past few years. I really embrace technology when I am able to calm a screaming child by popping a DVD into the DVD player or watching a kids video on Youtube. And while doing both of these things, I am at once conflicted. I'm thrilled about the immediate results (e.g. distracted and entertained children) and saddened by the loss of more interactive methods of relating to my kids. Oh yes, there is also the guilt about using technology to make things easier as a parent.

So my questions today center around technology and your use of it with your kids:

Are your kids tech-savvy?

Do you use technology often in order to assist you in parenting?

Do you feel guilty about the amount of technology you use with your kids?

Would you welcome a return to a less technology-focused time in order to have more "quality time" with your children?

I look forward to your comments!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Synchronized Screaming, Pooping and other Miscellany

The beauty of having more than one child is the symphonic melding of sounds that often culminates in a concert of sorts. I am talking about the daily aural landscape that is part and parcel of being a parent of more than one, specifically being the parent of twins. When you refine this scenario, clarifying that the twins in question are toddlers boys, and the fact that they have a seven-year-old sister, it becomes even more fun.

It has often been said that there is a beauty to the universe, and no more is this obvious than in the seemingly-timed sounds and activities that unexplainably occur simultaneously. It truly is like magic.

Synchronized screaming, crying and pooping is the name of the game chez moi. There is an uncanny harmony that accompanies two active boys of the same age and DNA, if not the same disposition (though my two have personalities that are distinctly different). There are times where the insanity of the situation results in laughter, not anger as one might assume. There is an expression: "One must laugh to keep oneself from crying." This may indeed be in effect in these situations.

Photo courtesy of womenonthefence.com

Who would have thought that double doo-doo diapers and two screaming boys could be so much fun?When you add a few piles of laundry, a couple of frazzled parents and a tired daughter into the mix, the party really gets rolling! Don't forget work commitments!

Okay, so there is a tiny bit of sarcasm with this post, that's a given. In all seriousness, I often wonder how other parents deal with the craziness of it all. That was part of why I started this blog in the first place: to find out what others in similar circumstances were doing to deal with the madness.

When the proverbial (and literal) chips are down (sour cream and onion), how do parents manage?

What are some of the strategies that you have used to deal with the daily chaos?

How do you remain calm in the face of the daily "mayhem?"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trying to "Have it All" and Feeling Guilty About it, Too

When I started this blog recently, my first post was about the quest that many women go on in order to "have it all."

What exactly does that mean?

Well, for the most part, it means that all the pieces are in place, everything from the perfect home being perfect, and the perfect career continuing in its perfection. Oh, let's not mention the kids. These children in this wonderful world are supposed to never cry, whine, spit up, throw up, or otherwise irritate or annoy said moms in this scenario.

Provided that all of these pieces are in place, one could safely say that they "have it all."

Image courtesy of www.anolitasmind.com
Cut to reality.

A more likely scenario is as follows:
  • The home is a mess, or let's say "lived in" by a real family that has its share of dirty dishes and dirty clothes waiting to be washed, despite their best intentions;
  • Children are crying. Or whining. Or pooping. Or all three. Lots. In unison (this is especially the case when twins are in the picture)
  • Parents are tired, crabby and curt with each other due to the sheer lack of sleep, exhaustion and demands of every day life   
A recent study revealed that for the most part, women feel more guilty than men about the intrusions of work demands into the realm of their home lives. I wrote about the study on Technorati; the article can be found here.

Does this really come as a surprise?

We moms are pretty sensitive when it comes to the sanctity of our home, however disorganized and chaotic it may be (and I know this sounds like a contradiction, but bear with me here).

Our crazy home lives may be just that: crazy. But it is our crazy and heaven help any interruptions into our little world, however haphazard. Unfortunately, in this digital world where we are connected 24/7, it is inevitable that our work commitments will seep into our family time. The nine-to-five workday is more uncommon than not these days.

Which leads us back to the study.

Men were found to be significantly less bothered by work intrusions on their home lives. Why is this? While there is no definitive answer, I would venture to guess that it is likely due to how we are hard-wired. I'll go out on a limb to say that women in general are more negatively affected by disruptions in their family lives due to their inherent feelings of responsibility to how the household is run. In other words, we may get the glory when we seem to have the picture perfect family and home life, but we are also the first to get the blame when house and home seem chaotic.

I could be wrong, though.

What do you think?

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Laundry Hell

    I have been relegated to Laundry Hell for all eternity. Or at least it seems that way. Perhaps "Hell" is not the place where I find myself. Perhaps it is a Laundry Limbo of sorts; at least with this option there is hope of future salvation.

    Image courtesy of akadesigns.com
    Between twin toddler boys who have not yet learned the  advanced skill of aiming for the mouth - and succeeding; a seven year old girl who through her creative actions manages to cover most, if not all of her clothes with either mud, a rainbow of paint colours, glue and/or all of the above, and two adults who seem to effortlessly add to the burgeoning pile daily, I have my work cut out for me. Oh yes, the "adult" pile is comprised of two sets of my own clothes - work and casual - to further complicate matters (Read: "dry cleaning" and "hand-wash only" items). Did I mention that I work full-time outside the home as well?

    I equate laundry with cockroaches: they both proliferate at incredibly fast speeds.
    Image courtesy of danpontefract.com

    To use another analogy, like a stealth bomber, both will sneak up on you before you know it and boom - once you realize it, it is too late.

    Image courtesy of imedia.brookes.ac.uk
    The resulting effect in both instances is chaos...though with the laundry scenario, one will be experiencing the situation in something my mother always worried about: wearing dirty clothes. This is just not acceptable (as I hear her voice in my head).

    And as sad as it may seem, laundry is the bane of my existence. It burdens me during the day and it haunts me at night. It is at once a familiar friend and an indomitable foe. At times I am ironically comforted by the banality of yet another load; it allows me time to daydream while cleaning out the lint drawer. Similarly, there are other moments when the burgeoning pile of clothes is so overwhelming, abhorrent and downright infuriating that I struggle to stop myself from striking a match and turning the blasted mound of clothes into a manageable pile of ashes.

    Having 5,000 kids, laundry is a big part of my life.

    Yet I can't seem to get on top of it (figuratively, not literally). Despite my best intentions and no matter how hard I try, the pile gets the better of me. As a matter of fact, it does better than that. It takes over the house.

    At any given time, pick a room. Any room. There's laundry in it. Surprise!

    This fact alone drives me crazy.

    So...with this long-winded preamble, I'll put it out there to you all in the hopes that there is a secret to getting on top of (again, figuratively) this pile. Help!

    Are you, too, languishing in laundry hell?

    How do you "get on top of" the ever-growing loads of laundry in your household?

    What are your tips for "managing the mound?"

    really look forward to your feedback!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Reality TV: A Parenting Reality?

    I love this show:

    These two are by far two of my long-running, all-time favourites:

    Okay, so what do any of these have to do with this blog - which is supposed to comprise of musings of a frazzled working mom?

    Well it's just that. Due to the Double F Factor as I call it -The Frazzle Factor - I often take the easy way out of parenting and watch reality TV shows...with my seven-year old daughter. Is this bad? I'm not completely sure but part of me sure feels guilty about it.

    The demands of the working parent dictate that something's gotta give. That something, unfortunately, is often the ability to feel completely engaged - both mentally and physically - in the moment. In other words, the sheer exhaustion that often takes over one's life when one is balancing a job, a family and more, often gets the better of many of us. The result? A flaked out mom (or dad) on the couch, in front of the TV, watching mindless (or not so mindless) pap. Not the best "quality time" with one's kids is it?

    I often ask myself this question while the guilt overwhelms me as I spend some seemingly special time with my daughter...with the backdrop of the latest reality TV show in the background (she says embarrassingly).

    Okay, it does help that my daughter is a bit of a "Mini-Me" and we do have some of the same interests. One of hers just happens to be Reality TV....

    Yea, not sure if I buy it either, but I have to say something to assuage my guilt.

    So I'll put the latest inquiry out there now in the hopes that I'm not alone in this particular form of parenting:

    Is "Reality TV" a reality in your parenting life?

    Do you watch more TV with your kids than you should, due to sheer exhaustion?

    I look forward to hearing from you!