Monday, June 30, 2014

Same room; different content

Last week, I was wondering how old my son will be when he gets his first smartphone. My husband and I still haven't decided the right age, but agree that it will be when he has reached the right balance of personal responsibility and social need. (We want him to understand the consequences of having the device, but don't want him to be the only member of his peer group without one.)

Even though we are many years away from when he does get a device, there are conversations that we can have with him now. And one of those is that having a personal device doesn't mean you have to consume separate content.

After reading Ipsos MediaCT’s annual LMX Family study, it sounds like the new norm is that a family is spending time in the same room together, but involved with their own devices. That scares me a little, as I realize that I do that with my husband now. He and I will be watching a show together after our son goes to sleep, but he'll also be reading an article on his iPad, and I'll be beating a family member at an online game.

That's not what I want for my family. I want us to do stuff together and stay focused on the same things. But in order to get there, I need to start with myself and engage with one piece of media at a time. I've learned that the best way to teach my son is by example, so it's time to start with me.

What is the media use like in your family? How many devices are going in addition to the television at one time? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Telling tales at home

I'm big on people having hobbies. Things that they enjoy outside of work and parenthood. They provide great examples of "parents are people too" to our children (or grandchildren). And hopefully these hobbies are activities which can be shared with little ones as they get older.

My husband is interested in lots of things and he pursues each of his interests when he can. I have more limited hobbies than he does that I really need to make more time for. (But that is a post for another day: Figuring out when I am supposed to do stuff.)

One of my hobbies is telling stories. That is something that I am able to do with my son now. He is at the right age for participation in imagination games, too, so that helps. When he is with me, I like to throw him into the middle of an adventure story. Suddenly, the car ride to school becomes a space alien odyssey and grocery store trips become hunts for pirate treasure (and cookies).

On my birthday, my brother's family gave me the Tell Tale Card Game. Each card has two images on it and you use them as prompts in telling a story. You can tell your own or you can build a story with other players.

And my son is amazing at it.

He loves playing this game with me. And I love hearing all the crazy ideas he comes up with: car crashes (but everyone is ok), trips into the city to get ice cream, a man stuck on an island with a monster who liked to be tickled. His stories make me laugh, and it has been a great way for us to share what I like to do.

What hobby are you looking forward to sharing? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Go away so you can miss me

When I was little, my summers were filled with camp. Every spring, my Mom and I would go through the Girl Scout catalog of upcoming camps and choose the ones I would attend. The themes ran the gamut from Teddy Bear camp to Dance camp and to Bike and Boating camp. Here's the important part: All the camps were sleep-away and most were for at least a week.

And camping was great: I made new friends, learned dirty songs (sorry, Mom), excelled at kayaking, and had a bedtime buddy who would walk with me to the latrine at night.

By no means we were roughing it. There were lots of nice indoor facilities for activities, nature trails, the tents were on raised platforms and had cots in them, and there was a dining hall where all our meals were prepared. But compared to today's camps, it was definitely lackluster. I talk to moms now who rave about their child's camp with air conditioned facilities, cozy nooks to have quiet time for self-lead activities and computer and wi-fi access.

There is one thing that remains the same, though, and that is the feeling of homesickness.

I had homesickness, of course. I missed my Mom and my stuff and my friends. But then, I got over it. And that is normal. In this interview, Michael Thompson, the author of Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, discusses how homesickness is actually a good thing. Think about it: Isn't is good news that a child has such a loving and warm home to miss in the first place? The key is to let the child experience true homesickness, and then they have gained the knowledge that they can overcome a challenge and branch off on their own.

As an adult I can appreciate that. I want my son to learn that he is stronger than he thinks he is.

Did you go to camp when you were younger? What's your favorite memory? Share it in the comments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Scheduling some unstructured playtime

I have Mommy friends who have taken on a third job as chauffeurs. But they don't work for Uber. They work full-time jobs, take care of their families and then cart their children off to a variety of activities. They spend their evening hours away from their homes and behind the wheels of their cars. In the attempt to give our children lots of opportunities to learn instruments, play sports and learn conversational Mandarin, we have forgotten to give them time for unstructured play.

I'm happy to see that there are more studies lately that are taking a look at how unstructured playtime affects children's overall well being. And, although there hasn't been definitive links in the research yet, there has been some great progress. For example, this study by researchers at the University of Colorado suggests that children who have more time to themselves tend to have better goal-setting abilities and don't need as much prompting by parents.

Hold on a moment while I savor the idea of not having to prompt my son to do things over and over again...

As a Mom with a full-time job, I understand how difficult it is to find free blocks of time - especially on the weekends when we are usually running errands or meeting friends for a play date. So, what's the solution here?
  • Schedule unstructured play. This sounds a little foolish, but making sure your child has a block of time during the day where he can make his own choices about what to play and do is important.
  • Stay away. This one is hard for me. Generally, if I can't hear my son talking, I worry. But, if I am giving him free time to use as he likes, then I need to be prepared to not interrupt him.
  • Provide options. My son has access to lots of activities - Play Doh, toys, drawing materials, books, puzzles and games. Most of them are within plain sight, if he only looks for them.
  • Don't criticize. If my son wants to spend his free time playing on his Leap Pad, then that is his choice. I shouldn't suggest anything else for him to do.
  • Lead by example. Schedule some free time in your day for you to enjoy your own pursuits. (Again, this one is tough, I know.)
What do your children like to do with their free time? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Your phone is mine

My son likes to pretend that he has a cell phone. He'll walk around the house with a toy car case against his ear (he has pretend phones, but he likes to use that case), and say things like, "Yeah. Yeah. That sounds great. Let's do that then. OK, gotta go. Bye." He'll tell me that one of my coworkers is calling me, and I'll tell him to ignore it because I don't take work calls at home while I'm making dinner. He'll reconsider and then tell me that Nana is on the line instead. (And, of course I'll take that call.)

I am happy that my son is many, many years away from owning his own cell phone. Mostly, because I don't want to be part of the brave Mommy tribe that has to forge the rules for children owning phones.


A recent British study by mobile Security Firm BullGuard found the following:
  • The average age a child in Britain receives a cell phone is eight. (Eight!)
  • 43% of parents search their child's Internet history - including on their phone - at least once a week
  • 22% of parents have had to have a serious discussion about content found on their child's phone
So, I am not really looking forward to any of that.

But, I know that it is inevitable, and cell phone use will just need to become one of those ever-evolving conversation we have as a family, the same as sex and privacy are.

So, for now, I am watching other Moms, like the mother who made her son sign a contract over his device last year (I love where she explains upfront that his phone is actually hers to prevent any confusion right away). And I am taking notes, in the hopes that it will be a little easier path to follow when my son gets his first real phone.

What age did you give your child a cell phone? Or, what age are you planning on giving your children one?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Accessorizing the slubby mummy

Whenever I dropped my son off at his old school, I'd see another mother with a wardrobe problem. She'd often be dressed in pajama pants, over-sized t-shirts and flip-flops.

I used to see this mother and sigh. What message does this mother send to her children with the way she dresses in public?

Don't get me wrong - I have fallen victim to slubby mummy disease myself, where I am not even sure if I match. But that's only when I'm alone in the house. If other people are going to be looking at me, I make sure to run a brush through my hair and wear clothing that I wouldn't wear to bed.

But, I admit that I am a boring dresser. So, I am trying to branch out a bit. And to do that, I'm asking my son for help.

This plan may sound crazy, but my son has been picking out his own clothes since he was three (I'm NOT allowed to do it for him.) Granted, I've given him enough neutral shorts that he usually matches without trying too hard. But I've noticed he isn't interested in matching. He is interested in fun.

So now, I look for fun. It's because of my son that I've bought a bright orange purse (his favorite color) over a black one. (And I get compliments on it all the time.) It's because of him that I wear fun ornaments in my hair. It's because of him that I wear crazy socks. It makes people smile when they see me. It makes me smile. And when I smile, I feel a little less slubby.

What fun accessory do you love to wear? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I need to go stand outside now

I have fond memories of my Mom telling me to "go outside and play" almost every day in the summer (thanks, Mom!). And so I did: I explored our neighborhood parks, rode my bike and chased fireflies. It was fun.

In college, I didn't own a car and I walked everywhere. I spent hours outside classrooms soaking up the sunshine.

As an adult I know that I do not spend enough time outside. Yes, I try to run in the mornings, but by the time I get back to my house, the sun is barely rising. 

I have an appointment on my work calendar to go outside and soak up the sunshine every day, but I rarely make that appointment - other meetings and obligations get in the way. So, I was not surprised when the doctor told me that I had a vitamin D deficiency.

What I was surprised to learn was that people with lower vitamin D levels in their blood were twice as likely to die prematurely.

That is worrisome. So, we are going outside to play.

On weekends, we've been hitting the pool, riding our bikes and generally soaking up the rays.

I want to be around a long time, and if that means slathering on the sunscreen and spending more time outside, then that is what I'm going to do.

Of course, my son loves this. He is used to going outside during school hours already. Now, I just need to let him see that parents should go outside and play, too.

Tell me your favorite outdoor activity in the comments.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

At night I dream of sleep

There is a note in my baby book that scares me a little. My mother wrote it in the four-year-old section:
       NO NAPS!

The fact that it was in all caps with an exclamation point only underscores the frustration and hopelessness she must have felt around the situation. I mean, children are supposed to sleep. Sleep is important. Why wasn't I sleeping? All I can say is: Sorry, Mom.

Since that time, I've never really wanted to nap as an adult. If I do lay down and sleep in the middle of the night, it means I am sick. I didn't even "nap with the baby" like you are supposed to when you are nursing. I could never quite adjust to my son's schedule.

The one time I consider napping now is after a night in which I dream of sleep.

Don't get me wrong, most nights I sleep well. I'm in bed on time in a very dark room and fall asleep relatively quickly and deeply. And that is the trouble. It has been too long since my sleep was regularly interrupted. My body got used to not waking up at the slightest coo.

So when I am woken in the middle of the night now, it is a definite shock to my system. And there are lots of reasons why I'm woken up:
  • My cat. She's on a diet. And she's hungry. If I am having a dream in which there is a gentle rapping on my face, it is from her. Except, it is not a dream. She is actually nudging my face. (She has claws, but thankfully doesn't resort to them right away.)
  • Unless the gentle rapping is from my son. Sometimes he can't sleep because it is "too dark," or "too light," or sometimes he thinks it should be morning already. Little taps on my arm grow stronger and stronger until I wake up. Could be worse: He tends to wake up his Daddy by a loud burst of noise.
  • Bathroom breaks. My son is allowed to leave the bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, but he likes to tell me first. I'm not sure why.
  • My husband coming to bed. I have no idea why this still wakes me up. We've been living together for more than a decade, but I sometimes still stir when he comes in.
It is after the nights of multiple interruptions (husband + son + cat) that I want a nap. But, I don't give in - just plunge ahead and maybe get to bed early the next night. I'm not worried about me, though: Part of my job as a parent is to make sure my son is getting enough sleep. Especially considering that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to childhood obesity. But how can you determine if your child is getting enough sleep, especially on the nights we have interruptions?

I've talked before about my bears having a hard time waking up in the morning. Letting my son wake up naturally is not an option with our schedule. So, I'll ask you: How do you know if your child is getting enough sleep?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Family dinner time: There's an app for that

When I was little, I was an avid reader. (Despite my 100 challenge last year, I'm hesitant to describe myself that way now, because I find it difficult to find the time to read.) I used to read after school, before school and sometimes in the middle of the night with a flashlight (sorry, Mom). I remember one time I tried to read at the dinner table. But, my Mom stopped me. For her, dinner time was family time.

And that is how I like to think of dinner time today: As family time. I try to impose a "no media at the table" rule in our household and so far it has met with varying degrees of success. But we are adults and sometimes we slip up. And, even when the devices are off, we can often hear them buzzing from underneath the table. So, I wasn't really surprised by the unveiling of the DinnerTime App.

Yes, this is all true: There is now an app available for iPhone and Android that locks devices (smartphones or tablets) for a set period of time. That means no Internet, no texts, no calls, no games buzzing for the entire meal. No interrupting technology. Just conversation. Or, silent chewing.

More robust versions of the app allow parents to monitor device use, impose longer pauses on devices (like during the night), and share controls across parents. 

At first, my paranoid mommy self shuddered to think about what the company was doing with all the data that it potentially collects from usage. But then I thought about families I see in restaurants, where the parents are staring at the back of a device that is blocking their loved one's face. Or worse, when the children are staring at a device, instead of their parents' faces.

Maybe the app is inevitable. After all, we have parental controls on our televisions and computers, why not on our children's devices as well?

What do you think? Is an app that can remotely disable other devices in your household a band-aid on a larger problem or a lifesaver?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cutting the cord - one snip at a time

I'm watching the back of my son as he rides away from me. I can see him wobble a little on his bike, but the training wheels take up the slack. He starts to turn the corner and he suddenly looks very little to me. He picks up speed, as he heads down the block. He races by the fence, and is now out of my eyesight.

He is gone.

And now I wait. I wait in that "trying to look busy" way that I have when I'm putting on a brave face. I straighten up things in the garage with my husband, putting things away neatly on our shelves. But internally, I am a mess. Should I count? How many seconds does it take for my son to reach the STOP sign, turn around and come back? Why can't I hear him? I mean, he is always talking, why would he stop now when I actually want to hear his voice more than anything?

There are rules to his solo bike riding, of course, and he can recite them. He is allowed to ride to the STOP sign and back on his own. He is allowed to go down our block, around the cul-de-sac and back unsupervised. Basically, he can cycle in places he doesn't have to cross streets by himself.

But this is deeply hard for me - this letting go. This watching him go around the corner and out of my sight line. In a minute, I know he'll come flying by the house in the other direction, but until then, I am a mess. There is a cobweb of worries in my head: What if he falls? What if he stops to talk to strangers and forgets our rules? What if he decides to keep going and leaves me for good?

My husband is less anxious than me, as he designated our son's boundaries and the solo rides long before I was on board with this project.

Just as I'm about to visibly lose my Mom cool and peer over the corner to see where he is, he comes flying down the sidewalk with an outrageously large grin on his face. He yells out to me, "Watch this, Mommy!" and he goes in the other direction. I love his smile, his enthusiasm. And I know I am doing the right thing - widening his boundaries and letting him explore a bit more of his world.

But, I'll still worry.

What's hard for you to let go of as a parent? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Daddies becoming Mommies (kind of)

When I was little, I had a stay-at-home Mom. She was home to give me a snack after school, took care of me when I was sick and spent hours devoting time to the PTA and the community to make a better life for us. (Thanks, Mom!) My Dad worked long hours, spent time working on the yard on the weekends and drove us to family functions on the weekends. (Thanks, Dad!)

Sometimes - like on Mom's birthday or when she was sick - Dad would take over for Mom. It would be a little different, though: He'd make breakfast foods for dinner (or new concoctions like the spaghetti omelet), not worry about our clothes matching and tried to fit in a nap on the couch.

As part of a two-parent working household now, I wonder what life would have been like if I had a full-time stay-at-home Dad. It turns out - among other things - that his brain would have been altered

Researchers have discovered that Dads who are the primary caregivers experience activity increases in their amygdalas. Like mothers, primary caregiver Dads fret more over their child's safety and emotional bonds. Those Dads worry about their little ones pushing new boundaries, and they develop more "nesting" habits. (There has been no research to see if Mothers assuming a secondary parenthood role experience fewer of these brain changes.)

After reading all that, I think back to my husband when our son was first born. My husband was the one who took the lead in showing our son the world. It is because of his boundary-pushing-thinking that my son probably started walking (and then running!) so early, learned how to ride a bike so well and likes to explore so much. I am happy with my role of family worrier. (I'd like to think that together my husband and I provide balance.)

Did you have a stay at home parent when you were growing up? How about now? What are the advantages for your family?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cough, cough...I'm coming down with a case of stress

My left eye is twitching.

I didn't think that I was stressed out (because, I'm not busy anymore or anything), but my eye is twitching and that is a sure sign from my body that I am stressed. It happens whenever I have too much going on, or too much stuff on my to-do list. It's always my left eye, too...but I digress.

The point is, that I am experiencing signs of stress, but I'm reluctant to tell anyone. Mostly, because stress is contagious.

You already know how this works, but we'll talk about it anyway. You have the normal stresses that you are used to in your everyday life: work, children, money, what's for dinner. Then you talk to some family and you hear about their stress. Now, because you are human and empathetic, your body is reacting to their stresses. Then you talk to friends and hear about their life stress and more stress hormones are released in your body.

It seems unfair, but researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Dresden University of Technology have confirmed that human-to-human contact isn't necessary for you to take on another person's stress. So, that means you can experience someone else's stress through a phone call. Or even a text.

Since we can't avoid friends and family (well, not for long), we need to work on finding ways to relieve stress. Stress-busters that work for me may not work for everyone, but this is what I find helpful.
  • Challenge your energy elsewhere. Everyone needs a hobby that they enjoy. Whether that is collecting references to four o'clock in the morning, leaving conversation cards for others to find or woodworking, be productive with your energy.
  • Hang out with positive people. I do my best to not be around grumpy people. Scientists at UC San Diego recently found that a single grumpy post online led to an average of 1.29 more grumpy posts from friends. Positive posts yielded 1.75 more. Happy is good.
  • Finish things on your to-do list. Crossing something off = feeling better.
  • Fresh air. I run. I don't like it most of the time, but it gets me outside and I rarely regret doing it.
I want my son to learn positive ways to deal with stress, and what better way to show him than by example? 

What about you? What stress-busters work for your life? (And does anyone know how to stop a twitching eye?) Tell me in the comments.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It's not the birds and the bees...it's sex

Take a moment and recall the sex talk you had (or didn't have) with your parents. I got mine from my Mother after an episode of the Wonder Years in which the main character gets the sex talk from his father. (Belated: Thanks, Mom!)

Actually, that story is not really fair to my Mom. She had lots of talks with me about sexuality and puberty before then, but that talk was the first time the word "penetration" was used. Mom did a good job and it was more informative then the information that I eventually received from Catholic school (ummm...thanks, nuns.)

But when I was young, my Mom didn't have to worry about the Internet.

Like a lot of parents, I watch my child become influenced by media and his friends around him. He learns a lot of information from the limited TV he is exposed to and comes home with crazy stories from his friends at school.

That's fine for information on pirates or superheroes, but there is one topic I want to make sure to introduce to him first: Sex. And, I'm not alone. Eighty percent of parents are blaming access to the Internet as the reason why they are having conversations about sexuality with their children earlier. That study by AVG Technologies has found that the average age parents are having the sex conversation with their children is now 10.

But, I want to point out a flaw in the study: Sex is not a one-and-done conversation. It is an ongoing conversation. And it starts early. Here are some ways we are moving toward the big talk:
  • Label body parts correctly. At first I fell into the parent trap of calling his private parts by a nick name. But now we call everything by their anatomical names, like saying babies grow in Mommy's womb instead of her "tummy."
  • Introduce the Internet correctly. Baby steps. He is allowed to play some games, but they are always monitored.
  • Close the bathroom door. It's a great way to start the conversation about privacy. Of course, we have this conversation all the time, but eventually, the message will sink in. (Right? Please someone tell me that one day I'll be alone in the bathroom again.)
  • Let your child know it is OK to ask questions. My son has asked me about my breasts, other body parts, the way I kiss Daddy and lots of other things. He always gets answers.
  • Ask questions about what they watch/see. I ask my son lots of questions about the movies we watch together or about what happened in school. I thank him for having these conversations with me and for answering my questions.
  • Listen. It's hard. But, we can do it.
Hopefully, this will help as we lead up to the big conversation - whether we have it at age 10 or earlier, I want to make sure my son knows he can get answers to his questions at home.

What was your sex talk like with your parents? What do you plan on doing different? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Let's learn something: How to celebrate the important stuff

My birthday is this weekend. And I'm going to celebrate. All. Week. Long. (Maybe even longer...I haven't decided yet.)

When I was growing up, I didn't truly enjoy my birthdays. There was a bad incident with a clown on one birthday, and for the others, I was a bit shy and didn't like being the center of attention. My parents tried to have parties for me, but I didn't really enjoy them. (Sorry, Mom!)

But as an adult, I don't expect others to create celebrations for me. It's my birthday, and I'm going to bring the party. So, I do. And I invite friends and family along for the ride. Here are some ways to inject a little more fun into your birthday:
  • Cake. Birthdays are a great excuse to eat cake - however and whenever you want. Eat it for breakfast. Have a slice and some tea in the middle of the afternoon. This year, I am sending some cake to my coworkers on the opposite coast and brought some into my office - spread the love; spread the cake.
  • Say yes. We live in a world of No. And it's no fun. So on your birthday - say yes more often, try new things and make everyone's day a little better.
  • Tell people it's your birthday. You never know what you get. Restaurants might give you meal discounts and most people - even strangers - will wish you well. 
  • Forget about the year. Or if you have to think about it at all, be grateful that you are still around. Life expectancies used to be a lot shorter a hundred years ago. Be happy with what you have accomplished in the time you've been alive so far.
  • Start a tradition. (Preferably something fun.) My Mom did this for me by telling me my birth story every year on my birthday. Some years it differs (number of labor hours, for example), but it is her way of remembering the first day that we met. And I love her for telling it to me.
Birthdays are as big a deal as you make them. Celebrate yours with style.
Show your children that you can still have fun as an adult.

Happy Birthday to all my fellow Junebugs! Tell me how you plan to celebrate your birthday this year in the comments.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Beat the clock

A few days ago my husband watched me compile my to-do list for the weekend. When I paused for a moment, he commented, "That's a lot of stuff to do in one weekend." I had three immediate thoughts:

  1. I'm not done yet. I still have a lot more things to add.
  2. This is more or less the same amount of work I do every weekend.
  3. I wish we had house elves.
Like most Moms, I have figured out the most efficient way to complete household chores. A lot of them can be done simultaneously - like laundry, cooking and dusting. But, we all have those chores that are done daily and singly. And those are the chores that I like to turn into a game: Beat the Clock.

OK, so my last game (Does this belong here?) didn't appeal to everyone. But this game you can play on your own. The rules are simple.
  1. Pick a chore.
  2. Guess how long it will take you to complete it.
  3. Set a timer.
  4. Beat the clock.
This game works especially well in the mornings when I only have a few minutes before the MommyBus leaves for school to fold laundry or empty the dishwasher (pro tip: Open all the cabinets/drawers before starting).

When you win - make sure to reward yourself in whichever way you deserve (a piece of candy at lunch or a sugary coffee drink work well).

Try it out. Post your best time in the comments.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Going to work to relieve your stress

By now, you may have seen the study which indicates that adults find work life less stressful than home life. The study concludes that people who work enjoy better mental and physical health and that full-time working mothers report better mental health than mothers who work part-time or who are stay-at-home moms. The study also found that women report themselves happier at work than at home, and men report the opposite.

I am not really surprised by this for many reasons:

Clear Expectations
I know what is expected at me at work. I have clear goals and reviews and milestones to meet. Yes, there are emergencies sometimes, but they are not a constant. At home, I have no idea what is going to be thrown at me next: A middle-of-the-night wake up, a challenge to create a new dinosaur game, a random tantrum over a blanket... Who knows?

The Boss
Unless you own your own business, at work there is a clear chain of command who can take your worries into account and reassure you that you are doing a good job. At home: You are it. You are the top of the food chain and you have to make the rules and stick to them. And at home, you have to be the one with all the answers. (And my little guy has questions he needs answers to. Lots and lots of questions.)

The Hours
Although I often work nine hour days at the office, I earn vacation time and I also have sick time. Parenthood is all day, every day.

Coworkers
Sometimes it is really, really hard to limit your conversation to toys, children's characters and dinosaurs. Sometimes we need other adults to talk to, share with and learn from. I love the projects I work on with my team members. Yes, I have my husband with me at home, and although he and I are involved in the most important "project" of our lives, it's nice to get away from all that and try something new.

As for the last piece of the study where home is more peaceful for men than women, I have a feeling part of that may be due to the fact that women are still doing the bulk of the household chores. So, while men may be relaxing at home (hopefully not in a room by themselves), women may be cleaning or cooking.

This is the part of the post where I would be expected to point out that parenthood has some great perks, like getting frequent "monkey hugs" (which, evidently, involve wrapping both arms and legs around someone). Admittedly, I don't receive those at work (hugs, yes, but not of the monkey variety). But the truth is that this study points out a definite struggle that lots of Moms face. We know how to be wonderful Mothers. We know how to be amazing workers. It's combining the two where we face difficulty.

And there aren't any answers for us yes. But at least, we know we aren't alone, right?

What's more stressful for you? Work or home or juggling between the two? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dad, in a room, by himself

Later on tonight, when you are all home from work/school, I want you to ask yourself an important question: Where is your husband? 

You see, the chances are pretty high that he is in a room by himself mono-tasking. Mom, on the other hand, is probably in close proximity with the children, multitasking.

When I heard Jennifer Senior say those facts during her recent TED talk, I was a little taken aback. (The rest of her talk about the current parenting crisis and the idea that parents should not be the custodians of their children's happiness is compelling.) But I was unprepared to hear that Moms still do twice as much as fathers. After all, we've made some great strides in the last few decades when it comes to parenting equality. But the numbers don't lie: Moms still do more

But that statement about Dad in a room by himself bothered me. Then I thought about my own home situation.

Let's talk about the isolated room, first. The way our house is set up now, my husband has his own office space and my desk is in a family room with my son's toys. Before we moved in, my husband repeatedly asked me if I wanted to share an office with him, but I wanted to be in the family room so I could still potentially be in the same room as my son. So, my husband is alone.

And now the mono-tasking. I have talked before about my buzz brain and my envy over my husband's ability to focus on one task at a time until he solves that problem and moves on to the next one. But part of me suspects that I've adapted my multitasking ability so that I'm able to get more stuff done in fewer hours.

My point is not to get my husband to do more things at one time or even to get him out of his office, if that is where he wants to be. Maybe he needs that space and time to unwind from work and chores. My point is to think about my own needs. Maybe I need that time and space, too. To not necessarily be at my son's reach every moment and interrupted so often that I can't finish a single task.

Watch Jennifer's TED Talk - it's worth your time and will make you think about your role in your child's happiness.

Do you or your other half have your own space in the house? Who is more likely to be in a room by him/herself in your household? Tell me in the comments.