Monday, March 31, 2008

Equal Parenting

If you are fortunate enough to be raising your kids with a partner, family friendly work should be a goal for both parents. In my family, my husband does have some flexibility to take time off when needed, or work from home on occasion. His flexibility is key when we have a challenge such as a special event or a sick child.

However, for the most part he works a fairly regular schedule. Further, as an accountant he works long hours during the tax season and I often feel like a single parent. In addition to taking on a majority of childcare during tax season, I also do most of the housework. In turn, his income provides more significantly for the family.

Some families have taken a different approach to finding harmony in the world of parenting. Equally shared parenting involves each parent taking on half of the responsibilities including breadwinning, childrearing and housework. Both parents find a flexible work schedule, most likely through scaling back some, instead of one working and one staying home. Both parents also equally divide housework and childcare.

Providing both parents are capable of all of these responsibilities, this option could help both reduce stress and also increase enjoyment. (Sorry- while I know my husband is capable of childrearing, sometimes he just needs some guidance!) It is stressful to hold a majority of any of these responsibilities. If you are the primary breadwinner, you have the financial survival of your entire family on you. You can't just get frustrated and quit your job. If you hold most of the domestic responsibilities, you can also become stressed, overwhelmed and tired.

While equally sharing responsibilties in all of these areas does not guarentee an elimination of stress, it at least balances it out. Read more about this parenting philosophy at The site shares the story of Marc and Amy, a couple in Boston who are practicing this approach and provide lots of advice and perspective. It is worth checking out.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Never-ending To-do List

Today I had a really fun day with the kids. We started the day with a trip to the Natural History Museum with a friend of the kids. My son has been asking to see 'dinosaur bones' for weeks, and he was just estastic to finally see them. After a few hours and lunch there, we came back home to meet up with Nana. We just went to dinner and the mall, but I let the kids do this big trampoline thing there and they just had a blast.

But then I came home to a dirty, messy house and a long to-do list of work and other things that I need to catch up on. In fact, it seems that my house is always a mess and I always have a long to-do list that I never seem to get through. It is frustrating as no matter how hard I work, I never feel caught up.

We already have hired some help, we have a cleaning service come every few weeks. But they can't clean the floor if they can't find it. And if it gets cleaned up today, within a few days it will just be cluttered again in a few days. I sometimes feel that it just never ends. I unload the dishwasher, only to be able to refill it within hours. Clean laundry piles up as I can't find the time to put it away.

Sometimes I think that if I didn't work, I would have lots more time to keep things up around here and I wouldn't feel so stressed all of the time. The problem is, I don't enjoy housework. In fact, I detest housework. If I wasn't working, I might have a cleaner house. I might not have to feel frustrated coming home to a mess every day. But, I would be bored and probably more frustrated because I would spend my time doing things that I don't like. I guess maybe the mess isn't quite so bad.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Returning Favors

I would love to say that my willingness to help others is completely altruistic. It really is to some extent. I do like helping others! But, I have to admit that much of my willingness to help out others, with their kids in particular, is in an attempt to rack up favors that I may need returned someday. Is that bad? Or just insightful planning?

This week I gave up my day off to help out my sister-in-law who took a last minute trip with her husband. She needed some help with her one-year old while I was out of town and I took the kids up to stay at the in-laws to help out.

In addition to helping my sister-in-law, the kids had a great time visiting their grandparents. And it fun to be around a baby for a bit. So racking up favors wasn't my only intention. Just my main one, is that so bad?

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Soccer Mom" flames Mommy Wars

Many suggest that the Mommy Wars are just an exaggeration of the media. That is, they say that the much publicized debate on who is a better mom, one that stays-at-home or one that works, is the media's attempt to spark controversy where little exists.

Well, the online response to TLC's "Secret Life of a Soccer Mom" suggests that maybe there really is some tension between these two groups. Or rather, at least there are many bitter stay-at-home moms (SAHM's) out there who seem to be personally offended by those who work. A recent Newsweek article (here), discusses some of the controversy, sharing some of the comments from SAHM's including one that suggests going to work is 'child abandonment.'

My biggest problem with this show, and the reason that it has sparked such controversy, is that the show suggests that you must choose- be a mom or be a career woman. While it is true that some women choose to only be a mom, I don't know any mom that chooses only to be a career woman. Any mom who has a career is just that, a MOM THAT ALSO HAS A CAREER!

What the show doesn't demonstrate is how you can make it work. Each time a mom on the show is offered a job, it is a full-time opportunity, with an emphasis on long hours and time away from her kids. They don't attempt to offer her a job with some flexibility, or maybe even a part-time opportunity to re-enter the workforce. Workforce re-entry can be stressful, and to go from being home full-time to an 'extreme job' where you don't see your children much is unrealistic. So I am not suprised that most of the women have turned down the jobs offered. And what a demoralizing message that sends to women out there who might be at home right now, considering returning to work.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Traveling with Kids

I am away visiting my Dad this weekend. It is only a few hours away, but we don't get here as often as we should. The fact is, I find traveling with kids too tiring! Maybe it is because we don't do it often. I would assume that the more you travel with your kids, the better you get at packing them up and getting on the road. We spent the entire morning yesterday just trying to leave our house. I am generally an organized person, so I don't know why it takes me three hours to pack up two kids and some luggage and leave.

And then there is the drive. My kids just don't do well sitting still. We bought new DVD players for the car and I thought that would make the drive easier. But my 3 year old bored with the movie in the first 15 minutes. I survived the next 2 1/2 hours of constant chatter, but really miss the days of being able to listen to a book on a trip.

We'll stay another day, but most of tomorrow will be dedicated to packing up the car and getting everyone to leave. While I enjoy the time I spend here, the traveling aspect just wears me out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Online Job Search

Searching online is a popular job search strategy these days. You can visit job boards, and also the websites of companies that you are interested in to find opportunities. Through company websites, you can often find information about company benefits and policies that give you some insight on whether or not the company is family friendly. is a job search site that is fairly unique in that it pulls job postings from other job boards. They recently published some online job search tips that I think are useful, see them here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Idea for Making Money

If you have some creative talents, you could earn an income by creating something to sell online or at craft shows. Those who knit, craft jewelry or make clothes can start their own business, or just make some extra cash on the side without a big investment that a lot of businesses require.

I found a great article on (link here) that provides some great tips on getting started. They also provide links to several directories to find local craft shows.

You may also sell your items online. You can set up your own website, or you can dropship for other sites. Dropshipping allows other websites to sell your stuff without actually having inventory. They just notify you of the mailing address when they have a sale and you mail it directly to the customer. ( provides a great description of dropshipping here)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Making Money

Stay-at-home parents, as well as working parents, can find creative ways to make some money along the way. The Internet has brought a lot of unique opportunities to bring in some income without having to go to a work place.

You can start an online business or you can find lots of smaller opportunities to bring in cash. I have several friends that sell their own things, or things they have picked up at garage (or other discount) sales on eBay. Some parents participate in online surveys or do secret shopping. I just received a note this week from Continental Airlines about a program they have to earn frequent flyer miles by completing surveys.

This week I received a note from a new website called Wiseprice. The purpose of the site is to provide the public with information on what reasonable prices are for various kinds of services. They will accomplish this by having site visitors share the prices they have paid- ultimately building a huge database that can be used to check out pricing. I like the idea, mostly because I really have no idea how much a lot of things should cost! For example, we are looking to put in a new fence in our backyard this summer. I plan to call and get a couple of estimates done, but I really don't know what to expect for a price.

Wiseprice contacted me because they are offering financial incentives for people to post what they paid for various services. They are willing to pay $5 (via paypal) for any post over 250 words that shares information about a service. I have checked the site out, and it seems to be legitimate- but I am not endorsing it! Check it out for yourself- use good judgement as you would with any online business (i.e. don't enter personal info, etc). Here's the link:

There are many other opportunities out there such as this, just do a little digging! While you might not make a lot of money, you could pick up a little extra spending cash.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lessons from Supernanny

Sorry, more on reality TV. I enjoy watching Supernanny because it often makes me feel like I am doing a not so bad job of raising my kids!

Last night's episode was about a work-at-home mom who was trying to get a new cookie making business off the ground with twin 5-year olds and a 3-year old at home. While a nanny on a television show certainly isn't a work/family expert, she did provide some clear and useful guidance that is worth sharing.

Basically she suggested adding some structure and boundaries to the mom's work responsibilities. Often moms and dads that want to work from home put little thought into when they are going to work and how that will affect their time with their children. Work requires thought and concentration in order to do it well. Kids also require focused attention. Many pursue working at home in order to better manage their family while gaining income. But, if your family suffers from you working, you may be better off working outside of the home.

In the show last night, mom was distracted by her cookie making responsibilities. She was often busy baking or working online, and the kids who were starving for attention began acting out.

Supernanny sat down with both parents and worked out a schedule where mom had sufficient time to dedicate to her business while her husband took care of the kids. It was going to require a lot more effort on both of their parts, but the result was focused attention on both work and kids.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Career Move

Last week I made a big move. Well, I haven't made the move yet, just the decision. Next year I will join the full-time faculty at the college I teach at now. I've taught there part-time for several years, but the move to full-time is going to be a big change.

In the long-run, I know it is a good. However, making a full-time commitment to an employer is big move. While I pretty much work full-time right now, it is on my own terms. I can cancel appointments or not take on a project if I need to. As a full-time employee, I won't quite have that flexiblity.

But when it comes to full-time work, a position as a college professor is about as flexible as you can get. With the exception of your scheduled class meeting times, you can pretty much work whenever and wherever you want. And, I can take the summers off!

So while I am a little hesitant, I think my life won't change too much. Except for the better pay, benfefits and job security. There is also the exciting fact that I will only have one job.

Monday, March 10, 2008


It seems that my daughter is fine. All her tests came back fine, and of course at the doctor's office she did not exhibit the same problems she had at home. They determined her illness yesterday was most likely related to the ear infections, and that the fluids and antibiotics they gave her at the hospital took care of it. So it looks like we can get back to normal here!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Planning for the Unplanned

From a snowstorm to the emergency room...we've had an exciting weekend. However, our stress was minimized with some planning and flexibility.

This morning my daughter was sick, and also just seemed a little off balance. She has had a recurring ear infection and so we decided that she should see a doctor. Of course it is Sunday, so we headed to the emergency room. What I thought would be a quick check-up turned into seven hours of various tests and a lot of waiting. She is ok, but they aren't really sure what is wrong with her. We have to take her in to see her doctor for some additional tests tomorrow.

Work was obviously not my priority today. But the reality is that I will need to take (at least) a day off tomorrow and I know that I have things that I need to get done. Knowing that adds a little more stress to an already stressful situation. Fortunately, I did a little planning. As I headed out the door to take her to the hospital, I grabbed a bag that I had some exams in that needed graded. So today while we were waiting and she was resting or coloring, I was able to get some work done. It may not seem important, but knowing I am a little ahead right now makes it less stressful to be off tomorrow.

But before our emergency room visit, we had a snow emergency to deal with. We live in Ohio and we were hit with a huge snowstorm (I think it was classified as a blizzard) this weekend. My husband was supposed to work on Saturday, but was not able to get to his office. He is an accountant in the depth of tax season and they day off would have really put him behind. Fortunately, as he heard the weekend forecast (which was for some snow- but not quite a blizzard), he thought to grab a few files as he was heading out on Friday. And now as he returns to work tomorrow, he feels a little less stressed.

So while the weekend was bumpy, the start of the week isn't looking quite so bad.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Saving Money on Gas

The other day I was talking to my aunt who has a fairly long commute for her job as a cashier. She mentioned that it almost isn't worth it to go to work. I'm sure there are many parents out there with the same dilemma.

Here's an interesting site that compiles a list of resources on saving money on gas:

With a little research and effort, you might be able to save at least a little.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Secret Life of a Soccer Mom

So I caught the new show, The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom on The Learning Channel this evening (check it out here). It was interesting, but a lot of it seemed staged.

What I didn’t like about the show was the type of work situation that they dropped this mom into. After being at home for nearly 10 years, she was returned to the world of fashion design by being asked to design three dresses in three days that were shown to extremely important buyers. She was under a lot of pressure and stress, and seemed to be given very little support or direction. However, the outcome was ultimately good, with a positive effect on her self-confidence once one of her designs was successful.

At the end, they offered her a full-time job that started in just a few days. Based on the glimpse of the work world they showed, my guess is that she would be expected to work long hours under a lot of stress.

While debating her options, she said, “I don’t want to have to choose.” And she shouldn’t have to. Why can’t they offer her something in the middle? Many stay-at-home moms successfully return to work in a job with flexible or even reduced work hours. They seek out and find a work opportunity that allows them to re-enter their profession while still feeling positive about the care they are providing for their children.

She did accept the position in the end. They don’t tell us what happened a few weeks later after her world was turned upside down. And beyond getting her a job, they don’t talk about providing her any other help to return to work such a childcare or other domestic support.

Obviously this was a TV show looking to generate some conflict and interest. If they dropped her into a family friendly work opportunity, the decision would have been too easy for her. But this show could provide a great opportunity to publically examine the struggles of working mothers.