June 22, 2009
Don’t forget to attend, or you can still RSVP for the Working Mamas Lunch.
When: Thursday, June 25 @
Where: Mama Mia Trattoria (www.mamamiatrattoria.com)
439 SW 2nd Avenue
Reservation under Courtney/urbanMamas.
Don’t forget to attend, or you can still RSVP for the Working Mamas Lunch.
When: Thursday, June 25 @
Where: Mama Mia Trattoria (www.mamamiatrattoria.com)
439 SW 2nd Avenue
Reservation under Courtney/urbanMamas.
This economy is not the greatest time to lose a job. Well, no time is a good time to lose a job. An urbanMama recently emailed us, seeking suggestions on her predicament:
I am a working mama, or at least I was until today when I returned to work from maternity leave and was told that my position was being eliminated. I am looking for a lawyer who may be able to advise me on my rights and on how to negotiate a better severance. Do any of you know anyone? Thanks in advance.
Join us for a summer working mama’s lunch. If your kid(s) are school aged, what are you/they doing for the summer? Family vacations planned? Come eat and talk.
Date: Thursday, June 25th Time: 12:30 Location: Mama Mia's Trattoria (http://www.mamamiatrattoria.com) 439 SW 2nd Ave, Portland @ Washington
Please RSVP in the comments by Tuesday, June 23. Mamas – some have commented that downtown at lunch is hard for some. The mama organizing these works downtown and therefore picks places and times that work for her and a couple of uMamas moderators and hopes it works for others. If there is a mama or mamas working in other parts of the area (Lloyd, Johns Landing/River Place, Beaverton, other?), that would like to have lunch in that area - email the uMamas and plan one. Hope to see you in June.
Because I had my first child quite early, almost all of my experience in the workplace has been as a mama. I did what I could to balance work and life from the beginning, but I always felt that my career advancement was slowed because I couldn't work beyond my strick 40-hour work week, having to often pump during my breaks or leave right away in the evenings to pick up from childcare. I have had mentors that were mamas, some of whom helped me navigate the "do's" and the "don't's" of the working world, what was allowed or not. I've had mentors that were papas, who seemed generally less flexible in my experience.
An urbanMama recently emailed with her experience:
Have you seen mamas in the workplace who have come before you help pave new policies or understanding of the work-life balance? Or, have you seen mamas sink into the status quo and perpetuate existing standards, that conflict with our instincts to allow mamahood to be a priority, even in our worklives? What has been your experience with mamahood in the workplace?
I did not have the intended response to the front-page article in the 'O' section of today's Oregonian. The writer meant for me to be sympathetic with the plight of the family depicted; two parents in what seemed a loving, functional marriage with two children under four. I think it was the way the writer approached the story, obvious scrabbling to paint a sad picture of a family left exhausted and strung out, juggling two jobs and only one car.
While I can relate to the stress of the enormous, far-too-dear cost of child care for young children, I came away from the article wishing to share my perspective as a mama of three boys, having drastically changed my work schedule in the past year; though I fear the chasm between the ways we look at life is great. The two parents are working alternate schedules; mom at Costco, dad in sales at a construction and industrial supply company. They pay for only about nine hours of day care a week, or $480 a month, and together make $64,000. They live in a two-bedroom, 800 square foot apartment somewhere in Tigard. No, their schedule doesn't allow for matinees, pedicures, or post-work beer with the guys. Yes, they're "trapped" with one parent, and the car, at work when it rains. The fun for the kids, according to the article: a walk to a toy store, cartoons on 'On Demand,' the shopping mall play area. [The article's writer explained the day she followed the family, it was raining, so they decided not to go to the park; there are parks close by, though the original article wasn't clear on that fact.]
I wish I could fix it for them. What's obvious at first is that we all need a better link to community; to friends who can share childcare providers or swap care for free; to people who can provide that post-work beer experience with the kids; to occasional potluck dinners so each night doesn't seem so harried and lonely. My life today is not perfect (far, far, far!) but thanks to my perspective I can see a number of choices that are worth re-thinking. The sidewalk-less suburb is just one; I know that prices don't vary much from the middle of my neighborhood in inner SE Portland to Tigard, giving the parents far more places to connect and allowing mom & dad to get rid of the car altogether, choosing Tri-Met or the bike for commuting. Then maybe one parent can quit or reduce hours, relieving the pressure and the exhaustion considerably. Harriet calls this concept "householding," and I'm a big fan. (After hearing from the writer who wrote the story, I deleted my comment about food.)
Instead of sitting here frustrated at how isolating, stressful and perhaps more expensive than necessary are the lives we're asked to sympathize with in the Sunday paper, I'll make a challenge. [And judging from the age of the photo illustrating this post, it's a challenge I need badly.] I'll make it easy, because frankly, sharing child care is enormous thing to think about on such a beautiful day. Invite someone over for a potluck dinner -- or invite yourself to their place, if they have more room to set plates and cups. Connect in a simple, relaxed and nonmaterial way. Spend as little money as possible; yes, a carrot and lentil chili and a big salad, with water or homemade iced tea to drink, is perfect. Skip the cartoons and toy stores. Talk about the best place in your neighborhood for nature walks. Make it a regular thing. Start the change small, and see what happens.
Update: We have reservations at Mothers @ 12:00 on Thursday 4/16 for 20 (!) mamas. Since it is in the middle of lunch rush, we will be at two tables and they would really apprecate it if we would bring CASH. The reservation is under Courtney/urbanMamas.
How was spring break? Did you get one or just your kid(s)? Summer plans underway? Economy impacting your job? Let’s talk at a working mamas lunch. (Remember, everyone's invited to a working mamas' lunch whether or not you have a full-time office job; and babies-in-arms are welcome!)
when: Thursday, April 16 @ Noon
where: Mother’s Bistro and Bar; 212 SW Stark; http://www.mothersbistro.com/
RSVP in the comments by 4:00 pm Monday, April 13
Many of us have had the experience of going to work with a wee one left with a sitter or at a daycare center. No matter how old the babe, it can be quite tough, especially if we're used to being together most of the day. We have an urbanMama how emails with her bittersweet predicament:
Mamas, it seems that we've recently heard from several families considering relocations - both to and from Portland. An SF-but-soon-to-be-PDX urbanMama emailed, seeking any tips you might have for her husband to pursue a job search here in Portland:
Here in Oregon, Activistas are working hard to build awareness and support around the paid family leave bill that our state legislators are considering right now. How dreamy would that be? Paid family leave?
Anyway, I write in the context of today's world. I am expecting, and I am working on a plan to tell my office the "news". Being a small nonprofit organization, our employee manual has very little to say on the subject of family leave. It's basically your standard FMLA stuff, which is fine and dandy, but there may be some room for negotiation. My organization has shown me in the past that they're willing to support me and my family to retain me. With my first two pregnancies, I was ineligible for FMLA because I hadn't been in my job for the requisite 12 months/1250 hours.
Let's just say that it didn't matter whether the leave was paid or unpaid (obviously, this is SO hypothetical). Let's just say that we were just gathering other mamas' and papas' perspectives on how much time they did and didn't take off to be with their newly born and adopted babies. How much is enough? Did you take enough time? Would you have taken more? Would you have taken less? Would you aim for a year? Would you opt to take less to maintain your career? Would you take more to maximize your time with the new baby? If you had your druthers, how much maternity/paternity leave would you take?
Is the economy affecting your job? Will the new administration – both local and national – impact your job or workplace? How did your workplace /employer/childcare provider handle (or not handle) the Arctic Blast? Join us at a working mamas lunch and share your stories.
When: Monday, February 2 (Groundhog Day) at 12:00 sharp.
Where: Al Amir Lebanese Restaurant located at 233 SW Stark Street (http://www.alamirportland.com/default.htm). They take reservations so please RSVP in the comments by Friday, January 30 at noon.
I recently read an Op-Ed piece (from back in December!) on what its author called a "macho" stimulus package. One that funds construction jobs, in other words. He argues that what we really need is a stimulus package that supports our social infrastructure, not just our actual infrastructure (roads, airports, etc...). He wrote:
Another economist prepared a letter to President-elect Obama, saying this: "A majority of women in this country - but not of men - voted for you in November. We have the audacity to hope that you will not just remember us, but respond to our specific economic needs."
What do you think? It makes sense to me, but then I'm not an economist and am way predisposed to support what I think is best for women and families.
Today on Blog Talk Radio, Pundit Mom talks with several authors about the impact of Michelle Obama's proclaimed role as 'First Mom.' How does it affect the debate over career moms and how they balance it all, and the rest of that longstanding debate. Not sure I'd touch the topic with a 10 (or even 20) foot pole, but if you're interested in hearing more, listen in on Blog Talk Radio at 11 A.M. PST. Here's how Pundit Mom describes the show:
Pundit Mom has done a few other shows recently that uMs might find interesting, including "What's next for Moms Rising" and "Where Do Political Women Go From here?" You can find all of Pundit Mom's shows on her Blog Talk Radio channel. Or just read her funny political/parenting blog, like I do.
Parents for Paid Leave is still at it! Our state legislature kicks into action in January, so we're busy getting our ducks in a row and biggering our Facebook group so we can pack a punch and bring paid family leave to Oregon. By joining the Parents for Paid Leave Facebook group, you'll show your support for the issue and help us function well as a group - sending letters to key legislators, testifying in Salem, planning media events, and sharing our stories (they really, really matter) - among other things.
Of course you can just join and nada mas and we'll happily feel the love of solidarity. If you've got friends, family, partners, co-workers in Oregon who support this, by all means, share the invite. We need all. the. help. we. can. get. Let's hoe that tough row together, mamas.
Join here now. It's easy. It's important. Let's pass this!
It is not news to me - and probably you, either - that people think a lot about work-family balance and how to find something that even remotely qualifies. But as social movements go, it's good to see some data, and now we have some more. The WSJ's Market Watch reported today that an election poll "finds work and family issues are a frequent daily concern for majority of voting parents." Surprise, mamas! In this case, news is good news, even if it's not really 'news,' because just the fact that someone's polling this stuff means we're getting somewhere.
The article reported some things we know well. That "voters, especially women, were looking for a leader who cared about the issues that affect families, including balancing work and family." And that "nearly three quarters of America's working fathers worry on a daily basis about meeting their work and family responsibilities." Moms Rising's Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner summed it up best, IMHO, because she touches on the 'is it the system or the person' issue. She said:
"The poll results show that voters responded to the candidate who put economic security issues like paid sick days and family leave, early learning and childcare, and fair pay up front in his agenda," said MomsRising.org Executive Director Kristin Rowe Finkbeiner. "Three quarters of all mothers are now in the workforce, and it's time that we work towards solutions to the work/family problems that have long been swept aside as an epidemic of personal failings."
Of course the really good news in all this is Obama's platform for families - makes me smile just reading the title!.
Like a knife through the heart my kindergartner said to me the other day, "Mama, you've only been a parent volunteer like once. How come?" Ouch. Well, son, because your dad and I arranged our work schedules to drop you off when school starts and pick you up when it ends (no easy feat) and I really, really hate to say it but there's just not much more time in our tightly-wound work-family schedule for volunteering (even though we both work 75% schedules). And if I take time off work to volunteer who'll be around to hang out with you when school is closed? Over your Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring and summer vacations? 'Cause I surely don't have that many vacation days. Not even when combined with my husband if we never took a day off together. Which sounds really fun, doesn't it?
Yes, I clearly have some unresolved issues here. How could you tell? And to make matters worse, when I spoke with my own mom about it, who stayed home when I was young, she recalled the dilemma, too, but from a different angle. That the working moms rarely volunteered and she picked up the slack. Yikes! Exactly what I fear is happening now. I hate it when other people pick up my slack, but I'm just not sure how many times I can be at school when in my few school day non-working hours I have a 2-YO in tow. You know?
I generally like the idea of volunteering in the school (that village thing), but wonder what is the 'right' amount, and how much we are just filling in for unfunded staff positions. One job our son's teacher needs covered is someone to walk the kids around the building when they are in small groups for reading, because she can't be in three places at once. Another is weekly parent envelope stuffing (my job!), lost & found tidying (me, again), and helping kids check out books during library time (just one librarian and so many kids).
What do you think? I'm new at this, and want to do it right, but feel like I'm not pulling my weight and disappointing my son, to boot. And we're only six weeks into the school year. Still time to redeem myself, right?
Yesterday was my last day at work. It's a complicated story about "not giving 100%" and needing to spend way more of my percentages here at home on my kids. I'm starting a new freelance career that will pay a lot less than my former career, and naturally, includes only the benefit of complete freedom from externally-imposed responsibilities. Health insurance and maternity leave and retirement? I'm hoping my good, nourishing cooking and royalties from my soon-to-be-pitched book will cover me. (It's good to think positive.)
I can't afford Cobra and I think my income will be too high to qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (though maybe I'll be close). We get supplemental insurance through the Army Reserve's Tricare program for $82 a month but I doubt it'll help me without the primary insurance. I'm considering just paying out-of-pocket for services we need (like well-baby visits and the occasional checkup for Jonathan and myself, plus dental visits). Compared to the retail price of health insurance for my family -- between $400 and $1000 a month, plus deductibles and co-pays -- a few hundred here and there doesn't seem that bad. And honestly: I'll bet my out-of-pocket costs with employee-sponsored United Healthcare were at least $2000 in the past year.
Of course, that's assuming that I don't have another emergency like the one where Monroe ended up riding the ambulance to get stitches in his eye. And I have three extremely energetic and risk-loving boys. When I tweeted about my quandary over insurance, I found a few other mamas responded back almost immediately; they, too, were foregoing insurance due to great expense. We've talked before about insurance providers and insurance for pregnant mamas (thank goodness that's not a factor for me right now). While this is a great time to get very, very angry over the state of our nation's health system (John McCain accused Barack Obama's plan of being like England's -- I thought to myself, if only!) -- it's also a time to evaluate the options in reality. For those of you who don't get, or can't afford, insurance through your work or your spouse's work: What do you do?
Update: I wrote a post on WalletPop about "The Gilbert Plan," the way health care policy should be. What do you think about that?
It's true - and kind of exciting! Watch the Al Jazeera English documentary on the need and fight for paid family leave in the U.S. International audience, local mamas.
More over on Activistas. And at Urban Grind NE this Saturday, where we'll be screening it together during our monthly grassroots planning meeting with Parents for Paid Leave. Join us, but please, no comments on my hair-do, which my husband (lovingly?) calls 'the skinned rabbit.'
I am a full-time working mama. Every since I have become a mama, I have worked a full-time schedule. We all have our reasons on why we work outside the home. Lots of you know the juggle. Somehow it all gets done, from laundry and dishes to quality time together and reading. My girls, now almost-8 and almost-5, have come to know that sometimes mama is on a trip or in meetings until late. Sometimes, though, mama can leave early and pick them up, right at 3 o'clock dismissal.
Lately, my almost-5 year old has become acutely aware that the vast majority of her friends are picked up from school at 3pm. She has cried about staying in the "clubroom", the aftercare program at her school. My husband and I try to work it to get there well before their 5:45pm closing time. We usually pick her up anywhere between 5 and 5:30.
We love her school, and we love her after-school program. We know she loves it to. There are visits from the librarian, there is regular time on the play equipment and bikes, and there are fun activities like baking or crafting. But, in an environment where most of her friends go home at 3 o'clock, how can we remind her of all that post-3-o'clock fun? How can we convince her that the "5 o'clockers" have just as much fun as the "3 o'clockers"? How do we convince her that she's not the odd girl out?
Do you have your kids in aftercare? Have they taken note of the difference: that there are some kids who leave right at dismissal, then some kids who leave later?
Our own Sarah Gilbert was interviewed by KATU Channel 2 and KOIN Channel 6 today thanks to the great conversation of our community on whether it makes sense to run for this nation's highest offices while a mama of a baby -- it's been getting so much media exposure! Her position: it's ok to judge the mothering decisions of a vice presidential candidate as it opens a window to her decision-making process (and after all, we're supposed to judge her as she's a politician and we get to vote). If you're coming thanks to those pieces, or watching Sarah Palin tonight at the RNC, here's an open thread to weigh in. Would you run for a major office while your children were young?
At first, when I heard the news about Sarah Palin being named as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, I was thrilled; a youngish mama taking a shot at the White House! Awesome. (And then I started reading more about her positions, which I don't agree with across the board. But that's another topic.) I was paying attention in between cooking breakfast and working, and I saw the cameras pan across a baby in someone's arms (cute crowd shot! I thought), heard her mention her oldest son had recently joined the Army, heard her say something about a baby.
A baby? She has a baby? "Must be a grandchild," said Jonathan. At 44? Nope. After perusing the internet, I discovered that Sarah Palin has five children, the youngest of which was born April 18, 2008 -- four. months. old. She went back to work as governor of Alaska three days after giving birth.
I, myself, worked while my children were young and absolutely believe that having a mother in all the highest offices in the country could be only for the good. However (and Jonathan called me a "momist" for this) I just don't believe a VP or President could do a good job with a young baby. I don't even think I do a fantastic job at my mid-level internet work with an infant. For me, the biological need to care for my little one trumps all; sure I'll try to do good things, but if I have to choose between, say, tending to a feverish, teething baby and negotiating a global conflict, my hormones are going to say baby.
What do you think? Could you put your country before your infant? Putting her other qualifications and political beliefs aside for the moment, do you think Palin -- or any parent of a very young child -- is a wise choice to lead our country? [added Sept 2, 2008] A friend on Twitter asked what I thought should happen if a female president were to accidentally become pregnant. I answered that I thought she should take 12 months maternity leave -- after making the ability to do so (paid if at all possible!) the law of the land. Now that's a topic worthy of our conversation.
This post was quoted in the New York Times on Monday, September 1, 2008 under the headline, "A New Twist in the Debate on Mothers."
Given the struggle to balance three little boys, a husband, a career, and a rewarding but insane raft of extra-curriculars, I've lately been watching friends with part-time jobs with interest (mixed with envy). In my ideal life, I'd work 20 hours a week writing and 10 hours a week consulting, and the rest of the time would be truly devoted to my family, house and chickens. (Those poor birds have really been getting the short end of the stick lately.)
Leaving aside the whole health care problem for a moment -- I've got it through my job and, well, no more talk of that, I'll just get angry -- I'm not really in a financial position to quit now, and for that matter, I do enjoy what I do. A colleague has negotiated a part-time arrangement, but after having worked with her it appears to me she does just as much work as anyone else; she's just paid less, and does more of it after bedtime. I've heard similar stories from other part-time mamas.
I wonder, is there anyone out there in a professional-type job who's truly made part-time work? Why are you successful? Is it about setting boundaries, or simply finding the right boss(es)? Do you feel you're missing out on what the full-time colleagues have got? Or are you all just searching for that nirvana, like me, and finding the real world entirely too terrestrial?
I'm not talking about picking wild blackberries at the park, which sounds perfectly lovely. Nope. I'm talking about the inability many of us have to disconnect from work while with the kids - whether at the playground (works well while pushing a swing), out for coffee, wherever.
The BlackBerry is usually by my side and I know I am not the only mom feverishly answering emails or checking in from the playground at 6:00pm on a Wednesday or on the weekend.
What about you? Does that thing - or just your cell phone, for those of us who have resisted the mobile email thing - travel with you everywhere? How do you draw the line between work and home? As a part-time worker, this can be especially challenging when your co-workers are busy-busy while you're hanging at Jamison Square. One way, of course, is to leave it at home. We visited Mt Rainier last weekend and delightfully, there was no cell service or internet connections at the place we stayed. Love that. Go ahead, draw the line for me!
Sometimes, we will be afforded the time to contemplate our re-entry into the workforce, but - other times - we will need to job-search a bit more vigorously to find a new job. An urbanMama recently emailed to see if the rest of the urbanMamas community had any tips and tricks to share:
Are there any mamas who've been laid off recently? If so, any advice on scoring a new job? I've found that now that I'm home with my 2-year-old every day, I am not networking, job-searching thoroughly, or available on short notice for interviews. Even a phone interview went sideways when the person called too early and I took the call at the zoo (not a move I recommend!) I also withdrew as a finalist for a job due to their resistance to a 4-day workweek. <sigh>
While our group of activist parents is growing (yeah!), we dreamed up an 'it takes a village' scheme to spread the word about our group - (hopefully) with your help. We've talked before about ways to volunteer with your kids in tow, so here's a golden opportunity. And the weather's perfect for a leisurely stroll...with a purpose!
Simply download this one-page flyer about Parents for Paid Leave and deliver it to your favorite coffee shop and doorsteps in your neighborhood. Or someone else's! Always wanted to take a walk around NW 23rd but never found a reason? Love Sellwood but don't live there? Perfect. Print a few (dozen!) of these flyers, distribute them to friends, family, coworkers, the office kitchen, your neighbors' front door, wherever you like. An easy - and possibly even fun - way to be part of a real grassroots campaign. It really does take a village, and we hope you'll be part of ours! 'Cause mamas, we need all the help we can get. Not to be dramatic or anything, but this is gonna be a serious fight.
And if you just so happen to be game for more, email us or join us at Urban Grind NE for our monthly 2nd Saturday planning session (next one on 8.9.08). If nothing else, join our mailing list. Really. That alone is critical to our success, mamas, because a big mailing list means lotsa supporters which speaks volumes to the powers that be.
Since we're all a little distracted with all that's going on with the kids (and ourselves, if we're lucky!), it's hard to stop and think about retirement planning. I mean, doesn't that come after college savings? And now that I work P/T and get zero benefits (natch), retirement saving is more challenging since I have no access to the standard employer-sponsored saving tools - and those 'free' matching contributions (among other losses, like, say, health care). Yes, there are tools for the rest of us (IRAs, of course), but they're new to me and require earning enough money to use them!
How do you approach this issue in your family? Got any ideas for better policies to improve our access to retirement savings - like social security, for example, which accrues only as you pay in through your employment income, so if you're not paying in (but your partner is), you're not adding to that benefit. I'd say "bummer," but it's so. much. more. than. that. Join this conversation over on Activistas.
The local grassroots group Parents for Paid Leave is biggering itself this summer. Truth is, numbers speak volumes to legislators, so they've set up an e-mail list that can count supporters. And while you may get an update or two, there's no worry about filling up your inbox. No time for that, mamas. They're too busy strategizing and meeting with potential partners and state legislators. Go, mamas!
So, if you support the idea of a paid family leave program in Oregon, step right up so we can show that there's a whole lot of us who think the time has finally come for paid leave. We're pretty glad these mamas are working so hard on this. Rumor has it new volunteers are VERY welcome.
Sign up for the mailing list here.
A week or two ago we talked about the best places to work from home when you're, uh, not at home. Thanks to all for sharing some excellent spots and tricks of the trade. So on a similar note, when we are actually working from home, we need all things technological to flow s-m-o-o-t-h-l-y. Like really smoothly. So all the equipment doesn't end up out the window in the back yard!
How did you get it all set up, ready to work? Know any great computer services that will come to your home and get it all working just the way it should? That you would recommend? 'Cause this mama can't quite get the router working, among other things. And before we see some serious frustration (and after five years of parenting small children I know what I'm capable of in the frustration department...), I need help!!!
I have worked in an office (OK, cube) for like two decades. But today brings something altogether new, a brave new world for this work-from-home mama. My husband and kids are home on Mondays (probably playing dinosaurs and ice-cream shop right under my desk!) so I find myself in a nearby coffee shop typing away on my laptop to very loud rock music, very worried about hearing my new boss on a cell phone. So, I wonder... where do YOU work when you need to get out of the house to do it?
After a whole hour and 1/2 I'm making a wee list of the key ingredients of an excellent out-of-home non-office:
Where, oh where, can I find such a spot - where they actually want me there. And, I need etiquette tips. How much to buy (coffee and a bagel, or just coffee?)? How long to stay? How much to tip? Any spots where you don't have to buy anything (the library, maybe?). Help!
The local grassroots group Parents for Paid Leave is working hard to get this important issue in the hearts and on the minds of our state and federal representatives. And they need your help! Tomorrow! Even if you're at the Laurelhurst Garage Sale, or a T-ball game. Or driving to the coast. All you need is a cell phone and the handy call-in script to participate in this "call-in." Make it a group playdate or just call from wherever you happen to be. I love this group! How easy could they make it?
Come to the play date at 10 AM Saturday 6.14.08 at Urban Grind East (NE 22nd & Oregon St - 2 blocks north of Sandy Blvd). Bring the kids - they have a great play space full of toys. And bring your cell phone, if you have one. We'll be making 3 quick calls, but would love to chat a bit about the progress of paid family leave in Oregon, too, if you're into it. Details here.
Can't join us? No worries. Make a call from, well, anywhere: We'd love to see your paid leave supporting self, but if you can't make the play date, not to worry! Because you can call from anywhere. Just visit this site and get everything you will need to call on your own (a call script and phone numbers). Best if you can do it sometime tomorrow, but if you can't, any other day will work too.
This is the time mamas. With a federal bill in committee and one in the works in Oregon, we have a sneaking suspicion that this is finally going to happen! Please, make your calls, show your support, and continue to track the progress of paid leave here.
Today's the day when we can take our kids to work. Now that our kids are a bit older, we're interested in hearing and comparing notes to last year's efforts. A number of mamas worked with their HR department to organize a toddler infant hour. And the year before? The buzz was about the minimum age to participate. Have we come far from previous years? Is it any easier now? Does your workplace have some planned activities? Any activities of your own? Please do share!
Working mamas, let's get together for lunch. How about Thursday, May 22; 11:30 am - 1:00 pm at Red Star Tavern, 503 SW Alder? We hear they could use a boost due to light rail construction, plus they take reservations and have good vegetarian and non vegetarian food (not sure vegan options). Please RSVP in the comments by Tuesday May 20. We will use that to make reservations. We had nearly twenty meet last time, so what a great way to connect and meet other working mamas.
Catch this, mamas: Equal Pay Day is the point in 2008 when the average woman's wages finally catch up with what the average man earned in 2007. And guess what? It's today! Yup, Friday, April 18. And all across the land bloggers like us are writing about it. Power to the blog. It's high time we tell Congress (again!?) that it’s time to address the reality of discrimination. Read more about it and sign the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge, among other things, over on Activistas.
We workin' mamas do love to complain about the lack of flexible options in our own and other workplaces (got a 1/2 hour??). Ever dream of working fewer hours to pick the kids up from school yourself, still doing meaningful work that pays the same as your full-time gig? Dying to spend more time doing crafts? Helping with homework? Not pumping?
All good stuff that can be awfully challenging within the confines of a conventional 40+ hour work week. So, if you have to work, want to work (some, more, less), whatever your schtick, and you're seeking more flexibility to tip the scales a bit more toward the home life, one option is job sharing. Or so I've heard.
Have you or anyone you know well ever tried it? Did you / do you love it? Hated it? Somewhere in the middle? Would your workplace let you? Read more and share you experiences & opinions over on Activistas.
Each of us have our own circumstances, that lend to our decisions and abilities to stay home, work outside of the home, work from home. We are all entitled, and we all have our reasons. A mama recently emailed:
Awhile back you had a discussion about basically feeling in or out of the urbanMamas loop, asking if you feel like you fit in. Well, I don't. I consider myself a liberal in all ways except one. I absolutely do not understand why (unless you are a single mama or have a sick husband etc.) a woman would decide to have children and then work. Why would you pay other people to raise your child? Why would you want to have someone else potty train, teach values, know all your child's likes and dislikes, get all the hugs? If you didn't want to stay home and raise your child, why did you have them? And isn't it selfish to think that the child is happy being raised by someone else? We are talking about 8 hours a day or more of care. Five days a week.
My husband makes far less than $100,000 a year. But we sacrifice so I can stay home and raise our children. If you have a job that allows you to mostly stay home....that's wonderful. I am referring to the full time working Mamas. Why do they do this? All of the posts about finding daycare......I just don't get it. It seems taboo to believe that a Mother should raise her own children.
So, care to share? It goes without saying - but we'll still say it here - thank you for using respect and honesty when sharing your views.
Just this weekend the kids and I were dawdling in my favorite kids bookstore. The very friendly and knowledgeable woman who rang us up had her two young kids with her at work (and curiously, her husband, too!). Sure didn't bother me (in fact it was refreshing), but then it seemed to fit the type of business - kids in a kids' bookstore, why not? But what about the law firm? The government office? The bank???
So how come we don't have our babies at work? Or do we? Have you brought your baby to work? Been annoyed/pleased when your office mate does? Is this just a backwards way of dealing with the paltry family leave policies we have in the U.S.? Bring 'em to work 'cause we won't let you stay home? Read more & share your baby @ work stories and opinions over on Activistas. We're really curious about the dads out there - call me crazy but I imagine that remains a tougher row to hoe.
Here writes Arabee, who is having challenges stockpiling milk for the one full day per week that she is away from babe:
HELP! I am a working mother of a 4 month old little girl. I have the luxury of working a part time/flex time job and I get to breastfeed her exclusively everyday except for Saturday when I am gone all day at work. I need to pump a milk supply to give to her Daddy when I am gone, but I am having an awful time with this whole pumping thing. I try to do it daily, an hour or two after her morning nursing, and an hour before her next nursing before we head off to work. I am getting no milk lately, like really a teaspoon in a half hour. She is healthy and about 16 lbs, so it appears my milk supply is more than adequate. Are there any tips y'all may have about pumping to create a stockpile for the one day a week I cannot breastfeed? Thank you!!!
I love my job, and I know deep down that I would never be fulfilled as a mama who didn't work outside the home. My ability to work from home, my great bosses who totally get my juggle, and the fact that I'm the primary breadwinner, seal the deal.
But today I'm feeling especially angst-y. Everyone in my division, everyone, even the administrative staff, is attending a big meeting at the feet of the big boss in New York. Due to the relatively last-minute nature of the trip and the fact I have a very small baby, I negotiated with my very understanding immediate supervisors to sit this one out; we have a big launch coming up in a couple of weeks, and putting me on two red-eyes in order to listen to a couple of PowerPoint presentations seemed silly.
I've been to New York plenty of times, I've shaken hands with the big boss, I know I'm not about to get laid off or marginalized. But somehow this is (mentally) just one too many times I've had to miss an important meeting because of children. I love my children, and I've had no real desire to endure the stress of travel in the last two months of my pregnancy and the first four months of Monroe's babyhood. But I love the thrill of getting together with remote colleagues IRL, I love New York, I'm feeling like I'm missing out on more than just a meeting. I'm missing the vibrancy and connected-ness of shaking hands and getting coffee and brainstorming with my co-workers.
I know "they" say you'll never lie on your deathbed wishing you'd spent more time at the office; I know my inner struggle is a rich woman's dilemma (note: I mean rich in life, not money ;). But still: do you ever wish you were more like the stereotypical 50s daddy, kissing baby goodbye in the morning and sailing off into the rewarding world of work without a second thought? Do you ever wish you could turn a switch and be childless just for a day or two, flipping the switch again when you were ready?
As I type this, Monroe gurgles and goos and whoa-oohs downstairs, and I know I'm happy I'm here. But... what the heck am I missing?
The tough decision deciding to stay-at-home is a dilemma most of us face. And those that chose to do so are oftentimes very happy with their decision. But what about when it comes time to return to the workplace? What's a mama's who's taken an extended leave of absence to do? Monica asks:
The question I'd like to put out to the uM community is this... After having had a 10 year career in apparel merchandising and production, we decided upon my becoming pregnant that this uMama would stay at home with our kids for the first several years. I thought I'd go back to work when I was ready, no biggie. While I liked my line of worked, I can't say I loved it. I was and am open to doing something entirely different. I have two degrees, in Marketing and one in Journalism. I want to go back in the next year or so. I want to enjoy, to have passion for my work, life's too short. We have relocated from Portland to CA and aren't located near any apparel companies. My options are pretty wide open which is great, but also daunting.
How have you found that career (at 38 years old in my case...) that you love and fits the needs of a young family?
Is there a great book to read on this? Is there a strategy/methodology to organize and plan this? Career counselor? Life counselor (not sure what/who that is)? Any websites that support Mom's re-entering the work place?
A recent comment by Lenny about struggling "with the balancing act of working mother" and my new work situation has got me thinking A LOT about that challenge of mamahood wherein one juggles the little ones, their needs, domestic/household issues, finances, work-life/career, and relationships/marriages. Needless to say, the email from MomsRising.org came at an interesting time for me. The Huffington Post is starting a series, in partnership with MomsRising, on the daily juggling act. And it gets me thinking ...
We've talked before about "Does it work for You?" But, we ask again: How do you do it? The days are so long with doing the stuff that pays the bills. And, yet, somehow, we fit in time to make doctor's appointments, go to said doctor's appointments, read 20 minutes a day with the kids (at least!) in the evening, make lunch/dinner/snack/breakfast, clean bathrooms, and even manage to spend some kind of down time with ourselves or our partners....
How do we do it? What keeps you sane? What drives you insane?
Just as the Activistas were discussing: Papas & The FMLS - Is anyone using it? A University of Cincinnati study recently released and looked at dual-working parent families: Who puts family first when a child is sick? Their data "finds a large gender disparity in providing urgent child care, with 77.7 percent of women taking time off from work and 26.5 percent of men reporting that they attend to child-care needs".
If you and your partner both work, how do you decide who stays home with a sick child? How does your workplace treat you're child's sickness & your need to stay home? As a single parent, have you found emergency back-up care that works? What do you do as a working parent when your child is sick?
Betsy's a working nursing mama, and her supply is dwindling. Did you read that? Her supply is dwindling! Ack. She writes:
I need a friendly chorus. My nursling is 9 months old, and I'm working full time out of the house - I've been pumping as regularly as I can, but my supply is just dwindling and she's barely growing. Here's what I'm doing, which covers just about every wives tale remedy I've ever heard:
- - daily oatmeal
- - fenugreek, 3 caps, 3x/day
- - nursing tea, 1x/day
- - pumping 3-4 times/day at work
- - drinking liquids like they're going out of style (only one caffeinated beverage per day)
- - eating like mad - this week, I started a dark beer per day.
My supply has dropped from 16 + ounces in an 8 hour period when I started, to far less than 12 now.
Meanwhile, the baby has gained only 4 ounces since her six month checkup, and my husband who is caring for her at home this summer (with our 3-year-old) reports herculean efforts to get her to eat. She is a social, alert, active baby who is meeting all her developmental milestones. She's just not growing much, and I want to fix that before three more months have gone by with such low weight gain; she's still on the growth charts, but just barely -and she was above the 50th percentile for size at birth. Gauging from what a let-down consists of throughout the day, and comparing that with what she *should* be eating (over 700 calories per day at 16 pounds) is rather alarming; I just don't think she's getting that much, but she doesn't seem to want more.
I want to nurse her as long as I can, but it is brutal to pump so much for so little return. Every session is an exercise in fighting off feeling like a failure (irrational, I know, but it's there). We've begun supplementing with formula, and I'm fine with that, but I don't want my husband to spend all his time trying to jam food into her gob (not that we can force her to eat, anyway).
Mostly I'm writing to whine, but if anyone can look at my tale and say "Aha - that happened to me, and I just did X and fixed it!" or "I understand. My body just quit making milk, too. It's hard."
It's been a while since the working mamas got together for lunch. With a bit of a push from one of our lovely readers and mamas, Courtney, we are planning our next get together in a few weeks. How about we support one of the businesses that seems to be suffering from the construction downtown? Please RSVP in the comments and we'll make a reservation.
Hope to see you at Pasha Mediterranean Grill,
19 NW Fifth Ave
Portland, OR 97209 on Wednesday August 15th, 12 noon.
uM sends heartfelt thanks to Su-jin Yim (an urbanMama herself) and Olivia Bucks (an urbanMama-to-be) at the Oregonian for featuring urbanMamas in this week's inPortland, "Web site, offshoot click with city moms".
Thank you to all of your who've emailed support, and not just today.
For all of those new to the site: Welcome!
urbanMamas is an open community that thrives because so many mamas and papas care to share their experiences and thoughts with the rest of us. We are a valuable resource to one another, even though no two parenting experiences are the same. We love the respect that has grown among our community. We love the diversity among us - we are first-time parents, we are long-time parents, we are stay-at-home moms and dads, we are working mamas and papas. Thanks once again for making urbanMamas all that it is.
I work from home. I've been in this outrageously lucky place for nearly three years now, and I love it. People with whom I work (who I think are happy with my output) say almost weekly, "I don't know how you do it." And I murmur to myself: I don't know how you do it, what with the getting ready and the commuting and the dropping off and picking up. To me those hours at the beginning and end of each day are time-wasting misery (and I've done it!). But just as often as I feel self-satisfied, I think to myself, how the heck DO I do it? or, today, I'm NOT doing it.
No, working from home isn't a piece of cake. I'm often less efficient in the middle of the day, when the kids start to hang from my every appendage, and whine, and beg for another toaster waffle (ummm... Everett... I think a person has a natural daily limit of five waffles?).
Generally, I cope by using TV judiciously (when I'm on the phone, and for an hour or so in the mid-to-late afternoon when I'm trying to finish just one more thing), by continually moving the toys out of my office and back to the boys' room, by keeping a somewhat-organized drawer full of 'projects' that can be pulled out at the first sign of cabin fever, by running up and down the stairs and in and out of the house a lot. (It's definitely easier when the weather turns nice!) I've been toying with the idea of once again hiring a part-time babysitter, lately, as my husband's work has kept him away more.
I'd love to know, for those others of you who work from home, how do you do it? Any great coping mechanisms? Do you have help, and how much of the time? Do you, too, sometimes dream of just being able to go out for a long sitdown lunch like a "normal" person?
Did you know that today was Equal Pay Day? It's been nearly 44 years since the first steps were made towards equality between the genders and for some reason, we still haven't caught up to our male counterparts in the pay department. Is our work worth less to our employers? Apparently so!
I heard a story on the radio about all women receiving a 23% discount at a restaurant on equal pay day. How funny would it be if you went through life only paying 77% of what people charged you, because you only receive 77% of the pay that a man in a similar position would receive? Admittedly, the cut in paid funds would start to affect other women, but still, it would make a person think, perhaps, about why such a disparity still exists. I think I am lucky in that my boss looks out for me and how I compare to my peers without regard to my gender, when review time rolls around. I suspect not every woman is taking this pay hit at the full 23%, but then that means there are other women out there taking an even bigger pay hit to make the average. Why? The equal pay site has a top 10 list as to why this occurs. Could it also be that we don't fight hard enough to ensure that we get equal pay? I know my mother is very underpaid and as much coaching and cheer-leading as I do, she still won't do anything about it. I don't think she believes that she deserves more. I think that going forward we need to be sure that our daughters and sons know that they deserve what they work for and that gender shouldn't be an excuse for any disparity. Then, maybe one day, there will not be unequal pay and the work started in 1963 will have been completed.
Help! Andrea says:
I'm hoping there is an urbanMama that can help me out of a jam. I ordered the Motherhood Manifesto video over two weeks ago to show at my house this Friday (the 20th) to a crowd of 15 working moms. Schedules have been rearranged, husbands and babysitters lined up, and wine bought. But alas, no video has arrived! The folks shipping the videos have apologized for the delay, but can't promise to get it to me by Friday. Is there anyone out there that has a copy they'd be willing to loan me? Now that the mom friends have been gathered, I don't want to waste the opportunity to share this important message and garner support for the moms rising movement.
Every time we tell my son "it's time to get ready for school" his inevitable reply is "but I don't want to go to school!" This started over a year ago, and even though I kept telling myself it's just a phase, it hasn't stopped yet. Late last winter I was just starting the pregnancy with son #2 and despite my best efforts to contact pre-schools and get my elder son enrolled, the strong urge to procrastinate won out and I didn't lift a finger until November that year. This means we MAY be able to get him in to another pre-school by next fall (2007). That's a big MAY.
Currently he's only going to his care center 2 days a week at most. Sometimes if he's sick or there's a weather day, we haven't taken him in. Add to that the two and a half months he was home with me for my maternity leave, and maybe he thinks just whining about it will mean he can stay home instead (or better yet, go to Granny's house!). When he starts his denial I try to engage him in a conversation about what it is he doesn't like about school, so we can address what his issues are rather than just dismissing them. Usually he says he doesn't like when his "friends" at school hurt him (which doesn't necessarily mean physical hurt, but also emotional hurt). The scenarios he describes are not unusual interactions for 3 year olds, as far as I can tell, so I offer him some solutions for dealing with the situations that arise. I've discussed his concerns with the teachers and tried to probe them for solutions, but they have their own issues in trying to deal with the gaggle of kids in the classroom, so my little guy's needs just get lost in the mix. In my heart of hearts, though, I know that this is not the place for him to do his best growing and learning. But, until our number is up at any of our other choices, this place will have to do.
Am I the ONLY mama who totally missed the preschool boat? I mean I heard it was difficult but I think needing full time preschool 2-3 days a week and needing to get enrolled more than a year in advance really threw me for a loop. I think I really mucked this one up and I hope my little guy doesn't suffer for my mistake. Hopefully, I'll get a call that our dream situation has arrived, and then things will get better. I also can't help wondering if we actually make the change, he'll still not want to go to school because ultimately, he just wants to be with his family instead.
Can you help a mama out? Do you know of all-day Spring Break ideas for Jennifer?
I have a seven year old son and work from 8am until 5:30pm. It seems that all the spring break programs I've found start at 8:30 and end at 4:30. This is really disappointing for me (and my son!) because I don't want to drop my son off at a daycare. I really want him to be engaged in one of those programs.
What are the options? What can I do? Do you know of programs out there that are all day?
MomActivists: We have a rare opportunity to share with you--one where you can truly make a difference... A hearing is going to be held on Paid Family Leave this coming Monday morning. And we need you, and everyone you know, at the hearing to show your support. This issue is critically important to mothers and their families. Just imagine the powerful message we can send to the legislature by filling a room together!
WHEN: Monday, March 19th
TIME: 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM
PLACE: Oregon State Capital Building, Salem, Oregon, Hearing Room D
RSVP: Katie@momsrising.org with "Family Leave or Bust!" in the Subject line