Monday, September 28, 2009

The benefits of workplace flexibility

It looks like workplace flexibility has more potentially positive
effects than just allowing workers a more sane balance in life and
therefore, the ability to focus more on the job when they are working.
According to this article, workplace flexibility is also very
important in allowing single parents to both earn an income and raise
their families. Why should we care? Because 40% of babies born last
year were born out of wedlock. It’s not good for the mothers, for the
children, or for society for those parents to live with an abusive
spouse or partner because they need financial support. Nor is it good
for the families to remain in poverty. My new employer does quite
well with workplace flexibility and I hope it’s a trend that more and
more employers will embrace as they see positive effects on retention,
morale and productivity. Now we need to find a way to provide
families with access to quality and affordable childcare, so these
parents can go out and make a living without worrying that their kids
are in danger or are receiving less than optimal care and attention.
On-site childcare anyone?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This is the smartest one I'll get

As a parent of an only child, I found this article to be very interesting. Basically, River is most likely to be the smartest of any children I’ll ever have. That might give me pause when thinking about having another child, except the fact that bringing another child into the family is what will raise River’s IQ that extra notch.

-I can expect River’s intelligence to increase if we give him a sibling

-It doesn’t matter whether I give birth to or adopt that sibling.

It’s the process of River teaching things to a younger child that will develop his intellect.

This is a fine thing for River, as he seems to be fairly intelligent already (no parental bias there) and he has the prospect of another small increase with an expanded family. But what does it mean for the younger sibling? There comes a point where one child is going to be the youngest, no matter what, and won’t have opportunities to teach younger kids. What to do then? Find peer tutoring opportunities? Just accept a slightly lower IQ? Might all this be related to angst of 2nd and later borns at having to struggle to measure up? How do your experiences relate to what this study says?

Friday, September 18, 2009

time outs

When to give the first timeout? A question that I’ve been thinking
about lately. I’d read age two and that was what I expected to do.
But recently, we’ve had some cases of River misbehaving or having
tantrums in which it’s pretty clear he is trying to manipulate us. He
does understand what we are saying and he is using poor behavior to
try to get his way. Giving in teaches him that such behavior results
in what he wants and encourages it. Walking away (which is the
technique I’ve been using lately) doesn’t work well in our tiny abode.
He’ll come after me and pull the same routine. Or put his head down
in trauma, then stop crying and call out pitifully, Mama, Mama. This
was what made me think that he knows what he is doing. When I did
some more googling, I found quite a few people saying they started
from 18 months and up, when the child was old enough to be
purposefully misbehaving.

Last night he threw his step stool down the stairs. I told him that
we don’t throw things down the stairs. A while later, he threw the
toilet seat down the stairs. So I gave him his first time out,
putting him in his crib for one minute.

He cried the whole minute and it was kind of pathetic when I took him
out to see his tears and to feel him clinging to me. He seemed so sad
and I felt bad. But he got over it very quickly. I try to remember
that it’s always sad to see a child unhappy. But that occasionally,
they have to experience moments of unhappiness in order to learn how
to function in a world with rules and other people who have rights and
desires too.

As for whether or not it has any impact on him throwing things down
the stairs, I’ll have to see. (postscript – in the 1.5 months since I write the post, he hasn’t done it again)

When did you start giving time outs? How did you decide when the
right time was? Did it work? Or do other techniques work better?

Bye-bye froggie

River flushed a rubber frog down the toilet last night. While he
uses the portable potties like a champ, he hasn’t really embraced the
throne. Perhaps because it’s not as easy to entertain himself. We bought the
cute Baby Bjorn seat, which I hoped would help, and a step stool.
Last night I introduced him to the step stool, put him on, gave him
his plastic ducks and frog to play with, and left the room so that he
wouldn’t be distracted by me. He started to flush the toilet
repeatedly and seemed amused by the swirling water. “Agua!” he
exclaimed. I guess the frog fell or was dropped in there at some
point and became a victim of the flushing. When he couldn’t find it,
he asked Rana? Rana? and asked me to help him look for it. Only then
did I realize what probably happened.

The late night Roto-Rooter visit cost $175 plus tax. We’ve recently
been trying to budget and have allocated $100/month to spending on
River, not including education savings, childcare or food. This has
seemed like quite a luxury to me, since I previously spent pretty
close to nothing on non-essentials. But this has used up his budget
for the next two months, so it’s time to be frugal again. Now the
washing machine has overflowed too, so perhaps the frog traveled and
we’re going to be out another couple of hundred dollars.

Just to make life wonderful, the car broke down last night and had to
be towed and we are scheduled to move to the new house tomorrow, but
haven’t yet found someone to take over our lease. I sure hope the
joys of home ownership make themselves apparent soon!

Logistics are pretty much consuming us right now, though I am worried
about the effect of the move on River. It’s only a couple of blocks
and it’s not going to change the people in his life. But I still
thing the change in immediate environment will be stressful for him
when this is all that he’s known and he has a very clear familiarity
with his house, street and neighbors.

I decided to bow out of the moving of heavy furniture tomorrow,
leaving that to Mark and the movers. I’ll take River somewhere fun,
where he doesn’t have to be around the stress of moving furniture and
can enjoy the time in another way. I hope he’ll adapt OK to the new
circumstances. His room will be better and more spacious, but I kind
of doubt he’ll appreciate that now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

mealtime fun

I know that some parents struggle at mealtimes to get their child to
eat, a process which can take a long time. We’ve never had that
issue. For me, mealtime is a chance to pick things up, get things
organized, get some stuff done while River sighs ecstatically over his
food and shovels it in. Since I wouldn’t mind mealtimes taking a bit
longer, I think the risk of eating turning into play would be worth it
with a funky gadget like this: Very cool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back at work

I’ve been back at an office job for a week now and am adjusting to
not being around the little one during the day. I’m lucky in that so
far, I’ve been able to hold firm at 8.5 hours a day, I live with
bicycling distance of work (which also allows me to fit in some
exercise that I don’t otherwise have time for), and I have an 80%
schedule, which gives me one weekday per week to attend to other life

Though the first two weeks have been particularly stressful, since
they have been combined with the purchase of our first home, so far
the balance is going well.

I’m also lucky in that my employer is fairly flexible with the hours,
as long as they get put in. So I’m experimenting to see what works
best for us. Going in early and getting off early gives me a big chunk
of time with River in the late afternoon/evening and an easier
commute. It also makes for a very long day for me.

One of the greatest challenges so far is trying to ensure equity
between Mark and I. Even though I’m new on the job, I still feel like
I’m putting in a lot more hours of work/childcare/household related
tasks than he is. I’ve talked to him about it and we’re working on
it. He’s offered to pay for additional hours of childcare himself
since his schedule is less flexible at the moment. But still, in that
respect, it’s a bit rough at the moment and I hope we’ll find some
type of balance that works for us both.

River seems to be adapting to the changes. When I come home, I do
notice that he wants my full attention. No leaving him to play while I
make dinner or check email. He wants full-on attention for a good
hour after I get home. He also likes to direct this time, which he is
getting better at doing. So we cuddle, wrestle, read books, play
games, or go outside for a walk, as he decides.

Other than that apparent need for some intense quality time when I
get home, he hasn’t changed much.

There are some challenges to a more rigid schedule and to being
supervised, but overall, I’d have to say that I like it. No, I can’t
hug River in the middle of the day, nor can I easily find time to go
meet a contractor or have coffee with a friend. But I am WAY more
productive. And I find it refreshing to be only around adults for 34
hours a week, in a comfortable and professional atmosphere, talking
about intelligent things, and learning a lot in the process. As much
as I like the ability to work from home occasionally, it’s really
refreshing to not only not be able to address household tasks in
between my work tasks, but since out of sight is pretty much out of
mind, I spend a lot less time thinking about them. That has been

I also feel more like an adult, more like a whole person, in being
able to leave parenting behind and pursue things that develop me as a
person, plus bring in income for the family.

So that’s worldmomma back to work after 1.5 weeks. We’ll see how it
goes when the novelty wears off.