Our global parenting expert Katie Bugbee answers care-related questions for the media so we wanted to share her thoughts on one of the more frequently asked questions at this time of year: what to tip the caregivers in your life.
You tip the postal workers and give gifts to the preschool teachers – but do you need to tip your sitters and nannies too?
The short answer is yes. And I can break down just how much for each care-person in your life below. But I also want to shed a little light on why it’s important to tip your caregivers. This is your chance to show just how much you appreciate all they’ve done and how much they’ve helped you throughout the year. Whether they’ve tended your kids, cared for your parents, looked after your pets, or cleaned your home, they’ve been constants. They’ve been reliable, trustworthy and accountable. They’ve created great relationships with the people they’re caring for. If you can look back at the year and say "He/she’s made our lives better/easier/happier" than this person deserves something special at the holidays... and the most universally needed gift is money.
Nannies: I’ll start with a profession that’s different from the rest. Your nanny might be full-time or part-time, but she is more than help. She has become part of the family – and you depend on her insight, creativity, guidance and compassion. She has the day-shift as you work as a team to raise these amazing kids. Because of her importance in your lives, she gets the biggest tip. It’s really a year-end bonus.
Suggested amount: One to two week’s pay. Learn the average nanny bonus for your state.
Babysitters: I don’t suggest tipping every sitter who has ever worked for you. But do you have a regular person who’s always there for you – even at the last minute? Do you have someone who just loves those kids and wants to do more than just put them to bed? That’s who you can give a holiday tip to. A little extra spending money to show your thanks will only make her more eager to help you next year.
Suggested amount: An average night’s pay ($30-$60).
Day Care Teachers: You can buy the whole day care center something nice to share, but the best gift is gift cards. Make sure you cover your child’s primary teacher – and the assistants.
Suggested amounts: $25-50 for head teacher; $10-25 for assistants.
Housekeepers: If you have a regular person or team that helps make your home look like a page in a magazine (you know, for 30 minutes before the kids take it back over), show her your gratitude this season.
Suggested amount: An average week’s pay. However, if your cleaner only comes a few times a year, give her something extra to say thanks ($30-60). You’ll want her to keep making you a priority next year.
Dog Walkers: Same level of appreciation you would have for a sitter or nanny, but he/she cares your dog.
Suggested amount: Range from a day to a week’s pay.
Dog Sitters or Daycares: Again, this goes for someone your pup goes to regularly. If it’s at a drop-off location, you can bring the team a basket of treats. Or, give them each gift cards of $25, or more. A sitter who comes to your house --especially if you use him/her over the holidays – should have a tip added to the final tally.
Suggested amount: An average day’s pay.
Senior Care Aides: If you manage someone who comes to your house -- or your parent’s house -- you’ll want to treat them well at the holidays. Or suggest that your parent does.
Suggested amount: An average week’s pay.
It’s important to note that if you don’t have a good feeling tipping someone -- if you feel like their work was only "okay" and not great – then you shouldn’t tip them. But if you have that feeling, you should really look into making a change in the New Year. You don’t have to live with just "okay." Tipping or giving bonuses might cause a shift in your holiday budgeting – but it should make you feel good to reward these loving, dutiful caregivers in your life. You’re taking care of the people who take care of you all year. And if you really can’t afford to tip, write a hand-written note saying how important this person is to you. It’s likely your caregiver has a sense that money is tight –especially if she sees you every day and can tell you’re not splurging on other things.
And don’t forget, if you’re tipping someone you pay more than $1800 a year, this money should go through a payroll service, so it can get taxed properly. Learn more about payroll services.
What do you think? Will you be tipping this holiday season?
December 09, 2013
Our global parenting expert Katie Bugbee answers care-related questions for the media so we wanted to share her thoughts on one of the more frequently asked questions at this time of year: what to tip the caregivers in your life.
December 02, 2013
Nobody can "do it all" and no one is perfect. I stopped trying to be perfect years ago. But the holidays always put an extra layer of pressure on all of us – just to make them better than "good." Here, our global parenting expert, Katie Bugbee talks about managing this crazy time of year, especially when you’re working full-time.
Thanksgiving is just behind us, Hanukkah is already here and we have -- gasp! – just three weekends until Christmas! And that’s only if you count the weekend of the 20th, when family has likely already descended on your home – or you to theirs.
While the holidays are an amazing time of year (you can hear the squeals when your kids open their gifts now), getting it all done is overwhelming. It feels like a marathon – and you’re sprinting through it.
I get it. I’ve got two small kids and a full-time job (and two holiday parties to buy dresses for!). But here are some ways to outsource this stress – or remove it completely:
- Email holiday cards. I cringe as I write this because I love creating a wall of family and friends’ beautiful faces. But those cards take forever to create and send, and let’s face it, they cost time, money and trees. This year, send an e-card with those same adorable faces. There are some wonderful sites that make it super easy. I’ve even asked our nanny to take the kids’ picture. They can make it a fun activity. Plus, she has a better camera than I do!
- Plan a potluck dinner. If you’re hosting family, figure out which nights will be the most chaotic – and ask that everyone bring or make a dish. You could always buy a spiral ham and ask for the sides (makes for great lunches the next day too!) Or, get it catered. And yes, Chinese food delivery totally counts.
- Shop online as much as possible. If you’re like me, nights and weekends are the only times to get my 30+ gift recipient list taken care of. See which free shipping sites you can take advantage of for this. Or buy gift cards at your local drug store. It’s not as personal, but it’s what people tend to prefer. I’m also considering making donations to special organizations near and dear to my heart – or my kids’ – instead of buying gifts.
- Buy lots of little gifts. There are bound to be people you forget or last minute parties you’re invited to – and they’ll have presents for your kids (ugh!). Avoid that last minute trip to the store and go just once, stocking up on small extras like $4 note paper sets, picture frames and faux orchids. And there’s always wine – that can be a great hostess gift or end of year treat for a friend.
- Ask a sitter or nanny for help. Who couldn’t use some extra hands for gift wrapping, post office trips, even grocery shopping? If you have a trusted nanny or sitter who has free time during naps, or before she picks kids up from school, ask for help! We hear from a lot of nannies and sitters who would be more than happy to do extra projects this time of year.
- Let your spouse and kids do the decorating. This one may take a little getting used to because things won’t necessarily be done just the way you’d like it but trust me….you’ll have more time and they’ll love being involved. They can do holiday crafts and make ornaments with the nanny or sitter and let’s face it, a kid-infused holiday house just exudes joy.
- Get the house cleaned. Professionally. With a house full of guests and perhaps an especially demanding in-law, keeping up with clean bathrooms and vacuumed rugs is just one more thing to worry about. So don’t. Take the house cleaning off your plate. You can even book the same person or company to come after everyone leaves – and start 2014 off easy.
- Book your nights out now. You already know you have several holiday parties and of course, there’s New Year’s Eve. Avoid the last-minute panic of finding a sitter and book someone now. In fact, even if you don’t have plans, a nice night out for you and a friend or your partner could be just what you need through these crazy holidays – or immediately after.
You don’t have to do all of these shortcuts, but even one or two changes like this can help.
Do you have holiday outsourcing tips of your own? Tell us!
November 25, 2013
Here’s a nice blog post for Thanksgiving week. Chris Snell manages our Inside Sales Team at Care.com. Right before he and his wife welcomed their second baby, he took the time to write to his first born. As parents, it’s a sweet reminder of everyday joy we have to be thankful for.
My house is quiet. My son is asleep up in his room (or at least I hope he is). My wife Krissy, who’s about to give birth to our second child (seriously, I’m talking days away here), has fallen asleep watching Sunday Night Football, and all I can think about is how our world is going to be completely changed in a such a short amount of time. For six years it’s just been the three of us, and now we’re about to welcome another little Snell into the world.
My sister and I are only a few years apart, so I don’t remember at all what it was like when my parents brought her home. Did I feel jealous? Did I try to help parent? I haven’t a clue what it felt like to have someone invade “my” territory. But I do know that we are very close now.
I’m concerned that our little guy is going to feel forgotten when that little bundle of joy comes home. I’m afraid that he’s going to notice that all of the focused attention he’s been accustomed to for so long -- is now shared. What’s going to happen when hurricane-new-baby lands in his living room? Every. Day?
That said, I thought I’d share with you some things that I hope our little guy knows in the wake of the arrival of his little sister (yeah, we found out):
Mommy and I love you VERY much – Just because there’s another family member here, doesn’t mean that Mom and I love you any less. In fact, Mom and I love you more than you’ll ever know. I want you to see how we dote on this baby and know that we did the same exact thing for you when you first came home too.
You will always be our baby – It doesn’t matter how many children we have, you’re our first and will always be our little baby boy. For a little while, it’s going to feel like your new sibling is getting everyone’s attention, but that doesn’t mean that we love you any less. In fact there’s going to be so much about you that we appreciate even more now.
The crying in the middle of the night will eventually stop – Buddy, it’s just something babies do. They’re trying to find their sleeping rhythm. You went through it, too, and look at how great you sleep now. I promise that Mom and I will try to keep you from it, but our house only has so many rooms.
As a big brother, you’ve got a lot of responsibility now – Your sister is going to look up to you, and will want to do everything that you can do. That’s a big deal, pal. You’ve got to help show her how to make good decisions and make good choices. I want you to try to be her friend. You will have each other for life, and that’s the best gift Mom and I can give you.
We’re going to need your help – There are going to be some times when we need your help, bud. We may need you to pay extra close attention to our words. We may need you to listen really hard to what we say. Harder than you have before. This means doing what we ask the first time we ask you, like cleaning up your toys or getting dressed all by yourself. Regardless, we need you in the game, pal. I know you’ll have days when you’re good at this, and days when you get frustrated. We will be here for you for either of those days.
Most of all pal, we want you to know how very special you are. From the moment Mommy and I found out you were coming, we couldn't wait to see you. We have that very same feeling each and every morning waiting for you to wake up, to come home from school, when I come home from work, or when we come back from a night out. You are our little prince (or knight, as you like to say) and no addition to our family will ever change that.
November 19, 2013
They say that home is where the heart is, but right now my heart is in two places: Boston and the Philippines.
Boston is where I went to college and graduate school, raised our sons, and started Care.com. But the Philippines….that is my heritage, my history. It’s where I was born, where my parents raised my five siblings and me. It’s where my journey began. And today, most importantly, it’s where I sit on the board of the Philippine Development Foundation as we try to help lift a devastated nation to its feet.
As you know, more than 2 million families have been ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda and the death toll – already in the thousands – is expected to keep climbing. The Filipinos are a resilient, strong, and nurturing people but no one could recover from a disaster like this without help.
And that’s where you come in. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of you who have reached out inquiring after my loved ones and wondering what you can do to help the relief efforts, both individually and as business and community leaders.
There are numerous wonderful relief organizations around the world who are stepping up to help. Here are three relief organizations with whom the Philippine Development Board has been in direct contact:
Ayala Foundation’s Disaster Relief: In partnership with local organizations, this program can help those in urgent need of support. Where to donate from the US: Feedthehungryphil.org.donate (Select ‘Ayala Foundation – Disaster Relief)
Habitat for Humanity: Since 1988, Habitat for Humanity (HFH) has built and repaired tens of thousands of homes, assisted more than 5,000 families displaced by typhoons, fires and landslides and completed over 300 classrooms. Where to donate: Habitat.org.ph
Save the Children: This organization is on the scene, getting emergency supplies to families and children -- and providing services to these communities to help them rebuild their lives and recover from this tragedy. Where to donate: Savethechildren.org
The spirit and generosity of the Boston community is known throughout the world, as is the rally cry, Boston Strong. That’s why I know we can count on you, and your colleagues as the Filipinos find voice to their own rally cry -- and begin the long road to recovery.
In friendship and with deep gratitude,
Sheila Lirio Marcelo
November 11, 2013
Kristin is a product manager on our International
development team. She is an incredibly creative person and a loving mom. Here
she provides insight on raising her daughter alone – but with a village.
Remember the feeling when you met your first child for the first time? You held her, and immediately wondered how on earth you were going to take care of her. She needed food, care, love, shelter and warmth. She needed a great education and enriching activities. She needed all you could give her, and probably more.
That was more than 18 years ago for me. For all parents it’s an overwhelming feeling, but doubly so for me. See, I was doing it on my own. I was, and still am, a single mom. And I vowed to give my daughter everything I could – no matter how hard it was for me. And while it was definitely a little scary, it was a role I chose and wholeheartedly embraced.
Now, looking back on it, it was more rewarding than hard. Every parent has a tough time. The world of caring for another human, raising them to be good people, keeping them safe, guiding them to make the good decisions – it gets complicated.
So as a mom of an 18-year old who is now a freshman in college, I have some advice for all you new parents. Whether you are a single parent or have an entire village helping you, these 5 strategies made my juggling and shuffling less stressful.
1. Build your network
When you’re a parent, especially
if you’re alone, you need help. So don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for
what you need. No one expects you to do this without support. And I’ve found
people are more than willing to help, if they know what you need. Also try your
best to reciprocate when you can, or thank them with a meal or a weekend play
date when they can drop their child with you. When my daughter wanted to do an
afternoon dance class, I looked for other parents who had enrolled their
children, so she could get a ride while I was at work. When she was really
small, my parents were able to help, but as she got older, I never wanted her
to miss out on the classes and activities other kids could do.
And if you can afford a nanny or au-pair, keep the “pay it forward” approach going. You never know when you might need to call on that parent you helped to give you a hand if your nanny takes a vacation or is sick. It’s also a great way to meet other parents who share yours and your child’s interests.
2. Be creative with care
3. Trust your gut
This is true for all parents -- but especially when you don’t have a partner’s perspective. If something doesn’t feel 100% right, it is probably worth digging into a little. The corollary to this is to trust your child. Now I don’t mean take everything he or she says with the same weight you’d give a trustworthy adult. But give them the benefit of the doubt. If your child tells a story that seems outrageous and your gut says something isn’t quite right, it’s probably worth asking a few questions or even considering making a change – even if that completely disrupts your current plan.
4. Teach your children independence
Your first line of defense when you’re managing a combination of care situations is your child his/herself. If they know what is supposed to be happening (like who is picking them up), they can let someone know if it didn’t go as planned. I gave my daughter a cell phone in elementary school (this was 2001). My friends thought I was crazy. But she always knew that if something went amiss, she should call me or another adult on her list.
Every morning, her first question would be “What’s the plan?” She knew the schedule (sometimes better than I did) and she knew she could take initiative and make sure everything went smoothly. As she got older she took more and more responsibility for that.
Having a plan – and an emergency plan – is probably a good idea for any family. On a particular winter day, her middle school unexpectedly dismissed at 11 a.m. because we were expecting a snow storm. I was 10 miles away stuck in a meeting when all this occurred -- and had no idea. Thank goodness she was able to contact a neighbor who could keep an eye on her (and give her a hot chocolate) while it took me 2 hours to drive home that evening.
5. Stay positive
Parenting is tough, single parenting is doubly tough. It can be hard to juggle everything and be the sole person responsible. If you keep a positive attitude, remembering that no one is perfect, you can enjoy this adventure. Some of the best people in my life and memories came from navigating this crazy landscape. Don’t feel guilty if you need a break once in a while and don’t forget to let yourself have some fun. This can be most exciting and rewarding thing you ever do in your life, if you relax and enjoy it.
November 04, 2013
Rich from our
Workplace Solutions team has talked about his daughters before. But it gets
personal when they want to talk about
Miley Cyrus. What would you do?
I debated even blogging about this topic.
But the buzz keeps growing. The hype keeps happening. And then the final straw: Mini-Mileys showing up on my doorstep on Halloween.
This girl used to be who my daughters admired. They are 8 and 11 and have grown up watching Hannah Montana. They saw her as a role model. Hannah was fun and sang songs they could sign along with. She was cool. And now, well, I don’t have to tell you what she’s doing to get attention. Talk about a wrecking ball!
My daughters did not watch the VMA’s, but thanks to YouTube and a bus ride to school it was the hot a topic of conversation the very next day.
On a regular basis I debate how much information I should share with my daughters about world events. Usually, I bring things up so they hear it from me or my wife. This affords an opportunity for them to digest the information, ask questions and understand how or if the event impacts them in anyway.
I did not view Miley’s performance as a "world event."
It turns out it was.
The night after the VMAs, my 11-year old mentioned Miley’s performance during dinner. I could tell by her tone and the way she framed the question that there were two important things taking place. First, was a sense of pride that she had witnessed something sensational and perhaps over the line of what Mom and Dad would allow her to watch. Second, was a very thoughtful approach about what was appropriate.
On her own, my daughter drew distinctions between entertainment and talent. So I asked her: What message would other girls take away from watching Miley perform? Is she still a role model? Do performances like Miley’s help advance women? Was this funny or embarrassing?
I learned something here too. This performance was something I didn’t want my daughters to see. However, when they did, it turned out to be a pretty valuable conversation of what kind of people they view as role models, women they want to be, and the reality of people who just want attention.
Is there is a trickle-down effect that makes these female stars feel the need to reach higher -- and push the envelope even more – to get attention? Have these young women learned they need to be outrageous, dumb and “bad” to become bigger celebrities? And how does this affect our daughters? Sure, they may shrug this off as Hollywood, but it still worries me that the “good to be bad” message comes across loud and clear.
What will be the next stunt we shamefully discuss? I have to wonder: Where did respect for talent go?
Everyone loves praise and attention, fans and followers. So I try to stress to my girls how smart and successful leaders grow. With kindness, skill, a great work-ethic and a solid education. These are the attention-getting traits you need in the real world, daughters. This is what will get you noticed in the long-run. And if it’s boys whose attention you crave, the good ones will value these traits just as much as you do.
Tell me, how did you discuss Miley’s VMA performance with your kids? What would you say if you were asked?
October 28, 2013
Erin is the mom of three boys, one of whom has a
rare chromosomal disorder. As a parent who loves Halloween, she’s realized this
holiday is even more special than she ever imagined. I hope you’ll read this
beautiful point of view.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. We have three sons who are equally as enthusiastic about dressing up and trick or treating. Our house is fully decorated. And we love to carve pumpkins, make candy apples and shop for fun costumes.
However, despite the joy this holiday brings to our family, it also comes with a certain level of anxiety. Our youngest son, Connor, was born with a rare chromosomal disorder which resulted in a cognitive disability, motor delays and epilepsy. He is non-verbal and can only walk with the assistance of an adult -- or "Walker," his walker.
As you can imagine, the thought of trying to navigate dark, uneven sidewalks with a 3-year old child who uses a walker can be daunting. Add that to the fact that he is usually dressed in some fluffy costume and desperately trying to hold his own candy bag, it makes the "adventure" of trick or treating even more challenging.
But that doesn’t stop us from loving the holiday. In fact, when Connor was first diagnosed, we made a promise to ourselves that despite his special needs, we would treat him just like his brothers. We also vowed to give him every opportunity to participate in typical childhood activities.
So this is what we do: I decorate his walker so that it looks like part of his costume. Many parents of children with special needs create similar costumes out of their children’s wheelchairs or walkers. It is the one night of the year we actually encourage people to stare at our children’s assistive devices. In fact, I’ve been known to put pumpkin battery-operated lights around "Walker" and encourage kids to come and ask us questions. They are usually fascinated and want one for themselves. Together, "Walker" and Connor are a hit, and it makes Connor’s night even more exciting.
This year Connor is going to be "Mr. Incredible" a super hero known for his tremendous strength, and we are wrapping brightly colored lights around "Walker." As for trick-or-treating, we set out early as a family. We first visit the homes of our next door neighbors. These families are very familiar with Connor and will come down off the front stoop to meet him. This simple act of coming down the stairs, rather than having Connor struggle to climb them, is so touching. My older sons’ friends will come by and high-five Connor. Connor loves all the attention, and puffs with pride. His smile is contagious, and we can tell he feels like a local celebrity.
We continue onto other houses for as long as his energy level will allow. If we come upon a house that has stairs and the owner does not recognize that our son cannot climb them as easily, Connor’s brothers will jump in and ask if they can have a treat for their little brother. Our older sons have always assisted Connor as needed, and they do not hesitate to ask for things on his behalf. Some neighbors like to comment on the children’s costumes, and many times they will ask Connor a question without realizing he doesn’t speak. Again, our older sons will step up and answer the questions for him.
When Connor eventually tires, we will make our way home, as my husband continues to trick or treat with the older boys. Connor will then help me hand out candy to other children, which again makes him feel like a star (plus, he gets to sneak a few pieces of candy for himself!)
Our friends with children who have special needs have also modified their Halloween nights to accommodate their child’s medical issues. Some have children who are restricted to special diets (ie. Ketogenic) and they cannot eat candy, so in advance they give their neighbors toys to give to their children instead. Or those families with children who have epilepsy and cannot be around strobe lights for fear of triggering a seizure. They have asked their neighbors to turn off the strobe lights until the child in question has gone inside. And families with children who have autism and sensory concerns have learned to trick or treat in familiar environments, or practice trick or treating before the big night.
Halloween is such a special night for young children, including those with disabilities. They get to dress up as their favorite animals or characters -- and go from door to door to get candy – just like everyone else! It’s a dream come true. Perhaps I’m more aware of it now, but it seems that today there are more kids who have conditions that make every day life difficult – especially Halloween. Even peanut-sensitive kids have a totally different experience. We are very fortunate because our community has embraced our son’s needs and taken an active role in making him feel accepted.
Last week Connor took a few steps unassisted. It was a beautiful moment. Eventually, our hope is that he can leave "Walker" behind. But for now, we embrace and embellish the device that gives our special child the incredible super power of independence. (He really is "Mr. Incredible!") Halloween has become a day people don’t just stare and wonder what he has, but they come up and make him feel special in spite of it. It’s been a night of monsters, goblins, super heroes, candy overload, and happy memories.
So my advice? If you see a kid like Connor -- whether he’s decked out in a wheelchair or walker -- praise his creativity and voice, even if he doesn’t physically have one. Feeling like a typical kid is all he and his parents want for him.
Tell me, have you seen or used a great example of medical equipment used in a Halloween costume? Have you made any kinds of accommodations for children with special needs?
October 21, 2013
Here at Care.com we have a lot of fun at Halloween. And this year, Senior Managing Editor Katie Bugbee is back to show some last-minute costumes you can make at home. Videos included!
My daughter has changed her Halloween costume 5 times already.
First it was a ballerina. Then a blue jay. Then a dog that is also a police officer. Then a witch. And now we’re leaning toward Sophia the First (a princess).
Needless to say, I haven’t bought or made her costume yet.
She is more of the last-minute costume type.
Luckily, I know a lot about last-minute Halloween costumes. As the content manager here at Care.com, my team is in charge of teaching people how to make adorable costumes in 4 quick steps. The first year we did this, you – our Care.com readers – had great feedback: Add pictures.
So you know what we did? We made the costumes as a big Care.com employee activity! Then, we had employee’s kids and friends come in and wear them, so they can be featured for each article. And now we have pictures for all of our 21 boy costumes, 21 girl costumes, gender neutral costumes and infant costumes.
And I also continued my YouTube Halloween costume series with 8 new how-to videos (princess, mermaid, pirate, cowboy, ballerina, lady bug, lion and hot dog), showing how easy the DIY costume process can be. (Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can!). We even used my kids as guinea pigs, I mean models.
Halloween is huge here at Care.com (we have such a fun family-friendly party every year) and we know it’s a great time for most families everywhere. The sheer delight my preschoolers get for the holiday is contagious. I love watching how brave and confident they get going up the stairs, and the joy and pride they feel walking down. Clutching the new chocolate bar they got, of course! I’m sure one day, these kids will be going out with their friends, leaving us behind to dish out candy, but for now, I leave our lights off and tag along for the thrill.
Here are some of my favorite DIY costume ideas from our YouTube Channel. Keep your feedback coming. We love to hear it and will try to incorporate the ideas next year!
October 14, 2013
I love when my team has babies. Sarah is in our PR department and a first time mom-to-be. She has a lot of questions. We’re hoping you can help.
I just got super overwhelmed registering for my baby shower.
I thought we would be there for 20 minutes. Nope. We came out 2 hours later – with more questions than answers.
I’m 6 months pregnant with my first baby. I think this might be the craziest time of my life – and the baby isn’t even here yet! I’m overcome with happiness for this new life (a baby girl!), but also stressed (What does it mean to be a mom? How will this change me and our marriage?). I’m excited to hear other people’s stories, but worried about having the right stuff.
Which leads me to the "stuff." Did you know there are $1100 strollers out there? For 1 baby! I have to tell you, part of me is appalled…but part of me wants it. I get really sold on hype and style, and part of me is like, "Why not register and see if I get it?"
But then I have to alert the "Mom voice" in me (my Mom’s - not my own) and say, "Sarah, there are plenty of babies doing just fine who didn’t have a fraction of these fancy things!"
The voice is right. I also have a small apartment and a husband who is in school, so we need to focus on the basics. But we also want to have nice, quality things – that don’t need to be replaced. Should they all be organic? What is worth splurging on? What is a giant waste of money? What do I need to make sure I have when she gets here? What can I buy later? Will I really make all her food? Where do I buy cute but inexpensive girl clothes? And what is the most stink-free diaper pail?!
See? Head. Spinning.
In my attempt at keeping a balanced approach to my registry list, I still struggle with the new "Keeping up with the Joneses" world I’m about to enter. Yes, it’s materialistic. But do you find that strollers and car seats and nursery décor have become the mommy status symbol?
When it comes to strollers, my friend told me that my stroller choice will say a lot about me. She says: Bugaboo Moms are often superficial. Bob Moms are sporty and want to go running together. UppaBaby Moms are moderately high end and fair trade focused. And City Stroller Moms focus on practicality. Oh, I didn’t realize I was pushing more than my baby in this thing?!
So there’s definitely a mix of wanting the best for my baby but also creating a world that is comfortable for me as well. And yet, it has to be affordable and fit in my apartment.
So tell me, what is your favorite baby product? And what
didn’t you need?
October 07, 2013
Recently Katie had to ask her nanny to step in for her on more personal Mom-matters. With 70% of dual income families today, this might become the norm. But why is guilt still involved?
Recently, I had to send my nanny to my daughter’s 3 year-old doctor’s checkup. I had a last-minute travel demand for work and couldn’t make the appointment. My husband couldn’t go either. But Dads seem to get off the hook for missing stuff. I guess that’s a blog for another time. Anyway, since changing a well-visit is worse than trying to change your privacy settings on Facebook, I kept the appointment and sent our very qualified nanny in my place.
This was on the heels of missing her preschool singing performance (as well as her brother’s). And sending our nanny instead.
Yes, I felt awful about missing these events. The concerts were at 10 and 11 a.m and I had a work event that morning. But I also felt incredibly relieved. I have a back-up “Mom” who can fill in for me when I just. can’t. be. there. She’s my nanny.
This is when my Working Mom-Guilt kicks in to high gear. I work. Regardless of why, the situation is not going to change. I just wish the schools and preschools would stop assuming one parent is home with their kids. Namely, Mom.
But you know what? Mom can’t do it all. The Working Moms. The Stay-at-Home Moms. None of us. So if we need to outsource it to a grandma, nanny or even swap shifts with another parent… so be it. Does it make us bad Moms? No, it makes us smart.
But it doesn’t remove the guilt.
And it doesn’t make the schools change their programming.
Last May, the NYPost revealed that some of the NYC private school moms were sending their nannies to school events, like bake sales, school plays and parent volunteer days. And the school officials (as well as other parents) were getting angry. They quoted one horrified school committee member saying “[These] Parents can’t be bothered two days a year for an hour?!”
The truth is, we can’t. We could lose our jobs. Another truth? It’s never an hour. Factor in commute time (both ways) and the time it takes for the program to start (never on time) and the follow-up conversations as you’re trying to walk out the door. Nope, never 1 hour. And definitely not only 2 days a year if you have more than one child.
The problem is the same throughout America: Schools still assume one parent is home during the day, but dual income families now make up 70% of the U.S. labor force. And most people can’t leave work to attend a bake sale or be on a committee. So the stay at home parents shoulder the responsibility. They run the committees and host the events. And that’s not fair either. In fact, it might just be fueling the Mommy Wars.
Sending a nanny in your place is convenient for me, but it’s also meaningful to my children. During my son’s preschool concert, he looked up and saw his nanny filming him (for me to see later), and ran over to give her a hug. Mid performance. These nannies are part of our families. I’m lucky I have someone who loves my kids – and who my kids love -- and can be my clone at times.
And it only gets worse after preschool. In fact the public school in my town has half-day Tuesdays. Every Tuesday. It’s ridiculous. How is this supposed to work in a dual income household?
Schools and preschools, you have to get with the program. Hold concerts on weeknights or weekends so both parents can attend. Lessen the half-days during the year. Assume both parents are working. Assume that they can’t drop their work obligations – to run back and forth to the school. But also assume that we want to be there. We would be those beaming, applauding audience members and helping hands if your event fit our schedule. We would take pride in being able to do this for our kids. But right now, earning an income that helps put a roof over their heads takes priority.