Dana from KissMyList.com describes herself as a slightly-obsessive and occasionally witty planner and project-doer. But with two kids, her house has still gone from clean to chaotic. With spring cleaning-task-mastering in mind, she has created this list for the housekeeper she hopes to have one day. What would you add?
When I was a child, I kept my bedroom clean. The bed was always made, clothes were put away, and there was minimal clutter. I was similarly neat and organized in college, much to the relief of my roommate. When I became a homeowner, I kept the whole house neat, if not fastidiously clean.
And then I had a child. Then another child. My carpets became punctuated with Legos and doll shoes, and potted plants were replaced with plastic toy bins. For every item I returned to its place, two more appeared underfoot.
The situation hasn't improved as my kids get older. My tween and teen have traded the toys for textbooks, sports equipment, and smelly socks. I brace myself every afternoon for the whirlwind that blusters through my home, leaving messiness and cookie crumbs in its wake.
When I win the lottery, the first thing I will do is hire a live-in housekeeper. On her (or his - I'm not picky) list of things to do would be:
1. Do the laundry. Putting it in the washer and dryer isn't so bad; it's the folding and putting away that I detest. I did laundry on Monday, and as I write this on Thursday there is a basket full of clean, unpaired socks sitting in my bedroom. The four of us have been reaching in all week; if I wait long enough it will empty itself.
2. Clean the bathrooms. Based on the gobs of toothpaste on the counter and in the sink, my children brush with bare brushes. Sporadically flushed toilets make for some nasty bowls, and my teen's flowing mane sheds the equivalent of a small kitten on a daily basis. I think I actually heard a hair ball purr at me the other day.
3. Vacuum. That's not really the issue, though. It's all the stuff on the floor that has to be picked up and put away before vacuuming can commence. So...
4. Pick up everything on the floor, and dump it on the owner's bed. Just because I would have a housekeeper doesn't mean we should live like slobs. My children need to be responsible for their stuff, and if that means taking ten minutes to clean off their bed at night then so be it.
5. Handle the chores that require contorting. The backs of cabinets, under the sink, behind the toilet - these are all places I do not want to go. And at barely five foot two, I will gladly hand over any chore that is out of my reach. The tops of my window valances (there's been a lacrosse ball resting up there for a year), the crown molding, and the tops of bookcases are all no-man's land.
6. Sweeping and mopping. This needs to be done on almost an hourly basis. In reality it is done much, much less than that. It is no accident that I picked a dark tile for my kitchen floor.
7. Meal prep. My kids' activities often interfere with dinner time, and I can't be home to prep or cook a decent meal. I can barely cook a decent meal when I am home, but that's not the point. I'd like dinner waiting for me when we walk in the door at 6:30 or 7:00. And I'd like it to be delicious and healthy, please.
8. Periodic deep cleaning. I admit I stink at this. I want a good house scouring from top to bottom every few months, in all those nooks and crannies that I try to ignore. And then there’s the seasonal stuff: packing away the winter wardrobes, donating the out-grown clothes to Goodwill, changing out the storm windows, re-organizing the garage. Get this off my plate!
9. Don't judge. I always felt like Alice was secretly thinking bad thoughts about the Bradys (please tell me I haven't dated myself with The Brady Bunch reference). My fantasy housekeeper would have no such thoughts; he or she would think we were the coolest family ever. Just not the cleanest.
March 03, 2014
Dana from KissMyList.com describes herself as a slightly-obsessive and occasionally witty planner and project-doer. But with two kids, her house has still gone from clean to chaotic. With spring cleaning-task-mastering in mind, she has created this list for the housekeeper she hopes to have one day. What would you add?
February 24, 2014
Busy celebrities are often hiring nannies and housekeepers to help make their families run smoothly. But one pop icon took us by surprise at how she seemed to regard her children’s nanny – or nannies. Our parenting expert and mom, Katie Bugbee, had this response. Tell us what you think the nanny’s relationship in the family should be.
In a recent radio interview, Mariah Carey announced that she fires nannies like "this" and snapped her fingers to show the speed in which she kicks people to the streets.
Why so picky? She doesn’t want anyone getting too close to her 3-year old twins. She explains: "And I hate doing it, but I have to because they try to make themselves more important in the baby's mind than me."
Oh, Mariah. Sweet Mariah. You just don’t get a nanny’s role, do you?
Let’s start with what all working parents know. We know it hurts when your child accidentally calls her nanny, "Mama." Or calls you by the nanny’s name. We know our hearts fall to the pit of our stomachs when our babies reach for their nanny instead of us. But we also know that this is exactly why we hired them.
I interviewed 22 nannies before I found "the one." (Let’s call her Mary.) And it wasn’t experience that drew me to the winning candidate. It was the nurturing, love and creativity I saw in her. I knew she’d love my babies. I knew she’d become part of our family, and treat these children like her own. And I also knew Mary had traits and interests that I flat-out don’t – cooking, enjoying messy crafts, and playing in the snow.
Yes, there are many weekends we spend at the crafts store buying lots of goodies for the kids to do…with their nanny (she is so clever!). And when the snow falls on a Sunday afternoon and I want to make hot cocoa and cookies, we get out the igloo building kit…for Monday with Mary.
I thank God for this second Mom in our family on a daily basis!
But I also know that there’s really no replacing the love a parent gives or receives. My kids still run to me every evening, reach for me when they bonk their heads, and light up for each "Mommy Day." I’m mommy. No matter how much they love Mary. So Mariah should feel comfortable knowing that she will always be Mama Numero Uno to her babies, as long as she’s giving them quality time (better than quantity!), adoration and structure.
Mariah, you and I both work really hard. And I know we both love our kids with every ounce of our souls. People may criticize the fact that we leave our children in a non-family member’s care each day, but regardless of why we do this, leaving them with someone they love almost as much as their mom (or dad) -- is a gift. This is what the best nannies do – they love and help raise your kids like you would. But they do not want to take your place. Just like your husband doesn’t want to usurp your role either. Each person can play different parts – all coming together to raise the happiest children possible.
February 18, 2014
Tanya is a mom of three and a Captain of our Care Force, assisting members via email and social media and helping her team with their cases. She has a knack for helping people. Which is why she jumped at the chance to give advice on one of her favorite topics – Disney World! Use this (or save it) for when you plan your family trip. Or share your own advice below!
I am a nut for Disney. 10 years ago, if you’d told me I’d be going every year and have turned Disney-trip-planning into a hobby – I would have laughed in your face. But something magical happened to us when we first went (I like to believe we were sprinkled with pixie dust). Whatever it was, we can't seem to get enough of all things Disney.
That first trip, we traveled with my husband's immediate family and I took the reins to get the 13 of us organized. I have now deemed myself a guru. We have returned every year -- and the planning has become part of the magic for me.
It gets me excited when someone asks me to share my knowledge. So if you’re planning on going this year, here are some of the tips I tell folks when they start to think about booking a trip:
- Book at off-times. September, October and early November are great times (and we love the fall in Florida). The weather in those months is typically still warm but not unbearably hot. Early February and early April are good too but avoid the school vacation weeks. Summer months when the kids are off are typically busy and the weather is the hottest which for me makes it least appealing. Holiday weeks have the highest crowds and the highest prices which makes everyone a little ornery. Become knowledgeable about Disney events happening during the year. We love to go during the fall for Halloween and attend the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – all of us dressed up in a Disney theme of course!
- Go to these 2 websites. Touringplans.com and Disneyparks.com are the two best sites to help you plan your trip. Find tricks to manage the chaos on one, plan your rides and character meetings on the other. You can download the My Disney Experience App which will keep track of all your plans (both meal reservations and Fastpasses) and tell you the current wait times at rides near you. I’d also recommend getting the free Disney planning DVD from DisneyParks.com which will get everyone excited for your experience. You can also order free customized park maps to get a feel for the lay of the land.
- Make a list of 5 things you must do each day. There’s so much to do, so be prepared that you won’t get to everything (that’s why we go to Disney each year!). But creating a list of five things for each day will help you plan while still leaving room for spontaneity (like when your son wants to go on the same ride 3 times!). Sometimes I get wild and print and laminate these lists -- and that takes my crazy to a whole new level. But these lists also give each person in the family a fair chance to plan ahead, so you can create lasting memories for everyone.
- Pre-buy trinkets. Warning: gift shops are everywhere. You will see a lot of things you -- or they -- want. But park prices are steep. Try to pre-plan. I usually bring a small prize for each kid to open every day. This keeps us from getting a case of the "can I have this?" begging and pleading. We bring our princess costumes and character t-shirts so kids come prepared to show off their Disney spirit. They each also get a $25 gift card to buy something special during the trip.
- Pack wisely. I pull out the suitcases about 3-4 weeks ahead and start tossing stuff in. I add travel and sample sized toiletries. We bring lightweight camping jackets or ponchos for rain, sweatshirts for cool weather, band-aids for blisters, and a good backpack or cross body bag to take to the park. Remember: you can do laundry and avoid over packing. I even bring a foldable mesh laundry bag that keeps our room manageable.
- Reserve Fastpasses. Using FastPasses will avoid long wait times on big attraction rides and certain popular characters. And it’s free. You can also take advantage of a “Rider Swap” that lets another person in your party go on the ride right away (this was great for us since someone needed to stay with our 1-year old while the big kids rode the bigger thrill rides!). I think we rode Space Mountain six times in one day!
- Splurge on Character Meals and the Memory Maker. Booking at least one character meal will make your time at Disney even more memorable for the kids. Making your reservations at the 180 day mark before your trip will guarantee you get to meet some of your favorite characters. I like to recommend a breakfast in Magic Kingdom so you can get in early and see the castle with a clear view from Main Street. The Memory Maker is Disney’s photography package. Their photogs are all over the place and will take your picture, so you don’t have to lug your camera (and all of you get to be in it). My trick is to ask them to take a pic with my phone as well – so I have an immediate picture to see and post!
- Have a stroller. Even if your kid rarely rides in a stroller back home, you may be relieved to have one in Disney. We now bring a double stroller and while most of the time only one kid is riding, having the seat to take a break in or to sit for a parade is great to have. There are also several rental companies that will deliver a stroller right to your resort at a very reasonable price. I’ve used this one twice.
Planning for any vacation can be tedious for some but make it your mission to be informed and plan for some serious magic. When you finally go and you are back home, you'll likely start longing to go back. My solution to avoid having Disney withdrawals is to start planning the next adventure. Until then, we’ll be playing rounds of Disney Trivia at the dinner table and blasting Disney music blasting in the car. It keeps the memories and magic alive for our family!
February 10, 2014
Katie is the Care.com global parenting expert, a mom of 2 (almost 3) and has been married for 8 years (but together for 18). And she has a very good understanding of how life as a parent can take a toll on life as a couple. Here is a funny – and poignant – take on marriage with kids.
- When kid-less couples complain about their lack of time to see friends, go to the gym, go to movies – you want to wring their necks.
- Sexy pajamas? Those are for single people – or baby making – and thus are in the attic.
- You’ve spent "together time" hunched over a toilet looking at poop color/consistency/mass/all of the above.
- You send your spouse calendar invites. From the couch. With him/her next to you.
- You have a mental score-card tracking all the bum wipes, tub times and nightmares you’ve handled – alone.
- Your Facebook page has become a family photo album with only the cutest pictures and quotes from your brood.
- You often wonder how one person can be so smart, but still never remember that Saturday mornings are soccer practice.
- You’ve actually – legitimately - argued about the Elf on the Shelf.
- You’ve called each other Mommy and Daddy, not ironically, and not in front of the kids.
- You’ve had actual conversations around which cartoon characters are prettiest/realistic/have the best values/you would hook up with.
- You’ve negotiated "favors" to get more sleep.
- Scoring tickets to certain kid bands is just as exciting as going to U2 was ten years ago.
- Made-up words like "Wubby" "Bubby" "Luvie" and "Binky" are commonly used in your conversations.
- You have a rule that nothing said to each other between 12a.m and 4 a.m. can be brought up later.
- It’s a badge of honor to announce you haven’t showered/shaved/waxed/changed your clothes all day (or month).
- You can recognize what each stain is from on each other’s favorite sweatpants.
- During an argument, you’ve frustratingly pleaded your partner to "use your words."
I have to tell you that as funny and true as some of these might be -- you’re not alone. This is what happens when you go from crazy-kids-in-love to a couple with kids who love each other. We’re more mature. We’ve been through childbirth together. We’ve picked poop off the other person’s shirt. But with that type of intimacy often comes the lack of cuddling, the loss of deep talks about your future and life dreams, the absence of patience with each other. We think all we need is sleep. We just need the kids to get out of a certain phase. But we really need to just tap into that person we met X years ago, who we were at that time – and reconnect – as those people who have kids now. What would that couple think of the fight over which binky to use or whose turn it is to handle tubby time?
Valentine’s Day might be something this couple rolls their eyes at, but try to use this coming weekend as a time to take time for each other – with only each other. This family is about you. The two people who started it. Go on a date again. Go for a walk. Hold hands. Hug for no reason. Laugh with each other. These beautiful faces we’re raising have made us stronger, better people. We just need to make sure we’re making ourselves a stronger, better couple. And remember, all this kid stuff – it’s just a phase. They’ll be gone one day, leaving us back to the couple with more free time than we know what to do with. And hopefully, no more score-keeping.
I hope you take time to cherish this Valentine’s Day.
What would you add to this list?
P.S. I also made a YouTube video about some of the funniest "romance killers" parents face... I hope you’ll watch it – and laugh about it together!
February 03, 2014
I have known Christine Koh as a digital strategist, graphic designer and Boston-based blogger for a number of years. I am now pleased to introduce her as the newly published author of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less. Here she shares some secrets of how she makes being a mom of two seem so easy!
Parenting is one of the most gratifying jobs around. It also can be one of the toughest and most overwhelming at times! But fear not, there are ways to make parenting easier. Here are six tangible ways to "minimalize" the drain on your bandwidth. These tips will help you tweak your routines so you can enjoy family life more -- by doing less!
- Delegate chores. When you delegate chores, you’re actually giving your kids a gift. Chores help kids learn that they are part of a family system and equip them with essential life skills. Whether it’s setting and cleaning up the dinner table, helping with laundry, or tidying toys, as soon as kids become verbal and can follow simple instructions, they can help! For example, my two-year-old knows how to take her dish from the table to the sink after mealtime and help with toy cleanup.
- Bring your kids into the kitchen. Have your kids help you with food preparation. Yes, sometimes it will be messy and/or imperfect but keep at it and have fun. I’ve had my daughters Laurel and Violet in the kitchen right from the start and at age 9, Laurel cooks dinner for the family on occasion and can make chocolate cake and other tasty treats from scratch. WIN.
- Give kids space. The next time your kids (or your kid + a friend) start squabbling, resist the urge to jump in and solve their problem; just hang back and do whatever it is you were doing. If the kids come complaining to you immediately, tell them they need to try to work it out for 10 minutes. Kids need the time and space to figure out social interactions. Same goes for the "I’m bored" complaints. Wait your kid out and delight in the amazingly creative things that happen once they have a chance to exercise their imagination.
- Identify and aim for your family’s "Goldilocks" level of busyness. Look at the last couple of months of your calendar. Jot down the number of events that made a week feel too busy, not busy enough, or just right (Goldilocks!). Continually assess your family calendar; if you find weeks that creep beyond the Goldilocks level of busy, start editing out commitments.
- Say no. And don’t apologize for it. Related to #4, a big part of editing your and your family’s schedules and to-do lists involves learning to say no. And one reason people have a hard time saying no is because they don’t want to lie or make a lame excuse. Relieve yourself of the need to apologize or make excuses. Simply decline gracefully; no excuse needed.
- Get help. The reality is, you only have 24 hours in a day. It’s not a sign of weakness to get help; it’s a sign of strength. Whether you need to carve out a little more time to hit a work deadline, get breathing room during school pick up transitions, or crave a date night with your partner, book a sitter and give yourself the gift of time. You’ll be better equipped to parent in a happy place if you’re not totally depleted and frantic.
The beauty of these six things? They are totally doable adjustments that offer major time and sanity rewards. For further inspiration on how you can simplify your work, life, and parenting, check out Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less.
January 27, 2014
A new year always brings change – and so for 2014 we decided to invite some of the funniest, interesting and inspiring parenting experts and bloggers to write for my blog. If you don’t know Dude Mom already, you are missing out – especially those parents of boys. She has three. And here she shares the hilarious and true resolutions she wishes they would make! What would you add to this list?
Every year of life I sit down with The Dudes and we resolve to do things better for the next year. And we can always make new goals – even if it is the end of January. Unplug more we say, save for a vacation, watch every movie on the Top 100 Kids & Family Movies list that was made between 1985 and 1992 (it’s personal life goal).
We mostly fail, but we do at least have a real discussion about things we want to be better at. And we practice the whole goal-setting-for-life-success thing which I say counts even if we do end the year without having fully accomplished a single thing.
This year will look much the same I imagine. We will each pick a personal goal to work on and a couple of family ones too. They will be ambitious and challenging and for good.
But, here’s what I wish they’d be…
I will learn to… Pee IN the toilet. Not on it. Not behind it. Not in the vicinity of it. Not outside. In. The. Toilet.
I will try to… Come home from school without crying. You’d think they’d be happy to be home. Where it’s warm. And snacks are waiting. But, nope. Every day. Two seconds after the bus pulls away from the curb, the moaning begins. So and so said this, and I’m hungry, and carry my bag it’s heavyyyyy, I’M HUNGRY. The post-school-day meltdown is an experience I can live the rest of my life without.
I promise to… Stop asking for stuff at the store. I literally never buy them things. They should know by now that the law of averages is garbage.
I hope to… Learn the fine art of patience. I don’t expect them to whip it in a year. Most adults can’t stand to wait for things. But, when we are on the sidelines of a soccer game, without food or water in sight, it’s really only working against them to sit there and cry, actual tears, while babbling loudly that they CAN NOT WAIT TO EAT. I mean, unless you’re planning to go zombie and eat a chunk of my arm, you’re gonna just have to. Also, I am certain you had a sandwich moments before we left.
I need to… Realize my mom’s kitchen is not a restaurant. It would be a shoddy restaurant at best so let’s just stop pretending.
I also promise to… Never leave another Lego on the floor. I built them a wonderful Lego table, there’s really no excuse for them to continue to torture me in this way.
Moms of boys and girls… what are you working with your kids to accomplish this year – or wish you were working on?!
The views, opinions, and statements contained in this blog and related comments are those of the contributing authors and are not necessarily endorsed by Care.com, or representative of Care.com’s own views, opinions, and positions. Care.com makes no representations as to the accuracy or suitability of any such content, and may not be held responsible for any reliance upon or use of it.
January 20, 2014
Did you hear about the chef who suggested some restaurants not allow kids? Leslie is one of our VPs and had a quick, personal reaction to this controversial topic. Whose side are you on?
When my son, Casey, was two weeks old, my husband and I started taking him to restaurants, including fancy restaurants. He’s now nearly three and a half, and has learned valuable benefits from our nights out.
So when I read of Chef Grant Achatz from one of Chicago’s finest eateries starting the debate of banning children from his restaurant, I had a strong response – to both him and the couple who caused the uproar at his 3-Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea, which costs between $210 and $265 per person for a tasting menu – without drinks! And, they charge this rate when you book the reservation, leaving you to try to sell your seats if you can’t make it.
Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but.. (@Gachatz)
Those parents should have removed the child. Or, they should have sat at the bar, which can be more boisterous, and drown out noise from a fussy kid. But they should still be allowed to come to the restaurant as a family.
My primary reason for dining “à trois” is that my husband and I both work full-time, and want to spend every meal with our son. But we also enjoy nice meals and want our son to appreciate amazing food. So, we started taking him with us, at a very young age. And no, that doesn’t mean chain restaurants.
Granted, these haven’t been the most romantic meals. There have been nights in which my husband eats his dinner first – while I walk Casey around outside. And then I eat. We’ve also spent the time playing games, and pulling out toys to keep Casey occupied in between hasty bites, rather than talking to each other.
Yes, that has happened. But we’ve also had some lovely nights as a family. When our son was younger, we would choose restaurants, by design that were more active (either due to a happening bar scene or other dynamics) that made it a place where we knew our child's speaking voice (but not a crying voice) would be within the acceptable range and not any louder than the conversations at other tables.
Doing this, we’ve taught Casey the value of great food – and also fantastic table manners. As a three year old, he has a great level of patience and we receive many compliments from our fellow diners on how well behaved he is at the dinner table. On an average night out, he can now sit and have a family conversation, or play with his trains or drawing pad after he eats.
But I strongly feel it’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure that the child is behaving in a way that is appropriate for the restaurant. It’s no different than an adult stepping out of a restaurant if their phone rings. People at places like Alinea pay a lot of money to have a fantastic, often romantic, dining experience, and a loud or crying child can ruin it. This couple was brave for trying it with an 8-month old, a difficult age, but they should have figured out a way to take shifts, if he was fussy.
But by all means, people with kids should not be afraid of attending concerts, parties and high-end restaurants with their babies, and kids – and consider it a teaching opportunity for the whole family.
Do you agree? Would you take your baby to a fine dining restaurant? Or, do you think those parents should be asked to leave?
January 13, 2014
A lot of our Care.com family have not only used Care.com to find care – but have been caregivers themselves. Samantha from our Member Marketing team babysat for 7 years. Here are the things she knows your nanny wants to tell you.
I babysat my way through high school. Later, I had a family I nannied for part-time to help pay for college. I had great relationships with all of the families I worked with, but I can tell you that there is a lot of miscommunication between families and caregivers. Things I assumed, but they did not. And the other way around.
If you are looking for a new nanny or sitter -- or have one already -- it might be time for a talk. From my experience, and tales from my friends, there’s at least one thing on this list she’s dying to tell you (and might be too scared to!). But here is what you can do about it.
1. I thought you’d pay for holidays. Nannies and sitters work schedules are bound to include some holidays, and they often assume they’ll get paid time off. And while it’s not legally required, it’s a very nice thing for families to offer (so we can pay our bills on time!). It’s even best to spell out which holidays your nanny will have off in a nanny contract (see this sample contract) so no one is surprised on say, Columbus Day.
2. I don’t like folding your underwear. To be honest, do you like strangers folding your undies? If laundry is part of the job, be clear about whose laundry it will be or just have her stick to the kids’ hampers. Your stuff is too personal.
3. You came home late and didn’t pay extra. Babysitters and nannies don’t work as a flat-fee service. You need to pay hourly, and often you need to pay overtime (if she’s worked more than 40 hours a week).
4. I need mileage reimbursement. Sometimes caregivers ask for gas money to get to your house – that’s not necessary. But if she’s driving your kids to all of their activities, you should reimburse at the suggested IRS amount of 56 cents a mile.
5. I’m not an independent contractor. The IRS considers caregivers household employees. That means if you pay your nanny or sitter more than $1,900 in a calendar year, you’re her household employer and are responsible for paying taxes. Learn more here >>
6. I’m having a health crisis. No one wants to get too personal with their employer, but caregivers are human too! Sometimes nannies and beloved sitters are just like family. If you treat her this way, she might be more apt to tell you when something is going on. This way you can create a backup care strategy if she can’t come in one day.
7. Your neighbor tried to hire me away from you. Nanny poaching is alive and well. If you have a good nanny, she is bound to get job offers from friends. If it’s just to babysit, good friends will contact you for permission. But a traitor might offer her more money to be her nanny. Let your nanny know to come to you first.
8. Your child called me a %@#%!$. Everyone wants to know how their kids behaved while they were gone, but it’s not always easy to tell a parent when a child is misbehaving. As a sitter, you don’t want to seem like you don’t have things under control or get a child in trouble. If you’ve witnessed your child name calling or being aggressive towards a sibling, ask the sitter if she’s noticed something similar. It can ease the stress of being a tattletale.
9. I need a raise. Are you paying your sitter or nanny enough? Make sure you use our calculator to know the going rate in your area. But also make sure you’re not being stingy. Caregivers should get a raise each year and with each additional child. You need to make sure you take care of the person who takes such good care of you.
10. I don’t clean bathrooms. Most sitters and nannies don’t consider themselves housecleaners. If this is a job requirement, make sure to spell that out and agree upon it before hiring. Or, hire a housekeeper!
How would you feel if your sitter or nanny raised one of these topics? How would you handle it?
January 06, 2014
Happy 2014! Many people create care-related resolutions for each New Year and we at Care.com see a surge of babysitter requests. Perhaps this post from our Global Parenting Expert, Katie Bugbee will resonate as to why. Giving yourself a break can feel so rewarding and even boost your energy for the year (or days) ahead. Do you agree?
I love my kids. But I’m just going to say the thing every parent feels at some point but rarely says out loud: Being cooped up in the house with my kids for days on end makes me a tad irritable. There. I said it. Now why is this on my mind? Because cooped up in the house was exactly how we spent our winter vacation. We didn’t have any plans. No skiing. No trips. Getting through Christmas and house guests was the strategy. I was sure the rest of the days would be full of happiness and love.
What was I thinking?
With two high-energy preschoolers, a husband who had to take work conference calls almost every day, and freezing cold temperatures outside, I was stressed out and ready for some serious drinking by day 2 (and then again by noon each day).
Have no fear. Stress or not, I abstained.
Then the Nor’easter hit. We live outside of Boston, so we had about 18 inches of snow. Great for sledding, sure, but first we had to get out of our driveway…a challenge. And then it felt like -7 degrees, so our big excursion lasted about one hour.
And that was after the hour it had taken to get on the long-underwear, snowpants, mittens, and boots. Two hours down. How many more left in the day??
But then an amazing thing happened. I got a text from a friend: "Gathering a few people tonight for dinner. Can you get a sitter?"
The light was at the end of the tunnel! Could I get a sitter?! Count on it, sister, no matter what!
OK…so maybe I’m exaggerating a little but the truth is that sometimes, I just want a brief respite to be Katie – wife and friend – not mommy, you know?
Thanks to my list of favorite sitters I’d already created on Care.com, we ended up finding a babysitter within two hours. And suddenly spirits were boosted. I felt a surge of energy. Want to have a dance party, kids? Yes we can set the living room up as a bowling alley! Sure, I’ll be Flynn Rider and you can be Rapunzel for 4-hours straight! I can’t wait! I was suddenly the parent I wished I had been over the past few days. All because I knew a break was in sight.
I know so many couples who don’t go out on dates. Maybe it’s the expense of going out – and paying the sitter. But I can tell you, from experience, the feeling of getting dressed up, and leaving someone else to the picky-eater-struggles and I don’t want to go to bed-negotiations—so you can have fun with your spouse, can feel worth every penny. My husband and I instituted date nights a while ago and we look forward to them and to our time together. But it never occurred to me that we might benefit from a date night on vacation too. Live and learn.
It’s a New Year. If you don’t do date nights (once a week, once a month, whatever!), I strongly suggest you make it a 2014 resolution. It can be a relationship boost, spirit lifter and re-charge you to be a less-stressed out Mama!
Tell me, what did you do over winter vacation? Is a date night on your upcoming schedule?
December 29, 2013
Katie Bugbee is our global parenting expert. As a parent herself, she has navigated some major mom-guilt and balancing acts. Here is her insight on resolutions you can really set – and achieve next year.
Happy almost New Year’s Eve! The year is (almost) over and a fresh start is coming. For some reason a change in the calendar can be inspirational – a time to stop bad habits, put ourselves first and leave some negativity behind. This must be why we see a surge of people come to Care.com in January. It’s time to make a change. And when it comes to giving yourself more me-time and stress-free time – we’re seen as the place to go. We’re thrilled about that. So if you’re looking to do something different next year, here are some resolutions we are really good at helping you accomplish:
- Going on more dates. For a while, the idea of snuggling on the couch with take-out and a movie was a perfect date night. You were saving money and it still felt romantic. But then you got out of the house. You dressed up. You laughed with friends and your partner. You felt like your old self again. And it re-charged you. I’ve been there. And after getting back into the date night groove, it has just become a necessity for us. Even if we just go up the street to our neighborhood spot, it’s OUT. And it feels healthy. The same goes for single parents. Getting out of the "just the kids and me" can be empowering. Booking sitters in advance - once or twice a month - can make this new routine easy.
- Creating more time for yourself. The inside of the gym? Haven’t seen that in years. Visiting with a friend sans kids? Didn’t know I could. A yoga class? As if I have the time! But there is time. We just have to create it. It’s either by saying these needs to our partners or family members, or hiring someone to stay home with the kids – so you can put yourself first – for at least an hour. Once you come home, it can be all about them again!
- Passing off the house cleaning. Whether your full time job is at an office or with your kids, the last thing you want to do is clean the toilets when you’re done. Oh, and can you dust the blinds and scrub the baseboards? Forget that S***! A cleaner doesn’t have to come every week. Try once a month, or before important family gatherings. Just try to get it off your plate.
- Fixing a care situation that isn’t great. Sometimes we hire nannies or sitters we love, at first. But over the months or years, we outgrow them. Maybe they were great for our babies – but not so great for our super active toddlers. Maybe they’ve lost their enthusiasm for the job. When this happened to me a few years ago, I was super torn about letting someone go. But a friend said to me "You know Katie, more than one person will love your children." And she was so right. I knew this person loved my kids. But there were things that needed changing. I needed a new nanny who had strengths like high energy, creativity and a nice grasp of handling classic toddler issues.
- Hiring help to check in on parents. The holidays can be really eye opening. A lot of people come home realizing their parents need a little more TLC than they realized. And it’s especially tough if you’re far away. Maybe a neighbor should look in on them, or they should have meals delivered. Maybe they need a senior caregiver to help with certain projects once a week. Either way, it might be time to have that conversation with your siblings or spouse and parents. And look at these organizations and services for help.
- No more guilt about the dog. You leave the dog home alone all day long. It tears you up. If someone could just play with him for a few hours, you’d feel so much better – and he might not be so crazy when you get home. Look into a dog walker. The rates might not be as bad as you think. And it could create a happier pup.