Parental Job Sharing

Posted on January 20, 2010. Filed under: Single Mom | Tags: , , , , |

Let’s face it.  Some things are just easier to get done without children in tow (i.e. errands, working out, doctor appointments, bra shopping, home organization projects, grocery shopping, etc.).  Households with two adults typically figure out a system that works for them (a la you go to the gym in the morning while I drive the kids to daycare; I’ll go to the gym in the evening while you pick the kids up).  Single adult households, however, are missing out on the swap-op.

…but we don’t have to be!

Put on your business hat for a minute.  When companies have to cut cost, one option to consider is job sharing.  Essentially, two people accomplish the same amount of work that one would, but exhaust less resources.   If you think about it, running your home is much like running a business.  Money comes in, money goes out, you aim for profit (savings), you manage your staff (spouse and children), you maintain your facility (home), you service your clients (family, friends, pets) — and in tough times you downsize (get divorced).  And when that happens, much like with business, the help and the cash flow decrease, but the workload does not – so you absorb it.  Well, it’s time we stop thinking about running our home like a business, and actually start running our home like a business!

Parental Job Sharing – Get on Board!

It doesn’t take a revolution for women friends to help each other out.  I’m not claiming that I have a novel idea here.  But I am proposing that we look at it from a new perspective.  Now, I’m sure if you really needed a sitter, you could call your sister or best friend and they would help you out.  Right?  But I would venture a guess that you spend your babysitting favors wisely.  Just as you wouldn’t buy an ugly pair of pants because they’re there and you need pants, you’re not calling in a sitter so you can go to the grocery store.  That baby’s in your back pocket for a night out on the town!

So why don’t we take a cue from corporate America and start job sharing?  Why are we duplicating efforts?  Why are we missing out on yoga class?  Why are we chasing our little dressing room escapees through the department store in our bra?  Because we’re not job sharing!

Why not form your own Parental Job Sharing Circuit?  Find other moms in similar situations as you and collaborate to improve efficiency in your homes.   Here are some ideas how:

  • One of you watch and feed the kids while the other goes to Tuesday evening yoga class, and then reverse roles on Thursday evenings.
  • Call your job sharing partner before running to the drug store, with or without kids, so that you can grab whatever she may need.
  • Perhaps you both like cosmetics from Sephora and books from the library.  Put one of you in charge of restocking the makeup bags and the other, the book shelves.
  • Form a large circuit and swap Saturday afternoons “off”.   Half the moms host a playdate together with all of the kids while the other half go to the mall to get some shopping done, and switch roles next Saturday.
  • If you’re making lasagna on Sunday night, make two trays rather than one, and bring one to you job sharing partner.  Next Sunday, switch.

You get the idea.  If you form a group and create a system, you all benefit, and no one feels like their need is too petty to call a sitter.

When it comes down to it, I just don’t want to bundle up and strap in my four-year-old just to go get a bottle of cough medicine.  Five minute errand?  POOF!  Thirty minute ordeal.

Won’t you job share with me?

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Thankful This Thursday: My Sister

Posted on January 14, 2010. Filed under: Thankful This Thursday | Tags: , , , , , , |

She’ll probably never even read this post. (!!!!?!????) Half the time I wish she came with a mute button. That’s not very nice to say, I know. But the girl literally speaks every thought that pops into her head. You know how you could be walking down the stairs and think to yourself, “there’s a red string on the stair; I should pick that up…later”? She says it out loud. And the game “20 Questions”? That’s just a warm up for this girl!

But my sister is a part of our family, and by that, I don’t mean she is a part of my family because she is my sibling. I mean that she is a part of Braden and I. Braden expects to see her at our house on Wednesdays. If I haven’t talked to her in a couple days, I wonder what she’s up to. When I’m watching a movie, I want her to be watching it with me. I buy my groceries with her in mind. I want her to read the same books I do so we can talk about them.

We are two incredibly different people who rarely agree on anything, but we would be lost without each other. She drives me nuts, but at least she is in the vehicle with me!

When I found the keepsakes in the garage back in November, I came across a folder full of sweet things my sister wrote to me while we were growing up. To give you an idea of how much my sister has always loved me, here are some titles and some content of the letters, poems, cards and notes I’ve saved from her:

  • “A Birthday Poem from Me to You” (A very sweet poem written when she was 13.)
  • “It’s Your Birthday, Sister – I’m always telling other people how great I think you are. Today I’m telling you. Happy Birthday.” (A Hallmark card.)
  • “You’re the Greatest! Happy Valentine’s Day, Sis!” (A homemade construction paper card.)
  • “Laurie, You Are the Coolest Sister!” (A colorful sign drawn on the computer to hang in my room.)
  • “dEAR LORIE, You are nice, You are nice, You are funny, You are pretty. You are good at nintendo especially california games, I love you. You are good at school. love, your little sister.” (A note she typed and printed on a dot matrix printer.)
  • “My sister is the greatest thing I’ve ever had.” (A poem to make amends, written when she was 14.)
  • And my personal favorite: “18 Golden Things About My Sister!!” (A list of 18 things she loved about me, written for my 18th birthday on December 18th.)

After a particularly rough day of third grade, I came home to my mom video taping my sister playing with the dog in the yard. I guess I snapped at her when she tried to greet me, because the video shows her cute little pig-tailed head coming up to the camera, “Mommy! Laurie called me a idiot!”

An idiot, she is not. My inspiration for this post is her natural ability to relate to Braden in ways that I am lacking. She can get him to talk about events and emotions in more detail than he shares with me. She has this way of turning every encounter into a teaching opportunity. For example, we have a list of house rules on the bulletin board. Braden and I read them out loud together most days, and I refer to the list when I need to enforce a rule.
But what does my sister do? First time she sees the list, she reads the beginning of each rule aloud, so that Braden can finish it. Then it’s all high fives every time he gets one right. Amazing!

I actually go to her for advice on how to deal with behavioral problems and discipline challenges because she simply has a knack for it.

When she does have kids of her own, I imagine they’ll either be very smart and well-behaved, or very smart and absolute tyrants in their rebellion. And I’m certain they’ll ask a lot of questions.

This Thursday, I am thankful for my sister. She is my soul mate.

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Energy

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I’m running out of the physical kind of energy.  Y’know, the kind that your body needs to stay awake and be productive.  But I just have to write this post tonight – the title for which has been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks.  How to pull this all together in a meaningful way will be a test of my writing skills…

As any of you who have been hanging around MLI for a while know, I have a real passion for life in general, but writing, making a meaningful contribution, parenting and connecting with others, more specifically. I’m learning that I thrive in life when any combination of those elements is present.  It is when I shine the most, personally and professionally.  I also feel strongly that positive energy welcomes positive things.  It’s a “when it rains, it pours” philosophy — without the negative connotation.

So here is the series of events that led me to this post: First, I’ve decided that MLI needs a custom design. In discussing that with a friend at work, I was put in touch with a woman he thought could help.  In one short phone conversation, she and I agreed that she isn’t the person to meet the original need, but that we should meet anyway just to see if she can add value in another way. I had no idea what to expect, but thought eh, what the heck?

Fast forward two weeks to this past Saturday.  I’m in the shower, thinking about the blog and decide I need to develop my personal brand.  I start to envision the platform, the design, the content, the brand.  And suddenly it hits me.  A brilliant book idea.  By the time I finish blow drying my hair, I’ve written an entire book in my head. (Now, I’ve never intended for my blogging adventure to lead to writing a book, but who am I to tell my brain no?)

Sunday, the creator of the Ning group I belong to and write for tells me she’s going to start advertising in the newsletter and share any profits with me.

Monday, I meet with the above-mentioned woman.  We hit it off instantly and spend the evening bouncing ideas around.  The meeting turned out to be mutually beneficial, and rather than me hiring her, we agreed to barter services.  Additionally, she’s interested in hiring me to write a weekly blog post on her website and possibly write her web content as well.  We also discussed other possibilities and opportunities.

She leaves, I check my email and find that my application has been reviewed and I have been offered a gig as Chicago Co-Parenting Examiner at Examiner.com.

What is going on here?

Tuesday I have a conference call with a friend of a friend who is just starting as a freelance writer as well.  We share ideas and discuss possibilities and networking opportunities.  My excitement is rising.

This morning, I check the status of my Suite 101 application and find out I have been accepted there as well.

Why am I telling you about all of this?  Because when I wrote my About page on Day One of My Life, Incomplete, I meant what I said: “I have a dream to write professionally. I am starting here, but hope to one day get published in a magazine and ultimately (don’t laugh) run my own…”  But I added in the “don’t laugh” because I thought I sounded ridiculous.  Today, I can see my magazine out there, in the future, waiting for me to come and get it.  I’m on my way!

The energy created just by getting started launched me into motion.  It seems the more I focus on the elements in my life that I am passionate about, the more those elements multiply.  And to tie it all together – a quote (by unknown) that a friend posted on Facebook today: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you will fall into someone else’s.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”

What’s in your life plan?  What are you waiting for?

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Women Who Do It All… Or Do They?

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , |

She is the the epitome of a successful woman.  She is a realistic life partner, a loving mom and a soaring business woman.  She is lover and companion to her husband; nurturer and provider to her children; leader and mentor to her staff.  Her background is expansive in all three areas.  Her life resume reads as follows:

  • Wife to one man.  Ex-wife to another.  Marriage counseling connoisseur.
  • Mother of two biological sons; one from first husband, one from current husband.  Step-mother to two step-children.
  • Professional, business owner, operating partner, lawyer, leader of companies, manager of staff, mentor to beginners.

And I haven’t even gotten into her other roles: daughter, sister, friend, writer, athlete, academic and more…

HOW ON EARTH DOES SHE DO IT!??

A very wise, extraordinary woman once told me that she declined a television interview on the topic of successful women who do it all. She didn’t want to mislead ambitious young women into thinking that they can do it all.  Her philosophy? A woman (such as her) has, essentially, three main roles: wife, mother, professional.  Because a woman must find balance in her life in order to succeed, she can only truly excel at two of her three main roles at one time.   There simply isn’t enough time, energy or enthusiasm to spread evenly across all three and pull them off with uber-success.

So what does this mean for married, working moms?  It means to cut yourself some slack. Be realistic in what you expect of yourself.  You don’t have to give up one of your roles, you just have to prioritize.

If you have babies at home and your income is crucial to family survival, you are likely going to be in a mother-professional phase of your life. I’m not suggesting you completely neglect him, so your husband will still be there when he becomes a front runner again.

If your family is at its peak bonding, development and activity era, you may be in a wife-mother phase. You still go to work and put in your best effort from 9-5, but you’re not climbing the ladder right now – and that’s okay.

If your children are self-sufficient teenagers and you get real personal satisfaction out of your work, you’ll find yourself in a wife-professional phase. Your children don’t really want you bothering them right now anyway!

A real power-house of a woman understands the need for balance.  If you try to do too much, you dissipate.   So figure out where your energy is best focused at this stage in your life, and give it your all!  You can shift your focus to the remaining areas when the time is right.  The result?  A well-rounded, focused woman with a fantastic career, a happy marriage and well-adjusted children.  They’ll think you’re doing it all, too!

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A Week of 2009: Memories Made

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This has been a fun-filled year!  This post may be a little bit more for me than for you — but I hope that it will at least inspire you to reminisce about your good times had during 2009.

 

I’m pretty sure nothing memorable happened in January.  In fact, I’m positive nothing memorable happened — or I’d remember it.  So I’ll skip to February…

February

This is the month I met the rest of Doug’s family.  You can read about that in yesterday’s post

March

My favorite weekend of the year was the one when Doug and I went with another couple to St. Louis to watch the Redbirds play in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Oh my God, did we have a blast!  The games were awesome and the weather was amazing.  It was the beginning of March and it was 70 degrees.  We ate and drank outside and just had more fun than I did the rest of the year!

My mom started an email exchange of family memories.  For about a week we were all just sending emails with lists of new memories that popped into our heads.  It was such a nice long distance bonding experience.  I didn’t want to lose them, so I compiled them all into one and posted them as a note on Facebook.  (I think I’ll go read it again after I’m done with this post.)

Nothing memorable in April…

May

I went to three Cubs games in May, which means it was a great month!  I should mention that I have four favorite things to do in the summer:  1. spend the day at the race track (horses)  2. listen to live music outside  3. go camping  4. go to Cubs games!  One of these games was particularly special because it was Braden’s first game!  He was sooooo excited to “go at the Cubs” with Mommy, Doug and Mimi.  He actually paid attention to the game — for about 5 minutes.  And then he took to crushing peanut shells.  First ours, and then any that he could find.  We ultimately resorted to brushing them off the ledge of the next section up onto the ground so he could crush some more.  Also of note, after about four trips to the concession stand and/or bathroom, he was pretty confident that he knew the way.  So the next time he had to go to the bathroom, he told me he was going to go by himself because “I know how to go there.”  I was like – “yeah right!” but he climbed over the seat to head off.  I followed him, about three feet behind.  He didn’t know I was there.  It was so cute watching his little three-year-old body from behind, manuever around people and make his way to the lind for the men’s room.  I was actually pretty surprised that he found his way and politely got in line.  Then, of course, I stood there with him. 

Doug, Braden and I went on vacation to visit my parents in Florida.  We go to Florida two or three times a year, so this is no novel event – it’s just always so nice to do!

June

Months of preparation came to a head one awesome Friday in June.  Doug moved into his house in June of 2008.  He has been making improvements to the interior of his home since day one.  However, the exterior left a little something to be desired.  There is a wonderful front porch that was going to waste and as a lover of the outdoors, home decor and spending money, I just couldn’t let it go on for one summer longer!  So week by week I gathered items and stored them at his parents house.  Then I took a day off work on a Friday and my crew (his mom, sister-in-law and my friend) and I got a 5:30 a.m. start.  We spray painted white wicker furniture to a luscious brown and donned them with beautiful cushions, hung ferns, painted the rail, painted the old wood rocker cream, layed a rug and a door mat, spray painted all metal things bronze, hung a clock and thermometer and a decorative ledge, potted plants to set on the new plant stands, filled the galvanized tub with ice and beer, played a playlist of Doug’s favorite music and awaited his arrival from work.  His surprise when he stepped foot on that porch was worth every penny and hour spent!  And then, because his porch was so beautiful, we decided we had to paint the rest of the house…

July

Braden and I spent independence day alone together.  It was an AWESOME DAY!  We laid out a blanket the night before so that we could have a front row seat at the parade.  Doing the things that I did as a kid with my son is such a rewarding experience.  I just love experiencing childhood through his eyes.  We spent the rest of the day doing fun stuff.  We walked to the festival downtown, we ate bratwurst and then we watched the fireworks.  He fell asleep in my arms during the finale.  It was the perfect day.

August

I got to share one of my favorite summer activities – going to the racetrack – with my boyfriend in August.  He had never been to the horse races.  I was so pleased that he loved it as much as I do!  We didn’t really win any money — but then, that’s not what I go there for anyway.

September

Doug and I took a road trip to Panama City Beach with another couple.  We had a two bedroom condo with a big balcony that overlooked the beautiful ocean and white sandy beach.  It was my first real vacation (not visiting family, no kid in tow) in seven years.  Let’s just say it was hard to get on the return flight…

I started My Life, Incomplete in September, which is step one of chasing a dream of mine.  It’s a small step, but I have to start somewhere.  I’ve said this before, but I’ve gotten so much more out of this experience than I bargained for.  I’m looking forward to watching it grow and reaching my goals!

Braden and I moved into our new home, which is a life event symbolic of planting roots.  After two years of up-in-the-air, we have a home of our own — which has become a peaceful sanctuary to me.  We deserve this!

October

I attended the wedding of a dear old friend and was moved by this perfect union.

My uncle took Braden and I to the zoo to see the dinosaur exhibit.  It was such a nice day spent together.  Braden was hilarious in that he wanted nothing to do with the dinosaurs.  At first he cried and begged us not to make him go.  So we went to see some animals instead.  By about an hour into the day, he was begging to go see the dinos.  He actually really enjoyed it and talked about those dinosaurs for weeks to come. 

My cousin came to visit from Colorado.  He is eight years younger than me.  We have not had the opportunity to spend much time together at all.  In fact, I was in my early twenties the first time I met him and his two younger brothers.  (They are actually the sons of my cousin, whom I do not know.)  We spent six days together and had a great time getting to know each other better, visiting the city (amazing how much more you see when visiting as a tourist rather than a suburbanite!), hanging out with my friends, killing it on Rock Band and eating lots of pizza.

November – What a packed-full month! 

A historic event happened in November.  I had dinner with Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend.  There was no reason for this dinner date other than to get to know each other.  We shared a bottle of wine, stories, laughter and tears over our three-hour sitting at WildFire.  It was a perfect night!  The waitress thought we were crazy, we’re sure.  There began a much-needed connection and friendship between us. 

I had the pleasure of packing food with my coworkers at Feed My Starving Children.  The experience propelled me into action and I am now committed to giving more of myself than just my pocketbook to those in need.  I look forward to a year of giving in 2010!

Doug’s family came to my house for a birthday party for Braden.  I live two hours from them and they had never been to my home.  I was so thrilled to have them as my guests.  It was amusing, packing that large family plus my mom, my son and me into my tiny townhouse – but a wonderful day that Braden and I will always remember. 

Thanksgiving.  Too many personal details would be necessary to explain this day.  Let’s just say it was both good and bad.  But the best part was that Braden had the experience of sharing a nice holiday meal with his mom, dad and dad’s girlfriend.  And that was something to be thankful for. 

December – Another busy, busy month!

So many fun events took place this month, but I’ll just mention the monumental ones here.

I had the pleasure of attending two of Doug’s sons’ high school basketball games for the first time.  Watching them play, I could see their dad in them.  They are awesome athletes and adorable boys.  It was an honor to see them play in person, and definitely worth the three and half hour trip!

I got news that I will be published in print for the first time in my life!  This is definitely the most exciting news I got all year!  Keep your eye out.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my essay runs in Chicago Parent Magazine during the first quarter of 2010!!

Braden and I had the most lovely Christmas, spent with Doug’s family at his parents’ house.  Braden was thrilled — I think he had his best Christmas yet!  We don’t have any other little ones on my side of the family and his cousins on his dad’s side live in another state.  So he had a blast playing with the other kids and sharing their new toys.  I was filled with joy, witnessing him experience the holiday as a part of a big, happy family — something my ex and I can’t give him.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my year.  Now, tell me about yours!

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