Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sick Days

This dilemma is likely not unique to me, but what does one do with a baby when one is sick? When the parent is sick, that is. Today I am healthy, and I rarely miss work, although missing work seems to be creeping up in frequency now that we have a child. And not because she's sick, but I assume that she's taking over some of my good health. At almost a year and a half, she's had a couple colds, and the one fever that she had (she hit 101 degrees and we were searching online for if that was something to worry about or not) I adjusted her and her fever decreased within the hour. So Scarlett is healthy and yes I knocked on wood.
I, on the other hand, am not liking the barometrics, lack of sleep, and hormones these days, but I'm sure its all temporary. I've had a few days when I have missed work, or thought about it, due to migraines. Where has my resilience gone?
But what's the point of staying home? The days that I'm sick, I weigh my options in my head. If I stay at home, life is as usual. Meals to prepare, chores that I can skip, thinking of some activity to do so nobody goes batty, a long nap if I'm lucky, but if not, crying or screaming as the tiredness wins, (that's Scarlett's crying or screaming, not mine). If I go to work, yes I have things to do and people to see & yes I must get dressed and all that goes with it, but sometimes its a much easier route to choose over staying home with a toddler. No one yells at me at works, or cries incessantly.
So what is the answer? What does a parent do when the parent is sick? I'm starting to understand those images of haggard moms that I have stored far away in my memory. Its probably easier to keep on with life as usual, than to take the day off for a sick day. (To reassure my clients, I do take sick days as needed, but a lot of thought has gone into them)

Am I a HyperParent?

Last week on CBC's DocZone, they aired Hyper Parents, Coddled Kids. If you missed it, the link is, http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/Doc_Zone/ID=1405930535.

"Kids today are the most overprotected, overindulged, and overscheduled in history. Is all of this attention giving the next generation a competitive edge, or creating new problems that will last a lifetime?"

I would like to be able to answer no to my question, but I think I may have hyperparenting tendencies.

For instance, Scarlett is in a toddler class-she loves it, we sing, make crafts, have story time, dress up, and play with other kids. But when we started this class at one year of age, she was the only one taking her paint brush and eating the paint, and painting her hands and face. Mommy made all the art projects the first couple months. And yes, I stressed a little and finally bought her some paintbrushes and paint so that we could paint at home. And at home, with fewer distractions, and more time, Scarlett connected the brush to the paint and put it on the paper. Wow! She painted! By 14 months she was painting-but does it really matter at what age it happened? So I recognize my parental anxieties.

I do try to limit her activities to one scheduled activity per week. We have done more & when she has "baby class" and then swim lessons and play dates, that makes for a stressed mom and baby. One day not so long ago, I had carried her from the car into the house as she was sleeping, put her into the bed asleep, and had to wake her up two hours later so that I could change her and we could make our next appointment. Oops. So at the moment, we have her in one toddler class and I am cautiously deciding what else we can do.

It is easy to justify. With an only child, you want your babe to be able to experience everything and still play with other kids her age. Have you tried to schedule a play date lately? I'm all for impromptu ones these days, as I laugh at my inbox when I look at attempts to make plans with other parents. Between mom's work, baby activities, family obligations, etc. there is no time except for the playdate scheduled a month in advance. Assuming good health on both ends when the month is up, of course. I do have a few options for drop-in play groups, but many times the easiest options are the scheduled ones.

With work, we do have a vague schedule that we have to keep Scarlett on depending on the days she needs to leave the house with us. That can influence her sleep & play schedule, but the fact that we take her to the office does not automatically make us hyper parents.

And the advantages of NOT being a hyperparent? Kids need free time and they need impromtpu, unsupervised/ unstructured play. On the documentary, they use the example of rough and tumble play versus organized sport. Rough and tumble play helps kids develop subtle social cues that organized play doesn't allow. Different areas of the brain are activated when kids figure out things on their own. That alone is enough to convince me to keep Scarlett unscheduled as much as possible. And creativity? I believe that is born out of boredom and free time. (sorry I'd have to dig hard for the references on that one).

I think the documentary is well presented. Personally, I will keep it in mind when I am looking at how we parent and when deciding what are the best options for our daughter. We will probably still do the classes that she loves and I hope to try out different ones over time. I also do want to give her the opportunity to discover the world for herself. And time to do so.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Necessary Choice

Scarlett started to come to work with us as a 6 week old baby. She's now a toddler, so we've been at this over a year now. And bringing her to work with us was less of a decision or choice and more of a "this is what's going to work".

Being self-employed, I either had to replace myself at work, or just go back. I managed to find an 8 week locum for my maternity leave and was happy with that. Even leaving the office for that period of time was the longest I had been gone, ever. For whatever reasons, I didn't find a more permanent solution to bring someone new into the office and so decided to work with what we had. And so I prepped myself to go back to work quite early on. If you're forced to figure things out with a new baby, that does surprisingly give you enough time! We had the nursing part down by then, had no routine for naps or anything else, but we were good to go back to the office. By then, I could leave the house with an hour of prep time, and aside from sleep and feeling like a normal person again, what else would I need?

And yes, the lure of staying at home with Scarlett has always been tempting, but we haven't figured out how to make that an option yet. I may have been able to financially stretch out my leave longer, but knew I was just putting off the inevitable.

We've been asked a few times about family, day home, nannies, etc. We have no family in Calgary, so that wasn't an option. We may have been able to find a loving person to be a nanny to Scarlett, but we weren't willing to share her or even think about needing to trust someone so early, so no. We wanted her with us, that all it came down to.

And how does it work? I have an incredible boss (me!) so I have the best hours for this. And I also have the best husband who just happens to work with me, and we tag team childcare. And great clients, co-workers, and who else plays a role? Scarlett is a very flexible and social baby who seems to thrive on this.

I work short shifts, so Scarlett only needs to be away from me for 3-4 hours normally. To start, we were luck if I managed an hour or two at a time before she needed to nurse again since of course, she was on her own schedule. These days she sometimes comes to the office and sometimes is at home or in an activity. I own a few slings which we used a lot in the early days. And we just happen to have a Chiropractic and Health office that has other babies, pregnant moms, and very understanding clients.

I hope to meet other moms who have hauled their babies around like this, to share that it is possible to take your baby to work and answer any questions that this may bring up.