Do I remember how to parent?

Young blond  boy on pony
My son loved to ride the “Snow White Pony” as he called it at our weekly street fair.

I’m talking about hands on parenting. My kids are in their 20s and I haven’t been hands on for years. My son is having shoulder surgery this week and he wants me to take care of him. I leave on Wednesday to be there prior to his Thursday morning surgery. I’ll be staying in an airbnb a few blocks from his apartment so i don’t have to drive. I don’t drive in the Bay Area, period.

He called me this morning and I told him, “I hope I’m helpful.” I haven’t had to take care of anyone since my husband last had shoulder surgery about three years ago and before that when my dad had shoulder surgery in 2014. I guess I do have experience with shoulder patients, though.

My time will mostly be filling the machine with ice that circulates coolness around his shoulder. And giving him meds on a schedule.

I’m a little nervous to travel back to California during this Delta variant thing. I fear they’ll shut down while I’m there! I know I’ll be required to wear masks again after not wearing them since my second shot here in Arizona.

The sweet thing is my son facetimed me the other day. He got his hair cut short and died it blond. He said he wanted to look just as he did when I was doing the full on parenting.

Three year old blond son
My son age three.

I’ll pack a few books, read my fellow bloggers and hang out with him. It doesn’t sound too hard, right? We will see.

Have you taken care of adult children recently? Did your parenting nurturing nature suddenly reappear?

The art of procrastination

cat upside down
Olive.

There are certain tasks I’ve been meaning to do. But I keep putting them off. I’m asking myself why and this morning I’m trying to tackle a few of them before the day gets away from me. Number one, we’re going out of town and I need to find a place to board Olive.

The closer the day of vacation approaches, the more I hesitate. I’m afraid I’m already too late and the “pet resorts” will be booked. I also know that Olive will hate being boarded, but we have to do it for her own good. Plus, I know my husband will be annoyed with the cost and push me to try to find something with a lower cost or demand a discount. Lots of reasons to not pick up the phone.

Another thing I’m procrastinating about is a recall on our car. The notice came in the mail and I just don’t know when it’s a good time to schedule the appointment. I finally called first thing this morning and got voice mail. We also have to get the car fixed after the hail damage. We filed a claim and talked to our agent. They are supposed to get back to us, but they are overwhelmed with claims. Our friends who live in Prescott, at the center of the storm, had a damaged roof, broken windows at their house and found four dead dear in the backyard.

Will we get all of this done on the car before vacation? Or should we wait?

I’m procrastinating on making some phone calls for a couple of interviews I need to do for stories that were suggested for me to write. I’m now procrastinating on writing. Why is that? Do I want to write the stories? Or not?

Live now. Procrastinate later. sign on bookshelf.
A sign I have on my bookshelf in my office.

My son was a master procrastinator in high school. His college applications were pure torture. I hated the whole process. He’d sit for days in front of his computer and get nothing done until right before they were due. He put off a one-semester Health class until the final semester of high school. It was online. I got a phone call Memorial Weekend that he wasn’t going to be allowed to “walk” because he never completed the course. I told the counselor that he had been named Valedictorian and was giving a speech.

“That is odd,” she said.”We’ve never encountered this before.”

They agreed to unlock the entire class and let him finish it that weekend, so he could graduate and be on stage to give his speech. Apparently, they only unlocked one unit of the class at a time, and he had to hunt down the teacher when he was ready for another unit, which was a hassle, he said.

I’m shaking my head at the memory. But at least he came by his procratsination honestly.

Do you have issues with procrastination? On what types of things? Any tips to overcome procrastination?

My valedictorian son giving speech.
My son during his graduation speech.

Can you work from home with kids?

newborn baby being held by toddler brother
My newborn daughter with big brother.

I wrote this post July 2019. It’s interesting to look back on after COVID forced many parents to work from home while raising kids in 2020.

When I started my Public Relations business, it was June. By July, I discovered I was pregnant. I did pretty good balancing work and life until my firstborn became mobile. Once he was crawling and spitting up on my keyboard, work became challenging.

I saw an article in the Citizen Times, a USA network paper in North Carolina, called “Making it all work: Balancing parenting and working from home” by Marla Hardee Milling. She interviewed several families and asked how they worked from home with kids. I enjoyed reading their stories, because I had plenty of my own!

If you are a parent, working from home can rank as a blessing and a curse.

First up — the pros: creating a business at home allows you a flexible schedule. You don’t have to worry about a commute. You don’t have to keep a well-stocked wardrobe for daily appearances at an office (this means you can work in pajamas if you want to), and you may well find that you are more productive when you are working for yourself. 

But there are pitfalls. 

Interruptions can be aggravating. Neighbors and friends may think they can call at any moment because you’re at home. Kids often have the uncanny ability to need something right in the middle of a business call. And you may be surrounded by nagging reminders of things that need to be done at home — the stacked dishes, the pile of laundry, the accumulating clutter. 

So how do you strike a balance between being efficient running a home business and keeping your sanity? 

Juggling life and work

Stephanie Carol of Asheville works part-time from home, writing a sewing blog and a travel blog.

“I juggle work at home life with family life imperfectly,” she admits. “My biggest challenge is that I would prefer to work in long stretches of time, but with kids, it’s more like bits and pieces. The two solutions I’ve come up with or used in the past include one, swapping child care with friends so we each get a full or half day to ourselves while the other watches all of our kids, and two: trying to break down my tasks into small chunks so I can dive right back in and out of my list and stay organized.” 

It can be even more complicated when both parents telecommute from home. That’s the current lifestyle for Amy and John Saunders who live in Waynesville with their 3-year-old son. Amy’s parents own a highway construction company — A&P Services LLC in Brevard  and she serves as the vice president of operations. John is a software architect who works for a company in Chicago. 

John’s job is structured in a way that he is required to be at his computer from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. But his home office doesn’t have a door, so Amy has to be creative about keeping their son quiet.

“We leave every morning around 9 or 9:30 and then come home for lunch,” she explained. In the afternoon, she fits in work as she can while her son has some quiet playtime. Once her husband is off work, they have a family dinner at 6, go through the bedtime routine and then Amy can hammer out details of her job that she couldn’t get to during the day.  

“As the VP of operations, I do all the scheduling, billing, general project management — I handle everything except estimating and HR stuff,” she said. “As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter when it gets done.” 

When I worked from home I had two major problems: how to turn off work and how to get clients to understand that I couldn’t run over for a meeting at the drop of a hat. It was all about boundaries. I had clients who didn’t respect the hours I tried to set and would give me a project at 5 or 6 p.m. and expect it to be delivered the next morning, because “I worked from home.” When I was pregnant, I could make it to any meeting at any time. Once I had a child, it was a different story. I tried babysitters and nannies and would make set hours when I was available for meetings and appointments. Invariably, I worked on projects at home while the babysitter was there. As soon as she left, I’d get a call from a client to come over immediately.

Here’s how other families deal with childcare:

What can I put off?

Without close neighbors to rely on for babysitting, Amy and John care for their son almost 24/7 except for rare moments when the grandparents can step in. It’s a challenging schedule and can be stressful, but she says, “I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

What she is trying to change is her mindset that every work detail needs to be handled immediately. “If I get an email, I feel like I have to take care of it right away,” she said. “I’m learning that if I put something off until tomorrow, it’s probably going to be fine. Some things are time sensitive, but the majority of my job is not. I’m trying to find a balance.” 

Altamont Inspections is the business of Eddie and Angela Roberts, of Hendersonville. While Eddie is out making the inspections, Angela works from her home office to carry out all the details of running the business: scheduling, billing, troubleshooting, and setting priorities.

“I have a designated office space, so office work stays in the office,” Angela said. “I have set times to devote to work and I make a checklist each morning of the most important things to do.”

Having that list is crucial since they have two very active daughters — teens Anna and Emma — who are involved in band, gymnastics and other activities. “I always put family first,” she said. “If someone wants an inspection time that conflicts with my daughter’s band concert, I’ll offer them another day or time.”

She’s found it easier to keep separate email addresses and phone numbers for work and personal use, and she checks social media during her personal time. Angela also has learned to say “no” when she runs out of time.

“The PTO can find someone else to help with the dance decorations this time, but I’m happy to bring pre-packaged snacks,” she said as an example.  

Outside help

Her daughters are older now and more self-sufficient, but she also realizes the value of getting outside help to keep her household and business running smoothly.

“I hire help like a bi-weekly housekeeper, a lawn maintenance crew, and a caregiver to pick up the kids from school and help them with homework a couple of days a week,” she said. “I will also order groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered through Mother Earth Foods. A family dinner doesn’t have to be home cooked every night. I like to support local restaurants and order to-go or make a list of grocery stores that have weekly specials, like The Fresh Market changes their $20 ‘Little Big Meals’ that feed four each Tuesday and some Ingle’s delis have Friday steak nights.” 

With planning, dedication, and creative strategies, working from home can be a fruitful endeavor. And just think about all that traffic you don’t have to sit in day after day.

The final straw in my working from home was after I hired a full-time nanny. I watched as she raised my child. They splashed in the pool and walked to the park to play. Meanwhile, I sat at my desk jealous beyond belief. I quit the PR business and changed my work. Instead or writing press releases and newsletters, I began writing for magazines, newspapers and drafting novels and children’s stories. I squeezed my work in between raising my kids. I made way less money, but I have no regrets.

IMG_3419
Now there’s just me, my husband and the cat working from home.

Have you tried working from home? How do you juggle parenting with your job?

And I was so excited….

Mother daughter at Pike Place Market Seattle
Me and my daughter at Pike Place Market during a mother daughter trip before COVID.

Today I had an appointment for a pedicure. The first one since January 2020. I really didn’t miss them that much during lockdown. I wouldn’t have bothered. But, we’re going to be visiting friends soon at Lake Tahoe and hang out at their house on the deck with lake views. We may be out on their boat and swimming. My feet and toes will be exposed for the world to see.

Yesterday when I went grocery shopping, I noticed a nail salon a few doors down. I stopped in and made an appointment for today. I left the salon with a big smile on my face. A pedicure seemed luxurious. It was something I took for granted in my pre COVID life. My daughter and I would often go together. It was quality mother daughter time, sitting side by side, being pampered, chatting and readings books. I was looking forward to my appointment today.

Fast forward to today and I set an alarm on my iphone so I wouldn’t get busy and miss the appointment. While I was sitting in the pedicure chair, my daughter called. She was very upset and had gotten in a fight with her dad (my husband). I explained where I was and that I couldn’t talk, but I could listen. She was sobbing and I didn’t want to hang up on her. Then I got a text from my husband.

At the same time, my left big toe really hurt. It was painful at every touch and especially during the massage.

Needless to say it wasn’t the peaceful “me time” I had looked forward too. I had quite a lot to say to my husband when I got home. He’s the type that has to “win.” I told him he needs to work on listening to his daughter. He doesn’t need to give advice. He doesn’t need to tell her what to do. He just needs to be there, be quiet and let her talk. He did listen to me and finally agreed.

Then I looked down at my pretty bright pink toes. There’s something awfully wrong.

swollen toe after pedicure
My left big toe that hurt to the touch is swollen!

Next time I’ll skip the pedicure and try something else like reading a book on the sofa. I’ve noticed this toe hurting during my 10,000 steps each day and when I push off the walls swimming. Ugh.

What are your ideas of quality “me time?” I need some new ideas.

The Power of “Not Yet”

charlift rides in the summer
Hanging out with my daughter in Deer Valley, UT.

My daughter shared a TED Talk with me yesterday about “The power of believing you can improve” by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I’ve read Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” and am a fan.

In the seven-minute Ted Talk, Dweck explains the word “Yet.” At a high school in Chicago, if kids failed a class, instead of getting an “F” they got a grade of “Not Yet.” Instead of feeling like they were a failure and shutting down, they learned they could improve and they tried harder. Dweck explained, “Not yet opens up a path into the future that creates greater persistence.”

Dweck said people with growth mindsets are open to challenges, they learn from their mistakes and they can actually get smarter. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset are influenced by judgement of the moment. They are stuck in the tyranny of “now.” They tend to run from difficulties.

In studies, she offered tests that were above the children’s level of ability. The kids with a growth mindset were up to the challenge and excited, even when they did poorly. After failing the test, the fixed mindset kids said next time they would cheat or they looked for someone who did worse than they did.

My daughter thought I’d find this Ted Talk useful for writing a SwimSwam parenting tip. Dweck offered one gem to parents on how to raise kids with a growth mindset. She said to “Praise wisely.” Never compliment our children on their natural talent or intelligence. Instead, praise their effort, hard work, perseverance, etc. Don’t praise the outcome. Dweck called it “Process Praise.”

Every time our kids push out of their comfort zones to try something new and hard, the neurons in their brains form new and stronger connections. I think this is true for us older people, too. It’s important to stretch and do something new and challenging.

What have you done to push out of your routines and take on a new challenge? How did it make you feel afterwards?

Have you heard about the imposter syndrome?

I notice when phrases and terminology trend or get popular. Can you say overused? These terms jump out at me because I’m interested in words and phrases. I’ve run across “imposter syndrome” several times the past few days. What is the imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/imposter-syndrome#signs
young blond boy at the beach
My son at the beach prior to 9/11 and 2008.

Here’s an article about the Imposter Syndrome millennials and how they are insecure about their finances in the Wall Street Journal By Julia Carpenter:

“I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to managing my money.” 

“I just know I’m going to screw this all up eventually anyway.”

“I don’t deserve to be earning/saving/spending as much as I am.”  

These are some of the thoughts that run through my head whenever I open my banking app or check my credit score—me, a personal-finance reporter at The Wall Street Journal. My confidence in my job and my confidence in my own finances are two different things. And I’m not alone in feeling insecure about managing my own money.

As we discuss career trajectories and feelings of social belonging, many in my millennial generation are familiar with “impostor syndrome,” the phenomenon of doubting your own hard-won success and feeling like a fraud in certain spaces. This kind of self-destructive thought pattern can also infiltrate our feelings about our finances—and all too often does for millennials.

One source of many millennials’ insecurity is the scars of the 2008 recession, says Maggie Germano, a financial coach based in Washington, D.C. At that point, millennials were either early in their careers or still in school, so they had little or nothing in the way of reassuring experiences to fall back on. More than a decade—and another recession—later, many are still hesitant to claim their newfound success.  

“They always feel things will fall apart financially,” Ms. Germano says. “I have clients who make really good money but then still worry about losing everything.” 

This fear means you can have a harder time making tough money calls or trusting your own decision making. I feel this in my own life: I often agonize over seemingly simple financial moves and constantly second-guess my own instincts. 

On top of that, the widening gap between those who could sustain their financial stability in the pandemic and those who couldn’t can lead to greater feelings of financial impostor syndrome, Ms. Germano says. Financial survivor’s guilt is a common phenomenon in the coronavirus pandemic and can lead those who have done well to question whether they deserve to be so fortunate.

I’ve talked to my kids and they say 9/11 and the 2008 market crash really marked them for life. I’m not sure if they are suffer from the imposter syndrome but those two events make them very unsure of their financial futures.

Add this crazy 2020 global pandemic and I am frightened for them and their distrust of everything we took for granted as the American Dream. They reject the system that we took for granted growing up.

I believe the insecurity of not only the the major crisis my kids have lived through has shaped their lives and their politics. They don’t believe in the same things i do. They don’t believe in either party.

I wonder If their lives hadn’t been touched by such extreme events would they have different outlooks today?

My husband rejects the notion that our kids have had it rough because of 9/11, 2008 market crash and COVID-19. He pointed out wars like the Civil War, World War I and II, and Vietnam. The 1932 stock market crash. There are all sorts of tough times in our nation’s history. Maybe this feels different because I’ve lived through it. And my kids have too.

baby girl at the beach
My daughter at Laguna Beach before life was traumatic.

Do you experience the Imposter Syndrome? In what situations?

Do you know people who suffer from the Imposter syndrome? Who are they?

Do you think our kids lives have been altered by 9/11 and COVID 19?

What other phrases or terms have you heard lately?

Are we all equally gifted in math?

There’s a Facebook group I joined prior to our move called “Leaving California.” I think they have more than 50,000 members. I found the group helpful to learn from other people, what movers they hired, where they were moving to and why. Today I clicked on it out of habit and found an article called “In the Name of Equity, California Will Discourage Students Who Are Gifted at Math” by Robby Soave. The sub head states: “The new framework aims to keep everyone learning at the same level for as long as possible.” It’s from the website Reason, which until this morning I’ve never seen.

college graduate with pug wearing mortar boards
My daughter and Waffles at her college graduation.

Here’s an excerpt:

“California’s Department of Education is working on a new framework for K-12 mathematics that discourages gifted students from enrolling in accelerated classes that study advanced concepts like calculus.

“The draft of the framework is hundreds of pages long and covers a wide range of topics. But its overriding concern is inequity. The department is worried that too many students are sorted into different math tracks based on their natural abilities, which leads some to take calculus by their senior year of high school while others don’t make it past basic algebra. The department’s solution is to prohibit any sorting until high school, keeping gifted kids in the same classrooms as their less mathematically inclined peers until at least grade nine.

“The inequity of mathematics tracking in California can be undone through a coordinated approach in grades 6–12,” reads a January 2021 draft of the framework. “In summary, middle-school students are best served in heterogeneous classes.”

I understand that putting kids on certain tracks may have unintended consequences like getting stuck with fewer opportunities to learn. I do know that kids develop individually at different rates and sometimes someone may be slow in one subject only to have it click later on. However, I really disagree with this following paragraph:

“All students deserve powerful mathematics; we reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” reads a bulletpoint in chapter one of the framework. “The belief that ‘I treat everyone the same’ is insufficient: Active efforts in mathematics teaching are required in order to counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities.”

My issue is the rejection of natural gifts and talents. As someone who wasn’t a whiz kid at math, I recognized kids with more talent. My son and daughter for example are both better at math and took more advanced classes than I did. I wasn’t horrible but I struggled in Physics and Trig.

The author of the article agrees with me and suggests more choice of more subjects as an answer:

“This approach is very bad. Contrary to what this guidance seems to suggest, math is not the end-all and be-all—and it’s certainly not something that all kids are equally capable of learning and enjoying. Some young people clearly excel at math, even at very early ages. Many schools offer advanced mathematics to a select group of students well before the high school level so that they can take calculus by their junior or senior year. It’s done this way for a reason: The students who like math (usually a minority) should have the opportunity to move on as rapidly as possible.”

For everyone else… well, advanced math just isn’t that important. It would be preferable for schools to offer students more choices, and offer them as early as possible. Teens who are eager readers should be able to study literature instead of math; young people who aren’t particularly adept at any academic discipline might pick up art, music, computers, or even trade skills. (Coding doesn’t need to be mandatory, but it could be an option.)

If equity in Math is the new standard of our public schools, I have some questions.

Do we recognize natural talent in athletics? Or does everyone get to make the varsity team?

Do you think students who are gifted in a subject should be held to the level of the entire class?

Should there be gifted classes? Should kids skip grades? What will be the end result of keeping everyone the same?

Does everyone need calculus and advanced math classes to be successful? Why or why not?