Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Mitt Romney won Washington state’s caucuses this past Saturday. Expect an open thread tomorrow for Super Tuesday, which will be scheduled for 1 p.m. PT/ 4 p.m. ET. Gloria’s thread will run at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET. There are 10 states voting in the Republican primary tomorrow so that is not to be missed!

This piece of news came out a little over a month ago, but it’s still relevant: researchers at Ohio State University found that 10 percent of students on college campuses are hosting a party on any given weekend and they are more likely to drink the heaviest and engage in risky behavior over students attending the bash. I remember some high-profile alcohol-related deaths on college campuses in the Boston area when I was a student. I know it is something I will definitely talk to my kids about…

Loved this observation made by Daily Kos’s teacherken on how harried his students’ parents are juggling work and children in a country that offers no universal healthcare, preschool, paid family leave or social safety net. It was a rebuttal to a news article about how fabulous Parisian parents are. Amen.

In somewhat related news, Parents magazine published an article on how to find a job to do from home. Equally useful, IMHO, were the comments, in which work-at-home moms said they still needed childcare and/or found working from home to be difficult. I agree. Working at home allows flexibility as to when to work, but it can be easy to let work take over your life as work and the household chores are right there and work-out-of-home spouses expect you to pick up the slack when a child gets sick or there is a school event — since you are home. I, for one, hope this changes as more companies adopt telecommuting.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Blogalicious Day 2

Editor’s Note: It is embarrassing how long it’s taken me to publish some happenings from Blogalicious. But there’s been so much in the news lately! -Elisa

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Despite the bottle of sparkling wine my friend Aparna and I polished the night before, I slept great. I got at least eight hours of sleep and did not wake up until 8 a.m., a minute before the alarm on my cell phone was due to ring. Heaven!

Aparna’s husband, Jon, was very sweet and took me to the Gaylord Convention Center, where Blogalicious was taking place. I manned the Moms Clean Air Force booth for two hours. It was great to see so many women signing up for a good cause, which makes my life as an advocate so much easier.

There wasn’t a huge exhibit hall, but big-name brands did show up like McDonald’s, Gain detergent, Aunt Jemima, the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen For the Cure. I stopped by a game booth to look for some swag for my kids, and ended up getting sucked into a game – and taking one home to review.

I played the adult version of Say Anything (pictured on right). The best way to describe it is an open-ended Apples to Apples. We had a cardboard washboard and markers to write answers to a question asked by a judge. They were questions like, “If I were of the opposite sex what do you think I’d do?” Or, “Who do I think is the most overrated band?” Of course, it helps to know the judge really well!

The adult with the most points at the end for either writing down the judge’s preferred answer, or selecting the judge’s favorite answer by leveraging chips — another difference from Apples to Apples — wins. It was fun.

I picked up the kids version for Ari. Thank you, North Star Games, for the gift! They can be followed on Facebook here.

Later in the day, I attended a work-life balance session called “How Stella Got Her Balance Back.“ It was led by Jessica Smith from the consulting firm Plum District and Jeannette Kaplun, the editor at the Spanish-language TodoBebé blog, who is pictured, from left to right, blogger and consultant Ana Flores, myself, and Jeannette:


While I have worked in this space for some time, I still learned so much. At the beginning of the conversation, Jeannette asked how many of us were married, had children and had husbands who traveled. I was one of the women in the audience who raised her hand all three times.

Then she asked a poignant question: how many of our husbands upon returning from a trip went right to household chores or childcare? “If my husband has a red-eye, he goes to bed,” Jeannette said. “The kids jump on the bed, but he goes to sleep and doesn’t feel guilty about it.”

I found myself nodding at her point. Despite returning very late at night the night before – technically the morning – I still got up to pack school lunches and get my kids ready for school. I also took two very inconvenient flights because I wanted to spend as little time away from my family as possible. In all fairness, my husband does try to do the same, although his instincts upon returning home is not to do household chores or play with the kids. :) Why do we women do this to ourselves?

As a work-at-home mom, I also related to many of the challenges Jeannette expressed: having to establish regular work hours at home and educate people around me that I am working. I have had to turn down playdates during the day as well as cut personal phone calls short. And it is nearly impossible to get work done once the kids are home from school. Even when my husband is home, their instinct is to ask mami for help.

Which leads me to a question: WAHMs, what do your schedules look like? Right now, I think I have a good rhythm in that I largely work while my kids are in school, although sometimes work spills into the evenings and at least one morning or afternoon on the weekend. I’ve had to let Markos and the kids know that these are also work hours for me. Thankfully, they understand.

Later on at a party, I asked Jeannette why she did not mention our low-wage sisters who have even less flexibility than us. I want to assure you that Jeannette knows about this all too well, but for the purpose of this conference, she focused on bloggers who also had jobs, families or other commitments – and in her and my case, worked from home. I’d love to hear about your experiences in this area. Chat away!

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Saturday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Laurie Puhn at the Expecting Words blog wrote a thoughtful column on having boys and secretly wanting a girl. She made, what sounds like, a great book recommendation on raising boys.

This is disappointing: Virginia’s newly elected Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell just reinstated “Confederate History Month” for April 2010, according to the Washington Post. On the upside, both the Washington Post’s poll and its commenters deemed the move racist. Go WaPo readers!  

Hybrid Mom magazine doled out tips on how to manage your time when you work from home.

Here is yet another study I dug up, this one on trans fats, which are commonly found in fried and processed foods. According to an article on MSNBC, women with coronary heart disease who consume trans fats are three times more likely than other women to die of a heart attack.  

The number of babies born to teenagers has dropped 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the Washington Post. As the article pointed out, this is welcome news after two years of steady rises in the teen birth rate.

In related news, ABC News ran a profile on Bristol Palin, how she is handling teen motherhood and what is she doing on the advocacy front.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s 19th child is home from the hospital after being born three months early, according to Reality TV World.

This is a surprising and kind of sad celebrity split. Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy just ended their five-year relationship, according to People magazine.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Balancing Work and Children at Home

Here is a column many of us work-at-home moms can relate to. How do you juggle work and children when there is little to no childcare? From Parenting columnist Denene Millner:

I work from home, and I feel like I completely ignore my 16-month-old, even when she’s in the same room. How do I balance work and kid time?

It isn’t easy–I know from being a work-at-home mom. You’re juggling three jobs at once: the paying gig, caring for your baby, and caretaker of the house. And you feel like you’re not doing any of them effectively, especially the babycare. You have to trust you’re doing the best you can.

You can’t spend every second of the day with her, so don’t beat yourself up. Make the most of the time you do have together. I schedule a lunch break and a few 20-minute breaks during the day (just like office workers) so that my girls and I can do something together, whether it’s sharing a snack or drawing pictures.

When Lila was a baby, I hired a sitter to take her out for an hour every other day. I was amazed at what I could get done–and how less guilty I felt knowing that she was active and engaged. Guess what? Both of my kids are just fine–and confident that their mom works hard and loves them all the same.

For full disclosure, I do share a nanny four days a week with three other families — at varying time slots — for Eli. Otherwise, I could never get any writing done. I tried to write and take care of Ari at the same time, but after one crying bout during an interview —  I put him in his crib and shut the door, which left me feeling guilty and distracted — I decided it was best to have someone entertain the baby for me while I work.

Of course, this isn’t economically feasible for many families and I do feel like I have to hustle in a short amount of time to patch together what I feel is a respectable enough paycheck. During my frantic moments, I just want to throw up my hands and stay home full-time with the kids so I feel like I am excelling in at least one thing. And just to keep life simpler.

But it is much easier to juggle the two when the children are older as I have had to do this summer with Ari. I have scheduled playdates or headed over to the famous Tumble & Tea cafe to work while he entertains himself with the play structure. Then, there is always television as babysitter, although I really, really try to use this as a last resort. Speaking of mommy guilt…

How do you WAHMs budget your time?

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Working From Home

My husband and I are fans of working from home. We enjoy the flexibility it gives us, although in my husband’s case, he ends up working well over 40 hours a week as there is always an e-mail to check and phone call to field — from home. I shut down the computer at 5 p.m. and make it a point to really “be there” for the kids.

Surprisingly — or maybe not — as many as 53 percent of telecommuting workers spend less than three hours on work compared to eight hours in the office, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.com. Here is what they focus on rather than work:

Children — 22 percent
Personal calls and surfing the Internet — 17 percent
Vegging out: watching TV and/or sleeping — 15 percent
Personal errands — 11 percent
Housework — 9 percent

Still, there was no mention as to whether these employees were productive. Not all jobs require eight simultaneous hours of work a day. I remember filling a lot of my former work days with water-cooler talk and long lunches — not to mention commuting time that could have been used to work instead.

Being a mom, I have had to learn to manage my time to fit in writing and childcare. But this particular article offered advice as to how to stay motivated when working from home.

Do any of you work from home? How do you break up your time? Do you like the arrangement?

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