I know, it’s hard to believe we are well into year 2 of this shit. Parents have reached a breaking point: my daycare sends my girls home what feels like every week due to a COVID exposure or 2+ more symptoms of COVID, I scramble to get them a test (spoiler alert: there are none) because at home tests aren’t accepted. Drive them around to get tested, plus all the general parenting leaves little time for the job I actually get paid to do. Something’s got to give at some point: this survival mode status we are in seems oddly familiar to a year ago. But we have a year’s worth of experience to lean on.
Some Tips to Cope, From One Working Mama:
1 - Netflix is your parent now. You can’t be the perfect parent, and stop following that friend on Facebook who seems to be. She has a different life, different circumstances than you. These times are not for judgement. Bring on the screentime when you need a break, veggie pouches when you can’t bring yourself to cook a fresh meal (they won’t eat it anyway), and do whatever else you need to do to survive quarantine #4. This is not forever, and you need to take those breaks when you can.
2 - Lean on your support system. I would start with your partner first: the other day, I flipped out and told my husband it was HIS turn to take a day off of work (he works out of the home, I work from home so childcare duties fall to me). Things were building up at work and I couldn’t take it anymore. He did it. Our partners want to help, we don’t need to take everything on. Then look outside your home: do the grandparents want to take your kids for a sleepover? Is your neighbor home from college break and can watch the kids while you work? Ideally everyone is testing and it is safe, but ask some one for help and take the damn break already.
3 - Time for you. Which brings me to my last point: it may sound like something falling off your priority list, but look back at what brings you joy and fills your cup. Yes you can’t go to that exercise class or can’t necessarily go to the office and meet up for drinks with your coworkers right now, but what hobbies do you have? What can you create? How can you move your body? I try to take on-demand barre workouts during the week (the kids join in if they are home), read before bed and crochet in those precious nap time moments or on a weekend when he kids are occupied. Having that time brings me back to my family renewed. And while work may not always feel “renewing,” I like to work. I like the challenge and my identity is not just “mom.” I worked before kids and I’ll be damned if I stop working all together after them.
Conclusion: Hang in there, MamaI hope living through this makes us come out as stronger parents on the other end. We’ve lived through the worst and will make the most of the remaining years of our kids’ childhood. I’m looking forward to the travel and vacations we will take one day, ideally someplace warm. In the meantime, I’m taking it one day at a time. Things that used to stress me out at work pale into comparison to the daily stress the pandemic has dished out - and I’m taking it as a valuable change in perspective. For you, working mom, I hope you will hang in there. Do whatever you can to keep that job, keep advancing in your career, and investing in yourself and your ambitions. Don’t give up: we already know we are superheroes, but let’s really show the world what moms are made of.
While one could argue Mom is always a pillar in her family, we are heading into the throes of what I consider to be the throes of “Mom as the Pillar” season. You know, the time where moms have to rise to the occasion, create the magic and be all the things: the family backbone, the nurturer, (if you are a working mom) provider, mediator, etc. The holidays often challenge us to step into all of these roles as best we can, even though it may be outside our comfort zone. But come January, we often learn how capable we are.
There are a few things I wanted to highlight that I hope you consider as we head into November:
In this last 8 weeks or so of the year, jot down some personal and professional thoughts - these may make some good fodder for those fast-approaching New Year’s resolutions:
I don't know about you, but my lesson(s) in financial literacy came about when I was staring down about $100k in student loan debt after college graduation. Sure I understood the concept of money, saving it, and had a rough idea about budgeting: but no one really sat me down to take me through it.
I made a deliberate decision to teach my kids about money. With my oldest just turning 5, I started looking into ways we could start having age-appropriate conversations about it.
Here's what I have so far, and some things I'm going to be trying out this year. And if you have a daughter and are set on empowering the next generation of women (aka, your daughters) with financial literacy, save this list!
1. Reimagine the piggy bank. My daughter is already obsessed with coins, and she likes putting them into a little ceramic swan bank. This Christmas, one of my gifts was a cool coin-sorting gadget that helps you organize your coins and wrap them. Not only is this fun + cool to watch, but she will start to learn about the different coins and is old enough to help me wrap and sort them - which brings us to our next point.
2. Field trips. My husband already brings our daughter on errands to the grocery store or Home Depot, and while we can talk about money there, ("we need to pay for this with money,") we can also take a fun trip to the bank with the newly rolled coins that she can exchange for dollars, or put into her savings account. We can talk about what we are doing with the bank teller, she can hand over her money and see how her coins could be made into something bigger that she could buy something with on our next run to the store.
3. Start with an allowance. She has started wanting to help out around the house, especially with her little sister. While my ultimate goal is to get her to pick up after herself (!) we have already started with setting the table, emptying the dishwasher and putting dishes away, and even helping her sister in the bath. This year, I'm going to start giving an allowance for easy things she can do around the house - likely in coins too.
4. Using their own money. It's so tempting (and fun!) to just buy them everything they want, or didn't even know that they wanted for holidays and birthdays. But as they are growing their money and start asking for toys that they want, it's a great learning opportunity to bring them to the toy store (have them bring their money) and pick something out to buy, or that they want and can't afford yet. You can then explain how they can earn more money, or offer to buy the basic level while they earn the difference for the most complex.
5. Watch Mama work. One of the things I'm constantly doing and saying is that Mama needs to go to work today, Mama works to make money, Mama is going to work at the office on the train, etc. She also sees me working on my computer if she's home sick - and one day I hope to bring her to my office so she can see Mama in action. I want her to understand that I am working and contributing to making the money we need to live in our home, buy our food and clothes. I also manage our household budget and pay our bills, which I'll share with her when the time comes.
Do you have any tips for raising your daughters to be comfortable talking about money? Please let me know!
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