Sunday, June 20, 2010

Living by the clock: a daily schedule for a single mom of two

As I have said, I am a single mother. My oldest, a 3 year old boy, Bug, and Ladybug, who is currently 7 weeks old.
I am a solo parent, which means the other parent isn't involved at all. There are no weekends with dad or a couple days a week, or anything like that. It's all me.
If a child wants held, the arms are mine. If a child wants heard, the ears are mine. If a child is hungry or thirsty, I'm the one in the kitchen. If a child needs a butt wiped, my nose is the one wrinkling.
It also means that if I want to go shopping, I'm taking two kids with me. So, I don't go to the store to buy cloths. I haven't been in a movie theater since Juno came out. I seldom go out to eat unless someone else is with us to help with the kids.
My biggest pet peeve is when non-single parents (particularly stay-at-home moms) say they FEEL like single parents cuz the other one isn't very involved... I say, if you have an extra pair of hands to hold the baby for five minutes, or someone who can carry in groceries while you take care of fussy kids, IT DOESN'T COUNT!

So, what does a day in the life of a single, working mother look like?

6:45 a.m. - I wake up. I make bug his oatmeal and myself oatmeal. I prep the breast pump.
7:00 a.m. - I wake up bug and get him eating. I pump and eat.
7:15 a.m. - I put my dishes away and clean off the breast pump. I prepare bug's toothbrush and get into the shower.
7:30 a.m. - I get out of the shower. If bug hasn't brushed his teeth yet, I remind him to do so. I remind bug to put away his dishes.
7:40 a.m. - I get dressed except my shirt. I remind bug of all the things he needs to do, including getting his clothes out and getting dressed.
7:45 a.m. - I comb my hair and put it up. I moisturize and remind bug to get dressed.
7:50 a.m. - I get my make-up on and remind bug to finish getting dressed.
7:55 a.m. - I get my shirt on and tell bug to get socks and shoes on.
8:00 a.m. - I get ladybug changed, dressed and fed.
8:15 a.m. - I get shoes on and pack up the breast pump.
8:20 a.m. - I put on the mei tai and put ladybug in it. I make sure bug is ready to go and we head out the door.
8:30 a.m. - Drop off bug at his daycare. Drive to ladybug's daycare.
8:40 a.m. - Drop off ladybug.
8:50 a.m. - Head to work.
5:10 p.m. - Leave work.
5:20 p.m. - Pick up ladybug from her daycare.
5:30 p.m. - Pick up bug from his daycare. Struggle with him and talk to the daycare provider.
6:00 p.m. - Get home. Drop ladybug off on the bed, check her diaper and feed her.
6:15 p.m. - Drop ladybug in the bouncy chair, check the calendar and make the planned meal.
6:30 p.m. - Eat while feeding ladybug.
7:00 p.m. - Put dishes away. Wrestle bug into the bath.
7:15 p.m. - Feed ladybug.
8:00 p.m. - Get bug out of the bath and into pj's. Read books.
9:00 p.m. - Bug is in bed, ladybug is being fed.
9:30 p.m. - Bug is asleep, ladybug is asleep. I get up to finish my work for the day.
11:30 p.m. - I get to go to bed... maybe.

This is approximate times since either child reserves the right to mess up the schedule as they see fit. This is also a typical day, not counting Gramma days, when gramma takes bug for the afternoon. It also doesn't count days when we go out to eat with the grandparents. And weekends are a whole 'nother story.
On an interesting note, people recommend scheduling for parents cuz then the kids learn what to expect each day... this "knowing" takes years... bug still fights and questions every action every day.

Well, it's 1 a.m. and I'm still not in bed... :D

Thursday, June 10, 2010

English as a Second Language

I frequently comment on how surely I must speak Russian, or Czechoslovakian (which I've been told is not actually a language, making it much more ironic). It is never more true then when the topic is the raising of my children and the listener is a caregiver to said children. Females are the worst about it. It's just in one ear and out the other.

corn syrup, sugar, modified food starch, dextrose, water, pork-skin gelatin, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavor, natural flavor and blue #1

This is the ingredients list for Marshmallows, in basic white, large and mini. I think maybe the healthiest ingredient in that list is water... and you know that isn't much. (Does the pork-skin gelatin count as a "meat"?? I don't think so.)

Because of this, it seems pretty obvious that, when I say bug is not to have candy, that this would be top of the list. And yet, he is given this treat EVERY TIME he visits.

I'm presuming that the "why" of this is because he likes marshmallows.

My response as a loving mother is, so what?

He LIKES running into the street. He LIKES playing in the kitchen while I'm cooking. I'm sure he'd find it a grand old time jumping off the balcony. Yet, I don't allow these things.

Bug also LIKES staying up too late playing video games. He LIKES not taking a bath. He LIKES to pick up his newborn baby sister. Again... not going to happen.

So, what is so special about his snack choices?

Let's play Devil's Advocate. Why shouldn't he have marshmallows? It's not like a mouthful of chemically-modified sugar is going to kill him, right?

The sad thing is, it COULD kill him... just not immediately or directly. HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) has now been shown to create obesity far more then the calories alone can account for. Since the creation of HFCS, obesity levels have skyrocketed and childhood obesity has gone from virtually non-existent to affecting even toddlers and preschoolers. This could lead to a lifetime of cardiac and respiratory disease, including a loss of years of life expectancy.

These things have been proven over and over, yet we bribe and stuff our children with candies laden with HFCS, when even bread and pasta sauce contain more than enough to create a lasting effect.

So, when I decided to severely limit my son's consumption, it was based on research and proven fact, on informed decision-making. Unfortunately, since I made my declaration in some foreign language, it was completely ignored in favor of my son's "I want."

Perhaps the hardest part is understanding how a parent is so easily subverted by the child. How often do we justify and excuse ignoring or modifying decisions made in the child's best interests in favor of pleasing the child? To what end?

Then we wonder why children so often think that misbehaving or pleading will lead us to cave in... maybe because we teach them that it works! We teach them that we will renege on anything we state as being rules or boundaries.

Anyone involved in the raising or care of children must remember to always speak the same language.