Real Housewives of E2S: 11:04 am

RHoE2S 1104 am

When you’ve all been sick for several days, Daddy is out of town, your back-up friends are also sick with chest colds or fevers, and you’re out of bread, milk, and fruit, you order Panera from DoorDash.  Best $27.17 I’ve spent in ages.

Posted in Real Housewives of E2S | Leave a comment

The Real Housewives of E2S Project

Happy October!  This month on the blog, Anna and I are going to do something a little different.  Lately we’ve both had many encounters with people who seem to think that staying home with and homeschooling several little people requires us to be some brand of supermom that is unreachable by normal women.  But we’re here to tell you that we’re real housewives, just like most of you.  And the prospect of packing and moving a house while dealing with health issues and homeschooling and potty training is enough to occupy anyone without trying to write coherent blog posts.  So this month, we’re going to just show you snapshots from our lives, literally.  A picture, the time it was taken, and maybe an explanatory sentence.  We hope it will encourage you that we have tough days, too.  We hope we can counter some of the crazy unrealistic messages that mommy bloggers are communicating to new moms.  We don’t need to create artificial drama for a reality tv show, because the drama of our real lives is quite enough to keep us busy!

With that, here’s today’s real housewives snapshot, taken in my minivan.

4:32 pm: Trying an old-school way to get the mystery stink out of the car…

432 pm

Posted in Real Housewives of E2S | 1 Comment

How the Childcare Economy Undervalues Children

We’ve talked about daycare and how it is bad for children.  So why do I care how other mothers choose to raise their children?  Today I want to talk a little about how the treatment of childcare as a commodity rather than a calling has devalued children and impacted the way even stay-at-home moms look at their motherhood.

If you’re surrounded by working mom friends, as I am, you usually find yourself at toddler birthday parties standing a little off to the side as they discuss daycare situations.  Yes, I know that most working moms like to think that they’re picking the daycare based on who is nicest to their children, but when I hear them talking to each other, it’s always about the price.  Comparing notes, figuring fees, suggesting the other move her kids to X school because it’s $100/less a month.  And as Anna has pointed out, the cheapest daycares are horrible places to be.  Yet money is the determining factor, because kids are resilient.  It’s always amazing to me when I discuss preschool with working moms that they know so little about what their children are doing there all day.  I asked a working mom friend what curriculum they used at her son’s Christian preschool, and she had no idea, but she could tell me how much it cost a week!  I remember talking to another working mom about our decision to homeschool my son after doing preschool at home and that I knew his temperament was such that the classical model would really work with him.  The other mom looked at me and said, “Wow, I can’t believe you know that about your kid.  I would have no idea what learning style fits mine.”  I knew because I’d spent the last 5 years studying my son; she had no idea because her daughter had spent the last 4 years in daycare 60 hours a week.  I know these are just anecdotes, and there are probably many moms who are much more tuned in to what their kids do in childcare all day, but the reality is that when daycare costs more than college, parents who choose to put their children there rather than raise them themselves have to find a balance of positive environment and affordability.  For all but the wealthiest moms, cheapness has to factor in, or they couldn’t afford to work.  Or I hear dads explain why their wives are taking on new jobs just as the baby is born: “She’s going to make more than the two of us combined do right now!”  When you make life decisions based on earning potential, you’re going to end up making childcare decisions based on a financial bottom line, too.

Sadly, since daycare prices seem to be the baseline, the moderately more tolerable alternative of hiring a nanny suffers from the same childcare-as-commodity mindset. Recently a friend of mine, seasoned homeschooling mother of three grown children and grandmother of several, was asked by a couple in her church to nanny their new baby while the mom went back to work.  Although my friend is a firm supporter of stay-at-home motherhood, she considered taking the job to supplement her husband’s income…until she found out that they wanted to pay her five dollars an hour.  Not only was that offer insulting (my friend makes four times that much doing ESL tutoring, a part-time job she loves), but it was illegal, a fact this Christian couple ignored in their efforts to save money.  We can talk elsewhere about the minimum wage in general, but as long as it is in place, it is our duty to be good citizens and uphold the law of the land.  What kind of example is this couple setting for their daughter?  Oh honey, you were not worth paying an expert to care for you, so we found someone else willing to break the law and watch you for less. The woman who ended up becoming the nanny was a stay-at-home mom who clearly had bought into this mindset that her time and expertise were not worth even a legal level of remuneration.

What’s most tragic for me is watching the generation of stay-at-home moms who knew better buying in to their daughter’s desire for free or cheap childcare, totally ignoring the value of the work they themselves did in raising children.  A grandma I know recently told me that her daughter had had to move her son to daycare because the sweet little lady from church who had been his nanny was charging ten dollars an hour!  I looked at her quizzically and said, “The teenagers around me charge $15/hr for one-off work.  That’s a really good deal for an experienced caregiver who is not only watching your grandson, but probably giving him a spiritual grounding, too.”  Oh, the grandma insisted, but usually when you have more hours, you get some sort of discount, like $40 a day or something.  It’s not fair to charge that much 40 hours a week because they can’t afford it!  I thought, but did not say, Does your daughter think her employer deserves a discount for her services since she works for them full-time and not just a couple hours a week?  Does she think it is unfair to ask to be paid what her work is worth for every hour that she works for them?  The mom in question got her degree in math and does statistical analysis for her employer, so she’s good at crunching numbers.  She and her husband  love Jesus and want to serve Him–in fact, their wedding was one of the most inspiring I have attended.  But when it comes to who is caring for their children 40+ hours a week, they’ve decided that the bottom line is financial, not spiritual.  They don’t want the most qualified non-family member raising their son; they want the best bang for their buck.  What saddened me the most about the whole scenario was that the grandma in question had been a stay-at-home mom!  Where between my friend’s upbringing and becoming a mother herself did she and her mother reject the values that made her the woman she is today?  How did they decide that the next generation did not deserve the same degree of care?  Why was the grandma going along with her daughter to undervalue the worth of a Christian homemaker willing to put the rest of her life on hold to raise her grandson?  How tragic that this amazing woman was willing to sell her own vocation of 18 years short rather than communicate to her daughter that the work of raising a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is priceless.

It’s no wonder that once we think child-raising is something we can buy and sell, those of us who do it for love, not money, will not be respected.  When my upper-middle-class working mom friends shop around for the cheapest daycare option or cheat their nannies out of a fair wage, their actions affect not only their children, but the whole culture as well.  And a culture that values money above children is doomed.

Posted in Daycare, Having It All | Leave a comment

Children vs. Convenience

You all know about uber, right?  It’s a sort of taxi service in which you can call up drivers via a smartphone app to pick you up and drive you places.  Well, apparently there are now uber-type options for children.  Parents who can’t or won’t arrange their work schedules in order to pick their kids up from daycare, school, or sports practice can now book complete strangers to come pick up their children and shuttle them to their next activity, all for the low, low price of $12 plus mileage (in San Francisco) or $20 (in Los Angeles).  Nothing says convenience like leaning in at work while strangers drive your children around!  Working moms can now breathe easy and stay at the office, knowing that they don’t have to make the effort to be there for their kids at the end of a long day at school and aftercare!  Strangers have got your back (for a fee)!  Of course, you have to be making enough that paying $20 and up (multiple kids are more) to have a stranger get your kids home from school is no financial burden.  If you’re making six figures, however, you now have one more inconvenient aspect of parenthood taken care of.  (Never mind that if you can afford to spend that kind of money, you probably don’t have to be working to make ends meet, in the first place–this “solution” isn’t for moms who are literally working to keep food on the table.)  You really can have it all, by paying strangers to do yet another parenting task for you!

My working mom friends who brought these brilliant start-ups to my attention sadly admitted they can’t afford to use them on a regular basis–they’ll have to stick with juggling work times with their husbands or coordinating carpools with other mothers they’ve actually met and personally vetted to pick up their precious children.  Lest you think I just don’t get the appeal, let me reassure you.  Is picking kids up from school a challenge for people who work until five?  Yes.  Are kids likely to be raped, kidnapped, or murdered by these (allegedly screened) strangers driving them home?  No.  (I often walked a mile and a half home from junior high school with no adult supervision, and Anna’s family and mine are very sympathetic to the Free Range Kids movement.)  So why does this whole idea get me so riled up?

The deeper issue that concerns me in these sorts of helping-you-have-it-all businesses is how modern parents want to make having children convenient and easy.  Except children and full-time careers don’t work together easily Children have needs all day, every day, for years and years.  Here at E2S, we advocate for moms staying home with their kids in those precious first few years, before they go off to school.  Not everyone will feel the call Anna and I do to homeschool, and once their kids are all in school, the 8-3 hours are indeed more free for career, volunteering, or hobbies.  But as kids grow older, they’re not really less time-intensive. Between soccer, ballet, and swimming for my four kids eight and under, I already have kid-related activities nearly every day this fall.  And we are a less-is-more family when it comes to extracurriculars–most working parents I know have their kids in even more activities, because they’re terrified of being home alone with bored kids, driving each other crazy.  As our kids grow older, I won’t be planning outings around naps, but I will probably be planning dinner around sports practices and piano lessons for the next couple of decades.  Kids are not particularly convenient, not now, not ever.  We don’t have kids because they’re convenient.  If your priorities are such that you don’t want to be the one picking your child up from school and asking about her day, then, indeed, HopSkipDrive is for you.  If you don’t have any interest in watching your son’s soccer practice, then sure, download the app, book a stranger to take him there, and add it to the extremely high cost of having children when you don’t do much of the work of raising them yourself.  What we do as parents is so much more than shuttling our kids to and from activities, but when you’re not even doing that, how much parenting are you actually doing?  As appealing as all these convenient solutions to modern parenting problems may be, I’m still going to advocate that you spend as much face time (not just Facetime!) with your kids as possible each day.  It is worth the inconvenience.

Posted in Having It All | Leave a comment
  • banner sidebar
  • favorite books
  • When you search Amazon through our site or buy through the affiliate links in our posts, you're helping us cover the cost of maintaining this blog. Thank you!
  • banner sidebar
  • subscribe

Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark.