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My Four Thoughts on Working Part-Time

Posted August 21, 2014

A mother wrote me recently for advice on whether I thought a part-time return to work might be easier for her and her baby, than full-time. My first thought was that she was lucky to have that choice. These days, a family's financial dependence on dual incomes is well documented as is each individual's dedication to a career that may have been many years in the making. A majority of women return to their original job status (full-time) at the end of one year. Employment After Childbirth.

My second thought was about the increased level of emotional balance that working part-time might afford her and her family.  Having a parent at home part of the time, whether it be dad or mom, relieves the child of being awakened early for daycare timing or ending the day already tired from a late pick-up. It also affords the family a kind of buffer against the times when events or obligations spiral out of control - the person at home part-time during a particularly hectic week can pick up that slack, temporarily. A family member being sick or the start of the school year are two examples that come to mind.

My third thought was that the occasional complications that may come with a full-time nanny living in, could be avoided.  I know that many families love having a caregiver living in but I hear from many families who do not.  Issues like who is really in charge or what to do when the child reaches for mom when the nanny is there, or the nanny rocks the child to sleep in spite of parents' request not to? A part-time nanny or caregiving system may leave parents feeling more 'in charge' of the household - which increases the comfort level for everyone.

My fourth thought was one parent will be there more often to see developmental milestones and interpret these magic moments intimately, to the other parent.  He or she will also be there during the worst tantrums and may be able to 'see through' the behavior and rearrange circumstances through that understanding, as sometimes only a parent can.

From my own experience, I believe this is one of the hardest decisions a family makes.  Tag-team parenting is a complicated choice but one many families swear by.  Shift work parenting is another option families make use of but it too comes with some major complications. Each family does their absolute best toward providing good care for their babies, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers and middle schoolers. (Yes, it goes on and on...) Having someone home 'keeping the lights on' was taken for granted in the 1950's but that didn't always equate to the woman (majority of cases) feeling content in her role. 

When both parents need to or choose to return to full time work and for single parent families, I know much care and effort goes into finding the best possible caregiving arrangement available. Parents do their utmost to make these sometimes fragile arrangements work.  It helps enormously when grandparents or other family members are available to pinch-hit to lessen the strain.

I'm not sure what decision the woman who wrote to me made, in the end, or if I was even of help to her. Maybe you will write your comments on our facebook page, expressing what arrangements and decisions are working best for you and what your struggles are.  No family should be made to feel defensive about their choices.  We don't walk in each other's shoes.  We are all working to do our best for our children and for ourselves. 

 

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I Haven’t Had A Holiday!”

Posted July 27, 2014

Dear Kitty,

I would like to vent about something. I hope that's OK?

Here we are at the middle of the summer, and I don't feel like I've had a holiday! We've certainly gone lots of places, on trips, camping, and such, but everywhere we've been it seems like I still have to plan the meals, decide when the washing needs to be done, oversee the discipline and get up with one child or another during the night. It's not that my husband refuses, but I think the problem is that we both agree that he needs a break from his stressful job, but we never have sat down to realize that I need a break, too. Not only do I not feel I've had a break, but it's harder to keep to the normal routines during a holiday, which ends up making my job even more difficult than it is at home.

I wonder if I'm the only one who feels this way; could you or some other parents advise me on how to solve this problem? -tired mom
after "holiday"

Isn't it amazing how reality can fall short of one's expectations? I don't think you are alone with this problem, and it's easy to see how it happens, particularly if we remember that any holiday, no matter how well planned, will interrupt your's and your children's daily routines. Children depend on predictability and regularity. They sleep best in their own beds and benefit from regular bedtimes, naptimes and mealtimes. While getting away from the 'daily grind' of family life can sound exhilarating to parents, it may mean your children become more whiney, demanding and never seem satisfied no matter how many fun activities you plan.

Before you make your plans for next summer, I propose you arrange to have a chat together and negotiate around the following important points:

  • Which rituals, routines and rules are the most important for our children and how can we duplicate them in the holiday setting?
  • Would we like to trade off who gets to sleep in each morning? (the other parents is responsible for breakfast, activities and discipline until the arranged wake-up time)
  • Shall we trade off who shops for and prepares the supper meal every other night?
  • Can we arrange for each of us to have 'alone' time every other day for 2-3 hours while the other parent arranges for naps and activities?


Of course, I've written this with the things in mind that would allow me to look forward to a holiday; your needs and desires and therefore your negotiations may be different. The important thing is to plan ahead, make notes for the rest of this summer, and work together  for a jointly satisfactory time away.

Everyday Challenges Phone Package
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A perfect choice if you wish to speak to Kitty at length about devising sleep plan for your infant, baby, older child or twins.  This allows Kitty to learn about your child(ren), get a sense of your parenting style and tailor her suggestions to fit for your family.  Additional topics could be starting potty training, issues surrounding formula/breast feeding, discipline and picky eaters, etc.   $147.00


Tricky Challenges Phone Package
 
 60 minutes call plus 1-month email support (unlimited).
This package is ideal if you are absolutely dreading the idea of sleep training, or if you strongly believe, due to previous efforts, that nothing will work.  Also ideal for potty training gone awry or a child who refuses to poop on potty. Use this option if you struggle with unrelenting discipline or behavior issues with your child, with siblings or with twins.  Also tricky may be: high sensitivity issues with a child of any age, feelings of guilt or parental disagreement.   $247.00

Booster Phone Package     (30 minutes)    

         If you’ve already spoken to Kitty on a topic or have recently attended a seminar, this package may be perfect for you.  A shorter call to do a bit of tweaking of a parenting technique you already learned from Kitty. $50.00

Short email question    $35.00
    Use this option to clarify a point or ask a forgotten question from previous contact with Kitty. Short question requiring a short answer.


Deluxe email question  $80.00
    This is a favorite choice for parents whose baby or toddler isn’t sleeping well.  (E.g. needs help falling asleep, wakes up in the night, comes out of his room or has problems napping.)   This option may also be used for advice on when/how to start potty training, on discipline, sibling issues, etc.

SLEEP CLASS WITH KITTY RAYMOND - Prenatal to one year. Tuesday, January 7, 2014. 

- See more at: http://raymondparenting.com/blog/category/interesting_parenting_matters/#sthash.pX22EgTY.dpuf

Everyday Challenges Phone Package
60 minute call plus 1-week email support (unlimited)  
A perfect choice if you wish to speak to Kitty at length about devising sleep plan for your infant, baby, older child or twins.  This allows Kitty to learn about your child(ren), get a sense of your parenting style and tailor her suggestions to fit for your family.  Additional topics could be starting potty training, issues surrounding formula/breast feeding, discipline and picky eaters, etc.   $147.00


Tricky Challenges Phone Package
 
 60 minutes call plus 1-month email support (unlimited).
This package is ideal if you are absolutely dreading the idea of sleep training, or if you strongly believe, due to previous efforts, that nothing will work.  Also ideal for potty training gone awry or a child who refuses to poop on potty. Use this option if you struggle with unrelenting discipline or behavior issues with your child, with siblings or with twins.  Also tricky may be: high sensitivity issues with a child of any age, feelings of guilt or parental disagreement.   $247.00

Booster Phone Package     (30 minutes)    

         If you’ve already spoken to Kitty on a topic or have recently attended a seminar, this package may be perfect for you.  A shorter call to do a bit of tweaking of a parenting technique you already learned from Kitty. $50.00

Short email question    $35.00
    Use this option to clarify a point or ask a forgotten question from previous contact with Kitty. Short question requiring a short answer.


Deluxe email question  $80.00
    This is a favorite choice for parents whose baby or toddler isn’t sleeping well.  (E.g. needs help falling asleep, wakes up in the night, comes out of his room or has problems napping.)   This option may also be used for advice on when/how to start potty training, on discipline, sibling issues, etc.

SLEEP CLASS WITH KITTY RAYMOND - Prenatal to one year. Tuesday, January 7, 2014. 

- See more at: http://raymondparenting.com/blog/category/interesting_parenting_matters/#sthash.pX22EgTY.dpuf

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“The Only Sleep Method You’ll Need for Your Baby.” by Dr. Dina Kulik, wife, mother, pediatrician

Posted July 15, 2014

(Published in Huffington Post Living, July 15, 2014)

"My oldest son wasn't a natural sleeper. I had been taught in my pediatric residency that newborns should sleep 18-22 hours a day. As I had planned on studying for my pediatric board exams throughout my brief maternity leave, I was counting on this dedicated sleep time while I could focus on my studying. He turned out to be a pitiful sleeper, requiring my constant rocking and feeding to get him to sleep, only to wake right back up when I lay him down. Thus began the constant cycle of feeding him in a carrier and pacing around my apartment with a stack of cue cards to keep him asleep while I tried desperately to study. So much for a relaxing and fruitful maternity leave.

When he turned four months old I was at my wit's end. I was exhausted and stressed that I wasn't accomplishing much on the studying front. I read five different parenting books to ascertain the best method of sleep training and dove in. One week I tried the classic Ferber method -- soothing him every five minutes in increasing duration. This failed pitifully, as every time I left the room he lost his mind. Next, the Pick Up-Put Down method -- even harder, as it seemed to be a huge tease for him. I tried the Shush-Pat method, where I stood over him and pat him back to sooth him to sleep. He thought I must have been kidding and wailed for hours.

On the verge of having a mental breakdown (truly), at my husband's suggestion I tried the dreaded Cry-It-Out Method. This was truly a last resort for me. It didn't make me comfortable. To this day I cannot stand hearing my kids cry and usually rush in to "save them" within moments of crying unless my husband holds me back. But he insisted and the sleep training needed to be done. I was going back to work in one short month and was exhausted. I started resenting my son and I wasn't enjoying our one-on-one time together as I had dreamed.

And so began our new bedtime routine with bath and stories, feeding and putting him down with soft white noise in his room. For three nights we put him down, on his own in his crib by 7 p.m. and left him in his crib till 7 a.m. save for a brief dream feed, preempting crying by sneaking into his room and feeding without waiting for him to cry.

The first night he cried three hours. Three hours! I thought my heart would stop. I left the house, literally. I went to stay at a friend's house and pumped there. My husband offered a dream feed of pumped milk. The second night was a huge improvement, at a mere one hour and 45 min of crying. The third night -- 2 minutes of crying! It was a huge success and has lasted till this day with only a few bumps in the road with illnesses and teething. It was horrible, the hardest part of parenting I've endured so far in my four years as a mom, but it was a means to an end.

Since this time we have sleep trained my younger son in exactly the same way -- with cry-it-out. The longest he cried was almost three hours. Lessening to an hour the second night and no crying the third night. I plan to train my next son the same way once he is four months old next April. I have suggested the same training method to over 1,000 parents so far in my practice, with the same results in 100 per cent of cases -- 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep for babies and parents. Two babies failed to train successfully in the first month, and after one week we resigned to trying again the following month. One month later these babies trained in two nights. Perhaps they weren't ready yet the first time, but it worked magically the second time around.

I have heard much controversy about the Cry-It-Out Method over the years. Mostly I hear that leaving your baby to cry leads to psychological damage for life. While I understand this argument and this makes theoretical sense to me, I have not noticed this to be the case. Once my kids (and countless others) are sleep trained, I find them happier and more relaxed. Parents uniformly tell me that their child changed dramatically for the better once they were sleeping through the night. Not to mention how much happier and more at ease parents are when they too can sleep. A well-rested parent is a more engaged parent, who is much better able to parent with love and patience. This is of obvious benefit to the child.

There is evidence that babies benefit greatly from predictable routines and long stretches of consolidated sleep. Emotional intelligence and cognition are enhanced (despite these first few hard nights). Babies are happier, more alert and more engaged if sleeping well. In addition, learning to sooth oneself is a life skill that will last a lifetime. I find that waiting till the baby is older leads to more difficulty with sleep training, as then the baby is more mobile and verbal. Hearing your baby call 'mama, dada', only makes this more difficult.

If you are a parent and in the uncomfortable situation of having a baby who is not interested in sleeping long periods at night, I suggest speaking to your physician about the options, including Cry-It-Out. I promise, you will not regret it!"

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Filed under: Sleep and sleep training


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Guilt. A Wasted Emotion?

Posted July 3, 2014

"I already know I've done all the wrong things" said Rebecca on the phone told me this week.  "I've nursed her to sleep since she was born, sometimes I let her nap in my arms and I know I've caused all the problems she is having now.  Plus, I'm alrady feeling really guilty about returning to work at the end of my mat leave.  I just feel like I've messed up.  Can you help?"

It seems true that for many women - perhaps particularly true for new mothers - guilt can be an ever-present cloud hanging overhead.  I'm well aware that I was plagued with feelings of guilt sometimes when my children were young.  Was i spending enough time with them?  I should not have gotten SO upset with the temper tantrum yesterday.  Why do I sometimes just need to get away from my kids?  Shame on me for wishing I could just go off to work like my husband.  I kept searching for confirmation that I was a good mother. 

My husband - and I bet yours - doesn't seem to feel guilty - at least not often and never for long.  What's that about?

Several years ago I was leading a daytime parenting group in Calgary.  Two dads were in the group and about 10 mothers.  GUILT was the topic that day because it had been mentioned often in past weeks.  During a heartfelt discussion, we all realized that, surprisingly,  the two at-home dads and one mother said guilt was really not a problem for them.  I asked one dad how he handles times when he felt he could have done something better or his daughter was upset, etc.  He said "If I've done something wrong that I could fix or do over, I would.  If I've hurt someone's feelings, I would apologise.  Otherwise, it's just gone. (he made a gesture like tossing something over his shoulder.)  Personally, he said kindly, I think guilt is a wasted emotion." 

This was an eye-opener for me.  I decided then and there that I needed to be more dad-like with some of my parenting.  (I've probably succeeded with this about 50% of the time).

In the end, I reminded Rebecca that all the way along in her job as a new parent, she has done the very best she could with the information at hand, taking account of her physical stamina at the time (especially when sleep-deprived), her baby's personality and her strong desire to be the best mom to her baby that she possibly could.  Sometimes that meant nursing to sleep, holding for a nap or bringing her baby into her bed, temporarily.  There are ways to change those habits once she feels ready, but in the meantime, if she feels guilt over doing her best, then she's most likely been holding herself to too high a standard.  Time to let herself off the hook and remind herself that she knows more than she thinks she does and she is the best mom for her baby.

I try to follow my own advice, but it's a challenge sometimes.  My mind tries to return to all the "should-have's," without my permission.  But remembering that days' discussion helps me -figuratively - toss guilt over my shoulder and be a little more dad-like in my thinking.

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Filed under: Interesting Parenting Matters


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