Back From Maternity Leave – A Survival Guide

large_8561684317

After a few beautiful months getting to know my new baby, it was time to make the transition into a Proud Working Mom. I had to go back to work. This transition was more difficult than I could’ve ever imagined. How could I leave my baby in the hands of someone who, well, someone who wasn’t me? I had just met this precious little baby and at first sight, I felt closer to him than any other person in my entire life. How could I now leave this person even for just a few hours every day? It seemed impossible. With only a week left in my maternity leave, my emotions were all over the place. I was a mess. Yes, there were lots of tears. Despite the roller coaster of emotions, I somehow made it out alive and back to work. I want to make it easier for the next working mother to cross this bridge, so here are a few suggestions:

- Give some thought to this back to work transition before you have the baby. Before the baby comes, you have the time to think about this stuff. After the baby comes, you will be lucky if you can shower. Are you going to use a daycare facility or hire a nanny? Talk with relatives about child care and ask neighbors or friends for referrals in the area. Talk to your partner about these big issues when you have the time to talk about it. After the baby comes, you will be a wreck mentally, physically and emotionally and it will not be the optimal time to make such a major decision. Once you have this decision made, it will be one less thing you have to worry about.

- When going back to work, see if you can arrange a half day for the first few days back for either you or your partner. Working for half of a day will give everyone a chance to get used to the routine. Just kidding. The baby has no idea what is going on…it is a baby. This is for you. You will feel less guilty if you only have to leave your little one for a few hours. If that is not possible, consider taking your lunch break to run over and check on the baby. It will make you feel better and allow you to focus on work.

- Talk to other parents. You are not the first person in the universe to have a child and go back to work. Call on friends, neighbors, and co-workers to give you advice on how they handled this difficult transition.

-Focus on the positives. You will get to have a few minutes to yourself. The car ride to and from daycare will allow you to collect your thoughts and have a mental break. During your lunch break, you may even get to eat your lunch sitting down!

-Take tissues. Lots of tissues. You are going to cry. Whether you wait to cry until you get back into the car or you start bawling in front of the entire daycare (like I did), there will be tears and that is o.k.

Just breathe. Keep in mind that you are still the mother of that beautiful baby. Nothing can change that. There is a special connection between you and your baby that was formed the moment you found out you were pregnant.  Going back to work doesn’t change that. In fact, if you are lucky, you will find a daycare or nanny that works with you and enhances your experience. I am happy to say that my son’s day care facility ended up being my salvation. I learned so much from the experienced ladies in the “Nest” (the name of his baby room) and looking back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Kelly M. is a guest blogger and fellow Proud Working Mom.

 

Something’s Not Right: A Mother’s Intuition

large_4066654219

One of the more insidious “head games” that society plays with mothers is making them feel like they are over-reacting. “She’s fine.” “You worry too much.” “Boys just talk later than girls.”

For mothers who work outside of the home, self-doubt can be even worse, since we aren’t the ones who are with our children all day. We have to rely on the reports of child-care providers who may not share our concerns.

But there is a lot to be said for Mother’s Intuition.

As a special education attorney, I have seen my share of parents who have come to me after months, sometimes years, of ignoring or rationalizing away concerns about their child’s development, only to find out that there was cause for concern.

I am writing this because I don’t want you to make the same mistake so many others have made.

So what do you do if you suspect that your child might have a learning, developmental, or emotional disability? First and foremost, DO NOT dismiss it. You have a gut feeling that something is just not right, and that feeling MUST be investigated. Now.

If your child is under 3, you will need a “referral” to your State’s Early Intervention Agency (known in many states as “Birth to Three.”) In some states, that agency goes through age 5. Your pediatrician can make that referral, but so can you, by law.

If your child is of school age, either you (or any of the educators working with your child) can refer him or her to be evaluated by your school district. This is an absolute right of yours under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). The referral must be discussed at an IEP (Individualized Education Program) Team Meeting and by law the district must invite you and do its best to ensure your attendance. During this meeting, the Team must consider parent concerns.

Once you get the evaluations, PLEASE read them with caution. It is a sad reality that the public agencies that are assessing your child (including early intervention agencies AND school districts) are the same agencies that will have to PAY for special services if they are required. The evaluators have a vested interest in the outcome of the recommendations and that may not result in an evaluation that truly reflects your child’s needs. For this reason, you are entitled, by law, to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at no cost to you if you disagree with the agency findings. Getting an IEE is a tricky process (even for attorneys), so I highly recommend watching the “how to” video on IEEs at the free, video-based website that special education advocate Julie Swanson and I have created, http://www.YourSpecialEducationRights.com.

Or, you can always obtain an evaluation of your child privately, at your own expense. If you do this and the evaluation recommends services or accommodations, you should share it with your school district or early intervention agency. Before you select a private evaluator, make sure that professional is willing to stand by their recommendation in writing.

Trust me, you do not want to look back on your child’s education, saying “I wish I had listened to my gut.”  Maybe everything IS fine, but wouldn’t you rather know that for sure?  Time is not on your child’s side, act now!

Jennifer Laviano is our guest blogger and fellow Proud Working Mom to two beautiful girls. She is also a private practice attorney in Connecticut. She had dedicated her law practice entirely to the representation of children and adolescents with disabilities.  Jennifer works closely with Julie Swanson, a Special Education Advocate, Disability Rights Specialist, and the mother of a young son with autism. Together, Jennifer and Julie have created YourSpecialEducationRights.com (YSER). YSER is a free, first of its kind, video-based website whose goal is to empower parents of students with disabilities by showing them how to understand, and apply, their federally protected rights.

YSER_Logo

Working Mothers and Doing “Enough”

imagesAs a working mother, how do I know if I am doing enough for my kids?

Kids these days, there are so many activities available, and so many things they want! As working mothers, we could work full time just to simply keep everyone in the most fashionable clothes, equipped with the latest technology gadgets, and participating in the most exciting day and overnight summer camps (yes, some financially are on par with my best vacations enjoyed during my pre-kid years).

So, late at night when we finally have a minute to reflect and ask ourselves “am I doing enough?”, we need to need to really define what we are asking. How does anyone really ever know when they are doing enough? As mothers, we often play the “internal measurement game” with ourselves, taking stock in material objects we are working to provide, or signing up our little ones for multiple activities due to that guilt we harbor over sometimes not being able to be there for all things.   

Always short on time, but never on love, the measurement of “doing enough” is more about just providing your children with an environment that is physically and emotionally safe (the basics) and opportunities to explore and develop who they are as people. So when we ask if we are doing enough- we must make sure we are doing what feels right, and not what society is telling us we should be doing. Ironically, “doing enough” is more about them and less about us.

As a kid, I grew up swimming- an activity that I loved and devoted most of my summers to (early practices, long hours, and high competition). I loved every moment of it, and when I became a mother I assumed my girls would too. Wrong. My girls do love to swim (who doesn’t like to hang out in a pool), but they don’t enjoy the competitive aspects of it. For our family, forcing them to take swimming lessons would be pointless and maybe even build resentment. They like volleyball. So, I do my best to afford them this opportunity: something they love to do. We don’t however feel pressured to do everything else: gymnastics, piano lessons, dance classes, tennis -you get the picture. For our family, this would be too much on both us and them.

Be tuned into who your kids are as individuals and do what you can, under your time limit and budget and don’t let others expectations create feelings of guilt that need not be there.  By loving your children and honoring their uniqueness you are doing what is right for you – not neighbors, relatives, or friends. This is so much more important than doing everything.

This is doing enough.

 

Harry and David Review -A Great Product For Working Mothers

Click here for Harry and David Review

This is the Proud Working Mom review of Harry and David Products. For more information on Harry and David, click the link below:

Harry And David

Harry And David

Harry and David-Official Site

Lets face it- as mothers, it is part of our job to remember ALL anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and any other event requiring a card or present. It isn’t fair at all, but it is our reality. As working mothers, it is even more difficult to keep it all straight. When I need help in this department, one of my regular helpers is Harry and David. They have been around for a long time and are the most well-known gourmet gift basket service in the United States. Harry and David is also easy to find online at HarryandDavid.com.

Harry and David Review- What is it?

Harry and David is not two guys selling T-Shirts, it is one of the most well-know gourmet gift basket services in the United States. Their catalog (available both online and by mail) has an amazing array of gift baskets, treat towers, fruits, and flowers. They have everything from the amaryllis plant that I send to my mother every Christmas, to the ‘Fruit of the Month’ club that I send out to my best friend as a birthday present. Their ‘Tower of Treats’ gift boxes are second to none. It has been an institution for many years and an absolute must for any working mother.

Harry and David Review- What I Like

I love many things about Harry and David  but what I like most is the superior quality of the products! I have been using this company for the past six years and have never had one person complain about anything that I have sent them! At Christmas or Mother’s Day, when I have several things to send out, I can sit in front of my computer, pull up my gift list (did I mention that they record your gift list every year?) and either reorder last years’ present, or pick out something new. As a working mother, Harry and David is an amazing time saver and I feel confident when I order that the gift will be on time and fabulous!

Harry and David Review- What I Don’t Like

In order to present a balanced review, I must admit that I have been using Harry and David for a long time. I am guilty of sending out the same or similar gifts for years now. The catalog doesn’t offer as much of a variety as it could (and as some of its competitors do). But it is hard to get creative because for me, it involves more work. Additionlly, it is not a site I would visit to get a birthday present for my niece or nephew as it is mainly food items and flowers/plants. Aside from that, I have very few negative comments or reviews for Harry and David.

Harry and David Review – Overall Thoughts

I think you know what they are by now…I LOVE Harry and David. I can do half of my Christmas shopping in under 10 minutes and execute Mother’s Day flowers in about 5 minutes. I have never had a complaint about the quality or delivery of the items I have ordered. Yes, it can get stale as a gift year after year, but hey, at least I remembered to send something, right?

Click here to check out the Harry and David catalog.

 

Disciplining Other People’s Children – What to Do

images-3 It takes a village sometimes, doesn’t it? Especially during the summer when the kids are all over the neighborhood playing with friends. Occasionally, the kids end up at your house and there are situations where a child needs to be disciplined. It is easy if it is my child, but what about other children? In the absence of their parent, you have to make the call.

How do you discipline another person’s child in a fair manner that is agreeable to everyone? This is a difficult one to answer but here are a few tips to help you manage the situation:

Discuss with Parent before Situation Arises ~ If you will be watching someone else’s child for awhile, it is best to know in advance what you will do if the need for discipline arises. Talk with the child’s parents beforehand and discuss how they discipline at home, and what measures are appropriate for you as the caregiver.

Perhaps the parent uses time outs and their child responds well to them. Or maybe they don’t believe in time outs and prefer to remove a privilege for a short time. It is important to know that whatever method you use is approved by the parents. This keeps things consistent, and makes everybody happy.

Be Fair ~ When that friendly play date with your child and a guest goes bad, make sure that you are a neutral judge. Be sure that you are not viewing your own child as the angel, and someone else’s child as the villain. Listen to both sides of the story, figure out what really happened and then decide how to proceed.

Always try to be understanding and resist the urge to be the ‘manners police’ to someone else’s child. Don’t discipline for minor infractions and always keep in mind that other children have grown up in other homes. As long as no one has been hurt in any way, don’t be too quick to discipline another child.

Discuss the Incident with the Parent as Soon as Possible ~ If a situation arises where discipline needs to be given, discuss it with the parent as soon as possible. This may be when the parent picks up their child from a birthday party, or calls to check how things are going. It is important to be honest and give all the details of the situation and how you handled it.

Just put yourself in the shoes of the other parent. I know that if my kids are misbehaving at another person’s house, I definitely want to know the details so we can address it with our child. If I don’t know about the problem, as a parent, I am unable to try and correct it. For example, (totally hypothetical) if my 7 year-old drops an F-BOMB in my neighbor Pam’s car while she is driving with a car full of kids, I want her to tell me about it ASAP because there has to be consequences (and discussions at home about OUR use of language). But again, this was totally made up and never ever happened. Right Pam?

Never Use Physical Discipline ~ I feel like this goes without saying yet it is still listed. As a fellow PWM, I want to make sure that we are clear on this one. No matter what your beliefs on physical discipline are, it is never acceptable to use it on someone else’s child! Find another method, plain and simple.

Disciplining another person’s child is not easy and never fun. I try to avoid it as much as possible but there are situations when it is necessary. Given our common goal as mothers –  to raise our children to be responsible and kind adults – discipline should be something that we are all working on. Using these guidelines and your common sense as a guide, you can do it!

1 2 3 28