This working mom is cramping her kids social lives

November 27, 2009

I walked my kids to school today, which is a rarity lately. Even rarer, I walked with them right to their classrooms today. And while I was there, two different moms approached me to arrange playdates for each of my kids.

I guess this kind of playdate arranging is normal for the mommies who gather for pickup and drop off. But the only way to talk to me usually is to call or email me, so I am not part of this outside-the-classroom arranging.

So when I appeared today, a couple moms saw a chance to pounce, which is great. My kids would love these playdates. We don’t need them perhaps like other families, since my kids play at the aftercare program every day instead of playdates. But still, playdates are an important social interaction for kids this age. And unless I go out of my way to set things up for the weekend, they just don’t happen for my guys.

So happy to set up a couple playdates this morning, I am now worrying that the fact that I’m a working mom is seriously hurting my kids social life. Are they left out because I can’t do many playdates, or because I’m not at school to see the other mommies to set up casual playdates?

Another working mommy dilemma…


My kids barely know Oscar the Grouch

November 13, 2009

I grew up on Sesame Street. I thought everyone did. When I was my kids’ age (ie under 9), we had three choices of tv, so if we were allowed to watch, we were allowed to watch one of the few kids shows on. And Sesame Street seemed to be a big choice in our house. Did you know that this week, Sesame Street is 40? So it’s been on the air almost as long as I’ve been alive. Geez, I’m old… But I digress.

I learned my numbers and my letters from them. I learned Spanish from them. And my favourite bit

was when the pie man was at the top of the steps to count to 9 and then fell down with all the pies.

But my kids don’t know Sesame Street well at all. They’ve heard of it, they’re mildly familiar with Oscar and Big Bird. But they didn’t grow up watching the show. They watched Dora and Bob the Builder. I’m not saying their current choices are bad (although now they’re into Ben 10 and a bunch of other stuff I like less). But they have so many choices of kids tv, that Sesame Street doesn’t even rate on their radar.

I am told that Sesame Street was started because lots of inner city kids were entering school without a basic knowledge of numbers or letters, and that kids who watched Sesame Street had a head start on kindergarten. It makes sense — it’s a big reason why most of us send our kids to preschool if we can afford to.

But in this day and age (yes, I know I sound like an old curmudgeon!), kids today have too many choices, and Sesame Street just doesn’t cut it for them as much. Which is a shame, since it’s still a great show. And okay, Mr. Hooper died (so sad!), but I hear Gordon and Susan are still there. And I bet Big Bird is still the only one who’s seen Mr. Snuffleupagus. After all, they’re still the people in my neighborhood.

Got my flu shot — both of them actually. Ouch.

October 28, 2009

I have asthma. It’s well controlled and not a huge problem for me, but all the same, it’s a chronic condition. So every year I (and all my family) qualify for a free seasonal flu shot. So every year I get one.

This year, I had to decide whether to add the H1N1 flu shot. There’s been so much press about H1N1, and everyone and their sports team has advice on how not to catch it. So I was planning to get the shot. And then I heard a tv interview that almost changed my mind.

You know how in BC we are so fond of hearing what the average man-on-the-street has to say about anything. Never mind the experts, we want public opinion. On everything! Anyhow, a tv news clip showed a mother saying she thought her kids would be better off getting H1N1, as it’s been mostly mild when it hits, and that way her kids would build natural resistance to it. Just like chicken pox.

I had chicken pox as a kid. Most of us did. But our kids now get a vaccine to prevent it instead. Remember chicken pox parties, where a group of kids would play together to catch chicken pox from the sick kid so everyone could get it over with? But now we don’t let kids get it anymore.

My kids had the chicken pox vaccine. And it always kind of bothered me that they didn’t develop a natural resistance to it. What if the vaccine isn’t effective for 50 years? We don’t know, since it hasn’t been around that long. Will my boys be susceptible to chicken box in half a decade?

So I thought again about whether the H1N1 vaccine was a good idea. And then I heard about the healthy 13-year-old boy in Ontario who died this week of H1N1. And I realized that every health official in the continent was telling me to get the vaccine.

So I got it. Because of my ashtma, I qualified in the first round, so I made an appointment at my doctor’s office and got both shots yesterday. Yes, I hate shots, and yes, I cried out (and nearly squeezed my son’s hand to pain!), but I got them both yesterday, one in each arm. And when my family qualifies in two weeks, they’ll get them too.

Will you get the shot?

Oh no, they shook hands at soccer!

October 25, 2009

I’m getting a bit fed up about all the hysteria over H1N1. I know it’s a new strain of flu, and so our susceptibility to it is high. I know it’ll spread fast when it hits, and I know for some people it will be very serious when they get it.

But we get flu every winter. In fact, both my kids already had flu this month, just the old-fashioned kind, not the new-fangled H1N1. And people do get very sick and even die of the other flu strains out there. So they’re all serious, aren’t they?

Yesterday at soccer, my son’s team went over to greet their opponents after the game, and out of habit, hit the hands of the other kids — you know, hands out, walk in a row, hit hands as you pass. But the soccer association has told us not to do that. They say because of H1N1 the boys should bump elbows. And some parents saw the hand touching and freaked.

I think maybe the freaking was kind of overkill. Yes, we should be vigilant this flu season, and yes, if we’ve got sick kids, they should stay home, maybe even a day longer than we might have kept them home in another year. But kids will touch each other, especially in sports. Should we really be all that worried?

What to do about all the Halloween candy my kids collect (and want to eat)

October 19, 2009

The title, in case you were wondering, is a question. I don’t have the answers.

All year, I try to meter out the candy and chocolate in small doses. I think healthy, active kids like mine should have some sugar, but that it should be seen as a treat, not a daily priviledge. And of course I try to avoid the sugar rush before bedtime. So dessert is occasional, but not out of the question, and candy et al is allowed, but not always. A personal pet peeve has always been the birthday loot bag stuffed with candy and cheap plastic toys. I pride myself on trying to come up with creative alternatives every year. But that’s another blog post for another day.

As for Halloween, it gets harder to fight each year. As the boys get older, they stay out trick or treating longer and come home with more and more loot. So they each have a bag full of candy for the better part of November and some of December. How long do we let them keep dipping into it?

I’ve heard the theory that says you should let them eat all they want for a day or two, in the assumption that they’ll eat themselves sick and stop voluntarily. Then I read this article and decided we weren’t trying that this year.

I’ve always favoured the “Let’s Make a Deal” model. I let them eat some stuff Halloween night, then send them to bed. Eventually they sleep.  In the morning, we play our game. I come armed with lots and lots of healthy snacks, like fruit leather, raisins, pudding, granola bars, etc. They can each choose a limited number of things from their stash (last year it was 14 I think) to keep. After that, they trade their unhealthy food for my healthy alternatives. they like the game, they still end up with a bag of goodies, and I don’t feel quite as horrible about letting them eat out of the bags on a regular basis. And I give the candy away to either the food bank or my co-workers.

Last year we did the deal game, then also set a limit on how long the bags could last. I think we gave them one month, and as of December 1, we took it all away, eaten or not (lots of not).

All these strategies work to a point, but with my older son approaching 9, I wonder how long I can keep it up. The thrill of the trading game is bound to wear off soon.

What do you do about the Halloween candy?

Memories of grade two

September 3, 2009

Not that either of my kids are entering grade two this year, but I’ve been reminiscing tonite about my grade two teacher, Mrs. Wallace.

She was probably my favourite elementary school teacher. She was older (of course, I was younger, so she was probably only in her 40s), but full of enthusiasm. She made school fun with little tricks.

The things that really stick out in my mind, though, are all about grammar. When I told my 8 year old that, he asked what grammar was. I told Mr. French Immersion there it was “grammaire,” but he still didn’t know the word. What do they call the pronouns/adjectives/verb etc these days?

Anyhow, Mrs. Wallace once had my class parade around the classroom, then around the halls, chanting “If is a little word with a big meaning.” More than three decades later, I remember that phrase, and even the beat to which we chanted it.

I also remembered a lesson on the difference between “can” and “may.” Maybe you “can” do something physically, but the bigger question would be are you given permission. In the middle of that lecture my older sister came to the classroom to talk to me about something (can’t remember what!), and asked “Can I speak to Carla please?” Well, Mrs. Wallace replied, “I’m sure you can.” And my sister stood there dumbfounded. So she asked again “Can Carla come out here for a minute please?”, and again Mrs. Wallace answered her with “I’m sure she can.” I remember the whole class giggling and my sister beginning to steam. Finally, Mrs. Wallace told my sister “If you’re asking if Carla may come out there, then all right, she may.”

I expect neither my sister nor many of my classmates have forgotten that one. And after telling that story to my kids tonite, I hope they don’t forget too soon either.

Labels for Back to School help keep the things my kids lose — discount for you!

August 27, 2009

Lovable Labels Bear_withTAG_8 (120x120)There are only 11 more days until the kids go back to school (and yes, I’m counting every one!), so I was thrilled when Loveable Labels asked me to review their Back to School Mega Pack of labels.

My kids seem to lose half the stuff they take to school. Lunch containers go missing, sweatshirts almost never make it home, and somehow even shoes don’t always come back. Our school has a huge bin of lost and found, but since all the moms buy the same three items of clothing at Please Mum for every boy (not the greatest selection for boys in clothes anywhere!), once it’s lost it can be hard to get back. Unless it’s labeled.

So we label everything. Years ago I sat with a permanent marker writing their initials on all the stuff they left at daycare, but these labels make it so much easier and much more likely things will get returned.

My Back-To-School pack came with a variety of labels for every application. It included:

lovable labels BTS pack contents* 15 Sticker Labels
* 60 Slimline Labels
* 48 Press ‘N Stick Clothing Dots
* 16 Shoe Labels
* 2 Mini Metal Tags
* 5 Book/Binder Stickers

With two boys, this is just barely enough labels. I admit, I cheated and put both their names on the labels so I could use it for either one (given how quickly clothes get passed down, this is a useful strategy). The boys picked out their own icon (a skateboard of course!), and were thrilled to get them.

I loved how easy it was to order the labels online, and the variety of icons and colours available. The quality of the labels is great. I’ve ordered from another lable company before and found Loveable Labels as good as others, but I like that they’re Canadian. And the variety of labels is great. I can stick them on lunch containers, backpacks, clothes, shoes, school supplies, water bottles — well, just about everything. I’ve even stuck them on sunglasses, toothbrushes (sleepovers!) and baseball mitts (have just located older son’s second lost mitt of the summer today!).

Lovable Labels BTS-ad

The Back to School Mega Pack that I got retails for $44.95, but they’re offering you, my blog readers, a 10% discount. Just quote “movies4mommies” when placing your order. This discount is valid for the next two weeks only.

And don’t forget to label jackets too. Those almost always go missing first.