Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Feminism a generational thing?

Feminism, women's rights, and working women have moved front and center in this election, and months of debating have made me realize something: I think I'm a feminist by default. Not because of my gender, but because of my generation.

I am Gen X through and through. Born in the early ’70s, came of age in the ’80s, started my career in ’90s, started a family of my own in the ’00s.

Growing up, I never, ever heard that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. Because I was too young? Sure. Because power tools are dangerous if you don’t know how to use them? Absolutely. But because I was female? Never.

Does that make me a feminist by default?

Now, granted, I also never tried out for the football team, joined the armed services, or wanted to be a Freemason. And I will admit that I am probably speaking from a place of privilege — I was a prep-school kid in a college town who missed out on grunge because it was against my school’s dress code. But still, my greater point is this: I’ve never felt like I had to prove I was “as good as a guy” because I was an adult before I was even aware that my gender could be an issue.

I think this is why I don’t really relate to the whole “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” school of politics; I think that getting the best candidate for the job into the White House is more important than having a woman in (or a heartbeat away from) the Oval Office. I also think that being a stay-at-home mom is a career choice, not a moral imperative, and that just because a woman can do anything that a man can do doesn’t mean she should.

I think that my children are even more removed from the feminism question than I am. Two of our three daughters have played on football teams; the third doesn’t because she’s in preschool and only wants to know why footballs get thrown (”Why don’t they only get footed? I mean kicked?”). They may learn about a time when women weren’t considered equal to men, but, thankfully, they have never experienced it.

I hope they become feminists by default, too.

My mother's generation had to fight much harder for the rights my generation takes for granted; that glass ceiling was much closer to them than it is to me, and so, for some women, shattering it is something that must be done at all costs, whereas for others -- especially women of my generation and younger -- shattering it isn't as important as electing the most-qualified candidate into office.

How do you define feminism? Has your definition changed over the years?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Work at home without starting your own business

There are plenty of ways to work from home without becoming an entrepreneur; writing as the Work It, Mom! Team, I take a look at some of the many, many options out there:

You don't have to start your own business in order to work from home. Not everyone has the entre-preneurial itch! Take a moment to examine your skills: What do you like to do? What do you do best? What comes easily to you?

There are plenty of work-at-home opportunities in all sorts of fields. Not sure what you want to do? Here are a few ideas, as well as a few resources to help you get started... [More]

Wondering what some of those options are? Well, in a nutshell, it all depends on your skills:

1.) Writing or editing? Consider problogging or freelance writing. (I've worked up a great list of resources for freelance writers over at Work It, Mom!)

2.) Sales and marketing? Look into direct sales or affiliate marketing (also called multi level marketing) programs. Here's a list of 12 popular direct sales programs to get you started.

3.) Business and money? Think about becoming a financial consultant.

4.) Working with people? Become a virtual customer service representative.

5.) Teaching? You can become a tutor.

6.) Art and design? Become a freelance designer or graphic artist.

7.) Organizing and record keeping? Work as a virtual assistant.

8.) Computer programming? Consider web designing.

9.) Typing? Look into transcription services

The article has plenty of links to some great online resources for all nine of those skill sets. What do you enjoy doing? Find a way to make a living doing it!

Jenna McCarthy, author of "The Parent Trip"

Over at Work It, Mom!, I sat down with author and mom of two Jenna McCarthy (at our respective computers, of course) to chat about her newly released book, The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties. Part memoir, part guidebook for new moms, her book is a hilarious look at the darker side of pregnancy and parenthood -- you know, the part the "experts" never seem to talk about.

Jenna McCarthy has been writing for magazines for 17 years, as a freelancer and as a staff member at publications including Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and Shape. "I’ve written for nearly 50 magazines, plus dozens of web sites and several anthologies. I also spent two years co-hosting the top radio show in Santa Barbara," she says. "Oh yeah, and I recently made two people, right in my body, practically from scratch. No wonder I’m exhausted half the time."

McCarthy lives in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband, Joe Coito, and their daughters Sophie ("5 going on 25; nickname: Hollywood," McCarthy quips) and Sasha, 3 1/2 ("And you'd better believe that half is key!") Her first book, The Parent Trip: From High Heels and Parties to Highchairs and Potties, was published this month. Part memoir, part guidebook for new moms, her book is a hilarious look at the darker side of pregnancy and parenthood -- you know, the part the "experts" never seem to talk about.

The Parent Trip is more than your average "I just had a baby, now what!?!" guide for new moms. Tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for your book.

The first time I was expecting, I bought every book I could find on pregnancy. I learned a lot by reading them. (The placenta is edible! There’s even a name for the practice: placentophagia. This is good information to have!) But with all due respect to the authors of these very helpful and essential works, I wanted more. I knew that I might develop morning sickness (which now I know is a big, fat misnomer, by the way, because this particular breed of illness definitely does not wear a watch), but no one told me that I might take sudden and violent offense to the aroma of my couch while I was pregnant, or that I would hate my husband on a regular basis for no obvious reason. I had questions but no answers: Would sex ever be the same (assuming I could muster some enthusiasm for it in the first place)? Why are mothers so damned competitive? And would someone please tell me what the hell a Velboa Snuzzler is? I figured I couldn’t be the only woman who was stupefied by the mysterious but clearly established rules of motherhood. So I learned as I went -- and then I wrote a book.

What is your favorite part of the book?

I love the section about horrible children’s stories in “Mommy’s Dead.” I am constantly amazed at how lame and inappropriate so many kids’ books are. I joke at the end of that section that I’m going to have to write my own children’s books -- but it turns out, I wasn’t really joking. (I didn’t know this at the time.) I’ve already written the first one and I think it’s really fun. It’s being illustrated right now. It’s called My Very Own Fairy and it has a little of the funky edge that I love in the occasionally well-written kids’ book. My illustrator is phenomenal -- I can’t wait to see it.

What was the most difficult part to write?

Honestly, none of it! It’s my life, and I’m a writer, so it all just sort of tumbled out of me. I wrote this book because there were -- and are -- so many things about being a mom that I feel really strongly about, but couldn’t find a lot of validation for in print. I didn’t love every minute of being pregnant, and I really wanted a girl! I lied about how much weight I gained (and frankly people, it was none of your effing business so it’s your fault for asking), I sometimes resented my new role and, once in it, I tended to overreact. A lot. Women aren’t supposed to admit these things, but I can’t believe I’m the only one of us who thinks or feels them. If one woman reads my book and says, “Oh thank GOD I’m not the only one” it will have all been worth it.

There's one passage in The Parent Trip where you're trying to get back to work and you realize that you've somehow become the default caregiver. You detail how you went about hiring some help, but could you tell us how you dealt with the internal struggle that came along with the realization?

Let’s just say therapy helps! Seriously, I was not thrilled about having all of the responsibilities fall onto me. But I realized (and this was not new information, believe me) that I really do like to do and have things “my way,” and the only way that was going to happen was if I did them myself. This continues to be a bittersweet pill to swallow, but in the end I’m happier this way. There’s a lot of letting-go you have to do as a mom; the sooner you accept this fact, the less likely you’ll be to turn into a resentful hag. At least, I hope that’s the case.

Share your favorite tip for getting work done at home while you have your little girls underfoot.

Enlist as much help as you can, and lower your standards. The last part is really the only thing that works. And although I personally cannot stand television, it’s a lifesaver. Of course I wasn’t going to be one of “those moms” who plop their kids in front of the TV to get some work done, but seeing as I work, sometimes it has to be done.

What do you wish someone had told you before you became a mom?

That you can’t be a perfect mom because there really isn’t any such thing. That once you become a mom you are never, ever off the job -- not for 20 seconds, not even if you’re in Aruba and the kids are with your parents in Florida. That you’ll never be able to go to Aruba and leave your kids with your parents in Florida. That you’ll have your heart broken 25 times a day, and laugh 25 times more. That your priorities will shift so dramatically that having a flat stomach or “perfect” thighs really, honestly, won’t seem all that important. That you might find the smell of another tiny human being so totally intoxicating that it can make you dizzy. That those breasts you used to laugh at in National Geographic will suddenly, and seemingly overnight, appear in your bathroom mirror, attached to your body.

Tell us a few things that you never thought you'd do before you became a parent (and found yourself doing them).

There is not enough space on the entire web to detail all of the things I never thought I’d do as a mom, yet find myself doing on a daily basis. There’s a whole section on this in my book (“The 5 Second Rule and Other Disgusting Parenting Practices You Will Embrace”) that details many of them! Here’s the thing: Before you have kids, you have all of these ideas about how that will look. You judge other moms because you think you will never let your kid have a pacifier or a public tantrum or eat a Cheerio off the floor. And then you get there, and you realize sometimes your child’s happiness (or your sanity, or both) is more important than what “anyone else thinks.” Eureka!

What is most challenging for you about your work-life juggle?

Trying to be present with the girls -- and that means shutting off the CrackBerry, closing my email, not checking Facebook every five minutes -- and just being. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of that stuff because in the moment, so much of it truly feels important. It’s a constant struggle to remember what really matters.What's next on your life to-do list?More books! Lots and lots of books. More first-person parenting stuff, children’s books, eventually fiction. Spend more time with my kids. Remodel my bathroom. Get back into yoga. And hopefully, get a little sleep. But not the big, eternal kind. I’ve got too much to do.

Foodies, rejoice! "Two Fat Ladies" on DVD

I used to drop everything to watch Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson when their decadent and delightful cooking show, "Two Fat Ladies," was on the Food Network. All four seasons of the show were just released on DVD, in a fabulous box set that has become an instant hit in our household, cholesterol levels notwithstanding. (Hey, you don't have to cook every recipe on the show in order to enjoy them!)

September 17, 2008
The Boston Globe

Short Orders
Pass the butter, please

For those who have missed the inimitable "Two Fat Ladies" - and, really, what foodie hasn't? - Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright are back, this time on DVD. Of course, bacon and butter abound. All 24 episodes from the British cooking show's four-season run are on this four-disc boxed set ($59.99), along with a moving tribute to Paterson (who died in 1999) and six classic recipes. Our favorite moment? Watching the two fix an enormous feast for the priests at the Westminster Cathedral (where they prepare Bubble and Squeak using an insane amount of lard). At Barnes & Noble and Borders. -- Lylah M. Alphonse [More]

House cleaning is the Achilles heel of the modern working mom

Confession: I am a crappy housekeeper.

Another confession: When my husband decides to start scrubbing, I feel grateful and mortified at the same time. Grateful because I appreciate beyond words the way they understand how overloaded I get. Mortified because, well... shouldn't I be able to do it all?

Over at Shine: Work + Money, we're talking about how keeping the house clean often takes a back seat to everything else we're trying to get done at the same time:

With five kids, two parents who work full-time, a 75-pound black lab who sheds hair like he's desperately trying to clone himself, no housekeeper, and my tendency to clutter, I don't need to tell you that my house isn't pristine. It's not filthy -- in terms of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization's Clutter Hoarding Scale , we're not more than a 1, the lowest score. But still, I wouldn't happily eat off of the floor or anything. (My toddler is far less discriminating.)

A few weeks ago, my husband hit his limit and started scrubbing. It was something I'd been meaning to get to, but with deadlines piling up and no extra hours in the day, I hadn't been able to stay on top of more than the laundry and the dishes -- things we both take care of regularly. He started deep cleaning, first in the kitchen, moving things off the counter tops and scrubbing the stove and swabbing the backsplash with powerful detergents. He tossed the newspapers I'd left languishing in a pile on a chair and wiped down every surface he could find while I typed in the next room.

I was grateful. I was also mortified. I appreciated the fact that he recognized I was overloaded and couldn't get to the cleaning myself, but still, it made me feel like I'd failed, somehow.

In spite of everything I do, I can't shake the feeling that I should be able to do more. Is this the Achilles heel of the modern working mom? Shouldn't I be able to keep my house spotless and clutter-free, decorated tastefully yet stunningly? Have all the clothes cleaned and folded and put away properly instead of heaped in clean or dirty piles in the hallway near the laundry room? Pack five exciting, delicious, nutritionally balanced lunches for the kids, preferably the night before, all while while working full time, supporting my family, freelancing on the side, socking at least 10 percent of my income away, and climbing the corporate ladder in 3-inch heels?

I know, I know: I've written about how, sometimes, working moms do it all by not doing it all . But I want to be good at everything, even if I don't have the time or the wherewithal to do so. And, really, I suck at housekeeping.

By the time my husband had moved on to the dining room, and had moved on, too. Instead of being upset that I can't do it all -- and instead of feeling criticized by the cleaning -- I decided to just be grateful about it. Maybe we whip the house into shape together, if we take turns.

And, if that doesn't work, I'll take solace in the fact that our house is still a few clutter levels away from utter chaos.

How do you do it all? Do you have help or do you let the housework slide? Is there a happy medium?

Positive stress: Does it really exist?

Working moms are no stranger to stress; it's a part of life no matter what the economy is doing, how many kids you have, what type of work you do, and whether you work inside or outside of the home. But is stress always a bad thing?

I noticed the other day that I tend to be most productive when I'm really stressed out. A bit of research led me to an article at detailing four types of stress: eustress, distress, under-stress, and over-stress. While eustress is clearly positive -- it's the the feeling of motivation and inspiration that carries you through a fascinating but complicated or difficult project -- I think it's one of the more negative ones -- over-stress -- that actually positive for me.

... Being forced to focus only on the immediate issues can be a good thing, from time to time. It can be constructive. Striking item after item off your to-do list can be exhilarating — liberating, almost. You don’t want to be operating in crisis mode 24/7, but every once in a while, having to go into overdrive and multitask like a madwoman in order to get it all done — and actually get it all done? ... [More]

Read the rest, at tell me whether you think stress can be a positive thing, over at The 36-Hour Day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do your own research. Make your own choices

I've been innundated with emails from both sides about all things Palin (working mom + former national news editor + freelance writer + blogger = spam from everyone, apparently), and I just wanted to get this out there:

Please, for the love of all things intelligent, do your own research before getting outraged over what you're hearing or reading.

That list of books that Palin supposedly wants to ban? While the meeting did take place in Wasilla, the list itself is BS. False. Not true. Snopes debunked it a few days ago, here's the link:

The new campaign commercial stating that Obama passed a bill that promotes teaching sex ed to kindergarteners? BS. False. Not true. The commercial is out there, but it's based on misinformation:

The whole "lipstick on a pig" issue? If you want to talk about it, there's a great discussion going on right now in the Politics and Issues Group at Work It, Mom! though, personally, I think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. Yeah, it's a well-known phrase that's used often. Yeah, it was easy to see how it could be taken as a personal attack. Yeah, McCain used it himself just a few months ago when referring to Hillary Clinton's health care plan, and plenty of other people have used it as well. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Just know that If you're wondering what each candidate really stands for, here's a good place to start: On the Issues. It lists the stances of all of the current political leaders (Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Libertarians, Nader, Huckabee, both Thompsons, Al Sharpton, and possibly your next door neighbor, if he or she has ever run for office) on all of the issues (from the budget to the economy to Social Security to foreign policy).

We're all entitled to our opinions, and I'm honestly interested in hearing or reading as many as I can get my hands on. But please... don't rely on either campaign to give you all the facts. Do your own research. Draw your own conclusions. Make an informed decision.

Learning from the past, scheduling for the future

The other night, I fell asleep while putting our preschooler to bed, and when I woke up a few hours later, it was close to midnight and my brain was completely useless.
What I did know, even as I tripped going back up the stairs, was that my to-do list was going to double the next day. Because my current search for work-life balance involves some very carefully choreographed scheduling, and my impromptu nap had thrown that out of whack. ... [More]

Read the rest at The 36-Hour Day, and tell me about your own schedule in the comments. I'm always looking for ideas!

I was going to write about 9/11, but your feed readers are probably full of posts on the subject. So, instead, I’ll mark today’s date with this 2001 quote from Jon Stewart:
“The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center, and now it’s gone, and they attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and labor, and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. … you can’t beat that."

Never forget. But live life looking forward.

Identity theft: it can happen to anyone

According to the Federal Trade Commission, about 9 million people become victims of identity theft each year. About five percent of those are children under the age of 6. Over at Work It, Mom!, I've written an article about ID theft, including a list of 10 ways to minimize the chance of it happening to you:

How do you know if your identity has been stolen? You may notice a strange
charge on your credit card statement. You may get turned down for a loan. You
may get a call from a bill collector about an account you didn't know you had. There are hundreds of ways you can be affected and, by the time you find out, it could take years of legal wrangling to clear your credit and your name. ... [More]

Just wants the tips? Here they are in a nutshell (for more details, read the sidebar: 10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft):

  1. Opt out of credit card pre-approval offers.
  2. Destroy documents that could be used to access your credit. (Tearing up the application and throwing it away is not enough.)
  3. Check your credit report regularly.
  4. Don't give out your personal information on the phone or in an email, and never post it online. 5.) Monitor your credit card statements.
  5. Don't reply to emails from people you don't know asking for personal information.
  6. Don't leave your bills in your mailbox.
  7. Create hard-to-guess passwords.
  8. Never take your Social Security card with you.
  9. Be careful when using your credit card or your ATM card.

What if it happens to you anyway? The FTC recommends that you do the following immediately:

  1. Contact one the three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  2. Close the account that you know has been affected or opened fraudulently, and follow up with the company to dispute the transaction or account.
  3. File a complaint with the FTC.
  4. File a report with your local police and with the police in the community where the fraud took place.
The best way to protect you and your family from identity theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place. For more details, read the entire article here.

Gift guides for babies and toddlers

Not sure what to get for your friend's new baby? Over at Work It, Mom!, I've put together a great slide show featuring some baby gifts that are anything but ordinary. Here's a taste:

Punk Rockin' Baby Clothes

Want to give a baby gift that's a little hip, a little edgy, and a lot of fun? These cool T-shirts fit the bill. They're made to last -- the artist doesn't use cheap heat transfers, instead printing the great graphics onto specially treated cotton fabric and sewing the art onto 100-percent cotton clothing -- and are sure to be a welcome change from the traditional pink or blue. And they do custom orders, too. $15 at You Little Punks.

Click here to see the other unique baby gift ideas.

Toddlers are notoriously tricky to shop for. On the one hand, you can't really go by the age-specifications on most toys (aside from safety warnings about swallowable parts, of course) since the skill levels vary wildly from 2-year-old to 2-year-old. On the other hand, pick the wrong gift and the child will be chewing on the box and ignoring the toy. Here's a great pick to get you started:

Puppy Veterinary Kit

Wanna-be vets will have a field day playing with this fantastic kit. The 18-piece set even includes a little plush puppy and a carrying case, so the doctor can take the patient everywhere. $19.99 at Target.

Need more ideas for gifts for toddlers? Work It, Mom! has got you covered!

More gift guides are coming soon...

Sales pitch in a parking lot? How not to network

This really happened to me, and in exactly this way:

I was filling my car up with gas last week (and having a minor heart attack because, my God, $55 to fill up the beater Saab I was driving that day? It’s like adding insult to injury) when the woman approached.

She looked to be in her late 40s. Windblown hair, flower-print blouse, minimal makeup. Looked like a harried mom who maybe needed help finding an obscure street in my tiny New Egland town. Looked like she was sure I’d say “No” if she asked me anything. So I made up my mind to say “Yes.”

“Excuse me, but can I ask you a question?”

“Yes!” I said brightly, one hand on the nozzle. My brothers like to joke that I can’t find my way out of a wet, upside-down, brown-paper bag, but if she needed directions, I would do my best.

“Have you ever thought about earning a little extra income from home?”

My first thought: Who hasn’t?

My second thought: Crrraaaaaap. She’s doing a sales pitch. And with the gas pump ticking away and my car keys in my pocket, I was a captive audience. It’s like a taking a call from a telemarketer times infinity, because you can’t really hang up on one when she’s standing in front of you. ... [More]

Now, the most interesting thing about this post at The 36-Hour Day is the discussion in the comments... some great suggestions from career coaches over there! Take a look (and surf on over to Work It, Mom!'s articles section for more networking and career advice).

Flying more safely with baby

Our youngest is rapidly approaching his 2nd birthday, which means we can sneak maybe one more flight with him on our laps before we have to shell out money for an extra seat. If he'll stay on our laps, I mean. Given the way he likes to explore and more and, well, basically not sit still, I wish I had found this safety vest much earlier. From a recent Globe travel section:

September 7, 2008

Gearing up
Tethered to safety

By Lylah M. Alphonse

If your child is under 2, you can choose to hold her on your lap instead of buying an extra seat on the plane. But is that the safest way to travel? Baby B'Air Flight Vest is a safety restraint for use in flight; it tethers your little one to you and minimizes the chance of injury while you're in the air. You slip the vest over your child's head, feed your own seat belt through the loop on the back of the Baby B'Air, and fasten
your belt. The Baby B'Air allows for movement - you can hold, feed, and even change your little one fairly easily - but also keeps your child securely in place. It costs about $30 and is available at Newslink (Logan International Airport, Terminal A, 617-568-1772), through the Safe Beginnings Catalog (800-598-8911), and online at The vest comes in infant or toddler sizes. For more information, visit [More]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Listen up, politicians: If one kid is off limits, then all of the kids should be off limits

On Monday, when Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin confirmed that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant, leaders of both political parties agreed that the situation was not for political consumption, with Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama saying outright that the children and families of the candidates are “off limits.”

Now, I totally agree that a candidate's kids should be off limits. But if one child is off limits, all of the children should be off limits -- to the press, to the public, and to the candidate as well. I write about why at The 36-Hour Day:

Makes sense. The kids didn’t choose to be in the public spotlight — their parents did. Their actions shouldn’t reflect on their parents’ qualifications or abilities. As many, many people have pointed out: Life happens. You deal with it.

That said, I think that if Bristol Palin and her pregnancy are “a private family matter” and off limits, 19-year-old Track and his decision to join the Army should be, too. Not to mention baby Trig and his special needs.

You can’t insist on excluding from debate the potential impact of a child who’s done something socially unacceptable if you’re willing to use another child’s “good” behavior or medical disability to bolster a candidate’s political image. If one kid is off limits, then all of the kids should be off limits.

Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that Palin was the one who announced Bristol’s pregnancy to the national media to begin with. (Is a candidate’s child still off limits if the candidate is the one who’s disclosing the sensitive information about the child?) Let’s ignore the “happy family” publicity photos and all of the politicians who parade their children and grandchildren in front of the television cameras (”Hi, Daddy!”). Where, exactly, do you draw the line when declaring family and children “off limits” in politics?

Now, I’m a working mother of five myself. My older kids aren’t out on their own yet (I’m assuming that Bristol and her new family aren’t going to be moving with the Palins to Massachusetts Avenue), though they’re not with us year-round, either. My younger kids aren’t tiny infants anymore, as Sarah Palin’s youngest is, and the special needs we deal with have to do with Autism, not Downs Syndrome. But, let me tell you, my kids affect my life daily in one way or another. Juggling work and family is hard enough without the intense public scrutiny that comes with running for office in general, let alone that of second in command of a global superpower during a time of war.

So, if we’re not to question how Bristol’s pregnancy affects Sarah Palin’s stance on abstinence-only education or discuss how Palin will be able to be there for her daughter while also presiding over the Senate as our nation’s VP, it’s only fair that people also stop holding up Track’s Army service as an example of Palin’s patriotism. And, while we’re at it, her campaign should stop using baby Trig to help her appeal to social conservatives, stop touting his very existence as testament to his mother’s morals and values.

Yes, the kids should be off limits. Everyone’s kids should be, no matter what they have (or haven’t) done. But you can’t evaluate a candidate — male or female — without considering the impact their children’s lives have on their own. To truly do that, you’d have to look at this admirable working mother and take her parenthood out of the political equation. And I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

I don't think I'm prepared for a natural disaster

I've been glued to the coverage of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna (and Ike, and the new one starting with the letter J that's forming way out in the ocean right now). Even though do not live in a hurricane zone, many of my relatives do, and so I've been thinking about disaster preparedness.

We don't have an emergecy kit ready, though I stockpile food like it's going out of style. We're more likely to be snowed in than rained out, so this may be OK for now, but I think I need to do more:

Pre-kids, my disaster-preparedness plan went something like this: Keep the car’s gas tank full, have a few gallons of water on hand, an assortment of canned goods, a non-electric can opener, and a few other supplies in a readily accessible place, some candles and a lighter and a spare bottle of scotch. Plan B: Hit the grocery store on the way home from work or as the snow starts falling, deal with it as it happens. Plan C: Use the full tank of gas to drive to my parents’ house in New Jersey.

Now? Not so simple. ... [More]
Read the rest at The 36-Hour Day, and share what you're doing to prepare. (If you don't know where to start, check out Work It, Mom!'s simple guide to creating a 72-Hour Family Emergency Kit.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Evaluating your child care options

One of the most difficult aspects of working parenthood is deciding on child care for your kids. Can you afford to stay home? Hire a nanny? An au pair? What about sharing a baby sitter? If you're looking at daycare, do you go with a preschool-like center or a less formal home-care situation?

Over at Work It, Mom!, I've been writing and editing a great Essentials Guide to Child Care, pulling together links to all of the site's great articles, blog posts, checklists, and quick tips about day care, nannies, pre-schools, and more. In doing so, I've had a chance to do a lot of research and writing (as the "Work It, Mom! Team," of course); if you're looking for answers -- or, for that matter, for questions to ask -- these three pieces are a good start:

Nanny Interview Questions

Evaluating Daycares and Preschools

Mama Drama: Kryptonite for Working Moms

The Juggle: Childcare edition