Tips for Taking Your Toddler to Work

Every great once in a while, it happens. You have an important client meeting, one that you’d rather not reschedule, and your childcare plans fall through. Now what? You could call and beg and plead with everyone you know to sit on your kid for awhile, but you did that last week, and you’re out of favors. Or, you don’t have any backup resources. So you’re faced with two options: reschedule or bring your offspring along for the ride. I chose the latter.

I strapped my sixteen-month-old into her car seat, and headed into town (her older sister had other arrangements). I was a little apprehensive about how my appointment would go, but I’m glad to report that there were no major glitches. I was productive, she was happy, the client was satisfied. Win-win-win! Now, I realize it doesn’t always go this way, and in fact, I have some horror stories of unsuccessful attempts to take my older daughter to work back when I had an office job. *shudder*

So, if you find yourself in this situation, there’s no need to panic (unless you’re an ER doctor or pilot or police officer or something and you can’t get away with this, then panic away).

1. Judge Your Child’s Temperament to See if They Can Manage This Scenario
I know my kids well. My youngest is your classic “easy child” and goes with the flow. My oldest creates her own flow and doesn’t easily adjust to new situations. I’m not sure I would have attempted this with my oldest, or it probably would have been a disaster (as it has been in the past).

This girl is always up for an adventure!

2. Inform the Client and Ask for Consent
The great majority of the time, your client will understand if you explain the situation. But don’t just show up and surprise them, and don’t be surprised or offended if they’d rather reschedule. It’s not personal.

Nobody seemed to mind my little helper.

3. Remain Calm. Remain Confident.
If you’re stressing out, your toddler will sense your mood. Keep your tone light, and act as if it’s just as exciting as a trip to the library or park. And once you’re in the meeting with your client, keep your chin up. Just because you have a child in tow doesn’t make you any less of a professional, and doesn’t diminish your intelligence. Work it momma!

4. Bring a “bag of tricks.”
It’s common sense, but absolutely crucial. You’ll need a goody bag stashed with books, toys, snacks, and any other diversion you can think of. Be prepared to cycle through them all.

Goldfish, dolls, books, we had it all!

5. Give them the Holy Grail. 
For some kids, this is your cell phone. For others, your keys. Whatever that object is that you rarely let them have, give it to them now (within reason. Don’t hand them your pocket knife of anything.) It’ll buy you some time. For my daughter, this was a lollipop (or two). We can’ t pass by a candy aisle in the grocery store without her yelling, “Pop, pop!” Baby wants. Baby gets.

Stain on the shelves matches the stains on her shirt. Oh well, the peace and quiet the lollipop provided was worth it!

6. As soon as possible, let them play.
After your meeting wraps up, find the nearest place your toddler can play, and let them go to town. I was lucky enough today that my client had a kid’s play area in the store. Genius. I released her from her stroller and set her free! It was only for 10 minutes or so, but long enough to satisfy her before strapping her in her car seat again.

She was happy to get out of her stroller and play with new toys.

While taking your toddler along as your mini-assistant might not always go smoothly, it’s worth trying. Will I do it again? Only if I absolutely have to. She was a doll, and while I enjoyed her companionship, momma needs her grown-up time once a week! :-)

Recipe: Sweet Potato Muffins

Recipes aren’t something I plan on sharing regularly (because there are so many great recipe blogs out there), but sometimes I come across one that’s just too good to keep to myself. The muffin recipe below is fairly healthy (w/ sweet potatoes and whole wheat flour), and my girls devour these every time I make them. With one picky eater and one “give me meat and potatoes” eater (the baby, not my husband), it’s nice knowing they’re getting some homemade nutrition in the morning. 

Image

My girls love these! (Anna only eats the muffin tops, but who can blame her?)

From: Jenny’s Country Kitchen – Making Homemade a Little Easier (ISBN 1-890621-68-4)
I would HIGHLY recommend this cookbook if you like simple, down-home recipes. Everything I’ve tried is wonderful!

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes, squash or pumpkin
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I didn’t have any, but they tasted good without)
Raw turbinado sugar for topping (I didn’t have any, but I used powdered sugar instead)

Heat oven to 400. Grease or line muffin cups (makes 12).

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer. Add eggs, milk and mashed sweet potatoes and continue creaming.

In seperate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, stirring just until moistened. 

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full and sprinkle tops with raw turbinado sugar (I used powdered after they were baked). Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (mine were done in about 18 minutes. 

Enjoy!

Image

Cream together sugar and butter, add eggs, milk and sweet potatoes. Keep creaming!

Image

Get the dry ingredients together for a party. I added extra cinnamon.

Image

This batter is almost frothy. So pretty!

Image

Finished product! (I got a little messy with the powdered sugar.)

Image

I LOVE this cookbook! (All my favorite recipes are marked with yellow stickies.) :-)

Unwanted: The Cruelest Joke of Choosing to Stay Home

I’m not sure who was more excited about the Summer Reading Program Pajama Party at our local library, me or my three year old. (Ok, probably me.) After all, this was the stuff of working mom fantasies, spending quality time with your child in a fun, educational environment, watching them soak up knowledge and life experience for the first time, instead of hearing about it secondhand. I was pumped, I mean pumped! about going, and had built it up in her crazily-creative little mind as the best day ever!

She wore boots with her Jessie the Cowgirl jammies (that’s my girl), perfect for photo ops for momma’s blog (because I totally wanted to write a feel-good post about the merits of being present and accounted for at moments like this). She was a bit intimidated by all of the “big kids” (who weren’t actually taller, only older), and clung to my hand while we waited our turn for the activities. I was soaking up the moments, relishing in being there, actually there while she experienced this type of event for the first time.

Image

She left a mark…on my heart.

As we were working on decorating her teeny pillow case, the kind volunteer lady leaned down and asked my daughter, “Would you like to draw your mommy on your pillow?” By now, Anna had come out of her shell a little, and confidently replied, “Sure.” In an effort to avoid a possible tantrum over picture placement (I’m learning her trigger points) I asked, “Where should mommy be?” My heart will never completely heal from what she said next.

In a calm, clear voice, she stared straight ahead and said, “Mommy should be at work. I want a babysitter.” Perhaps this doesn’t strike you as hurtful, but it was her tone, her tone! Methodical and straight forward, not whiney or attention-seeking.

At the exact moment I wanted to experience the most, and gave up so much to share…she didn’t even want me there. 

I was crushed. And embarrassed. I tried to hide the pain (and tears) by stammering, “Babysitters are way more fun, right?” I gave up a career, a job I loved, financial security, adult conversation, and sushi (I gave up sushi!), to stay home full time with my daughters and be present and accounted for during these precious moments.

Immediately, I began questioning myself. Did I make the right decision? Is this going to ruin her? Should I go back to work? Can I enroll her in part-time care? Can I get her back into her former sitter? (Who was amazing, by the way. I really can’t blame her for missing her Nelle.)

Thankful to see a familiar face in the crowd of parents, I confided in an at-home mom mentor from my church, and her reply did wonders for my insecurities. “Oh, she just misses her friends. It will get better.” It will? It will?! This is normal? Hallelujah! I still have my doubts, but unless this continues to be an issue, I’ll just stay the course.

After all, when my daughter screamed and kicked the glass door as I walked down the sidewalk away from the sitter’s each morning (I still remember the sound of my heels click-clacking away from her), did I change my mind then?  No. I just kept doing my job. And that’s what I’ll do now.

Is it better to be wanted, and not present, or to be present, and unwanted? I guess I’ll find out.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Am I Mom Enough?

Image

THESE are the moments I need to remember.

No, this isn’t another mom blog tirade on the recent boobirific Time magazine cover. There are plenty of good ones out there, though.

This is a heart-on-my-sleeve post about some thoughts that were going through my head today. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels this way. If I’m not, then I could use some words of encouragement. If I am, then I’d like a prize for “most unique mommy meltdown.”

Here’s a little gem that popped into my head today: What the hell am I doing here? 

You see, this question goes both ways. There are days when I admit I feel highly over-qualified for this job. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s the truth. After spending an hour scraping gooey, matted banana from my baby’s high chair, I feel a little cheated. (True, I had to clean it before, but it wasn’t used that often.)

To the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, there are days when I feel vastly under-qualified, like today. I am not a child psychologist, preschool teacher or dietitian. When my older daughter had the Mother of All Meltdowns #2 (you can read about #1 here), it was the first time I seriously doubted my choice to stay home. I’m not sure who cried more, me or her. I even threatened to throw away her Toy Story 2 DVD (which if you know her, you know it’s a BIG deal). I’m trying to give myself a little credit, though, as my hormones are wonky due to the baby’s self-weaning. (Okay, I’m giving myself a LOT of credit for that. It’s been rough.)

Admittedly, I would probably feel this way had I chosen to continue working outside the home. I would have still asked myself, “Am I Mom Enough?” Whether you’re bringing home the bacon, or frying it in the pan (or both), it’s so hard to know whether or not you’re doing the right thing.

So, do I still think I made the right choice? Yep. After feeling so deprived of time with my darlings, I can’t imagine giving that up again in the near future. (Talk to me in a couple of years.) My daughter still would have had her meltdowns, and I would have had less time to make things right with her. So I’ll just take it day by day, or hour by hour, try to enjoy the bright moments, and stop asking myself that dreaded question. I’m doing the best I can, and that, my friends, should be “enough.”