Tending the Home Fires

This is where we talk about what it means to care for our homes and ourselves and any other humans (and/or animals) lucky enough to share those spaces with us.

Quarantine

Caregiving During Quarantine

Our world has been upended. Navigating empty store shelves, parsing quarantine orders, figuring out how to homeschool without ruining my children’s already shaky attachment to learning…We’re all trying to figure out our new lives and how to safely care for our loved ones. One thing is clear, our work as caregivers and mothers has never been more important. 

Much of our mental and physical work has shifted to discovering best practices regarding how to provide for and protect the ones we love. And yet the laundry still has to be done, dishes washed, dogs walked and cats peeled off furniture. 

Here are some ways we know Tend can help you with your own caregiving during quarantine journey:

Maintain Order: Tend can help you to remember that some parts of our lives are still normal; the laundry, the dishes, putting our kids to bed and waking them each day. These small, ordinary tasks connect us to our first principles, that we want our children to be clean, fed and asleep.  

Remember: Tracking gives you an opportunity to look back on these days and remember what they looked like after life returns to whatever the new normal will be. 

Journaling: The Tend journal is a safe space just for you, to vent openly and freely and to check in on your mental health.

Prioritize: Make sure you’re still devoting time to self-care, personal development, and your relationship in whatever way feels right to you.

Tackle Big To-Dos: Tend allows you to add custom tasks to your to-do list, so you make sure you’re allocating time to start that book list you put together in January, clean out the garage or teach yourself a new language. Let’s all learn latin then we can understand half again more of what the medical experts are talking about!

Let us know how Tend is working for you and how we can support you!

mothering in the time of covid-19

Mothering in the Time of COVID-19

With the deep concern currently circling the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought we would talk about it. Being a health care provider and a new mother definitely has me feeling conflicted. On one end of the spectrum, my health care side is telling me to relax, continue to wash your hands (something I constantly preached way before any of this came about!), and to remain cautious yet calm. After all, I have seen a lot of sickness, trauma, and chronic health issues in my career. Then I have the mom side of me, wanting to disinfect everything, stay away from all the people, and look deeper into the issue. Welcome to mothering in the time of COVID-19.

It is easy to start to panic if you’ve been watching any type of media. It’s all the news is talking about. It’s all over social media with highlights about celebrities and major athletes testing positive, cancellations of any major or minor gatherings, and travel restrictions. While it’s great that we’re taking things so seriously, frankly, it’s scaring the crap out of everyone. The grocery stores are empty, pictures of shelves completely bare, even Amazon is out of stock. I saw a 12-roll pack of toilet paper being sold on Amazon for $78! 

I have so many questions swirling around in my head. What is the right way to go about doing things? Stay inside and ride it out until this all passes? Continue living your life in hopes that the people around you are healthy? I think the fear of the unknown is the scariest part. As a health care provider I want to see statistics, facts, and what’s happening in the other cases. As a mom I want to frantically Google everything I can to see how to best avoid this for my family. Keeping my daughter safe is my number one goal, but with a husband also in the healthcare field, keeping him safe is also important. He’s out there every day caring for people, sick or not, and doing his part for the health of others. Selflessly risking his health for others. All the health care workers are, and I hope everyone is thinking about them.

The moral of my story is this is a scary time. I know we will get through this, and hopefully fairly quickly. I tell myself to remain calm, do what you can to keep your immune system up, sanitize, wash your hands, stay away from crowds, etc. As a new mom, part of me totally understands the panic people are feeling. You just want to protect your babies, no matter what that takes. I too am feeling that panic inside of preparing for the “what if ” situations.

Just know that no matter where you are in this, whether you think it’s all ridiculous and are living your life per usual, or you are prepared to sit at home for the next month with your 10 packs of toilet paper, you aren’t alone. We’re all in this together, and we will get through this!

child care

The Child Care Challenge

According to a Pew Research Center report, “Child care is a major concern for parents with children who are not yet school age. A majority of parents with one or more children younger than 6 say it’s hard to find high-quality, affordable child care in their community.” This concern traversed all socio-economic, race and gender delineations. Single parents and low-income parents, who are sometimes one and the same, had even higher levels of concern and frustration regarding affordable, high-quality child care for children under the age of 6.

None of this is news to anyone who has ever tried to find child care for a child under 6. And if you’ve ever tried to find care for a baby or a child that is not potty trained, the level of frustration and cost of care skyrockets. With wages what they are, stagnant for most and shockingly unfair for many (Latinx women earn 53 cents for every dollar a white man makes), child care costs can push women out of the workforce. Especially if a second child comes along.

Why are women the ones often pushed out of the workforce? When women perform the same jobs as men, they tend to be paid less than men. Women are also pointed toward and hired into fields that traditionally pay less than fields that employ men (construction vs cashier). If in a heterosexual couple the man makes 53k a year and the woman makes 28k, guess who’s staying home? And for every month and year she stays out of the paid workforce, the gap in her resume grows and grows, making it harder and harder for her to find a good quality job when the last of the kids finally go to elementary school. And if like many of the schools around here kindergarten is only 4 hours, she has to wait until the last child goes to 1st grade. And even then there is the gap between when a child’s day ends and when the traditional workday ends.

With all the hand wringing around the falling birthrate in America, one would think someone in government might realize that the stress, frustration, and heartache around quality childcare might be a pretty big contributing factor.

And then, if one finds childcare there can be all kinds of problems. I found childcare for my younger son that was affordable, had extended hours and FED THEM BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND SNACK! Anyone who has ever pleaded, nagged and cried their way through a time-constrained breakfast with a toddler and cleaned out a grotty lunch box five days a week for years knows why I was so thrilled.

There was only one pretty big snag. The childcare was through a local church and there were many religious components to the program. My family is without religion. I was concerned that there would be friction between what was taught at school and what he heard at home, but needs must. I had gotten a promotion at work that changed my schedule to weekdays from weekends and we really needed the money. So we enrolled him in the school and luckily he really didn’t understand what was happening. For awhile my younger son thought Jesus lived in New York City and when you died you went there and lived with him. My older son quickly adopted this theology, saying he hoped Jesus would provide him with a snug third floor walk-up with quiet neighbors and a reasonably chill co-op board.

We were very, very lucky. When I explained the theology swirling around my house, the director nearly hurt herself laughing. But what to do when the only quality, affordable child care teach ideals that clash with what’s taught at home? Many of my friends have had this problem. Some child cares include service requirements where parents must volunteer a certain number of hours per week in the class. Some of those parents have been a nightmare to deal with.

Anti-vaxx parents chiding children for the bandaids proclaiming they’d gotten a flu shot. Judgmental comments about the contents of a hastily packed lunchbox. Endless fundraisers, lists of required ‘donation’ items, and the general melee of drop-off.

It’s enough to send any sane woman screaming from the workforce. Hell isn’t always other people, sometimes it’s other parents.

New rule: keep your highly researched opinions to yourself. Nobody has time for it. Unless someone says the words, “What do you think,” keep all comments to the weather and how adorable everyone’s kids are, even if they are sniveling little bridge trolls. I can say this because I was a sniveling little bridge troll when I was a little kid.

No one has an easy, controversy free answer to the child care crunch in this country. For example, the second you start talking about extending local, state and federally funded schooling to every child from birth to college, everyone on either extreme of the political divide loses their minds. You know who you are so don’t even try to deny it.

But that leaves the millions of parents in the middle struggling with no end in sight. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of only our children and begin to think of all the kids. They deserve better than the patchwork of care on offer in this country. This is just a staggering breakdown of 10 places in the country where childcare bills for center-based infant and four-year-old care will cost you the most.

I don’t want to end on a hopeless note. Here are two different ideas about how we can provide high-quality, affordable child care for all Americans who want it. Each is from a controversial figure from either end of the political spectrum.

President Trump’s 2020 budget has a request for a one time 1 billion investment in childcare programs that mostly push deregulating the business of childcare. The proposal is tied to border wall funding, which is in turn tied to the entire Trump border policy which is inhumane to say the least.

Senator Warren has a more comprehensive plan for childcare. Here is her Medium article explaining it. Basically any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line would qualify for high quality child care at no cost to the family. And our nation reaps the benefits of having more children in high quality early childhood educational programs.

I'm Just as Surprised as You

I’m Just as Surprised as You

Here we are, the dawning of our third year…what exactly are we doing here? I’m just as surprised as you to realize that somehow, some way we are still writing blog posts, taking pictures, wrestling with f#cking instagram and realizing that Pinterest is very easy to use. Long live Pinterest! And the Pinterest fail.

To celebrate our Second Anniversary we will be rerunning posts that either performed well over the past year or posts that we just really like. It’s been quite a year for everyone (me and Felicia) here at Persistiny. We travelled a near hilarious amount, especially considering I have an entire array of anxiety reactions that involve leaving my house, getting in a car, getting on a plane, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, talking to strangers…

You get the picture. Felicia has gotten over her own array of anxieties. She is a person who appears to the outside world as the cool, calm and collected leader of the troop and yet on the inside she relentlessly questions every step she takes. You know, the complete opposite of our President. It is that willingness to question that makes her such a good leader.

So where are we going from here? We have more travel planned. We are going to SXSW, MOM2.O and many other conferences. We are getting ready to open a funding round to keep our app Tend updated and the lights on and a bunch of other very important things like marketing and everything else Felicia has meticulously laid out in our pitch deck. It is truly a thing of beauty.

As far as content, we are sticking with what we’ve got for now. I have some ideas for the recipe challenge, I’ve read a ton of books and watched an impressive amount of TV so that’s covered. We are also going to launch a podcast, as soon as yours truly figures out how to do it.

Here’s to 2020 (I am raising my mug of lukewarm tea I’ve reheated 3 times)! May all your harebrained schemes work out! If we can do it, so can you!

 

Why Am I So Angry?

Why Am I So Angry?

It’s time to start talking about anger. Healthy anger motivates, makes waves and instigates change. But there is some anger that just builds, layer on layer, until it fills us up and comes pouring out. Why am I always so angry? Nothing goes quickly in life. No. Thing. Not traffic. Not doctor’s appointments. Not any transaction at any retail establishment anywhere ever. My food order is usually wrong. My jeans don’t fit my thick middle. Nothing about my daily frustrations are new. Same shit different day. So why am I still so angry about it? Read more

Instead of Resolutions Try Recognition

Instead of Resolutions Try Recognition

Welcome to the new year, that special time when we’re reminded that we’re simply not good enough as we are. We should sleep more, but also get up before the sun to work out. We should have more adventures, but also make sure you save your money. Read more books, but also spend more time with your kids. Focus on your relationship, but also on yourself. More self-care, more discipline, more, more, more. This year we’d like to suggest something different. Instead of resolutions, try recognition. Read more

Alone on Thanksgiving

Alone on Thanksgiving

I am divorced. Sort of. I am in divorce limbo. Part of my new divorce limbo life is being alone on days of the year when it used to be guaranteed I would be with my spouse as well as my kids. My birthday. Easter. Thanksgiving. This year, I will be alone on Thanksgiving. Read more

What the Hell are We Doing Here

What the hell are we doing here?

What the hell are we doing here? Well, a little history wouldn’t be amiss… Read more

Family Portraits

Family Portraits

You know how people have framed, posed family portraits on their living room walls? I have never had one of those, not with my family of origin or with my married family or with me and Six and Older Son. 

These portraits fascinate me. I try not to stare rudely at them when I see them. There is a difference between making a polite comment regarding the image of another person’s gene pool and staring at the image like an investigator studying some wing-nut’s murder board. 

How do people manage this herculean task?  Read more

Grocery Shopping is a Complex Balance of Hard Facts and Wishful Thinking

Think about the last time you made a grocery list. Did you stick to it, buying only what was on it? If you did, you are my new hero and I salute you. If you didn’t, I feel your pain. Grocery shopping is a complex balance of hard facts and wishful thinking. The true victims of my grocery lists gone awry are the wee Persian cucumbers that molder away into a pile of slime and seeds in the back of my fridge. I always buy them and then the week doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would and who pays the price? Innocent cucumbers, that’s who. Read more