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Category: Simple Parenting

Road Trip.

Road Trip.

Living simple doesn’t haven’t mean living boring.  In fact, when you get used to needing less stuff, it makes travel a lot easier.  But, travel can also be expensive.  Airline tickets are pricey, especially when your kids grow out of the “lap baby” stage, and then there are hotel rooms, rental cars, food, entertainment, etc…  So, in the interest of having fun without spending a fortune, we planned a little mini-vacation for spring break next week.  My sister and brother-in-law just bought a house up  in the mountains above Evergreen and they are out of town for a couple of weeks so they offered up their house.  We graciously accepted.  We are going to spend one night in Evergreen, then drive south to the Cottonwood Hot Springs near Buena Vista, spend one night at the Cottonwood Lodge, and then head back to Evergreen for one last night before returning to Denver.  We’ll do some hiking and swimming; we’ll bring James’ Strider bike to keep him entertained (and wear him out so he’ll sleep); and we’ll bring a cooler full of snacks but also check out a few of the funky cafes and restaurants along the way.  To some, that might not sound exciting enough, but I can’t wait!

Our family loves exploring small towns.  Caleb loves to check out the rivers and find places where our son can throw rocks in the water and poke sticks in the mud.  I like to hike or just walk around and check out the shops and the people.  When James needs some play time, we’ll find a playground or a library with a kids area.  Libraries are AWESOME when you have a kid.  And when you go to a library in a new town, that means a whole new kids area to explore with different toys, different books, and different kids.  Anytime I need a break from entertaining my son, we head to the library.  And the best part?  It’s free!

We’ve done some international traveling with our son, and definitely will again, but right now we’re just trying to keep it simple.  And, we’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful state that has a lot to offer.  So why not enjoy it?  Every vacation doesn’t have to be complicated.  On this trip, I’m aiming for fun, low stress, relaxing, and simple.  Our longest car ride is two and a half hours.  We only have to pay for one night in a hotel.  Our room comes with free entrance to  the hot springs and a continental breakfast.  What more could we need?  I’ll let you know how it goes, and try to  take some cool pictures along the way.

A Masculist Movement

A Masculist Movement

If anyone has figured out a way to make motherhood simple, I’m all ears, because I haven’t.  Whether you stay at home with the kids or work eighty hours a week, it’s still a lot.  A lot of work.  A lot of time.  A lot of responsibility.  A lot of organization.  A lot of worrying.  A LOT!  The feminist movement was a huge step in the right direction.  Yes, women should be treated equally and they should have every opportunity that a man has.  I wholeheartedly agree!  But sometimes it seems that instead of creating a culture where women are allowed to do anything, we’ve created a culture where women are expected to do everything.  Yes, women have proven themselves in the workplace and still raised great kids.  But at what price?  By giving up things like sleep and exercise?  Are we all expected to be superwoman?

Yes, today’s men are much more willing to help out around the house and participate in child care and I commend them for that.  But it’s still viewed as “helping out.”  If a husband cooks dinner at night, he thinks to himself, “Wow!  I’m a great husband and father.  I’m helping out.”  But if he’s “helping out,” that means the ultimate responsibility is not his.  Who cooks dinner on the nights he doesn’t feel like helping out?  Who’s responsibility is it to make sure that there is food in the fridge to cook?  Who makes sure that the whole family gets nutritious, well rounded meals?  Who arranges the child care pick-ups and drop-offs?  If we are really going to be equals, we need to change this idea of “helping out.”  We don’t need “a little help around the house,” we need our husbands to take something completely off our plate.  We need a husband who says, “I’ve got food covered.  Budgeting, shopping, cooking, packing lunches, nutrition.  Covered.  Don’t even think about it, babe.  I’ve got it.”  That’s what it takes to truly live as equals.

Otherwise, we expect the women of our generation to be CEOs at work and at home.  Even if we snag one of the good husbands who “helps out,” everything is still our responsibility.  We still sit down every evening with our to-do lists and day planners and double check that the kids have rides, grocery shopping is done, there are diapers in the closet, everyone has clean clothes, and someone is going to vacuum before the guests arrive on Thursday.  Stay at home moms already have a full time job, a really tough one.  So if you go back to work, do you have two full time jobs?  I know you can delegate some of the tasks, but the responsibility still seems to rest on the woman, because we are the mom.  I guess it’s true now more than ever.  A woman’s work is never done!

I’m ranting about this because I’m facing the decision of going back to work full time, part time, or not at all.  My first fear about going back to work is, obviously, not being the one there with my son all day teaching him about the crazy world we live in.  But, another great fear about going back to work is that I am still going to have all the same responsibilities at home, and there simply are not enough hours in the day, or enough brain cells in my brain, to stay on top of everything.  Something has to give, and I don’t want my kid to suffer if I let go of some of those responsibilities.

Luckily, I did snag one of those modern men who are willing to “help out.”  My husband is perfectly willing to pick up the slack if I decide to work full time, but will he do as good a job as I do?  Will he take FULL responsibility?  This might sound really arrogant, but I treat being a stay at home mom like a job, like a 24 hour a day job.  I was raised by a great, stay-at-home mom who set the standard pretty high.  So I don’t feel like I’m doing my job unless the house is clean, the bills are paid on time, the kid is happy, there’s a home cooked meal on the table, and tomorrow’s day is planned.  Can men do that?  It seems to me that women have proven their role in the workplace but have men proven their role at home?  Maybe we need a masculist movement where men can fight for their right to do laundry!

Can husbands be right about parenting?

Can husbands be right about parenting?

I took my son to the YMCA yesterday.  We have a membership there which will forever be in the budget because at $70 a month, it includes two hours a day of free child care, and James loves it because it’s stuffed with building toys like train tracks, giant blocks, and a big puzzle mat.  I’ll admit that I sometimes drop James off at the Kid’s Club and sit in the lobby for an hour drinking the free coffee and relaxing.  Hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right?

Most of the time, or at least half the time, I actually workout while James is in the Kid’s Club and then we go in the family pool together before we head home.  Yesterday there was a dad in the pool with his eighteen month old daughter.  Unlike most of us modern day parents, this guys was not hovering over his little girl like she was doomed to slip and fall and gasp her last living breath at any moment.  He stayed a safe but reasonable distance from his daughter and when we she was attempting to do something a little past her ability he said, “Be careful princess.  Your might bonk your head if you try that.”  The little girl wanted to step  off the edge of the pool into the water.  It was only a few inches deep, but the step down was big for her and there was a slide right in front of her that she could have fallen and bumped her head on.  The dad didn’t move to stop her.  He simply repeated his warning that she might fall and bonk her head.  The little girl looked at her dad, looked at the step, and went for it.  Much to her dad’s surprise, and mine, she made the step gracefully.  She looked back up at her dad and smiled.  If she knew the words, she would have said, “told you I could do it, dad!”  Her dad smiled at her and said, “my little daredevil.”  The little girl was clearly pleased with herself.

My husband has a similar hands off approach with our son, and it drives me insane!  I’m always nagging him to pay closer attention to our son because I’m worried he’s going to get hurt (my son, not my husband).  My middle school English teacher would cringe at that unclear pronoun reference.  Sorry, Nancy.  My husband, in return, always says that kids won’t take as many risks if they know you’re not right there waiting to catch them.  We have argued about this for two and a half years but I think I’m ready to concede. I mean, I’m not saying I was wrong.  That’s just crazy talk.  I’m just saying that my husband’s theory might not have been entirely ludicrous.  In fact, looking back, our son has had his two most serious injuries when he was under my care.  So… I guess maybe it’s true.  Maybe you have to let your kids learn their own limits even it means scraped up knees, elbows, and faces.  Maybe that’s why kids are made so resilient; why their bones bend instead of break, why their cuts heal over night, and why a kiss can heal almost any boo boo.  Maybe my husband isn’t entirely ridiculous.  But you know what, I hate when my husband is right about parenting things.  I hate it.  I’m the mom.  I’ve spent 2 1/2 years with the kid, scouring the internet and reading parenting books trying to figure out why he won’t eat, won’t sleep, won’t listen, won’t brush his teeth, and won’t stop throwing his food!  I  should get to be right!  I tried harder!

I realize there is a more mature and enlightened way of looking at this situation but I hate being wrong about things.  I’m thinking I’ll just pretend that my husband hasn’t been doing this all along and that this “new” minimalist parenting concept was a result of my recent infatuation with the living simplly.  There, I feel better.  So, to answer the question, “no, husband’s cannot be right about parenting.”