Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kids and Money

When it comes to kids and teaching them about money I tend to disagree with everyone from my husband to my sister on this. I want my kids to know financial responsibility. Of course I don’t want them to grow up to be entitled, spoiled little brats either but there seems to be a pretty fine line to walk when trying to navigate this lesson of parenthood. Some philosophies I carried over from my own upbringing and others are different than how I was raised, but as I use to tell my sister before she had kids to each their own.

Money and Chores

I’ve heard the arguments for how kids should get paid for doing chores and I’ve heard the arguments for why they shouldn’t.  Some may see my view as harsh but there is no set guaranteed payment for chores in my household. My kids are expected to put their laundry away, empty the dishwasher, sometimes help clear the table after dinner, clean up their rooms and any messes they make, and take care of their cat including the litter box. Sometimes they also help do the cleaning and yard work. Here’s my argument for having them help out without compensation. I don’t get paid to clean up the house and put my stuff away. Self-responsibility doesn’t come with a reward; you just do it because that’s what you do as a responsible human being. I am also not the maid. We all live here; therefore, we will all take part in doing stuff around the house. Now every now and then if there’s a bunch of extra stuff to be cleaned up around the house or for doing their chores without whining or forgetting and I have a couple extra bucks I’ll give them money.  If I want them to consider how and when to spend their own money they do have to earn some money somehow. Besides the random payment for doing a nice job or extra when it comes to chores around the house, they also earn money for "babysitting" their brother (watching or entertaining him while I'm doing something else around the house). They can also earn money from good grades.

When to spend their own money verse mine

We take our kids to do a lot of things. We went and did a lot of things before we had kids. We weren’t about to change this because we had kids or exclude them; however, I often worry how traveling and going to do so much stuff on the weekends could lead my children to believing money grows on trees. Our kids are also in a lot of activities that run into a lot of money. Affording three kids activities, clothes, and tickets for this and that all run up into quite a bit of money; however, my husband and I work hard for our money so I'm not going to avoid doing things as a family because my kids might get too "spoiled" from it.  So there are times like recently when they wanted to buy books at their school book fair even though I take them to the library at least once a month,that I said they’d have to use their own money. After forking money over for birthday parties and Easter, buying spring sports gear, and purchasing tickets to upcoming weekend activities , the parent bank was dry.  They gladly obliged and they each sat down and went through how much money they had to spend and their wish list of items to make decisions on what they were actually going to get. If we go to a movie or something like Disney on Ice  or have an upcoming trip planned they are often encouraged to save their money for the things they may want there as we paid for the tickets  and expenses to do the activity but are not about to spend $60 on three flashing Disney princesses or whatever flashly thing they think they may need. Though they are kids and often want toys, they know we are not going to buy them toys. Though they do sometimes spend their birthday or Christmas money on toys from the store, they also know now to consider saving it for events like an upcoming show or the beach like last year  when they bought crabs from the beach with their saved money. We will take care of their needs but when it comes to their wants they have to consider their own money and how much they really want to part with it for something they want now verse something they may want later. 

Working as teenagers and managing their own money

As my kids enter their teen years and those wants become bigger and more expensive, they will be expected to work. However, their studies and activities are first so the expectation will be when it fits in their schedule after school and sports so like during an off season, just weekends, or maybe a particular night or two of the week. Though we do plan to provide them with a car once they have their license more for our convenience than theirs it will only be for their remaining high school days. Once they graduate and are ready to head off to college, is when we will start to expect them to look into getting their first car in which they’ll cover the payments though we’ll probably cosign with them. But from the beginning they’ll be expected to pay their own gas, spend their own money when going out with their friends, pay for their own cell bill, and possibly even their share of the auto insurance again depending on the balance between activities and work but if they are not in season with a sport they will not be sitting on their teenage butt. They will be working.

Paying for College

Though it may seem like my money managing expectations for a six and nine year old are a little harsh,  I have agreed to support my husband’s idea of trying to help pay for some of their college. Even at six and nine I know these are good girls. They work hard, they take their studies seriously, they do a ton to help out around the house ,and though they will have a vested interest in their college career because some of it will be paid for by them through either scholarships they earn, work study income they make, or school loans they have to take out to pay back themselves later, we do not want our kids starting their adult lives out in ridiculous debt or being stuck paying school loans until they die of old age as will probably be the case for my husband and me. I'm not going to forfeit my current financial situations or my own future retirement for their college savings though, but because I like to think I myself was raised to be smart with money I will make sure we save what we can to give them a little help.
Teaching them to save I'm finding though is a hard concept. I think my younger one gets the idea better than my older. My older wants to spend every last dollar she has, but I've also seen them work together to "loan" each other money or put their money together to get something they agreed they both wanted.  They are learning. I know at times they think I'm just an awful, evil Disney mother or something because I expect them to do chores every day when they walk in the house and I don't believe they should be instantly rewarded with money for helping out in a house we all share. They also understand we spend a lot of money to take them to go do a lot of stuff and that all those activities they enjoy are not free and they have both expressed gratitude at various times for these luxuries. When my oldest for her ninth birthday told me not to worry about the present part of her birthday because throwing her the party with her friends and going to do family stuff her birthday weekend was enough I knew- evil harsh mother or not- they're learning.



Monday, April 9, 2018

Her Story: Her Truth

I am continuously awed and inspired by the bravery, the grit, the courage, and the perseverance I see in the women of today. They are all around me. They are in the girls I use to go to school with, they are in the women I've worked with, they are in the moms of my children's friends, they are in the women I call my closest friends, they are in the older women that came before us,  and they are in my cousins and my sisters. As a little girl born in the early 80s, boys and men were still seen as superior, and the woman as the weaker sex.

But I've come to see she is a force to be reckoned with; there is a strength within her that outshines the outdated thinking of her inferiority. I've seen these women face down cancer, lose their parents at young ages, lose unborn babies sometimes more than once, struggle with mental health and eating disorders, raise their children alone, speak out against their abusers, and leave their cheating husbands. I've seen them become leaders, become entrepreneurs, become teachers, become women of the military, become counselors and social workers, become speakers and writers, and the list of what they have done, what they have overcome, and what they can do goes on and on.

Maybe one of the most inspirational things of all is her place is no longer one of silence and submission. No matter the battle she faces, she owns it. There are moments meant to test her, sometimes break her, and in the very toughest moments meant to shatter her. But good or bad, she owns it, and rather than let it tear her down she will use it to rebuild herself back up.

As we raise the next generation of girls and women, we are paving the way for a future where she doesn't doubt her strength, her power, or her place. She will be womazing like the women before her. Keep telling your stories, ladies, keep owning them, even in the hardest moments, because we are rewriting the story of the woman. She is no longer meant to be silent. She will tell her stories; she will tell her struggles; and she will tell her truth.

We are giving a voice to things like miscarriage and lost babies, mental health and eating disorders, breast cancer, abuse and sexual harassment, equality in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our society.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Spousal Wars

I never knew committing to spending a lifetime to share your life with someone would also mean preparing to duke it out over the same petty battles day after day. Almost thirteen years into this living together thing and we still continue to fight over the following things:

1. Laundry: We disagree on everything with the laundry from how to sort it to how to fold it. He says we sort clothes based on water temperature and I say we sort them based on color. I am also notorious for forgetting to clean out the lint thing in the dryer. So between my cooking skills and this if the house ever catches on fire it probably is my fault. It's not just that we disagree on how to fold one thing in the laundry. We disagree on how towels, pants, and t shirts all get folded. At this point I have consented to folding pants and t shirts his way, but I totally refold all his towels otherwise they wouldn't fit in my cabinet.

2. The heat in the house: He's constantly turning the heat up to 70 or higher and because I'm constantly moving and like to sleep cold I'm constantly turning it back down to like 65. Then he'll ask who touched the heat as if he doesn't know. Then I'll shrug my shoulders as if I have no idea how the heat got turned down or off. And almost thirteen years later this comical ridiculous battle of wills still continues between us and neither of us are willing to consent to a happy temperature in the middle.

3. Socks: So apparently I own no socks and they are all his. It seems like every pair I put on he claims are his. I know he buys himself socks frequently. I don't really remember the last time I bought myself socks but socks are socks, right? I'm sure I own socks. I think. Unless they're all the mismatched ones in the basket. It's even gotten to the point where if I'm sitting in my chair with my feet up, wearing "his" socks he'll walk by and snatch them off my feet and throw them across the room just to antagonize me. However, this has not convinced me to go buy my own package of socks so I share continue this ridiculous battle of the socks with him.

4. Bathroom: Really, it sounds like this is a spousal battle in every house. But in particularly in mine it never fails just as I'm getting ready to take my shower in the evenings is when he decides to do his business he's supposedly been holding off on doing all day. I swear a must in our next house is going to be one of those toilet closest things for the bathroom where the toilet is closed off from the rest of the bathroom. It's going to have double sinks too because he may complain about my long hair clogging up the shower drain but his razor sharp facial hair clogs up the sink and I swear he spends more time in that bathroom getting ready than I do. And he has no hair so I'm not quite sure what takes so long.

5. The Car Charger: I'm not really sure why in this day and age but our cars always seem to only have one car charger. Because he's usually the one to buy them he claims first dibs so I usually wait until he's not looking and then switch the charger to my phone. Whenever we're fighting over who gets to use it on our long road trips he'll stop and pick up another one. Except they never seem to last very long because supposedly I break them all. Because they always seem to quit working right after being left in my car or after my phone has used them does not mean necessarily that I broke them. He always tells me I'm going to buy the next one. But I know I can outlast him on the whole sharing thing so he always ends up buying the next one.

I'm sure the ridiculous battles between us that have continued for the past thirteen years is longer than these five but these childish spousal battles are some of our favorites. What do you and your spouse fight over constantly but find too much humor in driving each other a little crazy that you don't see the battle ending anytime soon?


Monday, April 2, 2018

Doing the Hard Things

When I was seventeen the other pitcher on our team took a ball to the face and was out the rest of the season right before we were headed to Regionals. Everyone it seemed was pleading with the coach, who happened to be my dad, to pick up another pitcher before the big tournament. Without her I was the only pitcher they had left. Now to give them the benefit of the doubt I had struggled that season and though my younger self had gone out there and pitched a whole tournament I kind of doubted myself whether I could do it or not at this time. But the old man believed in me when even I doubted myself. I threw eight games that week and took us up through the loser's bracket to medal third in the semi finals game. Though we were one game short of the championship I did what I didn't think I could do.

I remember when I was twenty-one and headed into my senior year of college and it felt like between working and schoolwork I was just drowning in work. I remember telling my ex boyfriend that I didn't think I could do it. My parents didn't pressure me into going to college as they didn't so surely they wouldn't really care if I didn't finish. But he said something to me that I still remember to this day when I think I can't do certain things. He told, "You will finish because you always do the hard things you or others don't think you can do." He was right. I was just being whiny and dramatic. I finished as the first female in my mom's family to earn a college degree. My sister, cousins, and even my aunt would follow not too far behind me but I did show that it could be done. 

When I was twenty-three I told my family and friends I was moving halfway across the country with my boyfriend of the past year. That line of haters and critics stretched clear around the next corner, and I was the first one in that line. It would never work. I wouldn't last a month away from home and my family. I was a stupid, naive kid that didn't know shit. Well, that naive kid that didn't know shit was fairly accurate because well wisdom at twenty- three isn't exactly the smartest time in any of our lives. If building a life with someone else with nothing but two empty bank accounts,  two broken down cars, a newly crippled dog, a microwave, and TV 1100 + miles from home didn't teach me a little perserverance and grit then there isn't much hope for me, but here we are almost thirteen years later. 

When I was thirty-three I had just suffered through my second miscarriage in an attempt for a third baby after barely gaining a sense of balance with career and motherhood of two after a year long PPD episode as it was. Well meaning people told me maybe it was best to not try for the third and to give up that dream. The loudest voice to just give up was my own voice but we all know how that story ended with baby boy Glenn.

Now here I am at thirty-six struggling personally and professionally. Some of it is due to the declining of my hearing and some of it is because honestly I get in my own damn way too much probably. A few years ago I think I thought I was reaching a point in life where I had nailed this adult life thing. I climbed my mountains. Now I could sit back, relax, and cruise through the rest of the ride that's life. I did the college and even  the grad school thing, I started a career with great benefits, I was doing this whole marriage and family of five thing, we even got out of the paycheck to paycheck living and had our finances on a better path than those poor kids that came out here. Getting here with all of that was A LOT of work, overcoming a lot of doubt, uncertainty, and setbacks. So why the hell does there have to be more shit to work through and figure out? Why is there not a cruise control in life. It's just like driving down the interstate. I get the cruise control all set and then before I know it something is in my way and I have to take it off.

I kind of think I've let the car stutter and die on the side of the road at this point. I've just been sitting here, looking this way and looking that way, trying to decide even what direction I should be heading in. Here's what I've realized of late of why I'm not getting the car back on the road headed in any definite direction. I'm sitting here, looking for the road ahead that is flat and smooth. It's not there. Every darn road in front of me, contains some kind of mountain that has to be climbed with no clear certainty of what's on the other side. I'm looking for a clear easy shot with a clear view of what's ahead on the horizon, and it's not there. It's not going to be there. No matter how long I sit here it's not going to just suddenly be there.

 Like too many times before I am my biggest obstacle in my own way. I don't want to consider the roads and the mountains ahead because I don't think I can do the hard things. At some point when we stare at the hard things- at the mountains and obstacles looming in the distance, uncertain of whether failure or success awaits us on the other side- we have to realize the loudest voice of criticism and doubt is all too often our own. We can do the hard things we don't think we can do. I can do the hard things I don't think I can do. No the road to those things is not smooth, flat, and easy. There are two things-one professional in regards to my career with my struggles with my hearing loss and one personal in regards to myself and relationships- that are going to require doing some hard things. But I've come to see the only thing standing in my own of doing the hard things is myself.

So when we don't think we can do the hard things we have to remind ourselves of all the hard things we have done, and then we have to get out of our own way because we can do the hard things.

                                                  Photo provided by Willow Grove Church

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nothing Changes if You Don't Choose Something Different

I have wanted something different for myself career wise for some time now. What exactly is where I seem to change my mind with the change of the wind direction. In the past two to five years I have considered doing courses to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant to work with new mothers, I have considered going into the restaurant business with my husband, I've considered getting a second Masters to become a school library media specialist to possibly work in even an elementary school, I've considered looking into revisiting my current masters to see what I need to do to get my official counseling certification, I even briefly considered a PhD in women and family studies as I always said if I was going to go back to school it might as well be for a PhD at this point, I've considered sticking with teaching but moving towards part time to the point of working 2-3 days a week on an A/B block schedule and working on my writing, and we have looked into doing a 1-2 year out of the country teaching assignment. By considering all of these I mean I have emailed and contacted people about programs and steps forward. For all of them. I have folders of notes and action plans for a good half of them too. As of last month I was halfway through the hiring process with an investment firm right here in the town where I live with the opportunity to be running my own office within five years. Though I kindly declined the offer to pursue the opportunity I was left with an open invitation to let them know if I changed my mind.

So what am I going to do? So many options so just choose one already, right? It's kind of like being 17 again though. But this time I have adult things on my mind- like money. How much income will I lose and how do we account for that? How much will it cost to get all new certifications and qualifications to do something different? What is the max potential income and if I can make what I make now how long until I reach that?

What about health insurance? I've carried ours for the past eight years as my husband's position is paid for out of Title I funds so how much will that cost us to pick it up elsewhere? Will it be anywhere as good as what we have? Will my husband possibly ever be able to carry the insurance and if so when?

What about my time? This is as huge of a consideration as money. Am I going to lose time at home with my family? Will this give me the opportunity to be home more with my family? Will this offer me flexibility with my time to be there for the endless things that come up with kids?

Purpose, satisfaction, and happiness- these things matter to me in what I do with my work time. I have always loved to work. I love the sense of accomplishment and purpose with working. I don't do it just to make money. I like to do something that's with people- helping and/or serving people.  Even when I was 16 working at the Dari B, I loved the opportunity to serve my beloved community their favorite treat 🙂 So how could this choice or that choice give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction? In what ways will it make me happier? In what ways will it make me less STRESSED? Is it going to be more stress at first because adjusting to change- even change you want- is usually a lot of hard, stressful work in the beginning? If so, how long until I'm settled and comfortable in my changed situation?

For years it's been let me pay more things off, let me build up more of a nest egg of back up funds, let me wait until my husband figures out what he's doing next, let me wait until the kids are a bit older, especially if it involves a lot of work time from me at first.

But I hate being in limbo. I hate waiting; though I've been waiting a long time for this. So last week I made a decision. I talked to our Human Resource office and switched the intent on my teaching contract for next year to part time! Now, before I get too overly excited about this, I can't do my desired straight part time where I work 2-3 days yet, but I can swing what's considered a .7 or .8 in which rather than working 7 hours every day I'd work more like 5.  My ideal hope with this is I could work something like 930-230 or 10-3 rather than my current 730-230. If I could get luck on my side and end up in a school a half hour closer to my house I could gain three hours a day back at home to hopefully balance this working mom life thing a little better. I'd be the one home with the kids in the morning, even getting them on the bus, and I'd still be back home like I am now by the time they got off the bus at 4. But rather than going to bed by 10 for my 545 alarm I could stay up until 1130 due to a 730 alarm. My hope then is to use my extra time to first pursue monetizing my writing more. There is this online writing course, strictly for writing content for motherhood websites and magazines, that I've been wanting to take so I plan to start there. I could very well fail at the writing for steady income thing, but at least I'd know I tried, and while I'm trying I have my new Thirty-One business to carry the income I hope to eventually replace with a steady writing income.

If that did fail I think I'd use my time as all my kids got into school to go back to school myself- whether it'd be to become a school library media specialist, get my PhD in women and family studies, check into what to do to get my official counseling license,  or get my certification to become a childbirth educator and lactation consultant- my 36 year old self isn't exactly sure but maybe my 40 year old self will have a better idea of what she wants to do/be when she grows up. By then maybe my husband will decide he wants to teach out of the country or hire me as his business financial manager as he starts a restaurant.

Now in order for this to work the way I hope the trick is I now have to find a school that has the part time position I'm looking for. These positions are HARD to find, but when they are there I imagine they are also hard to fill. I have the next four months to find this ideal part time position that I'm looking for. I also plan on applying to a neighboring county in hopes of widening my search net. But then come the first of July, if I haven't found the part time position I'm looking for, I am reconsidering the investment firm's offer. Though it'll be a tough transition at first and demand a lot of my time because they do pay for me to study, train, and take their certification courses; within a year I cannot only be settled into it, be working a much more flexible schedule right here in town where my kids are and able to put them on the bus in the mornings, but making the same if not more money than I already do. There are pros and cons to both, and though I like the long range potential of working with the investment firm, my hope is to first have the opportunity to see what teaching part time is like for me as it is hard to imagine my life without it. It may have it's incredibly stressful, thankless days but there are also many things I would miss about it.

I am gone ten hours a day right now from the time I leave shortly after 6 until I get home around 4. With three little kids at home, no family around for help, and a husband in a leadership position that has the same hours as me, I need to be more available to my family. I need more balance in my work/family life. I can't attempt to get that if I don't change anything so I hope switching my contract to part time is just the first step in making a choice to take a chance to try something different in hopes that I can find the change I've been looking for.

Wish me luck as I am a horribly impatient person when it comes to uncertainty and the unknown in situations like this and often make quick decisions that come from impatience rather than desire.