Archive for June, 2007

Sunny San Fran

Friday, June 29th, 2007

We just got back from running a bunch of focus groups in Northern California. Boy, that was fun! It always gives us a kick when we talk to mothers far and wide and hear the same concerns, hopes and dreams reflected in their stories. One major difference: NO ONE OUT THERE HAS TO DEAL WITH CABIN FEVER AND ICY DRIVEWAYS! If anything, they have the opposite problem: so much great weather, there’s never an excuse to hunker down under a blanket in front of the TV and let your brain (and that of your children) go to mush.

Hmm, difficult trade-off? Not.

We came back full of beans. Like when we heard from the frazzled mom in Australia — when we were just starting to write the book — and thought yeah! we’re on to something! Or when the mom from Germany complained about feeling guilty that her son played too much X-Box! Yeah! We all let down our guard sometimes — even those super, self-controlled Germans (I can say that: I am one!).

So here’s the thought-of-the-day: We’re all trying as hard as we can.

Children and Chores

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

We got the following anecdote from Maureen (who was answering one of our questionnaires for the book) and it set off all sorts of familiar alarm bells ringing in our selfish little ears:

I just asked my two daughters to empty the dishwasher and I got the following two responses:
1. “I did it the last time a kid did it!”
2. “I just finished finals and I can’t do anything else…!”
(I ended up sharing the chore with the one who had just had finals.)

I also have two boys and their attitude about household chores is, well, rather male! I am wondering if I/we are raising a generation of spoiled kids who don’t even know how to do laundry when they get into college… do we let them off the hook too much just to avoid conflict? I know I do; it’s the path of least resistance.

Oh boy… children and chores… oil and water. We all know kids should be learning to participate in the family, but getting them to help in a meaningful way TAKES SO MUCH WORK!!!!!!! Do we have time for that? Is it really so important? What do you think?

Is it possible that if mothers were more selfish, kids would have to buck up and do some of the grunt work themselves?!

What Happened to Plain Old FUN?

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Sometimes I just want to laugh till I cry. I remember watching the Eurovision Song contest in London with a friend when I was a teenager — those were the huge hair, big shoulder pad days — and laughing till I wet my pants. I want to have that kind of fun again. The I-need-to-wear-Depends kind of fun.

What do you do for laughs? The last time I can remember really having a blast was when I was on holiday with my husband for my 40th birthday. (I won’t go into details…) A few years before that, I had one of the best nights of my life on a tiny old rollercoaster in Santa Cruz, California. Sometimes, at home, I’ll turn up the music really high and dance around with the kids. Now that’s fun. Especially when you’re singing ABBA tunes at the top of your lungs, rivaled only by your fuzzy-lipped, ACDC-loving teenage son… We all need more fun in our lives. Don’t you think?

Naughty, Selfish, Guilty Pleasures!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

When we say our book is about taking care of yourself so you can take care of others, what does that really mean?

Well, it means taking quiet time every day. Five minutes or five hours, whatever you can swing. It means knowing yourself and determining your priorities. It even means sometimes putting yourself and your desires before those of the children. While most of the hundreds of women we’ve been speaking with cringe at the word selfish (because more than anything they aspire to being more selfless), each and every one agreed that she felt better–and did a better all-around job–when her own needs were being met.

When was the last time you did something for yourself? Did you feel guilty about it–because deep down you’re not so sure you really deserve it?

Every time I sneak away into a comfy corner to read a book, I feel guilty. There’s all that laundry, those dishes, the school-related paperwork to file… oh, and that book to write! Last year while doing research for a different project, I’d watch Fassbinder films on my laptop (research, I said! Not for fun, no!)… and I always felt like I was shirking my duties.

And then I’d kind of wake up: this was my life, my work, my passion. Why did I feel I needed to justify it… and anyway, who was giving me a hard time about it? I was!

Tell us about your guilty pleasures. Do you really think they’re so bad?