Start by embracing “change” as our only hope to a brighter future, and see the rainbow at the end of the storm.
Written by Ally Loprete
Have you noticed that there is no longer a basic definition of what a typical American Family entails? These days, families are being redefined by what works for them as a means of survival. There are those that oppose the unfamiliar, which is certainly understandable, and those that embrace it, which is what I believe is THE ANSWER.
Nowadays, anything goes. Men are staying at home with the kids while the women go to work. Women are becoming business owners while staying home and running the household. Families are working together to bring in extra revenue with small side businesses. Men are playing bigger roles in their children’s lives, contributing more with what used to be considered the women’s responsibility: cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, grocery shopping, helping with homework, etc. Gay men and women are getting married and having children together. Women are running for office, and winning.
If this isn’t a revolution, I don’t know what is.
Standing ovation and Bravo!
I honestly love all of it! I am so impressed with the way American families are coming together and making it work. I know it’s been a struggle for so many of us, but I think it’s important that we are all aware of how much we have achieved already just by surviving… and all the glorious places we can go to from here. If you are a parent, pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished and the innovations that are activating a brighter future for all of us, especially for our children.
You don’t see it yet?
Okay, suppose for a moment that you deserve the difficult time that you are living in. It doesn’t matter where you think you went wrong, the truth is, you probably didn’t. We all remember the basic things our parents and teachers told us growing up, and the simple keys to happiness.
Get good grades, stay in school, get a degree, marry the right person, save 10% of your paycheck, work your way up the ladder and earn your increase every year, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Okay, so maybe we deviated from the advice just a tad, but so what? We were promised a pretty secure and stable life with 2 cars, a house, some pets, stuff to play with, family vacations, college for our kids and a pension for early retirement. So what went wrong? Why are so many of us left scratching our heads after doing what we were told?
We’re broken down, beaten up, stressed out, over-weight, over-medicated, under cared for, jobless and hopeless, short-saled, repo-ed, and drowning in debt. We have blamed every president, politician, pushy boss, parent, partner and professor. We are fighting with our spouses, yelling at our kids and blaming ourselves. Sheeeeesh!
Let’s all just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and decompress.
Did it ever occur to you that this is all just part of our journey? This may not be a punishment. This “challenging” time may very well be an opportunity to rebuild an even better tomorrow for ourselves and for our children. We are living in a radical time of ground-breaking technology, new forms of mass communication, insurgent medical discoveries, and we live in a country where no one can REALLY tell us “no”. Sure, society might discourage us from trying something new or to taking risks, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. We need to re-program our minds to see the benefits of CHANGE, and how we are already in the middle of a spectacular revolution.
In the words of the late, talented and insurrectionary Michael Jackson, “Make that change.” Look in the mirror and start with yourself. Stop fighting with your spouse, your business partner, your boss or your neighbor. Look for the commonalities of what we are all trying to achieve, and realize the power we have in togetherness.
We are a new collaboration of men and women, alike. We are a partnership of moms and dads, of CEOs, COOs, and CFOs in our lives and in all that is important to us. We are united and we celebrate our differences. We are unapologetic for who we are, and accepting of those that have different viewpoints. We are each other’s teachers. We embrace each other’s special qualities, exceptional idiosyncrasies and unique characteristics because it is our only hope to solve this puzzle. We have only just begun to realize that by coming together we may all have a necessary contribution to the answer we have been seeking. This is a very distinctive time for us all, and we have the power to make a difference.
A rainbow cannot exist without first the presence of a storm. We deserve that rainbow.
Written by Chris Loprete
I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are gearing up for a safe and happy holiday season. We parents really are very lucky because seeing the joy and excitement in our children at this time of year makes us feel like kids again. It’s so much fun to be a part of isn’t it? There is one little warning I’d like to give to all of the new parents out there however. While you’re dolling yourself up to head to the office holiday party or the gift and cookie exchange party down the block or the New Year’s Eve extravaganza you’ve been waiting for all year; while you’re leaving instructions for the sitter and kissing your kids goodnight and saying, “Be good for (insert sitter’s name here), go to bed when she tells you and we’ll see you in the morning”; while you’re doing all of that remember one thing: KIDS DON’T KNOW WHAT A HANGOVER IS.
Date nights and adult gatherings are a rarity now for us ‘rents aren’t they? When one comes around and we actually envision an evening of adult conversation that doesn’t involve our child’s bathroom habits we jump at the chance faster than lions jump on a gazelle that tweaks a hamstring. Even though babysitter quotes have become outrageous (what are they, unionizing?) we’re willing to spare the extra sheckels to get an evening away. We may even have a drink or two. Even for those parents who don’t drink, that doesn’t stop you from taking full advantage of the night off and staying out a little longer than usual, right? And then after “making rather merry” we come home in the early morning hours, stumble into bed and sleep the sleep of the dead knowing that the hours we lost in the beginning of the night, we’ll make up for by sleeping all morning. And then (seemingly 5 minutes later) at 7 AM we feel a tap on our forehead and a small voice pierces our throbbing skulls saying, ”I want cereal and cartoons!” What the…? Now? Why? Don’t they know that mommy and daddy had several spirits last night and have only been asleep for 5 hours? Don’t they feel those jackhammers pounding into our cerebral cortex? Answer: no they don’t. And if they did…they probably wouldn’t care. And if you think you can just croak, “later” and turn and go back to sleep, I got news for you. Those jackhammers will increase by one. And it will get louder and louder and more and more powerful. And this one doesn’t have an off switch.
It’s not just hangovers either. You could be sober as a judge and go to bed Friday night thinking the weekend has started which means sleeping in for the next two days. And you’d be right…if “sleeping in” means getting up even earlier than your alarm usually goes off. My alarm clock is smarter than my 3 year old son. It realizes that Saturday and Sunday are non working days for me so it automatically shuts off and lets me sleep. My son saves the day though and makes sure I’m up at the EXACT time my alarm usually goes off during the week. My alarm almost shrugs and says, “Sorry, guy. I tried” My 3 year old knows the days of the week.: ”Monday, Toosday, Wenday, Fursday,…”,and he knows Daddy doesn’t work on “Satday” and “Sunday”…but hasn’t quite learned the concept of “sleeping in”. Or else he has and chooses to ignore it.
Another concept they don’t get is the two times a year when most of the country changes their clock forward or back an hour. For those in Arizona and parts of Indiana you can stop reading because you don’t change your clocks and therefore don’t have to deal with this phenomenon (freaks). The rest of the country just recently “fell back”. Now that gives us cause to rejoice because it’s an extra hour of sleep, right? Right…if you don’t have small children. Our little ones have not fallen back one minute and continue their clockwork ritual of waking us up bright and early. The difference? Instead of 7 AM it’s now 6 AM! Somehow they get themselves on track eventually, but just know that ”fall back” now refers to sleep time as in “Tonight we fall back on an hour of sleep.”
So take heed new parents. Enjoy the holidays as much as you can. Go out, see friends, and party like the old days. Just know that there will be a price to pay. Eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow you’re up early.
Written by Ally Loprete
Drama has been with me for so long, I don’t even remember where we first met. I think it was sometime during elementary school because by the time I was in junior high, it was sitting next to me in every class, eating lunch with me, and keeping me company while I walked home from school each day.
It started out shyly stalking me. It followed me wherever I went and hid behind bushes and buildings so that I wouldn’t see it. But I always knew it was there. At first, Drama was just sort of annoying to me, and then its presence began to torment me to the point where I’d try to avoid it at all costs, outsmart it, or hide from it by getting lost in a crowd of people and disguising myself as no one special… but Drama always found me. I tried to reason with Drama, asking it to leave me alone, locking it out my bedroom, and refusing to feed it or nurture it. I had hoped that it would just give up and find someone else to pursue, but nothing worked. Like a lost puppy, it had found its home with me, stayed loyal to me and waited outside all night in the cold for me, happily wagging its tail the moment it saw me. It would continue to tag along side me, each and every day. Some days Drama was more present than others, but it never left my side.
Drama came with me to high school, stayed all 4 years, and then followed me out of state to college. It lived with me and all of my college roommates, in the dorm, the sorority house and even in my first apartment. It stood next to me at graduation, was there when I took my first job, my second job, and pretty much every job after that. Eventually I just began taking Drama with me to job interviews so that potential employers wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Drama would be following me to work each day. Some employers graciously accepted it, and others did not.
Often when I went out with friends, Drama would be there. It accompanied me on blind dates, to parties, or even just out to the movies by myself. Drama has lived with me at every apartment, condo or house that I’ve had. It’s made its way into every group I’ve gotten involved with, and every friendship or romantic relationship that has come into my life. Drama was there when I first met my husband, on the day that he proposed and it even made several appearances on our wedding day. Drama has been living with my husband and I ever since.
It’s with us on weekdays and weekends, it joins us on all of our family vacations, holidays, and special events. We brought it with us when we purchased our first house, when we bought new cars, and whenever we have changed jobs or careers. Drama was with us when my husband and I decided to start a family. It stayed by my bedside throughout both of my pregnancies and was there at the hospital the day both my children were born.
Drama has become such a part of our lives, that if it ever left us, we’d feel that there is something missing. Some people seem put off by the fact that Drama comes with us wherever we go, acting almost as if they are allergic to it, afraid to go near it, or even hoping that if they ignore it won’t exist. Others have been very accepting of it, and have come to understand that it is part of who we are. We have embraced Drama as a member of the family, and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s taken some time, but we’ve learned to be grateful to Drama for being present in our lives. It’s because of Drama that we’ve become the well-rounded, seasoned and experienced people that we are today. Drama has taught us love and acceptance, how to lower our expectations, strive for growth, take risks and have a sense of humor about ourselves. It has shown us the difference between good friends and GREAT friends, brought us together with those we love during times of anger and sadness, war and disease, and other life tragedies. It has shown us that we are resilient, even during our most vulnerable times. It has introduced us to new people and situations, and taken us on journeys, both thrilling and exciting, that we never expected to go on. Drama has given us incredible material for our acting careers, our one-person shows, our books and our blogs. It has inspired us to create, invent, take risks, start new business ventures, and connect with others who also have Drama, similar to ours, in their lives.
We love to tell stories about Drama and do so over and over again at family reunions, and Thanksgiving Dinners. We will continue to pass the stories down to our children through the generations. Drama has brought laugher into our lives, as well as tears.
It’s because of Drama that we are who we are, where we are, how we’ve come to choose so many of the paths we’ve taken in our lives, and even how we’ve learned to survive. Drama has been documented in our history books, our newspapers and magazines. It is in our favorite TV shows and movies, the books we read, and even the commercials we watch.
Drama is everywhere we are, and once we embrace it, we are able to realize how it has nurtured us, emerged us into new opportunities and possibilities, teaching us how to make lemonade out of lemons.
We love Drama, and we are not ashamed to admit it, as others may be.
I have grown to feel sad for the people who don’t have at least a little Drama in their lives, and wonder how boring and empty their lives must be. Although, Drama has been known to follow others from time to time…even those that deny they know anything about it, lurking in the shadows and showing up when they least expect it. I know how Drama must frighten them, but I also know that they have nothing to be afraid of.
But it’s the people that have welcomed Drama into their lives that seem the healthiest, the least threatened and the most blissful. Drama is a gift.
Written by Ally Loprete
The thought of actually sitting down and scheduling some lazy “do absolutely nothing” time probably seems very stupid as well as a waste of time. Entrepreneurs, especially parents who are constantly on the go between their company and their families, really need to schedule some time to where they just sit back, relax and decompress.
When you are constantly on the go and running all over the place, attempting to work 7 days a week, in between playdates, naps, mealtime, laundry and grocery shopping, not only do you get overly exhausted by the 4th week, you run the risk of beginning to resent your company, the company that you started out loving. You may even begin to resent your children, the ones who you fell so madly in love with, you decided to work from home to be closer to them. Both responsibilites will soon seem like a ball and chain that you can’t get away from. This is not why you decided to work from home.
A written schedule can fix all of your problems. This is something that you should do every day of the week, whether you schedule your down time for the Saturday and Sunday weekend, take Monday off of work, take an extra long weekend, or just cut out of work early on one day a week. Your job as a parent continues all week long, so it’s important to account for ALL of your time.
1. Schedule in Realistic times to work, remaining flexible. For me, I am able to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons when my oldest son is at preschool and my youngest in napping. Every once in awhile my schedule is blown by an early riser, but it’s a time I can count on for the most part. I can also work for a few hours in the evening when my husband comes home, and Sunday nights when the weekend festivities are over and my husband can take over.
2. Make a list of weekly tasks and dedicate a day to each task. Mondays are for blogging and posting, Wednesdays are for social networking, Fridays are for PR. Evenings are for responding to emails and getting organized for the following day.Weekends are for catching up, but never more than 5 hours in a single weekend.
3. Schedule in “Mommy” or “Daddy” time. I had made a promise to myself and both my sons that each morning until lunchtime I would not work at all. I could schedule playtime, take them to a park, arrange a playdate, or even do some mommy chores, but my laptop was to remain closed. I also used this time to do mommy chores such as go grocery shopping or folding laundry. Because I was able to find ways to include them in these mindless tasks, they did not appear to resent this time as it did not seem like “work” to them.
4. Schedule in time for you. Just as the body needs food to stay nourished and sleep to stay refreshed, taking time to relax and clear your mind will work wonders for your health and your productivity.
5. Schedule time with friends and family. Date night with your spouse, with another couple, game night with neighbors, a visit with relatives, or out with your friends for a social gathering. It’s as important to your sanity as a good night’s sleep. Commit to 1-2 nights a month, if that is all you can squeeze in, but make that minimum a priority. It should give you just enough of a break from your work that you can go back with the same appreciation for your company that you started out having.
I was a working parent, and struggling with one of the most difficult years of my life. As much as I dreamed of winning the lottery and being able to spend time with my beautiful new baby boy, only 5 months old when I returned to my day job, I did not believe that I had a choice. I searched online often for the perfect opportunity that would make me stand up and go, “this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for! This is the perfect way to make money from home. Now I can quit!” But I never found it. It felt almost paradoxical that I was getting a decent middle income salary but I really only worked 10% of the time I was actually at my office- the other 90% just did my best to make myself look busy so that I wouldn’t be “found out.”
I needed the stable paycheck to pay for daycare. I grew to rely on that income, and not because I needed extra indulgences. Once we became parents, we cut out a lot of extras – going out to eat, we commuted in one car to save on gas, we gave up morning starbucks when the office coffee was just fine and free, and we stayed above water, but barely. So, believe me, it’s not as if I didn’t want to give up a posh lifestyle. With the cost of daycare, we were paycheck to paycheck and our incomes were the only stability we knew.
I was pretty convinced, even with all that internet searching that there was no alternative to this life. Although I found ads for millions of companies promising to give me EXACTLY what I needed, ironically, it was the very reason I didn’t feel that I could trust any of them. I wasn’t trying to be difficult and talk myself out of a good opportunity just because I was afraid. As a reasonably intelligent person, I know nothing was a guarantee, but there were just too many gray areas…the fine print that one doesn’t discover until AFTER you’ve already made the leap and are knee deep in your new “woops” career that will go nowhere and will eventually be shrugged off as, “well, I wanted to try.”
As a new parent, I couldn’t take that risk. Not when I had to think of my family. I’d made mistakes falling for the wrong get rich quick schemes before, and although it stung a bit, I would eventually get over it.
But this was different. I couldn’t afford a mistake this time. Not when I had a son, a mortgage, and job that gave me group health insurance.
It wasn’t until I was suddenly laid off and was forced into finding a new alternative that I saw things differently. With the severance I received, a bit of unemployment, and the daycare expense now non existent, I now had time to stay home with my son, at least for a little while – until I discovered what my next move would be. I had time to breath, even if only for a moment, and I wanted to take advantage of every second that I was able to stay with my son until the day I had to go back to a new job. I knew that day would come fast, but for the time being, I was just going to hug my son and breathe…just for a moment.
6 months later, I had a new viewpoint. After seeing my son flourish, my husband and I both feeling less stressed, time to actually spend weekends together rather than a frantic rush to finish laundry and grocery shop for the week, I called a family meeting and made a very important announcement.
“I am not going back to work.”
I didn’t care if I had to live in a cardboard box. I would never work for anyone else again, and leave my son. When I told my husband this, he stood there quietly staring at me, as if he was waiting for the punch line at the end of the joke.
Finally, he said, “Um, okay. That’s a nice thought, but…you can’t just DECIDE not to work again…”
Yes, I could. Every fiber in my being told me that I belonged at home with my son, and that if there was any way to make it work, I wanted to find it.
As a recent mother, I became intensely aware of the “maternal instinct” which fascinated me to no end. I had watched myself transform into everything a mother is supposed to be- even though a year later I was sure that there were things I wouldn’t be able to adapt to. I also learned in all my prenatal classes, how important our instincts really are when caring for a child, and how listening to them will almost always guarantee your best parental performance.
It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that extreme pain and turmoil I was in when I first dropped my son off at daycare to return to work after my maternity leave. This pain was unlike anything I’d ever known- and yet, I did my best to ignore it just to get through my work day. NOW, I was seeing in clearly- my instinct was shouting and pleading with me – “NO! Don’t leave your son. You aren’t ready and neither is he!” As much as I tried to avoid it, it followed me every where for an entire year. Once I went back to work, I couldn’t stand any “down time”. Infact, it made me crazy…so crazy that I’d walk in and out of every office asking if anyone needed any help with anything. I was afraid that if I stopped for a spilt second to think, my mind would take me to the one roomed home daycare where my child was growing up without me. So I kept myself as busy as I could to avoid that reality.
Yes, being at home with my son and living off of an unemployment check may have seemed irresponsible, but I was certainly earning that paycheck. And the more I thought about the kind of work that was involved in being a stay-at-home parent, the more it angered me that I wasn’t going to be able to keep that income flowing in. Didn’t I deserve it as much as anyone? Especially when I’d spent the last 5 years at my day job doing approximately 75% personal stuff, anyway?
NO! I wasn’t leaving my son again. I didn’t care what it took, I’d find a way to stay home. I’d even be willing to sell our house, our 2nd car, shop at thrift stores and garage sales. Nothing else mattered. I would not leave my son again. I knew, beyond any doubt that I would find the answer I so desperately tried to find on all my internet searches 6 months before. Because this time I HAD TO.
Literally keeping me up at night, I couldn’t shake the idea that there had to be others who were just like me, not knowing that it was possible to make a change and have a better life. It made me horribly sad to think that had I not been laid off, I’d still be working, surfing the internet and praying that the miracle answer would come save me. Ironically, my lay off was the answer to my prayers- even if only temporary. It brought me home to my son and showed me that I clearly didn’t belong anywhere but here. I began jotting down some ideas.
Although it’s easy to blame others, for the situation I was in- Bosses who should have promoted me, or been more flexible, allowing me to telecommute, better and more affordable daycares, politicians who didn’t spend our tax money in areas that would have helped better our situations, our government for not making paid maternity leave longer, my parents and inlaws for not being able to retire, move in from out of state and become permanent babysitters… the fact was, I didn’t know who to blame.
We live in a democracy, and what that means to me is that no one is allowed to tell me what career to have, or what role to have in my life. Although they may not be easy to find, there is always an opportunity to work, to make money, to seek a better education. We all know we can do anything we want if we put our mind to it, so then why aren’t we doing it? Why are so many of us struggling? What are we missing? These are the questions that kept me up at night.
I also couldn’t shake the feeling that others out there, just like me, even less fortunate than I- who weren’t lucky enough to be laid off, and might never have the chance to experience what I had- and be given the answer that I had. I wanted others to know that they did have a choice and despite their fears in leaving their stable cor
porate jobs, they had no idea that it was seriously necessary. Thinking that I might never have been given the gift of knowing what it was like to stay at home would bring me to tears.
I had to do something. Now that I was seeing things so much more clear than the year before, I knew I had to find a legitimate way to bring in a supplemental income, at least as much as unemployment would pay. I had to use my passion to help others.
But, what could I do? Somehow get everyone fired from their day jobs so that they could collect unemployment, too? No- obviously not the answer.
I want to not only help other parents have the opportunity to stay home with their children, but to help them realize that they are not wrong in wanting to do so. I want for other parents to be able to stop denying themselves the truth in what they deserved. I want them to know that they do belong at home with their children and their families deserve to flourish.
We have listened to politicians from every group talk about family values as if it was the one thing that was ripping our country apart, and yet there doesn’t seem to be any concern for the fact that the average educated family with two parents and at least one child need 2 incomes to survive. If family values are really what our country needs to get itself into a healthier place, then why isn’t there more focus on keeping children at home with their parents rather than at a daycare?
In my frantic search for some answers, I found that there were many people who felt the way that I did, and some very smart groups had already formed movements to get themselves heard. I encourage you to check out some of these groups: www.momsrising.org and www.moveon.org
That is a good place to start.
Welcome to my brain. It keeps going and going and going- like the energizer bunny. I am anxious to see if OurMilkMoney helps the situation the way I believe it will. But if it doesn’t… you can bet I will keep on tweaking until it does make some sort of impact. I won’t give up trying. None of us should. Our families are counting on us to save the world.