A Cup of Ambition is a weekly newsletter filled with thought-provoking essays, interviews, links, and reflections on all things related to working parenthood. If you are here because someone shared this with you, I hope you’ll subscribe by clicking on the button below.
How remote working could be changing children’s futures (BBC)
I really enjoy the thoughtful and in-depth articles that BBC Family Tree publishes on working parenthood. I thought this article did a nice job delineating both the positive and potentially negative impacts that working from home can have on children.
On one hand, remote work offers greater flexibility and—at least, ostensibly—greater availability and presence. The downside is that it can be harder to draw boundaries between the office and home when your home is your office. The concern is that if parents are preoccupied by work when they are supposed to be parenting, kids may internalize the message that they are less important (of course, this can also happen for people who work in the office too). The key is segmenting the day and instituting routines to help you reinforce boundaries between settings.
The challenge of raising a kid who’s just like you (New York Times)
This article resonated so strongly with me. I, too, have a highly perfectionistic and sensitive child who is a lot like me. When I see the struggles and disappointments he inevitably faces, I feel them even more deeply because they remind me of my own. Ultimately, this over-identification isn’t helpful (to either of us).
Jessica Grose puts it perfectly: “A theme that I frequently return to is the ultimate lack of control we have over our kids. We try to offer them a safe haven to return to, but they must experience most of life on their own. This is perhaps the key part of parenting as your children get older — letting them grow away from you, and accepting that their happiness is not completely within your command. I can try to give my daughter strategies for managing her anxieties and be there for her to talk to, but she has to go out there and learn to cope with what’s in her head.” A powerful reminder for all of us.
This is how we fix the broken childcare system (Fast Company)
Unlike large corporations, childcare centers are not able to raise wages in response to market conditions. Tuition can only be raised so high before it becomes financial unfeasible for the vast majority of working families. At the same time, if the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that the entire modern economy depends on reliable childcare. Most experts say the solution lies in sustained federal funding—arguing that early childhood education amounts to a social good. Of course, this solution remains elusive thus far…
It’s the end of the world as we know it. And we’re still at work (Elle)
I’m embarrassed to admit that, before reading this article, I hadn’t given much thought to the difficulties that high-achieving, childless women experienced during the pandemic. Or rather, I fed into the narrative that they must have it so easy—after all, I certainly didn’t have time to bake sourdough bread from starter or attend virtual orchestra performances. However, precisely because they didn’t have children, they were often expected to pick up the slack at work.
“Women aren’t supposed to be workaholics. In American culture, it’s men who are often praised for going all-in on their jobs at the expense of their relationships and hobbies [. . .] Women, on the other hand, are told from birth that motherhood is the most valuable potential vocation—the role to which they should be directing the bulk of their time and attention. Because of this, workaholism is more psychologically taxing for women than it is for men, even if their professional achievements are a point of pride [. . .] Workaholic moms are likelier than their male counterparts to feel guilty for their completion to overwork. Workaholic non-moms, on the other hand, wrestle to pin down the value of their labor in a world that’s still very much structured around the nuclear family”.
Vacation or trip: A helpful guide for parents (Huffington Post)
This article is several years old, but it’s an absolute gem. Since we’re in the heart of Spring Break season, here’s a friendly reminder that you are almost certainly taking a trip and not a vacation. Manage your expectations accordingly! 😉
“If you are traveling by car, there is a good chance it's a trip. If you have packed one or more ‘throw-up bags’, clearly, it's a trip. If you packed a training potty, not a vacation. A trip if ever there was one. If you break into a complete sweat loading the car and/or overhead storage compartment you spent a small fortune on because you thought it was kinda cool, well, that's a trip. If packing the car leads to a fight with your spouse about who has a better ‘system’... you, my friend, are going on a trip.”
Earlier this month, Kate Daderko talked about the importance of making investments in your kids “emotional piggy banks”. This concept applies to—and actually originated in—the context of romantic relationships. The video below offers a nice summary. If you’re partnered, spend the next week paying particular attention to improving your “deposit” to “withdrawal” ratio.
A client said something profound during a coaching session this week and, with her permission, I’m sharing it with you. Between a high-stress job and parenting three young kids, she rarely has time to herself. The time she does have often isn’t as restorative as she would like it to be. She told me: “I want rest to feel more restful”.
She then went on to describe how she feels so depleted at the end of each day, that by the time she puts her kids to bed, she usually spends the next few hours mindlessly watching Netflix or scrolling social media and news on her phone. Although these activities allow her to “zone out”, she rarely feels rejuvenated by them.
Think back to a time that you felt truly rested. How were you feeling? Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? What were you not doing?
Consider the activities that you engage in to relax or rest. Which activities restore you? Do any deplete you?
Can you commit to engaging in one activity this next week that is likely to generate an authentic feeling of restfulness? If so, notice the impact this has on the rest of your week.
I want to cover what’s important to YOU. I welcome reader input in deciding what and who to write about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “newsletter idea” in the subject.
I really love this roundups, Jessica! So much to take in and digest here. (And omg, vacation or trip -- SO TRUE.)