Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Q & A

Matt, Henry, and I have been trekking to the drive-in approximately every other week. As parents of a newborn, we are indebted to the drive-in. It fills so many needs for all of us. Henry loves being outside, he can fall asleep at his 8 o'clock bedtime, Matt and I get to have a picnic and play board games, plus we get to watch a movie without getting a babysitter. It's a win-win all around! For some reason, we can't seem to get any of our friends to come with us (my face-to-face friends: you are missing out!). On a logistical note, we bring the mattress from our pull-out couch and cover it with a quilt. So comfy!

So I'm not entirely sure what that introduction has to do with the rest of this post. You see, I get lots of e-mails from kindred spirits with various questions. I decided to start a page to capture all the questions and my answers. There are only a couple now, since I just started this process. Once the site redesign is complete, there will be a link to the page. For now, I'll just paste the questions and answers below...(the link to the first paragraph has something to do with the idea of conversations--like if my internet friends could come to the drive-in with us since my face-to-face friends won't, these are some of the things we might talk about).

Question: Recently my good friend and I have been talking about going to a yoga retreat together and we were wondering if you would know of anywhere that we could go?

My Two Cents: Why, yes, I do have a great yoga retreat to recommend! My best friend and I went to Kripalu in 2010 and had a fantastic time. We did their Retreat & Renewal Program, which includes delicious meals, dorm-style housing, and access to a wide variety of classes (we did yoga, yoga dance, cooking, kayaking, and hiking). The location is stunningly beautiful, and we found it to be reasonably priced.

Question: I saw that you went on your India trip a few years ago with the Intrepid Travel group. On their site, they have a quite a few different trip options. What was your experience with them like? What did you like best and least about it? Would you use them as a travel resource in the Indian subcontinent now if you were to travel there again? Would you recommend them to others or do you have any reservations about them?

My Two Cents: Back in 2005, I saved up my money and went on a self-subsidized sabbatical. I traveled up the East Coast visiting friends, did the work study program at the John C. Campbell Folk Art School, made hammocks and tofu at the Twin Oaks commune, and traveled to India with an Intrepid tour group. To answer your questions specifically, I had a wonderful time on the Intrepid tour. Our tour guide was from India, so he was able to introduce us to his country in a more authentic way. As a company, Intrepid is committed to more sustainable travel and to helping travelers immerse themselves in new cultures rather than just consume new cultures. I find that tours attract like-minded folks, so I had a great time getting to know new people. Our tour was 21 days, and we traveled through the northern part of India. It was an economy version of their trips, but I found the travel and accommodations to be perfectly satisfactory. I would definitely recommend Intrepid Travel to a friend. I just wish I would have made it to southern India, too!

Question: I'm curious, what are you doing about childcare, especially since you don't have family nearby? I know with your move things will shake up a little, but since I know you're also trying to achieve some career goals, I'm interested on your personal take on childcare, especially with infants.

My Two Cents: First, I wholeheartedly believe that every family has to figure out what works for them, regardless of what others are doing or think they should be doing. It's such a personal decision that is based on so many different factors.

For us, the timing worked out impeccably well. Henry was born at a time when I was ready to transition out of the classroom and into the next stage of my career. My goal is to start a public Montessori charter school, so I plan to work on that project from home while Henry is a young baby. I am intentionally stretching out the process, so that I can simultaneously be a present mother and take steps toward my professional goals. My current plan is to submit the charter in February 2013 and, if the license is awarded, open the school in the fall of 2014. Henry will be 3.5 and can enter the school's inaugural class.

I also work on other projects, such as running Purposeful Conception, writing a book about how to plan a meaningful and memorable wedding without losing your savings or sanity, running 2000 Dollar Wedding, co-authoring a book about how to do Montessori in the home, and providing educational consulting to schools.

Right now, I am in the very beginning stages of starting the school. As I get farther along, I will need to attend more meetings. At that point, I hope to work out some kind of childcare co-op with one or two other mothers. We could each take turns watching each other's children and alternatively having days to ourselves for professional work.

Also, once I started learning more about Montessori for young children, I realized that Montessorians actually believe that children are ready to enter communities with other children after they turn one. Once I heard that, Matt and I decided to get Henry on the waiting list for a private Montessori school in Austin. The timing would work out such that he could start that school when he's 18 months for one whole school year before enrolling at my school.

So, long story short, Henry will be home with me full-time until he turns one. At that point, I hope to do some kind of informal childcare swap with approximately two other families, so I have more time for professional work. At 18 months, he's starting Montessori school, either three or six hours a day.

Some days, I absolutely wish I were back at work full-time because it is hard for me to play all day with a baby alone (even though we meet up with lots of different people and do lots of different interesting things). I miss being part of a professional community of people doing work that makes the world better. I miss the constant intellectual stimulation and the connections.

But then I stop and remind myself how grateful I am for this opportunity to help my son build the foundation upon which he will build the rest of his life. Montessorians (and lots of child development theorists) always talk about how important the first three years of life are. As self-aggrandizing as it sounds, I really believe that I'm the best person to provide him with that foundation right now. I also don't think I could adequately handle the demands of full-time work, pumping milk, being present for my son in the evenings, taking care of my body, and sleeping.

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sucker4acoustic said...

I think your plan for your son sounds great. (This is Kate, Kelly's cousin. We spoke through email a couple of weeks ago). I hope that everything goes smoothly for your transition to Austin.

Our lives have worked out that my husband and my work schedule work around each other so our oldest son can stay with one of us at all times. I work about 20 hours a week out of someone's home so now that we have our second son (he'll be a week old tomorrow!) he can stay with me at home or come with me to work since I just do computer/ office work.

Once you get here, if you want to meet up, we can see if maybe we would like to try to set up something having to do with a childcare co-op. I just wanted to throw it out there that you have people in Austin ready to participate with helping/getting help!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Congratulations, Kate!

And thanks for your note! I'll be looking to set up a childcare co-op, a babysitting co-op, and baby food making parties!

Kelsey said...

I would love to go to a drive in with you! When you live in Austin you can go see the free summer musicals at Zilker Park, I miss going to those.

Jessica Reyna Brogan said...

I absolutely love that drive in. I'm assuming it's the one north of Houston... I've only been twice, but I love it!!! You've inspired me to plan a date night with my husband, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I've got to admit, when I read that you're spending a year at home to be with Henry and to be a present parent my heart sank. I'm in my late 20s and I work between 80-100 hours a week. Hopefully when I'm more senior I can start to, you know, have weekends, but I don't ever see how I could take a year out from being in the office in my industry. I very, very much want kids - it's why I read your blog, as a way to prepare myself and get a 'baby fix' - and I'm really concerned that it's simply not possible to maintain momentum in my industry AND be a parent.

This isn't an angry rant, it's just something I think about a lot, and I'm hoping some of your readers might have some insights! FWIW - my working identity is incredibly important to me.

Kelsey said...

@Anonymous - I can definitely understand! I think the hard part is there is no ONE right or easy solution of how to have a baby AND maintain a career. Some people are able to stop working for awhile or work from home or work part time but others have to work or want to work. For some people it’s easier than others to take some time off or transition to part time work, depending on their profession, financial situation, etc. My husband and I talk a lot about what this balance will look like for us one day and definitely are not sure exactly what it will be like for us!

It seems that having a baby is a big lesson in compromises: to be with your baby as much as possible you have to give up some of (or a lot of) the time you would have spent working. If you keep working you have to give up some of the time you would spend with your baby. Neither is right or wrong, just different. But I think the reassuring part is that you can raise wonderful children in either scenario. A parenting book I read (I can’t remember which one!) talked about research that showed no significant different between kids in daycare and with stay at home parents when the parents made time to be very present with their children when they were with them. Maybe you could find some other moms in your same profession and see how they’ve found a balance. So don’t despair, it will work out, maybe in a way that you never expected!

Moxie said...

In case the first questioner was from Houston or Austin (which many readers seem to be), here are a few other Yoga Retreat options I have found, though I can't vouch for them personally yet.

Moxie said...

Forgot this one additional yoga retreat in Austin.. coming up in October:

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