Sheryl Jesin


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Ditch the guilt?

I recently wrote a blog post about the guilt I feel as a working mom.  Imagine my surprise when I came across an article in Friday’s Globe and Mail about the very same topic.  Leah McLaren’s article “Ditch the guilt, working moms:  The kids are alright” states that there is no need for moms to feel guilty for going back to work, because their kids will turn out just fine.

McLaren’s article has led to a flurry of comments, many from stay at home moms who are insulted by certain parts of the article, such as “Women who do nothing but parent may be more attentive, sure. Less able to make small talk at a cocktail parties, absolutely.”

I was a stay at home mom for 20 months when my son was born and I wouldn’t trade the time I had with him for anything.  Was I bored?  Not in the slightest! Did I think my brain was going to mush and that I was wasting my education?  No!  I found parenting my son to be an intensely demanding job that required a lot of thought, and my education and career had prepared me well for such hard work.   Did I think that I was suddenly incapable of making small talk at a party? Certainly not!  I still enjoyed keeping up with current events and personal interests while at home with Dylan, and both of these provided me with a variety of topics to discuss at parties.

Another part of McLaren’s article that I disagree with is as follows:

Sure, your three-year-old would prefer it if you sat on the floor playing Lego with him all day, but he’d also prefer to eat nothing but Froot Loops. That’s the thing about three-year-olds: They don’t actually know what’s good for them. And they certainly don’t know what’s good for you.

Sorry Leah, but you are wrong again.   My son actually enjoys a wide variety of foods, and has never tasted a Fruit Loop in his life.  Even if he had one, I am certain he wouldn’t eat them all day long.  From birth, I have respected and validated his needs regarding food – he was exclusively breastfed on demand for 6 months, and was then given complimentary, healthy, whole foods.   As a result, he is able to regulate his food intake and knows when he is full.  He actually does know what is good for him.  Furthermore, he even does know when something is good for me.  The moments we spend together playing lego on the floor, or hide and seek, or falling asleep together for a nap or at night may often be his idea, but they bring us both joy.

The working mom vs stay at home mom debate can never come to an end because it is so intensely personal.   There is no one choice that is right for everyone.  Each woman is entitled to create her own balance regarding work.  While working moms shouldn’t be made to feel bad for leaving their kids, stay at home moms shouldn’t be ridiculed for wasting their education.  We are lucky to live at a time and in a society where women are free to do as they please with regards to work.   Let’s support each other!


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Playing outside without a backyard

Welcome to the June Carnival of Natural Parenting: Outdoor fun

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their stories and tips for playing outside with kids. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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We moved into our townhouse about 4 years ago.  It is in a great location – really central, close to downtown and the subway, and within walking distance of lots of great restaurants and shopping.  All of these factors were really important to us when we purchased our house.   At that time my husband Jake and I were both working at law firms downtown and were really busy.  We didn’t have time for gardening or shovelling snow – convenience was really important to us!

Fast forward to now – my husband works mainly from home and I work out in the suburbs and we have a two year old son with boundless energy.  Our house is still great – we have enough room and we still love the urban location.   There is only one thing missing – and that is a backyard!  We often think about how nice it would be to have a backyard where Dylan could burn off some of his energy – perhaps with a swingset and a kiddie pool.

Dylan climbing a tree at one of our favorite parks

It’s not in the cards for us to move right now for a variety of different reasons.  But it’s still important to us that Dylan has lots of time outdoors.  We are lucky that we live in walking distance of two amazing parks.  Both contain great jungle gyms geared to kids in Dylan’s age group.   Both even contain splash pads for those hot humid Toronto summer days.  Whenever we take Dylan to the park, we all have a great time.  He often finds other kids his age to play with.  Jake and I also enjoy the fresh air and the chance to be away from all of our distractions at home – our laptops, cooking, cleaning, etc.

In addition to the parks, we live quite close to an amazing walking/biking trail. Dylan calls it the “forest”.  We love to go for walks in the “forest” and now that Dylan has a tricycle, it’s a great place for him to ride without the worry of cars.

In the summer, we spend lots of time outdoors at our family cottages.   Dylan can play with his older cousins in the sand and the lake for hours.  There are wide open spaces for Dylan to run around and we all enjoy the clean country air.

So even though I sometimes feel wistful that Dylan doesn’t have a backyard at home, I think about all the amazing outdoor spaces within walking distance of our house.  I’m an urban girl at heart, and although perhaps someday it will make sense for us to move to suburbia, right now all the benefits of city life outweigh the drawbacks.  Even though we live in an urban area, we still spend lots of time outdoors right near our house, and the fact that we spend many long weekends at the cottage means Dylan isn’t lacking at all for outdoor play.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: