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Men Getting Enough Daylight?

February 8th, 2005 · 4 Comments

The night has disappeared. What did I do with it? Among other things, I responded to Darren Barefoot’s observations in his post Canada’s Men Aren’t Getting Enough Daylight. Darren often starts intense conversations on family choices and lifestyles… and this time I decided to toss in my two cents – even though I don’t know much about Canadian Men or their lack of daylight…:-) (are the guys all getting rickets up north – the biochemist in me just has to ask..or maybe that’s why they are are giving up Coke…; -)?!) Anyway, what Darren noted is true across the border too…I’ll post my comment here, as my writing of the night, and also as an invitation for others to join the conversation on parenting at Darren’s blog.

Okay, I can’t resist tossing in my two cents and sharing my perspective…

Before Ted and I married, we agreed that we wanted to homeschool our children (or at least try it). From where each of our lives were back then, it made more sense for me to plan to stay at home. I have been happy to do it. I haven’t been employed since my first daughter was born almost seven years ago. It’s a choice we’ve made as a family, a choice that has made other decisions for us.

In terms of trying to quantify what it is like to take care of children, here’s what I can say from my experience. I worked in two fields before I became a mother. I did medical research and I also worked at a charity which helped homeless people. Motherhood requires the intensity of my medical research work in both mental and physical energy. Motherhood also requires at least as much emotional energy as the counseling I did at the charity. I am nonstop from 8 am to 9 pm with the kids (hence my late night weblog posts) and I am on call 24 hours a day.

Even if I wanted to pay someone to care for my kids I don’t know if I could afford it, especially now that I have three. For us it makes more financial sense for me to stay at home.

My husband works from home so he sees the kids more than he would if he commuted. Many dads on the island where we live don’t see their kids during the week due to the ferry ride combined with the long work day. Ted is able to have lunch and dinner with his daughters, and from time to time he comes out of the office to help me. However he has not take them outside during the weekday. 🙂 Although I spend more time with the girls during the day, Ted and I share the responsibility, spending time each night talking about our family together.

Comparing now to the fifties, I’m not sure it is easier now than then. I have three kids which is the same size of both my mom’s and my dad’s families, so perhaps I’m not having half the children. So maybe I’m disqualified from commenting. 🙂 I’m not sure though that cell phones and appliances make it easier (ah but the stain free carpet has been wonderful!). Standards for parenting have changed. For example, there are issues that my children have had, that probably wouldn’t have been noticed in the fifties but I have had to monitor carefully and work with my children in their development in these areas. We are probably much more aware and concerned of the implications of every aspect of childhood development and the role parents play in their children’s growth. Although I try to evaluate and sift through the expectations I feel, from Martha Stewartsainthood to SuperMommy’s cape, and we as a family are trying to take a different path, yet parenting still takes all I’ve got to give in a day, more than any job I had.

What drew me into this post originally were your observations, Darren, of whom you see outside during the day. I too have been concerned. I try to take my kids outside and play soccer or help them ride bikes every day in the late morning. However I rarely even see other moms playing sports with their kids, or anyone else at all outside. On the weekends I do see some dads going around the block or supervising at the playground. But I wonder whether part of the problem is that people don’t often go outside to play with their children any more.

Tags: family

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Feb 8, 2005 at 5:09 am

    I think part of it may be the time issue you alluded to. If both parent are working and commuting, the weekend becomes the time to get all that “stuff” done you can’t get to during the week. People simply don’t feel they have time to play.

    Now, if my choices on a particularly nice day were laundry, or run around outside with the kids, the laundry would not get done. This is probably why my wife doesn’t leave many of those chores for me 🙂

  • 2 shmallowsdad // Feb 8, 2005 at 7:04 am

    I wish that I could be a stay-at-home dad. As it stands, I’m the one with the better education and greater career prospects so it only makes sense for me to rise as high as possible so that Shmallowsmom can scale back her work. This does mean that she sometimes carries a bit more of the load, but I’m proud to say that I chip in at every opportunity.

    When Shmallow was a newborn, Shmallowsmom would express her milk and that allowed me to get up with our grumpy bundle of joy as often as mommy did.

    Now, with night school and home improvements I still try to keep the work distributed as evenly as I can and that means laundry, cooking (I do all the cooking!), cleaning… Shmallowsmom still does more around the house, but I try to run a close second.

    Judging from my brothers-in-law, however, I don’t think that my attitude is a common one.

  • 3 Lucy // Feb 8, 2005 at 7:14 am

    I wonder if perhaps also some of the problem isn’t safety oriented. For example, if my children are playing outside it means that I have to be outside paying attention. I don’t feel I can just let them “go outside”. It has to be a supervised event, which means coordinating three children of various ages and activities.

    Also, lots of people have super-scheduled children with activities sucking up all the extra time. I know Sheilah at SheilahsWorld spends her Saturday with her girls at gymnastics, and my friend Stacey spends her Saturday at various basketball games (starting at 7:00AM!)

  • 4 Earth Girl // Feb 8, 2005 at 10:33 am

    This is a huge issue, but it comes down to parents taking the initiative when the children are young and need closer supervision. As they got older and needed less supervision, we would just kick them outside and tell them to come in at mealtime. Outdoor play tends to be less structured with an emphasis on imagination (e.g. my boys would pretend to be explorers) and discovery (learning about the natural world). Of course, hubby and I like to spend time outdoors so the boys are dragged along all the time. If given their choice, they would play computer games, but even at age 15, they can spend all day sledding.

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