Accessory Tuesday: Desert Wedge

Zappos is having a pretty big sale through August 5, and there are a lot of great things to check out, from sneakers to pumps — I shared some of my picks over at Corporette. Zappos still has that awesome 365-day return policy, so it can be a safe place to buy shoes for your kids up through the next year without worrying about predicting the wrong sizes. As far as women’s accessories go, I’ve heard amazing things about these wedges, which were already pretty affordable at $89 but are now marked down to $49. They’ve got 792 mostly 5-star reviews and come in sizes 5–12 in four colors. TOMS Desert Wedge

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  1. I just moved from big law to a nonprofit which should be a family friendly move. Except my big law office hours were 9-5:30 (with work from home) and at the nonprofit everyone is there from 8 to 6 (some get in earlier). My two young kids wake up around 7:45 so i have gone from seeing them in the morning and evening to just the evening.

    Has anyone else had this type of transition? Will it become less of a big deal? Trying to decide whether to actively address it or realize this is just a phase…

    • Anonymous says:

      Unless you have been told that you have to be there at 8am, I would come in at 8:30 at the earliest. They know you came from biglaw so they won’t doubt that you are hard working but seeing the kids for 30 minutes in the morning would mean a lot to them and you. As long as you are productive, I can’t see them giving you a hard time about facetime over a half hour. This is one of those cases where women ask permission and men often just do what they want and wait for someone to tell them not to. I would start right away so you establish that 8:30 is when you come in vs. changing it down the road after you’ve come in at 8am for months.

    • I think a common misconception is that nonprofit attorneys don’t work long hours. I never worked more than when I worked for Legal Aid. Some of my colleagues even slept in their offices. Ate meals from vending machines. Where I was there was a real culture of self-sacrifice (and martyrdom) that was impossible for me with an infant at home.

    • You may also be able to move your kids wake up earlier by putting them to bed earlier. I moved my son’s schedule later when I switched to working 10-6. This may work better with slightly older kids that don’t nap (unless you can move naps too)

  2. Anonymous says:

    (Note: this is not specifically directed at the OP, just a PSA that I feel like I need to get out.)

    Lawyers trying to ‘escape’ from Big Law: Don’t forget that Big Law is not the only all-consuming field that there is! Don’t forget that many Non-Profits and Government gigs can also be 7:30-?? with 24/7 remote availability as well. The difference is that you aren’t paid the same to compensate; however, the ‘mission’ may be something that drives you more.

    I work in a field where I have had lawyers come onboard who thought, ‘Oh! It’s a government/NonProfit gig! I know that they say it’s intense, but I’m sure it’s nothing compared to what I’m used to.’ Then they realize that the face-time requirement might be higher in ‘helping’ fields, or that they are still working similar hours but the compensation doesn’t allow to outsource as many things as they had previously. I know that they have felt like this because they’ve sobbed to me, ‘This was supposed to be better!’

    There are lots of great jobs that offer work life balance, but really do check and make sure you’re choosing one. I have seen people so desperate to ‘escape’ that they don’t realize that they’re going into an equally intense situation.

    • mascot says:

      One of the things I appreciate most about private practice is the autonomy over my schedule. Sure, it’s self limiting due to billable requirements, but I don’t have to worry about PTO or facetime/inability to work from home if I need to. My friends who have gone to in-house or corporate/law degree preferred positions have all had to make a big adjustment.

      • +1. Why I’m staying in BigLaw as long as I can. Yes there are a lot of hours, but they fluctuate, and 95%+ of my practice can be done from anywhere with a phone and an internet connection if needed. And I really like rolling into work at my convenience (between 9:30 and 10:30 depending on the day and what I need to get out the door).

    • And negotiate before you accept a job – if you need to work slightly different hours than most, you have the most leverage to get this approved if you do it before saying yes. It is harder to negotiate it later.

  3. Oh totally, I expect to work lots of hours! I just hate how early the office gets started. I’d rather stay later in the evening and rush home for bedtime!

  4. Anon for this says:

    Looking for advice on how to stay engaged when I feel like everything is falling apart. Our 7 month old has been undergoing lots of testing and treatments for some issues (2-3 appts/wk). We’re getting close to a diagnosis but we’re still probably at least 1-2 months out from that. My firm is notoriously unfriendly about this stuff. On the advice of others in my firm, I’ve been told today not bring it up until someone brings up my hours. I’m afraid I’ll be forced into “part time” and I carry our insurance. But I’m having a hard time coping. I’m constantly behind and even when I’m in the office I’m consumed with worrying for kiddo. I don’t know what to do. Also fmla isn’t an option because it was used up for mat leave. I don’t want to take a leave (I worry about my client book) but I’m feeling helpless.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      That is hard. Thinking good thoughts for you and little one…On the part-time/insurance issue, I dealt with that at my firm. The Affordable Care Act mandates that any employee *working* at least 1000 hours a year must be offered health insurance if the employer is large enough to qualify. HR at my firm initially interpreted that as *billing* at least 1000 hours a year, which is wrong, wrong, wrong. If you can show that you are working 1000 hours a year (between marketing, CLE, writing articles, going to nonbillable lunches, mentoring folks in a nonbillable way, admin work, and billing, it’s almost impossible to manage a book of business without spending at least 1000 hours a year doing so), they have to provide you with health insurance regardless of your percentage FTE.

      Which is just to suggest that it might be worth doing some digging and laying some groundwork for what would happen if you went part-time.

    • I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I think, under the circumstances, you just do as much as you can at work and give yourself a break. Is there anyone at work that you can talk to about this? Even if just someone who will be supportive and help you out when you need to run out for an appointment? Are you sure that you shouldn’t give a heads up about this? Maybe I’m naïve but I think most people would be sympathetic to your situation, even if they normally wouldn’t be about other medical issues.

      Also, everyone has different coping methods, but personally I find short term goals to be helpful. Try to focus on getting through the rest of this year as best you can; you can take FMLA next year if needed. All the luck to you and your family.

    • Spirograph says:

      I wish you, your child, and your family the best. This is tough. I’m so sorry you’re going through this and that your office is so hostile to the idea that work sometimes, in exceptional circumstances, just needs to take a back seat. I also wonder if people might be more sympathetic than you expect, especially if you are up-front about your mental limitations right now rather than them finding out when things start to slip. Make sure you have clear priorities and keep things task-oriented as much as you can. I know when I’m distracted by something at home, the first thing to go is my ability to see the big picture at work. It’s not a time for strategy, but I can be really productive at small tasks as long as I have a list to work through.

  5. worklifeimbalance says:

    This is long, bear with me! Appreciate any and all feedback. Somewhat in line with previous OP.

    I’m halfway through my 4 month maternity leave and dreading going back to work. I’m already starting to think about it daily and I just really can’t imagine being apart from baby all day long. I work at a job where the expected hours are from about 9 am to 7 pm with evenings and weekends as necessary (from home). I feel like the 9 am to 7 pm is too long for me to sit at the office. I’m the only female and while I have nice colleagues, I’m afraid of leaving at 5 pm daily.. I plan to do it regardless, because it’s more important to me to be home to spend time with baby before bedtime than the professional consequences, but just have a lot of angst about it all. I’m the only female professional on a fairly large team.

    Also, I’m also afraid that getting home at 5 pm and spending time with baby will leave me drained for when I’ll need to log back in to finish up those extra 2 hours (or more) most days. I feel like I will have no time or mental energy for my spouse when he gets home. For women that are lucky enough to have flexibility in a more intense job, how do you spend time with spouse? I feel like between seeing kid, doing job, keeping house, I don’t know how anyone carves out time to spend quality time with spouse monday through friday. It was fine pre-baby because getting home at 7:30 still left us plenty of time to hang out before bed.. now I feel like that will be filled with work.

    Maybe I just need a different job, but is working 9 to 5 any better? Ugh, I wish I could work part-time, but I don’t think part-time roles exist in my very nichey area.

    • Maddie Ross says:

      First of all, don’t panic and don’t make any life-altering decisions right now. There is a big difference between an 8 week old and a 16 week old. It’s hard to imagine going back at 8 weeks if you don’t have to – both with the infant stage and your own health. But at 16 weeks, it does seem more reasonable, I swear. Rather than spinning in your head the idea of how horrible it will be, see if you can put it out of your thoughts for now, soak up the next two months, and then actually go back for a bit and see how it really is.

      • Maddie Ross says:

        Oh, and you can add me to the chorus of people below who connect with their SO in the little moments post-maternity leave. We often work in the evenings on our laptops from different ends of the couch, sharing popcorn and wine and half-watching something on Netflix or sports. And we also sneak in lunch dates, or an early happy hour before daycare pickup.

    • Tunnel says:

      I agree with Maddie Ross above. I, personally, was not ready to return to work at 3 months but I was at 4 months. My suggestion is to return to work as scheduled and then after 8-12 weeks evaluate how it is working out for you and what changes, if any, would benefit you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sometimes spouse time is sitting on opposite ends of the dining room table while we both WFH on our laptops. We try to make ourselves a fancy drink before settling in – sangria or margarita makes it less miserable. Or I’ll grab a notepad and make notes on the couch while DH video games or watches a movie with headphones on. Also, depending on where each of your offices are – we have a standing lunch date on Wednesdays.

    • This was very much my work situation when I went back after having my first child. To be honest, it was really hard. Does your husband work near you? During that time, we would have lunch together a lot (like, 3 times per week). It was never anything long or involved – just grabbing a falafel or Potbelly sandwich, which I would have done alone anyway. Those little lunches really kept us connected during that hard time.

      • We do this, too. Also you don’t have to find or pay for childcare (presuming your kid is in daycare or w another provider), and it’s a total treat to be on a date in the middle of the day, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes longer than what you’d normally do anyway.

        That said, part of the reason our 7 month old goes to bed at 7 (aside from the fact that she falls apart if she stays up much later) is so that we have some recharge time together before we get back to work at night

    • Agree with Maddie Ross about not making any decisions just yet. Who knows, you might be ready to go back in another 2 months! I remember when my LO was 2 months, I was extremely grateful I had another month at home, but at 3 months, I was ready to go back.

      Regarding work -One thing that does come to mind, is there any way you could go in at 8am? Maybe that would be less work from home in the evenings.
      Regarding time with spouse – When does your spouse get home? Maybe make a point of family dinners every night, at least. And/or take walks together after dinner with baby in the stroller. This is mostly how DH and I get time together these days, complete with an interrupting, talkative toddler. And definitely find a babysitter you like so you can do date nights.

    • Spirograph says:

      This sounds similar to my situation after baby #1 and it was hard. I was OK with leaving him during the day, but I still wanted to see him awake! I second the recommendation not to make any big decisions the first few months back, but don’t put on your rose-colored glasses and overlook things that truly make you unhappy. About 5 months after returning to work, I talked to my boss about a lateral move that would give me better work-life balance. I was surprised how supportive he was, and we agreed on a 10 week transition plan that got me where I wanted to be. Yes, working from 9-5 is a LOT better, and worth double if you cut your commute at the same time. Taking a job very close to home is probably one of the single best career moves I’ve ever made. Turns out I’m a much better employee when I’m not bitter about a long commute.

      As for time with spouse, I don’t have a great answer for that one, but I do want to assure you that it’s normal to feel like you don’t have the time or energy for all the important things in your life when you have a new baby, and that it will get better again. TBH, my relationship with my husband has taken a hit after each baby; we were just talking about this last night, actually, as my youngest is almost 1 and we are finally getting back to a good place. We don’t have a ton of shared hobbies (at least not ones we can do at home) or even ones that are compatible to do side-by-side, and we’re introverts so when we get stressed we default to solitary pursuits to recharge. Our offices are far apart, so meeting up during the work day on a regular basis is definitely out. We really had to make an effort to talk to each other about things other than kids and logistics. Our best time to talk is right before bed, so one thing we focused on was having the same bedtime, and going to bed early enough that we could chat a bit instead of falling asleep as soon as we hit the pillow.

    • Anonymous says:

      Welcome to my life! I am taking it one day at a time. It’s really hard. But as my husband reminds me, it is a fact universally acknowledged that being a working mom in a challenging job is really hard, involves bad tradeoffs and not a lot of rest or personal time–but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. For some reason it has made me feel better to accept that this is just a hard time in my life and try to keep the faith that in a few years I’ll be glad I toughed it out. At least (as it sounds is the case for you) I dont’ have a ton of tempting alternative options anyway, which helps in some ways to encourage me to stay the course.

    • avocado says:

      Maybe I’m a terrible mother, but I never put my baby to bed at 7:00 or 7:30 the way most people do. She was a night owl and went to bed at 9:30 or so until she started kindergarten and we had to push her bedtime back to 9:00 and then 8:30. This worked out very well for us. She slept relatively late in the mornings, so I could do most of my morning prep while she was still asleep. We got home at around 6:30 and then had plenty of evening time together. You might have luck with something like an 8 – 6 workday plus a later bedtime and no WFH in the evening.

      • Anonymous says:

        We can’t even start bedtime routine until 7:30 because of baby’s p**p schedule. (50% of the time she p**ps after 7:15 and there’s no way to know which days.) Some babies just don’t care about clocks at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      So I just went back to work a month ago and I’ll tell you my experience. I usually get home around 6:15 and DD goes to bed at 7-7:30. So yes, I don’t get a lot of time with her during the evenings and it’s really hard, but I spend that time solely focusing on her. We “talk” to her at the dinner table, snuggle, and I sing to her. I’m the one that puts her to sleep and cuddle because DH picks her up from daycare. Then while I’m putting her to sleep DH does all the “prep” things for daycare the next day. He does dinner dishes and cleans/preps bottles. 7:30-9pm we take showers, make lunches, and finally plop down on the couch where we spend like 15 mins together before I go to bed (because DD is still waking up at night). But we spend time in the little moments and we’ve accepted that we just don’t spend as much time alone together as we did pre-kid, and it’s OK because this is just a season of our lives. We’ve been one TWO dates in the past 5 months. We both get “alone time” on the weekends which means we usually go to the gym/go for a walk or run by ourselves. Friday and Saturday nights its a little easier to spend time together after DD goes to bed because we don’t have the prep for the next day. So, no advice, but Monday-Thursday is hard but not impossible. It’s just a different season of life. I had a really hard time coming back to work (the anticipation and the first week are the worst – I actually wrote on here because I cried my eyes out after the first day), but just a month in it’s a lot better. I also think 2-3 months is when babies start to get a lot more fun so you are a lot less “uh a need a break” and a lot more “how could I ever leave this little angel!?”

  6. I really like Leche Libre. I got the sweatshirt in their last Kickstarter. They just announced they are doing a plus-size collection. Depending on how long you plan to nurse (or if you plan to nurse future babies), you might want to check it out!

  7. I have been eyeing these boots for a while, but I still don’t know how to wear ankle boots. I wear tights, leggings, and skinny jeans a lot through the fall and winter and work is business casual. I feel like I finally figured out how to wear tall, flat boots and then, poof! ankle boots showed up.

    • I wear all of those things with ankle boots. I just use low socks that stay below the top of the boot, and all is fine.

    • I would love these boots!…alas, they are sold out in my size. And yes, I would wear them with all of those things. I have a very similar pair in brown (Dr Scholl’s Dakota wedge booties); they go well with leggings and skinny jeans.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Help! My parents have been divorced for almost 20 years, but my mother has become increasingly bitter over that span (despite being remarried). Since having our baby, it has escalated even further. My father has moved in with us long term (probably 4-6 months) to help us care for our child until she starts daycare, after which he will look for a place of his own. My mother refuses to come to our house unless we ask my father to leave, which I will not do. I am willing to take the baby to her house to see her every couple weeks, but she says that is not enough and that I am favoring my father. (My mom is disabled and not able to care for the baby herself, so letting her care for the baby as well is not an option.)

    Anyone been through anything similar? Advice?

    • I didn’t go through this exact scenario, but I will say that having a baby brought out the absolute worst in my husband’s mom. She was already a difficult person, but there was something about us having a baby that made everything 1000x worse. She was particularly sensitive to other people (aka my mom) being favored over her and feeling like we weren’t making big enough efforts to bring the baby to her as often as she wanted. I think it’s a really common scenario, sadly, and a lot of people find that their relationships with their parents get strained when a new grandchild is in the mix. For me, the best thing to do was establish healthy boundaries and enforce them, and try to base my decisions on what was best for my new little family and the baby. She certainly didn’t like the fact that we weren’t capitulating to her every desire, but knowing that I was making decisions in the best interest of the baby made me feel a lot more confident and less guilty.

      • bluefield says:

        I do not have any experience with this exact scenario, but I am very good at establishing boundaries. Agree on the healthy boundaries. Ideally you could say something like, Mom, I understand that you think I’m favoring dad, but he lives here and I can’t kick him out whenever you need me to. I am happy to bring baby over every ___ weeks, and you are welcome here whenever you want. If I can, I’ll try to let you know when dad will be out of the house for a few hours and we can try to plan visits around his schedule. This discussion is now over.

        The trick is when she brings it up again, you tell her you’re not discussing it anymore and follow through, even if that means you hang up the phone on her or leave her house.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      From the dynamics that I have observed with my aunt, my MIL, and my own mom, they are very sensitive to being perceived as the second choice. It’s a very tricky balance to navigate, especially when you feel like they are being unreasonable. It’s helpful to keep reminding yourself that your mom is an adult who is capable of managing her own feelings and that you are not responsible for her happiness. Your job is taking care of your kid, going to work, maintaining your marriage, and generally keeping and maintaining your sanity.

      FWIW, I would do what you are willing to do (bringing the baby to her house) and try as best as you can to ignore her complaints.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      You could agree to regularly visit your mom with new baby and jump through all those hoops….or you could say, mom’s feelings are not my problem. Honestly, it’s OK to give zero f*cks about a needy parent for a while, especially when you are in the trenches with a new baby. I go through bust cycles when I just can’t with my mom, and I do the bare minimum of responding to texts but not much more.

      So if your mom’s getting you down, I hereby give you permission to just leave her alone for a while. And if you’re feeling particularly punchy, you could say something like, “Yes, Mom, I am favoring Dad right now. He’s super helpful and doesn’t bog me down with the emotional baggage that you’re trying to offload onto me. He’s just easier to be around right now. If you wanted to dial back the guilt trips, I’d find more ways to spend time with you.”

      • Lurker says:

        A friend had a similar issue with divorced parents and a wedding. She really called mom out and said something like “so, you are choosing hurt feeling from 20 years ago, that you still haven’t worked through, over my one wedding day?” You could use the same tactic. “Mom, I’m not favoring dad over you. You are choosing hurt feelings from 20 years ago over seeing your grandchild. It’s time for you two to act like adults and be in the same room.”

        This could go well, or it could implode.

        • My wedding involved multiple sets and layers of divorced parents and grandparents. We called each one and said a variation of “You WILL find a way to put aside your past feelings about X and concentrate on the joy of a wedding. If you can’t do that, either vent to your friends afterwards, or don’t come. But we don’t want to hear about it one bit. Consider it practice for grandchildren.”

          The only issue was a gripe about the order of names in the program, to which we replied “Remember that part about venting to your friends and not us? This is the time to do that.”

          We now have multiple kids, and invite all people to the birthday parties and holidays. They work out with each other whether they will attend together or take turns. It took a bit of discipline at first to say “Here’s X’s phone number. Work it out with them if you want to take turns or stagger your arrivals. And again, vent to your friends not to us.”

          It’s annoying, but they are the adults who bound themselves together by having a kid. It’s on them to manage through the fallout of that, not up to us as the kids to manage their relationships. My energy is on my nuclear family, not on whether Grandpa Bill can be in the same room as Papa Chewy.

          • NewMomAnon says:

            I love this – as a divorced parent, I know that it is often a conscious effort to say, “I will enjoy this moment for what it is instead of dwelling in a past hurt.”

  9. Cornellian says:

    Thanks for all the mastitis advice yesterday.

    Nursed and went back to sleep for two hours this morning (sorry, biglaw…) and am feeling better. Fifth day of antibiotics and maybe they are slowly helping. Just need to make sure it doesn’t rebound when my prescription is up later this week.

    • Anon for This says:

      Missed this discussion yesterday but wanted to add: I had 3 separate instances of mastitis in 2 weeks. The doctor gave me antibiotics and I’d start to get better, and then got worse again. f you’re on day 5 of 7 and it gets worse again, you may need a different antibiotic. Most instances of mastitis can be treated by 1 of 2 antibiotics, so doctors usually prescribe one, and if it doesn’t work, they switch to the other. I, unfortunately, had some third type of bacteria. They took a sample of my milk to determine what bacteria it was, and then prescribed the correct antibiotics (which required 1 shot in the hip daily for 5 days). It’s a simple test but can save you a week+ of unnecessary/ineffective drugs.

  10. How do I balance saying no vs doing things for myself?

    I’m feeling very burnt out lately – I said yes to a variety of things for other people as favors, and then ended up shouldering way more of the responsibility than I originally agreed to. (Think like saying yes to co-plan a milestone party for a friend, but then co-planner backed out, leaving me to do it alone.) This has happened a couple times this summer, and I’m just over it. I promised myself I wouldn’t say yes to anything for the fall and take some time to relax, esp because my kids are moving to a new school and I’m not sure how much extra support they’ll need.

    But an opportunity just came along that lies directly in my passion. It would require a monthly meeting for the next two year, plus extra work in between those meetings. (Think a leadership position at a local charity that I strongly support.) I would LOVE to do this and it would make me extremely happy. Except I worry about how much “extra work” there really is, and whether I would end up resenting the commitment if it becomes more work than I’m planning. This likely won’t come around again for another several years (if that) and there’s no option to postpone for a couple months.

    I don’t know what to do. I had promised myself I would say no, and I’m really looking forward to the end of this summer so I can have free time again. This would effectively take up most of that free time, and potentially more, if this spirals into a lot of work.

    What would you do?

    • I forgot to add the extra wrinkle. All the favors I’ve done this summer have been for other people. This would be solely for me, doing it because it makes ME happy. I know I don’t do things for myself often enough, so I’m feeling guilty for putting myself on the back burner yet again, but also like it’s not a “good enough” excuse to commit myself when I’m burnt out.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        Can you ask around to other people who are involved / the person whose role you’re going to fill and see how much extra work there really is?

        Assuming it’s a reasonable amount, can you commit to this and say no to other commitments (like planning a friend’s milestone party)?

    • I think you should take the opportunity! It’s different when you take on commitments because you actually want to do them, not just as favors, and you said this is a passion of yours. That said, once you take the position, set appropriate boundaries and don’t take on “extras” that are outside the scope of the actual position.

      • Maddie Ross says:

        This. While all time commitments outside of work and your family, the new opportunity seems to be a completely different scenario than what you are describing from earlier in the summer. I would definitely say yes.

    • I think you should give some serious thought as to whether you would love the actual work that goes with this gig – the cause may be your passion, but will the labor/process itself be fun? Will you be relying on other people or working alone mostly? Do you like the others involved and trust them to pull their weight?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you’re talking about two different things – one is favors for other people and one is a non-work/non-kid interest that you are excited about. If you need permission from an internet stranger – it is okay to have passions outside work/kids. Once you are in the role, I would be cautious about how much you take on. With that type of role, the only person who will limit your workload is you. Figure out how much time you will commit every week/month and stick with it. And definitely practice saying no to other things like organizing parties for friends.

  11. Almost There! says:

    After my nausea came back with a vengeance this morning (yay for upping my diclegis dose at 37 weeks) and I am now waking up every hour at night, I am so ready for this baby to get here. OB confirmed we are scheduling a C section for a week from today. Still kind of weirded out by being sliced open while awake, but so ready to be done with pregnancy and meet our giant-sized baby.

  12. What age did you start swimming lessons with your kids and what age did they seem to actually be learning skills to prevent them from drowning vs. getting comfortable in the water? My son is 18 months and I’m trying to figure out when we need to get him in swimming lessons.

    • I’m really curious to hear what other people say about this. I grew up in California where everyone had a backyard pool, and I learned how to swim (in swim lessons) when I was around 18-24 months. So naturally, I enrolled my son in a year of swim classes at that same age, and he never learned how to swim. Now he’s 4 and back in swim lessons for the summer, but he still can’t swim independently or even float. He’s very happy in the water and loves to run around and “swim” as long as he can touch the bottom, but he can’t swim. I’m not sure what to do — we live in Massachusetts so swimming season is over after Labor Day, and I’m not sure it’s worth enrolling him in more swim lessons over the winter when it doesn’t get reinforced with daily pool/pond time.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Well….we started swimming classes at 9 months and took a pause at about 3 because kiddo was bored. We’re starting up again now. She didn’t learn skills to be independently safe in the water during the tiny baby lessons, but she definitely learned to love the water which will keep her safer later. At about 2 she started learning to climb out of the water on her own, which is a good skill, but parents are still in the pool with kids at that age so no independent safety skills yet.

      She’s 3.5 now and in the pool solo. The teacher is starting to push her to float and swim without floaties, which seems like the best safety stuff she’s had yet. There is still no way I would trust her solo around a body of water, though.

    • Anonymous says:

      We just started with our 15 month old. Mostly he’s just getting comfortable in the water but we’ve started working on teaching them how to pull themselves out on the ledge of the pool. I think as with much learning it’s building blocks so he’s only learning that now but in 6 months maybe will be learning how to get to the ledge to get himself out of the pool.

    • My son started lessons just before the 2.5 years mark. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but after 4 months he is on the verge of swimming on his own, with very close supervision, if course. He would not have been ready at 18 months and from what I hear from other parents, it’s a waste of money that early. If I were you (and I was you last summer), I’d wait until next spring. One caveat is if you do not have access to a pool, in which case it might be good to get your son used to the water.

      • Waiting until next spring was what I was leaning toward, so that is great to hear! Lessons are so expensive and I’m not enthused about paying those prices for him to just hang out in the water (although I absolutely will for him to learn to swim). We have a lake house, so he is already comfortable in the water, but for that reason it is also really important for him to learn to swim.

      • October says:

        I would agree with this. My son just turned 2 and we skipped lessons this year for scheduling reasons, but I think it would have been a waste of time/money. Instead, we joined the town pool, and I take him there on evenings (maybe once/week, sometimes weekends with my husband, too). He is more timid of the water than I thought he’d be, and doesn’t love to take instruction, so lessons probably would have been a big frustration for all of us. Now, I see him building up his confidence and getting comfortable with the water on his own terms during our short little trips. I think we’ll definitely do lessons next year at the almost-3 mark.

    • avocado says:

      I would say no earlier than age 3.5 or 4 for learning water safety skills like bobbing and beginning to learn to swim. We found group lessons terribly inefficient at that age. The instructor spent most of his time managing the kids’ behavior and wasn’t able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with each child actually teaching. In retrospect, I wish we had tried private lessons.

      • Spirograph says:

        I agree to an extent. It very much depends on the size of the class. We do lessons at the local YMCA, and they cap out the classes at 5 kids but it’s usually more like 3 on an average day, group by age to the greatest extent possible (so 3 year old beginners are together vs mixed 3-6 year olds, even though that’s the stated age range) and usually have a teacher and an extra helper for the youngest classes. At the beginning of every class, everyone recites three important rules about swimming: never go in the water without a grown-up, never run next to the pool, and always use the bathroom before you get in. :) So if they don’t learn anything else except those three rules, I’m OK with it.

        We did have trouble with my shy kid participating at all some days before about 3.5, though.

    • Spirograph says:

      We took our oldest to a couple sessions of mommy-and-me swim lessons starting around 9 months, but decided that it wasn’t anything we couldn’t do just by going to the pool with him. We spend a lot of time at the pool in the summer, so he’s always been comfortable in the water. As soon as he was old enough (around 2.5-3) we enrolled him in the independent kids-only swim lessons. I still wouldn’t consider him water-safe at 4, but he can float on his back, and dog paddle at least 20 feet or so, and I don’t feel like I need to be in arm’s reach of him anymore.

      My daughter is 2.5, and she’ll start swimming lessons soon. She loves the water, can climb out of a pool, blow bubbles, and kick to propel herself with a flotation device, but she can’t/won’t float or keep her face out of the water to “swim.”

    • Marilla says:

      Our daughter (20 months) is in a swim class for a few weeks over the summer now. It’s half an hour with a bunch of dads and kids (age 6-24 months) and they sing songs, splash, blow bubbles, kick their legs and pretend to swim. I have no expectation she’ll learn to swim but I want her just to learn to be comfortable in the water (she loves bathtime so we were halfway there already). She pretends to blow bubbles and swim during her bath now which is pretty cute, and I cherish the hour of having my house to myself/the hour that my husband has to be the main parent. I don’t know if we’ll continue during the year – we’ll probably pause again until next summer.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      My daughter is 2. We enrolled her in ~12 weeks of swim lessons when she was about 22-23 months. She screamed for the first 2 lessons, was mildly terrified for weeks 3-9, and then seemed moderately comfortable for weeks 9-12.

      I always see videos of babies who learned how to flip onto their backs and float, and I’d love to find one of this types of swim classes near me but I don’t know what they’re called.

      • Several of my friends who live in Florida use ISR-certified instructors. Unfortunately, last time I checked, there aren’t any in my area.

      • October says:

        I think there have been discussions about this on this site before, and I recall that people with experience teaching swimming discourage this type of stop-gap training. I can’t remember the specifics, but I know there were some great points made.

      • Anonymous says:

        I was once in a pool where they did ISR. It was terrifying FOR ME. The instructor knocks the baby into the pool and rolls them over onto their back. Over and over. With screaming and crying and freaking out. The kids learned how to roll over, but I can’t imagine watching that as a mom. It was upsetting as a lap swimmer!

        • In House Lobbist says:

          We did ISR with older kids (2.5 and 3.5) and loved it. Our instructor was great and there was never any crying with ours. She would gently roll them into the water from the edge and have them roll over on the their backs and float until they could swim to the side. For their “graduation” they wore all their clothes, plus a jacket and shoes to make it more realistic. It made me cry watching it only because it is so scary to think about your kids falling into water and not being able to swim. My 7 year old still rolls over and floats when he gets tired. So check out the instructors but I thought it was wonderful and highly recommend it.

    • We did them on and off starting at 6 months old, but age 4-5 is the point where I actually feel like my son could learn to swim on his own soon. We did take last year (age 3-4) off so he might have been closer to swimming now if we hadn’t. But he’s not the most coordinated kid in the world, much like his mother.

      • PS – I love being in the water and so does my son – since infancy – so I enjoyed the classes with him even when he was a baby and was clearly not about to learn to swim independently. He was in parent-child classes until this year.

    • We took Kiddo to group baby swim lessons when he was 13 or 14 months old (last summer). The parents were in the water with the babies, and the goal of the lessons was to get the babies comfortable in the water. We only did the lessons for a month, but we continued the techniques whenever we were in the pool with DS throughout the summer.

      This summer, Kiddo just turned 2, and we started group toddler swim lessons. During the lessons, he’s in the pool one-on-one with an instructor. They’re teaching him some beginning swim techniques, but mostly the goal is still being comfortable in the water. Kiddo has no independent swimming skills, and he won’t this summer.

      I do think the lessons have been helpful because Kiddo is reluctant to put his face in the water or kick or float on his back with just us. He’s not scared (that I can tell), but when either parent is holding him, he just wants to hang on. The lessons also teach us parents how to encourage Kiddo in the water. We were swimming with some extended family a few weeks ago, and while the kids were playing on the stops, Grandma said, “Oh, can you [do play activity] without getting your face wet? Don’t get your face wet?” My head almost exploded! I’ve never wanted to put earmuffs on my kid more!

    • mascot says:

      Caveat: Growing up, I took every formal class the RedCross offered in swimming from the toddler classes up to lifeguarding and waster safety instructor training, did swim team, and lifeguarded for several summers. So, I did a lot of one on one work with my kid instead of formal group lessons. We also had consistent pool access during the summer. By 2, he was comfortable going underwater to retrieve toys on the steps and jumping off the side. We spent a lot of time working on floating, kicking, etc. By 4, he could swim across the pool (it wasn’t perfect stroke at all), get in and out of the pool unassisted on the side, and jump off the board. It wasn’t until he was 4-5 that I felt like he would automatically remember skills from summer to summer. We started summer league swim team at 5 and that’s when he really learned freestyle and backstroke and got more efficient at treading water.
      We also constantly worked on safety rules from the beginning – ask an adult before you go into the water, float when you need a break, throw don’t go if someone is in trouble (toss a noodle or ring), no running, if you drop a toy at the edge, lay on your belly to reach it instead of bending over, enter the water feet first at all times, toes on the edge and jump way out, transitioning to safe diving rules when he was older, etc. I remember a lot of self rescue and first aid being taught in lessons so that is going to be a continued focus. I’ve made him jump into the water fully clothed so he knows what that feels like. We still use life jackets when swimming in a current/jumping off a dock.
      TL:DR- I think that it’s never too early to focus on comfort in the water and reinforcing water safety skills. Whether you do that through formal lessons or not is up to you.

    • In House Lobbyist says:

      We did a Infant Swim Rescue with both our kids. The first one was at 3.5 and the second one at 2.5. They were both comfortable in the water before these lessons from just swimming at the gym and at grandparents pool. We tried group lessons with the oldest but I think they were a waste of money because the instructor always had 1 or 3 that cried the entire time. We did 2 weeks of ISR – 15 minutes a day for 2 weeks and it was wonderful. Both are mostly drown proof now but I am signing up my oldest who is now 7 for a swim clinic for next week. He kind of looks like he is drowning so I want him to get some actual technique down.

    • Kiddo is 5, took group lessons at 3.5 and 4.5. Very few children swim before age 4, and you don’t need lessons for a child to become comfortable in the water. Really you’re teaching your kid that they cannot swim, so that they understand not to just launch into a body of water. They kinda remember the skills, but until they have many days in water in a row (such as Swim Rescue), they tend not to remember very well. I *think* it might click this time with kiddo, at age 5. I hope. On group lessons, they should be small, like 5 kids maximum.

      • Anonymous says:

        gah, I wish I could teach my 2.5 year old daughter that she can NOT swim. She has no fear of the water, and will take off and jump in if we let her go for a second near a pool, which is terrifying for me. The best $20 I’ve spent all summer is on one of those over the shoulder vest+water wings PFDs. It keeps her upright, she can lean forward and kick, but she has to work to get her face into the water. Before that we had one of those things where there’s foam on the chest and back, which I remember working just fine for my older child, but for some reason it did not keep her from ending up face down in the water all the time (she might have been doing it on purpose, now that I think about it).

    • Anonymous says:

      I taught swimming lessons for years (college/grad school). So here’s the deal: kids learn to swim based almost EXCLUSIVELY on how much time they spend in the water. A 12 month old absolutely can swim if you have them in the water 3-4 hours a day, five days a week for the summer. Ditto any other age group.

      Kids in a structured system and with decent instructors and once a week lessons, who had started before 1: about half were “swimming” (kicking with face in, one body length, pushing off the wall to a person, no breathing) at 3. (Where I worked in this was about the standard expectation.) Breathing /swimming to a wall occurred for that 50% by age 5.

      That said — if your kid is not scared of the water /going under / putting their face in and is reasonably athletic, starting lessons at 5 will result in faster skill acquisition. (The problem is most kids who aren’t in lessons by 5 are often scared.)

  13. 6th Grader will be staying home after school instead of going to Grandma’s! Thanks to everyone for your encouragement yesterday!

    We informed MIL last night that 6th Grader will be catching the morning bus at MIL’s house (along with 2nd Grader, per usual) but we’re letting 6th go to our house alone after school. We stressed that it will be good for 6th to have a 1.5 hour taste of independence the few times per week dad isn’t working from home, and it will be a good run before dumping her in the world of 7th grade and even longer after school hours.

    In-laws tensely brought up every disaster scenario they could think of (luckily the kids were playing outside) and kept saying, “It’s your decision but I think it’s a mistake. She’s only 11. She could be targeted. Your neighborhood isn’t the best. Etc.” THEN they casually threatened that they might need extra income and may need to go back to work IF we don’t continue to pay them for watching the kids, or reduce it for only watching 2nd Grader. (Keep in mind, they are 78. Who hires someone at almost 80???)

    I shot back that I had no intentions of changing the payment, but absolutely, if they needed MORE money, I would gladly adjust my hours to part-time and watch both kids myself so they could find jobs. That seemed to kill the “maybe we can’t do this anymore” threats.

    I’m fuming today. It felt like we had to ask permission to take our own child back, and then were threatened for daring to do it! My husband thought the talk “went well” because his mother didn’t cry/get hysterical–and when I burst out about how angry I was after the kids were in bed, he sat there stone faced and refused to talk badly about his parents.

    We pay $375 per month in the summer for in-laws to watch the two girls (I realize this is a steal compared to summer programs) and $250 per month during the school year to get them on and off the bus, at MIL’s house. We paid more when they had to drive for half day Kindergarten, and when the girls were toddlers, but now they are school aged and we just need odd hours help, it doesn’t make sense to continue paying them $350 per month. Also, the point wasn’t to EMPLOY our in-laws. They wanted to watch the girls to help us out financially, and also because they wanted to be in the grandkids’ lives. The money was supposed to offset food, gas, diapers (back in the day)… Now all of a sudden it’s needed income?

    The whole thing was petty and gross. What’s sad is that this whole arrangement worked well for YEARS–I thought my MIL was a saint for doing this for us–then my oldest hits puberty and Crazy Conservative Grandma had to start spouting off. I’m discouraged, sickened, and just so incredibly angry. Ick.

  14. Braxton Hicks says:

    Did anyone here start getting Braxton Hicks contractions pretty early on in their pregnancy, like 18-20 weeks early? If so, did you deliver early? I’m almost 21 weeks and I find that I generally have a few a day, and have been for the last few weeks (although I didn’t know what they were initially). My OB said they can happen this early on and not to worry unless they become painful, cause bleeding, or happen repeatedly in a short period of time, but it still worries me a little bit. Also, while they don’t hurt, they certainly don’t feel pleasant.

    • Cornellian says:

      I had them that early and went in to my 42nd week.

    • Anonymous says:

      I had them early and delivered at 39w 5d.

    • Anonymous says:

      I did! And I delivered on my due date. They were usually when I was tired, exercised a little hard, needed to drink water, or was on my feet too much. But really I had them for most of my pregnancy. And I very quickly knew the difference between a braxton hicks and a real contraction when I was in labor. Labor contractions came much more frequently than my braxton hicks and were more painful. I was the same as you and described braxton hicks as unpleasent and sometimes I would have to take a breath through them just because my belly was so tight. That being said, if you ever think you’re in early labor don’t hesitate to call your doctor or go into the hospital.

    • I had them early (actually went to the hospital, I was so freaked out). But I didn’t deliver until 39w 1d.

    • I had them around 20 weeks. I also had pre-term contractions between 30 and 31 weeks that turned out to be productive (I was 1-2 cm dilated and had 75% effacement at 31 weeks). I was put on bed rest and delivered at 35 weeks. FWIW, the pre-term contractions were very different. B-H were strong, to the point that I needed to sit down and catch my breath. And even if I had a few in a row, they were spaced out. The pre-term contractions I had before I was put on bed rest felt much more like bad menstrual cramping, and they were irregular but as often as every few minutes for hours at a time. They also occurred when I walked, and since my office was 50 feet from the nearest bathroom, I was walking 100 feet every hour. Of course, every pregnancy is different.

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