Washable Wednesday: Valentine Tie Front Blouse

This really cute blouse is from Cooper & Ella, and I think it’s playful but sort of sophisticated — and I always like red and blue as a color combination because it feels fresh. This top just kind of looks perfect — and there’s a sleeveless style in the same print. (The one pictured also comes in a geometric pattern.) And bonus: It’s machine washable. The blouse is $120 at Nordstrom and has a couple of positive reviews so far. Valentine Tie Front Blouse

A couple of plus-size alternatives are from Eloquii: striped and solid (both machine washable).

Looking for other washable workwear? See all of our recent recommendations for washable clothes for work, or check out our roundup of the best brands for washable workwear.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fellow working moms, please share any tips for saving money.

    Whenever I look at my purchases on my credit card I cringe..I do not mind the once in a while Starbucks at the mall on the weekend because I consider that fun. However, lunches for $10.00 bother me a lot because it is just food and there is no leisure/fun in eating lunch at work. I also tend to have a lot of small purchases that add up: a cute new scarf that I do not need, another body lotion to add to our super extra small bathroom.

    I want to simplify and get into a routine of not spending money. When I was in grad school I was perfectly happy with not spending money but now I always want to reward myself because..hey…I am working. We are saving to buy a house in an expensive area with good schools. We want to have a large downpayment but because that is probably 2-3 years away, I cannot get myself motivated for this goal. Do I make smaller goals? How do you reward yourself for not spending?

    Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      I keep a list of free or inexpensive stress relievers/treats (hot bath, rereading a favorite book, piece of Halloween candy for breakfast). I also try to reduce but not eliminate the nice things. So if I bring my lunch three days in the week, I’ll spend $15 for a nicer lunch on the other two. I’m still at $30 on lunches for the week instead of $50 and often I don’t even spend the full $15. I also try to be strict about clothes shopping only once a month – first Saturday of the month. I’ll put something on my list for the next month if I see it after that. It does mean I miss some sales but I spend less overall because once I look at the whole list, I rarely want to order it all.

      • I am immediately adopting your first Saturday of the month idea. I definitely fall into the trap of “I’ll miss this sale!”, but you are right that overall, you will spend less.

      • Frozen Peach says:

        Would you be willing to share this list of free/inexpensive stress relievers?

        • Anonymous says:

          Honestly, it’s pretty individual and I think it makes most sense for everyone to brainstorm their own list – mine has everything from re-reading fav chapters in Pride and Prejudice to watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, and eating Kraft Dinner (DH thinks it’s gross), and Konmari -ing the storage room (I get a weird high from getting rid of stuff but the storage room isn’t full so it doesn’t feel like something I ‘should’ be spending time on).

          A long list is helpful because if it’s like just 5-6 things, they’ll get boring quickly.

    • mascot says:

      Put a set amount money in the savings account first (splitting out a direct deposit in a separate account is what we do). That’s your long-term/goal savings. Keep that account accessible, but not too accessible. You want there to be a deliberate choice that you are transferring money out of it. Then, from what’s left over after bills and such are paid, allocate yourself a certain amount of fun money to be spent however you want. That way you stil get some freedom to spend and it won’t be at the cost of your savings goals.

      • EB0220 says:

        We do this, too, and it’s super helpful. We just have an auto-draft from our checking account to our investment account. It happens a few days after our paychecks are deposited.

      • Jacque says:

        +1 Pay yourself first.

        I had my savings set up to direct deposit into a separate account at a credit union, but when they started charging monthly fees for accounts carrying less than $10,000 (seriously?!?) I closed the account. Now I literally pay myself first. I wake up on payday morning, groggily check my bank account on my tablet, and move the money from checking to savings. It’s oddly satisfying to do it myself!

    • avocado says:

      Some things that I have found helpful are:

      -KonMari. I have always been proactive about getting rid of extra stuff but doing a modified KonMari purge a copule of years ago took that to a new level. It’s now easier to say no to purchases because I don’t want to spoil my neat, pretty closets and drawers or feel icky about having too much stuff.
      -Exercise classes. Somehow reserving a class feels like making a purchase and attending class feels like I am consuming something, even though we pay the same amount for our gym membership no matter how many classes I attend.
      -Putting money directly into savings as mascot suggests, then checking the balance frequently to watch it grow.
      -Maintaining a budget spreadsheet to track spending. Staying within budget becomes sort of a game.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Agree with others re: looking at cheaper ways to indulge.
      -Cutting out buying lunch is a huge one, those things add up! Sometimes I’ll bring my lunch, heat it up, and drive thru to get my favorite drive thru beverage, and I can eat my home lunch and drink my fountain drink in my car outside of the office. I still get out of the office and get to go through the drive thru, but it’s cheaper than buying an entire lunch.
      -I also DO allow myself to buy lunch occasionally, I usually “treat myself” on payday, aka once every two weeks. In between, I sometimes run to the grocery store on my lunch break and buy a variety of frozen or ready-to-eat lunches from the grocery store and stock up the work fridge/freezer for the week. Then I’m not tempted to go out and buy something. Having options at work that I don’t have to remember to pack in the morning is key.
      -Unsave your debit/credit card from sites like Amazon. If you have the number memorized, cancel it and ask for a new one. Having to consciously pull out your card and type in the numbers when you make a purchase makes you stop and think more than the one-click convenience of amazon prime, or the convenience of having the number memorized (which I’m guilty of)
      -Treat yourself with time instead of things. I “treat myself” by actually taking my lunch break, away from the office, once in a while. It may be sitting in my car reading my kindle, but it’s a break and it’s a treat. Or I’ll take my car to the drive-thru car wash at the gas station and vaccuum/clean it out during lunch, having a nice clean car feels like a treat but overall the experience is around $10. Treat yourself with making time to watch your favourite “bad” reality show once a week, maybe with some fancy cheese from trader joe’s (their cheese prices are incredible) and a glass of wine.

    • CPA Lady says:

      You’ve gotten a lot of good answers on your actual question, but I have a tangential suggestion that might help overall with budgeting. Do you have a crystal clear awareness of where your money is going now, and where the weak points are? For a long time I had this vague sense that I was spending “too much” money on frivolous crap, but didn’t really know where it was all going. So at the beginning of August, I started keeping an excel spreadsheet (because OF COURSE I did). The tabs are as follows:

      – Clothes (for me)
      – Makeup & Grooming (includes services like haircuts)
      – Kid clothes
      – Other for Fun (books, tickets, decorations, hobby stuff)
      – Gifts
      – Household (repairs & maintenance and random household items)
      – Charity
      – Monthly bills (utilities, mortgage, daycare, etc)
      – Groceries
      – Restaurants
      – Pets
      – Cars (gas, repairs, car wash, etc)
      – Travel
      – Other Misc. (parking, postage, dry cleaning, random expenses that don’t fall anywhere else)

      Every few days I go through our credit card statement and checking account and type out what we bought and how much we spent on the appropriate spreadsheet tab. I have it broken down by month. It takes maybe fifteen minutes total per week, has helped me be a lot more aware of what I’m spending, and helps me pull back on whatever category I’m going overboard in real time. If it’s halfway through the month and we’ve already spent as much eating out as we had by the end of last month, then whoa Nelly on the restaurants. I know there are apps that do this for you, but doing in manually works better for me.

      This system has also helped me think about my habits and the wisdom of my purchases. I bought a ton of clothes in August, and I look back and can see that I haven’t even worn some of the items. I can identify wardrobe holes by seeing that I haven’t worn those red pants because I don’t have a black sweater. So a black sweater would be a thoughtful future purchase, rather than a frivolous one. I’ve also developed goals around meal planning– I aim to cook a batch of something that will yield three portions of leftovers to take in for lunches because eating out was a huge money suck for us. I have also cut out just popping into the grocery store midweek for “a few things”, because I spent $400 extra on groceries in September when I did that a lot. There is nothing wrong with spending money on fun things. The key is to do it thoughtfully. I’d be happy to share my spreadsheet if anyone wants a copy.

      • Yes please share!!! This sounds like exactly what we need!

        • CPA Lady says:

          Post an anon email and I’ll send the spreadsheet your way. I’ve taken out identifying details, but I’ve left in expenses so you can see how I do it.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think my husband and I need to do something like this – things like Mint and YNAB just haven’t worked for us! Please share your spreadsheet!

        • Anon in NYC says:

          I just created an anon email for the first time. anoninnyc2017 @ gmail. Thanks, CPA Lady!

      • EB0220 says:

        I can recommend Personal Capital for this type of work if you don’t want to do it in a spreadsheet. You can link Personal Capital to your credit cards and bank accounts. It will automatically categorize purchases for you as best it can. I have spent the last week analyzing our purchasing behavior and Personal Capital is VERY easy to use and lets you look at things a number of different ways. I’m a numbers person, and I’ve only had to do a few of my own spreadsheets! In our case, we are spending a truly amazing amount each month on food and eating out. Any clothing or general stuff purchases pale in comparison. So that’s the first thing we’ll be tackling.

        • Walnut says:

          My favorite piece of Personal Capital is I can override the “vendor” name on transactions. I like to track my coffee spend and work lunches, so I override the vendor names as applicable. It all still rolls up to my restaurant spend, but I can see the glaring “work lunch” and “coffee” in my face.

          If I I prioritize going out to dinner with the family, then WTH is my top restaurant spend of the month on my work lunches??

        • How does it work with Amazon and Target? Most of my extra spend is through Amazon, and a ton more through Target, so any auto-linked account misses a ton of helpful detail. The diapers and kleenex (which I consider more necessary than not) get mixed up with a total splurge on a bunch of books or hobby stuff, so it feels like this black hole of purchases and it’s hard to tell how much is necessities vs splurges.

          • EB0220 says:

            You do lose detail with Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart. I can think of a few workarounds, but your’e right – it’s hard to tell household items vs fluff. Maybe this is a benefit of subscribe and save?

      • avocado says:

        This is pretty much how my budgeting spreadsheet works. It is easy and very helpful. I just set up an Excel workbook with separate tabs for each category of expenses. Each tab has a total and then the category totals are linked to a summary sheet that compares actual expenditures with goals for each category and overall.

        • FTMinFL says:

          Ditto. My summary sheet also shows each month of the year and YTD spending for tracking trends and to assist in budgeting for the next year.

      • mascot says:

        Please share! anonymascot at the mail that starts with a G

      • I do this too and have for probably 6-7 years. It is an amazing way to see where your money goes. I also have it set up to see totals for each category for the end of the year, average monthly spend, etc. It is so illuminating to see how much I spend at Target and how little I spend on my hair. I highly recommend doing this. I only update it 2x/month or so and it really takes no time.

    • Anonymous says:

      i started a separate checking account with a small monthly budget for food/coffee out (i.e., lunches, coffee, pastry), entertainment (events and meals/drinks with friends), and clothes. Knowing I can overdraw and that i have set limits for each category makes me check every couple of days, and I’m so much more careful than I was when i was just swiping the credit card. I also find myself saying – okay, i’ll buy lunch Friday, lunch is provided Thursday, I have these leftovers for Monday, so now i need to think of a lunch to bring for Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn’t use to think that way. My spending has wayyyy decreased; like you, it was always on small things in the moment. This system keeps me accountable. Good luck!

      • Carine says:

        I like this idea. Convenience of the card (switching to cash is just really daunting) but more limited than just swiping the Amex all the time. I might do this! Thanks for sharing.

        • Anonymous says:

          glad it helped! I actually do an annual budget for clothing so that i can buy huge amts online and then return 99% of it, as long i ultimately stay at the budget within the year.

    • When do you find yourself shopping? Is it online or in person? I would try to identify the pattern for when you end up spending money. I definitely buy lunch more now that I had a kid and I take taxis more because I am always late/have no time but I still manage to spend less than I did before because I never go out or have time to just go shopping after work or whatever.

      One unexpected thing that helps me with random purchases is Amazon subscribe and save. Because I’ve automated so much of what we need to buy, I don’t find myself going into drugstores, etc., to buy necessities and I end up avoiding many impulse buys in the process.

    • For lunches, making sure I have lunch packed and in the fridge on Sunday night for at least M-W helps considerably with curbing the habit of buying lunch. Otherwise, I’m trying to run out the door, and I figure I can save 5-10 minutes by not packing a lunch. Never mind that I then lose at least 45 min in the middle of the day to get lunch, oh and while I’m out maybe I’ll run an errand–this is actually when I find I do most of my impulse shopping. I’m more likely to ‘treat myself’ to cr*p I don’t need in the middle of the day than on my way home (when I just want to get what I need and get home) or on the weekends.
      By Thursday, we usually have some leftovers from dinner, which gets packed into lunch sized containers right after dinner, because if the whole pan goes in the fridge, it will never get eaten. Then if I end up buying lunch as a Friday treat, I don’t feel to bad about it.

      • Jacque says:

        Oh, hun. We’re soul sisters!

        Save 10 morning minutes not packing lunch–then spend 45 mid-day minutes going out? CHECK

        Have to portion out lunches post dinner, because if whole pan goes in the fridge no one will take it for lunches? CHECK

    • on this topic, my husband and I use Mint, but they’ve upped their security settings (which is good) so that to log in each time they first have to text you a code…but this makes it impossible for couples who share accounts to both get into the Mint account (like they text his cellphone number). Does anyone know a workaround that doesn’t involve me creating a duplicate account?

      • Could you make a google voice account for the text number? I haven’t tried it personally.

      • I had this issue, and now I use the honeydue app instead. Just like mint, but joint account/ join user friendly

        • thanks for the suggestion! when I contacted Mint, their response was that i should just create a duplicate account, with all the same accounts linked, which sounds silly to me. Many married couples share finances, so Mint really should just get on board!

    • if packing a lunch like cooking something is too much for you, even buying some Amy’s frozen meals (while still more expensive than making your own), is cheaper than going out to eat. Trader Joe’s also has great salads, wraps, etc. that are under $5 each. I do think trying to bring lunch 3-4 times a week is a great way to save.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        Similarly, when I’m just overwhelmed and don’t have time to make food for lunch, I will buy some prepared foods (like, pre-made chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, etc.) and put that on top of bagged mixed greens. I have lunch but did no real work!

      • Frozen Peach says:

        Yes, I’ve pretty much given up on packing leftovers or sandwiches, but if I have a few Amy’s or Lean Cuisines in the office fridge, that still saves me a ton of money over buying lunch.

      • Legally Brunette says:

        + 1 . Most days my lunch is two pieces of bread, some avocado or hummus, cheese stick, yogurt, and fruit. I make myself a sandwich and eat the other sides. No cooking involved but I still have a filling lunch.

      • Sarabeth says:

        Yup, this is what I do. I try to pack a lunch (usually dinner leftovers), but I always keep a stock of frozen meals from Amy’s and Trader Joe’s in my freezer. If it’s too much to pack a lunch, I can grab one and go. $4 for a frozen meal is way less than $10 for the fancy sandwich at the only cafe close to my office.

        • I will add that the Amy’s Tortilla Casserole and Mexican Casserole are genuinely delicious and filling. What other TJ/Amy’s frozen meals do people like that aren’t like 2 tablespoons of food, or 800 calories at the other extreme?

          • Carine says:

            Amy’s veggie lasagna is one of my favorites – actually enough food and really good. Just looked up calories and it’s 370.

          • Anon in NYC says:

            Yep, Amy’s frozen meals are actually pretty good. Keep a small jar of hot sauce in your office!

        • Frozen Peach says:

          My go-tos are the Amy’s breakfast burrito, the cheese enchilada with beans and corn, and the Lean Cuisine French bread and other microwave pizzas. RIP Healthy Choice French bread pizzas. I still foolishly look for them sometimes.

      • AwayEmily says:

        I make a special trip to Trader Joe’s on Monday morning right after daycare dropoff just to buy “work food” for the week — a couple of salads, a burrito, maybe a few snacks. The store is super empty then and it always feels like a little bit of a treat (I also often get something extra like a chocolate bar).

    • Jacque says:

      Changing my mindset did the trick for me! I read excerpts of Marie Kondo’s book from various online articles and chatter, and purged my closet and the kids clothes. I’m an anti-hoarder, so this wasn’t a big step for me, but I did hold on to things because I felt I should. I dumped everything I didn’t love or use frequently at Goodwill and felt much happier with my home afterwards. Everything there is something meaningful to me–not something I feel responsible for, you know?

      Then I watched a few documentaries on minimalism. The small house trend. Waste from fast fashion and the effect it’s having on the environment and 3rd world countries. Enough of those made me wake up a bit and feel disgusted by my materialism, and think twice before making another purchase. (Questions like: Do I need this? Do I have something like this already? Is this item a good quality and is it going to last after all the labor someone in Indonesia put into it?) Now I feel that I’m much more critical and discerning with purchases.

      Lastly, I read Mr. Money Moustache and Frugal Woods old blog posts. They helped me to see being frugal as more than just “sticking to a budget”. They genuinely want to live a life without WASTE. Frugal Woods talking about eliminating her food waste was eye opening–again, because I didn’t really think about my bags of produce rotting in my fridge while I run out and pick up take out as literally WASTING FOOD. That produce, carefully grown out of the earth, then washed and packaged and shipped to my grocery store…and I totally dropped the ball at the end and let it rot because I felt like eating fried crap on my lunch break in my car? Ugh. What am I doing?

      I needed a reason to stop blowing through money–and I needed to see that a frugal life could be better and more fulfilling than a material life! I still struggle with this, but for me, nothing worked long-term until I woke up and saw the world differently.

  2. It sounds like you like to give yourself treats, and I think that is great and an important part of self care. Anonymous is on track in suggesting free or very inexpensive treats (a bath, rereading a book, etc). I think you need to find a way to treat yourself that doesn’t cost very much. Would it be enjoyable for you to spend a few minutes adding things to pinterest? I find that is sometimes as fun as actually buying things online, and I can always go to my board and actually buy something when I have the funds to spend.

    • AwayEmily says:

      I totally agree about Pinterest! For some reason adding something to my Pinterest board gives me probably 75% of the satisfaction of actually buying it. And for much less money and time! Brains are odd.

      • ElisaR says:

        also – sometimes just putting things in my online “cart” is enough, i don’t actually have to buy it. i’m sure retailers hate my strategy.

  3. Did anyone else get a little bummed yesterday seeing all the cute pictures of other moms who got to go vote with their daughters on the 100 year anniversary of women voting (in NY)? There were just so many cute pictures of moms doing this with their daughters at like 10am and then going for pancakes! yay!! Of course I voted, but I dragged myself out of the house early and was at the polls when they opened at 6am. I guess I could have brought my daughters when I got home in the evening, but that seemed like a recipe for disaster on a rain day during dinner/bedtime routine. Oh well. Really not a big deal and was probably not as “fun” as it seemed on facebook, but just made me a little sad.

    • I’m sorry it made you sad. I think just talking about the election cycle and voting counts and you can do that anytime! I took my son wiht me out of necessity and we arrived right before the polls closed. Another little boy was there with his dad and he said to me: “We’re at the voting!!” enthusiastically, which I thought was really cute.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      I live in PA so we didn’t have an anniversary, but I feel like the important thing is that you voted. Plus, mine are 2 and 3 months, they wouldn’t care anyway.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Aww, I had this rosy vision of my daughter coming with me to the polls and “helping” me vote….and then realized that she is not yet 4 and doesn’t do “standing in lines” or “watching quietly while mama thinks,” and bringing her was going to turn voting into a giant PITA. So I dropped her off at daycare, voted at the polling place with the leisure that only the childless know, and then went to work happy with myself. It was amazing.

      I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are young enough, there was a good possibility that the entire trip would have been whining, complaining, and stress. Which you avoided! Congratulations! You can still teach your kids about suffrage in ways that are accessible and enjoyable for your entire family.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        Also, not in NY but I’ve been talking a lot about voting and kiddo was asking to vote with me…thus the rosy vision.

      • Ha ha ha… I definitely make a conscience decision to vote without my kids for exactly those reasons (whining complaining stress) but then had huge FOMO last night looking at all the instagram pictures of kids and moms having so much fun! voting! Thanks for reminding me why I didn’t do it.

    • My daughter voted with her dad and I voted alone later. I didn’t realize yesterday was a milestone but I’ve had enough “rosy” images after last year when we spent the day voting and eating pancakes and thinking my daughter’s first election was going to result in a our first female president. Right…
      I’m happy enough with how yesterday turned out, both in NY and nationwide and I’ll take that over a curated Instagram post any day.

    • avocado says:

      Every since my daughter was tiny I’ve always taken her to vote very early in the morning, followed by a celebratory restaurant breakfast wearing our “I voted” stickers. She loves it and even gets up at 6:00 a.m. without complaint. If we go right when the polls open, I can be at work on time if necessary.

    • Anon for this says:

      I mean, I’m just having terrible flashbacks to taking my daughter to put our voting stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave last year and then…well, we all know what happened then.

      • bluefield says:

        Yup, I saw the picture I took of my & my daughter right after we voted last year pop up on my Facebook memories, and it made me so sad. I was so happy to take her to vote for the first woman President. Maybe one day I will again take her to vote for the first woman President.

        Husband and I took her to vote yesterday and while walking to the polling station she asked us if we were going to a protest, so I got to explain how voting is a type of protest. She then got three stickers saying “I voted” and was happy. The actual voting part she didn’t really care about.

    • Next election, bring your daughters, go extra early or leave early or whatever. It won’t matter that it isn’t an anniversary, and it may not go exactly as planned, but it sounds like you want this experience so don’t deny it to yourself.

    • Jeffiner says:

      I didn’t realize it was an anniversary, but my husband and I took our daughter to vote. I remember my mom taking me, and wanted to keep the tradition. The polling place we went to was empty, and the poll workers were doing a jigsaw puzzle (our county had 4.9% turnout). My daughter is 2.5, and my husband and I had to take turns stopping her from pushing all the voting machine buttons and messing up the jigsaw puzzle while we voted. I’ll take her again next year, but it will be a while before she starts to appreciate it.

      We did get a very nice picture of us outside by the “Vote Here!” sign to post on FB.

    • D. Meagle says:

      For what its worth, I took my daughter to vote last year and then we went for bagel breakfast before school. When I mentioned it was election day yesterday morning, her take away was “are you taking me out for breakfast today?” She is 5 now. So… puts it in perspective that at that age she is more excited about food than doing her civic duty.

      Also, I did bring my 3 yo to vote with me, and it was hard to fill in the (correct!) bubbles while making sure he did not (a) destroy the polling place and (b) make me fill in the wrong bubble.

      • Walnut says:

        I’m with your daughter. I would enjoy all of my civic duties if they came with food. Standing in line at the DMV, jury duty, etc.

  4. Thanks for all the helpful feedback/commiseration last week on my husband’s irritation with my first trimester exhaustion. He has really stepped up and even took our daughter to his parents’ house on Sunday so I could have some time to rest. Morning sickness hit me like a ton of bricks last week, so I am in the thick of it.

    Anyway, I appreciate the encouragement and reality check–this stage of life is just hard, and as a result, I have been going to bed by 8:30 guilt free. ;)

    • avocado says:

      Glad to hear he has stepped up! Hang in there.

    • i’m also in the thick of it, though in my case it is like all day sickness/night sickness (i seem to have a pattern of getting sick once in the morning, feeling nauseas all day and then i get sick again twice at night…it’s getting exhausting bc i can’t go to sleep on time!). all i’ve eaten in the past three weeks is pretzel thins, tortilla chips, saltines, cheerios and pita chips. hopefully my child will still have 10 fingers and 10 toes.

      glad your husband is stepping up! this is my first so i’m not running around after another one, and i can barely take care of myself. i seriously spend all day at work trying not to throw up. i can’t even imagine doing this a second time around. hang in there!

      • I hear you! “Morning” sickness is absolutely a misnomer. B6 has been helping, but I’ve been resisting the Unisom because it makes me groggy the next day. I would highly recommend the combo, if you haven’t tried it already, though.

        I hope things improve for you soon! The first trimester is a long haul, made even more difficult by the element of secrecy. I, too, have been spending most of my days trying not to throw up, which makes it hard to be any good at my job. Fingers crossed it will just be a few more weeks for both of us!

    • Carine says:

      Happy to hear this! I hope you get past the nausea soon. I’m out of the first tri and it’s still going, which I didn’t experience the first two times and that rankles a bit every day. Silly me for thinking I had anything figured out or knew what to expect. :) Anyway, hurray for 8:30 bedtimes!!

  5. i’m newly pregnant (9 weeks) and plan on waiting to tell work until after the first trimester screening. when i do tell work, am i expected to be prepared to discuss maternity leave/return to work plans or can that be done in a second/separate conversation? i just want to make sure that when i tell my boss i’m prepared. and on that note – any tips? this is my first.

    • I told my employer when I was 17 weeks pregnant. I did not not show by then. During that first conversation she asked general questions about maternity leave (i.e. do I plan on returning to work) and then we had a different conversation about my maternity leave. Basically, you need to let them know so that they plan for your leave accordingly.

      • Sorry I forgot, congratulations!

        • OP here. thanks! i’m particularly nervous about telling them bc the last time someone was pregnant here she had a lot of trouble getting pregnant, so they made her a benefits eligible part time job, which is unheard of (she’d been here for 5 years already), then she went on maternity leave and the night before she was supposed to return sent an email that she wasn’t coming back and really screwed them over. i am hoping to work out a more flexible work arrangement when i return, but know that the last time someone was pregnant she kind of screwed it up for the rest of us!

          • Well, if you plan on returning you have to emphasize that you want to keep working full-time/part-time after baby, that you have good childcare arrangements, and that you like your job etc. You obviously do not want them to think you will do the same as the other woman. You can also ask about the company’s maternity leave policies at that first meeting.

          • You know your office, but I would say something like “Right now my general plan is something like starting leave in May and returning in August. As definitive as I can be right now, I definitely plan on coming back, although I’ll probably want to explore flexible schedules like a 9/80 or working from home twice a week. But let me get my head around this first and I’ll come back to you in a couple months to understand options and work through some scenarios that would lead to the least amount of disruption around here.”

  6. I had posted here last week about a pediatrician who gave me a hard time about my 15 month old still being on the bottle; wanted to give an update.

    We had a new nanny start yesterday and … guess what? She didn’t give him a bottle. Just one of the 1,500 soppy/straw/trainer cups we have collected and he did fine. Didn’t cry, didn’t chuck it across the room, just happily drank from it.

    Kids are so smart. I underestimated how much this little guy was playing me! :)

    As an aside, have any of you with nannies purchased a “beater car” to commute in so your nanny can use the family vehicle? If so, what car and why did you choose it? I have a large SUV and think it’s pretty ridiculous to commute in it while she uses her small car to transport the kids to activities. A neighbor suggested swapping cars, but that seems like it could be a real minefield. I was thinking about getting an older Mazda5 or Prius to commute in.

    • Carine says:

      I was wondering about your exact car question last night and planned to post! We’re thinking about switching from daycare to a nanny next summer and I am leaning toward having the nanny drive our Odyssey and buying a third car for our commutes, so I’m curious to know what others have done.

      Re: models, pre-kids I had a Mazda (bought new in 2005) and it was great, never had a single problem with it.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I haven’t done it personally but I’ve commonly heard of people leasing cars for this purpose.

    • We leased a Kia Soll so our nanny could drive our Odyssey. It’s not a beater car, but it’s electric (so I can use the carpool lane), and it’s pretty tiny. We previously had a Toyota Prius that our nanny drove as our third car, but when she started driving all three, we got the Kia and sold the Prius.

  7. Anonymous says:

    For all of you who are in midst of first trimester nausea (I’m here with you at 9 weeks)… I feel like Diclectin isn’t available everywhere, but I’m in Canada where it is available and it has made a HUGE difference. I take 2 at night, added benefit that it helps you sleep, and I’m able to function the next day. I understand that it is an antihistamine + B6. I think it is sold under other names in other countries. Just putting it out there in case you haven’t talked to your doctor about options!

  8. Boston Legal Eagle says:

    A bit of a rant/ramble ahead: I know this has been talked about many times on here and on the main site, but I’ve just been feeling more and more like I’m fighting an uphill battle in terms of succeeding at work and also having the family life I want. When I look around at my office and see who is at the top, it is either men who have SAHWs and have in essence abandoned their families to focus entirely on work, women who have either done the same (rare) or childless single women.

    A couple of kid things have come up this week that have taken my focus, time and energy and I just don’t see how I can possibly compete when my success depends on a comparison to people who are solely focused on work. I just can’t be that devoted to work. Maybe it’s just my office culture specifically, or my field, but I fear that this is how it is in our society in general and the personal life that I want to lead is incompatible with career success. I would like this 1950s mentality of career success to change, but I just don’t see how when all the people I admire personal-life wise either drop out or get stuck in low level positions, with promotions dependent on abandoning their families.

    Anyone else been feeling defeated lately?

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, it really is no fun.
      I do feel that way sometimes. Not about my current position, but once in a while I get approached with a new opportunity that I have to turn down because I know it’s the type of environment you’ve described, and that I couldn’t handle not being one of the most successful people in my work environment (not saying that’s a good thing, just being honest with myself).
      To be honest, I’ve just coped by finding an opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond. A little over a year and a half ago I made a completely lateral transfer to an office where I knew I’d have more freedom to make the role my own, do more things on the regional/state-wide stage, etc. but at the end of the day those things are “extras” that I do with the blessing of my leadership, and I could 100% lean out of them if I wanted/needed to.

      I wish I had advice for you, though I feel like anyone who does have advice for this will be a millionaire from it. I found Shonda Rhimes’ book “the year of yes” to be extremely reassuring on this topic. There’s a section where she admits how much help she has, and that even with that help she feels she’s constantly either neglecting her kids or neglecting her job. It was just helpful to hear that even Shonda Rhimes can’t do it. There’s something liberating about knowing that there’s really just no hope… hahaha!

    • i think it is just hard and the result of a choice that we make when we choose to have children. the truth of the matter is that childless women or men have more time to devote to work than those with children. men with SAHWs do as well, as do women with SAHH. i think it is unfortunate that it is just a reality. no matter how society’s attitudes change, those who do not need to spend time worrying about/dealing with children will always have more time for work if they want it.

      • I agree, unfortunately. The most recent episode of The Longest Shortest Time podcast discusses this, about how the “ideal employee” from employers’ perspective is a person with no caretaking obligations who can devote him or herself solely to work. The guest was Brigid Schulte, whose book Overwhelmed seems very interesting (if likely depressing). In any case, my takeaway was that what you’re feeling is incredibly common among working mothers, and unfortunately it’s probably not just perception that childfree or employees with SAH spouses get better opportunities than working mothers. FWIW, I don’t always care for The Longest Shortest Time, but I think this series they’re doing on working mothers is excellent.

    • I haven’t even had my baby yet (due next month), and I’m already worried about returning to work post-baby and managing it all. My career is on a roll right now (I literally presented to our board of directors last month at 33 weeks pregnant), but I don’t know how I can keep up that kind of momentum with maternity leave and a new baby (who we already know will have some manageable but impactful health issues). My husband is super supportive of my career and ambitions and believes in me even more than I believe in myself, but he is also a very ambitious guy and he also makes 3-4x what I do (he’s older, more advanced degrees, etc.), so if anyone is going to ratchet back, it’s not going to be him.

      I know you can’t have it all, but I really wish it didn’t have to feel like an all-or-nothing choice in either direction.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s not all or nothing. He may want to take a step back. DH and I earn about the same but he has stayed in a more flexible job to make out lives work. He has enough seniority that he was able to get WFH a couple days approved to handle half of the daycare drop offs/pick ups. I go in early and leave late on those days. If you go into it assuming that you will ratchet back, that makes it a foregone conclusion. Your DH may want to be more involved than you expect and may want to leverage seniority to have more flexibility for time with baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      I actually had a horrible day at work yesterday that brought up similar feelings. My wife and I had a long talk about both of our careers last night. We are both lawyers, me in government, her in big law. We have 2 toddlers and both of us are feeling dinged in our respective careers for being moms. While I am so lucky to have a spouse that not only gets this, but lives it, we came to the conclusion that for now the only way out is through (I think this is one of the Senior Attorney maxims from the main page). Show up, do good work, and know that in a few years the kids will be older and we might have more time than we want for work. In particular I believe it is important for my wife to stay at her firm (as long as she actually wants to be there) because the female associates she works with need to see a partner that is a mom with a working spouse.

      I think all moms have times when they feel like they are failing at being a mom. And if they work, they feel like they are failing at work. And it’s not because anyone is actually failing. It’s that we are taught that success feels like we are totally in control. And those moments of me feeling like I am totally in control of my life are few and far between right now. If I could redefine success as barely holding it together, but all my matters are in check and my kids are safe, fed, and properly clothed, I would be killing it.

      • Anonanonanon says:

        Wow. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never stopped to think about the DOUBLE pressure a female same-sex couple would feel in this situation! Dang, that’s an interesting perspective! Thank you for sharing!

        • same here. i’d be very curious to hear how a same-sex male couple feels or handles these situations if both parents work and have kids. i wonder if one becomes the ‘default parent’ or if (and yes i realize this is a huge generalization that i am making…please don’t jump on me) men just think about their kids differently than women do?

      • Your last sentence is gold. Thank you.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I get upset about this from time to time. But then I remember that, while my job isn’t “upwardly mobile” and I’m probably in a “dead end” position, I work with people I like, have a lot of flexibility, and love the work I do. I also know I have the skills and experience to find a job elsewhere that would provide upward mobility, so I’m not permanently stuck in this role if I wanted to move up. Which probably isn’t the standard definition of “career success,” but maybe it’s my current version of career success? Other than feeling like I’m undercompensated (which….I’m fine, comfortable, and want for nothing), maybe…. I kind of…. have it all right now?

      There is a sense of loss when I realize that there are doors closing to me every day; I probably can’t ever be president of the United States, and I probably won’t be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and I probably won’t have a multi-million dollar book of business or adoring fans screaming my name, and I probably won’t ever be considered an “expert” in my field. But maybe that’s all OK if what I have is fulfilling.

      • i also sometimes feel too much pressure from the standard definition of “career success.” i have two ivy league degrees and currently work in a job where i earn less than i did at my first job out of college. i’m fortunate that my DH earns enough to make this work. sometimes i go down that hole where I compare myself to my peers who i went to undergrad and grad school with who are becoming partners at law firms, probably earning 7 figures, etc. and try to remind myself that “success” is in the eye of the beholder. also- just bc i am prioritizing work-life balance and flexibility doesn’t mean i’m a bad feminist or a bad working woman, it just means that i’ve figured out what works for me. people are so judgmental of each other. like “that woman left her corporate career to be a SAHM, or that woman didn’t want to make partner and that is something to look down upon. people need to do what works for them and stop being so judgmental of one another!

    • Frozen Peach says:

      I have been feeling this so much. I look at senior leadership and I see people who are either male with SAHWs or female with SAHHs or full-time and then some help, and all of them cheerfully discuss how they never see their kids, as though this is a blithe thing to be proud of. I’m realizing that I am, in the long term, embarking on some major soul searching and work around how I define success and how that differs from the rat race’s definition. Baby Boom, the classic Diane Keaton movie, has always been one of my favorites, but its narrative is really speaking to me lately. I’m realizing that having different values is going to mean making choices that make me feel “less than” people who have chosen career success as their primary value and source of identity in life.

      On a related note, there’s a very interesting article about a child psychologist who is a liberal but has found in her research that mothers and babies really need to spend physical time together in years 1-3 of life. She hasn’t been able to find publishers and has gotten a lot of hostility for her research findings because she’s being accused of being anti-woman. Her perspective is that we need to create a “child-centered” society that is supportive of families– it shouldn’t be a choice between can women work and can women spend a significant amount of time with their kids when they are very young. It’s a completely false dichotomy from the patriarchy. Give families the societal supports they need and the game changes. Right now it’s impossible to win and often even to keep playing. The game is rigged against us.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do find the physical time thing to be important. Even with my 3 + 6 year olds, if I have to respond to something on my Blackberry I’m more likely to curl up on the sofa with them and put on an episode of Sesame Street for 20 minutes instead of sending them to another room to play while I type a couple of messages.

        We also part-time co-slept and I find that reduced my anxiety about being away from them in the daytime. My 3+ 6 year olds now sleep through the night in their own rooms but I sort of miss being curled up with them at night.

      • Yep, this. I’m in middle management and some days, even that feels like an overcommitment. I’ve drawn some hard boundaries around my work and personal life, but I feel tremendous guilt about it. Even though I’m highly productive while I’m at work, I know I’m not putting in the hours that some of my peers are — and I don’t want to!

        Quality time with my kids is really, really important to me. Before I even took the position, I was very clear that I would not be working 50-60 hours a week like my predecessor did. And, I’m sorry to say, having a kid in elementary school hasn’t made any of this easier. They’re still little, they still need us, and the school calendar is far less forgiving than daycare schedules.

        But I’m hanging in there, and I’m successful enough. I realized a long time ago that I’m more “work to live” than “live to work.”

        • i am also more work to live than live to work and sometimes i feel guilty about it. i was a typical type A overachiever in high school, went to a top college and a top grad school and had every door open to me and sometimes i feel incredibly guilty that i’m not partner in a law firm/ceo of some company bc there are people who did not have the same opportunities that i did and wish that they had. or i feel like i’m ‘wasting’ my potential. it has taken me a LONG time (and admittedly is still a work in progress), that society’s definition of career success doesn’t have to be my definition, particularly if society’s definition makes me miserable. i have SO much respect for women who are partners in law firms and ceos of companies and admittedly, sometimes i’m envious because while i know i’m smart, i couldn’t hack it and wasn’t willing to make the same sacrifices and so it makes me feel less than.

    • Stati says:

      I feel this way about 75% of the time. I feel pulled in a lot of different directions and I feel like I’m doing things “ok” but nothing especially “great” – and with kids, I feel a lot of mom-guilt about it.

      I told my husband that I wanted to outsource a lot more: meal service (not blue apron.. like fully cooked / frozen meals that babysitter can thaw and put in oven so dinner is ready when I come home), more housekeeping, more help with the kids. I’m tired of “weekend projects” like figuring out how to put together a piece of furniture or whatever when I’m emotionally/mentally drained after a 60 hour + work week. Giving myself permission to spend more money and consciously feeling less guilt about automating or farming out domestic tasks has helped.

      I started going to church again recently and I’m not sure how long it will last, but I was nearly in tears during the service and realized it was the first hour I didn’t have a child or phone attached to me in as long as I can remember. It was helpful and re-framed a frazzled morning into a more relaxing Sunday afternoon. And besides, the childcare is free at church ;) lol.

    • Boston Legal Eagle says:

      Thanks everyone. On some level, I know that what I want (quality family time and also rising up in my career) is essentially impossible in our current value system and I’m going to reach a point where I have to change my work situation to better align with my family priorities, it’s just hard when it seems to go against everything I’ve been brought up to value. I also think that promoting more balance and valuing caretaking is objectively better for all of us, but I just don’t know how to change what we have if none of us get to the top and get into power.

      As always, I am so grateful for this community, especially when a big message we hear outside of this is that women have equality now, so it’s our own fault for not rising up – except that the only way to rise up seems to go against everything I actually want in life.

      • Anony says:

        unfortunately, one of the hard parts of adulting is coming to terms with that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can’t have what we want (trust me, i’m still working on this!). some people choose to put family first, but others choose to put work first. there is no right or wrong. even men who choose to work with SAHW, they’ve made a decision, as have their wives. on some level it is our current value system, but no matter what the value system, anyone who values spending time with their kids/being involved in kid issues, etc. is inherently going to have less time for work than someone childless or who doesn’t care to be involved at that level. there are only 24 hours in a day and different people have different priorities.

        i really struggle with your last point “that the only way to rise up seems to go against everything I actually want in life” . —- I have multiple expensive degrees from prestigious schools and my career (if you could even call it that) has taken a lot of unexpected twist and turns. sometimes i’m ashamed/embarrassed by my current work situation because I feel like I was given opportunities to “rise up” but couldn’t hack it. it has made me feel really badly about myself at times, but i’ve been working hard to realize that it is OK if i do not want to be in a senior leadership position. this doesn’t make me dumb or a bad person or someone who isn’t taking advantage of opportunities, it makes me someone who is prioritizing what I actually want in my life versus the message that “women have equality now and should rise up.”

        What matters the most is what YOU actually want in life and what it is that you want might change throughout different periods of your life and that is ok too.

      • mascot says:

        I didn’t get to respond to you earlier so you may not see this, but oh boy, do I completely and totally relate to this stuggle. I’m in law where the prize for winning the pie-eating contest is more pie. And frankly, I don’t want to win the contest but I am having a hard time saying no thanks, I’m happy with the level of my practice right now, please continue to let me do that. I know there are other people in my firm who have made similar choices, but it’s a little hard to figure out who they are.

  9. EB0220 says:

    Does anyone have experience asking a babysitter you already know to start picking up your kids? I want to broach this with a regular babysitter of ours. Did you ask to check their driving record?

    • Stati says:

      Yes, very recently. Babysitter was happy to do it and we did check her driving record. I felt it was important to do so in case something “bad” happened, to show that we did our due diligence in trusting her with the responsibility. Maybe it was overkill, but I felt better about it.

      I think it’s important to phrase the question carefully – you want this person to feel secure in his/her job yet and not feel pressured to drive your kids if they’re not comfortable with it. So we approached it as “Hey, we really need some help with picking Johnny up after school and we were thinking about hiring (this person) or asking (this mom). Before we do, is this something you’d be comfortable with?” If they say yes, then talk about reimbursing mileage, driving check, etc. We love our babysitter and would have found a way to continue to work with her, even if she didn’t want to drive our kids. You may feel differently?

  10. Anonanonanon says:

    Ugh. Trying to figure out the mire of FMLA/STD policies for my agency with an HR representative who isn’t necessarily strong on policy. Sigh.
    It seems that, if I choose to not burn up my leave while on FMLA (aka go on “leave without pay” status), none of my time is counted toward my time served with the state, and pushes back my anniversary dates for increased leave earnings, becoming 100% vested, etc. That stinks.
    HOWEVER it stipulates “more than 14 consecutive days of unpaid family and medical leave” results in pushing back your anniversary… I wonder if I could use a day of paid leave every two days to technically prevent that? Or have they probably thought of that?

    • Anonymous says:

      I would definitely try it. Use 14 days unpaid leave, then 5 vacation days, then 14 days unpaid leave and you’ve bought yourself an extra 6.5 weeks of leave.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      Broader comment: Between figuring out benefits/rights, researching childcare options/visiting those options/reviewing those contracts, etc… it feels like planning to be a working mom is a full-time job by itself (I stayed home for a couple of years after my first so I didn’t have to do all this while working)

  11. Anonnymommy says:

    In the spirit of venting wednesday: I had an appointment with a new OB/Gyn this morning and in discussing family planning/birth control (I stated I came in because I wanted to go on birth control), she asked if I want any more kids. Yes, I want more children, but my partner and I are choosing to wait 2-5 years before starting to try for more, due to some financial disasters we’ve had that we’re working through. She said, “well, you’re almost 30, you shouldn’t go on birth control! You should start trying now!” I just… want to cry. OF COURSE I WOULD LOVE TO START TRYING NOW. Unfortunately, we can’t afford it!

    • um, you should find a new doctor! this is absurd. i am in my low 30s and pregnant with my first. i went off bc about 3 years ago in preparation to start trying, some life stuff happened and my husband and i decided to wait longer to try, so then i went back on bc shortly after my 30th birthday. fortunately my doctor did not give me a hard time or i would’ve lost it. i was already kind of sad that we were waiting longer to try than i’d wanted. your doctor should commend you for being so responsible instead of putting you down. also – your doctor would probably think that i’m over the hill given that i’m in my low 30s and only having my first. i’m mad on your behalf!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignore her. She is an awful person and not even medically accurate.

      It’s literally the official position of the World Health Organization that for optimal maternal and infant health, babies should be spaced at almost 3 years (minimum of 24 months after birth to start of next pregnancy). It allows the mom’s body sufficient time to recover between pregnancies.

      “After a live birth, the recommended interval before attempting the next pregnancy is at least 24 months
      in order to reduce the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal and infant outcomes.”

      Original recommendation from 2005 but referenced in many more recent updates on maternal health by WHO. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/69855/1/WHO_RHR_07.1_eng.pdf

    • She’s rude. Find a new ob/gyn. Mine said the same thing to me when I was 29 (AFTER I told her we’d been trying for four years!) I went to a fertility specialist and he said “You’re not old! Not even close!” Find someone who gets it. Along those lines, I just spent two hours fighting with insurance over my IUI cycles, which they claim I have used up, even though I have not, and an Aetna rep admitted I haven’t used them. SIGH. I just want this to be over.

  12. Blueberry says:

    Interested to hear you educated moms’ thoughts on pre-term induction. I’m on my third pregnancy. The previous 2 ended up with babies that were born late and on the large side, but with no complications. The last one was a whopper at 10 lbs. Vaginal births, so I have what I have learned is technically called a “proven pelvis” (although I’m not saying I wouldn’t prefer a smaller baby…) As it turned out, I had GD with the last baby that developed later in my third trimester and was not caught in the screening at 28-ish weeks, and which I was diagnosed with by the time it was really too late to do anything about. This time around, I passed my GD test, but have been tracking my blood glucose nonetheless and being more careful about what I eat. As of my growth scan this week (36 weeks), my baby seems to be in the 50th percentile. I and my doctor both know these estimates can be wildly off, and she is advocating (but not insisting) that I plan for an induction about a week before my due date, assuming my cervix is looking ready to go. I’m going to see what other docs in the practice think over the next couple weeks, because she is really the only one who has mentioned this to me. I suppose the risks of either doing this or not doing this are not terribly high, but I’m curious about others thoughts about which route they would choose in my situation.

    • Big baby! says:

      Hi Blueberry :) I know this is several days out, so I hope you see this reply.
      I am in a similar position as you: I’m 34 weeks, 6 days, had a vaginal delivery with my first son at 39 weeks (10 lbs, 12 oz!) and did not have gestational diabetes with that pregnancy (maybe not caught? I also passed the 28 week scan). This pregnancy I had a GD screen at 16 weeks and had a sugar of like 167, so they started me on meds right away and I haven’t had a high sugar since.

      My doctor has also mentioned the possibility of induction. I am having growth scans every 3-4 weeks and nonstress tests weekly. Our baby also seems to be tracking along the 50%th percentile. I trust my physician’s opinion so I asked her what the need for induction is if I already had a big baby vaginally. She said that her main concern is shoulder dystocia and also about regulating my blood sugar and baby’s blood sugar immediately after delivery. She wants to avoid a c-section with a larger baby, and induction is one way to do that. Because every baby is positioned differently, it’s possible to have a smaller baby than my last still get “stuck”. I have a short maternity leave (only 6 weeks :( ), so I also don’t want to be recovering from a c-section. I’m also more inclined to induce and have her deliver me than another physician that I don’t know as well/don’t like.

      This is such a personal decision, but I think you have the right attitude. The truth is, it probably doesn’t matter one way or the other. As long as emphasis is on delivering a healthy baby, I’m good either way. Good luck and congratulations :)

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