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Best of the Forums: Gifts When Host Requests None?

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Do you bring birthday gifts for children's birthday parties when the host has noted "please no gifts" in the invitation? 

We have always requested no gifts and ALWAYS some people bring gifts. But lately I've noticed at a few birthday parties we've attended where the host also requested "no gifts" almost EVERY guest came with a gift. 

We try to honor the request when I see it in an invitation. Instead I have my kids take time to make a nice handmade card and write a note for their classmate/friend and sometimes we will also make a bookmark or add stickers inside the card. But I'm often then questioning not bringing a gift when I see most guests coming with them. I believe that parents are sincere in their request because when we've made that request for our parties we truly don't want more gifts for our kids, we just want a time for our kids to celebrate with friends.

Curious - what do you do? If you bring gifts when a person writes "no gifts," why do you bring them?

  • I have occasionally brought a gift to a "no gifts" party, and it's been a book. I just think you can never have too many books. My kids always make homemade birthday cards as well. 

    On a related note, we have been to 4 birthday parties in the past 6 weeks (all invitations from my son's new kindergarten class friends) and I have noticed that they are all receiving goodie bags with books in them. That seems to be the trend. I've personally never been a fan of the goodie bag but now is it expected?
  • I have brought gifts in the past -- we try to respect the wishes of the family but I have three kids and sometimes forget which invitations are which. Plus, like the previous poster, we usually give books, and think there is no such thing as too many books. Although if there is you can always donate them to your school/classroom library -- our school librarian will put a nice sticker in saying who donated the book and my kids love seeing "their" books circulating.
  • One suggestion: if you have a no gift policy, make the few stray gifts quickly disappear from sight. If people in your social group go to no-gift parties and see a table with presents while they came empty handed, they might get confused and start overcompensating at the following parties.
  • We have also been to many parties with goodie bags. Lately in lieu of goodie bags, my younger has received a book, a hula hoop (from a luau birthday party) and lots of candy from a pinata - from the birthday parties recently. Not exactly goodie bags but I'm actually happier without any parting gift. I do not think they are necessary but it does seem that they are expected -- by kids, not parents!
  • I've been to parties where the no-gift request was replaced with "please bring an item to donate to a charity of the birthday child's choice." I like this because, for the most part, it reminds kids there are those less fortunate than themselves (and some parents too). When it's a party where the whole class is invited and I know my child isn't "best friends," I stick with the hand made card and stickers. If it's someone I know my child plays with and talks to a lot, then I have my child choose the theme of the book or the book to give as a gift.
  • I just went to the "no toys please, but a book is fine" birthday party yesterday where some parents brought giagantic bags with presents. I myself bought a few presents for this party at ToysRUs the night before (because I completely forgot the specific instructions on the invitation that I received a month or so ago). But when I saw this very thread on PAMP, I went back and re-read the invitation; then I scrambled to replace my gift with a good educational book at the last minute because I wanted to honor the family wishes. However, every time I come with no gift or a book and see someone with lots of other presents, I can't help it but feel a little ... hmm... embarrassed, stingy, etc -- even though I am obeying the specific instructions from the parents (I know it's silly - can't help it! And my mind always has a quick detour: should I have also brought something extra??). But I did feel more at ease after reading this thread yesterday.

    For my older daughter's first birthday, I chose to ask for donations to the charity that I support in lieu of gifts (I asked for checks, not toys or books), but some parents still brought gifts (some did both: a donation AND a gift for my child). Of course my daughter LOVED receiving them, even though she was only one and I thought she wouldn't even care. So the next year I decided to let her indulge (it's only twice a year: birthday and Xmas for our family; plus, we actually do not buy birthday or Xmas gifts for them ourselves because they receive so many from others!).  

    Anyway, I was very grateful for this thread! HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON TO ALL!!! And happy birthday parties - gifts or no gifts, whatever your policy and personal preference may be! Love our community where we can be who we are and respect each other's choices!  

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Best of the Forum – Part Time Job?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 13, 2016
I just got a full time job offer, but I really want a part time job. I have been a SAHM for a long time. Since both of my kids are at school this year, I started to look for a job. It sounds great, but it’s a start up company with not much flexibility and probably long hours.

I would love to start working again but was hoping for a more flexible or part time arrangement. Does anyone have any words of wisdom for how I could ask for a part time job? Or is this just not an option?




Congrats on the job offer! Going back to work is a big adjustment. Going right into a full time demanding job would probably feel like a huge change for you and your kids. Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it’ll just be very different. If you are committed to finding part-time, let this company know (ex. “I really want to work here/ I’m jazzed about X element of coming here/ please help me make this possible… I can work X hours per week max”) and see how they respond. It could happen! They liked you enough to make you an offer, and it’s up to you to negotiate the offer that works for you. I’ve worked part time in “real” roles for 3 different companies since my kids. It can happen!


You might be pleasantly surprised if you ask for part time work that it’s a job that can be broken into logical parts. I work part time for two companies and it works out great for everyone. Both companies use me on an as needed basis & pay me hourly. You probably wouldn’t get benefits (health insurance, holidays & vacation) as a part time employee which would save the company a lot of money. I think the key would be to make yourself available as much as possible and to be flexible. Some weeks I have no work from either company. Other weeks, I have a lot of projects but I adjust my work schedule to meet deadlines for both companies.



I feel your pain! It is unfortunate that we are often in this situation where we feel we have to choose full-time work when we might be much better served to have part-time or flexible or scalable. Working with a start up may well give you some options as they can be as flexible as they want. (they are making up their own values, cultures and rules as they go) Here are some ideas for you as you creatively approach matching what they need to the value you are delivering to them.

1) think about what you know so far in terms of their needs to evaluate if there is room for flexibility
2) what is your ideal situation in terms of part-time/flexibility? Could you work the hours they need if spread over different schedule? (ie. work around kids schedules) Do you want to have built-in flexibility during the days for illness, school events? Do you want a three full day and two day off schedule?
3) If you believe that you could help them at this stage without having to go full-time have an open conversation with the hiring mgr. You have something they could use right now and they very well may be open to some innovative solutions.

I have found that if you focus on RESULTS instead of HOURS, it brings the conversation back to the value that you bring to them. It has to be a win-win. This is a time where talent is hard to find and we have the opportunity to innovate and change the way work fits into our lives! I hope more people will question the status quo. My prediction is that we will look back at this either/or thinking and wonder why we accepted that!


Just wanted to suggest that if you are able to negotiate part-time work that you be sure to get paid on an hourly basis and not a salary. What often happens in this situation is that you may find you’re working “full-time” hours for part-time pay.


Another option is to take something full-time and then transition to part-time later. It’s a bit of a gamble, but I’ve had success transitioning from FT to PT in my last two roles. In both cases I was going through significant life changes (birth of my first child, etc) and I was able to make a case for a flexible part-time schedule. I’m currently working about 20 hours a week and get full benefits. It’s been a really nice balance for our family.

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Best of the Forum: What Does Me Time Look Like?

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 8, 2016

Maybe I’m totally off my rocker hoping for this, but does anyone have a good routine going where they are able to find/make time to be creative? I have hobbies like sewing or journaling and writing that I want to explore. Not to mention I’d love to make time for meditating and exercise. I know I could cut out tv altogether and probably find the time to do some of this. But I’m just so tired–vegging out in front of the tv is so easy at the end of the day!

So–for those of you who actually squeeze in some creative/healthy “me time” into your day or week, can you tell me how you do it? What have you given up? What times of the day do you find best for getting stuff done? (waking up early, doing it after kids go down, both). How do you motivate yourself to prioritize this stuff?

My husband and I have a routine where he takes the kids on Saturday mornings and I go for a run. I take the kids on Sunday mornings and he plays soccer. It’s only once a week, but at least it’s something as far as exercise.

Being able to fit in me-time pretty much depended on what my kids’ sleeping schedule was. With my first son, I was lucky that he would sleep in so I would wake up before everyone and do a workout or go run. I also tried to take advantage of nap-time to get things done. Now with two, it’s a bit more complicated, but when the baby sleeps, I try to do some yoga and my 3 year old has learned that he can either join me or keep busy with something (I try to set him up with some activity or books). I have to take advantage of me-time early in the day because by evening I’m too tired, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t end up getting much done. I just try to do better the next day. Motivation isn’t so much the key as discipline, but what usually motivates me is to remember how much better I will feel doing an activity for me vs. wasting time on the internet (which is my vice).

 —

It’s a hard problem! I find the only time I can be sure to get me time is before my kids wake up or after they are in bed. So, I get up at 5am to exercise and I spend time sewing at 9.30pm or so in the evening. It’s hard to motivate myself some days to sew, but once I get started I am always glad I did that instead of watching TV.

The key for me is to line things up so that it’s really easy to do these things. For example, I have my running clothes all lined up ready so that I just have to get out of bed and put them on. For sewing, I trace out my patterns on the weekend while my kids are doing art projects so that when the evening rolls around I can get onto the more fun parts.

I also find that following creative people/groups on
facebook/pintrest/blogs inspires me and motivates me to make the time to sew or do other projects.

The other thing that people keep reminding me is that this is pretty temporary, as the kids get older and more independent it’s much easier to sneak in time here or there even if it is between driving them from place to place.

Currently, my me time is. . . work! The good part is I get a chance to think about and do things other than housework, family social planning, meal planning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. The challenge is that when I’m not at work, I want to spend every free second with my daughter, which means I dont prioritize exercise, hobbies, etc. And when her Dad takes her somewhere for their special time, I always start doing stuff on my “to do” list instead of taking a break.

I think it’s a mindset challenge most of all!

I’m so glad you posted this question and look forward to hearing how other parents manage this.

Sometimes I think I should have caffeine in the afternoon to try to have enough energy for the things I want to do for myself in the evening. But then I worry about not sleeping right…

 —
My me time is a Starbucks run with my husband. We take the baby there but usually I feed her first and then she is happy sitting in the infant car seat watching people while we are sipping coffee.

During naps (he currently take two) I’ll spend one cleaning up a bit and taking a quick shower, the other reading a book or watching a show. Also after he goes to bed at 6:30/7pm my husband and I usually have dinner together, then read our iPads for a bit and then watch a show. I go on a 45-60 min walk with my son in the stroller everyday (well not lately, I broke my knee and had surgery last week) and I have a nanny or my mom who comes three times a week for a few hours so I usually do an exercise class or meet a friend for coffee/run errands.

If you can afford a babysitter a couple days a week that helps a ton! If not, and depending on how old your child is, maybe you could trade off with another mom and drop your child off for two hours and get down free time in exchange for giving her the same relief another day of the week?

Also lots of exercise studios offer childcare so I’ve done that, too.

Good luck!

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Best of the Forum: Move to Help with Nursing?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Should we move to the City to help with nursing?

I am a newbie, both as a mom pregnant with my first, due in March, and on these boards. We currently rent in the Palo Alto area and plan on remaining here at least through the birth. My job is fairly demanding (more than 40 hours per week) and is based in the City. I take Caltrain for my commute.

We’d really like to do whatever it takes to set things up so that I can nurse for baby’s first year, if at all possible. We’re open to moving (towards the end of my parental leave) to a new rental closer to my work location, especially for baby’s first year, if that might make nursing easier. Would love to hear from working moms who nursed. Which of the following would you recommend:

– Don’t bother moving. Such a hassle on top of everything else going on during baby’s first year, and it won’t make a difference in terms of nursing logistics or likely breastfeeding success.

– If you can move to within walking distance of your office, it could make a real difference. You could do a midday nursing (either go home for lunch, or have baby brought to your office by a caretaker) on top of pumping as needed.

– If you can move even somewhat closer to your office (say, Burlingame), that too could make a difference. Maybe you won’t be able to do a midday nursing, but it’s a much shorter commute, meaning potentially one less pumping session and one more nursing session per workday.

Thank you in advance for your insights!

Unfortunately, I really don’t think you can predict what your baby is going to be like or how easy or hard life or nursing will be until the baby is born!

You don’t say what your profession is, but if it’s an office job like mine, I will offer you the advice that I would give my younger self. But most cannot be done until the baby is born!!!!

My advice:

* Take as a maternity leave as possible, like 4 months. Focus on establishing nursing.

* Buy the best pumping equipment available. Electric double breast pump (such as Medela pump in style), with hands free operation. Also buy a hand pump (Medela, $30). Budget $450 overall for equipment (pump, bottles, cleaning stuff, milk storage bags, sharpie pens, etc)

* Within the first 2 weeks, see a lactation consultant (private appointments). Don’t worry about the cost; it is worth it. Budget $300.

* Within the first 4 weeks, begin pumping and introduce the bottle to the baby. Establish one feeding a day for daddy to give the baby the bottle.

* Discuss with facilities/HR to ensure you have a dedicated, private place to pump at work. All you need is a closet with a table, light, electric outlet, and a lock on the door, and access to a sink and refrigerator. Ideally, sort this out prior to maternity leave.

* Remember, formula is not poison. If you need to go that route, your child will be fine. You will nourish your baby!

* Get as much sleep as you can!!!!! Once piece of advice that I have heard  is, “the cure for a cranky baby is more sleep for the mother.” You may not understand what that means until you are sleep deprived with a crying baby, but if you are well rested, you can tolerate, accept, and handle the crying better.

* Practice and get comfortable with nursing in public and on the go. Use a nursing apron if that feels right.

* Consider pumping in different travel situations. Consider the logistics of pumping on the train, or in the car while driving. Seriously!

So ….. to answer your question about moving, I would vote for #1. It’s about 6 months to 1 year that nursing and pumping is an all-consuming topic. If you can take a long maternity leave, let’s say 4 months, then you only have about 2-6 months left to figure out your pumping schedule and logistics. It’s really not that long.

My credentials/story: natural child birthing, cloth diapering, exclusively breastfeeding, vaccinating, full-time traveling working mom to 2 kids (now 4 and 6).

Good luck!

—-

The previous comment was great! I would vote for, and this has nothing to do with nursing, moving as close as you can to your job. If your job is demanding, even more so. You will be so much more rested and happy. Move now, if you can, versus after baby. And, take as much time as you can for maternity leave.

I’ve never seen pumping by train – but maybe up top where it’s quieter. I had a friend who pumped while driving, and it can be done safely if set up properly. Congratulations and best of luck to you!!!!

I have to agree with the first poster on how to manage pumping at work. But I agree with second poster that I’d move closer to work if I were you. Going back to work after having a baby was jarring to me. Maybe it won’t be for you; it’s personal. I’ve been a longtime corporate person and it just seemed really hard to tear myself away from my 12 week old baby every day for long days, and then do the commute to drop off/ pick him up in time. I did it, but it was a long time every day away from my baby. He essentially was raised by the nanny in those years, because he’d be awake very little when I was home. I’d move closer to work just to enable you more time with your baby, and logistics will be easier (for example,  if there is a problem with caregiver and you need to rush home). I also know women who went home/to daycare to nurse during the day; this is great for some. I agree that you won’t know until you have your baby how these things will go, though. Maybe seeing your baby during the day and then having to leave again to go back to work will be hard. We visited our child on his birthday at daycare, and when we left again to go back to work it was “separation” all over again with crying, etc. Congratulations – motherhood is amazing! I think you can manage it either way, but commuting less will be easier.

—-

The first comment was great! I agree that the shorter your commute, the more time with your baby/child before and after work and the happier (and more rested) you and your baby/child will be. Too many parents keep their kids up too late at night because they don’t get home till 7pm and still want quality time with them each night. Also, it makes attending doctor appointments or taking half days much easier as they grow older. Less time you are paying for childcare, too.

Also, most insurance companies will pay for a breast pump within 30 days before your due date or 365 days after IF you purchase it through their contracted vendors. Some vendors provide an upgrade option, so if your insurance only covers the basic model, it’s still cheaper to upgrade to the nicer model than purchase it retail. I have used the Medela Freestyle with all 3 of my babies (now 6, 4,and 2) and LOVE it. Hands free is definitely the way to go if you’re trying to juggle nursing and pumping for an extended time. It’s doable but definitely a commitment. Get used to pumping while commuting

The best advice I can give you is that from day 1, every child is different, and just when you think you’ve got everything figured out and planned perfectly, the circumstances change, from nursing (baby directed weaning, bottle type preference) to sleep patterns and onward. Life is a constant roller coaster with kids, so enjoy the ups and downs. Often over-thinking things just leads to disappointment.

Best of luck with your decision and congratulations on the pregnancy!

I nursed exclusively with both my kids, and worked with the first one. I’m not sure the long commute will impact nursing (you can pump on Caltrain, if you’re not squeamish…) but it will impact your sanity, so if you’re inclined to move, it’s probably not a bad decision. Time is precious for working moms, and commuting wastes it.

Your milk supply adjusts to demand. I would get up early with the baby and nurse (at 5:30 or so), do email from home and get all ready to go, then nurse a second time at around 7:30, then jump in the car and commute about a half-hour. I pumped twice during the day at work (in really gross conditions, FWIW), and wouldn’t get much production, and then usually left right at 5:00, raced home, and nursed as soon as I set foot in the door. My daughter was a persnickety baby (she still is, at 17…) and grudged the nanny a bottle only out of dire necessity, so she was famished by 5:30. But I noticed on the weekends that during the day the baby would suck and suck but not get much. I was so anal about pumping that by the time I weaned, I had a freezer full of unused breast milk baggies, which I donated to The Mother’s Milk Bank. So don’t worry, it all works out. My advice is start solids as early as you can. I ended up supplementing with cow’s milk by about 10 months and had no bad effects from it (so far…)

—-

There’s a new book out called “Work, Pump, Repeat” with some good information and “tricks” about pumping at work. It’s worth a read! I wish it had been written before I went back to work. The information is still helpful, but it would be the most helpful for someone just about to go back to work. I realize that’s off topic, but it might be helpful to you in the future!

My only suggestion would be to make the move before the birth. It will be so much easier! Then you can just focus on the baby, nursing, and making the transition to work after the baby is born. Moving with an infant will be very difficult, more difficult than moving while pregnant. Just make sure that other people do the heavy lifting for you!

One thing you could do to help with the commute, since you can take the train, is having childcare close to your office for the first year/until baby is mobile. You can then spend that time on the train bonding and/or nursing.


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