How we share the load at home: Part II

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How we share the load at home: Part II

Figuring out the division of labor at home is never easy. From those very first days when we nervously bring our fresh little human home, there are seemingly infinite decisions to make about who does what, when, and how often. We partnered with our friends at Bumkins to interview three full-time working #MINDRMAMAs about how duties are shared in their household. Second to share her story is Pearl Pari, who works in the finance industry.

Talk us through your typical weekday, at home and at work.

My husband Alden and I live in Ridgewood, NJ with our three-year-old daughter, Naomi. I am an attorney working in financial crimes at a financial firm and my husband is a network architect working at a pharmaceutical company. Our weekdays can look considerably different from week to week, especially because my husband is a low-key workaholic who consults during his free time and I spend a good deal of my free time working on pro bono immigration cases. However, as far as Naomi is concerned, our mornings and evenings almost always follow a similar flow.

Like a relay race, as soon as my husband enters the kitchen, I hand over the baton and I run out the door to catch my bus to the city.

Our typical day begins in shifts. I am the first one up around 5:45 am, followed by Naomi and then Alden. Naomi and I get ready together (which is no small feat). Mornings are trying ever since Naomi developed a serious opinion on her wardrobe, which often does not take into account the weather. We have several wardrobe and hairstyle changes (A.K.A. meltdowns) before Alden even wakes up. Then we somehow make it to breakfast.

Breakfast time, when we aren’t running late, is one of my favorite times of the day. Naomi and I get a chance to chat, dance and play a little before Alden joins us. Like a relay race, as soon as my husband enters the kitchen, I hand over the baton and I run out the door to catch my bus to the city. Alden and Naomi enjoy some playtime; he packs her lunch and drops her off to daycare before heading to work himself.  

  Pearl’s husband Alden, the family’s ‘full-time chef,’ is pictured heaping deliciousness into her daughter Naomi’s Bumkins    Silicone Grip Dish    in Marble.

Pearl’s husband Alden, the family’s ‘full-time chef,’ is pictured heaping deliciousness into her daughter Naomi’s Bumkins Silicone Grip Dish in Marble.

Most of our day, Alden’s and mine, zooms by with meetings, phone calls and work. Before I know it, it’s the end of the day. I bust out of work like superman on a mission to catch the 5:30 pm bus home. My commute is a bit daunting. On a good day it’s an hour and a half door-to-door, but with traffic I get home closer to Naomi’s bedtime, which is around 7:30 pm. On evenings that I commit to my pro bono efforts, I don’t make it home until after Naomi’s bedtime and miss the fun of our evenings altogether. My husband’s commute is much shorter and he has more flexibility with work, so he drops off and picks up Naomi every single day. In writing this I have realized how much I enjoy the evenings we do get to spend together as a family, even though they seem so short.

What does the division of labor look like in your home?

The division of labor in our home goes through cycles each week depending on our respective work schedules and any attempts to exercise. We are both pretty exhausted by the end of the work day and end up playing catch up with house chores from Friday through Sunday. However, there are two chores or responsibilities that remain constant every week, Alden is our full time chef and I am forever buried under laundry.   

Did you actively decide on this balance, or did it kind of just happen that way?

As a family, we are always looking for ways to be more efficient with our time and often create to-do lists, calendars and schedules for our chores, etc. They don’t always work but we are open to giving anything a try. Our family motto could be “a constant effort to do better.”  Our housework dynamic is always in search of a better routine in an effort to have more time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. So our “balance” is always changing and is being tweaked from week to week, which is an active, intentional decision on our part.

Is there anything you think could work better about how you share the load at home, and how do you think you could go about achieving that shift?

There are several things that I can change to make our lives at home better, but committing to them is the hard part. The recurring challenge we face is cooking dinner every night and still being on track for Naomi’s bedtime. We have tried several times to meal plan and cook on the weekends and it has resulted in smoother weeknights. However, on weekends, we love hosting our friends and family when we can, and cooking for the week is often forgotten. As a family, we need to learn to say NO to Sunday plans. Wish us luck in the new year, this may be our family’s New Year’s Resolution for 2019!

What are your favorite tips and tricks for reducing the workload at home?

We are blessed to have extended family that is always around and willing to travel to help. At first, I wanted to do a lot of things on my own, especially when it came to Naomi, but now I realize I need the help and welcome it. Naomi is blessed with three loving aunts and both sets of grandparents that jump at the chance of watching her. We cannot express our gratitude enough to our village: not only do they watch our daughter but when the grandmas come over, our refrigerator and freezer are stocked with meals and all our laundry is clean and pressed.  Mom’s love really is the best! My biggest tip to any parent is to accept help in any form that it is provided. It may not be exactly what you asked for but if you are open to it, it can be a blessing in so many ways.

By discussing what we need to accomplish and our expectations for the week, we are able to roughly design a week that works for both of us.

One practice Alden and I have almost every Sunday evening is to go over our schedules together. By discussing what we need to accomplish and our expectations for the week, we are able to roughly design a week that works for both of us. During this time we also call dibs on events or things we want to do outside of work and home. We may not always do a great job carving out time to spend together, but we have somehow successfully managed to give each other time for ourselves. At least twice a month (but usually more often) we each spend time away solo, which can mean dinner with friends, or doing something we enjoy like golf for my husband and a girls night for me. It’s a nice treat that we can gift each other without keeping tabs on who gets to spend more time alone. Our Sunday evening scheduling is key to ensure that as a family we have a successful week.

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Gathering around the table with Mindr and Britax

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Gathering around the table with Mindr and Britax

We were so grateful for the recent opportunity to gather around the table with some of our corporate mamas, to share some laughs and our best ideas about amplifying our efficiency at work and at home. Our friends at Britax joined us to contribute some of their favorite tips for maximizing efficiency on your commute - like their new Nanotex fabric that wipes off clean. And every mama took home a Britax B-Ready G 3 Nanotex Stroller - making us all a little zippier on the go, and giving us each a lil’ somethin’ extra to feel thankful for this Thanksgiving season! Big thanks also to Maman for having us, and to #MINDRMAMA and photographer Rashmi Gill for capturing all the action.

We love that the beautiful Britax B-Ready is carried exclusively by Brixy, a network of independently owned and operated baby stores. There’s no better time than this Small Business Saturday to shop local, so scope out your closest store here.

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Building a Little Citizen's Library: 5 Books to Inspire Future Voters

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Building a Little Citizen's Library: 5 Books to Inspire Future Voters

The midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 6th. At Mindr, we plan on taking our future voters with us to show them the importance of exercising our right to choose our lawmakers. To get them ready to head to the polls, we asked #MINDRMAMA and co-owner of Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab Maggie Pouncey for some inspirational books to read to these future civic changemakers. 

At a time when our nation feels particularly divided, when even grown-ups are unsure how to explain the latest news cycle, how can we raise engaged, empowered, civic-minded children, who are well-equipped to face the challenges ahead? One of our favorite ways is through vivid, hopeful and inspiring stories. Lately, it’s been refreshing to see so many excellent children’s books by talented makers filling the shelves of our bookshop in Brooklyn: books that feature children of all races, religions, and identities; books that remind us our country has seen stark divisions before and emerged both stronger, and gentler; and books that spark a committed spirit of advocacy. We can’t predict the future of politics, but we can raise kids who care and don’t give up. Here is a great collection of books for all ages to read as a family, sure to make your children super stoked and proud to stand beside you as you vote on November 6.

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Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights, By Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr, $17.99

A picture book for the littlest activists, this is also an alphabet book, showing kids ways to lend their voices to the causes they believe in, from A - “Assemble. Take action. Create Allies” - to Z - "Be zealous.” Inviting, cut paper illustrations depict children of all ethnicities standing up for things they care about. V is for “Vote. Volunteer. Keep vigil. Be nonviolent.” The spread shows a young black boy who has gone with an older relative to the voting booth, an excellent opportunity to set the stage for your family’s own trip to the polls.

Ages: 3 and up

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What Can a Citizen Do? By Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris, $17.99

A gently rhyming text in this picture book - a second collaboration between Eggers and Harris (see also their excellent Her Right Foot) - asks and answers the questions “What in the world can a citizen do? Who can a citizen be?” Playful, witty illustrations include details kids will love to discover during read-alouds: when some children put up a sign that reads, “No Trumpets,” others protest, and on the following spread the sign has been amended to, “Ok, Trumpets.” The story emphasizes that it is actions of helpfulness and community mindedness that a citizen make.

Ages: 5 and up

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Start Now! You Can Make a Difference, By Chelsea Clinton, $16.99

A new illustrated how-to guide for the next generation, covering questions of how to be a good citizen from the personal (why we should all wash our hands) to the global (how to understand and take action against climate change). Friendly, straightforward, and engaging, author Chelsea Clinton tackles large issues in relatable, informative ways. As she writes, “You may not be old enough yet to vote or to volunteer - but you are definitely the right age to raise your voice about important issues you care about, at home, in your school, in your community and in our world.” The message is clear - no matter how old you are, the time to start making the world a better place is right now.

Ages: 7 and up (signed copies currently available from Stories)

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We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, Edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson, $18.99

This is a stirring, heartfelt and intensely personal illustrated treasury featuring an incredible collection of diverse voices in children’s literature, from Jacqueline Woodson to Ellen Oh, Jason Reynolds to Hena Khan, Javaka Steptoe to Ekua Holmes. Many of the poems and letters and essays are addressed directly to the audience, specifically children of color. This book offers hope, provides context for past struggles, and teaches kindness, and courage.

Ages: 8 and up

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This is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father, By Khizr Khan, $16.99

Khizr Khan addresses a middle-grade audience with passion and knowledge, exploring the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (the text of both documents are printed in their entirety in this book). Speaking both personally (as an immigrant from Pakistan and a father), and as an expert (he is a lawyer who has focused on civil rights and veterans’ rights) he shows why the work of our founding fathers should inspire us, and why “We the people” (which includes young people) must stand up for the freedoms upon which our nation was built.

Ages: 10 and up

Maggie Pouncey is the co-founder and co-owner of Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab, and the author of the novel, Perfect Reader, and the forthcoming picture book, The Fort on the Moon. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.

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