My latest book “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family “The Business” compares life in the corporate lane to life in the car pool lane, and provides tips on how moms can use corporate structure and rules to rule the household.
But while many concepts are transferrable between home and office, Mother’s Day is an event that is really only celebrated at home, not in the workplace. I don’t think it’s a mistake that it always lands on a Sunday, where it can’t take up precious billable hours between Monday and Friday. But what if we could re-write the calendar and have Mother’s Day land on a workday?
How would we be able to tell it’s Mother’s Day versus any other day in the office? I’ve been thinking about this. You know how moms always tell their kids “every day is Kid’s Day”? First of all, that’s crap, or at least it should be, or they truly are the boss of you and you need to rethink a few things. But it seems to me that Mother’s Day is pretty much every day in the work world, and not in a good way. Hear me out.
At home moms are privileged to receive the time honoured traditional offering of burnt toast and cold coffee from our own junior employees, which ostensibly is a “treat” and intended so save mom the trouble of doing this herself. Of course the dichotomy is that more often than not, this causes mom more work in the cleaning of the kitchen’s aftermath, or maybe an extra half hour at the gym after breaking her ‘no carbs’ diet just to keep the smile on her proud child’s face.
How might this manifest itself at work? It happens all the time. A badly written proposal can easily cause more work for the mom-manager as she works to get the employee to rewrite it in the way that will be acceptable. And how about a subordinate, who offers to attend a meeting on her behalf, but then makes inappropriate comments or, worse, commits the department to completing extra projects.
I’m not suggesting we tell our kids to stop making us a bad breakfast, or that we don’t assign tasks to learning employees. In fact, it’s the reverse. We need to keep doing this so that they can learn from their mistakes and one day graduate to making an entire unburned meal or being 100% responsible for a professionally executed strategic plan. In this, we are still mothering them every day, all day. So let’s take that second Sunday in May and celebrate Mother’s Day the way it should be celebrated; with other moms, while we assign our employees to eat the toast themselves.
Kathy Buckworth’s latest book “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family “The Business” is available at bookstores everywhere. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth
The next time you visit a corporate website, look at the “About Us” page. Most feature a mission statement, a few sentences or paragraphs that tell the world at large what the company does and what it wants to accomplish.
I have a theory about mission statements. I believe that they came to be as a result of countless CEOs asking countless versions of the same question: What am I trying to accomplish here? And how many times might you have muttered this as a mother? While literally or figuratively pounding your head against the wall?
The mission statement is a shortcut to the answer – a handy-dandy, quick-reference guide to what the company is all about. Or why you chose to throw birth-control caution to the wind. Once or twice. (Or four times. What was I thinking? Cue more head-pounding.)
As the boss of your family, you will likely find a mission statement handy, if for no other reason than to remind yourself of what you were thinking when you brought these people into the world. And why you shouldn’t take them out. Corporately, a mission statement should address the employees, the shareholders, and the customers. Here’s a quick primer on adapting those three categories to family life.
- Employees: Your employees are the members of your family. And we all know who the boss is, right?
- Shareholders: This refers to your own parents – or any other relative or friend who has invested in you and wants you to be successful. No matter how old you are, your parents will always want to take responsibility for your successes and failures. If you are the parent of a young child and currently wondering when things get easier, it sucks to realize this.
- Customers: Who are we getting to buy from us? Our neighbours, friends, acquaintances? Everyone we interact with on a daily basis? How about the world at large?
At its most basic level, a mission statement should easily and clearly define who you are and what you do. Think of it as your family’s elevator speech – a thirty-second-or-less summary of what your business is. This might be the time you’ve got to introduce yourself at an indoor playground before the screaming starts.
Poke around on the Internet and do some research. Make a list of words that mean something to you, that perhaps reflect the attitudes or approaches you feel are important: commitment, knowledge, quality, weight loss, child control, or wherever your focus needs to be. String ideas together until you come up with a mission statement of your own. Mine? I worked with keywords such as know, admire, inspire, value, personal mastery, and focus. After a lot of thought, I boiled it down to this: “Do your best. People are watching.”
Excerpted from Kathy Buckworth’s “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family “The Business” McClelland & Stewart, 2013.
We all know we’re really supposed to be the boss of our children, but in this generation of “Helicopter Parents” and overscheduled and pampered children are you truly running the show? Take this short quiz to find out who the boss in your house really is.
1. When your 12 year old child has a hockey tournament scheduled on exactly the same weekend as your six-years-in-the-making Girls Getaway do you:
a. Delete the email and disable the computer and phones so your son can’t find out when/where the tournament will be
b. Convince a team-mate’s parents that your child will be a welcome addition to their road trip (neglecting to tell them about that pesky lice condition which just came up)
c. Tell him about the tournament and let him know he could go if only Granny weren’t so selfish with her dialysis appointments.
d. Cancel the weekend, take him to the tournament, cheer at every goal, stay in the world’s crappiest motel room in Upper Armpit Ontario and then tell everyone you had the best time. Maybe in another six years…
2. You have five minutes to get out of the house and drop your two year old daughter at the babysitter before your overdue hair appointment. She’s just fallen asleep and is showing the first signs of a cold. You decide to:
a. Slip a warm hat, sweater and boots on her before she wakes up and whisk her into the car, willing her not to cough until you’ve left the babysitters.
b. Trick a passing neighbour into coming into your house and watching TV for an hour while your daughter catches up on some well needed sleep.
c. Call the hairdresser and arrange for another appointment later that day – and throw in an extra couple of highlights just because.
d. Cancel the hair appointment, dump a box of store bought colour on your head and pray that the lighting will be dim at the gala dinner tomorrow night.
3. Your five year old is having a screaming fit in the store about the $50.00 piece of crap toy he desperately wants you to buy:
a. You say “No” and leave the store.
b. You say “Ask Daddy when you come here on the weekend”
c. You say “Yes”, put it in the cart and then take it out at the checkout when you distract him with a 25 cent lollipop
d. You say “Yes if you’ll just shut up. But only this one time.”…“And don’t tell your Dad”
4. You’re at a “kids invited” dinner party and your children are the only ones not interested in the movie in another room that has the others quiet. You:
a. Lead them back into the movie room and tell them that their alternative is sitting in a dark room upstairs that you’re pretty sure the Rottweiler never goes into.
b. Pour yourself another glass of wine, and tell your husband to deal with it.
c. Tell them if they’ll be quiet for just half an hour longer they can stay up for an extra hour and candy tomorrow night (you’re lying, FYI)
d. Explain to the other dinner guests that your precious children are not entertained by mindless spoon fed drivel and that they should be more than welcome at the dinner table with the adults as part of their developmental skills training.
5. Your Grade One daughter comes home with a flyer and a request for parental volunteers for a field trip – tomorrow – the same day you have arranged to catch up with an old girlfriend in the trendy restaurant du jour. You:
a. Tell her you’re pretty sure the keener moms will have already filled those slots.
b. Call your husband and guilt him into doing “just this one trip that means so much”
c. Reluctantly promise in lieu, to attend the school’s spring play the following week (where none of your children are performing, but want to go to see their best friend speak 2 lines) which you had previously slated for a fake flu night.
d. Call the girlfriend, set another date 6 ½ months away at a suburban chain restaurant five minutes from your house, and call the teacher to help organize the snack drill for the trip.
How did you score? If you’re the boss, you already know.
Kathy’s new book, “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family “The Business” will be on bookshelves everywhere March 26, 2013. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth or visit www.kathybuckworth.com.
Love is in the air. Being electronically transmitted, in all likelihood.
For reasons I can’t explain, PeeWee Herman and, in particular, his show, PeeWee’s Playhouse, has always held great appeal for me. Fans of the show (back me up here!) know that if PeeWee had had a BlackBerry, he would have married it— just like he did with the bowl of cereal. I now share this devotion. Not with cereal, people, but with my BlackBerry.
It provides me with comfort, entertainment, advice, news alerts, laughs, and, most importantly, companionship. I am never alone when my square little black friend is with me. Allow me to explain the push-me-pull-me addiction of BlackBerry love. “Push” as in always wanting to be sending someone, somewhere, an email about EXACTLY what I’m doing at that moment, and “Pull” as in I have to know immediately what’s in that email that just vibrated into my world.
The phenomenon is fairly easy to understand: Receiving an incoming email message on your BlackBerry is akin to having a note passed to you in class from the cutest boy in school. You have to look at it. You need to look at it. The need is especially strong when you are in a situation where you can’t look at it (because to do so would either be rude or downright dangerous).
It takes a huge amount of will power not to look at an incoming message, though you can always tell how many messages you have waiting for you by counting the number of buzzes. This is both intoxicating and annoying.
You can tell the depths of my devotion by the following typical attributes (which any true BB lover will have):
- The tell-tale thin red line on the right side of my stomach by my hip, caused by leaning over while wearing the holder and a too-short t-shirt or by making the amateur’s mistake of putting the clip straight onto a waistband rather than a belt.
- The feeling of the “phantom” (or BraxBerry Hicks) vibrations, causing me to immediately look at a “no new email screen” and then feign reading in case others have witnessed my pathetic act.
- The stunned “hmmm?” response I offer when people are speaking to me and I’m simultaneously trying to read an email.
- The glazed look that automatically creeps across my face once the hummmm hummm of an incoming email is heard and the opportunity to read is denied due to circumstances beyond my control (toilet training a child, for example).
- A renewed interest in prayer—prayer that once the sound of an incoming email is heard, the person you are speaking with will instantly be called away.
How did this happen? It’s my own fault, really. After months of pestering my husband to “put the damn thing down and listen to me” (like putting an electronic device down is even possible for a male unless it’s on fire, and never mind the “listening part”), I decided that if you can’t beat them, join them.
And from the minute that sleek black shiny square became a part of my life, I knew we would be inseparable. I have a love/love relationship with my BlackBerry. There. I’ve said it. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Excerpted from “The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood”, Kathy Buckworth, Key Porter Books, 2009
Look for Kathy’s latest book, “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The “Business” on sale in bookstores everywhere March, 2013. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyBuckworth; visit www.kathybuckworth.com!
The announcement that royal couple Catherine and William are expecting their first child has many speculating about how this baby and his or her famous parents will cope. It can be hard for a normal, common family to adjust to family life. There are a few differences that spring immediately to mind, when one is royal.
For Kate, like most new moms much of her hair will likely fall out during her first few post-partum months. However, unlike most new moms, she could potentially finance a small country with the money she would make selling it on eBay. Kate will have to decide what name goes best with the surname “Wales”. Sadly, the baby name “Hashtag” has already been taken. Luckily, “AtSign”, “DoubleBackSlash” and “Meme” are still available, should they decide Victoria, Elizabeth, George and Edward are too stuffy and old school. Kate will have additional parenting challenges due to the fact that paradoxically her child, by virtue of being third in line for the throne, will technically be the boss of her.
Potty training days will bring new meaning to the term “sitting on the throne.” And while most babies are congratulated for speaking their first word, the first royal wave will also have to be celebrated. Come birthday time, likely Wills Jr. asking for a pony will be a little redundant. But planning the party will be easy for Kate’s side of the family, and Uncle Harry’s sure to be entertaining (and hopefully clothed).
For William, “Bring your child to work day”, which doesn’t typically happen until the child is 14, will need to begin pre-planning now due to the security detail involved. And there’s really no point to Baby Wales taking Daddy in for Career Day, as no other kid in the class will be able to aspire to have the same “Next in line for the throne” job.
Instead of sitting in line for hours to sign their child up for swimming lessons, they will have to spend hours interviewing the Royal Swim Instructor. Likewise the Royal Soccer Coach, Royal T-Ball Trainer and Royal Lice Remover. Should their child get lice, they can force everyone around them to cut off their hair. This, history tells us, is a vast improvement over ordering a whole head to be cut off.
Good luck to you, Will and Kate.
Watch for Funny Mummy every month. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth or visit www.kathybuckworth.com Kathy’s newest book, “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The Business” will be released Random House in March, 2013.
This article was originally published in the Metro News.
“Hey be careful with that toe of yours,” I said to my 10-year-old son as he attempted to cut his toenail with what appeared to be medieval pinking shears, “I grew it for you, after all,” I said. He looked over at me and said “Really? All you did was eat,” and then added “That’s not so hard.”
Restraining myself from launching into the indignities which the gestating body of a woman goes through to produce an ungrateful rat like him, instead I nodded and said, “I guess you’re right.” Why would I want to tell him anything else? He was in Grade 5, and the lessons on the Birds and Bees were rapidly coming down the curriculum, headed straight for him.I decided to let him wallow in his lack of knowledge a tiny bit longer. Ignorance, my friends, can be bliss. But is there any such thing anymore?
Every time a breaking news story erupts over social media or the more traditional 24 hour television news channels, by the time it hits the morning newspaper or breakfast shows, the next segment is inevitably “How do you talk to your kids about (fill in blank with breaking news story).” While I believe it is important to keep our kids somewhat up to date with current affairs, do they really need to know and digest every piece of bad information that hits the ever expanding radar?
When I was a kid you got news twice a day. Once in the morning paper, and then at 10:00 at night on the national television station, delivered by a white male anchor in orange make up. Oh, did I mention that the audience for this news was 0% children? I wasn’t even allowed to stay up until 10:00 at night, let alone touch the morning newspaper unless it was a Saturday and I was sneaking the colour comics out of it. The news was for grown-ups. They worried about what was going on in the world…sort of so we didn’t have to.
Today, because our children are so connected in so many ways: the internet, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, streaming television, texts from friends, we presume they are getting the news all the time, and consequently we should act as a counselor to them in how they should digest this news. But here’s the thing: what we think is BIG news, they really don’t.
When you’re a kid, what’s important to you is totally different than what’s important to an adult. If kids wrote the news, their headlines would include things like:
- Mom admits younger brother is her favourite. Has been for some time.
- Spoiler alert: Meatloaf comes from meat. Which comes from cows.
- Suspicious hand-writing on Christmas gift alludes to co-conspirators in Santagate.
- New study shows that no parent has ever offered a child a spoonful of sugar, no matter how nasty tasting the medicine going down was.
- Halloween candy disintegrates after 30 days? Not so, in a shocking discovery. Film at 11.
I grew up in Winnipeg, and a local station used to announce, just prior to the news, “It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” I say, better yet, “Do your children always need to know what you know?”
Read Funny Mummy every month. Kathy Buckworth’s newest book, I Am So The Boss Of You: an 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The “Business” will be released by McClelland Stewart (a Random House imprint) in March, 2013. It is available for pre-order now on Amazon.ca Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth, or visit www.kathybuckworth.com.
Two of my kids have Post It notes stuck to the fridge which read “Money Mom Owes Me.” The irony of this is not lost when I know that the average cost of raising a child in Canada is approximately $300,000. That’s for one child. As the volume of children go up, the cost per child drops, presumably because of some shared expenses and hand me downs.
With four kids, money rarely physically stays on my person for more than a minute. It comes directly from the ATM, barely touching down into my wallet, before it goes out to the waiting hands of a retail merchant, school secretary, orthodontal receptionist, bored hockey rink attendant, or the outstretched arm poking from a fast food window. (Please note that none of these expenses can be shared between children. I’ve tried to negotiate used braces, trust me.)
My children are very aware of what “It’s too expensive” means (they have heard me say it approximately 2.7 million times, sometimes in reference to the mere existence of a younger sibling), whether it’s the twoonie for the vending machine which spews out a five cent plastic ring, all the way up to some coveted $200 running shoes. Not that this stops them from asking me for these and other things, over and over again. Part of me gives them credit (not literally) for continuing to ask for more and more. Their eternal optimism is impressive, if not hopelessly misguided and futile.
I feel like parents today seem to have more expenses than previous generations did. I think this is partly because of safety concerns, but also it’s also somewhat due to our own gullibility in believing what they really “need”. Some of the things I spend money on for my children that I’d like to cut back on include: the “indoor runners”, a different helmet for each of the head-cracking activities my kids are involved in, the endless supply of Slushies which every hockey arena offers, $10 mandatory school agendas, postage-stamp-sized-games for handheld electronic units which are only “unlost” for the first two hours, the “book orders” which come home from school but have more computer games and plush toys than books on order, and every piece of overpriced merchandise that features a talking sponge or a transforming truck.
Throw in all of the organized sports’ fees (including the amount which goes to cover the “trophies for all” strategy), and it’s not hard to do the math on why I find myself eyeing up their piggy banks and occasionally borrowing from them.
The only comfort I have is knowing that by the time they become parents themselves, there will likely be 16 more types of helmets they’ll have to buy for their own kids. And I’m not extending or expecting any credit for that.
Kathy’s latest book “I Am So The Boss Of You: An 8 Step Guide To Giving Your Family The “Business” will be published by Random House in Spring, 2013. It is available for pre-order now at Chapters and Amazon.com. Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth
“You look good!”
“For someone who’s had four kids.”
“Especially since one of those kids is 21.”
Okay stop. In fact, stop two sentences ago.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that no mom ever wants to hear anything past “you look good”. If in fact someone says this to you, you must move away immediately to avoid the unavoidable follow up sentences. (I’ve discovered that slamming your hand over their mouth can result in a more unpleasant situation than simply being mildly offended.)
I’m not saying that having kids doesn’t do something to our bodies (unless you are Gisele Bundchen), never mind your face (worry wrinkles, bags under our eyes), but it’s not as if you can’t enjoy some of this same abuse without the pleasure of having borne children. I know loads of women, and men, who have never gone through a 30+ pound pregnancy, who could still do with some serious gym and diet time. And let’s face it, kids aren’t the only things that give us stress in our lives, or deprive us of our sleep.
So, instead of saying “…for someone who has X number of kids”, and focusing on the obvious body and face changes, it would probably be more appropriate to focus on these particular things that happen only if you are a mom.
You look good! For someone who:
- Has spent an unnatural amount of time waiting for things which have already been done, to be redone, in a far less efficient way. For example, toddler shoe putting-on, pre-school hair brushing, and seven-year-old face wiping.
- Visibly flinches and scratches at the mere mention of the words lice, rash, and pinworm.
- Enthusiastically volunteers to go to the grocery store, garbage dump, or to stand in line to pay a tax bill, as all involve leaving the house without minor accompaniment.
- Feels no conflict at all in judging some moms for bad parenting decisions, while totally defending others doing similar things, if they’re friends.
- Has sat through approximately 1,473 hours of school concerts, plays, karate testing, hockey practice, dance recitals, fencing demonstrations, assemblies, unnecessary graduations and countless episodes of Phineas and Ferb. Each hour in real time is the equivalent to five hours of “mom time”. There should be an award, but she would never willingly sit through a ceremony to get it.
- Can’t advise you with any accuracy as to whether there isn’t a child inflicted stain or tear someone on their clothing, at any time.
In fact, the next time you’re the victim of the “You look good…” backhanded compliment, do what I do – up the number of children by at least two, raise your age by at least five years, and let them think you look more than just “good” for a woman who has that many kids, at such an old age.
“Learning doesn’t take a vacation.” Okay, like most annoying moms, I said it, and this summer, I tried to live it. During a family vacation to London, England, I attempted to make our visit a mixture of the historic and the fun (they’re not always interchangeable, no matter what my history buff husband says), hoping that the kids would learn something, even if their summer-vacation-new-knowledge-resistance-factor was strong.
One of our stops was Buckingham Palace, and as we stood at the gates and my ten year old son took in the majesty of the ornate and impressive building he said “Well the Queen must think she’s very important.”, to which my 13 year old daughter responded, “Well she is pretty rich”. He pondered this for a moment and said “So if we see her, will she throw us some gold?”
I stepped in to mention that while she was indeed wealthy, the chances of her popping into our tourist visit were slim, (let alone having the chance to leap up and catch a tossed gold doubloon) and I didn’t think she’d be at the gift shop signing Corgis or anything like that. In fact, I mentioned, she wasn’t even as rich as J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter.
This was relevant as we had visited the Warner Brothers studio set of the movies in Watford, the day before. “You know”, said my son, “J.K. Rowling might not be richer than the Queen but she might have more money.” He continued, as way of explanation “You think castles are cheap? Someone has to clean them, you know.”
And, I thought to myself, my work here is done. My nagging about the cost of things, but the importance of cleaning up, all in one sentence. I think I’d pay someone to clean the 75 bathrooms in Buckingham Palace as well.
We continued on with our tour of the London area – a mixture of “kid-friendly” activities (LegoLand in nearby Windsor) and historical monuments, but I discovered that perhaps the contrast between the two was a bit much for the kids.
As we toured the subterranean Churchill War Rooms, which had been meticulously preserved in their austere and authentic state from their time during WWII when Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his high level officers manually planned each move, my son turned to me and said “After Harry Potter, I’m not so impressed with this exhibit. They could have done more.” More than winning the war, I thought to myself?
I had to concede that the studio tour had indeed been more visually impressive, with actual sets, costumes, and a visit to the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, and more. But as I watched him walk through the warren of tunnels underground, listening to the audio guide, and not allowing us to move forward until he had heard every word, I knew that the history would sink in, eventually.
My daughter’s biggest revelation during the tour was that Churchill and his wife had separate bedrooms, and that they were not situated especially close to each other. “I guess”, she said “Sometimes he has to work and she doesn’t want to listen to it.” As I type this article in the wee hours in a dark hotel room while my family sleeps, I think that qualifies as a key learning too.
My two youngest children are away at camp, and this reprieve from the usual melee that goes on at my house has allowed me to reflect on those things that kids do, that use up equal measures of time and patience that you would just not realize did so, unless you had kids, and then suddenly they were gone. Allow me to explain:
#1: Being grateful when I walk up the stairs to my house, and open that front door, arms laden with groceries, that I won’t be accosted by stomping feet and grabbing hands who empty out select items in the grocery bag (cookies, fruit chews), without actually helping to put the groceries away. In fact, I find myself having to put away the opened bag of cookies from the family room about a half an hour later. What a treat to walk in with groceries, carefully lay them on the kitchen table, and quietly and efficiently put them away, unfettered, and un-assaulted by comments like “Can you actually buy some good food the next time?”
#2: Doing laundry once a week and having it stay “done”. No clean, folded shirts taken out of the basket just to be evaluated for “wear-ability” and then subsequently folded on the floor; no pants that need to be washed every day because they only fit properly right out of the dryer. No accusations from the 10 year old of “Who took my swimsuit?” (Because we all like to hide each other’s swimwear just for something to do, and I’m pretty sure those trunks won’t fit me anyway.)
#3: Getting up, having a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast and leaving for an appointment. Without having to stop to pull a moldy sandwich out of lunch bag to replace it with one which will likely face the same fate, search for the one white shirt for the choir dress rehearsal (Really? They need a dress rehearsal?), break up a fight about who gets the last bit of “good” cereal, break up another just as annoying fight over who gets to pick the morning cartoon, while studiously ignoring the silent glare of your husband as he insists you didn’t tell him today was the day you needed him to put the kids on the bus and didn’t he already take out the garbage and terrific I just got mold and sticky cereal stuck to my only clean blouse.
#4: Not acting as a go-between for doorbell rings and phone calls from your children’s friends that they do or don’t want to talk to or see, depending on their mood and active level of engagement on Minecraft or SuperMario. Not receiving withering glances or eye rolls when ultimately the decision to force them to engage (or not) is the wrong one.
#5: Not having to entertain the “leftover” child guest who would rather talk to you than play the aforementioned video games. Particularly when you work from home.
Sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Or at least the hearth to grow cleaner.
Kathy Buckworth’s new book “I Am So The Boss Of You” (published by Random House) is now available for pre-order and will be in store March 2013. Follow Kathy on twitter @KathyBuckworth and visit www.kathybuckworth.com!