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Do’s and Don’t’s for the Middle-Aged Retiree

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Just shy of three years ago, I quit my job. I quit with a vengeance. I burned bridges. I may have stomped my feet and slammed a door (or two). Don’t judge.


I quit on a Friday afternoon without the foggiest notion of what I, a then-48-year-old woman who had worked for 23 years and whose high school-age children no longer required daily maintenance, would do when Monday rolled around.

What happened, you might ask?

Did I (a) revel in my free time, thanking my lucky stars that I’d finally thrown off the yoke of the working world and wondering why I had ever been so stupid as to have a job, (b) hang around the Scarsdale train station during morning rush hour, stalking the commuters, ruing the day when I marched into my boss’s office and read her the riot act, or (c) implode.

The answer is none of the above.

It took a good long time to figure out my new existence in a way that didn’t threaten my sanity. So I would like to give you my hard-earned guidance: the do’s and don’ts of how to handle it if you too should find yourself in this supposedly-enviable situation.

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1 | Don’t drag out annoying errands just to have something to do

Remember how, when you were working, you managed to fit all the necessary tasks of daily living into the tiny pockets of time left over from your job and your commute? For example, I’d rush like a madwoman to the supermarket for the components of some semblance of dinner, dash to the pharmacy for my daughter’s very expensive fluoride toothpaste, and then come home to fix the malfunctioning dishwasher, take my son to get his busted lip stitched, and polish the silver.

Now that you’re no longer working, there will be great appeal in spreading out all your obligations over the newly available time. You’ll put off going to the dry cleaner until 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, just because you can! 

You’ll spend the first number of weeks grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, Mrs. Green’s, Balducci’s, and the local farmer’s market, and making gourmet dinners for your family. (This will go on until your son asks you one evening, with tears in his eyes, if you can go back to making the boxed macaroni and cheese.) 

You’ll announce to the other carpool moms that you are now “flexible,” available to fill in slots for the working moms “whenever,” and then find yourself inundated with commitments to drive six teenagers back and forth to school on a moment’s notice, five days a week.

Don’t fall into this trap. Have a little self-respect for goodness sake. You quit your job, you didn’t sign up for a 40-hour-a-week gig as a gal Friday for your family.

2 | Do write your memoir

Okay, I heard that groan from a mile away. You’re worried that you haven’t lived a memoir-worthy life. Believe me, I’m well aware of your limitations. You haven’t cured the common cold, climbed Mt. Everest blindfolded, or starred opposite Ryan Gosling in the remake of West Side Story. I wasn’t being entirely literal. When I quit my job, a friend convinced me to take a writing class. It happened to be a memoir class, and I too scoffed at the notion. In fact, like you, I don’t have a memoir to write.

But taking the class emboldened me to take other classes, to meet new people, to get out of the house, and to realize that there was a whole world of activities – pole dancing, bobsledding, competitive dog grooming – outside of the job I’d been a slave to for many years. So I don’t care what class you take, just take something. Sign up, pay your money so you won’t back out, and have an allotted time where you have to be somewhere other than sitting on your expanding butt on your couch. Which brings me to the next “Don’t.”

3 | Don’t buy a whole new wardrobe, get an expensive gym membership, and expect to lose ten pounds and fit into your old skinny jeans

Quitting your job has a lot of similarities to making New Year’s Resolutions. You’re suddenly faced with a blank slate and a feeling like you’ve been given a second chance to live a better life. The number one New Year’s Resolution? To lose weight and get in shape. I’m here to tell you, none of that will happen.

I quit my job in September of 2014. Feeling empowered but flabby, I, who had barely satisfied the 50-yard dash requirement in gym class in third grade, immediately downloaded an app to train to run a 5K. I was diligent and determined. By November, I signed up for a local 5K, wishing that it hadn’t been dubbed “the Turkey Trot,” which I secretly feared was named after me, and which made it sound comical when it was deadly serious. But I digress. I ran the 5K at a sort of respectable pace (at least I didn’t crawl for more than the last kilometer), triumphantly posting my finish-line photo on Facebook for all my friends to see and lavish praise on me.

Since that time, my only cardio workout consists of getting myself from the couch to my refrigerator. Instead of losing ten pounds, I’ve gained ten pounds.

Why do I tell you this story of epic failure? Because I don’t want you to feel badly about yourself if (when) this happens to you. Being home is hard. The temptation to sooth yourself with the truffle ricotta ravioli, the hearth-baked 27 grain bread, and the caramel mocha molten chocolate cake you now have time to stock the refrigerator with is great. So while you may get to buy some new clothes, think one size up, not one size down.

 

 

4 | Don’t take piano lessons for the first time as an adult

If you’ve never played a musical instrument or last played said instrument in the sixth grade, now is not the time to start unless your goal is to irritate your spouse, children, and the kindly piano teacher with your inability to reliably find middle C, to count anything more complicated than a whole note in 4/4 time, and your repeated declaration that you “just want to learn enough chords to play Dust in the Wind.” It will never happen.

5 | Do listen to Ebony & Ivory and other bad 1980’s songs at earsplitting decibel levels and dance around your kitchen in your underwear

The music hasn’t improved since you were in high school, but hearing it played as loud as possible and letting loose with your old disco moves in the privacy of your own home will make you feel simultaneously young and ancient, to strangely positive effect.

6.  Don’t assume that the actual stay-at-home parents will welcome you because you no longer have a job

The key here is that you are the only one new to the sandbox. These moms and dads have been slaving away at domestic life full-time for many years and have already established when they take spin class, who they eat chopped salad with, and which children fraternize with little Tyler or little Wren. They were not waiting around for you to arrive on the scene as the newly-unemployed parent. They have lives!

This is not to say that you can’t break into the social scene, but you must take it slowly. This is especially true if you are long past the phase of life of playgroups or other child-centered activities, and are forced to navigate these waters as a full-fledged adult. Don’t despair, even the most anally-organized community of stay-at-home moms will sometimes need a fourth to sub in for tennis or mahjong.

7. Do learn to play games

Even though you heretofore eschewed them as silly.

8.  Do nap

Sometimes surrendering to blissful unconsciousness for an hour is the only way to get through a long day. You can always tell people you need your beauty rest, no one will argue with you.

9.  Do put together an updated resume, just in case this doesn’t pan out

There’s no shame in realizing, either quickly or down the road, that you preferred having a job. Depending on how long it’s been, you may need a new interview suit. Styles do change, you know. Put a smile on your face and get ready to explain what you’ve been doing with your time since you have been out of the workforce. I’d start by talking about that memoir you’ve been writing.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Adele's albums have soothed many hearts through hard times, and now she's going through a big relationship transition of her own.

The singer is separating from her husband Simon Konecki, the father of her 6-year-old son, Angelo James.

"Adele and her partner have separated," Adele's people wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Our hearts go out to Adele. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone any further explanation or discussion of her separation, but by announcing it publicly, she is shining a light on a family dynamic that is so common but not talked about as much as it should be: Co-parenting.

Parenting with an ex is a reality for so many mothers. According to the Pew Research Center, "the likelihood of a child – even one born to two married parents – spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is on the rise."

Angelo James' experience will be similar to many of his peers.

"Increases in divorce mean that more than one-in-five children born within a marriage will experience a parental breakup by age 9, as will more than half of children born within a cohabiting union," Pew notes.

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Adele and Konecki already know a thing or two about how co-parenting works, as Konecki has an older child from a previous relationship.

They can make this work because so many parents are making this work. The reality is, two parents can still be a family, and be a team for their child without being romantic partners.

Decades ago, co-parenting after a divorce wasn't the norm, and a body of research (and the experience of a generation of kids) has changed the way parents do things today. Today, divorce isn't about the end of a family. It's about the evolution of one.

Research suggests joint physical custody is linked to better outcomes for kids than divorce arrangements that don't support shared parenting and that divorced couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse"(so, are friends, basically) are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Co-parenting is good for kids, and clearly, Adele and Konecki are committed to being a team for Angelo James.

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If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success. In 2017, he implemented free two- and four-year public colleges for New Yorkers, and now Cuomo is adding a budget proposal that would provide on-site childcare at community colleges.

Under the proposal, single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring and help when applying to four-year schools. It's the kind of idea that could be a game changer for parents in New York state.

Currently, childcare centers are subsidized for student-parents but can still cost parents $50-$60 a week; under Cuomo's budget proposal, childcare would be free. Students who are already enrolled in similar programs acknowledge that the benefits are enormous.

"As a single parent of two children going to school full time, I wouldn't be able to come to school and afford for childcare," says Michelle Trinidad, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and parent to a 4 and 5-year-old. "Thank goodness for BMCC Early Childhood Center that is very much affordable. It gives me the opportunity to advance my career and be confident that my son is in good hands. School is hard enough on its own, having reliable child care means a lot to me and my children."

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The plan is a part of Cuomo's 2019 women's justice agenda, legislation that addresses the gender wage gap, as well as economic and social justice for all New York women. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, which has doubled since 2000. Additionally, that same study found that 4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their dependent care obligations.

"This is an exciting initiative for New York that addresses a critical need, and if implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of society, especially for the next generation," says Ryan Lee-James, PhD an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University. "I view this initiative as both a direct and indirect pathway to address the well-documented achievement gap between children reared in poverty and those growing up with higher income families, as it provides moms, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, to further their education and thus, afford their children more opportunities."

Additionally, many view campus childcare as a safe haven for college students. "During my 18 years working in campus childcare, I have witnessed how the student-parents can complete their courses and stay focused by having childcare on campus," says Sori Palacio, a Head Teacher at BMCC Early Childhood Center. "Parents usually express how thankful they are for having their children traveling with them to school as well as having their children nearby while they complete their degree. They concentrate in academic work without worrying about their child's wellbeing. This service helps the entire public by preparing more people to serve the community."

Parents have so many barriers when it comes to accessing higher education, but free childcare could be a game changer that benefits multiple generations.

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