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Thursday Thought – Tips for Transitioning into Summer

Thursday Thought - Tips for Transitioning into Summer

In parenting lingo, “transition” refers to times when we ask our kids to switch gears from one activity to the next, like ending a playdate so that you can go home. Transitions for my kids often meant tantrums. “No leave the park!” my two year old would scream, alerting everyone to my wonderful parenting skills.

We’re also making some big transitions in the academic year. So if you’re feeling tantrumy (that should be a word), you’re not alone. Just at the point when many of us are most tired, we’re asked to recalibrate our routine. Some of us are making the transition from teaching to focusing more in our research, administrative tasks, or syllabi redesign during the summer. Others are ending winter term classes and gearing up for their spring/summer teaching. If you have kids, especially those too old for daycare, the transition from school to camps or at home child care is just around the corner, which can be trying for everyone.

In the coming weeks I’ll be talking more about strategies for a peaceful transition to the summer months. For now, here are three tips for managing this transitional time. Rejuvenate, Reprioritize, and Reflect will be central themes of our June Workshop aimed at helping you make the most of your summer and early fall.

1) Rejuvenate
If you’re like me, you might have a bunch of stuff, both personal and professional, that you’ve put on the back burner until the semester is over. My best advice is that these things can take wait a bit longer. If you can, try to take at least a day where you’re not being goal oriented to let your brain relax. It’s even better if you can put aside a couple of days to restart a gentle exercise program if that has gone by the wayside, get a massage, or spend time with friends. Binge tv watch. Nap. If this seems indulgent, it’s not. You’ve been working hard and you need a break. Full stop.

2) Reflect

If you do have fewer teaching responsibilities, this can be a good time to reflect on what has gone well in the past year, and what hasn’t with your teaching and research. I like to keep a single Word document where I list ideas for future classes and what I wouldn’t do again. I also sometimes use the reviewing function of word to mark up my syllabi with notes about reordering texts, or revising assignments.

3) Reprioritize
Once your brain is rested, think about August 30th. What would you need to have accomplished by then for you to feel good about your summer? What experiences do you want to have with your family? What work would you need to do in the next 10-12 weeks? Most importantly, what can you realistically do during this time period so you don’t end up mad at yourself? For example, drafting a journal article and teaching one class is probably realistic if you have a lot of child care. If you want to spend more time with your kids this summer, then adjust your productivity goals accordingly.

 

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Thursday Thought: How I Know We’re Making Progress on Family Leave

How I Know We're Making Progress on Family Leave With the Next Generation

I recently drove four seventh graders to a school activity. On the way there they discussed their health teacher’s upcoming open adoption of a baby, the teacher’s maternity leave, and her husband’s paternity leave. The dad was going to take the first parental leave so the teacher could finish out the quarter, and then the teacher would take a quarter off to be home with the baby too. This group of kids had lots of comments and questions about their teacher’s situation. However, I know we’re making feminist progress with family leave issues and work because of what these 12 and 13 year olds didn’t say:

1) While they were confused by what to call it when a dad stays home with a baby (“Is it BATERNITY or PATERNITY leave?”) no one suggested that a dad couldn’t take care of a baby by himself.
2) No one suggested that the teacher was a bad mom for not immediately being home with the baby.
3) No one suggested that it was selfish of the teacher to take a quarter off or that she shouldn’t be paid for this leave.
4) They all knew what open adoption meant. No one suggested at open adoption was “weird” or that adoption was a lesser way of making a family.

Making Mothering Studies Scholars Visible

Thursday Thought: I once heard someone in another field refer to mothering studies as “Jocelyn’s thing” as if I’d made it up in my basement. Mothering Studies has a several decades long intellectual history, including the work of Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and many, many others.

So a special shoutout to the Museum of Motherhood in NY which is holding its annual conference right now: March 6-8. The theme this year: Making Motherhood Visible. The Museum is inducting three founding Mothering Studies scholars into its Motherhood Hall of Fame: Phyllis Chesler known her her longstanding feminist activism as well as work such as Mothers on Trial (1986), Barbara Katz Rothman whose book about race and adoption, Weaving a Family (2005), I’ve taught many times, and the one and only Andrea O’Reilly, founder of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement. MIRCI has nurtured so many of us second generation mothering studies scholars, myself included.

Andrea-OReillyO’Reilly’s keynote address will discuss the lack of inclusion of maternal perspectives in women’s studies, during a time period where a variety of identity categories are accepted and seen as legitimate subjects of research.

From her interview with York University: “It also shows that my work as both a scholar of motherhood, and more specifically as founder-director of a research centre (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, formerly the Association for Research on Mothering) and press (Demeter Press) on motherhood, being so honourably recognized has proven the naysayers wrong – that motherhood does matter and that motherhood studies has indeed arrived, now with a museum of its own.”

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Thursday Thought: Rebel Don’t Recline

Thursday Thought: Rebel Don't Recline

We’ve all read about Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the inevitable backlash. I’m sure a lot of you have read Rosa Brook’s fantastic essay “Recline!” which encourages women not to buy into the superwoman myth in order so that we can have time to read for pleasure and spend time with friends. Imagine that. Reading for pleasure and spending time having fun. So my Thursday Thought: how can we harness our inner fourteen-year-old (or the unpredictable lunacy of someone like Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack) and rebel against family and workplace norms that ask us to be everything to everyone? What if we stopped being “good girls” and started following our own inner compasses? What would outlaw motherhood and/or outlaw academia look like for you?