Two Working Moms

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What is 42

My birthday is coming up and I am turning 42. In some books and in code this might be the answer to the universe but what is 42 to me? What does a 42-year-old working mom look like?

Sometimes I forget how old I am and since moving up to Seattle and having kids, a lot of my new friends are also moms. Since our commonality isn’t high school, these new friends have a wide variety of ages and I am no longer surrounded by people who are born in the late ’70s, except for my hubby who is only 6 months older.

So when I look around what does 42 look like. It’s an interesting decade for a woman who is either starting to have kids since it is now or never, or wrapping up her family with what she has. She grew up in the last wave of analog as a child who transitioned to a digital world as it grew with her. For me this transition happened so slowly, so naturally, and I was so focused on my own golden egg that I didn’t stop to look around and see what I was doing, what course I was on, what train I had jumped on without even asking if I was onboard. I was doing stuff that I just did, since that is what everyone did, and never stopped to ask myself why. One of these whys was my hair.

My Mom owned her own hair salon in the San Francisco Bay Area and sometimes after school, I would be there waiting for her to finish, so why not get my hair done. I think I started coloring my hair around 10 with highlights and fun colors and just never stopped. Many years later as an adult, I noticed some gray hairs in my natural dark brown. Without thinking I just kept coloring.

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My Mom no longer works and spends a lot of time out of the country. I work fulltime and have two little kids. I have very few hours to myself and coloring my hair became a chore. An expensive one! So I really thought about it. Why am I doing this? Because 42-year-olds don’t have gray hair? I won’t look attractive? I’ll look old? People will treat me differently? What will others think?

Well, you know what … I am doing it!

It’s only been 2 months of growth but I am excited to see what my natural hair looks like. I’m excited to embrace it and really own my gray hair. Own my age, own the fact woman don’t need to hang on to youth like it holds value when in reality, each of these gray hairs tells a story of life and the years of experience this body holds. Each sparkle of gray is an exhibit of my wisdom and strength.

In a way, it feels rebellious going gray.

So hello 42 and finally being old enough, to be strong enough, to be me. * L


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A Month of Kindness

Today is World Kindness Day and thought it was a great day to give away my December 2019, Month of Kind Acts for Kids.

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December is a busy month; especially at my house with two birthdays, so having a kind act each day is a great way to stay in the spirit of giving, thinking of others, and being kind. Print the above image out and have your kids mark off the tasks each day. More details on the kind acts below and feel free to modify to fit your kid’s ages. Mine are currently 4 & 6 and I made edits based on how some of the kind acts went last year.

Day 1 – Start the month of giving with a small give, and have your kids do something nice for a stranger. Maybe it is letting a friend go first in line, removing a rock or stick from the path of someone biking, or smile and say hi to a person walking near you.

Day 2 – Help someone in your family. Make your sister’s bed, bring the dishes to the sink, get your mom a glass of water.

Day 3 Donate food to a local food bank or make some goodies to give to your neighbors.

Day 4 – Get someone a drink. Maybe it a free coffee with Mom in the car, hot cocoa for a teacher, or water at dinner for your dad.

Day 5 – Play extra nice with friends. Let them have the toy, give them an extra turn, be a super nice friend today.

Day 6 – Help pick a tag off a giving tree and/or help pick out the gift with a parent.

Day 7 – Collect all the toys you no longer use or want to donate to others.

Day 8 –  Extra love for the pets. If you have a dog go on a long walk, if you have a cat give them extra petting, if you have a fish sing them a song.

Day 9 – Give your face something to do and smile at everyone.

Day 10 – Make something for Grandma or a loved one. Maybe it is cookies or just a drawing.

Day 11 – Leave candy-canes in the neighborhood. Either in mailboxes or at their door.

Day 12 – Help out a neighbor. Bring in their newspaper, help clean up the sidewalk.

Day 13 – Bake something and share it with loved ones and friends.

Day 14 –Help make Christmas cards. Maybe it is just decorating the envelopes or addressing them with stickers.

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Day 15 –Visit a senior center and be a member of the community.

Day 16 –Post inspirational notes or artwork on post-its and put them up in public places for others to see.

Day 17 – Make a bird feeder to hang in a tree.

Day 18 – Participate in neighborhood caroling. Or sign for family members and put on a show.

Day 19 – Bring a gift for a teacher. It can be flowers or something you made.

Day 20 – Bring treats for your class. Maybe its stickers, or a tasty treat.

Day 21 – Hold open the door.

Day 22 – Buy something special for a family member.

Day 23 – Make thank you cards. This way you have them ready to go on Christmas day.

Day 24 – Clean up the yard or the front door area so Santa feels welcomed.

Day 25 – Call family members and say hello.

Day 26 – Help take down Christmas.

Day 27 – Host a playdate.

Day 28 – Write thank you notes.

Day 29 – Help make dinner with your parents.

Day 30 – Bury treasures at the park, like small toys and stickers.

Day 31– Pick up trash at the park/beach/school.


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Halloween & The Dead with Kids

This October was my Dad’s 2nd birthday he didn’t have. He would have been 81, and on the 5th of October, my family and I build a shrine on our fireplace mantle to remember not only my Dad but others in our family including some pets who are no longer with us on earth.

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We started this tradition two years ago and it was the perfect time to talk about death with my then 2 and 4-year-old. It was also a great way to incorporate our culture as my Mom was born in Mexico and Offrendas are common at this time of year. Once we are done decorating the photos with candles, candies, and flowers we watch a movie. For my kids now 4 and 6, we still watch “The Book of Life”. It’s a cute cartoon about the transition of death but not scary at all. My kids enjoy the story and each year I think they pick up something different. It also starts the conversation about death and gives little kids the words and context to ask questions about death.

My son is more aware of death and even made me promise him I would never go skydiving again after he found out I’d done it twice. That said I still don’t think he understands it completely. Death is not easy to define and it is hard to talk about especially if you aren’t a religious family but, like me, do believe in a higher power.

I was raised catholic and I remember being very confused by death. One day my older brother found me playing with a dead bird in my dollhouse around age 5. It was the first talk I remember about death. I also remember being really confused as to why I couldn’t still play with the bird, as it was dead.

Research says a child’s understanding of death is broken down into 3 stages.

1-3 Years Old

At this age, kids don’t have the cognition to grasp what can’t be reversed.  They cannot grasp how death is final and can’t be undone. So kids at this age will talk about death as if it is just a trip or a car ride and they will come back once we find the right solution.

4-5 Years Old

At around age 4 kids start to learn that some things are not reversible. That said, about half still are learning this well into age 5. Even with this understanding that death is final kids around this age are still not able to grasp the magnitude of death and how they are no longer functional and can no longer do things that they could before.

6-7 Years Old

Every kid is different and those who have experienced more trauma and emotional events might understand death sooner. Around age 7 most kids understand death and that all living things will die. Still, some kids will think there are special groups of people who are protected from death, like family, friends, teachers and themselves.

73381173_417092529008880_6741290211495378944_nHave you talked about death with your kids?

Do share any tips or things to consider to help others who might be navigating this topic with a heavy heart. * L

 

 


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Kindergarten PREP

Last year my oldest started Kindergarten. It was a big change and I think I wasn’t really ready with what to expect. I’m betting that others out there might experience the same and wanted to try and help with this big change for you, your little one, and your family.

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The Hours

It doesn’t matter how early or late your school starts it is going to be a struggle getting out the door. Remember newborn days when it took forever to get out of the house and the baby would have a blowout right before you opened the door to leave? Well, this time it is remembering to bring X, don’t forget Y for whatever the special event or activity that is going on. At this point, you are just trying to keep track of what day the kids get out at 1:10 versus the other days when it is 2:43 or some other random time. Keeping track of the ever-changing times will make you miss the days you rushed home at the same time every day to get your little ones from the nanny or preschool.

Then, just when you think you have the new schedule down there will be ‘crazy hair day’ or some other fun event you forgot about and your child is all upset.

My tip would be to do as much as you can the night before. That includes filling water bottles and chilling them in the fridge.

Below are some links for all types of back to school parents.

The Bag

I was really happy I ended up getting my son the big backpack. They don’t have books to bring home, but they do have the monthly parties and school events that will make a larger bag super helpful to carry all their stuff.

In my kid’s bag, I also include a large ziplock bag with an extra set of clothes. He never ended up using them the whole year but you just never know if they have an accident, get dirty, or the day turns out to be really hot.

I also include a few other odds and ends in his bag;

  • Some small tissue
  • A tag with my son’s name and his parent’s phone numbers
  • Small hand sanitizer
  • Travel-sized hand wipes
  • Extra water bottle for class (with his name on it)

 

Food Time

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So I am all about the cute and fun bento box lunches, but I wasn’t prepared for doing class snack. You think “no biggie”, but when you look at it you signed up for a week of snacks and there are 24 students and they eat a snack two times a day so that is like 240 items. I wanted to give then variety but also wanted to it to be easy for the teacher to serve.

Here are a few options if you also have a class snack responsibility:

  • String Cheese Sticks
  • Yogurt Sticks
  • GoldFish crackers
  • Apple Slices
  • Muffins
  • Oranges
  • Pretzels

I often went to Costco and got the family pack of pre-packaged snacks when I needed inspiration. Also if you are looking for vegetarian bento box lunches I often share mine in my IG Stories for and on my Instagram Two Working Moms page.

Lunch Box

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Every school does it differently but after volunteering at lunch I saw how much these lunch boxes got tossed around. One reason why I have been very happy with the metal style lunch boxes we are using. They held up all year long and other than some external scratches they look good (the all-metal ones with no paint look best).

I love making bento box lunches. In a way, it is a fun creative outlet for me and my kids love them too. I make them while my hubby cooks dinner so I incorporate a lot of what we already have. The truth is, the lunch comes home hardly touched on most days and my son says he runs out of time. I think it is still a balancing act of socializing and eating at this age.

New Friends

No matter if you are going to a private school or the Kindergarten class down the street from home your kid will meet new friends. Some kids might be nervous, others are super excited and ready to talk. Whatever the feelings I thought it was helpful to talk to your little one about the diversity of kids. Great time to talk about kids who might have a disability, different kinds of families, and to try and be kind.

My son is very outgoing so I talked to him about being a helper and trying help other kids who might be nervous on their first day.

There are a lot of great books out there to help your little one prep for the first day at a new school. Maybe you can make the night before school extra special with a fun bath and a new book.

Lots of Good Stuff 

Kindergarten is a big milestone and it’s not all bad. In fact, I can’t wait for my youngest to go and have a more organized schedule for our family. We love the neighborhood school and it has some amazing teachers and staff. We have also met some really nice families and made new friends that live close to us. It has been a fun year building out our community and seeing how much my son has grown. He loves art now, learned to rollerblade in PE, gained confidence, made new friends, and learned how to read.

Here are some additional links to help with back to school:

How to Tackle Tough Drop Offs – NY Times

Healthy School Lunches & Snacks – Parents.com 

10 Questions to Ask Your Kids About Their Day – Scholastics

8 Tips for Managing Your Kids Back to School Stress – Real Simple

5 Back to School Tips for Working Parents – Entrepreneur

Hope this post helps and you all have a great start to the new school year.  * L


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Kid Glamping

If you asked me about car camping 10 years ago I would say no way. Why would I go into the forest to sleep next to my car? Why go into the woods so I have to be quiet and not disturb other campers? The reason is these two little faces.

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Now as a mom with two little kids car camping is the only way to do it if you want to have a good vacation and actually look forward to it year after year. I might go back to backpacking and minimalism one day but for now, I am 100% on-board with kid glamping and every year I look forward to our camping trips.

The Location 

If you live in the PNW you need to book your spot at least 6 months ahead. Yes, that is right, if  you want that sweet spot, the one group site near the bathrooms, the one with a water faucet, the one that has an outlet, the one that you to go every year then you need to book it on the first day you can so you don’t have to worry about getting something that is going to stress you out. We have that site, the one we go to every year with a water faucet, outlet, and picnic tables with a shelter. It’s a group site with good access and it’s been our 4th of July home for a few years now.

Pre-Camping

I love planning and taking notes. So last year after doing this a few times we really honed in on our pregame. It made a huge difference making the time to get some stuff organized and starting our trip on the right foot that I felt so ready I even got in an AM run before we hit the road.

Make a few premade dishes. We made some food ahead of time like couscous salad and chocolate-chip cookies. If you don’t have anything made I would at least consider having a lunch bag of food for each person so you have a quick meal ready when you get there. It takes time to set up camp and no one wants to be hangry. This is also a great way to keep the kids occupied while the adults set up camp.

Campsite Setup

In the morning your kids are going to get up at the crack of dawn. Be ready to roll out of that tent and have your lounge area set up. This is the area with the rug or large blanket. We have a few inflatable chairs and toys to entertain the kids. If they are really little you’ll have a playpen for them to chill in while you warm up the water for your instant coffee.

There will be bugs so make sure to bring net tabletop covers to keep them off your food. I also like to keep a basket out with utensils, napkins, and maybe a citronella candle to keep the tablecloth from blowing away. I keep this under the net tabletop cover to keep things clean while we are away from the site and all the critters get up on our table.

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For our picnic tables, we use the table cloths that are reusable and have a cleanable surface top and a cotton fabric bottom. They hold better to wood picnic tables and they are easy to wipe off and sanitize each time since at our location there was always chipmunk poop when we return to the campsite.

If you haven’t camped while and want to get one thing to make this camping trip a success get a new air mattress. Sleep is going to be hard in a new place, with new sounds, and you all might be in the same bed for the first time. To help get some sleep make sure you have a good bed and lots of pillows. If it is cold make sure to bring more blankets then you think you’ll actually need. Sometimes with kids, things get wet or dirty and better to have extra and not need them. I would also recommend having larger than needed blankets. So if you have a queen mattress bring king size blankets so everyone is covered.

Some things I do at our campsite and in our tent to make it feel more like home:

  • Large rug (or blanket) for the getting ready and play area in the tent.
  • Basket for shoes in the tent near the door.
  • “Doormat” outside the tent so there is a clean place to step or sit to put on shoes.
  • Solar lights to help see important areas.
  • Bathroom bag with a headlamp and all the stuff your kids want or need when you go no matter the time of day.
  • Air pump and a long extension cord. If you have kids they are going to jump on that air mattress and you are going to want to touch it up and fill it up a little more without getting it out of the tent. Trust me, bring an extension cord.
  • Furniture, and the cozier and more comfortable the better. We have found our favorite are the inflatables chairs and such. I bring some extra blankets and pillows to make it extra cozy.
  • I also like to bring some fun seasonal decorations.

The Food

Breakfast for the kids is that boxed cereal they never get to eat and while they are busy someone can make the adults some real breakfast. We do easy lunches and make sandwiches and let the kids snack all day. Then for dinner, we go big and make sure to sit at the table and eat family style like we do at home.

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There are a ton of tips online about what to make while camping but it is really up to your style. My hubby loves to cook fun stuff but he is also nostalgic about things and wants to have special types of classic dishes, especially for the 4th of July camping we do every year.

Here are a few of my tips around food:

  • Freeze large bottles of water for ice packs. This way you have water once it melts and when it does melt it won’t get everything soggy.
  • Bring a few reusable containers. They can hold lunch stuff to the beach or on a hike, they can be in the cooler for that half-eaten apple or the dinner someone didn’t eat.
  • If you can get dry ice that stuff is the best to keep everything cold.
  • Have a snack bag or box. This is all the dry snack items you have so you can have your kids help themselves. You can even have one in the cooler for perishables.
  • We use a travel bottle cleaner container that has a small dry area and comes with a brush. It is perfect for washing dishes.
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  • Bring something ready to eat like muffins, wraps, or comfort food.
  • Water bottles for the kids with their name on it. One trip… one cup!!!
  • We love making nachos. You can warm up the cheese over a campfire and then add all the sides to bowls so people and kids can build their own. Always a big hit with the groups and super easy to make.
  • This year the smores got an uplift with chocolate cookies.

The Clean and Dirty

We camp near the beach and by the end of the day, the kids need a bath, especially if we are there several days. We bring a large bucket/bin that holds our camping gear and use that as a bathtub. We warm up water with our sunshower and our immersion circulator if we need a little extra.

Once our kids are ready to go to bed we have them put their shoes inside the tent in a basket near the door. My kids are already used to taking off shoes in the house so this was easy for them to adopt. By keeping shoes inside we didn’t have to worry about bugs crawling in overnight outside the tent. This really helps limit the amount of dirt in our tent.

A few more things I add to my checklist:

  • Small dustpan and little broom to clean up dirt in the tent.
  • Disinfectant wipes (trust me you will need them).
  • Collapsible sink bucket to wash pots or dishes.
  • Paper plates for easy clean ups when you don’t want to wash dishes.
  • Large hand sanitizer for the table and a small one to take with you in your backpack for day adventures.
  • Bathroom bag or shower caddy with everything you need for the bathroom including a flashlight to get there.
  • Yoga matt for the inside of the tent to put shoes on or step inside the tent with shoes.
  • Large ziplock bag for the inside trash.

Bedtime Adventures

Bedtime for little kids is hard, even at home sometimes so we go the super easy route. I put my kid in our bed and give them their tablets with headphones. They watch a movie while I sit at the campfire only a few feet away and they pass out before the movie ends. I then transfer them when I go to bed. The great thing about the headphones is they don’t hear us talking and they get to stay up a little later than normal so hopefully, they sleep in a little.

I also suggest lots of blankets, extra pillows, stuffies, and kid lanterns.

Odds and Ends

We love camping and want to make the most of it for our kids. They thrive being outside and having everyone so close to them for days. It is a great family experience we get to share with close friends and do my best to make it fun and enjoyable for everyone.

Here are a few more odds and ends to make camping and exploring fun:

  • Scavenger hunt and exploring tools for the kids.
  • Smore’s caddy or station and stuff ready to go, including sticks with handles.
  • Glow in the dark toys and glow sticks for everything!!!
  • Toys like sidewalk chalk, buckets, shovels, and binoculars.
  • Stuff to do inside if it is bad weather like coloring books, crafts, and movies on tablets.
  • Warm robe for the kids. They are perfect for putting over PJs and keeping them warm all night long.
  • Backpack for day trips out and about to hold all the snacks.

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Hope this list and suggestions help to make your next family camping trip that much more enjoyable for everyone.

Of course, all this said, camping with kids is just like being at home with kids. It is crazy and you never know what could happen. You can plan for the worst and hope for the best and if you keep your bar low you will be happy with your vacation.

Happy Kid Glamping * L


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The REAL Working Moms Equal Pay Day

Last year on May 30th, was Working Moms Equal Pay Day.  It is a symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness of the working mom pay gap. In the United States, this date symbolizes how far into the year working moms must work in order to earn what men earned in the previous year.

This date is based on the % of the dollar earned by working moms. Current women in America with no children earn $.80 for every dollar men earned and celebrated equal pay day on April 2nd.

I didn’t think much about the date or data until I noticed this year it wasn’t the same date as before, and the official date looks to now be sometime in June. I should have dug into this data before, but now I was really curious as to how they got that date and what data was driving this outcome.

I’m a math girl and I love data. I love how black and white it is and often use it to leverage and base decisions on. That said, data can be manipulated based on how you show it. I’m going to share a lot of math with you but I want to be transparent.

In America here is what Wikipedia says are the different equal pay days based on the dollar earned:

  • Asian American women make $.85 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is March 5, 2019.
  • African American women earn $.61 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is August 22, 2019.
  • Native American women earn $.58 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is September 23, 2019.
  • Latinas earn $.53 for every dollar, and their equal pay day is November 20, 2019.
  • Mothers earn $.69 compared to fathers, and in 2019, their equal pay day is June 10, 2019.

The issue I have with this mother data is the lack of information on how they got it. Asian American women make more money than White American women. Same is true for mothers. So is June 10th the date Asian American Moms earn their full dollar or is it for White Mothers? I wasn’t happy with this answer so I did the math to find out.

Research around the Mother Penalty shows that hourly wages of mothers are approximately 5% lower (per child) than the wages of non-mothers. The research by Sigle-Rushton and Waldfogel found that 81% of mothers with children under the age of 18 made less than $40,000 per year compared to only 44% of fathers. Wage penalty incurred by women for motherhood varies significantly across nations as do work-family policies. What makes this data hit even harder is that women in lower-wage jobs suffer a greater percentage of loss in hourly wages as a result of motherhood than women in more highly paid professions.

A recent study found that the pay gap for mothers with one child rose from 9% in the period between 1986 and 1995 to 15% between 2006 and 2014. For mothers with two kids, the gap held steady at 13% and stayed at 20% for mothers with three or more children.

What is also interesting is Asian women face the smallest wage gap and they earn 97% of what white men earn, resulting in a pay gap of just 3%. White women earn 79% of what white men do, while black women earn 67% and Hispanic women earn 58%.

Using this math and the data we have, here are the true equal pay day for women in America. I also used data I found here on Business Insider and came up with this list. They didn’t have data for Native American so I deferred to the data above given in Wikipedia. The two had close data but it wasn’t exactly the same so makes you again wonder how accurate any of this data is.

Mother’s with 1 kid earn 15% less and it goes up to 20% with 2 kids. So using the data I have, here are Working Mothers in America, equal pay day by ethnicity and by 1 or 2 kids:

  • March 15, 2019 – Asian American moms with 1 kid earn $.82 for every dollar
  • July 15, 2019 – Asian American moms with 2 kids earn $.79 for every dollar
  • August 2, 2019 – White American moms with 1 kid earn $.67 for every dollar
  • August 29, 2019 – White American moms with 2 kids earn $.63 for every dollar
  • September 30, 2019 – African American moms with 1 kid earn $.57 for every dollar
  • October 10, 2019 – African American moms with2 kids earn $.55 for every dollar
  • November 10, 2019 – Native Americans & Hispanic American moms with 1 kid earn $.49 for every dollar
  • November 29, 2019 – Native Americans & Hispanic American moms with 2 kids earn $.46 for every dollar

I know it is super confusing but when we water down these dates to one, we don’t highlight the real complexity of the issue. We are also not able to reverse how they got that number or date without real raw data.

This is a good lesson to not just believe everything you read and dive into the data yourself to see the truth.  May 30, 2018 we celebrated Working Moms Equal Pay Day and now it looks like the official day might be June 10th.  Not sure how they got that date and for who? And what kind of mom is this the date for? Is it for the highest paid working moms, Asian American’s with 1 kid?

If I had a choice I think we should celebrate it on November 29th when the last working mom with 2 kids gets her full pay, but then again, maybe I am a bit biased since I am a working mom with 2 kids who’s 24% Native American with Mexican Citizenship.

Here I am pregnant with my firstborn. I started a new job at Amazon and moved to a different state, away from family, for my job. They didn’t know I was pregnant and part of me wonders if I would have gotten the job or the pay I did if they had known.

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What day do you think we should call Equal Pay Day for Working Moms in America? Have you seen new or more reliable data on the $ earned for 2019 based on ethnicity and number of kids? If so please share and thanks for reading. * L

 


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Thanks Mom for the Invention

Did you know that a long time ago women could not file for a patent in America? They had to file under their husband’s name or a use a first initial to avoid the gender question, thus many women never got the recognition. Even today there is a huge gender gap in women filing for patents. Women inventors made up only 12% of all inventors on patents granted in 2016. The good news is for the first time in a long time, if not forever we are seeing a change and more women than ever are inventing and getting credit for it.

I dug in a little deeper to find out who of these women inventors are mothers, working moms who made a difference. Working moms whom you’d have to thank if you’ve used Wi-Fi, windshield wipers, or a dishwasher.

Women in the workplace make it better for everyone! Diversity matters and moms in the workplace make a huge difference in our everyday lives and in the workplace.

Did you know a working mom invented the dishwasher? How about a Mother-Daughter invention of personality type indicator called Myers Briggs? Have you heard about the working mom Elizabeth Blackburn who won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine? What about Ingrid Daubechies who is one of the world’s most cited mathematicians? Maybe you heard about the actress working mom Hedy Lamarr who invented what was to later become Bluetooth technology. What about Ruby Violet Payne-Scott who was the first female radio astronomer?

 

 

If you are interested take a look at my Instagram page to learn more about the other 24 working moms and their inventions. I highlighted one each day in April and have loved learning about all 30 women who have each made a big difference in the world.

Diversity matters, and we are all better together for it. 

Happy Mother’s Day to you, your Mom, and to all the working Moms out there who are making a difference. * L