In 2018, I created a podcast called Parenting and Politics. The podcast looks at parenting through a political lens. The goal is to inform, inspire and empower parents to take action and make a difference. I created the podcast because, as this pandemic has shown us, our parenting is affected by politics and I think parents have immense power to create change. We need to tap into that power, and use it to demand better conditions for working families.
I know that for many, politics is a dirty word. Some people say they “don’t want to be political,” or that “politics is so partisan.” Yet, when we think about our daily lives, we can see how everything is affected by policymakers and politicians making decisions about how they allocate funds. These decisions affect families every day. Everything from transportation schedules, to school lunches, to school curriculum to local parks. I always love to use the example of my local park. A few years ago a mom brought a group of parents together and said, “The park is dirty, and old. Let’s do something about it.” It took a couple of years but parents made their case to their local leaders and today we have a renovated park! That’s parent power.
On the podcast I interview experts who are doing amazing work in different areas related to parenting that we need: paid leave, reproductive rights, childcare, early education, social emotional learning, decolonizing parenting and MORE!
Also, I always invite guests to share their action items for parents, ideas on self care and also, what keeps them hopeful. Hope is a big theme on the podcast. Hope and action.
Do you have any tips on time management while working from home with our Kids at home?
To give you some context, I have a nine year old and a three year old. I have a spouse who is also working FT. For tips, I would say COMMUNICATION is key. It’s safe to say that there should be one adult that is watching the kids at all times, so we really have to communicate and let our spouses know when we have a big can’t be missed ZOOM conference call. (Share your calendars if possible).
Tag team with your partner – and not only for work, but also for emotional check ins. There are days when you will lose it… try to tag out before you scream at your kids or snap at your spouse. You have to be able to tell your spouse, I need to go for a walk. (And yes, please go for a walk by yourself from time to time).
For us, we have a broad overview of what the day is going to look like. The mornings and the evenings are always the same. The daytime fluctuates a bit due to any meetings or any work-related events we may have.
Sometimes your kid will want your attention. Try not to feel guilty about it. I’ve learned that the toddler only needs about 15-20 min of undivided attention. Sometimes she just wants you to sit down and do a puzzle with her. In the beginning I felt so guilty about it. Now, I go with the flow and realize that this is what she needs now. I also have found ways to spend time with her that involve me doing things I was already going to do, for example, I bring her to do laundry with me and I do a load while she explores the backyard. Or, I sit her down next to me while I’m making dinner or baking. She loves that and I get to make something while I’m hanging with her. Finally, let’s try not to be so hard on our kids (and I am guilty of this); we often forget how their lives have been upended and how much they wish they could see their friends. We have to remember that none of us were prepared or know how to BE in a global pandemic.
How is life right now for you?
Life is WOW. I find myself asking sometimes… how is this real life? Some days I wake up and I wonder, wait, was it all a dream? And then I realize it wasn’t. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed! There are days when I feel like I’m on a good streak and I prepare some posts, or write down some notes for blog posts or ideas for podcast episodes. It’s weird I feel more productive, but there are days when the emotions are raw and it’s overwhelming. I went through days of insomnia, where I would stay up until 3 am unable to fall asleep. My kids keep me going, because, well, you can’t curl into a ball and hide under the covers when your three year old is saying “I have to go to the potty” (which causes me to get up immediately) or “Tengo hambre” which means I’m hungry… this one makes me say, “5 more minutes Sofia, mama is tired.” It’s a big emotional rollercoaster. I’ve been trying to show myself some grace… I’d love to tell you that I have been recording podcasts every week but the truth is, it’s not possible with two kids (I interview, edit, upload and do it all myself) and two parents who are working as well. So, some days I feel like I’m kicking ass, and creating content and baking and cooking, and other days I feel like I want to eat my feelings.
Is there a structure to raising a multicultural family?
I think one of the most important things is to have both parents be on board. It’s a lot easier to raise multicultural kids when both parents agree on how they are going to be raised: what holidays will look like, what languages will be spoken, what will education look like (bilingual education? Immersion? Homeschool?)
For my husband and I, language was a HUGE part of raising kids. We knew that we wanted our children to speak their heritage languages, so they could communicate with their families, and because we knew that giving them the gift of languages from an early age would be priceless. I grew up bilingual, so for me this was a no brainer. I was really committed to raising multilingual kids. When I became pregnant I did a lot of research on how to raise children in a multilingual home. (and I created a blog to share my experiences). Ultimately, we did OPOL (one parent one language) which worked really well with our first child, who is now nine years old. I only spoke to him in Spanish, and my husband in French. Our son didn’t learn English until he went to daycare at 2.5 years old. Today, he is nine and he is in a dual language program. He can read, write and speak in Spanish and his French is also coming along (Speaking is better than his writing and reading, but he goes to French after school once a week). Our daughter is three, and it’s been harder to raise her multilingual, which the research shows is always the case with second children. She does understand all three, but her vocabulary is more limited in French and Spanish.
Raising multilingual kids requires a lot of commitment! For me, I had to train my brain to speak in Spanish, because by the time I had kids my life was primarily in English and French. When my baby was born, my mom would come visit me every day during maternity leave, and that helped me speak to my baby in Spanish. Then, she took care of him for a few months. Grandparents REALLY help when you’re raising a multicultural family… they help with keeping culture alive. My children’s grandparents from France send care packages with yummy treats, teach them traditions, and we try to spend vacation time in France every year and the the kids practice language and learn about the culture. Here in NY, we live in a two family home and my parents live downstairs, so they are exposed to the language, music, television, food and customs of their Ecuadorian heritage.
What advice can you share with parents who are raising children in a Bi/Multicultural Home?
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint! Raising bicultural/multicultural kids, especially when you’re teaching them languages, is a process that requires commitment. It’s something you have to work at constantly. We constantly have to look for ways to engages our kids with books, sports, hobbies, music in the target languages.
- Make it fun! Make it fun, because if it’s a chore, kids will not want to do anything. For us, we have found that finding things our kids like in the target languages help. For example, our son likes soccer, so he watches soccer coverage and analysis in Spanish or French. Our daughter likes Fancy Nancy so she watches it in Spanish. When it’s time to read a bedtime story, I make sure one of the books is in Spanish. Food is a big deal in our home (my husband is French after all!) so we have crepe dinners, buy French cheeses, and celebrate French holidays, for example, with a Galette des Rois (a special cake for Epiphany).
- The earlier you start the better, but it’s never too late! When I talk about this, I always give a shoutout to my friend Frances, who has a blog called Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes because she started teaching her son Spanish when he was about four years old. I think you have to make the decision as parents, that you want this, and then make the commitment.
- You have to be proactive: You have to seek out the materials that will help you make it fun. In addition to books at home, we also watch a lot of Youtube and Instagram videos. (Our favorite in Spanish currently is 123 con Andres). Before quarantine, I would recommend playgroups. You can still do virtual playgroups! We do virtual French after school and my toddler has done French art and story time via Zoom. You have to be proactive to change the language on Netflix, or use the SAP button. Sometimes, I get lazy, but then I get right back into it. If I think we’ve haven’t been speaking enough Spanish, and the kids want to watch a movie, I say OK but we have to watch it in Spanish.
- It takes a village! It really does take a village: Grandparents and extended family play a huge role. Also, your friends in other countries that send you gifts like toys in the target language, or a special treat celebrating a holiday, or do a video chat so your kids can see each other and chat (in another language!) The parent who picks up your child to take them to after school, and the mom who organizes a Spanish movie night at school, or the group of virtual mamas in Multicultural Kid Blogs, a group of moms from all over the world who are also raising bilingual kids that I belong to, or the parents who organize a multicultural festival at school so that all kids can celebrate their heritage, because there is beauty in diversity, and that’s something that I want my children to know: that they are a beautiful mixture of cultures and that every person has a background that is unique and special. I am happy they are growing up knowing that it’s beautiful to be surrounded by people from all over the world, that diversity is our strength.
You can follow Diana’s life in NY on her personal Instagram account : @ladydeelg and follow her podcast: @parentingandpoltiics . You can listen to Parenting and Politics on your favorite podcast site!