Jeremy Olson writes about children and families, and is an overscheduled father of two. His blog tackles the best and worst of parenting, families, health and love. He wants to hear from you - what's going on in your house?

Posts about On the road

For distracted driving, survey finds nothing tops when kids fight.

Posted by: Jeremy Olson Updated: September 20, 2011 - 1:32 PM

You can tell, sometimes before the door slams shut and the engine turns over, when your kids are going to make a drive a living hell on four wheels. A new Good Housekeeping/Yahoo! survey of 252 moms found that 52 percent felt their driving was impaired when their kids fought in the car. One in five of the moms said they were always or almost always breaking up kids' fights while driving.

In my car, the opening salvo by my son against my daughter -- or vice versa -- often has to do with whether he slides over or tucks in his legs so his sister can slide over to the open seat.

  • "Move over."
  • "Why?"
  • "Because you sat there last time!"
  • "No I didn't."
  • "Yes you did."

The fight never has anything to do with the seat, of course, or even about each other. Something else gnaws at one of my kids, who uses his or her sibling as an opportunity to vent. But the net result is a buzzsaw of noise that cuts to my brain when I'm supposed to be concentrating on the road.

The new distracted driving survey seemed light on newsy details. It didn't surprise me that moms played the radio, fiddled with the temperature, or ate or drank in the car, although I was relieved that only 4 percent of surveyed moms admitted to fixing their hair while driving and only 7 percent emailed or texted while driving. But the kid fighting results struck a chord with me, and I'm betting with many other parents as well. Please comment below. How do you handle kids fighting in the car? Are you a "pull over and wait until they are quiet" parent? Are you able to ignore (or prevent?) your kids' back-seat skirmishes?

Shutdown and the daycare scramble ...

Posted by: Jeremy Olson Updated: July 1, 2011 - 11:25 AM

Two Twin Cities' parents took their children to child care facilities as usual Friday, but worried about the weeks to come if a state government shutdown lingers. Courtney Bissener needs state child care assistance payments to put her three kids in child care this summer while she works as a radiologic technologist at a north metro clinic. Those assistance payments were deemed non-essential, though, and were halted today with the government shutdown.

Northside Child Development Center took her kids (ages 6, 4 and 1) today, and its leaders are discussing if (or how long) they can subsidize families who receive state child care support. Bissener, 22, is nervous. She earned a college degree in December and finally secured full-time work that could now be in jeopardy if she can't afford child care.

"It started out as temporary and now I got offered full time," said the Brooklyn Park woman. "I would hate to lose my job because I don't have assistance anymore."

"Things are going in the right direction now," she added. "I'm just worried about the medical and the daycare (expenses). That’s a huge thing for everyone."

Lee Borowska doesn't need state assistance for his two kids' child care at Close to My Heart in Maplewood. But he could be affected anyway. The facility will remain open as of next Tuesday for the nine to 10 children whose parents pay on their own, he said, but will probably close to the 30 to 40 children whose care is subsidized by the state. It's unclear how long the facility will be able to remain open for any children under those conditions, said Borowska, a former police officer who operates a home-based weather forecasting service in Mahtomedi.

Borowska couldn't imagine trying to conduct forecasting activities -- or even going out on the road to monitor storms -- with his two children in tow. "Especially my little boy, let me tell you," he said. "It would be a complete disaster. I couldn't function at work."

Borowska, whose wife died late last year, urged lawmakers to reach compromise soon: "I know they all think they're trying to do what's noble and best, but it's just like a marriage. At times you need to do things that you don’t want to do."

State child care assistance payments are made, on average, for 19,000 families (33,000 children) each month in Minnesota. Payments will continue for families under the Minnesota Family Investment Program, a welfare-to-work program. Payments were halted as of today for the more than 9,000 working families receiving monthly support from the basic-sliding-fee program.



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