Guest Blog: Taxes on your Kids by Tera of Playful Grounds

It was refreshing to walk into Playful Grounds cafe the other day and find enough space for strollers between tables and seating large enough to accommodate a toddler on your lap or a breastfeeding baby in your arms. Playful Grounds is a gem in Toronto as one of those rare family friendly cafes that actually practices what it preaches. There is a play area for the children, great food coffee (and beer!) and an awesome staff that will welcome your children into their space.

Upon speaking to one of the owners, Tera Goldblatt about the motivation for her cafe, she shared a recent frustration that has come up in the news! Lucky for me, she’s already written a blog all about it so I thought I’d share. It’s about (if you can believe it!), restaurants charging parents for the space that their strollers and infants take up while they enjoy their time out….Here’s what Tera has to say about it, what do YOU think?

Taxes on Your Kids
By Tera Goldblatt
Guest Blog Posting
Original posting: http://www.playfulgrounds.com/2/post/2012/02/tax-on-your-kids.html

I’ve been thinking a lot about what moms go through, feeling like their children are an imposition on the people around them. I myself spend a great deal of time apologizing to strangers for myself, my bag, my stroller and my child; I am mortified when my three year old son behaves like a three year old in public. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that I am just as entitled to be on the bus, in the restaurant or walking along the sidewalk as anyone else. It’s just that I’m not sure my fellow TTC companions, café patrons or pedestrians feel the same way and there is plenty of evidence to back up that fear.

Recently, several news media outlets picked up on a story out of London England which described a scenario in which a mother was charged a ‘child tax’ on her bill. Two mothers in two separate instances were charged an extra 3 pounds, or 5 dollars, because they had children in tow who were not ordering from the menu. One child was 6 weeks old and the other was 6 months old. Both were exclusively breast fed. Turns out the employees at the restaurant who added the tax did so in error. The restaurant does reserve the right to enforce their ‘Minimum Charge Policy’ which “is intended for toddlers who eat but not as much as a child. It was and never will be intended as a charge for Prams or for babies”. The restaurant issued a formal apology on its website and that was that. Case closed, ya? Far from it.

News outlets ranging from CBC to Breakfast Television are debating this issue. The big question? Should parents be allowed to take up space with their “spittle-strewn bundles of joy”? Should parents have to pay for the space the stroller is occupying? I’ve never heard anyone ask that about an elderly person’s walker. What about a Seeing Eye dog? For that matter, what about a wheelchair?

There are plenty of places which cater to the stroller and its occupant; toy stores, drop in parent centres, and of course, McDonalds, to name a few. The thing is those places are all for the child; places mom can take baby where everything will be for the baby. But what about the mom? The good news is the tides are changing. Mom and Tot activities are beginning to be available because of the recognition that mom still wants to maintain some semblance of a life. Raising a child with all of the modern accoutrements is an expensive enough endeavor without having to pay a ‘tax’ just to bring your child/stroller into an establishment. To me that’s just prejudice plain and simple.

As for myself I will continue to apologize in the restaurants, the sidewalks, the streetcars. I’m gracious that way. Most moms are I think. Would I ever pay extra just to enter a restaurant with my kid? Never. I’ll hand my hard earned money over to the establishment that welcomes me, not the one who merely tolerates me.”

Prenatal Depression & Treatment of Mental Health Issues in Pregnancy

While many people know about postpartum depression and prepare a strong network of support in an effort to prevent or minimize it’s impact, less people think about the possibility of prenatal depression. 10 – 20% of women will experience prenatal depression, the symptoms of which may often go unnoticed or are dismissed to be related to normal ups and downs of being pregnant.

Symptoms of prenatal depression include:

Crying
Sleep problems (not due to frequent urination)
Fatigue
Appetite disturbance
Loss of enjoyment of activities
Anxiety
Poor fetal attachment

(taken from http://www.health.ny.gov/community/pregnancy/health_care/perinatal/perinatal_depression.htm)

While it’s important to treat prenatal depression when it occurs, there is a balance to consider when medication is the form of treatment discussed. SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) which are often used to treat prenatal depression and other mental health issues in pregnancy can have an impact on the baby. This, by no means is a reason to forsake medication during pregnancy at the risk of the mother’s health, but is a reason to be very well informed about how the use of SSRI’s may be balanced to have the greatest benefit both the mom and the baby.

First steps, have LOTS of conversations with your health care provider and don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it’s hard to voice your concerns. Your doctor or midwife is a great resource for you and you can best manage your health together.

In the last year, I’ve also come across two resources that have done a good job of presenting recent research about the use of SSRI’s in pregnancy while promoting neither the blanket use or avoidance of medication as treatment. Check them out:

Article:

http://www.cwhn.ca/en/node/42353

Webinar:

https://cwhn.adobeconnect.com/_a844234029/p25456324/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

Of course, treatment for each individual is different and will be modified according to each person’s unique circumstances. A community of understanding people is of utmost importance for a mother to feel well supported and loved during her experience and for this reason, I invite you to share your experience, questions or stories if you are, or have coped with a mental health issue during or after your pregnancy.

How did you know you needed treatment?
What helped?
What didn’t help?
What was the most important resource for you in pregnancy? After your birth?
Do you feel your postpartum experience was at all influenced by your prenatal treatment or mental health issue?