Category Archives: Family Care

Outdoor Winter Fun Here in the Keweenaw

IMG_4494By Morgan Laajala, WorkLife Intern

It’s hard to keep motivated when you’re busy, especially during the cold, winter months. If you don’t want to spend money on a gym pass, there are things you can do outside that are enjoyable and keep you active. Next time you are sick of sitting inside, try one of these winter activities!

There are many opportunities to try new winter activities in the Houghton area. You could go snowboarding or skiing at Mont Ripley, cross country skiing on the Michigan Tech trails, go snowshoeing, go hiking on some of our local trails, or find one of the free public rinks around the area and go skating. You can even grab some friends and play a game of hockey! These kinds of activities don’t make you feel like you’re working out; instead you will just be having fun. By trying these new activities, you may find a new favorite hobby.

A lot of kids in the winter want to play outside all day long. The cold doesn’t bother them, and they don’t want to go inside to warm up or eat. All they want to do is play, build forts, go sledding, and make snow angels. If you have kids, the next time they are playing outside, go on and join them to play and get your activity in. Although it might be years since you’ve last gone to a sledding hill, I guarantee you will have fun flying down that hill, and you will get quite the workout walking back up!

If none of this appeals to you, a simple walk once or twice a day for about 15-30 minutes is easy to do, and can help relieve stress as well as give you the physical activity you’re looking for. Many people don’t like to walk in the winter because of the cold, but walking in the winter actually gives you more of a workout than in the summer because you must work to keep warmer, and walking in snow can give you some resistance that you won’t get in warmer seasons. Just be sure to watch for slippery spots!

Although it’s hard to stay motivated in the winter, there are many things you can do that don’t feel like exercise, but help you keep active. The most important thing to remember when you are outside in the winter is to make sure to wear layers and dress appropriately for the weather.


New Mothers’ Room in University Library

We are pleased to announce that a new lactation space, the Mothers’ Room, has been added in the J. R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. The Mothers’ Room is located in room G01B on the Garden Level of the Library. Users may stop at the Library Service Desk for directions to the Mothers’ Room.

Michigan Tech currently has nine lactation spaces for nursing mothers on campus. These spaces are available for faculty, staff, and students who are breastfeeding and who need a quiet, comfortable, and private space to pump breast milk or to feed your baby.

“I was contacted by Carol Makkonen from the Library to let us know they were interested in converting a single bathroom on the Garden Level into a new lactation space,” said Ann Kitalong-Will, Chair of the WorkLife Advisory Committee. “University Librarian Ellen Marks was very supportive of the project. I was happy to be able to collaborate with the Library to add this space.”

“Our newest mother has been using the space daily, and she loves it,” added Makkonen.

Visit the WorkLife Connections Lactation Support page for information on all our lactation spaces.


When Grandpa was like a Kid Again

By Amelia Newman

We used his old blue camper van for a long time after he passed. I remember when my dad took our grandpa in to live with us. With my grandpa’s failing health, my dad flew to Florida to pick him up and bring him to our backwoods place. We gave him a bedroom and had a newer, bigger shower installed. I was pretty young at the time, so I didn’t understand much of what was going on with his health and slower lifestyle. But I remember feeling very concerned as a young child when I noticed such things as drops of blood on his bed blanket. My dad would help him change and bathe, which was no easy task. I am told that I would sit on his lap and have big intellectual conversations with him; I just wish that I could remember those conversations. I do remember however, how Grandpa would have my brother go and fetch his cigars for him, and it makes me smile as I can faintly see the smoke gently rolling off one of his cigars as he sat on our porch.

I am grateful that my siblings and I were able to spend some of my grandpa’s last days with him, because now that is all we have. But, in-home elderly care is no shiny job, and in many ways can be similar to taking care of another child. Many employees do this all-consuming job for a parent in addition to holding their full-time job, yet few feel encouraged by it. Our elderly loved one feels restless because of being cooped up after all their thriving life experiences. Sometimes they are stuck in one of their own time eras, talking for hours on end, day after day about it. Sometimes they are extremely irritable or discontent because of their ailments. More often than not, the daily grind of elderly care leaves an employee wishing they could either get a cruise away from it all, or send their parent away on one.

As you care for your parent or elderly relative, remember that it will not last forever. Remember that one day you will be in their shoes too. Remember that just as you are frustrated, they are frustrated with themselves too. If they are overly cranky, stand up and do not let them get the better of you with their demands. Lay down some rules, so to say, because it’s your house now. Give yourself a break from them now and then too; this is vital. Getting your elderly involved in community groups and activities is good for both them and for you.

It’s really quite beautiful how life goes on through the passing of generations. In many cultures, such as African tribes, stories and values are passed on from the elderly to the younger. So hold on to the stories of your parents, grandparents, and great aunts. Write them down or record them if you can. This is an ancient practice and a valuable one. And last but not least, if there is any enjoyment to be had with your loved one, laugh a little!