Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better

Let’s not conflate childcare and school. Working parents need both and always have. It’s true, most Americans with children over the age of 5 have relied on school as their primary childcare. But, the frequent holidays and mid-afternoon pickup, meant it was a partial solution at best for most workers. And having a credentialed expert, to expand your child’s mind, is not the same as keeping them fed and entertained.

Covid-19 has disrupted childcare arrangements for the overwhelming majority of over 900 surveyed parents* (71%.) Despite their need to continue working (84%) mostly from home (72%) with their kids.

“Non-stop days of homeschool followed by long evenings/weekends of work and making sure kids eat healthy, learn, get outside and feel ok while balancing a very demanding job.”

“It’s the unknown. Will the kids go back in the fall? How to balance their work and mine…”

“The expectation that work output should not be impacted despite having to care for my child full time. I stay up really late every night now to fit in the work hours.”

“Not being able to send my child to school or activities while I work. I must keep my child home to protect the family from COVID, sacrificing my ability to Continue reading “Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better”

You Deserve Time Alone. But Mindfulness Helps When You Can’t

“They said that they were losing themselves. Losing who they were. And didn’t know if they would be able to resolve it until their kids went off to college and I wasn’t okay with that idea. I wanted to find a solution to that problem,” said Melissa Mueller-Douglas, Founder of MYRetreat and Licensed Social Worker.

We spin ourselves in blurry, hyper-productive circles while our families rest. If we get a chance to sit down, guilt shows up to steal our joy. If you’ve fantasized about a retreat, someplace sacred to regroup, you are not alone. Personal space in lockdown is rare. Before Covid, there was growing acceptance that we need breaks, from doing everything for everyone else. Momcations were on the rise. But the idea that caring for our wellbeing needs to be extravagant or even ‘secluded’ is dangerous. It’s true, most Moms crave self-care alone, but that desire can be self-destructive when conditions make time ‘alone’ infrequent or impossible. Like in a global pandemic.

Bliss is the 90 Minute Reset

Melissa has elevated the concept of retreat to Continue reading “You Deserve Time Alone. But Mindfulness Helps When You Can’t”

Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)

Can Psychological Safety Can Make Work More Sane Right Now?

This is part of an ongoing series, to share results from the pandemic research study. This update is from nearly 400 parents, primarily Moms (91%) who responded between March 30 – June 6th about how COVID-19 has affected work and life, including what has been the hardest.

“The instability of both my job and ability to secure safe childcare (many will call out with late notice after finding out I work in healthcare.)”

“… uncertainty about when life can safely return to normal and perhaps more importantly the anxiety that my partner is likely going to be asked to return to work before we feel doing so meets our own personal threshold of risk.”

“I was working remotely then requested to be furloughed as both my husband and I were working remote with our 10-month-old and it was too much without help.”

More Responsibilities at Home Have Come at the Expense of Work

Surveyed Moms and Dads have leaned into their family roles during this time of crisis. 68% felt that they were doing the same, a better job than usual, or really well as parents and, though by a smaller majority, as spouses/partners. However, most (58%) felt that they were doing terribly or not as well as usual in their performance as workers and most (60%) sacrificed self-care routines to make space for the added responsibilities.  There are, however, exceptions. One surveyed Mom shared, “My kids are 9 and 10. They do their schoolwork and play/watch TV on their own while I’m working. My partner is now working from home, too, so I feel like I have more help than usual. I’m more productive now than I was when I was going to my workplace.”

Help Is Not On the Way for Most

The work/life juggle after having kids tested even the most optimistic parents. But in this pandemic, childcare, a prerequisite for working parenthood was disrupted for the overwhelming majority (74%) of those surveyed. And people are breaking under the strain of trying to do the absurd – work, Continue reading “Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)”

The Details of How to Make Personal Change Stick

A Book Review For Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander

I read and listen to books about everything from bravery and acceptance to productivity and leadership. I’ve been in the slow but intentional process of self-renewal for years. Recently, I discovered Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander. It’s the companion to one of my favorite books, The Art of Possibility that she co-authored with her husband, Benjamin Zander.

The best of cognitive science teaches that our thoughts affect our feelings. And ultimately, our happiness. Self-help can be heavy on the ‘why’ but light on the ‘how.’ It’s rare to find details about internalizing big ideas. Adopting new routines is not the same as resetting one’s internal Continue reading “The Details of How to Make Personal Change Stick”

How You Can Accomplish Remarkable Dreams While Parenting

“We were reading a lot of children’s books with our daughter and there was always a traditional family structure. She wasn’t being exposed to diversity in her books or seeing her own family structure.” When my former colleagues, Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo, Marketing professionals turned Authors, realized how little representation there was for same-gender couples in books for kids, they decided to do something about it.

We live and breathe busy. Our calendars are so full that we prioritize what’s pressing. And relegate our brilliant ideas to ‘someday.’ But the journey is more joyful when we honor our creativity. Yes, even while parenting little ones. Learn how one couple with two kids under the age of three and a third on the way, worked as a team to launch a passion project in Continue reading “How You Can Accomplish Remarkable Dreams While Parenting”

Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis

Nearly 400* parents shared anonymously how the pandemic is affecting their lives. This is the first in a series of updates with results.

“With the lack of childcare, I have no time to work or take care of our apartment. I earn a lot less than my husband and work for myself in an industry that has slowed down, so I have taken on the vast majority of the extra childcare and schooling. With only one kid and a small apartment with no yard, this feels like a full-time job! I love parts of it but would enjoy it more if I got breaks. The timeline is overwhelming.”

“My son is 3 and he DESPERATELY misses school and doing things with us. Both my husband and I work full time and cannot take shifts. We feel like terrible parents and terrible employees. For 14 hours a day. Every day. There is no break, nothing to look forward to, no sanity.”

We’re responding to epic change while doing more of everything. There’s more housework, childcare and involvement in activities for our kids. And more required to stabilize our work, families and communities. When the pandemic disrupted life, we didn’t know how long it would last. So, we eliminated self-care to make space for the added responsibilities. Unfortunately, COVID19 is just one of many threats to our wellbeing.

Establishing habits that support our mental and physical health can take years! In this crisis, it’s hard to even think about self-care but it’s critical to manage the stress that also harms our health. Most (61%) surveyed Moms report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ caring for themselves.

The Pressure is Unforgiving

When asked ‘what’s been the hardest?’ in this pandemic the list of concerns is long and varied. Moms worry about everything from their own Continue reading “Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis”

It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better

Takeaways from ‘The Working Mom’s Playbook to Quarantine’ Panel Discussion

We learned how to compartmentalize work for sanity, presence and productivity but the separation is part of what makes it hard. Hiding the messiness of child-rearing from work and the appetite of work from our families, was tiring.

Now we’re trying to work, find work or start businesses during a pandemic and cultural revolution. Samantha Skey moderated a thoughtful discussion during last month’s BlogHer event with Super Mamas Karolina Kurkova, Eve Rodsky and Dara Tresseder.

They shared what they’ve embraced amidst the chaos and the need to change our systems at home. Now is a tumultuous yet perfect time to reexamine everything we’re doing. Remember, most of us were not emotionally or physically well before COVID19.
Continue reading “It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better”

Aha! Your Missing Why is in the Rebuild

During the early days of lockdown, we discovered a ‘fort’ at our local park. The kids had built small ones before but this was different. It was more like a lean-to. A functioning outdoor house for the young. My kids, already stick-devotees, were enchanted. They were drawn to build upon it. Even on the days that were so cold we could barely hold the sticks, we worked on it.

It became a ritual. This was in mid-March.

I was reluctant at first. The pandemic is not the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life. I grew up with economic instability and faced many other hard things. In the weeks before lockdown, I was laid off and my salary had been our primary one. So, the real fear, of financial insecurity, eclipsed my imagined worries about Continue reading “Aha! Your Missing Why is in the Rebuild”

Now is the Perfect Time to Stop Being the Family Fixer

Many of us hail from a long line of ‘fixers’ beginning with our mothers and grandmothers. We’ve watched them ease the transitions, soothe feelings, reduce friction and absolve us in times of turmoil.

When we’re pregnant we’re told if we eat, move and avoid harm ‘just right’ our babies will be healthier. Of course, we devour this guidance. By the time they’ve reached the toddler years we’ve learned to childproof everything. We start off with good intentions to care for our families but then all the mixed messages about what we ‘should’ do as mothers and partners consumes us. Over time, the lines between care and control get blurrier.

Why? We’re judged harshly Continue reading “Now is the Perfect Time to Stop Being the Family Fixer”

Unsupported At Work? Now is The Perfect Time to Change It

We had a seriously ill patient who was under the influence of multiple substances. I should never have gone into the office alone with him but in the moment, I wanted to contain the situation. I kept waiting for him to assault me. At one point he turned his back and I quickly texted ‘help’ to a colleague. She was able to distract him long enough for us to get out,” explained Dr. Nicole C. Brathwaite, Psychiatrist, Activist and Entrepreneur. This traumatic experience at work led Nicole to a brilliant idea and career reset.

Our wellbeing is always at stake regardless of the work we do. And, when we’re passionate about our careers, we’re willing to invest. But it’s easy to slip from service into self-sacrifice without noticing. Even the most enlightened Continue reading “Unsupported At Work? Now is The Perfect Time to Change It”

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