Self-Care For Moms | Mom’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Curb the Invisible Tax on Your Time and Energy

Our society still favors the quick fix. And sells us the idea that self-care is something you can buy. Of course, it’s not. But we’re bombarded with the promise of relaxation, health or energy, on everything from laundry detergent to smoothies. And what happens when that promise isn’t fulfilled?

There is a connection between what you buy and how overwhelmed you are. When Moms were surveyed about the mental load, the top culprit was housework. And in the pandemic study, 78% of surveyed parents are doing more of it. A lot more. And all of the stuff, that we buy or acquire, comes with an invisible tax. Do you want to clean and maintain those things forever? Probably not. So, there are strategies to shift this cycle. We can become more intentional about what comes into our homes. And it’s not just about saving time, money and mental energy. We can help save the planet.

The Problem, our Societal ‘Engine’ is Driven by Consumerism

Stephanie Seferian, Author, Podcaster and Minimalism Expert said, “People who have been in their houses for the past year are looking at their possessions through a more critical lens. ‘Why did I spend my hard-earned money on this? Is it improving my quality of life? Why do I have 12 mugs when I can only drink coffee out of one at a time?’” She often engages with people who are new to sustainable thinking. Stephanie said, “The pandemic’s been very hard for a lot of people. But in some ways, the great pause has given us the breathing room to ask these questions. And the process of not going anywhere or needing ‘the new thing’ has really opened their eyes to the facade that is essentially consumer culture. It usually starts there.” Yes!

And the Challenge is Bigger Than Plastic

On the journey from interested to expert, Stephanie has learned a lot about the state of the planet. And what we can do to help. She said, “What surprised me is that Continue reading “Curb the Invisible Tax on Your Time and Energy”

Why Stress Is Contagious and What you Can do About it

Concern For Kids Mental Health Has Reached a Dull Roar

“Working with everyone home and watching my kids’ mental health decline. My straight A son is a Sophomore, and he is failing. Our school system flip flopping on saying when they can go back F2F. So frustrating to have no control and feel helpless and hopeless at this point.”

“The increased responsibility and decline in available resources for myself and my child. Our outlets and interactions are limited and it’s taking a toll on the mental and emotional health of myself and my son.”

“Seeing my kids suffer and grow depressed and uninterested in life.”

“(I need) free social programs for me and my children. We are not doing well mentally.”

Over 1,900 parents, mostly Moms (98%) have shared their stories in our pandemic study since last March. Most felt pretty good about their ability to lean into parenting and make impossible tradeoffs in the beginning. Although it was often at the expense of their roles as workers, partners and caregivers to themselves. But in our recent survey wave (November through January) as mental health declines for many kids, for the first time, most (60%) cite doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as parents (an increase from 46% in the prior wave.)

Your Home is a Little Ecosystem

The growing concern, that their kids have “hit the pandemic wall” reached a crescendo. And without self-care, parents aren’t doing well either. And households are a bit like terrariums. If the conditions are right, everyone flourishes. But if anything is amiss – the soil, the light or health of other inhabitants, the whole system is at risk.

Sheltered-at-home, the strain is rippling through families. As social beings, we’re wired to Continue reading “Why Stress Is Contagious and What you Can do About it”

Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?

“I need the older children in the family and my husband to step up and help out. I feel like I’ve taken up all the slack and their responsibilities have remained the same. My husband says I just need to ask him for “help” but that just puts it on me to manage everything. I’m frustrated and exhausted and he doesn’t get it.”

“I am literally drowning in overwhelm while my husband is having a great time working from home! Because I’m picking up all the pieces keeping everything together.”

“I told my husband that him “helping” around the house is not enough anymore. He’s an adult and he needs full ownership of at least 50% of keeping our lives together.”

Over 1,800 parents, mostly Moms (98,%) have shared their pandemic stories for our research study. And they’re drained from doing more of everything: housework (78%,) kids activities (54%,) and childcare (73%.) Although they’re overwhelmingly married or cohabiting, in the pandemic, only 30% state their partners are doing more housework or childcare. The gendered division of household labor for Moms partnered with Dads isn’t new. And it’s a corrosive undercurrent for many couples.

The consuming nature of parenting and running a home, has ballooned during Covid. Although the physical work is considerable, the mental energy to plan, triage and react to countless daily choices, adds strain to the situation.

Although some couples successfully divide the work, few share the mental load. And that’s often where the perception gap between Moms partnered with Dads lies. But what if we could make all that hidden work visible? Does it change the conversation between couples?

Mind the Gendered Gap

“I’m doing all the emotional work of parenting (my spouse does only non-emotional tasks like grocery shopping and lawn mowing)…)

“…My personal routine has been overshadowed by helping/dealing with everyone else. If I try to work out, I’ve got kids hanging all over me, when I’m trying to work during nap time my husband wants to chat always preceded by “I know you’re busy but, just real quick…”

A recent Morning Consult survey echoes the stunning Continue reading “Is the Mental and Emotional Load Shared in Your Household?”

You Say Your Workplace is Family Friendly? Show Me

What Parents Desperately Need at Work Right Now

“Merit increases are somewhat flat while costs of living are rising (particularly the massive childcare costs we’ve undertaken this year…”

“(They’re) not allowing me to work from home when my job is doable from home.”

“(Work is) expecting me to be constantly logged on, still expecting quick turnaround, competing with male team members who have MORE time and push ahead with projects even faster than before and allowing that only to leave mom’s behind.”

Over 1,700 parents, mostly Mothers (98%) have shared their pandemic experiences since March of last year. In the most recent survey wave, parents cite that employer support is better. But most still struggle to manage work and uneven childcare. Over one million Moms fled the workforce despite how family friendly employers said they were. Like a litmus test, Covid has revealed the imposters. So, how can organizations plan for an inclusive post-pandemic return?

Family benefits don’t matter if you’re answering emails until midnight. It’s often the hidden rules, not stated policies, that lead to burnout. And there’s nothing family friendly about that. Donielle Buie, HR leader and Work/Life expert said, “Organizations have really had to look in the mirror and say, ‘we said Continue reading “You Say Your Workplace is Family Friendly? Show Me”

Get Over the Awkward Ask

The Calvary Won’t Come Unless You Build it

“When I became a single Mom, I was working in a fast-paced Information Technology (IT) job and it was impossible to get the support I needed. I couldn’t cope with doing it all any longer and eventually I lost my job. At the time, my doctor said, ‘you need to take a step back because your body is actually shutting down.’ So, then I knew I had to pause,” said Toyosi Babalola, IT expert turned Entrepreneur.

Millions of Mothers have left the workforce in the pandemic. And forced to choose between their incomes and caregiving, more are considering downshifting or opting out. In the pandemic most parents are drained from increased everything. And access to childcare has remained the top request among surveyed parents in our study. Unfortunately, there’s often no village to turn to for support. And asking for help from friends and neighbors can feel uncomfortable. So, many continue to ‘do it all’ and burn out in the process. Toyosi, who moved to the US from Nigeria, realized that her village was missing. And so, to make life work as a single Mom, she decided to build one.

We (Still) Internalize the ‘Have it All’ Fantasy

Toyosi worked in a demanding IT role, a field with few women, let alone Moms. She said, “It was tough. I dropped my daughter off in the morning and went to work, breathing hard, sometimes at 10:00 o’clock. Can you imagine? And because we still live in a world where people judge, I felt like I had to Continue reading “Get Over the Awkward Ask”

Managers, Here’s Why You Should Treat Working Parents Like Ferraris

“If the leaders among us, who get to choose what they do with their lives and are incredibly resourced are still trapped by the system, then something’s really broken. And we need to acknowledge that this matrix we’re all agreeing to, doesn’t work,” said Amy Henderson, Author and Entrepreneur. After hundreds of interviews, she learned working Mothers, believed that they were failing. Despite the positive shifts they felt.

Rebuilding routines, with each new child, is like unpacking after a move. Nothing fits in the same way. Babies learn how to walk and talk. And we learn new ways to manage life’s responsibilities, including work. The first year after a child is born, is often considered the hardest. But the adjustments come with significant upside, beyond the parental joy that sustains us.

Amy learned how this high-stress time, unlocks exponential growth for parents. And she became passionate about reframing working parenthood. Because the return to work is often where the love of parenting meets friction. But what if work was different? What if parents and their organizations could Continue reading “Managers, Here’s Why You Should Treat Working Parents Like Ferraris”

Working Parents Get Your Mojo Back! Flaunt Don’t Hide Your Superpowers

“I asked working Moms, who had good relationships with their kids and thriving careers, how could I have both. I was on maternity leave with 3 kids under the age of 4. So, I called them from a very raw, liminal place.” said Amy Henderson, Author & Entrepreneur. Those calls, to understand if successful working Motherhood was even possible, led her to 4 years of research. She said, “I learned that the things that break you, are also the things that can make you.”

The work and parenting fit was always hard. Moms are blindsided by how difficult it is to get into leadership. Then we’re gaslighted into feeling inept once we’re there. So, we end up taking our superpowers for granted. But like elite athletes, the intense training of parenthood, makes you stronger. And the collaboration, decision making, empathy, presence and efficiency skills that you’ve honed, make you a more agile leader.

Working Motherhood is Harder in the US Than Anywhere Else

In her new book. Tending: Parenthood & the Future of Work, Amy cites research that many of us have experienced. “Mommy bias is the greatest trigger for workplace discrimination. And found that mothers are 79% less likely to get hired or promoted when compared to an equally qualified woman without a child.” And in a culture where career progress equals success, it’s not surprising that being diminished at work leads to self-doubt. Worse, most mothers have sole, co or primary breadwinning responsibilities, which elevates the penalties from inconvenience to financial liability. And it’s an economic double-bind that most women don’t escape. She added, “The US has one of the largest Continue reading “Working Parents Get Your Mojo Back! Flaunt Don’t Hide Your Superpowers”

Come Back Stronger After Leaning Out or Back In from Your Career Post-Kids

“I had read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the counter points by Anne-Marie Slaughter. So, there was this conversation happening,” said Donielle Buie, Human Resource Leader and Work/Life expert, “And I agree, we need to change policy. But I kept thinking to myself, there’s a woman right now who’s got two kids and is ready to quit her job! She can’t figure out how to make this all work. And I didn’t feel like people were talking about that enough. Or how to make these decisions related to career and family. So, that was my foray into the work/life space.”

Almost half of Mothers take time out of the workforce due to childcare. But Donielle has done what few have. She downshifted, opted out and then came back, professionally stronger. Millions of Moms are deciding to lean into, out of or back from, their careers through Covid. And historically, women don’t fare well when they opt out. But Donielle’s journey is a masterclass on how to navigate the care and career fit.

What About Parental Leave?

Donielle experienced the reality of navigating leave with her first child. “It was like, you had a baby? Here is a $5,000 stipend on top of disability. I worked at a small company so, they gave us dollars on top of short-term disability. But didn’t have a more formal extended leave policy. Even with that, I took unpaid leave because I wanted to be home for 6 months,” she said. “I thought, we should have parental leave because people had kids. Why don’t we have a better policy? Then as we started thinking about having a second, it was sort of like, okay how in the heck are Continue reading “Come Back Stronger After Leaning Out or Back In from Your Career Post-Kids”

The Traumatic Effect of World Events on our Mental Health

“(I need) positivity for moms, free therapy, anything to help me from being crazy.”

“The increased responsibility and decline in available resources for myself and my child (has been hardest.) Our outlets and interactions are limited and it’s taking a toll on the mental and emotional health of myself and my son.”

“A deadly virus, reduced access to health and therapy resources, increased isolation, no alone time and homeschooling while entertaining a toddler (has been hardest.)”

Since our pandemic study began in March, mental health has remained a top concern among over 1,500 surveyed parents, mostly Moms (96%.) And absent self-care or childcare they’re pretty distraught about what’s happening at home. But the murky big picture is adding pressure. After a fraught US election season and social justice reawakening, world events continue to trigger sadness and fear. And for many, political issues are also, deeply personal. So, it’s vital to protect our mental health. “I tell people to guard your heart. Guard your time, guard your energy, guard your personal space and be very intentional about who and what you let into your space,” said Dr. Nicole C. Braithwaite, Psychiatrist, Trauma Specialist and Entrepreneur.

Because There’s A lot to Stress About

“Social unrest and COVID-19 surges.”

“Racial violence, highly polarized country.”

“The loss of Continue reading “The Traumatic Effect of World Events on our Mental Health”

Free Yourself from the Soul Crushing Disputes About Who does What

How Gamification Can Save Your Marriage…And Your Sanity

“I love you and I don’t want to break up our life. I really want to stay married. But you have to start looking at my time as valuable,” said Eve Rodsky, Entrepreneur & New York Times Best Selling-Author, to her husband. That conversation changed her life. Eve, like many Moms, was overwhelmed managing a schedule with no room for error or downtime. She said, “It was the unfairness of watching him every night be able to just get into the bed and watch a documentary, finish a PowerPoint deck and workout, while I worked in service to our household until midnight.”

In the US, Moms partnered with Dads still choreograph and do most of the housework and childcare. In our pandemic study, although men are stepping up, only 30% of respondents cite their partners are helping out more. So, conflict between couples continues to rise. Without onsite school or childcare and the bulk of housework falling onto Moms, like caged tigers, we’re eviscerating anything that limits our sleep, sanity or solvency. But there aren’t many options. Adjusting expectations at work is difficult for most. So, sharing the household and childcare if partnered, is the most promising, albeit Continue reading “Free Yourself from the Soul Crushing Disputes About Who does What”

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