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”

How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine

I gave my son the same math homework twice, started my daughter’s Zoom call late and forgot to pull chicken from the freezer. That was yesterday. Because it hasn’t felt holiday-like, I forgot to buy jelly beans. Between debates about ‘carrying the one’ with my oldest and playing musical-rooms for video calls, I’ve been working at half-speed. When I spoke with my attorney, a mother of 3, to apologize for ignoring her emails, I admitted to fighting mental fog. She agreed and said, “I feel like I did when my kids were babies!” Exactly.

The mental load for Moms, from the to-do list in our heads, isn’t new. It starts when our kids are in diapers but it’s increased with COVID19. Big time. We’re relearning how to work, live and parent all at once, which strains our cognitive capacity. When the routines dissolve, school’s at home and housework multiplies, what are our options? Although we have to approach it differently, we can lighten the mental load during this surreal time.

Why we Can’t Concentrate

In most families, Moms remember the haircuts, permission slips and camp deadlines. This invisible choreography is at the heart of overdo and never-done. We tend to forget our brains have limits and it helps to understand what they are. I spoke with Dr. April Seifert, Psychologist and Co-founder of Peak Mind and she explained, “Any time we’ve got way too much on our mind that we’re trying Continue reading “How to Manage the Increased Mental Load Under Quarantine”

How To Find Bravery in a Culture of Perfectionism

A book review for Reshma Saujani’s Brave Not Perfect

What have you perfected? Whether it’s cartwheels, your backhand or public speaking, there’s a good chance you put in serious time to get great. Pre-kids, decent sleep, plus will and attention, can lead to mastery. But after kids, when our rest and thoughts are constantly interrupted, new pursuits can feel impossible. We’re not alone in feeling this way. Perfectionism is a slippery, unattainable bar, we’re taught to seek. Motherhood puts more at risk and we loose that desire to stumble. Possibly even fail. We double-down on trying to get everything ‘right’ at home and work.

Reshma Saujani, Author and CEO of Girls Who Code, gave an amazing talk at the Massachusetts Women’s Conference which lead me to devour her book, Brave Not Perfect. She eloquently states the problem, “We go from trying to be perfect students and daughters, to perfect professionals, perfect girlfriends, perfect wives and perfect mommies. …Hitting all the marks we’re supposed to and Continue reading “How To Find Bravery in a Culture of Perfectionism”

What is Self-Care? Spoiler Alert, It’s Not On Your To-Do List

It Begins With Self-Love. Today and Everyday!

Self-care is your divine right to emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. It’s belief, intention and action. Self-care cannot be purchased. It’s not something ‘else’ to ‘fit in.’ It’s a mindset.

Society doesn’t champion Moms yet wants to conflate our self-worth with achievement. We’re cheerfully encouraged to busy-ourselves-to-death. We work unsustainable schedules, to pay for unaffordable childcare. It’s a tiring race to the bottom.

In the trance-of-busy, we push healthy to Continue reading “What is Self-Care? Spoiler Alert, It’s Not On Your To-Do List”

Is There A Better Way to Fight the Mental Load and Get Things Done?

A Book Review for David Allen’s Productivity Bible, ‘Getting Things Done’

We were 40 minutes into leaving the house, still a choreography of chaos, when my son said, “Mommy, they’re too tight.” I vaguely remembered a we-need-new-boots-discussion with both kids. That was 3 weeks ago. My tired brain, trying to lighten the load, threw that thought overboard.

The mental load is my constant companion. So, tasks spill onto the floor in unfortunate ways at inopportune times. Like when trying to get two kids in 6 layers of clothes out to sled before dark. Even before the boot incident, I knew I needed a systems upgrade. My new job, holiday madness and scheduling weeks of ceiling leak repairs, pushed things to a new low. I decided to consult David Allen’s tomb, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.

In Most Families Mom Carries the ‘Mental Load’

We’re stressed from the invisible-never-ending planning for our families. However, before you get too excited about this book review, let me be clear, there’s no simple Continue reading “Is There A Better Way to Fight the Mental Load and Get Things Done?”

What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?

Coupled Moms who try to set limits get different reactions. However most experience extremes. They are either, rewarded with stronger connection or penalized with passive aggression, from their partners.

How does setting boundaries with your partner affect the relationship? Nearly 200 coupled Moms responded to this question anonymously. The results? Like everything-married-life, it’s complicated. Positive outcomes only slightly outpace negative ones for surveyed Moms. Trying to protect time and energy by renegotiating expectations with your spouse, gets tricky.

“It’s hard to ask for time for myself. When I do ask, even after a full day at work and taking care of the house and kids, I feel like my partner isn’t supportive. Even if he’s not doing anything productive himself. It makes me resentful.”

One surveyed Mom’s response

Did you understand how marriage would change after kids? Right. Few people do. Hours of togetherness become little scraps of Continue reading “What Happens in Your Marriage When You Try to Set Personal Boundaries?”

It’s Time for Moms and Dads to Have an Open Conversation

Share housework, childcare and the mental load with your partner!

Me: Visibly surprised to see my son on screen after calling to FaceTime with my husband. “Hi honey. You’re still up? Where’s your sister?”

Son: Moves the camera over an inch. “She’s right here.” My daughter, who doesn’t look up, is eating popcorn while staring intently at her iPad.

Me: “I actually called to talk to Daddy, can you put him on please?”

Husband: “Hey…”

Me: Hi. “Sooooo…. do you know what time it is?”

Husband: “It’s late, yes, I’m sorry.”

I ended the call frustrated. When traveling for work, I still micromanage from afar. Whether it’s homework, or bedtime, the routines fall apart if I’m away. I fret and we fight. I called earlier and spoke with the kids. This call, the after-bedtime-call, was to catch up with my husband.

My seat neighbor on the train looked at me, before he said, “If it makes you feel any better, we have that exact conversation in my family.” I smiled. Yes I  Continue reading “It’s Time for Moms and Dads to Have an Open Conversation”

Can I Please Get More Capacity For Mother’s Day?

We Need Capacity.

Capacity in the form of emotional space and mental energy to process all of the inputs.

Almost overnight, my kids have gone from needing my help to eat, to learning how the world works. It’s a fundamental shift. It’s more than just survival now, it’s teaching them to be good people. They have so many questions, like why are people happy or sad? When to defend yourself or walk away. Why are there different rules for boys and Continue reading “Can I Please Get More Capacity For Mother’s Day?”

Killing it at Work but Completely Stressed in Life? You Need These Books!

Have you ever questioned yourself, or your sanity, navigating professional life post-kids?

You are in excellent company! Authors Sheryl Sandberg, Anne Marie Slaughter, Tiffany Dufu, Brigid Schulte, Shonda Rimes and Jessica Turner have all written about the challenges of ambition, identity and how professional life differs for Moms.

I’m surrounded by talented women. All of whom stitch together a patchwork-quilt of childcare coverage, while managing unrealistic expectations from employers, family members and sometimes, themselves!

We invest in and rely on our careers, but achieving stability and growth, still Continue reading “Killing it at Work but Completely Stressed in Life? You Need These Books!”

Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?

Regain Presence Despite Mental Load Overwhelm

After conducting an anonymous survey with 225 Moms, to gauge how the ‘mental load’ from carrying the always-on to-do list, affects everything from careers to health and family relationships, 79% shared they experience increased anger, worry and distraction with their kids.

“…Throughout dinner and bedtime, I feel like I’m pushing my kids off, like ‘I’ll look at your picture…after I finish unloading the dishwasher,’ or ‘As soon as I’m done making your sandwich, I’ll be right there.’  All they want is my attention but I just don’t have it to give unless I want to do two hours of chores after they go to bed, which I don’t!  I try to get it all done before they go to bed…(after) I can take a shower, then sit down and rest.”

Mom Is A Utility

We preach the value of attentiveness and focus to our children. Yet unmade beds and unread messages vie for our mindshare. Constantly. In most families, Mom-energy powers everything from hugs to planning playdates…leaving little space for the trial, error or antics of childhood.

“They view me as regularly stressed… There’s really no full down time between what I need to do and the kids’ schedules.”

“I have less patience when I’m overburdened, which leads to being short tempered…and less engaged with them. I feel like I can’t stop and play Legos® or help with a craft because I have TOO MUCH TO DO!!!” Continue reading “Can Mindfulness & Modeling With Our Kids Overcome Impatience?”

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