Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?

“My migraines were getting worse and I went to see a doctor. He asked about my life…I told him I worked full-time, had 3 kids and helped care for my dad who had dementia and was living with me while my mother recovered from surgery. The doctor said disapprovingly, ‘that’s too much.’” Jody Gastfriend, my friend and former colleague admitted, “The doctor was right.” I nodded and sighed. We met for breakfast to discuss self-care and lessons learned from her years in social work, building Care.com’s Senior Care services, and tending to her aging parents. In her new book, My Parent’s Keeper The Guilt, Grief, Guesswork and Unexpected Gifts of Caregiving, Jody shares how she ultimately had to prioritize self-care and pay attention to what her body was telling her.

Watch For Signs

We lamented how Mom-martyrdom is universally accepted and reinforces patterns of self-neglect. Making changes feels even worse than the to-do list treadmill. Envisioning a better way requires energy and creativity…inaccessible to most when overloaded. Jody shared what was happening in her life before the migraines worsened. “There were other signs from the universe… before I realized how worn out I was.” Jody eventually hired a home health aide to help with her father’s care and temporarily reduced her work hours.

Caring for adults is unpredictable. Whereas healthy children follow similar developmental paths, seniors defy patterns as they age. At 90, some remain very active while others at age 70 can’t live alone. An estimated 75% of family caregivers are female. Absorb that for a moment. The likelihood that your parents will need your help as they age is high! Few think of themselves as ‘family caregivers’ and just doing what ‘is Continue reading “Is There Room For Self-Care in The Sandwich?”

How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!

Gratitude for our families doesn’t mean we’re always happy. Moms routinely give up self-care (yes including sleep) for the perceived greater good. We break so many promises to ourselves, that the excuses sound hollow, even inside our minds.  The consuming baby years, soon give way to demanding school-and-sport logistics. Finding free time feels like trying to breathe underwater. We grow distant from the passions that shaped our personalities. Over time, we forget how to have fun without our kids.

Most of us dwell in the land of never-done, a purgatory filled with managing email, picking up toys and cleaning the counters for the fifth time. It’s not surprising when, in most families, Moms are still responsible for all-things-children-and-household. Although it’s tempting to try to outsmart the to-do list, there’s a better way! I had the pleasure of speaking with KJ Dell’Antonia, Author and former Editor of the New York Times’ parenting blog, The Motherlode.

After writing about parenting, while raising four children of her own, she’s distilled practical wisdom about ‘How to Be a Happier Parent’ in her new book. Spoiler alert, carving out your happy is Continue reading “How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!”

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?”

Yes! You Can Work to Be Ambitious and Happy at The Same Time

Ambition is a bit restless. We can feel blessed with the life we have, yet still crave more…security, impact or flexibility. The quest to improve is part of our culture. And for some of us, our very souls. Managing this feeling, however, is tricky. It’s hard to be ambitious and satisfied at the same time. Making it all happen, with the beyond busy Mom-schedule, also requires thoughtful strategy.

Some of us are wired or groomed for ambition, whereas others, adopt it by necessity. Moms are increasingly responsible for co, primary or sole breadwinning at home. In parallel, women are embracing entrepreneurship, in record numbers, as a path to greater autonomy and financial freedom. Last month, I attended Pepperlane’s conference, a day of celebrating and supporting Mom business owners. One of the (many) highlights was Nataly Kogan’s keynote. She shared her powerful story of rising professionally, nearly crashing from stress and ultimately, learning to become happier and more present.

 Beware of “I’ll be Happy When…”

Nataly admitted to the crowded room, “When I spoke at TedX Boston, (what appeared to be) one of the happiest days on the outside, was one of the darkest days of my life.” Continue reading “Yes! You Can Work to Be Ambitious and Happy at The Same Time”

Resist Holiday Excess!  3 Smart Strategies to Embrace Holiday Minimalism

#MomsMinimizing #PureFamilyJoy #KeepTheLoveReduceTheStuff

“Last Christmas my daughter received so many presents she was actually tired of opening them. We became worried that in subsequent years she’d begin to expect so much.”  Stephanie explained she and her husband agreed to reduce the number of gifts for their children this year to four presents each.  “For our oldest, we’ll give her something she needs, something she wants, something to read, and something to do.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie and her youngest a couple of months ago.  A self-described incremental minimalist, she started a blog about simplifying life as a means of enjoying it more.  While working to curb holiday excess in her own home, she realized others are likely trying to do the same and began a ‘Holiday Challenge’ for Moms to share practical ways to minimize during holiday season.

Stuff-overload is a common parenting frustration.  From that first time traveling overnight with a baby to realizing your living space is mostly a playroom, Continue reading “Resist Holiday Excess!  3 Smart Strategies to Embrace Holiday Minimalism”

Attention Working Moms, Live Happier & Healthier! Book Review for ‘Drop the Ball’ by Tiffany Dufu

 

#MomsSelf-Care #FixWorkingMomStress #MomsCareerHacks #MomsGrowthHacks

There’s a common refrain among the Moms I meet, the juggle of work and life is straining the fragile infrastructure we’ve cobbled together. After an extended time managing way-too-much, it’s clear the solution goes beyond clever prioritization. If you’ve felt pressure from wanting to pour all of your presence into those beautiful little people you’re raising while also managing a household and nurturing the career you’ve primed with years of effort, this book is for you. Continue reading “Attention Working Moms, Live Happier & Healthier! Book Review for ‘Drop the Ball’ by Tiffany Dufu”

Boost Happiness & Tame The Mental Load With Radical Self-Care

#MomsWeighIn #MomsSelf-Care #DitchTheInvisibleWorkLoad #Part2MentalLoadSurveyResults

Whether it’s hunched over the smartphone to block playground sunshine, pushing a stroller with one hand and fielding texts with the other or frantically muting grocery store noise during conference calls, Moms are working feverishly to fit ‘everything’ in.

Despite the slickest list-making, to-do-tackling tech out there, the volume and breadth of responsibilities that fall to most Moms – from salary negotiations to scheduling play dates — spills onto the mental list…competing with every other thought in our working memory.

The mental energy required to plan and track the logistics of modern households, drives the ‘mental load’ a persistent source of overwhelm for 98% of surveyed Moms.¹

“I’m short and snippy with others. I’m broody and just unhappy. I’m pissed at my husband and everyone around me because it’s all my burden to deal with and everyone else seems perfectly oblivious…” Continue reading “Boost Happiness & Tame The Mental Load With Radical Self-Care”

Top 10 Ways Moms Relax! When Moms Unwind…

#MomsSelfCare #MomsUnwind #MomsHealth

I am flexible (as a person) but my schedule is not and anytime something goes awry, I’m frustrated at best, defeated at worst.

I like having big goals, I want to accomplish a lot in my life and career. I enjoy staying deeply involved with my children while still pursuing personal growth: wisdom, creativity, becoming more present and deepening my professional expertise.

In the past two weeks, my (too tight) schedule has taken a hit from children’s illnesses and doctors appointments, my own doctors visits (routine) and then finally, a blizzard – shortening my nanny’s schedule, cancelling my son’s school — basically upending my schedule with hours of lost productivity.

I realize life happens… all of the time. How do other mom’s deal? What are the techniques that create more room for the unplanned? What brings stress levels down and creates space for peace and self-care? Most moms juggle a lot and share the strain that comes with it. A few, seem to have figured out a formula for being great, patient moms and incredibly effective in their work and communities.

I’ve been focused on understanding (and reducing) stress, as part of the quest for self-care, as I shared with part 1 results from the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs survey.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the ‘stress question’ in the survey, when asked ‘when you do unwind, how do you do it?’ Mom’s responded with: Continue reading “Top 10 Ways Moms Relax! When Moms Unwind…”

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