Personal Boundaries Series | Mom’s Hierarchy Of Needs

It’s Time to Leave the Productivity Prison

That’s right. Prison. I said it.

If you used to derive joy at the intersection of helpfulness and productivity, like I did, then anything else feels bad. And let’s face it, working at home with kids during a pandemic is the opposite of that.  So, unless we rethink productivity, we end up in a race against our pre-pandemic selves, we can’t win.

And It’s Uncomfortable

I prided myself on getting a LOT done each day pre-kids. And the thrill of moving through a mountain of to-dos sustained me. I used to believe that good days were productive days.

Organizations now hire me to help their employees, usually caregivers, cope through Covid. And during live sessions, the most frequent question parents ask, is how to reclaim productivity under Covid conditions.

We Need to Redefine What Productive Means

I relate, because I still struggle with this. No one wants to be ‘pandemic-productive.’ When the days feel edgeless and uncertain, they want something tangible from their time. They want to measure themselves against Continue reading “It’s Time to Leave the Productivity Prison”

Be Choosy About What You Let Into Your World Right Now

Protect Your Mental Health Through the Pandemic

Over 1,200 parents, primarily Mothers (95%) have participated in the pandemic study since March 30th. They’ve shared how the prolonged lockdown has strained everything, including their mental health.

“(I need) some time to myself without kids or chores. For my mental health.”

“I just started taking Lexapro and that was a life saver…”

“Marijuana/cbd oil. I have ptsd, depression, and anxiety. These things help my mood.”

“I’m with my family 24/7. We could all use a break from each other.”

Without support, basic self-care like sleep and continuity of thought, are almost impossible for parents. And with the increased mental load, monotony and erosion of work/life boundaries, anxiety and depression continue to rise. It’s maddening to be needed all the time. Or to work without breaks. Although stress continues to peak, there are strategies we can employ to support our mental health through Covid.

Routines to Manage Stress Are Gone

“(I need) breaks. Naps. Dates with my husband. Play dates with friends. To see someone during the day that isn’t my child. To be able to go somewhere that isn’t my house.”

“… We have no outlets anymore. No long drives or dinners or lunches or adventures with the baby at a playplace or park. The tension only builds…”

Dr. Nicole C. Brathwaite, Psychiatrist, Activist and Entrepreneur said, “Many of the things that used to be easier are now complex. And there’s been an increase in complaints about Continue reading “Be Choosy About What You Let Into Your World Right Now”

Your Colorful, Messy and Perfect Life

“I didn’t realize at the time, how much anxiety or stress I was carrying, because I was just trying to make it through the day.” said Kyra Peralte, Entrepreneur and Author. When the pandemic hit, like many of us, she slipped into crisis mode. “We immediately started reorganizing our days to accommodate having the kids at home 24/7. Because we don’t know when this is going to be over, my husband and I made a pact, to pull together and be creative.”

What happens when stress moves from the mind into the body? When the weight of worry became a physical sensation, it terrified Kyra. But it also opened a deep curiosity. She wanted to know how Covid stress was affecting other women. And she didn’t want the polished version, she craved candid connection. This moved her to lift herself and others, from suffering in isolation, through the magic of story.

When Stress Takes Hold

“I felt a drop of cold water on my neck. I looked up and thought we had a leak. I was sitting in what I call my Corona-bunker.” Kyra continued to feel the cold water. “It kept happening in different parts of the house. I was taking a hot shower when all of a sudden, I felt the ice cold water and I thought, okay something is going on.” Scary! “So, I looked into it and discovered that it was a Continue reading “Your Colorful, Messy and Perfect Life”

How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home

“Today is different from yesterday and this week is different from last week. You can have some kids in school but if the County is on a watch list for Covid, then you can’t be in school. And, if there’s anyone in the community that gets Covid, then everything has to shut down and go virtual for two weeks. I get what they’re trying to do but it’s very fluid and not super helpful,” said Alexis Haselberger.

A lot of us are in the midst of or planning for back-to-school pandemic-style. Hybrid schedules. On and off days, lunch at home and no transportation. Back to school was always a high-stakes time of transition. But this year’s lack of consistency and threat of Covid-19, is a recipe for mental load stress. And productivity, for even the most seasoned work-from-home parents, has been flipped upside down by having the kids at home. I asked Alexis a productivity expert, for smart strategies to set this season of work-and-school-from-home, up for success.

Where Are You Right Now? Start There.

Although it’s true, it was hard before and it’s become harder, Alexis suggests starting with today. The current conditions do not resemble what once was. She said, “The mental framework I’ve been using is to ask, ‘what is working and not working right Continue reading “How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home”

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”

How to Make Healthy Choices Under Extraordinary Conditions

Social Distance Friendly Care for Yourself and Your Family

“Over the last couple of days, I’m recognizing I need to preserve my mental health to support my family, patients and colleagues. A lot of us who are caregivers and helpers, tend to have the urge to do as much as possible and often forget ourselves,” said Dr. Nicole C Brathwaite, Psychiatrist, Entrepreneur & Activist.

Moms, already Allstar-givers, have added homeschool and helping neighbors, while facing huge shifts to work, routines and income. It’s a gift to remain kind and resourceful in a crisis and with so many in need, it may be tempting to ignore self-care.  Caregiver burnout is real and strategies to protect mental health, become more critical in uncertain times.

Set New Boundaries To Preserve Energy

Nicole’s career is filled with meaningful work she’s passionate about. However, with the new obligations at home, she’s intentional about balance. “I have to make sure my family is safe and I’m well rested so I can provide the best care. It’s also the advice I’m giving to my colleagues who are working on the front lines of this pandemic,” she said. As we show up for our communities and families, we need different boundaries. Nicole said, “I’m setting aside time during my day for physicians and nurses who are directly exposed to COVID-19 and are completely Continue reading “How to Make Healthy Choices Under Extraordinary Conditions”

Novel Ways to Enrich Your Family and Business at the Same Time

“My son and his friend came home from school and as we all do, I asked, ‘how was your day?’ as usual they quickly replied ‘good’ followed by ‘boring’ and then headed to the kitchen for a snack,” said Debbie Raisner Thompson. A serial entrepreneur, she shared the dilemma most Moms with school-aged children face, the dreaded one-word response.

Debbie had recently been certified to teach English and was home preparing to teach a class on opposites. She said, “I had just finished writing opposite words on colored popsicle sticks, when my son and his friend got home.” Inspired while cleaning the sticks, she asked them to tell a story from their day using one of the words on the sticks. Debbie said, “While they were eating their snack, my son’s friend said, ‘if my mom did this, I would tell her a story every day.’ My son agreed, adding, ‘you should try this with the girls when they get home.’” When Debbie’s daughters came home she said, “it was the same thing, the reaction was really great!” They kept a set of sticks on their table and made extra sets for friends to try. It sparked an ongoing conversation.

Enlist Family Support From the Start

Moms who are blessed with creative ideas rarely explore their commercial potential. The myriad of steps and costs, to move from fuzzy concept to Continue reading “Novel Ways to Enrich Your Family and Business at the Same Time”

How To Create Healthy Relationships in a Culture of Toxicity

What makes a relationship toxic? “They lack the following: empathy, compassion, respect, mutuality and reciprocity. And they may also include the following, invalidation, disrespect, gaslighting or insulting. It’s both what’s missing and what’s present,” said Dr. Ramani Durvasula, Author, Clinical Psychologist, Professor and Relationship Expert.

Our lives open to new levels of fulfillment with the relationships we have. And we all want satisfying careers, romantic partnerships and friendships, but it requires careful navigation. Maintaining self-love, confidence and respect, while balancing the needs of others gets tricky. How do we hold firmly onto our values, yet stay vulnerable enough to grow?

We discussed all of this and her newest book, “Don’t You Know Who I Am?”: How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility. Ramani, an expert on narcissistic abuse and champion for positive relationships, shares wisdom about how to protect our Continue reading “How To Create Healthy Relationships in a Culture of Toxicity”

Do You Know How Motherhood Helps Your Career?

That’s Right. There’s Upside to the Work/Life Juggle!

“I didn’t realize it would be psychologically painful. It surprised me, how it would all feel, going back to work when my child was 2 months old,” Said Dr. Yael Schonbrun, Clinical Psychologist, Author and Co-host of the Psychologists Off the Clock podcast. 

The hard parts of working Motherhood are felt immediately. Within hours of returning to work, we fight to compartmentalize. We think about what our kids and our jobs need. All. Day. Long. Even if it were possible, just trying to quiet that inner dialogue, feels disloyal. As if we’re trying to make Motherhood’s messy emotions smaller. Less demanding. Work, once a refuge, begins to fragment us.

What about the sunny side? We rarely think about the Continue reading “Do You Know How Motherhood Helps Your Career?”

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?”

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