The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You

A book review and conversation with Motherland’s Author Leah Ruppanner

Covid has forced Mothers everywhere to reevaluate work/life tradeoffs. And without access to childcare or school, millions have left their jobs, despite the global recession. Because trying to work and care for kids full-time does not set anyone up to thrive. And like all living things, we need the right conditions to flourish. Leah Ruppanner, Author and Co-Director of the Policy Lab at the University of Melbourne, went in search of the ‘Motherlands’ for her new book. Those idyllic places with childcare sanity where Motherhood and work can coexist. What she found was surprising.

Mothers Are Opting Out in Record Numbers

Pre-Covid, life fit around the work calendar. And caregiving often fell into the hours before and after. Kind of. Work hours in most careers have increased in the past decade. Which makes finding space to care for our kids, parents or selves, a constant source of conflict.

Leah explained, “People believe, ‘I personally failed because I couldn’t make work and family work. And everyone else seems to be doing this great job’ but the truth of the matter is, that it’s a structural issue. If a woman working in Massachusetts or California, where childcare is $4,000 a month, was told Continue reading “The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You”

This is not About Self-Care. This is About Your Sanity

Mental health was precarious for parents pre-Covid. And as the crisis continues, over 1,000* surveyed parents, mostly Moms (94%) admit they’ve eliminated time spent on their own wellness to cope with the added workload.

They’re overwhelmingly working from home (71%) without childcare (70%) and report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘worse than usual’ as caregivers to themselves (72%.) They’ve paused exercise, hobbies and date nights. And many refuse to take vacation time out of concern for job security.

Many achieve career success by ignoring well intentioned advice about balance. We’re incented to run, not rest, in most industries. Pre-Covid, more than half of Americans didn’t take all of their paid vacation time. But everything is different now and breaks have become critical.

When asked, ‘what’s been the hardest?’ many cite increased challenges with emotional and mental wellbeing.

“Keeping up with mental health.”

“Maintaining routines even when feeling depressed and unmotivated.”

“Not having a ‘finish line.’ We truly don’t know when this will end, and it makes it hard to keep going and do the right thing.’’

Self-Care Is Essential

For parents, faced with an uneven back-to-school and wobbly job market, self-care may seem frivolous. Yet, like the masks and the other health protocols we follow, it’s vital. Dr. Charmain Jackman, Clinical Psychologist & Founder of InnoPsych said, “It starts with your mindset. You really need to understand that self-care is important. It’s not about pampering, like getting a pedicure. Self-care is about giving your mind and Continue reading “This is not About Self-Care. This is About Your Sanity”

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”

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”

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”

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”

It’s All in the Ask. How to Get the Professional Support You Need Right Now

“The truth is, if you can’t pitch, you will not get the support you need,” said Debi Kleiman, seasoned marketer, educator and entrepreneur, who now leads the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College. Most people don’t know how to ask for what they want. Yet, connection to that job, mentor, advisor or investor, comes down to how you ask. And many of us hate asking for support! Even when there’s a mutual value exchange.

As millions reinvent in this pandemic, support for your work or business, will mean building relationships in new ways. Debi, my former colleague and friend, distills the fine art of professional persuasion in her new book, First Pitch! Winning Money, Mentors and More for your Start-Up. When she began teaching, she couldn’t find resources on this topic for her students. She said, “It made me sad that to think there were people who were not being heard in the world because Continue reading “It’s All in the Ask. How to Get the Professional Support You Need Right Now”

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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