Personal Boundaries Series | Mom’s Hierarchy Of Needs

How to Keep the Good Stuff and Resist the Return to Overwhelm

“There was a lot of conversation pre-Covid around how to talk about or even teach people, resilience. Because it is a teachable skill. And then, all of a sudden, we have this experience. Unfortunately, this is going beyond resilience. And we’re getting burned out,” said Donielle Buie, HR Leader and Work/Life Expert.

Many of us were drowning pre-pandemic. But we patched together ways to make it mostly work. Until Covid obliterated the workarounds. So now, we’re somewhere between revolution and evolution. We may have better childcare options coming. But right now, it’s still hard to find. And leaders continue to debate if the future of work, is a remote one. Yet, the demands on our time continue to increase.

Calendars are full again. But most of us still have more to do, with less support. So, how can we resist the return to life at a dizzying speed?

Resist the Pull to What we Had

Of course, it’s not over yet. And the pandemic is more than Covid-19. It’s framed a social justice reset and economic meltdown. And many are grieving, lost loved ones, livelihoods and health. So even the idea of a return, to the office or the birthday party circuit, can feel jarring. And scary.

We’ve had a long pause in how we Continue reading “How to Keep the Good Stuff and Resist the Return to Overwhelm”

What if you Gave a Little Bit Less of Yourself to Motherhood?

“Les, I’m having trouble with this K,” my Mother said. I suggested, “can you do one for her last name instead?” She looked up briefly and nodded a silent, ‘no.’ Then she found a hanger to push more stuffing into the narrow corners. We were surrounded by letter-shaped pillows. Each one represented a guest for my birthday party. I held my letter, ‘L’ closely while Mum worked. I can still remember the hum of her sewing machine. And the bright, flowered fabric.

She was the Queen of birthday parties, every detail was planned with love and creative flair. And I was so proud of everything about the kind of Mom she was. I remember how growing up, our home was spotless. When I took off my coat, she usually hung it up before I had time to turn around. She was always there for me and our family. But also, everyone else who needed her. She volunteered in our school, church, Girl Scout troop and the community. She gave cheerfully to everyone around her.

She was and still is, a loving Mother. And I’m grateful for it. But I see her sacrifices differently now.

There’s a Cost to Chronic Giving

Through my early childhood, she was incredibly happy. Because she was living the life she planned. But by the time I was in middle school, things changed. And we faced a lot of trials. When her life became bumpy and difficult, the stress and all that conditioned-people-pleasing, took a toll.

She hasn’t just aged, she’s weathered. When we’re together, I look for traces of who she was. And I often wonder, what if she had pulled back a little from Mothering? And reserved some of that once voracious energy, for herself? I wonder if she would have had more resilience. And more peace now, in her senior years.

We’re Distanced from our Families

Today, we extend ourselves even more than my Mother’s generation did. We spend more time with our kids and more time on paid work. And running a household is a lot like playing chess. You’re always planning your next move. For school to happen on time, breakfast had to happen on time. So, if you’re lucky, everyone slept and ate dinner the night before, when they were supposed to. It’s a complex system that gets adjusted in real-time. Constantly. And it’s okay to be proud of pulling the pieces together. Because it’s a feat of mastery! But it’s relentless. And it keeps us from living in the moment.

Because We’re Doing More of Everything

Over 2,000 parents, mostly Moms (97%) have participated in our pandemic research study. And as a group, Moms are breaking. Covid eliminated most of the workarounds, we used to manage unsustainable, fragile schedules. And although most surveyed Moms (87%) faced disruptions to childcare or onsite school. Most are doing more of Continue reading “What if you Gave a Little Bit Less of Yourself to Motherhood?”

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”

How to Personalize Your Definition of Self-Care

Okay, it’s that stage of the pandemic where we’re beyond exhausted.

More than 80% of parents (1,500,) mostly Mothers (96%) who have participated in the pandemic study, report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as caregivers to themselves.

The term self-care, coined by Audre Lorde, was meant to free us from believing the story of self-sacrifice. Yet, leaping over obstacles to make the time becomes so draining, that many of us give up.

But caring for your emotional, physical and mental health is vital. The pandemic stress will swallow all of your will and energy without it. And guess what, our families don’t thrive if we wither.

You can make space for wellbeing and joy, even now. It doesn’t have to be complicated to boost your happiness. Let self-care become your state of mind instead of something else ‘to do.’

Enjoy inspiration from extraordinary women, who have put powerful self-care definitions, habits and routines to work in their daily lives.

Personalize Your Self-Care Definition

“Self-care is taking care of my own energy level.” Dr. Leah Ruppanner, from Welcome to The Tyranny of Self-Care

“I don’t go out in large groups. I would rather sit on my daughter’s bed and watch silly videos with her. Or, just have a quiet conversation with my partner.” Dr. Ramani Durvasula, How To Create Healthy Relationships in a Culture of Toxicity

“Self-care is not just going to our local National Park but choosing a place to live where I have nature nearby. Self-care is in my daily choices. It’s not, ‘well now I’m going to Continue reading “How to Personalize Your Definition of Self-Care”

How to Reset Your Career When You’re Depleted

Over 2 million women have already left the workforce in the pandemic. And without childcare, eldercare or the ability to take a paid leave, many more plan to downshift, resign or switch professions altogether.

Before deciding what to do next, you need clarity about what you need. But pivots require strategy. And strategic thinking, requires mental energy. And Covid’s mental load, Zoom-school and housework, have drained most parents dry.

Peggy Foster, an HR Consultant, Executive Coach and Artist, spent more than 2 decades in Human Resources and Organizational Development. She’s an expert in professional transitions and navigated her own exit from corporate life.

It may feel impossible to make the space. But Peggy’s process highlights how self-care and reflection, even in small doses, can lead to big breakthroughs.

Don’t ‘Empty’ Yourself for Others

Peggy explained, “When we take space for ourselves, it feels like we’ve gone against society and how we’ve been trained as women, to put everybody else first. Feed the kids, clean the house, make sure everybody is happy, get that job done at work and the truth is, you Continue reading “How to Reset Your Career When You’re Depleted”

How You Can Say No at Work

Your Masterclass In Leadership Courtesy of the Pandemic

It’s hard to say no at work. And pushing back during a global recession, may feel career limiting, if not career ending. Mel Robbins, Personal Development Expert and Best-selling Author, shared how to set work boundaries during her session at the Massachusetts Women’s conference last month. She shares how to say no, improve your productivity and elevate your leadership skills.

Mel wisely reminds us that change creates opportunities. But keeping a positive mindset is critical for the resilience we need to seize them. “As we’re all learning in this pandemic, we’re not stuck where we are,” Mel said. “I think one of the biggest opportunities when it comes to managing your mindset, particularly for success, happiness and feeling like you’re still in control, is realizing that everything is pivoting out there.”

Stay Nimble

Pivots, a rapid change in direction, abound in the pandemic. It’s dizzying but there’s an upside. Mel explains, “Have the confidence to try new things, to pivot, experiment and adjust course. Make sure that you are going up and down, with the up and down changes.” Yes! Although the increased mental load makes it difficult, she recommends how to reclaim space for focused work by Continue reading “How You Can Say No at Work”

Fear, Masks & Alicia Keys. What Has 2020 Taught us?

A few weeks ago, awe-inspiring female leaders like Alicia Keys, Admiral Michelle Howard, Awkwafina and Doris Kearns Goodwin, took the virtual stage for the annual Massachusetts Women’s Conference. They’ve leapt past obstacles in a culture that often mutes our voices.

How? With self-care, self-love and self-confidence. Enjoy their wisdom on how to honor your needs in the days and months ahead. And enter this new chapter with restored faith in your gifts, community and power to change the systems we live, work and play in.

Pause and Reflect

Awkwafina, Award-winning Actress, Writer & Rapper, “Playing those little shows, were the best times of my life, because I was waiting for something to happen. But when things started to pick up, and it was objectively the best time of my life, I found myself losing my sense of identity. So, today, I want to be in a mental place where I can handle this career, in a healthy way, and I’m not worrying all the time.”

Mel Robbins, Best-selling Author & Entrepreneur, “If you’re not motivated in your life, you’re not playing a big enough game. Get very quiet and tune into what you long for.”

Iyanla Vanzant, Best-selling Author & Producer, “If you’re here, you’re alive. Our scars are being transformed into sacred knowledge.”

Mel Robbins, Best-selling Author & Entrepreneur, “…What have you learned in 2020? Everything that is happening in your life, is preparing you for what’s next.”

Take Back Your Routines

Mel Robbins, Best-selling Author & Entrepreneur, “When you wake up what’s the first thing that you see? It had Continue reading “Fear, Masks & Alicia Keys. What Has 2020 Taught us?”

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”

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