Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis

Nearly 400* parents shared anonymously how the pandemic is affecting their lives. This is the first in a series of updates with results.

“With the lack of childcare, I have no time to work or take care of our apartment. I earn a lot less than my husband and work for myself in an industry that has slowed down, so I have taken on the vast majority of the extra childcare and schooling. With only one kid and a small apartment with no yard, this feels like a full-time job! I love parts of it but would enjoy it more if I got breaks. The timeline is overwhelming.”

“My son is 3 and he DESPERATELY misses school and doing things with us. Both my husband and I work full time and cannot take shifts. We feel like terrible parents and terrible employees. For 14 hours a day. Every day. There is no break, nothing to look forward to, no sanity.”

We’re responding to epic change while doing more of everything. There’s more housework, childcare and involvement in activities for our kids. And more required to stabilize our work, families and communities. When the pandemic disrupted life, we didn’t know how long it would last. So, we eliminated self-care to make space for the added responsibilities. Unfortunately, COVID19 is just one of many threats to our wellbeing.

Caregivers lack predictable discretionary time. So, establishing habits to support our mental and physical health, can take years. In this crisis, it’s hard to even think about self-care but it’s critical to manage the stress that also harms our health. Most (61%) surveyed Moms report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ caring for themselves.

The Pressure is Unforgiving

When asked ‘what’s been the hardest?’ in this pandemic the list of concerns is long and varied. Moms worry about everything from their own Continue reading “Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis”

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 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”

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 Room for Yourself and Entrepreneurship When You Work Full Time

“Is this thing legit or is it a scam? I was thinking about it up to the minute they called and said I won! I didn’t want to be made a fool. But it was real,” said Dr. Charmain Jackman, Psychotherapist and Entrepreneur. The new business competition, she didn’t expect to win, moved her idea from concept to working website. She added, “…It was almost like an answer to a prayer. The application was only 150 words, but somehow I conveyed that this was important.” Amen! When the universe delivers opportunity, how do you make space for it?

Invest in Support & Self-Care

Women leaders are still underrepresented in our most powerful institutions: government, business and even higher ed. Unreasonable circumstances call for innovation and more women, intent on flexibility and growth, start Continue reading “How to Create Room for Yourself and Entrepreneurship When You Work Full Time”

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”

How to Build Your Tribe, Ask For Help & Pursue Your Big Idea!

“My Mother-In-Law said, ‘I got you something.’ I just remember going through it and getting nervous, it was a big bag of boy clothes, so much blue and navy! I told her, ‘Ma you can’t return any of these, I don’t know if it’s a boy or girl.’ My Mother-In-Law then informed me, ‘It’s a boy.’” Kim wasn’t convinced and asked, “‘Do you want to put money on it?’ Her Mother-In-Law replied, ‘…yeah, I’ll put money on it!’” The friendly wager led Kim Jolasun towards a big idea. To modernize how we announce, celebrate and support new babies.

Nurture Your Idea

With kids, entrepreneurial pursuits can be scary. The time and income are usually unpredictable. And little humans are expensive! But Kim, while pregnant with her first, chose entrepreneurism in a new industry and city. How? She negotiated a reduced work schedule then invested in professional development and self-care by asking for help. Ambition feels inconsistent with hands-on Motherhood in most fields. So more women, seeking growth and flexibility, Continue reading “How to Build Your Tribe, Ask For Help & Pursue Your Big Idea!”

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?”

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