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”

Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)

Can Psychological Safety Can Make Work More Sane Right Now?

This is part of an ongoing series, to share results from the pandemic research study. This update is from nearly 400 parents, primarily Moms (91%) who responded between March 30 – June 6th about how COVID-19 has affected work and life, including what has been the hardest.

“The instability of both my job and ability to secure safe childcare (many will call out with late notice after finding out I work in healthcare.)”

“… uncertainty about when life can safely return to normal and perhaps more importantly the anxiety that my partner is likely going to be asked to return to work before we feel doing so meets our own personal threshold of risk.”

“I was working remotely then requested to be furloughed as both my husband and I were working remote with our 10-month-old and it was too much without help.”

More Responsibilities at Home Have Come at the Expense of Work

Surveyed Moms and Dads have leaned into their family roles during this time of crisis. 68% felt that they were doing the same, a better job than usual, or really well as parents and, though by a smaller majority, as spouses/partners. However, most (58%) felt that they were doing terribly or not as well as usual in their performance as workers and most (60%) sacrificed self-care routines to make space for the added responsibilities.  There are, however, exceptions. One surveyed Mom shared, “My kids are 9 and 10. They do their schoolwork and play/watch TV on their own while I’m working. My partner is now working from home, too, so I feel like I have more help than usual. I’m more productive now than I was when I was going to my workplace.”

Help Is Not On the Way for Most

The work/life juggle after having kids tested even the most optimistic parents. But in this pandemic, childcare, a prerequisite for working parenthood was disrupted for the overwhelming majority (74%) of those surveyed. And people are breaking under the strain of trying to do the absurd – work, Continue reading “Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)”

The Details of How to Make Personal Change Stick

A Book Review For Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander

I read and listen to books about everything from bravery and acceptance to productivity and leadership. I’ve been in the slow but intentional process of self-renewal for years. Recently, I discovered Pathways to Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander. It’s the companion to one of my favorite books, The Art of Possibility that she co-authored with her husband, Benjamin Zander.

The best of cognitive science teaches that our thoughts affect our feelings. And ultimately, our happiness. Self-help can be heavy on the ‘why’ but light on the ‘how.’ It’s rare to find details about internalizing big ideas. Adopting new routines is not the same as resetting one’s internal Continue reading “The Details of How to Make Personal Change Stick”

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.

Establishing habits that 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”

Is The Myth of ‘Having it All’ Hurting Our Work/Life Boundaries?

Work. Is. Different.

“I generally prioritize my family and work over myself,” admits one surveyed Mom. “I am the breadwinner … and turn myself inside out at work to try to keep my standing there. Then I come home and want as much time as I can have with my kids. And there’s little time left for me. I feel like my kids are little once and I can’t get the time with them back.”

Nearly 200 Moms shared their struggles, triumphs and feelings in the survey about setting personal boundaries. The context and consequences for drawing lines at work are different. Somewhere in the back of our minds, despite grim statistics about the motherhood penalty, we believe there’s a loophole. We were promised life without limits, and want to prove to ourselves that being great Moms while doing Continue reading “Is The Myth of ‘Having it All’ Hurting Our Work/Life Boundaries?”

Can Self-Care Be Your Secret to Professional Success?

How do you transition from intrapreneur to entrepreneur, with your boss’ blessing, then sell and expand your company? With a disciplined approach to self-care and smart systems at home. Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, entrepreneur and Supermom, has built an extraordinary career while nurturing her creative soul.

Ambitious Moms face a dilemma. The rules for growth at work change just when requirements at home increase. Solutions to outsmart the wage and achievement gaps elude most women. Why? Work infrastructure doesn’t really favor working Moms. To succeed, despite this, requires mental energy and creativity. Resources most Moms lack. What if self-care, dismissed by most to save time, is the Continue reading “Can Self-Care Be Your Secret to Professional Success?”

If Setting Better Boundaries Can Improve Your Life, Why Don’t You?

“I think part of the problem is that I hardly have any boundaries. I’ve given up eating, sleeping, showering on a regular basis just to maintain work and family. Forget self-care, tv, movies, reading or seeing friends. No time!”

“I’m not sure what to say about this… I don’t know that I have rules for myself at home, other than the ‘alone time’ trigger, which is less a rule than an escape clause…”

What rules do you set to protect your time? What routines help you keep commitments, to yourself, and others? In an anonymous survey, nearly 200 Moms shared their experiences setting, modifying (and yes, ignoring) their personal boundaries. We spend so much energy navigating external boundaries, the barriers between what we have and want, that we forget to erect our own. Protective ones.

Strong personal boundaries are the answer to over-do and never-done. The tenuous states of anxiety most Moms call home. We fritter from must-do to have-to and rarely make space to think. Practicing regular self-care, or just relaxing, begins to feel impossible. It’s scary when the life we wanted doesn’t leave room for what we need. We do it for our children, partners and communities. We do it because it’s  Continue reading “If Setting Better Boundaries Can Improve Your Life, Why Don’t You?”

What If You Could Pre-Empt This Year’s Holiday Stress? Two Things You Can Do Today!

Pre-Empt This Year’s Holiday Stress

Yes. You heard me. Holiday stress. It’s the polar opposite of the joy we hope for. The holiday bliss every greeting card claims we are due. There are magic moments. We savor them, but briefly, in between the hard work of ‘magic making.’ Sometimes, the holidays are just stressful. An overscheduled, overwrought time when forced fun competes with our massive to-do list. The strain is enough to threaten every shred of patience we have.

If you sought the escape hatch, at least once in the past few months, I’d like to share a simple way to make the holidays work better next time.  Not perfect…but better. I tried this last year and it radically improved Continue reading “What If You Could Pre-Empt This Year’s Holiday Stress? Two Things You Can Do Today!”

What Will You Say Yes To?

Book Review For The Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in The Sun & be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

I loved this book. It’s a survival guide for ambitious women. It’s also a masterclass on how to overcome limiting beliefs. Shonda makes sharp observations about everything from working motherhood and nurturing creativity, to career growth and feminism’s next act, intersectionality. She applies the Shonda-Rhimes-story-telling-magic to her own life. Even though she highlights (and challenges) many of the social norms that limit women’s progress, it’s a fast, engaging read.

Learning to Say Yes

“’You Never Say Yes to Anything.” The truth of her sister’s casual comment unsettled her. In response, Shonda decided to say ‘yes’ to what scared her… for an entire year! The book takes us, from her struggle to honor this commitment, to the resulting personal Continue reading “What Will You Say Yes To?”

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?”

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