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”

Yes Groceries Are More Complicated but Cooking Doesn’t Have to Be

Ripppppp. Just like that, another handle broke. The noise was surprisingly loud on the now quiet streets. I wasn’t even half of the way home. I stopped and put all of the bags down, before cradling the broken one like a baby and holding the others with my left hand. My mask, pushed up by the bag handle, just made the whole trip more comical. In the Northeast, winter hangs on tight, so I was also wearing gloves and a knit hat with my stylish paper mask. A block from our building the last bag broke and sent frozen peas and blueberries tumbling into the street. Thankfully, I recovered the groceries, so only my pride was damaged.

Before COVID19, I liked shopping for food. Cooking is my hobby and pre-kids, given the chance, I’d spend weekends making cheese and tempering chocolate. But long before quarantine, to make space for my priorities, I simplified how I cooked. I’ve made some new adjustments for sheltering-in-place to: limit the Continue reading “Yes Groceries Are More Complicated but Cooking Doesn’t Have to Be”

How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines

“Mom. Mommmmmmeeee! Look at this!” My son ran into the kitchen with his iPad and said, “Look, this is so funny.” My hands were wet, the dishwasher open and I tried to steer him with my elbow out of the kitchen. “Honey, can it wait until I’m done?” I asked.  Each time he discovered a new Star Wars® meme to share, I had to dry my hands and pause the book I was listening to. After the fourth time I was annoyed. Audiobooks, a welcome distraction from dish-washing-purgatory, require focus.

To be candid, I was already on edge. Housework is on the rise and self-care is down. Like many, I’ve also been worrying more and sleeping less. My son was thrilled with his screen time and didn’t notice my frustration. But I still felt guilty for wanting space to myself. I’ve always been the default parent so it’s normal for my kids to seek me out at home. But after weeks of sheltering-in-place with conflicting Zoom calls, homeschool projects and grocery-store-bingo, I craved time alone.

My self-care rituals were invisible to my family before quarantine. Me-time was usually squeezed into the early mornings and late nights. I had also started to reconnect with my friends and professional network during the workday.

Of course, with COVID19, everything’s different.

It may feel impossible to protect your mental and physical health but it’s essential to try. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Socially distant self-care is possible but Continue reading “How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines”

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”

Wondering How to Honor Your Values With Better Boundaries?

Use Design Thinking as a Tool to Prioritize Your Values

Pre-kids, self-care and personal growth fit into our ‘spare time.’ That extra space between activities. Perhaps after work and life’s other obligations. Post-kids, there is no extra space anymore, we have to make it. To make it, we must set boundaries.

Intellectually we understand this but working it into real life is different. After sharing results from the Personal Boundaries survey April Seifert, Entrepreneur, Psychologist and Supermom, took a group of us through a ‘Design Your Life For Values Based Boundaries’ webinar that blends the best of design thinking with psychology. Moms are hungry for more space. Why is making it so difficult? Just like assembling sippy cups, Pokémon® rules and the afterschool calendar, we must learn.

Does Your Calendar Reflect Your Values?

Moms generally power through the lists of ‘shoulds’ like machines. We ensure our families are well cared for and cut corners for ourselves. Relaxation is a foreign land we never visit. Protecting some time to take care of ourselves, when there isn’t any extra, means Continue reading “Wondering How to Honor Your Values With Better Boundaries?”

What Happens If You Lean in and Fall?

How to Rebuild & Find Purpose In the Pivot

“I was all in on Lean In.” said Katherine. She added, “…I didn’t want to be held back and was totally convinced everyone else had this whole working Mom thing figured out except for me.” I nodded and remembered feeling the same way. “My son was born in 2015 with some pretty serious health problems. He’s doing great now but it was a stressful early time. Then, when he was 6 months old, I lost my job. Those twin crises really made me feel like a failure.”

The work-life collide is inevitable but jarring. Even if we’re aware of the Motherhood penalty, in our hyper-accountable culture, we expect better. We rarely discuss being passed over or pushed out at work. Why not?

Reframing Stigma

Most US Moms have breadwinning responsibilities. When things are bad at work, we still Continue reading “What Happens If You Lean in and Fall?”

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 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?”

How to Elevate Your Impact As a Leader!

10 Takeaways About Leadership, Winning Mindset, Work/Life, Strategy and Success, from the BlogHer Creator’s Summit

“Let’s all pledge in this room… here, put your hands up.” Amy Schumer said. I looked around and about a thousand hands, went up slowly and in unison, like balloons at a concert. “I, then say your name…” She said. We laughed and tentatively said our names. She continued, “I pledge that when I find an honest, powerful creator of content I will promote the ever-loving shit out of her!” Applause followed as she concluded her powerful, irreverent and wildly funny, presentation. Her message that women can take steps, big and small, to help each other succeed was echoed throughout event.

Two weeks ago, female content creators, platform builders and brand marketers, gathered to learn and connect at the BlogHer Creator’s Summit. The agenda balanced celebrity star-power, with spotlights on up-and-coming leaders. Practical guidance, accompanied ‘big picture’ inspiration.

Enjoy wise quotes about leadership, entrepreneurship, strategy, career growth, work/life integration and cultivating a winning mindset from powerhouse speakers!

Be Uniquely, Unapologetically, You.

 “Whether I soar or sink, I want to do it with my integrity, and not somebody else’s idea of who I should be.” Gabrielle Union, Actress, Entrepreneur & Author

“I can’t help but be real. I realized that’s what I could bring to the table.” Katie Sturino CEO of The 12ish Style,

“I only found success when I started doing things totally differently than everyone else.” Courtney Quinn Entrepreneur & Founder of Color Me Courtney,

“Point of view is what truly differentiates you. It gets you to the next step and it’s a little bit different than passion.” Kendra Bracken-Ferguson Entrepreneur, Strategist & Chief Digital Officer for CAA.

Solve Problems & Find The Right Partners To Support You

 “…Great ideas have plenty of suitors. (…) Allow people to invest Continue reading “How to Elevate Your Impact As a Leader!”

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