Self-Care & The Work-Life Balance | Parenting

Blank Instagram Portraits-40.png

This past week has been a very exciting one for me in the “work world”.  A lot of the things I have been working towards are actually materializing. I had some great meetings and left with some so many thoughts and inspiring plans running through my head.

I also have felt like a total mom fail this past week. The kids have been full of so much extra energy that despite playing outside, still results in them wrestling all over our house and me yelling way too much. There are piles and piles of laundry to be put away and I feel like the kids are eating us out of house and home despite visiting the grocery store multiple times a week. I am so behind in my (very minimal) attempts to be “involved” at school and I always have big plans to respond to emails once the kids are finally in bed and then fall asleep at 8:30pm. I could go on and on, but I will stop now. 😉

That’s the thing I didn’t realize, often times it feels like you doing a great job managing your workload or an awesome job prioritizing your family’s needs but it can sometimes feel completely elusive to having that feeling about both things at the same time.

I never really knew what it would feel like to be pulled in two directions, both important but in really different ways. I was a “stay at home parent” for the first four years of having children. I feel grateful it was an option for our family and it was also one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am not writing to minimize the challenges of that, they were just very different challenges.

I slowly went back to work a little at a time as our kids started preschool and things really amped up now that both of our kids are in elementary school. I think it is important to say that I can’t speak to all the challenges of being a working mother. I don’t have experience with having to pump at work with a small baby or managing the completely unrealistic expectations many mothers face of needing to go back to work right away because of the small amount of time they were “given” for paid maternity leave and I know that is a privilege in so many ways.

Staying home when my kids were younger was wonderful for many reasons but it was also very scary. I remember sitting in therapy a couple of years ago and talking about how I felt I would never be able to get those years of “not working” back and I felt completely overwhelmed about how I would get back into the workforce when it was time. While I was “at home” many of my friends were continuing the career paths they studied and worked hard for, which is one of the big reasons many parents go back to work right away, and sometimes I wondered if I had made “the right” decision.

What I have realized over time is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, but it all has its different pros and cons. Work doesn’t fit into a tidy little 9-5 box for me anymore and it doesn’t for many other parents…I, like so many, am often at the “mercy” of the school calendar. This means there are many weekends that Lucas “takes over” so I can fit in my work and we do a lot of “switching on and off” during the summer months so we both can meet our work demands.

I work for many reasons, and one of them is to have an identity outside of motherhood. I also work to contribute financially to the growing needs (and grocery bill) of our family. I am still struggling to figure it all out and I think I probably always will be. I am grateful to have a supportive partner who understands how important and helpful this is to not only me but also our family.

This was more long-winded than I had planned but my point of this whole post was to write about balance and self-care. So in summary, I don’t really think there is a true feeling of having a perfect work-life balance. I think it is totally normal to feel like one sometimes overshadows the other and in the long run it all balances out but it might not feel like it on a daily or weekly basis.

And of course, there is that trendy idea of “self-care” that you are probably hearing all over the place right now. The other day we were ice skating on our backyard pond after school. It was all fine and dandy until it was time to take everyone’s ice skates off. I was floundering around on the ice while still wearing my skates, and at the same time trying to take three kids ice skates off while also trying to avoid being sliced in the face with six sharp metal blades…it wasn’t going very well.

I then said, “hold on, let me take my skates off first and then it will be easier to help you guys”. And it was! It took 30 seconds to take my own skates off and then not only was I much less stressed but it was much easier to help them unhitch and untie their skates that were covered in ice and snow. This is kind of like what self-care does to you as a parent. Taking a little time to care for yourself helps you be able to be a better parent, partner, and person. It doesn’t sound that hard in theory but self-care isn’t always something that is easy to prioritize when the daily tasks of work and having a family are never-ending.

Self-care materializes in many different forms for people but therapy and exercise are mine and I am unapologetic about these two things. I schedule them into my calendar and they are set in stone. My family, friends, and co-workers know this and I know it. Besides a sick child or snow day, if I scheduled it, I am going.

This often means I am waking up a couple of hours before the kids do to get work done so I have the space to fit in my barre class during the workday or dropping off the kids at my husband’s office so I can go to a therapy session in the summer. I cannot tell you what a better person and parent I am because I do these things for myself. It doesn’t mean that I am a perfect parent or partner but when I am filling my bucket too it is much easier to meet the needs of everyone around me.

How do you practice self-care? ❤

Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together by Belinda Luscombe | Book Review

Book Review-33.png

“A smart and concise guide to staying together that draws on scientific findings, expert advice, and years in the marital trenches to explain why marriage is better for your health, your finances, your kids, and your happiness

Like you, probably, Belinda Luscombe would rather have had her eyes put out than read a book about marriage; they all seemed full of advice that was obvious, useless, or bad. Plus they were boring. But after covering the relationship beat for Time magazine for ten years, she realized there was a surprisingly upbeat and little-known story to tell about the benefits of staying together for the long haul. Casting a witty, candid, and probing eye on the latest behavioral science, Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions, how they’ve changed from the marriages of our parents’ era, and what those changes mean for the happiness of this most intimate and important of our relationships.

A guide to staying together that combines the latest scientific data, personal stories, and expert advice, arguing that marriage is better for your health, your finances, and your happiness, by an award-winning Time journalist.

Surveying the latest behavioral science and folding it into her witty, engaging, and candid knack for storytelling, Belinda Luscombe has written a fresh and persuasive report on the state of our unions. This book examines the six major fault lines that can fracture a marriage, also known as Luscombe’s F-words: familiarity, fighting, family, finances, fooling around, and finding help. She presents facts, debunks myths, and provides an entertaining mix of data, anecdotes, and wisdom from a wide range of approaches to married life, as well as experts and therapists of the wedding, marriage, and divorce industries. Marriageology gives the reader something to think about and maybe try, whether the marriage in question is on the brink of collapse or just needs a bit of maintenance on the foundations.”


Marriageology was such a fascinating read on marriage and long term relationships. Luscombe’s writing was approachable with the perfect mix of scientific research, personal stories, and advice. I found myself nodding along so many times with her anecdotes regarding her own marriage history. She shares a wonderful perspective that is relatable yet also hopeful. Her ability to share the hardships of some of the biggest stumbling blocks of marriage was super accessible.

She points out the 6 major “fault lines” that can fracture a marriage and how to navigate them personally and as a couple. Like many non-fiction books, certain chapters stood out to me more and I especially connected with the commentary and research she shared in the parenting section, it was spot on. I also am so happy she talked about how helpful therapy can be, and not just at times of serious distress but also as a regular practice.

I learned so much from this book and I highly recommend it for anyone that is navigating a long term relationship. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday Randomness | Podcast Recommendations by Category

blank instagram post-11

Welcome back to Wednesday Randomness! I took a little hiatus for the last few weeks with the holidays and then a snow day for the kids last week, but I am back…

Today I am discussing my favorite podcasts. I love having something to listen to but I am not a huge fan of listening to music. I do a lot of driving during the school and work week and podcasts are one of the ways I fill up that time as well as listening to audiobooks. I also listen to podcasts around our house when I am cooking or cleaning and it always makes that time so much more enjoyable.

One of the best ways I have learned about new podcasts is from my friend’s suggestions and so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favorites with you!


Reading Podcasts:

Bad on Paper

Bad books and good advice from two questionably young adults. Join 30-something YA enthusiasts Grace Atwood and Becca Freeman every other week for a book club featuring a young adult title that they promise you won’t be able to put down. In between, they’ll share their best tips for “adulting” helping you do everything from finding the right career to the perfect face serum.

Bad on Paper is super enjoyable to me because I like listening to Becca and Grace’s banter about books and their daily lives. Grace is an avid reader and has a great section of her blog that is dedicated to reading and her book reviews. You can see that here. They also just started having some really interesting guests on their podcast and I love the mix of topics.

What Should I Read Next?

What Should I Read Next? is the show for every reader who has ever finished a book and faced the problem of not knowing what to read next. Each week, Anne Bogel, of the blog Modern Mrs Darcy, interviews a reader about the books they love, the books they hate, and the books they’re reading now. Then, she makes recommendations about what to read next. The real purpose of the show is to help YOU find your next read.

Anne Bogel is widely known in the reading world for both her book lists. Her podcast gives great book recommendations and she is just so wonderful to listen to.

Mom’s Don’t Have Time To Read

Zibby Owen’s podcast Mom’s Don’t Have Time To Read is one of my new favorites. She has authors as her guests and I love hearing their conversations which are always just fascinating! I just listened to her episodes with Delia Owens and Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen and I learned so much not just about their books but also their writing processes and collaborations.


News, Money & Special Topics Podcasts:

Forever 35

Kate and Doree are two friends who love to text each other about serums. On Forever35, they talk about sheet masks, serums, exercise, nutrition, meditation, anxiety and stress, Kate’s favorite drugstore mascara, Doree’s addiction to restorative yoga, and much more. And explore how it all takes on new meaning as they age. Plus, each episode features an amazing guest talking about their own self-care routines, plus tips, product recommendations, advice, experiments, and most importantly: LOLS! 

I have been listening to this podcast since the beginning and I enjoy the variety of topics Kate and Doree cover. It feels like catching up with an old friend and I especially enjoy their mini-episodes so much because they cover everyday tips and also answer listener questions.

Up First

The news can be overwhelming, especially lately. I love this small dose that you can easily consume in less than 15 minutes. It covers important US and World topics that are timely and pertinent so you can feel “up to date” without falling into the rabbit hole the endless news cycle.

Death, Sex and Money

Death, Sex and Money is an interview-style podcast hosted by Anna Sale that discusses the big questions “often left out of polite conversation.” Sale’s episodes are thought-provoking and include timely topics that are vulnerable and also so important to normalize and discuss.

Jill on Money

Host Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, tackles sometimes uncomfortable and even controversial money and investing issues, without the financial jargon, to get to the heart of what’s important for anyone to know. Jill takes listener phone calls and interviews informative and entertaining guests each week to uncover surprising insights and provide actionable information so you can make the most of your money.

I love Jill’s practical financial advice and I especially love when she takes listeners phone calls. I have learned so much from this podcast from financial planning to college savings and I highly recommend it.


Parenting Podcasts:

The Longest Shortest Time

Stories about the surprises and absurdities of raising other humans—and being raised by them. The Longest Shortest Time is an award-winning podcast about parenthood in all of its forms. But you don’t need to be a parent to listen.

I have listened to this podcast for years and it has some of the most honest discussions about parenting and I have always found it super relatable…especially the earlier episodes about Hillary’s own transition into new motherhood. The new host, Andrea, is wonderful too and she covers a wide variety of topics pertaining to parenting.

The Best of Both Worlds 

Love your career? Love your family? Best of Both Worlds is the show for you! Hosts Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It and a mom of four, and Sarah Hart-Unger, a practicing physician and mom of three discuss work/life balance, career development, parenting, time management, productivity, and making time for fun. Tune in each week for strategies to help you thrive in all spheres of life.

I have listened to every single episode of this podcast and I just enjoy it so much. I love their conversations about being working parents while still fitting in their own activities. They are positive and proactive about the challenges of raising a family while also having a career and I love that they look at the plus sides of having a career while also sharing honest advice about the things they do in their families about making it manageable (which often means they don’t do it all). They have very interesting guests that also share their own stories of motherhood in the workforce and how they “make it work” in their families. I love hearing about logistics so this one really works for me!

The Mom Hour

The most fun you’ve ever had with two moms you’ve never met. Co-hosts Meagan Francis and Sarah Powers have eight kids between them, preschool to teen. Weekly conversations offer practical tips and real-life encouragement for moms who want to enjoy motherhood more, and cut back on comparison, worry, and stress. We’re not experts, we’re moms who’ve been there. We’re not perfect, we’re real. Welcome to The Mom Hour.

This podcast is super relatable and I love that they have the perspective of having kids that are at such different ages and stages. They don’t sweat the small stuff and I always learn so much from their great and very pratical parenting advice.


Kid-friendly Podcasts:

But Why

But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world.

Our boys love this show and I do too! We have learned so much and also enjoy that is produced right here in Vermont. Kids call in with questions and they get the answers from experts in those fields…We listen in the car and it is a great way to help have a smooth and peaceful car ride.

Brains On

Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, we ask questions and go wherever the answers take us.

This is another kid questions based show and we enjoy this one too! The questions are more STEM based and answer so many of those questions that your kids ask and you go…”ummmmm?”

The Reading Bug

Let’s Fly! Reading Bug Adventures is a story podcast for kids from The Reading Bug. Each episode is a new adventure — just hop into the Reading Bug’s magic book bag, and we’ll be transported to whatever time or place is in the books inside! Join us to explore new books, new concepts and new worlds, and bring your crayons and paper along so you can color your own illustrations. Reading Bug Adventures is created, written, and produced by The Reading Bug, an independent, family-owned children’s bookstore in Northern California

Our kids love this podcast and I think it really connects with a fairly wide range of ages..our boys are 6 & 8 and I can see this also being a great fit for kids that are preschoolers and up. The stories are fun and the music is very engaging.  It also has a time where kids can reflect and color which we haven’t tried because we listen in the car but I thought it was a great idea.


True Crime Podcasts:

A Killing on the Cape

It was a crime that rocked an idyllic seaside town in Cape Cod — the 2002 murder of Christa Worthington, who was found stabbed to death with her 2-year-old daughter, unharmed at her side. What came next was a three-year search for her killer that would involve unorthodox steps by police, a lengthy list of potential suspects, and an entire town under suspicion. Christa’s trash collector, Christopher McCowen, would eventually be convicted of the crime, but his trial would raise questions about the evidence, investigative methods, and whether racial prejudice played a role. Now, ABC Radio and “20/20” take a look at all the evidence and for the first time ever, hear directly from Christopher McCowen, to examine whether the right man is behind bars.

I listened to this podcast a couple of years ago but it still sticks with me. It is a fairly short series so it’s a great one to binge on and I really hope there is another season at some point!

Broken Harts

Markis, Hannah, Devonte, Abigail, Jeremiah, and Sierra Hart—six beautiful black children, ranging in age from 12 to 19—were all adopted by Sarah and Jennifer Hart, both white. On Jen’s Facebook page, it looked as if they were the perfect blended family, even earning the nickname “Hart Tribe” from friends. Then, on March 26, 2018, the family’s GMC Yukon was found belly-up on the rocks below California’s Highway 1. The news of the murder-suicide shocked their friends and made national headlines, leaving many wondering what possibly led to the fatal crash. Could these lives have been saved? Broken Harts, a new podcast from Glamour and HowStuffWorks, investigates this question with more than 30 never-before-heard interviews. Cohosts and Glamour editors Justine Harman and Elisabeth Egan and reporter Lauren Smiley follow the family’s journey from South Dakota through Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington, and finally to that 100-foot cliff in California.

I am currently listening to this podcast and while it is absolutely heartbreaking it also does a great job of looking at so many aspects of this family including foster care, adoption, and race. I am really hoping more people I know listen to this because I would love to discuss it!

Dirty John

Debra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.

This podcast was super disturbing but I also couldn’t stop listening! It was full of lies and deception and was a great “easy” podcast to get into. There is a show now that is based on this one though I haven’t watched it yet…


Do you have any podcasts that you would recommend? I would love to hear! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Randomness |The Balancing Act

IMG_0548

Have you ever been in a stage where you felt like you had to “do it all?”.  I have definitely been there, and although there certainly are life stages where this has been more challenging, I have found more recently that sometimes, less really is more.

One of the biggest things that has helped change this for me is being okay with “good enough”. And to do this, for some things, I have just lowered my standards. This may sound simplistic but it really has helped so much. In order to give 100 percent to the things that really matter to me and our family, other things are sometimes dropped.

There was a time when I tried to juggle too many things, and what happened is nothing really got done well at all. A few months ago I read Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner. While not all of the chapters were totally applicable to our situation, I found some of it to be so helpful and affirming to this idea.

“The best advice I was ever given was to imagine that my life was a juggling act. Only some of my balls are glass and some rubber. I can drop the rubber balls and pick them up later and they aren’t any different. However, if I drop a glass ball, they are broken forever—no matter how hard you try to fix it. The key then is to determine which balls are your glass balls.” -Jessica Turner 

Prioritizing the things that really matter to me and our family and not worrying so much about the other things has helped so much. And what is important to me, might not be something that is important to someone else, and that’s the great thing about it. This has been a game changer for me, and also something that has helped clear my mind of clutter which often resulted in extra worries and pressures that I was really just putting on myself.

Determining what my glass balls were was the first step. Like many people, the physical and mental health of myself and our family is a top priority, although how we get there might be different. This past year was my first time being back to work “full time” and I had a lot of apprehension about how I would manage those demands while also meeting the needs of our family and my own self. I could look at it like I had “less time” or I could see it as just needing to “manage my time” differently. I chose the latter and it made all the difference.

I am an early riser so during the seasons where my work is full time I would work for a couple of hours in the early morning so I could still prioritize taking a break during the work/school day to exercise or go to a therapy appointment. These things are important to me, so I made them a priority in my schedule. I also do a lot of my editing on the weekends so I am able to work around the kid’s schedules. I combined seeing a friend while also completing an errand so it was getting two important things “done” at the same time.  Have you ever gone grocery shopping with a friend?! It’s really an amazingly fun thing to do and you will feel like the best multi-tasker ever.

Things like laundry took more of a back-burner. We wash a load of clothes every night and that is a priority, but actually putting it away isn’t. We each have a basket that we separate the clean and folded clothes into and there are certain times of the year that we mostly just live out of these baskets. It works for us. During the busier times of the year, we have a pretty small rotation of things we have for dinner and it simplifies not only the planning and shopping but also our evening routine. Our kids have school lunch, every day. Not only does it make our lives so much easier but they are exposed to lots of new things that they might not be as eager to try at home.

I certainly don’t have all the answers but seeing how much control I really did have was such a freeing thing for me. It has also helped me when I see someone doing something and I start to go down the path of “how do they do everything they do and THAT?!” Everyone has priorities and everyone’s priorities are different. This not only makes me feel better about what I do but it also just helps me be happier for what my friends are doing and not having it just highlight my own insecurities. ❤

Starting again…

7461e8089303bb1f8d8136d99956b1db

Almost 9 years ago, I started a blog. It was a completely different time on the internet, the days of which blogs were more like online journals and less like people trying to influence what you buy.

I was newly pregnant at the time and it was a way to document our daily life and my excitement about impending motherhood. Over time, it became one of the most helpful ways for to me connect with other moms when new parenthood looked a lot different than what I had initially expected.

To say the transition was challenging, would be an understatement.  I struggled immensely with the lack of sleep and the challenges of nursing all combined with significant anxiety. I often felt isolated being home with a baby who was upset a lot of the days (and nights).

I found my online connection with other moms going through this, a life saver.  It normalized my feelings, but also encouraged me to reach out for help. I am forever grateful for that community of people who supported me so significantly during a hard stage of life.

As time went on and our children grew older, it didn’t feel so much like it was my story to share online anymore, so I made the decision to stop blogging. Our stories were more personal and less about me and more about them as individuals.

Social media wasn’t anything like it is now. Recently I have struggled, just like many others with the comparison trap. The bright and cheerful photos when much of life doesn’t look like that. But I have also found that it can be a wonderful way to connect with others. I hope that by sharing again, both the highlights and the struggles, that it can be a way of connection once again.

I am excited to start blogging again.  My life looks so different than it did nine years ago and I also have learned so much. I am a reader, a photographer, an educator, a mental health advocate and someone who loves connecting with the people and world around me.  I hope to share a mix of these topics on this space and I am so happy you are following along. ❤
Continue reading “Starting again…”