Self-Care & The Work-Life Balance | Parenting

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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? ❤

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman | Book Review

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“Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents’ response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen’s methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen’s past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.”


I enjoyed Class Mom and found it to an easy and engaging read, especially relatable as a mother to two children in grade school. It is definitely a snarky take on school politics and there are the cliched characters to go with it.

I know it was meant to be “stereotypical” but I found the characterization of the “allergy mom” to be particularly insensitive…it did have plenty of funny moments but this was just a smaller thing I noticed.

There was plenty of drama and secrets and this was a great “mindless” read to cozy up with on the couch on a chilly day. This was a light-hearted read and if you are looking for something like that, I think you will enjoy this one a lot.

 

Coffee Talk Tuesday | Currently…

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Good afternoon! Is anyone else forgetting which day of the week it is? The kids had a long weekend from school for MLK Day and I have been feeling confused all day…It also means trying to fit everything into a 4 day work week which usually means there is a lot of juggling going on…

With the holiday break just a few weeks ago and a random snow day, I really am looking forward to having a full week of school at some point soon…Figuring out how to juggle work and kids in school is a constant challenge as their schedules and mine are somewhat inconsistent but it is a work in progress!

Yesterday we embraced the day off with negative degree temperatures and had a playdate with some school friends. We are at the age where play dates consist of the kids playing (in another room) and us moms chatting, which is the best! We had many years of not even being able to have a full conversation so I totally appreciate this so much now.

What are you listening to? 

I have been taking a little break from audio books and have been binging on true crime podcasts after getting some awesome suggestions last week on my Instagram post.  I listened to Bear Brook Podcast which was just fascinating and I am just a few episodes into The Cold Podcast.

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What are you watching? Nothing right now.

What are you eating?

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I am obsessed with this strawberry licorice, it is amazing, and addicting. I made the mistake of keeping it at my office desk, and it didn’t last long…

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I am also going to a cocktail making class tonight! I currently only know how to make one cocktail so I am really hoping to expand my horizons a little.

What are you wearing?

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I am loving my UGG boots. They are super warm and cozy and make the perfect “commuter’ boot. I think they are super cute and perfect for getting around town when I don’t want to wear my huge Bogs winter boots. Winter is long here and having winter shoes you love makes such a big difference!

What are you looking forward to?

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We are teaching our first 2019 YLYC class this weekend and I can’t wait to meet everyone! Teaching is one of my very favorite parts of my work and I always get excited about meeting a new group of photography friends when we teach our beginner class. We have quite the class lineup this winter and spring and it is exciting to think about how much our classes have grown and being able to watch so many amazing photographers blossom in the process.

I hope you are having a great start to your week. ❤

Wednesday Randomness | Podcast Recommendations by Category

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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! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear | Book Review

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Last week I posted a book discussion about Small Animals. I received a lot of feedback on my Instagram feed about how much this book connected with so many of its readers.  I finished this book last night and I have to say, it is one of the one most meaningful and thought-provoking books I have ever read about parenting.

Small Animals resonated so deeply with me. She shared the story with what happened with her son but also researched and explored the broader topic of how fear has become such a big part of how we parent in today’s society. Are we afraid to let our kids go out and explore, walk alone to a friends house or play at a park because we think something will happen? Or are we afraid because we are told we should be, and we might also be afraid of the judgments we might receive if we do? And what happens when we don’t let kids make some decisions, navigate the tricky waters of childhood friendship, and build their own confidence of “I did this!” by figuring something out by trial and error. Brooks presented a fascinating discussion about this topic and I will be thinking about this for years to come.

I also appreciated that Brooks was able to look at this from her place of privilege and how much this could impact not only the reaction but the consequences of one’s actions. Brooks walked us through her own story and also what played into her “lighter” sentence and I appreciated so much that she was able to have perspective about this and also share stories about other women who were not treated as humanely.

Another huge part of this book that I connected so much with what her discussion of postpartum anxiety. There is a lot of discussion about postpartum depression now and I am so happy that this is becoming something that is being “normalized” as it is something that affects many. There hasn’t been as much about postpartum anxiety and I don’t think I have ever read something that resonated so deeply for me. I suffered from crippling anxiety after the birth of our first son. Brooks shares so vividly and honestly about how the anxiety that began with her pregnancy spread and grew much stronger with the arrival of her son…

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There were many other aspects of this book that I just thought was so thought-provoking and important not just as a working mother myself but as a member of our society. I highly recommend this book and think anyone who is a parent or spends time with children would benefit from reading it.

Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear | Book Conversation

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Quoted from Goodreads.com:

“One morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and spur her to investigate the broader role America’s culture of fear plays in parenthood. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? Why have our notions of what it means to be a good parent changed so radically? In what ways do these changes impact the lives of parents, children, and the structure of society at large? And what, in the end, does the rise of fearful parenting tell us about ourselves?”

This week I started listening to Small Animals on Audible and I am now about halfway through. This book came highly recommended from many of my peers and it has not disappointed.  Brooks is a talented writer who not only shares a memoir type style story of her own journey as a mother but also presents a well researched look at modern parenting in America. She shares about the challenges we face today as mothers ourselves and also how this affects the  relationships with have with our children and with one another.

I have found this book to be very relatable and find myself nodding frequently as I listen along. Parenting no longer feels like something we just do in the privacy of our own homes and this idea that the world is watching as we parent can sometimes feel completely debilitating. Between the worries, fears, pressures, expectations, and frequent judgments (from one another and also sometimes from ourselves) it sometimes feels like you can’t win. Brooks is a wonderful narrator and not only is this book really resonating with me but it has also given me a lot to think about in my experience as parent in today’s society.  I look forward to discussing this more when I finish.

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts!

-Genevieve