You’re not insane, you’re not wrong, you’re not broken, and you’re not a terrible parent or a terrible worker if you’re having a hard time getting work done while also sustaining the full-time job of caring for a baby. Taking care of a baby is a huge job, one that requires the work of multiple adults. But instead, we ask women to do it all, without help or support, and then to work additional jobs on top of the round-the-clock work of childcare. It’s impossible.
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Most of the parents I know are still not okay. When I think about why my brain feels broken and how tired I am, I start to see how this fatigue and burnout is part of a much larger puzzle. It’s not just the pandemic that wore us down, although that’s a huge part. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of many forces, all layered on top of each other. As a result, it feels like we’re carrying loads of sandbags around with us at all times. We carry the weight of all that we’ve been through. It’s a particular set of layers that I’m now referring to as the five layer dip. Here’s why we still feel so broken.
What we went through last year, and what we are still going through, is beyond comprehension and imagination. Many pandemic parents are still trying to survive, out of work, and picking up the pieces from last year. Many more are grieving deeply, and some of us don’t have a clear roadmap for grief or recovery. Pandemic parents feel anything from grief to resilience, anger to exhaustion. We are not the same as before.
Dr. Kyl Myers holds a PhD in sociology and gender studies, and is an award-winning educator and a globally recognized advocate for gender creative parenting. Since 2016, Kyl has been speaking and writing about gender creative parenting and using their own parenting story to help the world learn about and embrace a new type of childhood. Dr. Myers is the author of Raising Them: Our Adventure In Gender Creative Parenting. Join us for a fascinating conversation about parenting, gender, and what we can do as parents to help reduce gender violence, oppression against women and men, and create a more playful world.
A few years ago, when we first had children, my husband talked to his workplace about parental leave. He knew that while he’d like to be home during the first few weeks during and after the birth, he was also interested in being able to be around with his kids while they grew up. So, the summer after our first kid was born, he shifted his schedule to work from 8am to 4pm. From there, he advocated for taking a four-week leave every summer to spend time with his kids. We’re not taking a full sabbatical this year because of the pandemic, but we will still push pause on a few things where we can.
When coronavirus first happened, many of us were adjusting to figuring out the shut down. How long would it last? Would this just be a week or two? What were the next steps? For many of you reading this blog and listening to the podcast, you have also been trying to figure out your birth plans. How do you give birth in a pandemic? What do you plan for, when everything keeps changing? Here’s what Megan Hale did when she found out her husband and mother both tested positive for the flu the week before she was due to give birth.
I’ve given my three year old my laptop to reply to your incoming emails right now. My one-year old might also be chiming in. I’m having a hard time keeping them away from the keyboard. Don’t worry, I’ve invented a magical device that can also translate their thoughts and actions into words. As of Sunday, they are now responsible for my inbox. You can consider them my new personal assistant.
How do you push the reset button—that ability to feel like you’ve had a fresh cup of coffee, a good night of sleep, and you’re ready to go at work? While we’re all clawing at sanity and sobbing quietly into our fourteenth cup of coffee, it’s really hard to find the capacity to work and keep your head above water right now. Today’s episode is for anyone trying to find a semblance of sanity amidst all of this. If you’re stuck, feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you’re in a rut—here are a few things that are working for me.
I’m Really Sorry I Keep Texting You To Check And See If My Advice Was Useful—I Have No Ability To Self Regulate Because We’re In The Middle Of A Pandemic
I have 83 unread messages on my phone, and my family keeps checking in. I want to write back, but my toddler is mashing cheerios in the couch, and the last time I went pee, he took the gel crayons and drew all over the new carpets. I put stain remover on them and texted my husband, “I shouted them!” The message was not clear. “Who did you shout at?” he replied. The pandemic is not going well.
My first child was born on Mothers’ Day, 2016, the day before our anniversary. It blew me open, ripped my birth canal vagina more than I would have liked, and turned so much of my life upside down. So many of you are about to become mothers for the first, second, third time. You’re doing it in the middle of a pandemic, in the midst of changing rules and ideas, amidst a sea of changing information. Motherhood, in many ways, feels like a pandemic. The strange thing about the last four months is this eerie sense I have that this already feels familiar. I’ve been here before. We’ve been here before.
Begin writing a post that says “Working parents are not okay.”‘ Delete sentences because no one is okay. There isn’t really a comparison game to be played here. Call your friend and realize that you’re having trouble stringing words together. Hang up the telephone because both of your children and pushing buttons on the phone and you can’t actually have a real conversation while children and buttons are in close proximity. What was it that they said? “Opening my computer is like a pavlovian response for my child.” Yeah, that.
For many of you, there isn’t anything we can control, push, or organize to change the world around us. It’s maddening, but it also has an upside: we can release the pent-up energy of wanting things to change and trust that things will change, eventually, at some point. Sometimes, releasing the pressure of having to do something can release us to find tiny moments of joy—or at least contentment—inside of the space we’re in.
I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it mighty hard to even get started in the morning. I know these last episodes have all been about finding patterns and rituals amidst the madness, and it’s for a reason—finding my new normal (or a sense of it) is all I feel like I can do right now.
Making sense of days that make no sense requires new patterns, habits, and routines. For me, trying to muddle through the cacophony of work and children and non-stop days at home is very, very challenging to my brain. So, to help, I’ve been building small rituals into the day to start to cue myself that yes, work is happening now, and yes, it’s a new day.
Every morning lately, I’ve been posting a selfie to my Facebook page and my Instagram page. Right now it feels like going to the coffee shop—I get to pop in, say good morning to people all around the world, check-in with my neighbors and parents and friends, and then start the day.
Anxiety and worry can wear down on you and your nervous system. It makes sense that you will feel exhausted through it all. It’s likely that you all will be hit by waves of exhaustion. Navigating children at home, caretaking, designing new strategies for work, going into overdrive with your businesses, taking care of employees, sprinting on strategies, and everything you’ve got going on is hard. Here’s permission to sleep (or at least take a tiny cat nap).
It’s hard enough being a working mom—or a working parent—by the end of the day I’m usually hiding in an unmade bed somewhere, scarfing cookies while watching terribly trashy television like The Bachelor or The Voice and trying to find a quiet moment to myself. After 14 hours on non-stop duty from 5:00am until 7:30pm, my resilience and my willpower are depleted. But here’s why it’s important to not compare yourself to others around you as a new parent or a working mom.
If you can, bring a group of people together for a dinner or a virtual hangout to talk about the challenges facing working parents. Here are the ways we gather together in community at Startup Pregnant, plus ten conversation starters to use for your own deep-dive. Use them to gather people together. Have everyone share what comes up for them. Sometimes sharing your story is the shift you need to make the next month a whole lot better.
Right now, February, I’m in the middle of launch season, my biggest program is shipping out, I’ve got two more products in the works, and also—we’re in the middle of moving as a family, and the kids are switching schools in a couple of days. Basically, you know how the story goes: there’s a lot going on. There’s always a lot going on. How do you deal with the overwhelm? By adopting this mindset framework I love.
There’s more to life than money. Yes, money is an important metric and a useful tool—but it’s just a tool. Here are three things to grow rich in throughout your life, and they aren’t necessarily about money at all.
I don’t think I was prepared for how exhausting and lonely parenting can be. Despite having active young kids and constantly playing with them, I still found myself longing for time to myself. Time to think, and time to talk to other adult humans about things beyond parenting. Then I stumbled across this concept.
There are so many ways to work—what happens if you’re a performer, and your body, image, and athleticism are your livelihood? Tanya Birl-Torres is a dancer, performer, and choreographer who spent a decade on stages, performing in Broadway shows like The Lion King. She performed throughout her first pregnancy and was back on stage quickly after the birth of her daughter. Here’s her story.
This Fall, I took a break from podcasting for three months to focus on writing projects. It turns out “doing it all” isn’t possible, not here, not anywhere—not for me, at least. In my experience, there is always a priority, and you either choose or it chooses for you. This Fall, I took a hiatus from podcasting to focus on writing. Here’s the latest update—and our newest minibook.
For our fall podcast hiatus, Sarah’s on a break so she can focus on writing. In this first update, she shares how much changed even in the first week of making a decision to pause—and why making space was so important. (Plus, a huge piece of hers was published in Harvard Business Review the week she decided to pause—coincidence? You decide!)
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