Prioritizing Parental Self-Care and Work/Life Balance

Working mom in home office while daughter wants her attention

About this Podcast Episode

On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss the concepts of self-care and work/life balance for parents. They talk about where these concepts came from, their importance, and ways to integrate them into our busy lives.

About the Hosts

Angela Nelson, Ed.D., BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of both typically developing children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by RethinkCare

If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if RethinkCare is a part of your employer-provided benefits. RethinkCare reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Welcome to episode 40 of Behaviorally Speaking, a podcast featuring board-certified behavior analysts Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi. On this episode, they talk about where the concepts of self-care and work/life balance came from, why they are important, and ways to integrate them into our busy lives. And now, here are your hosts, Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi.

Angela Nelson: Hello and welcome to our fortieth episode of Behaviorally Speaking. I’m one of your hosts Angela Nelson a board-certified behavior analyst and mother of two.

Kristin Bandi: And I’m Kristen Bondi also a board-certified behavior analyst and mother of three. We did it, we got to 40 that’s amazing.

Angie: I know.

Kristin: Wow.

Angie: I don’t know how many years this is going on now I think this is somewhere in our third year or something, but yeah that’s pretty crazy.

Kristin: I feel like 50 is going to be like our milestone number you know we’re going to like throw a party or something or just I don’t know what? what should we do for 50? Something fun I know?

Angie: Yes, um I don’t know well it’s going to be in this next year and we’re planning content for next year so we’re gonna figure it out soon.

Kristin: Yeah, so that’s yeah I don’t have to be a really extra special episode that should be actually all of our bloopers and just a blooper episode. There’s a lot of those.

Angie: Oh God there are there are a ton. A lot of like sounds right like whrup whrup.

Kristin: Yeah like what is that or like pterodactyl cats or leaf blowers or vacuums or whatever is happening in the background. Yeah.

Angie: Well, so let’s get into our topic for today we’re going to talk about two kind of similar topics things that kind of go together; parental self-care and work/life balance.

History of Work/life Balance

Angie: So, kind of getting into it, where did this concept come from I should say the work/life balance piece in particular so that’s been around for several decades. It’s kind of this concept started to be talked about more and more. Back in the 1970 s it was called work family life balance when more women were joining the workforce and there were some societal pressures for equal labor opportunities and conditions and then coupled with some general shifts in work industries and overall attitudes towards gender roles and that resorted into more attention around this concept of work/life balance. So, we are now moving into, or we’ve transitioned from this work family life balance into just what we know of it today is work/life balance. Since our personal lives are not just limited to our family needs or familial needs. So, one is work/life balance so there are a couple researchers that have studied it. There’s one group I gosh every time I say this I’m, so I probably say the name wrong, but it’s Kalliath and Brough back in 2008 here’s kind of a synthesis of their definition. So, there’s two domains in life. There’s work and there’s personal I’d argue there are more than that, but for the purposes of describing some historical perspective. They say there’s two and both need attention. And definitely the idea is to not be at the sacrifice of each other. We have different roles in our life and the demands in one role can absolutely creep into the other especially with this work from home concept and. We saw that quite a bit during the pandemic. So, the authors say that we should feel satisfied with our performance in our roles and that this performance should not conflict. You know the performances in these two roles and so work/life balance should be considered as this degree of autonomy. That’s where we can have this autonomy over demands and have this capacity to meet our goals, so this is kind of you know more of an academic sense. But what that means kind of general terms is we want to make sure that we’ve got a little bit of a balance among all the roles in our lives. That’s kind of the goal I know I’ve heard a couple researchers also say that balance is not always realistic and maybe we don’t strive for balance, but we’re just striving for doing the best we can with the circumstances and the resources that we have across all of our different roles. These days we’re all wearing a lot of hats. So, I would argue that it really is just how do we balance things the best that we can and be as you know successful as we can and feel good about our roles and our abilities. Um, it’s a little side note my husband and I, and I probably mention this on the podcast, my husband and I often talk about you know not feeling like we’re doing a good job in any of our roles because we have so many things that we’re balancing and that’s not a good feeling right? So, I think what we’re going to talk about today is taking care of yourself being able to find somewhat of a balance and just feel okay with you know our roles and um you know giving ourselves a little bit of compassion.

Kristin: Yeah oh that sounds that just makes so much sense and I never really thought about, you know balance not like everyone thinking oh work/life balance meaning equal right? But like it’s never going to actually be equal so it’s just such a good way to look at it.

Angie: Yeah.

Why Is Work/Life Balance Important?

Kristin: So, before we get into the tips. Let’s talk a little bit about why it’s important right? So why are we even thinking about work/life balance. Why are we even talking about this and. That goes back to the old metaphor of you know you have to put your oxygen mass on first before you put your children on or you have to fill up your tank first or your cup first before you can fill up someone else’s so it’s just really important to think about these things and overall you might have lower levels of fatigue if you’re able to you know balance these things. You might have better health outcomes and ultimately the goal is that maybe you’re spending more time with your loved ones or you’re feeling like you’re doing well in all the areas like Angie had mentioned you know sometimes you feel like I don’t know if I’m doing well in anything right? But maybe taking a step back and thinking about how are you approaching this, and you know how well are you doing you might be doing better than you think right? So, um it’s all really important for us to focus on this.

Angie: Yeah absolutely that kind of ties into one little thing I want to mention before we kick off the tips anytime we’re thinking about behavior change for ourselves or for our kids or when we’re thinking of what new skills our kids might need to learn. We want to start off by kind of doing a mini assessment so asking ourselves; what does work/life balance mean to us you know and kind of think about that for a minute. What is a quote unquote good work/life balance for you and asking yourself do you like where you’re at right now if you feel like yeah I’m doing well I’m able to kind of juggle all the different responsibilities I feel like I have some good flow and some good balance then, yeah awesome!

Kristin: You’re doing it, yeah.

Angie: That’s wonderful. You’re doing it. You’re yeah you’re succeeding, I feel like more times than not though when I talk to parents this is an area of opportunity that they want to improve and hence why we’re talking about it today.

Kristin: Yes yeah exactly I feel like there’s always a little bit that can be tweaked or a little bit that can be done just to feel ultimately feel better right? About the way that you’re kind of spending your time. So, it’s definitely a big one that we talk a lot about.

Tips for Work/Life Balance

Tip #1: Self-Assessment of Your Work/Life Balance

Kristin: So, getting into the tips I think the first thing to consider and makes sense right to be first is to do a little self-assessment so figure out where are you right? So, how are you getting enough sleep or do you have that to do list. That’s beside you but you never look at it right? Or you or are you getting everything done on your to-do list or do you spend any time for yourself, or do you feel really guilty when you do that. So, then you don’t do that right? So, there’s all these things that we want to take into consideration when we’re trying to identify how we can have an appropriate work/life balance. Yeah and then I think along with that thinking about well what are some of the barriers that are happening for you that are getting in the way of you achieving the level of balance that you want, and you know it’s going to be different for everybody, but maybe you have a really demanding job and you have five children. Okay those are going to be some barriers there. You’re going to have to make some decisions on how you’re going to spend your time, so I feel like it just depends on you and what your barriers might be but it’s always helpful to just maybe write those down and think about it ahead of time.

Angie: Yeah I imagine the big barrier is going to be time which we’ll talk about in a minute.

Kristin: Yeah time is always the barrier. There’s never enough time.

Tip #2: Identify Your Values

Angie: Yeah absolutely so the next thing that we that we’re suggesting to do is

to identify your values and so values. Are kind of how you want to behave as a human being It’s what you feel is really important to you. It’s not about what you want or what you want to achieve. It’s about how you act on an ongoing basis and what you care about? It’s how you want to treat yourself how you want to. Present yourself how you want to treat others and the world around you just you know what’s important to you. So, for example I think we were talking about before you know it was important for you to attend that first muffins with moms’ event or muffins with dad event. You know at school, but you have an eight thirty a.m. meeting right? So those are I think establishing what your values are really is a good framework to go forward to use to kind of drive how you might approach making tweaks in your work/life balance or improving your work/life balance right? Because you do need to kind of first figure out do that mini assessment and then figure out what’s important to you right? Is it important that you go on some field trips with your kids is it important that you’re at every meeting on time one hundred percent ready to go. What is it that you care about, and you know no judgment. It’s it is what is important to you and so you need to kind of identify that and think about that first and foremost.

Kristin: Yeah and I kind of see this being I know we’re talking a lot about balance right? but I almost feel like this could be a little bit of a balancing act also, right? like even though you find your values like okay it’s important for me to go to muffins with mom which by the way minus Friday, this Friday morning is muffins with mom for my kindergartner. That’s where that came from, but our school starts so early that it’s at seven thirty, so it doesn’t compete with anything for me, um I know, but yeah so maybe you could I have two thoughts here one being you could think well. Okay I really it’s really important that I go to that muffins with mom because it’s the very first one and I really want to go but there might be something else that comes along that work is more important right? So, you’re like okay I’m not going to attend that field trip because actually I have this really great meeting that I really want to attend and so it might not be an all or nothing right? It’s not like I’m going to attend all my kids’ events because my kids are more important right? or I’m going to do all the work stuff. So, I mean I know that’s kind of the idea here, but I was just kind of thinking about that as you were saying it like well you might have to just take turns you know I feel like sometimes that might be the way that you make decisions.

Angie: Yeah I mean I think what boils down to is. It’s not easy. It’s you know it’s an internal struggle I think for a lot of people you know like how do you choose? It’s like your livelihood your job where you make your income that you need to support your family, or you know do you attend event because your child you know you want to be there for your child. That’s hard.

Kristin: And I think the other thought that I was having on this too is being okay with your decision right? I feel like a lot of times I don’t know about you, but I definitely might say oh I really want to do that field trip. But oh man there was this thing at work that I really needed to do too, and you know one might go back on their decisions. This actually happened to me I will say it was It was just like a really busy week, and I was gonna I was gonna work, was going to um do my kids’ field trip and I think there was something else that was happening too and I was like I feel like I need to cancel something and I was like should I just not go field trip and I’m like no this is the first field trip that I’ve ever attended like I’m absolutely going to do that and I probably you know changed something else but I had that exact struggle where I was like I committed to something my kid and then I was like oh I don’t know so I can totally this is just such. It is a difficult decision a lot of the time.

Angie: It reminds me of our parent guilt or mom guilt you know topics that we’ve done and it kind of goes back to where you sometimes feel crummy about both you know like there’s never really a good decision you know like it feels like you are sacrificing one or another I know a lot of parents feel this way too. It’s kind of a crummy feeling.

Kristin: Yeah well we’ll get into some more tips to combat that a little bit because I think there are ways right? That’s it’s hard to make the decision. It’s important to identify your values but there are some tweaks and minor you know things that you can do to maybe change things a little bit, so you feel better about your balance.

Tip #3: Identify Time Being Spent

Kristin: One of those is going to be maybe taking a step back and identify the time that you spend doing all of the things you’re doing So How much time do you spend. On social media for example, that’s a really good one and thankful for us or thankful for technology now that it tracks it for you. It’ll tell you how much time did you spend on that app so you can look and see how much time am I spending on my social media or um what are some potential time savers for me right? So, you guys might have all heard my vacuum cleaner in the backgrounds earlier in the intro which it ties in very nicely right here because I just had to have my house cleaners here because I’m working, and I have three kids and there’s no way you know that I can get it all done so really just thinking about how much time am I spending on things and if one of those things is cleaning right? I spend I actually say this all the time I don’t know about u energy. But I say all the time I’m like I feel like my whole life is cleaning all I do is clean. All I do is laundry. Like if I have to unload the dishwasher one more time this to today you know.

Angie: Oh, but if you’re once your kids get older though like the amount of you know my kids have a lot of chores and that really helps.

Kristin: So, it is important I know yes I am so close to this like mine are so close and we always talk about this right? Like you should start chores with your kids like when they’re tiny and actually that’s a good time to start chores because they’re so excited about them right? Like when you wait like parker right now is seven and so when I’m like hey you need to put your own laundry away and feed the dog and you know do all these things. He’s kind of like okay you know but like Theo who’s two is like you know wants to do everything. He can’t really do it but like he would unload the dishwasher right now if I let him. So yeah everything would break. But you know.

Angie: Yeah well so that’s a good one like identify the time you spend doing all the stuff and all the things. Absolutely.

Kristin: Um yeah and you can use that then right? So, you can I think the point of that is you use that then to make decisions right? So, wow I’m spending so much more time on social media than I thought I was or oh I’m actually spending so much more time on organizing my desk why don’t I get a better system going right? like think about like where how are you spending your time I think that’s really important.

Tip #4: Stay Organized Personally and Professionally

Angie: Yeah absolutely so that kind of goes nicely into our next topic too when we think about balance work left balance and just self-care taking care of ourselves as parents one thing to think about is staying organized or getting organized both personally, and professionally so a couple things to think about and I’ve heard a lot of people say this so there’s definitely some validity in this at least Anecdotally clean up the kitchen in the morning have maybe breakfast planned and prepped the night before, but if you can come home at night I know a lot of people feel just ah little sense of calm when they come home, and they’ve put in that extra work in the morning to get it done if you come home to a messy kitchen you’re already starting with not a blank canvas and then you’re gonna just add you know dinner dishes and things like that, that’s just I think visually that’s very overwhelming so that’s not going to do anything to help yourself care or help your balance.

Kristin: Yeah so I have the opposite of this. Um I know we have talked about this many times but a messy kitchen for me is like ah I don’t know what it is, but I will say I have the opposite for me you know sometimes at the end of the day I might be so tired I’m like I just do not want to and there might even be only a few dishes or things on the counter but I’m like I just I don’t have the energy to do it, but then I tell myself okay this is just going to take five minutes like just put it away or do what you need to do and in my kitchen we have like an island and it’s like if that island is clean and I wake up in the morning and the island is clear I’m like instantly in a good mood, but if I wake up and there’s just like toys and food and who knows who knows what’s on that island right? Um, and then I’m like no and the whole day. That’s it, the whole day’s ruined for me.

Angie: Yeah, yeah it’s you know it brings me back to what you said initially right like us do a little mini assessment I think there’s a lot of value in knowing yourself knowing what makes you get irritated right? And like you’re a very introspective person right? Like you know what makes, what kind of irks you or what makes you feel in a good mood. There’s a lot of value and taking a moment to kind of assess that like if you know that mess just automatically throws you into a tailspin or you have you’re more likely to get agitated easily and you have less, what’s the word I’m thinking of, just patience for…

Kristin: Um, tolerance. Yeah right.

Angie: Yes tolerant then that can drive some of your behavior change right? like okay I know I get irritated I’m just gonna spend that five minutes do that. So, when I wake up in the morning it’s fresh I feel better just seeing that, so you know that’s just one of those funky things about being a human like there are some things you can do to kind of you know manipulate your environment and kind of change the way you think and feel.

Kristin: Yeah.

Tip #5: Visual Schedules and Routines

Angie: So yeah other things in terms of getting organized visual schedules for chores and routines. This is really helpful for kids I don’t think I’ve passed a single webinar or a podcast opportunity without plugging like how important charts chores are I just think it’s for so many reasons, but if your kids don’t have any chores I really encourage you to think about not only just helping with the household management and sharing the duties, but it’s a great life skill you know.

Kristin: Totally.

Angie: You’re not going to be going over to your child’s house at 35 and doing their laundry for them. Well maybe you will I don’t know.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah who knows?

Angie: But you might know you don’t want to.

Kristin: Yeah if you want to fine. But if not then let’s start young have them start putting it away or do it. Yeah.

Angie: Yeah, chores so getting into the routine, so things runs more smoothly and that everybody understands what the expectations are creating realistic to do lists and I think keyword there is realistic.

Kristin: Um, yes yeah.

Angie: Prioritizing that list see if you can remove barriers model organization your kids and your teens so we know that there’s temperament and just different personality types that kind of lend themselves to whether you’re naturally more organized or you know you know as a major or a kid or maybe you’re okay with disorganization. But if you can model it as an adult that can be very helpful change.

Kristin: I wanted to ah jump in on there on something. Do you find that um some of this is it like you had said is a little bit innate and you see it in your kids? Because my I mean Theo’s too young but like my daughter she would just like you know put everything in its place and like oh this have to go here and wait this has to go here and I think I told you the day she was like packing her lunch and her brother’s lunch and you know it was like all organized and then my son. It’s just like everything all over the floor. It’s like an explosion in there when he’s like getting dressed I’m like what did you do and it’s just like complete night and day. So, I feel like a little bit of this too is just like kind of how you I don’t know maybe it goes back to like she’s probably going to be like me later and she’s going to be like ah I you know my room is messy I don’t know you know whereas he is going to be like whatever it’s fine. It’s messy I’ll trip over it.

Angie: Oh yeah a hundred percent ah I do I do think that there’s it’s personality types because my kids grew up in the same environment. They have the same parents, but one kid is totally I mean I take picture as all I’ll text you later this this picture that I took more recently of one child’s bedroom versus the other one is like a tornado the other one is pristine. My younger one has the pristine room.

Kristin: Ah that’s funny. Yeah me too. What is that is this birth order. What’s going on.

Angie: I don’t know we should do a podcast on that.

Kristin: Yeah we really should yeah.

Angie: I have to say so quick side note I was I was really taken aback last night I was actually really proud of her. So, what happened was we were doing a bedtime routine. My older one typically gets distracted and it’s kind of off playing with the hamster doing other things. My younger one is like brush teeth, get ready. You know get the but the book ready but blah blah you know, and I saw my older one actually doing her routine and I wanted to kind of do that copy being good sort of concept that they do in school just to motivate her move her along and I could immediately see how that perked her up and she was excited. She got that praise, and she motored through her routine like a champ right? So those sort of things by the way a side note for families listening those things you know work typically very well, so I did that in my younger one was really offended by that, and she was she we had a really good conversation. She came to me crying later and she said mom when you gave my sister all that praise it made me feel like I wasn’t good, and I like to be the one that feels like I’m the organized one and she kind of did this thing with her hand where she’s like I feel like I’m up here and my sister is you know down here and I’m like wow this is really interesting how she is conceptualizing all this because I tried to give her a lot of praise like oh I Love how you’re so organized. You’re my shopping buddy. You can run the whole household.

Kristin: Right? Yeah, wow.

Angie: Um. you know, and she literally could um, but she was getting she was seeing her sister get praised for that sort of thing that she usually gets praised for and she I was so proud of her for coming in and kind of articulating that she’s like I like to be the one to get the praise for those things and you were giving it to my sister and not me and I felt like our roles were kind of shifting basically. So, I was like oh my gosh it did make me pause and think about the way that I um explain her role in the family in what I give her praise for and how she compares herself to her sister. She likes that and she wants to maintain that position in the family. So, I don’t know that was this a little detour but that happened last night.

Kristin: Wow and that there are so many layers there right? Like it’s almost like she was like organization started to become like her identity right? She’s like I’m the organized one. So therefore, you cannot be the organized one. Ah that’s my role.

Angie: Yeah. Yes exactly.

Kristin: And yeah and then like the sibling competitiveness that kind of falls in line with that too. So, it’s just like so many different things but you know what I was thinking as you were telling that story, so she is articulate enough to explain it to you right? But I feel like we get this a lot with little kids who are a little bit younger and they’re not able to say that so then when their brother or their sister is praised for something they have this big meltdown and parents were like what was that? What’s going on you know, and it just makes me think that hmm I wonder how often that might be going on in our in their little minds, but some kids just can’t say it yet. So yeah wow.

Angie: Yeah it’s a good point. My kids do say that they equate me giving praise to one kid with oh you know why did why didn’t you give me praise or they feel like it’s a bad thing. It’s like no it doesn’t really have anything to do with you I was just your sister did something great and I gave her praise it doesn’t mean that you’re bad or that you know you did something wrong.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie:. So that’s I think that’s kind of natural sibling rivalry. But my takeaway from that is I really need to think a little bit more about the words that I use the way that I’m kind of creating these personas and these roles in the family and I just I want to make sure that I’m getting ahead of this and not creating a problem.

Kristin: Right? Wow yeah such good sidebar advice I’m like wow It’s so smart. Yeah.

Angie: So anyways yeah little detour um well speaking yeah wrapping up whole getting organized personally and professionally I guess it was applicable right?

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: But you know, lastly in terms of work/life balance you know thinking about managing your time Kristen you and I have been doing quite a bit of workplace neurodiversity consultations lately and kind of talking a lot about executive functioning organization focus time management with employees and that’s such a big topic that we’ve been discussing right now is you know being able to manage your time protecting your time. Maybe it means you’re shutting off all your other communication channels so you can get in the flow. Ah prioritizing things that need to get done coding them green, yellow, red right? like what house they so whatever systems you know maybe you’re use you’re leveraging technology to help you with this or to just be more efficient definitely be aware of time wasters though, um being able to integrate breaks in there. But, yeah all this comes down to is taking a pause really thinking about your organizational systems and how you can get more organized will definitely help you know with your overall work/life bounds and just you know taking care of yourself.

Kristin: Yea, yeah these are also good, and I will say that a couple of the calls I’ve had recently I think one of the biggest barriers here and in fact I had this exact call earlier today. So, it’s fresh on my mind but this person was saying you know I will I recognize that I need to stop working right? I need to stop and um, but I can’t stop because I’m almost done, and I know it’s five o’clock and I know I need to stop and I’m just going to keep going because if I don’t spend the extra hour then all I’m going to do is think about it for the next eight hours, so I know that I just need to finish it. You know and then I can move on to the next thing that I need to do and so we were having a discussion on is that okay right like at what cost is the is there potentially if you do that and so obviously what we landed on is maybe you can do that sometimes but not all the time. So again, it’s just all about that balance where it’s like sometimes you might be grooving on something, and you don’t have anything else to do so you’re like I don’t have to stop right now I can keep going other times. It’s like no I have to attend my daughter’s recital right? I have to stop right so, it’s just interesting because you know we can schedule out the breaks and managing your time, but I think one of the bigger barriers sometimes for people is actually sticking to it so sticking to what you set aside for yourself.

Angie: Yeah absolutely I think that goes back to the values right?

Kristin: Totally.

Angie: If you’ve identified your values. It might be a little easier for you to stick to something or know when you need to cut it off.

Tip #6: Self-Care

Kristin: Right? Yeah and I think that goes into the next one that we you know it’s very related if you’re going to have an appropriate work/life balance and part of that balance is going to be self-care and it’s a huge you know everyone’s talking about it. It’s something. That’s really we all know it’s very important, but it seems to be one of those things that’s hard to do it makes sense right? Because typically most people at least I know I do although I shouldn’t like I’ll put myself last right? I’ll feed all my kids my family before I eat, or you know that’s just one example, so I feel like it’s hard to put yourself first when you have limited time.

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: So, a couple things you can do one idea that I like, and I suggest frequently is to have like a virtual commute right? So, if you work from home or you know I guess working from home, yeah if you work from home give yourself maybe 30 minutes in the morning or 30 minutes after you’re done with work and listen to a podcast walk around your house or listen to music or do whatever you want to do, but you’re having like ah the commute time that you don’t normally get. You’re using that time for something for you I think it can be really, really helpful.

Angie: Yeah I love that idea.

Kristin: Yeah and then other ways for self-care you know journaling or meditation. There’s of course working out or doing yoga working out is one thing that we talked about I know we talked about this in the mom guilt episode, and I really value my time personally working out. It’s not that I mean I do like to work out, but I really love and like most people I love the way I feel after.

Angie: Yeah.

Kristin: So, I make sure that I position my workout, so it is right before I get my kids from daycare. So, it’s like I’ve worked out I go get my kids and then I do the rest of the things that I need to do for the rest of the evening you know. Whereas some people and I think you do this right, like some people just wake up and work out like you. They just want to get it out of the way get them going for the day I just can’t I can’t do that I just can’t I don’t know how do you do that right.

Angie: Okay. Yeah, well you know it works it works for you. You know like you’re and you’re intentional about it right? Like you do it at a specific time, it’s proceeding where you getting the kids you’re feeling great you can greet them in a good mood so yeah.

Tip #7: Volunteer

Kristin: Um yeah and then just a couple of things to think about which I you know other ways for self-care that are a little outside of the box that we don’t think about like volunteering right? So, doing something volunteering for somewhere or some charity or something that that is really meaningful to you and a great way to spend your time and of course reading for fun right? So, reading a book because you want to not because you have to and so those could be some things you can do oh and I think I’ve left the main tip out of this which is putting the time into the calendar. Oh boy.

Angie: Oh yeah, protecting your time.

Kristin: Yeah, put it into the calendar right? So, you’re going to protect the time to do it. So don’t just do the self, don’t just say I’m going to do these self-care activities but actually schedule them into your calendar. So, yeah that was the missing piece of that tip.

Angie: Yeah, I’ve talked with more parents than I anticipated about the concept of not feeling guilty taking care of yourself and you I think you said it perfectly which is right like you take care of making sure everybody gets fed before you I mean I don’t know how many times where I feed everybody and then there’s no food left. So, I just make like a peanut butter sandwich or whatever and I don’t really think anything of it. You know and I think that’s part of being a parent but um yeah the whole you need gas in the tank and if you’re just completely depleted because you’re giving all of yourself to your kids. That’s not good for your kids either you know and so permissioning yourself to do some self-care like it’s okay it’s actually our, I think our society is kind of switched where it’s encouraged to take care of yourself, and you shouldn’t feel guilty taking care of yourself because your kids need you to be an optimal condition.

Kristin: Right? Yeah exactly. 

Angie: Yeah the reading for fun too. I mean I think you probably can relate to this like going through like the whole grad school process I never wanted to see another book again in my life. But I’m starting to read again for fun and I’m hitting up the public library. Oh my gosh we’re there every week because luckily my kids you know love reading and got the Goodreads app that-

Kristin: Oh yeah!

Angie: I’m so I feel so nerdy like me and my friends will just oh what are you reading now I can you can code it want to read currently reading and finished and then you can see because I have got a couple of friends who every book they’ve recommended has been I’ve loved so I usually just kind of troll their reading their greet reading lists.

Kristin: Oh, I love that.

Angie: So nerdy, but I love it and it’s you know I like that my kids catch me reading too because it’s a good way to model healthy behaviors.

Kristin: Oh totally. Yeah we just got library cards. We, they were renovating the library in your us and there’s one so close and I got library cards for the kids and it was funny because I hadn’t had like ah I feel like I hadn’t had a library card in so long and I was like how does this work now you know the lady just looked at me and she’s like same as it always has here. You go here’s your card and I’m like oh wow that so it’s so funny. Yeah exactly like is this like one hundred and fifty bucks a month now like how do these things work.

Angie: Ah yeah like do I have to pay for this but you know I just came out last night because my daughter put a book on hold, and I ran over to get it and I had that thought like is it this concept of you just go in and you take something you just walk. You know you scan it, and you just walk out. You don’t have to pay anything. It really is such an underrated thing. I don’t know I mean the library is just like a beautiful thing.

Kristin: Right? Yeah I hope it’s around forever and ever and ever. Yeah yes.

Angie: But yeah kudos to public libraries.

Tip #8: Divide and Conquer

Angie: So, we’ve got we’ve got two more tips here before wrap up? Yeah um this one is about dividing and conquering. We certainly a lot of us I’m sure can relate to just trying to juggle everything I know we’ve got some people that are you know perfectionists or very conscientious. Want to do it all I know I’ve recognized something about myself which is I like that role or persona that has been. Kind of created over time which is I’m the friend or I’m the person that can just juggle a lot right? like I get it’s similar to what I was mentioning with my younger daughter I get a lot of satisfaction and I think my self-worth is somewhat driven by people, or you know recognizing that I’m the one that always is like organized, on time, can juggle a million things, can do all this stuff and like, that feels good to me when people acknowledge that, and I think that you know becomes problematic when I have a hard time delegating or I can’t admit that I need help. That’s you know something that that mini assessment can really help you and to know yourself know that aspect can become problematic. There’s a tipping point there.

Kristin: Um yeah.

Angie: It’s good to recognize right So, to be able to divide and conquer if you are a two-parent household or if you are one parent household and you have a friend or a family member you know that can be helpful to communicate your needs right? And especially if you have a partner or a spouse instead of saying like well you never or I’m always oh gosh I you know you and I’ve talked about this for years like the default parent right.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: But to say you know what I really could I really appreciate if you can help me with this that goes so much further that like you never help out you never know what’s on the school lunch and you blah blah blah right?

Kristin: Or to try to do it subtly right? Like the subtle ones don’t work either.

Angie: So yeah it’s not appreciated.

Kristin: So, like yeah like if I’m just like if I’m doing everything or like making dinner and like dealing with like a tantrum or doing all the things at once and if I get, you know I look over and I give like, the glare you know like, you know you could help out right?

Angie: Yeah the passive aggressive.

Kristin: But the glare doesn’t work either, it’s kind of like what?

Angie: I know it just hurts.

Kristin: So yeah you just got to be you just got to be direct.

Angie: Yeah in the moment. Yeah I absolutely acknowledge that I have done that so many times where I’m just like okay no problem I’ll just go ahead and handle this too.

Kristin: Yes, yes exactly.

Angie: Um you know it doesn’t I’m and trying to put myself in my husband’s shoes like that’s not that’s all the way to solve the problem because that makes him feel guilty and then he gets annoyed and yeah, so I’ve learned we’re going on what, 13 years of marriage? One of the things that I’ve learned over time is like you know what just to use the I statement. You know I really would love it if you can help me with this and he then is like well thanks for telling me? Yeah I’m happy to help out and boom. You know don’t have to have a fight about it. Choose tasks based on preferences I think we’ve talked about this before too right? Like some I get a lot of fulfillment out of cleaning making things organized. My husband could care less if the house looked like a pigsty.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: So, I might take on those things he might take on some of the other things you know like yeah.

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: So, breaking it up based on your preferences. Taking in consideration of availability of resources. So, this is a concept that I think is important to bring up which is 50/50 might not always work for all relationships or it may not always be the case you might have ah one partner that is let’s say starting a new job and that’s very and they may just not have as much capacity to do 50% and so maybe it is 80/20 for a little while um, you just have to have communication open communication and acknowledge like yes I am carrying you know a big burden or whatever it will switch eventually perhaps or permissions you to say you know what I need a day off and need to go take care of myself or spend some time with my friends so just recognize and be open if your community if your relationship is not 50/50 you don’t want to have any resentment there.

Kristin: Yeah I think that one’s important and by the way speaking of noise today, we just have a lot of noise happening, but now it’s raining. Um so what is that noise?

Angie: My gosh I was like what it sounds like something is jumbling around in your dryer.

Kristin: Yeah yup I’m not in the laundry room everybody it is currently raining, and we have a skylight in my office and its tin and every time it rains it just bing-bing-bing-bing-bing hits on that. So yeah, very eventful day over here. Um, but what I was going to say is if you it’s really important you know like we talked about doing that self-assessment if it’s not going to be 50/50 right like we’re like okay maybe one travels for work more than the other or something if it’s not going to be 50/50 plan out some time where you have for yourself right? So, like me personally I’ll do a girl’s night I’m like okay I have been you know dealing with all the things for two weeks now I’m having a girl’s night and I’m okay and I feel okay doing that and I’ll even go so far to have my girls’ night be after I put the baby in bed for example, right? Just to help out a little bit but I think that you know taking these things recognizing it can be so helpful.

Tip #9: Have a Safe Word When It’s Too Much

Angie: Absolutely yeah it’s definitely good. Good tip. So kind of wrapping up this one maybe considers coming up with a safe word when the load is getting too heavy. Do that proactively before you resort to the blowout or the you know um, passive-aggressive comments or behaviors so kind of again recognize assess be self-reflective and this is a skill that sometimes we have to develop over time but recognize that you’re getting to that point where you need to just tap out and say look can you please take over I’m feeling overwhelmed and I don’t want to escalate or just say something I don’t mean so you know you can come up at a at a calm time have a discussion come up with a safe word.

Tip #10: Learn When and How to Ask For Help

Angie: Um, and then lastly to kind of round it out, maybe it there’s some value in committing to learning how to ask for help and also accept that help because when you think about it if someone is offering to help you. It makes them feel good too right? They’re you know and I think it’s yeah it’s this concept that I think a lot of us for some reason I don’t know if it’s cultural, but a lot of times we’re not, we don’t ask for help or we don’t accept it and especially when you have kids it takes a village. It really takes a village. So yeah.

Kristin: Yeah I think that’s such an important point you make though like a lot of times people aren’t offering just to be nice right? Like sometimes they do get fulfilled with saying let me just watch your kids for you for the weekend or something right? I mean that’s a great one if that happens jump on it.

Angie: Woo hoo yea, hit the jackpot with that.

Kristin: Yeah but I feel like it’s that yeah you’re right? That’s twofold right? You want to make sure that you ask for help but also make sure you’re accepting it when somebody says that they can help you out with something. It’s easier said than done but really important. Um, yeah go ahead.

Angie: Yeah you know there’s like a I side note there’s this show on Netflix right now talking about blue zones in the different parts of the world. Blue zones are large concentration of concentration of centurions, people that have lived to 100 or beyond, yeah it’s really fascinating, and it’s written almost like a dissertation right? Like there’s different concepts and then they distill it down come up with themes and you know common threads and stuff but the thing that um that they found in a lot of areas is people have a sense of purpose and I tie it back to my mom and my mother-in-law. During this period of my life with kids and doing like a doctoral program and stuff like that I just didn’t want to admit that I needed help, but it is impossible to work be a doctoral student have two kids right?

Kristin: Yeah.

Angie: So, you have to ask for help, and I realized my mother-in-law said to me one day which was so insightful, she said it makes me get out of the bed and in the morning it makes me feel wanted and needed when you say hey it’s back to school night which it is tonight. Can you come over and watch the kids for an hour? Like I need that, and I know you do too, and I was like whoa light bulb moment. Yeah so I’m like okay I’m I reframed this concept for me in terms of asking for help and accepting it. It’s like she needs it too.

Kristin: Yeah that is so important, and I feel like it’s so again it kind of goes back to the first tip right? Like if you kind of take a step back and do a little bit of self-assessment you might realize like, who in my life actually would benefit from helping me right or actually wants to but maybe they don’t want to ask?

Angie: Yeah.

Tip #11: Be Aware if You Try to Do Everything

Kristin: Okay well we only have one more for you and we touched on it a little bit, but I guess we did touch on it mostly on the last one, but I think just being aware that if you’re the kind of person that’s trying to do everything right? And so I guess it’s kind of like what we just said but really figuring out where your limits are so I think that was one of the big things that you had said um you know I realized like I was doing the all of these really big things and I hit my limit even though my expectations for myself are much higher I’m recognizing like ah just I can’t do all those things, so I need to get some support. So, I think that can be really helpful.

Tip #12: Set Priorities for Yourself

Kristin: And then we talked a little bit about this too previously but really setting priorities for yourself and I talk with parents and even you know individuals about this but labeling your priorities not everything is a fire right? Like not everything is something that’s urgent and you have to put it out right away, but some things are urgent. Some things are important, some things you can do this week, I even read something recently that said like you can make your to do list where you have like suit like basically super important and then you have sooner or later so, everything goes in here sooner or later that’s not like absolutely pressing I have to get it done today and that’s a really nice way for you to kind of break these things up a little bit so, you can get out of that like I need to do everything if I don’t do everything like I’m so guilty at the end of the day so that can be really helpful too.

Angie: Yeah it’s funny because we have ah our one of our coworkers. The three of us kind of lead this clinical team and all three of us are kind of the same person and we all have the same sort of like hyper got to get it done super productive the super-efficient. So, it’s kind of funny when you have three people they’re all the same like everything needs to get done today and then it’s like well we end up being incredibly productive. But you know how we could probably also benefit from like you know loosening up a little bit.

Kristin: I know well the problem with that is then you have like similar expectations for anybody else around you. so, I’ll send like an email and it’s not it could be work related or even like personal right? Like I might send an email and I’m like why didn’t this person get back to me seven minutes later like this is ridiculous. Are they not staring at their inbox like I am?

Angie: I do, yeah I do recognize that about us where yeah I that is but it’s good, it’s good to be reflective of that right? It’s good to recognize like yeah you can’t hold everybody to those same standards just because the three of us tend to be that way.

Tip #13: Focus on the Big Picture

Kristin: Right? Yeah exactly? Um yeah, so I think we kind of hit all the tips on there, but I think one of the one of the other parts of that is maybe focusing on the big picture right? So, kind of around it all out you know I think if you identify well what are my values, how am I going to make sure I have that appropriate work/life balance and then look at things from the big picture. So, sometimes if you can get if you’re too stuck in the moment by moment right? You’re like oh no I didn’t do that, or I didn’t do that or ah you know and you kind of have those feelings sometimes if you take a step back and you look at the whole week or the whole month right? You might realize like wow huh I actually did pretty well right? Things lined up for me and I’m doing a pretty good job.

Angie: That’s a great, great point.

Kristin: Alright, well thank you for joining us for our 40th episode of Behaviorally Speaking. On our next episode we will be discussing teenagers. So, until then don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform so you never miss an episode.

You’ve been listening to Behaviorally Speaking, with Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi, brought to you by RethinkCare. Find out more at RethinkCare.com. You can find past podcast episodes under the Resources tab. We also invite you to subscribe, follow, like, and leave us feedback wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us prepare topics and content for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day.

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