What Moms Can Do Now

My heart is heavy with the injustice and cruelty that we in the United States are witnessing. 

Sometimes we don’t know what to say and so we don’t say anything.

Now is not the time to stay silent.  

It’s time to stand with those demanding justice through peaceful protest. 

It’s time to look at what we can do. 

In the world, in our communities, and in our families. 

As mothers, we have the vitally important role of cultivating the beliefs of the next generation.

Let’s plant the seeds of equality, love, understanding, tolerance, and anti-racism in the minds and hearts of our children.  

It begins with us. 

In our homes and in our hearts. 

Much love,
Charise  

How to Make Everything Easier as a Working Mom

I’ve noticed a pattern in the working moms that I coach. They have a voice in their heads that tells them exactly what they have to do to be the “Perfect Mom.” At the same time, another voice tells them how to be the “Perfect Professional”.

These two voices are often at odds with each other, which makes many women feel stuck and even defeated. There’s no way to win. 

But these two voices have something in common. They both stem from patriarchal ideas about what a woman’s life should look like. 

The motherhood voice tells us that we need to: 

  • attend to everyone else’s needs and desires before our own; 
  • always be available; 
  • always be present, engaged, and energetic with our kids; 
  • make homemade organic everything from scratch; 
  • always keep our kids entertained with super-educational, creative activities, playdates, and experiences;
  • be strong and take care of everything on our own; 
  • have a Pinterest-worthy home; and 
  • live an Instagram-worthy life. 

The voice opining about career tells us that we need to:

  • work harder; 
  • go above and beyond; 
  • always be available; 
  • say “yes” to everything;
  • aspire to perfection; 
  • second-guess and triple-check our work before showing it to others; 
  • seek external validation before we can feel good about ourselves; and
  • never fail. 

Both voices tout perfection and convince us that we’re not doing enough. And both voices make life as a working mom unbearable. 

This Is Not Working

I’m not going to discuss the number of women of women who are suffering with this. It’s 92% if you want a stat, but that’s not what matters.

What matters is: why are we still having this conversation?

The reason is that we’re buying into patriarchy and it’s ruining our lives. 

The Truth

The truth is that you can have an amazing career that you love AND be a loving, present mom to your kids. If you’re having thoughts that you can’t have both, recognize that that’s a line we’ve been fed, too. 

It’s obvious that the problem is not going to go away or take care of itself. The current crisis has made that abundantly clear. The mental and emotional health of working moms is not good. This impacts our families as well. 

It’s time to take back control of your mind—and your life.

This is exactly what I teach working moms to do in my 1-to-1 coaching program, Motherhood 2.0TM

If you’re ready to get off the hamster wheel and start loving your life again, I can help. 

The first step is to apply for a free call. We’ll talk about what you want for your career and your life. We’ll look at your current challenges and we’ll look at how you can finally get unstuck and shine as you are meant to shine. You can request your free call here.  

How to Make Your Own Health a Top Priority

As working moms, we often forget to take care of ourselves.

I hear all the time from moms that they don’t have time for sleep, healthy food, or exercise.

But I recently got a sobering reminder that health is EVERYTHING.

What happened was that I got sick.

Like never before.

My symptoms came on quickly, without warning.

At 11:00 am I was feeling fine, outside with my son. By 1:00 pm, I was completely incapacitated.

I was able to talk with a doctor online and start taking medication within a few hours.

I spent the rest of the day in bed with fever and chills.

Thankfully, the next day I woke up feeling better.

Sometimes, even if we take care of ourselves, we still get sick. That’s what happened to me.

But there is so much that we CAN control that we often don’t, because we don’t think we have time.

The sleep, the exercise, the healthy food.

Here’s what stood out to me when I was sick: I literally couldn’t take care of anyone else.

I couldn’t make dinner for my kids.

I couldn’t work.

I couldn’t do ANYTHING.

When you go through something like this, you realize that you don’t have time to NOT take care of yourself.

There IS a way to find time for your own health as a working mom.

There is always a way. Because without it, there is nothing else.

You don’t have to wait until you have a health emergency.

If you’re a working mom who struggles with trying to fit in your own health while juggling career and kids, let’s chat.

We’ll talk about all the things you want—including amazing heath. We’ll talk about what’s keeping you from getting them. And we’ll create a plan to help you get what you want. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s FREE.

Have a beautiful rest of the week.

XO,
Charise

What I Believe

I believe that every working mom can have the life and career that she wants.

There are no pre-requisites.

It’s not just for certain personality types.

It’s not just for the ones lucky enough to have a certain kind of spouse or children.

It is available for any woman.

I believe it because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Here are some other things I believe:

We can change the direction of our lives at any time.

What we want matters.

Staying stuck, exhausted, and drained is a choice that costs us dearly.

Life is more fun, easy, and enjoyable when we’re choosing where we want to go on purpose.

Moms deserve to be happy in their work and in their personal lives.

It takes 5 steps to get there.

Five steps have the power to change your life.

In my Free Masterclass, I’ll tell you what they are.

You can watch it here.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise

Working Moms: 10 Ways to Stay Calm During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here we are, in the midst of a pandemic and national emergency, with many schools closed for weeks to come.  What is a working mom to do?  Here are ten ways to stay calm.

  1. Take exquisite care of yourself.  As moms, we set the tone for our families. We need to be at our strongest and healthiest right now to lead them through this situation.  That means that our physical health needs to be a top priority.  This is an opportunity to start healthy habits that you might have been neglecting.   
    • Sleep is paramount.  Without it, your immune system gets weakened so make every effort to get enough. 
    • Healthy food is the next priority.  Sugar suppresses your immune system, so consider avoiding it. Choose fruits, veggies, and whole foods, instead.  Frozen fruits and veggies have tons of nutrients, so stock up your freezer with them. Homemade soups freeze well and are healthy, so make some big batches now to have on hand. 
    • Exercise is also key. You can take walks outside with the kids, go bike riding, or do a workout video at home, but make sure you get some movement. Note: Public health experts are advising parents to keep kids away from public playgrounds, so walks outside are a great way for kids to get exercise, too. 
  2. Empower yourself with calming tools.  Your mental health impacts your physical heath and requires attention and care.  If you feel anxious or panicky, it means that your sympathetic nervous system has taken over. The good news is that you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system to calm you down. Here are some techniques that you can try both for yourself and with your kids: 
    • Breathing exercises.  Set a timer for one minute. Breathe in for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. Repeat until the timer goes off or until you feel calmer. 
    • Meditation.  Set a time for five or ten minutes and focus on watching your breath.  Your mind will wander and when you catch that happening, redirect it back to your breath.  There are also lots of guided meditations for kids on YouTube, if you want to practice with them. 
    • Feeling gravity.  Set a time for one minute. Notice the weight of your body against your chair or the floor and feel the pull of gravity on your body.  This is an excellent way to ground yourself.  
    • Movement.  Movement can help to discharge nervous energy.  Put on some music (or not) and let your body express how you feel right now.  Dance, stretch, throw punches, whatever.  Kids love this, too, so put on some music and have a dance party.  Yoga is also a great way to focus on being in your body.  Again, lots of kids yoga videos are available online. 
  3. Set limits on the news you consume.   There’s a difference between staying informed and getting overwhelmed.  Our brains are great at scanning for what’s startling and right now the news is startling.  It can be tempting to stay glued to the newsfeed, which can lead to anxiety and panic.  That’s not a great state from which to lead your family through this situation. 

    You can stay informed without losing your calm by limiting how much news you consume.  Decide when you want to read the news, set a timer (15 minutes or so), and turn to something else when the timer goes off.  You don’t have to read every article that people send you. Put your phone away and focus on doing something you enjoy.  Doing something fun or pleasurable will override your brain’s quest for more news. Make a pot of tea, listen to music you love, take a walk outside.  And turn off all non-urgent notifications on your phone, so you can stay unplugged. 
  4. Trust yourself.  Our mama bear intuition knows how to keep our families safe. But we’re sometimes hesitant to follow it because of what others might think.  Now is not the time for people pleasing.  It’s the time to trust yourself. That might mean that you decline invitations for play dates.  It might mean that you keep your kids home from school even if your schools haven’t closed yet.  It might mean your kids or others get mad at you, but you can handle that when you’re grounded by what feels right to you.  Trust that you have everything you need to get through this, because you do.  
  5. Focus on service.  Mr. Rogers’ mother told him to look for helpers during a crisis because they would always be there.  It’s a comforting message for both children and adults. We can also be the helpers, even from the confines of our homes, by stepping into a mindset of service. We can call and check in with people who might be vulnerable to COVID-19. We can order groceries for people who can’t go out.  Our kids can make cards and pictures for grandparents that we can send via email or text.  We can order gift cards online from local restaurants or shops that we’d like to support, to use later or as gifts.  We can give donate money to local foodbanks and charities that help those in need.  We can also write to leaders in our communities to encourage measures that would help.  Service prompts us to stop worrying, which isn’t useful. It also prompts us to take compassionate and creative action, which is very useful. In doing so, we help others and ourselves. 
  6. Prioritize.  This new reality requires that we focus on what matters.  There may not be enough time to get everything done, but there is time for the most important things.  What is most important for you at work this week?  What’s most important at home?  (As mentioned above, taking care of yourself should be at the top of the list.)  Write your priorities down, focus on those tasks, and you’ll find that there is time for what’s most important. 
  7. Plan.  If your brain tells you that you don’t know what you’re going to do, remember that you can figure out a plan.  Using the priorities your wrote down, decide your daily and weekly routines with the kids and at work.  Schedule the most important things early in the day and week, to make sure that they get done.  Have a family meeting to ask for input about the plan and set clear expectations.  Once a plan is in place, honor it the best you can.  Having a basic plan provides order, predictability, and structure, which kids crave.  Your leadership during the next few days will set the tone for the coming weeks.
  8. Play.  None of us wants this situation to continue. But while it’s here, we can use it to get a much-needed break from the daily grind.  Use the extra time at home to do something that restores your energy and uplifts your spirit.  Play with your kids, read a good book, make homemade bread, listen to music, or whatever you enjoy.  Play elevates your mood and keeps you feeling good, so it’s important both for you and your kids.    
  9. Get outdoors. If the weather allows, make time to be outdoors as much as you can during the coming weeks.  Spending time in nature reduces stress hormones like cortisol. It also provides a great way to get plenty of movement without getting close to other people.  Doing so allows us to see that the life is still happening all around us.  Yes, the situation is serious and requires us to do what we can to “flatten the curve”. But if you get outside, you’ll notice the sky isn’t falling. We can each do our part and make it through this. 
  10. Turn inward.  This situation provides us the chance to step back and reevaluate what’s working and what isn’t.  Is your employer being inflexible?  Perhaps you should start thinking about another job or career.  Feeling exhausted by daily life and finding this situation to be too much to handle? It’s time to pause and reflect on what you want for your life.  When you pause and turn inward, you realize that you can steer your life in any direction you choose.  If something isn’t working, there’s no better time than now to realize that so you can start charting a new course.  

If you need personalized help with your specific situation, I’m here for you. This week, I’m offering a limited number of Mom Crisis consult calls.  You can offload your concerns and burdens, and get some help through this crisis.  Click here to schedule your free call.  

XO,

Charise

Want to Have More Fun as a Working Mom?

If you’re not having fun as a mom, you’re definitely not alone.  A few years ago, I picked the book All Joy and No Fun, by Jennifer Senior, in an airport bookstore on a work trip.  The title resonated with me because I was feeling tremendous love, bonding, and connection with my young children, but not having a lot of fun in my life.  The book discusses the massive paradigm shift for parenting over the past century, which has changed our expectations of ourselves during parenthood, particularly for mothers. As a result of that shift, parents are having less fun, even though we see our parenting roles as even more meaningful and important than ever before.

When I was deep in the throes of my personal mom crisis, I couldn’t get through the book. Senior delves into the many challenges that American parents face, including lack of social support in families and neighborhoods, increased child care costs and cost of living, and longer hours and more demanding workplace standards. That was my reality, but nothing I tried seemed to work to fix it.

Although I gave up on the book, I didn’t give up on finding a way out of the mom crisis I was in. Just when I felt like I was drowning and trapped by the demands of my life, I got the opportunity to work with a coach. My coach helped me see what was really keeping me stuck and she helped me find a way through it. With her help, I was able to identify what really mattered to me, which allowed me to make some powerful, life-changing decisions. I figured out what I really wanted to do (become a Life and Leadership Coach) and she helped me find a way to leave my job.

As I continued on my journey and started my coaching business, I realized how hesitant I still was to make myself a priority, even when I was my own boss. I started having health issues, which were my body’s wake-up call to start taking care of myself. My coach helped me realize that I was compartmentalizing myself by addressing my physical health, but ignoring my emotional wellbeing and happiness. I finally got it: having fun, enjoying myself, and taking care of myself physically all had to be a top priority.

Now, just a few years after I first picked up All Joy and No Fun, my life looks completely different. I get 8 hours of sleep, eat healthy food, take long walks, go to yoga and meditation classes, play guitar, have “dance parties” in the living room with my kids, and go on date-nights with my husband. Music is an important part of my life now, as are community and friends. Of course there are still things that I need to do that aren’t fun — life is still 50/50, after all — but I weave fun into every aspect of my life now, which never felt possible before.

Having more fun hasn’t just been good for me — it’s also been good for my kids. Children enjoy being with their parents much more when the parents transition into what psychologist Eric Berne called the child ego state, which is a more playful state of being.  Not only do they enjoy being around us when we’re having fun, but they also learn empathy when they understand other people’s happiness is important, too.

As I continue to practice this in my own life, I’m also showing my private clients how to make time for and prioritize fun in their own lives and they’re getting amazing results.

All Joy and No Fun chronicles one way of parenting that many people are experiencing.  But there’s a better way. It’s called Motherhood 2.0. It’s a new way of being, which allows you to truly enjoy this precious time with your children, while having the time of your life. Joy AND fun.

If you’re not having fun, let’s talk. I would be delighted to help.

XO,

Charise

Lessons Learned from a Life Well-Lived

I recently lost my very dear great-aunt, Jody Naifeh.  Jody’s life was unparalleled and offers many lessons for anyone who wants to have a full, rich, and happy life.  It’s impossible to capture here all of the lessons that Jody taught in her long and extraordinary life, but I will share the lessons that made the biggest impact on me.  I hope you will find them useful in crafting your own well-lived life.

Elevate your spirit with music.  Jody was a life-long musician.  She learned the violin from her older sister as a child and was hooked for life.  One of the things she loved about music was its ability to elevate the human spirit.  Science now understands that music changes our body chemistry: music can cause our brains to release neurotransmitters and elevate our moods and our outlook.  Jody knew this long ago:  music is a universal form of expression that lifts us up. 

Whether it was Bach or The Beatles, Jody didn’t let a day go by without letting music lift her up.  Her example reminds us to use music to enrich our lives.  It’s so easy to do, but we often forget.  We can listen to music at home to create more fun when we’re with our families, at the office to create a higher level of energy at work, and to create feel-good neurotransmitters whenever we need it.  We can attend concerts and performances to have an even greater impact.  And learning an instrument (at any age) keeps our minds and spirits young.  Jody wanted people to know that music is powerful and she wanted people to use it to make life better.  There is really no downside to this simple lesson.  Find a way to weave music throughout your life and watch what happens.  

See the gold.   Jody spent most of her life teaching music to children and teenagers and she saw the gold in each of her students.  Even when the students themselves or their parents couldn’t see a child’s potential, Jody could see it and brought it to light with her unending patience and encouragement.  She did everything she could to help students who were struggling, including bringing them into her home to live with her family.  

I think Jody saw the gold not just in her students, but in just about everyone she encountered.  She wanted to understand the inner workings of any person who happened to be with her at the moment.  She asked questions about what they wanted out of life, what drove them, what they liked and disliked.  She had a piercing stare that revealed her razor-sharp mind.  When she was listening to and looking at you, it felt like you were the only person in the world that mattered to her at that moment.  

When Jody looked for the gold in others, she always found it.  After all, humans are inherently worthy.  She often reminded others of their own worth and it changed people.  But I think her outlook also gave her a rich and beautiful experience of life.  It’s more wonderful to go through life finding gold than finding flaws.  Try it.  See if you can find the gold in the people around you and in strangers you meet and watch what happens when you do.    

Say “Yes!” to life.  Jody squeezed every last ounce out of her life, by embracing opportunities every step of the way.  When Jody’s husband passed away nearly 20 years ago, the family held a celebration of his life, which included a performance of their daughter’s Irish rock band, Larkin.  At one point during the performance, Jody’s daughter invited her to get her violin and join the band onstage.    

It would have been very easy for a 70-year old widow to decline that invitation, but Jody knew that music was healing and that she had plenty of life left to live.  Jody said “yes!”, got her violin, and embraced life—the joy and the pain.  Even though she had been a classically-trained violinist, she quickly adapted to the fiddle and she played music with that band for the next 18 years of her life.  Her fiddle playing landed her a spot in the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 2019.  Her final performance with the rock band occurred months before her death, when she was 88 years old and in a wheel chair.  

Jody also took every opportunity she could to travel and explore the world.  In her 70’s and 80’s, she organized and led international trips with her orchestra students.  In her 80’s, she traveled to New York on several occasions to watch some of her students perform at Carnegie Hall.  She kept learning, playing music, and reading voraciously until her final days, pushing the limits of her human body.  As a result, her life kept getting richer with time.  Jody’s example reminds us that it’s never too late to do anything.  You can always say “yes!” to life. 

Believe you can—and you will.  Jody believed that she could do pretty much anything and saw no good reason to think otherwise.  It did not matter if there was no precedent for what she wanted to do: she just went after what she wanted, knowing that it would work out.  And it always did.  

She saw no reason why she could not combine motherhood and career at a time (the 1960s) when mothers were expected to focus 100% on their families.  Jody was a very loving and present mother, but I think she also knew that she would be a happier mother if she also lived out her passion for her work.  

When her three children were toddlers and preschoolers, she hosted group art classes at her home.  When they grew a little older, she created summer camps for her violin students.  Years later, when those students were in high school, she saw no reason why she could not create a city-wide honors orchestra, providing a forum for dedicated students to perform at venues all over the city.  She led that orchestra until her final days, for the past 41 years and her daughter and granddaughter are continuing her legacy.  At age 50, Jody decided to go back to school (even though she already held a bachelor’s and a master’s) to get a degree in Music Performance, because that was what she loved.  

Jody’s example serves as a reminder to us all: there is really no good reason to not go for what you want.  Belief + action = results.  

Hard work and fun go together.  Jody was definitely not afraid of hard work, but that work was infused with a spirit of play and joy that was contagious.  She wove dedication and love together beautifully in her work.  

When I was in high school, I had the privilege of joining her orchestra in one of their summer camps.  I saw first-hand how hard she worked to prepare her lessons, but it was also evident that her work was truly fun for her.  The enthusiasm that she conveyed to her students was palpable and fun and enjoyment were the driving force of the entire experience.  After a morning of hard work, she wanted us to have fun by swimming at her pool, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.  

She brought humor and fun into every aspect of her life.  She believed that was how it was supposed to be.  I agree with her:  life is supposed to be fun.  If you’re not having fun, step back, figure out why, and solve for that.  It’s absolutely essential for a well-lived life.      

Show up every day.  Jody showed up for her life 100%, every day.  She practiced her violin every single day, without fail.  One summer, she had asked her students to commit to practicing every day.  She lived up to her end of the agreement and practiced even when traveling on a family road trip, when she and her daughter would play their violins at rest stops to ensure they fulfilled their daily commitment.  

She stayed active throughout her life—I remember seeing her go jogging in her late 70s.  She would take long walks on her 80-acre ranch well into her 80’s.  Even in her later years, Jody taught a full roster of private students for violin lessons while also maintaining a full performance schedule.  Some days she would teach in the morning, play an afternoon recital at a local nursing home, then perform at an evening wedding or at an Irish pub with the rock band.  If she said she was going to be there, she was.  She showed us that showing up is a way of life and she didn’t entertain any other option.   

Value your time on Earth.  One of the first questions that Jody would ask me every time I saw her was: “Are you happy? Are you enjoying what you’re doing?”  For many years, that answer was “no” because I felt lost in my career but was uncertain of what to do next.  There were times when it felt hopeless.  But Jody never gave up on me and she wouldn’t let me give up on myself, either.  She knew that our time on Earth is valuable and that we need to enjoy it by finding work that we love.  

During those years of uncertainty and doubt, Jody always told me the same thing: “Kissy, (my childhood nickname), you’ve GOT to find what you love.  You’ve GOT to be happy in your work!”  She was a source of constant encouragement, which prompted me to keep looking.  I read hundreds of books.  I got all kinds of career testing, skills assessments, personality tests, different types of career counseling and coaching.  And after years of searching, I finally found the work that I feel called to do: my purpose is to help others find and live their purpose.  

During one of my last conversations with Jody, I was living in Spain with my family for a year, having made the decision to leave my job and start my own coaching business.  I was finally doing what I loved.  When we spoke, Jody was very weak, but she still asked me with conviction the same question: “Are you happy?”  I was relieved to be able to finally and sincerely tell her, “Yes, Jody. I am happy.  I love what I’m doing.”  She responded “good”, finally satisfied.    

I believe that it was so important to her that others were happy in their work because she was happy in her work.  Once you know what it’s like to look forward to each day, you want to share that with everyone.  It was clear that she taught that lesson not just to me, but to many, many others.  Hundreds of her students attended her funeral, many having traveled from all over the country, and they shared stories of how she had changed the trajectory of their lives, just like she did for me.

This was a way of life for her because she knew that our time on Earth is valuable.  She also knew that what world needs most is people who love what they do, love each other, and lift each other up.  

That is exactly what she did during her time on Earth and I believe it was her greatest contribution.  When you inspire hundreds of people to live their best lives, those people go on to do the same thing in the lives of others and the impact of that ripples far beyond the reach of any one person.  

I believe that Jody would have wanted you to know this:

Your time on Earth is valuable. Your contribution matters. Your happiness matters.

Live in alignment with that truth and you will ensure that your own life is indeed well-lived.

Are You Depleted?

If you’re a mom with young children and you’re feeling like you’re completely depleted, running on fumes, or are inexplicably short-fused and drained with the people that you love, you might be suffering from postnatal depletion.   

We’re all warned about postpartum depression, which health-care professionals constantly screen for in new moms.  But almost no one tells us about postnatal depletion, which is just as real and can affect women up to ten years after their last pregnancy. 

Making, having, and raising tiny humans is no small task.  It requires lots of nutrients and energy.  Nature favors babies over moms, so if there is a shortage of nutrients or energy, nature takes from the mom to give to the baby. If you never fully replenished your body after your children were born, you could still be suffering from nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances that are creating a lack of physical and mental energy.

You’re more likely to suffer from postnatal depletion if you: 

  • Were over 30 when you had your children
  • Had multiple pregnancies in short succession
  • Breastfed for long periods of time
  • Have children who struggle with sleep or have challenging temperaments 
  • Are a single mom or have a partner who travels frequently
  • Have a demanding job
  • Live far from family
  • Lack a robust social support system 
  • Feel like you’ve lost your own identity or unique purpose apart from being a mom 

Interestingly, it tends to peak two to four years after your last pregnancy. 

Why You Must Address It

If not treated, postnatal depletion can wreak havoc on your physical and mental energy levels and it makes it impossible to show up as the professional and the mom that you want to be. You simply cannot give what you don’t have.  If you are depleted and you continue to ignore your own needs, your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health will suffer.  Your relationships with everyone in your life will also suffer because you will simply not have anything left to give.  

I realized this the hard way.  I thought my own needs were optional until I hit a wall.  I was utterly drained and exhausted.  The only option was to replenish myself back to health.  I began to view restoring my reserves as 100% mandatory and non-negotiable.  

If You Can’t Do It For Yourself, Do It For Those You Love

Women are conditioned to put others’ needs first and we’re also wired to make sure our little ones survive, so it’s no wonder that we struggle with taking care of ourselves as moms with young children.  If you think it’s selfish to take care of yourself, think again.  Modeling self-care for your children is the best gift you can give them because it gives them (1) a rested, healthy, and happy mother, and (2) the skills they need to take care of themselves.    

Do you want your children to learn to take care of themselves when they are adults?  Do you want them to eat well, exercise, get sleep, and be healthy?  Research overwhelmingly shows that children who watch their parents practice healthy habits are much more likely to internalize those habits as teens and adults than children whose parents simply told them to practice healthy habits.  Children also learn self-compassion from watching their parents practice self-compassion.  So if you have a hard time doing it for yourself, do it for your kids.  

Here’s What You Can Do 

If you suspect you may be suffering from postnatal depletion, you should talk to your doctor about it right away. I highly recommend the book The Postnatal Depletion Cure, by Dr. Oscar Serrallach. It provides a wholistic and actionable plan for repletion. In the meantime, here are some recommendations that have made a huge difference for me and my clients.

Replenish Your Body With Nutrients 

Start by getting a complete physical to find out your levels of key nutrients, such as Vitamins D, B12, and B complex, calcium, magnesium, and iron, so that you can address any deficiencies through diet or supplements. Make sure you’re getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, either through food or supplements, which are critical for brain health.  Also take a look at your diet and be sure that you’re getting the macro- and micronutrients you need by eating whole, unprocessed foods including lots of healthy fats, protein, veggies, and fruit. 

And make sure you remember to eat! Many moms don’t take the time to sit and eat during their busy day. It’s obvious but we often forget this simple truth: you must properly fuel your body so it can function.

Replenish Your Body With Sleep

Nutrition alone is not enough: your body also requires a lot of sleep to replenish the sleep debt that comes from giving birth and raising young children.  Treat sleep as your number one priority and do everything in your power to get as much as you can.  Although weekends away from the kids are helpful to catch up on sleep, getting adequate sleep on a regular basis is much more impactful and important to your health over time. You might need to sleep for 9 or 10 hours the first few weeks.  Eventually, your sleep debt will decrease and you’ll go back to needing your normal amount.  

Prioritizing your sleep might mean napping when your children nap and going to bed right after you put your children down to sleep at night.  The earlier you go to sleep at night, the more restorative it will be.  You can wake up early in the morning if you feel rested and want to get things done, but going to bed early will ensure that you get the rest you need.  

If the circumstances are such that you simply don’t have a full 8 hours for sleep on a given night, find a yoga nidra video on YouTube. Yoga nidra is a restorative sleep mediation that can help replenish your reserves.  It’s not a substitute for consistent, 8-hour nights of sleep, but it’s restorative and especially useful for times when your little ones are up all night.

Replenish Your Body With Movement

When you feel completely depleted, the last thing you want to do is exercise.  But gentle movement actually gives you more energy than you started with, so it’s worth doing.  If you’re like most moms, you don’t exactly have a lot of free time, but finding small pockets of time for activity adds up, so don’t dismiss mini-workouts.  Even a 5 or 10-minute walk can do wonders for your body and mind.  In his book Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil says that the cross-patterned movement of walking generates electrical activity in the brain that has a harmonizing influence on the central nervous system.  Gentle stretching exercises are also helpful and can be done in small pockets of time.  Restorative yoga poses and deep breathing are also great for your physical and mental health.  Just remember: every little bit counts.

Replenish Your Mind and Spirit 

You can be just as depleted mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as you are physically.  Moms often feel like they lose touch with their individual identities and can even forget what they used to like to do before having kids.  Redefining who you are and what your purpose is will help you to make the conscious decision to live in alignment with your purpose, which will revitalize you.  

Here are some ideas to help you do that: 

  • Allow yourself to be at the top of your priority list. If you struggle to make yourself a priority, realize that this isn’t doing anyone else any favors. I’ve had clients who came to me with this mindset and through our work together, they realized that this kind of thinking contributes to exhaustion and impatience with their loved ones. After they truly understand that self-care is one of the most loving things they can do for their families, I’ve watched them transform and return to their happy, thriving, and energized selves. Once they see the difference it makes, they never want to go back to their old patterns. What your kids need most is a happy, healthy mom–NOT an exhausted, overworked, short-fused mom with nothing left to give.  
  • Clarify your priorities for this chapter.  Spend some time thinking about who you want to be in this chapter of your life and write down your priorities in rank order.  Ranking priorities in order of importance is extremely helpful in making a conscious choice about how you want to live right now.  Give yourself permission to let go of some goals that don’t feel as relevant during this time in your life.  Is getting that promotion as important as being present with your young kids?  If you knew that you were just as valued and valuable either way, which would you focus on during this time?  There is no right or wrong answer here, just make sure that you like your reasons.  Once you clearly rank your priorities, ask yourself what you can begin doing to live in alignment with those priorities. 
  • Define and live your purpose.  Getting clear on your purpose gives meaning to your life. What is the most important thing to you? What do you want your life to be about? It can include both your contribution to the greater good and to your family. Write it down in a single sentence if you can. What needs to change in your life for you to begin living that purpose? 
  • Do at least one thing for yourself every day.  Write down a list of activities that are just for you, which also energize you.  Categorize them into 1-minute, 5-minute, 10-minute, 30-minute, and 1-hour timeframes.  For example: 1-minute breathing exercise; 5-minutes of meditation; a 10-minute walk around the block; 30-minutes of drawing in a sketch pad, free-writing or other creative activity; a 1-hour talk with a friend at a coffee shop.  Keep your list handy and schedule at least one (preferably more) of these activities every day.  
  • Record your wins.  Human brains have an innate negativity bias, which means that we’re wired to focus on the negative and dismiss the positive.  For moms, this means that we’re often juggling a lot of difficult demands, but still feeling like we’re not doing enough. To counteract that, start to look for and track the positive.  Get a journal specifically for that purpose and every day, write down all your wins for the day, big or small.  On some days, your win may be “kept the tiny humans alive.”  That’s no small feat, so give yourself credit for it.  
  • Get help.  Whether it’s in the form of more help at home, trading babysitting time with friends, or getting professional help, do whatever you can to set yourself up for success.  If you are struggling and aren’t sure what to do to get back to your old self, find someone who understands postnatal depletion and can help you get clarity, establish positive habits, and create the life and energy that you want.  Just because you can do it all, doesn’t meant that you should. Seeking out support when you need it a sign of strength, not weakness, and it will help you and your family more than you will ever realize. Regardless of your situation, what you want is available to you. Sometimes we just need some help finding a way through.

The Best Investment You Can Make

Young children grow up fast.  Taking care of yourself and being at your best will ensure that you remember and treasure these precious years fondly.  Having gone through depletion and come out on the other side, I can assure you this:  restoring your reserves won’t be wasted time.  It will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.  

To your health!

XO,

Charise

The Career Ceiling That Every Female Professional Needs To Know About – And It’s Not What You Think

My clients sometimes ask me whether I see a career ceiling in the legal industry or other professions that keeps women from being promoted and reaching their true potential.

My response: Absolutely. But there’s one that you might not know about.

There are definitely very real barriers to women aspiring to rise to the top echelons of their fields. Discrimination and bias unfortunately still exist across many industries.  Family demands still fall disproportionally on women’s shoulders.  Sexual harassment and unequal pay still exist. These barriers are real and any actionable cases of workplace gender discrimination or harassment should definitely be addressed in full force to the available legal and organizational support mechanisms.  That’s the ceiling that we all know about and we should do everything in our power to obliterate it.

But there’s another ceiling that also needs to be understood.

The ceiling that I’m talking about here is a very real but invisible barrier that keeps female professionals from reaching the highest heights.  It keeps us stuck, confused, and playing small.  

The ceiling that I’m talking about exists in our own minds.  It is the one that keeps you from believing that you are capable of achieving whatever you want to achieve.  I call it the Belief Ceiling.  If you don’t know about it, it can be hard to realize that it’s holding you back.

Once you discover that ceiling, you can smash it to pieces and continue your upward journey.

Understanding The Source Of The Belief Ceiling

The Belief Ceiling is a collection of beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. A belief is really just a thought that you continue to think until your brain believes that it’s the Truth. Sometimes beliefs come directly from what our parents or others told us when we were children. Sometimes they are conclusions that we reach from past experiences. Sometimes they seem like universal truths that we all accept.

When Roger Bannister broke the record of the four-minute mile (previously thought to be impossible) he shattered a collective Belief Ceiling. Shortly thereafter, other athletes started doing it too. Once they believed that it was possible, they expanded their abilities.

Whether you’re bumping up against a collective Belief Ceiling or one that is uniquely yours, the result is the same. When we tell ourselves that what we want isn’t available to us, our brains stop trying to find a way forward.

If you have thoughts that are limiting you, such as “I don’t know if I can do this” or “I don’t know how” or “I could never”, I can assure you that you’re not alone.  I coach high-achieving women who have already attained success in their careers and they still grapple with thoughts like this each time they set a new, more challenging goal.

Humans have unlimited potential.  I often marvel at the power of human ingenuity, especially when we have a compelling reason to break through our collective Belief Ceilings. And yet for most of us, our self-perception is so much smaller than our actual abilities.  It limits us in ways that are difficult to see when we’re in the thick of it, trying to navigate our next move.  

Part of doing the work we came here to do is learning how to recognize and break through the Belief Ceiling. 

Here is what you need to know.  

Don’t Confuse The Belief Ceiling With External Circumstances 

One of the trickiest aspects of the Belief Ceiling is that your brain will tell you that something outside of you is keeping you stuck.  For example, you might have thoughts like “women just can’t get ahead in this industry” or “I can’t win at work AND be present with my family”.  And when you think thoughts like that, your brain will find plenty of supporting evidence to prove those thoughts true.  

But even if there are real obstacles, telling yourself that they are impeding your progress is not a good use of your time, energy, and skills.  Here’s why.  

First, as you may have noticed, you can’t control external circumstances (including what other people say or do) and it’s mentally exhausting to try to change something that is not in your control or argue with what is.

More importantly, when you think that you’re being limited by an external circumstance (be it your boss, your employer, your colleagues, or systemic bias) you likely feel discouraged or maybe even defeated.  And when you feel discouraged and defeated, what do you?  How do you show up at your job?  Confident, strong, and resilient?  Probably not. 

When you’re feeling discouraged or defeated, you probably shrink back or second-guess yourself. Perhaps ask yourself “what’s the point?” and stop trying.  That’s because discouragement drives inaction almost 100% of the time.  That is a problem because inaction doesn’t get you closer to your dreams.  

But there’s another option. You can notice that there may be external obstacles without also believing that they have the power to keep you stuck.  You can choose to think that your success is inevitable even when those external obstacles exist.  How would you feel if you thought that?  Determined? Committed?  

How would you show up differently if you felt that way?  I’m guessing that if you believed your success were inevitable and you felt committed to making that a reality, you would take action and get unstuck.  Maybe you would get another job or maybe you would start your own business or maybe you would create the change you want to see exactly where you’re at.  And if you committed to taking that kind of action, your success would be inevitable.  

Your Belief Ceiling Is Hiding Options 

My clients often come to me because they’re confused or lacking clarity about what to do next.  But most of the time, after we explore possibilities, I find that they know exactly what they would like to do. They just don’t think they can actually do it because of the way they are currently thinking about themselves and their life circumstances.  They have thoughts like “I’m not sure if I can do it” or “I might fail”. 

I call these “dead-end thoughts” because nothing good can come from them.  If you observe what happens in your own mind when you decide to think these types of thoughts, you can see that they lead you nowhere.  They don’t help you actually get closer to what you want to do.  They don’t help you figure it out.  They create confusion and doubt, which inevitably drive inaction and keep us stuck. 

But when you believe that you are capable of achieving any goal, you see clearly the options before you and it’s easier to figure out the one that you really want.  

Notice What Is 100% Factual—And What Isn’t

One of the main problems with limiting thoughts and beliefs is that they feel so true to our brains.  They feel like facts, not thoughts.  That’s why it’s often difficult to separate out the facts from the thoughts in our own brains.  

Facts are facts but thoughts are completely optional.  If you see that a thought you’re having is keeping you stuck, you can decide to change it to a thought that feels more motivating.  

For example, the thought “I don’t know what to do” feels really true when we’re struggling with a decision. Telling yourself “I don’t know” causes your creative mind to check out completely.  It believes that thought and so it has no reason to go looking for solutions. And when you don’t find solutions, your mind uses that as evidence to reinforce the original belief.  

But it’s not actually a fact that you don’t know what to do.  The moment you absolutely have to make a decision, you pick an option and go with it and the world continues.  “I don’t know” is an optional thought that keeps us stuck.  

Conversely, it’s just as easy to think a more productive thought, such as “I am determined to figure this out.”  This thought assumes that there is a solution and it brings your creative mind back online and ready to go to work to find a way forward.  

This is not about positive affirmations that you don’t believe.  It’s about shifting your thought patterns to focus on what is actionable to you.  You do this by practicing thoughts that create the feelings that will drive you to take action and create the results you want. 

Since thoughts are optional, there is no good reason to continue having thoughts that are keeping you stuck. 

Applying This To Your Life

Our brains have the remarkable ability to form new neural connections throughout our lives, which are strengthened with use. This means that you can form new thoughts and new beliefs at any point in your life. In other words, you can shatter your current Belief Ceiling if you commit to discovering it and breaking through it.

Here are four steps to help you do that. 

Step 1: Awareness. Become aware of the ways in which your current beliefs are holding you back.  You can get a good look at them by answering these questions in writing:  

  • If I knew I could not fail, what would I do?  
  • What is keeping me from getting what I really want?  
  • Why am I feeling stuck?

Write down ALL of the things.  Then take a step back to analyze what you’ve written.  Circle the statements that are 100% factual.  As in, everyone on the planet would agree with you.  (For example, not everyone on the planet would agree that “there are no good work/life balance jobs out there.”)  The statements that are not 100% factual are the thoughts and beliefs creating your belief ceiling.  

Step 2: Observe the results. Notice what results those thoughts and beliefs are creating for you right now.  

  • How do those thoughts cause you to feel?  
  • What do those feelings drive you to do or not do?  
  • What are your results when you show up that way?  
  • Do those thoughts take you in the direction of what you want?  Or do they keep you stuck?  

Step 3: Notice how they are optional. Notice how these thoughts–like all thoughts– are 100% optional and decide whether you want to continue to have them.

  • Who would you be without the limiting thoughts? What would your options be?
  • How can you reframe your current thoughts in a way that will help you feel more motivated to take action and move toward your desired results? 
  • What is another thought that is just as true but more motivating?  

Step 4: Choose a new belief. Create a new overarching belief that you can use to break through the beliefs in your Belief Ceiling.

What is one overarching belief that will crack your Belief Ceiling? What can you believe today that will help you begin to take action toward the results you want? “I can figure this out” is a good one. If you have trouble believing that you personally can figure it out, you might try a more de-personalized thought, like “there is a solution to this” or Marie Forleo’s famous phrase “everything is figureoutable”. If you believe there is a solution, your brain will go to work to find one.

Knowing that all thoughts and beliefs are optional and that you can direct your brain to create new beliefs just by being intentional about what you tell yourself, what are you going to choose to think about yourself and your abilities?  

The limit is whatever you decide it is.  

Helping Your Kids—And Yourself—With Back-To-School Transitions

By now, schools is in session across the country and I’ve talked with MANY moms who are struggling with the transition. Whether they are sending their six-month-old to daycare for the first time or their eighteen-year-olds off to college, it’s a difficult season for many moms.  

There are two primary reasons for this.  

First, it can be hard to watch our kids struggle with the transition.  Seeing my younger son in tears in his new pre-k classroom has definitely been challenging this year.  

Second, this season usually marks the beginning of a new classroom or a new phase of our kids’ growth that can leave us grieving the loss of the previous phase.  Watching my older son start kindergarten and honoring his request to ride the bus to school certainly brought up feelings of sadness and memories from when he was a baby.  Our brains can bring up difficult questions, like “Have I done enough?” Or “How did he grow up so fast?”

If you or your kids are struggling with this transition, here are some strategies to help.

Nothing Has Gone Wrong

When we feel a negative emotion and then think that we shouldn’t, we end up layering on more negative emotions and making the experience much worse than it needs to be. For example, if we try to push away feeling sad about the summer’s end by believing we should be feeling happy instead, we make our own experience worse and we don’t allow ourselves to benefit and learn from this natural part of the human experience.

On the other hand, when we can feel negative emotion and simultaneously believe that nothing has gone wrong, we allow ourselves to just feel the “clean pain” of life without layering the “dirty pain” of suffering on top of it.  

This works with our children as well.  When my three-year-old tells me he feels nervous or sad about school, I tell him, “it’s okay if you feel nervous or sad.  That’s the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re three years old and you start a new school.”  

If I were to push the feeling away and tell him not to feel that way, it would (1) be completely ineffectual, (2) create embarrassment or shame for feeling the way he feels, which would make the experience even more painful, and (3) instill in him unrealistic and unhealthy belief that he should never feel negative emotions as a human.

But when I tell him that nothing has gone wrong, he actually feels a bit of relief. He has permission to feel whatever emotion comes up for him. I tell him about when I was little and I felt that way, too.  I tell him that little by little, I started to feel less nervous.  I tell him that I still feel nervous when I do something new, too.  Nothing has gone wrong.  It’s part of being a person on the planet. 

Fully Feel How You Feel

Allowing yourself to fully feel a negative emotion, rather than resisting it, allows your body to fully process and release that emotion.  Research shows that the physiological response that is created when you have a thought lasts only about 90 seconds in the body.  

What causes us to feel sustained negative emotion is when we argue with the emotion, push it away, or continue to perpetuate it with more of the same thoughts. 

One of the best ways to interrupt that cycle is to ask some very specific questions:

  • What are you feeling now? 
  • Where are you feeling it in your body?
  • Is it tight or loose? 
  • Is it fast or slow? 
  • Does the feeling have a color?
  • Watch it carefully as you breathe in and out:  Does the feeling move or stay in one place? 
  • Notice the intensity:  Does it get stronger or weaker?  Does it come in waves?

Notice how the emotion doesn’t kill you, even though your brain tells you that it will.  

This is just as effective with kids as it is with adults.  In fact, teaching this to your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.  If they can learn how to handle their negative emotions now, they will be so much stronger and more resilient throughout their lives, and a lot less likely to turn to drugs, alcohol, and other emotion-numbing substances when they’re older.  

Ask Good Questions

When you’re going through a difficult transition, it’s really normal for our brains to show us reasons why “everything” is going wrong.  

That’s because when we think thoughts like “something has gone wrong here,” our brains’ immediate response is to look for and gather evidence in support of that initial thought. 

But a lot of good is going on at the same time and you can direct your brain to see it by asking the right questions:

  • What is right about this?  
  • What is good about this?  
  • How is this going to make me/us stronger?  
  • What am I/are we learning from this?  
  • What are the ways in which I/we can handle this?  

Really do this exercise by getting some paper and writing down the answers to these questions.  Start accumulating evidence to support the belief that everything is as it should be.

You can do this with your kids as well. At the beginning of the day, ask them to look for 3 things that they like about their new classroom that they will tell you about after school. My three-year-old promised me this morning that he could find at least two things that he likes about his new school. I’ll take it.

Doing this helps us and our kids not only get through these transitions, but come out stronger and more resilient on the other side.  

XO,

Charise