Category: "after maternity leave"

More than milestones – your free guide!

May 12th, 2017 | no comments

What a phenomenal summit. I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did!

As promised your Thriving as a Busy Mom – Essentials guide will kick-start your journey to managing your home, work, kids, your partner and yourself with ease. I’m so happy to share with you:

  • 3 healthy and easy recipes
  • Shared Google calendar that will save you and your partner time
  • Evernote app tips to help get your life organized
  • Mama Self-Care Planner (printable) to get more “me-time” in your life
    • Mindfulness video that can quickly recharge your energy from anywhere

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Pumping At Work: Could We Make It Any Harder?

January 25th, 2017 | no comments

I’m honored to have Romy Newman of Fairygodboss share this article with the ThriveMomma community! It’s also a thrill to announce that I’ll be writing for FairGodBoss soon!  Take it away Romy….

Imagine you have a busy work day.  You are just back from maternity leave and you’re trying to show your boss and everyone around you that you are still committed to your job, and can do your job as well as you did before you had your baby. On top of that, you have to get home to your kid/kids as early as possible – so you’re feeling even more pressured to get a lot of great work done in an ever shorter amount of time. And you’re probably sleep deprived because most infants don’t sleep through the night.

 

Now, imagine that you need to take two thirty-minute breaks – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – to pump milk. During these breaks, you need your hands (unless you’ve really mastered the hands-free thing in a way I never did) and you can’t talk on the phone, so you can’t really be productive at all. One more lost hour in the day – and worse yet due to biological demands, it’s not during the lunch hour when things are quieter…it’s when other people are looking for you and expecting you to be in meetings or available. (But you’ll definitely need to use your lunch hour to catch up.)

 

Under the very, very best scenarios, pumping milk after you return to a corporate job is no easy task. It takes you away from your work at awkward times, it can be messy, emotional and even painful. Under the worst scenarios, it can be downright onerous and humiliating – in a room that’s ill-suited for breastfeeding, a long way away from your desk, or where there is little privacy.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends unequivocally that mothers exclusively breastfeed babies for six months. There is a litany of health benefits that are connected to breastfeeding for both the child (less illness, fewer hospitalizations) and for the mother (reduced risk of pre-menopausal cancer). In 2011, a government agency report reported that of women who take maternity leave, the average leave taken is 10.3 weeks. (An astounding 30% of employed women reported not taking any leave at all.)

 

So that implies that women who aim to comply with AAP recommendations need to take on the challenging and arduous arrangement of carving out that extra hour every day for on average 16 weeks.

 

And yet, the deck is stacked against them in almost every conceivable way. It is no surprise that 77% of mothers start breastfeeding after birth but only 16% of those mothers make it to that recommended six month mark.

 

First, being away from her desk for one hour or more away daily is problematic for even the most generous boss and the most committed mother.

 

Further, while there is federal legislation that requires employers to provide reasonable (but not paid) break time as well as a place other than a bathroom for employees to express milk, this rule is vague enough to contribute to the problem. And, employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempted from these regulations if they impose “undue hardship.”

 

Lactation rooms can be few and far between. Even large employers have just one for thousands of employees, so women must jockey for time in the pumping room and often wait their turn. Further, pumping rooms are frequently located farther from an employee’s desk than is convenient. I’ve heard about women who have to travel for up to 15 minutes to arrive at their lactation room, thus tacking on another hour to their daily pumping time.

 

And, if there is no sink in the lactation room/area, women are forced to clean their pump parts and supplies in either the public kitchen or bathroom – alongside other co-workers, who are inevitably making small talk as the woman blushes.

 

Then of course, there’s the telltale, outrageously loud groan of the pump – which, unless the walls are really thick, announces to anyone within a 20-foot radius exactly what you’re doing.

 

Having pumped milk at work myself for more than 12 months in total (after two pregnancies), I can tell you that if you want to successfully fulfill your breastfeeding goal, ultimately you just have to pretty much dispense with your dignity.

 

In my case, I couldn’t be troubled with the commute to the “official” lactation room (just 5 minutes, but it adds up to 20 more minutes a day in total) so I just parked myself in an empty visitor office nearby where everyone around me could hear the pump. Every time I went into or out of the room, the best I could do was flash a sheepish smile at my many male colleagues whose offices were just feet away from the room.

 

Another woman reported pumping in her office, which had a door that closed, but did not lock. And walls that were shared on either side by male co-workers who could hear whenever she pumped. Apparently, however, the noise was not enough to secure her privacy. Although she placed a big “do not disturb” sign on the door and a chair behind it, one day a male colleague still knocked insistently and almost barged in.

 

The cherry on top of all of this is the extra 15lbs in your bag, which you then must carry to and from work on the subway. And that’s in addition to your laptop, because you’ll inevitably have to do work after the kids go to bed to make up for the time you missed because you were pumping, and because you ran out before you were done to pick up your kids from daycare or just simply to get to see them before they fall asleep at 7 pm. Cue the back problems.

 

So while almost everyone agrees that breastfeeding is best for our children, the path to supplying breast milk after mothers return to work is ridden with obstacles and humiliations. There has to be a better way – through better facilities, more support and less shame. So let’s call on employers to think of ways to make this difficult enterprise just a little easier for those new mothers returning to work.

 

Romy is co-founder of Fairygodboss and is passionate about helping women succeed in the workplace. She previously worked for 7 years at the Wall Street Journal in a variety of executive sales and operating roles, most recently as head of Digital Advertising. At Fairygodboss, Romy wears many hats — one of the consequences of working at a startup — and never experiences a dull day. Whether it’s talking to employers about Fairygodboss’ mission to improve the workplace, plotting out the product roadmap, or speaking to women about how they engage with our community, Romy maintains her sense of fun and infuses our company with her optimistic energy. Romy graduated with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University and holds a BA from Yale University. She is the mother to two amazing children and wife to an extremely supportive husband.

How to thrive as a working mom podcast interview

January 7th, 2017 | no comments

It was a privileged to chat (and later nosh at Cafe Gratitude) with Jessica from The Superwoman Project about our current state of working motherhood, how companies can’t ignore half their workforce and what it means to thrive after maternity leave!

Her podcast in so rich with inspiring women, you must check it out. She can help you run your career like a BOSS!

In our conversation we covered:

  • Transition coaching for working mothers
  • Corporate consulting for greater employee retention
  • Challenges facing working moms from returning to work after maternity leave and managing their energy

Thanks for listening!

Your Thriving as Busy Mom Essentials!

October 21st, 2016 | no comments

elaine-mcghee-empowering-mama-live

Thank you for attending the Empowered Mama Live Summit! I can’t wait to share with you this exciting Thriving as a Busy Mom – Essentials Toolkit!!

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Motivating Mom Podcast interview

October 8th, 2016 | no comments

movtivating-mom-podcast

I’ve admired Lisa Druxman for her bad-ass entrepreneurship and her Fit 4 Mom business that helps so many moms! I joined Body Back because it’s the best way I know to fit in a workout post-baby.

It has been on my bucket list to meet Lisa and when she asked me to be on her podcast, well, drop the mic, dream come true!

I’m humbled and honored to share some of my favorite tid bits on her Motivating Mom Podcast. We covered my “secret recipe” for a successful return to work after maternity leave, my favorite self-care tips for busy moms and what it means to be “okay with okayness”.

Take a listen here.

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And be sure to click on the purple “podcast” icon on your iphone. search for Motivating Mom Podcast.

Do yourself a favor, subscribe and enjoy!

25 Working Mom Tips

June 26th, 2016 | no comments

The struggle is real for working moms! Lack of time, meal planning prep and the relentless giving of our time, our and energy to others. That is why this blog round-up from Thoughtful Journey Counseling of some of my most favorite mom-support experts is a keeper. I was honored to contribute a nugget about how to master the morning routine. Hope you enjoy them all!

25 Tips for Working Moms guest blog!

25 working mom tips

Is There a Better Way to Return from Maternity Leave? One Lawyer Mama Argues YES!

June 11th, 2016 | no comments

This week I’m honored to have Lori guest blog about her experience as a successful lawyer and how to do a better return to work! I had the pleasure of meeting her (over the phone) I was blown away at the depth of her knowledge and how she helps so many women gracefully return to work through her online course experience.  She is on my Resources list for a reason. Also subscribe to her newsletter for the Saturday secrets…they are super helpful. Welcome Lori!!

 

thrivemomma lawyer return to work

As a lawyer, I’ve been trained to think and write in a logical manner.  Explore options; think through arguments; marshal facts; present them in a way that makes sense.  This type of thinking suits me:  I love order.

Enter, motherhood.  A baby who cries for who-knows-on-earth what reason, or refuses to drink from any of the 15 bottles you buy him.  A house that seems to self-destruct simply by your stepping in the door.  And a schedule so unpredictable you never know when you go to sleep one night whether you’ll make it to work the next day, or if the next superbug from daycare will suddenly attack.  THIS is not logical.  THIS is an order-lover’s nightmare.

After having my first baby, I learned to go with the flow a bit better, more or less coped with my return to work, and picked up some serious prioritization skills through my parenting adventures.  Enter baby number two, though, and I just couldn’t seem to hold it together after my maternity leave ended.  1 child + 1 child felt like 85 children, no one was sleeping (ever, it seemed!), the to-dos on a daily basis weighed down my mind and my spirit, and I was a mess.

Though I worked in an office where plenty of women had gone out on and returned from maternity leave, no one seemed to be talking about how hard the experience was or what we should be doing about it.  And though there seemed to be an educational curriculum for everything about new motherhood (how to write a birth plan, how to massage your baby, how to puree baby food…), I hadn’t found any robust educational information about how to plan for and return from maternity leave without losing your mind.

Determined to fill this gap and help new moms re-frame their leave experience, I put on my logical lawyer hat and got to work reading and researching ways we can do this leave-and-return thing differently.

My mission?  Find a way for new mamas to view their maternity leave and return as a career and leadership opportunity, instead of a career impediment.

And find a way for them to feel calmer, happier, and more confident in the process.

The results of this research led me to develop a four-pronged approach to a calmer, more successful maternity leave, and to create a course called Mindful Return that brings new mamas together in an online community to work through these four prongs together:

  • Creating a Mindful Mindset for Return: Learning how to BE with my children when I’m with my children, and BE at work when I’m at work has been critical both to maintaining sanity and to feeling competent in each of these two spheres of my life.  Mindfulness is about being aware, awake, and present in your life, and starting habits like a gratitude practice (writing down 5 things I’m grateful for before bed each night) have really helped me to be more calm and present.

 

 

  • Turning Leave into Leadership: I’ve grown frustrated with workplace cultures that seem to encourage us to apologize for taking time away (to do a normal human thing like have a baby), or somehow make us feel less committed, less competent, and/or guilty for being back (sometimes all at the same time).  As working mamas, we are *powerhouses* of leadership skills.  We’ve learned to prioritize like nobody’s business, anticipate (reasonable and unreasonable) client demands, roll with the unknown, and problem-solve on the fly.  One key to getting my own head in a better place about leave and return was learning how to identify and tout these skills and believe in my own ability to be a leader.

 

  • Staying in Community: This is the biggie, mamas.  Sitting alone on my kitchen floor wondering how I was going to get everything done wasn’t a smart or healthy way to approach my own sense of overwhelm.  I’ve since learned the immense power of relying on both in-person and online communities for all aspects of life, but especially for massive life changes like bringing a baby into the world.  Committing to connecting with friends and colleagues convinced me that the power of “me too” is a life- and sanity-saver.

When I set out to fill this returning-to-work educational void, I had a strong hunch my four-part approach would work for others, given how much it had transformed my own thoughts about going back to work.  Now I don’t just have a hunch, though, I have evidence – every lawyer’s dream! – that this approach truly makes new working mamas’ lives better.  By being in community with others going through this transition at the same time, I’ve watched new mamas gain the confidence to ask for the type of schedule they want.  Spend more time during their leave enjoying their babies instead of worrying about their return.  And I have felt the power of giving a common language to mamas’ concerns.

So to conclude, my argument is YES, mamas.  You CAN do this maternity leave and return thing in a calm and empowered way.  You don’t have to just survive this period, but there are things you can learn that will help you thrive in the process.

I rest my case.

lori minful return

Lori Mihalich-Levin is the founder of Mindful Return and the creator of the Mindful Return Course, which helps women plan for and make the transition back to work after maternity leave. She runs the 4-week, online course every two to three monhts, and women from all over the world have joined the supportive Mindful Return community to reduce their stress in the maternity leave and return period. Lori is also a Partner in the Health Care practice group at an international law firm called Dentons and is also mama to two beautiful red-headed little boys.

Mom self-care planner

May 1st, 2016 | 1 comment

mom self care printable blog

You’ve seen the sign “No shirt no shoes no service”. Well some days you have hit your limit and the sign should say “no sleep, no patience, no sanity”. We get run down, overworked, sleep-deprived, emotional, and it all starts to snowball until you just NEED A BREAK!

Have you ever felt this way? I sure have!

It all boils down to self-care for a mom (or lack of it.) Yeah, yeah, we have heard this a million times. But what IS self-care really about? Is it just a spa-day every once in a while? Is it sitting on a meditation cushion every day? Those are all nice but how realistic is that in our BUSY lives.

Here is how I define Momma Self-Care:

Moments, hours, or days spent in solitude that recharge your energy, level your emotions, heal and fulfill your soul that will ultimately make you a better mom.

A couple key things to keep in mind:

  • The benefits of self-care happen instantly like through some deep breaths or happen over the course of hours or days like at a retreat. We need room for BOTH types in our lives to have energy for this marathon of motherhood.
  • There is nothing selfish about being in solitude. Being alone without the demands of a crying baby or having to make another meal or the pressure of a work-team is NECESSARY to regain your energy. Oh, and if being alone makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to get requited with yourself.
  • If every break from your kids includes hangin’ with girlfriends or being around people, it may be more taxing on your energy than you realize. Consider mixing it up with a long walk by yourself.
  • Recharging your energy is all about slowing down, relaxing, stopping the busy mind and taking a break.
  • We deal with a lot of emotions, we experience the gambit of emotions as a mother and finding space to process and letting go of that baggage is necessary. This can only be done when you are away from it all.
  • We all need our hearts and souls to heal. Healing from birth trauma, postpartum depression, isolation of maternity leave, fears of failure as a mom, guilt from working too much…all can be healed through time spent processing and loving ourselves enough to take a self-care day.

I’m not saying that taking some time for self-care is a good idea I’m saying it so necessary that we should think of it as part of our hygiene.

 

Mom self-care is like a beauty regime for your soul.

 

Taking time to feel better should be as ingrained into our habits as brushing our teeth. But society, our mother’s generation and frankly on a cellular level it’s so ingrained in us to perceive this as selfish and bad. So we just have to embrace and heal that part of our dark past and welcome a new way of looking at caring for ourselves.

I also believe that frequency and duration are important. I was encouraged by a Mindful Magazine study that showed the lengths of meditations that bring the optimal benefit in relation to their lifestyle and the working mothers benefited most from a quarterly one-day retreat (as opposed to daily meditation or weekly one-hour sessions, etc.) This confirmed my intuition that for busy working moms we need a plan to get the right amount of recharge time into our lives at the right time.

So I made the Momma-Care Planner. It is a great worksheet for you to brainstorm daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual ways to regain your energy. How about that THAT for hygiene!?

 

Momma-Care Planner steps:
  1. Print it out and find some alone-time. Make it special by lighting a candle or play some lovely music
  2. Write out ideas: In the Ideas section write out your favorite and NEW ways for self-care. Dream mama, don’t be afraid to write done something you have never done before.
  3. Figure out when: In the When? Section think of times when it will fit in a reoccuring day of the week, specific day or month on the calendar
  4. Bonus section: this is the really fun part, where you can image something grand. Enjoy!
  5. Schedule: Get out your paper calendar or Shared calendar ( I use a shared Google Calendar) and schedule it up. Allowing your partner to see will hold you accountable and let them know you are committed to taking care of yourself. The second page of the planner has some examples for some inspiration.

Click here to download your PLANNER

Leave a comment below with some self-care ideas you have so we all can get inspired!

Classes moms should take

April 10th, 2016 | no comments

Classes mom should take in college ThriveMomma

I may not win any awards for this but… I know our complete pantry, fridge and freezer inventory at any given moment. It may not seem like much, but any mama who struggles to keep bread in the house past Wednesday can appreciate the immensity of that. Keeping your kitchen inventory in your head is like the mom-world equivalent of a Emmy or a Grammy.

You know what? Shoot, there SHOULD be an award for that! I’ve got a rhythm down, I know my clans eating habits and I’ve got food eating and food purchasing down to a weekly science. HOT DAMN. That’s it, I’m gonna create the “Planys” awards for all the badass moms who successfully plan and manage their homes. Accepting nominations now 🙂

The reality is that you have a child and you are expected to successfully raise a tiny human, to know how to meal plan, buy healthy on a budget and manage a household and take care of yourself at the same time.

This is on-the-job training where your fails are on display for everyone to see.

But it didn’t always come so easy for me. We were constantly running out of stuff, over buying produce and dreading the “what’s for dinner?” question. Do you struggle with the same pain? The problem is not you…it’s that we didn’t learn this stuff in college, ya’know!

Now that I’m a mom, these are the classes that I WISH they taught in college:

LISTENING TO AND TRUSTING YOURSELF: So much of the exercise of motherhood is developing your intuitive muscle. As our technology evolved, the volume on our guiding voice went way down. Our secret mom super-power is not reserved for the mom who looks like she’s got it all together (besides, she doesn’t). But it lives in all of us. Slowing down to hear the tiny voice is the real work!

Homework: keep an intuition journal and write down each time you trusted your intuition. It’s way more often than you expect and it’s tangible evidence of your genius.

TIME MANAGEMENT FOR BUSY MOMS 101: We do an ungodly amount of stuff for at least 3 human beings every day,  365 a year! On top of that we work, we maintain the social calendar, we plan birthday parties, we make time for friends, etc. Keeping all of that straight takes tools, time and, eh hem, may I suggest, TRAINING. There is a reason I created the Time Management for Busy Moms workshop. So many busy moms feel like they are behind the eight ball. Don’t feel bad if you can’t manage it all. You can’t, no one can. And no mom should manage it all, by herself.

Managing your time is all about getting your priorities aligned with how you WANT to spend your time on. And learning how to say NO, deciding what you can delegate and finding out what you can outsource.

Extra credit: write down three things that you HATE doing each week (i.e. folding laundry, paying bills, going to three grocery stores for food) and write down who you can delegate to, who you can outsource to or simply write down NO if you can stop doing it.

MEAL PLANNING aka TIME MANAGEMENT 201 If you are thinking about what you are going to make for dinner that night on your commute home…that is too late! In fact spending 30 min at the start of each week can actually save you hours of panic and frustration.

Cheat sheet: The dirty little secret about meal planning is that the first step has nothing to do with food or the kitchen. It has everything to do with your time and how much or little you have to cook. Set aside some quiet time, light a candle and make meal planning something to look forward to. Here are some of my favorite meal planning tips.

LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS: Our society is really good at closing the deal with the wedding hoopla but, holy cow, a marriage with kids is a PHD level curriculum. A committed relationship is a daily, conscious choice to show up and be there for each other…through the good, the bad and the mundane. Evolving together is the key, yet it’s too easy to drift away.

Open book test: My hubby and I swear by the 3 ‘ations of a happy marriage. 1. Communication. 2. Vacation and 3. Fornication (with each other). You have those firing on all cylinders and you have a healthy marriage.

STOPPING THE MADNESS WITH MINDFULNESS. There are facts and then there are the “facts” we make up in our heads. We can weave some tight webs of stories, lies and torture for ourselves if we are left in a room alone to think. Mindfulness helps to break habitual thought, and have enough self-awareness to rise above our own bs. If you can rise above only 1 out of 10 times…total win.

Mid-term test: Try mindfully doing a simple task. Brush your teeth mindfully. When a thought enters your mind focus back on the bristles on your gums. You will pleasantly be surprised how even that sliver of time can relax your busy mind. You could also try mindfully eating as well.

FUN: HOW TO BE AN ADULT WITHOUT HAVING TO GROW UP. Having a mortgage, raising the next generation and increasing shareholder value is a tremendous responsibility! What do taxes and breastfeeding babies have in common? They suck the life out of you. Remembering to always have fun and to not take life so seriously is the key to happiness!

Extra credit: Who you surround yourself with is key. Reach out to some local moms and make some new mom-friends!

REDEFINING YOURSELF AND SELF-CARE: This should be a pre-requisite for all majors. Motherhood changes you. It changes our biology, your physiology, your priorities and whoever you were in the past. We need to learn how to reinvent ourselves from the inside out with dignity, with support and with a hot-ass pair of skinny jeans (because skinny jeans solve a lot of problems).

Final exam: Look at yourself in the mirror. No REALLY look at yourself in the mirror, the way that you lovingly gaze in amazement at your beautiful child. Say “I love you” to yourself in the mirror. Keep saying it until you mean it. Keep saying it until you FEEL it. Now YOU can feel the love that you give out to world all day long.

Ok, ok. Now that I’m a mom I realized that there ARE classes in college that I SHOULD have taken:

  • Child development
  • Child psychology
  • Finance
  • Bowling (I’m a terrible bowler)

Are you going to do your homework, Missy!? Now that you are a mom, leave a comment below the classes do you wish you would have taking in college?

Workin Mama online class ThriveMomma BabyTalkCo

Speaking of classes. I”m very excited to share with you very soon that two of my most popular workshops: Return to Work After Maternity Leave and Time Management for Busy Moms will soon be online classes later this year!

Moms Making Memories online summit

March 26th, 2016 | no comments

I’m honored to be one of the 21 amazing women who will be interviewed for the Moms Making Memories free online summit!

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Elizabeth gathered premier  experts on health, wellness, mom-life, parenting experts and more so that you can have some sanity in your busy life!

I’ll be talking about how:

1.  How I birthed ThriveMomma for one of the most traumatic times in my life…going back to work after maternity leave
2.  How can busy moms incorporate mindfulness and balance into their busy schedules
3.  What the heck time management and what little things can you do today to get organzied
4.  Some of my favorite work/life balance tactics
5.  Return to the workplace after maternity leave tips and tricks
Each interview is an easy 20 min and they are delivered to your inbox daily.
After the interview you can download my Time Management for Busy Moms Essentials guide + a BONUS!

Sign up for the summit

and I know you will enjoy them all!

Cheers!