“Self-care” is a hot topic, but what exactly does it mean? According to Wikipedia, self-care “is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.” For this episode of Best of Both Worlds, Sarah and I decided to explore this topic, with an emphasis on the autonomous aspect of it.
In other words, when a lot of your life is dictated, even a shower without anyone yelling for you can feel like self-care. But as we continue on the hedonic treadmill (the kids are getting older and more independent!) then it can start looking more elaborate.
We discuss different forms of self-care, and how to build them into a logistically complex life. We discuss what each of us like (I do not like pedicures; Sarah does) and how to maintain energy during a draining work day.
In the question part, a listener who is expecting her first child asks if we ever get pushback about how we present our stories. The answer: yes! Also, such is life. We started Best of Both Worlds because we felt there was a gap in the marketplace for content aimed primarily at women in professional jobs. If you do have the resources to help support your life, what does it look like, logistically, to make that work? Or as Sarah so aptly put it, “Everybody talks about cooking dinner. Nobody talks about NOT cooking dinner.”
Anyway, we’d love to hear what you’re doing for self-care these days!
25 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Self-care”
I liked this episode a lot, but I LOVED the question of the week. I come from a fairly humble background, but very much fit into your target demographic–and have probably also been afraid of my own affluence. It is so nice to hear you all discuss these things and actually address how judgmental people can be against moms that still (gasp!) care about their career. You were totally correct—there was a gaping hole in the market. I have found the podcast, and your writing overall, so refreshing. As you put it: “If women that have ambitiously perused high-paying jobs can own that and feel good about it.” This would be amazing. Hopefully, the world gets there before my two daughters grow up.
@Ashley- thank you. That phrase “afraid of my own affluence” is really sticking with me, and I think often the situation is exactly how you describe. People grow up in fairly humble backgrounds and it turns out that a high paying job doesn’t automatically come with an instruction manual on how to use money as a tool to build a better life.
Sometimes self-care is just getting stuff done so you can function – morning planning, exercising, etc. I think reading, yoga, and coffee dates are my main form of self-care. I’m totally with Laura – pedicures and manicures are so so boring, luckily I live in Scotland so no one sees my toes. I absolutely agree on filling a podcast/content gap – so many of the parenting and life podcasts are about SAHMs or people with more entrepreneurial careers, which is great for them but not our family situation (academia + civil service). You both outsource more than I can afford to / probably would personally but I just have one kid, which I think makes the difference as I don’t need extra childcare to cover transport or to buy one-on-one time with my kiddo.
THANK YOU for filling that gap in the market! There are so many podcasts targeted at SAHMs or folks with “side hustles” (oh how I despise that term) but so few aimed at professional women.
Self-care these days: 20-30 minutes of Pilates in the morning, taking time to fully dry my hair (so much smoother than the rushed 90% dry job I accepted for so many years with little kids), and planning little adventures during business trips (which generally involve working on the plane, working until at least 11 pm at the hotel room, etc.).
@Kathleen – adventures during business trips are the best! Yes, you’re working but you (usually) don’t have the kids so there might be an opportunity to squeeze something in like a run or walk somewhere interesting.
I absolutely loved this episode of your podcast. I also loved the reader question in regards to professional women and filling the gap. I am over 50 and this does not apply to me but I definitely enjoyed hearing your take. I really feel that there should not be a need to apologize for working hard to have the career and life you want. It is much deserved and be proud! And also, totally agree that self-care is different for everyone depending on the person and what stages of life they are going through. I look forward to hearing you each week.
Thank you both for being unapologetic about filling this gap. It is so helpful to hear how other professional women accomplish NOT personally completing household tasks. These ideas are so helpful. And thank you for speaking to those of us who don’t have the most flexible or typical “mom” jobs.
One thing I would love to hear more about is parenting older children. As my oldest is hurtling toward adolescence, I am definitely finding the real parenting stuff that can’t be farmed out–the moral guidance and installation of values–more challenging. I would love to hear how other professional women make their time with their adolescent kids valuable and maybe even a little bit enjoyable.
@Gillian – thank you! And great suggestion for a topic. I know I am working on figuring this out myself.
More words of praise for this episode, especially your answer to the question. Thank you for filling this gap and for eloquently standing your ground. Not all podcasts need be for all people and, as you duly noted, many exist by and targeted to women with less-than-full-time careers. I love hearing your and your guests’ day-in-the-life descriptions for how it all gets done (or what just doesn’t get done).
I, too, loved the answer to the listener question. I am a first-time commenter and newer listener recently back to work after my second maternity leave. I have found this podcast and your books incredibly empowering and am recommending them to my working mom friends. When I listen to you two, I feel seen and heard in a way that I don’t in other spaces for moms. Thank you, thank you for filling this huge gap and showing working motherhood in a positive light.
@Nicole- thank you! And my apologies that your comment sat in the approval queue for so long. I could not get internet access on my laptop in my second hotel of the week. Another work/life issue 🙂
I have, over the years, become very good at self-care, in the form of enjoying my hot tub, rest, a glass of wine, walking, cooking and other things that give me pleasure. But my recent self-care has taken a different form that is more about a change in my internal habits: I worry less (or let’s say, I worry about things that deserve to be worried about, like climate change), and I rarely doubt myself, as I once did. i can’t account for how these habits changed; I didn’t set myself a goal to “work” on them. One day I just woke up and realized I didn’t do them much anymore. Call it grace, call it maturity…don’t know how it happened, but I’ll take it 🙂
I think your podcast is really excellent for women who don’t have high-paying jobs as well as those who do–I’m sure there are lots of teachers, social workers, and librarians (like myself) who listen. I think you both have enough frugal experience that you generally keep in mind that not everyone is in your financial position. One point made earlier in the podcast was that “if you’re paying for full time childcare, four more hours a month isn’t going to break the bank.” I think suggestions like that are within reach for most people, and other suggestions could be scaled down–maybe not a housekeeper every month or every two weeks, but maybe every other month or four times a year is financially feasible. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
As others have mentioned, I love the podcast and think it fills a huge gap as well. Unfortunately it seems the societal default is to assume that women shouldn’t work full time or don’t want to be working.
I’m a librarian, too! I totally agree that Laura and Sarah filled a gap with this podcast and I often feel genuinely empowered by their discussions and I feel like I could talk for an hour about how tracking my time has helped me think about my career and personal life. I empathize with listeners who feel overwhelmed and can’t choose to outsource time consuming tasks. As Caitlin suggests above, lots of suggestions can be scaled down or up, depending on need as well as one’s resources. Also, time-tracking is totally free, and so much of Laura and Sarah’s discussions are about choices that cost nothing–like managing social media use, reading, finding a workable sleep schedule, planning, etc. Not to mention Laura’s frequent advice to lower one’s standards 😉
@Robin – so glad that time-tracking has been life changing for you! It certainly has been for me.
It’s true that this podcast is directed primarily at a particular audience – mothers with demanding careers and some amount of financial freedom – but I don’t think it’s exclusionary at all. It simply refuses to glorify domestic labor for its own sake.
All parents, even if they don’t work full-time (or at all), have to find a balance between their children and everything else in their lives. Especially when children are young, a mother could easily run herself ragged “just” being a mom, with no work responsibilities or hobbies or friends. The point of this podcast is how to balance work and family, yes, but it’s also how to balance children and ANYTHING ELSE, because the idea that there should actually be a balance – that it’s okay to not make locally-sourced organic fresh homemade whatsits for dinner every night so you can earn money, or spend time with your husband, or sing in a choir, or go for a run, or be a human being with an existence that has merit in its own right once you’ve given birth – is still, alarmingly, radical.
@Erica- thank you for this. Isn’t it crazy that this still is a radical concept?
As a lot of the other commenters have stated, I really liked the question and your answer to it on this week’s episode. I really struggle with the affluence piece in my daily life because, while I make a good salary, my husband makes a really good salary and we have a level of affluence that my co-workers don’t. I struggle with this to some degree because I’m the boss and feel a great sense of guilt over the amount of money we make. Our office is small and close and often I have to just shut my mouth when the topic of money comes up. I have to be very careful because I know I am paying a fair salary to my employees but my family’s wealth makes me feel guilty nonetheless. I also really try not to complain about big life issues because I know my co-workers think I should just throw money at the problem. It may sound weird to say but listening to your podcast is a good outlet for me to know that other people who have the financial resources we have still struggle with juggling it all.
@Jaimie- thanks for your note. Money is indeed a tool that can solve a lot of problems, but you still have to figure out how to use the tool. If you weren’t born into affluence you won’t automatically know how to use it. So that is certainly one of the things we’re helping people figure out!
Very inspired by self-care as it is my « theme » for this year! Biggest self-care move was to admit that I need time alone to feel fine and to make an effort in scheduling time for me first rather than doing things for others first.
On a daily basis, I save my morning train ride to do what I like (read, watch series, listen to podcasts) and I would not start doing work (which I do on the journey back in the evening). I also spend another 20-30 minutes alone in the evening after everyone has gone to bed even if that means going to bed later than I should. I do my journal, I meditate for 10 minutes, I do some planning (agree with Sarah that planning can be considered self-care as for me it helps feeling in control and thus be more relaxed about my day).
Weekends are more difficult as there is
less possibilities to have time alone. That’s where being intentional about putting me first is important (yes, I used to be the one doing chores when kids nap. Now I sat down with a book and a coffee as soon as they are asleep)
Last year, my ultimate self-care experiences were actually spending one full day on my own. The first was in summer in London (I took advantage of a work meeting scheduled on Tuesday to take the Monday off and already go there). I went to a museum, walked around in the sun, read a book over lunch, had dinner with a friend and went to a musical with her. The second day was during the Christmas holidays. The kids were staying with the grand-parents and my husband was working. I could have done a lot in the house but I spent the whole day watching DVDs of concerts. I felt so good during those days, doing what I like and being not responsible for anybody, that I put it as a goal for 2019: scheduling a day off alone each quarter.
Work-related, working from home is my self-care trick. Not rushing to be on time for the train, having time for breakfast at home, taking my lunch break watching a TV series… while being productive. Best of (my) both worlds! 😉
@Ellie- I love the idea of taking a day off for fun stuff, and business trips can be great opportunities for that. Of course, being in one’s own home with no responsibilities can be great too! But harder to be alone there.
On the listener questioner – you totally filled a gap and indeed thank you so much for doing this podcast that is inspiring and empowering, even when your advices can’t be applicable to my lifestyle. I have also sometimes felt guilty compared to friends who earn less and can’t afford “life hacks” I have such as meal boxes or cleaning service. But I stopped because a) that higher earning level I have also come with some stress, so I feel that I kind of “deserve” to cut myself some slack on other aspects and b) as you pointed out for Sarah’s case, it was clear form the start that the career path I choose would mean higher earnings that the ones that my friends went for. No reason to feel bad about it. Also those friends may have other advantages with their work; like shorter commute which makes their life easier on other aspects (e.g more relaxed evenings). We can’t compare ourselves to people in different situations. Thanks for bringing another parenting model!
I’d like to offer my definition for self-care: Any action which bridges the gap between the necessities required for basic survival and achieving optimal physical and mental health.
@Hilla- ooh, I like this one!
I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer to this, but I don’t love the use of the word “professional” to describe your target demographic. Unfortunately, lots of people with careers that require lots of education aren’t high-income, but they’re still professional. For example, social workers and teachers both need masters degrees. Or someone with an MBA who’s working at a nonprofit.
Anyway… I know the point is not to endlessly wordsmith these things, but as you think about your niche/lane, it might be helpful to think about these things.