Best of Both Worlds podcast: Get out of your rut

When Sarah and I first talked about doing a Best of Both Worlds episode on ruts — this week’s topic — we figured we’d focus on advice for adding new adventures and ambitions to the schedule.

But then we realized there was a semantic angle to this. A “rut” is the negative version of “routine.” And routines themselves can be very good! Going to bed and waking up at similar times most days, or committing to run a certain route before breakfast can all make good choices easier. Sarah mentioned that she has a fairly high tolerance for doing the same things repeatedly.

Then again, if life is feeling stale, maybe the same things need a rethink. So after that semantic discussion, we talk about how to bust both professional and personal ruts, from trying a mini-collaboration to putting in something whimsical.

In the Q&A section, we tackle a question from a listener who has 2 kids and, at age 40, is pondering whether she should have another. Sarah made the very wise observation that when she was pondering having a third child, she only sought out advice from people who had happily grown their families from the “normal” size — because that is the answer she wanted. Since this listener was reaching out to us, well, that suggests the direction she’s leaning.

Please give the episode a listen, and as always, we welcome ratings and reviews.

11 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Get out of your rut

  1. Excellent episode! Two comments:

    1) I’m like Sarah with routines. Why mix up a running route if it’s working perfectly??!? I have a few that I run regularly (depending on my intended distance) and love the familiarity =)

    2) I loved the question from the listener re: going 2 kids to 3 and agree that she probably already knows the answer! If she does have serious concerns about pregnancy health at age 40, have a conversation with OB. Some genetics risks are higher but pregnancy can obviously be safe. Maybe it might make her feel better to hear from a provider some of things that can be done to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery, especially after two c-sections? I’m positive none of it will be new info, but maybe having ‘permission’ (not literally, but could be perceived that way) from a provider that she is healthy enough to move forward will help?

    On the flip side, I have a five and two year old and I think I want a third, but husband is firmly against. Would love to hear from some others who have decided NOT to have another child to hear the reasoning and maybe help me make peace with it! I may have gone down a small rabbit hole the other day of surrogacy because I think that would be an awesome gift to give someone but… Lots of buts.

    1. I always kind of wanted a third, but my husband (who is the oldest of 6 kids in his family) was a firm, absolute, hard NO on any more than 2. We had our boys very close together (15 months apart), so in our case, their baby and toddlerhood was kind of insane enough. In those early years, having a third wasn’t really on my mind exactly as I was just…overwhelmed enough keeping up with the two I had!! Haha. Then once they were old enough that I could have actually considered it and felt sane about it, I started tasting the freedom of the “older kid years”…potty trained, WAY easier to travel with, no issues when attending other kids’ sporting activities, getting close to being able to leave home alone to run errands, etc. My husband was still a hard NO on it anyway, so I never pushed it. I very occasionally feel wistful that I’ll never have a girl (two boys here) but overall, I feel totally at peace with our decision. Zero regrets. We are an active family, we like to travel, etc. and for us, the family of 4 is nice and compact and makes all of that quite easy, plus more affordable. 🙂 We each have a partner for rides at Disney World and can fit perfectly in hotel rooms and restaurant booths. 🙂 haha! I never feel that “someone is missing” or anything like that. I think I may have been overwhelmed with 3+ kids, personally, but that may just be a personality trait of mine.

      That being said…different strokes for different folks!! Obviously, it is a very personal decision. But my husband was a definite NO on more kids. (Briefly, his reasoning revolved around his experiences growing up in a larger family in Mexico. He felt that he much preferred to be able to “give more” to the kids we do have, vs having our money and time stretched among more. Plus, he always said with lots of kids there are just “too many worries”, someone always has a problem (even as adults now, he still feels there are just too many people in his family to be constantly concerned/worried about!!), the child rearing years go on forever, less able to just enjoy life bc it gets chaotic with so many, etc.) (Of note- these are just his comments/ personal experience and what he has told me over the years- no offense meant at all to anyone that views it differently!! Maybe because he is the oldest, too, (with a 20+ year age span between him and the youngest- he is 40 and his littlest brother is turning 19!), he may have a specific opinion. I can’t really relate, anyway as I only have one sibling!).

      1. @Kae – thank you for such a thoughtful comment! It’s interesting, in that I year ago I felt much more strongly about a third than now, and I think some of it is having a taste of ‘big kid’ possibility recently. My older son has grown up SO much in the past year and suddenly life is just…easier. So it does make it harder to go back to the mindset of having a newborn. In many ways, that’s also why I’m sort of drawn to the idea of surrogacy – I actually love being pregnant and the process of becoming a parent was so special to me…I’d love to give that to someone who can’t do it in the traditional way. Ironically, I am an only child and only wanted one for YEARS until I discovered that pregnancy/newborns are my faves =)

        My husband has some of the same reasoning you presented – the world is really catered to families of 4 (restaurant tables, hotel rooms, non-van cars, etc.). It’s just easier, and we do plan to travel with our boys (also a two-boy family!) when the world opens back up again. I have a good friend with three children, the oldest of whom has often said that he would ‘never burden his family with three kids because the world is made for families with two kids!’ (apparently he gets really annoyed when their family of five has to be accommodated in some ways? I find it funny that he has such strong feelings…and I’m sure that Laura finds this laughable, too, given the accommodations required for a family of seven!)

        I guess the one thing that has surprised me in adulthood is how much thought goes into the number of children (for some people). As non-parent, I just assumed everyone knew how many kids they wanted and that was that (didn’t always happen, but I assumed everyone had a plan). As an adult and a parent now, that is so far from the truth – there are so many considerations. I was a ‘one and done’ for years until I wasn’t. I agonized over whether or not to have #2 and now surprise myself with even the thought of a #3. No one told me these decisions would be so hard!!!

        1. @KGC – yes the world is made for smaller families, but the world can also be made to adjust. They can find a bigger table for you. Restaurants tend to have them for parties.
          I can’t say I grew up knowing how many kids I wanted, though I have always been drawn to the idea of a larger family. I wrote an article about mega-families and their tips and tricks for USA Today in 2002…when I didn’t even have a boyfriend.

      2. @Grateful Kae- thank you for sharing your thoughts on family size! I’m sure this will be helpful for listeners thinking these things through.

  2. I’ve had 2 c sections and this most recent one was when I was 2 months shy of 40. I actually thought it was easier than my first one, probably because it was scheduled instead of labor it for over a day and needing an emergency c section. So I wouldn’t let the c section recovery hold you back. My husband and I do agree that having kids is kind of a ‘young man’s game’ mostly because of the sleep deprivation aspect. That part is way harder for me than the c section recovery but that period with our 3yo is a total blur and I don’t remember much about it. So I remind myself this phase will soon be a distant memory. I am 1000% sure we are done and my husband is, too. I actually have recurring nightmares that I am pregnant! My pregnancies are very difficult so I cannot go through it again. So we are a case of being completely sure we are done having kids with no lingering thoughts of a 3rd and I don’t see this changing between me having hard pregnancies and us finding the first year of life really taxing/exhausting. So maybe the fact that the questioner feels a desire to have a 3rd is the answer to her question. I wouldn’t let age be the deciding factor though as the risks at 40 are not that much higher than say at age 38.

  3. So on the subject of routines/ruts, I absolutely think this is about finding the best of both worlds! I’m a routine nut, very similar to Sarah, but I’m also religious about trying 1-2 new recipes a week as cooking is definitely my creative space. I try and add in tweaks to my routines to keep it feeling varied, e.g. I always cook a roast dinner on a Sunday night (I’m British, it’s a rule!) but vary the meat – I have tried venison haunch, lamb breast and veal shoulder along with the usual suspects. I exercise every morning before breakfast but often try new workouts from YouTube. I think you can use routine to establish something in your life as a habit but then look at tweaking it for variety once it’s established.

    1. @Louise – I like this framework. Establish routines/templates, and then look for ways to add variety within that. Maybe there’s usually a family outing Sunday afternoon but the place varies.

  4. Hello, Sarah and Laura! I’ve been listening for over a year now and I just love the podcast! Just had to chime in on this episode after Laura mentioned the joy of playing piano at her new house. I’ve also recently rediscovered a love for piano, as I played all through childhood. The house we bought three years ago had a piano and I had barely touched it, but just a month ago I decided to try playing a little. It’s been really fun to recall the pieces I used to know (and find free sheet music to download online). This piano is very old and in need of serious tuning, but it’s definitely been a fun way to break out of the rut of day-to-day pandemic life.

  5. We have 2 kids, and I think we’re done. I thought I wanted 4 kids. Then I got so so sick with both, and I never want to feel that horrible again. I would consider being a foster parent when my kids are older, but no more pregnancies.

  6. I had so many thoughts during this episode! I do love introducing some new things. Like Sarah, I’m a DuoLingo user, though I sprung for the subscription because I like the features. Also identified a walking path through my own yard – it’s a loop I do a few times, but the house is in the middle so that is handy for restroom needs, clothing adjustments, checking on kids, etc. I also started a Coursersa course, on data analysis, just like you referenced!

    Such great stuff CAN come from this, and that’s getting easier to admit, since it feels like we are (hopefully) heading into a summer of joy.

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