Best of Both Worlds podcast: Cheerfully living on less with the Frugal Girl

Sarah and I have both been reading The Frugal Girl blog for years. So we were thrilled that Kristen agreed to talk to Sarah for this week’s episode of Best of Both Worlds!

Kristen has been documenting her journey of “cheerfully living on less” since 2008. Through her popular blog features such as “What I Spent, What I Ate,” “Thankful Thursdays,” and “Five Frugal Things,” she creates a community of positivity where people can share their tips and struggles. She talks about how she has actively chosen to focus on positivity, even as life has not been easy (Kristen did this interview with Sarah on the day she posted this heartbreaking personal news). She talks about her decision to return to school to become a nurse after many years mostly out of the traditional workforce.

In the Q&A we tackle a question from a listener who’s having a tough time being back at work after baby #2. Her therapist mentioned it being impossible to “have it all” —  so we discuss that broad proclamation…

Please give the episode a listen and be sure to check out The Frugal Girl!

16 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Cheerfully living on less with the Frugal Girl

  1. I felt for the listener in the question section bc that is definitely a tough time and not the best time to make any life-altering decisions. One other item to mention: you can stop breastfeeding at any time. That is something that is not mandatory and does not need to last any certain length. I know it is a fraught decision but having had three very different (not easy) experiences with breastfeeding, I was annoyed how little some people focus on the mother’s overall mental health and wellbeing and expense breastfeeding takes on time and physical and mental energy. IMHO a mother’s wellbeing is more important and more impactful on the entire family’s wellbeing than breastmilk or formula. So perhaps this mom loves it and by all means, keep it up through the tough times if it’s worth it to you but also know 6 months is really impressive and how you feel matters.

    1. @Megan – absolutely agree. It is not mandatory, and pumping in particular needs to be considered in light of overall well being for everyone. This particular listener was making up the work at night — but I have heard tales of folks staying late at work because time was lost during the day to pump…maybe better to use formula and get home to the baby sooner!

      1. Also, you can still have the experience of nursing your baby without being the sole provider of his calories. If she stops pumping (or pumps less), baby can take formula while she is at work but she may still be able to do a morning/ evening nursing sesh. Hmmm… Maybe we CAN have it all. (jk but I was also annoyed at this therapists pronouncement)

  2. Thank you guys so much for the mention!! And thanks for introducing me to The Frugal Girl- loved the interview and her blog totally looks like one I’d love to follow, too! 🙂

  3. I didn’t know about The Frugal Girl either and have spent the last hour very happily browsing her archives! What a great guest and I’m looking forward to following along with her journey.
    And thanks for the shout-out 🙂

  4. Thank you for the shout-out!! So kind of you guys! I loved this interview and have followed Frugal Girl for some time now. I love how she is going back to school to pursue a passion and how much her girls are cheering her on. That is so sweet.

    You guys gave the questioner sound advice. I feel like you kind of have to let go of some expectations during that first year or two of the baby’s life, and even beyond. Life is long (hopefully) so 52-104 weeks out of 4000 is small in the grand scheme of things. I was able to fit in exercise when I went back to work after having my 2nd child, but that was only because I was WFH. For our first child, I could not figure out how to fit in exercise without compromising my sleep which I valued! So I let it go and tried to get in as many walks as I could. Now I am back at work and fitting exercise in is once again hard but I keep that 3 times/week is a habit idea in mind and try not to expect myself to exercise as much as I did pre-kids. I also wonder if she felt similar after her first child? I think that transition back to work can be tough, but I had an easier time with it with my 2nd child because I remembered how I felt with #1 and knew it was a stage and things would get easier.

  5. It was also disappointed that there was no mention in the Q&A that pumping is optional! Sometimes, when women are feeling like this listener is the need and are looking for permission to quit. This would lighten her load substantially and may be the right path for her right now. Happy moms make happy healthy babies.

    1. @Gillian – very true, but from past experience I know that it is not always taken as helpful to suggest this 🙂 I guess another option would be to see if her company would let her work from home more often — way more common now than 3 years ago. She could have a nanny care for the baby at home and then nurse on schedule, which is far more pleasant than pumping.

    1. @omdg – it’s the matching outfits that get me. My kids consent to this exactly once per year (Christmas morning). I cannot fathom the daily dose of it…

  6. The pumping thing is so, so fraught. When I listened to the episode I was also kind of annoyed that deciding to stop pumping was never mentioned as an option. Of course, it’s easy to say (as a person who is not currently breastfeeding) that if pumping is taking the place of running, and running is something you want to do, that you can choose to not pump. But this is a very personal decision, and there is a lot of fear (one’s supply might dry up, the baby might not be willing to drink formula, antibodies, etc.) and if breastfeeding is something that was hard to start it can be emotionally difficult to do anything that might hasten its end.

    However, the false narrative around “having it all” (which really means having a few very specific things) is so ridiculous. Time is finite whether or not you have kids. (Also, did the therapist suggest that maybe her husband should scale back at his job? He is probably trying to “have it all,” too.)

    Unpopular opinion: pumping can be very relaxing. I always found it took two hands (although maybe pumps have gotten better) so it was an excuse to watch TV.

  7. I really felt for the listener too! I am a full time physician and just emerging from the first year with my second child. The first time around it was HARD, so the second time I took a different approach. It was still incredibly hard, but I felt so much better about it. On maternity leave I had two goals each day 1) go for a walk and 2) take a shower. The walk and being outside is extremely important for my well-being, so this was critical. As I returned to work I conceptualized my “hierarchy of needs.” First sleep. Second outside time a few times a week (no longer daily when not on leave). Third more social time. Now that I am no longer pumping I have started exercising. Any time I started to feel guilty about not exercising I reminded myself that I wasn’t there on my pyramid yet. I have not taken on ( too many) new projects this year at work. It really helped me balance my expectations, and the second time around I had the perspective that this all gets better in a few years. Best of luck to the caller and to anyone in the midst of this struggle.

  8. About “having it all”… I agree that the therapist could have been more supportive, and in such cases, take on a coaching role. I like to approach it as “having it all, but not at the same time,” so the discussion about how this newborn/infant phase is just the worst but will end is a very good reminder not to make big decisions right away.
    Going back to the intro, I also wanted to say that it’s pretty challenging to have a blog and a separate career too, so I am impressed by Sarah and others who maintain theirs. My own blog’s topic, while related to the industry I am in as a scientist, has been a resource I created for others and hasn’t been to showcase my scientific work or my brand. When I am actively writing and working on the blog, I love it and it gives me so much joy, but setting aside the mind space and time to do it during the everyday hustle is always a hurdle. What do you recommend? Scheduling it? Practice being able to write in small increments? Planning out posts a year in advance? External gratification and validation from others always give me a motivational boost, but how can I maintain that energy?

    1. @Wenny – this is a great question – I think scheduling is a great idea. You commit to a certain number of posts per week and know roughly when you will write them. I tend to plan out posts weekly – when I plan on Fridays I figure out what I’ll write the next week. You could certainly put posts on the calendar for far ahead of time – so you don’t have to think of them in the moment. And yes, knowing you could crank out a post in a small amount of time can be helpful for keeping it in perspective. You could time this and see if you could consistently do it in some unit of time that feels reasonable.

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