Best of Both Worlds podcast: Q1 2024 Mailbag on streamlining, SAHM life, and more

Welcome to the first mailbag episode of 2024! For any new listeners — each week on the Best of Both Worlds podcast, Sarah and I tackle a listener question. Then every few weeks we do a round-up of questions.

Today’s episode covers lots of different topics. A listener asks how to streamline things during a very busy season (I recommend time tracking — shout out to anyone doing this week’s time tracking challenge!). Another listener asks about choosing activities for young kids. A listener asks if either of us ever considered being a stay-at-home mom, because she’s worried about regretting not being home with the kids when they’re little. A listener asks about whether we still do any tasks rather than outsourcing them, because we enjoy them — I think we had a nice and diplomatic answer to that question!

Anyway, please give the episode a listen, and we welcome ratings and reviews. If you’d like to discuss these topics more in depth with other people combining work and life, please consider joining our Patreon community. We have 3-4 discussion threads going per week, often with 20-30+ comments. It’s a great alternative to social media! Membership is $9/month.

9 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Q1 2024 Mailbag on streamlining, SAHM life, and more

  1. I loved the question on limited income & resources, as I very much related to this stage of life when my children were babies/toddlers. It is challenging and I learned several things that are still sources of joy today (some from this blog!), and these can expand over time as you have more time and resources.

    – Read books from the library — as little as a couple pages a day helped me feel like a person outside of working & parenting
    – Exercise — I started at 10 mins./day using free YouTube videos for an endorphin boost
    – Take a short walk outside on days when it is feasible
    – Text with friends or send funny gifs about the challenging stage so you feel connection even when there is limited time
    – Visit parks/playgrounds for free with your young kids for a change of scenery and fresh air for both of you
    – Try a new recipe on a cadence that is manageable to switch up the endless cooking routine
    – If you commute, try to use this time for podcasts, audio books, a phone call with a friend or family member so it feels like time for yourself
    – If you have a partner, play a game together after the kids are in bed every once in awhile
    – A friend in a similar stage would come over for dinner/or at her place on alternating weeks while we were solo parenting to share the responsibilities and we are still good friends today

    I also love Sarah’s plug for focusing on expanding income instead of only aiming to limit spending. I’m an example of being able to grow my income significantly by staying in the workforce and looking for opportunities. It does make life easier, but finding happiness in these small areas are still important today.

    1. @Joy with limited resources – I love this comment. Thank you so much for sharing all these excellent ideas! They are all great ways to make life better (more joyful!) with limited resources. And thanks for noting our suggestion that income isn’t always set. Sometimes it is. But sometimes it can be changed. It might be worth considering.

    2. I’d also like to add that your only support doesn’t have to come from family or friends from your pre-kid life who are similarly in the thick of parenting. I’ve found cultivating friendships with people who are not bogged down in the relentlessness of parenting can be invaluable as they have significantly more flexibility. One of my closest friends is 14 years older than me and her kids are high schoolers nearly ready to leave the flock. She works from home and is one of our emergency contacts who is authorized to pick up my daughter in case we can’t get her. She lives two doors down and can pop in for a drink at the end of the day when my daughter has gone down for bed and I don’t have the energy to/can’t leave the house. Her kids are doing their extracurricular activities and homework and don’t need/want her hanging over her shoulder. Do you know how much she loves having a toddler light up with joy when she enters the room? Both of their reactions to each other fill my heart with joy.

      I also have friends who’ve “adopted” local grandparents who own kids and grandkids live on the other side of the country and they support one another in ways family would. The “grandparents” love being included in family dinners and they all help each other out in many ways – the “kids” help shovel snow and the “grandparents” are home to receive kids who get off busses at 3 in the afternoon for a couple of hours at the end of the day. Some of these relationships literally started out of people sending messages out to the neighborhood listserv sharing that they were lonely. It’s been beautiful to see these types of relationships bloom in my community. We also have babysitting co-ops, where people exchange childcare without exchanging money. These creative ideas do take work to dream up and implement, which is the hardest part, but seeing some of these outcomes, I’d say it’s worth trying.

      1. @Alyce – great points! Community and support can come in many forms. And yes, some folks who don’t have little ones around might be happy to help with those little ones. Neighborhoods that are really tight knit are the best.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out today! Always a fun surprise 🙂

    I have loved blogging as a creative outlet; with zero financial strings attached for me (other than the investment of paying for hosting), it’s my favourite hobby! There is so much you can do – enjoy creating recipes? Blog about that! Love taking pictures of nature. Start a simple blog to host a Picture A Day photo habit.

    I also second the idea of sending funny memes. This automatically boosts my mood and when I was going through a rough patch in the fall I asked my best friend specifically to text me a funny meme every day. It really made a difference!

    1. @Elisabeth – happy to do the shout out! Blogging can be a great creative hobby. And so can singing! Hopefully we’ll get a few folks trying both after listening today.

      1. This is so true. I’m back to blogging after many years off and it’s a great way to work through…stuff for me as I take some time off to ponder my next career move.

        Also, Laura, I looked up “Community Chorus” in Phoenix to see what was available and there’s actually…gulp one that that starts their “semester” next week and doesn’t require an audition. I kinda want to do it, but also I’m kind of terrified.

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