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Home » #14: Can Parents Find Purpose in the Messy Middle?

#14: Can Parents Find Purpose in the Messy Middle?

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SUMMARY

Suri explores the challenges that parents face, in finding purpose in the messy middle. She delves into the real struggles faced by stay-at-home moms and working moms today. 

SHOW NOTES

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TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity

INTRO: Hi and welcome to another episode of Doing Things on Purpose, the podcast that empowers women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose. This is your host Suri Stahel, a wife and mom of two.

Today I’ll be discussing the question: What does it mean to live a purposeful and successful life as a millennial mom, right smack in the messy middle? 

CHECK-IN: But before we get started, let’s kick things off with the all-important Mom Check-In. For those of you who are new, this is a way for me to keep reminding my listeners as well as myself, to keep investing in our wellbeing.

I want to remind us to not lose sight of ourselves as amazing human beings that have intrinsic value and require care, in order to thrive and serve in the best way we can in our day-to-day lives. 

  • And this can all start with a simple, doable and daily self-care routine to set us off on the right foot each and every day. Think about it like sending your kid off to school everyday – unrushed, well-loved and well-fed. We deserve that too. It’s easy to see how beneficial and stabilizing that can be for the success and development of our kids. So really, that’s also the kind of effort that we must be willing to make for ourselves, in order to thrive. Not just every few days a month of complicated and expensive self care, but something easy, breezy and repeatable for you. 
  • You’ll be happy to know that I’ve heard time and time again from women who’ve lived long and vital lives that their mantra has been, “Everything in moderation.” So don’t sweat the small stuff when you fail to show up some days for yourself or your family. And know that in the long run, every small step that you take in the right direction, brings you further down that lifelong path that you’ve decided to move toward.
  • At the time of this episode in late October 2023, I’m 41 and will be turning 42 in January. So ladies my age may know the aches and pains that we start to get, with getting older. But I can tell you that after two years of practicing very gentle yoga, almost every day –  I was surprised to discover that I’m now even more flexible than my 9 year old daughter. That’s crazy right? So I’m living proof that purposeful habits, even when done slow and steadily, DO add up over time. And health and fitness is something that you just can’t delegate someone else to do for you. 
  • The second thing that you can’t delegate is how you take control of your time which I feel, highly impacts your mental wellness as well. If you follow me on social @suristahel, you’ll see that I’ve shared an autumn invitation to practice the art of monotasking – which is just focusing our attention on only doing one single thing at a time. Now I’m also a big believer in planning our time for success, so I’ve just added a daily schedule sample and a template that you can print out and use, on my website at suristahel.com/time.
  • I don’t want you to be intimidated. If you’re new to making a daily schedule, know that it’s like tailoring a glove that fits for you. You’re allowed to make a draft. Try it for a week. Tweak it as needed, and try it again. Before long, you’ll be off and running.  

SURI: Now on to today’s topic about living with purpose in the messy middle. That place where we feel like we’re failing to be the best mom and partner that we want to be, while at the same time feeling like we’re failing at being the best employee, boss or entrepreneur that we know we can be. It seems like such a challenging and impossible place to be in. Now I don’t have all the answers, but I want to open up this discussion.

I thought I’d begin by tapping into our collective intelligence by asking Chat GPT for some ideas about what living a purposeful life as a millennial mom could look like, and this is what I got back: 

  • Living a purposeful life means aligning your actions, choices, and daily routines with your values, passions, and what truly matters to you.  
  • For millennial moms, it involves finding a balance between motherhood and personal fulfillment. 
  • It’s about living a life that’s not just about surviving but thriving.

Now that’s pretty amazing, and I must say that I agree. I’m sure most of us would.

Now you know me, I’m all about doing things on purpose. So let’s get down to business.

Since a few months now, I’ve been a member of a few mom support groups on Facebook as I wanted to find out first hand, beyond my own personal experience and observations of the moms around me – what do moms who need support, most struggle with. I’ve joined both a stay at home mom (SAHM) group as well as a working mom group. The themes that I noticed, kept repeating over and over again were:

  • SAHMs who don’t work, feel overwhelmed with home life and feel like the solution is to get a job and have a life that doesn’t just revolve around their kids. But if we only stop to think for a minute, would adding more commitments to your schedule help you cope better with what you already have on your plate, or is it likely to make things worse? What would you advise your daughter or friend, if they were in your shoes? Is delegating childcare to others really what you want to do? For some it’s a yes, and for others, it’s a hard no.
  • And then the moms who do work feel like they’re failing both at work and in the home because they feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood and the workplace. This is key because this is what society is pushing us to do. They’re saying that we can have it all – we can start a family, decide to return to work after a few months, put our babies in daycare, show up at work not tired, and come home after dealing with difficult clients or bosses to happily clean, cook and be with our kids and partners while having enough time to decompress and relax. It’s just not realistic! Unless you’re extremely blessed and you’ve put in the work to develop your self-awareness ahead of time, and you’ve put up healthy boundaries – most of us can’t just turn off a section of our lives whenever we feel like it. Especially if one or all of those parts aren’t doing so well. Because newsflash! Most moms don’t have babies to not spend time with them. We want to be there for our kids. So something’s gotta give.
  • Oh the flip side, some moms do discover that being a parent is not something that fills their cup. So they need to go to work. For those parents, they might think – what did I get myself into? How could I have known it would be this hard? They feel like they’re just ‘done’ with all the struggle. It’s so hard to hear.
  • And if that’s not enough, we moms also struggle with judgemental and insensitive comments from relatives and spouses, and we get easily caught up in power struggles.
  • We can’t seem to avoid the comparison game. Which assumes that our spouses are lucky because they’re working and we’re unlucky because we’re at home or vice versa. And we assume that other moms have it together or better than us – and that we’re falling behind in life. We think in terms of shoulds. We should be able to do this better. But we forget about the value of learning some things on the job, or finding out how to do things better – just like any other job. We know that this kind of thinking is harming us, and yet we just can’t stop scrolling. We can’t stop comparing. 

But just think about these statistics… I can’t know your exact circumstances. But if you’re listening to this, you probably own a smart phone, you have access to education, clean water, food and are likely living in a pretty stable country. 

Economically speaking, if you have a combined household income of $130,000 after tax and you’ve got a partner and one kid, you’re in the richest 1 percent of the global population. Or if you have two kids with this income, you’ve made it to the top 1.7%. 

As a one income household in expensive Switzerland, with 2 adults and 2 kids, my family is in the richest 3.5%, compared to the global population. So whatever I make as a growing entrepreneur, will be on top of that. And it’s nice to know that. So I can happily focus my energies on learning and growing to provide real value to other parents in my own way. My contribution to the world would be to help parents lead more fulfilling lives, in a world that seems to be working against them in so  many ways. That’s my why. 

Then the how: the services, the products, or the money piece would be something that – yes, will hopefully increase my family’s financial freedom above what we’re already living with, but it would also be a driver to help me increase my personal impact in the world even more. Whether it’s being able to donate 10% of my income to the poor, or by donating my time, attention, actions or words.  

You’d be surprised how a shift in mindset can really help in your purpose finding journey. So if you want, go ahead and calculate your own household income in comparison to the rest of world, by going to www.givingwhatwecan.org and scrolling down to the How Rich Am I calculator. 

To be clear, my goal is not to minimize anyone’s problems, but to give you a little perspective and to hopefully empower you. Chances are, we’re already spending way too much time being preoccupied with, and comparing ourselves to the wrong metrics. 

Metrics that make us feel less-than rather than grateful for what we have. Metrics that always tell us that we need more and more, instead of making us wake up and see when we actually do have more than enough to give. Maybe it’s not money, but it might be our time, our attention, our actions or our words.

I mean, if we can’t make it work with our living standards, what hope is there for the rest of the 95-99% of the world? 

So maybe the answer to parents finding purpose in the messy middle, takes a little mindset shift first, before we get into real world ways of ‘how’ to do it.

Next time, I’ll talk a bit more about some concrete examples of how we as women, as mothers, can make our big impact as individuals and find purpose both within and beyond the home. What can that feasibly look like? And I welcome your ideas as well.

OUTRO: That’s all I have for you this week. If this podcast has been helpful, please share it with a friend. And don’t forget to subscribe, and rate this show wherever you listen to podcasts.

The show notes, links and transcript of this episode will be available at suristahel.com/14.

Thank you so much for tuning in. This is Suri, and you’re listening to the Doing Things on Purpose podcast. I’ll catch you again next time.

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