When you check out Leslie’s website, she has a whole section on dilemmas moms face. I’ve never felt more seen than when I read this one…
“The way Moms have to prioritize time, never really ‘leaves’ any time on the table for self-care, personal or professional growth (the top priorities, kids milestones, activities, household, etc. are perpetual…they’re never really ‘done’.)”
If you know me or if you’ve been listening to this podcast for awhile, you know I’m a pretty type A, goal driven person. I have To-Do lists for everything….which is why it’s so frustrating to have never-ending chores like laundry or picking up legos or figuring out snacks. Literally the moment you think the task is done and off your list…. Poof…. There are more clothes in the hamper (or on the floor next to the hamper if you’re my husband but that’s a topic for a different day) or the kids are hungry again. It’s relentless and makes it so hard to feel like I can put aside my To-Do list and take a minute for myself. I’ve felt this way for forever but never been able to name it so I’m glad Leslie described it so perfectly. Even better? She has tips for carving out time for yourself despite the never-ending To-Do list.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
A male colleague once asked Leslie- Why are moms always so stressed? Leslie grabbed a sheet of paper and scribbled down her first draft of her Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. Leslie responded- moms are stressed because they prioritize everyone else’s needs before themselves. Self-care happens only once everyone else’s needs are met. Leslie quit her job to focus full-time on helping moms prioritize their own self-care. Leslie has talked to countless moms through her research and has transformed Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs into a new business helping employers retain working parents and create inclusive workplaces where caregivers can thrive.
How did you start the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs?
I completely crashed after my second child, my daughter, was born. I burned out in a really big way at work. So that was the impetus. I always had an incredible amount of energy. And somehow I had this fictitious image in my head about taking maternity leave and then everything returning right back to the way everything was previously. I just didn’t anticipate how different everything in my life would be.
I was approached by a founder of a startup for mental health. In a conversation about mental health, he asked me- Why are moms so stressed? I responded- You know, there’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and then there’s Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. And as soon as I said it, I felt like something just clicked. So I just drew the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs on a little sheet of paper that evening. And thats how it all began.
Can you explain to us the levels on Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs?
All the things at the bottom are our priorities, our children’s health, their well-being, their milestones and their education. And then you look at like the next layer, our household role and everything that we have going on there. And then comes our professional role. All of these roles make up two-thirds of the Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs framework. And then at the very tippy top we have healthy adult relationships, and self-care which include sleep, interests, fun, learning, and of all the things that we would do for our mental, physical and emotional health. They’re way up at the top. And the reason that we never prioritize them is because everything on the bottom is never done.
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges of parenting?
Everyone wants to be excellent at everything. I want to be an excellent mom. I want to be an excellent partner. I want to be an excellent daughter to my aging parents. I want to be an excellent friend and sister. And I want to be an excellent worker. But you can’t do it all. There are real time trade offs that you have to make. Sometimes you have to say no to something that you would love to say yes to. Or maybe you have to put in 50% that you would have put 100% before.
What are some strategies that we can use to let go of the mom guilt?
I think there are two big drivers of the guilt. One is the expectations we have for ourselves. But then there are other things that are external, that society has decided for us like who’s at the pediatrician who’s doing pickup and drop off? And it’s those external requirements that get pushed onto us, either subtly or not subtly, where people start to feel a lot of guilt. So I think understanding your personal triggers is the best advice I could give around managing guilt. Because if you know what your hot zones are, you can create some rules, so that you’re not wrestling with guilt every time you have to make that decision. Then you’re not revisiting your personal boundaries every time you have to make a decision.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.