Navigating Motherhood, Careers, and Well-being with Dr. Anne Welsh

February 15, 2024 / Mom &… Podcast Episode 134 / Guest: Dr. Anne Welsh

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Show Summary:

This episode of the Mom &… Podcast features guest Dr. Anne Welsh, a mom, clinical psychologist, executive coach, and consultant. Dr. Welsh shares insights about the dilemmas and challenges women often face when returning to work after maternity leave, as well as the importance of understanding that these decisions are not always permanent and can be adjusted according to changing circumstances over time. The episode also dives into the ways in which parenting skills can be valuable in the professional space, and the importance of having a supportive community during these transitions. Moreover, Dr. Welsh introduces her Working Mothers Lifeline group, designed to support working mothers through their shared experiences.

Topics From This Episode:

  • 00:00 Introduction to the Podcast
  • 00:00 Hosts’ Personal Updates and Anecdotes
  • 01:39 Introducing the Guest: Dr. Anne Welsh
  • 03:00 Dr. Anne Welsh’s Career Journey and Expertise
  • 05:47 Understanding the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching
  • 07:54 Challenges and Transitions in New Parenting
  • 11:41 Exploring Parental Leave Coaching
  • 14:40 Navigating the Decision to Return to Work Post-Maternity
  • 17:57 The Value of Stay-at-Home Moms and the Importance of Self-Care
  • 28:39 Strategies for Keeping Skills Fresh During Extended Leave
  • 31:38 Parenting as a Skill-Building Exercise
  • 32:19 The Three Categories of Skills Developed Through Parenting
  • 33:09 Parenting as Project Management
  • 33:55 The Value of Parenting Skills in the Workplace
  • 34:34 Transitioning Back to the Workforce
  • 35:35 Tips for Preparing to Reenter the Workforce
  • 35:49 The Importance of Self-Compassion and Getting Help
  • 39:14 The Working Mother’s Lifeline Group
  • 39:24 The Power of Community for Working Moms
  • 41:35 Look, Listen, Learn: Recommendations and Discoveries

Look, Listen, Learns




More About Dr. Anne Welsh:

Dr. Anne Welsh is a clinical psychologist, executive coach, and consultant. Dr. Welsh began her career at Harvard before opening her own practice with a focus on supporting working parents in growing their careers and families. She is a mother of 4 and draws on her own experience as a mother, her research career in the transition to motherhood, and her 15 years in practice to help parents feel less alone, more connected to themselves and their values, and more empowered to make choices that fit for them.

Connect with Dr. Anne Welsh:

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Musical Notes

Our delightfully happy intro and outro theme music, “We Will Get Through This” is performed by Young Presidents, and used under license from Shutterstock.

Transcript is auto-generated by a robot. Apologies in advance for misspellings or errors.

[00:00:08] Susanne: Welcome to the mom and dot dot dot podcast the podcast that helps you make your ellipses count You know all the dot dot dots that come after I’m a mom and and I’m Susanne Kerns a mom and dot dot dot writer LGBTQ and sex ed advocate and this week I am starting A new client. I’m up to two now, which is pretty exciting, and it’s also my lucky number, so I’m stopping there.

[00:00:33] Missy: All right. Perfect. You’re done. I

[00:00:35] Susanne: I know. Part time needs to stay part time. That’s my motto.

[00:00:38] Missy: That’s right. That’s right. And I’m Missy Stevens, mom and dot, dot, dot, writer, foster child advocate, and this week returner of random items that I’ve bought in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. So note to everyone, don’t shop when you have insomnia because you don’t need any of that stuff.

[00:00:54] Susanne: Oh, are you going to share what any of them were?

[00:00:56] Missy: the one thing, it’s not that interesting, but I bought a mattress pad that we don’t need. Like I woke in the middle of the night in a panic and I’m like, we don’t have a mattress pad for that bed. Yes, yes, we do. Like, I’m not drinking. I’m not on drugs. I just am not sleeping well. And my brain is going on too many things.

And yeah, but I, yeah, and I bought just, you know, shoes that don’t fit and tops that are stupid and, you know, just stuff. Stuff. I get it. And I’m like, what? Oh, I bought a pair of coveralls, like Dickie’s coveralls. Thought they’d be really cute. They were not.

[00:01:26] Susanne: I’m scared. Those always look so cute on people, but I think my boobs are too big. I think that they would do

[00:01:32] Missy: I don’t know what was wrong with my body in them, but it was not happening.

[00:01:37] Susanne: Oh my gosh, okay, and we do have a guest today too, not just our shopping recap. Our guest this week is Dr. Anne Welsh. Anne is a mom and dot dot dot clinical psychologist, executive coach, and consultant. Anne began her career at Harvard before opening her own practice with a focus on supporting working parents in growing their careers and families.

She draws on her own experience as a mother of four, her research career in the transition of motherhood, and her 15 years in practice to help parents feel less alone, more connected to themselves and their values, and more empowered to make choices that fit for them.

Welcome. Oh my, those are all our favorite things to talk about. I’m so excited.

[00:02:20] Anne: I’m super excited to be here. I have listened to many of your shows and learned from all of your other guests, so it feels like a real treat to get to be the guest this time.

[00:02:30] Susanne: Oh, yay.

[00:02:31] Missy: Thank you. We’re really glad you’re here. And we learned some about you from your bio, but we’d love to look at a little more and one Oh one and just a snapshot of your career in life and maybe any pivots and how motherhood might’ve impacted any of those pivots.

[00:02:45] Anne: Yeah, I, started out, getting my doctorate in psychology, but there was a pretty big pivot even before that. I had gotten into medical school and decided not to go. Uh, my parents were not thrilled, but I kind of just knew that this was not quite. The fit, even though I had worked really hard to get there.

and so I decided I wanted to get my doctorate in psychology and thought I might want to go kind of academic and, you know, again, Reassessed over time and ended up going into a more clinical focus. but from the beginning, my research was actually on the transition to motherhood. I was not a mom.

I was in my early twenties at the time and I really liked transitions. Um, like that was the thing that I enjoyed studying and kind of how people navigate shifts in their life. And my research advisor at the time was like, hey, why don’t you look at motherhood? it’s really understudied. And that was very true at the time.

And so I started researching and then I actually defended my dissertation like eight and a half months or eight and a half weeks. Sorry, pregnant. So nobody knew I was super sick. Um. But defended my dissertation on the transition to motherhood, and then, you know, promptly nine months later went through it myself and was still kind of woefully unprepared, even though I had been researching it for years.

Um, and so then I went on, I worked at Harvard for a while doing university mental health, which had been my dream job. It had been the thing that I wanted to do for a while. And I, and I did love it. I loved the students. They were interesting and bright and motivated. but once I had my second kid, it just was too intense to do it in a full time way.

University mental health is a pretty intense, It’s pretty intense work. It’s a can be an intense schedule and I asked to cut back even a little bit and there was just no flexibility and so I left to do my own thing. And since then, basically, I’ve kind of shifted my focus into clinical work with new parents, and I do that both through therapy and through coaching and, you know, more recently, kind of in the And I have started to do it in a consulting way as well helping companies retain working parents or bring them back into the workforce after so many left to do caretaking during covid.

[00:04:56] Missy: Right.

[00:04:57] Susanne: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that’s so interesting. I mean, talk about the transition to parenting, defending your dissertation at eight and a half weeks pregnant. Oh, my gosh.

[00:05:07] Missy: perfect. I love the way the world works sometimes.

[00:05:09] Susanne: and just to give a little context to our conversation, we’ve talked about this with previous guests, but in case it’s anyone’s first time, welcome.

Glad to have you here. Um, or if anybody needs a refresher, can you help explain the difference between therapy and coaching? Um, How you practice those.

[00:05:25] Anne: Sure, yeah. And I think you know I may have a slightly different perspective as someone that currently does both, you know, and I think of them as like a Venn diagram right they’re not separate entirely separate buckets. And I think. It may be the amount of overlap is going to differ depending on who it is you’re working with.

I think the traditional definitions are things like therapy is treating a mental illness. therapy is focusing on the past. and that coaching is present focus and is looking towards the future. But I think even that there’s actually a lot. It’s less cut and dry than that in in that coaching shouldn’t be used to treat mental illness.

But a lot of therapy clients that I work with don’t have a significant diagnosis. They’re going through a transition point. They have something they’re addressing. That’s kind of a moment in time. And that’s what we’re working on. So you don’t have to have like capital M. mental illness to be in therapy.

Um, and I also have coaching clients who have a therapist, right? So they may have anxiety and they’re working on that with their therapist and working with me on career development. so I know that actually probably muddies the waters more than clarifies it. but you know, I think the bigger thing is that, you know, with.

Therapy. It can be long term. The goals are usually symptom remission. It can sometimes feel a little more meandering. Coaching is super goal oriented and usually there is something very concrete we’re working on. It’s usually shorter term, not always. And it is usually behaviorally focused. We definitely look at thoughts, but there is often a, here’s a behavior I want to change, here’s exactly what I want to look different on the other side of this.

[00:07:06] Susanne: Thank you for that reminder. It’s always helpful to, yeah, give us just a little framework for as we discuss kind of the both sides of the services you offer.

[00:07:14] Missy: Yeah. We want to talk a little bit about that new parenting stage. We’re past that. A lot of our listeners may be past that as well, but even if you’ve done it, or maybe you’re doing it for the sixth time, or maybe someone you love is doing this and you want to be able to reach out to them, what kinds of things are you really helping new parents address most in this post COVID world?


[00:07:36] Anne: I would say, and I would say to your point, right, whether it’s your first or your sixth or whatever in between, it is always a transition because there’s always a new family member. And I would say the stuff that I’m working with new parents on doesn’t go away when your kids are older, often, right, because I’d say the one of the most common things I’m working on is feeling overwhelmed and feeling like you’re failing and sadly, I don’t think that goes away when your kids get older.

Certainly it hasn’t been my experience that it gets easier. It gets different,

but it’s not like there’s less to do. You know, I think in that toddler age, the physical demands are there like it’s exhausting in a physical way when they’re teenagers. It’s still kind of exhausting, but it’s just a different sense of it.

Um, But so I would definitely say overwhelm is a huge one. Um, and so we talk about a lot of boundary setting. What can you put down? What balls can you not hold on to right now? with that feeling of failing. And that’s again true whether you’re, you feel like you’re failing, As a working mom, as a at home mom, as some combination of, of either, we’ll often talk about things like perfectionism and try to grow confidence and think about, like, what are the stories and the expectations we have for ourselves and maybe where is that not true, or not aligned with kind of our values, the other things that come up, and again, I think this is true of new moms or Um, Kind of, uh, veteran moms, if you will, right, of feeling alone and unsupported, whether that’s with friends or with your partner or, with a broader sense of community.

and then also feeling unhappy, right? I think a lot of times it is this sense of, you know, I’m doing this mom thing and I wanted these kids and I’m Doing my best, and I’m not happy, and I’m not sure why, um, and that’s another, a common one, and sometimes, you know, in my therapy patients, sometimes it is that an undiagnosed postpartum depression or anxiety that they don’t recognize, but sometimes there’s other pieces to it.

A lot of times it’s, I’ve stopped asking myself what I want because I’ve been so focused on everybody else, and There isn’t necessarily an awareness that they stopped, right, and so we have to kind of relearn how, how do I even ask myself what I, and we’ll start with like, what do you want for dinner?

Right? What,

[00:09:58] Susanne: Oh, my gosh, you’re speaking to

[00:10:01] Anne: work up, you know, to what do you want to do with your life? What do you want this parenting thing to look like?

[00:10:08] Missy: it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. And I’ve told the story a thousand times on this podcast, or at least a few. And at one point, a therapist asked me, what do you like? And I couldn’t answer it. And it was that it completely that, that I had forgotten to ask myself what I was interested in or what I wanted.

I was just so focused on surviving every day with these little people.

[00:10:32] Susanne: Yes. Well, and speaking of getting ready for life with these little people, one of the services you offer is parental leave coaching, which I don’t know if that didn’t exist 18 years ago when I was going through this, or I

[00:10:44] Missy: We needed it.

[00:10:45] Susanne: have the know how to go even look for it or it’s probably too cheap.

I don’t know. but so what does that encompass when someone comes to you for parental leave coaching?

[00:10:54] Anne: just to answer your other question, you know, it didn’t, I don’t think it did exist. Um, Amy Beacom, who was a guest on your show,


[00:11:01] Missy: love

[00:11:02] Anne: Yeah, so she, I would say she really pioneered this field after her kids. So it is new, um, as a service. And now, you know, there are individuals that of us that do it.

There’s a couple companies that are trying to, Get it kind of as a work benefit that would be offered through HR at your

[00:11:20] Missy: Mm hmm.

[00:11:21] Anne: um, and I know Amy is doing that, but really what it entails is support through, kind of dual support through the transition to parent and the transition to working parent, because they’re kind of two massive things that happen simultaneously, and so what that looks like is some coaching while you’re pregnant, right?

there is an assessment that we can do that helps highlight what skills and strengths you’re bringing into this transition, but also maybe where there’s some gaps that we can be filling in ahead of time, um, and there’s a lot of planning around how are you going to take care of yourself and have help during the leave, and how are you going to hand off work to people so that you don’t have to feel super connected to work if you don’t want to.

What do you want that connection to work to look like while you’re out? And then how do you anticipate going back? So lots and lots and lots of planning and kind of thinking ahead. Then during the leave, there’s also coaching just to support that initial transition to, oh my god, I have a human being I have to take care of and what am I doing?

and that’s, you know, more emotional work. And then there’s support. Really important support on the on the other side and and on the transition back and a lot of like stopping and reassessing. Is this working? Does this actually fit? Does this feel okay? What do you need? it’s ideally gradually taking your work back.

But again, that can look different for different people. And kind of recognizing that you’re doing these two massive life transitions back to back, you’re still doing one and then you add a whole nother one, because being a working parent is very different than being a working person. And that’s just inherent in the nature of it.

And so it’s that kind of three, block support for parents as they navigate this whole piece. And it’s not just for mothers, that is true for anybody, um, as they take on a new life in their house.

[00:13:15] Missy: Yeah, there’s so much involved in that, and I think we oversimplify it and probably have oversimplified it for years of just, well, my company gives me X amount of time off. I’m going to take that time off and then off I go back to work. And it is so much bigger than that. And so complicated. I am wondering, it’s been a long time since I was in the traditional workforce and a long time since I had babies, what are some of the common issues currently facing that women are facing when they say, I need to take off?

This time you leave time that I get from my company, what’s going on now? What kinds of issues are they having with companies? Have things improved? Are things worse in some areas? How does it look? What does the landscape look like?

[00:13:56] Anne: You know, I, I wish I could sit here and tell you it’s like infinitely better. Um, It’s not I mean it varies right in terms of what leave actually looks like it really does vary company to company, you know We’re seeing a couple new states have passed parental leave laws where they are required by the state to be funded It’s often very complicated, even then, because it can involve different combinations of firm provided leave, state leave, short term disability, and sometimes you just need help kind of figuring out how and what applies to you for it.

So there is a little bit of a complication with that, but I think Some of the bigger issues, in addition to just like figuring out what your leave is, is figuring out how to navigate it emotionally, logistically, right? And so, you know, first there’s the question of do I even want to go back and what do I want that to look like?

And that’s a big one. there’s the question of What does my house look like now? What is getting out the door in the morning look like as I come back? I’ve seen a lot of moms who, you know, especially if they are the mom that, has more leave, which is not always the case, and, and that’s great. I definitely see a little bit of movement in men both being provided leave and then being able to take it, right, as opposed to, oh yeah, we, we provide it and then we actually frown upon you using it.

Um, but I think I see, you know, moms who’ve said, well, while I’m on leave, I take over all these house duties and baby care duties. And then. There’s a really rough transition when they are also going back to work and the co parent hasn’t had to do these things right and so there’s just so much communication that’s needed around the end of parental leave and whatever that’s going to look like within the couple. There’s also, you just, you miss your baby. Or you do and you don’t, right? And then you feel guilty about it, right? Like, you know, I know some moms who have said, I feel competent at work. I don’t feel competent raising this baby. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. It feels scary and hard. And I want to go back.

And I’m excited about that. And it’s the place that I feel like myself. And then does that make me a bad mom? No, of course it doesn’t, but that there’s just a lot of guilt that shows up kind of no matter what choice you make or how you navigate it, that somehow I must be doing it. Strong or that other people have gotten this figured out better.

[00:16:27] Missy: Why do we always go there? We always go to, I’m screwing up and everyone else is doing okay. What is wrong with our brains?

[00:16:34] Susanne: I know. It’s in so many different areas of our lives too, not just parenting. It’s just a, yeah, it’s a weird phenomenon.

[00:16:42] Anne: well, and there’s some, you know, I unrelated, but there is some data that women’s brains do tend to worry more and go towards, that they’re kind of, I don’t know that I would say less risk averse, but, um, in her book burnout, if anyone’s

[00:16:55] Susanne: Oh yes. I think it’s right up here. Yeah.

[00:16:58] Anne: Um, I think she talks about this and then the other book that talks about it is the confidence code and I’m going to blank on the author of that one, but that.

[00:17:07] Missy: it up and put it in the notes.

[00:17:08] Anne: Yeah, there’s this tendency for women to be more of a worrier, than a warrior, and that they, they tend to ruminate more just biologically. Um, so I think that’s probably, like, I think there is something to be said that we do actually tend to blame ourselves more. But I would also say there’s the cultural component, right, of we have these crazy high expectations of mothers and they’ve only gotten higher and higher and higher, and it’s impossible to meet them.

So, of course, we look at the expectations and say, well, if they’re there, that must be because everybody else is doing it as opposed to these are unrealistic and nobody’s doing it.

[00:17:47] Susanne: Yeah. Who said those? Who said those? I don’t even know. You know what I

[00:17:53] Missy: this to us and why did we just swallow it?

[00:17:55] Susanne: No, I think it is, people trying to sell us things. I think it is like products. And sorry, I, I’m involved in marketing, that’s my career, but, but I do think it is, oh, we’re trying to sell this bleach, or we’re trying to sell this cleaner, or we’re trying to sell this service, or whatever, so we need to make sure that you don’t feel like whatever you’re doing.

Is clean enough is right enough is Enough enough. So yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to that. But okay, so we’re talking about Part of me wants to really focus on the transition back to work, even though you usually talk about it on a Returning after a maternity leave. My maternity leave is now ending after 18 years.

So, so

[00:18:38] Missy: That was your leaf. That’s

[00:18:39] Susanne: I’m also going through that transition. So I’m going to circle back to that at the end if we still have some time. But what got me here 18 years ago was the big decision of. Whether or not to return to work after maternity leave, um, I think I had assumed that I was going to run into the same situation you did where if I asked for flexibility that they were just going to be like, Nope, you can’t.

And 18 years ago, we weren’t really talking about too much flexibility. It was either you worked or you didn’t. and especially you worked. In the workplace, there wasn’t a whole lot of at home or any flexibility there. I literally called, my client was Apple at the time, and I called her, like, practically in tears from the back of a bus once, asking her, like, how did you decide, like, how do you decide whether you go back to work?

Which is not a very professional thing to ask your client. Leaving on maternity leave, but she, I considered her like a mother extraordinaire. She had these three amazing kids and she just seemed to be doing it all. And she had taken also some time off. So I was really curious, like what,

[00:19:42] Missy: like how did you do

[00:19:43] Susanne: yeah, since she had been through it and I didn’t know too many people who had been through it.

And it’s taken time. Everybody I knew from work went back to work. So, I mean, there’s obviously the paycheck to consider, but like, what are the other considerations that people should be thinking of if they’re going on maternity leave, or maybe they’ve been working for 10 years and the baby’s. You know, going into high school or whatever, but they’re thinking of taking some kind of leave to care for an aging parent or to take care of their own health care needs like what, considerations do they need to be making sure they’re aware of, like mine, I discovered was not knowing that social security doesn’t exist for stay at home mom.

So, so even in addition to the income you’re losing, you got to take into consideration your social security that you’re not contributing to for X

[00:20:30] Missy: Long term. Yeah.

[00:20:31] Susanne: so what are some other things that you help moms think through?

[00:20:35] Anne: Yeah, I love this like discernment work. And I think, you know, you made the point of like, do you do it later? That’s the other piece to it. One piece that I think people don’t necessarily consider is that this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing permanent decision. You don’t have to leave when they’re an infant and never go back or work forever.

Right. I’ve worked with moms who went back when their babies were infants and decided to cut back when their kids were in middle school or whatever that like, It’s it’s a constantly evolving decision. It’s like not a one and done thing. So that’s the first piece I would say right is that, you know, you don’t have to think of this as a lifetime decision, you can think of this as a six month chunk at a time

[00:21:17] Susanne: Yeah.

[00:21:18] Anne: and test it out.

And the other thing I would say is that You know, broad brushstrokes is that transitions take time, right? We usually say give you got a new job takes three to six to nine months and somewhere, you know, up to a year to adjust. So, know that that’s going to be your adjustment length on the other side of this.

Because yes, maybe you’re going back to the same job, but you are not the same, right? And, and your home life is not the same. So just lots and lots and lots of grace and self compassion, around it and, and kind of testing things and seeing how they feel. I would also say it’s always worth asking, you know, to your point, obviously you said you didn’t even consider it and I got a big No.

Um, But that’s not always the case, right? I have also had clients who have had success being able to navigate a lot of middle ground, whether that is they do part time, or they can stay remote, or they have one day off a week, or they, contract so that they’re working sometimes and not, and obviously that’s not always an income situation that’s, A possibility for everyone, but, um, you know, if it is, that can be a great option.

So, I’d always say ask, because, you know, the worst case is they say no, but, you know, in my case it wasn’t no and you’re fired, it was, here’s your choices, come back or don’t, full time or nothing. and then I could at least make an informed decision. Um, I think the other things to consider, you know, that we kind of think through are, What do you want child care to be if you go back and and or if you stay home?

How would you like that to look? Having good and obviously this is a challenge, you know care is just so expensive But having good child care can make or break the experience as a working parent and I’ve had both I’ve had bad child care and and it makes All the difference in the world and so being able to think through what does that look like for you if you’re working and if you choose to stay home, what does that look like, because you should have some help.

And it’s not maybe it’s not paid childcare you know we could have a whole episode about childcare options, but basically thinking through how do I want help if I stay home and how do I budget for that and make sure that that’s kind of included in my thinking. Um,

[00:23:36] Susanne: want to put that in my notes with like a hundred stars around it because I think that is something that I did not even allow myself to consider because I felt, I don’t want to say guilty. It wasn’t like my husband was like, Oh, shame on you. No money. It was just like, I put that on myself like, well, I’m not bringing in any money, so who am I to.

Take even more money to cover the thing that I am supposed to be doing. It just, it felt really unnatural to me. And I’m sure a lot of people have felt the same way. So like, how do we convince ourselves that it’s important? We’re worth it. it pays for itself and more in the end, as far as how you’re able to interact with your family, your child, and just how you feel for yourself.

[00:24:19] Anne: Right, I mean, it’s funny. I didn’t even get it until probably I think it was pregnant with my fourth and we were getting life insurance. And I mean, the fact that it took this long to hit me, right? The life insurance person. I was like, well, I don’t make that much money because I was pregnant.

working fairly part time at the time. So I was like, I don’t think we really need much. And the life insurance person said, it will cost your husband 150, 000 a year to replace you just in the work you do at home and childcare. You can’t discount that. And that, that was the first time where I was like, Oh, right.

[00:24:53] Missy: thing happened to us and it changed my outlook. Really, it changed this kind of, I don’t want to say sadness, but there was this had been this emotional burden to not making as much money. And when I looked at it that way, I was like, Oh, I am, I am doing valuable work. Society as a whole doesn’t always value it, but this is valuable work.

it would cost my husband a lot to replace me.

[00:25:16] Anne: Yeah. Yeah.

Right. I mean, not to mention the emotional side, but you know,

[00:25:20] Missy: Not to mention, I hope he’d also be sad. I don’t know.

[00:25:23] Susanne: yes, just as a tangent and I’m really curious because I’m thinking of this I’m like, yeah, that did make me feel better But I also my life insurance is it half the amount of my husband’s so yes It made me feel like I was valued and like yes, I needed some but it also was half the value of my husband’s part of that is because my cholesterol is like through the roof and Hey, no one go get life insurance while you are nursing, by the way, I do have high cholesterol anyway, but apparently that has significant impact on your cholesterol levels and that has for the past 20 years impacted my life insurance rate.

I pay the same amount per month for half the coverage. because I was slightly elevated again, it could just be genetically. I’ve always had high cholesterol, but I’ve heard from many people after that, that while you are nursing. And, you know, post baby. So, get, get your blood test done ahead of time, whatever you need to do, or wait, and I don’t know, you should probably shouldn’t wait until after, because there’s all kinds of considerations, but keep that in mind, because that is a huge, that’s a big cost, and the fact that it did make a decision to do half the coverage, because it did cost so much for me.

It kind of made me feel like half a person,

so, laughs Half a person with really high cholesterol.

[00:26:43] Missy: That’s right.

Oh, I wanna talk a minute about, while we’re talking about leave, I wanna talk about the people who maybe decide to take an extended leave. So they decide to be a stay-at-home mom for a while or for some other circumstance. They end up being out of work longer than they had planned.

We really like to talk about what you can do in that time to keep your skills fresh, to keep your brain sharp, and so that you don’t get stuck in that rutt of telling people at parties, oh, I’m just a mom. So do you have any favorite strategies that you use to help women work through this or any tips or tricks?

[00:27:15] Anne: yeah. I have kind of like a two part, one more like tangible and one more esoteric, but in terms of the tangible answer. So, you know, I, there’s a lot of ways you can do this. continuing to have relationships with your coworkers, I think sometimes people or former coworkers, I think people shy away from it.

There can even if you choose to stay home there can be a lot of grief around that choice and some loss social connections but of the meaning that maybe your work gave to you of what it meant to be a working person. Right, there’s the, it’s. Going back to work is a transition, choosing to stay home and leave the career field is a transition to a big one.

And it can be hard I think to have a try to have a foot in the door And have those complicated feelings and worry what people are thinking of you but if you can kind of have those feelings and still stay connected whether it’s through linkedin and engaging there or Grabbing coffee occasionally as you can with former coworkers.

I think that’s a big thing. volunteering, doing any sort of consulting work is a great way to stay in touch, taking classes or podcasts or reading books on your field of interest, are other great ways. and then I, you know, I would also say kind of just making sure you have time and space for you back to that child care thing.

And maybe that’s a little bit of daydreaming or some career discernment thinking about what you might want to do in the future. Maybe it is just having time to read. said book, um, uninterrupted, but that, that there’s still time for you in there, I think is really important. There’s a, um, newer website called Motherhood Untitled, and I was interviewed for an article on this exact topic actually back in March by then, but it’s, the whole point is women taking career pauses and trying to figure out what’s.

Next and what is it like to be in that pause? Um, so that’s just another good resource for people.

[00:29:12] Susanne: Oh, I just wrote that down. I had how we never heard of that Missy.

[00:29:17] Missy: I know. We’ve got to go check it


[00:29:18] Susanne: know. I’m

[00:29:19] Anne: They, um, I think it’s relatively new. Like I want to say in the past couple of years, um, but I’m not entirely sure when it started. so that’s like the tangible stuff, but the other kind of more esoteric answer I would say is to remember that you are still building skills simply by parenting. So this is one of the big things I do when I’m consulting is helping companies see parenting is.

A essentially leadership class, right? There are so many skills that you are developing as a parent that are applicable to the workplace, and it maybe doesn’t feel like negotiating over whether we cut the grilled cheese into squares or triangles with our three year old is a workplace skill, and yet it takes patience, communication, emotional regulation, right?

I, I like to say there are kind of three categories that I put skills in, like you’re developing people skills, right? empathy, teamwork, emotional intelligence. Communication, right? All of those soft skills that we talk about being incredibly valuable in the workplace. You’re also developing a lot of productivity and hard work, right?

You have to have tenacity. You have to be a problem solver. You’re usually pretty efficient because you don’t have time to waste as a parent. Um, you have to prioritize and make quick decisions. And so you’ve got that chunk. And then you’ve got that, you know, that big picture thinking, that mental load piece, right?

Anticipating needs, getting creative, multitasking, managing projects, right? even like going on a trip to the beach, right, we’re coming to the end of the summer, that requires planning ahead, figuring out what’s going to be needed while you’re going, managing meltdowns of sandy wet children on the other side of it, physically carrying a lot of stuff back to the car, you know, making decisions around who’s going to eat when, watching the sunscreen, whether you need to reapply it, right, all of that feels like, ugh, I’m just in the thick of it, but really, That’s what project management is, right?

Like you are looking at the needs of the organization, in this case your family, you’re kind of following a lot of the, metrics, right? Around time, hunger level, you’re regulating your own feelings this entire time, will other people around you have big feelings? These are work skills, they’re really, really important work skills that not everybody has, and so if you’re in a pause to remember that like, It’s hard to have the line on your resume, but you’re also still really building important things that you can get creative about, calling on or naming when you, when and if you do decide you want to go back into the world of work.

[00:31:58] Susanne: I love that. That reminds me of Zippy Owens. Remember she was talking about how like no experience is wasted. It’s just like whatever the job is, whatever the role is, whatever it is that you’re doing. As long as you are not just hold up in your room, you’re doing something, or maybe sometimes even when you’re holed up in your room, you’re doing something, um, and, and you can put that for your experience, for a career moving forward, or just to make your life more interesting in the meantime, even if you don’t end up using it for a career, but now, as someone who has recently reentered the workforce, I would love a couple of tips on, I, I’m kind of past the shock to the systems.

side of it, but it definitely was, um, in a good way, in a very exciting way. and it was kind of, it did kind of sneak up on me, even though we’ve been doing a podcast about this for three years. the fact that like, I had just kind of put some, like. Oh, it’d be kind of fun to see what’s out there.

And then I got the job and then it was pretty quick. Um, so as much as we talk about preparing for it, I, I had not prepared myself for it. And even the sense of, like, division of labor around the house, we’re still working on that. So, like, what are some tips for making sure we are prepared for when we are committing our time to something outside of the home, or we’re reentering the workforce.

[00:33:12] Anne: Yeah, I mean, I think to echo something I said earlier, right, lots and lots of self compassion, first of all, because it is a huge transition for the entire family system. And so just being able to hold that like, we’re going to mess this up and we’re totally going to forget things and drop the ball and and that’s okay.

And I would say, get more help than you need. And, and honestly, that’s the same advice I tell parents when they are going back after six weeks or 16 years, right? Of, it’s always fine to not use the help, but maybe get it anyway, right? And maybe that help, when you’re going back with older kids, is enlisting the kids to help, if they’re old enough, right?

And having a conversation with them about what lights you up about this new job, and why you’re going back to it, and why it’s so exciting for you. And that maybe they’re going to have to help with dinner or dishes or whatever and kind of what that might look like it might also be things like, you know, again, similar to what you think about with leave.

before I go back, do I get a bunch of freezer meals and have them stashed? Do I tell my friends and family I’m doing this and ask for them to bring me freezer meals, right? Like, I’m having a new baby in a way of work. And so, who around me can kind of support that transition in a way?

And like, you know, maybe you don’t need a night nanny anymore, but you might need extra meals or extra rides for your kids places. and to know that like, when you inevitably, like you said, you know, I, we don’t have it all figured out into the division of labor yet, but that’s okay. Right. It’s a learning process.

I always say to my kids, mistakes mean you’re learning, right? Like, I forget to sign a kid up for an activity. I have, you know, forgotten to get the right school supplies. Like, I’m going to do this stuff. I’m still a good mom. I’ve, Messed up and scheduled a patient when I couldn’t actually see them and had to move them at the last minute.

Still a good therapist, right? Like, I make mistakes, and I learn from them and try not to make the same one again. And we’re gonna, as you do this transition, you’re gonna try some things that end up not fitting and not working, and you’re gonna say, oh, that’s a disaster. But to try to read it as, that didn’t work, as opposed to, well, I can’t do this.

Or I’m failing here. Or this is, this means I shouldn’t have gone back in the first place. No, no, no. You had a night or a week where the wheels fell off the cart. Okay, we’ll try something else next time.

[00:35:32] Missy: That’s an important distinction between I messed this up and I am just a mess. all make mistakes. I allow everybody in my life to make mistakes except for myself. And then I really am hard on myself when I. Schedule something at the wrong time or forget to order the yearbook, for example. I don’t know any moms who did that last year.

Like when those things happen, I am really hard on myself.

[00:35:54] Susanne: I just discovered that I didn’t order class photos for either of my kids for like three or four good years in grade school. So now I’m like hunting down the teachers and being like, certainly you must have one I could scan. But yes, oh, I love that distinction. That’s going on our pillow, Missy.

[00:36:12] Missy: Yes. Every, every episode we have a thing. That’s like, we want it tattooed on our forehead or needle pointed on a pillow. That is a needle point moment

[00:36:20] Susanne: yeah.


[00:36:21] Missy: Yeah. Well, we’re close on time. We’re running. I just looked at the clock, but we want to hear about your working mother’s lifeline group. They’re

[00:36:29] Anne: Yeah. I’m

[00:36:31] Missy: run out of time.

[00:36:32] Anne: Thank you. I’m super excited about it. Um, you know, primarily I do one on one work but I’ve discovered, you know, I think one of the things that’s so important for moms is that sense of community, right? And connecting with other moms so that you realize, oh, no one has this figured out. It truly isn’t just me.

And we have baby groups, right, for new moms, but we don’t have them for a lot of the rest of motherhood. and and I think particularly it can be hard for moms that are working and again, whether that’s part time or full time because you Have just that one more thing that maybe takes you away from being able to volunteer at your kid’s school or meet other moms Right your co workers aren’t inherently other moms so i’m starting a group in january.

So in the in the new year, Uh, small group, you know, 10 to 12 women, all working mothers. And the idea is we’ll do some group coaching. So we’re gonna, I’m looking for women who want to feel more connected to themselves, more intentional in their choices. They want to feel proactive and present and balanced in their lives and less guilty and less uncertain.

And we’ll do work around values and limiting beliefs. We’ll do some work around guilt and shame and perfectionism. We’ll talk about boundaries and communication. And we’ll do it all with a bunch of women that get it and are struggling with the same things. and it’ll run for six months. And so if people are interested, they can check that out on my website.

[00:37:50] Susanne: Oh, wow.

[00:37:51] Missy: You saying

[00:37:52] Susanne: I know. Okay. I’m very

[00:37:54] Missy: I’m like, Susanne, you need to,

[00:37:55] Susanne: You know, how many slots are there again? I don’t know, the last time I signed up for one of our, our guest sessions, I ended up getting a job. That was,

[00:38:05] Missy: right. Great. Yeah.

[00:38:07] Susanne: so who knows how transformative this could be.

[00:38:11] Missy: Oh, well tell us your website address before

[00:38:14] Anne: Yes. It’s www. doctorannwalsh. com.

[00:38:18] Missy: Okay. We will put it in the show notes as well,

[00:38:21] Anne: Amazing.

[00:38:22] Missy: because I imagine we have a lot of listeners who might be interested in that


[00:38:26] Susanne: who wouldn’t be? I mean, every, I was feeling a little ping, ping, ping, every single thing that you talked about, like, I need that. I need that. I need that. So, yeah, I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

[00:38:34] Missy: Yeah. It’s awesome. Well, we’re right about that time. We’re going to do look, listen, learns, and if anybody’s listening for the first time, we’re so glad you’re here and we hope you will come back and every show we spend a few minutes just talking about things we might be reading, watching, listening to products we’ve found, whatever it is in our life that we are look, listening, learning, and we never put our guests on the hot seat.

So Susanne, you are up first today. What are you look, listening and learning this week?

[00:38:58] Susanne: Let’s see. I was listening to, I love the Good Life Project podcast. So


and I actually, it’s interesting because I did not, I was not really intrigued by the title of this. It was how to live longer and feel more alive. And I was like, Oh gosh, what’s this going to be? I just, they need to have a new title.

but it’s this Dan I’m going to say the name, Bootener, Bootener, B U E T E N E R. Um, and it’s funny, the night before I had just seen like a preview on Netflix for this series, I think it’s four parts, called The Blue Zone, which is all about, certain geographies throughout the world, and it may just be like, One square block in this one neighborhood or whatever, or little island regions in Italy, where people do all kinds of good things, where people are just super healthy, mentally, physically, and they have longer lives, happier lives, less dementia, like all these amazing things.

So he’s spent, God, I think 20 years. Trying to narrow down some of the commonalities between these groups and, uh, not surprisingly, plant based diet, walkable neighborhoods, which part of me is like, well, yeah, of course, that sounds amazing. But like, how many people actually have, I don’t know. I was getting kind of frustrated because so much of it was like also very privileged viewpoint.

Um, the fact that, you know, to have the ability to do have an affordable plant based diet and not fast food, like our whole society is built around the idea of making people think that they only have the time to go through fast food, that type of thing. So that’s a, that’s a hard thing to break walkable neighborhoods.

Yes. That’s amazing. Um, I’ve lived in very. Close to walkable neighborhoods. They’re just not walkable enough that it justifies getting in a car So, I mean, I don’t think that every region goes for that But I agree that that’s amazing as I was listening to it as like, oh, I need to go pick up a prescription at Walgreens I would usually get in my car and drive there, but it’s only like three blocks away So I I walk there so it is a little bit of a shift of like yeah, I can do that And then also the idea of regular connection With at least four more people on a regular basis, people who like legit have your back and that you can count on not just for people who, you go out drinking with or whatever that you may not know very well.

and also this idea of having a sense of purpose. So, uh, the podcast was really good enough that it makes me want to go. watched the Blue Zone on Netflix, although I’m so bad, I wanted to, like, finish my bottle of wine that I had in the fridge first, and also finish some cookies and stuff that my mom brought, because I was like, I know I’m gonna

[00:41:39] Missy: After I watch this, I won’t want them.

[00:41:42] Susanne: know, because you know me.

I’m gonna watch this show and be like, alright, all the meat is gone, no more wine, and blah blah blah. So. I wanted to finish my bottle of Chardonnay before I watch this show.

I should finish it while I’m watching this show. Uh, let’s see here. And then also I’ve been watching, uh, the Bake Off, the Professionals, which is like, it’s like the British Bake Off show, but it’s inside the building.

Instead of in the tent in the yard, it’s inside the building, which is kind of interesting because it’s small, the kitchen’s smaller. So they’re doing like six. People that they get down to a group of three, and then they have another group of six that gets down to three, and then they put those two threes.

Um, and so that has been very interesting. They have different hosts and different judges, which I just haven’t quite gotten the groove with yet. I don’t know. I don’t know. I like the other ones better. But, it’s very interesting because these are the professionals, not just the chef enthusiast kind of people.

But man, their stuff breaks a lot. I feel like… I feel like the amateurs, maybe, I don’t know, Chris insists, he’s like, I think they have more layers of creams and stuff that, so probably,

[00:42:53] Missy: They’re just trying to do such crazy things with food. Of course it breaks. Like,

[00:42:57] Susanne: every episode something is crashing and getting destroyed. And so I’m like, I thought you were pros, but anyway, that’s been fun to watch. and from watching that, I also learned where sesame seeds came from because last night they had a challenge with sesame seeds and both my husband and I just like looked at each other like.

Where do sesame seeds come from? I’ve never even thought about it. And they come out of a pot. It kind of looks like a little jalapeno. And I’ve done way too much research on sesame seeds. They’re very healthy. So, there you go. That is what I have learned. What about you, Ann? Have you been looking, learning anything?

[00:43:33] Anne: Yeah. I, um, so let’s see for look, I just finished. I was kind of reading two books simultaneously, but I finished, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, which.

[00:43:42] Susanne: good.

[00:43:42] Anne: was very good and not what I kind of expected. I, I don’t know if anybody else, maybe this is just a me thing, I am part of the like a Facebook group that’s the Peloton Moms Book Club.

So it’s like thousands of women, and they post all the time about different books they’re reading. And so I just like anytime a book pops up, I put it in my like Libby app as a hold

request. And then it just sends me a book, and I just read whatever comes up next. And so sometimes it’s books that like, I didn’t expect to like as much as I did, which is this one.

Um, so I really enjoyed that. And then I also just finished, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. She wrote Homegoing a couple years ago, which I loved. This one was a little different, but I did enjoy it and it’s about a Ghanaian immigrant family and the two children one ends up dying from a oxy overdose and one goes on to study neuroscience and do research on addictions and so it’s like interesting from the biological perspective as well as like the family story. Um, so those were both good. I would definitely recommend, for listening. I, uh, I’ve been stuck on Boy Genius all summer, which is a kind of a indie super group where they, a couple indie musicians have all gotten together. And, uh, it’s, it’s a vibe. It’s definitely like a certain music, but I’ve really enjoyed them most of the summer.


[00:45:00] Missy: I have to look that

[00:45:01] Susanne: I know I’m gonna I’ve I feel like I’ve heard of that. So maybe Zoe or someone had someone cooler than me had them in their mix because it sounds kind of familiar.

[00:45:09] Anne: enough.

[00:45:09] Missy: I’m always looking for new stuff.

[00:45:10] Anne: Yeah, this song Strong Enough is my favorite. I think that’s probably the most popular one that they

[00:45:15] Susanne: Okay. I’m looking it up.

[00:45:16] Anne: Um, and then for learning right now, I’ve kind of, I’m almost always listening to a book on tape around leadership or psychology or something, you know, kind of a work related book. but right now I have kind of just begun with music because I’m trying to learn the ropes of being a parent of a high schooler because my oldest is starting high school and As I, you know, living when I practiced, I already messed up.

I, we, we planned a vacation this past week and I didn’t know there would be high school orientation. So we had to change our high school, or our plan to come back for orientation for a day and then leave again, which is fine. We were close by, but, um, I was like, all right, I think there’s going to probably be a lot of newness thrown at me in the next couple of weeks and I’ll let that be my learning for the time being.

[00:45:58] Susanne: oh, yeah, well, I

booked I booked our ACL Austin city limits tickets for the weekend of my daughter’s. She just started college her parents weekend at college.

[00:46:10] Anne: you go.

[00:46:11] Susanne: So, yes, I’m familiar with the idea of not checking schedules 1st and.

[00:46:15] Missy: There’s just too many schedules to keep track of.

[00:46:17] Susanne: Oh my gosh. And I think by the time this airs, ACL will be over. But if anybody has any weekend, uh, one tickets they want to swap for some weekend two tickets, they’ll be really excited. Okay, Missy, what about you? What do you look with and learn in?

[00:46:30] Missy: Okay. Let’s see. Well, I have been looking at the split. I’m watching it on Hulu. It’s a British show and it’s about a family of divorce lawyers who all have their own relationship stuff going on. and just a really lovely cast. Of course, it’s British shows have the best actors.

[00:46:46] Susanne: Oh, okay. I was wondering if it was like a documentary or if it was a, it’s a

[00:46:50] Missy: No, no, it’s yes. Yeah. Yeah. And like three seasons. Maybe that’s the other thing I love about British shows for the most part, unless we’re talking like Dr. Who for the most part, you’re not in for just years of commitment. Like it’s a little bit six to eight episodes a season and you know, and then you’re done.

I like that. Um, So I am enjoying that highly recommend it and I’m listening to Demon Copperhead, which has been a look, listen, learn of previous guests, I

[00:47:18] Susanne: me, I’d love that one.

[00:47:20] Missy: okay, I didn’t remember you. I was trying to remember if you had read it, um,

[00:47:24] Susanne: know, I go through so many books sometimes that I forget to mention some of them, but that one was one I really enjoyed.

[00:47:29] Missy: Yeah, it’s a long listen, like, you know, 20 something hours, not quite as long as the one you just

[00:47:34] Susanne: Oh my gosh, what was the one I just listened to? The water, the something of water.

[00:47:40] Missy: It’s like 30 something

[00:47:41] Susanne: it was 30 hours of water. Now I have to look it up on my phone.

[00:47:46] Missy: Yeah. I can’t look at how long they are. It discourages me. Not like I don’t have to do anything but passively listen, but I’m like, Oh, that’s a lot of hours.


[00:47:54] Susanne: of water, which I also do highly recommend, but whoo, build some time or listen to it at one and a half speed. I don’t know.

[00:48:01] Missy: Yeah. Demon Copperhead. I don’t, I’m having trouble listening with it sped up. Like I missed some of the nuances, I think,

[00:48:08] Susanne: Well, cause he does that accent.

[00:48:10] Missy: it’s yes, it is quite the thick

[00:48:12] Susanne: kind of disturbing because I don’t think it is his accent. Haha.

[00:48:15] Missy: Right, right. So, okay, I’m leaning over to get my, my learn. I just learned about these. These are Kizzik shoes

[00:48:24] Susanne: Look how cute those

[00:48:26] Missy: Z I K. Aren’t they so cute? Um, little lavender shoes, but they, you don’t actually ever do anything with the laces, the tongue, nothing. You just step right in them and go,

[00:48:37] Susanne: Were those from a Facebook ad? I’ve seen, I’ve seen those on Facebook ads.

[00:48:40] Missy: Oh, I don’t know.

A friend of mine mentioned them because I, by the time this we’re listening to this, I will be past this phase, I hope, but I won’t have a lot of range of motion for a little while after surgery and things like putting on my shoes is going to be difficult. So a friend of mine said, you need these. And I, of course.

Since I’ve been buying all the things lately, I was like, yes, I will order those, but I love them. They’re comfy and they’re cute. They have a million different styles and, they’re great. We’ve, my family’s been making fun of me. Cause I’m like, look at me put on my shoes with no hands. They’re like, you sound like a toddler,

[00:49:10] Susanne: Oh! I’m going to tell my friend Allison about those or any, uh, pregnant mothers out there who are having a hard time touching your toes and your feet. That’s a really great idea.

[00:49:20] Missy: slip and go

[00:49:21] Susanne: Yeah. I had a pair of those Converse, what are those, the Chukets or whatever, but they were like a slip on ones, and that’s all I wore my entire pregnancy with my son.

Like, that was it.

[00:49:32] Missy: I got big shoes. Like they were size or two, too big, you know? So I could just like clump my swollen feet and then, you know,

[00:49:39] Susanne: Well, I had to wear shoes. I couldn’t wear sandals. I had to wear shoes because I had to wear those dang thigh high compression stockings. So not only did I have to wear shoes, I had to wear like, well, I didn’t have to, I made the choice because those things do not make your legs look natural. It’s not like pantyhose.

Oh my gosh, luckily I was pregnant with both my kids in Seattle. If I had to do that in Texas, I would move. I would literally just pack all my bags and move, so. Oh, well, that’s a great tip. I’m going to check those out for myself, just out of pure laziness, not wanting

[00:50:12] Missy: I mean, yeah, you don’t have to have like mobility issues to like them. They’re great. And they’re good for those quick. Like I just got to run outside and get something real quick and pop your shoes on.

[00:50:20] Susanne: very cool.

[00:50:22] Missy: All right. Well, thank you so much. And this was great.

[00:50:26] Anne: I had a great time. Thanks for having me.

[00:50:28] Susanne: okay. Say your website again, just for everybody so they can go, uh,

[00:50:31] Anne: and they can also find me at Dr. Ann Welsh on LinkedIn or, Dr. Dot, uh, Welsh Do coaching on Instagram.

[00:50:42] Susanne: Alright, terrific. Well, thank you so much. Such a pleasure to meet you. So much great information.

Look at, well, these are messy. I took a lot of notes. Look at me. That’s a good sign when I’m like, we always joke when we take notes, it’s serious because you know, we listened to this again, like 300 times while we’re editing it and doing show notes and stuff. But if we have to take notes on the spot, that means

That’s when you’re like, I really

[00:51:05] Missy: do not

[00:51:05] Susanne: stuff. Yeah. So thank you. Really appreciate your time today and happy Labor Day.

[00:51:11] Anne: Thank you. You as well. Bye.

[00:51:13] Susanne: All

[00:51:13] Missy: for being here on your holiday.

[00:51:15] Susanne: Yes.


right. Have a great week, everybody.

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