Today I’m talking with Jessica Turner, author of Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose The Guilt, Work Smarter & Thrive. This book impacted me in such a deep way. It’s really practical and helped me feel like I’m not alone.
We’re going to talk about mom guilt of all kinds, so don’t click away from this episode if you don’t work because this will still set you free and really help you.
In This Episode Allie & Jessica Discuss:
What questions to ask yourself to determine if you should ditch the mom guilt
How mom guilt can sometimes be productive by prompting us to make needed changes
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about loving your work
How traditional gender roles can be limiting to the person God created you to be
Practical self-care for busy moms
Mentioned in this Episode:
Allie’s Facebook group
Allie’s Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
Minimalism & Kids Web Class
Decluttering with kids doesn’t have to be a struggle. Let me help you.
We’ll shine a light on the things you need to know and teach you how to begin the process of minimalism with your kids (or succeed in it if you’ve tried before!).
This amazing FREE web class happened yesterday, but the replay video is still available for a few more days!
Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Friends, it is that time of year again. It’s October and we are doing Allie Reads October in my little corner of the Internet. It’s so fun. This is our second time doing it. If you were around last year for Allie Reads October, you’re going to notice it looks a little bit different this year. We’ve structured it differently to fit where I’m at in my personal life this year. The amount of time that I’ve had to read for pleasure is much less than it was the year before, so we adjusted as needed. It’s a different set up today, or this month, this year, whatever. And I’m really excited about it.
Here’s what Allie Reads is – basically it’s intended to draw your attention to books and remind you to read more. Reading for women has always been a really important issue. There have been times where women in other cultures, countries and parts of the world were not allowed to read.
I’m really passionate about cultivating strength and community among women and raising a strong woman myself in my daughter, and being a strong woman, I’m very passionate about feminism and I just really want to be a part of drawing attention to the fact that women, especially moms with how busy we are and how much we’re balancing, we need to read books.
Maya Angelou said, “know better, do better,” and I think one of the best possible ways that you can know better and then do better is by reading good books, so I want to draw attention every year to the type of books that I read that really made an impact on me, that they changed the way that I think about things. They really helped bring clarity to something that I was struggling with. They made me know better, do better. To draw attention to those books and to those authors. To have conversations with the people that wrote those books. To have conversations with you about the books without the author there. Really celebrate the fact that we have the freedom to read. That it’s such an important thing. It’s such a great way to grow. And as I said, as Maya Angelou said, “know better, do better.” So that’s what Allie Reads is all about.
This year we have a couple of authors coming on the podcast, but the rest of Allie Reads October will be discussions about different books that shaped me as a person, as a parent, the books that I read this year, the books that have helped grow my business this year, the books that help my kids understand minimalism and that can help your kids understand minimalism. We’re doing lots of different things like that and it’s all happening at Alliereadsoctober.com. It’s a landing page for all the things about this month. Take the opportunity, go dive in, and let me know what you think.
ALLIE: Hello beautiful friends! Welcome to the Purpose Show and another piece of Allie Reads October! Today we are speaking with an author. Her name is Jessica Turner, and you probably have seen Jessica’s latest book floating around, especially on Instagram, or if you’re a blog reader. Lots of people that I respect and admire have been talking about this book over the last few months.
Something that I’m really passionate about is not bringing on authors to talk about their books because their publisher reached out and wanted me to. I want to choose what I authentically believe is good and helpful and have real conversations with people that I’ve connected with separately, not like, “Hey, I just met you and here we are talking to my podcast.” It’s super awkward.
And so, I feel a little late to the game bringing on Jessica to talk about this book, but it is so good and it really deeply impacted me. It’s called Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose The Guilt, Work Smarter & Thrive. It impacted me in such a deep way and really helped me. It’s very practical. It really helped me feel like I’m not alone in the mom guilt that we feel, that’s honestly pretty ridiculous. I bought copies for everyone on team Allie, sent it to them and made them read it. It’s so good.
You can get this book at Target, you can get it in the link to the show notes, at Amazon. It’s everywhere. The paperback is everywhere.
We’re gonna talk about this. We’re going to talk about mom guilt of all kinds, specifically working mom guilt, but don’t click away from this episode if you don’t work because this will set you free and really help you.
Jessica gets really amped up, really passionate about this topic and you’ll hear that in this episode. She really cares about helping women step in to their role confidently, whatever that looks like. And if you do work, especially if you work a lot, or if you work outside the home, not feeling guilty about that, not feeling like you owe your family an apology, and stepping confidently into where you’re at in life, into your role, and using guilt as a catalyst to make any necessary changes, but also know when that guilt is just not productive guilt and you need to just let it go. And how do you let it go and getting over that.
So, we’re talking about all of these things and this episode is really, really good.
I actually share things that I was taught growing up in a private Christian school that really affected me as I became a working mother. We get into a lot of serious stuff.
This episode is so good and I’m really excited to welcome Jessica, so please enjoy this conversation. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram and let us know what you think.
ALLIE: Hi Jessica, welcome!
JESSICA: Hey! I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
ALLIE: We’re just going to dive right in. I know we were already getting into the conversation before we even hit record, talking about how women perceive that they work, and some women don’t really perceive that they work or they don’t, as you said, “call a spade a spade,” and I just love the conversations that have already come out of us sitting together here.
I love your book. We’re going to talk about that. But I would love to first, before we dive back into what we had begun talking about before hitting record, and just hear from you a little bit about where you live, your family, what you do, how you spend your days, where do you work and just let us get to know you.
JESSICA: Yeah. So, my name is Jessica and I’ve got three kids who are 11, 8, and 4½. I work full-time outside the home in corporate America for a large healthcare company in Nashville. My husband, Matthew Paul Turner, is a children’s book writer. He’s written a couple books that you might know, including When I Pray For You and When God Made You. And we also have a puppy named Zelda. She just turned 1, so I don’t know if she’s still a puppy. Is she a toddler? I don’t know…We have a toddler dog as well, which adds to the crazy.
In addition to me working full-time outside the home, I have been a blogger since 2006 and started writing books in about 2014. I’ve written three books, The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You, which is all about self-care and the importance for women to make time for themselves, My Fringe Hours, which is a book really dedicated to people figuring out their own story and their own passions, and then my newest book, Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose The Guilt, Work Smarter, & Thrive, which just came out in hardback a year ago and in paperback late this summer.
ALLIE: I read this book because it was sent to me because of the podcast and it was so good that I sent it to everyone on my team because they’re all working moms. Some of them have grown kids and some of them have really little kids. Some of them are currently having kids still.
I think it’s an important message because it’s so practical, but you also weave in some stories. There’s one part in particular where you shared the raw vulnerability of you saying that you intentionally missed a soccer game, that you cried because you couldn’t go somewhere that your kids were going, and the pumpkin patch story and missing out on these things, or working really hard so that you didn’t miss out on it and just watching you kind of go through these things that, for me, I have struggled with thinking, “Is this normal? Is it normal to miss a baseball game? I don’t really know.” I’m not really thinking, “What works for me right now?” I’m thinking about, “What is everyone else doing? Am I a worse mom than the other moms? Are they missing?” I don’t know.
The silly ridiculous stories we tell ourselves, “We’re not good if…(insert the thing).” I feel like even just in the parts that you’re sharing about yourself in here in this book, when you say those things, even that brought me freedom, knowing, “Look! She’s struggling. She cried over this silly little event that she totally could’ve skipped.” It messes with us and it makes us feel sad. I feel sad when I’m missing out on something because I need to get something done, but if I don’t do it, then I’m going to be really stressed out because I didn’t get that thing done. And then I’m not going to be a great mom to be around.
So, it was really neat to hear you or to read you, I guess, walking through these scenarios and sharing, “This really made me emotional,” or “I missed this and I didn’t really care.” It just was nice to hear you talk about that, so thank you for putting that in here.
JESSICA: Oh, thank you for saying that. You’ve talked to a lot of authors, so you’ve probably heard that those authors tend to remember the negative reviews and none of the positive reviews. I remember one negative review that said, “She really cries a lot,” so I’m glad to hear that my crying stories resonate with some women even though it didn’t with that particular one.
ALLIE: I resonated with that a lot because I am not a crier normally, but I will often get so emotional or flustered about this kind of stuff, this family stuff, and I’ll cry to my husband, just like you cried to your husband.
JESSICA: Yeah, we just want to do it right. Whatever right is or means. I think those tears (I’m not a big crier either) but they come from a place of deep commitment and passion and there’s nothing wrong with that.
And honestly, those tears can point you to changes you maybe need to make in your life, or conversations that you need to have, or things to think about. Or they might be pointing to that you just need to get a little more sleep and take better care of yourself.
ALLIE: Yeah. Yeah, I love that. You also put in the book, things like, “Okay, so here’s the lesson. When you’re upset, you’re crying, or this is coming out of you, you need to pay attention. Maybe it’s this; maybe it’s that.” But you also put in little things like, “Fill this out. Is it that you need sleep? Is it that you need to do less? Is it that you need more time with your husband? Is it that you need more time with God?” You put in these little sections where you can fill things out and it’s just so dang practical. I love it. I really, really love the way you laid this out.
JESSICA: Thank you. I am a big fan of practical. I’m a big fan of not wasting time and so as I looked in the marketplace for what are the great resources out there for working moms, I didn’t find a lot. And so, I really hope that as much as women will feel supported, seen, and see their own stories in the pages that they’ll also really be able to make it their own by answering those questions at the end of every chapter. That was something that was really important to me.
ALLIE: Yeah, totally. It shows. So, can we talk first about the thing that everyone always wants to know about and that is working mom guilt.
You had a story in here that was something about your daughter. I think she was really, really young. I want to say that she was 4 or 5. And you had said that she drew a picture and you weren’t in it. It was a summary of her school year or something and it was her dad being there with her and you weren’t there. You cried in front of her and feeling like you missed out and that guilt that creeps in.
I know that when Brian, my husband has missed something and something like that happens, he doesn’t get upset. He doesn’t feel like, “Why am I not in the picture? I should’ve been there.” It’s a woman thing and I don’t really know exactly why or where it comes from except that there’s expectations on us, both from the world and from ourselves. So, could you talk about where working mom guilt comes from and whatever you feel like sharing about what you’ve seen, what you’ve heard from other women and what you’ve learned about that?
JESSICA: I think where the guilt comes from is different for different people. So I don’t know that I can speak to that specifically, but what I can speak to is the fact that all moms deal with guilt and deal with the tension of wanting to be in more than one place, deal with the tension of maybe wanting things to look different than how they do. And somehow that translates to the emotion of guilt.
When people ask me, “How do you stop feeling guilty?” I say I think that guilt can either be two things. It can either be a lie that we’re telling ourselves, which was true in that example of my daughter and drawing that picture at the end of kindergarten of her four favorite memories from the year and one was daddy. And to me that felt like, “Man, she’s going to remember you at school (because my husband works from home and has the flexibility to go into her classroom often) and she’s going to remember me in an office.”
And that was a lie.
My daughter is not going to look back on her childhood and think, “My mom wasn’t present. My mom wasn’t there for me.” That is just something that will never be true. I needed somebody else to tell me that because I couldn’t see that for myself because in that moment all I felt was guilt for not being the one that she had drawn on that paper. Let’s be honest, she was 5. Daddy had been there last week and I hadn’t been there in a couple months, so he was the more recent memory for her to draw about. It had nothing to do with who I was as a mother or my presence in her life. My husband needed to say, “That is not true. Where are you getting this from?” And have a conversation with me to straighten me out, so to speak, and pull me out of that guilty, sad place.
Now other times, guilt can point us to changes that we want or need to make in our lives. A woman that I interviewed in the book, you might remember this, she worked on Thursday nights and her daughter was home on Thursday nights. On Friday nights her daughter was at band and the mom felt guilty that she was working on a night that she could be spending home with her teenage daughter who wasn’t going to be home for very much longer. That guilt prompted her to talk to her boss and make a change in her schedule so that she could work on Friday nights, the same night that her daughter was out, and then they could be together on Thursdays. So sometimes guilt can be a prompt for change.
Are you feeling guilty about something because you want to make a change in your life or a change needs to happen? Or are you feeling guilty for something that isn’t actually true? For personas that you have put on yourself because you’ve seen them on social media? What you think other people are doing, or judgment that you think people are having?
Listen, no one notices if you miss a soccer game every now and again; no one notices if you miss 50% of them. Nobody is sending out a newsletter about what parent was and wasn’t at the soccer game. And so, if you’re feeling guilty about that, that’s on you. That’s not actually a narrative that anyone else is caring about.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also one thing that I’ve learned in this process of just becoming a working mom…it seems like you started out as a working mom, you became pregnant and you already were working.
JESSICA: That’s correct.
ALLIE: So, for me, I was stay-at-home deliberately for a long time and then made the transition to “I’m going to start this business.” And then my husband quit because he didn’t need to work anymore. And now we’re doing this together, but it’s really me.
I went from the opposite to breadwinner, CEO, working full-time, all of it very quickly, so it kinda just shook me a little bit, which is understandable.
But I really carried guilt and these stories I told myself for too long. It stole my joy. It stole my focus. And then all of those feelings would turn into this general feeling of guilt, so I was very defensive all the time. I was resentful about my audience growing. I’m here to serve them, so that didn’t translate very well when I was creating content.
Then when I was with my family, I felt so frigging tired, because I was carrying all of these heavy emotions. It makes you tired. That guilt wasn’t serving anybody. It was made up in my head. It was making me not a great mom when I was with my kids, and not a great leader when I was in my business, so it just wasn’t serving anyone at all.
One particular thing I had to let go of was…we homeschool right now, but our kids had gone to public school for a year, a couple of years back. And the whole invitation to be “room mom” thing came up and I said “no, but I could come sometimes,” because I had this picture in my head like you said, and it wasn’t working. It was causing stress. I wasn’t going. And one day I sent my husband in my place. He went and he loved it. It worked out great because he’s more like a stay-at-home dad and has the flexibility to do that. And I did it the next time, and the next time, but I was still telling myself this story that “good moms go to the classroom.”
I wish this book would have come out earlier because I could have used it so much. My husband seems similar to yours in that he was like, “What if you just let go of this expectation? It seems like it’s ruining your life. And it’s kind of dumb because Hudson doesn’t care, Bella doesn’t care. They don’t care. You care, but it’s really not going to work for your schedule.” And so, I just let it go. I stopped trying to be the mom that goes to the classrooms.
Instead I would make sure that I was the mom that went to baseball practices. I made that switch and it totally freed me up. And so, I’m saying this so that if somebody is listening and there’s something like that that you’re holding on to and making yourself feel like “I’m not a good mom because I don’t do this thing,” that version was coming from nothing. It wasn’t productive guilt. It was weighing me down and ruining everything. When I let it go and decided I’m not going to go to the classroom ever, Brian will, it really, really helped a lot. It lightened my load. Then I was present when they got home, so win, win, win.
JESSICA: Right. There is no one way to be a good mom. There just isn’t. There’s a million different ways to do it. I think that we need to stop holding ourselves to this idea that isn’t real. I once read that the “mommy war” is just made up and I wonder if that is in fact true because we all are just doing the best that we can and good enough really is good enough most of the time.
Hey girl! Quick interruption because I’ve got something new that’s coming! It’s totally free, it’s going to be amazing and I want to make sure you know about it!
Do you feel like you are always picking up toys or nagging your kids to pick up? That they’ve got too much stuff? Do you feel like maybe your kids have a lot of toys, but all they want to do is play technology, video games, and all that stuff and you feel out of your depth with the limits on that? Do you feel like you’ve tried to declutter to the toys before but it just really didn’t go very well? Maybe your kids’ stuff has made its way into every part of your home. If you are struggling with any of these things and especially if you’re struggling with all of it, you need to be at my next free workshop.
It’s live and it’s with Amy Tirpak, who is a part of Team Allie, and she is a Child Play Therapist. She has so much expertise to bring to the table. We are going to be talking about minimalism and kids and how you can take action and change these problems in your life.
I think the biggest thing I want you to understand is that as adults we can control how much stuff we have and what comes into our homes, but as long as you have kids at home, stuff will continue to pour in kind of without your control in terms of it initially coming into your house. Kids are constantly outgrowing clothes. They get new toys from other people and stuff seems to come in from school, Sunday School, birthday parties and presents from other people, school and art projects, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, generous giving relatives and all of these things, while at the same time studies show that too much stuff breeds some seriously bad stuff like materialism and ingratitude. It can hinder creativity and even their cognitive development.
This is where Amy Tirpak and I are coming together to step in and help you. This free live class is going to pack a punch. It’s going to shine a light on the things that you need to know and teach you how to begin the process of minimalism with your kids or succeed in it if you’ve attempted before and feel like it was a big fail. And that’s okay; you’re doing great!
We’re here to help you, encourage you, and lift you up!
This class already happened live last week, but the replay is still available and there’s a few more days left to watch it and I don’t want you to miss out, so go to allialliecasazza.com/kidsclass. Check it out. Watch it while it’s up.
Take this expertise, take this opportunity to learn from two experts who want to help lift you up, help you get clarity and raise grateful focused kids who know how to play, have a sense of self and know who they are because they weren’t distracted by too much stuff.
ALLIE: So, off the top of your head, if somebody is listening to this, maybe they’re driving to work and feeling all the guilt, all the things and they live…I find that a lot of women live in that place. They have that mom guilt, especially working mom guilt and it lives there all the time but then it’ll come up really heavy more times than others and it’s just something that they live with.
So, if they’re hearing this and they’re like, “I can live without the mom guilt,” and you’re saying you can kind of use it to be productive or just let it go cause it’s not productive guilt. What are some of the steps they could take or questions they could prompt themselves with to actually…it’s a great idea but actually taking the steps to, “Okay, is this guilt productive or is it not productive?” Do you have anything else? I know it’s kind of a big question off the top of your head, but that they could actually do?
JESSICA: 70% of American moms of children under the age of 18 work. And that has been a powerful statistic for me to know because it reminds me, particularly I think in some circles where I feel like I’m the only working mom, that my situation is actually the norm for America, and that lots and lots of kids have the same story that my kids do, which is that their mom goes to work…or even if you don’t go to work, if you work from home or you work from home part time…that part of my responsibility and role in our family is to provide for our family.
I think that oftentimes gratitude can really help turn our emotions of guilt on their head. And so, think about all of the benefits that your work brings to you personally, professionally, for your family, for your kids. We’ll talk about it with my kids when they’re like, “I don’t want you to go to work.”
You know, it’s challenging. I was very stretched too thin when I wrote Stretched Too Thin. I was working seven days a week. I had a full-time job, then was coming to work early in the morning to write, and I was working on weekends writing so, I was gone a lot. And I needed to communicate to my kids the bigger story that my writing was something that was personally gratifying for me. It was a gift that God had given me and a platform that I needed to steward well. It was helping provide for our family. We were able to go on vacation because of the income that we were bringing in from me having work to do. And that we were fortunate.
There are families who their parents aren’t able to get work and because of that they maybe don’t have enough food on the table. You know, just really practical. My kids are young, you know, but ways that they could understand that. I think once we start celebrating both the practical and the joy that can come from it…I know that I am a better mom when I’m away from my kids a little bit and I’m getting to lean into my giftings. I think that that brings about freedom from guilt.
And you know what, if you are feeling guilty still all of the time, maybe that is a prompt, that the work that you’re doing maybe isn’t the right fit for you or for your family. I’m not saying that you should walk into your boss’s office and quit tomorrow because it is very likely that you need to work and you’re working because you need that for your family, but think about are there things that you could do differently? Or something else that you could pursue that would maybe bring about more joy or be a better fit for your family, your family’s schedule, or your kids’ needs and pursue that. There are options.
I think sometimes we feel so comfortable with whatever is kind of the status quo and that might even be the job that you’re in, that looking for something different, it feels overwhelming.
ALLIE: That’s a really good point. And also, I was thinking about the opposite. I’ve heard this in my own head and I’ve also had conversations with friends that own their own businesses or whatever and are aligned with their purpose and really finding a lot of fulfillment from their job, that some of us that feel mom guilt that we enjoy it. It’s like we can’t win because you feel guilty that you’re even working at all or you feel guilty because, like you just said, maybe you just really don’t like being there and you know, “I could be doing something better,” or “I like this too much. I’m so fulfilled by this.”
JESSICA: You shouldn’t. Why do women feel guilty about that? I mean, it just boggles my mind. (I’m talking with my hands here, you guys, I’m really getting fired up.) It just blows my mind that you would feel guilty about doing something that you love. That does not make any sense. That is something that you have skills in, giftings, and passions and we would want our kids to lean into those. Why shouldn’t we also be leaning into those? We should be.
I just kind of want to smack women when they’re saying they’re feeling guilty about going into the office and that they enjoy doing it. That is awesome! I am a better mom and I am better for my kids because I am leaning into my giftings and I’m using those giftings to not only better myself, to better the work that I’m doing and help at the job that I’ve been called to do and I’m able to do, but also provide for my family. There is not really a downside to this, especially because now my kids are in school.
I feel like I often hear it more from moms with younger kids where they’re having to put their kids into daycare and they feel like someone else is raising their kids or that sort of thing. Well, you know what? I think it’s good for our kids to be around other kids. I think it’s good for our kids to have multiple mentors. You shouldn’t be the only person speaking into your kids’ lives. That’s what I would hope as my kids get older anyway. So, them having those experiences when they’re younger is not a bad thing in my opinion. I’m sorry, I got a little soapboxy there.
ALLIE: You speak so much life over this topic. I’ve done episodes on this before, but I wanted you to come on and do what you just did because this is what the book feels like. You’re passionate about it and you speak so much truth over this ridiculous lie that’s so common.
I went to a private Christian school my entire life. Almost every single mom of the friends that I had worked. My mom worked. My parents owned, they still do own and run a business together, and mom worked full-time. That’s why we went to school instead of homeschooling, because she wanted to do that but couldn’t and she knew that and she sent us. But at that private Christian school, we were literally taught…the boys and girls would be split up for Bible and they would teach the boys life things like how to balance a checkbook and the girls were taught how to breastfeed instead of bottlefeed and stay up all night with the baby. We’d have to do these assignments where we called into the classroom and left a message to prove that we got up with the baby.
JESSICA: I can’t handle this right now.
ALLIE: I can’t either.
And look at who was in the classroom – I’m there getting this message – and look at what my life ended up being like. I told my mom that recently because she didn’t know. I didn’t say like, “Today I learned about breastfeeding.” I just went to school. And she said the “F” word. My mom never says that. She was like, “What?” She was so upset.
I think that is such an extreme example and I’m glad it happened to me so that I can draw attention. I think that’s very extreme, but there is this message in the Christian circle of “women are the helpers and we do this and the men do this.” And it very much damaged me for what my life ended up being.
Then I’m sitting there, in the Midwest at the time starting this business, feeling like I was stepping into something that I needed to step into a long time ago, and feeling super passionate and right where I needed to be, but also kind of struggling subconsciously. “Why would You give me this idea and all of these passions if it’s not right? Something feels not right.” And then you know, when you’re on the internet people say anything they think of. I started getting comments about that like, “How are your kids doing now that you’re working?” Things that they would never ask my husband.
I see where it comes from and it still pisses me off. I get where it comes from, specifically in the Christian circle. If you stay home you get comments. I’ve done both. I’ve lived both. When I stayed home, I got comments like, “Good for you, good choice. You’re so blessed. Your kids are so blessed. So lucky.” And then now saying, “Do you work?” We were talking about this before we hit record. I started to say, “No, I stay home but I run a company.” Like, no, you don’t stay home. You work at home. I just wouldn’t call it what it was. I was afraid.
Then I stepped into ownership of that and started saying, “Yeah, I work. I own my own company. I employ 15 other women. Yeah, I work.” The response is, “Oh! Okay, okay.” It’s not, “Oh good! Your family is so much better off!” I would literally get told I was basically, “Jesus.” And then over here on the working side, nope, no comments like that at all.
So, I see where it comes from. I understand why women feel this way. But it’s still ridiculous and it makes me so mad how many people are missing out on joy. I was a worse mom when I stayed home. Now I have space and fulfillment and I’m more balanced. I’m happier and more patient. There is nothing worse from me doing this, you know?
JESSICA: Well, I’m really sorry that you’ve experienced that and that that has been part of your story. I was not raised in that home or culture. My husband was, though. He was raised in extreme fundamentalism. And so, I have learned a great deal about that, that whole world, and that space.
My husband and I are pretty well known in the progressive sphere, so those types of ideologies and theologies are just something that really riles me up. I just think that this is a narrative that I hope ends with this generation, that we are not continuing to perpetuate gender roles that are not healthy and are not even biblically based, honestly. I mean, if you look at the Proverbs 31 woman, guess what she was doing? She was working. She was hustling, right? She was working a lot.
I won’t camp here, but I think that it is really important for working moms to be strong and confident in their role as a mom who works, be proud of that, teach our kids the benefits of that, and teach our kids the respect for that. That they can do anything they want -boy or girl – they can do anything they want, and that is not something that is hurting their family for them to do that. It is an incredible privilege to call myself a working mom.
ALLIE: Absolutely, it is! Absolutely. I just love that.
Okay, so just shifting gears a little bit (or a lot a bit because that was a lot and really good.)
JESSICA: I’m going to toss some tables here.
ALLIE: Yeah, seriously. I know. Anytime I talk about that, even just saying it out loud, every time I tell the story I’m like, “What is going on?” I just can’t believe that happened. That that was the message and I subconsciously was downloading that. I mean I really struggled when I started my business.
So anyway, I think it’s good that it’s just an extreme example because if anyone had a little bit, maybe a message downloaded to them by a grandparent or something growing up, and they were like, “Maybe that’s be leading into some guilt,” that I’ve got a real extreme version of that and it’s okay if that has contributed. Name it. Call it what it is – a lie. And I also want to help women step into their confidence as they work and do what they’re doing. It’s amazing.
I wanted to ask you about…I actually spent a few minutes looking for another word to call it because self-care is so overdone and over talked about. I feel that self-care has become this picture of the perfect bubble bath, candles, and all these nice things. That’s great. But I feel like that feels unattainable for a lot of women, specifically women that have really little kids, or they work full time away from home and have to commute, and then there’s homework, baseball practice and things like that.
I really liked your chapter about self-care and I would like it if you could maybe speak to the importance of it and maybe some ideas. I don’t know if you were aware because we just recently connected, but one thing that I talk about a lot is practical self-care, and I thought that you had things that were just different and unique. So, I’d love for you to speak about the importance of that if you would.
JESSICA: Yeah, it’s interesting because my first book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You is all about self-care, it was a bit of a challenge for me to write it and Stretched Too Thin because I wanted to be sure that it was fresh. But it is a topic that I also am really passionate about. That’s why I connected with you because I was like, “We’re kindred spirits. How do we not really know each other?” So, I’m so glad that here we are finally chatting.
Self-care – I’m with you that I wish there was a different way of describing that – but it is about a lot more than bubble baths, manicures, and massages. It really is a holistic pouring into yourself so that you can take care of others, that oxygen mask philosophy that you’ve got to take care of yourself first. Put your own oxygen mask on before you can take care of everyone and everything else.
For me, part of that is bubble baths, honestly. My husband, when we’re recording this now, is out of the country for three weeks and I am taking care of three kids in three different schools while working full time. Last night I took a 45-minute bubble bath and read a book. Even though there were a million other things that I could do, I knew that the best thing for me to be able to keep my head metaphorically above water during this season right now, these really hard couple of weeks, was to do something that was going to bring me joy, give me calm, peace, and rest at the end of the day by doing that.
So sometimes it is that, but it really is recognizing your passions and making time for those passions. It is taking care of your body. I think for so many women that I speak with around the country, that is a big area of neglect for us.
And I’m not talking about weight or food. I’m talking about healthcare. Have you gone to the dentist in the past six months? Are you making time for annual physicals and seeing your OB/GYN and all of those types of things?
I share a story that I won’t go into a ton of detail on here just because of time, but last year I had something like six surgeries in eight months and a lot of that was due in part to ignoring my own health. So, here I am speaking on stages across the country, talking about self-care and I was ignoring my own needs. I was ignoring that I was hemorrhaging and really needed a hysterectomy, but I didn’t have time for that. I didn’t have time to be off of work and have a surgery that was going to put me out for six weeks. That just seemed like too much. And so, instead I lived in pain every single month dealing with these horrific menstrual cycles. When the surgeon went in there, I was in Stage 4 endometriosis. It had spread to my colon, and it was so much worse because I hadn’t taken care of myself, right? That’s an extreme example.
I think so often for us, we ignore ourselves for the “sake” of our families or for our kids or for our work even. And we’ve got to stop doing that. The only way that you are going to be able to be fully present and at your best potential is if you’re taking care of yourself. It isn’t selfish; it’s actually selfless, honestly, to take care of yourself, take care of your body, to take care of the things that God has put inside of you that bring you joy and you’re passionate about. Those things are really important.
And again, when we look at it through the lens of motherhood, we would never want that for our kids. I want to make space for my daughter to be creative, for her to enjoy playing soccer, for my son to be on the soccer field, and be building things, right? I want them to have those experiences because those are things that bring them joy. I also am sure to take them to the doctor, to pay attention when they say something hurts, right? Not just ignore it.
The same should be true for us and we also need to be modeling that for our kids so that our kids don’t grow up in a home where they never saw their mom go to the doctor. They never saw their mom say, “You know what? I’m going to go take a bath and just do something just for me.” Right? They need to see that so they know that is healthy, normal, and appropriate.
Then one other thing I’ll say and then I’ll stop talking – that biblically, Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And I think we so often get caught up in the “love your neighbor” part that we forget that the directive was “as yourself.” So, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, that is really the level at which you’re going to be able to take care of your neighbor, everyone around you. When you are really leaning into taking care of yourself, that is when you can love your neighbor to the fullness that you have the capacity of doing.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly what I wanted you to talk about is the self-care aspect of literally just taking care of yourself. Going to the doctor, getting that weird tooth thing in the back of your mouth that you just kind of lived with fixed, but wrap it up with something else. Make the dentist appointment and pick up a latte on the way home, and take the long way home and just drive for a minute in silence. It can be so simple.
I just took a bubble bath the other night and it was amazing, but some women just don’t have space for that all the time and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be this big overdone, perfectionistic, Instagram-worthy event. It’s just a moment to yourself. It’s making sure that you’re taken care of. If there’s something bothering you, you go and you get an appointment and you get it fixed.
I think that is what’s missed about self-care. It’s become this weird super stereotype, blown-out-of-proportion thing. And it’s just sometimes you just need to make a doctor appointment. Sometimes you need to go listen to a podcast while you drive for a minute, you know?
JESSICA: Here’s the thing, you are always going to make time for what’s important to you, and so if you make it a priority, you’re going to have the time to do it. I don’t even think saying, “I don’t have the time for that,” is a great excuse. I think it’s just an excuse. In both The Fringe Hours and Stretched Too Thin, I talk about the importance of time tracking for a week and that if you do that and see where all of your time is going, you can find those pockets of time, which are the fringe hours. Those minutes that often go underused or wasted and you can really leverage those to do something for yourself to practice some self-care.
My friend, Stacey, once said to me, “How you spend your 5-9 determines how you’ll spend your 9-5.” I love that and that principle of pour into yourself first so that then you can pour out for that 9-5. I would encourage women that if you feel like, “Oh, I’m in a season where I can’t take care of myself,” to really reevaluate what that looks like, where your time is going, and see if that really is true. Because my gut says that there probably is some time that you could be pouring into yourself that you maybe aren’t using in that way.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely! Well, thank you so much. Can you point us in the right direction for those who just love you and want to connect with you now?
JESSICA: Yeah, so my favorite place to hang out is Instagram and I’ve got two Instagram accounts. My main one is @jessicanturner.
And then if you like to read…I am a huge reader. I especially love reading fiction and talking about books, so I actually started a separate book account called @booksnobbery and that is just book talk all the time, which is super fun and I love connecting with other readers on there.
You can find my site at themomcreative.com and you can get information on all my books and my speaking as well as my blog and lifestyle work on that site, so we’d love to connect with folks there as well.
ALLIE: Yeah, thank you so much! I’m really glad we finally got to talk! You’ve been around in the blogosphere and we know so many of the same people but we just never really got a chance to connect, so thank you for doing that here with me and for sharing and for your book. We’ll link to everything in show notes and I just appreciate you so much.
JESSICA: Thanks Allie!
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I am always rooting for you, friend! See ya next time!