Ep 223: Mastering Work/Life Balance

Yael Shornbrun, author of Work, Parent, Thrive, joins us to talk about how working parents can make the most of their busy lives. We discuss the surprising benefits of working and parenting simultaneously, and explain how we can model a healthy work/life balance for their teens.

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Full show notes

Raising teens can sometimes feel like a full time job…on top of the one we already have!  Handling the ups and downs of parenthood takes practically all the energy we have–adding an eight hour workday into the mix can be immensely overwhelming. 

However, for many parents, working and parenting at the same time is a necessary compromise. Doing both is no easy task, and often comes with lots of sacrifice, conflict and even guilt. 

But what if being both a parent and a member of the workforce could be mutually beneficial? What if, despite all the struggle, being a working parent might be the best of both worlds?

This week, we’re diving into how working parents can overcome the struggle and start thriving. We’re joined by Dr. Yael Schonbrun, psychologist, professor, podcaster and author of Work, Parent, Thrive! Yael is a working parent herself, and wanted to harness her knowledge as a psychologist to help parents change their perspective on work/life balance. 

In the episode, we’re discussing the ways that parenting can strengthen our career skills–and how our work experiences can make us better parents. Plus, how we can practice emotional management when the stress of life gets too overwhelming, and how we can model career success for teens.

Surprising Positives For Working Parents

Balancing work and kids is quite the conundrum, and it’s easy to get bogged down by the difficulty of it all. But there actually quite a few benefits to working and raising kids simultaneously, says Yael–benefits that many parents don’t even realize are there! 

In the episode, Yael breaks down the idea of skill transfer between our personal and professional lives. The patience, perseverance and empathy it takes to raise teens can be terrific traits to carry over into our work life, while the collaboration and consistency of our work life might benefit our parenting, she explains.

She also describes how parents can benefit from what she calls a “stress-buffering effect.” When the stress of work gets us down, spending time with kids is a great way to have a meaningful, fun escape. Similarly, when our kids are driving us crazy, we can head to the office or close the door to our home studio and use work as a way to distract us from the stress of parenting, she says. 

There are so many other benefits to working and parenting at the same time, and Yael and I get into them in the episode. So many of these benefits become clear when we choose to notice them, Yael explains, instead of focusing on the bad. 

Regardless, it’s hard to deny that work life balance can be a struggle–especially for parents–and sometimes all the stress can cause us to boil over. In our interview, Yael and I discuss how parents can practice emotional management when the going gets tough.

Mastering Emotional Management

In our interview, Yael and I talk a lot about values and how they can often be challenged when we’re at our lowest. During arguments with teens or triggering moments, we sometimes find ourselves saying things we don’t mean or acting out of spite. Even though we value kindness, patience and firm boundaries, those things can slip out the window when we’re riled up.

In the episode, Yael and I talk about how we can learn to act according to our values instead of letting our emotions get the better of us. She lays out certain “grounding techniques,” or ways to calm down when we’re upset. These are typically methods of slowing down our nervous system’s response to triggering situations, and can include everything from holding an ice cube to taking some time to journal.

We also delve into a deep discussion about guilt, and the ways in which it affects working parents. We often feel guilty when we can’t make it to a competition due to a work trip, or when we have to work late and can’t plan a family dinner. Many times, however, this guilt serves no good purpose, and simply drags us down. In the episode, Yael walks me through how parents can evaluate guilty thoughts and interpret whether or not they’re useful.

Emotional management can be an important way to model maturity to teens. In our interview, Yael and I are breaking down how working parents can also model career success to teens who are heading into adulthood.

Modeling Passion And Purpose

Although we typically hope teens will listen to our words, they’re more likely to pay attention to and emulate our actions. Kids who are still figuring out their career path might turn to parents to see an example of working adult life. If we want kids to see a positive example of professional development, we have to set one, says Yael.

Yael explains that we can label our work three different ways –as a job, a career and a calling. When we see our profession as simply a job, we often don’t attribute meaning to our work–which not only makes us less happy and productive, but sets an example to teens that work is just a miserable obligation.

 Viewing our work as a career is better, but embracing it as a calling is ideal. When we see our working life as a way to find purpose and passion, we’ll not only live more fulfilling lives, but show teens that they can do the same, Yael says.

Teaching kids to change their attitude towards school, extracurriculars, or part time jobs can be a great way to help them start a positive relationship with career development as well. In the episode, Yael and I talk about how she encouraged her own son to approach his studies with more enthusiasm by opening his mind up to the long-lasting benefits of academics.

Modeling career skills and emotional development helps prepare teens for the challenges of the adult world–just one of the many ways working parents can create harmony between their work life and their family life.

In the Episode….

My conversation with Yael was incredibly eye-opening. On top of the topics discussed above, we also talk about:
  • How stress can be beneficial
  • Why interruptions actually strengthen focus
  • How we can discover and define our values
  • Why labeling ourselves can be harmful
If you enjoyed this week’s episode, you can find more from Yael on her podcast, Psychologists Off the Clock or at yaelschonbrun.com. Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to share and subscribe and we’ll see you next week.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Dr. Yael Schonbrun
Dr. Yael Schonbrun
Clinical psychologist, @OTC_Psych podcast co-host, author of #WorkParentThrive (out Nov 2022 @ShambhalaPubs), @BrownPsychiatry, parent of three, nap enthusiast.
Ep 223: Mastering Work/Life Balance
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