Succeed at Parenting without Losing Who You Are-guest Dr. Whitney Casares

In this inspiring episode of The Brainy Moms podcast, Dr. Amy and Teri interview pediatrician Whitney Casares, MD, author of the book The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself. Dr. Whitney shares insights on how to overcome feeling conflicted about managing the many responsibilities of motherhood and gives moms tips on how to hold on to their own identities amidst the chaos of parenting. Her message is for all moms: working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms, & working-at-home moms! And her advice will resonate with Dads as well.

Read the transcript of this episode:

Episode 108:
Succeed at Parenting without Losing Who You Are

with special guest Dr. Whitney Casares

Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of brainy moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore, along with Teri Miller coming to you today from sunny, Colorado. We are both so excited about today’s guest, a very brainy mom, Dr. Winnie Casares, Dr. Whitney is a private practice pediatrician and founder of Modern Mommy Doc, where she guides professional women to find success in the workplace and at home. She’s the author of The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself and The New Baby Blueprint: Caring for You and Your Little One. As a “mama mindset” thought leader and coach, she teaches working moms how to go from conflicted to centered. Welcome Dr. Whitney!

Dr. Whitney Casares: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Dr. Amy Moore: So, Teri has a million questions for you, so let’s just turn it over to her and get started.

Teri Miller: Okay. Before I even ask you anything for our listeners, I want everyone to know that the book we’re talking about today, the Working Moms Blueprint. I am working today but I was mostly a stay at home mom. And even now I’m only a part-time working mom. And so I want to say to all the listeners, this book should have a different title, or maybe you can republish the entire book, just change the cover because it is so relevant. I mean, everything, every chapter, the practical suggestions, even though this is geared towards working moms, it’s completely relevant for those of us who are working moms, just not, just take that back, who are working moms, working at home with our families that are stay at home moms. And we are all working just as hard. We are all working moms, no matter where our workplaces. And so I want to say listeners, don’t tune out if you think this is only about working moms, if you’re a stay at home mom, because that’s my experience as well. And this information is so beautiful, so encouraging, very relevant.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Thank you so much. And you know what, you’re absolutely right. I tell my husband all the time that he could pick this up and like learn a couple of things from it because the book is written in, in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics. And the cool thing about working with them is that they of course have all their policies that are vetted, the research, they have councils and committees and all the things. And so they do not let you put out something unless it is 100% by the book. And they really wanted to make sure that in addition to talking about how do moms in general, and I agree, like let’s just get rid of the word, honestly, working mom, because we’re all working moms. How to moms make it through and really thrive, not just survive and their motherhood experience, but then also how do we help our kids with like healthy activity and good sleep and how to be (inaudible), able to chores and all those things. So we included all that in there. So that, that was really mom focused and kid focused.

Dr. Amy Moore: So, I just want to say when Teri mentioned that it reminded me of how Excedrin packages the same painkillers with just different names, you know, they might change one little ingredient, you know? And I said, “So she could actually just make a second cover…The Stay At Home, Mom Blueprint” and have the, have the exact same message! We love that. Anyway. Back to you!

Teri Miller: Yes. Very, very relevant. Yeah. I just want, I want our listeners to know that. Don’t tune out cause this is great information. So, right at the beginning of your book, and this may have even been in the introduction, Dr. Whitney, you talked about, you actually quoted a colleague, and it was a work situation where the director or manager or whatever was saying, you know, well be encouraging. You want to encourage your, your patients and your, your parents. And, and then you said a colleague responded with this. “Well, it’s good to be encouraging, but it’s also okay to not be okay. And we need to tell parents that that’s what parents need to hear right now.” And I love that because, yeah, I think so often in leadership and, and from people in authority, like our doctors, our pediatricians, we hear let’s just have a positive attitude. And sometimes, especially through this COVID stuff, we’re ready to pull our hair out. If somebody is telling me to just have a positive attitude, I want to say, I’m sorry, shut up. I’m leaving. And so I want you to tell the readers, of course, it’s in your book, but not readers. I want you to tell our listeners, what’s kind of your story? How did you get to the point of being able to let go of that obsession we have as moms for doing it all for perfection? What’s your story?

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. So first of all, you’re absolutely right. And, and the, the mini story of what happened there with that colleague is that it was the beginning of COVID. Everything was shutting down. Every single parent was coming around and saying like, I can’t get my kids off screens. My I’m going crazy. I feel like my kids are having this horrible time. And that it was kind of an administrative person who came in to our executive committee meeting and I’m on the executive committee at my work and said to my, in my private practice, and said, now it’s really important that we’re role models. And we just need to be super positive and tell everybody, you know, encouraging, they’re looking to us to be encouraging. And our psychologist actually said, “you know, yes, and we’re all having a hard time as parents, we’re having a hard time. Let’s not have this toxic positivity that is about, let’s shine it on. Everything is good because when you’re actually able to attune to those very real feelings that you have, and they’re very real conflict that comes up for all moms, for all parents, for all human beings during COVID and in general, that’s actually much more powerful and life changing.”

And what happened for me is I was one of those people who actually believed that everything could be okay, as long as I believe it could all be okay. That believe that if I kind of like willed it to be, or had enough commitment or hard work that I could make anything happen. And, and I was able to really lean into my work as a pediatrician before I had kids, I was always kind of this go getter. Like I started a little business when I was about eight years old at a horse stable across from my parents’ house. And I just go door to door and knock on people’s doors and put flyers. And Saturdays and Sunday, I’d be like shoveling the poop. And I earned like a huge Barbie collection, right, in two months. So I had that hard work that tenacity inside of me and that focus and in pediatrics, that’s really expected of you as well. And I’m sure people can relate if they are working in more of a, you know, career focused job where I wanted to lean in, you know, I felt like I needed to be a team member and I liked it because it made me feel really purposeful. And I like seeing patients. And so if someone said, can you see an extra kid who has a fever at the end of the day? Like yeah, on it, there was an extra email that needed to be written. And it made me say a couple hours late, no problem. And it all worked out fine for me because when I wasn’t a mom, I could rest and recuperate on the weekends and at night, and it was kind of no big deal. My husband had his own thing going on professionally. And then I had a baby and motherhood really changed every single thing for me.

My first daughter was really like, love her, but I call her a little hot mess because poor thing, she did not sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. For the first 13 weeks of her life. We had to work to get her to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. She had colic. She spit up over every single piece of clothing that I had. I suffered through really severe postpartum depression and anxiety in part because of the sleeplessness that I had, all those sleepless nights. And if that wasn’t bad enough, then as she became a toddler and kind of got into her older years, I thought things would get better. And they really didn’t. She had really major tantrums all the time. She had a really hard time with potty training. She would get very anxious. She was pretty particular. And we thought she had autism in the beginning. And we went and did all of this testing and investigating and got all the support with psychologists and with psychiatrists and parent coaches and, you know, specialists to see if there’s something wrong with her iron levels and all these things.

And, and she, you know, it ended up in the end having this really severe anxiety disorder that was just showing up as kind of like fight or flight. Like she’d get real mad or she’d get real withdrawn. And I found myself having just this well of need at my home. And then my family, I added on a second kid eventually by husband had stuff he was dealing with. I had my own stuff. And then I also though became more senior in my job. And so I had this well of need in my office and these expectations on me that I would really, really give it my all there and be committed and just work harder. I kind of pretend like I was okay all the time, even when I wasn’t.

Teri Miller: Yeah. The candle you’re burning the candle at both ends and in the middle in a couple of places

Dr. Whitney Casares: And in the middle it’s probably like the most important piece of that because it really was like this yo-yo on a string. I keep on like swinging from side to side or like a rubber band that keeps on just being stretched in different directions. And I snapped in the middle and when my daughter was 12 months old, I stomped into my bedroom where my husband was. I said like, I can’t take this anymore. Like, we’re we gotta go on a trip. Like I left my kid for a week with my, with my mom, because it was like so much. I found myself in the shower. I remember when she was about three years old, I was in the shower and I’d had all these meetings at work and my husband and I had been fighting and we had a really horrible meltdown with my oldest. And I just was sobbing and crying, like feeling like I am constantly conflicted inside and constantly burnt out, constantly stressed.

Right? And because I, you know, you, you, you try to soothe yourself when that, in that situation where I would do silly things, like watch Netflix all night long or scroll through my Instagram all night long, but things that didn’t really serve me or I do things like being really like, mean inside my head to myself, like, hi, you’re like a bad mom and a bad worker, all those things. And so I decided over time, like there has to be a different way for myself. But then also as I started talking to all these other moms in my office that I was seeing week in and week out, I felt like, actually I’m not alone. Yeah. Almost every other mom working and non-working, maybe they don’t have this extreme situation that I do with my child, but they have that sense of inner conflict of juggling, but never feeling like they’re effective.

Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. Okay. I was completely resonating with your story as you are going step by step by step. And I thought I’ve lived that.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so common. So, so common.

Teri Miller: You did, Amy is with kids with health problems, medical problems issues, and then juggling all of that.

Dr. Amy Moore: Sure. Post-partum depression. All of that and trying to juggle a career. Completely resonates with me.

Teri Miller: I can say, okay, I resonate with all of that too, but what I wasn’t juggling was a career. With later kids, the hard thing is that my career was homeschooling. And so I think for some stay at home moms it’s, that is the career. And so I was juggling that. I’m homeschooling my kids. I’m with them all the time. So I’m a full-time teacher and then all of the other things, but it’s, it’s the same thing. What you’re saying. You’re not alone. I think we, as moms, we are so pulled and I know every generation thinks, Oh, it’s harder than that. But we, I think we, as women ever since the, what were the commercials? I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. (sung) You know, since the days of that commercial, we started being told by the media that we can do it all. I do think it’s harder. We are stretched thinner. We are burning the candle every which way and your message here in this book, you give practical advice. The blueprint’s fantastic, but your message that you start off with is that we can let go of that perfect. We can’t do it all.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. And in fact, I would go further to say like, if you do not let go of that perfect. Like Lord help you. You will be able to keep on probably spinning the plates because as moms we’re good, this is not about capability of doing the work. As moms, we’re totally capable of like every single day we’ve got the checklist, sign them up for camp, do the dishes, make sure the laundry is done. Make sure that I like meet up with my friend for the coffee, but like this feeling of, I don’t want to be too dramatic, but like this dying inside that happens. That’s gonna happen. If you don’t kind of let go of something or create a framework that allows you to decide what are the things that actually really matter to me, where do I want to place my time and attention?

And I was going to go, go backward. What you said about the stay at home moms, the homeschooling moms, or the moms are just staying at home and their kids are in school. But as American women, we bear productivity. We wear it like a badge of honor of like, if I am doing, doing, doing, doing, then I am successful. That is success. And so no matter if you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, we all tend to find ways to fill our time and to like earn that productivity badge. And so you’re right, that this applies to everyone because we’re all at risk of doing that, unless we’re really mindful.

Teri: Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore: I’m going to jump in here with a question. You wrote, “You can’t do everything if you want to do anything well.” And so that reminded me of the phrase: If you chase two squirrels, they both get away. Yeah. So what is your advice to moms for how do you choose? How do you choose what to do?

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. Yeah. It really comes down to understanding your priorities and understanding the things that if you looked back at your life when you’re 80, what would be the things that you would be the proudest of, or that you would feel like, yes, I’m so glad I made an investment in those, in those areas. So I actually, even, you know, as you’re writing the book we create, we started creating this framework that now at Modern Mommy Doc, we call your centered life. That’s basically, if you imagine kind of you as a circle in the middle and the things that are important to you as a circle. And then, and for me, these are things like contribution to other women, my family connections travel, exploration, mental health, all of those things. If you’re in a circle, there’s still a box around you that’s the rest of your life of all these things that have to get done, that do have to be accomplished either by you or by somebody else, but don’t have to define you.

And so in the book, we go through a whole like prioritization exercise of thinking about what things right now do you spend your time and energy on? And if you had an ideal life, where would you spend your time and energy? How do those line up kind of doing an audit to see, gosh, am I actually living according to the things that I, that I care the most about, and then figuring out ways to push the outside of that circle further out so that it doesn’t encroach upon you and like your soul, right? And it’s a practical, examples are things like in the book, we go into this in great detail, but automating and delegating, right? Like those are efficiency techniques. So what are things that a computer could be doing for me? Can you have it so that you use online grocery shopping and someone else delivers your food for this? What about if you do go to the grocery store yourself, or if you order online, just letting go of the idea that you have to make really fancy meals during the middle of the week and having that be pre-marinated chicken skewers with some broccoli and a loaf of French bread, right? Like that’s healthy. And that takes that off of your mental load plate. I have like Monday, Wednesday, Fridays it’s exact same meals every single week. Yeah. And if my husband wants to make a fancy meal, like Lord love him, let him let him do that. But I, I don’t need to do that. That’s not in my wheelhouse. Right. I’m letting my husband have a piece of the parenting pie, making sure that we have a common understanding and that we’re using compassionately assertive language with each other, like, Hey, these are the things that are on your responsibility list. These are the things on my responsibility list and letting him really take charge on the things on his list. Those things help a mom too, to kind of like take that off her plate, give it to somebody else.

Jancee Dunn. I love her. She’s like my favorite person. And she wrote How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, which is another book, but could be retitled and given to like every type of relationship and  person in every type of relationship. Right? She and her husband went through this process of, she talked to therapists, she talked to people who were on like the FBI SWAT team as to how they talk with like terrorists in negotiation tactics to actually get someone to listen to you when you’re in like a high stress situation. And one of the biggest things she talks about in that book is this idea of maternal gatekeeping, which is the idea that as moms, biologically, we, a lot of times, we’ll have this tendency to when our babies are first born and our partners are giving our babies a bath and we’re like, oh my gosh, don’t, stop doing it that way, lift her head up. You know what happens? Our partner like takes a giant step back, roll their eyes. And our husbands would walk away.

Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. They throw their hands up. Fine. I can’t do it. Right? You take care of it.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah, exactly. And then we’re like, I have just shot myself in the foot. I’m such a (inaudible). Why did I do that? Of course you’re going to be the one doing all that. You know, there are moments that my, my husband’s not a pediatrician. He doesn’t have the developmental peds background that I do. So there are times that he says things in a way that doesn’t jive. What have, I would say it to my kids, you know, it’s like less than ideal. It’s not, you know, harmful to them. It’s just not my style. I have learned to like, if I can’t have a blank face to literally like pick up a book or like start doing something, right.

Teri Miller: That’s not judgmental like that. I’m just coughing, honey. I’m not making a face at you.

Dr. Whitney Casares: If he serves them cupcakes for dinner, you know what I mean? Like, it’s fine. They’re going to survive. Right? Instead of getting on his case about every single thing that isn’t exactly the way that, that I would do it, but that, that matters with our partners to take the load off of us. And then I think the third thing really there’s, I mean, there’s a ton of things in the book, but the third thing is in terms of lessening, kind of our load there is, is learning to say no, by learning to say yes to the things you actually do want to take care of or do want to spend time on. So as America moms, it’s incredibly difficult. We feel so guilty to say no. When people ask us to be on that third committee or, you know, join the PTA when that’s not our thing. Right. Right. But I know in my head head, I’m saying no to this because I’m saying yes, to me, listening to Hamilton with my kids in the car, singing with our hands and all the motions, like, I feel pretty good about that decision. Right.

Teri Miller: Suddenly the “no” isn’t so negative because I love how you express this. The no is actually a yes. It’s just a yes to something else more important to you.  

Dr. Whitney Casares: Right. Right. More important to you. Yeah. And that helps you reach your overall goals, whether that’s in business or in your relationship with your kids. And that comes back to you. I’m just always kind of with grace. Re-Evaluating okay. I could do the dishes right now and get really stressed out and kind of like huff and puff at my kid when she asks me to pay attention to her, or I could sit and read her the book she wants me to read, right, do the dishes later, you know?

Teri Miller: You’re such a well, you only have two kids and you look so young. Okay. Listeners, if you can’t see her, if you’re not watching this on Facebook, (Note: She means YouTube) you look so young. And you’re itty-bitty. When it came in at the beginning and I’m thinking, how did you get so wise? I’m learning these things still after I had like my sixth kid, you know? So yeah. You would’ve been, you know, watching stuff.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. It’s all by fire, you know? I think Brene Brown talks about how…I’m going to botch the quote. I need to write it down so that I can tell people exactly. So please don’t come at me for not for not knowing the quote exactly. But she talks about how your biggest struggle and trial will later be someone else’s survival guide. Yeah. And I, with my daughter to be perfectly honest, I mean, we’ve gone through days that have just felt like I’m in a war, you know, have felt like, like I look at other parents and I’m thinking you are sitting back drinking pina coladas at a pool. And I am in like a Vietnam trench here. Yeah.

And I think that silver lining to all of that, to be honest, like, you know, pain and struggle. And I am so privileged in so many ways, so many people have it harder than I do, but, but in that, in those emotional pain and trauma has been just these things that have been like, I could either sink or swim. And I’ve decided over time to like get the help that I needed. The, the help from therapists, the help from parent coaches, the help from psychologists. I mean, we were like, we got like a, an army of 30, you know, around us here to help us to learn. So it’s not all me, it’s really being open to that idea that I cannot ever make the chaos be completely gone in my home or in my family because of this really unique, special needs kiddo that I have, but I can like calm the chaos inside me and I can I can create a life that I feel proud of. And I think that’s, that’s true for so many moms. Like you can’t control the things that happen with your kids or their learning differences, or if they’re are differently wired or sickness that happens or COVID right. But you can 100% control your overall approach to being responsive versus reactive to those things that happen to you.

Dr. Amy Moore: I love that. And we need to take a break real quick. That was great. All right. We need to take a break so I can read a word from our sponsor.

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Dr. Amy Moore: And we are back talking with Dr. Whitney Casarez, pediatrician, and author of the brand new book, The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting without Losing Yourself.

Teri Miller: And to reiterate after our message. This book is wonderful for all moms, whether you’re a working at home mom, a career mom, a working homeschooling mom, a stay at home mom. This book is incredibly, incredibly powerful. Yeah, I come from more of that stay at home mom perspective, even though I do work part-time now. And I want to also say to our listeners if you are like many moms, you may order a book, be so motivated to read a book, you pick it up and you read a little bit, you poke around, you can’t really finish it. Okay. So I’m going to give you the insider’s tip. And so Dr. Whitney, please forgive me that I’m not, I’m not going to say to these moms out there, you have to read every word. I know I well, but I think that once moms get into it, they are going to want to read more and more and start flipping through to some of those practical ideas.

But so the insider’s tip, I would say, start off with the introduction because you are going to be so encouraged and inspired by Dr. Whitney’s perspectives on not having to be perfect on I like, I wrote notes to myself at the beginning, and these are not your words. This is how I interpreted it. And so what it spoke to me is I need to spend less time doing more and more time doing less. And so that was, that was a takeaway, even just in the introduction, like I spent so much time doing, doing busy, busy, busy, striving for perfection, and I can let that go. And then I want to say to, to the listeners, to moms and skip to chapter three. Okay. Cause this gets me chapter three, I think it was page 20. You start talking about appearance after you have your baby. And I’m literally reading, you’re going to get a kick out of this, moms. I’m literally reading these couple of paragraphs and I’m like, are you kidding me? Which you’re telling me, I’m supposed to look great two months after I, we don’t get all upset because you’re clearly being sarcastic, hilarious. And so then I ended up like almost cried myself, silly as you go through paragraph. After paragraph talking about all the ways the world says that we have to bounce back from having children, we have to balance back into being a great wife, a great friend, pretty successful career, busy, all these things. And it is fantastic. So I would say jump right into chapter three so that you can laugh at all of the things we really take as truth in our lives. As moms let’s laugh at it, let’s be SAR sarcastic. Let’s it all down there and say, this is ridiculous.

This is hilariously ridiculous. And we can’t do it. Why do we think we can do it all? Chapter three? We can’t do it all. Okay. So let it go. And I love that you then go on in chapter three to talk about truly living, according to our priorities and yeah. Your practical tool in there, that the chart thing you did the comparison. So good. So valuable. And I know you just talked about that a minute ago, so I’m just reiterating not only as the author bragging on that process, but a reader is bragging on that process. And I did some notes for myself. I didn’t do two complete charts, but it was, I mean, I’m 51. Now I have nine children. I have done a lot wrong and I’ve learned to do a lot better. And I have gone through choices where I thought one path was the way and then found another path. And I want to say that unbelievably. I was able to look at my notes in that chart and go, I’m not too far off. Okay. They’re lining up pretty good. But hello, Whitney. Whitney. You’re what like 22. I mean this gorgeous young thing.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Oh, okay. So this is always the joke in my office is that I look like I’m 12 and I’m 40 and 40 years old, but I look like I’m 12. And I always tell people when they’re about to have a new baby and they meet with me before that for these prenatal visits to kind of do a meet and greet and I go and they go, well, how well does the hospital know if you’re supposed to know my pediatrician? I go, just tell them at the hospital that you picked the pediatrician, that’s the six year old and they will know exactly who you’re talking about. So yeah, I can’t hide it. Even with makeup on, I looked, I looked young, but that’s okay. I mean, I think I’ll be happy when I’m 70.

Teri Miller: I don’t think that’ll be, I’m bragging on you right now. You look amazing. So that’s not a bad thing, but just saying that, that there is that comparison chart. There’s so much wisdom in that, that you are bringing to moms that I want to say, Oh my goodness, don’t wait until you’re 51. You know that you can begin this process, dig into that. What are my priorities? So that, like you talked about Dr. Whitney, my no isn’t a negative. No, my, no is this beautiful positive yes. To something else. And I, and the guilt of that, no disappears. There can be such a freedom in that.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. Yeah. 100%. I mean, the thing is when we don’t take the time to say, or, or make the choice, I should say, cause not just by the time, if I don’t make the choice to say yes to ourselves and there’s a whole self-care chapter here, way beyond like yeah.

Teri Miller: That’s what we’re getting into next. So go on.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. Well, I was going to say, you know, build resentment because there’s only so long that we can like, do the work, do the work, do the work and have that feeling inside of like, I’m doing all the work, I’m doing all the work, I’m doing all the work. And then it’s like an Instapot, you know, the lid, it just like keeps on building pressure underneath and then eventually it pops. And then we go through this cycle of we’re irritable. We get more frustrated with our kids. We aren’t able to do our work as effectively if we are in a career we aren’t able to concentrate and be present with our partner if we have one and then we feel bad. And then we go back to doing again, I get my better work, harder work, work, work, work, work again, just like take my own needs out of it. And then that cycle keeps on perpetuating. And when we take care of ourselves and put our needs, first, our deep inner core needs the things that bring us joy that remind us of who we are and what makes us content and peaceful that changes that cycle and makes it, so then we are able to a come back to our priorities time and time again, and be to give to other people in the ways that they need us to get.

Teri Miller: Yeah. Well that was, you segued exactly into what I had next on my notes that I would, I would tell listeners, I would tell moms if you get ahold of this book, intro chapter three, and then yeah. Straight on into chapter four, which is about self-care. The specifics that you give the specific examples are so beautiful. So encouraging Dr. Amy and I just did a podcast let’s see, it was episode one Oh six on the, sort of the arguments of mom, cation or mommy sabbatical, you know, is it realistic? Is it necessary? It was, it was great selfish. Right, right. Yeah. So if anybody wants to go back and listen to that and we just about arguing.

Dr. Amy Moore: Yeah. It’s pretty lively because I think they’re selfish and Teri’s a big fan and proponent of them. And so it is a lively discussion.

Teri Miller: So this, I loved, yeah. Her chapter four and chapter five because Dr. Whitney, you talk about very individually unique ways of pursuing self-care that it doesn’t you specifically talk about. It does not have to be this big, long vacation mommy sabbatical getaway, that there are different things for different women, different moms and in different seasons of life that are needed to bring that self-care. And those two chapters are so helpful and encouraging, helping us understand why we need it, helping us understand how we can achieve that. You offer encouragement and practicality. I love story of, I call it the mommy sabbatical, the, the mommy rest. I can’t remember the, what term you used…

Dr. Whitney Casares: Mommyhood Vacation. I think that we called it.

Teri Miller: Okay. That you had at home. I love this so that your husband and kids went away. So my husband was just recently asking about her for mother’s day. What do you want to do? And I was like, gosh, honey, I’ve been away. You know, I had a great time at Florida. I just took a wonderful mommy sabbatical. I’m all tan. And my husband was saying, what do you want to do? And I said, gosh, you know, I, he said, do you want a break? And I said, yeah, but I don’t want to go anywhere. You know, sometimes the most restful thing I can have is will you just take the kids away? And can I just be at home all by myself? Can I just do what I want to do at home? And so love that story in chapter four of your mommy vacation at home, and how you discovered time to have coffee with friends. And you discovered all these things that were self-care for you, that you were then able to carry forward. So that was so beautiful.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah, no, I it really is true that, that, that time, and we didn’t, we didn’t actually designate it as a Mommyhood Vacation for me. I just kind of ended up that way because I had to work and my husband had vacation time. We were trying to get some time with my in-laws for my kiddos. And so my husband took them to California. This was a couple years ago he took them in California. And they stayed there at the beach and I was at home. And so I actually was working, but it was kind of like a pre kid, like throw it. And that I, I thought I was gonna be like, Ooh, I’m going to do all these exciting things. I’m going to go to this, like, you know, amazing bar or do all these things. And like, the things that I ended up doing were so boring, they were just having, I mean, on the surface, having coffee with a friend, they were on Saturday, nobody woke me up. Right?

Teri Miller: Yeah.

Dr. Whitney Casares: I listened to my music loud on the speakers without a kid going turn that off, you know Dua Lipa was like busting through the house. And so, yes, I agree with both of you. I think I’m on both of your teams, you know, on the vacation, because that experience taught me that really most of the things that I crave are practices I can build into my daily life, even with my kids around. And also there are moments where I have needed more of a big break and sometimes that big break has even been with one kid and not the other people in my family, you know? I took my oldest up to Orcas Island, which is in Washington and we spent three days just having kind of some special time. I talked about that at the end of the book, but that, that was also a sort of a vacation just because there’s less competing interests. I could just be focused her and on me. And I’ve done that with my, with my youngest since as well. So I think there’s all kinds of different ways to get that rest and rejuvenation back and that reconnection to yourself and to just feeling less conflicted. Yeah.

Teri Miller: And just that self care. I love that. You, you said something along the lines of, I dunno, how did I put in my notes? I put it something like, I’m the only one that can make sure I get the self-care I need that, that it’s our responsibility as moms, we take care of everyone else, but if we don’t step back and take care of ourselves as well, like you talked about the boat, there’s just nothing to give. And that self-care is going to look completely different for every person in different seasons of life when finances are different, your kids are different, whatever. That’s so powerful.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know you asked me earlier in the first segment of this, about like, what are the things that, how would I get all this wisdom? I think one of the biggest things actually that I’ve learned about in the last three years is this idea of mindful self-compassion, which is Kristin Neff. She has a book called Self-Compassion, which is so powerful for moms, you know, that just talks about basically attuning to your feelings, kind of like emotion, coaching yourself. Like you would a kid who was having a, a really big flip lid or big emotions. And that idea of being able to like, listen to yourself and what are you feeling? What do you need? What, you know, and sometimes it’s like, I need to pee, or I need to have a drink of water, or I need to step out of this room because you guys are really making me feel super frustrated. Or sometimes it is, I need two or three days by myself without any noise or people touching me and trying to like put their hand down my shirt, you know, children, everybody leave me alone, leave my body alone. Okay.

But it is really different. And it really is when you, when you learn how to attune to yourself and respect yourself and decide like I’m worth it as an individual human being to have my needs met too. And to kind of show up for myself in terms of time. But doesn’t also in terms of what I want in my partner relationship and in how I approach my division of labor and where I place my energies. Yeah.

Teri Miller: Well, so listeners, fellow moms, I would say, grab this book, order it wherever you can go get it at a bookstore, as soon as it comes out get ahold of this book. There are in the, the following chapters that we don’t have time today to go over every detail. But Dr. Whitney offers incredibly specific and encouraging ideas about dinner time, how to make dinner time, less stressful, how to do more with less, less with more, I don’t know how to kind of balance that. So you’re not losing yourself sleep habits, how to help manage sleep time, how to help bring your, your spouse, your family, other people on board lost my earphones, how to bring people on board so that you’ve got the support you need. So there’s lots of just encouragement and practicalities and the overall I’m going to take a leap period again, just from my personal notes, Dr. Whitney, I’m going to say the overall message that I walked away with is something that I say a lot. And Amy you’ll, you’ll recognize this. I say a lot. Well, let’s not ruin good with perfect. Don’t really go to perfect. You know, we don’t, we don’t have to stress about this, be it just right. And I think that was, that was kind of the note I wrote to myself. And then I went, no, you know what, you’re teaching me even one step forward. One step more you’re teaching moms. Don’t miss all the good in pursuit of perfect. Don’t miss all the good that’s right there in front of you. Don’t miss the good mommy you are in pursuit of trying to be somebody else’s vision of the perfect mommy. And so I, I really want moms to hear that, that we don’t have to ruin good with the pursuit of perfect. And I thank you so so much Dr. Whitney for bringing that message to me personally, it’s been very encouraging and I hope other moms can receive that same gift.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Oh, absolutely. It’s my pleasure. And you know, if people also want to have like little sips, little tastes of all of this, we have so much free content also at modern mommy doc, we hang out on the web, we’re at modern mommy.dot com, but then also on my Instagram where they’re consistently trying to get little snippets of encouragement and support and information and resources. So that’s another place to you, you know, if you are, are wanting to get just a taste of it first, before you go out and dive into the book you can kind of get the cliff notes there as well.

Dr. Amy Moore: Excellent. So I just wanted to say that as a scientist, I’m not as touchy feely as Teri is. And so what spoke to me in your book was the importance that you place on using your commute? Well that is a task that is super stressful to me as a working mom. And COVID actually gave me a break from that, right. I’ve been able to not commute. And so, but I loved that you recognize that there are those of us who just are overwhelmed by all of the variables that impact us on the commute and to be able to be intentional about how we use that was that was a personal message to me. So, thank you.

Dr. Whitney Casares: No, I think that’s awesome. I do try to be in all of my work and especially in this book, not so black and white for people too around time boundaries that maybe someone else thinks this is a good idea for you. So for example, there are some people who would say like, Oh no, your commute should be only you listening to like happy music and not getting anything done or not, you know, or like you don’t use the car ever, or weekends should be 100% off limits or nothing that you ever do at night. And I actually don’t buy into that. I know that for myself and for many working moms, if they can get a few things off of their mental load at a time that works well for them, it allows them then to be more focused and be more present with our kids, for example, or with our families or for themselves. And so I think you’re, you’re 100% right, Amy, that, that we all have our own journeys with this and that the book offers suggestions for ways that have worked for me personally, and for other moms I’ve, I’ve worked with, but I, I hope also opens the doors and allows people to think a little bit more broadly about what might work for them specifically.

Dr. Amy Moore: Absolutely. Yeah. So I want to pivot before we run out of time, cause we are getting close. And just ask you a couple of personal questions that we like to ask all of our brainy moms guests. And so the first one is if you could go back in time kind of like have a do-over what words of encouragement would you say to yourself as a new mom?

Dr. Whitney Casares:  So, I think the biggest thing that I would say to myself as a new mom is you’re already there. Like, you don’t have to live your whole life waiting for life to happen. You’re in this moment right now, don’t miss the thing that’s happening right in front of you for the thing that you are planning for, the thing that you are worried about for the thing that you want more for this vision that you have for your life. I care about those things. I think it’s important to have goals. I think it’s important to have self-reflection, but if we’re constantly in our minds in the past or in the present, it makes it so that we’re unable to appreciate all of the good that is in front of us. Like you were saying, Teri, and it also makes it so that we’re unable to really understand for us why when we’re not okay, why that’s happening because they kind of push it aside and like move forward and fill our, fill our schedules with more productivity in order to kind of push that away. So I think the biggest thing that if I were to go back would be just to say like, you’re here in moment. What are the things you can appreciate about it? What are the things you can accept are really hard? And what things can you change now? What things do you need to just leave as they are and kind of wait to pass?

Dr. Amy Moore: I love that. When I was a new mom I was really struggling to lose the last 10 pounds of baby weight. And so that’s all I could focus on. You know, my son was six months old and I had 10 pounds to go. And so I just wanted to run and run and run until those pounds melted off. And I finally woke up one day and said, you know what? Your life doesn’t begin when you lose those 10 pounds, your life is right now and you’re missing it. And so your words absolutely spoke to me about that, for sure.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Yeah. You know, my, my littlest one, I was going to say just really quick that she you know, she’s almost five and she still has that little baby voice, a tiny bit like that little toddler voice a little, and it’s going to be gone so soon. And the other night I was reading her books. So we were like singing songs back and forth. I was just reminding myself like, okay, just like soak this in because she gets all riled up and she has those like toddler tantrum things that can get at you, but like, you’re never going to get that voice back again. So yeah, I think, you know, to what you’re saying, right? This is, this is the moment kind of the capture.

Dr. Amy Moore: And so finally, do you have a favorite product or indulgence that you’re really enjoying right now that we can share with our listeners?

Dr. Whitney Casares: Oh yes. Well, I mean, I think my favorite product, my favorite indulgence is always almond croissants. So if anyone ever wants to send me a box of almond croissants, I’m all, I’m all about it. It’s like give me the almond croissants.

And then the other favorite product that I use all the time, honestly, is my air AirPods. I, I love AirPods because it really does help me with when there are moments when I’m in meetings. Like for don’t, don’t tell my pediatric practice when there are moments that I’m in meeting. I know they’re gonna, they can hear this, anybody here that I’m, I’m in a meeting, I’m in something that I actually do not need to be like fully present for. You know, we, I talk in the book about not multitasking all the time, but the one time that actually is okay to multitask is when you have like one kind of mindless task happening in another one, that’s my list at the same time that you’re doing.

And so the AirPods helped me to like fold the laundry while I’m listening to someone in a meeting that I don’t, I can be actively with my mind there, but I, they don’t expect me to be on camera or looking at that. And so the AirPods helped me get a ton done in that way. And I also use my AirPods when I’m outside, like in my garden, you know, listening to music that I really liked to listen to a podcast or whatnot. So air pods and all Microsoft.

Teri Miller: Okay. Where do you get your almond croissants? What’s the best almond croissants.

Dr. Whitney Casares: Okay. So in Portland, there’s this place called new? That is a French bakery. That was the first place that we went after. My first daughter was born and we left the hospital, gripping the steering wheel, yelling at all the other cars because he’s so nervous. We had this newborn in the back. And so we, we go there. And that’s probably our favorite place, but we’ve actually started to make them at home. My, my husband is quite the little chef. And so I’m not, I talked about that in the book, but on the weekends, when we have time with the kids, we have all these little YouTube videos that we watch that are about making French pastries. And he likes to do that with the kids while I’m doing something else. So then I get to enjoy it later. That’s so fun.

Dr. Amy Moore: Well, maybe you’ll get some this Sunday?

Dr. Whitney Casares: Right? Yes. Mother’s day.

Dr. Amy Moore: All right. We’re out of time. This has been a fantastic conversation today. I would like to thank our guest, Dr. Whitney Casares. If you’d like to connect with Dr. Whitney, you can follow her on social media, under the handle, @modernmommydoc. And her new book, The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself published by the American Academy of Pediatrics was released today. You can find a link to it and her other book under the Brainy Books tab on our website, Brainymoms.co, and in the show notes or through your favorite book seller.

So, thanks so much for listening. If you liked our show today, please leave us a rating and a review on Apple podcasts or on your favorite podcast platform. Follow us on social media @TheBrainyMoms. And until next time, look, we know you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms. So, we’re out!

Post Show Notes:
We have included links to books and products discussed in this episode. As Amazon Affiliates, we make a small commission on these products when purchased through those links. That commission helps us continue to bring you the Brainy Moms podcast!

To learn more about Dr. Whitney Casares, visit https://modernmommydoc.com/

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