A peek into my work/baby/EC balance: How I run 2 businesses and raise 5 kids without going nuts
Last week we talked about what goes on behind the scenes at Go Diaper Free, and today I'm gonna share how I maintain my work-baby-EC balance.
Because: when you’ve got a lot on your plate, EC does not have to fall off onto the floor! Quite the opposite. EC can actually simplify your super-busy life. Even if you don’t work but you’re feeling super-overwhelmed, mastering your potty practice can ground the whole chaotic scene.
Anywho, if you listened to last week's episode, you learned that A LOT goes into operating my various EC and mama-centric businesses, but I didn’t really share how I balance it all while raising five kids under the age of eight. And how do I keep everyone (hubs included) from becoming addicted to convenient diapers? Here are some tricks that I've learned along the way!
You will learn:
- How to maintain balance while keeping EC at the forefront
- How healthy boundaries support balance
- What influences my parenting style
- How I encourage independence with my kids
- How I ask for and receive help
- How I keep my mind and body healthy
- Organizational tools I use
- How you can study this with me, and
- A tip from one of our readers!
Links and other resources mentioned today:
- The Go Diaper Free Book
- Dr. Sears Parenting Books
- The Baby Sleep Site
- Book: Montessori from the Start
- Book: Love and Respect
- Book: Cook Once, Eat All Week
- Glo Exercise Courses
- Book: How to Break Up with Your Phone
- Book: Digital Minimalism
- Podcast Episode 1: The Benefits of Elimination Communication
- Dyper Biodegradable Diaper Backup
- MamaWorx Program
- Tiny Undies
- Easy Start Guide for EC (Free Download)
Download the Transcript
If you can't listen to this episode right now (um, sleeping baby!?)...download and read the transcript here:
Welcome to the Go Diaper Free Podcast where we're all about helping you potty your baby as early as birth. I'm your host, Andrea Olson, author and mom of five EC’d babies. This is episode 58, A peek into my work/baby/EC balance. This is for all of you working mamas and daddies out there.
All right. So, a lot of you, last week, we talked about... We pulled the curtain back, right, on Go Diaper Free. Got a peek into the day to day business of how I do all of this and get all this information about EC out. This, today, is about how in the heck do I balance it all? How does somebody who is working also manage to do EC specifically? Okay, I told you last week we bring it back to EC and here we go.
I have two businesses. I have five kids under the age of eight. The youngest is eight months right now. I cook our own meals, I exercise, I try to keep my house in order, not necessarily in that order. This episode today is just to give you some ideas so maybe I can help you to balance everything you're managing as well. Maybe you have one kid, and you work part time, and you also cook your own meals and clean your own house. You are probably just as busy and overwhelmed as I get. So, in solidarity, let's talk about some ways to bring balance into doing all this and to keep EC in the forefront. At the very end, I have a special invitation for you, but I also have a really wonderful tip from one of our listeners, Jamie, over in Connecticut. She really nails it about how to start EC from the beginning and really make it balance with everything else in life and what she does.
All right, let's do this. The core of baby rearing for me is just to build a strong connection and to enable earlier independence. I don't believe that babies are passive. I believe babies are active in working on things with everyone in their environment and their goal is to grow, to connect, to ask for what they need and get their needs met, and also to give back love. I feel like there's so much more than what I just said, but the core for me in my role as a mom is to just build a strong connection, to build trust with each other, to be responsive, and also to teach boundaries, to teach how to do certain things, to teach the words for certain things, to give a language for communication, stuff like that.
I also believe as a mom, my role is to facilitate a really positive environment where growth needs are met and that doesn't mean a boundary-less environment. I believe in teaching healthy boundaries from the beginning. I used to never say the word no. Then, my mom showed me this sit-com where this kid goes around the whole kitchen threatening to put her finger in the light socket and the parent wouldn't say no at all. Then finally, her sister intervened and was like, "No, no, you can't put your finger in the light socket." It made me laugh at myself. I'd recently moved from California to North Carolina and I was like, oh yeah, I don't think there's a problem in saying no.
You know, I've definitely changed a lot over rearing five babies and found some balance with things. But, I think at the core, you know, building trust and connection and facilitating this environment where babies can feel self efficacy, so they can feel like they can rely on themselves to meet their needs is just amazing. I've seen my kids bloom and grow and be very healthy, and we have felt really connected because of it. This kind of parenting, I do a lot of attachment parenting, it is high touch, yet fairly hands off. Even Dr. Sears himself writes that we're not talking about permissive passive parenting. We're talking about just a different flavor of parenting.
The hands off part, you know, RIE parenting I agree with a lot, where you let your child be fairly independent, but they say not to interrupt a child's play to potty them and I don't agree with that because I interrupt my work if I need to pee, I get up and I go. I don't just pee in my seat, so I think it's a good habit to teach. EC, in particular, is very high touch. Eventually, it becomes fairly hands off because you're passing the baton so soon in the process, which actually we're going to talk about next week in the show, yay, passing the baton.
But yeah, so I like to implement a lot of Montessori thought and ideas. My parenting style is very influenced by that and my home is as well. If you want a really good book about Montessori in the home, it's a book called Montessori From the Start and I'll link to it in my show notes. godiaperfree.com/58 is where you'll find links to stuff that I mentioned in this show. Hopefully, this will just give you some ideas of how can I set up everybody for success from the beginning and really find balance if I'm a working mom, whether you work at home or work away from home - or dad.
Okay, also, comment on that. I work in short morning spurts. This is when my brain is most on, I have my tea, I work really focused, I have lists, I'm very focused, except when I'm not. You guys, I fail at all of this regularly and then I come back to this work in short morning spurts and be really focused and relaxed. It used to be hard because my first baby would not nap, would not sleep without me at all. With second, third, fourth, fifth baby. I had to learn how to teach them how to sleep and play independently so that I could feel a little bit more space. I felt really choked and strangled by what I had set up with my first baby, which was, I set him up to be so dependent, which was great and it's super attachment parenting, but I also think I missed Dr. Sears' point where the mom also needs care and self care.
Which leads to this other thing that I like to do in balancing all of this is I ask for and I receive help. I used to tell myself what a lot of you might be telling yourself, "Well, nobody's going to help me EC my baby. Nobody's going to help me clean my house. Nobody's going to help me. I'm really behind on the laundry. I can't ask them. I don't want to put them out. Everybody's too busy. Nobody will answer their phone. What if I text somebody and they don't even write me back?" We really have a hard time, I think as women especially, asking for help and receiving that help.
That's something that I also feel out regularly, but something that I've figured out is essential for making all this balance. Basically, I got my s-h-i-t together once I had my second baby, and especially when I had my fourth. It just gets more chaotic and you have to be more organized. Teaching my babies to sleep and play independently, super key. The Baby Sleep Site has been integral in that sleep teaching kind of stuff. I don't do cry it out. I don't advocate cry it out. I don't like when people say that I do, 'cause I don't. I just believe in teaching good habits and sleeping is a very important part of a happy baby and a happy parent.
I also teach my babies to play independently by setting up little stations throughout the house where they can help themselves and learn and grow, you know, developmentally appropriate little stations, like a basket of balls for my baby, a basket of magnet blocks for my other kids, and my baby likes those too, a little teepee with a basket of books and some little back jack chairs, a little floor seating for them. We have these little zones where people could help themselves, a big music area because I really believe in that.
I don't believe in a lot of screen time, but you know, when I'm at my wit's end and I really need to get some posts together and my husband's working also from home, I will turn on Netflix and put on something educational, like the Wild Kratts. Actually, they're on Amazon Prime, but it's limited. I turn off the auto repeat. You can do that. It's a thing. Although, on Netflix you can only do it if you change it to an adult account. It's really, really weird. They try to make your kids binge-watch. I'm really not into creating zombie babies. I try very hard to limit screen time to only in an emergency and when we have a special movie night, like if we're watching Mary Poppins together.
All right. The other ways, and then hopefully this gives you some ideas of how you can also balance if you're a working mom or dad. My relationship with my husband is key, and I have never been taught how to give respect to a man. I don't think anybody growing up in the feminist era has, most haven't. In fact, I believe I was taught the opposite. We actually separated a little, couple months last year and then got back together because I read a book that turned our entire relationship around. It's called Love and Respect.
It doesn't matter what religious beliefs you have, if any, you can take what is taught in Love and Respect and apply it to your own worldview because the core of it all, I deserve unconditional love, right? Hey mamas, don't you agree? You deserve it. Well, your husbands deserve unconditional respect. That comes across in our tone, and rolling your eyes, and just so many levels to it. Read the book if you're having problems with your opposite sex partner, no matter which side you're on. My husband has responded by being an amazing dad, an amazing partner, a man of the house. He has grown up because I read this book and I did my half of it.
So, integral in balancing baby, and EC, and work is having your partner on board. I think the biggest shortcut you can take to get that done, to get your partner on board if they're lackadaisical or like not really engaged or present or they forget everything and they act like Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig all the time. You know what I mean if you've seen it. Then, read the book and do your half and watch your partner magically transform. I swear to you it works.
This is integral and balanced because it is so hard to do this alone, you guys. The days that I fail at all of this and have a meltdown are the days when I am not respecting my husband and he is in turn not being loving. It's a cycle and I need him. I can't raise five babies and have businesses without him, I can't, and he needs me. Okay, so moving on, I meal plan. There's a book I mentioned last week, it's by Cassy Joy Garcia called Cook Once, Eat all Week. It just came out in 2019. Oh my gosh, it's amazing. It's changed our lives.
We tried having this catering company downtown make our food. It was so heavy and oily. I hated it, but it was delicious. Then, we tried Clean Eatz, which was great, but my kids did not like microwaved food and neither do I. Now, I've learned how to cook efficiently. Cook once, eat all week for a family of seven, it's actually more like eat for three days. So, I just do two of her weeks every week. But it's great. Look it up if you need help with meal planning. It's like no BS, you guys. So easy. The food is amazing and my kids love, at least a third of the book, they love every single meal.
Okay, exercise, you guys, I can't stress this enough. You want an idea of how to balance it all and not feel burned out? You need to exercise your body. We are in a sedentary society now. Obesity's at an all time high. Maybe you haven't lost your baby weight either, and that, along with pelvic floor disarray, can really put a damper on your energy. Moms, obviously I'm talking to you. I exercise three times a week. CrossFit Afterburn. I do PT, also stands for potty training, PT also stands for physical therapy. I do physical therapy twice a month. I did do it every week for pelvic floor therapy. Did you know it's even a thing and that you actually, like all of us, need that after having a baby? If you're having painful sex, if you're just not able to lose that belly fat, stuff like that, you should look into pelvic floor therapy.
Then, at home I do YogaGlo. It's actually called glo.com now. They have amazing yoga classes from like 10 minutes, 20 minutes long to an hour and a half long. They also have Pilates in there and meditation. Some of my favorite teachers teach on YogaGlo. It's really important for me to be active and active outdoors. All else fails, say you can't afford any of this stuff... By the way, Glo is only $18 a month, which is the cost of one class if you were to go live. Then, get outdoors. Put your baby in a baby carrier or push them in a stroller and get outdoors.
I EC my babies full time. We're gonna talk about that in a second. How do I do full time EC while doing all this other stuff too? Anyway, what I want to tell you is if this sounds like a lot, it's because it is. It's impossible to balance it all so I don't even try to balance it. Which is ironic because this whole thing is titled balance, right? Instead, I organize, prepare, I use a calendar and alarms, I use lists, a giant chalkboard in my kitchen, and then I use this concept I learned from somebody else called tilting. Whoever or whatever I'm with when I'm with them, I tilt toward 100% doing that. It is not easy to remember to do this. If you try to do a million things at once, you can't, but if you tilt toward just your baby when you're with your baby or just your work when you're with your work, it is possible to feel effective and clear minded. It requires discipline and commitment though, but I have a really strong vision. You know, I love the present moment. I cultivate that because that's what makes my life and my days feel longer as opposed to, wow, that day just whipped by. By tilting, I cultivate the present moment and by disabling most of my smartphone operations, it's basically like a landline now.
I have dumbed down my smartphone, you can do it too. There's a book called How To Break Up With Your Smartphone. Please read it. There's also a book called Digital Minimalism. I'll list these on the show notes over at godiaperfree.com/58, and you'll see this in Jamie's little tip at the end of this episode. It's really important to simplify life. That allows EC to easily fit in to our active family lifestyle, more than diapering, like EC is way more convenient than diapering. I spend way less time doing EC than doing diapering. We do it for many reasons. See episode one of this podcast for the reasons why we and others do EC. But the main side effect of doing EC, and how it helps everything balance out so well, is a more comfortable, less fussy, more content baby.
EC also gives us the gift of a rhythm to the day. EC pulls us directly into the present moment. It requires paying attention and it requires effort. That's, sorry, you have a baby, you're going to have to make an effort, right? We all definitely veg out. I have my lazy days, so I get strong to combat the laziness. I exercise, I eat well. I need the energy to follow through with my belief in EC and my belief in an active and healthy lifestyle for us and our kids. At night, I share the night duties. I'm not too proud to let my husband wake up with some of the kids. He gets the boys. I get the girls. Lately, he's been getting the baby so I can get more sleep because she's teething. It's a team effort. Goes right back to that Love and Respect book and how do we ask for help.
EC is efficient and EC is active. It is counter to the lazy, sedentary culture we find ourselves living in today. This is why... Okay, some people say, I'm way too busy. How can I possibly fit EC in? I feel like EC gives such a gift to a busy life of really helping to organize it and help us to focus on what's most important. Yes, I relax a lot. I take breaks. I use a diaper as a backup. I use biodegradable DYPER diapers. You can see those over at the show notes, but it's a subscription. They're compostable. I use that when I can't quite get to the baby in time, which happens sometimes, but I'm always on alert. I do take breaks because I have to and I also energize myself so I can carry the weight and be a strong, helpful, supportive nurturer for my family, which I was also not taught how to do.
You guys, I'm with you on this. It's a constant learning curve and one that I teach and pay forward in one specific way for those who feel called. In one second I'll talk about that, but EC, I EC full time as in, I am full time aware of and communicating about my baby's potty needs. I do use a diaper backup like I just mentioned and I use cloth sometimes as well, like when she starts walking, we'll transition a cloth and then right out of diapers. For when the s-h-i-t hits the fan, I've got that back up on them. I get my babies out of diapers during the day by the time they've mastered walking. This really requires effort, but way less effort, I think, than ongoing changing in mindless diapers. This requires bursa focus, and a present state of mind, and mapping everyone's needs. We need to get ourselves together, get our s-h-i-t together.
I know I'm talking to some of you who need to hear this. I really feel like I don't have my s-h-i-t together. I hope I didn't just teach your toddler how to spell a bad word. We need to be capable of mapping everyone's needs and whereabouts in the moment. Luckily, the gatherer's brain is made for this. I know where every blueberry bush is on the property and which ones are in bloom or not, but this is like a long time of evolution. This is also like, does my toddler need to go right now or later? Does my baby need to go now or later? What do I need to prepare for tonight? The woman's mind is wired for this and I really feel like, yes, it can go across genders, but it's really... if you identify with woman, you probably identify with gatherer, you probably have that type of brain type. Okay? We're inclusive here.
That's how I balance it, rather tilt to do it all. Now, here's the part where I pass this on to you. If you have a tiny baby and a big dream to bring something to the world, a business that is passive in nature like Go Diaper Free or Tiny Undies, say you want to ditch your nine to five or your part time job and do something that's a little bit more you, then I want you to join us for Mamaworx. We're enrolling right now. If you're listening to this podcast before September 8th, 2019 that is. If not, you can waitlist but I'll tell you about that in a second. I spend an entire module on how to do it all: work, life, EC, sleep, everything, and to find joy in doing so and caring for your baby. Our Mamaworx community, you guys, it's amazing. They support one another. In this, we learned how to manifest and launch our mama-friendly businesses.
Some of you don't want a business. I get it. Hopefully, some of the tips in this episode help you balance the things you are doing. Some of you do work full time outside of the house. Hopefully, this has also helped you see that you can do EC in there as well in the times you’re with your baby. If you are called though to create something like what I've created, early bird registration for Mamaworx closes Friday, September 6th, 2019. You can save $500 by signing up early. Regular registration closes Sunday, 9/8/19, so September 8th, 2019. Go to mamaworx.com/program to learn more and to ask us questions on the chat and to sign up.
If you're listening to this episode after those days, just sign up for the waitlist there or the next program at the exact same link. Try to keep it really easy for you. Anyway, that registration is ending soon and I just want to let you know. If Mamaworx is for you, you can check it out there. We cover a lot more about all this balancing and tilting stuff in there and spend a really long time on it. Again, if not, I hope today's show has helped you bring balance to your life, baby, and work by learning how to tilt and by learning from my imperfect example. I mean, I fail at this stuff all the time, you guys. I fall down, I melt down, I just stare at the wall for five minutes cause I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm so overstimulated. But, I always come back to what I'm trying to do here, which is be strong for my kids.
That's it for today. Long live and energize mama or daddy doing EC part time or full time, finding your own groove with your values, and changing anything that you're not satisfied with, with your entire life. Life is short and you and your baby deserve health, happiness, and prosperity, and a really awesome connection. Please leave me any comments or questions about how to balance it all or tilt over at the show notes at godiaperfree.com/58 and I look forward to chatting with you in those comments. Before we go, I'm going to read the tip that Jamie Fulton from Connecticut, U.S. has to sa. She began EC at month one with her two and a half year old boy and day two with her seven month old girl.
"With my daughter in the infant stages, my tip would be to keep it simple. Take that infant potty with you everywhere and simplify your life activities. I have said no to many ‘things’ and kept our days simple, especially in the early days (low media usage, minimal social commitments, et cetera). It helped our relationship grow, gave us needed rest, and I could also be in better tune with noticing patterns with both my infant and toddler. At the time, there were moments when I felt I was missing out, ‘just’ caring for the littles, but that was what our family needed and now I look back and I'm so grateful that I did that. I now have much more assurance and confidence in their potty routines and offering it for both of them together in public. Worth every simple, solitary moment. My personality, my family needed the simple. Find out what your family needs and don't feel any outside pressure to be all and do all."
For Jamie, she's saying something so amazing in starting EC and doing this with two kids, that she often felt solitary like solitude, like she was just doing this. But, it meant so much to her with her personality and what her family needed. They needed to simplify everything. In the Mamaworx program we talk about very, very first this year, we're doing it first, how to simplify everything first. With her, she didn't feel any pressure to do all and be all. Some of you feel an inner pressure or desire or inspiration to do something additionally to mothering. If that's you, come check out Mamaworx, for sure.
That's all I have for you today. That's how to balance EC with working from home and doing all the other things. I hope I've given you lots of ideas. If I've missed something that you have a great idea, please share it in the comments as well and I'll talk to you next time. Next week, we're going to talk about, I believe, passing the baton. Yeah, the art of gradually handing over the potty keys to your baby. Please join me for the next episode next week. Meanwhile, I'm Andrea with Go Diaper Free at godiaperfree.com and I'll see you next time.
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About Andrea Olson
I'm Andrea and I spend most of my time with my 6 children (all under 10 yo) and the rest of my time teaching other new parents how to do Elimination Communication with their 0-18 month babies. I love what I do and try to make a difference in one baby or parent's life every single day. (And I love, love, love, mango gelato.)
“.. I EC full time as in, I am full time aware of and communicating about my baby’s potty needs.” This. Thanks for saying this, Andrea. I needed to dispel the impression that full time EC means having to catch every elimination. Phew.
I love this too!
Yes! It’s nearly impossible to catch everything on your own. I’m glad that you realized that now, it will make you so much happier with your EC practice. xx Andrea
Love your ideas about connecting with baby and family and respect toward your husband. I agree, most of us haven’t been taught about unconditional respect for our husbands but it makes a huge difference.
Thank you Bethany! Respect really makes such a huge impact in a relationship. xx Andrea