Podcast: Work, Parent, Thrive with Dr. Yael Schonbrun

Brave Writer Podcast

While educating children is a job of its own, many homeschooling parents also have a full-time job or side gig on top of that. You deserve support in all of those roles.

Dr. Yael Schonbrun is a clinical psychologist, an assistant professor at Brown University, and co-host of Psychologists Off the Clock, a podcast about the science and practice of living well. She’s also the mother of three.

Her academic research explores the interaction between relationship problems and mental health conditions and has a brand new book coming out called, Work, Parent, Thrive: 12 Science-Based Strategies to Ditch Guilt, Manage Overwhelm, and Grow Connection (When Everything Feels Like Too Much).

Dr. Yael Schonbrun
Dr. Yael Schonbrun

In today’s podcast, we talk about:

  • why she wrote the book,
  • how parents can balance the different roles they play in life,
  • the value stress can play in our lives,
  • using your values to guide your decisions,
  • and more!

Show Notes

Why Yael needed to write this book

Being a working parent is hard. Yes, much of that stems from systemic issues in the workplace and marital inequality, but as a psychologist and someone interested in the concepts of positive psychology, Yael wanted a book that spoke to the things we could actually do to make things easier. She couldn’t find one, so she wrote it.

Systemic problems are real, and we do need to bring awareness to them, but having that as our only focus leads to us feeling like we have no power or agency over our lives. You probably won’t individually change how much maternity leave the government dictates you get to take, but there are things you can do today to deal with the realities of our current situation. While researching, she found evidence in academic research that our roles have an interactive relationship that can make every aspect of our lives better.

The importance of role switching

Most homeschooling parents are torn between three roles: The educator, the parent, and the worker. We want to teach our children. We also want to nurture them, play with them, and get to know them from parent to child. And, as if that weren’t draining enough, many of us also have to find time to work a job. Juggling all of those pieces is a struggle—but it is possible, not only to do it but to do it well.

We know that multitasking, in the way most people understand it, isn’t real. But task switching is. The most effective way to balance these roles is to focus on one at a time. If you have thoughts related to another role while deep in the midst of your current one, write it down and get it out of your head. Creating rituals around task switching can also make the transitions happen smoothly by cueing our minds and body for the new role.

Being able to turn off from a role completely when you aren’t actively in that role is incredibly helpful for recharging. If our mind lingers on work while we’re supposed to be educating, we not only give less attention to our current task, we rob ourselves of the rest we need from our work and have less energy for when we return to it.

Embracing lousy

Our lowest moments in life are often our best teachers. They help us grow, give us new insights, and allow us to connect with others. When we adopt this attitude of embracing lousy moments, it not only enhances the benefits that come from them but makes them easier to endure as well.

Life is full of discomfort. When we go through our lives fighting that reality, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. This applies especially to working parents who believe that if some things changed—better social infrastructure, more flexible workplaces, better marriages, easier children, more money—all of our conflict would just disappear. The problem is that it’s not true. Any time you have multiple roles in your life, you’re going to have moments where you wish you could be in two places at once. Rather than wishing that discomfort would go away, you can take it as a sign that your life is so rich and so full that you want to live more of it.

Being a working parent is hard. Thankfully, there are ways to make it easier to balance, and even ways to let our multiple roles support each other. Yael’s book “Work, Parent, Thrive” will transform your experience as a parent that works.


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