There’s a lot of talk about balance floating around out there. Work/Life balance in particular always gets me thinking, and when I try imagining work/life balance, I think of spinning plates and tipping scales and running back and forth trying to keep them all perfectly aligned or it will all come crashing down.
Trying to maintain “balance” makes me see myself as frazzled, and it feels like an impossible goal to attain. In an ideal world, balance would mean that we are able to give our all to everything that is important to us, all of the time. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and if we are always giving 100%, then we are going to burn out very quickly.
I don’t believe in balance. I believe that life ebbs and flows and that there are periods where certain things take precedence over the others.
There are periods in time when work will be the focus over a lot of things - if you’re an accountant, for example, tax season means your scales are dangerously tipped towards work. For a photographer, the holiday season or wedding season may mean that you are spending less time than usual with your family.
If you have a new baby, your baby will probably take importance over your job and household duties.
If your marriage needs work, then it might be time to have someone watch the kids more often than usual so you can work on that aspect of your life.
And you know what? It’s okay.
It’s okay to lean in to work in that busy season because heck, it’s what’s paying the bills.
It’s okay to absorb your newborn and all their snuggly yumminess because guess what? They can’t take care of themselves.
It’s okay to leave the kids behind for an extra date night because you and your spouse need to reconnect just a little extra this month.
And it’s also okay to need time for yourself and to do something for you.
I get this question often on Instagram - “How do you do it all?” And my response is always as honest as possible. I don’t! During my busy season as a photographer, I definitely pull back from kid/house/volunteer duties. When it’s my off season, I’m giving my husband and kids as much focus as I can. Sometimes there are several blogging events in a row, and that takes the forefront. And sometimes I see that my marriage needs a little extra lovin’, so we’ll schedule an overnight with the grandparents or set up a couple of date nights. Sometimes I need to take care of myself, too, so I do whatever it is I need at the moment. I also have someone who cleans my house once a week, and I have a meal delivery service for myself and the kids, and a husband who does a lot, too.
If I wasn’t honest with people about that, I can see how they might think that “I do it all,” but it’s not fair to any of us, myself included, to think that. So the next time you wonder how you can balance it all - stop. Think about what in your life requires the most attention at this moment, and lean into that. Stop feeling guilty for it, and let it flow.
Eventually, you will find a balance - but don’t let yourself think that balance means that work, your home, your family, your faith, and your friendships will all be in alignment all of the time.
At the start of 2019, one of the things that I promised myself, and my word of the year, was to Simplify. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that one word would make on me last year. When I decided I would simplify, I thought I would just say “no” more. And while that did happen, I also learned to say yes to the things that really mattered. I learned to simplify more than my calendar. I stopped overthinking things, too. I stopped dyeing my hair. I simplified my workflow when it came to photography. Even through my busiest season in the last few months of 2019, I never felt overwhelmed, because I kept everything so simple.
Simplifying let me set better boundaries for myself and my family. It gave me back time I didn’t know I was missing, and it allowed me to slow down some. Because I wasn’t overcommitted all the time, I was able to do the things I wanted to do, do them well, and enjoy them. By not being stretched too thin, I wasn’t always thinking about “the next thing” on the list. Sure, that happened sometimes, but way less often than it usually does. And because I wasn’t thinking about the next thing, I was able to be truly present and enjoy what I WAS doing.
I learned patience. I have always been a fairly patient person, but simplifying has taught me to be patient with myself. One decision I made that I feel has had a huge impact in areas I never thought was the decision to stop dyeing my hair. Letting my grays grow out has been a HUGE lesson in patience. While I was able to camouflage the growth a little bit with some highlights, there really is nothing that I could do to speed up the process. I have had to be okay with letting the process occur naturally. The notion of instant gratification has been ingrained in us so much in this digital age where everything is so readily available - and that just isn’t possible with this process. Unlearning the habit of instant gratification has helped me to be more selective in making purchases, in making decisions, and in rushing judgement.
We simplified things in our home - we did some major organizing, we purged, and we stopped overthinking everything. SIMPLIFY.
I had never done a word for the year, and I’m grateful I did. I’m also glad that “Simplify” was the word I chose. I think it was the perfect word to start this tradition off with, and I’m so thankful for the way it has impacted my life. And even though 2019 brought us some heartache, stress, and pain, I was able to focus on the really important things. I’m going into 2020 with a clear and resolute head, a firm idea of what I want out of the next year (even if I haven’t chosen my word just yet!), and a light heart.
We all know that as moms, we juggle a lot. Especially when our kids are young - we have to make decisions for them and remember ALL THE THINGS for them. Our brains are occupied a lot of the time by tasks, which although menial, take up so much of our brain power. For a lot of us, this means that other things fall to the wayside - things that we feel like we can address later, or that don't need our immediate attention. Finances is one of those things.
Parenting often results in women being time-poor, acutely so when their children are young or when they’re single mothers. As recently as 2016, mothers of children under six reported dedicating nearly twice the amount of time per day as fathers spent dedicated to childcare, including when both parents work. In more than half (54%) of homes where both parents work full time, the mother does more to manage children’s schedules and activities. That leaves less time for financial management, planning, saving and investing during critical years that can help build a nest egg."
But the truth is, it's so important for us as women to understand our finances, and to plan for our futures. I sat down with Financial Advisor Alicia Figueroa to chat about what financial planning means and how we as women and mothers can actively participate in planning the financial needs of our families.
When you say “Financial Planning” what do you really mean by that?
Financial Planning is a holistic way to approach someone’s personal finances. When people think of a Financial Advisor they may only think about investments and the stock market. Financial Planning is about working with everyday people to make sure that they are creating the right infrastructure to help build good savings habits and protect their family, with the goal of achieving financial freedom. For example, taking advantage of retirement accounts at work, properly funding an Emergency Savings account and Budgeting to understand long term financial needs are all topics I address with clients.
Why do you think it is important for moms to understand Financial Planning?
I think it is important for several reasons. One, women tend to be responsible for the majority of household decisions but are often not informed on the finances of the home. Two, on average women live longer than men. What this means is that women will need more money over the long run, which needs to be planned for.
Most people think they can’t afford a Financial Advisor. What do you usually say to that?
Unfortunately, the word Financial Advisor usually carries a negative stigma because people think that you need a lot of money to even merit seeing one or people are embarrassed about their current financial situation. The reality is Financial Advisors work with people from all different financial backgrounds with the same goal of achieving financial freedom. Often Financial Advisors do not charge a fee for meeting with them. More importantly every meeting is an opportunity to teach our clients the Personal Finance skills that are not taught in school. My goal is for every client to leave a meeting better prepared to make decisions in their everyday life.
What are some of the topics we are going to cover over our next sessions?
I would like to cover some of the topics that I know every parent thinks about like College funding strategies, Budgeting and Retirement. Then I want to go over the ones that some people don’t really have on their radar but that I would argue are even more important than the earlier topics and that is protecting your family from the risk of an unexpected death, sickness or injury.
Alicia is a Financial Planner dedicated to helping individuals become financially independent by creating good savings habits, protecting their assets, and achieving their goals of growing and transferring their wealth. Her goal is to make financial independence a reality for Americans.
Alicia has been in the financial services industry for over 10 years; having worked at Morgan Stanley and Citi prior to joining MassMutual South Florida.
She has an MBA from Wharton and a Masters in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her Bachelors in Business Administration from Loyola University New Orleans where she majored in Finance and Marketing. Alicia currently lives in Miami. Prior to that she spent time living in New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Sao Paulo. She is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Alicia, you can e-mail her at email@example.com or call her directly at (305) 776-1032.
Alicia Figueroa is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. 1000 Corporate Drive, Suite 700, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. (954) 938-8800.
The views and opinions expressed are those of Alicia Figueroa. Alicia Figueroa’s views are not necessarily those of MML Investors Services, LLC or its subsidiaries.
Have questions you'd like for us to answer in this series? Shoot me an e-mail or comment below!
If you've followed the blog for a while, you know that I have been very open about our struggles with getting pregnant with Caleb, our first. One of the reasons why we had this struggle is because I was diagnosed with PCOS. Truth be told, I was diagnosed at 18 and I never really thought much about it. I was prescribed a birth control pill to take care of the symptoms and that was that.
Once I had Caleb and stopped breastfeeding, my cycle became pretty regular again, and I always noticed that with a good diet and exercise, my symptoms eased up. When we thought we were ready to start trying to get pregnant with our second, we went to see our reproductive endocrinologist, and I was told that I didn't have any cysts at the time and I was good to go.
But I feel like there is always a huge question mark when it comes to PCOS. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Jennifer Schell, MD and ask her some of my (and your) most pressing questions about PCOS. I also included some questions that my followers sent me via Instagram. Keep reading for her responses.
First of all, what does PCOS stand for? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
What is it? Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder characterized by an excess of male hormones (testosterone) or symptoms like acne and excess hair around lips, nipples etc, ovulatory dysfunction, and polycystic ovaries. The cause remains unknown, and treatment is largely symptom based and on a case by case basis. PCOS patients can be at increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How common is PCOS? It’s debatable but some criteria say between 55-91% of women.
What are the most common symptoms of PCOS? Irregular cycles, hirsutism (excess hair like a mustache, around nipples or belly button), and acne. Many are overweight and it’s difficult for them to lose the weight despite healthy habits.
When I was younger, my PCOS was managed by taking birth control pills. What are some other ways that I can manage the symptoms of my PCOS? Birth control pills are probably the best way. I usually prescribe a diuretic called Spironolactone along with my go to pill Ortho Tricyclen to improve my patient’s acne and hirsutism. This combination lowers the amount of circulating testosterone. One of the most serious problems that can occur when a patient with PCOS (not on hormones) doesn’t menstruate is endometrial hyperplasia which can lead to endometrial cancer. Birth control pills and IUDs like Mirena and Kyleena help keep the endometrial lining thin and prevent this. Some people may need to take a pill (usually Provera) to induce menses before starting the above hormonal treatments.
Another medication often added to the regimen is Metformin. It’s excellent for weight loss and to decrease the risk of diabetes. PCOS patients are usually prediabetic.
I recently heard that the Keto diet can help you manage PCOS symptoms. Is this true? I think any diet can help in just helping patients lose the weight. I don’t think the Keto diet is special for this.
Is it true that PCOS can make it difficult for me to get pregnant? Unfortunately, it is true. The reason people with PCOS have irregular cycles is usually anovulation (lack of ovulation). The good news is that it’s easily treatable with an oral medication.
Can PCOS go away on its own? Unlikely.
Can PCOS cause miscarriages? What are safeguards that can be taken to prevent a miscarriage, if any? Not really. It’s more a problem to conceive.
I’ve blogged before about our struggle to get pregnant the first time. Why was it so difficult for me to get pregnant the first time, and then have a happy surprise when I got pregnant again? That is a question that is not easy to answer. I’d love to know more about your circumstances back then: weight, stress level, how often you had intercourse, use of ovulation kits, etc. The majority of infertility cases are diagnosed as “unexplained infertility” and it is very frustrating to both the patient and the doctor. One of the theories is stress levels. Once you get pregnant with your first and then “relax”, boom! 😃 Another theory is that this “unexplained” infertility somehow fixes itself or “resets” after a pregnancy. The truth is: nobody really knows the answer to this common and important question. So glad your second time was easier! I have a friend who had multiple miscarriages, did ovulation induction meds (Clomid and Femara) decided to go through IVF, failed THREE cycles and then I gave her Femara (one of the ovulation induction agents) and she has TWINS now :)
Thanks Dr. Schell for all the information!
Jennifer Schell, MD is an OBGYN and a mother of two young children. She was born in Miami and raised in Puerto Rico. Dr. Schell completed her training in PR and Dallas, Texas. She is well versed in anything from birth control, vaginal infections, some infertility, high risk pregnancies to menopause. What sets her aside from others is that she truly cares about helping women understand and take care of their bodies. After all, you don’t get another one. She also tries to help mothers with advice on feeding their children (whichever method they choose), decreasing mom guilt, and navigating the post partum period. She’s currently interested and learning about conscious discipline methods in order to help her children grow up assertive and to help women who ask questions about trouble with toddlers and beyond!
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