Yael Schonbrun is the author of the recently released book, Work Parent Thrive.
I talked to her when the book was just one week old and I joke with her that when she meets Hoda to tell her that I got the first interview. I think this book will strike a cord with so many people because Yael lays out why it can feel so overwhelming to manage multiple roles and she offers practical strategies supported by scientific research and illustrated by funny antidotes that help make the strategies feel accessible.
"Given who you are and what matters to you, how do you show up in the life that you have and build a life in the direction you want to be going."
– Yael Schonbrun, PhD
In this episode:
We talk about how the outside forces that impact managing work and family life can feel overwhelming. It can feel like both of those roles are being neglected. Yael talks about how these outside factors are real and do impact our lives, and that while acknowledging that reality, we can also do some “inside” work to help us feel more content and empowered by the many roles we embody.
We talk about how hope and optimism are essential to move forward professionally and in parenting. As humans we are always faced with choices, and we need to get clear on our values and how our values shape our choices. Our mindset is critical to what energy and attitude we bring into our lives. I know I can get into a victim mentality about all that is expected of me in this fast-paced world, and the reminder that I am in control and responsible for my mindset was such a great reset for me.
Yael talks about the concept of work family enrichment, and the basic idea is that research supports that shifting roles has a number of benefits to our lives. This is the game changer concept for me and helps me to shift from a poor me kind of pissed off state to a more accepting this is how it is and my brain can shift and will be better off for it mentality. If this sounds confusing listen to the episode. Yael explains it much more eloquently than I ever could.
Hi, and thanks for listening to the family brain today I have Yael Schonbrun. Who as my guest, and I'm super excited to talk to her. She is a clinical psychologist, the co host for psychologists off the clock, assisted assistant professor at Brown University, parent of three, and the author of the new book work parents thrive 12 Science backed strategies to ditch guilt, manage, overwhelm, and grow connection when everything feels like too much. That's a that's a really, you're doing a lot. You know how to talk about people who do a lot. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Yael Schonbrun 0:45
Oh, it's such My pleasure. I'm so excited to be here to chat with you and to talk about doing too much. Yeah, which I specialize in.
Megan Gipson 0:53
Yes, me. So this book is like hot off the presses. Right? I mean, didn't it just came out not that long ago? How long has it been out at this point?
Unknown Speaker 1:01
Tomorrow is the one week birthday. Okay,
Megan Gipson 1:04
I'm gonna lie. When I reached out to you to talk, I wanted to make sure I got you soon. Because I have a feeling you're gonna be all over the place pretty soon. Because this book is so awesome. It really is. And I think it speaks to something that people feel a lot, just that work, family balance, if there is balance, and there's like not language to talk about it, because we don't talk about it that much. And so I think you're bringing to the forefront, like some really important topics that we need to talk more about.
Unknown Speaker 1:36
Thank you so much. I mean, that that's my greatest hope. And I do think that we talk about it, when we talk about it, we talk about it in this very narrow way where we only talk about the conflict between roles. And I come at this as a relationship specialists. So my background is in researching relationships and treating relationships in the therapy room. And so I really think the relationship between our most important life roles is very complicated, and there is conflict. But there's also so much more to it than that. There's also what what research is called work family enrichment. And that's the part that I really hope this book gets people talking more about.
Megan Gipson 2:15
Yeah, I mean, I was reading it and was getting interrupted by my kids. And it's funny, because I feel like even just starting the book, you can start to put into practice some of those things. It almost calls your awareness up to the things you're already experiencing. But that you just, oh, that's what's happening right now. But I want to backtrack, how did you originally get interested in this topic in learning more about how people navigate these different roles, and the relationship between them?
Unknown Speaker 2:46
Yeah, well, so as I said, I'm a sort of come at this at eight, I had my training as an academic and in relationships, and I was on my postdoctoral fellowship, when I became a mom. And I was like, I have this in the bag, I've got a nice job that I love. I've gotten enough success, where I think that I can draw on my colleagues kindness, to get some flexibility, I had a supportive partnership. And it was really excited to be a parent. So I was like, I can totally aced this whole working parent thing. And I had a lot of colleagues who were doing it that seemed like they were doing just fine. So it's kind of a surprise to me that I was pretty miserable in that first year of parenting. And the biggest issue for me was this crisis of I really want to work. And I really want a parent and I just don't feel like I'm doing well in either one. And so when nerdy people like me confront an issue like that, we start reading everything that we can get our hands on. But most of what I found in the bookstores was pretty disheartening and depressing, honestly, because it pointed to mostly the things that were just not in my control the systems that were not supporting us that workplaces that were too inflexible, the marriages that were unequal. Even more than that, though, I just felt like the most of the literature that I was reading didn't capture the psychological piece. And of course, I'm biased. I'm a psychologist. So I was like, but what about like the internal conflict and the psychological identity crisis that is really so prominent for me in this transition into working parenthood. And so then I started doing this deep dive into the academic literature. And I found this concept called work, family enrichment. That is really what this entire book is about. And it really talked about how enrichment and conflict go hand in hand. And in fact, conflict is not a bad thing. It's sort of part of what helps us to access this enrichment, this way that our roles can help each other out. And I dive deep into areas like cognitive science and stress research and rest, research and creativity and happiness. In all of these ways. The tension that exists between our roles actually is beneficial. And so that's really what this book talks about. And for me, this is kind of the book that I wish that I had had when I first became a working parent and was struggling so much something that was poor. Positive that left me with things that I could do, even though things weren't perfect.
Megan Gipson 5:05
Yeah. And I love that in your book you address like, I understand that there are systems in place that make things very challenging for people. And this is another way to come at it, knowing that that's the case, like you don't ignore that issue, which I think is fantastic. I had a person on the podcast before, and we were talking about role sharing and relationships. And I mean, we talked about all these like, really hard challenges. And at the end, I said, Well, what do we do? What do we do? And she said, What do we do to end the patriarchy. And I was just like, oh, like, it just feels so heavy, all of those things. And so I like that you kind of like, are offering, I hate to say control, but some control back like, given that there's all these things that can be challenging, here's what you can do within yourself.
Unknown Speaker 5:58
100%. And I think about it on a couple different levels. So one is that we have to maintain optimism and sort of our reservoirs of strength to keep fighting the good fight to change systems, we have to do that we have to fight to change these systems, and it's slow going. So the psychological tools really help us to keep fighting the good fight. The other thing that I think doesn't get discussed much at all, is that the conflict between roles is never going to be eradicated. It's fundamental to being human, right? If you participate in life, as a parent, and you have other things, whether it's work or hobbies, or you're a partner, or your daughter, two aging parents, you're gonna have real conflict. And that's not the fault of this system. It's just something that's fundamental to being human, that we're, we're inherently conflicted creatures. This is what evolutionary science shows us is what we know about toddlers when they want, you know, two different breakfasts at once. And it's just a part of being human. And so we should change these inhumane systemic structures that have been in place for far too long. And we should also recognize that there is a part of this conflict that is inherently human, and we can use the psychological tools to help us with both. Yeah,
Megan Gipson 7:11
I love that. I love how you give a lot of stories you give the science, and then you give really good stories to show as an example, like, here's, here's the research about that. And here's a story to go along with it. Because I think that helps paint the picture. And a lot of them are funny each chapter. I don't, I don't know if it's every single chapter, but I love how there's like just a little funny quote from a comedian. You know, just, it keeps it light, and it helps it be feel applicable. You know, like, it's not just some like science off on a shelf. It's like, here's how you translate it into what the real world, which is so helpful, I think, thank you, that's such
Unknown Speaker 7:53
a huge compliment, and something I was aspiring to, but wasn't sure I was ever gonna be able to achieve. So thank you so much. That's a huge comp. No,
Megan Gipson 8:00
it's really helpful. Because I think even if I understand the science, I'm like, hold on a second, let me make sure I understand this. And then the story helps kind of move it along. So that's really
Unknown Speaker 8:11
Yeah, I think science should be made more fun and more story driven as a general rule, you know, I come from the background of academia, but I have sort of transitioned into this role of trying to translate what's the science that's done in sort of the ivory Hall of academia out into the public, because there's so much cool stuff in there, that most people are never going going to be able to access because it's just not accessible. It's not written in an accessible way, it's not easy. Like, even if you were to read it, you wouldn't be able to understand it, if you don't have a scientific background. And most people are never going to be able to even access those articles. Because they're, they're hard to even know where to find. So I think, you know, tying it to stories, and some humor is so helpful.
Megan Gipson 8:51
It really is, it helps. It helps. Like you said, it makes it feel accessible. But one of the things I wanted to ask you about and we kind of talked about this a little bit, but so we were talking about this idea that there's things that you can do within yourself to manage the role conflict that you may have. And one of the things you talk about is that inside out approach, can you explain that a little bit and what what how you use that as sort of a way to think about this process?
Unknown Speaker 9:21
Sure. Yeah. So So I sort of contrast the different approaches of Inside Out versus outside in and I think about the outside and approaches is things like changes to our system or you know fixes to the our workplaces or changes to our the way that we negotiate our marriages, whereas Inside Out approaches are more our mindset and our intentional activities that we do day to day. So when we think about Inside Out approaches, they really are in my the way that I define them psychologically based and I draw on a treatment called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is a scientifically backed treatment that has six core processes. sees I'll kind of list them. And I can go into any one of them in more detail if it's of interest. But the first is mindfulness. And that's the idea of getting in contact with the present moment. without judgment, right, it's sort of just allowing for it, even if it's uncomfortable, then the second is acceptance. So that's allowing with equanimity or easygoing minus whatever thoughts, emotions or experiences that you're struggling with. And then the third is awareness of your thoughts and stories, right, the human mind loves to tell stories, it loves to label things. And we were so hooked up with the way that the mind chatters away that we rarely even recognize what it is that the mind is doing. So it's bringing awareness to that storytelling labeling machine, that is our mind. The fourth process is something called diffusion. And that's the process of unhooking from the thoughts and the stories that are getting in our way of acting in line with who we want to be. And then the fifth that the fifth process is value. So this is getting clear on how it is that you want to show up moment to moment in the life that you have based on what's most important to you. And the last process is called committed action. So that's behaviorally speaking, moving your life in directions that matter to you. Again, this is context dependent. So it's going to depend on what's going on for you what's important to your family, what the situation in your workplace is. But it's acting, it's sort of showing up in line with your values in a behavioral way, so that somebody else would be able to see oh, like, those are the actions that Meghan is taking that are in line with who she wants to be. And all of these six processes converge on a concept known as psychological flexibility. And that's the idea that you know, what matters most to you. And that you're able to moment to moment move your life in directions that you care about, in other words, to keep going or to stop behaviors when it matters to you to do so. And so that's the Inside Out approach. So it's not so much you know, what, what our paternity leave policy, our family leave policy should be or what our spouses should be doing. It's really more about like, given who you are, and what matters to you, how do you want to show up in the life that you have? And how do you want to be building your life in the direction that you want to be going? Does that make sense? I
Megan Gipson 12:13
love that. It does. It does. And it's I mean, I think once you start thinking about how many situations are presented to you ongoing, that you're making these kind of like, they seem like small decisions, but over time, like that builds your life. And so like, how do you pull back in those little moments and think, what are my values? What is my mindset around this situation? And it makes so much sense, because I think that, to me, it feels like I'm taking some power back, you know, of like, okay, all these things are spinning around me, what is the part that I can do? within myself? And that's really helpful. I mean, I think it even if you have to make a choice, like you said, the toddler who wants french toast and eggs, but hasn't picked one, you know, it still makes you feel like, okay, I made that decision. And yeah, I'm not going to be able to go on that trip, because I'm going to show up at my child's, you know, play or whatever, whatever the choices, that you have more control and power in those decision making moments. But you kind of have to slow down to notice them, you know, feel like you're on
Unknown Speaker 13:21
autopilot. Yeah, it's a practice. And I think it what you're the way that you're articulating, it brings to mind one of the most powerful books I've ever read. It's one of the few books that I reread regularly, it's called Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. And he talks about how in the midst of being interned in a concentration camp, that all freedoms can be taken away from a person except for one thing, and that's the attitude that you take in your given circumstances, that is our choice. And so regardless of you know, what kind of inhumane conditions you're living in, or how annoying your toddler is being or how thoughtless, your boss is, being or your spouse, you can choose to show up in line with your values. And sometimes your values are going to dictate like, Hey, this is unjust, and we need to correct this. And sometimes you'll have the power to do that. And you can take action. And sometimes the best you can do is make meaning out of a crummy situation, and sort of bide your time until you can take action to correct an injustice. And we have to be able to as you're saying, like pause, connect our values, sort of check out our circumstances to figure out which direction is going to be the smartest move for us to go in.
Megan Gipson 14:36
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. i It makes me think, too, about just the stories what you were saying before about getting hooked to some of the stories that people tell themselves like what in your research and in writing the book. What were some of the common stories that you heard? I mean, I know every person is unique and their circumstances are unique, but are there Were any sort of trends of, of what kind of things people ended up getting hooked to that, that you saw emerging again and again?
Unknown Speaker 15:09
Yeah, well, you know, it was kind of an interesting experience to be interviewing people. And I was actively looking for this concept of work family enrichment to sharpen people's lives. And so when I would start the interview, because you know, people haven't heard of this, this is something that only the people who actually do the research know about, people would tell me about, you know, the way that their roles conflict. In fact, I and I write about this in the book, I had one, I had written this piece in The New York Times in 2014. About that was titled, A mother's ambitions. And in response, I got a huge amount of email. One email was from a guy who was a single, who had mostly done single parenting of his young kids. And he said, you know, you wrote this from a mother's perspective about your challenges in managing your ambition as you became apparent. And what you didn't write about is how hard it is for men to write, we have it hard to and you're not talking to that experience. And so there was this like thread of injustice and sort of feeling overlooked, and that his experience was also fairly painful. And that was a great example of how everybody has conflict, right? You think about men, many women think like, men don't have it as hard. But in fact, he was saying we have it just as hard. And he was actually saying, we have it harder, because many of the challenges that we have, are overlooked. And also we don't have the common social supports, like play groups that that women are more likely to have. But as I was interviewing him, and I told him, You know, I'm really interested in the ways that people's various roles help each other out. He said, You know what, I never thought about it before. But actually, a lot of the challenging experiences that I had, were really helpful, right, being a single parent helped me to understand some of my he was a lawyer. So some of my clients challenges in a more empathic, compassionate way. And being a single parent to my kids gave me more one on one time with them to know them in a deeper way than I otherwise would have had if I had stayed married. So I think your your question is a good one. I'm sort of like answering it backwards. But I think that the challenges that people talked about, were kind of the common ones, like my role is conflict. I don't have enough time, I don't have support. People don't understand how hard it is. But as I was sort of actively searching for, but what are the ways that that you find enrichment? People were like, Hmm, I'd never thought about that. And it was this mini intervention, where afterwards, people would contact me and say, you know, I hadn't thought of it that at that way before. But since talking to you, I'm now sort of noticing all over the place these ways that my two roles enrich each other and make me happier. That's so cool. Thank you. So it's kind of a weird thing, because I wasn't actually intending to do an intervention, but just encouraging people to really think through in response to the interview, help them to see it and experience it differently.
Megan Gipson 17:54
Ya know, that makes so much sense. And I think that I had that experience to reading your book, I felt like, oh, all of a sudden, it's almost like these blinders came off. And I was like, Wait a second, you know, like, I'm creating the meaning in my head over what's happening. And I can shift that just a little bit and make it something different. And it's, it's pretty cool. I mean, it's, it's, I think it just helps the way the book is set up is I feel like it helps you walk through different like, almost landmines you might be experiencing in your thought process of how you're how you're, you're thinking about work and family and all of it. So it was really, really helpful. I mean, even I was telling someone today that after reading the book, I was trying to change my mindset on being the parent of teenagers right now. Because it's, it's a new one, I'm this, I'm new to it, my child's new to being the teenager. And you can easily be like, well, this is a crock of nothing like this is not, you know, and so you can look at a lot of the challenges of it. But then you can also shift and think, okay, you know, he's going through something new, I'm going through new, something new, my brain is like, changing as I'm going through all these experiences. And that's kind of exciting. And let's, let's try to think of it that way, instead of like, what's next? I mean, you can get in really? A little bit of a.
Unknown Speaker 19:19
Yeah, that's such a great example of that, you know, I think we often think about that more in the realm of like, infants of like, Oh, this isn't so new and so hard, and we don't know what to do with it. But it totally happens at every stage of the game. Your children are constantly changing, and especially if it's your oldest, that's changing. You've never encountered anything like that before, and you do need to adapt it. In fact, that's how stress researchers define. The stress response is like the difference between the demands to your resources and the resources that you have. An effective stress response is to notice that there's a difference and to do what you can to sort of increase whatever resources you have, whether it's engaging your social community or building a skill or learning to tolerate what So I'm comfortable that that is an adaptive stress response. And exactly what you're saying, like when we have a mindset of this is the worst, I'm never going to figure it out. We're much less likely which we, which I mean, goodness knows, like, we all have that thought, yeah, but when we're really hooked on it, and we can't sort of take a step back and say, Hang on, hang on, like, I can figure this out, when we're instead just really hooked on, I'm never gonna figure this out, this is the worst, like, disaster is, you know, a sure thing here. That's when we get less effective. And we're less likely to act in line with our better selves, we're less likely to build good connections with our kids, we're less likely to be effective in our workplace. And so that mindset mindset shift of saying, you know, I'm noticing that I'm having those really negative thoughts, they're not helping me act in line with my better self, is there a more growth minded, oriented mindset that I can adopt? And so this kind of is, what the whole point of the book is, is to really encourage a mindset shift of a fixed mindset and working Parenthood to a growth mindset and working parenthood where we can acknowledge like, there are certain patches of life in working parenthood that absolutely stink, they're really tough, whether it's with our kids are at work or the tension between the two. And recognize that some of that tension is fodder for growth and resilience and skill building and wisdom and compassion. And when we see it that way, we're much more likely to grow our resources to meet the demands that are in front of us.
Megan Gipson 21:31
Yeah, love that. So one of the terms that I thought was really interesting was this idea of that happiness stagnation. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think that's a really it's a new concept to me. You know, like, I haven't really heard about that. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Unknown Speaker 21:49
Yeah, so we sort of habituate to whatever positive experiences that we have. And what research shows is that we're so just as a general thing, like we're adaptation creatures, we can get used to almost anything good or bad. But what's most interesting is that we tend to adapt to positive experiences much more quickly than negative experiences. And if you think about it, from an evolutionary perspective, that actually makes a lot of sense. So if you were satisfied after a good meal in pre modern times, and you just stayed satisfied, you wouldn't be so motivated to go pursue more calories, and then you might be in trouble. If you were satisfied with your connections with your village, then you wouldn't be motivated to really be careful about how you treated people that were your kin. And that would put you in serious danger of being ousted from your group. So we're a lot more likely to get used to good things. And, and when we do, then we crave more good things. And so one of the things that I like to see as a as a gift of working parenthood is that, you know, that pressure that we always have to like be switching roles and like you have a positive experience and like, then you have to You're having like a dance party with your kids. And then you gotta go finish a work assignment, or you're sort of in the groove at work, and oh, my gosh, it's time to go pick up the kids from daycare. That feels annoying. But if you can take the mindset shift of oh, this is actually something that's going to protect my enjoyment over time, those interruptions, what research has shown is that interruptions to pleasant experiences, actually makes the thing that would be more pleasant, more pleasurable over the long term. So for example, if you love brownies, and I just gave you a tray and said, Eat as long as you want it stop enjoying brownies pretty quickly. Whereas if I give you one and say okay, you're not going to have another one until tomorrow, then you might really look forward to that brownie and really savor the experience. So the same thing goes with pleasant experiences and working parenthood, that we're much more likely to have a more persistent enjoyment and positive experience. If it's interrupted more and and yeah, we have lots of interruptions. So it's kind of a different way to think about it.
Megan Gipson 23:57
Yeah. And that feeds into the like, having a different mindset, right? Because it's like, when you get interrupted, you're like, Ah, thank you for maybe not so like, but it really I mean, that's how I started, think about oh, okay, I got an interruption, and I was enjoying that. And now I'm going to shift gears to this, and that'll still be there. And it really it helps to know that that is helpful that because I think that my outside of the research of it, I would think, no, this is just messing me up. You know what I mean? Like, I just need to focus until I'm finished. And like you said, that's like, really not part of being human. Like I'm in my bubble until I decide to leave it and enter a new bubble. Like that's not really how it works. How and that might sound good. Right? Yeah, you're right. Some people maybe Yeah, but um, I think it helps to know like, No, this is how it is and it's actually not a bad thing. It helps you learn new skills, helps your brain stay sharper, helps you enjoy the things you enjoy. Because you know, you get to go back to it. You know,
Unknown Speaker 24:59
it Yeah, and there's Yeah. And there's I mean, when we get interrupted and pressed to move from one role to the other, it has all these other benefits to of increasing your creativity. So if you're like stuck on a problem at work, and you get forced to go pick up your kids, because it's time to pick up your kids, it's actually a really useful thing from, from what we understand about how the brain works creatively, to force yourself to stop thinking consciously about that problem. And to allow your what's called Default Mode Network. This is a part of the brain that gets active when you're not consciously thinking about things. It's sort of like your mind wandering. And that is actually when we do our most creative problem solving. It's sort of what the Eureka effect is, like, Archimedes was in the bathtub, not thinking about buoyancy, when he had this, like aha moment, it's like when you have a fight with your partner, and you're in the shower two hours later, and you come up with the perfect response is because you weren't directly consciously thinking about it. So being forced to step away from problems is good. Being forced to step away from roles is actually also good for rest, right. So when we are forced to stop parenting, because we gotta go to work, it gives us a break from what is a really depleting role. And you might love parenting, I love parenting. But it gets exhausting after a while, especially when your kids are really little, and they have so many needs for your attention. And there's this concept that psychologists call Psychological detachment, which basically means switching off totally from one role. And when you can do that, by stepping fully into another, it actually helps you to recharge from the role that you've stepped away from in this way that, you know, given technology, like we're not often able to fully step away from roles, but like, you know, if you step into parenting, your kid is not going to want you on your phone. So that's a good way to rest from work. And when you go to work, you're not available to your kids. So even if those guilty thoughts come up, if you can sort of allow them to be and refocus your attention on being present in your job, it gives you a chance to return to your kids with more juice in your parenting battery.
Megan Gipson 26:56
Yeah. So you said it's Psychological detachment? That's what you said the term Yeah. And it makes me think of the pandemic and how like that was such an adjustment, right? Because it's hard. How do you psychologically detach from anything, and you're all right there. And even now, I think people going back to work at work looks different. So people are maybe working from home. And there's benefits to that. And maybe you're not as able to psychologically detach, because you're still in the same space.
Unknown Speaker 27:25
Totally, totally. I think that is a problem with working from home, it is harder to psychologically detach when you're still when you're sort of queued to participate in both roles at the same time. So I think that's actually one of the drawbacks that we need to be thinking more about as we sort of navigate this new world where there's a lot more flexibility. And as you're saying, like, I actually work from home, and I love it, it is it has so many benefits, but it does have this drawback where it's a little bit harder to sort of turn off fully from my parenting world, because like, this is where my family lives. So if my kids are home, which they often are, I sort of hear them and like part of my brain, my parenting brain turns on. But there are tricks to that too, which is, you know, to use your environment strategically to use these. So for example, like when I switch from parenting to work, I'll drink a cup of hot something, depending on what time of the day it is, it's coffee, or tea. And that's a cue or I'll do a small meditation, or I have a friend who like shuts the blinds when she's working in opens than when she's not working. So you can sort of use your environment to cue your mind and your body. And the mind and the body really are sensitive to environmental cues. So you can really be deliberate. And when I I know for lots of people, and I certainly do this, when I stepped back into parenting role, all you need to do is hug my kids and I'm kind of I'd regret right back in. But there's other things that you can do, too. Like a mindfulness exercise, where you sort of like bring yourself back to the present moment. And if you notice any thoughts that belong to the other role to jot them down, we know that when we get things out of our brain space and into a physical form, that they're less likely to be distracting to us, you can shut off, you know, notifications on your phone, or put your phone out of sight, if that helps you to focus. So there's various ways that we can help ourselves drop into one role at a time. And I do think that what's most helpful here is recognizing that it serves both of your roles better if you do one at a time, right, because you'll be able to be fully available to whichever role you're in. And that is good for that role. And you'll take a full break from the role that you're not in which will help you feel more creative, more energetically restored, more enthusiastic about it when you return. And that is good for the world that you've stepped away from.
Megan Gipson 29:39
Yeah, this is helping me I just realized so I am a therapist, and I keep all of my things kind of in the same place because for me, oh, then I will not miss anything. I don't want to miss anything because I forgot to check the work phone. But I think that it causes a little too much overlap where it's like I'm kind of always available to everyone and then so maybe available to nothing. Yeah, so that's like a small action I can take.
Unknown Speaker 30:06
I love. Yeah, because I
Megan Gipson 30:09
just I'm too available. But that was in my mind the thought process was, it'll be easier.
Unknown Speaker 30:15
Yeah. But yeah, I won't let anyone down. Yeah, well, I wouldn't let anyone down If Emma was available to everybody. But you know, if you say yes to everybody and everything, then you don't fully say yes to anything. And I think that is a really hard thing for any of us who want so badly to be available to all the people and the roles that are so important to us. But again, I think the science is really clear. Like if you say no, for pockets of time to one roll, say yes, more deliberately to the other than you'll fully return in a more full way recharged ready way to the role that that you've said no to for a period of time. And you think about it, like, you know, the best metaphor is the heart rate, the heart beats 24 hours a day, but the only reason that he's able to do that is because it rests between beats. So we got to do that for our roles, especially our most demanding roles.
Megan Gipson 31:08
Yeah. And one of the things that you talk about towards the end of the book is just how to work this out with in your relationship. So like, you talk about the relationship between work and parenting inside yourself. But then you also talk about how do you then communicate that with your partner. And I think that's really important, too, because it's, it's, if you're talking about outside systems, often your partner is the next closest thing to it being an inside job, sometimes it feels like it's still an inside job, which maybe is not okay, but so can you talk just a little bit about how, yeah, you know what I mean? Like, if can you just talk a little bit about how to approach this with your partner? Like, if you're trying to do some of these things, to change the inside job with yourself? And how you're your mindset and aligning with your values? How do you get that conversation started with a partner? who maybe isn't going to read the book? Or maybe you could put it there and say, how about this book? And so how do you talk to your partner about it?
Unknown Speaker 32:09
Yeah, well, there's, gosh, there's so many ways that I could dive into this. And I'm curious if one part would be more useful than another because I talk a lot in there about some of the reasons why working parents fall into so much conflict. And it's because, you know, we're stressed out, and we have so much on our plates. And when we're stressed out and have so much on our plates and feel uncomfortable. The easiest person to vilify is our partner, and they may deserve that title, a villain in the story, but they are also likely struggling. And so that that is a part of how people end up in these really polarized positions with their partners. So I talk about some of the science behind this, that feelings lead to reasoning, not the other way around, and sort of remember that in in your most unhappy points in your relationship with your partner, one of my favorite books on this topic, just in part because it has a great title. But it's also a terrific book is called how not to hate your husband after kids by GNC done, I highly recommend it. But like so many people feel so angry with their partner after kids show up. And it's because they feel like their partner isn't pulling their way. So part of the recommendation that I offer in the book, and I do I'm a couples therapy specialists. So this is one of my favorite things to talk through, is moving from a my story versus your story. And like which one is right mentality to trying to co create a story together with your partner. And that requires you to own your heart, and to be empathic. And one thing that I'll just point out here, I love the science on this is that empathic effort matters more than empathic accuracy, you don't have to perfectly understand your partner and they don't have to perfectly understand you. But it is very, very helpful for both of you to try to understand where the other person is coming from, even if they're coming from a very different place than you are. And then to work on sharing a new story. And what that requires is having good communication skills. And there's a lot that I could get into here. And I'm happy to go into more detail. But sort of two main points is that there needs to be a listener and a speaker at any given time, because if both people are speaking, then no one is listening. And this is a super common problem in the couples therapy room. I'm constantly calling people out, but it's something you can start to pay attention to, in your own conversations with your partner, who you know, ask yourself who is speaker and who is listener. And if it feels really confusing, you can get really structured about it and set a timer, you know, you get 10 minutes, and I'll listen then I get 10 minutes and you listen and be very deliberate about it. The second thing that I think is less common knowledge, I think the listener speaker thing is is obvious, but we all most of us make mistakes on that. The second thing is to understand that there's two different kinds of conversations, broadly speaking in couples that couples tend to have the first is problem solving. So like there is a problem we need to solve it. Make sure that you get into an us versus the problem orientation, as opposed to me versus you being the problem orientation. So that's what problem solving conversation, that's
Megan Gipson 35:07
a quick tip.
Unknown Speaker 35:09
The second kind of conversation, though, is called a discussion. And so rather than solving a problem, the point of a discussion is to understand or be understood by your partner, to have a better understanding of your partner's perspective, their feelings, their beliefs, even if you don't agree with them. And what's important, they're understanding the distinction between problem solving and discussion is to make sure that you're having the same kind of conversation. So if I had a bad day at work, and I want to vent, and my partner hears me, and they want to problem solve, you know how I approached my colleague, I'm going to feel really invalidated. So a really helpful tip is to make sure are we problem solving? Or are we discussing and if we're discussing, if I want to have a discussion, can you join me with that communication agenda? And if not, you know, how do I how do I get you to be on the same page, because if we're going to have two different kinds of conversations, both of us are going to end up feeling super frustrated. So again, I can go into more detail about either any of those details,
Megan Gipson 36:10
that's helpful. That's very helpful I because I think that in, like we were talking about with the stages, the stages of your career, the stages of parenting that you're in, I feel like there's always new things coming up. So you have to have good discussions or problem solving. And that makes so much sense like that this is this is the problem. And we need to like put our heads together, or we need to hear each other out on like, and sometimes that takes a lot of time. But in the end, you need it right? You need to understand, okay, if you're going to solve this problem in that way, tell me more about why, you know, it's different, different approaches. No, I think it's I just like that you approach all of this from so many different angles? And I think, for me, I will, I'm curious what you would, what would be your hope, like after someone reads this book, what would you what would you want somebody to walk away feeling or knowing?
Unknown Speaker 37:05
Yeah, I mean, my greatest hope is that people will have that mindset shift, moving from work, family conflict mindset to a work family enrichment mindset. And again, that doesn't mean that people are like, Oh, I'll never gonna have work family conflict, again, role conflict of any kind, but rather, that you see conflict with a different perspective that you can see it as something that is not in like you haven't done anything wrong. If you're experiencing role conflict, it's, you know, there may be systems that are really falling short for you. And that is something that we as a society need to be working on. But also, that it may just simply be just a part of what it is to have a rich, full meaningful life is to have tension between roles. And to see that not as something that's wrong with you, or even necessarily with the system, but rather something that we can use to our advantage that the tension between roles can help us get to a better place can help those grow, and help us be more creative. It can help us rest more, it can help us manage our stress more, it can help us grow our happiness more effectively. And so to see it with this kind of openness and this optimism, and to use the science to be able to harness more of that good stuff, even in the face of the difficult stuff. That's my greatest hope.
Megan Gipson 38:21
I have that. Yeah. Perfect. Well, I feel like I finished the book and felt more hopeful for all of us really, just really that. And I love what you said earlier about, like, you have to feel not you have to but if it's more productive, to feel hopeful and to feel strong inside as we work in the larger world, but like we have to keep ourselves feeling good also. And like all of the things you talk about feed into that. So it's, it's connected to everything. So Well, thank you so much. I have one last question, which is you talk about, like kind of digging into the things that bring you joy as like part of, you know, paying attention to the full full picture. What's something that you're that's really bringing you joy these days? Well,
Unknown Speaker 39:10
this is my first book, and it's bringing me enormous joy to have people like you telling me that it has helped them. See working parenthood. Oh, that's so awesome. She's holding up the book.
Megan Gipson 39:19
I love my house. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 39:21
it's I mean, that brings so this journey to writing this book was very, very long. So if there's any aspiring writers listening, hang in there, it can happen and I just saw it and it's, it's worth it. I mean, if it's a dream of yours, you know, stick with it, because it feels so powerful to you know, put those words down and have other people read them and say that it made a difference for them. I mean, to me, that's one of the most meaningful things that that can happen right is to feel like your life made somebody else's life better. And I have to say to this sounds so corny, but it's been such a joyful experience to have my kids be a part of this journey for me Are they featured prominently in the book without their names being used, but it was something that you know, I struggled a lot in this process and they saw me fail and get back up again and keep trying and they're just as proud of me as I am, which is so cute. They're They're such little dolls about it. So that those are some of the things that bring me joy in this past week. It's not the
Megan Gipson 40:23
book. I love that. Perfect. So if people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Unknown Speaker 40:31
Probably the easiest place is on my podcast, which is a similar podcast here. So if you like Megan's podcast, you might also like ours where psychologists off the clock and we talk about evidence based psychology and we try to make it accessible and we talk about a whole host of topics, you know, parenting but also health behaviors and work success and mindfulness and anxiety all the things so check check us out at psychologists off the clock. And you can also find me on all the social media channels at yell Schoenbrunn.
Megan Gipson 41:05
Perfect, thank you so much and everybody it's called Work parents thrive is an it's wherever you buy books. I'm holding it up like people can see it, but it's pretty it looks.
Unknown Speaker 41:16
Yeah. Megan, thank you so much for your awesome questions. I appreciate it.
Megan Gipson 41:24
I'm gonna stop recording. Oh,
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Learn more about Yael Schonbrun, PhD
- Work Parent Thrive, by Yael Schonbrun, PhD
- Psychologists Off the Clock Podcast
- Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl
- How to Not Hate Your Husband After Kids, Jancee Dunn
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