Real life can be both beautiful and challenging. It’s a mixed bag of tricks full of seasons that ebb and flow –and all you can do is find a rhythm that works for your family. Within that rhythm is staying grounded, prioritizing your mental health, and setting realistic expectations for yourself and your kids.
In this episode, I am talking to Lesley W Graham, super mom and lifestyle blogger who has navigated the craziness of 2020 with grace, honesty, and a sense of humor. Today, we are chatting all about her experience with homeschooling, setting boundaries between home and work life, the importance of protecting her mental health, and how her family found a rhythm out of chaos.
What we covered:
- The thought process behind deciding to homeschool your kids
- Finding peace with big decisions
- How they divide parenting, homeschool, and business
- Staying grounded during hard times
- Why you need to protect your mental health
“What I would do differently is not stress as much about making the decision. Because we did stress. And also, I think that I would just be confident in staying in my lane. It’s so easy to look at what everyone else is doing and to second guess everything.” – Lesley W. Graham
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Music by: Taylor Ryan
Find him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylorryandrs/
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Life is full of challenging times, but it’s also filled with beauty. To navigate both spectrums with grace, it’s essential to find a rhythm that works for your family as you flow through the different seasons of life. Our guest today has had to do just that. From homeschooling her girls to prioritizing her mental health, she’s learned to establish boundaries and stay grounded through good times and bad.
Meg: Welcome to the Whimsy and Wellness podcast Lesley. I am so excited.
Lesley: Thank you guys so much for having me.
Meg: So I have to tell you as we were mapping out who we wanted on the podcast and what types of topics we were going to cover, we knew right off the bat that we need a mom with school-aged kids for this year, or 2020. That would also be working and would just kind of know the struggle of school aged mamas this year, but working moms and then also someone who would be honest with us. That was quite the doozy. And you came to mind right away.
The Trials & Gifts of 2020: A Mixed Bag Of Tricks
Lesley: That’s awesome. I can’t think of anything that would make me happier than someone thanking me for real talk. So I’m here for it. Let’s do it. Yes, so 2020. In a lot of ways it’s been horrible. I think, for me, as someone that takes on other people’s emotions, and really let things get to me, I think the emotional toll of the suffering has been really heavy. And just knowing that so many people are struggling, we are so fortunate that our jobs continued on. And we had hiccups with behind the scenes issues with shipping and all sorts of things just like everybody else. But really, we were fine. But just knowing that so many people that we love, we’re having a hard time was the worst. And, but in a lot of ways 2020 has been such a gift or was such a gift.
Because I have kids that are now 12 and 8 , and they were gone all day long. And I missed them terribly. And I never thought they would go to school together because of their age difference. They were in two separate schools. And to have them home all day long and doing school together. It’s just kind of a miracle. So we’ve actually loved homeschooling way more than we thought that we would. And we did a ton of travel, we got an Airstream, which we never would have done. So there were a lot of gifts to the year. Just a mixed bag of tricks. Really?
Meg: Yes, that is. That is the word: a mixed bag of tricks. I love that. too. Like Yeah, a double edged sword. Like there’s so much good and so much bad. I had a baby in April. COVID baby. And at first I was so bummed because no one will be able to visit and all of that. And honestly, I mean, he was my first baby. So I don’t know any different. But I think if I were to have another baby in the hospital, I don’t think I would let visitors come. It was amazing to just be in a bubble and not have people visit.
Lesley: As someone who was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of visitors I have to say you are correct. And also Congrats. They’re like little secret babies. I feel like all the pregnancies, all the babies this year, they’ve been these sort of protected little creatures that you just get to have all to yourself, which is really special to you.
Meg: Yes. When we go out in public, rarely, he just stares at other people like what in the world. other humans, like what? Oh, weird. But there’s the heartache of it. But also like, what a gift.
Working From Home While Homeschooling
So, let’s, talk first about working from home while your kids are home. Which you felt like kind of done because you’ve run your Young Living business from home for a while, right? Six years?
Meg: So what’s been different from pre COVID working from home to COVID, and your kids are home? What’s been different?
Lesley: Oh my gosh, everything. I mean, when I started my business, I had an 18 month old, I think my oldest was almost five. So I went from having two kids home to one child in school all day, to both girls in school all day, and now both girls home all day.
Honestly, this has been my favorite season and I’m in a different place in my business. When my girls were really young, I was working my tush off and now we’re in a place where the hard work has kind of paid off and we’re able to kind of enjoy our kids being home so it’s really a gift.
Meg: Yeah, that’s awesome. So you guys decided to homeschool, right for the 2021 school year, which is no small feat, deciding that. So can you talk to us about the process of making that decision and coming to that decision and how it’s impacted your day to day?
Lesley: Oh, absolutely. So my husband actually decided to leave his corporate job a year before 2020 hit. And he decided to pursue leather working full time, which is something that he’s been doing for 10 years on the side. And that was super exciting. But it was also just a huge adjustment. So we have this sort of weird year of figuring out what that looks like. And then COVID hit, and the girls came home, and I knew, like deep in my gut that they were not going back to school earlier this year, and I just had that feeling. And we just decided, if they did come back with some weird stuff that the girls were gonna have to do. Not weird, but you know what I mean? Like, if they were gonna have to wear masks all day, or any of the stuff that we just felt like, if we could avoid it, we would try.
And I realize not everyone has that luxury, because it really wasn’t luxury. But we just said this is something we’ve tossed the idea around. Why not just have a gap year of just doing our own thing? And it was a big decision, because my husband was really going to be the one doing most of the teaching. I am lunch lady and art and mom, basically, and they’re interruptions all day long. So it’s not like it’s like this confined, tidy.
We’re really winging it. But we found a curriculum that we loved. And Sam is an amazing teacher. He actually thinks that he maybe would have gone to school for teaching, and he just rocked it. So it’s just been really cool to watch him step into that role, too.
Meg: That’s awesome. So did you face like, internal fears or insecurities? Because I even felt it and I don’t have a school aged kid. But just on social media, I felt like watching everything. There was like no right decision. Everyone had an opinion about what everyone should be doing with schools, and parents were being attacked in schools and teachers, and it just was like, I can’t imagine the internal fears and insecurities that I’m sure so many parents were feeling. Did you struggle with that? And how did you make peace with your decision? If you did?
How They Decided On Homeschooling
Lesley: Oh, yeah. I mean, we decided pretty early on that we were gonna homeschool and felt really good about it. I would say that a lot of my friends and the conversations that I had, were riddled with anxiety and like, what are we doing? And I just felt like for us, personally, we had no interest in riding that rollercoaster. And we really did not like virtual learning at all. And so we had a feeling that the kids were going to end up coming back. Which they haven’t yet so far. But I have a feeling maybe. I don’t know.
So we just felt like we’re just not gonna ride the roller coaster. But it was hard. And I think it is hard. But I had several of my friends who could have homeschooled tell me later on. They’re like, we should have just done it, you know? But I think everyone’s doing the best that they can with the information that we had. And it was constantly changing. And it still is. There’s no right way to do this.
Meg: Yeah, there really isn’t. So you mentioned the curriculum briefly. And I’ve heard that that can be such an overwhelming task to choose because there’s so many options and opinions. What resources did you use to put together a school plan and curriculum? And did you follow a certain method?
Lesley: Well, I did what anyone would do in the year 2020, where I polled people on Facebook and Instagram, right. And so you do start to see these sort of repeating ideas that a lot of people that are like minded are doing the same kind of things. And I have friends who are very type one on the enneagram –organized, who were like piecing it all together. I was like, Oh, no I need like, Where do I sign for? Everything comes and let’s do that.
So we ended up doing The Good and The Beautiful, which I love. And they didn’t have a math option for Matilda because she’s in sixth grade. So we outsource that through Master Books, I think is what it’s called. Don’t quote me on that. But I’m pretty sure. And yeah, so we do. It’s all in one. It’s all inclusive. And so that’s been really nice. Super simple.
Meg: Yeah. So now that you’re halfway through the year, which is insane. Congrats.
Lesley: Thank you, I think We all need an award at this point, right?
Lesley: My mom is a public school first grade teacher and they’re still in school. And I’m just like, I don’t know how you do that. Heroes. She’s like one of my first graders lost a tooth under his mask the other day, and neither of us knew what to do. I don’t even know how to respond to that. Like, yeah, what do you do?
Meg: Your sweet mom, these teachers, they deserve everything. Whatever you can give them. Every teacher and parents and these kids are so resilient. They’re so resilient. Oh, my gosh. So would you do anything differently? Knowing what you know now that you’re halfway through the year?
Finding Peace & Confidence In Big Decisions
Lesley: I feel like what I would do differently, is not stress as much about making the decision because we did stress. And also, I think that I would just be confident and in staying in my lane. it’s so it’s so easy to look at what everyone else is doing. And to second guess everything because I did. Because we’re big believers in public school and we were like, Who are we to educate our children? I don’t know. But I had so many people that reaffirmed that we were capable. And I’m grateful for the people that took the time to like, encourage us.
Meg: Okay, given that you own your own business, and your husband does too, right? Isn’t Magnolia Leatherworks? Is that it? Yes, they are incredible. Or he is incredible. Whimsy and Wellness just did a collaboration with him. He does great work, you guys. So check them out. But you guys both own your own businesses. So how did you guys divide up homeschool? And just regular parenting? I mean, I know you said Sam took the lead. But how is that with both running your businesses too?
Dividing Up Homeschool & Parenting & Work
Lesley: It’s been crazy. You know? Fortunately for Sam, he really determines his own schedule production level, like everything is so he really is his own boss, where I have obligations and responsibilities to people and to be available to other people where he doesn’t. So it really was just a natural fit for him to do school. He’s also a night owl. So he does most of his leather work after I go to bed, which is very early. Yeah. Little grandma. So it just worked out really well. That way. He’s also, like I said, just amazing at teaching and explaining things. And that’s not really my gift.
Meg: So you mentioned enneagram before, so what is your number and Sam’s number? If you know his?
Lesley: Okay, oh, yeah. I feel like it’s like such a pivotal part of our marriage. like figuring that out about him. It was like, Oh my gosh, yeah. Right. So he’s a 1 wing 2. So he has a strong 2 wing, very much a helper. But super perfectionistic and all that stuff. And so and then I’m a 3 wing 4, which I used to be like, they’re almost opposites. Be who people want you to be, but I can’t because I have to stay true to myself. So it’s like constantly battling the mind. What about you?
Meg: I’m a 6 with a very strong 7 wing. So strong, so I had a hard time like having fun. I was so split, Am I six or seven? But then I found I think I just wanted to be more of a seven. Like I’m like, but let’s be real. I know. But I’m also terrified of dying like every moment. So it’s probably right.
Lesley: I love that. Well, I’m supposed to go to six and help. So I’ll just try to be you. That’s beautiful. Yes, I go, I go to three and stress, which I do.
Meg: I wish I went to three and growth sometimes I’m like, you guys have some great strings?
So let’s talk about the guilt and the shame that can come with being a working mom, how can people like, just kick that right to the curb?
How To Kick Mom Guilt To The Curb
Lesley: Yeah, I think it’s only natural. I struggle with that big time, because I’m like, I should be teaching the girls and here I am working or it’s like, you could always beat yourself up for something, it’s never simple. But what I would say is that, how I’ve worked through that is trying.
Again, there’s no perfect way to do any of this stuff, because it’s just hard, honestly. But to have boundaries, especially with technology so when I’m with the girls, I want to be with them 100%. And that’s just setting boundaries for me, like with dinner on my phone. I don’t know where it is, because I don’t have a lot of self control when it comes to work. Because I do love it so much. I’ve gotten better, I definitely feel like I’ve grown in that area. But I do still feel that temptation to like, look up my phone and see what’s going on blah, blah.
So just hiding that when I’m with them, and making sure that I’m filling up their cup and tucking them in at night. Because you can tell when your kids are needy there’s like, it’s real special. There’s the whining, and then they’re trying to get your attention. And so I want my kids to feel loved. And so that’s my goal is for them to go to sleep, and me to know that I can tell that they feel seen and loved.
The Importance Of Letting Your Kids Watch You Work
Meg: That’s so important. I keep reminding myself that letting them watch us work is such a gift because I too will feel so guilty like Acre is only seven months old, but I’m still just always like, oh, screen time is so bad. And he sees me on my phone and I have Elmo playing. But it’s like he gets to watch me work and screen time is fine, especially in 2020.
Lesley: Oh, my gosh, it is totally fine. And I remember that feeling when the girls were babies, like if I wasn’t looking at them at all moments of the day, that I must be doing something wrong. And my friend was like, you don’t have to look at her all day. And I was like, Are you sure? I think we just come out thinking we’re gonna screw them up. And honestly, we probably will in some way. And that’s what they do. It’s all part of the experience.
Yes, I think you’re right. I do think that it’s so important for our girls, for your son to see us chasing some dream and to not shrink back and to not put all of our goals to the side just because we’re moms.
The Sound Board Analogy
Meg: Yeah, for sure. Okay, so let’s talk about, as you say, life as a sounding board. Can you elaborate on that?
Lesley: So my mentor and one of my dear friends, Courtney Crites, shared this analogy with us years ago, and it was the first thing that ever made sense to me as far as working as a mom. And really balance is a mess. I totally believe that. But if you look at our lives, like a sounding board when you’re in a recording studio, you’re trying to up the bass or turn down the whatever. I don’t know all these technical terms, I’m not a musician.
You’re not trying to make everything sound the same. And so sometimes we have to turn up the work volume. Sometimes we have to dial it down when you need to be more present for your family or God forbid, there’s some sort of issue going on or whatever that you need to be present for. But it’s just constantly moving things around to make it all work, but it’s never having everything at the same volume. Which I think we need to be super present here and super present here. Well, we’re just one real human.
Meg: So Oh, that’s so good. I love that.
Lesley: I thought it was too and so I tried to keep that in mind. And we can’t have the same buttons always up. It’s always the primary noise that everything else is going to be affected right. And I do feel like balance, maybe I’m saying this because I’m a woman. But I feel like, as a woman and a mom, I feel like that’s something I always hear my friend saying. I just want to find balance or I wonder how she balances it? And it’s like, she doesn’t know. And that is the God’s honest truth. There is no one I know that is doing everything.
Meg: Well, you just can’t. So let’s talk about helping our kids through all of this because there was some intense energy. There is no word to explain it. So I’ll just say intense energy for 2020. But it was next level. We were all just feeling a collective grief and anger and fear and conversations that were long overdue. With your kids who — remind me of their ages again?
Lesley: So Matilda is 12. And Phoebe is 8.
Meg: Yeah, so they’re not oblivious. How have you navigated some of these conversations?
Be Curious & Ask Questions
Lesley: Yeah, I feel like they’ve heard us talk about so much of it, just because anytime we’d be with other adults, which isn’t very often these days, politics would come up, racial tension would come up. And they got to hear a lot of those conversations with it, which I think is great. They heard us sort of processing through. We don’t have all the answers and I think more than anything, what I’ve tried to pass on to them is just to be curious, and ask questions, and to realize that they don’t, and they never will know everything. And I think it’s so important that we listen to other people’s perspectives, especially people that don’t have the same opportunities or background or whatever. We’ve got to be willing to listen. And I think part of the tension came from people being unwilling.
Meg: Yes. So unsafe to be so closed off. Oh, my gosh, you’re so good. I love that. Okay, so with kids being like such sponges, and like you said, they heard a lot of the conversations, how are your kids doing with the isolation or even like you said, in the beginning with you taking on the emotional baggage of the world? How have they handled that? And what do you think as moms, how can we help them through it?
The Resiliency Of Kids
Lesley: I think you hit the nail on the head there. With kids being super resilient, I think this year has been incredibly confusing. And so my kids, I would say, on a daily basis are super positive, and just have an amazing outlook. But then we’ll have days where out of nowhere, there’s tears, and it all kind of comes out and I’m like, that’s how I feel, too. It’s like, they just try to put on a brave face every day. And then they really miss their school friends. Or they’ll feel sad that something got canceled, or a family member couldn’t come visit because of COVID or whatever. And it sucks, but I’m so grateful that they know that they can express that and that they see us. I think Sam and I both had moments of emotions, big emotions this past year. And so they’ve seen that we have those moments, and then we rally and we get back on the horse and we keep going. And so I really think that honestly, kids are getting to learn a lot of lessons that sometimes you don’t learn until later in life. That not everything works out with a bow on it. And there are disappointments and we get to choose how we react right?
Meg: For sure. So with being home all the time, by the time I’m like, clawing at the door. Like do you want to go get coffee? Does anyone want to go to drive? Anyone? Especially if you got that 7 wing. People. The other day I literally cried because I’m like, Acre hasn’t seen a stranger’s smile, and it just made me sad. But like you said, some days I’m so positive and then other days I just want to smile at a stranger and not wonder, Are my eyes vibrant enough for them to know I’m smiling?
So with being home all the time and not being able to get childcare – how have you been able to create boundaries at home to have time with Sam? Or does that just not really exist?
Lesley: So we’re really in a kind of cool-season with parenting. They’re not babies, so they can watch a TV show or something. And we can have some time. We’ve had some nights where we’re like, we’re not doing tuck in tonight. We’re having a date night, you guys can tuck yourself in. We love you so much, give us a hug. And then they put themselves to bed. And we have kind of a date night. And that is like, basically like us being exhausted and watching the TV.
So yeah, it’s just pockets of alone time and sometimes we’ve been so fortunate that we have great neighbors. And so the girls go play outside. And we have some time then. But it’s been hard. I mean, there hasn’t been a lot of alone time at all.
Handling Chaos, Craziness, & Confusion
Meg: You got to really get creative. All right. So I would love –if it’s okay with you, if I could read part of a caption from one of your Instagram posts, because you shared it in the spring. And at the time, it was so good. And I think it would resonate with people now. Do you mind if I read up?
Lesley: No, I’m so curious. What is it?
Meg: Okay, so you said, “Emotions are high, people are spread thin, it seems like there isn’t a safe place to just say, Man, I’m struggling with this. People either act like nothing is happening and everything is fine. Or they have pitchforks for one camp or another. Fear is so divisive. And so are the opinions, so hard to even know what to believe or trust.”
That makes me want to cry just reading it. Like, it is so true. I feel like I could have written that. I’m sure people listening feel like they could have written it. My unfiltered self wants to say, if we’re all thinking that then why is it like that?
Lesley: I know, gosh, and I think when you mix in social media, which is already a whole can of worms where people are really selling themselves every day. But then you mix in that element. It’s very confusing. Because you’re like, I have to pay the bills. So I have to show up here. But also, I really want to acknowledge the fact that things are crazy right now and I’m still wrestling with it.
It feels so my 4 wing comes out where it’s like, this is so phony baloney to show up and just do Christmas home tours right now, when there are people that don’t have power in their house because they can’t afford it. You know what I mean? So it’s, it’s a constant tension of how do I do this? Well, I don’t know if there is a right way to do it. It’s tough. And in some ways, I think it’s gotten easier to handle the chaos or maybe I’ve just tuned out enough to where I feel like things aren’t as intense, but it’s definitely still there.
Meg: Yeah, it’s so real and lonely. And yeah, that comparison is so good. Yesterday, someone on Instagram stories. I don’t even remember the account, but they did a scan of their room without an Instagram filter. And I was just like, Oh my gosh, that looks like a real house that looks like my house. I hadn’t even thought of it. But like we haven’t seen unfiltered homes and that kind of thing. It’s just, it is hard to not compare.
Lesley: Oh my gosh, my house was like a bomb went off on a daily basis. I’m like when no one ever leaves the house. I mean, literally, we have these sweet two ladies that come and help us clean the house a couple of times a month. And by Tuesday, it’s bad.
Staying Grounded During Hard Times
Meg: So then, what are some ways with all of that craziness, and that post that I read from you, it’s so spot on. I would just love to know what are some ways you’ve stayed grounded in a time like that it’s really hard to stay grounded with so much negativity and fear and grief and hate?
Lesley: You’re so sweet. First of all, I haven’t done it perfectly. I’ve had a couple of outbursts where I instantly regretted it. I think freedom of speech is a gift and a curse. Because you can say whatever you want, but I always try to say things that I’m going to be okay with it being out there. And usually I do a pretty decent job. I think it’s like, keeping things through that lens. But I had a few moments where I was like, dang it, this is just too much. Like, I’m just sick of it. I’m sick of seeing the signs in people’s yards. I’m sick of hearing about it. I’m sick of this to get that.
I had a couple of people reach out and say that’s very privileged to say that, and I was like, I’m sure it is. I didn’t really think about what I was saying, or how that could sound or anything like that. You just had this boiling over.But I’ve had I’ve learned so much this year. I think that trying to have a spirituality and being willing to listen to people, has kept me grounded. Because I think if you want to be a dog in the fight, you’ve got to really have some thick skin. Honestly, I don’t.
I don’t want to argue with people on the internet. I don’t want to argue with strangers. You’re tone deaf if you don’t talk about what’s going on. But you can get in big trouble if you do. And so it’s some tricky business. And I think I just landed in loving people, and not really getting involved in anything that could be controversial. Because that’s never been what I’ve used my platform for. I don’t even have a big platform. But I’m like, why would I get involved with that? Now, I don’t need to be the news or anything like that.
So for me for staying grounded, it’s being with my family more than being online. Definitely trying to cut back on social media altogether. And just setting up boundaries to make sure that I’m filling myself up with something that nourishes my soul before I go online. I’m not great at that either, honestly. And I think being a curious person, I want to know what’s going on. I want to know what people are saying. I want to get into those comment threads and see the back and forth. I think it’s human nature to watch the train wreck but I have found that that is very unhealthy for me and a big time suck. All of a sudden, I’m like, oh, what did I do today? Oh, I read Donald Trump’s Twitter for 16 hours or whatever, you know.
Meg: Yeah. I think knowing our own triggers is so important, but it’s so hard because you get FOMO or you’re accused of being uninformed. My thing is the news just makes me so sad and anxious. But then I just wrestle with like, Oh, well, then I’m uninformed and not paying attention. But there has to be a limit. I mean, we know what’s going on. And honestly what is being informed doing for us at this point? Yeah. Over informed? I think there’s a difference
Lesley: Yes, for sure. Figuring out what triggers you, knowing that you can turn off the news, unfollow that person, or mute them. Because even though you love reading it, you’re left so mad for two hours. And you believe what she posted.
I muted people that I love. I don’t want to look at you differently, and I don’t like the stuff that you’re sharing. It does not resonate with me, and I don’t think it’s good. And I don’t want to look at people differently. During a time where people are really the worst versions of themselves, I truly think that this year has brought all of our junk to the surface. And I don’t want to judge people. So for me, I’m like, I want to protect our relationship. And if muting you is how I do that, then here we are, even if it’s just temporary or whatever.
Protecting Your Mental Health
Meg: Yes. I’m forever grateful for learning about the mute button. So one of the things I love about you, I mean, I feel like I’m talking about you, we’re friends. But following you online, what I really love about you is how honestly you share vulnerabilities.
You’ve opened up a ton online about mental health and what you do to take care of your mental health. And like, that is so, so huge, because even for me for so long, I was so embarrassed to say like, Oh, sorry, I can’t hang out, I have counseling. I’d be like, Oh, I have a doctor’s appointment. And I was always so awkward to say doctor’s appointment. And then like, one day I just said, I have therapy. It’s just so freeing to say that and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I love that you and other people who do have followings are honest about it, because when we talk about it, it gives people permission like, oh, then nothing is wrong with me for going or for needing support. So, first of all, thank you for sharing.
Lesley: I am always happy to hear about that. Yes.
Meg: So what have you done to protect your mental health this year? I mean, we’ve talked a little bit about limiting exposure, but what else?
Lesley: I feel like what I’ve done to protect my mental health is prioritization mainly. And going back to counseling, I had not been in counseling for a few years. I tend to go kind of in and out. I’ve never been someone that goes consistently. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just more I go when I’m really feeling like I’ve lost my way. And then once I started to feel like, Okay, I’m really in an okay place, then I’ll sort of dial it back or whatever. It just really depends. But this year, I was like, I need to go every Friday. And that’s just where I’m at. And I’m not right now. But I was for just like a few months.
I think it’s so important to know that we can’t always self help our way out of our issues and so I think the more that people talk about it, I can’t tell you how many people have messaged me and said, Well, I just don’t even know how to find one. And I’m like, because they’re too afraid to ask and I’m like, I guarantee you someone who knows someone that knows something, you know what I mean? But there’s a lot of stigma. I know with my grandparents they were like, oh, you’re going to a psychiatrist? And I was like, not a psychiatrist. But it’s like they go to this bar and there’s nothing wrong with taking medicine if you need to, but it was just funny that they just it’s there is a stigma for sure.
Meg: Yeah, I’m grateful that it’s being talked about more, because it is making a difference. When I started sharing about mental health, I think the most popular question I got is what you said, how do I find one? That’s an error in the system, because we don’t not go to dentists, because we don’t know how to find a dentist. We just ask friends, who’s your favorite dentist? I mean, it’s that simple. Every single time there has been a recommendation from a friend.
And for me, so many of the people I admire. I’ll be like, I admire this person so much, whether it’s real life, online, whatever. And then they’ll somehow come out and be like, Oh, I go to therapy. I’m like, so my normal therapy? Yes. So yeah, me too. So it might feel like just with the shutdowns and everything, going to therapy might feel like off the table or impossible for people. But a lot of therapists are either seeing people or doing things like telehealth. Can you kind of talk about the importance of getting help, even when it feels impossible or inconvenient?
The Importance Of Getting Help
Lesley: Oh, yeah, we did it only on zoom. I didn’t go into her office or anything like that. I mean, it’s honestly never been easier to get therapy, because most therapists I think they’re doing it via zoom or telehealth or whatever. So it’s not as nice as it would be to get out and have an adult conversation somewhere outside my house. There’s almost like a stripping down and vulnerability when you’re over a screen I think sometimes. So in some ways, I felt less emotional, like sharing some of the things with her that I normally would be sort of subconscious about if it was like in person. Yeah, it may be a great way to try it out now. Being your own home, we already feel comfortable.
Meg: Yeah, that’s a great way. And if you live somewhere, like I live somewhere where I have to drive an hour to the therapist, and so I think just back to the beginning, like the blessing and curse type thing of 2020. With Acre, I wouldn’t be able to drive an hour there an hour back to go to therapy, but maybe because of telehealth, you can. So if you live in an area where there’s not a lot of options, you can see someone hours away in another state.
Lesley: Amazing. Yeah, people have gotten so creative. I mean, it’s almost like there’s no bounds to who you can talk to or anything.
Why Taking Care Of Our Mental Health Means Freedom
Meg: Yeah. So I think people really fight the value, the investment of therapy and working on ourselves. Why do you think we fight self care and true mental health, self care?
Lesley: Well, I don’t think therapy is fun. I mean, it’s hard. And it’s work. And you have to sort through some stuff that you’d rather just forget about it. But what’s on the other side of that is freedom. Right. And that’s what we all really want. And I think it’s the best use of your money, honestly, to get to that place. But it is expensive. It’s a hard part of it, that it is, but I know that there’s ways that you can get financial aid to get there, but it’s definitely worth it. Yes, for sure.
Meg: Yeah, for sure. And I think I just want to share this in case someone listening doesn’t know I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that if you do have health insurance, which I know is a privilege in our country, but a lot of insurances will cover therapy, which I didn’t realize at first, and I think a lot of people don’t realize, so you can always look that up if that’s an option. But yeah, or a lot of therapists will work with you too so there’s for sure options. I have found so many great therapists on Instagram that shared daily. And I’m like, wow, that was something I’ve been looking for for two years that someone just posted in a little square. So definitely look at therapists on Instagram because they are sharing free information every day. That’s so valuable.
Lesley: Yeah, that’s so true. And probably even podcasts.
Meg: I’m sure they’re all podcasts. I’m sure they’re free. Yeah. Okay, so if there’s a mama listening to this that’s struggling with her mental health, but she’s in quarantine and 2020, with kids at home, what would you tell her?
Two Things To Do For Mama’s Struggling With Mental Health
Lesley: To get offline, that would be my number one thing. And to call a friend. I think one of the things that I’ve done during quarantine, that has been absolutely the best thing in the world, for me, mentally, has been to go on a weekly walk with a friend. Just like an hour, an hour and a half of just like, letting it all out. And like just having someone that can listen to you. And you’re getting exercise.
So that would be my second point is endorphins are the cheapest form of mental health. And so even if that’s just walking up and down your stairs or whatever there’s so many free YouTube videos or whatever. Moving your body, talking to your friend and staying offline. I really think, especially for moms that are struggling to get on Instagram and see someone’s perfect house or perfect family or perfect, whatever else that all of us know is not real.
I mean, hello. I’m not saying their family’s not perfect, I’m sure they are. But it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that you have to have it all together, especially with little kids. I mean, that’s another level when you’re in the weeds and the young years, like you have to be so gentle with yourself. So however you can protect your mind to do it and do it with so much power.Like, I’m not subjecting myself to this today, or whatever it is. That’s making you feel bad but yeah, I think community exercise, doing counseling. Yeah. And protecting your mind.
Creating Rhythms Instead of Balance
Meg: I love all of those. To wrap all these topics together, we briefly touched on balance here and there, but tell me, does that exist?
Lesley: No, it doesn’t exist at all. And I think we have seasons, I like them. I like the idea of seasons, so much more than balanced. Because every season of your life is so different. And it’s the same with our actual seasons outside, it’s meant to go go go all the time and so winter is such a beautiful time to hibernate too. And go and bring out your inner introvert, maybe take up knitting, but you’re getting still and you’re reflecting and then as the spring as the weather warms up, you’re getting back more into socializing and things like that. But I think our bodies, one of my favorite books on this is Rhythms of Renewal. It’s by Rebecca Lyons, this book is amazing. It’s all about creating rhythms, which I think rhythms make so much more sense than balance. Because, again, we’re not going to be doing the same thing in the same way all the time. So I highly recommend that book. I feel like it was like a total game changer. And it’s a great like, January February read?
Meg: Yes. Okay, that’s so good. I’ve actually heard of that book. So I love that and tell me about the three things.
Lesley: Okay, so three things, this is just like my low bar lifestyle. If I get three things done each day, I am so proud of myself, you know? And so I use the Passion Planner, I know, there’s like a million different planners out there. But I like the way it just gives you your priorities. And so I’ll just do these three things that have to happen for my business every day to keep them functioning and afloat. And if I check all those out, off, I’m good to go. I used to create these crazy goals for myself and unrealistic expectations and these crazy routines where everything had to be perfect. And I could do it for like three days, and then I’d fail and then I do not and it was just like this vicious cycle. So for me, it’s like three things a day.
Meg: I love that. And I heard you talk about it before. And like it’s stuck with me. And I remember this summer with my newborn. I was so overwhelmed because it’s like, I haven’t loaded the dishwasher, but I have one hand and I remembered your three things. Like you did a video somewhere that I heard it and I was like, Okay, I’m gonna just write down a dishwasher.
In my day today, I will celebrate. It’s so much easier to just pick three things, whether it’s work or house stuff, because then, you don’t feel like well, I got two things. But not the 46 other things. That’s very unreal.
Lesley: Again, you get a dopamine hit from checking that box you’re like I’m done. My grandmother always says this. “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.” And yes, in principle, it’s like just bite sized things each day. Otherwise, we’re miserable all the time because we just feel like we’re constantly failing.
Meg: Agreed. Okay, we’re gonna do rapid fire questions to wrap up. And I totally already asked you this, but I didn’t ask you the second part. So your enneagram number you said you’re a three wing four, tell me like the part of a three that is like so spot on for you like the stereotypical three thing that’s so spot on for you.
Lesley: I mean, all of it. But I think the people pleasing portion where I can put on what I need to put on for different groups of people can definitely rear its head, instead of staying true to myself, but my four wing goes, don’t do that. That’s not who we are. And then I’ll bring it back in and be real. But yeah, it’s a struggle. I mean, I think it’s just always wanting to be enough. That’s exhausting as a three.
Best & Worst Parenting Advice
Meg: For sure. Okay, what’s the best and worst piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?
Lesly: Okay, so best I think just prioritizing bedtime. I think that it’s the hardest part of the day. I mean, I’m exhausted. I would love to just throw my kids in bed and have a glass of wine. You know what I mean? But I have found that this is when they really share what’s on their hearts. It’s the most sacred time and the day where I just feel like it’s just an amazing time to connect with them. So it’s hard, but so worth it. At the end it’s just like, so sweet.
Worst parenting advice, I think worst would be that kids need tough love. I honestly, I don’t think the ruling with an iron fist has ever been effective. And I think the more that I treat them, like humans that have feelings, I just think that that has always served me better than screaming and yelling. So just really caring about them as people and listening to them. I think instead of tough love.
Meg: So good. Okay, what’s your guilty pleasure? late night snack food? I know you don’t stay up too late.
Lesley: I don’t like snack food. Wine. Yeah, that’s probably it. To be totally honest. I’m actually not a late night snacker. But I am a late night whiner. And by late night, I mean eight o’clock.
Meg: Okay, what’s your go to essential oil diffuser blend?
Lesley: Okay, so I am really basic when it comes to essential oil blends. Because I just use whatever I have. And today, I was like, I’m on a big gratitude kick. So right now I’m either diffusing Gratitude, which I’m obsessed with if you use Young Living or Christmas Spirit because obviously.
Meg: Yes, I love those. Okay, what do you use year round? August creeps around and I’m like Christmas Spirit.
Lesley: Love it. Love it. The orange like helps me be defensive to use it year round. I’m like there’s orange in it. So you can use it for your happy, right only.
Meg: Okay, where can people find you and follow along?
Lesley: So I blog at LesleyWGraham.com. And then I’m on Instagram at the same name. So I have the same handle anywhere. So wherever you are, I will be there. LesleyWGraham.
Meg: Well, thank you so much. This has been amazing. And I just hope the moms listening feel empowered with whatever schooling decision or daycare or whatever it is like that. They just feel like okay, I did the right thing. You know?
Lesley: Oh, absolutely. I hope I think that any mom that’s doing anything is winning, because we sort of do what works for us and it’s always different and mine changes constantly. So, yes. Okay, thank you so much
Meg: Love chatting with you. Thank you. Okay.