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Live to work or work to live? How I put my career in perspective

Want to make work feel a little more like play, mama? We feel you.

Live to work or work to live? How I put my career in perspective

Dreams change.

Individuals

evolve. Our priorities and values change, our inner circle changes, and of


course, the world around us changes.

These

changes make it nearly impossible for our callings, passions, and purposes in

life to stay the same.

This

constant evolution is perfectly normal.

Although we need some amount of focus and a few core tenets to concentrate on,

their manifestation may not always be linear.

The idea of a career “destination” is fluid.

My

friend and I were recently having a conversation about careers and she said

something that struck a deep chord.

What

if I never have all the answers? What if I get somewhere and realize that’s

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not what I want? What if I get the dream job only to realize that my boss left

the company and the new one isn’t letting me bring my new ideas to fruition?”

There is no escape from the very real

possibility that our dream job “destination” may be fleeting. That’s what makes

it so important to live for the journey

that our careers will take us on.

The journey must come before the destination.

What

we see on someone’s LinkedIn profile, magazine cover, or Facebook page is often

missing the back story. What went into that glowing résumé or profile? Sacrifice, tears, fears, doubts, and, undoubtedly,

someone’s inner critic.

There

are no short cuts to success.

Experimentation and tinkering are fun, yet scary,

but the time will most likely come when you begin to look back rather than

continue looking forward.

There is much more inner growth to be found if we can

embrace our personal journey to fulfillment; if we can embrace the chaos and

learn to sail with it instead of racing

ahead to the end.

A "career" can be different from "work."

We

often used these terms interchangeably but they are not always the same.

For

the purpose of this conversation, I’d say a career (or job) is an activity that

you engage in as a form of vocation, for which you may be compensated with some

form of payment.

But

we do many different kinds of

work in our lives—at a job, at home, or in our community.

I have to greatly thank Pamela Slim for

introducing me to Body of Work, which, among

other things, expresses the value of making connections among our diverse set

of accomplishments.

Social circles matter.

When

trying to answer big career questions (that don’t always have one straightforward

answer), a support system is key.

In

addition to a positive circle of social support, there may still be a few

around us who think we are crazy, undecided, unfocused, unhappy, and dissatisfied.

They may do their best to continuously remind us of it.

The

important thing is to face this criticism with a smile (even if it’s just a

sarcastic emoji ☺),

receive the feedback, and stay true to what’s important.

Excessive planning isn’t always the answer.

Spreadsheets,

journals, therapists, and coaches can be part of the solution, but sometimes we

have to surrender and trust that the universe has a plan.

As

a coach once reminded me, “We are cooking a delicious stew in a crock-pot,

adding the ingredients we think will add flavor. But, we aren’t sure what the

dish is going to look and taste like!”

Sometimes, letting go of the final plan can lead to happy serendipity at work and at home.

I am a big believer that work can be

a source of meaning, inspiration and purpose. It can be more than a paycheck

and something that fulfills our soul…

…yet, I have also come to realize

that it can be more complex and nuanced than just following your passion, your

calling, or doing what you love. The internet is abound with blogs and articles

that keep giving us these messages and for many of us who may have not fully

realized that dream, we can feel as if we are failing and that so many others

have figured it out (which may not always be true).

As a working mom who practices (and teaches) mindfulness to others, here’s what I have learned about finding meaning at work—

Fulfilling work is a privilege.

Whether

you are a SAHM, a full-time office mama, or somewhere in between, it is an incredible

privilege to have the time to reflect and make choices that can make work and

life more meaningful.

There

are so many of us mothers who are in search of career or family fulfillment, still

trying to find the optimal work/life balance, or simply struggling to put food

on the table each day (either because of financial or time constraints).

Even if we are still looking for our groove, we

must try not to lose sight of the many amazing gifts we have in this life. I know I won’t.

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Work cannot solve everything.

What are our goals? For me, it’s about living a meaningful life

with work being a part of it (not the other way around).

I

may do a variety of things in a given week that feed different parts of my soul.

Work doesn’t need to satisfy all parts

of me at the same time.

In

fact, many times having more than one career may be an optimal solution for

some of us.

Although I may sometimes aspire for work to fuel

all (or at least most) of my being, setting realistic expectations can be a

huge relief.

Work and life can be integrated when we see the big picture.

Finding

work that can be fulfilling and still integrate other core life values can be difficult,

but it is incredibly important for sustained satisfaction and joy.

A

rewarding job that includes a 3 hour commute with 2 young kids may be less

appealing (for some) than a less fulfilling job that is 5 minutes away from

home that allows more time for the kids and a home-cooked dinner every night.

When

we look at a job in isolation, we don’t always see the whole picture.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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