You’re doing a great job, mama: How to ditch working mom self-doubt today

You wouldn’t criticize your best friend for overlooking an email when she’s preoccupied by a sick little one, right?

You’re doing a great job, mama: How to ditch working mom self-doubt today

In this age of having-it-all and parenting blogs, it seems like every other minute we working moms are confronted with a message that makes us feel that pang of “I worry I’m not fill-in-the-blank enough.”

In my work helping businesswomen develop confidence in their authentic leadership style, I've learned a few no-fail strategies to help conquer self-doubt that you can start right now:

1. Get grounded in your sense of self

Our brains are wired to scan the environment for threats. Moments that threaten the self tend to hinge on feelings of rejection—worry that we will bomb an interview, make a mistake in front of a group, open up to someone about our parenting choices and have them judged.

Try this: Write out a list of your values (kindness, creativity, hard work, etc). Then pick three that are absolutely core to who you are—you wouldn't be you without them. Set a timer for 10 minutes, then write about one of them, why it's important to you and how it has served you well in life.

When you're reminded that you like who you are, you are less likely to worry what other people think about you. This allows you to own the present moment with ease and grace. This exercise is especially helpful going into situations that cause anxiety such as an interview, presentation or parent-teacher conference.

2. Ask the real experts how you’re doing

You are brilliant. But when it comes to evaluating how you're doing at work and as a mom, you are probably way off. Leadership assessment expert Rob Kaiser compared how male and female leaders’ self-ratings compared to how their coworkers rated them on a performance assessment and found that women rated themselves twice as harshly as their colleagues (and their male counterparts). In my experience, we do the same thing as moms when we beat ourselves up over small things—when, in reality, our kids are perfectly happy, healthy and thriving.

Try this: Ask four to six people who know your work well, such as your boss, peers and direct reports, for feedback on your strengths. The question is simple: "In an effort to be the very best employee/boss/etc. that I can be, I’d like to get feedback on my strengths. When you have a few minutes, please write down a few strengths of mine, and if you remember a particular time when I was at my best by exhibiting that strength, please share that, too."

Ask the same of people who know you and your parenting well. Note who counts as an expert: your spouse, your best friend, your child if they're old enough. Not on the list: Google (ahem). Also, when your child's teacher or pediatrician says they're doing well, that means YOU'RE doing well, mama.

3. S.T.O.P. and ask yourself: What’s really going on?

To succeed in the workplace, you’ve likely mastered “soft skills” such as compassion, empathy and the ability to show appreciation. But how do you do when it comes to the way you talk to and treat yourself?

Imagine this scenario: Your husband opens the cabinet to grab a coffee mug and finds a melted heap of what once was a pint of ice cream on the shelf. You think, “I am such an idiot!” (Yes, that is an oddly specific example—it also happens to be autobiographical).

Try this: Stop. Take a breath in, count to five, hold for one beat at the top and then breathe out for the count of five.

Observe what is really going on. When you were putting away the ice cream, were you also cleaning up the kitchen, packing lunches, talking to your husband about his day and responding to client emails? If so, what was really going on is that you were doing a lot of things at once and you accidentally put ice cream in the cabinet.

Proceed with compassion. Reframe the situation as if it were happening to someone else you care about. What would you say if your best friend called herself an idiot because her husband found melted ice cream in the cabinet? You would say, “You’re not an idiot! You were taking care of your husband, kids, house and clients!”

By investing the time in knowing how well you really are doing and getting back in touch with what makes you a great person, the next time the voice of self-doubt starts in with you, you can flip the script on her and say: “I may not be perfect, but I AM smart, I work hard, and I am good at my job. And I am a great mom.”

And that, my fellow working moms, makes you amazing.

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In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall 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 outside-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.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden 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.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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.


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


    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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