Amy Fraser is the founder of OKREAL, a source of wisdom and inspiration both online and offline for women. We’re proud to partner with Amy to bring her thoughts, inspiration and advice to our Aerie fam. 

What are the most valuable tools you use as a mom? 

More tools from Amy: 

  • One of my greatest parenting tools is a sense of humor. There are SO MANY TIMES when laughter is the only thing that helps. He will sneeze with a mouth full of scrambled eggs all over my only clean shirt, poop on the carpet, have a full-blown, back-arching tantrum in the supermarket aisle. We’ve all been there. If you can, try on the rule of “laughter is my reaction.’”
  • Control is an illusion! Be prepared to cope when things don’t go as planned. Refer to note on laughter! 
  • Make joy a goal. Pick one thing a day that you find joy in. Write it down. 
  • Be selective about how you spend your spare time. Do you really need to fulfill that obligation or would you feel better if you spent that time reading, napping, working, staring at the wall? You are already looking after another human being and perhaps your partner as well. Any spare time you have should be used intentionally, with purpose, on looking after yourself. 

What lessons have you learned? 

More lessons from Amy: 

  • “Everything is a phase.” The most repeated, most annoying-to-hear-at-the-time but also most true piece of advice I have heard since becoming a mother. Helpful to remember when gritting your teeth through the sleepless nights and also during times that you want to savor. 
  • I will always be able to create work. But I can never create more time with my child at certain times of his life. I remind myself of this when I feel guilty for not paying my career enough attention. 
  • Your children will become your biggest teachers. They will constantly make you reassess who you are because they’re constantly changing. 
  • You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. Work hard on setting, then keeping boundaries. What is important for you to maintain within for yourself, for your family? 
  • One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to let go of my expectations of what motherhood looks like. I let motherhood teach me what it needs to when it needs to, as opposed to setting up a structure that it needs to fit into. 

How do you balance being a mom with having a career? 

  • For the first 6 months of my son’s life, I tried to kid myself that I could work part time. I ended up feeling constantly frustrated and thinking about work when I was with him. As soon as I was honest with myself about needing—and wanting—to work full time, I was able to enjoy time with my son so much more, and take the weekends completely off. It also allows me to take a half day if I need to or pick him up from daycare early when I feel like it. If you’re a working mother, what is your ideal split between parenting and work? Are you being honest with yourself? 
  • One thing I know for sure is that life is seasonal. Sometimes work will be crazy busy and I’ll miss downtime with my baby. I ride it out. Sometimes work will be quiet but instead of stressing about it, I’ll enjoy the extra time with my partner and son. I’m getting better at trusting life to happen to me without having to white-knuckle the steering wheel. I used to focus so much on dictating a certain outcome. Now I just love as hard as I can and trust it will come back to me. 
  • Be open to the fact that there will be an inherent shift in your level of productivity, particularly if you’re an overachiever type who is used to ticking everything off your list! Since becoming a mother, my to-do list just gets longer and longer. Every day I make the choice to work as hard as I can, then accept what doesn’t get done. 
  • I love the Cheryl Strayed quote “You don’t have a career, you have a life.” It reminds me that all of my decisions should serve my life as a whole, and that all of the good things in my life feed into one another. 

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