Notes and Mentions
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Tina: Hey everyone, I'm Tina,
Serena: and I'm Serena,
and we are the mental health mamas.
Tina: Welcome to no need to explain. We are so glad you're here.
Serena: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Tina: We come to you not as mental health professionals
or experts in the field, but rather as parents would lived experience
who are on a mission to normalize the conversation
around mental health.
Serena: If you or someone you love is experiencing
a mental health crisis, please seek professional support.
You'll find a variety of resources on our website
and in our show notes. You can reach our website at noneedtoexplainpodcast.com.
Tina: In preparing for this episode, I read countless articles and research about overwhelmed moms, and just to clarify many of these
were about moms and not other caregivers, not dads in particular.
Moms tend to take on more and was even more true during the pandemic, and some of the articles address that very thing; the dynamics in the household. And we all know that taking on more and more can lead to extreme overwhelm. In one of these articles from MD Live in May of 2022, and I quote, ?In a national survey of more than 2,000 moms, more than one in three or about 33% feel stressed or overwhelmed by their responsibilities as a mom, at least five days a week. More than two thirds of moms, about 70%, admit to holding back their feelings and not telling their partner or family when they are stressed. And nearly two thirds, 61% feel that they have no one to turn to or to confide in for help.
Serena: Yeah, I would say we've definitely, you and I, I felt it, you felt it, especially in the last few years. And we have a guest today who can totally relate as well. She is the mom of 10, and yes, that's correct, 10,
Tina: one zero,
Serena: Yes one zero, and has created a solution for parents.
It is called mama systems. And before we jump into that, Laura Hernandez, welcome to the podcast.
Laura: Thank you so much. I'm really glad to be here, guys.
Tina: We are happy to have you. So tell our listeners a little bit about your life and how you came to start this kind of support.
Laura: Yeah, so it all started back in 2014 in a six-month period.
We went from four kids to eight kids. And it was a little overwhelming,
I'm sure you can believe. We had just moved across the country
to adopt a sibling group of three, and we had just had our fifth biological child. And so we had, I mean, in that six months,
we got four new kids, and we moved across the country,
we're living in a rent house, we're renovating a house,
and then for a good two months, we had their little sibling as well.
And so at times, we had six, four, and under all in diapers.
And it was just a lot.
Whatever, however you're feeling right now hearing that,
that's how I felt constantly. And I really, I would give myself pep talks
just to get to the end of the day, and I'd be like, if I can just make it to bed, and they're all in bed and in their cribs, and they're safe and alive,
we're like rocking it. Like that was my goal for a huge day.
And not that there's anything wrong with keeping the children alive,
it just wasn't how I wanted to be showing up as a mom every day.
You know, I had goals and plans and wanted to be intentional with my kiddos, and I was not able to do that because of just the complete overwhelm of his feeling. And so I really had to sit down,
you know, nobody had anything for us, no books or podcasts or anything, had anything for our unique family. And we were fostering,
so we had caseworkers in and out of our home. We, our three little buddies were special needs. And so we had therapists in and out of our home all day. So they were just all these nuances for our family
that nobody else was experiencing. And so I finally was again,
I just got to figure this out on my own. And that process that I kind of walked myself through to create systems that brought peace
and intention to our home life is now the same thing that I get to help other moms through because I can so easily relate to that feeling of overwhelm. And I know how lonely it is and how desperate you feel for something to work, for something to change so that you can have
a little bit of space to breathe. I wanted to be able to give that to other moms, which is why I started momma systems.
Serena: Yeah, so I just want to highlight the idea
that, you know, not only do you have 10 kids,
but they are, you know, you were fostering
some of special needs, all that.
And I, you know, from my experience of fostering,
it's a very different kind of,
I don't want to say weight,
but in terms of the stress around it,
maybe you mentioned that, you know, the caseworkers
and out of the house, it's a very different parenting
Laura: It really is.
I mean, there were several times where I would just cry and cry,
because I was like, they're going to take them away.
Like, what I'm doing, if we don't do it exactly how they want us to do it,
and they had a lot of, I mean, a lot of restrictions on us
because we were such a large family and because we had so many young ones, like kids couldn't bathe together. They couldn't, we had to have ratios of adults to kids at all times, like intact. And so if they came by and a babysitter was sick, then I'm like, they're going to take the kids away. We're like, it was just so stressful at all times. And even after the adoption was final, it was still, I think that we have a lot because our kids are adopted at a foster care and they have a lot of trauma
and they have special needs, I feel like we just have a lot of red flags on us anyway. And so people are very inclined to tell us their thoughts and feelings about our family and how we're doing things, you know?
Tina: That's true of most families truly. Outsiders have lots of opinions. And I agree with you and I kind of experience fostering with Serena, I walked beside her. And the idea is, gosh, you know, I'm glad there weren't people in my home when I was raised in my kids because seriously, it's a higher standard for sure. Yeah, so it's a different standard for standard for sure.
Serena: Different standard, yeah.
Laura: Yeah, and it's basically, I mean, I know this is not what we're talking about today, but the whole thing is basically on whoever is in your home, it's on their opinion. It's not like a hard and fast rule.
So for example, I, one of our three was having these rages that were so big and really scary to me as a mom. And so I called and reached out for help and instead of helping somebody called CPS and the CPS worker came over and I was like, I'm trying to get help from my kid.
I don't know what to do here. And everything that I told her, she had an opinion about. And I was like, is she really, like I was still nursing my two year old at the time. And she was like, you're still nursing him?
Are you sure you should be doing that? And like, she just had opinions about everything. And everything she said, I was like, oh my gosh,
she's gonna take away all of my children because of that. I'm gonna take away my children because she disagrees with my parenting.
And it's, I mean, it is frightening how much fear they can put in you just from their opinion. You know?
Serena: Yeah, yeah. Well, so clearly we could do an entire episode on that, but as you say, that's not why we asked you here. So I want to shift us back to Mama System. So what is it? Tell us more about it.
Laura: Yeah, so it's a coaching business. So I coach momma's one-on-one and then offer classes and courses and stuff too.
And I get to work with each momma and help them create unique systems for their family because I realized that I was in a very unique circumstance. But every mom is in a very unique circumstance.
Like nobody else has your story, your kids, your attitude, your personality, your energy levels. Like we're all just so different.
And I feel like every book out there, every everything out there is so geared towards one type of person. And even in those types of people,
there's so many different unique circumstances. And so if I'm looking to somebody else to try to fix my family or bring order to my family
or just create more routine and life-giviness in my family, it's not, I mean, maybe I obviously can use my brain and tweak those things,
but it's not customized for my family, right? And so getting to help mama's do that has just been so much fun, because it feels like a puzzle that we're getting to solve together and really trying to figure out what is gonna give her life what really is gonna work for her
and what's gonna bring a peace to her home.
Tina: So let's get down to it and really talk about some real examples of how you might work with moms so you go in, you assess, you talk with them about what their needs are. And I'm just curious like, what comes next? How do you develop these systems to work?
Give us some examples.
Laura: Yeah, so I do everything virtually. So I'm rarely in a home, kind of doing these systems, but our first step is always to assess.
So I think that often as mom, as we are living such reactionary lives, that we're not even aware of what's draining us and what gives us life
and what we've been neglecting to do for years, you know?
I think that very early on, like in, I like to call it my rock bottom
in that timeframe of just feeling so overwhelmed.
I really realized, hey, there's some things that I really feel like I should be doing with my kids and I could say that this is the most important thing like building character and we are people of faith
and so scripture memory is really important.
And I would say those are the two most important things.
And yet I wasn't doing a lick of it. And so everything in our lives, you wouldn't know that those were the two most important things.
And so I think it's really important to assess kind of our family values, what we hold to dear, what we wanna see in our kids, what,
what we really are spending our time on, what we're enforcing to them
and getting it all out on the table. It's as if we are dumping all of the pieces out, right? And then from there, those things that are draining you as a mama, if we can get some of those off your plate altogether, that's amazing. We're gonna eliminate it. So we'll work on saying no to different things, figuring out what we need to say no to, getting rid of stuff and drawing boundaries with hard relationships. And then we automate and delegate the rest of the things that we can't get rid of,
because some things you're just gonna have to do. So let's say it's dishes. How can we either delegate those out to people in your home or automate it so that it's easier for you to remember and it takes less brain power for you.
Serena: Yeah, I love the idea of really sort of focusing on the values and what you, what do you want to be happening in your family rather than living in that state of survival, which it sounds like, what was going on with you and I've certainly been there myself. So tell us about some successes that you've seen in families. It could be yours or others that you've worked with.
Laura: Yeah, so one of my favorite emails to ever get was from one of my clients Kate who said, basically like, I feel like I'm running a home now. I like I'm managing my home and it's not running me.
And it feels purposeful. And I don't feel as chaotic and I don't feel like
I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. Because again, I think that when we wake up and there's a million things to be done,
it kind of feels like you're just staring into the Grand Canyon.
Like you don't know where to start. You don't know what you should be doing next. And so we create a plan that really helps you think
about your days and your tasks in an orderly fashion so that way you can live in them and not have your day kind of control you, you know?
Tina: Love that. So many days feel like they control me. Yeah.
So as we said, you have 10 people in your home, plus a spouse, I believe, right? So 11. So how do you find time to take good care of yourself?
Laura: Yeah, I love this question because I think self care
is so important. I mean, it's such a, I feel like it's becoming
such an overused word. I don't want us to think about it as in like
we're getting pedicures. I want us to think about it as in like nobody's coming in and taking care of you, nobody does that. Maybe you have a great husband who like looks out for you and does little things for you,
but the majority of mamas I work with don't have that. And while my husband is absolutely wonderful, he doesn't always do the best job of advocating for me, right? I've got to do that myself. And only I know what I need. And so what that looks like for me on a daily basis
is waking up before the kids and spending time out myself and reading and having my cup of coffee with no children around on a weekly basis,
having a date night with my husband on a weekly basis, having a counseling appointment with my counselor, just to process all of all of the things in our home and all of the things in my life that feel overwhelming. And then doing things on a regular basis, like meeting up with girlfriends and really carving out that time to be able to pour into this relationships and have those relationships pour into me.
And then simple things like going to the doctor and staying on top of my medicines and just the things that, oh my goodness, my body needs,
exercising in those things are so important as well. And so all of those things are things that I really, I just never wanna neglect because I know
kind of know where I will go if I'm neglecting those things.
It's not pretty. The things that come out of me aren't pretty.
Serena: I can't hear you on that. So tell our listeners where they can find you. How do they connect with you?
Laura: Yeah, so my website is mamasystems.net
and on Instagram and Facebook, I'm at mamasystems. And I would love, I would absolutely love to share a little self-care guide that I have with your audience and it kind of walks you through how to figure out what you need for self-care and how to create a plan for that and then how to advocate for it and ask for help in making that happen.
Tina: That's awesome. So Laura, is there anything we haven't asked you today that you would like to put out to the world?
Laura: Yeah, I love my number one tip for mamas is always to try to listen to that decision fatigue, right? And one of the ways, just a very simple way that you can do that is by setting alarms for yourself.
And this can be as simple as setting alarm at five o'clock or whatever time you need to go in to make dinner and having that go off just to remind you not that you need to live like such a, oh, it's 7:02,
we need to do this, but just having something else doing the thinking for you is so helpful for me because I often will forget to feed my children and not like in a, I haven't fed them in days like in a, hey, we're an hour late, it's now bedtime and oh shoot, I haven't fed them dinner yet. And so it just helps me kind of stay on top of how I want our family to function. And it's not always nagging at me. And so I just always love to encourage mamas to use alarms and reminders and use their phones and Alexa's and Google homes and all of those things to their advantage.
Tina: You know, it's so interesting. So I have a child who uses alarms.
In fact, it drives me a little crazy because the alarms go off all the time.
And I think what an awesome thing. It's not chaos for her. It is what she uses to keep her life in order, which is awesome. And Serena, it just occurred to me that I could set an alarm to go to bed every night
because that way I'm taking myself so Laura, I don't know how much you listen to our podcast but seriously, sleep for me is like, there's no choice about it. I have to get my sleep. But yeah, that takes me out of the, it's like, oh, the alarm's going off. I need to go to bed. Here it is, everyone. I'm going to bed. Anyway, all right, we'll revisit that. Laura.
Laura: I think that you?ve got to do that. I have one. I have one set for eight o'clock and I go take my melatonin and just start my bedtime process to start winding down. I think it's a brilliant idea.
Tina: Oh, good. Well, you know, I love what I have takeaways for these podcasts. It's so great. So thank you for joining us today and sharing all that you have learned with the world.
Laura: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me. I just adore y?all.
Serena: awww, thanks Laura. And so podcast friends. We are as always grateful for you, spending a little time with us today and listening.
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Tina: And this is your gentle reminder
to take good care of yourself
while you were also taking care of your people.
Serena: Thanks for listening.