as told by Bradi Nathan
BN: What did you do before you had children?
||Julie Potischman is Butterfly’s Resident Licensed Psychotherapist and she is also, you guessed it, a working mom. Julie has a private practice in Roseland NJ and 15 plus years of working with children, adolescents, adults, families and couples. Julie spends most days listening to her clients. Now the tables are turned as we ask the questions and do the listening.
JP: I was in private practice and the Director of a mental health agency.
How did your own schedule change after you started a family?
JP: I didn’t want to work full time anymore so I focused more on my private practice where I could make my own schedule.
BN: How do you personally juggle career and family?
JP: Some days better than others. I went back to work knowing that there would be many nights when I wouldn’t be home to put my kids to bed. So, I work hard at showing and telling my kids how much I miss them and love them while teaching them that my work is an important part of my life and that they will be OK in my absence. I also take great pleasure in weekends and value family time. Lastly, everyday I try to do something for myself that makes me happy, even if it’s simply watching TV or looking through a magazine.
BN: Was it imperative to have your husband's support?
JP: Absolutely imperative. I couldn’t do it without my husband’s support. I don’t want to be married to someone who doesn’t support my dreams and my values. Also, I not only need my husband’s emotional support, but I need him physically to step in when I can’t and to be available for the kids.
BN: Why is it important for women to do something for themselves other than just for their family?
JP: Not everyone was born to be “just” a mother or a wife. Interacting with adults, getting away from the kids, having something to talk about and think about outside of your children, and taking time for self… all important things. I also feel that it is extremely important to teach your children that although they mean the world to you, they are NOT your whole world, life outside of the home does exist.
BN: How can women find the courage to return to work after having stayed home to raise their children?
JP: Talk it out with whoever will listen, THEN, feel the fear and do it anyway. Think about the lessons we try to teach our children. Wouldn’t we want our children to try to be brave? If we ask that of our children than the least we can do is model it. Remind yourself how good it will feel to look at yourself in the mirror each night, knowing what you accomplished. And, remember that the things we are the most scared of, are the things we are the most proud of once mastered.
BN: What advice do you have for women who seem to be procrastinating or just "talking" about expanding their role as stay at home mom?
JP: Talking is the first step, so I first I would say, “good for you for talking about it”. Then I would say. “Make a wish list.” In one column write the name of the job/position you fantasize about. In the next column, write down the name of a person you may know who does that job or works in that field. Next step is to talk to those people and anyone/everyone else about it. You never know what will come up once you get the word out that you are interested. I would also advise them to think outside of the box when making that wish list. A job doesn’t have to be a paying job. Sometimes just volunteering somewhere is enough for moms to feel important again.
BN: Many women resent their husbands for being able to interact with adults during the day? How can women handle resentment?
JP: Tough question! I think the best way to handle the resentment is to talk about it with your husband. First, admit the resentment is there, than talk it out. Try to remember that we all make choices and if we resent the situations we are in, then we have the power to change it. So, if adult interaction is what’s needed to help reduce the resentment, then go seek it. It could take the shape of joining a book club, playing cards, going out with friends, setting up more play dates with moms you like, going to gym or by getting a job.
BN: What can moms do to manage stress and anxiety associated with trying to balance it all?
JP: Breathe, breathe, and breathe. The first thing I tell my clients/moms to do when they come into my office is to sit down and to take a deep breath. They ALL come in so busy and stressed out. I teach my moms that it is OK to let it all go and to stop for a minute. It always surprises me how hard it is for them to stop and take time for themselves. May it be in my office or somewhere else, stop and take a deep breath as often as you can. Also, make sure you try to spend each day doing something for yourself, even for a minute. Watch TV, work out, clean, for those that find that relaxing, have a glass of wine, hug your children, snuggle with your husband; anything that you find relaxing or enjoyable. Don’t underestimate life, recognize that there will always be something that needs to be cleaned, addressed or followed up with, and life will always be busy, so make time for you. Make YOU a priority!!!!!
BN: How can women overcome the guilt associated with leaving their children to go to work each day?
JP: The expression “it takes a village,” is so true when it comes to raising children. I can’t even begin to tell you how many moms I hear who say they don’t work because they don’t have help and although the in-laws, for example, have offered, they say they won’t leave their kids with their mother-in-laws, or sometimes even their husband and, that they don’t trust these people with their children. My advice to them is always the same. Your mother-in law raised the man that you love enough to marry and have children with, so they obviously did something right. And although they, meaning your mother-in-law, your own mother, husband and/or babysitter may not be YOU, or do things exactly like you, you need to trust other people, get over yourself and allow your children to bond and learn from someone other than you. Guilt is a real feeling, but not a helpful one when it comes to raising a child and or taking care of your own needs.
Whenever I’m feeling guilty about something, I remind myself to take a deep breath and trust whomever I chose to leave my kids with and that it is GOOD for me and my children to trust other people, learn from other people, see things differently and to know and trust that mommy is ALWAYS coming home.
BN: Additional thoughts/advice??
JP: Parenting is an extremely difficult thing and we all need as much support as we can get. My advice is, don’t bury your head in the sand. Don’t be a martyr and try to do everything on your own. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and don’t ever be scared or embarrassed to ask for help. And remember, a working mom maybe a happier mom.
Talk with Julie
Visit her website: juliepotischman.com
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