Welcome to the Work-Life Flow Podcast
Welcome to the work-life flow podcast I’m your host Kerstin Kirchsteiger, scientist turned Life and Leadership Coach, mom of 2, and dirt loving mountain biker.
In this first episode, I wanted to share the reasons why I created this podcast with you.
I had always put science first in my life, until the birth of my son. It changed everything. I still wanted to finish my Post-Doc strong and worked hard. I became an expert project manager, I was extremely efficient with my time at work and planned my 2 breast milk pumping sessions around experiments. Ideally, I would have done 3 pumping sessions, but I had to walk across campus to a different building to access a lactation room and it would have taken too much time from my experiments, I thought back then. It was a tough time, I was exhausted from sleepless nights. I yearned to spend more time with my son than only mornings, evenings and the weekend.When my Post-Doc ended I became a stay-at-home mom. I went “all in”. At first I really enjoyed it, but after having had my second child I was struggling. Always taking care of somebody else, the extreme isolation, it was weighing heavily on me.
Sit back and relax while the kids get ready on their own! With my 4 Must-Have Checklists for Your Kids (So they feel empowered and you feel calm)
And then, just like that, my daughter got a bit older, just enough to not need me that much anymore. (around age 2) And I began to realize that I’d lost myself over the years. I’d lived my life in survival mode and on autopilot way too long.
I was ready to have adult conversations again that went past the playground small talk. But where to start?
I was not the same person anymore. I had to dig deep and find my passion, something that would light me up. The moment I realized that, I started to implement small changes.
My first step was to start with self-care. For me that meant going to Yoga and riding my mountain bike. Then the guilt struck again. So I tried to combine my self-care activities with an income and became an Instructor for both. It started out great, but working on weekends and evenings was not a long-term solution for our family.
Back to the drawing board of my life. I wanted to make an impact, doing meaningful work. I learned more skills, I tried new things. I decided to deep dive into my passion and became an Emotional Intelligence coach. The puzzle pieces slowly started to come together. And, I took the leap and started my own business, on my own terms with goals that would align with our family vision.
What I’ve learned through my training and my experience, is that once you stop “doing it all”, and start asking for what you need you will feel empowered. You will find yourself again.
Does my family have it all figured out yet? No, the kids grow and change, our needs as adults change and with it come new challenges. But I know, with the tools that I have learned we'll figure this out as a family.
And I want the same for you. I want to take you on this journey to finding yourself and making your family vision a reality.
I want to help you find your work-life balance so that you can accomplish your professional goals, reach financial independence, and enjoy a fulfilling family life.
This podcast came to life with the power of story in mind. If motherhood has told me anything, it is that we all have our own stories. I learned in prenatal yoga how powerful it is to listen to someone’s story. Through sharing moments of pain, of fear or joy we can feel connected. We rediscover that we are all woven from the same cloth, our humanity is what unites us. For that reason, I’ll have lots of guests to share their story and wisdom.
The more conversations I had with moms, the more their struggles with integrating work and family became apparent. I could relate, because I have lived both struggles, having been a working mom with my first child and a SAHM with my second. All I can say is, motherhood in our current society is hard, especially the first 2 years.
It just seemed that in neither situation I had the support I needed. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “it takes a village to raise a child”, only problem, we don’t have these villages anymore.
And then there is the struggle with feeling like we should have it all together. Weren’t we supposed to be the generation that could have it all? Study hard, work hard, the sky’s the limit. Until you’re a mom. Then it seems you have to choose either family or a profession.
Which brings me to the second reason for this podcast. I want to raise awareness that women are still not equal. I want my kids to know that I am not ok with the status quo and that I want to bring change.
I have some mind boggling numbers for you: In science 40% of women drop out of the career path once they have kids. As of today a woman earns 81ct to the dollar a man earns for the equivalent work. I volunteered for AWIS-San Diego for a few years, and our “back-to-work” initiative of women who had Gaps in their curriculum, tried to start collaborations with companies to offer internships to these women who sought to resume their career. And it was almost impossible for them to get an internship, let alone a job.
A SAHM completes tasks that average 2.5 jobs, without pay or contribution to pension.
An article in Forbes, this May reported that 60% of unemployed were women, because of being the main caretakers, and just last week another report came out that with the “back-to-school” season a second wave of women (1 million to be exact) has dropped out of the workforce, for the same reason. The article also states that even in 2 parent families, women provide 70 percent of childcare during working hours.
What does it have to do with work-life balance? you might think.
I am sharing these numbers to bring awareness to the current situation mothers are facing. This pandemic brought these systemic problems front and center. Our work-life boundaries got blurry. It became apparent that the compartmentalization of work and life, just like school and learning, is not really working.
On LinkedIn posts of kids interrupting meetings were published. Parents sharing their struggles with distance learning while having to work, brought the role of “daycare” that schools were playing in many parent’s lives to light.
So many of us, who pre-pandemic had wished to work remotely some days but company policy had us clock in at the office daily, suddenly were required to work from home.
The other day, my kids and I were listening to a Radiolab episode (the Octomom episode, in case you wanted to know) while driving home from a play date, and suddenly, in the middle of the story you could hear kids playing in the background, the host, Jed Abumrad excused himself, opened the door and asked his kids to play a bit more quietly.
But you know what I think is amazing about this? He chose to not edit this out of the podcast.
It comes to show that we as a society are growing towards acceptance. We parents are not ok to shove work and life in two separate compartments anymore. Both are part of our lives.
While the change the pandemic brought so suddenly, is difficult to navigate, it could be the catalyst to lasting change. Now that everything came undone, it is upon us to redefine our values and reimagine our lives, our culture and society at large. I think we need to keep making our suffering visible, by sharing our stories, by voicing our needs and just like the racial justice movement needs the support of White people to be heard and seen. We may need the help of our partners, or men in general to work towards equality for women. Let’s seize the moment together and ASK for what we need to our partners, our managers/leaders, our representatives.
I want to close this episode out with an inspiring quote by the recently deceased Ruth Bader Gunsberg
"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."
In this spirit, I want this to be a space of empowerment and possibility. I believe that we have the power to change society for the better. I believe that change starts within. I invite you to listen, to start questioning your beliefs, to stop running the hamster wheel and to imagine what work-life flow could look like for you! If this resonates with you, make sure to subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and share with your friends! Let’s create our village together!
What we’re talking about...
- The journey motherhood has taken me on.
- That through sharing our stories we can connect more deeply
- How mom guilt seems to get in our way of making self-care a priority
- That women are still not being paid the same for the equivalent work
- Why fighting for equality for women is important within and outside the home
- How to view this pandemic as the catalyst to change for a better tomorrow
- A call to speak up, and voice your needs to your partner, manager and representatives
- That it is on us to create the society of tomorrow and build our villages.