Becoming A Balanced Working Mama with Dr. Amber Thornton
Some will say balance isn’t real. That being an excellent wife, working mom, and homemaker is outside of your reach. This is so far from the truth. In this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast, I chat with Dr. Amber Thornton who is wife, mama, licensed psychologist, and motherhood wellness consultant who shares why she believes balance is within your reach. If you struggle with boundaries, prioritizing your wellness, or guilt and anxiety, this episode is just what you need. Come learn what it takes to get started on your path of becoming a balanced working mama!
Someone will say balance isn't real and that being an excellent wife or working mom and homemaker is outside of your reach. This is so far from the truth. And on this episode of the Routine and Things Podcast I chat with Dr. Amber Thornton, who is a wife, mama, licensed psychologist, and motherhood wellness consultant who shares she believes balance is within your reach. If you struggle with boundaries, prioritizing your wellness, or guilt and anxiety This episode is just what you need. Come learn what it takes to get started on your path of becoming a balanced working mama.
Ashley Brown 0:51
Hey and welcome back to the podcast. Hey girl. Okay, so you clicked on this and it says becoming a balanced working mama so I'm assuming that you are working mama and when I say working I don't care if that stay at home mom work from home mom work outside the home mom, chillin like a villain mama. We are all working. We are all working. And I have the pleasure of chatting with Amber. Dr. Amber Thornton. She is a licensed psychologist and Motherhood Wellness Consultant. And she is the owner and founder of Balanced Working Mama, where her mission is to completely change the narrative of what is possible for working mothers by helping them better balance work, motherhood and wellness. I love this mission. It is so much in alignment with what we do here at Routine and Things and I love chatting with Amber because we are going to be talking about some things here that are going to help you to become a balanced working mama. And if you are fearful that balance is not real. Keep listening because we are here to show you and to share with you why this is so far from the truth. Balance has become synonymous with impossible, I think is the way that we are looking at it and this is what me and Amber talk about on this episode. And it is just some good girl chat that will help you to reflect on how you've been thinking about balance. Help you to put into action balance in your life and will help to get you on a path to actually living your happiest life. Right. That's the point of you being here today is to always stay in alignment with what you value and love the heck out of your life. So let's go ahead and get into today's episode with Dr. Amber Thornton.
Ashley Brown 2:49
Hey, Amber, thank you for being here. So just to get started. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Dr. Amber Thornton 2:58
Okay, so hey, Ashley, I am so so so happy to be here. I love what you do. So I am a clinical psychologist and a motherhood Wellness Consultant. I'm the founder of balanced working mama where our mission is really to help working mothers to better balance work motherhood and wellness. And one way that we do that is to help them to think about balance but redefining for themselves and also redefine their own motherhood experience. So it's been a dop journey doing that. I love working with moms, especially Millennial Moms. Just helping them balance things and find more joy in motherhood. But also I'm a mom myself. I have 20 month old. This month. Yes. Okay. Yeah, he'll be 20 months this month. And I'm also expecting a little girl in April. So we stay busy around here living in DC area with my husband. So yeah, we've got a lot of fun things that we do in the household.
Ashley Brown 3:56
Yeah, girl. Yes, I do. Especially with a new baby. I love that you're having a girl that's gonna be really fun. First of all, when you when you say you have a boy, you're having a girl like that's balanced right there. Like you got a little bit of both, the best of both worlds, which I absolutely adore. Because as you know, I only have two girls. And I'm like, it'll be interesting to see if I added a boy to the mix. I'll probably be like, why did you do this actually, but anyway. So I love that and I love your mission for Balanced Working Mama and just wanting to help moms get you know, get to a point where they do feel as if they are living a balanced life. But one thing that I feel like I have started to just recognize in our world as being like Millennial Moms is many people are trying to stray away from that word balance. That's what I've seen and like so many people are like, no balance isn't real. And no, it's all about harmony. And they're trying to use these other words which essentially still goes back to balance in my opinion. But what are your thoughts on that? Do you feel like balance really does not exist for the mom?
Dr. Amber Thornton 5:08
I'm so glad you brought that up. Because that I've noticed that same thing. I first started to notice it actually on clubhouse, that new app that everybody's going crazy about. And so I started to get on there and like just, you know, pop into some of the moms spaces. And one day there was this room and all the moms voted to just get rid of the word balance. And I was terrified, because I was like, Well, wait a minute. And so I don't reject the idea of balance, I actually do believe that there's balance. But the thing that makes a balanced working mama different is that what we do is we redefine balance. That's the main thing is that I think many of us as especially millennial women, we saw our moms, be super women and do all the things and not everyone. But I would say the majority of us that was our experience. And so we then grew up became women became mothers with that, that experience of our mothers, but then also the societal expectations of we also now have all these new opportunities, you know, women are blooming out here, pre pandemic, that's a whole other issue. And so we assume that balance means showing up in all of those spaces, in our full capacity. And so, you know, what I do with balance is I redefine it. And we'll talk about that probably later. But we redefine balance. And so I guess what I would say is the way that we think about balance is not necessarily how people who want to reject balance, think about it. And I just I want to introduce this new idea of balance to more women so that they can and say extend embrace it a little bit more.
Ashley Brown 6:49
Yeah, no, that's beautiful to hear. Because I agree with you. Like I do feel like there is there can be balance, especially once you redefine it, like for sure. Especially redefining it for yourself, because I feel like balance is going to look different from mom to mom, right woman to woman. It's just like how I think about routines where it's like, you have to define routines for yourself. People have this thought about routines that they're really rigid, and they are very boring, but it's like, no, if you define them for you, then it can be a whole different ballgame and a different narrative. So I truly agree with that. So let's go back to and I don't know if this was the case for you. I know for me specifically, it was one part of my life where balance, I was like, what balance? Things were super crazy, especially during my time of being a stay at home mom in the beginning. Was it any point in your life where you were extremely off balance at all?
Dr. Amber Thornton 7:56
That's a great question. And I would say, to be honest, when I think about the course of my life, I think that a big part of my motherhood experience has been doing a lot of pre work before I became a mom. And so I would probably say I was a little off balance before I became a mom. But that's what how I knew like, okay, something's got to change. Like, I got to redefine this, I got to do some things differently. If I do want to become a mother, because I know for me, and you probably know this about me too. I'm extremely driven. I'm very, I'm a go getter. I love to do things, I love to create things, nobody's going to stop me with any of the things I want to do. And so at one point, I was just like, well, I just don't want to be a mom, because I feel like that'll get in the way. And so I think for me, that was one air one moment of my life when I was in grad school, when I was you know, just going through school becoming a licensed psychologist, I probably was a bit off balance, because I wasn't living fully in all the other capacities of me, it was very much focused on my career, which is still a big part of me. But I realized that I can have all these other parts to and be even more fulfilled and even more satisfied. So I had to do the work of figuring out okay, well, how do I manage this a little bit differently so that I can fit motherhood into my experience. And that was just really needed for me to do?
Ashley Brown 9:28
Yeah, no, I love that you said that and just give that experience. You were very proactive before you became a mom and you were preparing yourself to enter into motherhood which, of course, that is not the narrative for many of us, you know, some of us are thrown into it. And it's like, now I gotta try to figure out what is this all about? And I love that you also speak to having to, you know, figure out you and like, really dig into who you are, who you are fully during that time as well. I think that's something that is so important. And I'm on that journey now of trying to really love Ashley for fully who I am, no matter what anybody else has to say. And I think that that also allows for, like the capacity to actually enter into balance and really feel like you can handle the things are coming to you when you know truly who you are. So that's, that's really beautiful to hear. So let's talk about this then, because you're here to help us become balanced working moms. And I love that because I'm like, girl, give me all of the juice, let me know. I know, for me, I specifically talk about routines to do that. And I know some of the things that you talked about really highlight what I talked about here on the podcast, but what are some tips that you could share, some things that you can share to help us in becoming balanced working moms?
Dr. Amber Thornton 10:58
Yep. So this is my favorite topic so everybody get ready. So with the way that I teach mamas how to become balanced, working mamas is really a framework that I love to teach. And, of course, we can go through a lot all of it today. But I want to pick three of them that I think are really helpful. And this is also how we start to redefine what balance looks like it basically is taking these things, and then telling yourself, okay, hey, when I have these things, that means that I have balance. And so the first one that I think is so important, and it's actually the first one that we always talk about is bold and firm boundaries. If we don't have strong, bold, firm boundaries, we will notice that people will run all over us, our children will, we won't be able to say no, we won't do the things that make us feel good. Because we'll feel guilty. We have to have boundaries in all areas of our life when it comes to our work, our motherhood experience our children, our families, our friends, even with ourselves. And sometimes I tell people your boundaries have to be so bold and so firm that they scare you sometimes. And it's just true, you know, and I think that's the thing, you know, sometimes we have soft boundaries, but then we don't enforce them. And then they don't work. They really need to be very bold, and very, very, very, very firm.
Ashley Brown 12:20
Oh, I love that. I love that, boundaries. First of all boundaries. I just did a podcast episode on this, about how boundaries are so beautiful. I got real strong boundaries and husband gets mad at me. And I'm like, I don't care. Like I have really strong boundaries to the point where my mom is even like now you know, Ashley, her boundaries? I'm like, yeah. Anyway, so and I love that you say we have like the boundaries are for us as well, because we have to have boundaries with our own selves, right? What are you willing to do versus where where's the cut off? That is super important. And yeah, boundaries are so, so beautiful. Like you said those bold boundaries. So please listen to Amber, because she knows what she's talking about. Having boundaries, I do feel like is definitely the first step in having more balanced in life for sure.
Dr. Amber Thornton 13:13
Absolutely, absolutely. And I will say the second one that I always talk about a lot is always prioritizing our wellness. And so this is so important. Because, you know, there are a lot of moms that I've worked with who have told me, you know, once I became a wife, once I became a mom, my wellness or my health started to fall further further in the back. And it just became easy for it to be that way. You know, it was because it was just like, our wellness was a afterthought. And no one thought about it. And so then they realized they were at a point where that couldn't eat anymore, because they were starting to notice it come up in their physical bodies or their emotional health and it it just wasn't okay. And so part of having balanced meaning means always prioritizing your wellness. And so that's not selfish, that's not doing a disservice to your family, it's actually doing a great service to your family. Because when you prioritize your wellness, your family benefits, your children benefit, your children need to see you happy, healthy and whole, as opposed to you trying to self sacrifice, do all these things to make them happy, all the while they're seeing you crumble, that's not okay. So we always have to prioritize our wellness. And I always tell people that there are different realms of wellness too. You know, wellness comes in the form of our social support our physical health, our mental health, or even how we feel about our work and careers. You know, if you're not satisfied in your working career, that's the that's part of your wellness. And so really taking a moment to think about that reflectable mat and think about Okay, well what are the next steps so I can start to feel good. We really need to prioritize our wellness at all times. Yeah,
Ashley Brown 14:53
Yeah, no, I definitely agree with you. That was the first routine I started when I was a stay at home mom and things were crazy was a self care routine because I knew that in order to pour into my home, I had to pour into myself first and foremost. And I had to have my head in the game and be able to care for myself. And in a way that actually rejuvenated me and helped me to stay on track with what I need to do in my life, and just in my home and everything. So I definitely agree. Do you have any examples of ways that you prioritize your wellness. I see you on Instagram all the time, y'all should definitely go follow Amber. And she'll give that information later. But I see all the time you work out in the morning? And I know that's one way that you do. Is it any other ways that you prioritize your wellness?
Dr. Amber Thornton 15:41
Oh, my gosh, there's so many. And it's sometimes when people ask me that it's hard to think of them because they're just so ingrained into my life. It's like I'm always prioritizing my wellness. And sometimes my husband makes fun of me, it's a joke. He's like, uh there goes Amber again thinking about herself and I'm like yes I am thinking about myself, because if I don't, who am I gonna be? What's gonna happen? So, I know for me, my morning routine is huge. And like you said, working out in the morning is definitely part of that. Another way that I prioritize my wellness is, I always make sure that I give myself enough time to just get myself together before I supply anybody else's need. And so that looks different for everyone. But for me, that means I wake up early, and it's part of me to be able to do my wellness stuff, but also just to get my head in the game. Because I know if I wake up the same time as my children, it's hard. It's hard, I can't go into the day like that. So doing that, for me, it is for me, or even just making sure that I go to bed at a decent time. People who know me know I go to bed early nine o'clock every night. I'm like, Alright, life's out. Let's go upstairs is tired. But doing that, for me, that's a way that I prioritize my sleep. So I make sure that actually gets sleep. I'm trying to think other ways, breakfast is a big thing for me. If I don't eat breakfast, I don't feel good. And so it doesn't matter what we're doing or what needs to happen in the home. Everybody knows amber has to have her oatmeal. We can't go anywhere until I have my oatmeal or at least I can bring it with me like I have to have it. There's no such thing as well, I'm just gonna skip breakfast today. That doesn't work for me. So just little things like that. And I think it goes back to the boundaries. I said, really firm boundaries around those things. Because I know, if I don't prioritize these things, I'm not going to be good for myself for anyone else.
Ashley Brown 17:37
I love that. I love that. Thank you for those examples. Oatmeal, like I'm the type I can skip breakfast. But I know some people can't go hungry in the morning. But I love that. What about this? What about for I know that you talk about prioritizing wellness, which I think is so beautiful, but I can hear some moms saying to me, well, Ashley I feel a little bit guilty when I care for myself. So what do you do about that?
Dr. Amber Thornton 18:04
So that's actually our next tip. Because I would say that if we cannot learn how to effectively manage our guilt and anxiety, when it comes to being a mom, then we also don't have any balance. And so typically what I say to that is we as mothers will always, not always I don't want to say that we at some point will feel guilt about something throughout our motherhood experience. And the thing that I always say is when you feel guilt, it's designed to make you feel as if you've done something wrong, but 95% of the time you have not 95% of the time you're actually doing the right thing you're doing the best thing is just that it's for you in that moment. And so that's the rub is that women are socialized to be nurturers and to always think about other people first. And so when we don't do that we feel guilty. But what we're learning and what even what we're talking about today is that it's okay for us to think about ourselves first. It's okay for us to prioritize our needs our wellness, because that makes us better and it makes our families better. But we're going to feel guilty. And so I encourage mamas to when they feel that guilt, to actually talk back to it and just to be very firm and say, Hey, I feel some guilt right now. It doesn't feel good. I wish I want to make it go away. But guess what? I'm doing the right thing. I'm taking care of me right now. I'm prioritizing my need. And I know this is good for me and when it's good for me, it's good for my family. So I'm doing the right thing. And the way to eventually learn how to manage or carry the guilt a little bit more is to always proceed with the action that you are going to do. Because sometimes when we feel guilt, we're just like, Okay, well, I'm just not going to do that thing. But no, because guilt wins. So when you have to win by actually doing the thing, if you want it to go, go get your nails done, and then the baby starts crying Do you feel guilty? Go, leave, go. Because whoever you've left the baby with, baby's gonna be fine baby's gonna stop crying in like five minutes, it's gonna be fine. But if you decide, hey, I'm just gonna stay, that guilt grows and grows and grows the next time. So we have to learn how to better manage our guilt and our anxiety. Anxiety does that to us too, as moms in order to have balance.
Ashley Brown 20:22
Oh my gosh, you have said some stuff right there. I love that. Because when you talk about that guilt grows if you don't do that thing, I mean, that's one thing that I know that I struggled with with my first child, especially by the second, I was like, nah, girl, you bet you're gonna be good. But the first one especially, I was like, No, I can't leave my baby. I can't leave her with somebody. But then it got to a point where I was like, well, if I don't leave this child, I'm gonna crack the freak up. I need to leave just to get some time. So I love that you're like, just proceed with what you are going to do. Oh my gosh, like, if you're listening to this, please, like, just proceed, the guilt is going to come up at times. But just keep going because it will start to, you know, get less and less and less or the more that you proceed with what you wanted to do in the first place. I love that. Amber, thank you so much for those tips and those pieces of advice to help us in becoming, you know, balanced working mamas, I think that is so important for us to think about those values. Are there any other? Is there any other thing you want to share with women who might be struggling right now. Moms who might be struggling to actually find that balance in their lives? Is there anything you may want to share with them?
Dr. Amber Thornton 21:52
Yeah, I will. You know, the last thing I guess I would share is just how important support and community really are. Because I think, and you've probably seen this too, what I've noticed is that there are so many moms who are struggling. But they're not reaching out to anyone, they're not asking for help. They might feel ashamed or discouraged to mention it or to talk about it. But it's okay to reach out to people who can help you. It is okay to admit that things are not always going so well. It's also okay to actually get help from a professional. And I think that's something that I really want to reiterate too, especially as women and as mothers. Society leads us to believe that when we become moms, we're just born with it, and you become a mom, and then all these secrets are downloaded into your system. And then you just know how to do everything. And that is not true. And so if you need some help, it is okay to work with a coach work with a wellness consultant, it is okay to work with a therapist. It's okay to go get that book on parenting, like whatever it is that you need, get the help get the education, get the coaching the therapy, whatever it is because this is a really long, hard road called motherhood. But it doesn't have to be as hard when we have support and when we have community.
Ashley Brown 23:13
Yes, yes to community. Get you a community you know, y'all are listening to this. So you're already a part of the Routine and Things Community. But now you can become a part of the Balance Working Mama community as well. And before we wrap up this Amber, I would love to know which routine are you currently working on right now or are you loving?
Dr. Amber Thornton 23:38
I am actually working to firm up my my rest and relaxation. And so I guess that would fall into my routine of... I don't know what this routine will be called but basically, I'm really working on my habits around making sure that I'm shutting my phone off at the end of the night, that I'm giving myself breaks throughout the day. Because again, like I say, y'all I love Balanced Working Mama, I show up 100%. But then sometimes I'm like, oh, wait, I gotta stop. And so I'm really working on just being more bold and firm about that. And so one routine I'm really working on is, and I was good at it but I fell off. I'm getting back when I use the app, I have an iPhone. And so I use the thing where it like turns all your apps off at a certain time. So that's a part of my bedtime routine right now is I make sure that at nine o'clock, all those apps go off, I can't use my phone. And so then I put it on my nightstand where I don't do anything with it. And so instead of actually laying in bed and looking at my phone, instead I am getting my journal, writing out my thoughts, writing out some affirmations, some goals that I have and then getting into bed and so that's one thing I'm really working on with my bedtime routine. Just kind of implementing that again, because I fell off a little bit and it's helping, I noticed that even though I'm in bed by nine, or like 915 ish, my phone keeps me up longer. Like, it'll keep me up for like, 45 minutes to an hour more, and then I go asleep. But when I put my phone away, bring out my journal, do some writing. I could be asleep by 930. So it's helped me a lot this week, and I'm looking forward to continuing to work on that.
Ashley Brown 25:29
Yes, I love it. I love my bedtime routine, as y'all probably know. So, I love that you are, you know, strengthening yours a little bit more as well. Okay, Amber. So well, first of all, you gave us a whole bunch of knowledge. And I know people are like, where can I find more from this woman? So I would love for you to share where the listeners can learn more from you?
Dr. Amber Thornton 25:53
Yeah, so I'm always on Instagram. Like all the time, @Dr. Amber Thornton. But we also have an Instagram page for Balanced Working Mama @ balancedworkingmama. So hang out with us there on the Instagram pages. Also, we have the website balancedworkingmama.com. But then I also have a podcast as well called The Balanced Working Mama Podcast. So basically, wherever you are, if you type in balanced working mom, you'll probably be able to find us.
Ashley Brown 26:26
And her podcast is so good as well as just everything she shares, I love following Amber on Instagram. So please go follow her. And thank you Amber for today. I really appreciate you coming on.
Unknown Speaker 26:41
Thank you. This was a pleasure. I enjoyed it so much.
Ashley Brown 26:44
I mean talking to amber is like talking to a friend. So much wealth of knowledge. I love her talking about boundaries, wellness, management of guilt and anxiety, all the things that we can sometimes struggle with as a mama, right. And so take what she shared here, take it, take what stood out to you and apply what was shared with you today. What's the point of it if we're just going to take and sit on the information. Apply this in your life today. If you're looking to become a balanced working mama put what was shared today into action. And I want to make sure that you know yet again how you can stay in touch with Amber and that is by following her on Instagram at Dr Amber Thornton or at balancedworkingmama. And you can check out her website balanced workingmama.com. She has a retreat coming up in March which is going to be amazing and lovely. And so if that is something that you are interested in, please be sure to follow along with Amber because she has so much more to share. So that's it for today's episode. Be sure to tag me on Instagram at routineandthings if you thoroughly enjoyed this episode today. And if you did, I would love to hear. Alrighty continue to enjoy wherever you are right now, shatever you're doing, stay happy mama, and I will talk to you later.
Ashley Brown 28:19
[Outro] Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, take a screenshot and share it on social, I would love to know you're listening. And for tools to help you start, maintain and enjoy your routines be sure to head to routineandthings.com. Here's to staying happy.