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Thriving as a Mom

A Personal Chat with My Sister Amy

Hey goal achievers! Kristin here, and I’m so excited because we celebrated the Elite Achievement podcast one-year anniversary this month. With 30 episodes in, I realize that I’ve shared glimpses of who I am outside of business. But I’ve dedicated most episodes and interviews to growing a business, excelling in business, or achieving your business goals. 

Talking about business is easier for me. There are elements that are predictable, schedules are welcomed, results are celebrated, and expectations are common. Relationships can be far less predictable and often emotional. Having a thriving mother-daughter relationship is extremely important to me, and I set family goals in addition to my business goals this year. So, I decided to dedicate this episode to excelling in those relationship goals.

I got personal and talked about being a mom. There is no one I would have rather had this conversation with than my sister. Amy Hoelscher is my younger sister, and she is the mother that I look up to most. From my perspective, she crushes it as a mom. Amy is married to her high school sweetheart, Matt. They’ve been married for seven years, and they’ve been together for 14 years. They have two boys, Otto, three and a half, and Owen, who is eight months old. They also have a fur baby Bailey. Amy works in the franchise industry for the health and wellness company, Massage Lux. She has worked for this brand for over a decade, so it’s clear she is committed to her relationships and her work. 

I start by welcoming Amy, who admits she is both honored and nervous. I understand because I still get nervous, even 30 episodes in, as I show up on a microphone and talk to my guests. But I’m confident that once we get chatting, it’s just going to be like sisters hanging out in our closets and having a conversation. So, I start with something that will be a little bit of fun and ask Amy what it was like growing up with me as her big sister.

Kristin Burke – Goal Achievement Coach and Big Sister

“Where do I begin?” says Amy. “First of all, you’re my big sister. So, I think your job was to pick on me or make fun of me, or you know, say that I belonged in a zoo on my first birthday when the parents were recording it. It was your job – that’s what you were there to do. Now bypass hitting me with a hairbrush now and then or picking on me, or me stealing your clothes and putting stains on them, you were my best friend! You always have been, and you always will be, and I could count on you for anything. Whether it was needing a little pick me up or someone to teach me how to do something. When I needed a new shirt to wear? Heck, I could just raid your closet and it was there. So, when you moved out, I was quite sad because I had an extra world that just disappeared. And you are so trustworthy. I can always count on you to just be there, whether you would answer your phone or respond to a text message. Or call mom because I put something on my Myspace page about Fergie encoding a song. You were doing your job as a big sister; you were there to protect me, take care of me. So, I thank you for that. I can always count on you.”

I’m glad that there were moments of joy. As a big sister, it was difficult. I remember growing up it felt like we were so many years apart – almost eight full years. But now that we’ve grown up, and we’re both married, and focused on growing professionally and personally, and we’re both mamas, we have so much more in common. I’m very grateful to have Amy as my sister. I’m also really thankful to look up to her as a mom. So, I’m curious and ask if she always wanted to be a mom.

Did You Always Want to be a Mom?

A Little Bit of Backstory on Amy and I’s Childhood

That’s a hard question,” says Amy. “But the answer is absolutely, yes. It’s kind of funny that you asked me that because I saw this quote today on Instagram. It said ‘Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you ever imagined.’ So as you know, our parents divorced when I was three, we had mom’s house and dad’s house. I personally didn’t see that family life together because our parents were divorced, and mom and dad went their separate ways. They were trying to figure out life and navigate things without each other by their sides. Dad started working all the time. He became an engineer on the railroad with tons of crazy hours. So, we saw him maybe every other weekend. But he was really focused on his career at that time. Mom went a different direction as she was trying to deal with her emotions and the new normal as a single parent. During that time, it was just lots of rockiness. It wasn’t a good household to be in. And we lived through lots of hardships and lots of arguments.”

As Amy talks about going through all of this, I see that I was a bit older when our parents divorced, and I had a different experience with mom. When I was younger, she was my best buddy. I remember we did all kinds of things together. We would go shopping and spend time playing games. And I remember a very, very different childhood, but then it changed for me as I got older. I learned through that that I needed to have a lot of armor. I learned confrontation was bad. I learned getting vulnerable often led to getting hurt. So, I’ve had to do a ton of work, and I continue to have to do a ton of work. And for me, I wasn’t as confident about if I wanted to be a mom. I think I knew deep down I wanted to, I wrote my graduate thesis on women and work-life balance, but it wasn’t as clear and confident as a ‘yes’ for me. As she thinks about being a mom, I ask Amy what her definition of a good mom is.

What It Means to be a ‘Good’ Mom

“Again, another hard question,” Amy replies. “Everyone has a different belief of what a good mom is, and everyone is allowed to have that. You know, I think the thing about being a mom is that no one has made a book that says this is how you should be – this is how you do this and that. But my definition of being a good mom is someone who is always there for their child, someone who always puts their child first. I’m not saying that my relationship with my husband doesn’t come first, or my relationship with myself doesn’t come first, but my job as a mom is to be there for my kids 24/7, to give them a snack for the 500th time in a day. Or maybe wipe their booty now and then, change a diaper, nurse or feed them, you know, whatever it may be. My children are my number one priority from eight to seven, whenever they go down. Even when they are at the sitter, knowing that they’re taken care of, in good hands, knowing that they’re getting somewhat good nutrition, even from goldfish or fruit snacks. They’re fed; that’s what matters in their lives. Also, being their support, motivator, and biggest cheerleader in life, pushing them out of their comfort zone and challenging them every day. I know that’s kind of a long, drawn out version of what I think a good mom is, and most days, I question myself. But I think it’s ultimately knowing that my children come first, and that’s where I am confident that I know I am a good mother. I’m there for them whenever they need me.

Amy mentioned that she defines being a good mom as always being there and putting her children first, and talked about self-care and her husband. I ask her how she manages all the different priorities on a daily basis.

Time Management and Avoiding the Comparison Trap

As a Parent, Partner, and Professional

“I struggle on a daily basis,” says Amy. “My time with my husband is when the kids go to bed. He works a little bit later at night. So, I pick the kids up from the sitter and make dinner. I do bath and bedtime, the routine, yada, yada, yada. Then I maybe get 30 minutes to an hour to myself. That’s when I typically ride my Peloton or play on Instagram, or just sit down on my bed and breathe for five minutes. But you know, my husband is my support system, and we are raising these boys together. So, communication is key. If we’re not communicating with each other, how are we supposed to know what’s going on in the world with our boys? So, when he gets home, we just talk, communicate, and spend time with each other. Do we go out on date nights as much as we should? No, probably not. But we give each other a kiss in front of our kids so that they see that mom and dad love each other. We say ‘I love you’ to each other or hold hands in public, so our boys are experiencing that, and they can see that. And Matt is teaching them you should always compliment Mommy, tell her how pretty she looks.”

What I think is important about Amy’s description of parenting and growing their family, is that it feels right for her and her husband. That’s something that I think so many of us struggle with because comparison is real. And especially as she talked about sometimes scrolling social media, I have to catch myself and remember not to compare the way I’m showing up as a mom or showing up in business to how someone else does. I’m curious if Amy finds herself comparing herself to other moms, and what she does with those emotions that it can bring up.

Amy agrees and confirms how hard it is in this day and age to avoid comparison. “Social media is dangerous for that. When I had Otto three and a half years ago, or even when I was pregnant with him, people just come at you with advice. They throw it all at you, and you’re like, holy cow. Is this really how it’s going to be? After I had Otto, I realized I had to figure things out on my own. And I could go to the internet to look for advice, that’s what it was there for. But just strictly advice. I needed to figure out what worked for me, and Matt and I needed to figure out what worked for us together, without comparing what this couple was doing with their family. Comparison is huge with everything, even with the bags you carry and the car you drive. But if you’re happy at the end of the day, that’s what matters. And if your family is happy, that’s what matters. If you guys have smiles on your faces and you guys are making it work, that’s what matters. Basically, when I go to the internet, I take it as advice, like a grain of salt. I take it as a learning experience, and how can I do better, or maybe I could be doing this better. You have to figure out your kid and what works for them and your family and what works for you. So, I can’t say that I don’t compare myself all the time, because I do. But when I start comparing myself, maybe I just lay off with that person’s social media page for a while, because it’s not healthy for me to sit there and wonder or think I wish I had this, or I wish I had that because I have a lot to be grateful for. And when I compare, I stop losing focus on what I’m thankful for and start wishing I had things different. Which I think kind of stops me and gives me a reality check.”

I notice when I go into comparison mode, I’m not present. I’m spending too much time ruminating in the past or projecting forward and creating anxiety about the future. One of the strategies that has helped me compare less is taking a day or two off from social media each week. I use social media for business, so I think it’s a great way to connect and build a brand. And of course, here I go talking about business, but the comparison is real. I love how Amy has that perspective of shifting back to gratitude and thinking of what she is grateful for versus going down that comparison road, which usually doesn’t make anyone feel good. 

I ask Amy to share more about challenging days as a mama with two littles, working outside of the home and how to handle it all.

“I try to remove myself from the situation. Because if I’m feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, that vibe is pushing back on my kids. Even though I’m upset or having a bad day, and they were having a great day, my mood reflects off of them just like anywhere else you go. If you have a server who has had a bad day at a restaurant, you can totally sense that vibe, and you’re like, whoa, what happened to them? So, when I get home and I have a bad day, or the days are challenging and I’m frustrated with my kids, and I’ve said no five times already and they’re going to ask me the same question again, I take a deep breath. Sometimes I lock myself in the closet even just to remove myself from the situation. I have also found that working out helps relieve some stress. Talking about it. My son Otto is definitely more emotion-driven, and he will talk about his emotions and say when things hurt his feelings, and then of course, I get upset because I hurt his feelings. But I try to remove myself from the situation before I get too frustrated because if not, what’s that doing for them? Now granted, I think kids should see different emotions and should see you feeling upset and vulnerable, frustrated, confident, whatever it may be. It’s good for them to see and to hear why you’re feeling that way. But not everything works for Otto, a three and a half-year-old, so I try to remove myself from the situation before I get too frustrated because ultimately, pushing off my frustration to them isn’t going to help the situation.”

I know when I get frustrated, sometimes I will then create a lot of mom guilt for myself. I ask Amy if she feels that too and what her triggers are that bring on the mom guilt?


How to Turn Mom Guilt into an Opportunity for Gratitude 

I feel mom guilt every day,” Amy exclaims. “Whether it may be in the morning when I go to work, or after I put them to bed at night. I’m like, man I miss them, or even looking at pictures or staring at the monitor my husband’s like, they’re fine. But I just have that guilt of, did I spend enough time with them during the day? Did I teach them anything? Did I help them in a situation? Was I the best mom that I could possibly be today? I think mom guilt is huge. And again, I feel it every day, sometimes maybe just for a small second. Sometimes, I feel it a little bit longer. But I feel the guilt is a good thing because it’s showing you that you are a good mom because you care. Having that guilt reminds you of how important your children are to you and how thankful I am to have two beautiful kids, healthy kids as well. So you know, definitely, I feel mom guilt more times than I would like to admit. But I think that that’s normal. And it reminds me that I am a good mom because of it.”

I have found it an opportunity to check in with myself and ask why I feel guilty. And how do I want to move forward from here? As I mentioned, a lot of my mom guilt gets triggered if I get frustrated and I yell at Scarlett. That allows me to pause and think, wait a minute, I have a right to feel frustration. But I need to work on how I communicate and how it comes out. So, ensuring it’s being communicated in a way that she can receive it, versus being communicated in a way that intensifies the situation or creates arguments. So, it could be an opportunity to pause and ask yourself, what is triggering this? And how do I want to move forward? Or how do I want to show up differently because of this guilt that I’m feeling?

“Absolutely,” agrees Amy. “And I think that that’s another good reason why you’re a good mom, is because you’re teaching them something, you know? Use that situation to teach them because children are sponges – they absorb so much. And they love learning. So, if they can take something from that situation and keep it with them for the rest of their lives, that’s great.”

Amy mentioned that she sometimes feels guilt in the morning, and I’m hoping she can talk more about returning to work after maternity leave. I know she has done it now twice, and I have several clients who’ve just had their first baby, and they’re coming back to the office, or they’re getting ready to come back to the office, so I ask Amy what recommendations she has for adjusting to a new normal as a working mom.

Routine Can Help You Thrive as a New Working Mom

“Well, first of all, congrats to them because new babies are one of the greatest things in life,” says Amy. “And work and being a mom is one of the hardest things, although personally, work makes me a better mom. Because I can value the time that I have with my children. I know that I am with them at this time of day, and I don’t have anything else to worry about. We spend time doing fun stuff on the weekend instead of trying to relax from the week because I’ve been dealing with them all week long. But my biggest advice is routine. Children thrive off of routine, so talk to them, communicate with the kids. Obviously, it’s a little easier when the kids get older and they start to understand things. But that first week back was hard. I was nursing, so I had a pump at work. I had to figure out my pumping schedule. Then, I had to figure out how to bring the milk home and how I would pick them up from daycare. Whether it’s setting the clothes out the night before and picking a time you’re going to wake up in the morning or what time you need to be out the door, routine is key for me. Even at the end of the night when we come home, I unpack my lunchbox and unpack my milk, and then I get dinner ready and we play, and then it’s bedtime and books. Kids kind of get into that routine – they thrive off of that, and they know what’s coming next. So that’s my biggest advice is routine, stay strong, and know that it does get easier. The second time going back to work, it was so much easier because I knew what to expect when going back to work. And I had childcare where I trusted the lady to watch our children because she had watched Otto since he was five months old. So, I had trust that Owen was going to be taken care of the way that I would take care of him, you know, and obviously no one is like mom, no one is going to do things the way that mom does. But someone who is equivalent, or who could care for my child like I would is important.”

I’m hearing Amy say routine is essential, and having childcare can be really helpful. But I’m also hearing Amy say that her days are long – waking up in the morning, putting in a full day at work, and then coming home, and there’s after-hours work. I ask if she is ever exhausted. 

“All the time,” Amy confirms. “If the kids go to grandma and grandpa’s or something, I’m like, what am I doing with my life? I don’t have someone asking me for something. But it’s something that I know is a stage of my life. And I know it’s a stage that I’m going to miss. They say the days are long, but the years are short. And that is so accurate. Because I swear I blink and Otto was just a newborn. Now he’s starting preschool and can get himself dressed. He can pick out his clothes. I’m like, no, you were just a baby! Soaking in the moments is so important because they go by faster than you think they do. You don’t realize how fast they go until you’re in the moment and you’re like, holy cow. Just cherish those moments forever because you’ll never get that day back.”

It does go really fast. I cannot believe I have a seven-year-old who’s going to be starting second grade. It’s bananas how fast it goes. But some days are really tough and really long, and I ask Amy what those days have taught her about herself and as a mom.

“Ah, this might be the hardest question that you’ve asked me,” she replies. “Confidently, I am a great mother. I am a fantastic mother. But I have very low patience sometimes. So, I’ve learned that my children have bad days and that’s okay. Just like we all do. We all have bad days where we deserve to be emotional during that time. I have to remember that when my children are emotional or need that extra attention, they’re not perfect. No one is, and sometimes they just need some extra mom love. But I have learned I am a very good mother, and my children mean the world to me, and I will always put them first, and I want to put them first. I want them to be successful and to do what makes them happy in life. Because ultimately, that’s what makes me happy. So, I’m a great mom, have very low patience, and thrive off of routines. And who cares about snacks! Just give them the snacks because it’s what the kids want.”

We have so many snacks in the Burke household. I think Scarlett lives for snacks. She will eat a tiny bit of dinner, and then it’s all about the snacks!

“Snacks are way better than dinner,” adds Amy. “I mean, why not? Snacks are 20 times better than dinner for sure – hands down. I’ve seen you eat a couple of bites of broccoli, and then you’re going to have those goldfish. You know, life is just too short. That’s something else that I’ve learned is that life is way too short.”

It sure is. I think it’s brilliant that Amy has pointed out that children can have bad days. I’ve caught myself having way too high (shocking, I know) expectations, and not allowing Scarlett to go through the same emotions that I go through. She has a right to be tired and frustrated, upset and angry, and all the things we feel as adults. I sometimes forget that. That’s a great reminder.

“And we think that they don’t have that for some reason, they aren’t allowed to have those days or aren’t allowed to have those moments,” says Amy. “I love my husband because he’s the one that reminds me of, he’s just having a day or, maybe he just needed something else. He’s not perfect, and things aren’t the same every single day for them. That’s where my routine thrives and where if something goes out of that routine, I’m like, well, that can’t happen. But being flexible with that routine teaches him something that’s good too. It’s okay to stray away from that routine from time to time. Kids aren’t perfect. And we aren’t either.”

We for sure are not. So, of course, I have to bring the conversation around to goals and ask Amy what she is focused on achieving this year.

Goals, Goals, Goals! & Being a ‘Yes’ Mom

“So, I have lots of goals,” Amy begins. “One in particular you actually kind of brought up the other day. It was being more of a ‘yes’ mom. And I got to thinking, I say no more times than I would like to admit. You know, whether it may be because I don’t want to clean up the extra mess from the kinetic stand. Or maybe he has one too many monster trucks out. Or he wants me to play this game with him. Or he wants me to watch this for the 20th time that day. Why do I say no all the time to him? Why? Is it because I don’t want to look at the thing for the 21st time he’s showing me, or is it because I don’t want to clean up the kinetic stand? But why am I saying no to him? What would hurt me by saying yes to him? Now obviously, just like you said, you know – oh, can I have Skittles for dinner? That’s something different. But instead of saying no, I could say how about you eat your mac and cheese and broccoli first, and then you can have Skittles for dessert? It’s not saying no directly, but you’re saying it in a different way. That is one thing that really stuck with me. And it’s one thing that I’m like, gosh, I need to work on because I feel like he hears no all the time from me. I need to keep it in a way where he’s not going to get whatever he wants all the time, but it doesn’t have to be no.”

Amy and I were talking about this offline before we recorded our podcast episode. But I realized it too. I say no all the time. It’s almost an automatic response. I think sometimes it comes out because I have so many other thoughts bouncing around in my brain. I’m thinking about business and this priority and this goal. I realized I don’t always listen to the full request. It’s a no because it’s interrupting my thought pattern. I was grateful to have time away from my routine on vacation because it became very apparent. The number of times I was saying no, and I’m very focused on saying yes when I can say yes, so say yes when it makes sense. It’s not going to hurt someone. It’s not going to be unhealthy. I’m looking for those opportunities to say yes, so we can be on that journey together and hold one another accountable to more yeses. Because, of course, I need a system to track my yeses.

I ask Amy as our conversation comes to a close where people can learn more about her parenting style and philosophies, or connect with her in general. She suggests her Instagram, @alhoelscher. There she posts lots of what her boys are doing, what they’re eating, and even what their chickens are doing around the farm. 

With that goal achievers, I want to remind you about the power of writing down your goals. Whether you are focused on growing your business, growing yourself, or growing as a mama, you have a huge opportunity to get super clear on what you want and why you want it. Assess your level of confidence in going after your goal. To help you with that, I have created a breakout plan that you can access for free here on my website. It’s designed to help you organize your thoughts so you can continue to pursue progress in the direction of your goals!