Beating Mom Burnout With The Mom Room | MomCave LIVE
Jen chats LIVE about mom burnout and more with The Mom Room’s Renee Reina. Renee hosts a podcast that deals with so many of the down-and-dirty issues that moms face and nobody wants to talk about. She’s mom to a toddler, holds a Ph.D. in psychology AND does a twice-a-week podcast.
Jen: I’m Jen and I’m here with Renee from The Mom Room, one of the greatest mom podcasts ever. Hey, Renee!
Renee Reina: Hi, how’s it going?
Jen: Oh, it’s gone pretty well, considering I forgot a pediatrician appointment this morning and I wanted to be here with you, so I was like rush rush rush rush! And now I’m here, and we can just have fun and talk.
Renee Reina: Yes, exactly.
Unlikely Covid Shortages… Pumpkins??
Jen: What are you up to today?
Renee Reina: My in-laws are coming in this evening from Vancouver, so they’re going to be here for Halloween fun. I need to go find some pumpkins after this. I think my husband was saying that a lot of the places look like they’re selling out of pumpkins, so I’m going to be on a pumpkin mission.
Jen: Are the pumpkins going to be one of those things that we’re having a low supply of because of COVID? Is COVID affecting pumpkins?
Renee Reina: You know what? That’s a good question. I don’t know. Maybe we’re late buying them. But maybe there is a shortage.
Jen: We just blame COVID for everything. This was the first year I grew pumpkins and I have to tell you, it’s very satisfying. Pumpkins grow fast. And they grow huge. And it’s very magical to have pumpkins just outside your window. So next year, I’m going to plan a whole patch of pumpkins.
Renee Reina: That’s awesome.
Jen: I will give you a free pumpkin. Yes. Somebody was saying on Instagram, they’ve heard pumpkins are in short supply.
Renee Reina: Oh, wow. Interesting.
We have lots of small ones. I buy them because I see them at the grocery store and I feel like we need them. And Milo’s been painting them, but the larger ones are harder to find.
Jen: Okay, well, we may have a new business. Someone said it’s all the photographers buying them for photos shoots. Okay, blame the photographers.
Renee Reina: Yeah, totally.
Jen and Renee Talk Mom Burnout on MomCave LIVE
Renne’s Podcast, The Mom Roomm, Podcast For Moms
Jen: So, Renee, I found your podcast one day when I was going down the rabbit holes of podcasts. I don’t ever get to listen to anything by myself. You guys probably have the same experience. I only get to listen to the things I want to listen to if I’m in the car alone. Which doesn’t happen that often.
So this one day I was going on a road trip. And I’m going down and I found you because somehow I found you through Betsy Stover, from Why Mommy Drinks, whom I know in real life. And I was like, well, if Betsy likes this girl, she could be cool. So I listen to the podcast and it’s now on my road trip list. So tell a little bit about what your podcast is, about the general theme.
Renee Reina: So it’s called The Mom Room podcast, and initially, after having… I have a three-year-old son and after having him, I started a blog because there were things that I was experiencing. And I was like, “What? Like, nobody talks about this. Like, Am I the only one that feels this way? And so I would write about these different things. And once I started posting about them on social media, I quickly realized, like, No, we’re all living the same life.
I had finished my Ph.D. in March 2020. A few days later, quarantine hit. So I was trying to get into TikTok. I thought it was so fun and it kept me busy and sane through the days, like being home with Milo by myself.
So I would make TED talks about the things that I was writing about, including mom burnout and kind of make them funny and entertaining. But still, there’s like an important message. So people related to those and then I was like, I want to have conversations with experts in these areas or even like just go on rants by myself, like dove deeper into these topics. I was like, why not start a podcast? So I started the podcast in July 2020 in my closet myself.
Jen: There are great acoustics in closets.
Renee Reina: Yeah. So, that’s why I started it and I’ve been doing it ever since. There are two episodes a week. It’s a lot of work, but it’s super rewarding. And I love just getting to have conversations with people I wouldn’t normally otherwise have conversations with.
That’s what it’s all about. All kinds of things. If I’m struggling with something one week, you know, whether it be bedtime stuff or having to potty train or whatever is on my mind, that’s usually what the solo episode on Thursdays is about.
If you go back, it’s kind of like the timeline of when Milo was small, I’m talking things that are more geared towards that age. Now it’s getting into other things and marriage and relationship things. All the things that come with being a mom.
So that’s what it’s about.
Jen: That’s awesome. I’m loving it. You had something about a naturopath lately that I listened to.
Renee Reina: There was, yeah.
Jen: But one of my favorite themes that you talk about is burnout, the mom burnout. The exhaustion and the craziness that we all experience. And remind me, what is your Ph.D. in, Dr. Renee?
Renee Reina: Yeah, I like to remind my husband that I’m a doctor, as well, a doctor of philosophy. My Ph.D. was in psychology and the specialization was in psychotherapy for eating disorders. So it really didn’t have much to do with parenting.
Mom Burnout Talk
But I do have extra training in attachment in executive functioning and in defense mechanisms. So, as I kind of navigate the difficulties of motherhood, I have these tools that I’ve been trained in that I get to use to be self-aware and reflective and to try and understand what I’m feeling a certain way. “Why am I frustrated?” And so, when I piece that together and then talk about it on the podcast or on social media, people are like, “Wow, that’s how I feel. I’ve never been able to put it into works. It takes some work.” That’s one of my favorite things to do, to figure out why I feel a certain way.
Jen: And that’s obviously why you went into that line of work. I don’t want to know. I just feel like crap and I just want it not to be. But, yeah, that’s so cool.
I think a lot of us have this experience of if you’re one of the first in your mom group to have kids, so you don’t have a ton of people that have gone through this. And then the first things you see are the mommy blogs and the happy, wonderful “This is what we do and everything is so beautiful” and all the shit that makes us feel like shit. And that is very accessible. You can find that right away. Then I had the moment of my first cool mom thing that I discovered was Scary Mommy, one of her books. And I was like, “Oh my God, This woman wrote a book saying the stuff that I do, cursing, feeling totally overwhelmed and they published it and they didn’t put her in the nuthouse.”
Through that, that was sort of around when I created MomCave and met all these other moms in the same boat. So I don’t think it’s that they’re not out there. I think that it’s that first-time moms don’t know that this is out there.
Renee Reina: Yes.
Jen: And, in reality, there’s tons of it out there. As you say, you have to get past that initial gate of the “Happy, My Life is so Wonderful” mommy stuff.
Renee Reina: That was me. When I was pregnant, I was the person with the Pinterest boards. I was not following any mom creators at all. I had the Pinterest boards with “this is what the nursery is going to look like.” You know, “he’s going to wear all neutrals.”
Jen: Oh, totally.
Renee Reina: I’m not going to buy any cheesy toys.
Jen: Primary colors here.
Renee Reina: You quickly realize, as if I was so focused on those things and not how is this baby going to affect my marriage? How is this baby going to impact my day-to-day life? It’s “No, I want the nursery to be this color.” That’s what’s important.
Jen: I guess it’s a coping mechanism. If we really understood that our entire being is going to change, our entire existence, that would discourage humans from reproducing.
Renee Reina: An evolutionary thing.
Jen: “Let’s just think about nursery decor.”
Renee Reina: Exactly. Yeah. And then I had him and I was like “Oh my goodness, there are so many things to think about that are so much more important and so that just all kind of… I don’t even look at those Pinterest boards anymore.
True Mom Stories that Go Beyond Mom Burnout
Renee: I think when you are for the first time, being pregnant, that is what you’re focused on, like the pretty things and the accounts on social media that are aesthetically pleasing and beautiful family photos. But that’s not really reality. And I think once people actually get into the reality of it, they’re like “What? What?” Then it hits them much harder because they had these expectations and now those expectations are not being met. It’s much harder than they probably anticipated.
Jen: They weren’t prepared.
Everyone who is watching, we love to be interactive. So if you have a question or comment, jump in. Tell us something that you were totally surprised by.
I’ll never forget, with my first, my mom was able to fly in. I had such a long labor, I had time to call her.
Anyway, I first stood up and just felt wet. And I’m like, “Mom, there’s water all over,” and she just laughs. She says, “You’re peeing.” It didn’t occur to me. I was like, “Oh, I have no control over my body,” and it just started. I acted horrified and then I was just sort of being zombie-like. She asked, “What’s going on with you?” because I’m a loud, talkative crazy person and you think I would have been.
I said, “Mom, I think I’m traumatized. I might have PTSD from giving birth. I’m traumatized and she starts giggling. I’m like, “Nobody told me,” and she says, “Of course I did. Everyone tells you on every movie.” You see the woman screaming. Everybody tells you horrible it’s going to be. You can’t actually comprehend that until it has happened to you. So it was kind of like this weird thing of it’s not that nobody tells you, it’s that your brain just can’t process.
Renee Reina: Yeah. Also, I feel like in TV and in movies, the postpartum period is never accurately portrayed at all. It’s like the very traumatic labor and delivery, which is another thing people are so focused on for that short one day. That’s all we’re focused on, scared for. And then that goes by super quickly. And now all of a sudden, you’re in postpartum and you’re like, “Oh, no, this is the worst part. Not labor and delivery.”
Jen: Someone commented. Amy commented, “I had a very traumatic birth of my son and I’m still reeling two years later.”
Renee: I think birth trauma is a real thing and I hate when people minimize what giving birth is and they think just because everyone does it. It’s a very common attitude of “Oh, big deal, get over it.” People have really traumatic experiences that… you, we don’t look at someone who was in a car accident and think “just get over it.”
Renee Reina: Yeah, just so much different. “Oh, you should seek therapy,” or “We understand.” When a mom gives birth and goes through trauma, it’s not dealt with in the same way, and it really should be because… Then again, it’s like this expectation that giving birth should be the most magical and amazing day of your life. Then people come out of it traumatized and they’re like, “Well, what’s wrong with me? Why am I not feeling #blessed?”
Jen: Yeah, no, totally. I felt really guilty. Also, I had had a loss before my first son. So when he was born, you know, moms often burst out in tears of joy, at least in the movies, right? And I started crying, but I was actually grieving the baby that wasn’t born and felt like, “Oh my God, why am I sad and guilty in this moment where I just had my first child?”To this day I feel guilty, even though I’ve realized that was just the moment that I processed that. What isn’t to be and accepting what is? Yeah, and loving him. But it’s like that moment is not necessarily going to be that moment of joy.
Renee Reina: Yeah. Which is all you hear about and all you see. For me, it was very neutral. I went through labor, delivered him, they gave him to me, and I was kind of like, okay.
Jen: That’s out. I got that out now.
Renee Reina: So that happened. Right? It wasn’t like, “Oh my God, my baby.” I’m like that now that he’s 3 years old. At the time, it took time for me to be obsessed with him. You know, like everybody says it happens instantly as soon as you hold them. And I was just kind of like, “All right, this is my baby.”
Jen: Well, you know, in previous generations, when there was so much more infant mortality I’ve read accounts where people have been… The women would deliberately distance themselves from the infants until they were a year or two old because this one might not make it. So they were putting up this… So we’re expected to bond instantly.
And you also talk a lot about how giving birth affects your marriage or your relationship. Well, not giving birth, becoming a parent. Being a parent. Right? And that it’s kind of also like the Pinterest thing now that I think about it. Because when you’re planning your wedding, you’re about making it beautiful and looking at the magazines and all of that. But you don’t think as much about the big issues of being with this person down the road. How you change and all that. Anyway, you just made me think of that.
What We Prepare for…
Renee Reina: Yeah. Me and my friends, this is such a funny story, but this is so my friends and I, like we were all in grad school, super into researching things and understanding things. Just like nerds. We would get together all the time and watch documentaries on Netflix and eat candy. That was our dream night. I think there were like two of us engaged at this time. We didn’t want to buy the wedding magazines and start Pinterest boards about weddings. We were literally researching what getting married means legally.
Jen: That’s important. People don’t do that.
Renee Reina: It’s almost like we’re so distracted by other things that we’re not actually thinking about what does this actually mean legally? And we were looking it up. We were the biggest nerds.
Jen: Well, that’s really important. I just went to look about finances for women and it had a huge section on that. Most people don’t have a prenup. You think of that as something that’s for wealthy people in Hollywood. But actually, if you’re getting married as an adult who already has their own assets or debt, something like that is a very smart thing to think about. But we don’t think about that. We think about our wedding dress.
Renee Reina: Yeah, for sure.
Jen: So silly. So what has been your most challenging part of adjusting to parenthood as a married woman?
Renee Reina: I feel like I am so used to focusing on myself like I lived by myself for ten years and made my own schedule because I was in grad school. I was able to think “Oh, I want to go to this yoga class at 8:00 pm.” I had nothing else to worry about except for myself. And so I think that was the biggest, most difficult transition for me. Now time is so precious.
I have to be super organized with when do I do what? Like I want to start doing the Peloton every day and so I need to structure my day in a way that I can get that done while Milo’s at daycare. And trying to go away somewhere. Make plans with a friend. Of course, quarantine and the pandemic in the last two years or year and a half, however long it’s been, has made that even more difficult.
Renee Reina: Yeah. I would say that was, just like experiencing emotions that I’ve never had to deal with before. People don’t really talk about the mom burnout and internal mom rage that you can feel in those situations. I’m such a calm person but there are certain situations with Milo that I just get so worked up inside. So I like trying to navigate that and understand why I feel a certain way in difficult situations.
Your marriage changes, which you have to just kind of be okay with. This is a different time in your life. And you know it’s a temporary thing for the most part. I feel like my husband and I are just very …. We’re a good team and it’s like this is our focus right now. Our relationship kind of takes a backseat to Milo right now and that’s okay. But I think both partners have to understand that.
Jen: Mm-hmm. It’s really clear that you’re both on the same page.
A 90-year-old woman told me, when I was pregnant, that her secret to a successful marriage was that she always put her marriage before her children. And I’ve read a lot of articles that say that kind of stuff. I kind of think that’s bullshit, honestly. It’s impossible because children, especially babies, aren’t rational and they need you at that moment in a way that a rational adult is able to understand. Like, “Well, I love you and I love you so much that we created these little beings and they’re the most important thing right now.”
Renee Reina: Yeah.
Jen: When they go off to school, maybe we can have a quickie, but right now, it’s the most important thing. I think it’s hard juggling that, and if both partners are on the same page about that it would be a lot easier.
Renee Reina: Yeah. I think the struggle and the mom burnout happens when one person is not on the same page. I’m lucky that we, you know, when’s the weekend, we want to plan something we’re more focused on, like taking Milo somewhere and planning something to do as a family as opposed to we have to go have our date night. We’re not really focused on that. We’re trying to get more into that but it’s a work in progress.
Jen: He’s only 3.
Renee Reina: The pandemic, again, just made everything kind of impossible now to find a babysitter that we trust and can call for us to just go out for dinner because we don’t live near family.
Jen: We have a comment. “I log on. The first thing I hear is ‘quickie’.” I’m sorry. Well.
Renee Reina: That’s my husband watching.
Jen: Oh, that’s your husband. So that’s good. It wasn’t Renee. It was me. She is NOT talking about your sex life on the air, I promise.
Renee Reina: He should be working right now.
Jen: Yeah. What, can’t go to work? Yeah, that’s great.
So what about the division of labor? The traditional gender roles? Well, now I know your husband’s watching if you’re going to be as honest, but sorry. You know, what are your thoughts on that?
Renee Reina: This is interesting. I attribute this to how he was raised. And also he lived by himself for years and years because he was doing med school and residency. So he is very good at doing the laundry, tidying up, cleaning. He’s used to that. So we are very 50/50. I probably do more just because I’m home during the day so I can get things done. But we have our thinks. He makes sure that there’s gas in the cars and he has his things and I have my things and then all the other stuff, we kind of divide and do 50/50, I would say. We have some very not-traditional things as well because I think people are often shocked to hear that we don’t sleep in the same bed in the evenings since Milo was born.
We sleep separately because I am so high-maintenance when it comes to sleep. I’m open about this and so many people are like, “Thank you so much for sharing because we don’t sleep together either.” I can’t handle the heavy breathing. I can’t handle his alarm going off at like 5:30 in the morning. So we sleep separately. I think people are often shocked to hear that he sleeps with the monitor because he’s a professional sleeper. He has to be with his job. And he can get up with Milo, calm him down in a couple of minutes and instantly fall back asleep. I cannot. I will be up all night. So again, it’s what works for your family, right?
It’s so funny that you mention the division of labor because, in quarantine, I was home with Milo. My husband’s a physician so he was doing his regular job. I used to get so irritated when he would, on the weekend, go out and cut the grass or something. I was like “Oh, my God, I’ve been home in the house with a toddler all week.” It’s like, oh, good, you’re going to go cut the grass. It’s something productive. On paper, it looks great. I was so irritated and so I started to realize that I was irritated because now I’m again stuck in the house while he’s out doing stuff. And it could even be stuff in the house like doing the dishes, getting laundry done. And my husband was like, “You’re mad that I’m doing the dishes and getting laundry done?”
Renee Reina: Because I want to go do those things and I will say watch Milo, entertain him, whatever. And let me go do the things. So that was an interesting discovery for me. I remember in quarantine was the first time ever I had cut grass and I was like, “Oh, I am going to cut the grass. I will get sunshine. Listen to a podcast.“
Jen: So, yeah, I think I get jealous when my husband cuts the grass, sometimes, because we live on a huge property. it takes hours to cut the grass. And he has a sit-down tractor situation and he can listen to his podcast and I’m in here with the kids for hours. You know, as they get older, that part does get kind of easier.
Renee Reina: Yeah, now they’re more independent.
Jen: Not like Milo. Once you get to the point where you don’t feel like you need to be watching them every second. Mine are 6 and 11. I listen. If I hear huge wails, I’ll intervene, but other than that, the two of them will play or fight without me. And so that is helpful. But when you have a really little one just to be able to do anything alone, it’s nice to put that, like having that other part of your attention and that adrenaline always going. To leave that.
Renee Reina: It’s like house chores become a luxury.
Renee Reina: Do house chores alone? Yeah.
Jen: I think also what may be different in today’s modern world is that, throughout our relationship and our raising the kids, these things vary. They go back and forth because we all change jobs and some people are freelance and some people work more from home. It’s kind of like whoever needs to be the worker at the moment. Then the other one, and it can be for not just the moment but for five years, this person is the main breadwinner. This person’s thing. And then it changes. So now that’s been an interesting journey in our lives. We go back and forth like that.
Renee Reina: I’m waiting. One day I will be the main breadwinner. My husband’s like, “Please, please!”
Jen: Right, exactly. That’s when I would complain. When my husband was working all the time, he would be on tour. And I’d be like, “But you get to be in a hotel and watch whatever you want on TV and have quiet. He’s like, “Please, you go, I would much rather not be missing the school play. And be snuggling with the kids and putting them to bed. So the grass is always greener to some degree.
Renee Reina: I used to think that it’s funny, you say, like staying in a hotel and stuff. I used to think that about my husband’s drive to work. Like, in quarantine, he has a 25-minute drive to work, 25 minutes back. I was like, “That’s almost an hour of just sitting in the by yourself, sipping coffee, listening to a podcast. Wow.”
Jen: Yeah, I just like to think about thoughts. That’s nice. I do like that. My kids go to school half an hour away which is half an hour there and back twice a day. That’s like two hours in the car. But half of that, I’m alone.
Renee Reina: That’s exactly my situation right now. I love it. It’s like my one time in the day where I can’t do anything else because I’m driving. It’s just being still and I’m trying to think.
Jen: Totally. Well, speaking of podcasts, and being still, everybody, you have to go check out Renee’s podcast, The Mom Room. Tell them all the places they can find it.
Renee Reina: Yes. We have an Instagram account at The Mom Room Podcast and then the actual podcast is on all the platforms. Apple, Spotify, Google… I can’t even list them all.
Jen: Just google it.
Renee Reina: It should be on all the major platforms.
Jen: Check it out. I can’t believe you do two episodes a week. That’s huge. Always cool stuff to listen to.
I’m Jen from MomCave. I do this about once a week and it becomes a podcast eventually when I upload it to iTunes. So eventually this will be on iTunes depending on my children and my schedule. But thank you guys so much for listening. Please go show Renee some love and follow her on all the places.
Renee Reina: Yeah, thanks.
Jen: That was so nice talking to you. Okay, I’m signing off!