Work Parent Thrive is one of my favorite reads of 2023. Why? It combines all the things I love- good parenting, sound advice based in research, and Acceptance and Commitment Training, something I use daily in my own life and teach in Parent Coaching and in continuing education.

 In this book, author Yael Schonbrun walks us through 12 science-backed strategies. I’d like to share those with you now.

  1. “When you’re lost, let values be your guide”

 Values are like a life’s compass. We need to know which way we want to go to determine if this path we are on is even meaningful to us. Is this all worth it? I don’t know. Which way are we supposed to be going? When I work with parents, I encourage each to stop and think about what kind of parent they want to be.

  1. “Change your working-parent mindset”

 Have you ever heard the phrase “work-family enrichment”? I hadn’t until I read this book for the first time. As the author puts it, “Work-family enrichment is the extent to which experiences in either work or family improve quality of life in the other.” Have you ever stopped to consider how your professional life experiences have helped/ continue to help you to be a better parent? What about the reverse? Have you ever considered how your parenting and family life have helped you in your professional roles?

  1. “Unhook from Unhelpful Labels”

Our brains love to label things. But as busy working parents, how are those labels working for us? Labels such as “worst mom ever” and “mom who works too much” are not super helpful, are they? Calling yourself names and labeling yourself is not unusual- we all do it- whether it’s working in our favor or not. 

  1. “Spin your Story”

What stories are you telling yourself about your current parenting/ working parent role? When we are stuck in the this is too hard story or the I’m overwhelmed story or the I must do all the things story, it affects our reaction to real-life events. The stories our minds tell us affect how we act as parents. Recognizing the stories our minds are telling us for what they are- stories is a huge first step. Looking for silver linings or something to be grateful even within that same scenario can help put a different spin on your story. 

5.” Do the Right Hard Things (The Right Way)”

In the book Work Parent Thrive, author Dr. Yael Schonbrun tells us, “Practical wisdom means knowing the best thing to do in a given circumstance, with a given person, and given your core values.” Easy enough? Just do the right thing at the right time all the time and you’ll have good times. Yeah, right. How about some practical advice to help us build our own practical wisdom?

  1. Build resilience by unhooking from unhelpful stories (like we discussed yesterday). Pause long enough to try to figure out what the challenges you are facing are capable of teaching you. And all mental health advice includes this one: practice some gratitude.
  2. Practice perspective taking. Try to see if you can see hard situations through the eyes of the others involved, whether it’s your kids at home or your co-workers at work. 
  3. Recognize that the switches from work life to home life are opportunities to pivot toward your values, no matter what just happened while you were wearing the other hat.
  1. “Rethink Your Rest”

One of my favorite parts of this chapter from Dr. Yael Schonbrun is the idea that a microrest can happen as we transition from one role to another. Going to work can be seen as a rest from parenting. Being with your family can be seen as a rest from work. Research shows that taking these breaks from work and parenting helps restore enthusiasm for the role you are transitioning back into! 

7. “Turn Constraints Into Creativity”

Working moms can rattle off all of our constraints easily- most are related to time! With all the demands on our plates every single day, where is anyone to find the time for all these positive mental health things and self-care?!

Just like transitioning between roles can be a form of a break, this time spent in the other role helps you to return with more creativity and an open mind. 

  1. “Remember to Subtract”

Productivity is a cornerstone of our culture today. Being busy and on-the-go is how moms are living. When things are hard we think we just need to do MORE. In Work Parent Thrive, Dr. Yael Schonbrun states, “Action helps us feel in more in control.” But we also have research that shows that the parenting style of doing more for kids can lead to less resilience, less independence, lower academic performance, and issues with mental health. It’s all about finding balance and letting kids learn things on their own. 

  1. Grow Connection Through the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Infuriating”

In the book Work Parent Thrive, chapter 9 is about connecting with your parenting partner. These same ideas, research, and practices could be applied to communicating in any relationship.

I especially appreciated the part of this chapter about improving communication skills. Author Yael Schonbrun states, “One of the primary challenges of communication is a conversation with two speakers and no listeners.” Oof. Was she speaking directly to me? Why does she have to call me out like that? Oh- you, too? It’s all of us.

So next time you find yourself in a conversation, pause and reflect on what the goal is here. Refine both your listening and speaking behavior based on that goal. 

  1. “Finesse Our Stress”

Raise your hand if you feel stressed as a mom these days. If your hand isn’t up, I don’t believe you. Chapter 10 of the book Work Parent Thrive is full of interesting neuroscience about how our bodies interpret stress. Author Yael Schonbrun tells us, “Social scientists draw an important distinction between interpreting a threat vs a challenge. A threat is a stressful situation that literally puts your life at risk….But our brain, with its outdated wiring, often fails to recognize this, so we err on interpreting things as more dangerous than they really are.”

Think about the stressors in your life today; right now, this moment. Is your life in danger? If not, can we reframe these things as challenges?

Stress is a part of mom life. That’s a fact. How you interpret, manage, and relate to these stressors is up to you. 

  1. “Tend to Your Happiness Needs”

In psychology, the three core needs for human happiness are defined as:

  1. Competence
  2. Connectedness
  3. Autonomy

The goal is to have experiences in each of these. That might mean pausing to reflect as to when you have already done these. 

  1. “Balance Your Pleasure and Meaning”

I love this quote from the final chapter of the book Work Parent Thrive by Yael Schonbrun: “Moving through our days at the breakneck speed required by working parenthood can easily cause us to overlook the many small, sweet, funny, proud, loving, interesting, awe-inspiring moments.”

Mindful noticing means paying attention. What are you paying attention to? Take a pause to notice these lovely moments hiding in your busy days. It can make a world of difference.


Parents- are you ready to find success with these strategies? Pick up a copy of this book today and schedule your free parent coaching call below!