About this Episode
On this episode of The Brainy Moms podcast, Dr. Amy and Sandy talk with Leah Remillet, a balance strategist who helps women do less, but better. Join us to hear Leah’s suggestions around everything from scheduling joy and learning to say “no” to setting up systems in every part of your life. This high-energy and entertaining episode opens with Leah sharing her own story of how burnout led her to restructuring everything to prioritize her physical and mental health and how she came out the other side much, much happier!
About Leah Remillet
Leah is the host of The Balancing Busy Podcast, an international speaker, and a Balance Strategist. She helps women do less, but better. Simply put, if you’re a woman with a mission, but worry that growing your dreams means failing at home, then Leah can show you how to spread your message, make an incredible income, and do it all in less time!
Connect with Leah
Balancing Busy Podcast: http://balancing busypodcast.com
Listen or Subscribe to our Podcast
Watch this episode on YouTube
DR. AMY: Hi, smart moms and dads. Welcome to another episode of the Brainy Moms podcast brought to you today by LearningRx Brain Training Centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore. Joining me today is my co-host, Sandy Zamalis. And we are super excited to welcome our guest, Leah Remillet. Leah is the host of the Balancing Busy podcast, an international speaker and a balance strategist. She helps women do less. But better. Simply put, if you’re a woman with a mission, but worry that growing your dreams means failing at home, then Leah can show you how to spread your message, make an incredible income, and do it all in less time. Welcome, Leah.
LEAH: Thank you for having me.
SANDY: We’re so glad you’re here. I love this, um, conversation on balance cause we all need it, right? Balance is key in all of our lives. So we love to start each episode with our guests sharing their story of how they got started or interested in this, the field that they’re in. So how did you get interested in helping women find balance in their lives?
LEAH: I needed it myself. That’s the honest truth.
SANDY: That’s always the answer.
LEAH: I know, right? Right? It’s like, well, I had to fix me. And then I thought, surely I am not the only one drowning in overwhelm and exhaustion and the guilt cycle and all that. So once I got myself out of it, I was like, “Maybe I want to help others.” But I’ll explain a little more. So I started, my entrepreneurial journey as a photographer, which I think is kind of, I feel like photography is like a gateway business for a lot of moms. And that was mine. I was like, you know what, I have no reason to think that I could do this, but why not? Let’s give it a try. Because I really was missing entrepreneurship since I’d had my kids. I wanted to find something that, in my mind, would work for being able to, you know, be home with the kids, but also have something of my own. Turns out, I didn’t set myself up for that actual picture to come to pass. So, I started the business, it started growing. That was the dream. That’s amazing. That’s everything that I want. And yet, it feels horrible. Because I don’t have any systems in place. I don’t feel balanced. I’m, you know, trying to do all the things and yet I don’t feel like I’m doing any of them well enough. And so there was just all these feelings of, “I’ve got to figure out how to do this better.” And I actually, I thought that I had solved it. I stopped sleeping. So that was my answer for how I was going to get everything done. So I had three really little kids when I first started my business. And they weren’t even in school yet, so I’m taking care of them during the day, I am our full-time breadwinner, and I’m trying to create this incredible experience, make sure all my clients are happy, and I’m building this multi six-figure photography business, which is amazing. Like, it felt like every dream had come true, and yet I just felt like I was drowning all the time. My husband was in graduate school at the time. So he like lived in libraries and was always gone. And so what I started doing is I’d put the kids down to bed 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. and I’d go into my office and I would start working. It was supposed to only be a couple hours, but it was like, “Oh my gosh, no one bugs me. I can get so much done.” And I started working until about 5 a.m. I figured out I could do this three to four nights in a row where I’d work eight to five, sleep two hours, then I do one night where I got about six hours and then I’d start my cycle again. And I did this for months and months and months and months until one day I had taken the kids to the zoo. So every Wednesday, I would take the kids to one of our local, you know, either the children’s museum or the zoo or one of the different things. And, and it was like the four hours of the entire week where I felt like a good mom, because this was pre smartphones and Facebook business and all that kind of stuff, so you couldn’t really work from your phone. So it was like, I left the house and I could just be intentional and focused on them for those few hours. And we were at the zoo. We were looking at the alligators. We were in the reptile exhibit. I remember exactly where we were and I could feel, I started feeling funny. I started knowing, “Oh no,” I’m like, “everything’s closing.” And I was losing my hearing, my vision. I could feel that I was about to go down. I was trying to get us to a spot where I would, you know, knowing I’m gonna faint or blackout, something’s about to happen. And, two of them were in a double stroller. One was holding on to the stroller. And I blacked out when I came to, I was on a stretcher being put into an ambulance. And I locked eyes with my oldest, who at the time was four, and those little tiny eyes, like just these giant saucers, so terrified. She’s being left at the zoo with her baby brother and sister. Her mom is being taken away and it was that moment that I was like, “This will change or I will walk away from my business.” Which was scary because I was our breadwinner. Like, I don’t know how we’re going to pay the bills, but I’m not doing this anymore. And so I really, honestly, I have a very all-in personality and so literally they hadn’t even discharged me from the hospital and I’m already making plans for how I’m going to solve this. But that was the goal. Like, “I will figure out how to make this actually work or I will not do it anymore.” And I love business. Like I just love entrepreneurship. And so I started working at it and I started bringing my hours down from whatever that was. I mean, we’ll just be honest. I was workaholic status. I was not checking my hours. No one wants to know how much they’re working when they know they’re working too much. So whatever that was, I kept working to bring them down. I caught him down to 20 hours a week. And that’s about where I’ve been for the last 15 years, and I didn’t lose any income, like I didn’t lose a single penny of profit, I was able to just automate, systemize, outsource, just build in these different strategies that changed everything for me. And I used to speak at conferences about a lot of other things, especially in the photography world, and one specific conference, everybody’s talking afterwards, and all these women start sharing how they’re really doing, and how hard it is, and how much they’re struggling with trying to balance it all, and it was in that moment that I realized this was not a me problem. Like this wasn’t just me. This is we, this is all of us. We’re all trying to figure out how we make this all fit. And that was when I realized I have to start sharing how I’ve done this. And so that’s, that’s what I’ve been doing for, for the last, a really long time.
DR. AMY: Well, so how long were you in that cycle before you had this huge wake-up call?
LEAH: Oh, I mean, 18 months. Before I, like, absolutely, clearly, I mean, my body went on strike. My body was like, “We are done. You are an idiot.” So yeah, that was about, about 18 months of trying to, trying to do, do some version of all of that.
DR. AMY: So I find it interesting that you just said, you felt like an idiot. You called yourself an idiot.
When you talk about this whole hustle culture, right? And you advocate for women kind of breaking out of this hustle culture. So you are, you were just doing what every other career-minded woman and mom does, right? Like that doesn’t make you an idiot. That makes you just like so many others who are killing themselves.
LEAH: Yeah. I think, you know, you’re so right. And, and I tease and I say that in jest, but you’re right. We’re sold this story that success is outworking everybody else. It’s working harder and longer and faster and more. And the more and more you do, then that’s going to equal success. But what success? Like, is that even the success we want? But what I do know is that I had those inclinations. My intuition, so many different times was saying, “Leah, this isn’t worth it. This isn’t right. Like check yourself.” But I, maybe I wasn’t brave enough yet, or I just didn’t have … Maybe that’s what it was, to believe that there could be another way because I was just buying in, “Well, this is what everyone else is doing. This is how you have to do it. This is the way.” And it wasn’t until, you know, I was backed into that corner and really made that decision “If this is the only way then I won’t do it then. Then I’m saying no and I’m going to see if there’s a better way.
SANDY: I like the way you use the term systems. When you were initially telling your story, you were saying, “I don’t have any systems. I didn’t have any systems at the time that helped me.” And I do, you know, kind of along that same thought, I do think that as women, probably our biggest hurdle is one, creating systems and then two, delegating, right? Learning to delegate. I read a book last year that just maybe we’ll get back to it in this conversation. It was called, “Who, Not How.” And that just totally reframed my thinking because I’m a business owner. So, you know, I kept thinking, “Oh, I need to do this. I need, I need to do this and I need to do this.”
But when I switched it to, “Who can do this?” it totally changed my framework. So I would love to hear more about systems. What do you mean by that? Because most people think of that with like technology, but I know that it’s about creating duplicatable templates, right? For how to get things done. So explain what you mean.
LEAH: So to me, a simple, a system simply simplifies what you do repeatedly, and that could be in any realm. And that was very exciting for me to realize that I can systemize and we can talk about these different things, but I can systemize family dinner. I can systemize my customer journey. I can systemize the way that somebody receives a product or a service. I can systemize my workout routine. I mean, it’s just simply simplifying the process to be able to create duplicatable results easier. Like systems should they, first of all, they should be simple. If a system is super complicated, we’re not going to use it. We’re not going to do it. And it should, it should be easy. And so, I think what a lot of us do is when we start our businesses, our goal is a financial number, which makes perfect sense. “I’d love to have this many clients,” or “I’d love to reach this income, this income goal.” And we don’t really think about, “Well, what’s it going to feel like to get there?” So I set an income goal. I said, “Well, geez, if I could do this many sessions, have this many clients, I’d reach this much income. Wow! That would, that would be great!” But I didn’t pause and say, well, what, what do I need to put in place to be able to handle that, to be able to, to make that happen? That happens with a lot of startup businesses is they don’t actually have the systems in place to handle when they get that big break and the huge orders start coming in. And that can hurt a lot of small businesses with products, but it hurts us to even if it’s a service-based business and we don’t have those things in place. So what I actually looked at, at the very beginning, I looked at McDonald’s. Which is funny, but I started noticing and thinking about how McDonald’s can duplicate the same experience no matter where you are. Right? And I have tested this, whether I have been in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, Australia, or Seattle, Washington, like where we’re from. If I order a cheeseburger, it is the same, right? And I started wondering, like, “Okay, how do I do that?” So I studied The McDonald’s brothers and they loved to tinker. They would come up with these different inventions and kind of contraptions so that it’s like the same four dollops of mustard—it’s actually like two dollops of mustard, four dollops of ketchup—and the two pickles. Like they, they create this very systemized approach. And I remembered reading that they wanted to create it so that anybody could duplicate the result. They could hire anyone at any skillset and they could do it. And. I knew that some of what I was doing was going to be a little more complicated than anybody, but that I could look to try to create systems that other people could manage and duplicate so that I could start thinking about outsourcing and delegating and letting other people help me, which is its own very hard thing. I think especially as women, we really struggle with like, but I should do it, but I can do it. But, and, and we do this to ourselves. And, and yeah, you can. You are a capable, incredible, brilliant woman. And you know what? You can learn how. But it doesn’t mean that you should. It doesn’t mean that that is the right place for you to spend and invest your time. And the more that I started learning that and realizing that. And testing it and trying letting go of things and then realizing, “Wow, they’re way better than me” or “With enough training, they’re as good as me” or whatever it might be. I mean, many times it was like, “They’re better than me. Why did I think I was the only one?”
And, and I just, you know, let go of more and more things.
SANDY: Well, and I think the big thing too, is that what we have to learn is that it frees us up to live in our strength, right? Because if we’re bogged down in so much of the detail and day-to-day things that happen that are delegable, anyone could do them really, then what … Especially if you’re a business owner, you know, your wheelhouse needs to be on your business, not in your business. And if you’re in it, then you can’t work on it. So, yes, well, you can’t be creative. You would want to have a creative headspace because you’re just putting out fires all the time. So, you know, that book that I read was just mind blowing. And I love your message because that is just so important. It’s a skill we have to learn. It’s, it’s not one that’s ever taught to us. In fact, you don’t really ever learn it until you need it, till something drastic happens like your health or, you know, you’re having, you know, mental health issues or something’s happening that just saying, you know, “I’m done, done. I’ve got to figure out … I’m burned out. I need to figure out how to make this manageable. So that is just, I love the idea of systems. Did you come up with systems like for your work, for your home, or kind of everywhere?
LEAH: Everywhere. Everywhere. So I like, I mean truly everywhere. The way that I like to think about it is, so you have systems and then you start stacking them. So you find these different little systems that are going to take one single task that you do and it’s going to simplify it. It’s going to make it easier. A very simple version of this would be my inbox. There’s a lot of emails that we write multiple times, right? Maybe, maybe you guys are telling someone about how to find out something about the podcast, or their show is going to be coming out and you want to tell them, “Hey, your episode’s here.” There’s a million emails that we write frequently. So my auto signatures are filled. There’s only one auto signature at the rest of them are emails that I send all the time and I sit down and I craft one email and I try to really think about it, make it as great as I can and then I save it as a response. So then every single time I get somebody who’s asking if they can insert some backlinks into our blog from a post 10 years ago. I can very politely say, “No, we’re not going to do that.” Right? And so I have all of these different auto signature saved. So that’s one system. Another system is that I only check email two times a day. So that would be another system. Another one within email is that I look for the two-minute rule. If I can get it done in two minutes or less, then I respond right that second. If I can’t, I bring it back to unread and I know it’ll come at the end of the time. And then I also set a timer for about 30 minutes. I said, “I’m going to do email once in the mid-morning.” I never start with email at the beginning because your inbox is somebody else’s to do list for you. So you don’t want to start your day that way. So I always make sure I’m starting like late morning and then I do one about an hour before I’m going to be leaving or I’m going to be done working for the day. And so now when I take all of those different little systems and I stack them, now I’m able to keep my inbox super manageable where I can keep it. I mean, there’s usually about 50 emails in there at a time, right, that I need to worry about. I can go through and just, it’s all these little stackable systems. So I look at it as I’m looking for systems, I’m looking for where I could stack them. And then I see those as needle movers. And basically what I started looking for is when I first set out to get balanced, I was looking for an “Easy” button. I was like, “Hey, what is the one thing that’s going to just take care of all of this?” and I couldn’t find it and so I shifted and I said, “Okay, if I could find enough needle movers, this one gets me five minutes and 15 minutes. And oh my gosh, that one got me a whole hour!” But I put all those together, now I’m making massive progress. So that’s what I look for. I look for all of these different stackable systems and I look for them in each area. So, you know, maybe I’m like my email. Okay. I want to get better about email. And those are all the different systems I put in place. And then I look at another one that’s for my onboarding for customers. Or I look at another one where I’m looking at family dinner because I know it’s important and I want us to have it, but I never seem to have it together enough for us to actually have dinner on the table. Right?
And so that was another one where I really looked and was like, “Okay, how can I do this?” And I took about three different systems that I stacked on top of each other and now family dinner is easy. But for years, it was not because partly, some mindset stuff I was overcomplicating, like in my head. I think that’s another thing as a, maybe this is a me thing, but I think it’s a women thing. I have a tendency to overcomplicate. Like, when I looked at what family dinner is supposed to look like, I was like, “Well, I need to make it, and it needs to be fancy, complete with like, fresh herbs and pan sauce and that is like me being a great mom.” And yet dinner very, very infrequently made it to a table because I hadn’t planned well enough. Like I didn’t even get the step of getting the meat out of the freezer, let alone having the garnish, right? So it was like, “And take out again.” And so I looked at that and I’m like, “Okay, what is the real goal? The real goal is us around the table, talking, connecting, laughing, and eating some food.” Right? Like, that’s, that’s the real goal. So when I looked at that and I started breaking it down, started thinking, “Okay, well, how can I make this possible?” And so I also have a goal of I want to create self-reliant, strong, capable humans that I’m going to launch into the world and they need to know how to do things. And so I’m like, “Well, I want them to know how to cook.” And so I, when they were, I think my, so my youngest is now 15, as I’m talking about different year ranges, he’s almost 16. I think we started this when he was 7 or 8. I started doing a meal kit, three meals a week. I let them pick what meal they wanted and then they were in charge of cooking it. So when they were little, I was the sous chef and I helped them. And as they got older, they don’t need any help anymore. And so that’s three nights a week that dinner is taken care of. My husband’s in charge of one night. That is going to be takeout. That is fine. Like dinner will just arrive. That’s great. Then you can do some things like having nights that you know are always the same thing, like Friday is pizza night, or Tuesday is Taco Tuesdays, or we always have one night a week—I think it’s really cute to call it “YOYO,” which is “you’re on your own,” but I didn’t hear that until later. So we call it “fend for yourself” because that’s just what I thought of. So, you know, we call it, Fend for Yourself Night and everybody goes and grabs what they want. If my kids were younger, I would totally turn that into a picnic. I would be like, fend for yourself night means we like sit on the floor and eat, because I just think that would make it feel magical for them. And they’re going to think this is the coolest. “I get to have cereal and sit on the floor?” But you look at that and that means three nights are my kids. One night is my husband. One night is spend for yourself. One night is like Taco Tuesday. I mean, I only have to cook one to two nights a week and yet we have dinner every single night. So it’s just looking for these systems and asking yourself, like, what is it I really want? And then what’s the simplest way to get there? And what am I overcomplicating?
DR. AMY: Okay, I am so excited by that monologue. I’m so excited.
LEAH: And I’m sorry it was so long.
DR. AMY: No, it was phenomenal. And I hope listeners are so excited too, because I have several thoughts running through my mind. One is, you know, as a therapist, you know, I sit across the couch from moms who really struggle with that idea of thinking it’s all on them. It is their responsibility, because they’re the mom, to make sure that dinner is on the table seven nights a week. Right? And I always counter that with, “I can’t remember the last time that I cooked.” Right? Like, does that make me a bad mom? Right? And there’s something sort of in between. Now, granted, my youngest is 18 and a half, right? So I gave my kids, I taught my kids how to cook early as well, but I didn’t have a system in place. We did a lot of YOLO nights for sure, right? Like, it’s the pantry and fridge are stocked, figure it out. And I felt like a good mom because the pantry and fridge were stocked, right? As long as they’re stuff that you can put together. I felt like my responsibility probably ends there because I’m very busy. I know that moms who put dinner on the table seven nights a week might stop listening to me at this point. And that’s okay because you’re a great mom because you put dinner on the table seven nights a week, and I’m a great mom because I taught my kids to cook for themselves. I think it doesn’t matter. That is not the definition. That’s not what makes us a great mom, right? Okay, my point. Have you written this system down somewhere? You could sell the system, by the way, but I just think what a great resource. And at this point, I’m just rambling. Sandy, jump in. I’m just so excited by what you just said that now I can’t even think straight.
LEAH: So I share that one all the time, I, because that one just makes me so happy because truly I can’t … when I think about the amount of times that I stepped out of my office at the end of my workday and instantly felt that weight of, “I have no idea what to do for dinner. I forgot again. Crud.” Right? Like, it was such a weight, and it was just this dagger that, even though it wasn’t true, it made me think, like, “Because you’re a crappy mom.” Which was completely not true, but that was that inner mean voice.
DR. AMY: Oh, we say that all the time.
LEAH: Right? Like, we do that to each other. We beat each other— we don’t beat each other up, we beat ourselves up. And so it was so liberating when I finally, but I think it’s fascinating because I had to do some deeper work. Like I had to get down to, “What do you actually want?
What do you actually care about?” And when I finally realized it’s not about, like, maybe my ego of, like, I am a Pinterest mom who puts dinner on the table, complete with, I know exactly where it came from. I remember, I read an article when I had babies, like, we were literally still an undergraduate, and I read this article that toddlers will eat more nutritious foods and try more vegetables when they are plated pretty and garnished. And I took that and oh wow did I run with it. Right? Like I know where it came from and I took it too far and I, you know, put this idea that was so—it didn’t have to be my truth. And so I think like how do we as moms get ourselves to check in and say, “Does dinner on the table that’s beautiful and fancy really mean happy family?” No, especially not if I’m stressed out and like, you know, throwing it on the table totally frazzled, right? So how do we get ourselves to check in and ask ourselves what we really want versus that picture of whether it’s hustle culture or dinner’s supposed to be only made by me, seven nights a week, or I’m not being a good mom, or whatever that is.
SANDY: It takes the dinner equation out and insert house cleaning, and that’s, I mean, I have the dinner problem too, but like the house cleaning. You know, I remember when I was, my kids were little, Fly Lady was like the all the rage, right? Because it was a system, right? You, you know, one room at a time and, you know, the whole thing, get dressed, make your bed. But even that was overwhelming to me. And I had to come up with a better way for myself too. And I think the other thing, and I, maybe you haven’t written it down, Leah, maybe because we all, you know, have it. We have to figure out the system for ourselves. What’s going to work for us? Because that’s the other issue too, right? It’s like the article you read. If you read it somewhere and it said you had to do it this way, well, all of a sudden we’ve got to do it over. That person said—versus which is not what I think you’re saying, Leah, you’re saying stop, figure out what’s important to you, figure out what works in your world, whether it be your business or your home, what works with your partner, how you’re going to delegate that, but it will be unique to you. Figure out and then develop systems in that process. Is that what you’re saying? Like, so it’s kind of hard to like give a model.
LEAH: Well, I mean, let’s be honest, I still love telling people what to do. And I’m so happy to say “Hey, like as soon as you’re saying house clean, I’m like, oh I got one for you for that one too, let me walk you through I’ll tell you what to …” But I do love the idea, but I think you’re right.
There is this balance between how do we do a better job taking in what other people are doing, but be okay saying, “I’m going to leave that one behind because that actually doesn’t work for me.” Instead of feeling like guilty that, “Well, we must not be doing it quite right, because clearly she knows and she has it together.” Right? So yeah, there is something interesting there, but I do love teaching these systems. I mean, I literally have a membership that is my system for pretty much everything. Where I’m like, “Okay, which one do you want to cover today? Let’s jump in.” And I’ve got courses, you know, on, on how to do, how that has been systemized. Okay. But let’s talk about cleaning real quick. Cause that is the other one that like is so, so tricky. First of all, I’m just going to say, I am the biggest advocate for hiring a house cleaner. Biggest advocate ever. Like, that was so hard for me for so long again, that guilt of like, but I can, that feels indulgent. Do we really have the budget for it? And some of us don’t have the support of our partner or spouse. They might be like, “Oh, I mean, you’re home all day.” It’s like, “Yeah, but I’m working.” But, you know, do you really need that? And so I went to my husband and I was, and I told him, I said, “The feelings that I have when I walk out of the office and the house is a mess and there’s no plan for dinner, I feel like I’m failing, even though I might’ve had an incredible day, you know, in my business. But when I walk out to that, I just, I feel so defeated.” And I also, this is again, me knowing me, I feel so much better in a clean house. I am a different mom. Like I am in a clean house and I am just delightful.Me in a not clean house, it is less delightful for sure. And so I, I went to my husband and I said, “I really want to try hiring a house cleaner.” And he was very resistant. I tried to bring it up before and he’s like, “Uh, do we have the budget? I don’t know.” And I said, “Here’s what I want to do. I just want to test it.I want to, I want to try it for 30 days.” I think that’s something that we miss is that nothing is permanent. We can try things and like make a trial run. So I said, “I want to try it for 30 days and I’m getting way TMI right now. But I said, “I think you are going to be shocked how much happier, more available, less tired I am.” You all get what I’m saying. And then let me tell you, I made sure for those 30 days that there was a difference. And, we got done with that month. And he was like, “You can always have a house cleaner.” And so I, at the beginning, when I first hired my house cleaner, I actually really made sure that I spent the time that she was cleaning on income-producing activities.I just needed that for my own mental of like, “Okay, but I’m making money right now. And that’s paying for it.” Then, as I got more comfortable, I shifted that. And what it ended up being in the end years of my kids’ elementary school, was I took the hours that she was there and I went to the school and I volunteered in each of their classes.And it was like the most amazing time. Cause I got to be in their classrooms and it was, it just meant so much to me. And then I’d come home and I’m like, “The house is spotless!” So there’s one thing. And another couple things that we love that work really well is we have what we call a “power cleans.”So I set a timer. Everybody knows what this means. I say, “We’re doing a power clean. I’m going to set it for 15-20 minutes.” And everybody works as hard as they can for that time period. If someone is slacking, we’re going to start that timer over so everyone is motivated to work really hard. It is incredible.And sometimes the house is really bad, so it’s like a 30-minute power clean. It’s incredible. I mean, there’s five of us in our family. You put five of us times 30 minutes, we’re making some serious headway in that period of time, another thing I do is I call reset the room. So we’re all in the room, we’ve been watching a movie or whatever, and I say, “Okay, pause, everybody reset the room.”They know that means grab all the dishes, go put them in the dishwasher, put the pillows back, throw the blankets in the basket. So there’s some things like that that also help us just keep things going. Everybody does their own laundry in my house. And we have a day assigned. So like my day is Monday and Tuesday.One of the kids has Wednesday, one has Thursday and one has Saturday. And everybody knows their day. If you didn’t do your laundry on that day, you are going to put your underwear inside out. I don’t know. You’re going to have to figure it out because you are not getting your laundry day again until the next week, unless you can trade with someone. But we’re very conscious of you don’t mess up someone else’s laundry day. And it’s cute. My oldest just went to college and she has five roommates. There’s six of them in their dorm and they’re trying to figure out how to do things. And she’s like, “Well, we can assign laundry days.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay.” And so it’s really fun watching this now, you know, move on with her.But so those are a few of our systems for cleaning that I use as well.
SANDY: That’s brilliant.
DR. AMY: Yeah, those are fantastic. I wish I had known those or things like that, right? As opposed to the, “Oh, the house is so messy. Why won’t you listen?” You’ve made it fun.
LEAH: I really fun for me. I like it clean. So I don’t know if my kids think it’s fun, but like, it’s really fun for me.
DR. AMY: Okay. I want to talk about boundaries. So it is very, very hard, uh, especially for women to say no. It’s very hard for us to set boundaries and stick to boundaries, right? Because we know our boundaries become kind of fluid, don’t they, right? “Okay, well this time …” Talk to us about why that’s so important and how we can set boundaries without jeopardizing our careers and how boundaries actually can be helpful.
LEAH: Boundaries, I think one of the shifts we have to make is we look at boundaries and it can feel negative. It can feel like something that’s going to hold us back. It’s going to hurt us, right? Like, “Oh, it’s going to make me lose an opportunity or upset a client or disappoint someone.” But if we shift, we look at boundaries as guardrails. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m driving on some mountainside, I’m really happy that there is a guardrail that is going to protect me if I start to go over the edge. That is how I look at boundaries. Now, the big shift for me was that I realized that every single “yes” has to be a “no” somewhere else. It just has to be, because we can’t be everywhere all the time. So I started actually imagining, “What does this yes become a no to?” And the honest truth was, most of the time, the no was to my kids. It was to my husband. It was to my family. It was something in our home that I was saying no to in order to appease or please or just not disappoint someone else. And so that shift, that mindset shift, and actually saying, “Okay, if I say yes to this, where is it a no? And am I okay with that?” That made a huge difference for me. And then I started looking at, what are my core values? What matters most to me? What, what do I really care about? And when we get deep and we ask ourselves that, and we get down, we drill down enough to really realize, okay, these are what they are, then when things are asked of us, we can check in and say, “Does this align with my core values?” And I think there’s a balance. I think there’s a balance here because I definitely, I think sometimes the pendulum swings too far. I read things about like, “You just take care of you, say no to anything that isn’t a heck yes” and blah, blah, blah. And I read those and I’m like, “Um, okay, but like the honest truth is there’s a lot of times where I don’t want to make an extra dinner and deliver it to someone.” Like I’m busy too but someone needs to, we need to serve each other, and there’s beauty and joy, and I believe happiness that comes in that. So I think there’s this, there’s this … We need to be careful. Like, does it mean that I say no to everything that doesn’t light me up? No. I say yes plenty of times when I’m like, not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but someone needs to do it and I’ll be the one. So, there’s this balance here, but one of my core values is generosity. That is one of the things that I really believe in and that I try to be is, is to be generous. So I can check in with myself and say like, “Is this, is this me people pleasing or is this me trying to serve and be generous with myself?” I guess, right? And so that has helped me to shift the way that I look at boundaries and then be able to have those boundaries better. And some of the clear—like that’s more philosophical. So if we’re getting to the tangible like, some of the clear boundaries are just setting some boundaries to protect your time so that your kids don’t think that the most important thing to you is your phone or your laptop, right? So there’s boundaries like, I don’t look at my phone between these hours. It literally goes into a drawer and it is off limits. Like, sorry. I will be available later or it’s this is when I am done with work for the day and I don’t go back. That was a really hard one. That was—a lot of the boundaries I had to set were against myself. And so one of them was constantly sneaking in to get a little more work done and then losing track of time and I would be in there way longer than I meant to be. And so. In order to really solidify that boundary in the early years, I had to set a trigger for myself and protect my time by actually shutting my entire computer down so that when I did try to sneak in, I had to power the whole thing back up and it just wasn’t worth it. And I’d be like, “Oh, nevermind.” And, and I’d go back to where I was supposed to be, which was being fully present as a mom with my kids. So like some of the boundaries …
SANDY: So, like boobytrap yourself.
LEAH: I totally did! No, I would absolutely like set these boobytraps for myself. Yes! So some of the boundaries were very like, they are very tangible boundaries. My phone is on do not disturb or airplane mode. It’s in a drawer. It’s not available in the bedroom at all at night. My computer, you know, maybe got for years, I actually shut it down so I couldn’t sneak back in and work. And then, over time, you know, it takes time to learn bad habits. I think it takes time to learn those good habits. So over time it got easier and easier and I got better at it to where it’s not even a thing anymore. I never work on weekends. I know I don’t work after a certain time and it’s easy for me to do that, but it wasn’t always easy. It actually felt really uncomfortable in the early years when I was trying to make those shifts. So yes, I totally would booby trap myself into making the right decision!
SANDY: So how do you do that? Like in conversations, like with clients or conversations with family members that want you to do things that maybe you don’t have time for? Cause that’s the hard part. I mean, some of these other parts, you know, it’s easy to booby trap yourself and set yourself up, but like when you’re in a conversation and someone’s asking you and you feel the weight of like saying no, like you’re just gonna, you know, ruin the relationship or whatever. Do you have systems or tools that you use to help buffer that for you so that you don’t feel like you have to say yes or no in the moment? I really struggle with that.
LEAH: Like, okay, so you actually answered it right there. You said it right at the very end. The secret is: We have to retrain ourselves to not give an answer in the moment. And I would love like, like Dr. Amy, this is where I want to hear your perspective, because what I find is, the reason I say yes in the moment is because it gives me a dopamine trip. I feel good. “Oh, look at me saving the day. I’m awesome. They’re so happy with me at the same time.” There is an entire conversation going on in my head. Like, “Leah, how could you have done that? You just double booked yourself. How are you going to make this all work?” Right. So. I think the number one thing we can do is stop answering in the moment. If we can break that cycle and that whatever, whatever is happening in my brain that gives me that, you know, great feeling of like, “Yay me, I’ve made them happy. I’m a good person.” That, that’s a, I don’t know if it’s addictive, but you know what I mean? We love that feeling. We stick in that cycle. So if we can break that cycle by saying, “That sounds awesome. I’m gonna have to check. Let me get back to you.” Honestly, my preferred answer is, “Will you get back to me?” Because I don’t even want to put that on my to-do list. Like, if you’re asking me to do something, my favorite answer is to be like, “Oh, that sounds amazing “—if I think it does, you know. If that’s true. I’m like, “Oh, that sounds great. I’m going to have to check a couple things. Would you mind following up with me tomorrow, next week?” Whatever makes sense.
First of all, if they really meant it, then they’re going to follow up with me. If they didn’t and they found somebody else, I’m off the hook. But second, I’m breaking that cycle of answering too soon. I mean, I cannot tell you how many things I have said yes to and literally one minute later, I’m like, “Why did I do that? I cannot do that.” Right? And then you have to go have that awkward, disappointing conversation. So yeah, the secret that I have found is do not answer in the moment.
DR. AMY: Yeah. And I think that, you have to learn which types of answers and decisions will give you that dopamine hit, right? So I have learned that when I make a decision that honors my body or my health, or my limitations, then that gives me a massive dopamine rush. It is like high-fiving yourself that you said yes to what your body needs or what your health needs or what your family needs, right? And so when we when we get out of that people-pleasing mode, right, when we get out of those codependent tendencies to think that because I helped that makes me a better person or that my identity is wrapped up in my tendency to say yes to everything, right, when we can break that cycle and say, “Hey, did I make a decision that was aligned with my values, my vision for my family, you know, whatever the state of my health or well-being is at the time?” Right? You pick, like you pick what you fill in, what you’re looking for then I think that we can get that same reward. Right? It’s just coming from a different place. And because, you know, I struggle with multiple chronic illnesses and I also struggle with wanting to say yes, because, “Oh yeah, I’m capable of doing that or I know how to do that, or I should do that.” Right? And then I pay for it right by being in the bed for three days because I said yes to too many things. And so now I’ll say, “Hey, can you email me about that? I need to, you know, think about what I can still put into my schedule this week, “or, you know, I will delay it just like you do. “You know, shoot me an email after I have had a chance to think about it” or, “You know, I’m out of neurotransmitters right now.” That’s my favorite, right? It’s after 5 p.m., “Hey, I’m out of neurotransmitters and I just can’t make a decision tonight. Can you just email me and I’ll get back to you after I’ve had a chance to think about it?”
LEAH: I love that. I love that so much. I’m so going to use that. That’s so, that’s so good. I definitely think, oh, I’m losing it. There’s something that you said that I was like, “Oh yes, that’s so true.” Anyways, maybe it’ll come back in a minute.
SANDY: You were telling the whole thing about, you know, the yeses and the no’s, like I instantly had a vision in my head of like a column of yeses and you know, and thinking that you can only have so many on one side and the rest had to go to the other. And that’s how like, in my head, I was visually just like, “Okay, if I only can handle six yeses in a day, right? Six days. I’m going to be able to do and do well, the rest are going to have to be no, well, that just totally changes that dynamic of seeing that in my head, because, you know, I think a prior me would have been like, “I can do all the yeses, I can get them all. And you always pay.
LEAH: Yeah. And you, and you, we think, right? Like, “Well, I’m capable. I can.” And that does not necessarily mean that we should. I visualize my kids’ faces. So a lot of times when like, someone’s asking me to do something, I will like, you know, make their faces come to my mind and think like, what am I going to say no to [regarding] an experience with them? Because, you know, if I say yes to too many things.
DR. AMY: Yeah, and I think like I made a decision pretty early on when my kids were young that volunteering in their classroom was not something that I really had the capacity to do, even though I used to be a licensed teacher. I was a teacher before I was a psychologist, I have the skills to go volunteer in their classroom, but because I worked full time, because I struggle with my health, that was one thing that absolutely wore me out, put me behind at work. Right? And then I was, you know, trying to play catch up. And so I made a decision early on, “Hey, can I write you a check for this?” Like, what is it that I can donate to your class or write a check for that would help you or would bless you? Because I just don’t have the physical capacity to be there in person, you know, to volunteer. So I made decisions like that. I also don’t volunteer for meal trains, right? I will say to you, and everyone knows I am not that friend. “I barely have time to cook for myself or my own family. Where would I find time to cook for your family?” Right? I’m not that friend. And so it’s actually a joke, right? People know. Amy’s not that friend, but I will write you a check, right, if you want to get a gift card to a restaurant, you know, for these people. I’m happy to do, you know, and so …
LEAH: Right? You’re like, I’ll Door Dash it to you. But I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna …
DR. AMY: Absolutely!
LEAH: But I think that’s so beautiful when we share that, right?
Like, when we get to hear each other say, like, “I’m going to be capable of this” and someone might go, “Oh, wow. That’s amazing. That’s what I should do.” No, it’s not. Because there’s some other area that I’m not going to say yes to. And someone else will say yes in that area. Right? So I think it’s so beautiful when we hear each other, we get to have these conversations and understand that it doesn’t have to look the same for every single one of us. But we can all have the same greater desire, which is that we are that we’re happy, that we have happy families, happy kids, that we’re getting to feel fulfilled and making a difference. And those greater things are going to look … The way we get there can look different and the more ideas we hear, the more we can try and test and then see what works for us and what doesn’t. There’s, like, there’s people I know who do laundry every single day. They just do a load every single day and it works for them and that sounds horrible to me. I hate laundry. I hate it. Like, all I have to do is two loads a week, pretty much. Two loads. And I still despise even that. Right? And so for the person who says like, “Oh, you need to do a load every single day.” If that works for you, do it. Awesome. If you like wasting that much time … Just kidding. Some people like it. But if you like, if you like doing that, that’s great, right? Like, but it’s different for me. And so I love how we can share these ideas and see, like, there’s more than one way to do it, to do greatness.
DR. AMY: Well, and I think along those same lines of sharing is, I think that if we can be brave enough to be honest with the people in our lives, then that actually strengthens our relationships, right? It doesn’t weaken them to be able to say, “This is what my, where my interests are. This is where my capabilities are. This is what I’m willing to do.” So that then there aren’t any surprises, right? Like Sandy knows I run out of neurotransmitters about 4:30 every day. I just, I’m done. And so we were at a conference together in June. She’s like, “Where’d you go?” I’m like, “I’m in the car.” Like, “I’m done.” Right? Yeah. So, it isn’t that, you know, did she, like, freak out on me and be like, “But you need to be in here! You need to be talking to people”? No. She knows, I’m out of neurotransmitters at 4:30 every day.
LEAH: I love that, and you remind. Okay, so, that just triggered the thought I had had from the last thing you were saying, which was, because you’ve now said it twice, and I don’t know if people are catching it, you’ve now said, like, “people know this about me.” Like, we can either train people to know if I need someone to fill something, she is my go-to because she never says no. That’s not their fault that, that you, you know, you’re their easy go-to. Like, hey, they got a problem. They need to solve it. They’re trying to find the easiest answer. And you’re that person who always says yes, right? Like, I think a lot of us have accidentally created that identity where we’re the yes person. And so of course, everyone comes to us. They’ve got a spot to fill and you’re, you’re an easy target. Right? So when we re-train and we help people to see a new boundary, like, “Oh, you know what, can you email me about that? Can you follow up with me? Can you get back to me? I’m going to need a little bit of time.” Then suddenly we don’t become that easy “yes person.” And maybe we even get to inspire one another to go, “Wait, I’m allowed to do that? Oh, my goodness!” And maybe that person is drowning themselves because they’ve said yes to too many things. And now you’re showing them a better way too.
SANDY: Yeah, you need to find those people in your life that are good boundary-setters. Amy and I have a mutual friend, Rebecca. She is like, I mean, since the moment I met her—and when she was young, she was in her twenties when I first met her—and she was the queen of boundary-setting. I had never seen someone that young just be so clear. And she’s—what I love about her—and she’s going to die when she listens to this story, but what I love about her—
DR. AMY: She’s on our social media! Actually, she manages our social media so she’s gonna hear it!
LEAH: So she’s gonna know!
SANDY: But what I love is that she does it in a way that it never feels like she’s offended you, you’ve offended her. Like it’s just always so clear. And it, it’s just, I want to emulate that. I was telling her this not too long ago and she was laughing. But, yeah, like people like that in your life who just have clear ways of wording things and give you that affirmation because if it’s not a skill for you, you need to be around people with whom it’s a skill so that you can learn how to process that. Amy’s great for that I have a couple other friends, because I am not. I am the people-pleaser queen. So I need as much of that as I possibly can in my life to be like okay. I’m allowed to say no. I’m allowed. I got to exercise that muscle. And I got it, but, yeah, find those people, find those people that do it and do it well. And with grace, but firm and clear.
DR. AMY: All right. So, uh, we need to let Sandy read a word from our sponsor. When we come back, I want to talk to you about this idea of scheduling joy before we wrap up. When we come back.
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DR. AMY: And we’re back talking to balance strategist, Leah Remillet, I said it right, strategist. That is one of those words that I just fall all over myself over. Okay. So, you talk about this idea of scheduling joy. What does that look like and why is it important?
LEAH: So if we are not careful, our calendars, our schedules, our days, it will get filled with all the things we have to do. And we can get to the end of the day and you fall into bed at night and you just feel like, ugh. And that’s not what we’re meant to be here to do. I believe that we are meant to have joy. We are meant to have happiness. And I’m also someone who loves being efficient and productive and I can just go, go, go, go, go. And I am that person who’s always thinks fun comes later, play comes after. You have to do all the things and then you’re allowed to play. And I realized that I was passing that on to my kids in a way that just made home not feel super fun when it’s always like, “Well, we can’t get to that until we do all the hard stuff.” And then I started thinking, “Well, why can’t I infuse joy into the hard stuff?” So there’s kind of a couple different components to scheduling in joy. The first is looking at how we can take the mundane and make it magical. So if it’s the power clean, you know, I talked about, “Oh, we’re going to do a, uh, 15- or a 20-minute power clean” that we do it blasting show tunes and everybody’s, you know, singing and dancing. And I still expect them to work really hard or we’re resetting that timer, but we can do it with, you know, some really fun background music going, or maybe it is that we’re all having to, like, we do this a lot. We’re all working on something, but we’re only allowed to talk in accents. So everyone has to try to speak in our best accents while we’re trying to do whatever we’re trying to do. So there’s, there’s things like that, okay?
Where … look at what you do regularly. Maybe it’s by yourself and it’s like you’re, you know, doing the vacuuming. How can, how could you make that more enjoyable? How could you just take these things you don’t really enjoy doing? Like when I have to do my, I’m checking all of my numbers. So once a month I have scheduled in that I’m gonna check all my analytics and just see where everything’s at. It’s not like my favorite job, but I think it’s important that I know where we’re at with everything so I have it scheduled in. Like one of my systems and it’s literally scheduled in or I’ll never do it. And then I have special chocolate that I eat while I am doing it because it just makes me a little bit more happy. I’ve just infused a little bit of joy into this more mundane task. So there’s that component. The second component is that if we are not careful, our schedules will be so full that we miss ever having date night with our spouse or our partner, ever having those fun moments with our kids, the girls’ night or the lunch with your, with your sister or your best friend or, or whoever it is. We will miss all those things. You know, I hear people say like, “Oh my gosh, how do you have time for date night? How do you have time for these things?” Well, we schedule in what matters. I know that sounds harsh. I know that can sound pretty brutal, but we do make time for what matters. And so we just sometimes need to check in with ourselves and say, “Well, okay, wait, what matters?” And then schedule those things in first. So I am a big proponent of scheduling in the things that matter first, which means I schedule in date night. I schedule in fun family activities. Like as the holidays come, I am going to schedule in all kinds of fun holiday things I want to do because otherwise the holidays pass by and I’m like, “Oh man, we never …” I don’t know, made gingerbread houses or went and looked at Christmas lights or whatever it might be. So. I scheduled them in. Now I’m totally flexible with that. We’ll move it around. Something else might come up the night I put it and so we’ll shift it, but I’ve put them there to realize and to make them happen. And then another just kind of side silly thing that I did to schedule in more joy for my kids and just to make more of these magical moments throughout our months and throughout the years of getting to raise them is I went and looked at what all the weird holidays are. So, there are so many of those weird holidays, like it is National Oreo Cookie Day, or National whatever. And so, I just glance at those and I put them into my calendar. They’re just on the calendar. If I’m able to, I will go run and get donuts and surprise them. Or right after school, I’ll say, “Guess what? It’s National Donut Day, so we’re going to get donuts!” And we’ll go run and get donuts. And they’re like, “Best mom ever!” And honestly, it was really easy. Because I just put them all in the calendar ahead of time, so I knew where they were. And then when I see one, and it aligns okay, it’s like easy to do, I make it happen. Or sometimes it’s some kind of weird thing, and so I’m gonna arrange dinner around it. Like, “Oh, it’s National Eat Outside Day, so guess what? We’re gonna go get takeout, and we’re eating it at a park.” So I just find these simple ways that I can infuse more joy into our life, and If it’s on the calendar and I see that it’s National Donut Day, but it has been a crazy day, okay, I’m going to miss that one. I’ll do the next one. I don’t have to do them, but because they’re there and I can see them, it’s easy to work with them and use them to create magic where maybe I wouldn’t have the creativity otherwise.
DR. AMY: I just love how you took this medical emergency and redefined what your life should look like. It’s just been such a joy listening to you today. Where did we find you? Anyway, I know, but we’re completely out of time. We’re at an hour. But we would love for you to come back and share some more of your insights with us because this has just been a super fun conversation.
LEAH: I would love that.
DR. AMY: Share with our listeners how they can find more of you.
LEAH: Absolutely. So we already know they are brilliant at choosing podcasts because they listened to this one. So I think that they should come right over since you’re already on the platform, come find Balancing Busy and subscribe to my podcast. And you’re going to hear all kinds of these ideas on the episode. So I think that’s the number one thing they should do. After that they can find me at balancingbusy.com that will have links to literally everything, all kinds of freebies and resources. So there’s tons of resources there, but I think maybe, you know, they’re in the platform. Let’s just go find my podcast and listen to that one too.
DR. AMY: That’s perfect advice.
SANDY: Go right now. Don’t forget.
LEAH: That’s right.
DR. AMY: And speaking of not forgetting, listeners, we are so happy that you joined us today. If you loved our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple podcasts. We would love it also, if you would follow us on social media, we are on every platform at the Brainy Moms. Do that now before you forget. You can follow Sandy on TikTok at the Brain Trainer Lady where she has lots and lots of fun videos set to songs that I’ve never even heard of. Look, that’s all the smart stuff we have for you today. We’ll catch you next time.
SANDY: Have a great week.