Resiliency. There’s also never been a better time to teach our kids how to get through difficult times. It’s not about perfection. We will lose our cool and we will have breakdowns in the closet. The worst in us may bubble up initially. But the learning lesson is in what we do next, how we pick ourselves back up, how we apologize, how we move forward. The next generation is observing us as we deal with these challenging times. Imagine what they’ll say about their parents. Imagine how they look at crisis in their own lives because of what they witnessed in us.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Muender, a transformational coach for moms, host of the Motivation For Moms podcast, and online course creator at TheMamaMiracle.com, helping moms worldwide take the reins on their busy, complex lives. As a working and homeschooling mom of three herself, Sara fully understands the struggles of the modern day mother, and is obsessed with solving the problems these women face day-to-day. Sara believes that moms are leaders in their families, stronger than they give themselves credit for, and are capable of creating any positive change.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
It was 2017 when I hit the rock-bottom of mom life.
Which to me, is when you know you’re blessed, you have everything in the world to be grateful for, but yet, you’re unhappy, overwhelmed, exhausted, and even unfulfilled at the end of the day. On top of that, you feel so guilty for feeling the way you do because you know that you have so many blessings.
Yeah, that was me.
On the outside, it appeared I had the perfect life. A handsome husband with the well-paying job, the nice house with the big backyard, a hearty social life, two beautiful daughters…
But on the inside, I felt like I was drowning in the constant to-do’s and should-do’s of mom life.
My girls were one and three years old, both admittedly tough ages. They weren’t sleeping through the night. Potty training was a disaster. The clutter kept piling up and I couldn’t seem to keep the house clean. My marriage was a wreck. Our finances were shaky and the debt kept piling up.
I was perpetually overwhelmed in my fast sinking ship. I loved my kids, of course, but I wasn’t really enjoying my job as mom, and I felt guilty for this.
This couldn’t be all there was to motherhood. I asked myself when things would slow down enough for me to actually enjoy it.
And then a friend reminded me:
“You control the tides in your family.”
It was in that moment that I realized that I’m the grown up. I call the shots. I can change things if I want.
At some point, I gave in to victim mentality. I loved my kids, and I’d protect them at all costs, but in my day-to day life, I played victim to the challenges of motherhood, and to this life that ironically, I had wanted, and I had created.
This time, instead of feeling guilty or defeated, I chose to be empowered.
I got to thinking. As moms, we create beautiful life. We raise and nurture these incredible little humans, the most complicated and precious things in this universe. So why do we get so stuck on the problems in our life? Why can’t I just get it together?
So I created The Mama Miracle, which is a worksheet I do every single morning, to help me get my mind in the right place to face the challenges of the day.
I designed this worksheet to remind me to claim my power, focus on the gifts and blessings in my life, change what is not serving me and my family, and create the life I really want.
My business started off as simply selling The Mama Miracle worksheet on Etsy, but quickly evolved into coaching moms one-on-one and then through my online courses. I also provide weekly motivation and inspiration through my podcast, Motivation For Moms.
I believe that if we all invested more into our personal development, we’d help make the world a better place. My own personal insights grew into helping other moms, and today I find it tremendously fulfilling to inspire those moms who are in their rock-bottom of mom-life, and help them discover their personal power to create positive change in their lives as well.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
By far, the most interesting part of my story is what has transpired in our family this year. It’s still surreal when I think about it, but a testament to what challenge can do for your growth.
Back in January my husband was offered an incredible new job opportunity in Atlanta. We would have to relocate from our home state of California, but we were ready for the exciting opportunity.
Then the pandemic hit. The same week we closed escrow on our house, California shut down.
Everything was so uncertain. Would we even be able to hire movers? Would we be able to cross state lines? Would we still have a home waiting for us in Georgia, or a job for that matter? It was scary times.
Oh, and I was eight months pregnant with our third baby, a boy.
Despite the uncertainty, we went.
We packed up our camper trailer with twelve houseplants and other things the movers had accidentally left behind (it was a packed trailer…), and hit the road with our two cars, two large dogs, two young kids, a big belly, and hearts full of faith and determination.
That week on the road was the toughest week of my life. It pushed me to my max physically, as I drove hours and hours each day while pregnant, only to squeeze into a packed trailer at the end of each day, and sleep on a stiff trailer bed. It was also mentally and emotional exhausting, saying goodbye to the life we knew back in California, in the midst of a global pandemic.
Although it was tough living in that small trailer during that week, cooking all three meals a day on a single burner, sharing a space between the 4 of us and my giant belly, plus the two big dogs, we were grateful to have the protection and not have to stay at hotels, stop at restaurants, or even stop to use the restroom, as the fear of coronavirus was traveling faster than we were on the road.
Fortunately, everything worked out as planned for the most part. We got into our new home, my husband started his new job (virtually, though), we had a healthy ten-pound baby boy, and we began to adjust to the new life. Everyone’s had to adjust to a new normal this year with the pandemic, we just had the extra layer of starting a new life on top of it.
To me, the craziest part of the whole thing is that there was a point where I had given up on my business goals for the year, which were to triple my audience and revenue. Naturally, I concluded that with the move and with pregnancy and a global pandemic, trying to grow my business would be an unreasonable aspiration. I was wrong.
I’ve recently realized that the only thing holding me back from reaching my goals was my own limited belief about what’s possible (the very thing I coach my clients on).
What if I could grow my business and triple my revenue, despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, despite just moving across country, and despite just having another baby?
I asked myself: what would it look like to simply work an hour or two a day, and hyper-focus on the things that could drive my business forward the fastest? Could I reach my goals, in an hour or two a day?
The answer was yes.
We create these stories in our heads about reality, what’s possible, and what we’re capable of.
The only thing that’s true is what we determine to be true. When we change what we believe to be true for ourselves and what’s possible for our lives, our reality changes too.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
As a matter of fact, I’m rolling out a 12-week online coaching course that helps my client breakthrough to new levels of growth in every area of her life. It’s like one-on-one coaching, but she can work the curriculum in her own time, while still getting personalized one-on-one coaching on-demand through video messaging.
At one point or another, my typical client will reach a point where she says, “enough is enough” with the way things are in her life. She wants change. She wants to reach that “level 10” in her health and fitness, relationships, career, finances, spirituality, home life, and even her relationship with herself. Perhaps she’s tried to reach her goals or create change before but she just kept hitting the same roadblocks, got burned out, or fell off the bandwagon and just gave up. I give moms a guided curriculum to follow so they can make actual breakthroughs and maintain consistent progress in a supportive environment where they’re held accountable.
What’s cool about going through this type of guided program is they can go back and witness the progress they are actually making on their goals. My clients find that in working with me, it’s not just the outcome of their goals they achieve, but they experience a newfound shift in their mindset, belief in what’s possible, and resiliency when faced with life’s inevitable challenges.
I have the joy of witnessing my clients leave my program saying, “I feel like a new person.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Many years back, my husband and I found ourselves in one of the toughest periods of our lives. We lost our income, all of our credit cards were maxed out, we had a baby (our first daughter), and couldn’t afford rent. Actually, we couldn’t even afford a burrito.
My stepfather, Gary Cocola, who owns television stations and is known for helping people and giving back, gave us a condo to live in rent-free while we got back on our feet.
I’ll never forget a card he wrote to us: “One year from now, everything will be different,” and it had a check with 1000 dollars in it. We were incredibly grateful for the financial assistance, but more than anything, it was that belief in us that we would get back on our feet, that things would be better, that made all the difference.
A year later, things were drastically better. I’ll always keep that card.
When you demonstrate that you believe in someone, it can spark in them the confidence they need to drive forward in their life.
As a coach and a leader, I always let my clients and my audience know that I believe in them. I believe in them to get through the hard times. I believe in them to figure it out. I believe in them to create change.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
It’s hard enough to manage the uncertainty of these difficult times, let alone try to help your children understand what’s happening. I feel absolutely heartbroken when my daughters tearfully ask why they can’t go back to school and see the teachers they loved so dearly, go back to ballet and gymnastics, or play with their friends.
It’s tough trying to explain to them why mommy or daddy need them to go play quietly so we can get work done at home. It kills me when I get overwhelmed and lose my cool with them, such as when they’re running around the house playing loudly and I just need to focus.
To be successful in business, you have to have a successful foundation at home. Trying to balance childcare and home care responsibilities has been tough on my marriage at times as well, as we have had to figure out who does what when it comes to taking care of the kids, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry… without the outside help we once had.
As funny as it sounds, the first couple weeks after we got to our new home in Georgia (in the midst of the pandemic), I remember my husband and I getting into the biggest fight over which hand-soaps to buy. Never had we ever given a second thought to such a small detail of our lives, and all of a sudden, we were painfully disagreeing over not just which hand soaps to buy (environmentally friendly, germ-killing, cost-effective, pretty bottles, etc.), but also who should be in charge of choosing hand soaps to begin with. It’s these small aspects of our lives that we were learning how to navigate, now that we were both at home full time, and I believe they represented larger issues in our marriage that were bubbling up to the surface as we treaded new waters.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Sometimes all I can do is be honest with my kids, embracing the big emotions this challenging time brings. I give them the space to feel their feelings and I listen to them. I apologize when I lose my cool or I’m not as patient with them as I would have liked to be. I take the opportunity to teach them that everybody makes mistakes and that we’re all human with limited capacity at times, and I always try to re-establish connection.
As far as trying to get work done, I’ve used this opportunity to empower the kids to do things for themselves that someone else might have helped them with before, such as fetching snacks or water, using the potty, or even doing chores. Obviously, certain tasks are more age appropriate than others, and I make sure to instruct each child to do what is safe and age-appropriate for them. They’re proud to be more independent, and it takes a lot off my plate. Teaching them how to be more self-sufficient is a small investment of time, but really pays off when they don’t need me for every little thing throughout the day, so I’m able to focus on my work when I need to.
In terms of the marital strain of these times, we’ve really leaned into the struggle. It’s been some of the hardest months on our marriage (the cross-country move, pandemic, new baby…), but we’ve both committed to being honest, vulnerable, and flexible in our expectations. Even if an argument gets heated, we have committed to always coming back and re-establishing connection. We know that the pressure of our current situation has the ability to break us or make us stronger and more resilient. We choose the latter.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
I hate to use the term, “not enough time,” but by far the biggest challenge in my business has been having a ton of opportunity to execute in very limited amounts of time.
This is a good problem! When you have limited time to focus exclusively on something, you have to choose to do the things that make the most impact, and let go of the things that don’t really matter.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Right now, I only get an hour or two a day of time alone to work. You better believe I make that time count.
They say if you want something to get done, ask a busy person to do it.
I’ve totally embraced this challenge to hyper-focus on the things that are going to drive my business forward in the best way every day. I’m choosing to take this opportunity to shift out of the “all or nothing” mindset and be satisfied with putting concentrated effort into the limited chunks of time I do have to work on my business and other things.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
You have to be insanely intentional with your time and protective of your energy, because otherwise, everyone and everything will come rushing in to eat up both of these things.
I believe you can do it all, that is, all that is important to you, but you have to define what those things are, and give up everything else while those take precedent.
Micro-plan your day, with flexibility. When you’re working, eliminate distractions and go all in. When you’re with your kids, be 100% with your kids. When you’re working out, work out hard, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Give yourself time to deeply unwind and relax, away from the screens, so you don’t burn out.
Don’t waste time doing anything half-way. We can’t afford it right now. Be on-purpose with how you’re doing things and you can get done what you need to get done without killing your energy.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Above all, you’ve got to get your mind right every single day. Establishsome non-negotiables around this. Listen to something positive, like a podcast or an audiobook. Create a sacred place where you go to check in with yourself and meditate, pray, and write. You can even decorate this sacred place, light some candles, or put on spa music. Make it legit! It’s important.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Reason #1: Growth. Before a child reaches a new developmental milestone, they always go through a difficult phase. You’ll notice that they are clingier, more whiney, and more resistant. Then, they learn to crawl, or they learn to walk, or they learn to use the potty, and all of a sudden, things are easier. Similarly as a human race, we are constantly changing, evolving, and growing for the better, and sometimes there are massive growth spurts that involve growing pains. If you look back through history, there has always been some kind of revolution following dark days. We have so much to look forward to as a society as we make our way through this crisis. I believe that we will be a better human race because of it.
Reason #2: Focus. There’s never been a better time to refocus on what’s truly important in our home, relationships, and business. We have the opportunity now to give tune-ups to our health, the time we spend with our family and our interactions with them, and to our own personal development. Take advantage of it.
Reason #3: Resiliency. There’s also never been a better time to teach our kids how to get through difficult times. It’s not about perfection. We will lose our cool and we will have breakdowns in the closet. The worst in us may bubble up initially. But the learning lesson is in what we do next, how we pick ourselves back up, how we apologize, how we move forward. The next generation is observing us as we deal with these challenging times. Imagine what they’ll say about their parents. Imagine how they look at crisis in their own lives because of what they witnessed in us.
Reason #4: Evolution. Diamonds are created under high temperature and pressure. Rest assured that this time we are living in is a huge opportunity for something beautiful to be created inside each of us. It’s an opportunity for growth and evolution. Honor the struggle. Lean into it. My cross-country move, adapting to a whole new life, a career change for my husband, having my third baby, all in the middle of a global pandemic has challenged me more than ever before. I’ve witnessed the worst of myself at the most stressful moments, and I continue to ask myself: How do I want to be moving forward? How do I want to change and grow because of this? How can I be better?
Reason #5: Future. The sky is darkest just before the dawn. Just when you think this Corona Crisis will never end, remember that the best days are still ahead, and we have some beautiful skies to look forward to after this storm.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
It can be temping to think we know what’s best for people, especially our family or close friends. But at the end of the day, they know what’s best for them, and they have the tools inside themselves to cope. Sometimes we just need to help them find that.
Resist the urge to tell them what to do. You can give them ideas or tell them what works for you when you feel the way they do.
Offer your support and ask them what they need right now. When my friends and family are feeling anxious, I like to ask them, “What’s your ‘failsafe’ for when you feel this way? What has helped you before?”
Share your belief in them that they will get through it. Sometimes just hearing that someone believes in you is empowering enough to help you carry on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” These times we’re living in are inevitably painful. But we can choose whether we are are going to suffer through it.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I took a yoga class. The instructor had us hold a very uncomfortable pose for what felt like forever. She asked us to envision a giant wave coming toward us. It was too big to swim away or jump over it. All you could do was dive right into it, and when you do that, it’s not that bad, and the wave just washes right over you. Fearing it was the worst part.
Similarly, when we submit to the painful challenges we are faced with, we find that they’re not so bad. This practice we did in yoga was preparing us for birth, but it’s an exercise I’ve remembered and applied to every challenge in life.
They say what we resist, persists. I don’t know who said that quote but it’s good. When we complain, we suffer. When we are anxious, we suffer. We make ourselves miserable with simply our thoughts. That’s why I say you have to get your mind right every day. You have to take control of your thoughts. Life will always have pain points and seasons of being uncomfortable, and we can either be dragged through them unwillingly (which makes it worse), or we can choose to face the challenges with optimism and grace.
Every painful experience has the potential to make us stronger and more resilient if we choose that outcome.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow me on Instagram as @saramuender or on my podcast, Motivation For Moms.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you for what you do for your readers!