We had the good fortune of connecting with Lauren Lobley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lauren, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Oh, work life balance. It’s such a moving target! Wouldn’t it be so nice to go back to the days of living with our parents, not having to pay any bills, and just having to focus on our studies during the week and having fun with our friends on the weekends? Ah, those were the days! I say that in jest, but in truth, I have been in a relationship with work life balance ever since I decided I wanted to be a straight A student. I was 6 years old. When I was in the first grade, my family had moved from Toronto, Canada to Montreal, Canada. In Toronto, English is the first language. In Montreal, French is the first language. This may not seem important, but this move and those two languages shaped my relationship with work life balance forever. I can’t have been more than 6 years old when I was sitting in my grade 1 class. My teacher, Madame Lalancette, was reading out words in French. It was a pop quiz. We were to write the correct spelling of the words she was reading out in our notebooks. The notebooks would be handed in at the end of the quiz and graded. I remember her yelling out the words (ok, she wasn’t yelling, but she may as well have been given my state of panic). With each word she read out, my palms got sweaty, my heart raced, and my breathing got quick and shallow. I had no idea what she was even saying, so my ability to properly spell out the gibberish I was hearing was impossible. By the end of the dictee (that’s what it’s called), I was in tears, staring down at my blank notebook. No, actually, I was sobbing. Loudly. It was recess, so the kids cleared out of the room. But Madame Lalancette sat with me, and spoke gently to me. I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember her promise: she would tutor me, on her own time, every day at recess until I learned how to speak and write in French. She kept her word, and by the end of that year, I was speaking and writing in French. And so, a straight A student was born. As was my relationship to work life balance. Namely: I would work hard and play later. But work would always come first. I don’t know if it was that experience that made me so diligent about my work as my schooling continued through high school, but I have to assume that it played a big part in it. I was obsessed with school and homework. So much so that most nights, my dad would come into my room and tell me to take a break. I’d go downstairs with him and my family and watch Diagnosis Murder or LA Law or something (I wanted to be a lawyer), go to sleep around 9:30pm, wake up at 5:30am the next day and go to school. Work and life wasn’t balanced for me during the school week, but I did manage to find it on the weekends. As I moved into the workforce, I had this same kind of approach: work always got more weight than life or play. I always went above and beyond in any of my roles at work over the years, often staying late – off the clock – to get work done. I have always been pretty intense about my work in that way, and it only got worse when I became an adult and had to pay my own bills. The stakes got higher, so work got even more attention than life and play. You can see the train wreck coming: me as a single woman was already putting much more weight into work than into life. The scales were already dangerously tipped in the work direction. Then I got married. And then…I became a mother. That straight A, type A student that I carried with me suddenly was in unknown territory. I remember writing a blog post called “The Death of a Moleskine Planner” because of the striking contrast I saw in my planner before having my daughter, and after: the pages before February 19, 2016 were filled with lists and to dos, and check marks next to each of those items. The pages after February 19th were blank. There was no more time to do anything but live in the moment to moment existence of being a mother, of learning to be the CEO of this child’s life when I had no experience to bring to the table. Was being a mother considered work? Or life? Or both? Whatever the case, it consumed me. There was no time for anything else but learning my new role. And the learning curve was steep. I slowly pulled myself out of the fog of new motherdom after almost a year, and decided to publish a cookbook. Suddenly my daughter’s nap times became the only time I could get my work done, and I would race to my computer once she was asleep at night to continue working. It’s not surprising that once my learning curve had flattened and I was a year into being a mom, my old pattern of prioritizing work over play continued, even in motherhood. And I’m embarrassed to say that it has only gotten worse since having my second child in August of 2019. It’s safe to say that I’m at an all time terrible with work life balance, because now I’m trying to be a full time mother – in Covid – with no help from family or babysitters as I launch a new podcast about motherhood called The Mom Feed. Why launch a new venture when I’m already so starved for time? Because the straight A, type A student in me never left. She’s deeply embedded in the core of my being. But here’s the thing about balance: it changes over time. It’s dependent on what’s going on in your life, on what needs more of your attention. It can change by the moment, by the day, by the week, by the month. I think sometimes, putting more weight on your work IS balanced. And at other times, putting more weight on life is the better balance. I think balance isn’t a stagnant, permanent state. It ebbs and it flows, coming in and out like the tide. I’m reminded of a quote I once read in the Huffington post. I can’t remember who said it, but they said something to the effect of: you can have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time. I think this sums up work life balance for me. Sometimes, I try to have it all. And when I do, I become exhausted on every level: physically, spiritually, emotionally. That feeling informs me that a change is needed, and it forces me to bring myself back into balance. There is no doubt that I had way more free time to work with as a single woman without children. There was simply more time in the day to do both work and life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find balance in this new chapter of my life. Now that I’m a mother of two, I try to fit an 8 hour work day into 2 hours littered throughout the day: 10 minutes here, 30 there, and maybe (gasp) a full hour somewhere else. And honestly, some days I’m successful. and others not so much (or not even close). Becoming a mother has made me more efficient than I ever thought I would be. Some days are a win, some days are a flop. My job is to recognize when the balance is off, course correct, and try again tomorrow. That is what balance is to me. Always a moving target. Always a work in progress. Always changing. And my only job is to pay attention to what it’s asking of me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
By and large, I am a stay at home mother who has always got a side hustle, who is always trying to squeeze too many things into not enough hours of the day. I am also a writer. A blogger. A chef. A certified health coach. And most recently, a podcaster. As Marie Forleo might say, I’m a multi passionate entrepreneur. The year I had my daughter, I ghostwrote a self help book, and then I launched my own book, a Vegetarian Paleo cookbook called The Accidental Paleo. After that, I sold vegan gluten free baked goods at the farmers market in Malibu under my company name, Delectable You, and then I started a plant based meal delivery service. When the Woolsey Fire swept through Malibu in November of 2018, it shut down my home based business. My family and I were evacuated for 2 1/2 months before finally deciding to relocate to Agoura Hills. At the very beginning of the evacuation, I got pregnant with my son, Liam. Since becoming a mother to two, and then throwing in a pandemic 6 months into it, life was admittedly tough. But now that we were settled into our new house and I was sort of starting to get the hang of mothering two children, I was beginning to feel the need to explore a new passion again. This time? It was podcasting. In August of 2020, I launched my podcast, The Mom Feed, a podcast about the transition into motherhood. Mom life is hard! No matter how you slice it, no matter how many beautiful moments there are in it, it’s hard. And that hard is compounded if you don’t have family near by, and if you don’t have a tribe to help you through it. So I wanted to create a safe space for mamas to express their “hard,” but also a place where they could get answers and easily actionable solutions to whatever issues they were having. I love podcasting. I get to use my voice to amplify the voices of others who are working to make life as a mother easier, or at least more enjoyable. What could be better than that? I get to talk to the most interesting people: physical therapists, psychologists, parenting coaches, fitness and nutrition professionals, business owners and more! I get to let my curiosity lead me through conversations that reveal powerful stories and solutions for the mamas in my community. Producing a podcast while also taking care of my two young children full time is not easy. There are many late nights and lots of juggling the scheduling of podcast guests around when my husband can spare a few hours to watch the kids. When he does watch them, I sneak into my son’s nursery to record, all the while sitting on my daughter’s kid-sized white kitchen chair, the microphone perched on top of whatever children’s book I’ve selected from the shelf, the laptop sitting beside it, and me desperately hoping none of the kids throw any massive (and loud) tantrums while I’m recording. It’s not ideal, but it’s scrappy and imperfect, just like motherhood. Thankfully I have enough experience behind me to know that I can do hard things. It won’t kill me. It only serves to make me stronger. And I love that I am modeling to my children that even though I am their mother and I am their full time caregiver, there is more to me than just being their mom. I was an individual before I became their mother, and I’m still an individual now. I have my own needs and desires, and in pursuing them, I feel like I’m giving them permission to pursue theirs too. I’m showing them how to be the hero in their own story by being the hero in mine, by putting my oxygen mask on first, by feeding my passion. In not losing myself in being everything to them, I am able to teach them how to be everything to themselves. I am just the cherry on top, not the main attraction.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question! Ok, in no particular order, I would take them to the following restaurants in LA: 1. Cafe Gratitude 2. Gracias Madre (can we talk about the cauliflower??) 3. Gjelina (I’d make reservations ahead of time, of course) 4. Cocktails at Nobu in Malibu (can’t beat that sunset) 5. Sage Vegan Bistro I would make sure they got to an Erewhon to experience their wonderful meals-to-go section, and definitely have them try the buffalo cauliflower. I would take them for a drive along the coast in Malibu, maybe stop for a meal at the Malibu Farm. We’d drive up the coast to Santa Barbara, eat at Mesa Verde, and then drive inland to Ojai. We’d eat at Food Harmonics and get some snacks at Rainbow Bridge. We would have to do West Hollywood, the Sunset strip, and Beverly Hills. I’d take the down rodeo drive, and to the cupcake dispenser at Sprinkles. I would introduce them to the most amazing Thai food at Toi on Sunset boulevard, and we’d have the goat cheese special pizza at Bossa Nova in WeHo. I don’t get out much anymore with two young kids, so I’m sure I’m missing something, but this sounds pretty good to me! I may also take them to Montana Ave to my friend, Jeanne’s restaurant, Kye’s Montana, for the best Kyeritos ever. The perfect wraps for on the go, and my last stop before heading onto a plane at LAX (they are the perfect travel food)!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
HUGE shoutout to my first grade teacher, Madame Lalancette, who easily changed the course of my life. I’m 37 years old and I can still see the classroom and feel the warmth of her kindness as she helped me learn how to speak French. Shoutout to my parents and my brother and sister for always loving me as I am. Shoutout to my husband for always being so supportive of me and my ventures. And a special shoutout to my children who – without knowing it – are my greatest teachers. I love you – even (and especially) when you show me things that feel uncomfortable and that I know I need to work on.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurenlobley/ and https://www.instagram.com/themomfeedpodcast/
Other: Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mom-feed/id1526182731 Spotify Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/6oi5l5ZmxkHBPRaZS0xTEO?fbclid=IwAR1axsmzHGWmUmMXUe-fi28qNIZeCew5QEUrKV19JAKYO9_4TGbohKgi1vs Google Podcast: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS8xMjU4Mzg1LnJzcw
Eva Pursley https://vibrantpicture.com/