Name: Rachel Bertsche
Occupation: Journalist and Author
The Kids Are in Bed: Finding Time For Yourself in the Chaos of Parenting, which looks at how parents navigate the time they have to themselves when they aren't working or parenting, and uses research and personal stories to show how parents - and kids! - benefit when parents take time for themselves.
MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, about how hard -- and sometimes awkward! -- it is to make new friends as an adult. Jennifer Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness One Celebrity at a Time, about our celebrity obsession! What inspired you to become an author? I was a big-time reader as a kid and always loved to write. But I thought I would do magazines only until I had this one idea -- which became MWF Seeking BFF -- that I just couldn't shake!
What inspired you to write this book? I'm the mother of two young kids -- when I started writing this book they were 2 and 5 -- who works full-time in a day job and writes as well, so I was struggling with my time as much as any parent. One day I was on the phone with an old friend and was catching her up on my life and she basically said "But when do you take care of yourself?" And it made me think... when do I?? And I was hearing the same thing from so many parent friends, who had no time for anything! So I wanted to look at how we use our time, and the research of what really needs to get done, because I figured there had to be a better way. What brings you joy as a parent? Sometimes you find yourself in a moment where everyone is playing together and laughing and you think "Oh this is it, this is what I'm going to look back on one day.. it's happening now." I find those moments so joyful. It's not that anything major is happening, but we are all having fun and laughing. It's like that episode of The Office when Jim and Pam get married and she takes "mental photos" throughout the weekend. I think about that a lot - I try to do the same when I catch myself in the truly joyous moments. What are some of your challenges as a parent? Time management for sure. Trying to balance work with family time. As my kids get older I've been thinking about discipling a lot and how to do that "right" which I think is tricky. What is the best advice you received or lessons learned as a parent? I learned while writing my book that kids don't want more time with their parents, they want less stressed parents. So I try to be really intentional about taking time for myself in order to destress and refuel, so that when I am with my kids -- even if it's not every second of every day -- that I am really present and giving them my best self. How do you make time for your relationship with your partner? It's really hard! Our schedules (like most parents) are pretty hectic so we don't get to sit down together to dinner every night but we try to do so at least on weekends, and do it after the kids are asleep so we have time to connect. We try to do check-ins throughout the day to, so we are making sort of mini-connections all the time even if we can't carve out a big date. Of course, we DO try to do proper date nights when we can, but it probably doesn't happen as often as we'd like.
Are your parenting styles different than your partners? How do you manage parenting with your partner? I think we are generally aligned on our parenting approaches, though I'll admit that he's better than me at bedtime. He is in and out in no time flat, and the kids are quiet and asleep. They know that with him they won't get away with stalling. I've done a less great job of managing those expectations and my kids stall and take forever when I'm doing bedtime! How do you spend quality time with your children? I try my very very hardest (and I admit I'm not always successful) to put the phone down and out of reach when I'm with my kids. That, I've learned, is the biggest key to quality time - just giving them our full attention. We do a lot of family activities on the weekend. We try not to overschedule our kids too much so that we have plenty of time to go to the museum or the park or brunch together.
Favorite parenting books or resources? All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior; How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn; And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O'Connell (not really a parenting book but a wonderful motherhood memoir). What do you wish for your children? My wish for my children is that they will be happy, healthy people with full lives. I hope they will have fulfilling relationships, but also confidence and a strong sense of self and do whatever work feels important and rewarding for them. I hope they will always be kind and be loved, and that they learn to tackle hardships in healthy ways.