As an attorney and mother of two, Mindful Working Mom on the Street Lori Mihalich-Levin knows how hard life can be for new working parents. So she set out to empower them to their best at home and at the office.
Lori is the founder of Mindful Return, author of the Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave, and creator of the Mindful Return Maternity Leave E-Course.
Find out more about Lori and her advice for parents by listening to the Parents at Work Podcast, which she co-hosts with her husband!
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
Well, there’s my favorite way, and then my kids’ favorite way. I’m a huge fan of hiking with them and exploring new outdoor places. They’d probably prefer to be playing Beyblades with me, attending a sports game, or memorizing Pokémon powers. We can all agree on family movie night, though!
What’s been your best family vacation?
We’ve traveled quite a bit as a family, and many of the adventures we’ve had when our kids were little definitely felt more like trips than vacations. (If you have small kids, you know what I mean when I say you come home needing a vacation from your vacation!)
But perhaps the first trip we took when both boys no longer needed a nap and were a tad bit more self-sufficient, was to Boston. We rented an Airbnb apartment for a week, explored the city, saw friends, and generally had a blast.
What’s your favorite family game?
Apples to Apples, hands down. Even when my youngest couldn’t read, he’d team up with me or my husband and we’d let him be “judge” when our turn came around. Every card has us cracking up.
What’s your go-to family dinner?
Sunday evenings, we often make French crepes – pizza crepes for the kids, and salmon + crème fraiche for the grown-ups. Though I’m from Pennsylvania and my husband is from New Jersey, he and I met in France and have an affinity for all things French. I’ve also taught my oldest son how to make the crepes, so now he can whip up a batch in no time, and all I need to do is help with the frying pan!
What’s your favorite family restaurant?
Cheesecake Factory does have a good record of making all of us happy. The miles-long menu makes it easy for everyone to find something we like. And we probably set land speed records for gobbling up two enormous slices of their Oreo Extreme and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecakes!
Best parenting advice:
If there were one right way to do something in parenthood, there wouldn’t be an entire bookshelf of books on the subject. Sleep was a disaster for my kids in the early days, and I got very caught up in reading every possible opinion on the subject and beating myself up for not knowing how to get it “right.” Turns out there is no “right,” each child is different, and you need to go with what is right for you and your own family. So too with all of parenthood, I believe.
What are some of the best things your kids have taught you?
My boys are 8 and 10, so of course, they teach me all about wild animal creature powers, whether grass type Pokémon can defeat water-type Pokémon, the ERAs of the baseball players who pitch for the Washington Nationals, and how to play ball tag.
But on a deeper level, they’ve taught me how to be still and just watch. How to play (and not just work). How to be more patient. And that I have so very little control over anything in this world.
Parenting true confession:
I treasure 2-3 day business trips. Well, I did pre-COVID at any rate. Not too long, and not too often. But as much as I love my kids, a few days away is a tiny piece of heaven. Oh, and I secretly love playing the board game Ticket to Ride Rails & Sails as much as my 10-year-old does.
What 5 things are you most likely to have in your purse at all times?
At least 3 masks, a granola bar (usually too crumbly to be eaten), my wallet, 5 expired CVS coupons, and Carmex. I used to have a Blistex addiction, but when I weaned my lips off of that, I moved onto Carmex. In the little round, yellow metal jar.
What’s your favorite part about being a parent?
The snuggles and cuddles. My kids will tell anyone who listens that “when mommy retires, she’s going to be a NICU cuddler.” Truth. I can’t get enough of those cuddles.
Favorite parenting hack:
Our “Saturday Basket” and Saturday meeting. My husband and I have a standing Saturday evening meeting (more here), which we use to consolidate the week’s chaos and plan out the coming week. It helps us avoid dealing with miscellaneous tasks like completing permission slips and ordering things during the workweek, so we can focus more on our kids during weekday evenings. We also use this meeting to schedule alone time and time with friends, which is critical to our working parent sanity.
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?
I’m simply not a binge-watcher. It’s not in me. But I have very much enjoyed watching both The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with my husband and Master Chef Junior with my kiddos.
If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be?
I am notoriously bad at knowing any but the most most most famous of Hollywood actors. So I asked my husband who should star me. His answer? Gal Gadot, in Wonder Woman. I do so love my husband.
What’s your favorite beach read?
I’ll put a plug in here for my dear friend K.D. Richards' (I know her as Kia) first-ever book! If you're looking for an excellent romantic suspense novel that stars a strong and brilliant hotel CEO named Nadia, get a copy of Kia's book, Pursuit of the Truth.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be?
I would love to hang out with Oprah Winfrey for a day. Her Super Soul conversations always inspire me and feed my spirit. Her life and experiences are so rich, and she asks such amazing questions. I know the day wouldn’t be boring, and I’d learn a ton.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?
Literally, ANYWHERE I can go on a plane!!! (This is the COVID lockdown speaking.) More seriously, I’d really love to explore Turkey, Greece, and the Mediterranean in general. They’ve been on my list for a long time. I’d love to take my kids to the Galapagos Islands, too.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I try hard not to feel guilty about things that bring me pleasure, particularly given how incredibly difficult this past year has been. If I had to say one thing, though, it’s probably doing 1:1 yoga sessions with an incredible teacher via Zoom. They’ve been truly life-sustaining for me during this pandemic.
What’s your favorite form of self-care?
My daily morning yoga routine with the Insight Timer app keeps me grounded. I’m at 549 consecutive days as I type this. I also find that weeding the vinca in front of my house is extremely meditative for me. The weeks are so dependable – always there when I feel like it’s time to pull some out!
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day?