How She Moms

By Whitney Archibald

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Whitney Archibald, a mother of five, is on a quest to find out how different moms solve the same problems. She picks a new topic each month and collects ideas from other moms so you can pick and choose what works for you and your family.

Episode Date
008 I'm Turning Into My Mother (At Least I Hope So)
May 12, 2019
007 How She Strategizes

Every mom is a career mom. Some moms have another career on top of their mom gig, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a long-term, strategic career. It’s a challenging career, but the perks put health plans and 401Ks to shame—the first smiles and giggles, that indescribable feeling of having your baby fall asleep in your arms. And that newborn smell…. Then there’s the first joke they tell that is actually funny, that adorable dance recital, the late-night heart-to-hearts. It’s the most rewarding career.

In this post, we’re going to talk about several different moms, and how they strategize in their own motherhood careers. Specifically, we’ll talk about how they create deliberate family cultures, often complete with a family mission statement, how they set goals, and how they include their families in their big-picture planning.

Here are links to more in-depth articles about the moms featured in this episode, as well as podcast episodes and books I mention.


How Josie Strategizes: The Lauducci family lives a life of simplicity, togetherness, and global awareness—on a 40-foot sailboat. Family blog:; Instagram:

How Kelli Cultivates Curiosity: Kelli’s kids ask a lot of questions—which is precisely what she was hoping for. Instagram: @raisingcuriousminds

How Andrea Strategizes: Andrea loves to think big and make ambitious goals for her future. Her husband—not so much. Here’s how they’ve built a family culture that works for the whole family.

How Leisle Strategizes: Leisle and her husband Vinh dedicate a weekend each year to plan out their life and family goals. By sticking to their vision, they have created a value-driven, generous family culture.

How Jessica Strategizes: This year, Jessica decided to schedule monthly family fun days, each with a different purpose. Instagram: @flyingwithfour

How Sarah Strategizes: Sarah Nielsen chooses one word as her personal theme each year, and then paints the word into a beautiful piece of art to hang on her wall as a reminder. Website:

How Jen Plans Meals: (This post is not what I talked to Jen about on this podcast, but if you liked her ideas here, you'll also like what she had to say about family meal planning.)

Jodi Chaffee: Our Modern Heritage Podcast

Jillian Johnsrud:


Family Looking Up Podcast

Episode 47: Doing Less to Have More, with Jillian Johnsrud


The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack

May 07, 2019
006 Mom's Secret Identity

Links to podcasts mentioned in this episode:

3 in 30 Podcast, episode 16: "How to Be the Mom You Are Instead of the Mom You Think You Should Be"

The Women With Fire, episode 51: "Jamie Cook of Wander and Scout"


One Mother's Day, Lori Brescia's kids came home from church with questionnaires they had filled out about her. Under "Favorite Food," they had answered "hot dogs," "pizza," "macaroni and cheese." Under favorite color, they wrote, "orange," "blue," "red." The same pattern emerged for her favorite activities and even hair color: they had no clue. 

Lori fed them lunch so they'd have some stamina, and sat her family down in a row on the couch, including her husband. "Today is Mother's Day," she said, "and I can't help noticing that these questionnaires you filled out today are really about you, and not me. I am not just an extension of you. I'm my own person." 

She spent the next 45 minutes telling them stories about her life. She paced up and down the room, explaining what makes her laugh, what makes her happy, what makes her sad. She told stories from when she was a child and when she taught high school. She shared what she loves about being a mom, but also all the other things she loves to do. They laughed together at the funny stories, and Lori even cried a few times talking about some of her more emotional experiences. At one point, one son said, "This is all about you, mom." "Exactly," she replied, and kept going.

That Mother's Day has itself become part of the Brescia family lore. They laugh about it every year. But you better believe those kids are really good at filling out those questionnaires now.

Mahatma Ghandi said, "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Many mothers are really good at the "lose yourself" part and the "service" part, but forget that the goal in the first half of the sentence is to "find yourself." Depending on how you approach it, motherhood can help you develop, discover, and refine who you really are, or it can usurp your identity until you define yourself only by that role. Then when the kids leave the house, they leave you with an identity crisis, no discernible hobbies or interests, and a lot of time on your hands.   

Last summer, I hiked my first 14er (a mountain above 14,000 feet) with my husband. Wading through wildflowers and streams, burning my lungs and my legs, and looking out at endless peaks and valleys, I felt a sudden explosion of joy and thought, "This is who I am." I almost needed to reintroduce myself to this person. In high school, I defined myself by mountains. Not a week went by that I wasn't fishing in them, hiking in them, rock climbing in them, or at least gazing at them with wonder. Now here I was living in Colorado and maybe making it up to the mountains every other month. 

That day on Mt. Harvard made me think about the other things that define who I am. Yes, I am a mother. And that is a huge part of my identity. But I am also a writer, reader, pianist, singer, chef, cyclist, dancer, hiker, climber, tennis player, teacher, public speaker, and a believer in God. I've gone through long periods of time where I haven't done some of these things, but they're still part of who I am. 

I have also spent a lot of my life feeling like an imposter. When I discovered rock climbing in high school, I didn't call myself a climber, even though I went once a week. I wasn't an expert, so I didn't think I could claim the title. For years as a young mother, I didn't call myself a writer, even though I had worked as a professional writer for years, because I wasn't currently writing. I didn't claim to be a singer, even though that is a huge part of my everyday life, because I rarely performed and because it sounded like bragging. 

But I've come to believe that you can and should claim anything you love and that defines who you are, no matter how skilled or professional you are. Even someone who can't carry a tune should be able to claim that they're a singer if they love it and do it a lot. 

This especially applies to motherhood. Who doesn't feel like an imposter when they bring that first baby home? Suddenly you're in charge of this needy little creature and you're supposed to have all the answers. Little by little, we gain the required skills, but we get that title, Mom, right away.

At every stage, with every new child, I feel imposter syndrome again. I don't know what the heck I'm doing. But I am Mom, and I claim that title wholeheartedly.

It's also OK not to claim stuff. I am not a crafter, painter, stylist, shopper, interior designer, or aesthetician. I don't decorate my house for any holiday besides Christmas. My children's church doodles have far surpassed my own. I'm fine with that.

There are infinite versions of both Woman and Mom. We all get to create our own version. In an interview on the podcast "The Women with Fire" Jamie Cook, said, "I can be whatever kind of mom I want to be. I can be really fit, I can be really clean and organized, I can be an amazing cook, I can be a really fun mom, but I can't be all those versions of a mom at one time." (Jamie's fabulous Instagram account is @wanderandscout.) As our version of motherhood evolves and changes to meet different phases of our lives, we pick up new interests and talents that enrich our lives.  

 One of my favorite podcast episodes is "How to Be the Mom You Are Instead of the Mom You Think You Should Be," an interview on "The 3 in 30 Podcast" with Julie Bastedo. She made a list of all the things she does not do as a mother, including organizing playdates, skiing, camping, blogging or podcasting, and doing anything (including exercise) excessively and gave herself permission not to do them.

She does not feel bad about this list at all. She says, "I realized, well of course those are things I cannot do, or never do, or do not enjoy doing, because those things have nothing to do with who I am.... We are constantly reading on social media or reading in parenting books or following on television all of these things as mothers that we are supposed to be. And very infrequently do we recognize who we really are." 

Julie then made a list of all the things she does do well as a mother to contribute to her family, including patience, reading good literature (and applying what she learns from it to motherhood), reading aloud, and teaching. We all have things to add to both lists, and we might as well embrace those lists.  

I'll end with a list of some of the amazing mothers I know and the things that things that give them that "This Is Who I Am" feeling, to get you thinking about the unique attributes you bring to your version of motherhood: 

  • Juliana is a painter. She paints when she can, and teaches her kids (and other people's kids) to paint. This spring, she left her five kids with her husband for a weekend and went on an art retreat with her sister.

  • Molly is good at family finance. She likes to have her own finances in order and likes to help others do the same.

  • Jennifer is a teacher and a swimmer. Even though she could easily argue that she doesn't have time for it with her six children, she teaches swim lessons every May and June to share both of these gifts with others and to feel like herself.

  • Sarah feels most like herself when she is baking. This year, she opened up a cookie shop from her home.

  • Ashley is a crafter and inventor. She has turned this talent into a hugely successful website and business called Make It and Love It, with brilliant ideas and tutorials.

  • Susan, my mom, is a genealogist. She dabbled with this hobby while she was raising us, but now that we're grown, she treats it as a part-time job and is really good at it.

  • My sisters, Hayley and Cassie, are singers, and now sing together professionally in a trio while raising their young families.

  • Sandy is an accomplished dancer who now cultivates that talent by sharing it with students at the gym. (I am one of the lucky beneficiaries.)

Whatever your brand of motherhood, embrace it, cultivate it, and spend time doing those things that make you feel like you!

Apr 29, 2019
005 Brataphobia

Entitlement is a first-world problem. And it's an embarrassing problem to admit, because it sounds like we're whining about our good fortune: "It's just so hard to raise kids when we have enough money to buy them things...." But just because we're embarrassed that we spoil our children doesn't mean we should ignore the fact nor let it persist.

This month I went on a quest for an antidote to the raging entitlement epidemic. I gravitated to four main books on the topic, though there are many more great ones out there: 

The Opposite of Spoiled, by Ron Lieber

The Entitlement Trap, by Richard and Linda Eyre

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, by Wendy Mogel

Smart Money, Smart Kids, by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

As I was researching, I compiled a list of 12 things we can teach our children so they don't turn into spoiled brats:

  1. Scarcity

  2. Contentment

  3. Gratitude

  4. Generosity

  5. Perspective

  6. Hard work

  7. Ownership

  8. Patience

  9. Thrift

  10. Consequences

  11. Transparency

  12. Good Role Models

To read the article this podcast was based on, click here.

Apr 08, 2019
004 How She Teaches Her Kids About Money

Learning how to manage money wisely is one of those lessons that has to be learned from experience, and watching our kids make money mistakes can be painful. This episode discusses brilliant examples of how moms are teaching their kids about money, from establishing family economic systems to setting up bank accounts, to having kids help manage family finances.

Here are some links to additional resources on

The Great Allowance Debate — A cheesy mock debate between a commission-based system of paying children, an allowance-based system, and no system at all.

Brataphobia — Afraid of raising spoiled brats? Here are twelve antidotes to the entitlement epidemic, from four great books.

How Lisa Teaches Her Kids About Money — Lisa pays her daughters a weekly allowance, independent of chores.

How Sarah Teaches Her Kids About Money — Beginning at age 9, Sarah's kids earn money for completing their daily chores, and buy most of what they need or want for themselves.

Apr 01, 2019
003 How She Connects With Her Kids

Connecting with our kids is the big “why” of motherhood—the payoff for all the hard work and sacrifice. Sometimes it comes naturally and easy, sometimes it’s more complicated, and sometimes it’s unspeakably hard. But even then, we keep trying, because that’s what moms do.

In this episode, I share ideas about how moms connect with their kids, organized into eight main ideas:

  1. Plan Connection Opportunities into Your Routine

  2. Make Time to Talk

  3. Show Interest in their Interests

  4. Play Together

  5. Work Together

  6. Carve Out One-on-One Time

  7. Tell Them You Love Them

  8. Identify Pain Points and Find a Workaround

Related Articles on

You can find articles about many of the moms I talked to on the podcast at, by clicking on the links below:

How Lori Builds Relationships

How Nichole Builds Relationships

How Jana Builds Relationships

How Emerald Creates Routines

How the Slade Family Serves

Recommended Podcasts:

Here are the podcast episode I mentioned, plus a few other great ones for more ideas about how to connect with your kids:

Family Looking Up:

Episode 69 Loving Kids When They Act Unloveable

What Fresh Hell:

Episode 51: Getting Your Kids to Talk to You

3 in 30 Podcast:

Episode 26: How to Praise When It Seems Like There’s Nothing to Praise

Episode 50: How to Actually Listen to Your Children

Episode 41: How to Really See Your Children and Help Them See You

Episode 38: Get Teenagers to Talk to You

Episode29: Making the Most of Everyday Moments to Connect with Your Child

Mar 04, 2019
002 Raising Seabiscuit

To my surprise, Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, turned out to be one of the best parenting books I’ve ever read.

Mar 04, 2019
001 How She Does Laundry

We all have to wear clothes, and it’s better for everyone if they’re clean when we do. But even though we all do laundry, it’s not something we talk about very much. In this episode, we get down and dirty with laundry strategies and systems from several different moms.

Mar 04, 2019
How She Moms Podcast

The How She Moms Podcast is coming soon!

Mar 04, 2019