Elizabeth Baron is a NY State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and psychotherapist with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her primary clinical focus is maternal mental health – from preconception and pregnancy, through postpartum and parenting. Elizabeth is deeply committed to de-stigmatizing maternal mental health issues, and she is passionate about helping women through all stages of motherhood.
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Elizabeth Barron is a New York State licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Columbia University Teachers College. Her primary clinical focus is maternal mental health, from preconception and pregnancy through postpartum and parenting. Previously, she worked as a therapist at the motherhood center of New York, where she developed her expertise in treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. While at the motherhood Center, she also served as the community partnerships lead, and worked to educate new and expecting mothers and clinical providers on the importance of maternal mental health. Today, she provides individual therapy in her private practice, moderates several support groups, and offers webinars and educational talks to several different brands across the parenting space, deeply committed to de-stigmatizing maternal mental health issues. She is passionate about helping women through all stages of motherhood. Elizabeth has a two-year-old daughter and is expecting her second baby girl this summer. Elizabeth, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you here today.
Elizabeth Baron: Thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure. And I love spending time with you. So I’m really excited to chat. And I’m just so impressed with what you’ve been doing on this podcast. So thanks for having me.
Jayne Havens: Thank you, you’re so sweet. So typically, whenever we get on Zoom, you and I were always talking about issues that pertain to new moms’ stuff that they’re up against. But today, I really wanted to shift gears a little bit and discuss the business side of sleep consulting, because that’s what this podcast is all about. So I’d love to chat with you about some of the mental and emotional challenges that we as moms, or dare I say mompreneurs, face as we either head back to work or launch a new business. So I guess I’ll point out some of the things that felt really hard to me when I was launching my business, and I would love to hear your take on it. And have you just, talk me off the ledge about all the things that felt really, really hard for me. And I guess, I guess before we even get started with my stuff, I guess I want to back up for a second and ask you if you have any thoughts on why it feels so hard. Just to admit that you want to try something new. Why is that so hard?
Elizabeth Baron: Well, think about it for a second, like all of us who are listening, I’m assuming most are in right the perinatal time period, wrapped up in the new and ongoing parenting struggles. You know, you think about your childhood for a second and adolescence and all the newness that you experienced throughout your life, the first day of school, the first day of camp if you ever went the first day of college, your first day on a job, what about moving to a big city after the school, your first date with maybe your now partner? I think there’s a lot of pressure on the fact that once somebody is maybe older in years, they’ll have more of an understanding of how to manage transitions. But the truth is transitions are hard and harder for some people certainly who have a history of mental health conditions, right? Everyone here knows from the intro, I’m a therapist. So I do a lot of thinking about different time periods of people’s lives and how it impacts them, especially as mothers and parents. But to your question, like starting something new, why would that be easy? Some people find it really exciting and exhilarating, especially an entrepreneur. But I think many and I think you and I have aligned over this and our businesses and practices over the years. See many more people who are incredibly ambitious, and also have this home life that’s really sort of energetic. And the idea of the intersection between something like ambition and motherhood feels so overwhelming. Of course, it does. That’s two full-time jobs. And we’re not even yet connected to being a friend, a partner, a daughter, a sister-in-law, a neighbor, a volunteer, right, like there are so many parts of our life. So adding something new. I feel like I just answered that in such a holistic way but it’s like, of course. It’s hard right now, right?
Jayne Havens: Yes, I really appreciate that. This is why I love talking to you. Because, you know, when I was writing up these questions I was thinking, how is she going to answer this, this is an impossible question. And there you go like you just have the answer. And, and of course, it’s hard, right? Like, of course, it is just like so many other things that we do in our lives. And this is just one more thing that feels hard. And you touched on something that I want to bring up. One thing that felt really, really hard for me, was admitting that I wanted an identity beyond the title of mother. And I’m putting that in air quotes. Because, you know, before I started my efforts, it was a side hustle, which very quickly morphed into a full-time job. My sole identity, at that point in my life, was wrapped up in just being a mother to my children. And everybody just knew me, as you know, Sid and Ivy’s. Mom, that was it, you know, and, and that, that was sort of all I had. And while I loved that, I also, was a little nervous to admit that I wanted something more than that,
Elizabeth Baron: Hey, why for a second because something was missing, right? This is the conversation I have day in and day out with clients is like, well, hold on a second, you’re bringing this up… what does it mean? What’s missing? Right? And that’s really when sort of this new identity as working mothers, becomes born in my practice for myself and for you, right in the sleep consulting world. So like, if we were in session right now, I might be saying to you, well, other than being Ivy and Sid’s, mom, what are you looking for? And you might be like, well, like structure, I might want to have a conversation other than pediatrician appointments and poop. I am looking to feel good. To do something again, where there’s feedback, I want to sort of, I’m looking for that sense of achievement that I want to be valued, right, like this is all resonating.
Jayne Havens: Yes, I was going to add to that, for me, it was also a little bit like, I wanted to contribute financially to the family.
Elizabeth Baron: Right? Whether you have resources or not, that’s a very common feeling as you start to move through those young years of parenting. So wait, tell me even, how old were the kids when you decided to do this?
Jayne Havens: They were young, I think Ivy was two, you know, one or two, and Sid was, you know, five or six?
Elizabeth Baron: Right? Yes. Right. So yes, when you speak to what it felt like when something was missing, but then you have the idea, you feel like something’s missing, the idea of newness feels really ambiguous and scary. But you still like being pushed through, right? And you found something. It’s like, I’m sure you’ve crouched down to your kids at certain times and said, you can do hard things, I believe in you. Right. And I think that’s something that I love. Also providing for my moms as they’re transitioning and creating new identities for themselves is like, hold on a second, you’ve done such hard things before you’re modeling this for your children. Now, it’s your turn. What about you, and how come as mothers, right, this is what you and I always talked about. The needs of others completely are prioritized over your own. But you kind of said I’m ready for my gig. And now look, here we are.
Jayne Havens: Here we are. So other things that crossed my mind that I would love to just get your take on… When I was first, this was before I even launched my business, this was just when I was thinking about it… All I could think of was, what will your friends think? Why did I even care about that? That’s so frustrating that I cared. You know, I was worried that it was going to be embarrassing to announce that I had this at the time just a side hustle, a passion project. And I was embarrassed. I was.
Elizabeth Baron: But why?
Jayne Havens: I don’t know. I’m mortified to even admit it. But I’m, I’m sitting here. I’m sitting here with a therapist. And I’ve admitted that.
Elizabeth Baron: You’re going to help so many people that are sitting there, right at home being like I have this awesome jewelry business idea or I want to create stationery or I want to be a sleep consultant or a doula or therapist. I want to start a baking business, right? And women who sort of sit there saying what will everyone think about all this impostor syndrome you and I’ve discussed start entering the room, the idea of will I be seen differently? How will I be perceived? What might it mean, if people if I miss something at school now that I’m working, you know, in the evenings or during the day on my sleep consulting business, I mean, you must hear this all the time from the people you’re mentoring also in your program, right? It’s like, how do you do it all? I think this is what my friends think, is so much more rooted in a sense of self-doubt and this feeling of will I be successful? I think it’s more will I be successful? And if I’m not, what will it be like to be seen in that way versus saying what will it feel like to sit on my phone and take a video of myself and post it? Do you agree?
Jayne Havens: I think yes, I think you’re right. Of course, you’re right. Of course, you’re right. It’s fear. It’s fear of failure, right? Like, we’re worried about, like, in my mind, I was like, What are my friends gonna think? But really, it was, what am I going to have to say if I can’t figure this out? Right?
Elizabeth Baron: So I think what’s interesting about you and I, and similarities with businesses like for you, and I, there’s a great, great, great need, right? People need you, I mean, you know, I believe so strongly in what you do. People need the tools and skills that you provide, I’m going to say lifelong skills such as self-soothing, and sleep, in order to maintain a healthy family life, right? That’s what I always say about you when I’m pitching you, every single day, right. And I think for me, from a business perspective, the need continues to be so great, especially in pandemic times for new and expecting mothers, families, and parents, to feel that there’s space for them, where they can process really hard things going on in their life. And if instead, when you’re starting a business, like sleep consulting, right, you can not only focus on can I do it, but is there a need? Who will I be helping? What will that benefit? What might that mean to other families? Maybe then there’s less sort of right pressure on can I do this? And instead, how wonderful will it be if I can just help a couple of people along the way? Do you know?
Jayne Havens: Yes, of course. Yes. So the reason for why that’s so important, and I, maybe you realize this, and maybe you don’t, but the reason for why what you just said is so important is because that’s what separates people who are just in entrepreneurship to make money versus people who are in entrepreneurship to actually make some sort of difference. and I think that a lot of times when people, people who I talk to, some of them, just like, want to make some extra money, and they’re like, oh, this sounds interesting. And then there are people who are so passionate about supporting parents postpartum, and supporting parents with toddlers and preschoolers or whatever it may be. And they’re so passionate about that. And when you come to business, with the lens of I’m here to serve you, I’m here not to sell you something, but to help you. Yes, like, you’re not making a sale. You’re, you’re helping somebody. And yes, there’s an exchange of money. And that feels really tricky for people. But you are out there providing a service that people want and need, and you’re out there doing that for them. Not for yourself, What a show for yourself. Right? What a shift.
Elizabeth Baron: Yes. What a shift to a sort of saying to yourself, right, I think I can do this, we’ll see what my friends think, right? Sort of being kind and comedic and compassionate towards yourself. But let’s focus on the need. And let’s focus on how I can be a vehicle to help others. All of a sudden, I think I can see women so much faster, jump in and sort of say, Okay, if I start there, and I’m the vehicle, okay, this feels different. I can do this, like, now what? Right, and now we’re having a different conversation to your point.
Jayne Havens: So when you actually have the belief that you can help people, then that, like the money part comes, right? So like, a lot of us have doubts about being able to grow a business because none of us have ever done that before.
Elizabeth Baron: Right.
Jayne Havens: But when you get into something like sleep consulting, if you really, truly, you know, understand the way it works, you understand babies, you understand toddlers, you understand how to support parents,
Elizabeth Baron: Yep.
Jayne Havens: Then you can have confidence in your ability to be successful in helping people, which then results in a successful business.
Elizabeth Baron: It’s so meaningful. And then, by the way, people who love you, who love sleep consultants, who have somebody like you in their life, because I’m sure there are other sleep consultants listening, right? You all need this, the sort of network that I have that I feel so lucky to have you because I also feel confident on behalf of my patients and friends and family members who are looking to be helped but don’t know how to get there, and I have you to send them. And so again, if somebody who’s in that failure to launch a sort of like per separating phase about can I do this? Can I not have somebody in their mind who’s helped them in the way that I know you’re helping my people? Right, then I think that also is a big shift for people to hold that person, you know.
Jayne Havens: Yes, that’s really great. And that speaks to what I’m always telling my students, which is that making meaningful relationships is the key to having a successful business. Because if you can’t make meaningful relationships with other professionals the parenting space or in the motherhood space, like that’s really what drives…
Elizabeth Baron: So it really is. It really is, thinking about how we met many years ago, and our different turns and swivels right and through now adding more children to the little team and more business ventures and ideas. And to your point, I think that’s the most, that’s the most incredible part about why you’ve even launched this podcast is to sort of say to people like wait, you don’t also have to do it all on your own to move a business, right? You can lean on other sorts of people in the field in your space, community, people, friends, family, cousins, and doulas. I mean, there are lactation consultants and pediatricians, and there are ways to sort of share your brain. I know you said and even in your opening trailer for this podcast, right that you knew you needed to start this because not everybody has that same buzz about sales and marketing and branding. But how cool that they can sort of come here and lean on you as a resource while they go out and try and you know, succeed. That’s awesome.
Jayne Havens: Yes. So let’s talk about another expectation that I definitely had and I see that other women that are coming into my program have this as well, this expectation of early and rapid success. Can we talk about that? Because I feel like we should all give ourselves a little bit more grace. And obviously, that’s a lot easier said than done. Right? But you start something and you want to be successful right away?
Elizabeth Baron: I think I mean, listen, I love social media. You know, I always say this. I also think social media has made something like this more challenging for women to believe that it’s okay that things are a process. If you were my patient, all of you right now listening, you’d hear me all the time saying something like, let’s have more of a crawl. Like I compare everything to babies, and of course and development, right? Because it helps mothers so much to be like, oh, right, that’s true. Like how come babies come out of the womb? We are not assuming they’re ready for college. Right. But for mothers, there’s an expectation and understanding that when you meet a baby in the hospital, you’re automatically going to love and bond unconditionally and be able to breastfeed and know what motor skills they should be… I mean, it’s insane. Right. So to go back to your question. This early and rapid success. Think now, in perspective, what I just said, the expectation for a sleep consultant is they should have 30 clients a year one, I mean, it’s insane, right, rather than five awesome quality clients and families who they helped change their life like, Is it our metrics are all for moms? Is it that social media gives a false sense of how it’s going in other people’s lives? Is it that we as women specifically because we live in a more of a patriarchal society, right, have this understanding? God will all we want to do is prove that we’re worthy and worth it, and we can make shit happen just like men? I think it’s a combination of a couple of these things. But I think I’m I mean, I’m hoping by just sort of articulating this, that you and I see this all the time, that there’s more awareness and understanding that if you’re listening and starting out, what would it be like to sort of make more of a crawl, walk, run plan, rather than running with your one-week-old sort of speak if your business is one week old? I mean, right? Doesn’t that just make so much more sense?
Jayne Havens: Of course, it does.
Elizabeth Baron: It makes me furious. That as women specifically, there’s this expectation and pressure, that in order to feel like a success, by the way, who’s defining what you feel is success in year one, year two, year three? Where’s that coming from?
Jayne Havens: Yes, well, that’s something that we talk about all the time inside of my community for students and graduates is that you know, everybody’s definition of success is different. I have women in the program that work full time and support two to three families through sleep training a month, and they’re thrilled, like they’re so happy. They’re supporting two families, and they’re helping them and changing their lives. And they’re also getting a steady paycheck and health insurance and everything that they need security-wise from their day job, and that is bringing them so much joy. And then I have other people that are literally bringing in six figures doing this work, and they do it full time. And, I would say like both of those people that I have in my mind are equally happy with their trajectory and their day to day, and their income and everything that they’re doing. They’re really pleased with their work.
Elizabeth Baron: Because it’s authentic to them. Right? And so let that be the message today, right on that point that, gosh, find your own measure of success in yourself with your partner with your kids with your, whatever else is going on, but get really honest with yourself. Is it your own metric? Is it the person that you follow that you don’t even know on the other side of the country? Is doing that you feel a success? Is it that you’re trying to raise the ranks fast? Because you need economics? More support? Or is it that you’re up against some sort of perception of self, which we’ve talked about before, right? Where do you feel you need to hit a certain metric or part of the ladder in order to feel like an internal success, but you’re looking for so much external validation? They’re like, what is that? Right?
Jayne Havens: Right?
Elizabeth Baron: But maybe this is back to that earlier point where it’s like, well, what are we is it about yourself? And is it about your checkbook? And that’s okay if it is. Or is it about the work you’re doing to improve other people’s lives and families? And is it their testimonials that make you feel like a success? Or is it right? So it goes back to like, can we shift sometimes as we’re thinking about metrics, not just about self, but about others? And if because if that is your priority, now, if it really is about making money, that’s awesome, too. You’re right, that it becomes something that women talk about often in this field, right about sort of having businesses and accepting money and, and that kind of thing, which I can’t imagine a bunch of men talking about on a podcast, but it’d be really interesting, right? But just getting honest about where are these metrics coming from, that, that, that articulates what you mean, to feel like such a success?
Jayne Havens: Yes. So I shared a bunch of sorts of my nerves and objections. You know, I feel like I was pretty vulnerable here and admitted to a lot of things that were going on in my mind when I was trying to get my business off the ground. And then I also hear from a lot of women, just because I talk to people all day long, who are interested in getting into this field. And what’s interesting is I don’t hear, what will my friends think? I don’t hear… like, I don’t believe in myself, I don’t hear, all those things. I hear, I don’t have time, or I can’t afford it. Those are the things I hear. So I guess what I would love to hear from you is, what is that? Is that just an easy way to say I’m scared?
Elizabeth Baron: Potentially, yes. When I hear that, I don’t have time. And maybe it’s because, right again, everyone’s learning about my practice so much. When I talk about my mom’s babies, I immediately think of a mental load. And, you know, I don’t know if you’ve talked about it on the podcast, but mental load if you aren’t familiar, also sometimes called emotional labor, which might help our listeners right is just like having those a million things on your mind all the time. The list, the list. It’s picking up the eggs, it’s labeling your kid’s lunchbox, it’s planning Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa shopping, it’s buying and making dinners for the week. It’s reading the communications from the school, the list goes on. And do we have toilet paper? And then it’s after even if you’ve asked someone else to buy the eggs, making sure the eggs made it there that night? Because you need them in two days for something else. Right. So like, I hope everyone’s laughing for a second because this is real, right? How we feel as mothers. So then it’s just too good. When I think about what all of that would look like at a job. There’s a name for it. It’s called Project Management. That’s exactly right. He’s just good. But that’s a whole job like a project manager. Like they’re awesome, right? clipboard, man. I used to say, I mean, as a kid, by the way, I’ll share with everyone I was not playing house, I was playing going to a meeting with a clipboard. So this is very familiar to me. But at home, when you think about that list, there’s no word for it, which is why I want to really sort of like, tell everyone there actually is it’s just not talked about enough. It’s called mental load. And I think it can bring up a lot of feelings. I think it can bring up a lot of feelings as it relates to Is there enough time in the day? How come other people in my family don’t feel this sort of same connection to the list or need to get the list done? So I’m going to argue that when I hear someone say I don’t have time, it might be a cop-out and they’re scared. And it goes back to that sort of intersection between being both ambitious and a mom and how will I do this? But when I really hear mental load stuff, come up with my mom’s I’m thinking to myself, you’re right. That is a big job you just brought up but like, what would it be like to share the list? with a partner, but would it be like to prioritize the list? What needs to get done today, tomorrow on Wednesday, but can wait until Thursday and Friday so that we might have more hours for Jayne’s sleep consulting sort of class that you need to join, right. So I really think there’s a way to sort of sit and process and talk through the things that are holding women up. Like, I don’t have time, or my effing list has legs and arms, which we all believe it’s I mean, right, like the list, as I’m sitting here with you. And as I see clients, if everyone could see right now there’s like seven lists next to my desk. And it’s about how we assign value, right to these things that we have to get done. And are there other parts of our lives, like entrepreneurship, business or helping others, or making more money on the side is a hustle that is also worth our time and energy and investment, but we just don’t know how to integrate and make space for both?
Jayne Havens: Yes. And I think the integration is the hardest part, that’s something that I really struggled with, because I was always the default parent, right? The one that was carrying the emotional load carrying the list I was in, I’m in charge of the list in my house. And when I was a stay-at-home mom, and I wasn’t working, it was my entire job to be, as you said, the project manager. And that was my role. And then the idea of taking on something else, it’s like, okay, well, now there’s going to be this shift balance of power shift within my family, because if I’m going to be working, even part-time, let’s not even say full time, but even if I’m going to be working part-time like I was already doing a full-time job, and, and so now the responsibilities and the not just the responsibilities, but the dynamic within my household needed to change a little bit, you know,
Elizabeth Baron: Agree, and really my children’s relationship to partner relationship to the house to self, it all changes, I completely agree.
Jayne Havens: But what I will say is that ever since I started working again, I feel like happier within my home, I feel actually that the balance of responsibilities, I actually hold less resentment now, because my husband is he has to help more like he was he was helpful before, but like, he really has to help more because there’s no other option. You know, like we,
Elizabeth Baron: It’s so true. You know, what I’ve heard a lot in the last two years in this wild pandemic that won’t end is that my working mothers versus my mothers that are working in the home, right, have conversations all the time, but whose job is more important. And I think when there’s a childcare issue, for example, right? Or you were like, in my family a couple of weeks ago, when after a two year fight, we all got COVID, there was a really big dialogue between my husband and I about division of labor, and what it was going to mean to both need to work, and also both care for our child so that we could both work without our wonderful childcare who couldn’t come. And it makes me think about that on a personal level, right? Because I was so humbled to see my husband sort of not say to me, you have to cancel all your clients, like there’s a real sort of equality in my household about the importance of and value that we both bring to our jobs. And I hope that for all moms, even if you are home all day long that they feel valued, right. But we often know, and I certainly see this in my work. And thank you for saying that for other moms to know that, resentment is a common feeling that comes up for women that aren’t yet working, or choose not to, even if it’s a choice or don’t have the option. And like this is a big thing that I think comes up in, in, in relationships when people are saying, I think I’m ready to go back to the workforce. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. Right? But it’s like, can you have this dialogue and communication with your partner? Like really deep into it. So I love that.
Jayne Havens: I love that about you. You know, I feel so much better now that I am advocating for my own self-worth and my own things that I want to be doing, you know, before it was like I had to do all this stuff. And now it’s like, no, I’m doing what I want to be doing. And then we’re all my husband and I are dividing the stuff.
Elizabeth Baron: You know, there you go, though, that just brought us back to that mental load conversation that like if you tell him to get the eggs, there’s also trust that the eggs will make it into the fridge because of the dialogue that needed to happen in order for you to go be a success for other people and for your business. Right. And I think I see that really changing and evolving. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think what you’re saying and I certainly agree is it’s worth it if you got something like this sleep consulting business that you’re all listening to right? Like please know that doesn’t mean it’s going to always be easy. In the beginning, but talk about our crawl, walk, run plan, right? A couple of months, weeks, years into it, you won’t remember what it feels like to be only responsible for things like mental load and wishing that you could be more project manager at a different kind of job and gig.
Elizabeth Baron: In the beginning, but talk about our crawl, walk, run plan, right? A couple months, weeks, years into it, you won’t remember what it feels like to be only responsible for things like mental load, and wishing that you could be more project manager at a different kind of job and gig. Right?
Jayne Havens: Right. Because I’m still the project manager, I just have a different job now.
Elizabeth Baron: Just to sort of say, for people who aren’t feeling like they’re doing it all and all well, because we know this comes up too, as people are starting businesses, sleep consulting, or other ones, right is, you know, there is this sort of feeling like I’m failing at something. And when I was a stay at home mom, I was doing it all really well. But now that I have this business, like I’m failing in one part of my life, I think this is all par for the course in the feelings of what it means to go through newness and transition and just know it gets better. Right.
Jayne Havens: Yes. Which I think that’s, this is probably a great place to like, tie everything up. Because, you know, sort of the last thing that I wanted to say is that, I think the most important thing, when you are starting a new business, is that you give yourself some grace. Right. And I think that’s like the one thing that I see missing from so many of the women that I’m mentoring, and leading on this journey is that everybody’s just really hard on themselves.
Elizabeth Baron: Your clients, do you see this with almost everyone, I send your way to? The need to know exactly what their baby needs at all times. Like, what do you mean, you’ve just met them? Of course, you don’t know what they need? And right, like, they might surprise you in the middle of the night? Because that’s what babies do. And why do you believe you should? No, no, to your point? Yes, I think so much compassion, kindness, room for self to process during that transition period, as you’re starting your businesses, to the people who are listening, right, like, knowing it’s okay to not be in love with the decision to start a business every single day that there’s hard ones. And then there are really exciting ones, but we don’t want it to ever feel so up and down. So black and white. So either all good, or all regretful, we want it to feel like something in between, you know, I always talk about the gray area. And this idea, right, that these two things can exist together. So, I mean, my thought, to respond to that point that you’re saying is, not enough grace, not enough kindness, not enough patience with oneself. And to sort of know, it can be both, it can be both exciting and daunting. You could be both vulnerable, and confident all at the same time.
Jayne Havens: You took that word right out of my mouth. I was going to say patience too.
Elizabeth Baron: So it’s, but I love it. Right? I love that. I mean, we’re always aligned. But this idea of patience in all parts of our lives. By the way, even when, you know, you just shared on a personal note that things changed in your dynamic in your house. Like you had to be patient to know that maybe sometimes it felt hard, and that you thought it would feel better eventually. And here you are feeling awesome.
Jayne Havens: Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I love chatting with you. This will not be the last time we will have to do this again very, very soon. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your wisdom on this very, very complicated topic.
Elizabeth Baron: So now welcome always you know how much I love you. So thanks for having me.