Ep. 296 – Letting Go of the Mother Load: Interview with Erica Djossa

March 4, 2024

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Laura and Shanna talk with Erica Djossa, CEO and founder of Momwell and the author of the upcoming book “Releasing the Mother Load: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More.” They talk about strategies for reassessing our preconceived notions of motherhood, how to let go of the mental load that can often lead to burnout and more! Also, Shanna reports on her 8-year-old’s off-the-wall birthday party, and Laura talks about her youngest son turning three and no longer being a toddler. Finally, they share their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Shanna’s kids are 5 and 8 years old, and Laura’s kids are 5 years old and 3 years old.


Learn more about Erica Djossa!

Visit Erica’s website

Order Erica’s book

Follow Erica’s Instagram

Listen to Erica’s Podcast


Topics discussed in this episode:

-Kids’ birthday parties

-Trampoline park

-Homemade birthday cake

-Third birthday

-Toddlers vs. preschoolers

-Mom mental load

-Maternal mental health

-Mom cognitive labor

-Early morning wakings

-Kids taking photos


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Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey podcast is hosted by Laura Birek and Shanna Micko and produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

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Episode Transcript

Laura: Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. This week, we have our weekly check ins. We have our special segment, which is an interview with Erica Djossa, founder of Mowell and author of the forthcoming book, Releasing the Motherload: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More. And, of course, we close with our BFPs and BFNs for the week. Let’s get started. Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode 296. Hi, Shanna.

Shanna: Hello.

Laura: How are you? What have you been up to this week? Tell us everything.

Shanna: I am good. We had a fun week because we celebrated Elle’s birthday again, but this time with her birthday party, her official birthday party with her friends. I know a few episodes ago, I was like, OMG I haven’t planned anything. I don’t know what we’re gonna do. Well, it all came together, and that’s what we did this weekend.

Laura: Okay. So what did you decide to do? Because last we talked, you weren’t sure. She had suggested Menchie’s, but you thought that wasn’t gonna cut it. So what ended up happening?

Shanna: So I researched a bunch of places around here to have birthday parties, and I presented the options to her. It was like an art place where we could do art stuff. There was the Kids’ Empire, an indoor playground. And then I suggested Sky Zone, which is the trampoline park nearby. And as I suspected, she was very into that idea and immediately was like, yes. That’s the one I wanna do.

Laura: I think I said something like that. Right? I’m like, what are trampoline parks for if not for last minute birthday parties?

Shanna: Absolutely. It was so perfect because they have so many parties. I know now that you can easily go online, reserve a spot, and even if 9 other kids are having a party at that time, it’s okay because there’s space for you. It was perfect. I reserved that 2 weeks out, sent out invitations. There was a max of 10 kids, and she wanted to invite a bunch of girls from her class all her little best girlfriends and her boyfriend.

Laura: Okay.

Shanna: Don’t tell her I’m saying this. But it’s so cute. I just have to mention it. It was so cute. She invited 1 boy, and it’s her little boyfriend.

Laura: Oh my goodness.

Shanna: So sweet. So it worked out perfectly. We got our RSVPs, and, Laura, this place was excellent. I’ve never been there before. I had no preconceived notions really. I thought it might be just a wild environment. And I was not wrong. It was absolutely bananas.

Shanna: It’s huge. It’s like in an old airplane hangar or something. I don’t know. It’s absolutely gigantic. The parties section is upstairs, and then there’s this big indoor playground, for the younger kids, and then tons of trampoline areas, rock climbing, like ninja warrior area, a bouncy basketball court. There was just so much stuff for them to do, and they went bananas. They just ran off. It was lucky if I caught the action for a few minutes to see what was going on.

Shanna: Even Cece just ran in there without inhibition, was ready to go, ready to play. I lost track of her at one point. There’s so many people, but it feels contained and safe. You know what I mean? I never felt like, oh my gosh. Where is she? I could talk to other kids’ parents and just know that they were off playing. I will say the other great thing about this place is they really think about the parents’ comfort. The watching/observing area has leather couches.

Laura: Nice.

Shanna: One area just has a bunch of massage chairs for parents.

Laura: You know what that reminds me of, Shanna? Is that one time we were about to do a photo shoot for the podcast. Right? And you were we I need clothes for the photoshoot. And I was let’s go to the mall together and try to get clothes for this photoshoot. And what we did at the very beginning of our mall adventure was find these massage chairs and sit down in them and just chat for 10 minutes while we got massaged.

Shanna: Clearly, massage chairs are beneficial in high sensory environments where things are wacky everywhere around you and you need to relax. So the way the party works is that kids get an hour to do all that, then we move upstairs to the party area. They instantly tore into the presents. All the kids were like, open my present. Open my present. So, she just dug in, was opening presents.

Shanna: They ate pizza. The big hit was fruit cups. I made fruit cups ahead of time, and I opened the cooler and they were all like, fruit cups!!! I was like, okay. That’s good. Good to remember. And then, of course, I made a homemade cake.

Laura: Okay. Let’s see. Alright. As usual, your homemade cakes look completely professional. Ignoring the toppers and everything, you already have this perfect fancy sprinkle situation going along the bottom. You have the most perfect chocolate drip around the top. Like, it looks like it’s painted on. And then these adorable pink florets or what I don’t know what you call them because I don’t know any, language as far as cake decoration goes.

Shanna: Piped icing. Yes.

Laura: Yes. Yes. Yes. And then you have what I think are a bunch of Sanrio toys on top.

Shanna: Yeah. That was the theme. The theme was Sanrio character. She specifically loves Kuromi, which is kind of like the sassy little troublemaker friend of Hello Kitty. But here is what’s very special about this cake. It’s an ice cream cake. Laura, I made an ice cream cake.

Shanna: Elle personally requested an ice cream cake. And at first, I was like, oh, maybe I should buy that at Menchie’s or something. But you know me, I really love to make cakes. And it’s like I bet I can do that. So I figured it out, and it really wasn’t all that hard. And it was fucking delicious. It’s it was an Oreo fudge cookies and cream ice cream cake, and I was very proud of how it turned out. Everyone loved it.

Laura: Did you buy the ice cream and then kind of melt it into the mold or did you make the ice cream too?

Shanna: I did not make the ice cream. That’s what made it easier. I bought a thing of cookies and cream ice cream. I softened it and pushed it into a cake mold, an 8-inch round cake mold, put it in the freezer Perfect. And then took it out and made a layer of cake with it.

Laura: Yum. Ice cream cake is my favorite.

Shanna: Oh, it’s so good. So I was a little worried about taking this project on because I didn’t know if she was expecting a store bought ice cream cake. You know? I mentioned to her that I got the supplies for it, and I couldn’t tell her reaction. But when I started making it at home and she saw the progress of it, she got so excited. She was like, oh my gosh. It looks amazing. Mom, you’re a cake master. And that’s a quote I wrote down, Laura. I was like, I was like, oh my gosh. Yay. And so I it made me feel really, really happy that she appreciated it.

Laura: Oh, it’s so nice when your kids actually appreciate the work you put into things. That’s the best. I agree with her. You are a cake master. I 100% would have believed if you said, oh, I bought this from a professional.

Shanna: Thank you. It’s really fun. I do enjoy it. But, yeah. So that was our big event for the week. But I wanna hear about your week. What’s going down over there in Laurel Land?

Laura: Well, we also celebrated a birthday this week because little Sebastian. Oh, no my gosh. I’ve never said it like that. Now I meet all I can think about is Parks and Recreation. He’s not :ittle Sebastian from parks and recreation. He’s my little boy, Sebastian.

Shanna: That is amazing. For those who don’t remember that reference, it’s the little pony. Is it a pony or donkey?

Laura: I don’t even remember now. I’m pretty sure it was a miniature pony.

Shanna: Or a miniature horse. Miniature horse.

Laura: It was a miniature horse. Yeah. It was not it was a full grown adult miniature horse. From the show Parks and Recreation. It was it was a big plot point. It was a recurring joke. Anyway, not Little Sebastian. My little boy, Sebastian, turned 3 this week.

Shanna: Oh my gosh. I know.

Laura: I know. It’s so hard for me to believe, partially because he’s still little in my perception and also just he is, thankfully. He’s still my little guy. He’s still my little Sebastian. This is gonna be a joke now going forward. Yeah. But if you recall, I thought I was making my life easier by doing a joint birthday party, and then I somehow tried to give myself extra work by doing 2 individual birthday parties for the boys. Right?

Shanna: Right.

Laura: I did the one at the park for Auggie, and I was like, well, I’m gonna have to do the same thing for Sebastian. Well, thankfully, last week, his school sent me an email that reminded me of something I had completely forgotten about, which saved me the effort of having to have a second birthday party for him, which was that I had signed Sebastian up to be kid of the week this week. Which I did, obviously, because it’s his birthday week and that’s kind of what people do. And what they do is they have a sign-up sheet at the beginning of the year where you choose a week for your kid to be kid of the week. And the idea is that parents come in to do a couple activities during the week, to celebrate them. Right? And you may remember I did this with Auggie last year where we went in and did a scavenger hunt.

Shanna: Yes. Yes. I’m remembering crafted pizza pieces.

Laura: Yeah. I used my Cricut, my brand new Cricut to make little scavenger hunt things. And one of them was a pizza in the play oven. And I used ChatJPT to write the limericks to get them to. Anyway, I didn’t quite go so big this year, partially because he’s just turning 3, and I think a scavenger hunt might be a little advanced for him. So, but what we did was we had a pizza party for him on his actual birthday, so we got to come in with pizza on his actual birthday, and that was super fun and so cute. And then the next day, we got to come in and read books and do a little craft to go with the books, so we stayed for their choice time.

Laura: And, we read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and I took the moon for a walk. And then we did coloring pages I printed out coloring pages from Bear Hunt and a moon coloring page, and the kids could choose to do it. And it was just really sweet. We got to spend an hour in the classroom while the kids were doing whatever they wanted. It was adorable. Because it’s 2- to 4-year-olds in that class, and it’s just like, ugh, you guys are so freaking cute.

Shanna: So cute. Big 3-year-old. I can’t believe it.

Laura: I know. You know what I also can’t believe is how these preschool teachers can keep a group of 2- to 4-year-olds sitting in a circle. Anyway, that that’s a that’s a story for another time. It’s miraculous. It really is. But, yeah, he’s my big 3-year-old now, and we didn’t have to have another party, which is good because it poured on his birthday. Absolutely pouring rain. So, yeah, I think that means I no longer have a toddler. Right?

Shanna: Oh, yeah. I feel like we had this discussion before and now I can remember when that cutoff is.

Laura: I feel like you hear 0 to 3, but is that inclusive of 3 or not? But, also, I don’t feel like he’s a toddler anymore. You know, he’s speaking in full sentences. He’s not toddling. He’s jumping and running and

Shanna: Yes.

Laura: He’s definitely a preschooler in my mind.

Shanna: Preschooler. Yes.

Laura: Or a runner. Absolute runner. Yes. But, yeah, it was a pretty low-key birthday, which is kind of what we needed after the madness of the joint birthday party and all the toys and the hedonistic treadmill we’ve been on.

Shanna: Ah, true.

Laura: Yes. So that is it for me. I think we should wrap it up so we can get to our special segment. What do you think?

Shanna: I think we should.


Shanna: We are back, and this week’s special segment is an interview. We are so excited to have with us Erica Djossa, the CEO and founder of Momwell. She’s a registered psychotherapist, a mom of 3 boys, and the host of the Momwell podcast, which Laura and I love. She’s also the author of the upcoming book, Releasing the Mother Load: How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More. Erica, welcome to our show. We are so, so happy to have you here.

Erica Djossa: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here with you and your community. Thank you for inviting me.

Laura: Of course. We are so excited to have you on the show. Erica, I’ve been listening to your podcast since it was called Happy as a Mother, and you’ve rebranded as Momwell. And, if people are binging our podcast and catching up, you’ll hear me recommend your podcast quite a bit, in past episodes. And I’m so excited to talk to you, and I know we don’t have a lot of time. I just wanna get right to it. You have this new book coming out. It’s called Releasing the Mother Load, How to Carry Less and Enjoy Motherhood More.

Laura: I have read it. Your team sent over an advanced copy, and I’m so happy that I got to read it. And I was just wondering, can you tell us about how you came to write about this? And what is the mother load?

Erica Djossa: Yeah. It’s so interesting because I went to school to become a therapist. I stumbled my way into the content creation world. I didn’t set out on a path to become a published author. And, Happy as a Mother turned Momwell has just opened up some amazing opportunities and grown into a platform that supports mom’s mental health from all kinds of angles, digital content, blogs, podcasts being part of it. And I actually was approached by my literary agent. At the time, she was a follower. It was in the pandemic.

Erica Djossa: She had her second baby and was in a wild adjustment and was really relating with my content. And in this content world, realizing in my thirties that, wait a minute, I might have some creativity in me that I’ve never considered or tapped into before, really feeling like I had something to say in this motherhood space. You know I felt like I had a message that was sort of counterculture and really freeing and important to hear because I had a very rocky entrance into my own motherhood experience. I had been a therapist for nearly 10 years working with children and families. And then I went through my own postpartum depression and anxiety, which totally blindsided me and rocked my world. It had me questioning myself. It had me questioning my abilities. Was I maternal enough? Where were the maternal instincts I was told were gonna kick in? Why do I resent my role right now? That’s definitely not being a good mom.

Erica Djossa: That doesn’t feel nurturing and motherly of me. And, and I went through this experience niching down in maternal mental health and recognizing that I tried so hard to embody what I thought of what it meant to be a good mother, like this image in my mind that I thought I had to be, that I just burned myself out trying to embody. And when I had this moment where I realized the load I was carrying, and I talk about this rage sort of meltdown interruption that I had on the day I realized actually I needed some support and I needed some help. I was not okay. Going through all of that, I learned how to climb myself out of it. I learned how to reinvent motherhood for myself and according to my values in a way that I enjoyed it and it was meaningful and important to me and my family, not the way that it has been prescribed to me or sort of sold to me by everybody else. And I don’t think that we know that we can do that. I think that we enter motherhood on autopilot, and just step into what we think a good mom should be.

Erica Djossa: And we never even realize that we can take ourselves off of autopilot and do it differently. And essentially that’s what the book is. It’s it guides you through unlearning Elle of these norms and expectations and things that we’ve picked up along the way, all the shoulds, all the things, and really just tries to center you into yourself and what is important to you, your values, your family values.

Shanna: Oh, your journey is so relatable, Erica. I feel like I have been there myself in in in my own particular iteration, and I love that you were able to pull yourself out and redefine your own motherhood. I love that you mentioned values because I love that part of your book where you’re like let’s center your idea of motherhood based on your values. And I love your exercise in the book where you’re like, here are a bunch of values. Look through narrow them down. What speaks to you? It was very hard for me to do because I’m like, all of them. But I think that’s so helpful. I would love for you to speak to us about how this values exercise and thinking about our own personal values helps us kind of overcome the mother load.

Erica Djossa: Yeah. Well, when we think about what it means to be a good mom, we often file through this mental filing cabinet of ours that we’ve built over the years. It’s labeled motherhood. All of the, movies we’ve watched, commercials we’ve seen, interactions we’ve taken in and observed, get filed into this drawer, shaping what our concept of motherhood is. Right? And there’s a lot of conflicting beliefs in there. There is a lot of unrealistic expectations in there. There’s a lot that actually isn’t even in alignment with my values that I don’t even want to carry in there, but maybe I feel like I need to. And when we pair being a good mom with these external pressures and values, then we’re living our motherhood journey for everybody else. We’re trying to please them.

Erica Djossa: We’re trying to live up to the expectations. We are being pulled in a million different directions because everybody else and what they value and how they think motherhood should go is subjective to them and what they value. Right? So when we start to actually pull apart that being a good mom is not just domestic labor, Being a good mom is not being the primary caregiver all the time. Being a good mom is not. And we like take out some of these myths. We are left with a vacuum of a void of how in the world we’re going to define ourselves now in our role. And that is a free fall. That is incredibly uncomfortable to sit in because everything about us wants to be good in this role and good at what we do.

Erica Djossa: Our values come in and fill that gap intentionally with the things that are important to us, and anchor us and become a guide and a compass for us in our decision making and how we are gonna move forward in our motherhood role. So there’s like an emptying or an unlearning that has to happen. And then when we discover what our values are, we put them in place as a criteria that we and those values can be tricky to uncover sometimes because we often, internalize social expectations of ourselves as well, it can be hard to kind of like unmuddy what is important to us just because we actually inherently think it’s important or what we’ve been really conditioned to think is important. So there is some digging exploration and reflection that has to happen there. And we actually have an additional free resource that you can download from the book website, which is just my name, ericadjossa.com. The website is the value sort where it’s a bunch of cards and you cut them up, you lay them out and you arrange them and can tangibly kind of move them around and group them. And you can do it with your partner as a partnered exercise to talk about your family values. And it just brings an anchor and a guiding light into a situation that is often filled with so much chaos and overwhelm and external noise from everybody else.

Shanna: I love that. And I am definitely going to your website, and I’m gonna download those cards and do that because I love a tangible exercise. Right? That’s just, such a great idea, and I love that you’re providing that resource for your readers.

Laura: You know, this specifically, it’s actually something I was talking about with my therapist yesterday, which was when I read this section about values, I thought about how what I was doing in my motherhood journey. I have 2 young boys too. They’re just 3 and just 5. And I realized that one thing I was really trying to live up to from other people’s expectations, specifically my mom’s expectations, was going out to dinner. It sounds so sort of superficial when you think about when you sort of drop it in conversation. Oh I have trouble bringing my kids out to dinner, but I realized that it was like a deep value that my mom instilled in me that I wanted to be able to go to restaurants and stuff, and it’s just not a reality that works for our family. And it’s one of those things I had to really investigate and say is this actually a value that I want to instill our family? Or is it okay that we never go out to restaurants because it’s a complete shit show? You know?

Erica Djossa: Yes. Oh my gosh. There were so many years that my family of 3 young boys, I wouldn’t even go to a grocery store with them, let alone try and sit still in a restaurant. It just provides so much stress and anxiety. And I think it’s really interesting because we talk about, there’s a whole section on food and, and being the fun maker and the memory maker in the book, 2 different chapters. And really my question to you becomes, what is it in that moment that we are trying to embody and, and that we want to feel? Is it about presence? Is it about connectedness? Is it about tradition? Is it like there’s, there’s something there that, that having that maybe it’s Sunday afternoon dinner, or after church, this is what my family has to do every Sunday. Right? And once we have some clarity on that, how we meet that value is flexible. It doesn’t have to be, any cookie cutter specific way. So if it’s about presence, then maybe it’s board game afternoon Sundays, and we’re going to do pancake late breakfast, it’s understanding what is important and what our values are. And then how we get to that value is there’s so many different ways to do it.

Laura: And this kinda leads me to my next question, which was you discussed the book, Taking the Path of Ease. And it’s really something that spoke to me because when I read that statement, I was like, yes. This is what I need in my life. I need essentially, permission to take the path of ease because I feel like we get these messages that motherhood’s supposed to be hard and you’re supposed to be constantly working at it. And when I read your writing about taking the path of ease, it really resonated with me. I was wondering if you could tell our listeners sort of what you mean by that and how it can show up in parenting.

Erica Djossa: Yeah. It’s interesting because as somebody who is really a type and has this perfectionist part to me, it’s really hard to be flexible and adjust an expectation that I have for myself or for the day or being able to flex and not be rigid in those moments. And choosing the path of ease is a couple of things. It’s being able to see that the situation may have evolved in the day. And there’s new data now to consider and weigh in the decisions that we are making. So for example, let’s, we can play it out in a few different scenarios, but I think about it being home with 3 young children, having every intention to maybe make like the most delicious and nutritious homemade meal. And the reality of the day is that I’ve got a teething baby and somebody has a fever and things just kind of went left. And I can be gracious with myself and say, you know what? Today, this will do.

Erica Djossa: We can do sandwiches. I’ll cut up some fruit and they’ll get a bit of everything. And it doesn’t have to be what I expected or pigeonholed it to be before. And this can play out in so many different ways and, and situations for us. But ultimately we think that the more time and effort something takes us, the more reward our children will, will reap in that moment. And that is just a bold faced lie. That is just not true. Whether it’s food and the amount of time we put, this whole trad wife movement right now, where we’re like baking bread from scratch and we’re like really homemaking.

Erica Djossa: And, hey, if that is you and that’s what you wanna do I talk a lot in the, in the book about my best friend. She, she loves this more traditional form of motherhood, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And all of that additional effort, or whether I buy the freaking bread from the store or I labor over it for hours in my home does not change how I love my child or how that bread will taste to them. Do you know what I mean? Like, and I think that being able to see that we are often sold this idea that we have to give everything to our children, all of our time, all of our attention, all of our money and resources, and traumatized and all of these things, but it doesn’t have to cost us ourselves to raise amazing humans. It just doesn’t.

Shanna: I love that you’re sharing this information with people because I feel like I stumbled upon this idea by reaching burnout, basically. Like, giving my all during the pandemic, especially, and just being the same type of perfectionist person and making and wanting to make every birthday and holiday and the best it could be and being the team mom. And I just got to a point where I just burn out so much, and I couldn’t give anymore. So now I’m in my what I call my season of doing less. And I think that if people can absorb this message before they get to that point, it’s gonna be so much better for them as a parent. That’s my take on it. So thank you.

Laura: Yeah. The way I put it, Shanna calls it her season of doing less. I call it the fuck it philosophy. And that’s what I do like to bake sourdough, but it’s a hobby. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t conflate it with my value as a mother. And because I haven’t made sourdough for a couple years, doesn’t mean I’m doing less or my children value me less. Yeah.

Erica Djossa: Right. And I absolutely love to throw an event or a party. Like, there’s nothing that gets me in my creative excited sourcing. What’s this gonna look like in pictures? Because it gets that sort of photography piece going in me. And, and I love that. But ultimately my worth as a mom is not linked to that. And it doesn’t dictate, the parties that we have, like the parties that I would wanna throw for my kids versus the like laser quest birthday we just booked or whatever are totally different now. And, and that’s okay.

Erica Djossa: So it’s not to say that we can’t like to do some of the more domestic type things in the home, right? It’s not to say that. Ask did I write my name on that task and sign myself up for it? Or did somebody else put my name on it for me and assign it to me? That’s really what we’re talking about here is the ownership of the things in the home and in parenthood. And it’s not really about what task is good or bad or nothing is like morally it’s, it’s all morally neutral. It’s really about me and my family and my values and whether I have signed up to carry that or not.

Shanna: Right. So you mentioned in your book that a lot of the labor of motherhood is cognitive labor. So how can we even out the cognitive labor maybe with our partner or whatever, when it’s something we can’t see?

Erica Djossa: Well, yeah, I think that is one of the biggest issues. And I equate it to this invisible backpack that we can feel the weight of, like you talked about that burnout. Like we know we are burning the eff out, right? But we don’t know one singular thing that’s contributing to it. Cause it’s like death by a 1,000 paper cuts, all of this invisible low. So we actually have a tool in the book and, and the downloadable resources that pair with it called a load map. And what this does is if you’re not in the habit of seeing the invisible and cognitive labor that pairs with the tasks that we do. It walks you through thinking about what anticipatory tasks are there. Like some constantly scanning inventory and thinking about what needs to be purchased before we can even decide what meal we’re going to make before we can even start the cooking.

Erica Djossa: And the researching and planning that has to happen. And then the ongoing management that has to happen for those tasks. And so we’ve got this blank map. We also have prefilled out ones to give you a place to start because this is new to so many people and just getting it down invisibly on paper at first is how we take this sort of abstract thing and demystify it and make it feel more concrete. And from there, we can have tangible conversations with our partner about who can own what, and that this is all of what we’re carrying in our mind all of the time. And so it might look like equally on the outside where you’re sharing things in the home, but this is also overlooking all of this, mental and cognitive work that is happening. So it takes some practice to be able to identify it and to be able to really see the different pieces because they’re so ingrained in what is expected of us and ingrained in the tasks that we do each day. But when we do, it’s a powerful conversation starter then with our partner to be able to either figure out one, what we can let go of.

Erica Djossa: Like, I don’t have to do a Pinterest birthday party for the kids all the time. Like maybe it’s fun to do sometimes, but like, it’s, it’s not a requirement. So there are certainly things on the list that I can choose to let go of. And then there are things that can be shared and that probably should be shared and that your partner can own and take over if you’re partnered. So, we try to do the work, or I try to do the work in the book and have the handout of these prefilled out loads. Cause I’m trying to take the load off of the reader as much as possible and do that brainstorming on your behalf, because I don’t want to add more to your plate. But then there are also blank load maps that you can sit with for a task that maybe I haven’t covered and make that invisible piece visible. It’s gotta be the first step.

Shanna: Such great advice. Thank you.

Laura: Okay, Erica. I’m having the best time talking to you. So what I think we’re gonna do is we’re gonna split this interview into 2 parts where we have some listener questions for you for the next episode. But before we do that, I do have one more question that just popped into my head that I have to ask, which is, this is all well and good. Right? We’re trying to reduce the mother load. We’re trying to make the invisible visible. But what would you say to a mom who’s in a heterosexual partnership who’s like, why is this my job too? You know? Like, I have all this to do, and now I have to also figure out my mother load, educate my partner. Like, what would you say to them?

Erica Djossa: Oh, I’ve had this conversation more times now than, than I can count. And it’s a legitimate question. See, when we don’t do this work, what happens is we use a tool like Fair Play, which I love and I have the system and use it, but we sort of skip over the internal expectations and norms that we’ve absorbed and taken on. We divide out tasks, and it looks all well and good until it falls apart and we default back into our patterns. And that happens because if we think being a good mom equals doing these things, then we are never going to let them go. We will default back into them all the time. And so there is a major piece of this that partners need to step up. And there’s a conversation about like, why are you writing a book for mothers and not for partners and stuff like that? Because partners have their own work to do, but my work to do was to pry apart all of the pressures and norms and beliefs that I had internalized about how all this domestic labor is what makes me good in my role or all of these other expectations of me are what make me good.

Erica Djossa: And we can’t truly step back and, and hand over ownership or step away and, and have an equal partnership in our home, unless we can find out a different way to measure our worth and define ourselves as good moms on our journey. And so I know that it is work and I know, and I don’t take that for granted that there is work to be done here in the unlearning and in the even reading and going through the book. But to me, that work up front is better than the next 18 years of me resenting every day of my life because I’m disproportionately taking care of everybody around me. And so it’s, it’s sometimes when we get trapped in resentment because our partner and I are against each other because they should step up and do more. And it becomes like a really tit for tat. We’re pointed at each other. When we get gridlocked in that dynamic, it is hard to see how, we have some letting go to do of these norms.

Erica Djossa: And it’s not our fault that we are in these norms. I just want to clarify that this has been the air we breathe. This is sort of the water we’re swimming in. These are the things that have been handed to us and portrayed to us for our whole lives. So it’s not like we, we opted into, to this over functioning in this dynamic intentionally or willingly, but we play a role in freeing ourselves and it’s frustrating. And I also advocate on like a policy level and several other levels that it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t get set up like this from the beginning, but also there are things that we can do to enjoy our role and let some of that pressure go.

Laura: I love that. I love it all. And I just would love to talk to you for hours about this, but we you don’t have hours to talk to us, and we don’t have hours in this segment. So I think we should take a break here. Shanna and I will be back for our final segment. And listeners, tune in next week for more of our interview with Erica Djossa of Elle. Erica, thank you so much. We’ll be talking to you some more.

Erica Djossa: Thank you.

Laura: But before we go, can you remind our listeners where to find you?

Erica Djossa: Yes. So if you are looking for anything to do with releasing the mother load or any freebies to pair with it, all of that, that’s at ericadjossa.com. So ericajossa.com. And if you’re interested in the podcast, any of the free content that we have, or even in working with a maternal mental health specialist, if you’re in Canada or the US, you can head to momwell.com or look me up on Instagram at Momwell. We have all kinds of supports there to help you adjust and transition into your role.

Shanna: Perfect. Thank you. And we will also make sure to put all of that in our show notes so listeners can find you. Alright, Laura. Should we take a break and move on to our BFPs and BFNs?

Laura: Let’s do it.


Laura: Alright. We close every episode with a big fat positive or a big fat negative of the week. Shanna?

Shanna: Yes.

Laura: BFP or BFN?

Shanna: I have a BFP. I am knocking on all the wood right now as I say this, but I think maybe I have solved my early morning waking children. Child, really. Cece’s the one that’s been having problems lately. I think I might have solved that problem.

Laura: What? Okay. Everyone wants to know what your secret is, including me.

Shanna: So Cece goes in phases, right, of waking up super early, but then waking up at a decent hour. And we’re just we’re back in a phase of this early, early waking 4:45, 5 AM. She’ll come and get me. She gets up and comes in my room. Like, I want you to lay with me. I’m scared. She always has something.

Shanna: And I’m just like, oh, this has got to stop. I’m so tired. And she has an okay to wake clock. It’s like a puppy, and it’s red at night. And when it’s wake up time, it’s green. And I have pushed that back, you know. It’s like green at 5:45 now. And it occurred to me that I think she needs something a little more nuanced now that she’s older, and she needs something with a yellow light, so that she knows that it’s almost wake up time.

Shanna: Because she’s been coming in, and I’m like, honey, it’s almost wake up time. She doesn’t know that. Right? She just wakes up and it’s red, and she thinks it’s the middle of the night, and she doesn’t know why she’s wide awake. So I remembered that Elle used to use, one of these types of devices. It’s called the Little Hippo clock. She hasn’t used it in years. Like, Elle doesn’t have this problem anymore, but she just uses it as a digital clock in her room. So I was like, hey, honey, can I use your little hippo clock in Cece’s room so we can teach her about the yellow portion of the morning where it’s okay to wake up and read or play? And she agreed to that. And then I went on Amazon and bought her own more grown-up kid digital clock that she can have for her room, and I explained it to Cece. I was like, hey. This new clock is really cool because before it turns green, there’s a yellow phase. If you wake up and it’s yellow, that means you’re allowed to play in your room, read a book. And I didn’t know how she would react to that, but she took to it instantly. And she was like, oh, I could play with my stuffies. I’m like, yeah.

Shanna: You could play with your stuffies. She’s like, I could read a book. I’m like, yeah. Perfect. I tried it this week, and it worked like a charm. I mean, she woke me up as the second it turned green. And so I need to start inching that back later and later and later. That’s the next phase of the project.

Shanna: But I was so happy. She came in and got me, and she goes, mama, do you know what I did when it was yellow? And I’m like, no, what? She’s like, I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and told me all about what she did when it was yellow. And I was like, oh my gosh. It works. It works. So I am very excited about this right now, and I really hope it sticks.

Laura: This is so smart. And it makes sense because you know when you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re like, oh my god. What time is it? And you look, there’s a big difference in your feeling when it’s like 2 AM versus 5 AM. Right? Like, it’s like, oh, thank goodness. I have so much more time to sleep versus, crap, I don’t have that much more time to sleep. But we can know that because we understand clocks.

Laura: To be fair, Auggie and Sebastian don’t even have clocks in their room. They just got Yoto players, but I don’t think I there might be a setting where we can make it a display clock thing, but it’s not set up that way right now. So interesting. I might have to do this for Sebastian? Auggie, he’s fine. He sleeps in enough. But Sebastian, lots of 4:45, 5 AM wake ups.

Shanna: It’s so painful. It’s so painful. But, yeah, it’s a great product. I remember it worked really well with Elle back in the day, but I just completely forgot about it for ages.

Laura: Well, thank you for reminding us.

Shanna: Yeah. Yeah. Go get it. Little Hippo. Great product. Alright. So that’s my BFP. What do you got for us?

Laura: So my BFP is that Sebastian has developed a new interest, which I’m really liking. I find it adorable and sweet, only occasionally a little annoying, which is that he is really getting into photography.

Shanna: Oh, cool.

Laura: I feel like Auggie went through a little phase like this where he liked to take the iPad and take a lot of photos. I even talked about it where he took 500 photos on one walk. But I feel like that was always because he just wanted the device, you know. It wasn’t really for the sake of photography. You know? He wasn’t doing it to compose amazing shots. But Sebastian has some kind of talent for framing shots much better than a brand new 3-year-old should. Let me send you some photos from his little pizza party at school. This is just an example of what happened. So the photos kinda tell a story because you can see in this very first photo I sent you, he is reaching for my phone.

Shanna: Oh, yes. Okay. He’s got his little lunchbox in front of them. He is looking right at you and reaching out for that phone.

Laura: And what he’s saying to me, I didn’t capture a video, but he’s saying, I take picture. I take picture. So I was like, alright. Fine. Here you go. Here’s my phone.

Shanna: Okay. Aw. He took a picture of you. Oh, that is perfectly framed.

Laura: Right?

Shanna: Yeah. That’s a great job. I would have thought Corey would have taken that picture for sure.

Laura: And I should mention, this is the next photo in the camera roll. He didn’t take any mess ups before this. He picked up the phone, pointed it right at me, and took this picture. There was nothing else between the photo I sent you and this one.

Shanna: I have to say I appreciate how remarkable this is because when my girls get a hold of my phone, they take 1 zillion photos of anything and everything. They’re all over the place. It doesn’t feel like there’s that intention behind it. So I do feel like this is special.

Laura: Yeah. And then look at the next photo, which was the next photo.

Shanna: Okay. So the next photo he took was, oh my gosh, a perfectly framed picture of Corey capturing a very happy moment. He looks so excited and happy to be there. Aw. He captured his mama and daddy at his birthday. Oh my gosh. That’s so cute.

Laura: And then there’s a little POV shot of his lunchbox. But I also really love the POV shots, because it’s like, oh, you get to see sort of what it’s like from his perspective, you know. That’s what his lunch looks like to him.

Shanna: Oh, that’s adorable. His little veggie straws and strawberries. Oh my gosh. I love that. How cute.

Laura: But yeah. So now I’m telling people that we have a cinematographer and a director at home because Auggie is our little director, and now it seems like Sebastian’s our little cinematographer.

Shanna: Well, perfect combo. They could be the Evett Birek brothers one day. I mean, they are brothers, but, like the the Lumiere brothers. You know what I mean? An item, Like Jonas Brothers, but for filmmaking.

Laura: Like the guys who created Stranger Things. Right?

Shanna: Yeah. Yeah. Those guys.

Laura: Or the Cohen brothers. Cohen brothers.

Shanna: That’s what I’m talking about. Yes.

Laura: Yes. They could. Very easily. Although, now, my first thought is where are all the sisters? Like, we gotta get some more sister auteurs. But that’s another story for another time. Yeah. But, yeah, that’s my BFP. I have a little cinematographer, and I love seeing what pictures he takes.

Laura: But I think that’s it for our show.

Shanna: I think it is. Listeners, if you have any thoughts or feedback on this week’s episode, we would love to hear from you. Laura, where can everyone reach us?

Laura: We are on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook at BFP podcast. We have a website, big fat positive podcast dot com. If you wanna send us an email, you can always throw a voice memo in there. We love those. Just send them to contact at bigfatpositivepodcast.com. And finally, if you wanna see some exclusive content from me and Shanna and join the coolest group of people on the Internet, hands down, just search Facebook for big fat positive community. It is a private group, so you have to request to join and answer those 2 membership questions so we know you’re not a robot. But once you do that, you’ll be sent straight through to all the amazing conversations we’re having in there.

Shanna: Our show is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko, and Steve Yager. Thanks for listening, everyone. Have a big fat positive week. Bye.

Laura: Bye!