Imperfection in Progress

Parenting Intentionally with Sara Rose Whaley

March 20, 2024 Dawn Calvinisti Season 2 Episode 74
Parenting Intentionally with Sara Rose Whaley
Imperfection in Progress
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Imperfection in Progress
Parenting Intentionally with Sara Rose Whaley
Mar 20, 2024 Season 2 Episode 74
Dawn Calvinisti

Send us a Text Message.

“There's just so much magic in the toddler stage of watching them explore the world and figure stuff out and they just are so fascinated by like the most random things that we don't care about.” - Sara Rose Whaley

Welcome to Imperfection In Progress, a podcast for ambitious women who are people pleasers, perfectionists, or procrastinators. Want to feel less stressed and more joy in your life? Then this is for you. I'm your host, Dawn Calvinisti.

Sara Joy Whaley joins me on this episode to talk about parenting toddlers and being an entrepreneur. The truth is, what she shares applies to all of us whether we have toddlers or not. It’s incredible what being intentional can create in our lives.


Facebook Group: Toddler Parenting Help


Umbrella Virtual Solutions
Book Your Free 30 Minute Strategy Call with the host, Dawn Calvinisti

Connect with Dawn.
200 Affirmations for the 3 P’s

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

“There's just so much magic in the toddler stage of watching them explore the world and figure stuff out and they just are so fascinated by like the most random things that we don't care about.” - Sara Rose Whaley

Welcome to Imperfection In Progress, a podcast for ambitious women who are people pleasers, perfectionists, or procrastinators. Want to feel less stressed and more joy in your life? Then this is for you. I'm your host, Dawn Calvinisti.

Sara Joy Whaley joins me on this episode to talk about parenting toddlers and being an entrepreneur. The truth is, what she shares applies to all of us whether we have toddlers or not. It’s incredible what being intentional can create in our lives.


Facebook Group: Toddler Parenting Help


Umbrella Virtual Solutions
Book Your Free 30 Minute Strategy Call with the host, Dawn Calvinisti

Connect with Dawn.
200 Affirmations for the 3 P’s


Welcome to Imperfection in Progress, a podcast for ambitious women who are people-pleasers, perfectionists, or procrastinators. Want to feel less stress and more joy in your life? Then this is for you. I’m your host Dawn Calvinisti.

Sara Rose Whaley is joining me on today’s episode. Sara Rose is a parent coach for parents of toddlers, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a mom of 2 young kids.

Before you decide that you don’t need to listen to this episode because you aren’t parenting toddlers I challenge you to learn the wisdom Sara has to share on being intentional in your life every day.

You can learn more about what Sara Rose offers by visiting her website

We are discussing mom guilt, perfectionism, self-compassion, self-reflection, balance, being intentional and so so much more. I know you are going to see areas where you can improve without having to be perfect as you listen.

Here’s our conversation.

[00:00:00] Dawn Calvinisti: Welcome back to Imperfection in Progress podcast. I am super excited to have Sara Whaley with us today. Sara, thank you so much for being here.

[00:00:08] Sara Rose Whaley: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to chat with you.

[00:00:11] Dawn Calvinisti: So, Sara, we've learned a little bit about you, but I would love to hear more about why is it that you specifically help parents who are parents to toddlers?

[00:00:22] Sara Rose Whaley: Yes. I have several very specific reasons. Number one, I love the toddler stage. And whenever I say that to people, they usually laugh and they're like, what? But I love the toddler stage. I have always loved the toddler stage way before I became a mom. I just think it is. I mean, they're just so cute and Cuddly and there's just so much magic in the toddler stage of watching them explore the world and, figure stuff out and they just are so fascinated by like the most random things that we don't care about.

And so I just think it's it's a really cool stage. And it obviously has its challenges. All of the tantrums and the lack of ability to communicate well and the hitting, all these challenging behaviors. And I know when you're dealing with all of those behaviors, it can be really hard to.

Also notice all of the cool parts of the toddler stage. And so my background also is working with toddlers and families of toddlers. And so that's where my expertise is. But what I wanted to do is take that background and take my love of the toddler stage and my understanding of behavior. and be able to help parents actually enjoy this stage and also to be able to set a foundation.

So obviously, it's your early years of parenting. It's your early years of having a relationship with this new person on earth. And if we can get it. get a strong foundation from the very beginning, then that carries you through, the rest of your, I don't like the word journey, but like it's the rest of your parenting experience.

So those are all my reasons. 

[00:02:11] Dawn Calvinisti: I love this because I think you're right, like, this is a stage where It can be really miserable if you feel like you don't have a clue what to do, or it can be like an absolute delight, or it can be both, like, at the same time. 

[00:02:24] Sara Rose Whaley: I call it the stage of and. Like, it is exhausting, and it is beautiful, and it is challenging, and it is joyful. Like, there's, I think very few people are feeling 100 percent of one or the other.

[00:02:39] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, and for those of you who are listening, I just want to say here, whether you have, toddlers right now on the stage, because I know my audience is actually very wide in age range. So whether you have toddlers right now. Or maybe you're through the toddler stage and you're in a different stage of parenting, or you're a grandparent or an aunt or an uncle.

Those are all people that are very influential in lives of toddlers, but also in the lives of parents. So, this is an episode that you may want to even pass on to one of your friends that is in this stage or one of your family that's in this stage. Because I know for me my, with my very first, this was a super challenging stage with her personality and I wish I had had a better foundation and had known even where to find resources at the time to help me enjoy this stage more.

[00:03:26] Sara Rose Whaley: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think most people don't even know that there is help out there.

[00:03:32] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, I agree. So when it comes to parenting toddlers, and I know one of the things because often on this podcast, we're talking to women who are people pleasers or perfectionists or procrastinators. And I just want to throw out here that Perfectionists especially can really struggle in this stage of parenting because of the fact that you want to do it right and your toddler doesn't seem to be getting that.

[00:03:59] Sara Rose Whaley: Yes. Definitely. Yeah, I think... Parents in general, but mom specifically struggle with wanting to do it perfectly. And I had a client one time who was feeling like a bad parent and I was like, well, what is a good parent? And she, I will never forget that she sent me this list. And it was like.

You're always paying attention to your kid, and you have a high powered job, and you never get mad. It's like, all these things, and I sent her back and I was like, With all due respect, like, this is B. S. Like, this is not a perfect parent, this is a parent who does not exist. And I think that they're, like, if you're a perfectionist, Working on being good enough, I'm good enough is like trying and continuing to like assess and evaluate. But like there is no perfect parent. I am not a perfect parent. And I think. When we're looking at parenting, we cannot be striving for perfection.

We have to be striving for always doing better.

That's manageable. Perfection will never happen. Ever.

[00:05:14] Dawn Calvinisti: It's funny when you say that, like, it'll never happen, because, I mean, you're right. I'm sure there's a bunch of people out there like, what? But, but the reality is, I think this also, and this sets up part of what we want to talk about today, is that feeling like when you go to bed at night, and you're replaying the things that you think that you didn't succeed in.

And then you start feeling horrible about yourself and you start feeling guilty and then you're, going over and over it and berating yourself and, making yourself the worst mom in the world and we just don't need more of that.

[00:05:49] Sara Rose Whaley: I think when I go in Facebook groups, like mom Facebook groups, and I have seen so many posts that lit, that's like, it's just normal to feel mom guilt. And that means you're a good mom. And I do think it is normal to feel mom guilt, but I don't think that mom guilt makes you a good mom. And I don't think that it is necessary.

To be a good mom. And what I always tell clients is we cannot change our kids behaviors through shame and berating them and making them feel like crap. And we also cannot change our behavior as parents or as moms by shaming ourselves and making ourselves feel like crap. Behavior change, I think happens when we come at it from a place of compassion and understanding. Across the board.

[00:06:49] Dawn Calvinisti: that's such a good point. I've never thought about the fact it's really no different, like, no matter who you're talking to, you can't make your spouse better, you can't make your kids better, you can't make you better coming at it from that direction.

[00:06:59] Sara Rose Whaley: No, nobody wants to change when they feel like crap.

[00:07:02] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah. So, having said that, because we, we do tend to go 

there and, guilt ourselves, what should we be doing instead?


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[00:07:14] Sara Rose Whaley: It's hard, and this is, this is not something that happens overnight. But what I ask, first of all, is I ask parents to find what they've done well, because our whole society looks at what we've done wrong. Like, you don't see a ton of reviews on restaurants for like, my waitress was great, you see, like, my waitress was terrible.

Awful or whatever. Like our society focuses on the negatives. And so that's what we tend to see with our kids. And it's also what we tend to see of our own behavior of like, I did this and this and this wrong. And again, if that's all you're looking at, and you're only looking at what you did wrong, that's not very motivating.

It's not going back to like being kind, like nobody wants to change from this place of like feeling crappy. And so I think starting with what have I done right? And I can almost guarantee I've worked with a lot of, a lot of parents that there are things every single day that you've done right, and you've done well, and they should make you feel proud.

But that's not what people look at. And I think it's almost like, frowned upon, but it's just, it's just not normalized to look at and to be proud of your parenting. And I think it needs to be. That's not my mission to make this a thing. So I think that's. The first step, and then the next step is, if you have messed up, which you have, like, we've all messed up, right?

Like, in that situation, if you have messed up, instead of being like, Oh my gosh, I suck, I'm a terrible mom, my kid's now gonna be screwed up, and maybe they won't have a job. Like, spinning out, being able to stop and be like, Okay, I do not like how I parented in this moment, or maybe in this day.

And then saying, what was going on for me? Was I sleep deprived? Was I, did I have a fight with my husband? My partner? Is my kid having some really, really challenging behavior? Is work really stressful? But I talk about when we're looking at changing kids behaviors of like understanding why behavior is happening.

And again, it's the same thing when we're looking at parent behavior. Why, why did, why was your behavior that way? And doing this again from a place of kindness and compassion and then saying, okay, if I were to do this differently, what would that look like? And kind of running through that and evaluating.

And I mean, all of this takes being intentional because it's, it's a lot easier to parent with. Yelling and, whatever, it's hard to be intentional, but it takes like evaluating where things have gone wrong and where things have gone right. And like taking that time and doing it from a place of kindness and compassion.

Like, I cannot emphasize that enough and saying, okay, let me, let me, let me just evaluate versus just getting stuck. And this is what I see most people do before coaching is they just get stuck in what they're doing wrong. But they're never evaluating and trying to kind of move the ball forward because they don't know how 

[00:10:34] Dawn Calvinisti: I think this is a really relatable, I mean, in any stage of parenting, 

[00:10:38] Sara Rose Whaley: at any stage of life.

[00:10:40] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, yeah, it's not just for toddlers and it's for evaluating ourselves and our reactions to anything. The other thing too is, like, there is another person on the other end of this, right? And in this case, it's a toddler.

There's always, when we're, when we're reacting to somebody. There's also that end of it. And I think often we don't think about the fact that certain things will, will trigger us and kids are awesome at making you find every trigger that you possibly could own. And so, like, it's not, it's not a I would say, like, it's a skill to be able to look at yourself really honestly and say, okay, I am triggered by these things.

By whoever, and, these are areas that I need to look at. Why am I being triggered? And what should my response be?

[00:11:27] Sara Rose Whaley: Yeah, and I think not What I see so many parents, but especially moms do is try to kind of lessen their triggers like oh, I shouldn't be triggered by that and just try to kind of ignore them and That makes it worse Because then you're not actually putting a strategy in place, versus if you're like, I'm annoyed because there's a sock on the floor, and like, maybe I shouldn't be annoyed, but I am.

I'm super annoyed, right? And then being like, okay, let me come up with a strategy, versus like, trying to shut down my feelings.

[00:12:06] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, good

[00:12:07] Sara Rose Whaley: And moms, moms, tend to struggle. Women tend to struggle with that.

[00:12:13] Dawn Calvinisti: It's funny to think, like, I'm past the toddler stage, but I mean, I'm still a human. I'm still a woman. I still have triggers, right? Like, like we always say, nobody's perfect. But I think it's interesting when we start looking at those things, because Often, at least I find with clients, that the, the opposite of going to guilt or shame or, berating myself, make myself feel bad, is then justifying it or blaming it.

Right? So it's like, either we take it all on and totally bash ourselves, or we find someone else to redirect that to, but we're not really good at just sitting down and strategizing and being present in the moment to say, okay, like, how can I change this for next time?

[00:12:56] Sara Rose Whaley: yeah. I think, yeah, I think that's such a good point. It's, it takes... Being so intentional and constantly being intentional. That's why I say like, you're never going to be perfect. I mean, I teach this every day and every day I'm like, Oh my gosh, like this routine is driving me crazy instead of getting stuck in that, what can I do about that?

Or this behavior is. Going to kill me, so it's like this constant evaluation and us trying to do better and set up the environment to better and teach our talk. Like, there's just so much that goes into it, but acknowledging. The triggers. It's definitely a huge first step.

[00:13:40] Dawn Calvinisti: this is one of those times where I just want to say again, because I feel like I've repeated this a lot, but if you feel like you're on a hamster wheel, and you're getting those same results, and life is just passing you by, and you're not really thrilled with parts of it, whether it's parenting or other parts, if you don't get off the wheel, like you're saying, and actually assess and take that time, nothing gets better.

And with kids, it can actually get a lot worse. And so I think, the earlier you start this process, Like, you just set yourself up for such a great experience in having and raising children that you may not have otherwise.

[00:14:15] Sara Rose Whaley: Yeah. Well, and like you said, I mean, I've done coaching in so many different, business coaching and procrastination coaching. I've done all of these different coaching and it's all kind of the same thing. It's all like I could take my business coaching and apply it to my marriage and I could take my procrastination coaching and apply it to cleaning my house.

Like all of it is. It really does. It sets you up for not just parenting your toddler, in my case, or not just your business, but All of life.


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[00:14:46] Dawn Calvinisti: So I have a question for you, since obviously this is an area that you work in a lot, and this month we're specifically talking about this whole idea of work life balance, whether that's actually a reality or not, but you're a mompreneur like I am. Where does that put you as you're trying to, have, have a, a joyful life to raise kids, to help others do that as well as a business?

How do you find yourself when it comes to being able to balance it all?

[00:15:18] Sara Rose Whaley: Well, I always say that you're never balancing it all. You are being intentional with the things that you're focusing on. So, I have to always... There's always a ball being dropped, but instead of feeling out of control with which balls are being dropped and being like, I have no control over my whole life, I'm very intentional about it.

So for example I'm looking around my house right now. My house is usually the first thing that gets dropped and it's intentional. It doesn't mean I like it. But I'm like, you know what? If I have to choose between my clients and my kids and I homeschool my daughter and I'm a stay at home mom and, running a business, I'm going to choose those things over my house.

Again, it does not mean I like not having a super clean house, but there are other times where I was just at a conference. And I was prepping all of the week before. And so that took priority. So I very intentionally chose to let my kids watch more TV that week. And it doesn't mean I liked it. I don't like that.

But because it was intentional, it helped so much with the mom guilt. It felt like I was in control. And every time I started to be like, Oh my God, my kids brains are rotting. I can be like, no, they're fine. It's a couple of days, a few hours. I'm making this choice. This is what is best right now. And I think that is just, that's what I do every day, every week is just make these very intentional choices of which balls to drop and which balls are non negotiables.

[00:17:00] Dawn Calvinisti: I like that you said, it doesn't mean you like it, because I think that's the thing, right? We think that if we're giving more attention to some area because it needs it at the moment, and so something else is sliding in a sense, or just isn't how we would normally like it to be, that then it's like, oh, well, that's not comfortable.

Therefore, I'm out of balance. And so that's not good. But the reality is when you're choosing it, and you know why, You're right, like then you can feel good about like, no, this is what needs to be done right now and I'm, I'm okay with that, even though normally this wouldn't be my go to.

[00:17:36] Sara Rose Whaley: I think that, that really to me is like the game changer of not feeling a lot of guilt is. Those choices.

[00:17:46] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah. I was thinking too about the whole idea of, again, the perfectionist mindset when you start to, and again, control is a big part of that. And when you can feel that feeling of, no, I'm choosing to do it like this, then you're right. Like that does take away that guilt and pressure to have all things perfect.

[00:18:08] Sara Rose Whaley: Yeah. Yeah. There's... It's definitely not perfect around here. But, but I will, but I will say, like, even though I say there's not balance, I actually feel very low anxiety and low stress despite everything that I have going on in my life because of being intentional. So it is maybe not balanced, but it is working.

And I do feel good about my choices.

[00:18:38] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, I wonder, like, if the word functional is maybe better, like, than, than ballots, right? Things are functioning, so they're good.

[00:18:45] Sara Rose Whaley: yeah. And I don't know, maybe it is balanced. I guess as I'm thinking about it, it's just, it's kind of balancing all over, right?

[00:18:52] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, I would say it's like the teeter totter, it's not like the scales, like, one end may be up and one may be down, but that's good because I'm choosing that end to be up right now.

Another thing I wanted to ask you about is when it comes to People pleasers, because that's another large part of my audience. And I know, again, as a mom, when I had toddlers, I was definitely both a perfectionist and a people pleaser. And people pleasing can often mean that a mom is looking at others.

And assessing her own abilities according to other people. But it also can mean that she's doing it a certain way because, your mother in law's watching or your own parents are watching or your sister or whatever, right? And you want to make sure that they're happy and you're happy and you're doing enough to keep them happy.

So what, what about the people pleasers? What are we doing when it comes to things like, like I can remember my toddler having a total complete meltdown and I'm. More concerned about what it looks like me being a mom in front of others than I am about my toddler at the moment.

[00:19:56] Sara Rose Whaley: Yeah. Yeah. I have a lot of clients that struggle with this. I think when they get Solid strategies. I mean, the thing is like you're thrown into toddler hood and my sister was, she brought up the other day. She's like, when you have a newborn, before you have a newborn, you take like a newborn care class and a breastfeeding class and a, whatever, I feel like so many people take all these classes.

So it doesn't mean that you're not still thrown into it, but you take classes. Most people do with toddler hood. Most people don't take a class. They're just thrown into it. And so, parents, I think, you're expected to to know these strategies, but how would you most parents don't even if you've had experience with toddlers, most parents don't have that much experience.

And so it really is a skill set that they don't have. And so when they learn the strategies and they feel solid in the strategies, then there's confidence that comes in that and Behavior when we're looking at behavior, it is a long term game. It is not a short term thing. And so I think when parents are confident in the strategies that they're using, they can be thinking long term.

They're like, I, I realized this is not going to stop this tantrum in this moment. But I understand behavior. I understand the principles I'm using and why. And I know this will work long term. Whereas if you don't have those strategies, then you're going to just be doing whatever and you're also going to be taking in all this feedback from all of these people and everybody has an opinion and you're going to be scrambling and it's not going to work.

And then that's what, that's when I find parents parenting in all of these ways that make them feel really bad and also they don't work. So it really is about the confidence and the understanding of. Why we're doing all of this and that that's not something that you're just born with.

[00:22:00] Dawn Calvinisti: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And I mean, it has all skills. It's something that takes practice and consistency and assessment to see what the response is and all of that. Right? So this is, this is a time process.

[00:22:12] Sara Rose Whaley: Yes, and I also tell parents, there will always, always, always be plenty of people who do not like your parenting. No matter how you choose to parent, parents have lots and lots of opinions, as do grandparents and the rest of the world. And so, it is really easy to take in all of that. But when you feel confident, then you can be like, I know what I'm doing.

This works for my child. My child is not your child. But that it does take a lot of confidence to be in that place.

[00:22:49] Dawn Calvinisti: Sara if people want to connect with you to know more about what you do and to follow you, what would be the best place for them to find you?

[00:22:57] Sara Rose Whaley: I'm very active on Instagram. I'm always posting on there and always on my stories there. It's at joyful toddler parenting on Instagram and I'm also same on Tik TOK. I post more on Instagram and then I have a Facebook group Toddler Parenting Help and I answer questions there as well.

And then my website is

[00:23:20] Dawn Calvinisti: Awesome. So I will put all of the connections in the show notes. If you want to get a hold of Sara, then you can connect with her. And again, if you're somebody in this stage, or if you just even know parents who have kids in this stage, she is an amazing resource. Like, I wish I had known resources when I was in this stage.

So thank you for doing what you do, because I think this is an awesome thing to be able to give to parents.

[00:23:42] Sara Rose Whaley: I love it. I just, I really want parents to be able to enjoy this. I don't, I don't believe that you should just have to white knuckle it through. five years, four years. And so if I can help parents that, that makes me happy.

[00:23:57] Dawn Calvinisti: And for those of you who are listening, thank you again for being here. Don't forget to share this episode, like it, and you can review it to help us get out to more people. Thank you again, Sara, for being here.

[00:24:08] Sara Rose Whaley: Thanks for having me.


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Until next week, pursue progress no matter how imperfectly.