April Perry: Explores the Power of Moms
The Power of Moms
Jonathan: Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor, back, with another bonus SANE show. Very excited about today’s guest, because fate brought us together, and as soon as I saw the name of her effort, and the name of her movement on Twitter where we connected, I said, “I have got to talk to this woman,” and then I had the good fortune of meeting her over email. Her name is April Perry, and she is the founder of a movement, and that is the correct description, called Power of Moms, and powerofmoms.com. And holy-moly, I am just excited for you to be here, April. Welcome to the show.
April: Thank you. I am thrilled to get to be here, as well.
Jonathan: April, there are any number of topics we could talk about. I know you and I have chatted a bit about how the salvation of the world, when it comes to obesity and diabetes, really lies in moms’ hands. But before we get into that, your story is an inspirational and a unique one. Could you tell us about how you went from typical mom, to Power of Moms founder?
April: Okay. I grew up with a family I love, a great mom, and I always wanted to be a really good mom, so after I had my first child I was expecting everything was going to be wonderful, easy and fun, you know, how it looks in the magazines, and it really wasn’t like that. It was wonderful, and I loved my kids, but it was just hard. After a few years trying to figure out what to do, interviewing moms, trying to figure out what resource is not out there that I wish were there for me, I decided to start creating it.
I built the site and a partner joined me, Saren, who is my Co-Director. Now we have a board of 40 mothers who built this website to strengthen and empower moms, give them support in all facets of their lives, whether it is mental, physical, spiritual or emotional. Really, helping moms to gather together. Now we do retreats, we have published books, we have a podcast, and we just love what we are doing. We have about 35,000 registered members right now, and it is a movement. It is giving mothers validation, and support, and really creating a great online community.
Jonathan: That is so important, April, because you and I know that in a lot of households around the world, the mom is the CEO of all things that go on in the house, including health and wellness, and that is a huge, huge responsibility. So, before we dig into anything health and fitness-specific, I want to look at you, personally, and say, the number one challenge I hear from moms when I speak with them about what I do in the wellness arena, is just the lack of time. But you are a mom, and you must have an “S” on your chest underneath that blue blouse, because where do you get the time to do all this?
April: I have been really into planning ever since I was 13. I had a Franklin Covey Planner, and I carried it around high school. I have been really involved in time management, and made that my specialty for about 20 years. I read the book, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Do you know that book?
Jonathan: Absolutely, yes.
April: One of my favorites. I read it and thought, “This is it, this is it!” I actually have spent about 2000 hours creating a whole program on how to be organized as a mom. I used David Allen’s system, I teach it to moms, and I use my time wisely. I don’t have tons of time, but I think when you learn how to do 10-15 minute bursts, and move forward on projects that you are really excited about, then you are able to get a lot done, and it builds up over time.
Jonathan: The word that you used in our interactions prior to having this chat that really, really resonated with me, and I’ll bet it also has something to do with your productivity, and something that we can all learn from you, is that you talk about being deliberate. Deliberate moms and deliberate living. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
April: Yes. The title of our website, Power of Moms, is a gathering place for deliberate mothers. What that means is, we don’t want life to just happen to us. We want to be really deliberate about what we are choosing to eat, what we are choosing to do with our time, how we read with our children, the media in our home. In all the things that go into building a home, we want to be purposeful. So, our site isn’t just for stay-at home moms, or working moms. We aren’t trying to separate moms, we are trying to find common ground, because I think every mother wants to be a deliberate mother, in her heart. That is what has really been exciting to me as I have been going SANE in my home. I am being really deliberate about what we are eating and not just buying what is on sale at the grocery store, or whatever there is a coupon for, right?
Jonathan: I want to dig into how to do that, because that is easier said than done, but I want to focus for a little bit on how important and transformational that distinction is, because I think in some ways, deliberate is the opposite of default, and we live in such a marketing-rich culture that if you are not deliberate, if you are not consciously making those decisions, you had better believe someone else is making those decisions for you, and I can promise you, they don’t have your best interests in mind.
April: Absolutely, I completely agree.
Jonathan: I’m a little bit like you, I am a big planner, I try to make things intentional, because it is just so empowering when you take that control, even if you don’t get it right every time, at least you know that you are in the driver’s seat.
April: A start.
Jonathan: Exactly. We probably all hear that, we probably all agree with that. We say, “Yes, absolutely.” But then, life happens, as a lot of people say. What do you find to be the challenges that prevent moms, or people in general, from living deliberately, and how can we overcome those?
April: I think a lot of it is just creating systems in your home that are going to work without you having to think about them, because that is the main thing I have noticed; when you have children, they become your to do list. You are constantly responding. Someone is screaming, someone is fighting, and someone is hungry. You are on call all the time and you don’t really have time to sit back and plan and think, “Hmm, what should I do today?” It is not like that anymore. I think the more we get really good systems involved in our homes, in basic things like cleaning up the house; my kids all have a zone, so we all clean our zones together.
We are developing new systems for eating. For example, when we come home from the grocery store and we have our vegetables ready, let’s chop vegetables together, and let’s get them ready. One child is peeling cucumbers, one child is chopping carrots, another child is doing peppers. We are developing systems where it is very predictable what we are going to do. The kids know, when we have breakfast, here are the kinds of things we are going to eat, here is when we pack our lunches, and here are the kinds of things we are going to pack, and at dinnertime, here is our schedule. Getting things done ahead of time so it is not four o’clock, the kids are all crying and hungry and cranky, and you say, “You know what? Let’s just go to MacDonald’s, I’m done.” You have to have a system in place, and a plan in place. That is where I feel like this has changed my life.
Jonathan: That systematizing everything really, really resonates with me. Another way we have described that on the show is, make the decision once. Because what we see is, when people say, “I just cannot imagine going to the grocery store and cooking a new dinner every single night.” And I say, “I agree with you. I couldn’t imagine going to the grocery store every day and cooking a unique meal every single night. I couldn’t imagine that either.” And I don’t think we are suggesting that you do that. What you do is, you come up with a system so that you go to the grocery store at this time, and you can schedule it, and then you do bulk preparation of vegetables, like you talked about here. Things like that, right?
April: Yes. Absolutely. Another thing I am doing is, I set SANE living as a current project. This is one of the DTD elements that David Allen taught me, is that you need a current projects list. What are the projects that you are working on, and what are the projects that are most important that you can do this month? Kind of give yourself a timeframe, because some moms have, seriously, 400 projects on their task list that they are working on, and it is everything from planning a fair at school, to getting Christmas presents, to braces, all these things that are going on; these are projects.
I have a projects list that has about eight projects a month, and right now, one of my projects is to find ten SANE meals that my family will enjoy. That’s a project. I have been on Pinterest, I have been on Carrie Brown’s site, and I have been going on different Paleo sites, just looking for different things that fit in line with SANE living. And my children and I have been trying them out. We would just pick one at a time. I think it is just moving slowly, right? You talked about progress, not perfection, moving slowly.
For example, we tried a chicken and almond meal. The whole family loved it, awesome, so that was number one. Then we moved on to eggplant lasagna. Okay, there is our next one. Every Sunday, or depending on the day we are planning it, my daughter and I – we have one child a year in charge of meals – she sits down with me and we plan what we are going to eat this week. We go through different menu options. We say, okay, we will try one or two things. We tried a new soup last night, it was one that you have sent out in email. It has been really fun. We just do a little at a time. We make our shopping list, and then we have our day that we go to the store, and it has just been really neat.
Yes, it has been a change, I am not going to lie and say it is really easy: “Yes! All of a sudden our family is so healthy and everything is great!” Because we are not totally there yet. We still have Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast a lot, because that is what they gravitate toward. I didn’t do cereal for a week, and every morning they were running in and crying, “Mom, we’re starving! We have nothing to eat!” So, I am going through some of that. But, this morning I said, “Okay, hey, I am coming down, I am making some eggs,” I sliced up some fruit, and it is just a little bit at time, but the more we get these systems in place, the easier it is becoming. And your podcast is an awesome tool, by the way.
Jonathan: Well, thank you. Thank you. Folks know, I am not a huge fan of counting calories, but we talk about things you should count, and this is a great example. You are counting the number of SANE recipes that your family would like. And folks like counting. We like having trackable goals. And it is really cool, I think that is a perfect example of setting a quantifiable goal, and count, keep track, and you achieve that goal. Because often, in areas of wellness, at least, either we count the wrong things, like we are counting calories, or we don’t count anything, and we say, ‘My goal is to feel better.” How do you know how you’re doing? What have you seen as some of the biggest challenges you personally have faced, outside of the field of health and wellness, just being a deliberate mom or a deliberate person. Do you ever have personal struggles, and how have you overcome those?
April: Not involving calories? Or yes, involving calories?
Jonathan: Whatever bubbles to the top, as the most challenging.
April: I think everyone has a lot of personal struggles. I don’t think it’s easy for anyone. Right now in my life, I am losing my mother to Alzheimer’s. This is a really big thing going on in my life. And I am growing the Power of Moms right now. We have this huge community that I feel like I have a stewardship over. It is not like it is a place to try to get famous, it is more like I have stewardship to help direct great resources toward these moms who need them, so I feel really excited about that, I feel like it has a lot of purpose.
Obviously, just in raising four children and in moving toward the goals I am
excited about, it is an uphill battle every day. I am pressing for it every day. But what I am so excited about, and one of the reasons I have been so glad to get to connect with you is because over my lifetime, I started counting calories when I was nine years old. I have six girls in my family, and two brothers, and my mom was just always counting calories, she was trying to do the best she could. After having eight kids her body wasn’t quite the same as it was before she got married.
So, all my life I thought I had to go by the same systems I had been taught growing up. Every time I would try counting calories again, okay, try again, try again, restarting my lose-it app, set the date to a different date. I did that I don’t know how many times, and wasn not getting results. I felt like that was one component of my life that was so stressful to me, and took so much energy just having to think. We talked about doing math at the dinner table and I thought, “Is there any way not to do math at the dinner table?” I’m always doing math at the dinner table. I’m doing math at the breakfast table. That was just part of my life. So, I feel like, as I have been doing the SANE eating for about two-and-a-half months, it is a part of my life that is just solved, I am not stressed about it anymore. I am just really energetic, and excited, and seeing results, and it has just been huge.
Jonathan: April, thank you. That’s delightful to hear, I’m sure, for our listeners and viewers also. It sounds like you are rocking and rolling and that is inspirational as heck. Have you had any challenges getting the other people in your household to jump on board with you, and if so, how have you overcome those, or continue to try to overcome those?
April: Okay, first of all, my husband says that he has never met a Snickers bar that he didn’t like. That’s my husband, okay? He is awesome, though, he has been really supportive, and it has been cute, because as he has been watching what I have been doing, and seeing the results, he has become more and more supportive, and more and more interested, and that, especially, has been really encouraging. He is not totally there, because he doesn’t love vegetables. He didn’t grow up liking vegetables, so he says, “Okay, if you can find a way to make these taste good to me.” So, it’s a little tricky, just because that is not where his tastes are. He is generally healthy, and he is feeling good, but I think he wants to feel better. I think most people are that way.
My little kids; I have some that like vegetables, some that don’t. I have a teenaged daughter who, honestly, can’t stand raw vegetables. She just doesn’t like them. But she loves spinach smoothies. She is a 14-year-old in high school right now. Every Sunday night she makes a big batch of spinach smoothies in a plastic cup and she puts them all in the freezer and has them all ready, so when she gets up early in the morning, she gets her spinach smoothie out. And she is doing great. It has been amazing what this has done for her. She also loves soups, so we have been making more soups for her, and finding out how she can do it.
And then, some of my younger kids do like raw vegetables, but they really like candy. This is the hard part, I have kids who would spend every bit of money they had on candy if they could. To them, that is how I show them love, is by giving them candy. That is their love language, I guess you could say. So we have had to have a lot of talks, and I think that is what has been most effective for my younger boys, seven and eleven. I talk about why we are trying to be healthy. What is the point? What is the future that we want? We want you to be healthy and strong and all the different things that go with it. The more I teach them about what happens when they eat a diet mostly with a lot of candy in it, the more that they are starting to make better choices, and it has been really empowering to see a little seven-year-old, when it is time for a snack, go and get the carrots, and go and get the raw almonds. I just feel really happy when I see them making these choices.
Jonathan: April, that resonates with me in such a deep way because I remember when I was growing up. I have an obsession with Superman. In fact, if you look hard enough online, you can find pictures of me as a little kid in a Superman costume.
April: I saw it!
Jonathan: I was a big fan of Superman. I still am. I remember my mom wouldn’t just put healthy options in front of me and say, “Eat this or you can’t leave the table, or eat this because I said so,” she would say, “If you want to be like Superman, this will help you be big and strong like Superman.” She found something that she knew I cared about, and knew I wanted, and then connected those dots. And even as a five-year-old or a seven-year-old, I thought, “Oh, if doing this makes me be like Superman, okay.” Have you had that experience, too, where this kind of approach can be helpful?
April: I ate spinach when I was younger because Popeye did. So, that’s how I started. I don’t know, though, my kids don’t have Superman.
Jonathan: No sense of Superman? Well, just generally. Generally.
April: For example, my 14-year-old. She is in a high school and she says, “Mom, people just eat junk all day.” I mean, you know how it is in high school: Pizza, soda, chips, cookies; that’s just what people eat. It is just thrown at them at every event, every activity. You go to the football game: Nachos, licorice; that is all they have. It is just tons of junk food. And she wants her body to be healthy and strong. You get to be a 14-year-old girl, and that starts becoming a lot more important. So she has just jumped onto this. No questions, no hesitations. Her diet is amazing. She needs me to take her shopping this Saturday to get new pants because hers are too big. It has just been really neat to connect with a goal, and as I am talking with her it is constantly about that we are going to eat good, healthy food. We never starve ourselves. We make sure that the most important thing is how we feel.
I think it was in your book where you talked about instead of weighing yourself, I mean, inches, obviously, but things like your confidence, your energy, your mood, things like that, so I have been talking to my kids a lot about that type of result. And that has been amazing, because I have dear friends who have had eating disorders, and I personally haven’t dealt with that, which I am grateful for, but just seeing what my friends have gone through, and watching them starve, or having bulimia, I would never want my girls to ever have to resort to something like that, or feel like they need to do something like that. So, I just feel like I am empowering them by talking with them about how to really be healthy and to thrive.
That is a word we use a lot at Power of Moms. We want moms to thrive, because what I noticed in our community, and what I felt like I was myself, I felt really frumpy and lonely, and like no one really cared about me as a mom. It is kind of weird because you think, “Oh, everyone loves moms. Moms are great.” But when you are home with a baby who is spitting up all the time, and you are not getting sleep, and you can’t get exercise, and you feel like you haven’t had a haircut in a year, it is really easy to give your whole life to someone else and feel like you don’t matter. So I feel like by me helping to be an example to my girls, and to want to thrive, personally, and be excited about life and wake up in the morning really excited, and move forward on projects that I enjoy and have the energy and ability to do, that’s the best lesson I can teach them.
Jonathan: Boom! April, there is nothing more that needs to be said! And we are right at time. It is as if we scripted this, because that was just a fabulous close. April, obviously, you are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Where can folks learn more about you and what do you have coming up next?
April: I have actually created a page on our website just for people from your community, so I can welcome you personally. It is powerofmoms.com/sane. For us at Power of Moms, we are in a whirlwind of fun right now. We are growing Power of Moms Radio. I do a weekly radio show and I am writing a book right now. We have two books already published and we are working on our third. We have all kinds of great programs to help moms get organized and be able to get to the point where, mentally, you can start thinking about going SANE and it doesn’t feel like a project that you need to do. We will help you break it down and cut it into really bite-sized steps. That’s what I am doing right now.
Jonathan: April, that is so exciting, and I salute you. You used the word stewardship, and I think that is so important. I think anyone who visits powerofmoms.com will see that this is a mission, a movement, and it is something we can all get behind. So, check out powerofmoms.com. Our delightful guest today is April Perry. April, again, thank you so much for joining us, today.
April: Thank you, Jonathan.
Jonathan: And listeners, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Again, this is April Perry. She is awesome and inspiring. Check her out at powerofmoms.com, or especially, powerofmoms.com/sane.
And remember, today and every day after, eat more, exercise less, but do that SMARTer, and stay SANE. Chat with you soon.