Ways to be Your Best Self :: 5 Tips from a Working Mom


Always strive to be your best self. What does that mean?

My best self is when I’m emotionally level. Blatantly honest. When I practice essential self-care.

I’m a working mom of an almost-seven-year-old. I just finished law school. About twenty people need me for something at any given moment. At times (i.e. most days…) it’s very difficult to be at my best, so I’ve incorporated certain methods that work – for me – in most situations.

Check out these five methods. Try them. Let’s have a conversation about what works for you to become your best self.


Practicing self-care comes in many forms. For some it includes a weekly yoga session, Sunday meal prepping, or a walk on the beach. For me, it’s a ten-minute uninterrupted bath, some meaningless Facebook scrolling, driving down Front Beach blasting Taylor Swift, and binge-watching Netflix. Our choices in self-care may be different, but the goal is the same: pick something that relaxes you, frees your mind, and gives you a little peace and enjoyment in this crazy world. This is a moment to indulge, not stress yourself further with restraint. Choose an activity you can let it all out on.


Saying “NO” can be hard. I think we’ve all been in situations where we wanted to say “NO” but feel guilty or like we have to explain ourselves. Or we go radio-silent and claim a household-wide stomach bug on the day of the event. Social anxiety, anyone? When I started saying “NO”, my life got so much better… Ok, so some of you may be thinking I’m rude. You may be tempted to stop reading, but just give me a chance.

Be polite, but be assertive. When someone asks you to do something that you aren’t sure about, politely tell them that you will need to think about it and get back with them. If you instantly don’t want to partake, just politely decline. I promise, the world will not stop and you will suddenly feel free! Take a breath, hold the moment out at arm’s length and don’t automatically react to it. Then ACT, with a polite “NO.” Saying “NO” leads directly into my next tip: putting yourself and your family first.

Our family loves to spend time together in New Orleans, enjoying the music, art, and general atmosphere of the city.


When you learn to say “NO” to people, you suddenly feel like you have developed this amazing superpower. That’s because you have! Now use this superpower for GOOD; not EVIL. Use it to put yourself first. Practice self-care (See tip #1) and make special time for you and your family. If this means making a standard routine of “SUNDAY FUNDAY” where you only leave the house if it’s on fire or to get more ice cream, then stick to your guns! If there’s a wedding shower for a 4th step-cousin-in-law that happens to be an hour away on your SUNDAY FUNDAY, I would send an Amazon gift and keep your weekly date with your family.

Once you get in a routine of self-care and putting yourself and your family first, it’s like unlocking a brand-new universe. Your time is valuable. It’s special. Don’t allow others to choose who you give it to.


Some people thrive in non-stop lives. For those of you that do, more power to you. That may be your form of self-care, and if so, you are rocking it. This goes along with the saying “NO,” and I’m sure that many of you will totally clutch your pearls when I recommend this, but here I go: DO NOT OVER-COMMIT YOURSELF. Read that again…. Once more. Ok, so I’m talking about over-committing at work, at home, to social events, or to volunteer work, or whatever else it may be. Have you ever noticed that the most efficient and dependable person around you is the person who always seems the busiest? It’s because they are efficient and they know where their boundaries are, they are organized and they don’t over-commit to anything. They know how to say “NO”, and they know when their plate is full.

More on “over-committing” in a follow-up blog about planning a summer of NOTHING. Stay tuned!


Things just got real. I know, I’m asking a lot here, but this has really helped me manage both my own expectations and my expectations of others. First of all, relationships in this sense are defined as ANY relationship. This can be a friend, spouse, relative, co-worker, your neighbor… anyone. Each relationship is 100%, and you should go into every relationship expecting a fairly equal share in the responsibilities. Now look at your relationships where you are always the one putting forth the effort, the one making the concessions, or the one feeling drained.

Is it worth carrying the load of that relationship? If not, continue to evaluate it. Are you being used or taken advantage of? What can you do to make the relationship more beneficial to you? Ultimately, is it worth your time and energy, or are you putting more into something than you are receiving? These are some tough questions, but totally worth the evaluation. I have been on both sides of this coin, and the evaluation process is tough. But if this relationship is a drain on you, it’s not fair to the other people around you who are giving you their time and energy. If someone is a negative or draining presence in your life, perhaps it’s time to step back and evaluate what that person brings into your space.

Just remember this: you only have so much of yourself to give. Many of you are raising tiny humans in hopes that they grow up to be awesome, amazing bigger humans who have a positive impact on the world. The only way to make sure that you can give them (and yourself) all of that energy is to make sure that your energy isn’t being wasted elsewhere.

Download the Insight Timer app below. Available in iOS or Android, it is a free self-guided meditation app that fits all schedules. 


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Lauren Rhodes Braden is a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where she resides with her husband, Eric and her son, Quinn. She has perfected the art of balancing better than most trained circus acts. She is a mother of one, and recently completed her J.D. at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is co-owner of Braden Valladares, LLC, a mediation and arbitration firm. An alum of Ocean Springs High School (2001), Ole Miss (B.S. in Criminal Justice 2006), Delta State University (M.S. in Criminal Justice 2008), and Mitchell Hamline School of Law (J.D. 2018), Lauren plans to take the Mississippi bar exam as well as the Louisiana Bar Exam to move Braden Valladares, LLC into an all-inclusive legal services practice in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, specializing in areas of litigation such as family law, juvenile law, elder law, adoptions, guardianships, conservatorships, and dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration. She is one of the first incoming classes of the new hybrid J.D. program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, allowing her to meet her Docket Divas and future law partners, and blog about their journey through raising families, attending law school, continuing to work full-time, and still maintaining shreds of sanity. Lauren has written for all court levels in Mississippi, the U.S. Federal District Court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and most recently the United States Supreme Court. As a non-traditional mom, Lauren brings a fresh perspective of being a career focused mom, encouraging moms to go back to school or focus on their careers while still being an attentive, fun, and loving mom. Additionally, Lauren was raised in a multi-generational home and has chosen the same path, as her mom plays a very important role in their small nuclear family, making sure that Quinn makes it to hip hop class on time and ensuring that there is a hot meal on the table- cooking was never Lauren’s strong suit (along with cleaning… laundry…. outdoor projects….etc.) When not having dance parties around the house or attending concerts, Lauren and the family can be found in their second home, New Orleans. They enjoy shopping the local markets and stores, attending festivals, eating all of the amazing food the city has to offer, and parading like fools! Her philosophy as a mom is to live and enjoy the moments- both big and small, and to not take life or parenting too seriously. She has been known to blast Taylor Swift and sing to the top of her lungs as a solution to having to listen to a whiny kid, and rescue a giant hundred-pound dog on a random Monday after a tough day at work. It’s a good thing she is a juggler, because at the Braden house, it’s always a circus!